For the last number of years I have had the privilege to present to high-school students from all over the state of Utah when they participate in a “Challenge” at the UVSC campus. The “Challenge” is allow the students to demonstrate their understanding of technology and computer skills. This used to be the “TestOut Challenge” but this year there is a new sponsor and so it’s the “LearnKey Challenge”. On Tuesday I got to do this again and had a blast.
Each year I’ve been asked to present on Wearable Computers and Virtual/Augmented/Mediated Reality. This is an area that I am really interested in as the man/machine interfaces continue to evolve … and computers and peripherals begin to become more embedded. I love to show the students the miniature computers and hardware, and to show them the hardware that I have collected over the years. I also love to shown them the videos of some of the advanced research going on around the world in these areas. If you want an idea, go and check out ARQuake and the Tinmith project, and the Mixed Reality Lab in Singapore, the HIT Lab at the U of Washington, or the work of Steve Mann at the U of Toronto.
The real reason that I love to give these presentations is to see if I can encourage and inspire some of these kids to think out of the box. I want them to get my enthusiasm about technology, and what is coming in the near future … to expose them to things that seem almost too far in the future … things they might not understand they could be involved with. Some of this work is pushing the limits of what we believe is possible … stuff of dreams. I want these kids to know they too can get involved and create the future … and play with some really cool computer stuff. This year they even recorded the presentations and put them all on-line … my Wearable & Mobile Computers is here! One warning … most of the initial presentation is about tech jobs, my experiences, what to expect, and what to consider to love your job.
It was fun to have so many of the student come up afterwards and ask questions … where to learn more … what degrees to pursue … where to go to school. Overall … they seemed to enjoy it, and I know that I did. If I made a difference with just one of these kids it’s all worth while.