JOHANNESBURG - The annual Rage expo is a diverse one. Even the senior project manager Michael James admits it isn’t just about gaming but is rather a tech enthusiasts expo with a splash of geek. So it wasn’t surprising that some of the coolest exhibits on the floor were not a game or a newer, faster computer.
The some 35 000 expected tech enthusiasts roaming the almost 100 exhibitors of the Coca-Cola Dome over the weekend had their choice of new tech, games, consoles, comics and figurines but these five stood out as some of the main attractions being something new, not often seen, and just cool.
The Micro Drone
This year saw the launch of the Micro Drone 2. Probably the smallest, camera-mounted drone on the market. It has a very clever self-righting algorithm in action that always determines which way is the right side up even if you throw it in the air like a frisbee.
Despite having the maneuverability of a dragonfly, it even has a live-streaming functionality with a headset not too unlike the recently bought-by-Facebook Oculus headset. So not only is this little flying device packed full of cool tech, it is loads of fun.
Disclaimer: I bought one.
Although 3D printers have been in the news a fair amount recently it is still a rare thing to see one in action. Creating any number of shapes and sizes with a number of different materials at its disposal from hard to soft, numerous CAD machines were printing as fast as they could. Even the micro drone was having spare parts printed using this technology.
As a technology that many enthusiasts and scientists suggest reduces material waste by as much as 90 percent, you can know that you are doing your little bit for the environment while printing just what you need. Amazingly, such printers can also print moving parts within a device, for example, a wheel bearing. Watch the development of this technology as it becomes not only more pervasive in our lives but increasingly more useful.
I doubt South Africa is ready for this one, and at a price of R18,000 her wallets certainly aren’t, but nevertheless it was one of the cooler inventions on show at the expo. An extreme geek take on gaming that really takes your health into consideration while you spend those countless hours sitting on a chair staring at a screen.
It was the global launch of the device and apparently has been praised by chiropractors for its ergonomic design and fully adjustable settings. That said, I am not too sure if desks are dead yet as the inventors suggest but for those who spend 20 hours or more a week playing games and want that fully immersive experience that isn’t dictated by your machine, it looks good.
It may just offer you the best gaming experience that you can walk away from.
Most people don’t think South Africa is on the global radar when it comes to game development but one would be pleasantly surprised at the wealth of talent in this country. With no less than 10 of those best South African games on display at Rage, it was an expo favourite. There may be hundreds of millions of dollars in development money for the big games in the overseas market, creating a huge gap in what can be accomplished here, but taking a look at these largely self-funded games in SA, the ideas and execution are world class.
Home_Coded was the expo stand but it is really MakeGamesSA, the South African association of game makers that is aiming to provide local game developers with the support, resources and access to funds that is needed to elevate the talent that we have in this country. According to chairperson, Nick Hall, that funding is slowly but surely trickling down to the right studios that are working so hard to make their mark on the gaming market.
As any developer will contest - they are building for the world, not just South Africa which means they are competing with the world, and standing on their own under-funded feet.
It may not be an exhibit, but it certainly is an exhibition. Some 100 people have officially entered the contest for the final showdown at the end of the expo on 12 October. But probably twice that were strolling around the floor in their full regal gear, loving the attention and loving the photographs.
The Cosplay competition at the annual Rage expo gives the local Cosplayers the opportunity to strut their stuff. The competition has seen entries doubling and tripling in the last few years, and it’s one of the most anticipated Cosplay events on the Cosplay calendar.
It was probably one of the main attentions of the few days and even in the shadow of the glitzy lights, super sounds systems and buzzing drones, it was something to behold. The standard of costumes is truly international - a low tech solution to a hi-tech overdose.