FutureTech conference 2009

Date:9 July 2009

FutureTech 2009 is a wrap, and here’s the scary bit: we’ve already started on our planning for next year’s event. We’ll be applying some of the lessons learned from this conference – for example, allow for major traffic foul-ups that could delay the arrival of headline speakers – and have every intention of making the 2013 conference bigger and better, with a few surprises on top.

This year’s presenter line-up was an eclectic mix. Mobile entrepreneur Alan Knott-Craig Jr kicked off the conference with a disarmingly casual and informative discourse on social connectivity; cosmologist George Ellis provided a detailed deconstruction of our tech-dominated society; sports scientist Tim Noakes delivered a scathing denunciation of our nutritional “laws” (and the people who wrote them); cyberforensics guru Annamart Nieman debated litigation in cyberspace (and tossed boxes of Smarties into the audience as rewards for answering her questions); Qualcomm’s James Munn revealed how mobile ruled the world (and why this should make us happy); Sasol New Energy’s Cavan Hill gave us compelling insights into sustainable energy and the opportunities for future mobility.

But that was only part of it. We also enjoyed a “fireside chat” (sans fire, naturally) with inventor and engineering whizzkid Greg Raymond, a man who gives new meaning to the term “can do”. Introducing our “Pitch it to the Panel” segment, with co-hosts Anthony van Zantwijk (a well-known patent attorney) and Mike Puzey (businessman and inventor extraordinaire), we heard Felix Groenewald describe his revolutionary E-copter rotor head and watched Gerhard Ferreira demonstrate his company’s highly original electro-adhesion products.

Later, we acknowledged Felix’s inventive excellence with a Special Merit Award and cash prize as part of our annual Inventor of the Year competition. A similar award went to John Abel, creator of a game-changing trailer coupling system that allows a driver to reverse without risk of jack-knifing.

Visual punctuation came courtesy of the skilled and imaginative team at LaserX, who launched our conference with a demonstration of laser graphics and followed up in the afternoon with a pair of sinuous female dancers clad in “light suits” and laser-tipped gauntlets. Inspired by their performance, I later suggested to my spouse that she try something similar at home. (In retrospect, not a wise move.)

Roll on, 2013…

Programme/Speakers | Inventor of the Year 2012 winners | Previous conferences