VMWorld – Day 4: Something Amazing Just Happened

The last day of VMWorld 2010 started with a new kind of keynote.  Instead of hearing from VMware’s senior management, we got to hear from three AMAZING innovation leaders in the user interface space.

First to speak was Pranav Mistry, a Research Assistant and PhD candidate at the MIT Media Lab. He gave one of the best presentations I’ve seen in a long time about his project, dubbed “Sixth Sense”.  You can see more on his site here: http://www.pranavmistry.com/projects/sixthsense/.  You have to see it to believe it.  This guy will go far with a perfect blend of intelligence and presentation skills, and I recommend watching what else he comes up with.  Even watching the keynote video and reading his site won’t give you the proper awe that the audience felt during his speech, which is one of the true values of attending VMWorld in person.

Next up was Natan Linder, a Masters student at the MIT Media Lab.  He spoke about his project, LuminAR, which is a combination of a reading lamp, a projector and a camera.  This allows for the elimination of the screen, keyboard and mouse, and allows for more direct interaction with the user interface.  The best use case he mentioned is checking an urgent email with dirty hands while cooking.  Another interesting use case is for use in retail stores where it can be used to identify an object and provide information about that object, simply by placing the item on a table.

The final presenter was Tan Le, the Co-founder and President of Emotiv Systems.  Her company has invented and is currently selling a device that can read your brain waves and translate them into actions on or off the screen.  She was also a great presenter using video clips from both Tron and Star Wars (speaking to the geekiness of her audience).  The device does require training of the software due to the unique folding of the user’s brain cortex, similar to fingerprints.  Steve Herrod joined her on stage to demonstrate the system.  She stepped him through the training of the system and he was able to lift and cause a disappearance of a box on the computer screen.

At the end of the keynote, they announced that those of us who received one of the Golden vTickets were going to receive their very own Emotiv headsets.  A very unique and much appreciated gift.  I suspect this community will develop some pretty interesting uses (vMotion with your mind?).

I finished the conference with one session and some time in the Solutions Exchange.

To summarize this year’s conference is easy: AWESOME.  I can’t remember VMWorld having so much palpable excitement, except maybe the first one in 2004 when they were announcing all the features of VI3.  This year didn’t even include any information on the next major release of their flagship product (ESX/vCenter).  The labs were a resounding success.  There were over 150,000 VMs deployed for more than 13,000 labs.  The discussions I personally had were amazing and have never been so in-depth and consistent.

I described to someone this year that VMWorld feels like a yearly family reunion.  This year was definitely no different.  It was great to see all my old friends again.  I also really enjoyed meeting so many new people that I don’t know how I’ll spend enough time with everyone next year.