Opening the doors to the GE Garage
The GE Garage at SXSW was like a playground for adults, focused on the maker spirit that permeates much of America (plus, they had socially engaging beers! - more about that in a second). We took around the garage - here's what we saw:
The Social FridGE
The first activation that greeted visitors was called the Social Fridge. When ten people checked in on Foursquare, the 1939 Vintage Model refrigerate popped open to reveal sodas and beer. We cheered when it opened. (KC Sidebar: My dad was a GE employee for 35 years, he was delighted by this.)
"We were kind of like web ninjas that were brought in to make something bizarre that was taking physical world and bridging it with digital, so our goal was to take social actions and make something beautiful and tangible then happen with a lot of serendipity like with the fridge popping open," said Zach Goodwin of iStrategyLabs who designed GrandStand, which allows physical events to happen based social actions, like Foursquare checkins, tweets or Facebook posts. The vintage of the registrator was designed to showcase that even older objects can have renewed life when innovation like GrandStand is applied.
Further into the garage was another installation featuring the MakerBot Replicator 3D plastic printer. In short, the printer is able to take a computer drawing made and actually produce 3D models out of molded plastic two colors at time. When we dropped by, the printer was making Texas-shaped pins with SXSW imprinted on them. They also featured an RC car with all of the body parts made out of components made on the printer!
In the corner of the garage was a display featuring Quirky, a business that solicits creative ideas from average people, puts them up for vote in their community, and mass produces them to sell at retails such as Bed Bath and Beyond, Target and Amazon.com. Among those on display were their Pivot Power power solution, their Power Curlthe C cord management system, and Cordies, which keep cables from sliding off your desk! How ingenious!
Kids of all ages played with the littleBits workshop. It was truly amazing to see what visitors could easily create using the littleBits open source library of electronics that snap together in many ways to instantly build machines. Think of supercharged electric LEGOs, and you may get the idea.
All in all, the GE Garage was home to the maker spirit, and was a great way to represent the complexity that is the many products, services and components that the GE brand makes. It was one of my favorite activations at SXSW and was extremely glad we got to open the door and come in.
Keywords: sxsw 2012