After the Smackdown Special in Helsinki, the drama of The Tech Off landed back in London on Weds 25th February. It was a creative tech rumble in the urban jungle!
Back in our regular venue – the cellar of The Sun & 13 Cantons pub in Soho – it was our busiest yet, with people packed to the rafters to witness our line-up of tech ninjas dice, slice and entice with their presentations.
This was the first of our events which combined both the famous foam fingers, and beer! So we knew anything could happen – and it did!! Little did we know, that The Tech Off was going to go truly WILD – with a Wildcard winner…
You can see a full set of photos from this amazing night on our Facebook page.
The contenders at ‘the rumble’ were:
Russell “Chicken” Danks
Innovation Project Manager KFC
Despite being jetlagged, Russell showed no fear by entering The Tech Off arena! His job, as he explained, was all about “chicken and chips” – yet he showed us a glimpse of the future which was far more complex.
KFC are using big data and machine learning to anticipate demand in their stores. A system developed by Russell and his team gives clear feedback to staff – based on things like weather, previous sales patterns and the like – so that they can anticipate demand.
This is “big data” made useful, getting us our chicken and chips ready for when we want them!
Kristina “The Black Widow” Dimitrova
Blogger, and founder of Interlaced
Kristina took us into a the future of fashion, and wearable tech. As she neatly said, “you may forget your phone, but you won’t forget your clothes”. At this point many in the crowd double-checked their trousers were on…
Highlighting a key trend and market opportunity, smart fashion can integrate with apps and devices to better track our lives. Think about health tracking. When the tech is embedded, it becomes something you don’t have to remember to ‘switch on’.
Toby “Hardman” Horry
Managing Director, Dare
Toby took us on a tour of a future where brands become more than ‘the marketing’ – where the medium is also the message. In today’s world we are all “unreasonable consumers”, expecting things in the flash of an eye and complaining when they don’t happen that fast.
Because that is the case, he argued that unless you’ve fixed your product or service you shouldn’t be doing “natty” apps or digital gizmos. And that brand statements need to reflect a central purpose, not just be an advertising end-line.
He also played this amazing ad from the 70s…they don’t make them like this any more!
Rick “Teddy Bear” Grundy
Founder and CTO, Techdept
Stepping in at the last minute due to a speaker cancellation, Rick took us on a journey through augmented reality. Whilst AR is a buzzword which people like to use, it’s true meaning is less well understood.
Augmenting reality requires the computer to understand what it is looking at without you telling it….luckily researchers have achieved this, using CATS! Yes, the internet is cats.
Showing our work using photogrammetry to create personalised animated soft toys for John Lewis’s Christmas campaign, Rick finished by saying that if we are teaching computers about the world – we need to take responsibility for what, and how we teach them.
Matt “Wildcard” Mapleston
Technologist and Founder of Chanza Chanzo
With no preparation, and no presentation, Matt stepped into the ring with only one thing to defend him: the humble Raspberry Pi.
Using Google Images as his presentation backdrop, Matt explained how the Raspberry Pi opened up a world of opportunity. Like a 21st century tech-Batman, Matt talked us through how he used the Pi to capture a criminal. Specifically a thief who was taking his meatbox from outside his home. At which point someone shouted “search for meat box”, and hilarity ensued. Luckily we had safe search on 😉
To catch the crook, Matt turned his Raspberry Pi into a CCTV system – showing the power within this £27 piece of computer kit.
Anticipation was rising, as MC Dan “Headband” Kirby assembled the internationally-renowned Techometer app, in order to gauge the crowd’s response to our speakers.
Using this entirely scientifically robust method, we established the winner as….Matt “Wildcard” Mapleston!!
As the losers crumpled to the floor shouting “Why, Why?!”, Matt walked away with the glory and the coveted winner’s belt!
The Wildcard winner was well deserved, and we’re planning that the Wildcard slot becomes a regular feature of future events…Remember, anything can happen at The Teeeeeeech Oooooooooffff!
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