Sunday, January 20, 2013
Otronicon is a four-day event held at the Orlando Science Center (777 East Princeton Street, Orlando). It is a celebration of interactive technology using video games to demonstrate the future of how we live, learn, work and play. Whether you’re a video game fan or just wondered what it is your kids are doing in front of that computer, there’s something for everyone at Otronicon, Orlando’s biggest interactive technology expo!
I went to Otronicon on the evening of January 18th. Two little girls ran around excitedly as their father waited in line in front of me. The father shouted at them to stand still. It turned out I was standing in the wrong line. I saw a media and volunteer table and I walked over. I walked through the first two floors rather quickly as I hunted for my sketch. EA sports had a room full of their sports games that could be played with feedback on large flat screen TVs. I saw hints of Star Wars costumes and technology including a Millennium Falcon experience. I presume this was one of those rides where the entire room rocks and lurches. I get sick to my stomach on those so I didn't go in. I was there in the evening and it wasn't very crowded.
When I entered the dinosaur paddock I immediately felt the urge to sketch. US Marines in camouflage fatigues were teaching kids how to use the Deployment Virtual Training environment. They all seemed so small beneath the huge beast. One swipe of that tail would have cleared away all that technology. Next to me students from the 4H Exploring Bacon Robotics Club were demonstrating a robot that could shoot a basketball. They built the robot to compete in the International FIRST Robotics Competition. They are now working on a robot that can throw a Frisbee and climb a pyramid. On March 7-9th the Orlando Regional Robotics Competition will be held at UCF. It sounds like fun.
After the sketch was done, I decided to sit down and experience the Marines Virtual Environment. I asked the marine next to me how to get started. Moving the mouse left and right changed my field of vision as if turning my head. The W key moved me forward. If I pressed it twice I could run. The marines hands were so big, I never saw the other keyboard commands. I walked into the environment not knowing how to fire my gun. It looked like I was in Iraq. I saw an explosion in the distance and I saw several other marines on their belly's ready to fire. Thirty seconds into the experience, I heard a gunshot and my screen went black. I was dead. I got up from the console and went home.
Admission to Otronicon is $27 for adults and $20 for youth (ages 3-11). Tickets also include one screening of “TRON: Legacy 3D” as well as access to Star Wars®: Where Science Meets Imagination. Science Center members can experience Otronicon for free and see Star Wars: Where Science Meets Imagination for $12 for adults and $9 for youth (ages 3-11). The Expo is open through January 21st.