More than 300 people have spent $3,000 to sit around for almost 10 hours a day to listen to speakers ruminate on modern life, watch multimedia presentations and listen to performances by such musicians as Bruce Cockburn and Natalie MacMaster.
...not your run-of-the-mill celeb event. This is TEDCity (TED stands for technology, entertainment, design), a four-day conference dedicated to high-octane mental gymnastics...
But the wildest night is the last one. It's as if all the brainiacs have overdosed on frontal-lobe action and channel their energies into more libidinous pursuits - a high-tech fashion show.
Crammed on to the second floor of the ChumCity Building on Queen Street West, celebrities and propeller-heads guzzle vino and beer and greet the event like Romans at a gladiator fight. McKellar entreats the models who parade down the catwalk to give it their all. 'Yeoow, baby!' he screams.
Except these are not professional runway-dazzlers - they're mostly male students helping their prof, Steve Mann, who designs computer-based clothing at the University of Toronto.
Mann's WearComp gear ranges from EyeTap (eyeglasses that function both as a camera and an information display) to ENGwear (Electronic NewsGathering wear, which includes T-shirts that contain mini computers). They're prototypes, so don't expect them in this year's fall collections.
Mann, who is wearing an EyeTap, stands ringside, commentating on his collection. As he does so, he works the buttons on a keyboard molded to fit into the palm of his hand, which twitches in a repetitive spasm. Viewed merely as a primitive gesture and not as a technological advance, Mann's digital manipulation exudes an extremely onanistic vibe. Says one onlooker: 'That guy is chat-room incarnate.'
A fashion guru, no. A tech trailblazer, yes. Mann, who pioneered the synthesis of clothes and computing and founded the MIT Wearable Computing Project in 1991, has the honour of delivering the last great insight at TEDCity. He envisions a day when we no longer point and click but, instead, look and think. Computer-based clothing will harmonize with our biology and empower users.
Mann's technology is already being developed to help the visually challenged. 'Right now, I'm working on ideas too crazy to talk about, but they will probably seem pretty normal in another 20 years.'
to FLARE.com homepage