Trendy publication Wired magazine and GE presented NextFest at Jacob Javits again this year. This year’s NextFest was the third year New York has hosted the show and is the premier future-focused event in the U.S. with over 130 exhibits themed around the future of communications, design, entertainment, exploration, green living, health, play, security, and transportation

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World renowned video game maker Atari showcased their Atari Rabbit Theater. The Atari Rabbit Theater is made up of 100 robotic bunnies programmed to perform an entire opera. GE was also on hand to showoff their new hybrid locomotive. The energy dissipated in braking a 207-ton locomotive during the course of one year is enough power to power 160 households for that year. This hybrid technology will capture all that dynamic energy and store it in batteries for later use. The goal: enough energy to produce a 2,000 horsepower boost that could reduce both fuel use and emissions an average of 10 percent. Add the advantage of better efficiency at higher altitudes and on steep inclines and you can see why this locomotive can pull its own weight.

Although there many amazing futuristic home toys at this years NextFest, the one that clearly stole the show was ALEX HUBO, the world’s most advanced robot from the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology.

ALEX HUBO is the first ever walking robot with an expressive face. Korean researchers adapted a human-like robotic head of Albert Einstein from Hansen Robotics to the body of HUBO, a dynamic biped body developed in the KAIST lab. The idea was born during alate night experiment at NextFest 2005 and Alex (not Albert) Hubo is the result. ALEX HUBO makes his USA debut at NextFest 2006.

Also appearing for the first time at NextFest 2006 is KOKORO. Modelled after a young Japanese woman, KOKORO is on the world’s most advanced and realistic appearing robots. Her Japanese inventors coined a new phrase, Actoid, in her invention: the word is a fusion of the words actress and android. This android receptionist can meet, greet, and entertain human. KOKORO understands common phrases in English and Japanese and she replies with canned rejoinders and appropriate gestures and facial expressions.

Next Fest 2006 was a none-of-a-kind show and the expo is a good example of the shape of home toys to come.

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