Geeking out at the Geek Bar

A wonderful feature of this year’s Siggraph conference has been something called the “Geek Bar”. A large number of bean bag chairs face an enormous super-high resolution screen that simultaneously shows eight conference presentations.

You pick up a portable audio receiver/switcher and a pair of headphones from the nice people at the desk, nestle down into one of the comfy chairs and put on your headphones. Then you just pick one of eight audio channels to listen in on.

Each time you choose an audio channel, you are effectively transported instantly from one lecture room to another. The whole thing is so wonderful that I want to set up something similar as a permanent fixture of our lab at NYU.

I don’t like the feeling of earphones covering my ears, but fortunately I didn’t need them. To see the screen more clearly, I wear a pair of glasses, which in my case are Bose Frames. They look just like a pair of glasses but they also provide high quality stereo audio (that other people can’t hear) — without covering your hears. I’ve had my Frames fitted with prescription lenses, since I am slightly nearsighted.

The Frames are a wireless Bluetooth device, but that’s not a problem. I recently purchased a TaoTronics Bluetooth 5.0 Transmitter/Receiver, Wireless 3.5mm Audio Adapter on Amazon. It’s a tiny gizmo that you can plug into any audio jack to effectively turn your audio device into a Bluetooth transmitter or receiver.

I just plugged my TaoTronics into the audio jack of the receiver/switcher, and voila, I was connected. The experience felt much more pleasant than having to wear a stupid pair of headphones, and the sound quality was better too.

On a meta-level the experience was also immensely satisfying, and kind of poetic. I was geeking out at the Geek Bar.

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