I recently attended Creative Economy workshop Luncheon featuring keynote presentation from Caleb Chung owner of Ugobe's Robo pet "Pleo". (Prior to the luncheon Artie Gogats presented from his book Business Creativity.) The event was held at the Capital City Development Corp Office in downtown Boise, Idaho.
Mr.Chung's presentation was fractal in that the sum of his life's work to date is comprised of the varied parts. These parts were fervently and nakedly displayed with slide show, in riveting and entertaining style. Caleb Chung has done this before. While he says he is no teacher, he brought the packed office up to speed on his life, his learnings, his reasons, and his crowning achievement the artificial life form "Pleo". This product which has met and exceeded sales goals to date, despite set backs and last minute improvements, stands apart from most off the shelf toys. More than a toy, Pleo is a household pet based on several years of R&D. I read about it, I had seen pictures, but nothing prepared me for watching the instant pupy-luv and rockstar appeal it generated among event participants. You see we are used to things that do stuff. Not used to things that are "beings" interacting with what we do. We are talking new territory here people.
The future of robotics will never be the same. Caleb Chung has taken all the magic of Hollywood and delivered it in a $350 dinosaur package. The robot is a little unbelievable, a little mystic and a chock full of cute overload. I watched several people nearly drown in the cuddle chemical oxytocin. What is more is Caleb knows it. He and his company know that they have punched through an AI membrane that few have the multi disciplinary skill, resources, and track record to duplicate.
The presentation begged my two part question: Will robotics be the next tech explosion, and is Boise, Idaho a candidate for the epicenter?
Caleb was frank about the definitive steady but slow growth and investment power of robotics and the not quite there business climate of Boise and small pop count. He did point out that he could get anyone to relocate here, but that it would take dramatic creative preparation from key stakeholders in order for that growth to occur. Suggesting that seeding creative powerhouses like Pixar by providing satellite frontage on BSU's college campus with a dedicated building for teaching and recruiting in the field of rendering, filmography , and animation would be the first step in the right direction. Both Ugobe and Mr.Chung are at the top of their game burping creativity on their way to making Pleo a household name. But then there are the next 3 Ugobe ventures...
Thank you Dr. Nancy Napier and Create!Idaho for demonstrating why creativity and science are essential to successful economies.