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Techweek: Detroit - 7 Things to Fire Our Pistons

Techweek: Detroit -
7 Things to Fire Our Pistons

by TODD STOLARSKI | April 13, 2015

For the second consecutive year, Techweek returns to Detroit as Pied Piper, luring droves of coders, entrepreneurs, developers, and tech enthusiasts. This year's Moto-City-palooza has swelled so much, in fact, that organizers have relocated the week-long festival quite literally to the Lions' den, aka Ford Field. There, the fusion of tech, music, fashion, fun and business opportunity will provide a muscular preview of what Chicago can expect from its own Techweek in June. (After all, the organizers who invited us to Detroit are the same hombres riding herd over the Windy City event!) Without further ado, as Techweek: Detroit arrives, here are a some things we are anxious to see:

Michelle Lee never met an IP battle she didn't like.

Michelle Lee never met an IP battle she didn't like.

1 - Michelle Lee, Director, U.S. Patent and Trademark Office - Friday, 4/17. From design and construction to drones and iBeams, the digital battlefield of intellectual property has seen both big and little guns square off, and USPTO Director Michelle Lee has seen it all. Without her office, in fact, this event might be a bloody free-for-all. But thanks to her guiding expertise, we can all behave like adults. Prior to her current post, Ms. Lee was based in Silicon Valley where she famously worked on the mammoth Apple vs Microsoft copyright infringement case. She was even named one of the Valley's most influential women in 2013 by The San Francisco Business Times. And in 2015, BuiltWorlds named her its Can't Miss Speaker at Techweek: Detroit! 

2 - Mobility Summit - Thursday, 4/16.  Already in recovery, Henry Ford's Motor City is now embracing the technological resources needed to push the U.S. auto industry back toward world dominance (Silenced by confidentiality agreements, our friend John Jurewicz at Walbridge can only hint at all the wild operational innovations he has seen. But his smile says it all.) The connectivity generated by the IoT is setting the stage for substantial and rapid changes on the road, whether humans are the ones driving those future cars or not. This summit will steer into such issues, opening the road to everything from driverless truck deliveries to Elon Musk's ambitious Hyperloop challenge.

3 - Launch Competition - Thursday, 4/16.  Over 50 nascent startups from Detroit will present to a team of anonymous venture capitalists and tech experts for a chance to win over $50,000 and the adulation that goes along with being chosen among the five finalists. This will be the big day to witness the dream come true for at least one of these firms.  

Dan Ward, the mad scientist, sans lab coat.

Dan Ward, the mad scientist, sans lab coat.

4 - Maker Movement Summit - Friday, 4/17
With Detroit deeply rooted in manufacturing, it has naturally thrust itself towards the front of the maker revolution. From 3D-printed mod pods to multistory apartment buildings, no one really seems to know what the limits are to this tech yet, so don't expect these eight local movers and shakers to rein in our imaginations. Be sure to get a good seat when Detroit Labs co-founder Dan Ward takes the stage.

5 - Wearable Runway show - Friday, 4/17.  It began with the calculator watch from the early '80s. Ask anyone you know over age 40 and they will tell you that item was never exactly in style. Flash forward three decades, though, and the Apple watch is universally sold out two weeks before its release. Wearable tech is finally en vogue. (Just ask our friends at Bridgit!) This Friday evening cocktail hour event will show that useful tech you can wear can also look good on you too.

6 - Techweek-end Celebration - Saturday, 4/18. Besides cars, Detroit is also the birthplace of Techno music, not surprising given its deep industrial roots. So, to close out 2015 Techweek, hometown heroes Golf Clap will bring its blend of tech-house inspired grooves to match the long-distance dedication of Homework, making its Detroit debut all the way from Amsterdam. (Hey, Leopardo! Road trip! Send your house band 'Liquidated Damages'!)

7 - Just Detroit - Always. Ford Field and coney dogs. The people and their spirit. The revitalization of the city, and its current tech surge. It's a great week to be in the Motor City.


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