Category “Videos”

IONS Annual Conference Brings Together Scientists & Spiritual Seekers Under One Roof

Monday, 19 August, 2019

Truth be told, I've known about Petaluma-based IONs (Institute for Noetic Sciences) for awhile now, and have attended some of their smaller workshops and events over the years. That said, we weren't aware of their annual IONS International Conference , now in its 18th year so were thrilled to team up this year as a media partner.  This summer's event which was held from July 18th-21st in Santa Clara, California brought together over 900 scientists, spiritual teachers and consciousness explorers all under one roof for several days of discussions around cutting edge research in consciousness science, personal transformation, and expanded human potential. So, what makes this event so special?

Elephant-ions777

 

The fact that they can gather so many respected scientists, researchers and business entrepreneurs together to embrace spirituality publicly in a way that is rarely done is astonishing in itself. By embrace, I mean that those in the world of cutting edge science are listening to spiritual teachers and wisdom keepers in a way they haven't in the past and moreso, trying to figure out a way to not only deepen the conversation, but allow both sides an equal seat at the table.

Imagine a world where left and right brain thinkers & teachers can not just converse but understand & respect each other?? Where the mystical and the factual combine energies and create magic?[/caption] Moving away from the "us" (those who need data to be proven in traditional scientific ways for it to be real) and "them" (those who connect to the unseen world without proof and embrace ancient wisdom of top spiritual masters regardless of faith), is the way forward. You see, those who have had a mystical experience have often had more than one and they don't need scientific proof for their experience to be real, valid or self-affirming. Wisdom keepers are those who LIVE a spiritual life and while some have a religion which may be attached to it, more and more, people do not.

For so many, their "religion" may be of an ancient belief system like Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism, Christianity or Islam but for others who are awakening now, particularly millennials, we are starting to see that their 'faith' if you like or connection is to that of the Earth, the elementals, and rituals which indigenous elders have worked so hard to keep alive for thousands of years. And, for others, it's the stars themselves — they have an inner knowing that they are part of a greater universal make-up beyond the Earth and even beyond our Galaxy and Universe. This year's theme at IONs was “The Possibility Accelerator: Creating our Future, Now.”

What was so beautiful was that science is starting to catch up if you will to some of the profound observations mystics have had for years. And while we heard from some of the scientific and research powerhouses like leading thinker, author and speaker Deepak Chopra, Dr. Daniel J. Siegel, who addressed the perspective of interpersonal Neurobiology. Dan included contemporary insights from the physics of reality and used the Wheel of Awareness to explore these questions and their practical implications.

ION's Chief Scientist Dean Radin (see our interview with him) spoke about some of his latest research findings.

IONS Dean Radin

Dean Radin in the media room before our interview.[/caption] We also heard from visionaries like Shamani Jane (CEO of the Consciousness and Healing Initiative (CHI), who also led a pretty interesting interactive embodiment exercise in her breakout session. Julia Mossbridge, Ph.D. spoke on the "Precog Economy," and what we can do to mitigate some of the risks. I've heard Deepak speak a number of times over the years — in this powerful talk on day one, he spoke about intentions and manifestations. In other words, there are countless ways we make our intentions come true. So true that some people manifest their deepest dreams, wishes and desires while others do not. Deepak Chopra addressed the power of your view of reality (The Nature of Reality) and practical ways to experience transformation and healing in the process.

IONS Deepak Chopra Above and below: Deepak Chopra on the main stage.

I'm relatively new to Rupert Sheldrake's work, however his name has been coming up quite a bit lately in the context of morphic resonance, a process whereby self-organizing systems inherit a memory from previous similar systems, which essentially means that the so-called laws of nature are more like habits. According to Sheldrake, "the hypothesis of morphic resonance also leads to a radically new interpretation of memory storage in the brain and of biological inheritance. Memory need not be stored in material traces inside brains, which are more like TV receivers than video recorders, tuning into influences from the past)."

This concept apparently lacks mainstream acceptance and has been characterized as pseudoscience however we see it as a reality in our work all the time. Rupert Sheldrake gave a talk on the main stage which addressed the various aspects of spirituality, from mainstream-like things like rituals, meditation and prayer to the impact of nature, flowers, gratitude, pilgrimage and music, which have no specific religious affiliation whatsoever. 

Rupert Shaldrake, Ph.D. covered both Science and Spiritual Practices.  Chris Grosso spoke about what it means to be Perfectly Imperfect. He shared his so called messy story with the audience, including his past addictions and his path to leading a clean and balanced life. Throughout this very tough process, he found healing and love although it wasn't an easy road. He asks: what does it mean to accept yourself fully in all of your perfect imperfection? He spoke of using our own difficult life experiences and tragedies as catalysts towards spiritual awakening through various meditations, creative exercises, compassion practices and more. 

Chris Gross IONs

Chris Grosso on Becoming Perfectly Imperfect, Being Okay with it and Finding Healing and Love in the Beautiful Mess of Being Human. Below, Director of Development and Communications Alex Morrison introduced IONs President and Chief Scientist Cassandra Vieten who I've seen speak before and we LOVE her energy! 

IONS notetic sciences Alex Morrison, Director of Development & Communications at IONs

 

Cassandra Vieten summarized things beautifully which included interactive breakout sessions with others in the main room.  As a workshop leader and professional trainer, her research has focused on spirituality and health, transformative experiences and practices, development of mindfulness-based interventions for emotional well-being, and enhancing the effectiveness of change agents. Her primary interest lies in how psychology, biology, and spirituality interact to affect experience and behavior.

She wrapped with a question for all of us as a community to ponder: what kind of ecosystem can we create that will support the changes we want to make and the world we want to build? Her assessment included creative ways we can become world builders and change makers together collectively as a community.

IONS

Cassandra Vietan, Ph.D. on the main stage![/caption] ION's CEO Claire Lachance also graced us with her beautiful presence on the main stage. Although I didn't get time to connect with Claire for long, I loved watching her navigate the floor before, during and after the event. One thing I noted was how authentic she was when connecting with others, whether they be vendors or complete strangers. Her passion lies in values-driven strategies, organizational sustainability, and servant leadership. The key now is integrating those leading-edge business practices with valuable learnings from science and ancient wisdom traditions. I'm so excited to see what she has in store for IONs in the coming months ahead.

Claire Lachance Claire Lachance, ION's CEO on the main stage.

 

Ervin Laszlo talked about the resurgence of the search for meaning and oneness through social togetherness. This has led to the cultivation of spiritual and transcendental experiences which is helping to restore coherence at a time when the world most needs it. Charles Eisenstein addressed Eco-Healing. He asserts that today's ecological crisis can best be understood as the inevitable terminus of an age-old story of separation. In other words, our separation from Mother Earth — we love his work. John A. Jowell suggests that "othering" and "belonging" is the problem of the 21st century. He led a keynote address on Friday as the underlying issue we face today is who we are and what our relationship is to the "other."

Rollin McCraty, Ph.D. shared the science of the Gloabal Coherence Initiative, which leverages decades of research at the HeartMath Institute (we're fans!). Rollin talked about the interactions between humanity's energetic field and that of the Earth. If you don't think Gaia has her own consciousness, think again! Roger Nelson, Ph.D. is the Director of the Global Consciousness Project (GCP). His focus is on mental interactions, anomalous information transfer, and effects on physical systems by individuals and groups. He created the GCP in 1997, building a world-spanning random number generator network designed to gather evidence of coalescing global consciousness.  And we loved seeing Yvonne Cagle on the agenda. I first met her when I was involved with the Singularity University team many years ago. 

"We are Stardust." — Edgar Mitchell, Founder of IONS

Yvonne was part of an Astrophysics Meets Theology Panel on Thursday evening together with Brian G. Keating, PhD. & Professor of Physics, Ginny Whitelaw, Ph.D. (and Zen Master), Luxas Mix, Ph.D. Priest & Researcher, H. Bruce McEver, MBA and Bruce Damer, Ph.D., Scientist, Designer & Author. The panel kicked off with a reference to a quote that IONS founder Edgar Mitchell was known to say: "we are stardust." The dialogue built bridges between these two arenas of exploration and how spirituality and astrophysics are not mutually exclusive but are complementary to and inform one another.

IONS reception

Amber Seitz, Bruce Damer, Renee Blodgett at IONs Conference Reception[/caption] We also loved the humor and authenticity of Frederick Chavalit Tsao, MS who came over from China. His talk was on Pioneering the Oneness Worldview in China and Beyond. He founded the SANGHA Retreat by OCTAVE Institute, he is creating opportunities for societal healing in China in a unique way and a festival is tied to it (its coming up in November 2019 in Shanghai). In an effort to foster harmonious communities, Fred shared his own story, one which reflects his belief that worldviews can essentially shift when people have the opportunity to be more mindful about the way they live, lead and gather together as a community. 

Fred Chavalit Tsao Chatting with Fred Chavalit Tsao at his book signing!

Inner Knowing From the Heart: Compassion, Forgiveness & Love

There were also plenty of voices from the other side. IONs board member Azim Khamisa has his own personal story and journey, which some of you may have heard as it hit national news in the states. Hailed by dignitaries such as the Dalai Llama, Bill Clinton and Al Gore, Azim delivers his inspirational message to a world in desperate need of forgiveness, peace and hope. Following the murder of his only son Tariq in 1995 through a senseless, gang-related incident, Azim chose the path of forgiveness and compassion rather than revenge, and this amazing choice led to the establishment of the Tariq Khamisa Foundation (TKF) and the subsequent forgiveness movement which has reached millions. 

Azim Khamisa

IONs Boad Vice Chair Azim Khamisa led the NextGen Consciousness in Action Awards[/caption] Azim Khamisa presented the NextGen Consciousness in Action Awards to Lyla June, Jewel Love and Sarah Peck. Lyla is a poet, musician, anthropologist, educator, public speaker and community organizer of Dine, Cheyenne and European lineages. She also performs poetry, hip-hop, acoustic music and other performances. Jewel is a licensed psychotherapist and CEO of Black Executive Men, which is focused on wellness. His work helps black men in corporate America find inner peace through psychotherapy and other programs, including his work at Urban Healers, which aims to promote healthy masculinity through modern ceremonies and rituals. And, Sarah Peck has been leading spirit, mind and body programs at Teachers College, Columbia University for a decade, which includes her dissertation work working with spiritual healers and clients with serious illnesses.

Azim Khamisa also presented the NextGen Consciousness in Action Awards to Lyla June, Jewel Love and Sarah Peck. Azim Khamisa  with Lyla June, Jewel Love and Sarah Peck.

Lyla Love really moved me with her talk on stage, addressing the importance of all of us reconnecting with the Earth and the ancient wisdom of our ancestors. She played the drum and sang an indigenous song from her own lineage, which is included in our wrap up video below. 

Lyla June on the main stage speaks out and sings an indigenous song/chant with drumming, which I couldn't help but get up and dance to (so inspiring!!!)[/caption] It wasn't until Lyla was on stage that I learned that she was the daughter of Pat McCabe, who is such an inspirational individual and speaker. Her talk was called Recognizing Our Perfect Design for Thriving Life. In other words, as cracks in foundational beliefs (we all have our own) begin to appear, as imposed knowledge gives way to inner knowing, we are in a perfect position to reconsider aspects of our design for a thriving life.

Who are we, she asks? And, how are we all related? She took an indigenous perspective to hit home her message and to allow us ever so gently to dive deep within ourselves where the best answers always lie. For within ourselves, we can tap into our Higher Self, which is indeed connected to the wisdom of our ancestors. All of our ancestors at one time or another were deeply connected to the Earth and the wisdom that lies within the consciousness of Gaia — perhaps when we do feel lost or disconnected, it's because we've abandoned the inner knowledge we already have and our ancestors already passed on. This is a message which not only hits home with us in our work but one we share often as a powerful way to heal and renew our souls.

Pat McCabe, an inspiration for all of us: The Thriving Life Paradigm.

I missed the pre-conference workshop with Susan Mokelke, JD although would have loved to hear her take on Shamanic Journeying. In her workshop which focused on a Pathway to Another Reality, she asserts that the Shamanic Journey is one of the more visionary methods to explore the hidden universe otherwise known mainly through myth and dream. She used drumming in her workshop to help alter consciousness and awaken one's soul and dormant spiritual power, not unlike what we do in our own work — so powerful! We love her work. ne of my favorite speakers Deborah Johnson brought the house down as she gave a captivating talk on the main stage about what it means to be human, what it means to show up, what it means to be spiritual, what it means to embrace the other, what it means to make a difference. She spoke of polarities (as in polar opposites, saying that you care and want to make a change to help humanity but then voting for something that hurts humanity)

Deborah Johnson

Deborah Johnson gets a standing ovation at the IONs Conference[/caption] And, although I unfortunately missed the sessions with Jill Purce and Luisah Teish, Jill liberated the audience through the ecstasy of chant (we've been listening to her work all week) and Luisah spoke of the power of art, storytelling, ritual and folklore. So up our alley, she talked about the personality of the Moon (it does have one for those who doubt it) and her relationship to the Sun and Ocean — SO love this. Attendees were able to perform an African Moon Ritual and produce a 'work-of-art' in honor of the Moon. Here are some shots of the event, which I would refer to as the "in between stuff," which is as powerful as the content itself. IONS attracts some of the most interesting attendees, so you'll find yourself in equally fascinating conversations in the hallways, at lunch and in between sessions. 

IONS - Institute of Noetic Sciences Dedicated to happiness and joy

 

IONS - Institute of Noetic Sciences A Japanese group we met who are working on innovative and conscious technology

IONS - Institute of Noetic Sciences

A creative wall of leaves and birds — attendees could add their own magic to the wall

IONS - Institute of Noetic Sciences

Vendors were very diverse, from meditation best practices and centers dedicated to mindfulness to medical and holistic practitioners and companies — Biofield Anatomy, which is the significance of energetic imbalances.

IONS (Institute of Noetic Sciences)

 

IONS - Institute of Noetic Sciences

At our booth at this year's IONS — above and below 

IONS (Institute of Noetic Sciences)

IONS - Institute of Noetic Sciences

Playing around at other people's booths. Space Less Traveled: Documentary About Edgar Mitchell.

IONS (Institute of Noetic Sciences)

Attendees having lunch outside at this year's IONS

IONS (Institute of Noetic Sciences)

At the IONS BoothIONS (Institute of Noetic Sciences)

The Awakened Futures Summit (Consciousness Hacking): Where Psychedelics Meets Technology

 
IONS (Institute of Noetic Sciences)

Creative energy at its best: IONS 2019

IONS (Institute of Noetic Sciences) Cassandra Vieten, Ph.D. on the Ecosystem of Change: Creating our Future, Now

 

IONS (Institute of Noetic Sciences)

In the hallways — they also had a bookstore set up so you could purchase speakers books as well as others. They had a book signing area as well for those wishing to ask speakers questions and have them autograph books.

IONS (Institute of Noetic Sciences) Breakout Rooms at IONS 2019

IONS (Institute of Noetic Sciences)

Panel Discussions at IONS 2019

IONS (Institute of Noetic Sciences)

Magic Moments at IONS 2019

IONS (Institute of Noetic Sciences)

The main stage at IONS 2019IONS (Institute of Noetic Sciences)

Joyful & Transformative Moments at IONS 2019

IONS (Institute of Noetic Sciences)

Speaker Bruce Damer at IONS 2019 at the final reception 

IONS (Institute of Noetic Sciences)

Above & Below, Performers on the main stage at IONS 2019

Experiential in Motion

They also had something they call poster sessions. Noetic researchers, scholars, community leaders and enthusiasts presented posters on their projects and passions. The poster sessions provided unique opportunities for attendees to connect with one another and discuss exciting projects where they may have shared interest.

A few of them included: Water: Fractal Antenna of Information with Denise Barrett, Why It's Important to Know Why We're Here with Annette Cravera Goggio, the ability to couple our position space with K space to allow us to imprint our intention with Allison Gillott, Aquarian Theosophy with Eric L. Lundgaard and the Integration of the Four Pillars of PSI Research with Marilyn Stickle. Other topics included Subjective Temporal Dynamics, the Pancea Theory, Sound Reiki, Thermodynamics and Metabolism, New Scientific Paradigms Meets new Non-Materalist Paradigms and more. We even saw a fun spoon bending experiment, which isn't new, but it's always fun to go through.

 

IONS

Photo credits, above and below: Zenka

 

IONS

Spoon Bending in action – oh so fun! Credit: Zenka

Exhibitors & Vendors

Some of the great exhibitors and vendors at this year's event included John F. Kennedy University, New Harbinger Publications, Unity International, Integral Transformative Practice, The Monroe Institute, Consciousness Hacking, River of Light Massage & Healing Arts, Biofield Tuning, Radiant Health/Network Spinal, The Extraordinary Project, DreamBuilder LIVE, Zero Balancing Touch Foundation, Biofield Healing Institute (fascinating stuff), Human 2.0 (we love what these guys are doing), IONS, LightHaus, Lucia N 03 Light Experience and the Space Less Traveled: Documentary About Edgar Mitchell.

People traveled from around the world, including: Canada, the United Kingdom, Belgium, Australia, Spain, Singapore, Japan, Israel, Switzerland, Portugal, Germany, Mauritius, Austria, United Arab Emirates, Thailand, Taiwan, Mexico, Hong Kong, Greece, Estonia, Czech Republic, Brazil, Sweden, South Africa, New Zealand, Italy, France, Costa Rica, and China.  Whoah, what a list, right? They had nearly 850 people attend this year, over 70 conference presenters and 23 exhibitors. Interested in learning more about IONs and their vision? For centuries, the power of science has propelled us forward. It has unlocked the mysteries of the natural world and driven human innovation. Robust scientific inquiry serves as the basis for progress by providing a sturdy, objective foundation on which to build. 

At IONS, they are inspired by the power of science to explain phenomena not previously understood, harnessing the best of the rational mind to make advances that further our knowledge and enhance our human experience. And, they're helping to get both sides together in a public forum, thereby giving credibility to both. The goal? To create a more compassionate and sustainable world, one which empowers and supports all aspects of humanity, not just the privileged, educated and traditional leadership.

"The mission of IONS is to reveal the interconnected nature of reality through scientific exploration and personal discovery, creating a more compassionate, thriving, and sustainable world." 

Here's a fun video summary we took of the event this year. Enjoy! Would we team up again? You betcha. It was our first, but hopefully not the last. We love that the event bridges the gap between Science and Technology and the world of Spirituality & Mystics. They allow a platform and space where both sides can come together to discuss cutting edge breakthroughs, research and more.

Happy 50 Years to The Sound of Music

Monday, 9 November, 2015

If you’re over the age of 30, chances are you’ve not only heard of The Sound of Music, but likely grown up watching it with your family. While the birthplace of all it was in and around Salzburg Austria, oddly enough Austrians and Germans didn’t grow up watching it nor did it create such a groundswell effect locally like it did in other countries. In October, I was invited to Austria celebrate the 50th anniversary of The Sound of Music, which was originally released in 1965, a pivotal year for so many cultural and historical events. Truth be told, I figured the movie (and musical) was more of a phenomena in the U.S. given its picture perfect Hollywood movie style with Julie Andrews at the helm, however on the ground in Salzburg, I learned that it was a huge hit in places you’d least expect it to be, like Australia and China. We watched The Sound of Music every year as a family for as long as I remember and no doubt, as a child, I watched it more than once some years. As a little girl, who can’t relate to the “You are Sixteen” scene? Here, Liesl and Rolf sing this “coming of age” song in the romantic Gazebo setting as she looks to him for guidance at the start of womanhood. While some women may roll their eyes at a scene that depicts a teenage girl being so wooed by a boy that she is putting all hopes in the notion of him “taking care of her,” suggesting that she can’t figure it out on her own, there’s an inherent and natural softness and innocence that is so beautifully portrayed in the scene and so many of us can resonate with it regardless of where we hail. Perhaps…

Happy 50 Years to The Sound of Music

Monday, 9 November, 2015

If you're over the age of 30, chances are you've not only heard of The Sound of Music, but likely grown up watching it with your family. While the birthplace of all it was in and around Salzburg Austria, oddly enough Austrians and Germans didn't grow up watching it nor did it create such a groundswell effect locally like it did in other countries.

In October, I was invited to Austria celebrate the 50th anniversary of The Sound of Music, which was originally released in 1965, a pivotal year for so many cultural and historical events.

Truth be told, I figured the movie (and musical) was more of a phenomena in the U.S. given its picture perfect Hollywood movie style with Julie Andrews at the helm, however on the ground in Salzburg, I learned that it was a huge hit in places you'd least expect it to be, like Australia and China.

We watched The Sound of Music every year as a family for as long as I remember and no doubt, as a child, I watched it more than once some years.

As a little girl, who can't relate to the "You are Sixteen" scene? Here, Liesl and Rolf sing this "coming of age" song in the romantic Gazebo setting as she looks to him for guidance at the start of womanhood.

While some women may roll their eyes at a scene that depicts a teenage girl being so wooed by a boy that she is putting all hopes in the notion of him "taking care of her," suggesting that she can't figure it out on her own, there's an inherent and natural softness and innocence that is so beautifully portrayed in the scene and so many of us can resonate with it regardless of where we hail.

Perhaps reliving the scene as I did in Salzburg this year, holds the same romantic and tender memory as it did over 40 years ago because of the fact that traditional role models defined by sex are falling away. All we're left with when the definitions of who does what is gone is the purity of another human being you fall in love with, sitting across from you each day.

And, getting support from the other isn't an act of weakness, but an act of strength especially when polar opposite energies (masculine/feminine) play their part in the story we call life, even if its not quite the fairy tale life Hollywood is so known for projecting.

Below, I return to childhood in the original gazebo, which we visited at night — one of the many original filming sites of The Sound of Music movie.

The lovely calling of romance and the innocence of childhood is so compelling in this scene, particularly given the context and that it happens on the heals of  Hitler and political turbulence during a volatile time for Austria.

"A bell is no bell 'til you ring it, A song is no song 'til you sing it, And love in your heart Wasn’t put there to stay – Love isn’t love 'Til you give it away."

You'll no doubt recognize the shot above as another memorable scene from the movie — Schloss Leopoldskron and the façade facing the lake which represented the von Trapp residence.

It was in this majestic and historical building where they held the official press conference celebrating 50 years.

Speakers included four actors who played the von Trapp children — Debbie Turner as Marta, Duane Chase who played Kurt, Heather Menzies played Louisa, Nicholas Hammond who played Friedrich, Johannes von Trapp, the youngest son of the von Trapp family in real life who lives in Vermont today, Governor Wilfried Haslauer, Mayor  Heinz Schaden and the head of Salzburg Tourism Bert Brugger.

They held court upstairs in the Schloss Leopoldskron Palace's library, which dates back to 1736 and its ever so encompassing architectural details only added to the historical impact the movie has had on the world. Inside, while broadcast media set up cameras to film the event, I couldn't help but to be drawn in by Kleber's stucco work on the ceilings which has been described as “the best example of rococo stucco the land can offer”. 

Below is a short video of Johannes von Trapp addressing attendees at the official press conference.

Johannes von Trapp, now 76, was incredibly charming as he sat at the helm in an Austrian uniform, recounting his memories and sharing tales of his own life, noting what was similar to the movie and what differed. For example, his family didn't really climb over the hills and trek across the border, but took a train and nor did Maria and the Colonel marry at St. Stephen's Cathedral in nearby Mondsee, which was where the famous church scene was shot towards the end of the film.

Afterwards, we hung out with the actors in front of the lake, the very same one with the gold statues we all remember so well from the von Trapp estate scenes.

Below, I'm gloriously positioned in between Johannes von Trapp and Nicholas Hammond, who continues to act and lives in the states. I did ask Nicholas to dance at the gala later a few times, but he politely turned me down, offering a stateside rain check, something that would no doubt be fun to take him up on someday.

With Heather Menzies at the Kulisse Salzburg (Festive Halls) cocktail reception gala, which preceded the grand finale event they held on Saturday October 17, 2015 in the Felsenreitschule.

With Nicholas Hammond at the Kulisse Salzburg terrace bar, which boasted incredible views of historical Salzburg beyond and below.

If all of this isn't nostalgic enough, group shots in front of the glorious Salzburg poster at the evening VIP reception was sure to give any attendee a melancholy moment or two.

Below, together with the other American journalists who flew in to cover the event. In total, there were 50 of us from 12 different countries.

While not a household name in the states, Uwe Kroger (below) is a known performer in Salzburg and plays Captain von Trapp in the most recent musical performance.

On-Stage Performance Brings Me Back in Time

This intoxicating gala brought me back in time, reliving all of those memorable Sound of Music moments I had as a child. Producer Carl Philip von Maldeghem and directors Andreas Gergen and Peter Ewaldt were behind the event, as was the Mozarteum Orchestra. The Mozarteum Orchestra provided the music, while soloists and the choir of the Landestheater stood alongside the original actors from the 1965 film.

Listen to Edelweiss from the main stage…

Climb Every Mountain

And now for my favorite, Do-Re-Mi (the lighting is terrible in the video, but the sound is captured well considering the size of the hall)

 

Together with Uwe Kroger, German-Serban singer Milica Jovanovic played Maria von Trapp which she has been doing since the 2012/2013 season.

At the end of the performance, original actors joined the stage, including Johannes von Trapp and his family (below). And, together, we sang. If I were to say participating and watching this extravaganza was moving, it would be a grave understatement. Bravo!

The Hills Are Alive: The Salzburgerland Road to Memory Lane

The tour of Sound of Music sites is definitely worth doing and Salzburg Panorama Tours are the most notable ones doing it.

Film locations include Mirabell Palace and Gardens, where Maria and the children dance and sing Do-Re-Mi, the Observation Terrace on the Monchsbert, where they sing a verse of Do-Re-Mi, Residenz Square where Maria sings "I have confidence in me," Summer Riding School (Festival Hall), where Captain von Trapp sings Edelweiss before fleeing to America and St. Peter's Cemetery where the family hides behind the tombstones.

Then there was Leopoldskron Palace which was used as the von Trapp villa as noted above, Frohnburg Palace, which is used as the garden gate, courtyard and facade of their villa, Untersberg, which is the opening and fleeing scene, Hellbrunn, which houses the original gazebo, Anif Palace, which can be seen in the opening scene, Hohenwerfen Castle, which is the backdrop for Do-Re-Mi, Mondsee and Mondsee Church (pictured below), where Maria runs to the convent and marries the captain, and Fuschl — St. Gilgen — St. Wolfgang, which are aerial shots you see at the beginning of the move.

Below, granddaughter of Maria and Captain Von Trapp, Elisabeth Von Trapp, joined our bus as we were ready to depart for the official Sound of Music tour to sing for us. Born and raised in Vermont, she has been singing since childhood and her voice has apparently enthralled audiences from European cathedrals to Washington D.C.’s Kennedy Center.

Below, you can catch a glimpse of it live — be prepared to have your heart melt…

We hit all the sites, including those out of town, such as the charming town of Mondsee, a 30 or so minute drive from Salzburg. Below is St. Stephen's Cathedral where the wedding scene of Captain and Maria took place in the movie as noted above.

New Sound of Music Trail in Werfen

We were fortunate enough to visit the new Sound of Music Trail in Werfen, a day before it officially opened on October 18, 2015. Here, you see the stunning shooting location where the picnic scene with Julie Andrews was filmed, teaching the children to sing.

This area on the outskirts of Werfen is known as the Gschwandtanger. The Sound of Music Trail is 1.4 kilometers long, with 12 information stations along the way, many of which are interactive.

What's astonishing about these locations are not just the outstanding views (we were lucky to have a clear day when we reached the top), but the fact that it has been viewed via this famous movie by over one billion people from around the world.

Here, you also have an opportunity to discover the beauty of Salzburgerland's mountains and alpine pastures. There were children on-site also, which made for incredible photos against such a picturesque backdrop. Quite simply put, it was magical!

AHHH yes Salzburg, glorious Salzburg, thanks for the nostalgic moments and for allowing the rare opportunity to celebrate with the actors and producers who created a musical explosion that changed so many people's lives.

 

HAPPY BIRTHDAY SOUND OF MUSIC!!! 

Happy 50 Years to The Sound of Music

Monday, 9 November, 2015

If you're over the age of 30, chances are you've not only heard of The Sound of Music, but likely grown up watching it with your family. While the birthplace of all it was in and around Salzburg Austria, oddly enough Austrians and Germans didn't grow up watching it nor did it create such a groundswell effect locally like it did in other countries.

In October, I was invited to Austria celebrate the 50th anniversary of The Sound of Music, which was originally released in 1965, a pivotal year for so many cultural and historical events.

Truth be told, I figured the movie (and musical) was more of a phenomena in the U.S. given its picture perfect Hollywood movie style with Julie Andrews at the helm, however on the ground in Salzburg, I learned that it was a huge hit in places you'd least expect it to be, like Australia and China.

We watched The Sound of Music every year as a family for as long as I remember and no doubt, as a child, I watched it more than once some years.

As a little girl, who can't relate to the "You are Sixteen" scene? Here, Liesl and Rolf sing this "coming of age" song in the romantic Gazebo setting as she looks to him for guidance at the start of womanhood.

While some women may roll their eyes at a scene that depicts a teenage girl being so wooed by a boy that she is putting all hopes in the notion of him "taking care of her," suggesting that she can't figure it out on her own, there's an inherent and natural softness and innocence that is so beautifully portrayed in the scene and so many of us can resonate with it regardless of where we hail.

Perhaps reliving the scene as I did in Salzburg this year, holds the same romantic and tender memory as it did over 40 years ago because of the fact that traditional role models defined by sex are falling away. All we're left with when the definitions of who does what is gone is the purity of another human being you fall in love with, sitting across from you each day.

And, getting support from the other isn't an act of weakness, but an act of strength especially when polar opposite energies (masculine/feminine) play their part in the story we call life, even if its not quite the fairy tale life Hollywood is so known for projecting.

Below, I return to childhood in the original gazebo, which we visited at night — one of the many original filming sites of The Sound of Music movie.

The lovely calling of romance and the innocence of childhood is so compelling in this scene, particularly given the context and that it happens on the heals of  Hitler and political turbulence during a volatile time for Austria.

"A bell is no bell 'til you ring it, A song is no song 'til you sing it, And love in your heart Wasn’t put there to stay – Love isn’t love 'Til you give it away."

You'll no doubt recognize the shot above as another memorable scene from the movie — Schloss Leopoldskron and the façade facing the lake which represented the von Trapp residence.

It was in this majestic and historical building where they held the official press conference celebrating 50 years.

Speakers included four actors who played the von Trapp children — Debbie Turner as Marta, Duane Chase who played Kurt, Heather Menzies played Louisa, Nicholas Hammond who played Friedrich, Johannes von Trapp, the youngest son of the von Trapp family in real life who lives in Vermont today, Governor Wilfried Haslauer, Mayor  Heinz Schaden and the head of Salzburg Tourism Bert Brugger.

They held court upstairs in the Schloss Leopoldskron Palace's library, which dates back to 1736 and its ever so encompassing architectural details only added to the historical impact the movie has had on the world. Inside, while broadcast media set up cameras to film the event, I couldn't help but to be drawn in by Kleber's stucco work on the ceilings which has been described as “the best example of rococo stucco the land can offer”. 

Below is a short video of Johannes von Trapp addressing attendees at the official press conference.

Johannes von Trapp, now 76, was incredibly charming as he sat at the helm in an Austrian uniform, recounting his memories and sharing tales of his own life, noting what was similar to the movie and what differed. For example, his family didn't really climb over the hills and trek across the border, but took a train and nor did Maria and the Colonel marry at St. Stephen's Cathedral in nearby Mondsee, which was where the famous church scene was shot towards the end of the film.

Afterwards, we hung out with the actors in front of the lake, the very same one with the gold statues we all remember so well from the von Trapp estate scenes.

Below, I'm gloriously positioned in between Johannes von Trapp and Nicholas Hammond, who continues to act and lives in the states. I did ask Nicholas to dance at the gala later a few times, but he politely turned me down, offering a stateside rain check, something that would no doubt be fun to take him up on someday.

With Heather Menzies at the Kulisse Salzburg (Festive Halls) cocktail reception gala, which preceded the grand finale event they held on Saturday October 17, 2015 in the Felsenreitschule.

With Nicholas Hammond at the Kulisse Salzburg terrace bar, which boasted incredible views of historical Salzburg beyond and below.

If all of this isn't nostalgic enough, group shots in front of the glorious Salzburg poster at the evening VIP reception was sure to give any attendee a melancholy moment or two.

Below, together with the other American journalists who flew in to cover the event. In total, there were 50 of us from 12 different countries.

While not a household name in the states, Uwe Kroger (below) is a known performer in Salzburg and plays Captain von Trapp in the most recent musical performance.

On-Stage Performance Brings Me Back in Time

This intoxicating gala brought me back in time, reliving all of those memorable Sound of Music moments I had as a child. Producer Carl Philip von Maldeghem and directors Andreas Gergen and Peter Ewaldt were behind the event, as was the Mozarteum Orchestra. The Mozarteum Orchestra provided the music, while soloists and the choir of the Landestheater stood alongside the original actors from the 1965 film.

Listen to Edelweiss from the main stage…

Climb Every Mountain

And now for my favorite, Do-Re-Mi (the lighting is terrible in the video, but the sound is captured well considering the size of the hall)

 

Together with Uwe Kroger, German-Serban singer Milica Jovanovic played Maria von Trapp which she has been doing since the 2012/2013 season.

At the end of the performance, original actors joined the stage, including Johannes von Trapp and his family (below). And, together, we sang. If I were to say participating and watching this extravaganza was moving, it would be a grave understatement. Bravo!

The Hills Are Alive: The Salzburgerland Road to Memory Lane

The tour of Sound of Music sites is definitely worth doing and Salzburg Panorama Tours are the most notable ones doing it.

Film locations include Mirabell Palace and Gardens, where Maria and the children dance and sing Do-Re-Mi, the Observation Terrace on the Monchsbert, where they sing a verse of Do-Re-Mi, Residenz Square where Maria sings "I have confidence in me," Summer Riding School (Festival Hall), where Captain von Trapp sings Edelweiss before fleeing to America and St. Peter's Cemetery where the family hides behind the tombstones.

Then there was Leopoldskron Palace which was used as the von Trapp villa as noted above, Frohnburg Palace, which is used as the garden gate, courtyard and facade of their villa, Untersberg, which is the opening and fleeing scene, Hellbrunn, which houses the original gazebo, Anif Palace, which can be seen in the opening scene, Hohenwerfen Castle, which is the backdrop for Do-Re-Mi, Mondsee and Mondsee Church (pictured below), where Maria runs to the convent and marries the captain, and Fuschl — St. Gilgen — St. Wolfgang, which are aerial shots you see at the beginning of the move.

Below, granddaughter of Maria and Captain Von Trapp, Elisabeth Von Trapp, joined our bus as we were ready to depart for the official Sound of Music tour to sing for us. Born and raised in Vermont, she has been singing since childhood and her voice has apparently enthralled audiences from European cathedrals to Washington D.C.’s Kennedy Center.

Below, you can catch a glimpse of it live — be prepared to have your heart melt…

We hit all the sites, including those out of town, such as the charming town of Mondsee, a 30 or so minute drive from Salzburg. Below is St. Stephen's Cathedral where the wedding scene of Captain and Maria took place in the movie as noted above.

New Sound of Music Trail in Werfen

We were fortunate enough to visit the new Sound of Music Trail in Werfen, a day before it officially opened on October 18, 2015. Here, you see the stunning shooting location where the picnic scene with Julie Andrews was filmed, teaching the children to sing.

This area on the outskirts of Werfen is known as the Gschwandtanger. The Sound of Music Trail is 1.4 kilometers long, with 12 information stations along the way, many of which are interactive.

What's astonishing about these locations are not just the outstanding views (we were lucky to have a clear day when we reached the top), but the fact that it has been viewed via this famous movie by over one billion people from around the world.

Here, you also have an opportunity to discover the beauty of Salzburgerland's mountains and alpine pastures. There were children on-site also, which made for incredible photos against such a picturesque backdrop. Quite simply put, it was magical!

AHHH yes Salzburg, glorious Salzburg, thanks for the nostalgic moments and for allowing the rare opportunity to celebrate with the actors and producers who created a musical explosion that changed so many people's lives.

 

HAPPY BIRTHDAY SOUND OF MUSIC!!! 

Deepak Chopra & Rupert Spira on Motionless Consciousness

Thursday, 29 October, 2015

Deepak Chopra explores consciousness, human suffering and beyond in his on-stage talk at the SAND Conference this year. As always, powerful. His solo talk explores consciousness, awareness and happiness. When we think of the word happiness, do we think of the word seeking? Or does true happiness come from no seeking at all — it happens in the moment and when not labeled, it becomes pure joy. Happiness is not at the end of seeking, its at the source of seeking. As the finite mind plunges, the consciousness mind shines. Says Deepak, “the Human Universe is the only universe that is rooted in consciousness.” In other words, I am the universe. Science is consciousness. God is consciousness, we are consciousness. He asserts that the Quantum Universe has led to too many mathematical guessing games, all leading to the uncertain universe.” Below, a video I took on-site, he also explores the “awakening of bacterial consciousness.” He refers to studies they’ve done that attribute a purposeful consciousness life to healing around many conditions including leaky gut syndrome. Other leading consciousness guru Rupert Spira (below) says, “the fulfillment of the longing is never at the #destiny of attention, its at the source of attention. Once we have clearly seen that, the happiness lives in the origin of desire.Relationship is a natural essence of love not as a bargain of love which is an impossible state.” Above, Rupert Spira who has a dialogue with Deepak (below for their dialogue via video coverage at the event). The below interview between ‪‎Rupert Spira‬ and ‎Deepak Chopra‬ requires you to think upside down (or not at all). I shot this at the ‪SAND Conference last weekend (see my full coverage of the event here) which had these two ‪‎consciousness‬ gurus on stage in a fireside chat. Deepak…

Deepak Chopra & Rupert Spira on Motionless Consciousness

Thursday, 29 October, 2015

Deepak Chopra explores consciousness, human suffering and beyond in his on-stage talk at the SAND Conference this year.  As always, powerful.

His solo talk  explores consciousness, awareness and happiness. When we think of the word happiness, do we think of the word seeking? Or does true happiness come from no seeking at all — it happens in the moment and when not labeled, it becomes pure joy.

Happiness is not at the end of seeking, its at the source of seeking. As the finite mind plunges, the consciousness mind shines.  Says Deepak, "the Human Universe is the only universe that is rooted in consciousness.” In other words, I am the universe. Science is consciousness. God is consciousness, we are consciousness.

He asserts that the Quantum Universe has led to too many mathematical guessing games, all leading to the uncertain universe."

Below, a video I took on-site, he also explores the "awakening of bacterial consciousness." He refers to studies they've done that attribute a purposeful consciousness life to healing around many conditions including leaky gut syndrome.

Other leading consciousness guru Rupert Spira (below) says, “the fulfillment of the longing is never at the #destiny of attention, its at the source of attention.  Once we have clearly seen that, the happiness lives in the origin of desire.Relationship is a natural essence of love not as a bargain of love which is an impossible state.”   Above, Rupert Spira who has a dialogue with Deepak (below for their dialogue via video coverage at the event). The below interview between ‪‎Rupert Spira‬ and ‎Deepak Chopra‬ requires you to think upside down (or not at all). I shot this at the ‪SAND Conference last weekend (see my full coverage of the event here) which had these two ‪‎consciousness‬ gurus on stage in a fireside chat. Deepak talks about human ‪suffering‬ and identifying with the false self (aka the ‪ego‬) and Rupert compares a ‪Mac‬ screen saver to deep sleep (yes really). In other words, consciousness doesn't go through any state; it's motionless.  Enjoy being turned upside down!

Deepak Chopra & Rupert Spira on Motionless Consciousness

Thursday, 29 October, 2015

Deepak Chopra explores consciousness, human suffering and beyond in his on-stage talk at the SAND Conference this year.  As always, powerful.

His solo talk  explores consciousness, awareness and happiness. When we think of the word happiness, do we think of the word seeking? Or does true happiness come from no seeking at all — it happens in the moment and when not labeled, it becomes pure joy.

Happiness is not at the end of seeking, its at the source of seeking. As the finite mind plunges, the consciousness mind shines.  Says Deepak, "the Human Universe is the only universe that is rooted in consciousness.” In other words, I am the universe. Science is consciousness. God is consciousness, we are consciousness.

He asserts that the Quantum Universe has led to too many mathematical guessing games, all leading to the uncertain universe."

Below, a video I took on-site, he also explores the "awakening of bacterial consciousness." He refers to studies they've done that attribute a purposeful consciousness life to healing around many conditions including leaky gut syndrome.

Other leading consciousness guru Rupert Spira (below) says, “the fulfillment of the longing is never at the #destiny of attention, its at the source of attention.  Once we have clearly seen that, the happiness lives in the origin of desire.Relationship is a natural essence of love not as a bargain of love which is an impossible state.”   Above, Rupert Spira who has a dialogue with Deepak (below for their dialogue via video coverage at the event). The below interview between ‪‎Rupert Spira‬ and ‎Deepak Chopra‬ requires you to think upside down (or not at all). I shot this at the ‪SAND Conference last weekend (see my full coverage of the event here) which had these two ‪‎consciousness‬ gurus on stage in a fireside chat. Deepak talks about human ‪suffering‬ and identifying with the false self (aka the ‪ego‬) and Rupert compares a ‪Mac‬ screen saver to deep sleep (yes really). In other words, consciousness doesn't go through any state; it's motionless.  Enjoy being turned upside down!

CES 2015 Wrap Up: From 3D Printing & Connected Devices to 4K TVs & Infrared Cameras

Monday, 12 January, 2015

There was no shortage of companies jumping on the “we must be connected to everything, or else..” trend that was central to most announcements coming out of this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas last week, an event that I’ve been going to for a couple of decades.

It was even the heart of Samsung’s keynote address this year. At the Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC), the main building for CES’s heftiest exhibitors, it was Samsung (not Apple) who stole the show with its ever so impressive 360 screens that circled around its booth, showing flashy and compelling videos of cars racing and more.

It was all about their 4K TVs, which are bendable, flat and curved although Samsung had plenty to offer in the mobile, audio and home automation space as well.

Samsung JS9500 series is a new concept in UHD (4K technology), which they tout as eco-friendly. It uses nano-crystal technology and an intelligent SUHD re-mastering picture quality engine, which gives vast improvements in contrast, brightness, color reproduction, and detail.

People seemed to be raving about FLIR at my evening networking events, a new infrared camera that connects to smartphones at around a $250 price point. As crazy as this sounds, the camera can spot pets and animals in the dark, as well as detect cold air drafts and leaking pipes in walls. FLIR ONE translates thermal energy into dynamic color images for personal safety, home repairs, outdoor adventures, and even artistic expression.

The “all things connected world” seemed to proliferate the Sands Convention Center, located just off the strip a stone’s throw from the Wynn Hotel, where I demoing and singing Kolibree‘s praises, the world’s first connected electric toothbrush with truly interactive feedback, gamification and 3D motion sensors. The toothbrush tells you how you’ve brushed, where you’ve brushed and where you haven’t.

We had a dentist on-site who is also an advisor to the company explaining why this is important and how knowing where you’re not brushing well empowers you to brush better next time around. In the old world, you’d only get that feedback from your dentist once a year, a far cry from the world we live in today where nearly everything can be connected thanks to Bluetooth technology.

A bit like Fitbit for your teeth, who also had a massive presence on the show floor not far from we hung our hats for the week, Kolibree differs from other connected brushes on the market, thanks to its proprietary technology, in that it provides an interactive map telling you exactly where you’ve missed, as well as where you’ve over-brushed and under-brushed.

All that data can be kept private or shared with your dentist, which is the first time that the dental industry will have access to this kind of data, all of which can be incredibly useful for both dentists and users.

Kolibree has teamed up with Dentegra who also had a presence at CES this year — the combined forces will offer incentives and discounts on dental care, as well as 25% off the Kolibree toothbrush through the new Dentegra Smile Club to be launched early this quarter.

While healthcare is an obvious win for the connected market (think measurement of your sugar levels in real time if you’re diabetic, feedback on your sleeping patterns so you can rectify through diet, exercise and other things, heart monitoring and reminders to take drugs), there were a host of other connected devices trying to prove that they were truly useful too.

The truth is – some were and some were….well, not so much.

New connected devices on the market seem to come in all types and sizes — from blingy necklaces that vibrate when your husband sends you a text and baby diapers that let you know when your kid has pooped to washing machines, interactive cameras and Raticator, a rodent detectors that notify you when it has caught a rodent — yes really (see the rat trap, a rat trap that uses a wifi chip to alert you when it electrocutes the rat).

Although I didn’t see it, I heard about a toaster that notifies you when the toast is up. Really? Could I not see or hear it pop up from inside my kitchen?

Connected devices can truly be useful but quite honestly, only when the connection is used to solve a problem we have or make our lives easier in ways that matter. I understand the value of connected watches within reason, but when I asked one vendor what the default was on the completely flat shiny silver faced watch, he told me it was how many steps I took and I’d only get the time after a second tap.

Huh? That’s like telling me that my smartphone’s default is digital games and a list of recommendations on restaurants before being able to make a call. I want a watch to first and foremost give me the time and my phone to first and foremost allow me to make calls.

When the watch becomes stylish and adorns me with a l’il luxury I might not have had otherwise, it gets a little more interesting however, at least for a woman. So far, all of these connected gadgets seem to be designed by men for men — big, bulky, black, silver and red seems to be the order of the day.

The gold and sparkling diamonds of Burg‘s blingy smart watch drew me over to their booth. It works via a SIM card on an Android 4.4 operating system, and is activated. The price point for this stainless steel and Swarovski crystal device is between $500-600. They also offer a range of fun colored sportier watches that track your activities.

Swarovski also had their own presence on the show floor and while I’m not much of a bling girl, I loved the designs of their soon to be released smart watches, most of which come with accompanying narrow glittery bracelets.

Glitter, diamonds and also black, white and midnight blue. They were my favorites of the connected watches and jewelry and I can’t wait to test them out when they hit the market.

Misfit is also working with Swarovski on a new line called Shine. The Shine Collection includes the Swarovski Shine Activity Tracking Crystal and accompanying accessories.

Additionally, I loved the latest watches from Guess at the show, touting rich colors and elegant design. You can get scrolling alerts across a Led screen or be alerted via a vibration and it uses voice commands to communicate with your cell phone.

The watch is water resistant, and comes in midnight blue (for men only — a shame since it’s my favorite one of all the options), brown and rose for men, white and black for women and white with a bit of bling. The watches use Martian technology, which I wrote about in mid-2014. The line, which supports both iPhone and Android, is slated for a September or October launch of this year and will retail for around $350.

One of my favorite companies making tracking watches is Withings — they had me at “hello” last year when they showed off their Activite watch in a beautiful and elegant soft brown leather. We can’t wait to test it out in the next few months.

This year, they were showcasing Activite Pop, a line of watches that is focused on the more adventurous. Pop comes in lots of fun colors and like their other watches, you have easy access to both the time and notification of your activity so you know where you stand throughout the day and can decide what your next move should be.

Also showing off fun jewelry was FashionTEQ. Their Zazzi bracelet offers an elegant and more discreet way for women to receive messages and reminders when you have your cell phone in your pocket or purse. Why would I even consider the geekier options designed by men for men when I could wear something that looked like this? I’d love to test it out in my daily life in the not too distant future.

Speaking of jewelry, the connected vendors weren’t the only ones fed up with the fact that techy products don’t cater to women enough. Meet GemPhones.

I fell in love with these elegant ear buds disguised as a functional but beautiful necklace you can wear around your neck. A dressier option is one that resembles pearls whereas the funkier hipper brown and black motif is a nice everyday option for the younger hipster and frankly, for a woman in her forties. I’m game and can’t wait to test these out.

Another mobile accessory I discovered solves a real problem — LOST ear buds. I don’t know about you but I’m constantly misplacing them, leaving them in the wrong bag or getting them tangled when I need them most. Sound Pockets has come up with a way around that by creating a plastic pocket that attaches itself to the bottom of your cell phone case and they’re available in lots of fun colors.

A perfect solution for the college student and for the forgetful and busy among us who need a handy way to keep track of them.

Also for the active enthusiast, meet the ever so cool Rocketskates. They had a massive booth in the center of the Sands, where you could watch demos of people using the skates or even try them out yourself, which I did of course.

Blissfully happy at the end of my try….they’re a bit like a cross between a segway and rollerskates.

Below is a little video of my experience with them so you can get an idea of how they work.

3D printing was another hot trend at this year’s show. In the Sands alone, it seemed like the aisles of vendors touting their latest 3D printing solutions was never going to end. At one point, I found it a little dizzying and frankly, confusing.

While in no way yet mainstream, 3D printing, despite its hefty price point, is now a feasible possibility in today’s world. Take a look at some of the objects these vendors were showing off in their booths — from fashion and leather cell phone cases to sailboats, toys, dolls, objects and even food.

I had an incredible experience inside the massive 3D Systems booth (note that the funky leather smartphone cases above were made from one of their machines). Sense is a portable 3D scanner that can capture objects (including people) at 10 by 10 feet and its claim in addition to high quality scanning is that its price is much more reasonable than its competitive counterparts.

Below is a shot of me holding the captured image of “me” after they scanned me on the show floor.

The Sense is the only 3D scanner to deliver precise instant physical photography, so everyone can capture his or her scanable moments. Sense has flexible scan size and can capture everything from a picture-perfect cupcake to a full-body selfie, processing data in seconds for an instantly 3D printable file. Sense comes with an intuitive user interface with easy and automated zoom, track, focus, crop, enhance and share tools. Below is a video of my experience.

The 2015 CES Innovation Awards had its own section at the show, where they highlighted companies making cool and leading edge products.

Most of the products were displayed behind glass cabinets so you see but not touch and the range of solutions were vast.

In the Connected Home area, I discovered Edyn Garden who has a solar-powered Edyn smart garden system that takes the guess work out of gardening with their Wi-Fi enabled Edyn Garden Sensor.

The sensor monitors environmental conditions to make smart recommendations about what to plant and when to fertilize. This unique sensor works alongside the Edyn Water Valve and Edyn app to provide automatic watering options that deliver water when, and only when, plants need it, helping to conserve water and other precious resources.

The Fitness Section, where Activity Meets Tech, was bustling and this year, it seems as if there are now countless FitBit-like solutions that take fitness tracking and feedback to an entirely new level.

Lighting has been making a lot of new advances lately for both larger enterprises and new solutions consumers can use in their home — from improving efficiency to controlling your room’s colors and mood. Meet ilumi whose vibrant booth ambiance drew me over to learn more.

You simply download the free ilumi App from the App Store or Google Play, screw in your ilumi lightbulb and turn them on. You can control and customize each individual ilumi or groups of them – you can also program an ilumi light or set of lights to sync with certain music to affect a room’s mood, make them change colors or diffuse them in some rooms and not others.

It is all done through a simple-to-use mobile dashboard, allowing you to take control of your home or office’s lighting in just a few swipes or clicks. I think the idea is great, loved the team and can’t wait to put them to the test – we hope to review them in the coming months ahead.

The Digital Health section was exploding with solutions that ranged from sugar tracking as mentioned above and activity trackers to tools to rest the mind. Muse has an interesting approach to settling your over active mind and had an experiential chair set up so you could put it to the test. And, so I did….

I sat inside a comfy chair while the brain sensing headband was place around my head with the goal at putting my mind at ease. As eerie as this sound, the headband essentially reads your brainwaves read while giving you simple activities and games to reduce stress, strengthen your brain and help you relax via its EEG sensors, all of which are constantly detecting and measuring your brain activity.

Below is a video someone from their team shot as I went through the process on-site.

I found CES this year to be more interesting than last although I wished I had time to really explore the LVCC in depth. I was living and breathing the Kolibree toothbrush and Dentegra’s Smile Club for the week so amidst the buzz of home automation, fitness, 3D, cameras, audio devices and TV sets, it was rewarding to see Kolibree shine at CES for its second year in a row.

Last year, we only had a prototype to show and this year, Kolibree could demo two new mobile apps and talk about the compelling collaboration with Dentegra to help make dental care more affordable. Kolibree could also tout that its most advanced connected toothbrush will by shipping by the end of January. From gadget press and mom bloggers to Associated Press TV, NBC News, and even Sears Television, the team demoed to the world.

Kudos to Kolibree’s team in Paris for getting the toothbrush ready for this very important show and for market and to the Dentegra team for coming up with an innovative way for uninsured consumers to receive affordable dental care through its Smile Club. Alas, with another CES behind us, it’s now time to transform how Americans view dental care.

Photo credits: Top photo by Duke Chung from venitism.blogspot.com, Raticator from epestsupply.com, Flir One photo from their website, Samsung photo from Samsung website. Dentegra Smile Club mobile screen shot from the Dentegra Smile Club.com website and second ilumi photo of the mobile app from justelementary.com. Videos and all other photos courtesy of Renee Blodgett.

CES 2015 Wrap Up: From 3D Printing & Connected Devices to 4K TVs & Infrared Cameras

Monday, 12 January, 2015

There was no shortage of companies jumping on the “we must be connected to everything, or else..” trend that was central to most announcements coming out of this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas last week, an event that I’ve been going to for a couple of decades. It was even the heart of Samsung’s keynote address this year. At the Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC), the main building for CES’s heftiest exhibitors, it was Samsung (not Apple) who stole the show with its ever so impressive 360 screens that circled around its booth, showing flashy and compelling videos of cars racing and more. It was all about their 4K TVs, which are bendable, flat and curved although Samsung had plenty to offer in the mobile, audio and home automation space as well. Samsung JS9500 series is a new concept in UHD (4K technology), which they tout as eco-friendly. It uses nano-crystal technology and an intelligent SUHD re-mastering picture quality engine, which gives vast improvements in contrast, brightness, color reproduction, and detail. People seemed to be raving about FLIR at my evening networking events, a new infrared camera that connects to smartphones at around a $250 price point. As crazy as this sounds, the camera can spot pets and animals in the dark, as well as detect cold air drafts and leaking pipes in walls. FLIR ONE translates thermal energy into dynamic color images for personal safety, home repairs, outdoor adventures, and even artistic expression. The “all things connected world” seemed to proliferate the Sands Convention Center, located just off the strip a stone’s throw from the Wynn Hotel, where I demoing and singing Kolibree’s praises, the world’s first connected electric toothbrush with truly interactive feedback, gamification and 3D motion sensors. The toothbrush tells you how you’ve brushed,…

CES 2015 Wrap Up: From 3D Printing & Connected Devices to 4K TVs & Infrared Cameras

Monday, 12 January, 2015

There was no shortage of companies jumping on the “we must be connected to everything, or else..” trend that was central to most announcements coming out of this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas last week, an event that I’ve been going to for a couple of decades.

It was even the heart of Samsung’s keynote address this year. At the Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC), the main building for CES’s heftiest exhibitors, it was Samsung (not Apple) who stole the show with its ever so impressive 360 screens that circled around its booth, showing flashy and compelling videos of cars racing and more.

It was all about their 4K TVs, which are bendable, flat and curved although Samsung had plenty to offer in the mobile, audio and home automation space as well.

Samsung JS9500 series is a new concept in UHD (4K technology), which they tout as eco-friendly. It uses nano-crystal technology and an intelligent SUHD re-mastering picture quality engine, which gives vast improvements in contrast, brightness, color reproduction, and detail.

People seemed to be raving about FLIR at my evening networking events, a new infrared camera that connects to smartphones at around a $250 price point. As crazy as this sounds, the camera can spot pets and animals in the dark, as well as detect cold air drafts and leaking pipes in walls. FLIR ONE translates thermal energy into dynamic color images for personal safety, home repairs, outdoor adventures, and even artistic expression.

The “all things connected world” seemed to proliferate the Sands Convention Center, located just off the strip a stone’s throw from the Wynn Hotel, where I demoing and singing Kolibree‘s praises, the world’s first connected electric toothbrush with truly interactive feedback, gamification and 3D motion sensors. The toothbrush tells you how you’ve brushed, where you’ve brushed and where you haven’t.

We had a dentist on-site who is also an advisor to the company explaining why this is important and how knowing where you’re not brushing well empowers you to brush better next time around. In the old world, you’d only get that feedback from your dentist once a year, a far cry from the world we live in today where nearly everything can be connected thanks to Bluetooth technology.

A bit like Fitbit for your teeth, who also had a massive presence on the show floor not far from we hung our hats for the week, Kolibree differs from other connected brushes on the market, thanks to its proprietary technology, in that it provides an interactive map telling you exactly where you’ve missed, as well as where you’ve over-brushed and under-brushed.

All that data can be kept private or shared with your dentist, which is the first time that the dental industry will have access to this kind of data, all of which can be incredibly useful for both dentists and users.

Kolibree has teamed up with Dentegra who also had a presence at CES this year — the combined forces will offer incentives and discounts on dental care, as well as 25% off the Kolibree toothbrush through the new Dentegra Smile Club to be launched early this quarter.

While healthcare is an obvious win for the connected market (think measurement of your sugar levels in real time if you’re diabetic, feedback on your sleeping patterns so you can rectify through diet, exercise and other things, heart monitoring and reminders to take drugs), there were a host of other connected devices trying to prove that they were truly useful too.

The truth is – some were and some were….well, not so much.

New connected devices on the market seem to come in all types and sizes — from blingy necklaces that vibrate when your husband sends you a text and baby diapers that let you know when your kid has pooped to washing machines, interactive cameras and Raticator, a rodent detectors that notify you when it has caught a rodent — yes really (see the rat trap, a rat trap that uses a wifi chip to alert you when it electrocutes the rat).

Although I didn’t see it, I heard about a toaster that notifies you when the toast is up. Really? Could I not see or hear it pop up from inside my kitchen?

Connected devices can truly be useful but quite honestly, only when the connection is used to solve a problem we have or make our lives easier in ways that matter. I understand the value of connected watches within reason, but when I asked one vendor what the default was on the completely flat shiny silver faced watch, he told me it was how many steps I took and I’d only get the time after a second tap.

Huh? That’s like telling me that my smartphone’s default is digital games and a list of recommendations on restaurants before being able to make a call. I want a watch to first and foremost give me the time and my phone to first and foremost allow me to make calls.

When the watch becomes stylish and adorns me with a l’il luxury I might not have had otherwise, it gets a little more interesting however, at least for a woman. So far, all of these connected gadgets seem to be designed by men for men — big, bulky, black, silver and red seems to be the order of the day.

The gold and sparkling diamonds of Burg‘s blingy smart watch drew me over to their booth. It works via a SIM card on an Android 4.4 operating system, and is activated. The price point for this stainless steel and Swarovski crystal device is between $500-600. They also offer a range of fun colored sportier watches that track your activities.

Swarovski also had their own presence on the show floor and while I’m not much of a bling girl, I loved the designs of their soon to be released smart watches, most of which come with accompanying narrow glittery bracelets.

Glitter, diamonds and also black, white and midnight blue. They were my favorites of the connected watches and jewelry and I can’t wait to test them out when they hit the market.

Misfit is also working with Swarovski on a new line called Shine. The Shine Collection includes the Swarovski Shine Activity Tracking Crystal and accompanying accessories.

Additionally, I loved the latest watches from Guess at the show, touting rich colors and elegant design. You can get scrolling alerts across a Led screen or be alerted via a vibration and it uses voice commands to communicate with your cell phone.

The watch is water resistant, and comes in midnight blue (for men only — a shame since it’s my favorite one of all the options), brown and rose for men, white and black for women and white with a bit of bling. The watches use Martian technology, which I wrote about in mid-2014. The line, which supports both iPhone and Android, is slated for a September or October launch of this year and will retail for around $350.

One of my favorite companies making tracking watches is Withings — they had me at “hello” last year when they showed off their Activite watch in a beautiful and elegant soft brown leather. We can’t wait to test it out in the next few months.

This year, they were showcasing Activite Pop, a line of watches that is focused on the more adventurous. Pop comes in lots of fun colors and like their other watches, you have easy access to both the time and notification of your activity so you know where you stand throughout the day and can decide what your next move should be.

Also showing off fun jewelry was FashionTEQ. Their Zazzi bracelet offers an elegant and more discreet way for women to receive messages and reminders when you have your cell phone in your pocket or purse. Why would I even consider the geekier options designed by men for men when I could wear something that looked like this? I’d love to test it out in my daily life in the not too distant future.

Speaking of jewelry, the connected vendors weren’t the only ones fed up with the fact that techy products don’t cater to women enough. Meet GemPhones.

I fell in love with these elegant ear buds disguised as a functional but beautiful necklace you can wear around your neck. A dressier option is one that resembles pearls whereas the funkier hipper brown and black motif is a nice everyday option for the younger hipster and frankly, for a woman in her forties. I’m game and can’t wait to test these out.

Another mobile accessory I discovered solves a real problem — LOST ear buds. I don’t know about you but I’m constantly misplacing them, leaving them in the wrong bag or getting them tangled when I need them most. Sound Pockets has come up with a way around that by creating a plastic pocket that attaches itself to the bottom of your cell phone case and they’re available in lots of fun colors.

A perfect solution for the college student and for the forgetful and busy among us who need a handy way to keep track of them.

Also for the active enthusiast, meet the ever so cool Rocketskates. They had a massive booth in the center of the Sands, where you could watch demos of people using the skates or even try them out yourself, which I did of course.

Blissfully happy at the end of my try….they’re a bit like a cross between a segway and rollerskates.

Below is a little video of my experience with them so you can get an idea of how they work.

3D printing was another hot trend at this year’s show. In the Sands alone, it seemed like the aisles of vendors touting their latest 3D printing solutions was never going to end. At one point, I found it a little dizzying and frankly, confusing.

While in no way yet mainstream, 3D printing, despite its hefty price point, is now a feasible possibility in today’s world. Take a look at some of the objects these vendors were showing off in their booths — from fashion and leather cell phone cases to sailboats, toys, dolls, objects and even food.

I had an incredible experience inside the massive 3D Systems booth (note that the funky leather smartphone cases above were made from one of their machines). Sense is a portable 3D scanner that can capture objects (including people) at 10 by 10 feet and its claim in addition to high quality scanning is that its price is much more reasonable than its competitive counterparts.

Below is a shot of me holding the captured image of “me” after they scanned me on the show floor.

The Sense is the only 3D scanner to deliver precise instant physical photography, so everyone can capture his or her scanable moments. Sense has flexible scan size and can capture everything from a picture-perfect cupcake to a full-body selfie, processing data in seconds for an instantly 3D printable file. Sense comes with an intuitive user interface with easy and automated zoom, track, focus, crop, enhance and share tools. Below is a video of my experience.

The 2015 CES Innovation Awards had its own section at the show, where they highlighted companies making cool and leading edge products.

Most of the products were displayed behind glass cabinets so you see but not touch and the range of solutions were vast.

In the Connected Home area, I discovered Edyn Garden who has a solar-powered Edyn smart garden system that takes the guess work out of gardening with their Wi-Fi enabled Edyn Garden Sensor.

The sensor monitors environmental conditions to make smart recommendations about what to plant and when to fertilize. This unique sensor works alongside the Edyn Water Valve and Edyn app to provide automatic watering options that deliver water when, and only when, plants need it, helping to conserve water and other precious resources.

The Fitness Section, where Activity Meets Tech, was bustling and this year, it seems as if there are now countless FitBit-like solutions that take fitness tracking and feedback to an entirely new level.

Lighting has been making a lot of new advances lately for both larger enterprises and new solutions consumers can use in their home — from improving efficiency to controlling your room’s colors and mood. Meet ilumi whose vibrant booth ambiance drew me over to learn more.

You simply download the free ilumi App from the App Store or Google Play, screw in your ilumi lightbulb and turn them on. You can control and customize each individual ilumi or groups of them – you can also program an ilumi light or set of lights to sync with certain music to affect a room’s mood, make them change colors or diffuse them in some rooms and not others.

It is all done through a simple-to-use mobile dashboard, allowing you to take control of your home or office’s lighting in just a few swipes or clicks. I think the idea is great, loved the team and can’t wait to put them to the test – we hope to review them in the coming months ahead.

The Digital Health section was exploding with solutions that ranged from sugar tracking as mentioned above and activity trackers to tools to rest the mind. Muse has an interesting approach to settling your over active mind and had an experiential chair set up so you could put it to the test. And, so I did….

I sat inside a comfy chair while the brain sensing headband was place around my head with the goal at putting my mind at ease. As eerie as this sound, the headband essentially reads your brainwaves read while giving you simple activities and games to reduce stress, strengthen your brain and help you relax via its EEG sensors, all of which are constantly detecting and measuring your brain activity.

Below is a video someone from their team shot as I went through the process on-site.

I found CES this year to be more interesting than last although I wished I had time to really explore the LVCC in depth. I was living and breathing the Kolibree toothbrush and Dentegra’s Smile Club for the week so amidst the buzz of home automation, fitness, 3D, cameras, audio devices and TV sets, it was rewarding to see Kolibree shine at CES for its second year in a row.

Last year, we only had a prototype to show and this year, Kolibree could demo two new mobile apps and talk about the compelling collaboration with Dentegra to help make dental care more affordable. Kolibree could also tout that its most advanced connected toothbrush will by shipping by the end of January. From gadget press and mom bloggers to Associated Press TV, NBC News, and even Sears Television, the team demoed to the world.

Kudos to Kolibree’s team in Paris for getting the toothbrush ready for this very important show and for market and to the Dentegra team for coming up with an innovative way for uninsured consumers to receive affordable dental care through its Smile Club. Alas, with another CES behind us, it’s now time to transform how Americans view dental care.

Photo credits: Top photo by Duke Chung from venitism.blogspot.com, Raticator from epestsupply.com, Flir One photo from their website, Samsung photo from Samsung website. Dentegra Smile Club mobile screen shot from the Dentegra Smile Club.com website and second ilumi photo of the mobile app from justelementary.com. Videos and all other photos courtesy of Renee Blodgett.