ShoWest, the movie-theater industry’s annual trade convention, is always filled with endless variations on carpeting and bathroom cleaners, but it’s also the place to check out more exciting innovations, from new concession-stand items (I sampled a Buffalo chicken flatbread sandwich and a mini apple dumpling) to forthcoming onscreen entertainment (Phish in 3D!). Here are the two coolest things I saw at ShoWest this year:
Cinema Immerz is the latest attempt to create a more overwhelming sensory experience at the movies. The apparatus fits over your shoulders and sits on your chest, where it vibrates and pulsates along with the onscreen sound. The demo featured the trailer for some Z-grade sci-fi movie, and it kind of felt like having two cell phones set on “vibrate” sitting on my chest, only a little more intense. The device is first rolling out for home video-game players, but the company hopes to have wireless versions available for movie theaters soon.
The fancy Coke booth was touting a machine called Coca-Cola Freestyle, clearly the awesome beverage dispenser of the future. Currently being beta tested in a single Atlanta theater, Freestyle has a touch screen with 106 different varieties of Coke products (including flavors from around the world), which the machine mixes itself on demand according to precise calculations. Coke’s rep noted that Freestyle was developed using technology that had initially been created for cars and medical devices, but this is clearly a much better use. Bring on the six different types of Diet Coke!