Cool Stuff in Hamburg and Munich

Cool Stuff: Hamburg

We started our visit to Hamburg with a cruise around the harbor with some information about the city of Hamburg. What I found most interesting was that the city created a very slick website—Discover Hamburg in 360°—with incredible 360° videos that show off the city and its myriad features. The best part was they had VR headsets for us to use on the boat. It didn’t sound like a great idea to me at first—remember, I once wrote a column called, “Virtual Reality Still Makes Me Vomit,” but it was very well done and I was able to enjoy both the VR tour and the cruise without discomfort.

The Hamburg Elbphilharmonie (concert hall) as seen from our boat.

The Hamburg Elbphilharmonie (concert hall) as seen from our boat.

The cruise dropped us off near the main Airbus campus in Germany and the way-cool ZAL Tech Centre. We learned how the aviation industry uses augmented reality, 3D printing, and advanced robotics for rapid prototyping and cost savings. I got to test an exoskeleton prototype of a “chairless chair,” which allowed me to sit “in thin air” as I worked.

Here I'm testing a "chairless chair," a carbon fiber exoskeleton prototype for aircraft assembly workers.

Here I’m testing a “chairless chair,” a carbon fiber exoskeleton prototype for aircraft assembly workers.

If you look behind my legs you can see the orange and black carbon fiber exoskeleton supporting my weight (which is 220 pounds or .99.79 kilograms).

Cool Stuff: Munich

On Thursday morning we headed to Munich, and spent the afternoon touring the UnternehmerTUM Center for Innovation and Business Creation. We also visited the LMU Entrepreneurship Center, where they told us about Bavaria and its thriving startup scene. Bavaria has more than 50 incubators and accelerator programs by leading companies including Allianz, Siemens, and Telefonica.

After dinner we attended a Mixed Reality Meet Up at Microsoft’s Munich offices. Among other things, they showed us a demo of a very slick web app called CoSpaces, which provides tools and props for creating VR stories without writing any code. It’s quite clever and, at least for now, free of charge for users.

Friday was our last day and they saved the best for last. First up was visiting a Hackathon and seeing a new University program focused on cybersecurity. Then we visited the offices of Quantum Systems, which designs and manufacturers “autonomous transition aircraft for civilian use.”

What does that mean? It means drones that take off and land vertically like a helicopter, but can also fly at speeds up to 100mph like a traditional airplane. It flies up to two hours (depending upon its camera and battery configuration) and is a breakthrough in aerial imaging. Prices start around $60K, so I don’t think I’ll be getting one any time soon. Still, they were VERY cool!

The carbon fiber drone weighs less than 14 kilograms (30.86 pounds) and fits in this road case.

The carbon fiber drone weighs less than 14 kilograms (30.86 pounds) and fits in this road case.

Cool Food and Beer (Duh)

Finally, we had our last supper, a traditional Bavarian feast, at the world-famous Ratskeller restaurant. Located in the basement of Munich City Hall (sometimes referred to as the Glockenspiel)…well, check it out:

Munich City Hall (a.k.a. The Glockenspiel) has a fabulous Bavarian restaurant in its basement.

Munich City Hall (a.k.a. The Glockenspiel) has a fabulous Bavarian restaurant in its basement.

Apparently having a beer or dining hall in the basement of City Hall is common in German cities. As one local put it, “beer and politics go together like beer and politics.”

Since no visit to Germany would be complete without sausage and beer…that’s what I ordered. I just didn’t expect there to be so much of either (and yes, the sausages are indeed topped with bacon):

Beer and sausages topped with bacon. YUM!

Beer and sausages topped with bacon. YUM!

There’s one more thing: I shot every photo in this column with my iPhone 7 Plus and Apple’s Camera app.

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