Silicon Valley Watcher - Former FT journalist Tom Foremski reporting from the intersection of technology and media

Inspired By Burning Man: Giant Silicon Man - At The World's Largest GeekFest

Posted by Tom Foremski - September 12, 2011

An artist rendering of what the 18 feet tall Silicon Man (SciMan) will look like after he is erected inside the Moscone Center West during the Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco, Sept. 13-15.

By Intel Free Press

No one would ever confuse the Intel Developer Forum with Burning Man, but the upcoming tech industry event in San Francisco will boast at least a hint of the annual counter-cultural festival in the Nevada desert.

He's called SiMan, short for Silicon Man, and on the second day of Intel's big geekfest, he will stand an imposing 18 feet high inside Moscone Center West.

While that height pales in comparison to the 50-foot-tall effigy that burned to the ground earlier this month to the delight of some 50,000 desert-dwelling self-stylists, some wearing nothing but a free spirit, SiMan promises to be a behemoth impressive in his own right.

Besides being regaled by a fully clothed crowd and remaining indoors, SiMan isn't destined for a fiery end. Rather, he will be gloriously illuminated with 1,500 LED bulbs strung together with 180 feet of wiring. And his masters plan to let him live on to serve as a beacon for an embedded future.

"SiMan was created especially for IDF, but my hope is that he will be used for other events," said Steve Reed, director of industry marketing for Intel's Embedded and Communications Group. "We want him to send to as many people as possible the message that embedded technology makes an intelligent connected solutions life possible. SiMan symbolizes that we are already living that life through devices driven by embedded technology."

While a cynical mind could discount SiMan as just a 700-pound marketing stunt, Reed and his team are hoping developers walk away from this towering 360-degree experience feeling that the sizable challenges involved in making an intelligent connected world a reality can be overcome through collaboration.

What Sleeping Beauty's castle is to Disneyland, SiMan promises to be the iconic symbol of this year's IDF Technology Showcase, where on the first floor of the convention center more than 150 companies will demonstrate their newest innovations.

Unlike Dr. Frankenstein, who worked at a frantic pace with the help of a single assistant, Intel's Embedded and Communications Group has a set schedule planned for the dawn of its creation, and is hoping for community involvement during the entire build.

The climax, dubbed "SiMan Glow Time," is scheduled for 6:15 p.m. Wednesday (Sept. 14), but before the embedded giant is lit up like a Christmas tree at New York's Rockefeller Center with IDF revelers waving glow sticks provided by Intel, SiMan will have gone through several stages of construction.

Those who sit through a short video at the in the "Embedded Zone" inside the technology showcase will earn a die-shaped connector piece that they'll place directly on SiMan, be it on his 25-pound head or other body parts that will be attached starting at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday.

In what sounds like a live demonstration of the familiar children's song "Dry Bones," the two-day plan is for the torso to be connected to the head, the right arm to be connected to the torso, and so on. SiMan's first attempt at standing will be aided by motors and beams.

SiMan is the brainchild of a team responsible for driving traffic to the Embedded Zone, where communications infrastructure, machine-to-machine, medical, retail and digital signage will be among the embedded sectors showcased. Several ideas were considered, including a trivia challenge and dancing flash mob, but the concept of a glowing Goliath stuck, and timing was "perfect" with Burning Man having concluded less than 2 weeks prior to IDF.

"We were looking for a 'wow factor,'" said Len Klebba, event marketing team manager for Intel. "We whittled the ideas down to the one we thought was the most fun and had the most legs."

SiMan has two, each weighing 80 pounds, but Klebba was referring to the marketing opportunities, of course. SiMan is a rogue beast, one of a kind, with body parts adorned with processor images used to represent Intel's embedded and communications business. He was conceived to balance art with a high-tech "geek" appeal.

With IDF often referred to as "the world's biggest geekfest," sounds like the perfect birthplace for the big fella.


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