If technology were a religion, the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center would be one of the holiest shrines on any pilgrimage. So much of our modern computer world was invented at this freewheeling innovation lab (and largely given away). Prefer your mouse and point-and-click graphical interface to a UNIX-style command line? Thanks PARC. Think laser prints look better than dot-matrix scrawl? Thanks again.
Some say the glory days have passed. PARC today is a more-focused operation that has to turn quick profits (no more open funding from it’s owner Xerox). But it’s still a well-staffed corporate research lab in an era with ever-fewer of those creatures. On Monday, its staff opened the doors to the press to show off the latest gizmos.
Some demos left me flat. Better software for creating personalized direct mail and tracking how people respond to it? Valuable, maybe, but not one that gets the heart racing.
I geeked out most to the clean tech presentation. Unlike in the old days, (sigh) PARC no longer invents whatever its free-thinking nerds can dream up. But it does find awfully creative ways to spin-off printer technology.
See our gallery here for the technologies that caught my eye. These are all research projects in various states of development. Don’t look for products tomorrow. But maybe in a few years...