Picture the scene. Bournemouth, UK. May 9th 2014. A Friday…the end of the working week. Geeks, nerds and tech enthusiasts from across the country start their journey to eventually arrive at March of the Droids on the 10th May. So what is March of the Droids? ‘Droids is the brainchild of a group of Tech/Android enthusiasts, who put their passion for Android into practice by delivering an annual event dedicated to the technology.
This was my first year. I’d often conversed with the above, and many others, on all things Android/Tech on various social networks, but never had I met any of them face to face. I won’t lie. I was worried. You see, in technology you usually get 2 types of people. The archetypal ‘nerd’ with the social skills of a particularly awkward Penguin (meme time!), or the City-slicker, cocaine abusing wide boy who’s been there and done it all….honest.
So colour me particularly pleased when I met these guys for the first time on that fateful Friday evening and neither was true. A bunch of genuine tech enthusiasts greeted me and a night of tech chat, some karaoke, and some more tech chat ensued!
The event itself was being held in Bournemouth’s Life Centre this year having migrated south from Manchester the year before. Along with the host for the day, the aforementioned James Bricknell, we had a number of guest speakers and some nice tech to get our hands on.
Opening the talks for the day was Modaco founder Paul O’Brien, who not only gave a good insight into his vision for the future of wearable technology, but was subjected to nothing short of a Rockstar’s mobbing when he offered to allow people to try on and test out his Google Glass device. Paul is one of a very select number of people within the UK to own the device so to have this hands on time was brilliant.
Clove Technology‘s Jon Love was on hand to discuss how Clove developments its retail portfolio and sources the tech we all spend our hard-earned money on. Matteo Doni from Skyscanner was on hand with a particularly interesting chat on how their mobile application came to be and how developments to it are made. I certainly learned a fair bit about their Crowd Testing programme. Stepping in at the 11th hour due to a late withdrawal was Tom Randall. Tom works for Sony Mobile, but was at March of the Droids in his capacity as founder of the Joypad Jedi website. The Joypad Jedi website is designed to help mobile gaming enthusiasts find that perfect harmony of brilliant games and supported hardware. Tom is quite possibly one of the most enthusiastic people you’ll ever meet. He made me out of breath just watching him…and I was sitting down most of the time. Tom ran a cool little competition to see who could beat the iconic Sonic the Hedgehog 2 level, Emerald Hill. After much huffing and multiple attempts, one of the March of the Droids regulars, Craig Clark, managed a spectacular time with just moments to go before the prize announcement. Tom get’s honourable mention for beating that time however! Craig walked away with a Sony Z1 Compact smartphone which is not to be sniffed at!
That’s just a flavour of March of the Droids this year. There were numerous competition prizes to be won, from attendees donating items for a charity raffle, to many of the biggest names in the tech world (HTC, Sony, etc) donating some prizes to the fund. This only helped to amplify an already great event.
So you could be reading this and thinking, “okay, but what’s it actually like”? That’s just it. Just like the people I met, everything was exactly as it sounds…very, very genuine. The chance to mix with like-minded individuals on a subject that binds you is something that Comic book fans, and regular tech journalists alike have often taken for granted. For us mere mortals, March of the Droids provides a real outlet and I’m happy to say, based on my discussions during my time in Bournemouth, it’s getting better every year as evidenced by the attendance of some of the scenes’ big hitters this year.
I HIGHLY suggest anyone with even a passing interest in Android look at this as something of interest when March of the Droids 2015 comes around. It really is a worthwhile experience, and you get to meet some characters too!
So thanks again for a great weekend and here’s to a great 2015 with even more tech!