A festival to celebrate the cyborgs among us

Welcome to the home of Borgfest, a festival and expo to celebrate and support people interested in human augmentation, enhancement, body modification, and wearable technology. Events scheduled year-round.

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  • RECLAIM

    RECLAIM

  • EXCEED

    EXCEED

  • INVENT

    INVENT

  • TRANSFORM

    TRANSFORM

  • WORK

    WORK

  • PLAY

    PLAY

  • INSPIRE

    INSPIRE

  • SERVE

    SERVE

  • IMAGINE

    IMAGINE

  • BOOST

    BOOST

  • COMPETE

    COMPETE

  • DAZZLE

    DAZZLE

  • WEARABLE

    WEARABLE

  • SCI-FI

    SCI-FI

What is a cyborg?

What is a cyborg?

Many of us are already cyborgs. Celebrate and support those with prosthetics, orthotics, implants, transplants, augmentations, performance enhancements, body mod, quantified selves, wearable tech, and more!
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News

News

Borgfest and EFF-Austin to collaborate on the world's first cyborg pride parade and cyborg rights rally on March 11, 2018.
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Borgfest Austin 2018

Borgfest Austin 2018

Events occur year-round culminating in Borgtown, a restricted-entry district in Austin, Texas. Visitors to Borgtown will need authorization codes to enter the district during the festival.
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Interested?

Interested?

Let us know and receive email updates on early-bird registration discounts, event details, logistics, participation opportunities, VIP guests, news, and more.
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Wearable Tech for Safer Streets

 

Borgfest presents

Wearable Tech for Safer Streets

 

Note: Please register via Eventbrite to get your ticket:

GoProCyclistChaotic Moon Studios logoNASB logoATX Safer Streets logoBorgFest logoGoLab Austin logoAustin Health Tech Meet Up logo

Join us June 18 for our inaugural Wearable Wednesday Austin!

Wearable Tech MeetUp for Safer Streets

The emergence of the Wearable Technology industry has come fast and far in a short period of time. Innovative and revolutionary ideas have almost instantaneously spawned from concept to reality, from things of dreams and movies into tangible products. Once only known in the world of the Jetsons, today’s consumers have access to elegant fitness activity monitors like the Misfit, augmented reality retinal displays like the Glyph and LED eyelashes created by Soomi Park.

At the inaugural Wearable Wednesday Austin, we will gather to have a special conversation about the urgent need for safer streets in Austin.  Too many us have lost friends or have had close calls because our community is unable to share the roads responsibly and safely.  We need a culture change that addresses and reduces car-dependency and DUI, creates more and better transportation options, and promotes road sharing courtesy among pedestrians, cyclists, and drivers.  Wearable Wednesday will be a forum to discuss ways that wearable technology can help improve safety for all road users.

DUI is among the most dangerous road uses.  Can the consquences of self-driving and car-dependency be addressed through an ecology of alternative transportation options?  What modes of transportation are out there?  What apps and technologies–wearable or not–are available to get the most use out of them?  What stories and footage do we have from cyclists wearing GoPro?  Pedestrians wearing Glass?  What wearable technologies are people using to increase their visibility to other road users? What wearable technologies are the police using or researching to improve public safety?  What about wearable technologies that serve as blackbox recorders?

In this special edition of Wearable Wednesday Austin, we won’t talk so much about the wearables ecology as much as we will focus on whether wearables can play a role in road safety–like documenting and discouraging bad road user behavior; or increasing the visiblity of and information about other road users; or whether some wearable designs contribute to the problem.

Agenda:

6:00PM – Networking and Demos

6:45PM – Introduction by Rich MacKinnon, Urban Transportation Commissioner, Wearable World Ambassador, and Executive Director of Borgfest.

6:50PM – Speakers, Presentations, and Q&A.

Speakers/Presentations:

Sara Levine, founder, ATX Safer Streets.  “How technology can save lives.”

Charlie Harper, organizer, North Austin Social Bicycling. “Electric Eyes Don’t Forget: Cyclists’ Use of Modern Digital Capture and Why It’s So Damn Important

Jackson Egan, Hit-and-Run Over Cyclist and developer, Chaotic Moon.  “The Helmet of Justice”

8:35PM – Wrap Up, Feedback, and Announcements

8:50PM – After-Party

10:00PM – Good night!

 

Speaker bios: 

Jackson Egan, Developer,  Chaotic Moon

Jackson Egan, hit-and-run-over cyclist, entrepreneur and web consultant: Ave Maria class of 2012, currently a developer at Chaotic Moon and co-founder of In Media Res.

Charlie L. Harper III, Founder, North Austin Social Bicycling

Charlie L. Harper III is a professional freelance photographer in Austin, Texas, where he specializes in news photography and field portraiture. An avid cyclist, Harper is the founder of North Austin Social Bicycling, which hosts public social bicycle rides and exists to promote cycling community and safety in Austin and elsewhere.

Sara LeVine, Founder, ATX Safer Streets
Founded ATX Safer Streets in late March to address Austin’s poor choices for late night transportation.  Spent the last decade managing and bartending in a variety of different establishments before retiring from the service industry to focus on raising her daughter who born in late 2013.

Rich MacKinnon, Executive Director, BorgFest Human Augmentation Expo 

Rich MacKinnon is the senior member and past chair of the City of Austin Urban Transportation Commission.  He also chairs the UTC subcommittee for Transportation Network Companies and the Cap Metro Customer Satisfaction Advisory Commitee.  He’s an executive member of the Alliance for Public Transportation.  Tonight his worlds collide as he combines his transportation roles with his special interest in wearable technologies.  His upcoming cultural and entertainment festival, BorgFest, is an expo on human augmentation, performance enhancement, body modification, and wearable technologies.

THANK YOU TO OUR SPONSORS & PARTNERS!

Please help us produce more wearable tech events in the future!  And it’s not too late to sponsor this event.  Please become a sponsor and join our awesome team of partners– BorgFest Human Augmentation Expo, GoLab Austin, and Austin Health Tech.  Contact rich@borgfest.com to discuss creative and custom sponsorship opportunities.

About our Sponsors

BorgFest Human Augmentation Expo

Celebrate and support those with prosthetics, orthotics, implants, transplants, augmentations, performance enhancements, body mod, quantified selves, wearable tech, and more!

Borg Fest is a celebration for an intentional community of people interested in human augmentation and enhancement.  Many of the participants will themselves have been augmented as a result of accident, injury, war, congenital defect, illness, or disease.  Others may have been augmented for personal, professional, artistic, stylistic, philosophical, political, or religious reasons.  Some of the participants are industry and academic leaders in the fields that provide products and services to this community.  Amidst the celebration, key conversations will occur, critical contacts made, relationships formed, ideas crystalized, companies started, concepts demonstrated, and people helped.

GoLab Austin

Downtown coworking space for creative professionals.  At the GoLab, bootstrapping entrepreneurs, creative and design professionals, and software developers work within a system that makes overcoming typical business challenges and collaborating with coworkers easy. Find us at 621 E. 6th St. in the ATX (Austin, Texas)! Stop by and say “Hello.”

Austin Health Tech

Healthcare, Technology, and Health 2.0.

Welcome to Austin Health Tech, an organization with one simple aim: To bring the health,  technology, and business communities of central Texas together to make healthcare better.

We are tech startups, policy wonks, social media mavens, and software developers. We are health care professionals and health care amateurs. We are leaders, students, artists, consultants, advocates, and hackers. We are weird, we are entrepreneurial, and as Texans, we like to think BIG.

We are home to the Austin chapter of Health 2.0, an international organization committed to disrupting health care to improve it. You can think of this site as a central hub for all things related to health innovation in the Texas capital. Join us at trade shows and conferences here in town, show up at a happy hour or meetup, or roll up your sleeves and come to a hackathon.

If you want to be involved, you’ve come to the right place. We like questions. We love ideas. You should definitely reach out and get in touch with us. We look forward to working with y’all!

About Wearable Wednesdays

Wearable Wednesday events are an open community forum focused on the blending of technology, art and humanity in the Wearable Technology and Internet of Things ecosystem.  Our goal is to provide a platform for industry innovators, entrepreneurs, builders and investors to connect with like-minded, motivated people with the knowledge, vision and partnerships that will move the Internet of Wearable Things ecosystem forward. Group Meetups will include both technical and market-oriented sessions. Wearable Wednesdays are held globally across the world’s top tech centers, including San Francisco, New York, Dallas and London, and we continue to launch new locations periodically. Meet the most innovative wearable tech entrepreneurs in your community, demo products, share ideas and discuss trends in both local and global markets.

Uncommon interests in common

What do two grinders, a futurist, digital product strategist & designer, hacker, mobile developer, space gangster, architect, professor of human augmentics, director of business development, freelance journalist, maker, technology wizard, amputee, cyborg, public speaker, peer educator, industrial UX design engineer, costumer, enthusiast, author, and researcher have in common?  Read more

Borgfest selected to attend TEDMED

TEDMED

Rich MacKinnon was selected to represent BorgFest at TEDMED 2014 in San Francisco.  The application also received a scholarship to attend.  Here are the questions (as he recalls them) and answers from the application.

[I tend to save written responses for online forms to safeguard against accidental loss of work.  Unfortunately, I didn’t save the exact language of the questions from the application –rcm]

Tell us about your organization

Freeing our minds, then freeing our bodies.

Celebrate and support those with prosthetics, orthotics, implants, transplants, augmentations, performance enhancements, body mod, quantified selves, wearable tech, and more!

Borg Fest is a celebration for an intentional community of people interested in human augmentation and enhancement. Many of the participants will themselves have been augmented as a result of accident, injury, war, congenital defect, illness, or disease. Others may have been augmented for personal, professional, artistic, stylistic, philosophical, political, or religious reasons. Many of the participants are industry and academic leaders in the fields that provide products and services to this community. Amidst the celebration, key conversations will occur, critical contacts made, relationships formed, ideas crystalized, companies started, concepts demonstrated, and people helped.

We are the embodiment of the sum total of our knowledge and experience. We want to be the fastest, smartest, most adaptable that we can be. And we understand that this realization can be frightening, even threatening, to some and presents ethical challenges that question the very nature of what it means to be human.

 

How is your project unique? 

I’m all about the culture induced by the fantastic changes brought about the rapid technological achievements in health and life sciences. When we provide a prosthetic, for instance, we are no longer replacing lost capability, we are catalyzing a remade identity which may be more empowered than it was before. The story is no longer just about the bionic leg, but the dance. Culture provides us with the context for understanding why these advances are necessary (or not).

 

Why are you applying for a scholarship?

Borgfest is a venture boot-strapped out of my own pocket. We are currently developing the sponsor pitches, the success of which will determine the scope of the first festival tentatively scheduled for Oct 2014. As a result, my own funds are pretty much dedicated to getting the first sponsor checks in our bank account. Once that’s done, I’ll have a budget to spend on relevant expenses such as TEDMED registration. In the mean time, I could use your help enabling me to both focus on bootstrapping Borg Fest and also being able to afford TEDMED.

 

How will you contribute to TEDMED?

You get me. You don’t know me yet. But you get my brain, passion, and enthusiasm loaded into a CULTURE PRIMACY perspective as the best way to mainstream the acceptance of the technological interventions in the human body, and consequently, human identity. We do it through pride, celebration, inspiration, music, games, competition, film, and TV. This leads to needs, ideas, solutions, capital, products, services, and lives improved through this virtuous circle of collaboration. If we do it wrong and ignore the culture, we get fear, distrust, jealousy, prejudice, marginalization, segregation, and social upheaval.

 

What is your role in your organization?

Evangelize, Capitalize, Create, Convene, Converse, Conspire, Inspire, Collaborate, Repeat. I’m creating the world’s premier CULTURAL event for cyborgs focusing on the identity, social, and political issues arising from technological interventions in our rapidly changing human bodies. This is a pride festival celebrating our accomplishments in improving the quality of lives through augmentation, enhancement, body modification, and wearable technology.

 

What do you expect to get out of attending TEDMED?  

I want to meet the people who are actively pushing against the boundaries of human augmentation and enhancement whether through prosthetics/orthotics, augmentics, or pharma. I want to introduce them to and encourage them to collaborate with the fantastic people I’ve met who wouldn’t necessarily come or be able to come to TEDMED and are working on synergistic projects and performances.

Borgfest Needs Your Vote Today!

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Thanks for your support and votes in the contest to win us some cash and recognition during SXSW.  We’ll let you know if we win anything!  This picture is Borgfest founder Rich MacKinnon giving an interview to BuzzStarter/VentureBeat during SXSW.

Borgfest’s “conversation initializer” gets front page of SFGate

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Great SXSW coverage for Borgfest!!  But why?  Read the next post for our thoughts.

#glassfail, but why?

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The Borgfest “conversation initializer” has turned out to be hugely successful in inviting people to come talk to us about our expo on human augmentation, enhancement, modification, and wearable technology, but why?  Over the last couple days of SXSW, we’ve worn the face jewelry and were quite surprised by how many people engaged us despite its relative lack of “functionality.”  “What does it do?” or “What is it?” people kept asking and our response was that it is a conversation initializer.  Success!  But when pressed for what else it does, we’d simply say what more is necessary?  Isn’t starting conversations the most important tool one can have?  Once you’ve got people talking, anything is possible.  And then magically, one at a time, everyone we spoke to got it.  This low-tech piece of jewelry seemingly accomplishes what Google Glass cannot–it turns people on, rather than off.  It won’t matter how much more capability is added to Glass if it continues to inhibit conversation rather than encourage it.

And how does this insight relate to Borgfest?  Simple.  Borgfest is not just a technology conference for people with disabilities or people who are intentionally modifying or augmenting their bodies.  Borgfest is a culture festival supporting people with changed bodies and impacted identities.  We exist to foster pride, innovation, and solutions for the cyborgs among us.  See the difference?

SXSW for Cyborgs

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Wearable is the unofficial theme of SXSW Interactive 2014.  Borgfest will be there sporting our fantastic face rig acquired from CyberDog while in London for the CyberSalon on Human Enhancement Technologies.  More on that later.  Already, our face rig has captured the attention of quite a few Google Glass wearers.  The most common question asked, “Does it work?”  While we understand the curiosity, we believe the emerging cyborg etiquette frowns upon such questions among strangers or even casual acquaintances.  Would you consider asking a woman with a breast modification, “Does it work?”  Or perhaps approaching a stranger with an elaborate inking, “What does it mean?”  Or maybe asking someone on the street, “Are you female?”  Curiosity is terrific, but in the new emerging cyborg culture, we should be aware of emerging sensibilities, that in retrospect, may not be so new after all.

Here’s our #sxsw4cyborgs schedule:

http://schedule.sxsw.com/user_events/dccc66ef154527e1fa33acac5ca7ca36e338af58

Also, we’ll be posting pics and commentary to Twitter and Tumblr

Calling all Borgs! BorgFest announces call for participants

BorgFest, the human augmentation expo is announcing a call for speakers, presentations, demonstrations, competitions, hands-on workshops, interactive exhibitors, merchants and vendors, feature and short-length films and videos, performance artists and performers, themed or augmented bands and musicians, and borg celebrities.  We are also looking to partner with organizations interested in profit-sharing ticket sales and distribution.  BorgFest is scheduled for October 2014 in Austin, Texas, the city of festivals.

BorgFest will be unlike any conference you’ve attended.  It will take place in BorgTown, a stylized, futuristic Asian setting (think Bladerunner Chinatown) that will be a refreshing and exciting break from sterile hotel ballrooms and convention center conference rooms!  Participants will be strongly encouraged to depart from podium-centric Powerpoint presentations and 10 x 10 pipe and drape booths.  The goal of our “Festival Experience” team is to work with our participants to create an exciting, interactive experience for festival attendees.  Need help re-envisioning / re-working your standard conference spiel or booth?  Don’t hesitate to contact us for ideas!  You, your audience, fans and customers will find the effort a refreshing departure.

The call for participants ends March 31, 2014.  Selected participants will receive complimentary registration and “Delegate” status.  Open registration begins April 1, 2014 for paying participants.

Contact us now!

 

About BorgFest

Freeing our minds, then freeing our bodies.

Celebrate and support those with prosthetics, orthotics, implants, transplants, augmentations, performance enhancements, body mod, quantified selves, wearable tech, and more!

Borg Fest is a celebration for an intentional community of people interested in human augmentation and enhancement.  Many of the participants will themselves have been augmented as a result of accident, injury, war, congenital defect, illness, or disease.  Others may have been augmented for personal, professional, artistic, stylistic, philosophical, political, or religious reasons.  Some of the participants are industry and academic leaders in the fields that provide products and services to this community.  Amidst the celebration, key conversations will occur, critical contacts made, relationships formed, ideas crystalized, companies started, concepts demonstrated, and people helped.

It’s time to quit limiting the bounds of humanity with pointless purity tests for naturalness, gender, age, or tech. Everything we make becomes us. We are our environment. We are the embodiment of the sum total of our knowledge and experience. When we face catastrophe, we want to summon the best response that our civilization can offer. We are no longer interested in arbitrary limits on our performance. We want to be the fastest, smartest, most adaptable that we can be. And we understand that this realization can be frightening, even threatening, to some and presents ethical challenges that question the very nature of what it means to be human. In the spirit of our communal self-discovery, we need your help breathing life into BorgFest–a human augmentation expo. Together, we will celebrate the cyborgs among us.

Here are some of the questions we’re interested in:

At what point will prosthetic capabilities exceed those of the human parts they replace?

What are the ethical ramifications arising from augmentations providing advantages to the recipient?

What limits, if any, should be placed on elective amputation, implantation, transplantation, and other invasive augmentation?

Are pharmaceutical and dietary/nutritional supplements bona fide forms of prosthetics/orthotics?

Essential versus Elective: How do we determine the limits of mandatory healthcare coverage for limb replacement, hormone therapy, gender reassignment, breast reduction, cosmetic plastic surgery, and other controversial procedures?

What are the challenges for enabling a cost-savings market of previously-owned prosthetics and orthotics?

What are the challenges facing DIY (do it yourself) prosthetics, body hacking/”grinding”?

Read more about BorgFest!

 

Stacy Zoern, founder and president of Kenguru wheelchair electric cars to speak at BorgFest

We are pleased to announce that Stacy Zoern, founder and president of Kenguru will be speaking at BorgFest.  Kenguru makes 100% electric purpose-built cars for people in wheelchairs.  Read more

Cyborg Videos Updated

Are you a visual person?  Enjoy our unparalleled collection of videos on the topic of human augmentation, body modification, and performance enhancement.

>>> View the Cyborg Video List