Flipping out over new tech

Published 9:00 pm Monday, January 28, 2019

The North Suffolk Library entertained more than 300 visitors on Saturday with a selection of interesting technology, including a brand-new device for the Suffolk Public Library.

“Flip the Switch” offered an array of activities that allowed children to try out some new tech or get creative with old, donated pieces. They lined up to traverse ECPI’s virtual reality museum and were delightfully surprised when they discovered songs to play inside the simulation.

Brody Oaks showed visitors how they can charge their cellphones by pedaling a bicycle connected to a few electrifying components, such as a car alternator and a power inverter.

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“This bike is a simple demonstration of how to charge your phone using your legs,” Oaks said.

The lobby was filled with conversations that were punctuated by the sharp crack of plastic. Children broke down donated devices for their own art projects at Deb Munroe’s table, an artist from OnePast7 art studio and the SPARC Initiative.

Hammers bashed boomboxes and pieces were tied by wire for makeshift art. Munroe helped children drill their projects onto a wooden post, which became their “technology tree,” she said.

“We’re sort of upcycling old technology and making a sculpture,” she said.

Chesapeake resident Linda Overheim helped her grandchildren Liam, 8, and Lyla, 3, Kuhlman make a bell that chimed inside a television remote. She and her grandchildren come to the library a few times each week, she said, and the kids were especially excited for Saturday.

“They couldn’t wait. I was late and they were getting excited,” she said as they kept at the arts and crafts scattered on the floor. “They kept calling me (and saying), ‘Are you coming, are you coming?’”

“Flip the Switch” was organized to let the Suffolk community and others experience technology in different ways, showing how these devices can impact people and their environment.

“Technology is such an important part of our life now,” said Emerging Technologies Librarian Bill Edwards-Dodmer. “Pretty much everything we do involves technology in some aspect.”

High scores in “Tetris” were tallied in the “gaming zone” by the Nansemond-Suffolk Academy Robotics Club demonstration of their latest machine. The Nansemond River Preservation Alliance introduced visitors to a phone application for the Hampton Roads flood mapping team Catch the King.

Staff also debuted the prize for the library readers meeting the Winter Reading Challenge goal before the Saturday event. It was a brand-new drone that was purchased with a donation by Friends of the Suffolk Library for the reading achievement.

Edwards-Dodmer said the drone will be used for demonstrations and programs this spring. It will capture dynamic footage and add to the fun of the Library2Go mobile.

“We envision this to be a very versatile tool … to help us engage the Suffolk community more,” he said.

Todd Imbriaco, 22, drew a crowd outside of the library with a drone of his own. The Old Dominion University student showed parents and children how the drone’s camera sends a video feed directly to the remote controls in his hand as it soared overhead.

His drone buzzed around a couple of birds before it hovered above Imbriaco and slowly descended. He has been doing drone photography for the past three years, most of which can be found on his website.

He grew up playing with Air Hogs and rubber band airplanes, but now he’s flying a piece of technology that once cost him more than $1,000. But it’s only getting more affordable as the industry moves forward.

“It’s going to get better and better and cheaper and cheaper,” he said. “Technology growth is exponential, and that’s the most interesting thing to me.”