Start 'em young. That was one theme evident at Thursday's coolTECH 2009 exhibit showcasing dozens of Tampa Bay's up-and-coming technology firms. The event, spread over three floors of the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center, also featured two battle-tested robots designed and built by the robotics team at Hillsborough's Middleton High School. Are they serious? Taylor Anderson, a Middleton senior in the fall, says he wants to go to Stanford and make space robots for NASA. It's all part of the Tampa Bay Technology Forum's annual salute to tech innovation. Here are some favorite picks from the coolTECH exhibit floor.
What lies beneath
Synthetic cadavers? Add that to the holiday gift list. Exhibitor SynDaver Labs in Tampa showed off synthetic muscles, arteries and veins. Dr. Christopher Sakezles figured out how to make them out of water, fiber and salt. They are used for medical testing and surgical training. Not bad for horror films, too.
Slow name, fast game
Doesn't really matter what these guys do. They get points just for their admittedly silly name: Barking Snail. The Tampa firm creates digital advertising networks aimed at consumers for restaurants, hotels and other hospitality spots.
Deeper peek at riches
Treasure hunter Mark Gordon, president of Odyssey Marine Exploration, unveiled new technology employed by his deepwater shipwreck-hunting operation. It lets Odyssey "look" several meters under the ocean floor. It's already finding new wrecks where it had looked previously.
Robert Trigaux, Times business columnist