NCTA – The Internet & TV Association and CableLabs promised their Near Future event would not be a typical cable conference, and they delivered. “Today is the un-conference,” NCTA pres/CEO Michael Powell said at the start of the half-day of demos and talks from futurists and technologists. “Rather than spending the whole time talking about ourselves, we wanted to spotlight the amazing things our networks make possible.” And that’s what happened. No one talked about cable or pay TV operators. Neither DOCSIS 3.1 nor even OTT were mentioned. Instead it was almost easy to forget cable was involved—until you looked at the audience which included several cable heavyweights from Cox pres Pat Esser to AMC Networks chief Josh Sapan (most of the NCTA board was there). Earlier in the day, about 30 members of Congress were at the pop-up conference to see demos and talk with the CEOs. The purpose was to show how a range of consumer experiences (live, work, learn and play) are being reimagined by tech and powerful networks. The conference took its name from the phrase CableLabs uses to describe a timeline of 3-5 years from now, according to CEO Phil McKinney. Attendees got a firsthand look at how digital faces are created from Google VR sr staff engineer Paul Debevec. That technology has helped power a project between the USC Institute for Creative Technology and USC Shoah Foundation to record stories of Holocaust survivors so that you can ask them questions and they respond with relevant info in real time. The audience got to try that out in a demo, as well as what it feels like to fly with a display from Birdly. Tim Dodd, svp, corporate development for Technicolor, talked about why the company is keen on game engines, showing how they put the audience in the story and create infinite possibilities. Lots of cool tech, with NCTA putting it all up on YouTube for you to see yourself.