Alameda Journal: Alameda's Edge Innovations provides front seat to history, April 5, 2013


ALAMEDA -- Edge Innovations, operating out of an aging hangar at Alameda Point since 2001, has created more than a dozen whales, a 5,500-pound snake, a 25-foot man-eating shark, a mummy with 46 servo-valves (trust us, it's cool) and a "Lake of Dreams" colored by the movement of two, skipping, gliding orbs.

Founder Walt Conti's 21-year-old engineering-artistic hybrid of a company has been making film, theme park and technological magic ever since the Stanford grad blazed through David Kelley's IDEO product design "apprentice program" in Palo Alto, graduated to Lucasfilm and landed in the creative pool of film directors and industry titans such as James Cameron ("Titanic," "Avatar"). EI is now a world-class maker of animatronics, a cross-blend of animation and electronics, with an elite client list, multimillion dollar projects and a kid-in-a-garage-making-gizmos mentality.

"It's funny how things turn out," Conti says, embarking on a three-hour interview. "I read an article on 'E.T.' and never thought of working on films."

But Conti and Ty Boyce, a principal of EI at the former naval air station and also a Stanford product, thought a great deal about movement.

"We made robotic arms and had them dance," Conti recalls. "We'd choreograph to music. For me, it was the coolness of motion."