Announcing the Hardware Stage agenda at TechCrunch Disrupt 2023 | TechCrunch

3 min read


In the 7.5 years I’ve served as TechCrunch’s hardware editor, I’ve been struck by just how profoundly deep and wide this category can be. Scope is one of the most fulfilling and frustrating parts of the gig — all at the same time. So when the powers that be told me that we were doing a full day of hardware programming at Disrupt, I was simultaneously excited and overwhelmed.

I love that we’re finally giving hardware its time to shine on its very own stage. When the time came to start proposing panels, however, it was suddenly less a question of what to include and more about what we’d have to leave out. Hardware is such an embarrassment of riches. On any given day, you’ll find me writing about phones, 3D printing and manufacturing, to name a few.

Ultimately, our goal with the stage is to offer a broad scope of topics, representative of the state of hardware in 2023, while offering some insight into where things are headed. We still have a couple panels we’re not quite ready to announce, but I think you’ll find the current lineup to be a solid cross section of categories, including robotics, crowdfunding and extended reality.

Seems like everyone is talking about VR and AR these days. Few are better equipped to discuss the space’s ups and downs than Magic Leap CEO Peggy Johnson. We’ll also be discussing where crowdfunding is headed with new Kickstarter CEO Everette Taylor.

On the robotics side, we’ve got Wendy Tan White, the CEO of Alphabet’s Intrinsic, in conversation with Brian Gerkey, CEO of Robot Operating System (ROS) steward Open Robotics, which Intrinsic acquired at the tail end of last year.

Agility Robotics CEO Damion Shelton and CTO (and former Fetch CEO) Melonee Wise will also join us, along with a few of their bipedal Digit robots. Meanwhile, Farm-ng’s Claire Delaunay, Dusty Robotics’ Tessa Lau and Diligent’s Andrea Thomaz will be discussing the next big category for the space after fulfillment. Between construction, agtech and healthcare, we should have that covered.

Like I said, we’re not done yet. We still have a few more sessions I can’t wait to tell you about. The Hardware Stage is set for September 21 — day three of Disrupt. Buy your pass now, and you can save up to $600. Student, government and nonprofit passes are available for just $195. Prices go up on August 11 at 11:59 p.m. PDT.

Check out the agenda below, and we’ll see you in San Francisco.

The Hardware Stage agenda at TechCrunch Disrupt 2023

Mixed Reality Finds Its Focus

with Peggy Johnson (Magic Leap)

Even the most impressive technology can struggle to find its market. One of hardware’s most well-funded startups, Magic Leap, didn’t take the consumer world by storm. Since signing on as CEO, Peggy Johnson has led the company’s pivot into industrial applications. With Meta, HTC and now Apple vying for a piece of the market, has mixed reality’s moment finally arrived?

Crowdfunding the Future

with Everette Taylor (Kickstarter)

For more than a decade, Kickstarter’s name has been synonymous with crowdfunding, but the last few years have brought their share of challenges for the platform. Everette Taylor, who stepped into the CEO role at the end of 2022, will discuss how the company is adapting to face the future.

Automation Education

with Brian Gerkey (Open Robotics) and Wendy Tan White (Alphabet and Intrinsic)

Alphabet X graduate Intrinsic was founded with a lofty goal: making programming robots accessible. The company is far from the first to tackle the problem, but it has a lot going for it, including Google’s immense resources. Founder and CEO Wendy Tan White joins us, along with Brian Gerkey, who joined the team when Intrinsic acquired Open Robotics in December.

Getting a Leg Up

with Damion Shelton (Agility Robotics) and Melonee Wise (Agility Robotics)

Agility cracked the code on bipedal robots with its Digit system. Now it’s looking to push its technology to work. CEO Damion Shelton and CTO Melonee Wise will discuss why the company is taking a different approach to the wheel-dominated world of warehouse robotics.

What’s Next in Robotics?

with Claire Delaunay (Farm-ng), Tessa Lau (Dusty Robotics) and Andrea Thomaz (Diligent)

After conquering warehouses during the pandemic, what comes next for automation? Agriculture, construction and healthcare are all safe bets. Farm-ng’s Claire Delaunay, Dusty Robotics’ Tessa Lau and Diligent’s Andrea Thomaz will discuss where robots go from here.

TechCrunch Disrupt 2023 takes place September 19–21 in San Francisco. Buy your pass now, and you can save up to $600. Student, government and nonprofit passes are available for just $195. Prices go up on August 11 at 11:59 p.m. PDT.

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