The future has a funny way of sneaking up on you. You don’t notice it until you’re soaking in it. That was the feeling at O’Reilly’s Solid Conference last week. For the first time, the venerable tech publisher held an event dedicated the way software and hardware are coming together in devices that don’t involve a typical computer screen. The gadgetry on display was so complex and so diverse–spanning everything from smart trash cans to airborne wind turbines–that even hardcore techies marveled at how far this world has already come. At the conference, WIRED sat down with Joi Ito, the director of the MIT Media Lab and one of the event’s planners, to discuss this phenomenon of convergence, where bits from the digital realm are fusing with atoms here in the physical world (see gallery above). Experimentation is spreading, he says, and it won’t stop at gadgets. For Ito, the next great engineering platform will be living matter itself. More