SXSW 2014 Magic - Gravity Thinking

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    27-Jan-2015

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n the last year technology has moved at an incredible pace and fuelled all sorts of magical developments that offer huge opportunities for brands. This has brought with it a number of challenges none of which are insurmountable. SXSW showed me that the #Magic is out there to embrace and adopt, when coupled with a respectful approach to privacy and social responsibility as exemplified by the likes of Coke the World is truly your oyster.

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<ul><li> 1. As this was my 3rd year attending SXSW I was ready for the cacophony of noise that Southby throws up and hugely excited by the prospect of having a colleague helping me make sense of the signal through the noise. Contrary to Michaelas quest for #SXSWLogic my task was to seek out the magic, the inspirational, the delightful, the exciting developments that will move, change or create new advances over the coming year(s).t So embracing Steven Johnsons adage he shared at Southby embrace serendipity; make generative mistakes; take on multiple hobbies; frequent coffeehouses and other liquid networks; follow the links; let others build on your ideas; borrow, recycle; reinvent. Build a tangled bank. I set off in search of the digital Holy Grail. Interestingly, whilst it may be a seemingly impossible task to convey the magic that happens at every event and street corner in Austin,t it was relatively easy to tie it down to 5 areas that provoke debate, drive developments and ultimately all of which have implications for brands. </li></ul><p> 2. TREND #1 FROM APPS TO HARDWARE SXSW is perhaps best known for the launches of apps from the most famous in Twitter to the equally omniscient Foursquare and 2013s big launches of GroupMe and Highlight. 2014 was different it was the year of cutting edge hardware at SXSW, indeed it often felt more CES than SXSW. From wearable technology to robots and home automation it seems it is no longer just about virtual social networks, but from the variety of magical ideas we saw, it seems it is about how new technologies can impact peoples day-to-day lives. Here are a selection of the best... 3. THE INTERNET OF EVERYTHING The internet of thingswas a big subject in 2013 (see our blog) this year is has taken a step to omniscience and evolved to theinternet of everything. This means you will soon be having your fridge tell you are eating too much and your smartphone telling you someone is burgling your house or the kids are having a party. One of the best examples I saw was Cube Sensors https://cubesensors.com that have powerful sensors that track air quality,temperature,humidity,noise, light,pressure and movement to help you save money on energy,sleep better,breathe easier and the heady promise of keeping your family safe and giving you peace of mind. In the talkTopTech InnovationTrends for 2014 Robert Scoble summed up the future tech innovation in the home - The numbers of sensors on us and around us are going way,way up.It's changing how we communicate with our door locks and everything else.And it's to the point where ordinary people can afford it.It's the first year I felt I could do my own home automation without being a nerd. 4. FROM JEOPARDY TO COOKERY YOUR OWN PERSONAL DJ Lightwave, has created a new technology that will allow a DJ to feel what you want to hear. Using an iPad and special bracelets that measures movement, body temperature and excitement level the DJ can adjust the music according to the dancers mood.The company thinks the technology is transferable to movies, sporting events and political rallies. If youve ever been stumped as to what to cook or order then IBM have the solution IBM broughtWatson, the computing system best known for winning Jeopardy three years ago, to SXSW this year.Watson is able to create meals you couldnt possibly think up from Kenyan Brussels sprouts with sweet potato puree, ginger and almonds or Czech pork-belly moussaka with peas, parsley root, cottage cheese and dill. AllWatson asked was you put in a region, a main ingredient or two and a type of food and the computer analyses thousands of recipes and matches up chemical flavour compounds that are most likely to surprise people and also taste good.Watch out Heston ! 5. C.U.P.I.D. DONT DRAW BACK YOUR BOW Chaotic Moon Studios are the inventors of the C.U.P.I.D. (Chaotic Unmanned Personal Intercept Drone) that includes an 80,000 volt stun gun and acts as a non-lethal defence mechanism.The demo was like something I have never seen before I am not sure thevolunteer agreed ! https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&amp;v=fsdb7du1rmM Small commercial drone usage is a hot topic at present, with Amazon looking to launch a drone delivery service and similar concepts being implemented by big brands the world over so watch this space. Not to be outdone "Game ofThrones" fans used a virtual-reality headset, the Oculus Rift, to immerse themselves in a 3-D version of a scene from the fantasy series. 6. 3D PRINTING BECOMES A REALITY 3-D printers were everywhere you looked indeed intriguingly Deloitte used SXSW to launch their initiative todemonstrate, educate, and inspire their clients, as they begin to use emerging design and 3D Printing technologies to bring products and services to market with the aim to reduce environmental impact of manufacturing and bring jobs back to the U.S. The promise is that 3-D printers will empower you to make your own products, instead of shopping online or going to the store, personally I especially liked the 3D-printed candy from a machine built in partnership with Hershey. Other notable developments in hardware included driverless cars, high-tech medical devices for consumers andwallTV where your images projected on your walls to replace new paint and wallpaper. What does this means for brands? Think beyond your app (or website). How can you leverage these new technologies to have a real impact on your consumers lives? 7. Companies and brands should consider a wider approach to technology than the development of applications and they couldnt go far wrong when considering how development of hardware could encourage more tactile interaction with a brand and ultimately greater awareness and credibility. The same principles apply here, utility has always been the standard to follow when developing anything brand related for technology.AsTechcrunch reported last year, 85% of apps downloaded are only used once then deleted in short if it is not useful to consumers they will not engage with it. So think beyond your app (or website). How can you leverage these new technologies to have a real impact on your consumers lives? WHAT DOES #TREND 1 MEAN FOR BRANDS? 8. TREND #2 WEARABLES ARE NOT JUST GOING TO BE GOOD FOR YOUR HEALTH Following on from the first trend nowhere did hardware and innovation merge more visibly at this year's SXSW than in Wearables. It seems the human body as an interface is big news and big business, indeed Credit Suisse estimated the market to be worth $50bn by 2017. Judging by the number of people (or Glassholes as became the Intsagram tag) walking around Austin in Google's connected eyewear I can believe this to be true. But, as pretentious as the wearers may seem, experts tend to agree that we are only at the beginning of the technology acceptance cycle, and there is much more to come from the potential Google Glass has to offer. 9. DIVERSITY OF DEVELOPMENTS There was a diverse range of speakers addressing the topic, from former basketball player Shaquille ONeil who advocated his reliance on Fitbit to drive him to complete his 10,000 daily steps to British cardiologist Graham Stuart who spoke of conducting a study to see if NikeFuel can prolong the lives of children living with congenital heart defects. Gadgets on your body, such as fitness trackers -- was a stand- ing-room-only event at SXSW's Startup Accelerator, where new companies pitch their products to investors in the hopes of attracting funding and press. One startup demoed solar-paneled clothing that can recharge a phone in two hours.This line from Dutch designer Pauline van Dongen has built-in solar cell fins that can get your phone halfway charged after an hour of sun exposure. Her designs look like something Lady Gaga would wear the only downside is you have to go outside. Netherlander Borre Akkersdijk walked around SXSW wearing the prototype for his BB.Suit, a quilted jumpsuit knit with copper threads to connect internet, GPS, and a music-sharing program. It looks like a rag &amp; bone sweatshirt and doubles as aWi-Fi hot spot for smartphones in the vicinity a conversation piece that ends an IRL conversation. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zUipW2u5HRY Another pitched Nymi, a wristband that authenticates users through their unique cardiac rhythm and eliminates the need to type passwords on a mobile device. http://www.getnymi.com We also saw the Spree Headband, which aims to monitor your speed, distance, time, heart rate, calories burned, and body temperature. Athos fitness apparel aims to provides a more complete picture of fitness by tracking exactly what your muscles are doing, as well as your form, and the activity of your respiratory and cardiovas- cular systems. The JUNE bracelet by Netatmo aims to measure a wearer's sun exposure and advises on how to protect skin from the sun's effects. But the big winner was Skully, an augmented-reality motorcycle helmet.The helmet has a 180-degree rear-view camera that projects images to a headset display so the driver can see the road in every direction.The company's CEO, MarcusWeller, describes his product as "like Google Glass, except it can save your life." 10. NOT JUST WEARABLE BUT IMPLANTABLE Despite the fact that smart band sales are expected to increase from 8 million to 45 million over the next three years, some analysts have been weary about the lack of true innovation in the sector. Thats whereimplantables come in. Theheart attack ringtone, for example, is an implanted device mentioned at SXSWi that senses internal changes that are a precursor to a heart attack and rings ahead to warn you.Additionally, the development of contact lenses that constantly track insulin levels in diabetes patients show the possibilities of how tech can make giant leaps when it comes to our wellbeing.This was summed up by one of the most commonly tweeted paraphrases from a Byron Reese talk;live another 25 years and theres a high probability that you may never die. THE FUTURE IS HERE.NOW As fascinating glimpse into the future was provided by Leo Burnett and Contagious who gave us a glimpse into the future where technology developments such asaffective interfaces,cognitive computing,epidermal electronics andhaptic experiences mean the future is here now but one word of caution from Paul at ContagiousGood tech is no excuse for a bad idea. 11. THE POWER OF GENES In a packed keynote sessionThe Future of Genetics in Everyday Life,AnneWojcicki, the CEO and Co-Founder of 23andMe, echoed these themes in her keynote address on pointing out that understanding individual genetics can transform medicine from a treatment model to a prevention one. Interestingly her company has recently been issued with acease and desist order from the FDA she acknowledged that 23andMe does not offer interpreted health results to customers, but she was at pains to show the potential that this information has for people and for research. However with more than half a million people participating in research, the company has been able to do more studies in a few months or years that would have a taken others using traditional methods several decades. As mentioned Google Glass explorers abounded at SXSW, wearing the full spectrum of colors that the tiny computing headset comes in.At the conference, attendees pondered the privacy questions that naturally come about when wearable cameras snap at any moment, whose freedom should be protected?The wearer or the people in the crowd?The cultural issues cropped up at numerous panels, too. Do wearables make us more connected, or detach us further?The coming onslaught of watches, Google Glass getting more mainstream and even contact lenses that are in develop- ment mean the larger conversations about this topic will continue. Finally, Stuart did warn of a darker bi-product of incentivised wellness and the data it creates, claiming that in the future it could affect our insurance premiums and ability to get a job. A WORD OF WARNING 12. WHAT DOES #TREND 2 MEAN FOR BRANDS? The next great media tech wave is already here, and it fits like a glove, a watch, eyeglasses, a bracelet, a pendant or maybe a hat or a plaster. Wearable technology promises a seamless interface of body and machine and an opportunity to serve consumers in unprece- dented, and unprecedentedly intimate, ways.Whether directly related to health or more visceral pastimes Brands should consider how they can use this trend to their advantage. The key for brand is figuring out how brand messaging and content marketing can integrate themselves off of the desktop and into more-progressive communication technology. Most wearables do not operate independently, but work in tandem with a mobile device and as such the proximity sensors and communication capabilities built into fitness trackers and smartwatches could one day be used to change the look of an advertising billboard as you approach it, or to adjust the targeted adverts you see based on your recent activity. We dont know just how many devices well have attached to our bodies in the coming years, whats certain is that the companies who want to stay relevant will have to continue to evolve and innovate just as quickly as the technology does. 13. TREND #3 THE DARK SIDE OF THE NET As part of their review of SXSW 2014 the Meltwater team analyzed the buzz around South by South- West (SXSW) and put together their findings in this infographic. This showed clearly that online security and privacy were major themes at Southby this year with National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden topping all subjects during the interactive festival, with over 170,100 mentions this huge achievement is contextualized by the fact that he even beat SXSW 2013s hero Grumpy Cat into second place. Indeed 7 percent of all social buzz was Snowden-related: that's 3 times more mentions than parties, 5 times more than food and 9 times more mentions than drinking. The irony was that along with one of the other big conversation starters of the Festival Julian Assange, Snowden clearly wasnt able to attend in person but rather contradictorily appeared using Google Hangouts from Russia.This was despite a strongly worded physical letter from Republican Congressman Mike Pompeo urging the SXSW committee to try and stop the virtual conversation with Edward Snowden a joke that wasnt lost on the techie crowd. 14. POST PRIVACY WORLD Both Assange and Snowden warned of continuing government surveillance and threats to privacy and called for the public to be more conscious of the information shared online. But they didnt stop at government, noting Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerbergs recent invocation of a post privacy world,Assange reminded the audience that SiliconValley revenue models encourage companies like Facebook and Google to steal user data. Snowden called on the developer community to build better encryption tools to protect users but acknowledg...</p>