SXSW 2014 Magic - Gravity Thinking

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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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  • 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.

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&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 & 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 a