The Annual South by Southwest (SXSW) has just finished up in Austin, Texas. SXSW is a massive conference wrapped in a festival combining music, film and interactive technologies. For more than 30 years it has been the launchpad for whatever is ‘the next big thing.’
In recent years the Interactive conference has become a real focus with platforms like Twitter, Über, AirBnB and Siri being unveiled to the public. Suffice to say, when SXSW is making noise, it is well worth listening.
Among many keynote speakers (including Barack Obama) was Kevin Kelly, founder and executive of Wired magazine. He highlighted three of the unstoppable tech forces that will change the world we live in; cognified everything, virtuality and tracking.
Cognified everything, which is Kelly’s term for a more approachable term for Artificial Intelligence is nothing new. However, with recent advances in technology is more of a reality than ever, with ‘machines’ starting to learn and adapt. This cognified world will lead us to everything from self-driving cars to better customer service experiences.
Virtuality, another technology that humanity has been chipping away at for years, has reached that tipping point. We will begin to see a mix of virtual and augmented realities (see below) where the virtual world is projected into our homes. Kelly predicts it will finally go mainstream, becoming a social platform unto it’s own.
Tracking, is one of the scariest of these inevitable forces. “Anything that can be tracked, will be tracked, and anything that can be measured, will be measured,” is his stark prediction which we are already seeing it. We can track a package from one side of the world to another every inch of the way and our mobile phone counts every step, message and call we take.
It’s a brave new world we live in, but we are excited by what it means for our industry and how we can deliver meaningful and intelligent user experiences. The ability to measure, virtualise and employ cognitive thinking in realtime to our environments will mean that spaces will react to user needs and give rise to smart, unique experiences.