—   19 March 2014   —   Opinion

SXSW Music Film Interactive

From the opening remarks of Eric Schmidt, Executive Chairman of Google on day 1 of the SXSW interactive conference, I was fascinated by the wealth and breadth of knowledge, insight, experience and candour I was to hear over the following four days.

Here are my top five highlights from the show, in no particular order:

Data privacy - Edward Snowden

I’d not paid a great deal of attention to the detail surrounding the Edward Snowden furore, other than he was in hiding in Russia (originally spending weeks at a Moscow airport). But, on hearing his brilliant interview, I now have a greater understanding of the unchallenged work the secret/security services have been doing in the US and UK to ‘protect’ us. Not that I have anything to hide, but to see what’s been going on under our noses is mind-blowing. I won’t begin to try and explain it here, but if you’re interested in reading more the Guardian has a huge section dedicated to the revelations....so far!

Use of technology in leisure and health

One aspect of our lives became a recurring theme at SXSW 2014 – our health and wellbeing. Technology has so much to offer in this arena and we’re only just scratching the surface. For instance Google trends shows that we all now self diagnose – there were over 13 billion health-related searches for in the US alone in 2013. Just think of the implications for society. With chronic disease / age / cost of medicines on the increase, the demand for technology to play a greater role in our future health will continue at pace, and my next two highlights provide evidence of this in action.

Interface design in sport and leisure – wearable technologies

And the juxtaposition for that is that technology is also being used to 'Get our heads out of computers' – the number of sport and exercise products currently coming to market as ‘wearable’ technology certainly reflects that. And, it seems that everyone is getting on the band wagon, even the Apple App Store has Health & Fitness as one section!
Despite the huge array of wearable technology in show,  it was the Skully motorcycle helmet which won first prize at this year’s SXSW wearable tech contest – providing an augmented reality vision experience for motorcycle riders.

Google contact lenses

Now whether this will have any broad consumer benefit, we’re yet to see (no pun intended), but one application currently in development with Google is a contact lens that is able to measure glucose levels in tears, which could act as an early warning system for millions of diabetes sufferers – how cool is that?

Sophisticated social media analytics

My final highlight, which not unlike my first hadn’t really crossed my mind until it was staring me in the face, was the vision for a total social media analytics tool. I sat in on a session by IBM discussing how they have produced tools that map the entire customer journey, all touch points including social media, web interaction, calls, face-to-face-face encounters; all building up a picture for future marketing intelligence. And when you connect this to live customer data, you really can make a difference.
The example given was extremely compelling. One of IBM’s customers , a US airline used analytics ‘in the whole’ to determine problems with individual seats on individual flights even before the maintenance or technical teams had carried out inspections, (in this example it was problems with the entertainment systems). How? They built a system that connected the social media output from individuals (complaining about poor reception, loose connections etc) with aircraft manifests to determine which seat numbers had problems and what those problem were. Genius, I thought!

So there you have it, my top five highlights.

In my third and final blog I will share my top five learnings. Although I think there’s plenty to learn in these too.

Our Partners / Accreditations / Networks

0161 872 3455

Sign up to our newsletter