I find myself in Austin at SXSW right now vs. coming home from Las Vegas and DSE. I have missed my friends at DSE and there are, no doubt, several (if not many) cool things emerging in the field of digital signage/enabling technologies that have surfaced there. But as I walk around SXSW, I can’t help but think of all of the similarities between the two conferences.
1. People are always going to use technology for technology’s sake – one of the best quotes I’ve heard today is, “alot of gadgets (read, “technology”) don’t solve the right problems.” I don’t know whether this is because people don’t dig deep enough to find the real problem or if they don’t care about problems, they just want to use technology. This is the problem with so much cool technology bombarding us – basically anyone can make anything with it.
2. There are very smart people out there who know how to purposefully use technology – yes, there are many, many crap emerging technology solutions out there, but there are also many good ones. One that I learned about today is: Food. You. Me. For anyone who likes to cook and has had thoughts about hosting a dinner party, but just didn’t feel confident that they could pull it off, this app is for you. It’s smart. These guys recognized a need to make novice cooks comfortable and knowledgable in cooking for more people than themselves, so they’ve created a utility-based app. (It’s in BETA right now, so if you’re interested, sign up to receive updates via email.) Although this particular example is about cooking, it’s an example of an insights-driven approach to solve a problem through technology. Two guys. They did this all themselves. It’s a really good idea and one that puts technology to use in the right way.
3. Passion abounds – some might call it over the top, but there is no doubting that professionals in each of these affected industries are incredibly passionate about what they do. You can’t teach passion. You can do what you can to harness it and point it in the right direction, but you can’t teach it. The recognition of such passion around me is inspiring.
4. Technology is no barrier at all – the more smartphones that get adopted by the “regular” consumer, the more comfortable they’ll get with unique interfaces and human-computer interaction. And, to me, this is the key. Because the technology is out there. Gesture, touch, NFC, RFID, QR – I have a feeling that consumers’ comfort with these sorts of technologies are going to be quicker than their comfort with moving from standard phones to smartphones. I was skeptical about NFC and how long it would take to get into market, at least for early adopters, and it’s not going to be long. I’m sure this is something that was discussed at DSE. I’ve had numerous discussions here.
I’ve only been here for 1.5 days. I’ve got 9 more to go. This is what has stuck out at me in my short time here. I’m sure that many more will become clear as the days pass. And as they do, you’ll hear them here. For now, good night and good luck.