Last week, some of the Fold7 team headed down to Digital Shoreditch for its ‘NEXT’ event, which explored new ideas and future technologies. Here are four key takeouts, which got us thinking about what lies ahead.
Tech – a force for the greater good
There were countless examples of how new technologies are helping people to solve real world problems. Take the Wayfindr app for example, created by digital product studio Ustwo, which helps visually impaired people find their way around the London Underground using iBeacons and smartphone technology.
iBeacon technology can provide real-time positioning and accurate navigation to help hospitals track lost equipment, or even help mining companies detect the whereabouts of workers. While we’re seeing an increase in technologies that aim to improve the world we live in, more needs to be done. Umesh Pandya, associate UX director at Ustwo, concluded his talk by citing author William Gibson: “The future is already here – it’s just not very evenly distributed.”
Augmented reality meets social media
Much of what we’ve seen of augmented reality (AR) so far relates to brands creating virtual environments to bring their products to life. The Taggar app takes this one step further by integrating social media into the equation. Users can identify real-world images and objects and tag them with digital content, message friends and post reviews. The intention is for users to build social networks driven by AR.
Ben Wheeler, creative director at Taggar, described the app as being more in tune with a platform, one that “empowers audiences to create content and bring to life their own experiences”. The app is already proving to be a powerful marketing tool for music marketers, with various artists running competitions, encouraging fan-generated content. It will be interesting to see if this new form of AR social networking resonates with millennial audiences who continue to demand immersive experiences.
High streets must embrace digital
Adam Azor, head of brand experience at BMB, said retailers need to embrace digital and implement it into what they’re doing. He referenced Thomson’s concept stores as being a stand-out example of a retailer using digital effectively. From booth projections, showing images and videos of destinations, to interactive maps and tables, they really bring the holiday experience to life.
“One of the biggest challenges in the sector is trial,” commented Azor. “You can’t just ‘try’ a holiday like a can of Coke to see if you like it.” He added that human interaction with staff members is at the core of the shopping experience and something that can’t be replicated online.
Technology allows us to track everything – conversations, activity, likes and dislikes. “When we’re not recording our experiences they feel less real”, argued Pascal Raabe, digital product designer at Ustwo. It’s estimated that we’ve produced one billion terabytes of data since the beginning of humanity. “While we may not be aware of it, data is defining who we are,” Raabe added.
Our obsession with documenting our lives in digital has fueled our desire to hold on to memories and relive experiences. Research shows that we remember more events from late adolescence and early adulthood than any other point in our lives. This alludes to why #ThrowbackThursday has become such a popular internet meme. It’s through these digital memories that we gain a sense of identity in the 21st century. As the saying goes ‘if you didn’t record it, did it really happen?’
Throughout the day, there were two themes that really stood out: advances in technology will continue to ripen the consumer need for immersive experiences, and with great tech comes great responsibility; now more than ever we have the opportunity to harness tech to improve the world we live in. But with that, it’s creativity that should remain at the heart of everything we do. Yes, new technologies will help drive the future, but it’s ambitious creative thinking that will take this further and really transform the way we live.
This article was published by The Wall Blog.