SxSW2015 day 2; start with the thing

Day 2 of this years South by started with a panel on advanced mobility. 9.30am, I made it on time after publishing the first wrap up of this SxSW…

The first panel was held by several people from the University of Michigan and that results in some data rich slides on the way cars are mapping the world and the need that the world is mapped as preparation.
The panelist of GM indicates that it was for them a whole new look on mobility. Looking for the new business models. A question from the audience however made clear this panel and the GM representative in particular only thought of new ways cars will work and can be sold. A holistic view on mobility was not present and that made the panel more on advanced cars than on advanced mobility.
Some insights from that point of view: security is necessary to get the cars excepted. Not only driving security but also data security.
An interesting questing that was mentioned is the interface with driving. That will change and you can think of new concepts, or just get it all out as Google did.
All in all an interesting topic with a bit weak panel.

Second panel showed that a panel can work. It needs a couple of interesting panellist but above all a journalist that really dive into the subject. The panel was on wearables, as many are during South-By this year. It touched the fashion aspect a lot. One of the panellist was the founder of Ringly, the smart vibrating ring.
The first defined a lot of the discussion. Google Glass as inspiration where to go with a wearable. Not put tech in front but put the use in front.  And think about the cultural context, it should fit in. The utility on itself is not the main challenge, the wearability in all its aspects is.

One of the panellists (named David Austin) did work for 17 years at Apple and had a lot of little insights in the choices there. On pricing for instance. Apple don’t think about the cost price, it judges the product on its value. In the end it only counts what the consumer want to pay. The want prize.
There are a lot of panels on wearables and later the day I followed another on wearables and tech converge. Just like the other the topic of fashionable devices and the move from single purpose device (smartphone) to single function device (wearable) were important topics. The data exchange between wearables was discussed. We will see the first start-ups working on bringing the data together and create meaning. Later wearable companies will move to open standards.

With the wearables the human machine connections is interesting too. We saw interesting thoughts on that on day 1, so I entered a presentation on Human vs Machine, A Cognitive Revolution. The presenter was a bit too much focused on the technology push, but it was interesting to experience he also opts in for world where man and machine work together. The real implications of that world were not touched tough.

This was the first talk that I visited with an RSVP, a new method to fight the huge lines that makes SxSW in a chaotic experience. The Americans are mastering the art of cueing up, that was clear also this day, with a lot of people managing the right set up and dividing it into RSVP, waiting lists and normal lines. A kind of real life play…

Best talk of the day was of a London based designer of internet of things products and services, Ross Atkin. His statement was that you should start with the things, not with the internet. And before starting with the thing it should be clear what the use case was. He sees a lot of parties that are try to dig the gold of the IoT platform lock-in, but it is important to come up with valuable ideas. His three steps: identify the use case and do design research, design the service and validate, user test and iterate.
He had some interesting examples of his work that made sense. And he had very nice looking slides (check my Storify, making a comic book of his presentation. A tool he all uses as prototype to validate the concepts.

So also on the second day the main topics were around the relation between human and the technology. And it seems the best strategy to start by thinking on the thing you want to solve.

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I am a design director at Structural. I curate and organize ThingsCon Netherlands and I am chairman of the Cities of Things Foundation. Before I was innovation and strategy director at tech and innovation agency INFO, visiting researcher and lab director at the Delft University of Technology coordinating Cities of Things Delft Design Lab.

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