The Dublin Tech Summit, 2017

17-02-2017

"The only thing that moves faster than technology is the speed of our expectations" - Steve Hatch, Facebook Europe.

The Dublin Tech Summit is a brand new conference filling the void left by the departure of the Web Summit in 2015. And with nearly 10,000 reported attendees (and a 50/50 male/female split) it can firmly be said that the tech industry is alive and well in Ireland, and that Dublin is at the heart of Europe as one of its most important tech centres.

Over the two days of the conference we were inspired with glimpses into the state-of-play (and future potential) of the Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence, machine learning, big data, and augmented and virtual reality. The technologies were presented loosely around the topics of finance (fintech), medicine (medtech), marketing, creativity and fashion, although some, such as IoT, were given their own stage.

If there was a common theme to the presentations, in spite of them being on such disparate topics, it showed the potential of these technologies to vastly augment how many businesses, cities and individuals will approach their work in the very near future.

In a smart cities talk, for example, it was predicted that, within twenty years, self-driving cars will become so prevalent that it will be illegal for humans to drive unassisted in an effort to reduce road deaths. Such an effort would also likely allow cars to travel much faster and to maneuver with pinpoint accuracy.

Such predictions remain the stuff of pipe-dreams — far off in the distant future — however, even today, the in-home assistant is already becoming a must-have addition to every tech savvy home. Alexa on Amazon's Echo device so far has become so useful that it has been reported that 250,000 marriage proposals have been made to it. In a more out-there example we heard of the “Japanese Love Bra" that will automatically unhook when you find true love - proving that in any area of technological innovation there will always be a few duds.

As predicted, the hot topics of privacy and security ran pretty consistently throughout the two days of talks. As you can imagine, the potential privacy implications are very real if we consider, for example, the Dyson 360 automatic vacuum cleaner which has the potential to stream a 360 degree view of your home back to a central server. Could a would-be intruder use the vacuum to case the house for valuables or even open the door to them when you're out of the home? Will we soon have to cover up our modesty in case the vacuum sees us?

Ultimately however there was one common message from the technologies to which we were introduced: experience. The systems must work so well that you don't even notice that they are there in first place and the story laid on top of the the technology should be allowed to shine.

Toy Story, for example, was the first completely 3D animated motion film in history, however, it was the actual story line and the characters that we remember the most. In fact you would likely forget that you were looking at a computer generated animation at all!

Similarly, Amazon Echo, mentioned previously, worked for several months to ensure that the average response time went from three seconds to one in an attempt to more accurately simulate real life conversation.

This is the real future of technology: one where it is so embedded that you don't even notice. It won't necessarily look like Minority Report but it is no less exciting!

Eamonn Rohan is the Creative Technologist at McCannBlue. Contact him to talk about how you can bring the latest technology and innovation into campaigns.