A collision of thoughts


I just attended the 1st US edition of the Collision conference in New Orleans.
A 3 days marathon of start up pitches and product demos, talks by founder, developers, media execs and investors.

I focused my time mostly on keynote sessions to get a good feel for tech and media tends.

Here is what I captured.

I am not going to write about the strategic value of data, the astronomic rise of video, the audience fragmentation push and pull game, the importance of native content or the need to experiment with bots, etc…

All these topics were definitely highly discussed but I’d rather share fresh new insights that I haven’t heard much about before.

There are 2 of them.

1- VR is better with AR and AI:

VR was at the center of many many, many conversations. Every company, every start up seems to be involved in some way or another.

It is like we are recreating the invention of the moving image but instead of doing it over 100 years, it is happening in 3 to 5 years.

The impact of VR on our lives, our social interactions, our empathy is (will be) huge.

From the New York Times Displaced documentary covering the refugee crisis, to Charity water story telling, to Cirque du Soleil working on integrating VR into their shows, or recording important moments of our lives with the new Samsung VR camera being released next month….

VR is the next big thing. That is pretty obvious.
What was interesting at Collision conference was to hear about what will happen when VR is here, at scale.

 VR will be bigger with AR and AI (and vice versa)

The potential for VR + AR +AI merged together deepen utility and “enterpisification” in the work place, education and general life experiences…

For instance, imagine a VR experience with voice recognition, space tracking, hand movements and personal data all in one.

You are in a VR experience, you turn your hand up, your emails appear, speak to dictate your response, swipe right  and it calls the person you want to communicate with…

As screen definition improves, processing power speeds up, content creation becomes simpler, new human behaviors that we don’t even know could be possible will emerge simply because the VR echo system exists…

This is a good transition to the next insight.

2- Ethics:

If we are going to create robots and attempt to enhance human genetics and physiological functions, we need to solve ethical questions that didn’t need to be asked before.

I started to think about that at SXSW where I saw a few engineers giving presentations that we were closer to philosophy than technology.

Right now we know 2 stages of life “alive” and “not alive. So where do robots fit in and how we define their missions in society?

Andrea Keay, Managing Director of Silicon Valley Robotics has endless knowledge and opinion about that. Here is one of her previous keynote.

What about the fascinating applications that Halo Neuroscience will have not only on sport performances but learning, education, medicine… how can the device be used without aggravating inequalities?
Is it pushing the limits of the human conditions?

As you can sense, the Collision conference was a great experience.
After 3 days of hyper stimulation, my brain was ready for some relaxing rhythm at NOJazzfest.


Marie Sornin

Trends from SXSW- Day 2

Today I focused as much as I could on sessions about videos with a brand panel about Live videos and  a session New York Times CEO about VR .
Here is a summary of day 2 (and the last day for me)
Live video:
Just one year after its launch at SXSW, Meerkat has announced that it is abandoning live streaming
Many keynotes from SXSW were periscoped from the official @handle of shows/ influencers- check this one out if you are a fan of Mr. Robot.
Everyone is convinced that Facebook live is perfectly set up to be (a) the leader in live video: It’s got the reach/ it’s integrated with the Facebook experience & is easy to use.
Mashable had a big partnership with Facebook Live a booth at the Mashable house.
Periscope is perceived like the best tool, best features and a must when it comes to Live video strategy.
Advertisers love the lightweight/ low production budgets of live video + the fact that the audience is totally integral from to the storyline
Some grey areas for advertisers are:
They haven’t figured out when to start promoting a live video campaign (early is frustrating for the audience, close to the broadcast only brings little reach).
They all agree that it is important to promote live content across multiple platforms: FB/ Insta/ Twitter
VR cameras are already becoming easier & cheaper to access, however production and story telling still remain very complex.
Cross function collaboration is paramount to execute VR well.
Monetization potential is strong for the future but for now, budgets & commitment are only coming from partners innovation funds and from those ready to take some risks (doesn’t mean budgets are small, just scarce)
Based on the New York Times experience, we are not too far off from citizen journalism in VR. The Olympics might be the tipping point where we start seeing a lot of VR content from professionals as well as amateurs.
Google is fully invested in supported media outlet to produce VR content (Google cardbord + developing computing power & Software?)

I met someone who invents the future!

If you would meet Elizabeth Churchill, you would want to know all she knows! Elizabeth is a Senior Research Scientist in the Internet Experiences Group at Yahoo! and she knows a lot of things you want to ask questions about!

In a very simplistic way, what Elizabeth and her team do at Yahoo! Labs, is analysing all sorts of data and known human behaviour to understand what triggers reactions to situations. Based on this understanding scientists are able to find out what would best suit our needs, apply this to technology and invent products that we will want to use in the future! In reality, it is far more complex and involves a lot of research, statistics, predictive modelling, testing and engineering… but you get the idea!


By the way 4Cast is one of those futuristic ideas and the research group at Yahoo! needs some feedback, so jump in and try!! 4Cast is a game of friendly competition where players cast their predictions on topics that interest them the most

They have also invented Yahoo! Zync, a prototype plug in that allows you to watch videos together with your friends, in sync and in real time. Instead of just IMing URLs and waiting for your friends to watch, Zync allows you to converse about a video (pausing, jumping back, and watching together with a friend). Both videos stay in sync.
So, to all, like me who were convinced that IM had been killed by Facebook chat… Think again, this type of tool has high “usefulness” (not usability)… and from an advertiser’s standpoint, the engagement metrics are through the roof!

Elizabeth is originally a doctor in psychology; her recent focus has been insights into social media, emerging digital media and the shifting landscape of people and groups that make up internet life. Some of her core beliefs about the future of digital are around the social psychology of trust and the notion that we are social not networked!

Not easy to summarise, but here is my go at it:
The social psychology of trust highlights the very fine line between content being relevant to creepy! With system like OAuth we have stepped into a world where our data travels with us from device to device; it allows us to get access to very personalized information until that information gets slightly too personalized (or put in the wrong context) and we totally lose the trust we had in a platform. This will have high implication in the future for behavioral target and single sign on!

We are social not networked: The relationships we have with people are very different according to who we are talking to. Your work colleagues might not know that you are passionate stamp collector! The way you behave, what you share with your mad stamp collector friends is totally different from what you share with your family, work colleagues or uni friends. Elizabeth is convinced that social networks need to move way beyond custom groups and discussion boards to remain relevant and to survive the growing privacy concerns

It suddenly gives you a different perspective when an academic scientist talks about digital and social media, doesn’t it?
If you are interested in reading more, a number of Elizabeth’s research studies can be found here.

Marie Sornin