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SXSW17 Trends: a round-up of the new technology set to create a smarter future

The marketing sector can be a complicated place as new marketing tools and techniques are launched, almost on a weekly basis. Powered by The Drum Network, this regular column invites The Drum Network's members to demystify the marketing trade and offer expert insight and opinion on what is happening in the marketing industry today that can help your business tomorrow.

Far from following the Texas phrase ‘all hat, no cattle’, this year's SXSW proved itself to be much more than simply a tech conference; it delivered opportunity and inspiration in spades and we came away with five very clear trends that brands can apply to their business right now.

One of the most relevant current trends is how technology is effecting our experiences. So, what did the conference reveal as the secret finds for the smart future?

The smart future

According to IHS Markit, 80 million smart home devices were delivered worldwide in 2015 – a 64% increase year on year. There is no doubt this will be foundation of the home of the future. The big question is connectivity and integration and the opportunity for brands to get involved.

Ultimate home

Kasita wants to transform the way people think about home ownership and interior design by providing the perfect modern home experience. The $140k compact modular home that can be easily transported comes integrated with an Amazon Echo smart speaker, a Doorbird smart doorbell and glass windows with adjustable transparency. The entire smart home experience is manageable via the Kasita app, allowing for a unified control and user experience.

Ultimate devices

Panasonic house hosted a showcase for prototypes including a DIY dry-cleaning machine called MonStyle, an Ambient Media Player for turning a TV display into a work of art and a home-fermenting machine that’s equal parts Blue Apron and slow cooker for kimchi fans. While nothing is on sale anytime soon, they were taking votes to see which items people wanted most. Watch this space!

Future power

Winner of the smart cities award Pavegen is one of the simplest but also the best ideas I have seen. In short, it creates energy from footsteps using a unique tile based system. This incredibly exciting and, in my opinion, is poised to power the data-driven smart homes and cities of tomorrow

Interface anywhere

From the best of show winner Sensel Morph – which senses touch, turning your computer into a multidimensional creative tool – the Sony Xperia, which turns any surface into a screen, and a Levis Jacket, that through weaving touch and gesture controls allows the jacket to answer calls, get directions, and alter music settings, it seems the future will not be restricted to the screens of our phones and computers.

Brand opportunity

Our lives are driven by technology and changing at such a fast pace that every brand should be considering the role they can play in our future world. Brands have a unique opportunity to develop functionality that could sit at the centre of this that would not only add value, but also help to lock customers as they become reluctant to lose the systems.

A great immediate example of this could be how to integrate with Alexa or the new Google Home creating skills relevant to your audience and applicable to your brand. The possibilities are exciting; let's start making a difference.

Take a look at VR and AR and machines in the form of robots, in part one and two of this series.

Andrew Roberts is managing partner at Gravity Thinking.

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