2014 SXSW Interactive closed Tuesday night and, like every year, it offered near and distant visions into the future of tech. This year that future included extensions of wearable beyond fuel bands and Google Glass.
The data questions are posed
Wearables were a hot topic at every venue and across markets. At 2014 SXSW discussions focused very closely on what happens now that wearable devices and Big Data are meeting toe-to-toe. Privacy, security, data sharing, and how much is too much were debated by some of the most recognizable names in data security and breeches globally. These are important questions to be answered and, while not exactly the usual fodder for considering the demand cycles of components that go into the hardware, these questions will very much determine how devices are designed, connected and used – which means what components will play central roles in the hot devices to come.
Wear your world
Wearables in the mainstream media thus far have really focused around health and fitness as well as relatively mainstream type devices like smartwatches and extensions of current smart devices that are worn by the user. SXSW certainly showcased the exciting world opening through wearables, breaking out of traditional paradigms for smart devices and addressing the similarly non-traditional paradigms faced by people today. For example, Asian megacities are spawning innovative technologies to provide critical data and support to provide real-time information on air quality levels for the locations they plan on going to – data that are far beyond the scope of governments yet essential for people in these megacities.
Sensors are clearly the breakthrough technology coupled with connectors and data transfer methods supported by sophisticated applications that translate everything from eye movements, cardiac rhythms, and smart home devices to elderly fall-risk support and inflatable smart clothing to prevent serious and possibly fatal injuries.
Smart devices require smart data consideration
Our smart world opens with the Internet of Things (IoT) and the smart connectivity made possible. However, how we ensure privacy and security of the most personal and intimate data of our lives was the warning message heard throughout the jam-packed days of 2014 SXSW Interactive. As we move toward seemingly intuitive smart devices – because they have the processing and sensor capabilities to react to the slightest motions of our bodies – we are also creating truly amazing Big Data sets that make up our individual unique patterns. Data patterns that allow software and hardware to respond in a seemingly intuitive fashion, but also data that intimately define our personal habits and patterns. What will become of these data and how will they be used and secured? These are exciting and challenging questions simultaneously.
The 2014 SXSW Accelerator Finalists represent a truly amazing and mind-opening set of creative product designers and engineers who collectively represent an exciting next wave of technology and innovation. When considering where these new ideas are likely to take us, the question of the cycles of waxing and waning smartphones and tablets seems less worrisome because the opportunity for truly penetrating technologies is so incredible. But how quickly these devices will become part of everyday life, and do more than count our footsteps, arm swings, or general daily events is the next question and along with that question is how we will ensure the security of the immense Big Data sets that we are about to create.