Web Summit is considered Europe’s largest technology conference and Dublin has hosted the annual event since 2010. This year, I was one of 40,000 people who attended the three-day conference (November 3rd to 5th) that had a schedule packed with keynotes, networking and start-up pitches.
Here are the highlights of the conference and a summary of what I learned:
- Facebook’s CTO, Michael Schroepfer, talked about the the company’s work in: using solar-powered drones for broadcasting the Internet to developing countries (Aquila); developing teaching software to see and describe images (a solution for people with vision disabilities); and turning VR into a hands-on proposition that allows people to high-five one another from a distance.
- Oculus Rift founder Palmer Luckey predicted that VR re-creations of real-world experiences would become realistic enough to “potentially [be]our best shot at a real post-scarcity economy.”
- Tinder CEO Sean Rad said that the app is “having a positive impact on the world”. According to a survey they conducted on 300+ users, 80% of them are interested in long-term relationships. He also stated that their product is the dominant dating app in every major country across the globe.
- Humanitarian UAV Network founder Patrick Meier described how drones have helped create 3-D maps of earthquake-striken areas of Nepal, which is helping guide the re-building process.
- Stan Karpenko of Give Vision explained how the right software, running on a headset like Google Glass, could read the world to people with impaired vision.
- Andreessen Horowitz partner Benedict Evans described mobile technology as “the first universal tech product,” used by nearly every person in the world. “There aren’t many other products that get bought by everybody on Earth every two or three years.”
Quotes to remember
“It will take VR five to ten years to move from just demo-wear”- Jim Lanzone, President/CEO @ CBS
“Eventually, we will all be watching ‘Game of Thrones’ on our Apple TVs”
“All the death in Game of Thrones is like life – you never know when you’re gonna get it”
– Liam Cunningham, Actor
“A brand today must rewire the model with digital and that includes the people, the process and the partners.”
“Companies who are willing to take away the old things that are no longer relevant to the future are those who will win”
– Soren Hagh, Executive Director @Heineken
“European tech development competes with that of Silicone Valleys. Capital talent and know-how is abundant in cities like Berlin and London…”
“What distinguishes the American market is that it is bigger and has a consumer base more eager to try new things. Therefore, it is easier to test, b2b is everywhere and there is an overall easier ecosystem to build global companies”
“Silicon Valley’s edge is in its quality product managers and producers”
– David Marcus, VP of messaging products @ Facebook
“People like to be visually inspired, this is why Instagram is growing at a faster pace than Facebook”
– Nicola Mendelsohn, VP EMEA @ Facebook
“Airplanes with GE components receive massive, giga-amounts of data everyday, which is going into the AI (artificial intelligence) future research of aviation”
“The focus shouldn’t be on machines replacing humans, but on the fact that we are creating a level of awareness that transcends any human capacity”
– Joseph Salvo, Director – computational sciences and architecture @ General Electric
“Accenture is researching adoptive learning and judgment-based learning robotics. An example of this is car insurance in the future that does not require a human element, but an AI that can assess, report and judge claims”
– Marc Carrel-Billiard, Global head of Technology @ Accenture
“It takes 8 seconds for an impression minimum to stick and to absorb information, which contradicts how viewability is calculated”
– Shenan Reed, President digital @ MEC Global
“Brands that have leveraged The Onion’s reach did so because they understood the value of a different kind of content to engage younger audiences with. Younger people do not relate to traditional marketing and so for a brand to reach them, it has to take itself less seriously and be in on the joke. Respect the intelligence of your audience”
– Michael McAvoy, CEO @ The Onion
Did you know?
- 45-year-old Chris Dancy is the most “connected” man in the world. He has between 300 and 700 systems running through his body at any given time – systems that capture real-time data about his life.
- The Japanese ‘Love’ bra contains technology that makes it automatically unclasp when the wearer’s heart rate goes up and can also be remotely controlled by a smartphone app.
- As per European law, Facebook’s facial recognition program that suggests tagging on photos is illegal and therefore, that function is not available in Europe.
All videos have been uploaded on the official Web Summit YouTube channel. Sessions that I recommend include:
- The neuroscience of perception and how digital can unite us, Beau Lotto (Content) – Day 2; 12:15 – 12:35
- Digital is the new normal, Soren Hagh (Marketing) – Day 1; 13:00 – 13:15
- Beyond the digital impression, Shenan Reed (Marketing) – Day 2; 14:15 – 14:30