This time, RI:Lab’s experts give their take on a new SPIN Magazine app, Foursquare’s unifying database and a host of SXSW topics—including gamification, location-based services, convergence and the development of robots that are smarter than humans.
Is It Interesting?
You know it and you love it. Based on one of the most common words to occur in our podcasts, this segment looks at recent headlines and asks the panel: “Is it Interesting?”
- SPIN Play iPad App: From the publishers of SPIN, the Play app offers every page of the magazine, along with streaming songs and videos curated by SPIN’s editors. The panel found it interesting, but thought the Aweditorium app may be more so.
- Foursquare’s Unified Places Database: Everyone in the room thought this effort to centralize and de-dupe location data was very interesting. They also loved the idea of partners getting involved in the effort.
- Twitter’s New Terms of Service: Speaking of eliminating duplication, the team thought Twitter’s new guidelines against any new Twitter clients was interesting, as it will allow the company to project a single voice and drive innovation.
- Verizon Phones Fall Back: Two members of the panel found the irony of—quite possibly—the iPhone’s simplest element failing so often very interesting. However, another panel member said he finds nothing at all interesting about the Verizon iPhone. Listen to find out why.
- League of Extraordinary Hackers Builds Robots: While the team didn’t know about this day-long effort to build robots using LEGO Mindstorm kits, they always find robots interesting.
Recapping the SXSW Conference
Dan and Matt discussed their recent visit to the annual South by Southwest (SXSW) conference, which focuses on the latest developments in film, music and interactive. This year, the interactive portion was the largest of all, and two of RI:Lab’s experts absorbed as much of it as possible.
The panel talked about how the conference became a vision of what a small urban community may be in a few years. There were QR codes all over the place and nearly everyone was walking and listening to panels with their head downs, as they focused on various mobile devices. While the ability for marketers to connect with consumers in multiple ways is certainly a positive, there were questions about the act of capturing an activity versus truly experiencing it.
Here are just a few SXSW highlights that stood out for the team:
While the focus over the last few years has been social media, gamification may soon take its place. The panel discussed how game mechanics and rewards will soon become a part of everything we do, from earning loyalty points to driving social causes. What may be most interesting, however, is that we’re still in the infancy stage of a trend that soon will tie everything together.
Gowalla made a huge splash at SXSW with an Airstream trailer, passports, stickers and t-shirts—but the bigger impact may have been made by Foursquare before the conference started. The team chatted about Foursquare’s new recommendation engine that helps users find what’s nearby and why they might want to go there, along with the next step of passive check-ins tied to loyalty.
For some time, the talk around interactive television has involved adding information and tools onto the TV screen. What’s more likely to happen, the panel suggested, is that tablets will become our secondary level of interaction. This allows multiple people to watch TV in the same room while viewing it all through their own individualized interactive lens. What’s more, that lens may include opportunities for brands to deliver personalized messaging.
The general idea of convergence has focused on the “three screens” merging and consumers’ ability to watch what they want anywhere they want. However, the RI:Lab experts discussed Convergence, with a capital C. This idea of Convergence goes deeper and begins blurring the lines between all our activities, which continues to happen as digital and physical worlds crash together, changing the way we interact with technology and people.
As part of this week’s podcast, the team also discussed what it thought was one of the most interesting portions of the SXSW conference: Singularity. The idea is that we may be approaching a time when computers are able to make symbolic connections and have a form of artificial intelligence. When this happens, computers will become more intelligent than humans, completely transforming civilization. The projected time period for this moment of Singularity is within 30-35 years.
Picks of the Week
Barce: Volkswagen Norway recently offered what it called the world’s first test drive inside a print ad. This Pick of the Week allows consumers to download an app they can launch and place over a magazine ad to discover features such as lane assist and adaptive headlights.
Matthew: With another call back to robots, Matt’s Pick of the Week was the iPhone app Dokobots. Offering a new take on social experiences, this app allows users to create, name, direct and drop off a virtual robot. These bots can then be picked up by other users around the world, who can add photos and entries to the robot’s journal
Dan: This week, Dan’s Pick was private, group messaging service Beluga. This mobile app allows users to create a disposable social graph for quick, real-time communication between select groups of friends. The group’s members can send instant messages and photos, so everyone always knows what’s happening, whether it’s a project group at the office or a group of friends snowboarding in Vail.
Get the full podcast
Download and subscribe to the weThink podcast for all the insightful opinions and interesting banter.