SXSW fixed a spotlight on emerging technologies and digital trends when the event took place in Austin, Texas, last month. Here we round-up some of the festival’s key findings:

Get ready to cognify
Kevin Kelly, the founder of Wired, has created a new word for what he believes is the next tech force that will shape our future. ‘Cognify’ is the act of making something smarter, and he believes that, in a few years’ time, almost every part of our lives will be made smarter with Artificial Intelligence. He, and many others at SXSW, believe that we are entering an era where everything from our fridges to our clothes will be intelligently upgraded to work with AI. Clothes that measure your heart rate or blood glucose levels are just a few examples.

Artificial smartness
Artificial Intelligence has a branding problem, it’s a little too ‘end of the world’ for us to really get behind it. Also, any attempt at making something more human usually results in freakish talking toys that do what we do, but far worse and far slower.
Artificial Smartness is the idea that tech can do what a human can – especially the mundane things in life. A progression from the calculator, or a sat-nav, is perhaps the best way to think about it.
It was interesting to hear that airline pilots now fly for an average of just eight minutes on a flight, but there are clearly many more run-of-the-mill tasks that will be transformed by Artificial Smartness.

Immersive VR vs. Presence VR
SXSW has established that we need more words to describe virtual reality. The explosion in virtual and augmented reality technologies has been phenomenal; with only a few hundred developers capable of programming true VR worlds, the development of video VR tech has smashed these barriers of entry.
Products like Ricoh’s THETA, and the soon to be launched Nikon Key Mission will make what should be defined as ‘Immersive VR’ an everyday immersion into other worlds.
‘Presence VR’, meanwhile, is the development of smart tech that offers real movement and haptic feedback within the worlds. This tech is capable of tricking your mind to seemingly walk in straight lines for miles in a room no bigger than your living room.

So, in conclusion, What’s Hot at SXSW is the usual mix of known-knowns, known-unknowns and unknown-unknowns. Now, we need to start plugging ourselves into the sources of the unknown and develop our own artificial thinking.