4 Thoughts Following SXSW
March 22, 2011 § Leave a Comment
Having settled back into NYC after the week of intense BBQ eating and interactive conversation that was SXSW, I’d like to take a moment to share some of the thoughts we left with. This isn’t intended to be a review, or necessarily anything new, merely a summary of the main topics we enjoyed good conversation about and their relation to mobile.
If SXSW was a thermometer this word would have reached boiling point. Seth Priebatsch’s opening keynote set the tone for a conference containing many talks around influencing human behaviour through application of game mechanics. Despite the unsavoury taste of any trendy word, there is clearly some value here in thinking about how we can leverage incentivisation in making the harder to reach parts of the products we create more relevant & enticing.
Further watching: TED – Seth Priebatsch: The game layer on top of the world
Unlike laptop & desktop computers, the mobile phone is rarely used by anyone else. Combine that with it’s small screen and collection of sensors, and there’s huge potential for highly personalised and intimate experiences.
We watched talks on the future of the mobile wallet and home automation, which, despite lacking a little depth, offered compelling food for thought on incorporating highly personalised uses for our pocket devices.
Further reading: ReadWriteWeb – Who’s building your Mobile Wallet?
SMS & phone calls are still relevant and powerful mediums, despite being in the age of the app store. We need to get out of the mindset of ‘what app can we make to solve this problem’ and make sure we put the technology capabilities of our audience first.
This issue was highlighted particularly well in an excellent talk titled Mobile Health in Africa. The discussion revolved around compelling examples where the creators deeply considered the constraints of their audience rather than the appeal of working with new technology. A couple of examples that particularly stood out were the incubator made from parts of a Toyota Camry (a vehicle never far from a spare part in most developing countries) and the smart TB test, gamifying the process of sticking to your anti-biotic course by revealing a code after peeing on a litmus test if the drug is present in your urine. If you miss a day the system calls / texts you a reminder to take the drug, and once successfully completing the course you receive a reward of additional phone credit.
Further reading: Tech Cocktail – Mobile Health in Developing Countries
Although not yet developed into a standard, we were excited to hear about the possibilities for accessibility on mobile devices. An oft overlooked area, but once again, the sensors built into mobile devices, along with haptic feedback provide great potential for improving the mobile experience for disabled users, particularly those with visual impairments. Given the deep integration required to make devices accessibility compliant, we’re looking toward operating systems in providing the strongest foundation, which app creators can build on top of.
Further reading: Lanyard – SXSW Interactive 2011 Sessions on Accessibility