by Paul Curry and David Caygill
How do we take social media off laptops and phones and create real-world devices that surprise and delight? First, we take the top Arduino hackers around the globe and give them a brief: make SXSW smile. Then we watch them bring their web-connected Dorkbot action to the streets of Austin. The team with the most social interactions on and offline wins. And we get to present the results to you.
What’s this about? We’re excited about the Internet of Things, but we’re also impatient. We won’t wait for R&D. We’re nerds and we want to make a point. We’ll walk the line between integrated experiences being useful tools to make our lives easier, and the ever-looming digital frontier of “over-helpful” electronics that analyze our every move. As we aim to create ever-smaller devices that connect us to our social grid, is it possible we’ll overstep a line? iPhone apps that analyze sleep patterns are great, but would we be intimidated by a bed which analyzed us while we slept?
For millennia, eastern philosophers have talked about the “interconnectedness of all things;" the idea of an invisible web that links together beings and objects, organic and inorganic. For the first time in human history, this idea is becoming physically manifest as we begin to network more and more objects—and even our own bodies—with the help of WiFi, sensors, and RFID.
These technologies are turning up in everything from grocery packaging to household devices to self-monitoring tools like the FitBit and JawBone Up, and pointing to a future in which the minute details of our lives will be coordinated online.
But could all this connectedness make us better people? In this fascinating session, we’ll bring together a researcher examining the trends of quantified self and “the Internet of things” (Sara Öhrvall from Bonnier R&D), a top connected-product designer (Matt Rolandson of Ammunition Group), and tech-savvy Buddhism teacher Vincent Horn, who will shed light on what the networked future might mean for human spirituality.
9th–13th March 2012