Creative-tech trends to watch in 2017
If there was one key takeaway from the 2016 Creative3 Forum, it’s that the creative technology industry is in a constant state of change and innovation. Right across the sector, creative technology startups are continually one step ahead of the zeitgeist as new technology is developed with a creative mindset. With 2017 upon us, these are the trends and innovations we predict you’ll see a lot more of in the next 12 months.
As an industry that brings technology, innovation, creativity and enterprise together, creative technology is connecting our physical and digital worlds in completely new ways. It’s a highly disruptive industry that is giving rise to new ways of thinking about the intersections between creativity, business and technology.
The creative technology mindset explores how to create cross-cutting business models across seemingly unrelated industries such as fashion, screen, advertising, product design, digital media, multimedia, games, computing, robotics, engineering and electronics.
From wearables to personalisation, virtual marketplaces and the emergence of multi-sensory experiences, we are only just beginning to realise the potential of this new style of tech adoption.
So what’s in store this year? In addition to increased investment in startups and continued international expansion of creative-tech companies (like we have seen with Redbubble), there will be more interest in human-led design, virtual reality and artificial intelligence.
With technology and disruption becoming increasingly important priorities for creative entrepreneurs, we also expect to see creative tech go mainstream in the business world. Here are five segments of the industry to watch in 2017.
As the mass market appetite for wearable technology grows and price points start to drop, the market for more fashion-led designs are emerging. From clothing to jewellery and glasses, more companies are looking beyond the watch for solutions that offer convenience as well as discretion.
In terms of the functionality of wearable tech, we can expect this to expand in 2017 and beyond. Right now wearables are primarily designed to communicate with your smartphone, but the emergence of the internet of things will open up new opportunities for these devices to integrate into more aspects of our lives.
Excitingly, wearable technology is being adopted for a number of benevolent applications, including the improved delivery of services such as healthcare. Education is another key sector where companies such as Technology Will Save Us are developing wearables that teach kids how tech works through code kits.
#2 Multi-sensory experiences and touch-enabled worlds
Creative technology is connecting the physical and digital worlds in new ways. Mediums such as virtual reality offer us a glimpse of the rich and engaging multi-sensory experiences we now have the potential to create. Using this technology, more of these types of experiences are now being developed across the arts, media and games industries.
Late last year Oculus released its Touch controllers, starting the expansion of its virtual reality product range. In 2017, we can expect to see deeper exploration of the intersection between virtual reality and other new methods of delivery, such as the internet of things and wearables.
Through her work in virtual reality research, Anna Reeves is discovering just how powerful multi-sensory experiences are. “VR processes this world entirely differently to screen mediums – your mind actually presses it as a memory,” she said at the 2016 Creative3 Forum. “That means the more immersive the world created, the more likely the message is to reach parts of your brain that have not been reached before.”
Anna’s research explores the connection between empathy and virtual reality – highlighting just one of the ways creative technology can be harnessed as a catalyst for positive cultural change – and her findings demonstrate the game-changing nature of virtual and augmented reality.
#3 Humanising big data
Big data has been one of the buzzwords of the past few years, but how meaningful is all the data we are collecting? Behind all the numbers, charts and statistics are real humans with complex thoughts, emotions and behaviours that can’t be unpacked by algorithms or machines alone.
This reality is sinking in as organisations start to mine their data for better insights and new digital transformation opportunities. This year more companies will begin to look beyond numbers and engage in more meaningful analysis of data. The need for information will also lead to the establishment of more companies such as Scrunch that collect and analyse data for niche applications.
Big data isn’t the only area where the divide between technology and humanity is being bridged. In presentations ranging from education to virtual reality and product development, our speakers at the 2016 Creative3 Forum all touched upon the importance of respecting the end user. As Ben Britten reminded us, there is a link between business success and the level of empathy you have for the people who use your products and services.
Personalisation is another buzzword that will take on greater meaning in 2017. More businesses are adopting personalisation technology to create highly engaging online browsing, content and shopping experiences, with companies like Shoes of Prey and Netflix showing us what’s possible in the delivery of personalised shopping and content experiences respectively.
Big data is a key driver of this trend, allowing companies to serve their customers with the most relevant content, products and services in a range of ways. As artificial intelligence becomes more sophisticated and adaptable, we expect that personalisation will play a greater role in the delivery of more than retail and web browsing experiences. From government services to media and the arts, there are a seemingly endless number of applications for personalisation technology.
In the fashion industry, businesses have been quick to realise the potential of personalisation. The emergence of brands including Mon Purse and Citizen Wolf highlights the niche opportunities available in custom fashion. Last year we also saw Australian startup Fame and Partners (often labelled as the Shoes of Prey for clothing) raise $US7.6 million in investment and relocate to LA, highlighting the scalability of this style of business model.
#5 Intelligent things (artificial intelligence and machine learning)
By now you have probably noticed that many of these trends are interconnected. Innovation in creative-tech doesn’t happen in isolation, and the focus on artificial intelligence and machine learning is no different.
For computers to become smarter, they need data, and that’s another reason why big data will continue to be a priority in 2017. With smarter machines, companies can collect and organise more data, and then use these machines to leverage data findings in personalisation activities.
In this area, companies including TrademarkVision are developing unique deep-learning algorithms that solve complex issues. TrademarkVision’s algorithm uses machine learning to search for visually similar trademark images (reducing a labour-intensive process into a simple search that takes just seconds to perform).
Another factor affecting the development of machine intelligence is the internet of things. While the move towards this is still slow and complex, companies want to be ready. As far as 2017 goes, however, artificial intelligence advancements will lead to the development of more natural language interfaces where tools such as chatbots and digital assistants are better able to understand conversational language.
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