The IFA+ Summit Outlines the Connected Future

Global thinkers and innovators come together for IFA’s annual festival of ideas

Featuring some of the world’s leading thinkers, visionaries and game-changers, the 2016 IFA+ Summit offered insights into the ‘connected future’ of high- tech, product development and state-of- the-art design. The latest technological and scienti c advancements, in addition to business model breakthroughs, were presented in the context of changing consumer and media behaviours.

Highlights from the Summit included a September 6 session on “Understanding Design: The Next Level of Integration”. Does design matter more than ever? Is happiness by design? In his talk on “Design as the Catalyst for Reinvention”, Matt Candy, Vice President & European Leader, IBM iX, described how the next generation services organisation has been driving the revolution that is reshaping future customer experiences, business models and value propositions. Candy oversees a multi-disciplinary team across Europe who collaborate using the best design, strategy, architecture, technology, cognitive and wearables practices to generate transformational ideas. Yao Zhang, founder and CEO, RoboTerra, addressed questions about design during her talk, “A Place For People and Machines – Race with Robots, Not Against Them”. Chosen as a 2016 Young Global Leader by the Davos World Economic Forum, Zhang has been working in the education and technology field for more than a decade. She described how RoboTerra provides a cloud-based learning solution that connects educational robots built by students and respective course modules, thus allowing students a rewarding and fun learning experience.

The IFA+ Summit session on “Mixed Reality: the next level of experience and entertainment” asked what the linking of real and virtual worlds mean for our perception of reality. What technological means will the entertainment industry use to reach its audience? What copyright strategies will be pursued?

George Bloom, executive producer at CBS Digital, was at the Summit to describe the future of virtual reality. “The new VR hardware entering the marketplace is best optimised if creators look beyond spherical imaging and explore creating content in 3D space,” he said. “We also need to re-imagine how we tell stories. A whole new language needs to evolve before we are able to step into the next dimension of the story world. We need to challenge our current mental models.”

A September 6 IFA+ Summit session on Intelligent Data focused on the role, responsibilities, and potential of big data. To whom does your data belong? Will big data govern society in the future or will society govern big data? What ethical, moral and practical architecture is in place for big data to build upon? What is the balance of bene t and sacri ce in big data to a society? Dr Stefan Wrobel, professor of computer science at the University of Bonn and director of the Fraunhofer Institute for Intelligent Analysis and Information, told the Summit that “Big Data is at the heart of the business models of some of the most successful players in the media industry.”

Wrobel went on to describe the current capability of artificial intelligence technologies, and some concrete practical applications. “Luckily, recent advances in machine learning and artificial intelligence algorithms, growing computing power, and the increasing availability of big data, are now enabling intelligent software systems that can analyse and interpret media data as well as never before in history,” he said. “Computers can now play information-based games, they can identify objects in complex scenes, they can even modify images or automatically generate captions for them. Thus, it is now time to start evaluating these technologies and to bring them into productive use in a company’s value chain”.