The Top Tech Innovation Trends of 2014

At SXSW down in Austin, you’ll find everything from wearable technology to new social media platforms and even disruptive food trucks and pedicabs (yes, you heard that right). But one thing that has carried over from the Consumer Electronics Show and into SXSW is discussion around top technology innovation brands. Who is being the most disruptive and how are they going to change the world as we know it?

Today, I made it to a panel featuring tech evangelist and venture capitalist Robert Scoble and Consumer Electronics Association president and CEO Gary Shapiro to talk about what to look for this year surrounding all things innovative.

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Here’s what they highlighted:

Wearables

No surprise here. Because of the unbounded creativity that comes with a groundbreaking industry like wearable technology, the rate at which innovation occurs is simply unmatched. Between smart watches, fitness trackers, sensor-driven devices and Google Glass-like creations, new technologies and brands are emerging every month. But because we’re still at an early stage of wearable technology, most are better suited for early adopters than for practical use.

“It’s still so early in the wearable game that by the time we see these devices and Glass come to be mainstream, it may not be for a few more years,” Scoble said. “Glass is frustrating to use. We know it’s the future, but it’s still so unfinished and more of an R and D stage wearable. But it’s also the most controversial product of my lifetime because of what’s going on with security and privacy. When we come to a point where we can find effective ways to incorporate wearable technology into our everyday lives to make them better, that’s when it will take off and get out of the ‘testing’ stage.”

Smart Beacons

Recent news about retailers and other brands using bluetooth smart beacons to better engage and understand consumers has been popping up all over the place. Retailers (such as American Eagle Outfitters, Best Buy, Crate and Barrel, JCPenney, Macy’s, Old Navy, The Sports Authority and Target) already are using this technology and have been seeing tremendous results. Scoble believes this is only going to get bigger.

“In over 60 baseball stadiums, there is going to be these beacons that will not only find out where you are in the ballpark, but offer you deals or tips based on what you’re looking for and other things related to your location,” he said. “But the future will feature beacons with a new social media to see who we’re next to and show the information they’ve shared with the world, maybe through Glass. The beacons would not only connect you with places and items, but with people. That is where I think this technology is headed.

Startups and Ninja Innovation

Who could forget about startups (actually they almost did), but Scoble and Shapiro both agreed that startups are driving the largest part of innovative tech, especially ones in emerging countries.

“The country that is the most innovative has to be Israel,” Shapiro said. “You’re seeing PrimeSense’s 3D sensing technology lead the way, but I think that especially for these emerging countries that are still growing and even going through some tough times, when you're worried about dying, a business risk doesn’t even matter.”

Ninja Innovation is something that I had never heard of, but made total sense when Shapiro explained it.

“Take what you’re good at, find out what needs work, and strategize, plan and build teams around that,” he said. “You always need to be on your toes and find ways to consistently challenge the norm or status quo. Oh, and life’s not boring when you’re a ninja.”

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Comments

Thanks Ryan -- I produced and moderated the program with Gary and Robert. Glad you were there and enjoyed it. Looking forward to connecting again sometime in person.

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