Mobile Madness Northwest: Highlights, Predictions, and Takeaways

12/13/12Follow @bromano

A great crowd of enthusiastic mobile professionals, VCs, and other future-dwellers slid into the comfy pews of Town Hall Seattle for the second Xconomy Mobile Madness Northwest forum Wednesday.

Chris DeVore, who moderated a provocative panel on location-based services, noted at one point that “everyone in this room lives in the future.”

We’ve held the event for four years running in Boston. It debuted in New York last week and is coming to Detroit in January.

Here are some of the highlights and key takeaways. This being the end of the year, there were several forecasts and predictions made.

Siri co-founder Adam Cheyer—who hasn’t spoken in public much because “when you’re at Apple… they don’t let you talk to anybody”—gave a set of five predictions he sees unfolding in the next five to seven years.

But first, with the rigor of the standout engineer and entrepreneur that he is, Cheyer scored a set of 10 predictions he made in 2004 for what would transpire during the World Wide Web’s second decade. (And Cheyer notes that he puts his money where his mouth is, founding three companies based on his predictions.) He was spot on about the digitization of media, the social networking explosion, the merging of public and private information, and the supremacy of the most usable device for accessing an increasingly commoditized online world. He was less right about seamless structured data—though give him until 2014 for that one to play out—the merging of structured and unstructured data, and ubiquitous personalization.

Looking ahead, by 2019, Cheyer sees:

Speech recognition finally working. It is crossing a tipping point now where it’s good enough that people are using it, providing vast amounts of data needed to improve it to the “Wow, this really works” stage.

Collaborative coding and in-app marketplaces. As an example he points to Spotify—the app itself and the third-party apps you can run within it that tell you when an artist you listen to will be performing in your area. Or Match.com could allow daters to book a restaurant reservation from within the site through a third-party app.

Healthcare intelligence breakthroughs. Fitbit and the quantified self movement are driving a proliferation of data from the bottom up while government regulations are driving it from the top down. Analyzing that data with modern tools could unlock improvements across a broad spectrum.

Augmented reality going mainstream. Other speakers agree that the time is right for wearable computing—Google Glasses and the like—sensors, 3-D location modeling, image and speech recognition, and other advances that will combine to make the real world clickable. Cheyer thinks it’s now or never, however. “If it doesn’t happen in five to seven years, it’s not going to happen in my view,” he says, adding that it’s easier to do with indoor spaces than outdoor.

Dynamic knowledge repositories. He points to Douglas Engelbart’s “Mother of All Demos.” More than Wikipedia, this would be a structured set of all the data on a given topic—global warming, say.

—DeVore, of Founders Co-Op, captured the promise and potential pitfalls of location based services: “People are addicted to their phones. They’re with them all the time. So the phone basically knows who you are. It knows where you are. And it often knows what your need-state is. Used well, that can create incredible value for end users. You can solve problems before people know they have them. Used poorly, you can create massive problems, erode trust, erode brand value—all kinds of terrible things.”

David Shim, chief executive of Placed, put some of the fears people have about location based services—which are opt-in, while Web cookies are usually opt-out—in context. … Next Page »

Benjamin Romano is editor of Xconomy Seattle. Email him at bromano [at] xconomy.com. Follow @bromano

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  • OZ

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    BIZ ones also help to predicate.