SXSW Day 5: It's the end of the world as we know it

Ogilvy's head of digital, Jason Davey, talks through the key technological advances every marketer should be on top of


SXSW 2019 has confirmed the extent to which technology will impact every aspect of our lives in deep and profound ways. I’m 15 sessions in, spanning a range of topics from flying vehicles, smart cities, neuro-science, nano-technology, to how the CIA uses creativity to solve complex counter-terrorism challenges.

My head is literally spinning (but that may have been that last marguerite.)

Below is just a taste of some discoveries encountered at this year’s south-by:

Uber Air

Uber has partnered with NASA and Bell to create Uber Air, a vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) taxi service. Uber Air uses the Bell Nexus Air Taxi, a vehicle that has a hybrid-electric propulsion system with six tilting ducted fans designed to safely and efficiently carry passengers. What would normally be a two-hour drive, can now take just 18 minutes, and cost roughly the same as an Uber. The Bell Nexus will trial in Dallas and LA in 2020, with an expected full commercial rollout by 2023. It carries a pilot and four passengers.


Amazon Homes

Amazon has partnered with one of the US’ largest home builders (Lennar) to create smart homes that are engineered from the ground up to be connected, intelligent and autonomous. ‘Hey Alexa, let the dog out!’


Empathetic design

Advancements in empathetic technology will change product design profoundly. Chief scientist at Dolby Laboratories, Poppy Crum, explained how sensors armed with artificial intelligence (AI) can now detect how we are feeling via thermal infrared, micro-posture, breath analysis, pupil dilation, chemical pheromone secretions and voice analysis.

Connected devices will know more about us than we do. One-size-fits-all products will be a thing of the past as the product will personalise to the individual. This will transform the relationship we have with each other and with the spaces where we work, train, heal and live.

The impact on the health industry alone will be significant. Schizophrenia, MS, and Alzheimer’s can now be detected in advance by voice analysis. Heart disease can be detected in advance by breathing analysis. Technology will drive personalised medicine and treatment plans that are tailored to individuals. This will drive efficacy and efficiency in the health system and health outcomes.

Human machines

Machines are also increasingly thinking like humans. IBM Project Debater, for example, formulates a position on any given topic by scanning millions of data points, and then forming a compelling argument presented in a four-minute speech, and then a rebuttal. In many debates it has beaten champion debaters of the human variety.


With all of these discoveries it’s clear that technology is changing every aspect of human life; from travel, product design, to health and our homes. It’s not only changing how we do marketing, but what it is we will be marketing. 

For CMOs, this means staying abreast of the technologies that could help you evolve your product, before your competitors do. 

- Jason Davey is the head of digital for Ogilvy Australia.

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