The latest tech trends, research forecasts, startup competitions and keynotes from top names in the startup community were among the highlights at Innovate! and Celebrate, a combined event where the biggest names in tech meet cutting-edge startups. Co-produced by the Consumer Technology Association (CTA)™ and Tech.Co, Innovate! and Celebrate concluded last week at the Fairmont in San Jose, CA.
Innovate! and Celebrate was a resounding success, bringing together the best and brightest minds in the tech community – from top global brands to small businesses and startups – to engage, inspire and spur our industry forward,” said Gary Shapiro, president and CEO, CTA. “Our partnership with Tech.Co to produce this event was mutually beneficial and helped us illustrate the true entrepreneurial spirit of our industry.”
Shapiro, along with Frank Gruber, co-founder and CEO, Tech.Co, kicked off Wednesday’sprogramming. The two discussed their shared passion to create the Innovate! and Celebrate experience for entrepreneurs, startups and creatives to learn from established industry leaders. Throughout the event, Celebrate keynotes and panel discussions focused on the most important issues facing startups such as funding, building partnerships and scaling growth, while Innovate! sessions covered the latest tech trends including virtual reality, AI and the sharing economy. Both producers touted innovation and applauded the innovators in attendance working to solve real-world problems.
This joint venture with CTA was an amazing success,” said Gruber. “The conference allowed for collaboration across emerging tech companies, startups and tech leaders at the forefront of today’s industry. We were proud to feature our top 50 startups throughout the event. Leaders from these companies came to the conference from around the world and had a solid presence at Innovate! and Celebrate.”
Dr. Fei-Fei Li, director of Stanford’s Artificial Intelligence Lab, took the keynote stage Wednesdaymorning to explore how artificial intelligence (AI) is driving our future and what is needed for deep computer learning to continue to advance. She walked the audience through a series of compelling examples to compare the ways that humans and computers learn, ultimately demonstrating that computers are currently capable of object recognition, but that the ultimate goal is not just recognition, but total scene understanding. “Humans use vision to survive, navigate, communicate, entertain and so much more,” said Li. “In the future, computers will be able to do the same, but not without the help of big data sets to learn from.” Li likened computer learning to the way children learn, in that experience and repetition are key, and concluded with, “We have not solved computer vision and there is a long journey in front of us.”
Wednesday’s panel, Five Technology Trends to Watch, discussed five key tech topics selected by CTA analysts: digital assistants, augmented reality, the future of transportation, digital health and sports tech. Moderated by CNET’s Lindsey Turrentine, with panelists including Local Motors’ Justin Fishkin; Qualcomm Life’s James Mault; IBM Cloud’s John Phelan; Meta’s Ryan Pamplin and Intel Capital’s Ramamurthy Sivakumar, the group agreed that many of today’s problems involving education, transportation and health care will be solved through innovation and technology.
The panelists identified sensors as a core enabling element of many of these cutting-edge technologies. Sivakumar discussed how sensors are being used in sports applications to learn a fan’s profile and what they like. He added, “In sports, people want to share. They want to tell you stuff so the technology adoption curve will be a lot faster.” In the health care realm, technology is moving quickly. Mault discussed connected health care related to sensors, including smart inhalers, which notify the pediatrician immediately once a child has taken a puff from a connected inhaler.
During the exclusive first look at CTA’s annual holiday sales forecast, Shawn DuBravac, Ph.D., chief economist, CTA, and Steve Koenig, senior director of market research, CTA, announced tech spending during the 2016 holiday season is expected to increase by 3.1 percent – driven primarily by virtual reality, wearables and smart home devices making their way into the holiday gift mix. Information about today’s presentation and holiday research throughout the season is available atCTA.tech/holiday.
During the session, Synthesizing Human and Machine Capabilities , Eric Colson, chief algorithms officer, Stitch Fix, delved into the minds of machines and humans, discussing how Stitch Fix has combined the two to create an ideal online shopping experience. Stitch Fix uses a version of the Recommender System, which offers recommendations to users based on previous online purchases or preferences, paired with the specific skill set of two processors – humans and machines. The machine is able to process the calculations and algorithms, while the human brain is free to handle the creative aspect of the task and make decisions based on social norms and their ability to relate to other humans. “Machines and humans can be combined to produce new capabilities,” Colson said. “What we’re shooting for is producing a capability that’s better than either one can do on their own.”
Wednesday general sessions wrapped with CTA’s Shapiro hosting a fireside chat centering on the upcoming presidential election with Ambassador Karen Kornbluh, external advisor to Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. The two discussed Clinton’s tech plan and its five areas of focus: 1) Leverage tech to create jobs 2) Bring high-speed broadband to all Americans 3) Promote high-tech exports and ensure free flow of data 4) Provide innovation support through healthy competition, reducing barriers to entry and protecting intellectual property 5) Make government smarter through new technologies. Shapiro went on record saying “the Clinton tech plan is great.” Kornbluh said she would match the five parts of the plan with five “I”‘s of her own to describe it, “It is inclusive, innovative, investment-focused, international and highlights infrastructure needs.” Kornbluh touted Clinton as being forward-thinking on technology, with internet freedom and the right to connect at the top of her tech agenda.
The internet is a miraculous thing, but it’s fragile and we don’t want to muck it up,” said Kornbluh. Shapiro agreed, “It is our generation’s gift to the future, changing the world fundamentally.”
Kicking off Thursday’s programming, Naveen Jain, founder, BlueDot and Moon Express, discussed dreaming big and his most recent announcement about Moon Express being the first privatized company allowed to go beyond the Earth’s orbit and land on the moon. “If you believe something is impossible, it becomes impossible for you, not someone else,” said Jain. “Start thinking about what’s possible. Everything is possible and it’s in your reach.”
This afternoon Tech.co will host its final Startup of the Year Competition where a panel of esteemed judges will narrow the top 50 semifinalists down to five, and eventually name a winner tonight. Highlights from the competition can be found at Tech.Co.
Tech.Co is a global media and events organization dedicated to covering news, how-to’s, up-and-coming startups and industry trends online. Tech.Co events are designed to connect and educate entrepreneurs with resources, industry leading brands, tech leaders, investors and accelerators to help amplify their business. Started in 2006 as a grassroots event to connect local communities, Tech.Co has grown to reach millions of readers around the world and known as the go-to resource for building a startup. Read more at www.tech.co, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.