9 Things We Learned At Web Summit

Forget Al Gore and Wyclef, clearly the highlight of Web Summit 2017 were the talks by two of our own.

A User-Centered Design Approach to Driverless Cars

Tim Smith, design principal of ustwo Auto, was invited to speak at the Auto/Tech stage – joining a diverse lineup of industry experts and innovators from the likes of Daimler, Waymo, Porsche and

Following the release of ustwo Auto’s second book, Humanising Autonomy: Where Are We Going?, Tim's talk draws on some of the key insights from the research and user testing that the book is built around. Catch the talk in full here.

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Conveying The Beauty of Parenthood

Dan Gray, head of studio at ustwo Games, took to the PlayerOne Stage to talk about the importance of their team and the unlikely theme of motherhood in the studios latest release.

This well-timed talk follows the long-awaited Android release of Monument Valley 2 – which many fans have been eagerly anticipating since the surprise iOS release in June. Watch the talk for the real behind the scenes story.

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What We Learned

We didn’t go all the way to Lisbon just to hear ourselves talk – we also caught some amazing, inspiring presentations. In case you couldn't make it (or had real work to do), here are our top 9 snippets:

  1. Don’t forget the basics. It’s easy to get carried away by technology and the hot air around it.
  2. Purpose and flexibility. Most talks projected a vision of the future. The only map is a well-defined sense of purpose and the freedom to change the route on the way there. What’s clear is how fast some companies are moving, and the supertankers need to learn to dance like ballerinas.
  3. You need to design intelligence. The founder of and Amy, the PA bot, explains it like this: building in humanity creates value. When someone reschedules a meeting three times, Amy shows an understanding that something is afoot and this results in the meeting being 73% more likely to happen.
  4. **AI needs ethics, obvs. **Code is human therefore it can contain bias, as some AI police tagging systems have shown. There’s more on this by Forbes. This is important as the system owners are going to be liable for how their service behaves.
  5. Conversational interfaces. There were some interesting discussions around cultural norms and expectations and what this means for conversational interfaces. There’s a lot of work to do to think about how these platforms evolve with these subtleties.
  6. Power needs to move. Forget the Boris bike, Taiwan startup GoGoro is building an electric scooter and battery swapping network. Rather than wasting time re-charging, you can just swap your battery in a few seconds. They are already in Europe and expanding fast after Al Gore’s investment company contributed towards another $300m injection.
  7. Robo-choppers are coming. And they’ll start in places with good helicopter infrastructure like LA, Sao Paolo and Dubai in the next 3-5 years, apparently. The likes of Airbus and Volocopter say autonomy will be easier in the air because there’s already a communications infrastructure.
  8. Make it boring. Waymo CEO says he wants to make the experience boring. Their goal is to make Waymo the most experienced driver, so you know what to expect. But they acknowledge significant work needs to be done to design the customer experience so people will actually use it.
  9. Save the world. The Summit ended with Gore issuing a rallying cry. It’s not too late. For all those out there in the technology and design business, we all have a role to play in directing energy and our energies sustainably.

Whilst Web Summit's done and dusted for this year – it isn’t the end of the road, Tim will be taking the stage at more events this November. Catch him if you can:

We would also love to hear your takeaways from Web Summit – or any thoughts you have on the talks by Tim and Dan. Contact us or catch us on twitter.