On the Horizon: SXSW 2018

With the South by Southwest 2018 festival right around the corner, we sat down with the OCHWW team that will be taking Austin, TX, by storm and taking in all the technology and creativity insights. Take a look at what our experts are setting their sights on for SXSW 2018.

Our team:

José Mendoza, Art Supervisor

Brandie Linfante, VP Engagement Strategy

Max Divak, Interactive Group Supervisor

Russell Grimaldi, EVP, Client Management

Jon Galya, Digital Art Director

As an upcoming attendee, what are you most excited to see at SXSW 2018?

 

José Mendoza:

WOW! I’m so looking forward to SXSW 2018. What excites me most is the potential to expand my thinking and problem solving. Also, to be better at spotting opportunities which best address challenges the brands I work on face.

 

Maybe helping to create a VR solution for “brand A” which delivers and elevates it from its competitors; or concepting a wearable that happens to measure a variable essential to “brand B”; or maybe just realizing that a new approach itself is what’s needed.

 

Everything will change after this, I suspect.

 

Brandie Linfante:

The things that excite me most about going to SXSW are the opportunity to meet with innovators, learn about advancements in the health and wellness space, and see how we can apply the learnings to our clients.

 

Max Divak:

The interactive week of SXSW is an intersection of talented storytellers, content creators and immersive interaction medium innovators. I’m excited to demo and experience bleeding-edge technology and determine how it can enhance our offering.

 

Furthermore I’m curious about new tools that can help streamline the ideation and development process of mixed reality experiences.

 

Russell Grimaldi:

As this is my first time at SXSW, I’m excited to enter the festival with an open mind and keen eye to how we can get a sustainable discussion moving around how all of the innovations can more specifically serve our clients and organizations.

 

Active listening will be at the forefront of my time during SXSW to better understand:

• What are various stakeholders excited about?

• Why are they excited?

• How can we capitalize on these opportunities to better service our clients and solve short-, mid-, and long-term problems?

 

Jon Galya:

As someone who loves technology, I am most excited to see the latest and greatest tech. It is beyond awesome to be able to see innovative people and the work that they do. I look forward to using this to spark further ideas within my own work. It will be amazing to see how user interface and design play a role with all of this, and to know what this incredible technology can do and how it can change people’s lives.  

Specifically, what exhibits/presentations are you most looking forward to this year?

 

José Mendoza:

So far, I’m most interested in attending the “Designing VR Rx” discussion, where the presenters will share how they designed their relaxation application, LUMEN, as a prescription to children facing heart surgery. The thought of using an application—in lieu of prescribing a drug (if I’m correct in thinking this)—to calm a child and prep them for surgery is truly outstanding.

 

I’m also curious to learn from “Do Online Communities Make Us Healthier?” I’m wondering if there’s any way to leverage the relationships and connections which spring from these communities, if in fact they prove to make us healthier.

 

Brandie Linfante:

AR, VR and mixed reality. But I am keeping an open mind and looking to explore a multitude of exhibits and attend as many of the presentations as possible.

 

Max Divak:

Hard to pick only a few. I hope to make it out to the following:

• SXSW Innovation Awards
• Ira Glass - Accidently Making the Most Popular Podcast Ever
• Future for Health
• Future of Interfaces: Beyond Glass
• Letting Go: Designing for an AI You Can’t Control
• Redefining Play to Impact Health and Beyond
• Transformation Is Not Digital, It’s Constant
• NASA’s Universe of Storytelling Tools
• Experience Design, the New Marketing Era
• The Digital Campfire: Storytelling on Voice UIs

 

...and the tradeshow of course. The tradeshow houses demos of the latest products and technology and provides attendees the opportunity to speak to the individuals who created or worked on it.

 

Russell Grimaldi:

Although I’m entering the festival with a clear mind, no expectations, and wild curiosity to dig beneath the surface and explore how these insights/innovations can lead to a stronger and more fruitful relationship with our clients, a featured panel that caught my eye was Bernard J Tyson’s session: Re-Connecting the Mind to the Body. This session seeks to better understand the interconnected relationship between one’s mental health and physical health.

 

In our industry, the term “connected health” gets thrown around a lot. And it is mostly focused on how digital technologies are mapping a more networked view of how we interact with our physical health. But exploring the relationship between mental and physical health brings a new dimension to the conversation. Reinforcing a holistic view of health and wellness and inspiring a more organic way of empowering healthcare consumers, building connections with one’s overall health, and motivating healthy behaviors.

 

An increased understanding of this relationship will illuminate more fertile ground for marketers to leverage relevant content that speaks to this underappreciated connection between mental health and physical wellbeing.

 

Jon Galya:

I am looking forward to the “AI in Health Meet Up” event. It will be very interesting to hear how artificial intelligence will play a role in healthcare. I believe the “Brainy Surgery: VR, AI and Robots in the OR” event will also touch on this. It brings up the interesting point in healthcare of what should and should not still be human. Will these new technologies run automatic diagnostics? What parts are better left in the robotics’ hands?

With so many areas of business represented at the festival, what other organizations/industries are you interested in learning from?

 

José Mendoza:

Right now, I’m looking for inspiration everywhere imaginable—gaming, music, AR/VR, nutrition, the environment, education, materials which target nurses, government-funded solves, molecular research and gene splicing.

 

I guess it will boil down to how “the need was addressed” that will prove to be the key in my mind. Once that’s done it will be up to me to see how I can apply such learnings.

 

Brandie Linfante:

I look forward to learning from the technology sector for certain, but creative organizations and industries as well – and I would have to say data companies too.

 

Max Divak:

Last year, I picked up a small CNC machine for home and started learning the CAD/CAM process and software. The cost for precise, repeatable manufacturing is within reach of anyone willing to put forth the effort to learn the machine mechanics, 3D modeling and tool path programming. For some, it’s not necessary to dive in that deep to get started since there are many online communities offering paid and free downloads of products to run through your home machines.

 

There are sessions at SXSW that touch on manufacturing and digital fabrication that I hope to check out. I imagine the tradeshow will have a section dedicated to similar machines, 3D printing, new materials and other products that make manufacturing more portable and affordable.

 

In the Innovation Lab we have been tackling complex projects that touch on portable neural networks and basic machine intelligence. We’re on the verge of super cool offerings that will benefit clients, their customers and allow for unique product awareness interaction and learning experiences for the tradeshow environment.

 

Russell Grimaldi:

Data aggregation and integration is happening across a lot of industries right now. What I want to keep a particular eye-on is how these organizations are making the user experience more seamless and impactful by infusing a sense of “human-touch.” How are healthcare consumers being connected beyond the quantification of our data and how can we go beyond another daily notification to create a meaningful experience for the end-user.

 

We are already mining the insights. But I’m interested in learning how we can use the “right” insights to illuminate a more personal relationship between users, content, and technology. There’s more to data than doing, I plan to explore how does data awaken us to better understand who we are during these interactions.

 

Jon Galya:

I think it’ll be very interesting to learn from the film and gaming industries. Film and animation, done right, could be a key component to representing emotion to the healthcare audience. I think merging film and VR/augmented reality could hit the home-run in expressing the emotional story to patients. I would also enjoy seeing if there are any new gaming technologies and how they could be merged into health science.

Over the last few years, we have seen the Health & Wellness track grow exponentially. What are your thoughts on this progression, what does it mean for this year’s festival, & where do you see it going in the future?

 

Brandie Linfante:

Health & Wellness is still in growth mode and will likely continue to be so. Like every other year, SXSW will be a showcase for the talent that is stimulating that growth.

 

Max Divak:

I think it’s a natural progression. Typically the entertainment industry pushes boundaries on awesome new mediums and technologies for brand engagement and awareness. As these technologies become commonplace and production becomes less of a financial risk, other industries begin to find ways to adapt them into meaningful experiences. Pharma marketing really benefits from this trickle-down.

 

Jon Galya:

I think the progression is a huge pivotal point in the future of healthcare. MedTech makes it possible to touch so many more lives while offering the best services possible. Whether we take it too far is the question.

With so much happening at SXSW, what makes for a standout idea among all the noise?

 

José Mendoza:

Simplicity, I think. I’d love to hear of something that feels obvious—and maybe it is—and then imagining how it wasn’t thought of before. Maybe that’s why I’m loving the LUMEN VR mentioned above.

 

Brandie Linfante:

The standout ideas are most often unique in nature. But unique does not always have to be new—unique can be an improvement, or defining an unmet need that we never realized existed before.

 

Max Divak:

New ideas typically build upon familiar trends of the past, chipping away at inefficiencies, ultimately arriving at better solutions… but the ideas that truly stand out are the ones that leapfrog over the sea of sameness to offer a brand new perspective on new problems that, somehow, you didn’t even realize were a problem in the first place… you’re often left thinking, how did I ever get by without knowing this crucial important idea?

 

Russell Grimaldi:

We live in an info rich environment, consistently inundated with more data and content that we can retain. And I suspect at SXSW, this flood of information will be amplified.

 

However, I find my most impactful days at the office are when I hone-in on one or two objectives that make a real tangible impact for our clients. I think the standout SXSW content will be those that deliver the pearls of wisdom that: expand my thinking, gravitate interests across every cohort of attendee, and provide unique insights that can be acted upon both now and in the future.

 

Jon Galya:

Creative genius will stand out above the rest. It’s the exhibits that push the boundaries of technology to solve major problems that will stand out. I’m looking to see or hear something that impresses me so much that I will want to implement it myself.

How do events like SXSW stimulate creativity for healthcare marketers?

 

José Mendoza:

With so many possible ways to think/problem-solve/design/engage/approach/link-to/help…and so forth, having the best minds (in their particular fields) share how they have done it is priceless. It’s refreshing and exciting and invigorating. It’s like stepping into one of those cash booths where money is blowing around you and you do your best to get as much as you can… only to step into another cash booth where you once again gather as much as you can.

 

As an added bonus for me, I think this trip will push my notes-taking abilities to new heights.

 

Brandie Linfante:

The conversation drives ideation, ideation drives ambition and stimulates the response resulting in creativity and innovation. Seeing things that are different and being inspired to take a novel approach.

 

Max Divak:

Our industry specializes in clearly communicating the often very complex solutions our clients provide. As the newest technologies trickle downward into our everyday devices, these new avenues of communication constantly need to be explored and considered to assure we aren’t missing an untapped audience.

 

Jon Galya:

Events like SXSW bring advanced technologies and the people who created them to the rest of us. With their sole focus of creating these incredible machines, it is our job to implement their hard work into something that will help people. We know the healthcare market better than anyone, and with the smallest inspiration, our minds go crazy with ideas. It is our job to sit down and think of the best way we can market these ideas to our pharmaceutical clients. When our minds are stretched by ingenious innovations, we begin to think differently, ultimately becoming innovators ourselves.