New trends in tech

TEXAS — As top tech influencers pondered immortality and mind cloning at the at the annual tech festival South by Southwest in Austin last month, one panel discussion stood out, literally.

UP OR DOWN. A man checking out his smartphone sits on a stairway somewhere in Asia. (AP FOTO)
UP OR DOWN. A man checking out his smartphone sits on a stairway somewhere in Asia. (AP FOTO)

The line to hear digital media futurist Amy Webb speak stretched around the corner at the new JW Marriott hotel in Austin long after the panel started.

Webb, whose clients include Twitter, Time and ad agency Publicis, says she studies how and why people are wasting their time on mobile and where they are having difficulty with technology in order to predict new trends. Two areas she predicts will be big in 2015: “haptics,” which add a tactical component to notifications, and mobile ambient alerts, which could buzz to notify you without being overly intrusive.

Some examples of “haptics” include the Pavlok app’s electric shock, which can punish users if they smoke or overeat, or a shirt by Australian company Foxtel called “Alert Shirt” that uses wearable technology to let soccer fans feel the body blows their favorite soccer player gets during a game. Using ambient alerts, a finance app could buzz when you are considering a purchase — a nudge to remind you “do not try to purchase something right now,” she said. (AP)

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