Electric cars, beer-proof tablets and wearable computers were just a few of the ideas (or developing products) dancing across the minds of the D11 guests last week. While perspectives ranged from the foundational to the unbelievable, all shared a vision that is extraordinary in scope and virtue.
When it comes to the future of digital, here’s what the CEOs on stage had to say:
Big Data ROI
“There is a massive business opportunity in using software to anticipate industrial equipment maintenance needs,” said Jeffrey Immelt, CEO of GE. “Take the jet engine. It has about 20 sensors that capture real-time continuous data—temperature, engine performance, etc. If I can take that data and use it to model a consumer outcome—say, more time on the wing or less fuel burn—that’s worth an awful lot of money to my customers. A one percent change in fuel burn for an airline is worth hundreds of millions of dollars.”
Sony CEO Kaz Hirai and San Francisco 49ers chief Jed York are teaming up to bring “beer-proof tablets” to the stadium experience. Come 2014, their smart stadium will connect fans in more ways than just replays. The tablets will be capable of showing the best places to park, the best routes to stadium destinations and even ordering food from your seats.
“The camaraderie of being at the game—there’s nothing like that,” York said. “We want to take that great home-entertainment experience and bring it to the stadium.”
Electric Cars and Trips To Mars
“I think it’s important that we transition to sustainable transport,” said Elon Musk, founder of Tesla, SpaceX and SolarCity. “Eventually we’ll face extremely high gasoline costs and the economy will grind to a halt if we don’t.”
Musk says the ultimate goal, though, is to get technology to the point where it can take us to Mars.
“Either we spread Earth to other planets, or we risk going extinct,” he said. “An extinction event is inevitable and we’re increasingly doing ourselves in.”
PayPal co-founder Max Levchin’s latest project aims to help women get pregnant. His new fertility company, Glow, uses analytics to track ovulation cycles and advise best times to conceive.
“My wife and I were lucky. We had our children without any issues,” said Levchin. ““But we have people close to us that have gone through multiple IVF trials, and we’ve heard them say, ‘We’re not going to put my wife’s body through this anymore.’”
Beyond pregnancy, Levchin hopes to use this model to give people more data on other areas of their health that will ultimately decrease health care costs overall.
Internet Of Things
Pinterest CEO Ben Silbermann thinks his company is well positioned for the future of the Internet.
“Many things were once very text-based and very popular,” Silbermann said. “But instead of being time-based, we made it visual . . . I think the web and media are becoming more visual in general.”
Silbermann also freely admitted that Pinterest isn’t making any money yet, but that it takes “more of a long-term perspective” to build a company that will stick around.
“Transport will become free,” said Cisco CEO John Chambers, predicting that cellular data charges will fall like voice cell service. “Architectures will change. With intelligence throughout the network, the network will become the platform of the future.”
This fall, Motorola will release a “hero device” called the Moto X. The new phone will have a variety of always-on sensors that makes it more contextually aware—like knowing when you take it out of your pocket.
“We’re going to play a different game than Motorola has played in the recent past,” said Motorola CEO Dennis Woodside. “It’s not going to radically change the world in the first launch, but we do think that the products will find their markets.”
“We’ve recognized that Twitter is the second screen for TV, and TV is more fun with Twitter,” said Twitter CEO Dick Costolo when asked about the next stage of the company. “There are a bunch of ways that we can be complementary to broadcasters. Traditionally, many in our area have viewed broadcasters as competitors—we think of it as complementary.
“I think we will see virtual assistants within two years that are quite robust,” said Nuance CEO Paul Ricci. “I also believe that within two years we will see that virtual assistants will work across platforms.”
Wearables were a hot topic at D11 this year, especially with the buzz surrounding Google Glass. Here’s D11’s compilation of prominent speakers (including Hirai, York, Costolo and Tim Cook) sharing their thoughts and feelings about wearable computing devices, the future of that industry and whether they plan to get involved.
And of course . . . Apple isn’t about to give anything away.
“We release products when they are ready,” said Apple CEO Tim Cook. “We believe very much in the element of surprise. We think customers love surprises. I have no plan on changing that . . . We have several more game changers in us.”