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Websummit 2016: The velvet rEvolution: Geeks, nerds and millionaires

5 minutes

The 2016 edition of Websummit revealed the major forthcoming trends. After Dublin in 2015, this edition was held from 7 to 10 November in Lisbon, a city that intends to capitalize on this event to become the European Silicon Valley within 10 years.

While Dublin exuded a party atmosphere with its Rock’n Roll and garage feel, a degree of middle-classness made itself felt at the Lisbon Websummit. There were half as many start-ups as in the 2015 edition (1,300 this year), no doubt to make room for the very many and generous sponsors of the most popular European Tech event (more than 50,000 visitors).
With fewer start-ups at the event, one could be forgiven for expecting to see less creativity and madness. However we have to admit that we really got into the mood of the Websummit 2016, as we chatted with start-ups on their minimalist stands (Alpha, Beta or Meta categories), listened to pitches and attended conferences.


A busy time with hundreds of conferences to spur on the world of technology and to spread the “lucrative” word of the Techtitans attending the event, like Facebook, Google or Amazon, who boost their profits by exploiting our day-to-day existence.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) was at the heart of the debates, more particularly with Facebook, whose CTO Mike Schroepfer demonstrated the very sharp acceleration of the power of AI “made in Facebook” (Editor’s note: development team based in Paris). The most concrete illustration concerned image and text recognition, with the new “Style transfer” functionality that lets you airbrush a video in real time. Tomorrow, thanks to AI, Facebook will be able to identify the context, activity, people and constituent parts of each of the photos published on its network.

Furthermore, applications will soon no longer need to be downloaded. Transparent commerce, embedded directly in the messaging system thanks to image recognition, will transform the world into a true living e-commerce site.

Amazon, through the intervention of its CTO Werner Vogels, was there to encourage developers to embrace its AI Alexa. The American giant also showed off its advances in AI with an ecosystem affecting all areas of our life, which brands itself as a veritable ‘living services’ platform.

Hanson Robotics’s smart robot Sophia took the centre-stage at Lisbon with its human face and humour. However, Sofia is not just a gadget, as it clearly announced to an audience of 10,000 that it can already work as a receptionist in stores, a guide in shopping centre or a teacher of children (a true icy beauty).


Miss Sofia, still a teenager, even ended her intervention in an impressive manner by announcing that she is simply starting her learning process, and she confirmed that her aim in ‘life’ was to be able to programme herself! Hanson Robotics’s Ben Goertzel reacted by asserting that “there are no jobs done by humans that AI will not be able to do”!

The same story was heard from the start-ups, with tens of entrepreneurs offering AI on messaging services via chatbots, to manage the home, one’s energy consumption, find a job, travel… in a nutshell quite simply enhance one’s life!

Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) also featured very prominently at the conferences and on the stands, whether for gaming, viewing properties, helping disabled persons learn to walk again (more particularly with the Facebook-backed project “Walk again”), or even doing sport in a network with one’s friends in one’s living room. VR claims to be the future of the media and could even supplant the television we have had in our living rooms for over 60 years. As for RA, according to the panels of experts who were at the Websummit, it will become the ultimate technology for boosting productivity.

But will the future be driven by Mixed Reality, with Microsoft’s Hololens headset being its current incarnation? But it is already on the decline. Indeed, Apple is reported to be working with 600 engineers to make the next iPhone a Mixed Reality device featuring sensors and a revolutionary 3D camera, and it will be released in the next 11 months.

Finally the Websummit also has its share of unconventional speakers, and here we are not alluding to the presence of Ronaldinho or Luis Figo, but rather to a speaker who aroused the audience. This was the hot-headed Gary Vaynerchuk, who remotivated his listeners, still stunned by the election of Donald Trump. With a stage show featuring off-beat optimism and critical of large corporations. In his view despite the millions of dollars at their disposal, they are still too conventional in their marketing in response to the increase in new media.

Ultimately the 2016 edition was highly instructive, with new technologies that are confirming their hold on our future day-to-day existence and that will impact on our lifestyles over the next 10 years! Echangeur will for that matter almost certainly integrate new partners, including favourite start-ups like RECAST.AI, PROFILE AUDIENCE INSIGHT or even MEREAL BIOMETRICS… Read about our future technological partnerships in our newsletter and come and test their solutions in our showroom.


Nicolas Diacono

Published on November 16 2016 by


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