Collision 2022 – described by the Financial Times as the “world’s largest tech conference” – was a recent highlight for me.
Attended by more than 1,200 journalists, and receiving visitors from 130 countries, it’s a veritable tour de force. Featured speakers included the likes of Nicholas Cary, co-founder and vice chairman of Blockchain.com; Andrew McAfee, principle research scientist at MIT; Connie Guglielmo, editor-in-chief at CNET and Catherine Powell, global head of hosting at Airbnb.
But there were also literally hundreds of cool companies there too – offering interesting ideas for HRDs and analytics experts alike.
Here are some in particular that captured my attention:
Soul Machines (Smart photo-realistic chatbots):
Soul Machine provides chatbots with a photo-realistic avatar (i.e., it’s not noticeable at first glance that it’s not a human). The notable feature is that if your camera is turned on, it can watch you and react to your facial expressions. Given how much information is communicated via facial expressions this is potentially a big step forward in how humans interact with chatbots.
WFHomie (Engagement for remote workers):
WFHomie is a toolkit for improving the well-being of remote workers. It helps set up events so that remote workers can connect socially. It uses surveys to track how they are doing and has onboarding tools for remote workers. Tools like this will need to become mainstream now that remote workers are such a significant part of the workforce.
Pye.chat (Networking via short videos)
This product lets you create a short video along with information about your interests to set up matches for business networking. To me, the important use case will be to encourage internal networking within large organizations. For an individual it’s a great way to learn about career options; for the company. It’s also a great way to build connections across silos.
Cognetivity Neuroscience (Dementia testing)
Right now there is an understandable high level of interest in mental health. Cognetivity provides a glimpse into some of thr new tools that are becoming available. It offers a simple process for detecting early signs of dementia. You look at a pixelated image and say whether or not you can see an animal. Since this kind of pattern detection is deeply wired into our brains, deterioration of our performance is a possible indicator of dementia. This could lead to early treatment. From a business point of view, I wonder if there are certain critical jobs where this would be required as a standard part of the medical checkup, for example for pilots and truck drivers (or maybe even neuroscientists).
Clutch Factor (Sports psychology)
Sports fans will be familiar with the idea that in crucial (“clutch”) situations, some players raise their level of performance, whereas in others their performance falls. Clutch Factor aims to measure, track, and ultimately improve a player’s ability to perform in clutch situations. This sort of work interests me because sports generate a lot of reasonably objective data on performance. Hence, there is an opportunity to learn about human psychology that we normally don’t get in business. While most jobs don’t have the high-pressure moments common in sports, it’s possible Clutch Factor’s research and methods will also find a home in business psychology.