Friday December 9th, 2016

Slush aftermath – Lost in technology

Mikko Nurmi

Mikko Nurmi

Miika Mikkola

Miika Mikkola

Slush CEO Marianne Vikkula

Each year has its own trending themes at Slush. This year, if you came expecting to see lots of virtual reality demos,then you would not have been disappointed. However, either Slush didn’t manage to get the brightest VR start-ups to the venue or there is a lack of fresh ideas. The VR themes that were presented were mainly the ones already seen at last year’s Slush (real estate, tourism, fashion, education). Nokia demoed their OZO live sharing but didn’t manage to create the ‘wow effect’ due to a sluggish viewing experience. The only concrete takeaway was a very familiar looking 3D model – we got our bodies 3D scanned.

picture credit: Jussi Hellsten, Slush 2016

Start-ups working in health-tech were also well presented. Think of any well-known disease or disorder and there was a start-up focusing on that area. These startups had a good amount of medical expertise. But they seemed to lack the expertise to turn their ideas into a seamless service experience between the service, medical experts and patient.


Artificial intelligence was mentioned many times as a buzz word in both keynote speeches and during the pitching competition. But AI itself becomes only relevant when it is smartly combined with something else. Many companies seek to get competitive advantage over traditional players with the use of AI. Ways to utilise AI discussed at Slush ranged from building love dolls to an AI science assistant. Bots are a good example of AI-based solutions where the AI-user interaction makes a great difference. Next year we expect to see more examples of AI meeting health services and augmented reality. At Leadin we are actively exploring the area of AI-human interaction.

picture credit: Sami Välikangas, Slush 2016

Food for thought

It was delightful to see that not all the innovations and themes were necessarily related to digital products. One refreshing example of this was the story of pulled oats. Maija Itkonen explained how the role of designers goes way deeper than just digitalising the concept that some other people have already created: the core thing is to understand real user needs and create a vision of doing things in a better way. Design is a holistic process throughout the lifecycle of product development – regardless if the product is digital or not. This is an important reminder in the age of digitalisation and hyped start-up buzz.

Lost in technology

As designers, we tend to look at the world from a certain point of view. Where others see a beautiful use of colour, we complain about the lack of contrast. Or when someone is whining why there are only three different types of jar on the shelf, we are admiring the consideration of Hick’s law by limiting choice. I guess you get the point. In Slush there were many start-ups that had some cutting edge technology innovation but weren’t sure how that should be actually used – or monetised. Of course, all start-ups have to start somewhere and they can’t have all the areas covered instantly. The importance of comprehensive user experience is often underrated, although it has a great impact on how the market reacts to a new product or service. Hopefully, more and more start-ups will realise this and start to provide exceptional experiences, and hopefully, we were able to help a few of those at Slush this year on this journey.

You may also like to read some thoughts from this year’s Ultrahack event by clicking here

Mikko Nurmi is Director of Customer Value at Leadin based at our offices in Tampere Finland. Miika Mikkola is Senior Customer Experience Designer also based in our offices in Tampere, Finland.

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