The Web Summit 2016: A Gadget-Lover’s Review

By Liberty Insurance Ireland on 17 November 2016
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It may no longer be in Ireland but there was just as much cool tech as always for gadget lovers to get excited about at this year’s Web Summit, which took place in Lisbon last week.

For gamers, Shawn Layden, Chairman of Sony Interactive Entertainment Worldwide Studios, was a big draw. Layden promised the crowd that his team was working on some exciting and intense new experiences for the PlayStation VR, its recently released virtual reality headset. "The first time we were able to realise the player's hands… that changed the entire depth of immersion," he said "and we're barely scratching the surface. VR completely destroys the narrative as we know it.”

One of the most memorable speakers at the annual global tech summit was a slightly scary but realistic humanoid called Sophia, who wowed the crowds by taking an active part in a discussion about Artificial Intelligence. And for caffeine-loving delegates, the coffee-dispensing robot was a dream come true. Pointless? Maybe. Fun? Definitely.

A big feature of every Web Summit is the startups, fiercely competing for attention, connections and investment from the 53,000-strong crowd. This year there were so many great ideas floating around, it’s hard to narrow it down but here are three to watch, all bringing something completely fresh and different to your devices:

Swishlinks

What is it? A modern-day professional social networking app, built on some good old-fashioned values. As a child, co-founder Ali Shahanaghi used to watch his mum cut hair in their home. Her clients were from all walks of life and she’d introduce them to each other, connecting handymen to homeowners, business owners to accountants, nannies to parents, etc. It taught Ali the importance of connections and he recognised that every person has multiple interests that might not be apparent when first meeting someone. Together with coworker and friend Charbel Seif, he created Swishlinks, a professional social networking app where introductions are emphasised and showcasing one’s personality is key.

How it works: You create a profile, and start compiling your ‘story’ to showcase your skills, passions and projects. This can include anything from a professional project you’ve completed, a video you’ve made, an article that took your fancy, a blog post you just wrote. You can then share your highlights and contact details with potential work partners. And because in business it’s all about reputation and word of mouth, making introductions between your Swishlinks contacts is an important feature of the app. Available on iOS and Android.

Tailored Riddles

What is it? Tailored Riddles allows you to build a challenging online game, all about you, or a friend. Billed as the ‘ultimate tech riddle game’, it’s perfect for the geek or engineer in your life.

How it works: You provide some data about the player, for example their favourite band and film, which the riddle generator then uses to build a riddle game of up to ten levels. The player is then given a set of questions they have to answer. The rules are simple – try anything to get to the next level. Anything can hold a clue, including text, images, even source code, and Google is your friend. Intrigued? Try out the Web Summit riddle game for free here.

Chordily

What is it? From a Dublin-based startup, Chordily (“the app every guitar player has been waiting for”) is a flexible, interactive and hands-free way of learning to play songs using ‘guitar tabs’, the system of music notation guitarists use to play music without having to learn how to read sheet music.

How it works: As the song you want to learn plays, the screen displays the guitar tabs, which show the right notes, number of beats and fingering in perfect time alongside the lyrics. The screen scrolls along with the music so you can play hands free. You can also play without the track, using metronome lights or sound. Once you’ve mastered your covers, you can record and upload them in order to win big prizes. And if you’re able to create tabs yourself, you can register as a tabber, grab songs, use the online generator to create the tab file, submit for validation, and then get paid for your efforts. Although Chordily launched at the Web Summit, it won’t be available until January 2017, so keep an eye out for it here.

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