Which piece of tech has made the biggest difference to your job in recent years?
I love the Moleskine Pen + Ellipse – not just for work, but life generally. It’s a total gamechanger as I don’t need yet another device. It’s just a digital pen that can interface with my existing phone, tablet etc. I’m still a traditionalist when it comes to notebooks but having everything instantly digitised in real time is incredible. It’s this kind of frictionless integration of physical and digital that has such an impact on day-to-day life and that I find fascinating.
If you could invent one new piece of tech, what would it be?
We still don’t seem to have a digital voice assistant that really works – one that understands nuances of natural, individual speech, accent and slang, and that offers total privacy controls on data sharing. This is such a crucial issue in the development of digital Artificial Intelligence assistants that will help us to live our lives in future.
At MIPIM PropTech Europe in June, we heard an inspiring keynote speech from Rand Hindi who is critical of existing digital assistants that harvest data from direct and indirect conversations that they hear. His company Snips is working to create a digital assistant that runs entirely on a single device – not beaming data up to the cloud – and keeps your data private. It will be fascinating to see how this functionality vs privacy debate plays out.
Which developing technology are you watching closely?
This year we launched the next MIPIM Startup Competition in Paris, which uncovered some fascinating new companies and innovations. The winners of the first heat were Spaceti and Sensorberg.
Spaceti provides an integrated solution for building digitalisation, managing environmental analytics, parking analytics, occupancy analytics and facilities management. As reported on PlaceTech, they’ve since become Vodafone’s narrowband Internet of Things commercial customer and their new partner in building digitalisation.
Sensorberg is another interesting startup in this effort to digitise complex processes within workspace and residential accommodation. Sensorberg provides a system of digital locks and sensors, and an app to control them. This is a competitive space so it’ll be interesting to see how the digitalisation of building management progresses and evolves over the next few years. I’m looking forward to seeing both companies present at the final of the global startup competition at MIPIM in Cannes next year.
- Ronan Vaspart is managing director at MIPIM