If I tell you that Frontiers of Interaction is a two-day conference about technology, you might stop reading now. Luckily, it's a whole lot more than that. Yes, there are speakers, but, as a past attendee of a Frontiers conference, I can guarantee that the speakers are of a world-class caliber and what they present is truly captivating. The talks, in English and in a similar format to TED talks, are about the real impact of technology on our lives, the concrete applications of cutting-edge science. All this is bundled as a beautifully orchestrated event that leaves you energized and convinced that you are so cool just for having attended.
When I heard that Frontiers would be held in Florence this year, I wanted to be sure that The Florentine would be part of it. As an official media partner of the event, TF readers get access to interviews with some of the fascinating speakers, as well an exclusive discount for the conference. To start, I asked the founders of Frontiers, Leandro Agrò and Matteo Penzo, to tell us more about what we can expect from Frontiers of Interaction in Florence, held on June 20 and 21, 2011.
Pick one word that encapsulates Frontiers.
Energy and inspiration. Oh ... is that two words? In our seventh year, the event now takes up two full days. With modern technology, there is no real reason to physically attend a conference, if not for the energy you feel while actually being there ... It's a rush! Seeing it in streaming on your couch is cool, but being there means living in this exciting moment.
And inspiration ... For us, organizing Frontiers means living on the edge for six months of the year: looking for a top-notch venue, traveling around the world to recruit the best speakers, providing our attendees with a great conference experience. But then the big day comes and it's all worth it when we look at the crowd staring raptly at the speaker on the stage, furiously taking notes and drinking in the whole experience. Through the conference and the excellent networking that is part of the event, ideas are born and develop ... we're contributing to the future of innovation in Italy.
What is the one thing we're going to hear about this year at Frontiers that will hit specialized publications next year and the mainstream press in 2013?
E-health will be the next big thing, so we've dedicated a big part of the workshops to this topic. We have also invited important speakers in this field, amongst them Arna Ionescu, director of User Experience Product Development at Proteus Biomedical, whose intelligent medical products based on ingestible technology are at the forefront of this field.
Why did you choose the ‘Renaissance city' for your very contemporary conference?
Florence is experiencing a new creative renaissance, but it's the historic Renaissance that attracts tourists ... and this makes it a perfect location for an international conference. Last year, in Rome, 15 percent of attendees were from abroad; this year we hope to increase this percentage. The contrast between the Renaissance city and this cutting-edge conference is nice, but we do have very practical reasons for choosing Florence. For international visitors-and for the important thinkers and decision makers who make up our speakers and attendees-Florence is the most desirable destination in Italy. It's also well connected to Rome and Milan via high-speed trains, its international airport has direct connections to the rest of Europe, it houses an important university and it's close to Pisa, one of Italy's most prestigious high-tech research centers.