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Reality Check: Born Digital's Brett Hancock

Reality Check: Born Digital's Brett Hancock

As part of Idealog's Technology Month, we've picked the brains of some of the movers and shakers in the industry to find out their favourite tech-related things, their biggest fears for the future and what other companies and individuals inspire their work. Here's Born Digital managing director Brett Hancock. 

What’s your favourite…

Technology you can’t live without?

All I need is a web browser and an internet connection to survive. I would miss some of the small things that make my life easier like Kevo door lock, Apple CarPlay, Siri and my SmartWatch if I no longer had them.

Underrated or old technology?

There is a mobile app called IFTTT that has been around for a while now. If you are a geek like me, then you will love how it can connect all your favourite things.

New Zealand tech company or individual in that space that’s doing seriously cool things?

Auckland based IMAGR are developing an exciting AR based solution for grocery shopping that uses an AI camera to monitor what you are putting in your trolley.

Global tech company or individual in that space that’s doing seriously cool things?

Anything that Elon Musk is associated with (Tesla, Space-X, The Boring Co, Hyperloop, Neuralink.)

Tech project or product you’ve had a hand in?

We have just developed a Digital Greeter product that replaces humans in reception areas or at tradeshows. It takes input from a webcam and microphone then plays back pre recorded videos of an actual person who is always happy to help.

Tech project or product that isn’t yours, but your envious of?

Tinder – not overly complex to develop, they picked the right time and did a great job of it.

What first drew you to this industry?

I started my career as an IT Support person, one of the early versions of Microsoft Office came with an HTML editor called FrontPage which I taught myself. I had a feeling that this world wide web thing might take off, so I promptly left IT to become a freelance front-end website developer.

What do you enjoy the most about working in tech?

The constant change, every day is different and there are new technologies being released that we can use to make cooler stuff.

How would you describe New Zealand’s tech culture?

I reckon we punch above our weight due to the can-do attitude and the relatively small population which allows us to be agile and just get stuff done.

Where does inspiration come from for you?

I read several tech-focused blogs/social feeds each week and am always seeing new technologies that inspire my own ideas.

Reality check

How has tech impacted on your work? How will it impact on it in the future?

Today we use more than 20 web based applications to just run the business, everything from online accounting to automated server monitoring and even automated testing. 15 years ago, it would have costs hundreds of thousands of dollars for all of these tools. Now most of them cost less than $100 a month. Technology just makes everything easier and better, so glad it’s my chosen field!

What’s been the most concerning change that technology has made to human behaviour, in your experience?

Lack of focus, our brains are not designed to constantly switch from the real world to the constant stream of information on our devices, we need to consume technology responsibly. I keep going into restaurants and seeing young people out on dates, but both of them glued to their phones the entire time – they might as well be at separate tables.

How would you describe your relationship with technology? Do you think you’re addicted to any form of it?

100 percent yes – we have a no devices policy every Sunday at my house, but I usually sneak a quick fix when no-one is looking because I need my fix.

Do you think social media is a blessing or a curse?

It’s both. I love how I can follow brands and stay in touch with family and friends abroad, but shudder to think how much time I have wasted over the years trawling through all the crap. I am reminded of a quote I once read: "You only live once, so make sure you spend at least 10 hours on the internet every day, desperately seeking validation from strangers."

Do you think technology needs more laws surrounding it, or a form of resource consent regulation?

Not yet. Perhaps once the neural network is up and our brains are hard wired to the internet.

What worries you the most about technology?

That I might one day get cut off from it 😊

What’s your scariest prediction for the future? Will the robots kill us all?

I think the robots will infiltrate us at a biological level, that way no one will know who is and who isn’t a robot.