strolling at the Futur festival in Seine

Estimated read time 6 min read

Futur en Seine has revised its ambitions upwards by investing in the Grande Halle de la Villette. Futur en Seine has revised its ambitions upwards by investing in the Grande Halle de la Villette. MICHELOTTI LAURA/THE WORLD

In the crowded aisles of the Grande Halle de la Villette, in Paris, three-piece suits mix with neon satchels. Passing a group of young entrepreneurs talking business plan, schoolchildren remove their virtual reality (VR) headset with shining eyes. Before leaving to discover this strange world, where a robot is watching you and where your trash teaches you how to sort your waste.

“Our credo is digital innovation, but still oriented towards discovery for the general public, details Camille Pène, director of the show for three years. We are as much a business event, which will accompany young nuggets in their development or large companies in their digital transformation, as an educational event, to decipher the challenges of digital. It is really a meeting between innovators and people who are asking questions about how the world is being transformed with digital technology, and what the future will be made of. »

For three days, the 3,000 km2 of the Grande Halle were divided into several poles, such as “work”, “commerce”, “health”, “education” or “creative industries”, with also a space to introduce children to digital technology and another dedicated to conferences. And if many stands and applications are more aimed at professionals, some are clearly designed to integrate into the daily life of families. Like a digital Lepine competition, the start-ups, all of which have less than three years of existence, offer, as a choice, applications to find a parking space, a “chatbot” that explains how to dress, or 3D terminals that take us back in time and discover historical places in their appearance of the time. A connected box named Eugene will even scan our waste to teach us how to sort it properly.

Virtual reality and artificial intelligence

Among the sectors that attract the general public, the gaming sector is in a good position. Connected card games or even streaming game service, as offered by Blacknut, whose sofa is not full. “We have seen people pass by who are not used to playing at all, notes Eric Bustarret, the technical director. We aim for a more family audience than “gamer” and when we see the interest that this arouses around us, we tell ourselves that there really is an opportunity. »

The system, which is currently going to enter the beta test phase, will be available in a few weeks, and will offer more than a hundred games playable via streaming, via a paid monthly subscription. A sector already invested by Microsoft recently, or even by Nvidia, for the moment without much success. Eric Bustarret specifies :

“We really promote simplification. To play, there is no need for anything, no games to download or console to buy. You just need a controller, and still, sometimes you can play only with the remote control or the phone. We want it to be as simple as possible, with games that are really different. »

So no big license in sight, but rather titles selected by the team for their uniqueness, such as the puzzle game released in 2013, The Bridge.

The attraction for virtual reality (VR) continues to gain followers. An attraction that, coupled with the return of Thomas Pesquet, attracted visitors to the Orbital Views stand, which, with the help of a harness and a virtual reality headset, makes us discover lunar gravity. “For this year, we really tried to offer the public more experiences, explains Camille Pène. We have more VR, more gaming, more immersive experience. I am convinced that we understand the digital transformation by making the sensitive experience of innovations. »

Orbital Views, an access to space and the weightlessness of the Moon. Orbital Views, an access to space and the weightlessness of the Moon. MICHELOTTI LAURA/THE WORLD

Alongside robots and other artificial intelligences (AI), VR is undoubtedly one of the stars of the festival. At issue is the theme chosen for this edition: intelligences. “We agreed that AI is the unavoidable subject, continues the director of the festival, but in the end the question is rather how all other forms of intelligence, collective, emotional, human intelligence, will coexist with AI. »

From VR to Employment Center

If the launch of VR in the gaming world was not necessarily conclusive, some still believe in its potential. At Manzalab, creator of serious games for the training sector, we even created Teemew, imagined in 2016, which makes it possible to organize and conduct meetings in virtual reality. “It allows you to get rid of walls and offers more immersion than software like Skype, where there is no real presence, assures Jérôme Beaune of Manzalab. When we show our projects to companies, they ask us more and more if it is possible to adapt it in VR. “The company has thus created Emploi Store in partnership with Pôle emploi, a personalized interview simulation according to the CV. A creation that the public service would like to adapt in VR, to be able to deploy it in several agencies. But from the desire to the realization, there is still a long way to go, at a time when the ergonomics and the cost of helmets are still a brake for many buyers.

Heasy, the reception, sales and advice robot, imagined here at the entrance of a cinema. Heasy, the reception, sales and advice robot, imagined here at the entrance of a cinema. MICHELOTTI LAURA/THE WORLD

And wants to bet on novelty: “We really want to be the place of emergence, where we discover the nuggets of tomorrow that no one knows yet. There is also a whole area dedicated to the prototypes unveiled in preview and which have never been shown. »

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We could wonder about the future of these hundreds of start-ups passed by Futur en Seine. Especially when the life expectancy of many of the latter is often fleeting. However, for a few chosen ones, the adventure continued. Plume Labs, a start-up that works on measuring the level of pollution in the air, presented two years ago at Future en Seine, completed its first fundraising at the end of 2016, for a total of 4 million euros.

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