Innovation was definitely a major topic of discussion during this year’s International Festival of Creativity, more commonly known as Cannes Lions. But the big question still remains: what does innovation really mean today? Is it really only about cutting-edge, complex technology? Follow along as we try to answer that question with a look at some of the most interesting innovations presented at this year’s event.

Google Cardboard: it is what it sounds like – an inexpensive virtual-reality reader made entirely of cardboard. The unexpected innovation, which took home last year’s Grand Prix Award in the Mobile category, unearthed a trend that’s still very prominent. Since 2015, both VR and AI have evolved significantly and are increasingly considered for opportunities to improve people’s lives.

That’s also the goal of DOT, an affordable E-Braille reader that allows visually impaired individuals to access various text data such as messages and tweets anywhere, anytime.


Additionally, Jukedeck combines Artificial Intelligence with music composition and audio production to offer users a unique way to create their own royalty-free music for videos, games and so on.


Here Active Listening also made an appearance as a fashionable, futuristic in-ear computing device that combines the functionalities of conventional headphones — streamed music and wireless phone calls — with proprietary smart listening and noise filtering technologies.


Looking at these impressive products, it’s clear that innovation takes time, resilience, risk, and passion. That being said, many devices still need further testing and fine-tuning so that their functionalities facilitate an optimal user experience, and AI machine learning needs enough input and time to, well, learn.

On that note, one of the most fascinating applications of machine learning is Google DeepMind’s AlphaGo – the first computer program to ever beat a professional player at the game of Go, an ancient Chinese game played primarily through intuition and touch.

AlphaGo combines an advanced tree search with deep neural networks to invent smart, flexible algorithms that can tackle problems and achieve human-level performance by finding the best solution. In doing so, the program was able to beat the three-time European Go champion, Fan Hui, 5-0. This victory marks the first time a computer has ever beaten a professional Go player, and it stands as a very interesting AI application that opens up incredibly powerful opportunities for people and brands. Unsurprisingly, they won this year’s Grand Prix Award in the Innovation category.


Long story short, Cannes Lions confirmed one fundamental truth: innovation is not only about technology. Innovation is about people.

Judges and speakers overwhelmingly agreed that being innovative means solving an existing problem in an unusual, effective way with an output that can really improve lives at scale.

As always, we’d love to hear your thoughts on this. Leave us a comment and stay tuned for our next Cannes Lions blog post, where we’ll explore some of the coolest case studies coming out of Cannes Lions 2016.