Toronto saw an influx of digital creators last month for FITC 2012. Also held in Amsterdam, Tokyo and San Francisco, FITC (which stands for Future, Innovation, Technology and Creativity) made its way to Toronto for the 11th year  and featured more than 70 speakers working within the digital field.

What I took away from the show was a newfound respect for the creative process and an inkling that the future of digital technology is all about humans engaging with the physical world, using all fives senses.

Fall in love with your technology

Disney's Ivan Poupyrev speaking at FITC

In his presentation “The Thing is Your Friend: Making the World Alive One Bit At A Time,” Disney research scientist Ivan Poupyrev said that it takes 10 years from the time a technology is invented to the time it is put on the market. In other words, the future is being created as we speak.

Poupyrev emphasized that his work is about building relationships between humans and technology on a personal level and less about aesthetics. His most recent project is to create “tactile feedback” by adding surface texture (like bumps or ridges) to digital screens through an electric field, allowing humans to physically connect with the technology through touch.

“You want people to care about technology – take care of it, don’t break it,” Poupyrev said. “The only way to do that is to have an emotional connection with the object.”

Be a creative rebel

Jason Theodor speaking at FITC

One of the four pillars of FITC is innovation and, as Steve Jobs said, being innovative is all about building and improving upon an existing idea. Take pancakes, for example – classic, satisfying, and delicious.

Now add tasty swirls of cinnamon sugar to turn your pancakes into makeshift cinnamon buns – innovative, very satisfying, even more delicious.

Jason Theodor is a Creative Director at Blast Radius who specializes in “creative ideation.” In his session “Create More, Better, Different,” Theodor suggested that “it’s not how creative you are, it’s how you are creative,” meaning that in order to be innovative, one must be defiant, think outside the box and focus on the creative process rather than the final product.

So go ahead and create your own crazy-flavoured pancake. Be what Theodor calls a “creative rebel.”

Driving a car with your hands and feet is so 2010.

In a session called “Back to the Good Old Tangible World,” Riccardo Giraldi, Creative Director at B-Reel London, talked about the need to create technology where users can engage all five of their senses.

For example, B-Reel teamed up with ad agency 180 Los Angeles and Mitsubishi to create Mitsubishi: Live Drive. Users can log onto a microsite and remotely test-drive a vehicle from their home computers.

Giraldi explained that the project combines state-of-the art GPS and robotics technology, allowing the “driver” to steer the car in real-time while watching the live-streaming view out the windshield from their live-drive course in Southern California.

The idea, according to Giraldi, is to immerse people in a “virtual reality” (remember that?). This was emphasized by Giraldi through a project that B-Reel worked on using the Arduino board, Scalextric slot cars and a Mindwave headset that allow users to use their brain waves to power a slot car set.

Basically, a code is set up that lets the Arduino board connect to the computer, which is then connected to the Mindwave headset. The code lets the board tap into readings from the headset, which allows the user to control the car with their mind.

Ten years from now, we may be able to drive cars just by the thinking it. Let’s hope they spend another 10 years perfecting the safety features.

Like most events, FITC was a great source of inspiration and one piece of advice that stuck with me came from Ivan Poupyrev: If you don’t feel that tingly feeling in the pit of your stomach that makes you excited about an idea, it probably won’t work.

Not only did I meet a lot of knowledgeable people at FITC, but it also left me inspired to create in new and innovative ways.