The LabCampus team is back from South by Southwest (SXSW) in Austin, Texas with lots of inspiring experiences. The SXSW Interactive Festival from March 8-12, 2019 was one of the most important international meeting places for start-ups, industry leaders, investors, trendsetters, media representatives and multipliers from business, politics and culture. For digital entrepreneurs, creatives and any global professionals, SXSW provides an annual platform for groundbreaking trends shaping the future of technology and world dynamics. SXSW is the ultimate opportunity to participate, learn and network.
Participants choose from an extraordinary variety of sessions, panels and workshops held at the Austin Convention Center and at other locations around downtown Austin. The entire city of Austin turns into an event venue during SXSW.
For attendees, the event presents an enormous challenge. With so many events to choose from, the ultimate decision lies in which event to attend. Topics at the festival include an every-expanding range of motivating sessions including entrepreneurship and how to found and grow a start-up, future workplaces and work-life-balance, new technologies and innovations, artificial intelligence and AI’s effect on our lives, experiential storytelling, as well as the future of urban and social landscapes including smart city concepts and new mobility options.
One of the topics impacting all of us was The Future of Transportation. The relevant sessions at SXSW provided insight into a possible future of autonomous vehicles, hyperloop transportation, and personal aerial flights, discussing the direction of transportation and mobility in the future and how close we actually are to realizing these developments. Based in Austin, the Hyperloop startup Texas Guadaloop works and researches on the first Hyperloop Transport Vehicle, using air as a source of levitation and frictionless and high-speed movement. Founder and advisor for Texas Guadaloop Deborah Navarro explained how this technology will bring the world closer together.
SXSW is about new ideas, discovering, learning and networking. A touch of glamor is added by celebrities who participate and share their experiences. Among the list of VIPs were Gwyneth Paltrow, Jodie Foster, Elizabeth Moss, Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez, Jeff Zucker, Priscilla Chan, Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger.
Another highlight was the 22nd Annual SXSW Interactive Innovation Awards sponsored by KPMG. With an entry and acceptance date of December 31, 2018, hundreds of innovations and creations in 13 categories were considered for participation at the 2019 competition. A panel of judges of more than 100 industry experts tested and assessed the inventions. The five products scoring highest in each category were invited to the finals at SXSW. Artificial Intelligence & Machine Learning, Health, Med & Biotech, Innovation in Connecting People, Robotics & Hardware, Smart Cities, Transportation & Delivery, Social & Cultural Impact, Speculative Design, Student Innovation, Style & Wearable Tech are some of the competition categories. All 65 finalists showcased and explained their products and services in person to the SXSW attendees.
Best of Show and winner in the category Health, Med & Biotech was the Butterfly iQ, a pocket-sized, handheld, smartphone-based ultrasound device by the Butterfly Network, Guilford (USA). The Butterfly iQ was rated as the finalist that best demonstrated the principles of innovation, inspiration and creativity. People’s Choice Award and winner in the Robotic & Hardware category was My Special Aflac Duck™ by Aflac, Sproutel, Carol Cone On Purpose & The Nation of Artists, Los Angeles (USA) - a fun, comforting companion for children with cancer.
Other category winners were i.e. Dubai Paperless Strategy by Smart Dubai (UAE) in the category Smart Cities, Transportation & Delivery, The Eargo Max Hearing Aid by Eargo, Mountain View (USA) in the category Style & Wearable Tech, Graphene Brain-Computer Interface by Brane Interface, Austin (USA) in the category Student Innovation or the Living First Languages Digital Platform by The Australian Literacy and Numeracy Foundation, Edgecliff (Australia) in the category Innovation in Connecting People.
The key takeaway from SXSW is that technology has the potential to improve our lives as long as we are controlling the strings. Technology will be an essential component for all of us to harness for future developments. Hence, attendance and participation at SWSX is important for people to network, learn and collaborate as well as stay on top of trends currently impacting our lives and those destined to affect us in the future. Next year’s SXSW will be March 13-22, 2020.
Three of the nominated finalists of the 2019 SXSW Interactive Innovation Awards which fascinated us are featured with demo videos below:
Wi-Charge: Infrared long-range wireless power technology to safely charge phones and power smart devices across a room without the need for wires.
Furhat Robotics: The world's most advanced social robot.
KLM Care-E: The first autonomous, leading-and-following, service robot for highly populated spaces, such as airports developed by 10XBeta.