South by South West (SXSW), probably one of the worlds most significant industry events, stemming across marketing, media and advertising, music, wellness and what I’m yet to experience (but honestly most excited about) gaming. Sweeping the many different aspects of industry types, people from all over the world travel thousands of kilometres to attend. It brings with it a chip on the shoulder, an excitement of participating in something quite unique, something that I can only say is similar to the unique emotions people seem to share with me about events like Burning Man: “you have to really experience it to understand it.” Albeit an entirely different experience, I would think.
It is my first time attending SXSW, and it has so far had it’s up and its downs.
The ups come in the form of sitting and listening to some of the brightest and interesting people from around the world. From the inspirational to the innovative through to the future thinkers, I have yet to be in a room where have I felt I had to walk out before I fell asleep – despite the intense jetlag I was definitely feeling.
SXSW is not just about the speakers. It’s also about the unique experiences you get along the way. Snapchat set up a shack/bar, which provided free alcohol and food. Amazon created a garden to chill and listen to some mellow music while promoting its new shows. Netflix, a private bar, with live roleplaying game experience in a 1930’s setting.
Then there are the display rooms, showing off an array of the latest tech trends and start-up businesses traversing the globe.
Here are some of the things I encountered and/or items that stood out for me:
Magic leap is a similar premise to Microsoft’s HoloLens. A cheaper, and less advanced version, it’s one benefit being compact and lighter.
Putting on the goggles, you’re suddenly surrounded by bright lights as the device configures its surroundings. Within minutes, you’re looking at your usual surroundings with augmented grass and flowers set up all over space. Reaching out, you can make the flowers and grass move with your hand (no gloves needed), and little sparks fly off into the air as you touch them.
A kind of space alien creature, a floating jellyfish, moves about and you’re hinted by the device to follow it around. But nothing really happens…
I see the potential for this device, but the inspiration of the demo was a huge miss. The graphics were choppy, and the colours very bland. Perhaps it is yet to have any engaging content to test, but if Magic Leap is to compete with the likes of Microsoft’s HoloLens, it needs to step up its game.
ROBOTS AND AI
Who doesn’t love robots! From fun educational robots, teaching our children of the future how to learn and write code. Robots were showing off how they are going to improve our medical practices and robots that will be sent to space, through to robots just playing random music…because, why not?
We’ve all seen the future of robotics, and it was in plentiful amounts here at SXSW.
VR & AR EVERYWHERE
I’ll be sharing a separate post on this later, but wow. VR is at every corner of SXSW, and I loved it. Jump behind the wheel of a fast-moving vehicle, venture into outer space, see what it’s like to operate heavy machinery, or just watch some fresh videos. If you’re not on this bandwagon yet, please get on it!
I controlled a space ship landing! And I got to see the sun in all its fiery glory while traversing a collapsing space station – and wow did it feel, despite being virtual, amazing.
VR and AR and is the future, and the potential for this to change how we work, how we socialise and consume entertainment is only going to be held back by our imagination.
Sound is an integral part of my life. I enjoy listening to my music, and I enjoy experiencing movies with the best audio I can afford (which my wife would say is too much).
Nura is a headphone that adapts to your ear. Their design is somewhat confronting to some people, with a mixed over and in-ear cup. But once you start up the app, and the headphone customises itself to match your ear patterns, the audio it delivers into your ear, is next to nothing I have ever experience.
If it wasn’t for the fact that I’m about travel for 7months and have little to no space in my backpack….I would have bought them on the spot. I guess I’ll have to wait until I get back.
Beautiful, sweet, delicious 8K….Sony had a screen. A screen that would crush all other screens…. 440 inches of just pure high-resolution quality video.
In a private showroom, Sony was excited to demo its new 8K streaming capability that it had started to launch in Japan. It was crisp, clear, bright, and huge. I could only dream of pulling out my PC or many consoles and it up to that beautiful 440inch screen to play a bit of Apex, Skyrim or Super Smash Brother (regardless of the resolution limitations of the latter).
The future of high-resolution content is upon us. Although we’re still catching up even on the 4K front, 8K is closer than we think.
I’m reminded of the Futurama quote between Leela and Fry.
Leela: Fry, you’re wasting your life sitting in front of that TV. You need to get out and see the world.
Fry: But this is HDTV. It’s got better resolution than the real life!