Top 5 Buzz-worthy Trends at SXSW
1. Ode to Obama
You know SXSW has hit the big time when President Obama personally visits to issue a call for help. Although he got off track with some security vs. privacy tangents, his main purpose was to persuade interactive minds to fulfill their civic duty in order to help solve some of the socioeconomic problems we face today. No matter where you fell on the political spectrum, it was a privilege to hear the Commander-in-Chief in person. Check out the president’s full interview here.
2. Ads, ads, ads followed by more ads
One of the reasons SXSW has gotten as big as it has is because some of the biggest platforms, like Twitter and Foursquare, got their start here. Hoping to piggyback on that success, many brands have decided SXSW should be a place to get the word out. The overall sentiment was “go big or go home,” as you can see with these examples:
3. Augmenting the virtual reality (VR)
From NASA using VR to remind people that they still exist, to Gillette teaming up with Discovery, to a VR tour with Six Flags, virtual reality dominated the chatter at SXSW. According to Adweek, of 147 million SXSW Twitter impressions, 102.4 million were VR related, followed by mobile apps at 32.6 million. Although VR is probably still in its infancy (or at least tween stage), it clearly isn’t going away.
4. The Internet of everything
SXSW reinforced the idea that everything is better with bacon the Internet. From snow shovels to cars, connecting hardware to the Internet is on the rise. Companies are focused on how tech is becoming a part of everyday life. For example, SXSW hosted its first augmented sound concert, using the not-yet released Here Active Listening device – two earbuds and an app that can change the way you hear the music. Other tech companies are working on apps that can automate your home’s locks, thermostats, coffee pots or even toothbrushes. Connecting every object in your life to the World Wide Web is on the horizon.
5. Conscious living
Big-picture issues and futuristic ideas – rather than the usual hot app or startup launch – have taken the spotlight at this year's South by Southwest Interactive. Leading off with President Obama, SXSW continued with panels on online harassment. These panels discussed trolling and abuse in online comments and social media, mainly regarding derogatory comments toward women. To illustrate the scope of this problem, one panel gave statistics and examples of the harassment that women face, specifically in the workplace.