The most eye-catching tech at SXSW Interactive 2016
Want to meet the Korean founders of the “Uber of dress shoes”? Interested to hear from Mashable CMO Stacy Martinet on how to most effectively fold livestreaming into a corporate marketing initiative? What about virtual reality? Who wants to see VR headsets at every corner and in every nook and cranny of downtown Austin, Texas?
Oh yeah, then there’s the barbecue.
Welcome to SXSW Interactive 2016, the playground for all things tech, digital, and startup.
Perhaps it’s the festival’s roots in music and arts, but there was an energy there that’s simply electric — creativity and badass tech wherever you look.
Whereas SXSW’s tech-focused counterpart, CES, is a race for the newest, curviest, sleekest, and fastest products, SXSW is a festival – a celebration of culture, food, music, film, and cool new tech. Both the companies and people embrace the Austin vibe, and you can make SXSW whatever you want it to be.
If you’ve read the headlines over the past few months, you might not find it surprising that virtual reality, or #VR to us PR folk, was literally everywhere at SXSW Interactive. And while you can go check out GearVR at the Samsung Studio (a converted Mexican restaurant kitty-corner to the Austin Convention Center), or better yet, have them find YOU, you don’t have to look hard at SXSW to get an awesome #VR experience.
Just like we saw at CES, the VR ecosystem is currently in an amazing stage of growth. But perhaps most intriguing is the growth in hardware that generates VR content — 360° imaging technology.
It wasn’t but two years ago that a little French startup, Giroptic, burst on the scene with a revolutionary and tiny 360° camera. But in 2016, the lid’s been blown clear off. 360° photo booths, selfie-friendly cameras, indestructible, military grade underwater 360° camera cases — it’s all here folks.
The explosion in 360° imaging and VR, too, has given more sophisticated companies an excuse to jump in the pool and get creative. What possible application does VR have to Gillette’s razor and shaving business? Well, if you ask a marketer at the Gillette booth at SXSW, they’ll equate a thrill-inducing VR ride through a mountain (co-sponsored by Discovery VR) to the kind of high-pressure situations their razor blades are equipped to handle. Translation: Even when you shave fast, it’s hard to cut yourself with Gillette razors.
At SXSW we’ve finally reached the point where virtual reality has gone mainstream and large companies, specifically their marketing departments, have taken notice. Look no further than the droves of VR companies that, in just Q1 of 2016, have netted a cool $1.6 billion in venture funding. Goofy as your Dad may think it is, this is an industry that’s not going anywhere anytime soon.
And how can we talk about SXSW without mentioning food? Barbecue aside, Austin is no slouch of a food town, and food tech companies came en masse to represent their products and services.
Yes, we’ve seen 3D printed food (the novelty has most certainly not worn off), but the range of new food products, apps, and content services is sure to please even the most discerning foodie.
At Gregory FCA we constantly preach how content really is still king. Nom seems to agree. The week-old company debuted its live, interactive, and cooking-focused video platform on the show floor as it seeks to harness the power of food-related video and create a robust network of both user-generated and chef-produced content. And, oh yeah, it was started by YouTube co-founder and CTO, Steve Chen.
On the product side, I loved the smart cooktop by Bay Area food tech company Oliso. We’re lovers of glass tech, and the induction-powered Oliso’s Smart Hub cooker does not disappoint. Gourmet techies can rejoice as their cooktop and pot/pan can communicate for optimal cooking.
I think what most impressed me, however, was the range of awesome international startups at SXSW, namely those from France, South Korea, Sweden, and Japan. Their products were some of the most exciting I saw — the Lyric Speaker; a crazy intuitive meme generator from ALIVE; and the aforementioned Uber of dress shoes, MANSOLE.
With the 2016 SXSW Interactive in the books, it’s time to keep the momentum going – or get it started if you left Austin without catching the attention you wanted. What does your PR plan look like for the rest of 2016?
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