5 Highlights of SXSW Interactive 2014

What began as a small music festival in 1987 has now become a worldwide phenomenon that covers music, movies, and the cutting edge of technology. This year’s SXSW (South by Southwest) festival is currently in full swing, and it has everyone talking. Particularly SXSW Interactive, the technology portion, is generating tremendous buzz. SXSW 2014 showcased technologies that are making audience experiences and special events even more immersive and personal. The 2014 event also assumed more significance as a platform for social commentary, with NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange both speaking. For those who aren’t able to be there, here are five highlights of SXSW Interactive 2014.

  1. Edward Snowden’s Remote Address. Perhaps the most talked-about event of the festival was an address by famed NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. Though currently wanted in the United States and living in an undisclosed location in Russia, Snowden spoke to the SXSW crowd remotely via Google+ Hangout. During his hour-long talk, Snowden advocated the use of simple data encryption as protection against unwanted surveillance.
  2. The CUPID Stun Copter. Normally, being shot by Cupid means love and happiness. But the CUPID (Chaotic Unmanned Personal Intercept Drone) Stun Copter is a remotely operated stun gun, capable of locking onto a human target, streaming live video to a smartphone or other mobile device and receiving electronic orders from the device, and, if necessary, incapacitating the target. A video shot by Popular Science debuted at SXSW Interactive, which demonstrated CUPID’s capabilities by detaining and incapacitating an intern (who one hopes was paid).
  3. Marvel’s “Adaptive Audio” Digital Comics. At the “Marvel: The House of Ideas” panel, the comic book giant unveiled a new soundtrack feature that will accompany Marvel Unlimited, its reading app for digital comics. Now available as an iOS update to the existing app, the soundtrack is meant to provide a more immersive experience for the reader. As the reader switches panels, the music will change in style and mood, to match the story as it unfolds.
  4. Adam Savage on Art and Science. The co-host of the popular show Mythbusters gave a keynote address at SXSW Interactive, wherein he spoke about his career on the show, including his start in film special effects, as well as the inherent connection between art and science — two fields that are often categorized as polar opposites.
  5. Livr: A Sobering Hoax. Drunken Facebooking has become the new drunk dialing — and the bane of the current generation. Posting an ill-advised photo or sending an ill-advised message while drunk can end both relationships and careers. The answer? Livr, a new social network app with a built-in Breathalyzer, that only lets you browse drunk, providing a place to keep those inebriated shenanigans under control and wipe away the evidence in the morning. The app is a hoax, but its presentation at SXSW successfully fooled a number of news outlets.

Other important topics included Android’s forthcoming Software Development Kit for wearable devices and a discussion by the founder of Bitcoin about its viability as a currency. After the 2014 event ends March 11, the technology and ideas discussed will potentially have repercussions for years to come.

This post was originally published on the One Smooth Stone blog on March 3, 2014. For a complimentary 30-minute consultation on how to build your brand and inspire an audience through events and communications, please contact Brian Duffy by calling 630.427.4235 or by emailing bduffy@onesmoothstone.com


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