SXSW is the industry standard for a lot of things: the latest tech, the most innovative projects and the crème de le crème of the creative world. In essence, cool stuff – really, super cool, awesome stuff. If you want to read about the innovations of security in digital than head on over to our Technical Director’s blog. But if you want to read about the stuff that made us go ‘shut up and take my money!’ then you’re in the right place.

1. Accessing the inaccessible: Evolving search

Sometimes you’ll need an answer to a really specific question and most of the time Google usually has the answer. However, more often than not, what you really wanted was the exact right answer rather than clues to it.

People do this on Twitter and Facebook all the time for example, a user uploads a photo of a pair of earrings they love and asks: “Can anybody tell me where these earrings come from so I can buy them?”

Sure, it’s easy enough to Google it and sift through a heaps of pages, but most people will want the right answer immediately. Maybe they want to be slightly more convinced on the earrings before they get them, maybe they want to know if there is anything similar they should be getting instead?

Wouldn’t it be great if that question could then be routed to someone working in the jewellery industry and knows exactly where those types of earrings are sold, what they’re made out of etc.?

Enter Jelly.

Watch the full talk below:

Could this break the boundaries of search forever?

2. President Barack Obama Keynote

Obviously like most people at SXSW we attempted to see Barack Obama’s Keynote but failed miserably. Settling for the live stream of the Presidents’ address, the key messages were: 21st century civic engagement and community service, getting geeks to give back to their community and develop new systems for everyone.

The president wanted to enrol the help of everyone, it was a conversation that was light on policy but heavy on this feel good message of tech for good, even though he danced around encryption especially in regards to the Apple vs. FBI encryption case, which was on the forefront of everyone’s minds.

3. VR/Ar experiences

Whilst at SXSW, there was a huge theme among the tradeshow and event spaces which was Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality Technology.

Along with the addition of the new VR/AR event, it evolved to be a popular conversation topic amongst the tech masses.

Companies are really embracing the seemingly endless possibilities that come with VR/AR technology and there were a rich variety of experiences to be had:

McDonalds and their five-minute long interactive experience to paint the inside of a happy meal box using a paintball gun, laser ray or paintbrush was pretty special.

McDonalds SXSW

Xfinity with their 360 Nascar experience

4. JJ ABRAMS & Andrew Jarecki : The eyes of robots and murderers

SXSW isn’t just about real life tech, it’s also a great excuse for nerds to bask in the possibilities of science fiction and reality becoming one with constant advancement of technology. Which is why being so close to one of the coolest directors in the biz, J.J Abrams, was a pretty amazing experience.

In their talk they explored how advances in technology and digital storytelling serve to both enhance human emotional connectivity and degrade it. Unfortunately for us looking for a top scoop, Star Wars was scarcely mentioned, much to our disappointment but he did talk about his new show, “Westworld”, which looked pretty interesting. The pair also discussed the way their work has been shaped by looking through the eyes of robots and murderers – pretty heavy stuff for a sunny afternoon in Texas, but interesting nonetheless.

We even saw a TIE Fighter, which was pretty rad.  

TIE fighter SXSW


We were blown away with the variety of experiences they had, from cognitive cocktails to rock-paper-scissors with a robot.

You can view a small snippet of how IBM Hijacked a steak house in order to create a great experience from scratch.

It was a busy week at SXSW and there were tons of awesome tech and innovative work going on. Unfortunately, too much to condense into one article so head over to the official SXSW YouTube channel and do some exploring! 

This is part of our blog series on SXSW. Check out the first part in the series, Technical Director’s blog, Privacy: Staying Secure in an Insecure World or our Creative Director's blog looking at VR and Mixed Reality at SXSW.