Every year at SXSWi, creators from all over the world showcase their products and innovations. This allows for trends to emerge that directly reflect the ways in which the industry continues to evolve and change. Here are the top trends of SXSWi 2015.
Health and Fitness:
This year at SXSW, technological advances designed to improve health and fitness were prevalent. From a variety of new wearable health-tracking devices and apps to delivering medicine to those in need, it is clear that these advances will improve health worldwide. At the Robot Petting Zoo, the Matternet One drone exhibit demonstrated how robots can deliver medicine and supplies to people in remote villages. Under Armour had a strong presence with multiple presentations. Their panel on startups included stories of success as well as failure, and provided insight as to why they believed they had succeeded or failed along the way. The key takeaway was that investing in the right people is crucial when you’re getting started to ensure the success of your product. The SX Health & MedTech Expo was yet another chance to explore innovations in the category and talk to the innovators in person.
Unplug and Return to Simpler Times:
There was a heavy undercurrent of nostalgia for simpler times and an appreciation for things made by hand. IDEO hosted an awesome workshop on Creative Listening, emphasizing the importance of listening and observing to truly connect with people and understand their needs. Kate Hayward of Sticky Knowledge taught the Sketchnoting 101 workshop where she showed how to internalize a presentation through beautiful, hand-drawn sketchnotes. Not only does this help the sketchnoter process what is being said, it is a great way to make meetings more exciting for the whole team. Social Imprints demonstrated how to screen print shirts by hand and involved participants in the process of making. Fuji film demonstrated their Instax Mini 8 camera that takes small, instant photos the old-fashioned way, without the use of a single pixel, resulting in something that people can hold in their hands and enjoy off-screen.
There was a noticeable transition from technologies simply existing to taking things to the next level—allowing the user to customize his or her experience with the technology. At the Robot Petting Zoo, the DAR-1 from Robot Central was recognizing different users using facial recognition and adapting and interacting differently with each person. For some reason, it seemed to prefer women to men! Misfit store took the idea of a smart home a step further with its Bolt Smart Bulb. Not only can you command the bulb to turn on and off from your smartphone, but you can change the lightbulb color to a specific shade and create different lighting moods. It is technologies like these that take advances from being simply possible to something that people feel the need to use in their daily lives.
Compassion and Empathy:
There was a great sense of heightened compassion for others this year. Patrick Fox of Razorfish presented the Modern Web Accessibility workshop, where he encouraged and demonstrated ways to take websites beyond “standards compliant” to make them more usable for people with disabilities such as vision and hearing impairments. Social Imprints centers its brand mission around teaching job skills and providing employment for people who need a second chance. At the Robot Petting Zoo, Reaction, Inc demonstrated the lightweight, simple-to-construct disaster shelter—a welcome alternative to a tent for those who have temporarily lost their homes. Also at the Robot Petting Zoo, Muppette showcased a flying 3D printer that can bring the raw materials to print concrete to build housing at hard-to-reach construction sites.
The intersection of technology with broader trends and themes like these got everyone at SXSWi 2015 to think about the bigger picture of our industry and put the users we serve even more in the spotlight.