This post was authored by Ignition Factory, the award-winning innovations & emerging platforms team within OMD. The group focuses on brand innovations via emerging startup partnerships, disruptive media ideas and creative applications of technology.
While SXSW is still a real event and not just a holographic android-run future-rock VR experience that you tune in to from your space ship, the festival’s Interactive Week remains a key draw. This year, instead of app-launch-apalooza, SXSWi delivered a multitude of digital and physical interactions that fused everything from data capturing, to privacy and security, to straight-up neuroscience.
Here’s how all the convergence and multiplicity went down in Austin:
Speaking of Virtual Reality, it set the stage for 2016 by showcasing new possibilities and mind-altering uses of the technology for everything from phobia cures, to physiological motion sensations, to even tricking your taste buds. Samsung, NASA, McDonald’s, and even Gillette explored the power of VR through hardware and creative experiences.
“Data is the new oil,” touted Under Armour’s founder and CEO, Kevin Plank. This may sound melodramatic to some, but it’s coming from the dude who gave Steph Curry his shoe deal, so we’ll take it as fact for now. SXSW was filled with data-rich experiences including Watson’s Cognitive Cocktail Bar, where IBM’s artificial intelligence scanned your brain and made custom cocktails to enhance your emotional state.
With data capture on the rise, the question of security and accountability threaded across SXSW from agriculture to anonymous chat. Even POTUS chimed in during his keynote, posing the question, “What will happen if everybody goes to their respective corners and the tech community says, you know what, either we have strong, perfect encryption, or else it’s Big Brother and an Orwellian world?” Moral of the story? As much as brands can explore the implications of data, security is equally—if not more—important.
SXSW hit the 30-year mark in 2016, and the shift from Millennial to Gen Z as the heir-apparent to brand experiences could be felt. This is the generation three times more likely to respond to a push notification than an email (per Jaclyn Ling of Kik). The list of newly discovered behavioral traits goes on. Technology like Samsung Creative Lab’s Hum On!, which allows anyone to become a music creator simply by humming into their phone, or Sony Future Lab’s touch-sensitive tabletop projector reflected the types of technology and design that will be most relevant to this on-the-move audience.