As many innovative tech creators and consumers are quite aware, South By South West (SXSW) is an interactive tech, music and film festival that has occurred in Austin, TX in March for the past 30 years. The collaborative festival brings thousands of people from all over the world to experience Texas BBQ and innovative ideas. Let’s take a look at some of the most interesting tech to come out of the SXSW festival this year!
Refik Anadol is a media artist that plays with virtual realities through the use of architecture. He uses physical spaces to create virtual reality experiences through a lack of space and sound. This creates an augmented existence. The infinity room installation took users through a three-step process. The user is put into a 12 foot by 12 foot cube with 4 channel projections across all surfaces. First, it gives the feeling of no floor, which creates an absence of gravity for the user. Then the simulation causes the ceiling to disappear. Throughout the experience the user feels the deprivation of space. This is because the users peripheral perception begins to dull. Users peripheral vision is much more impactful after the experience has ended. Anadol, the experiential story teller, nailed it with a dazzling experience at this years conference!
Another stand out new technology for connecting people while providing an inclusive experience is Stephanie Lampkin’s anticipated Blendoor app. Lampkin is a young, female African-American woman with an extensive background in technology and a masters degree from MIT. However, even with her extensive experience in technology she has still experienced glass ceiling ideology when entering Silicon Valley about 5 years ago. For this reason, Lampkin is introducing Blendoor, a blind job matching app that allows users to upload their resumes and matches them with job opportunities that match their skills. When sending the resume to employers, the app hides the job seekers name and photos from employers, essentially taking any unconscious bias that includes ethnicity and/or gender issues out of the application process.
When interviewed by Forbes magazine writer, Clare O’Conner Lampkin states, “These [online networking] companies are founded by white guys. There’s a psychology I understand as a woman of color that’s driven how and why I’ve shaped the product the way I have.” The apps analytics software will allow for a more accurate representation of how taking unconscious bias out of the equation effects the landscape of tech employment in the future. Lampkin received the Innovation in connecting people award at SXSW 2017 for her inclusive creation!
Last but not least, is the 3Doodler Pro Pen. Designed with architects and creatives in mind this device allows you to literally lift your imagination off the page. The device retails for $249 making 3D printing technology more accessible and affordable. The pen allows the maker using the technology to implement it in new and exciting ways. 3Doodler won the Innovation 3-DIY award at the SXSW 2017 Innovation awards for its utility and design. This is the first ever designed 3D pen and the device has the capability to print in wood as well as metal. The other interesting thing about the product is that it can also print in poly-carbonate which is ideal for printing true 3D objects in midair! Although the price point does seem a little high for the average consumer, the target market associated with this gadget would much rather pay the $249 over the average cost of a larger scale 3D printer which can retail for thousands of dollars!
Unsurprisingly, SXSW 2017 offered a great deal of amazing tracks for festival goers this year. Pushing the boundaries on inclusion, design and art in technology and creating products that only help the industry grow; we can be sure that next year will be even better! The above mentioned products are just a few that I felt showcased the amazing things happening in technology all around the world today!