For 10 days in March, Austin becomes an interactive playground for inquisitive and tech-savvy folks from all over the world. During the SXSW Conference and Festivals, big ideas about digital technology, design, culture and more come together, with inciting panels, speakers and sessions that push attendees to think deeper and push the boundaries of innovation.
See what people have been buzzing about during this years festival and get a taste of SXSW for yourself.
Smart clothes finally become a reality
Iconic clothing brand Levis has teamed up with Google to create a revolutionary new jacket that weaves smart technology right into the garment. Google ATAP Technical Project Lead Ivan Poupyrev and Levis VP of Innovation Paul Dillinger discussed the process of innovating one of the oldest pieces of tech that humans have invented: fabric.
Disrupting the clothing industry is something that has to feel authentic its about integrating tech into the clothes we already wear rather than slapping a new device on top. Together with their team, Poupyrev and Dillinger sought to reinvent what fabric and fibers can do, while still allowing the product to go through the wash.
The result of their efforts is a connected jacket called the Commuter. On the left sleeve, a pattern of this new fiber and a Bluetooth-enabled clip transforms the sleeve into a responsive touch screen. Designed primarily with cyclists in mind, the Commuter jacket allows you to adjust the volume of your music, get navigation details and react to incoming calls on the go all with the swipe of a hand. The jacket, which retails for $350, will be out this fall.
In the future, everything is going to be connected, said Poupyrev.
The media stunt thats freaking everyone out
During SXSW, the streets of Austin are littered with various stunts and public displays of advertising meant to get everyone talking. Its not always successful, but when it is people notice.
One of the best and most buzzworthy moments this year has been the activation by Hulu to promote the release of their new original series The Handmaids Tale.
Women dressed as the eponymous handmaids from the show have been walking the streets of Austin, two by two, in complete silence. The result is an eerie, immersive experience that brings us all a little too close to the plotline of the show. Watch the video below to see for yourself.
Big names making an impact
Part of the magic of SXSW is getting access to people who have already been there, done that. When speakers share stories of their success, their failure and what theyve learned along the way, audiences pay attention. This year, theres been no shortage of wisdom coming from the stage.
“If we are silent in the face of injustice, we are complicit in that injustice. -Cory Booker
New Jersey senator Cory Booker was this years opening keynote speaker. A charismatic and articulate presence, Booker dropped some knowledge on how the US can move forward during times of political strife. His impassioned speech implored the audience to think beyond toleration and go straight for love.
Transparent director and LGBT advocate Jill Soloway addressed the crowd as the opening film keynote speaker and discussed the challenges that face female directors in Hollywood, while Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky stressed the importance of resilience and tenacity in the business world.
A night with Alien director Ridley Scott
A crowd of film fanatics waited in line outside Austins Paramount Theatre on Friday night some for as long as two hours to get a sneak peak at the new Alien: Covenant and to hear from acclaimed director Ridley Scott himself.
The packed theater exploded into thunderous applause and howls when Scott took the stage to introduce the clips. The film is a return to the world he first created in the sci-fi classic Alien.
Following the clips, the cast from the new film graced the stage for a quick Q&A session. Michael Fassbender, Danny McBride and Katherine Waterson answered questions from a moderator alongside Scott and then took photos with the audience. The night wrapped with a viewing of the original 1979 flick on the big screen, much to everyones delight.