SxSW has transformed from a festival that celebrates films and music to the stage where the biggest tech trends are born. According to Fast Company, “SxSW Interactive welcomes more than 30,000 registrants to Austin each March, and has become a coveted launching pad for startups (including Twitter and Foursquare), a hunting ground for tech investors, a laboratory for forward-thinking ideas, and a lavish five-day party that’s often referred to as “geek spring break.”
This year, the continued innovation in the technology industry has been impossible to ignore. Here are a few key themes that have caught our attention and continued to gain momentum over the past week at SxSW.
Virtual and augmented reality have proven to be the breakout technologies of the year. From McDonalds’ VR playground to Samsung and Google, companies have flocked to SxSW to show off their personalized VR experiences. Per Sony’s announcement at the show, the company now plans on taking this technology mainstream with their PlayStation VR headset. SxSW has even devoted an entire new track to the technology this year. And it doesn’t sound like it’s going anywhere. Fortune reports virtual reality and augmented reality are expected to generate about $150 billion in revenue by the year 2020 through content (gaming, film & TV, healthcare, education and social); hardware and software platforms.
Technology and Security
Technology and security are often mentioned in the same sentence, especially in politics. With an audience filled with 2,000 techies, engineers, and dot.com leaders, President Obama surprised SxSW with an address calling on attendees to put their skills to work improving civic life through technology and security enhancements. POTUS’ appearance was the first in SxSW history, which speaks for itself on the significance of the government’s relationship with technology. Although he didn’t not comment directly on the case, Obama also spent ten minutes discussing the ongoing battle over encryption between Apple and the FBI.
Women in Technology
The push for more diversity in the tech industry continues to gain momentum, and the trend continued at SxSW, which dedicated more prominent panels on diversity and how to increase the number of women in technology, including its first-ever Online Harassment Summit. With the growing epidemic of online harassment toward women in technology serving as a backdrop, experts from across the fields of entertainment, gaming, public policy and social technology discussed means of combating online harassment and how to make the industry more inclusive. USA Today says the panels have been successful and are “stacked with women, and conversations are flowing.”