Is This Life? PT 3 (Monday/Tuesday)

Tuesday started off with another day spent at the exhibit hall. During these shifts, I found it very easy to network and meet people from all fields. CEOs and fellow students came up to booth and we had a chance to collaborate and share new information in many different areas.

Because of the way SXSW is structured, I met people from all parts of the music industry and film industry—not just people focused on design. Also, interactive was more than just designers; there were many software engineers and people from a various backgrounds that also had the interactive badge. The reason why I wanted to start by talking about this was because Tuesday, for me, was about the people you know.

I had a chance to walk the exhibit and found that some of the most interesting exhibits were the international studios. Their brands were bright and eye-popping comparatively to some from the United States. Like I said once in my earlier blog post, sustainability is very important to me. There was a booth from E Cube Labs that created a smart trashcan that would both compress and compost trash through the city. Not only do they do that, but they also would emit wifi and collect data that would be used to crowd source high traffic areas and schedule the most optimal times to pick up the trash. This would create a more efficient network of recycling that not only would reduce waste through major cities, but also reduce overhead of operating vehicles because they would be in the field less throughout the day.

One hot thing in design right now is VR/AR. Walking the exhibit gave me the chance to see what is being done well in VR/AR. There were definitely some booths that said they were VR/AR, but were just using a 360° camera to showcase their work. It was very strange because these booths were like real estate and travel agencies. They would use the 360° camera to create walk-through and “bubble” experiences of what they wanted to showcase; one was just a walk-through of a high-end apartment.

Another Nordic VR/AR booth really showcased VR well by having three different VR headsets that each had a different experience. One was a Tomorrowland, a big EDM festival, and the cameras  would change different angles throughout and were able to capture the crowd and tone of the show very well. One thing that was jarring was editing on multiple cameras. Because it would cut without warning, much of the experience was broken and unsettling.

The second was a still HD image of a cruise ship in the middle of what I presume areNordic seas, and mountains. It was beautifully rendered, and you could spend time just studying the single frame. I presume it was taken on a drone because when you look down it felt like you were falling 600 feet; I just suggest you do not look down. If this is desired it worked well, but I felt instantly nauseated. The third was completely black. It was confusing as you look around to try to figure out what is going on. When you look straight up and see a bright white light. This triggered the animation, which blew my mind. As the music starts to intensify you could see a word drop from then sky. When it hits the perceived flat x plane, it becomes instantly readable: all it says is “Butts”. It was a giant prank of modernity. This was the best experience of the three. After talking to the booth,  I found out they were testing to see what reactions the three  VR experiences illicit in people along with the emotions they evoke and conversations they start. It was very interesting.


Now back to the reason why it pays to know people. Earlier in the week I met a SXSW employee named Fernando. Fernando was part of setting up all the interactive awards and part of the team that brought in the speakers. He was able to get us early accesses into the awards and sat at a table of SXSW employees. They had to run in and out through the awards because of technical difficulties, but it was great to see the behind-the-scenes action of what they wanted to create. We were also shown that the award winners were going to have their photos taken. This was amazing because we were able to meet the winners and trade cards. How far that goes I do not know, but it is all about the people you know, right?

This idea is not over however. After the awards the suggested we go to Cheer Up Charlies for the show, and that we might run into more SXSW employees. Fernando was right again about that. Katey ran into a person she met at the exhibit area who ended up being one of the developers for SXSW. The music was great that night, and the people of Austin we met were even better.


Over these two days I can take away a handful of things:

Be Bold, Be unique.

Be kind to all, you never know who you will meet.

Be passionate and be open about your passions. You will meet people with similar passions.

Speak in visuals, or in gifs.

Collaborate. Collaborate. Collaborate.

Who needs sleep when you can have some of the best experiences of your life?

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