As with years past, the Lab team descended upon Austin, TX on Friday for the annual media, art, and tech bonanza that is South by Southwest. Over the weekend, we have been busy meeting with promising startups, industry thought-leaders, and clients, but we have also taken some time to check out what’s on exhibition this week. Here is a roundup of some of the coolest innovations coming out of SXSW that you missed over the weekend.
As with last year, VR experiences are everywhere at this year’s SXSW. One that stands out from the pack is the “Zero Gravity VR Experience” that Universal set up to promote its The Mummy reboot. Working with Positron, a startup that specializes in making motion-simulating VR chairs, the movie studio created a powerful VR experience that adds a new immersive dimension to the actions. While most branded VR initiatives still rarely dare to move beyond simple 360-degree videos, VR experiences like this one point to some exciting direction that immersive media content could be headed for.
Chinese electric car brand NIO debuted its new NIO EVE autonomous EV concept car, which is equipped with an “artificial intelligence engine” called NOMI for the passengers to interact with the vehicle. The company noted that it plans to bring the car to the U.S. market by 2020. As self-driving vehicles continue to develop, we are excited to see how that will the transform future of transportation and supercharge the auto industry.
Levi’s announced at the SXSW that the smart jacket it is collaborating on with Google on now has a release date and a price tag. The connected jacket uses conductive fabric to turn a jacket into a connected remote that can communicate with your smartphone and send commands, such as tapping your sleeves to pause a song. Levis says it will be available this fall and will set you back around $350 a piece.
Sony brought back its projector-based touchscreen technology to SXSW this year and combined it with some unique user interface design to allow users to control AR objects by gesture. The company’s Future Lab program is also showcasing some of its latest hardware concepts at a so-called “Wow Factory” in a converted warehouse. As digital interfaces continue to evolve, brands need to catch up and update the UX design of their online touch points accordingly to deliver a fresh, fun, and functional customer experience.
Adidas says it is looking to collaborate with third-party brands to create a new open ecosystem for its digital fitness products. The company acquired fitness tech company Runtastic in 2015 to boost its fitness tech efforts, but it has lagged behind competitors such as Nike and Under Armour in building out a digital fitness community. This announcement comes just one month after the company’s decision to shut down its MiCoach platform in favor of consolidating that ecosystem with Runtastic’s, and indicates Addidas’ plan for building out its digital fitness offerings.
Check back for more SXSW updates as the festivals go on this week.