SXSW isn’t just an amazing place to learn from some of our industries leaders, it’s one to explore and interact with all the awesome brand experiences. If you missed Part I, read it here. Welcome to Part II: favorite experiences from SXSW Interactive!
4. Space travel is the coolest (Can I be an Astronaut?)
This is why some people call SXSW Interactive “Spring Break for Nerds”: NASA and Star Wars. From the tradeshow floor and Disney branded experiences, to maximum capacity panel sessions with standing room only Q&A, clearly, space travel is beyond fascinating, and these were my people.
NASA had an engaging presence at SXSW as they prepare for their journey to Mars. There is something very inspiring about a group of people with insatiable curiosity for the unknown, and a fire to continually test theories and objects to gain knowledge and insights that benefit the world. I’ve admired NASA since childhood, and sitting front row in a packed room with real Astronauts and NASA Engineers was beyond my wildest dreams. While NASA still has a ways to go on their Journey to Mars, the first step is The Orion Spacecraft. Before using its technology on any Mars trips, NASA will send it to the moon.
“In 2018 will be the first [lunar trip] without crew. In the 2020/2021 time frame we’re actually going to send a crew up.”
-Nujoud Merancy, NASA badass
Besides meeting astronauts and viewing the surface of Mars through virtual reality, Disney brought in a life size TIE Fighter and two Stormtroopers to promote the release of the Blu-ray and DVD for Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Yes, I waited in line in the rain to get my picture taken with two Stormtroopers. Yes, my heart was racing super fast when it was my turn. And yes, this may have been one of the greatest moments of my life. I have no shame in this one—I love Star Wars.
5. Virtual Reality is EVERYWHERE.
Every brand house was offering an immersive VR experience from roller coasters and cycling, to games, movies, and live events. VR is quickly making its way into mainstream culture. Some criticize that VR is the next 3D in terms of wearable technology. However, having worn both, I can say with much confidence that the features and benefits of VR far surpass that of 3D.
Truly immersing yourself in an experience and being able to interact with friends while exploring together opens the door to many opportunities that brands have just started to scratch the surface of. With affordable price points, Samsung and Google Cardboard are making VR more accessible to the masses. SXSW also introduced a startup called Splash, an app that allows you to quickly share 360° videos of your surroundings viewable on both smartphones and VR headsets like Google Cardboard. Splash took top honors in the VR category at SXSW’s startup accelerator on Sunday. Exciting things are on the horizon for VR; expect to see a lot more things coming our way commercially this year.
6. The pool + food are your best friends in Austin.
The first day, it poured large drops of rain. I thought, “No problem, I’m an Oregon girl!” and confidently walked through the rain to my sessions. But on day two (and three), the temperature kept rising until finally we maxed out at 91° for the last half of my trip. Thankfully, I had time to rest at the pool and dip my feet in the water, which was nice considering I walked an average of five miles per day, but whoa doggy, it was hot!
I also indulged in some of the greatest tacos in the world, Torchy’s Tacos. So good, these tacos prevented President Obama from getting to his keynote speech on time. These pieces of heaven are the reason I will be doing back to back Burncycle classes for the next week. Not to mention that my love of pickles was met with everlasting support as “fried pickles” were on every menu, and even Target sold to-go pouches of pickles slices and pickle-flavored cashews. The food in Austin did not disappoint.