South by Southwest (SXSW) has exploded from a local Austin, TX music festival in the 1980’s to a booming three-part conference that still has a music component but now also lists film and interactive events on its line-up. The festival just wrapped up last week, where experts and influencers spoke at panel discussions and gave lectures while bands played at night and movies premiered daily. There were plenty of lessons in branding, innovation and technology to be learned. Here a recap of the week’s highlights.
Wearables are where it’s at.
After the failure of Google Glass, the future of wearables was uncertain. But Thad Starner, the mastermind behind that technology, was back to launch gloves that teach wearers how to play the piano—an instant hit and standout during the week. Other wearables that launched were 3D printed shoes, emotion tracking technology and the hard-to-get-your-hands-on Snapchat glasses.
Authenticity is key.
One buzz word from the week was authenticity. In an age where things seem to be getting more and more impersonal, with the rise of digital applications, panels met and discussed the importance of authenticity in advertising and ways to create authentic connections with audiences. Across the board, branding experts noted the key is for companies to stick to their core beliefs.
AI is set to takeover.
Of course, SXSW also saw its fair share of virtual reality, but the real up-and-comer was artificial intelligence, better known as AI. There are a lot of categories that fall under the AI umbrella, with Siri being the most commonly used, but chatbots for customer service purposes was one of the main focus of this year’s discussions, and the application most likely to affect retailers.