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Secondhand SXSW Impressions of the Interactive Conference

The Austin-based South by Southwest (SXSW) festival is comprised of three conferences in parallel: Music, Film, Interactive. The latter is probably more appropriately labeled “Technology”.

IntuiLab is in Booth 1231 of the Interactive exhibit hall and I am not there. Happily for you, this won’t stop me from sharing a few impressions about the Interactive conference. The very tight bond I share with my colleague on the show floor has given me insight by proxy. It is a shame that my colleague has no awareness of this bond but everything I share below is based on his good word so who’s to say the bond is fictional?

  • The talks can be quite good. Presenters are energized by the entrepreneurial atmosphere and creative juices pouring through the streets of Austin. Surrounded by folks just waiting for an excuse to tweet/blog/instagram snark and criticism, presenters must make an effort to entertain and inform. The results favor the audience
  • The exhibitor list will surprise you. Feel free to look for big names but you won’t find many. Start-ups are digging deep to show off their creative ideas, hoping for that one magic booth visitor who can turn their dream into equity. Even the big players in attendance appear to be crying poor as IBM, Adobe, Philips and others have modest booths.
  • Country pride reigns. I don’t know the history but throughout the exhibition hall you will find country-sponsored installations showing off the best and brightest start-ups from within their borders. IntuiLab is in the French booth, for example. Germany is the savviest, giving away free beer with their start-up pitch. There is no US booth so I guess no one came from there.
  • The variety of technology options is boggling. It’s hard to find a theme. The good news is if you’re in the market for a mechanical exoskeleton, SXSW is the place. These start-ups represent every walk of technological life and illustrate how creativity is alive and well. One shudders to think of how many will be with us one year from now but let’s hope it’s the majority.
  • Attendees are as varied as the technologies. No surprise, without a clear technology theme, the show attracts attendees of all makes and models. As we say in the US, many are tire kickers - no intent to buy, just want to see cool stuff - but quite a few are either established or ambitious bloggers and journalists.
  • Book early. Driving around and parking is hell.

Are we going back next year? I’m inclined to favor angling for a speaking slot rather than having a booth but I don’t want to get ahead of myself - the show isn’t over and the post mortem hasn’t been run. Certainly, the show generates hype but it’s not yet clear how much of that hype rubs off on its exhibitors.

In Austin? Come on by. We’re using IntuiFace to manipulate the Philips Hue lightbulb using both Microsoft Kinect and a touchscreen. It’s happens to be very cool.

Not in Austin? Live vicariously through me!

- Geoff Bessin / CMO

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The world's premier platform for creating, deploying and measuring interactive digital experiences without writing one line of code.