Great Conversations, BBQ & Learnings from SXSW 2017

3 Takeaways from SXSW




SXSW, like most conferences, is a manic, but enlightening, affair. This year we were at the festival to showcase not only the Meta 2 Development Kit, but to also share AR design and development guidelines. Along the way, we listened in on several fascinating speeches and discussions that provided a lot of food for thought. They've been condensed into three takeaways that we think will be helpful in getting you started around thinking about AR, VR, and artificial intelligence (AI) as tools for your work in the near future.


AR and VR are Here to Stay (Start Working with Them If You Haven't Already)

Having attended SXSW for the past two years (we were at the Interactive branch of the festival last year), we've noticed that AR and VR have gone beyond being mere concepts in a special track SXSW set up, and into permanent festival fixtures. People are increasingly thinking about how VR and AR can be used in our everyday lives.


Compared to last year, the talks have gone from being conceptual to pragmatic – a great sign for the VR and AR industry as a whole. And we were happy to see the proliferation of start-ups, design and development studios, and consultants specializing in VR and or AR at the festival. While the industry is collectively still in its infancy, it's heartening to see other people who aren't from headset companies actively thinking about integrating AR and VR experiences into their business plans and future work.


“You don’t need to use a textbook ever again.”

Another interesting trend we noticed at SXSW was that AR and VR are seen as the next generation of tools that can greatly help people learn. Several educators at SXSWedu (an education-specific offshoot of the main festival) asked us for tips on how AR and VR could be used as part of their curricula. Non-educators who tried the Meta 2 Development Kit, such as Kinvara Balfour of Vanity Fair, also noted that with AR, "It's like you don’t need to use a textbook ever again.”


The Earth emerging from cosmic dust as seen through the Meta 2 DK (Ulanoff)


And with AR's ability to enhance the way we collaborate and communicate, you can see how classrooms and offices in the next five to 10 years will allow kids and adults alike to become immersed in memorable learning experiences – ultimately empowering them with information and knowledge and transforming the way they tell stories.

A collaborative AR experience first seen at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival.


AI, IoT, AR, and VR are Increasingly Connected

This concept of interconnectedness is nothing new. Legendary technologists Shel Israel and Robert Scoble discuss the concept at length in their latest book and at a fireside chat at SXSW, and one of our teammates Evan Helda has been discussing it in his ongoing blog series.


However, hearing and seeing people become excited about how IoT can bring other cutting-edge technologies together, like AR and machine learning, is altogether a refreshing experience. From chat bots becoming a larger part of the way businesses interact with customers to AI changing our lives for the better, it's clearer than ever that these different, but related, technologies will converge to enhance our productivity.


While it's exciting to see these three takeaways from SXSW, there's one overarching insight that we want to leave you with (originally heard from Shel Israel): start figuring out ways you can integrate budding technologies like AR, VR, and machine learning into your business. "Why should I? I don't have the budget or time to figure out these things." you may ask. Well, the future is arriving sooner than you think, and your work and interactions with other people will become dependent on them.