The South by Southwest festival gathers some of the world’s greatest creatives every year in Austin‚ Texas. Recent years have seen SXSW take on a new life in the world of digital marketing, due to the evolution of interactive media.
Although we live in a world that is digital and borderless in many ways, there is still much to be said for firsthand experiences. The SXSW festival is not the only event doing this in the creative sector, but they are one of the best.
That’s why around this time each year, many agile agencies cast an eye towards what’s on offer in Austin. If there’s a problem for attendees (and especially observers from afar), is that there’s simply too much on offer to keep it all straight. Luckily for all fans of the fresh and bold, 2018 offers plenty of brands doing unique and interesting things.
We can all get excited about Wagoo. This directional Augmented Reality (AR) creator is set to reboot the conversation surrounding AR.
Wagoo intends to refresh this field with a unique design offering. Built on a platform utilizing directional bluetooth, the tech behind Wagoo is designed to enable the creation of a more agile AR, which will provide more options and applications. This is a clear win-win for both users and marketers.
It may initially seem like making the jump to Virtual Reality (VR) content is pretty straightforward. However, combining the existing principles of good storytelling and the creative process with VR can be a tough task. Still, that’s what Scatter is working to overcome.
This New York studio has created Zero Days, a VR experience that showcases a number of interviews with members of the National Security Agency (NSA). These interviews were captured with VR in a way that provides anonymity, while also retaining their gestures and mannerisms. This profound and impactful piece of content was created via use of the studio’s innovative Depthkit technology.
Now and then, there are products that generate excitement far beyond their industries. The Radiology with Holographic Augmentation (RadHA) being developed by Bencin Studios is a perfect example of this phenomenon.
Using 3D technology to visualize the planning process for surgery, Bencin Studios is developing an imaging application that will change the way liver transplants and other forms of surgery occur in the future. Built for use with the Microsoft HoloLens, Bencin will bring to market a holographic imaging device that could mean safer, more successful outcomes for patients.
The Microsoft Hands-Free Music Project
News of new technology will usually be received with interest by a wide audience. However, some innovations speak to a particular audience with certain special needs. For instance, the work of some creatives has been difficult to experience, owing to the limitations of our current technology.
This is why Microsoft’s new venture is fantastic. Known as the Hands-Free Music Project, it is actually three programs in one: the Microsoft Hands-Free Sound Jam, Microsoft Hands-Free Sound Machine, and Microsoft Expressive Pixels. Each provides a new way for musicians to craft their tunes via eye movements, and promises to help diversify and enrich the music industry.
BBDO’s Live Looper
Usually this involves recording or performance gear. However, social media and live streaming are now changing the game.
BBDO’s Live Looper is a real pioneer in this sector, by incorporating Facebook Video’s delay as a musical component into the live performance of Irish band The Academic. BBDO has begun a new discussion about how issues of delay and buffering can enhance rather than detract from the impact of a live act shown online.
Harman Connected PA
Anyone working in professional audio knows that it can feel like you’re married to the mixing desk. This may be okay for studio work, but in a live environment it can be limiting to creatives’ movement and efficiency. With the public beta of their app, Harman’s Connected PA seeks to solve this problem once and for all.
The app is not just a list of basic settings, but a full suite of mixing options. Sound technicians can now be more agile and efficient in their work, and mix “on the go.” With this app, Harman has rewritten old rules about creative roles in audio, as well as modernized them.
Virtual assistants have been around for a while now. For some examples, consider Siri and Google Now. There’s also been a growth in permanent assistance devices for our homes and offices, such as Amazon’s Alexa. These gadgets can be quite useful, but typically focus on managing your schedule and performing tasks. None seek to connect with you and actively assist you in maintaining happiness and wellbeing each day.
Woebot Labs’ release of its Woebot chatbot is pioneering a new direction in this field. Woebot will chat with you, learn more about your mood over time, and seek to boost it on the days when you’re feeling down. With a plethora of cheesy jokes and an easy natural language, the Woebot is a great virtual companion, and a conversation piece for how managing happiness can be handled in the digital era.
Toyota Mirai AI
The advantages of Artificial Intelligence (AI) are widely recognized for agencies. Marketing firms around the world have looked to utilize AI and machine learning to streamline complex processes. This is a great start. However, what if an AI could also put pen to paper and create a successful ad?
Toyota did this with their Mirai ad campaign. It used Watson (the trusty supercomputer created by IBM) to write over 1,000 ads that would together form the now-famous “Thousands of Ways to Say Yes” campaign. As a result, Japan’s largest car manufacturer is now at the forefront of the conversation about the new possibilities of AI in advertising.
A collaboration project between Darwin Ecosystem, IBM, and young programming prodigy Tanmay Bakshi, “The Cognitive Story” project aspires to augment communication by identifying electroencephalogram patterns. That may sound complex, but at its core this is a learning system that enables an AI to detect an individual’s intentions, and express them externally.
This means creatives who are mute or otherwise are unable to express themselves fully may soon have the ability to do so, via AI that can register the desires formed within their brain activity. It’s exciting to imagine all the new and unique stories that may be told as a result, and is a testament to the rich diversity on display at the SXSW Festival.
The SXSW Festival will always be an inspiring event. Each year creatives around the world can draw new inspiration from the events on show. This is a trend that will surely continue this year, thanks in part to the wonderful work of the pioneers in visual media, audio, and AI that we’ve discussed.
Of course‚ it’s also important to remember that the pace and scale of change in agile marketing means there is ample opportunity for “everyday” agencies to build their own identity‚ and craft their own unique narrative from one year to the next. That may be the best message you can take away from the brands at SXSW.
Velocitize will be having its own conversations at SXSW 2018. Come back for more of Velocitize Talks, SXSW event coverage and more.