3 Things We Learned at SXSW 2015

Created in 1987, SXSW now attracts over 152,000 people for the 10 day conference, with over 30,000 people attending the Interactive conference this year. It is no wonder that the Interactive SXSW conference is considered the biggest of its kind in the world.

Providing a platform for new and creative ideas and technologies, the conference is known for launching tech start ups into the mainstream. Amongst the vast web of speakers, inventors and attendees, here are three of the most eye-capturing award winners whose discussions and innovations range from immortality to expressive clothing.

1. Martine Rothblatt – Speaker of the Event ‘The only way to be happy in the world is to keep making things.’

Martine Rothblatt, who was awarded Speaker of the Event, unintentionally disclosed an unruly amount of spoilers for films such as ‘Interstellar’, ‘Her’, and every single other sci-fi and space movie, during an in depth exploration of mind-boggling topics from AI and xenotransplantation, to space exploration and robots. She discussed how in the not-so-distant future we might be able to transfer our consciousness to machines, the legal and ethical implications of this and the way in which medical and organ cloning will save lives, if not perpetuate them. She argued that through mind cloning, we may be able to live forever. Coming from a woman who is the highest earning female executive in the US, has a law-MBA and has worked with NASA, she is definitely a credible source of information.

2. VocaliD – Health and MedTech Award Winner  ‘Voices are not identical. They are our identities.’

This innovative tech startup was awarded for an invention that improves the quality, efficacy, and cost-effectiveness of diagnosis, treatment, and care in the field of medicine, specifically speech. VocaliD creates unique vocal identities for people who have speech impairments, allowing users to have a voice that closely matches their natural one, before their impairment. Although the company have competitors, no one is attempting to make personalised voices in the same way VocaliD. The company has proved how technology can be used to reinstate a core feature of identity – the voice. A new category to 2015, the Health and MedTech award at SXSW might be the most important in order to further technological developments in the health and medical industries. This will, in turn, encourage more outside investment into such developments. VocaliD themselves are undergoing a large scale campaign in an attempt to secure angel investment and this award will be sure to help them.

3. Expressive Wearable – Student Innovation Award Winner ‘Express your attitude.’

In order to make a successful Interactive SXSW conference, developments in the Internet of Things space must feature; wearable tech is fast becoming the next big thing. Sangli Li won the student innovation award for his innovative idea of using clothing as a communication tool. Expressive Wearable creates clothing that encourages self expression without any concern for social conventions. The audience are then allowed to interpret the device’s actions, engaging with it in any way they see fit. At SXSW, Li made it clear that he believes this type of clothing will exist in the near future, acting as a device to articulate emotions that humans often think but rarely express such as reacting to proximity or loud noises.

All three innovators have perfectly captured the direction in which technology is moving, hence their individual successes at SXSW. Although many people often waiver off big, theoretical advancements in technology as sci-fi rubbish (as Rothblatt experienced with her immortality and cloning arguments), the tech world is rapidly developing. Who knows? Soon we might be providing media relations for that robot that threw Will Smith out of a window.

Bobby Rathore

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