Powerful tech


Jordan Jewell, Entertainment Editor

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At SXSW, networking reigns supreme. The Interactive exhibitions focus on technology and networking featuring parties staged with the purpose of allowing business and tech executives to mingle. The Trade Show exhibition specifically was a veritable ocean of small businesses looking for investors and trying to raise interest for their endeavors. The exhibition took up two whole rooms and was stuffed to the brim with representatives from companies like Sock Club and Calm giving out promotional materials and test trials of their products.

Most booths were decorated with neutral colors and focused on technological advancements from around the world. Countries like Germany and Japan took up massive squares of space, but there were a select few that stood out. There were booths advertising products such as guitars, shoes and bath bombs while others offered more intangible goods such as health care programs and DNA scanning, but the booths that drew in crowds were the ones offering grand technological advancements and providing examples for passersby to try for themselves.

VR goggles were everywhere, but not presented as gaming software. They were more often shown as tools to create a greater overall experience such as the booth which allowed folks to sit on a beanbag and watch a stream pass by in the goggles while white noise played through provided headphones. A separate booth provided an experience acting as almost the direct opposite of that, with the goggles showing the participant the edge of a high building while they held onto a bar with fans on either end, tugging them upwards to simulate that feeling of being about to fall.

On the more science fiction end was a waist high robot with wheels and a camera. The camera enabled it to lock onto and follow the people around it. It had a flat wireless charging station beside an ipad sized screen, its goal being to allow the user to walk around and watch the screen without having to carry a phone or ipad. The presenter maintaining the booth had it playing a hip hop music video.

The screen possessed an uncanny awareness. It locked onto a person, making it seem not only alive but aware. But one booth took it a step further, presenting a set of chihuahua sized machines with big glowing eyes and small wheels. It also could be locked onto the people around it, pupils following them using a camera embedded in its forehead. It was covered in a soft padding and was warm to the touch, simulating a living animal. When you touch its nose it would rumble and click, effectively purring.

Certainly there was more being showcased, SXSW being a hub of advancement and avant garde ideas, but these were just some of the showiest exhibits, ones which drew the most eyes and general interest. These new sorts of technologies, and new uses for technologies, show just how swiftly the front line of technological advancement is progressing. Soon enough, Interactive will bring unimagined technology incorporated into everyday life, making it the debut at SXSW.