SXSW is no longer just a music and film festival: it’s become a major annual gathering for startups and entrepreneurs looking to network and promote their products and services. The 10-day event in Austin, Texas offers trade shows, interactive experiences and special events where startups can demo their innovations and can hopefully attract publicity.
The number of business owners at this year’s festival has reportedly grown significantly. SXSW’s Startup Village will host double the number of events — 213 — than it hosted last year. Hundreds of companies are touting their products at this year’s SXSW. Here's a look at a few products that generated buzz at SXSW:
AeroMobil. While the product is still in prototype stage, the AeroMobil is a flying car designed to run on gasoline, fit into a typical parking space and be used in regular traffic, the company founders told Car Pro. SXSW attendees got the chance to hear from CEO Juraj Vaculik about the Slovakian company’s journey in building the AeroMobil and its plans for the future. The company hopes to start selling its flying car — which can reach speeds of up to 124 miles per hour — in two to three years, according to the company’s website.
Sprinkl: The "Internet of Things" — devices that include sensors in order to better control and track various tasks — is growing up. Sprinkl, a home sprinkler system that senses how much water a lawn needs, is a finalist for SXSW’s 2015 Interactive Innovation Awards. The technology can track weather reports, can keep track of local watering restrictions and can let users remotely control their sprinkler system from any device or computer.
Stre.am: Smartphone video-recording technology is getting more sophisticated — and so are the apps that support it. Stre.am is an app that lets users live-stream video footage or watch live streams produced by others. “On the back-end, Stre.am leverages proprietary transcoding technologies to deliver a seamless high-quality experience,” the company’s website says. Users can also chat through the app and can post their live stream feeds on social media such as Facebook and Twitter.
Disconnect: It seems everyone is talking about data security and online privacy these days. Founded by former Google engineers and a consumer- and privacy-rights attorney, Disconnect is an app-based service that routes user’s Internet activity through an “encrypted tunnel” in order to avoid private or sensitive data from getting in the hands of cyber criminals. The service allows its users to browse the Internet anonymously so they don’t need to worry about sites or criminals tracking their every move.
Ozobot: This year’s SXSW will include its first-ever “Robot Petting Zoo,” at which attendees can interact and learn about several robot innovations created for the public good. Ozobot, one of the robots being demoed, is a small handheld robot that teaches kids computer coding and programming using interactive games. The Ozobot teaches “code language, robotic behavior and deductive reasoning while effortlessly playing on multi-dimensional environments,” its website says.
While these products can turn many heads at SXSW, it remains to be seen which ones, if any, will become household names.
Kelly Spors is a freelance writer and editor based in Minneapolis. She previously worked as a staff reporter for The Wall Street Journal, covering small business and entrepreneurship.