What should we expect from SXSW in 2015? The word on the streets of Austin is 3D mobile, "connected cars" and new ways to leverage artificial intelligence — and those are just for starters.
Ever since its founding in 1994, SXSW Interactive has played a pivotal role in anticipating game-changing trends in technology. Consider 1996, where the introduction of the first compact disc was made public. Or 2007, where Twitter co-founder Ev Williams laid out his vision for social media. Then there was the 2005 SXSW Interactive, where Malcolm Gladwell gave the keynote speech and explained his new theory, “The Tipping Point.”
So what burgeoning technology should we expect from SXSW 2015? Here’s a snapshot:
The Convergence of Big Data and Artificial Intelligence. Consider this shocking big data statistic: an average company in 15 of the 17 U.S. commercial sectors has more data in its systems than the Library of Congress. Companies are still wrestling with the overwhelming logistics that comprehensive data gathering entails, and scientists offer a compelling narrative. How can artificial intelligence pitch in and help? McKinsey reports that companies are already training executives to use a blend of big data and Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) to improve decision-making on the job.
Driving the Connected Car. Whether you’re the chief design officer at an automobile manufacturer or a hobbyist with a classic car under wraps in his garage, the idea of the so-called “connected car” is fascinating; they have the potential to reduce emissions, minimize accidents and give drivers time to relax, work or eat a meal while their cars transport them to and from work autonomously. The prospect of a vehicle that doesn’t need human interaction to perform is both scary and scintillating, and should be a hot topic at SXSW ’15.
The Aesthetic Beauty of 3-D Mobile. As the mobile web flourishes, new ways to view and interact with it are waiting in the wings. That’s exactly where WebGL comes into the picture, bringing a fresh approach to masterfully crafted 3-D web content. Google’s already on the job and will share what it’s learned so far with 3-D mobile, and what digital consumers can expect in the future.
Cyber-Thing of Beauty: Where Biotech and Art Meet. Biotechnological innovation has catalyzed the production of an abundance of products, from new surgical devices — like the use of artificial glue to improve digestive track endoscopy — to life-saving drugs that dissolve blood clots. Which industry will be the next to benefit from the biotech boom? One target is the art world, where creative geniuses on myriad fronts are experimenting fresh methods of melding art and science, in game-changing ways that only biotech can manage.
Nobody knows where the technology advancements first introduced at SXSW will take us. But if recent history is any guide, that ride should be a wild and rewarding one — one where we'll be talking about 2015’s interactive rollouts in historical terms for years to come.
Brian O’Connell is a writer with 15 years’ experience covering business news and trends. A former Wall Street bond trader, his byline has appeared in dozens of top-tier national business publications, including Time, MSN Money, Forbes, The Wall Street Journal, CNBC, The Street.com and CBS Marketwatch.