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Culture / Newsy

SXSW’s Craziest and Coolest Tech Innovations

The Gadgets of the Future You'll Be Using Soon

BY // 03.15.19

When one thinks of Austin’s famed SXSW, one might imagine a bunch of techies walking around with futuristic robots and new inventions like the Jetsons. That would be a pretty accurate description of the interactive innovations portion of this technology extravaganza.

Each year, the brightest stars in the tech industry apply to showcase their latest products and platforms. In categories such as robotics, artificial intelligence, wearable tech and biotech, SXSW has become a global stage to introduce the programs and products of tomorrow.

After all, in SXSW’s past, major names like Twitter and Foursquare were just tiny startups with hopes of a successful festival launch back in the day.

The startup spotlight showcases a curated group of companies presenting their innovations to badge holders and potential investors. In a world of on-demand delivery apps, an app called Robal — labor spelled backwards — which allows employers to find temporary staff to cover empty shifts or fill overflow staffing needs, is making major waves.

As improvements in digital media happen every day, start up Acciyo populates an interactive, zoomable timeline of previous articles published on the subject you’re currently reading. It’s finally possible to binge-read a topic in the news.

Supportiv, a new digital mental wellness tool, allows people to get help online for any issue with what they call “precision peer support,” or anonymous support from other users and health professionals.

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Virtual Cinema, the wave of the future for watching films, is becoming the norm outside of the SXSW walls. Badge holders lined up around the block to view the immersive virtual reality/augmented reality (VR/AR) flicks that make viewers feel that they are not just watching the movie but are actually in the movie action. The immersive film experience is expected to soon become a household fixture.

Tech Award Winners

The SXSW Interactive Innovation Awards recognized products and programs with excellent promise for improving the future. Out of 65 finalists, only one winner was chosen per category.

Among the most buzzworthy was Best in Show winner Butterfly iQ, a personal ultrasound tool. The handheld device pairs up with a mobile app featuring 18 presets and familiar touch interactions for unprecedented ease-of-use for medical professionals.

The People’s Choice Award winner was My Special Aflac Duck by Aflac. The not-your-average stuffed animal may look like just a cuddly duck, but this robotic tech wonder uses medical play, active movement and lifelike emotions to engage and comfort children with cancer.

Children can simulate chemotherapy on the duck to become acquainted with their medical processes and use the duck to express emotions they may be too shy to express to their doctors.

In the realm of social and cultural impact, the Aira – Visual Interpreter for the Blind allows real-time guidance for the visually impaired at the touch of a button. Agents are on call 24/7 to connect to those wearing Aira’s specially engineered camera glasses to help describe what is in their surroundings.

After the unveiling of these boundary pushing innovations, it’s not a matter of if — it’s a matter of when. Here’s to the future. First shown off in Texas.

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