Highlights From SXSW 2019


As countless innovators are leaving their annual pilgrimage to Austin, our team put together a list of our major highlights and sound bites from our experiences at the SX festival.


“AI/Blockchain/5G will be the answer”

It was abundantly clear that people are still passionate about VR/AR. Industry leaders are betting that the cross-pollination from AI, Blockchain, and 5G technologies will hasten the growth of the XR. There was a ton of skepticism that this will be the be-all-end-all solution, but there is still a lot of hope. It’s clear to us that there is no need to have siloed discussions about these technologies; AI, Blockchain, 5G, VR, and AR innovators can help and support each other.

“What’s it sound like?”

Whether it was the Bose activation or their sunglasses (that every XR executive now seems to own) or Jessica Brillhart’s Traverse or discussions around the importance of voice and sound, spacial audio-based AR is having a breakthrough year. There was a lot of buzz around the possibilities for “sunglasses with a soundtrack” as well as voice-over prompted by location (e.g. museums, tourist destinations). It will be fun to see what an almost invisible technology, like the Bose glasses, can bring to the consumer experience.

“You’re 100th on the list.”

Overcrowding was par for the course, again, for VR experiences. The excitement isn’t showing any signs of waning. Here’s hoping that throughput solutions gain traction in the near future. It needs to go beyond multiple headset syncing (see Parallux) to potentially creating tiered VR experiences (ex. “You can wait for 1.5 hours for the best experience, or go to our other room for a limited experience or use this code for a discount to download the limited experience at home.”) Whatever the solution, this will need to be addressed to help the technology become more mainstream.


“Watch out for the large wings.”

Media brands had some of the largest scale activations at the festival, proving marketers’ belief in the value of experiential at SXSW. To launch their new show Good Deeds, Amazon Prime had street teams walking all around the city in costumes with large black or white wings. Other experiences promoted HBO’s Game of Thrones, Netflix The Highwaymen, and Comcast Universal’s house with their How to Train Your Dragon VR experience.


Motorized scooters took over the streets of Austin, annoying to pedestrians and drivers, and potentially extremely dangerous to the riders. But they made getting around the city during SX much more manageable. Expect to see more rideshare scooters and bikes in your hometown.


“The winner is Aris MD!”

One of the biggest highlights of the festival was that our client, Aris MD, submitted to the NASA iTech Ignite The Night contest held this year at SXSW -- and THEY WON! Aris MD uses augmented and virtual reality technology to overlay diagnostic images (MRI, CT, Xray, Ultrasound) to enhance surgery, avoid complications, and save lives.

“We’re Going to be on Voices of VR!”

At SX, one of our Managing Partners, Sam Wolfe taped an interview about the Value of XR Marketing for Kent Bye’s Voices of VR podcast. Timing is TBD on when it will be available, but we’ll let you know.