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Beer capsules to Haptx gloves: 5 cool things I saw at SXSW this year

5 cool things at SxSW

As SXSW 2019 draws to a close, Mark Curtis ideation officer at Lyreco reflects on the top five "cool things" he saw at the annual festival.

#1 - Beer capsules

LG’s ‘inspiration lounge’ was full of creepy boggle-eyed robots in a variety of sizes, but one of their prototypes caught my eye. The LG HomeBrew capsule system. Basically, think Nespresso for bear.

It raises some questions around sustainability and packaging, but it certainly demonstrates a growing trend for ‘capsule based’ premium products. The LG HomeBrew also had a similar system for creating ice cream.

#2 - Last word on last mile

Personal transportation has changed utterly since last year. Now you cannot move for electric scooters and pedal-assist e-bikes. There’s a noticeable impact on the once thriving pedicab scene, but overall I see these things as hugely positive. The scooters aren’t without controversy - and locals are not averse to throwing them in the Colorado from time to time, but they’ve very quickly formed an essential part of my SXSW mobility. How long until London starts granting licences?

#3 - Austin is still weird

Maybe a little less weird - or maybe I’m just getting desensitized? Nonetheless, there are plenty of opportunities to see inexplicable street theatre, costumed stunts promoting the latest app and slick themed ‘destinations’ - like the Good Omens garden of delights or the Game of Thrones blood drive.

#4 Immersive tech is getting pretty damn good...

Whether it’s Magic Leap or haptic gloves from Haptx - We’re getting pretty close to a truly immersive experience.

I’ve been wanting to try the Magic Leap AR headset for a while now - so I was chuffed to come across a Sigur Ros/ Magic Leap collaboration. I would say the technology is still all about the promise of what's to come, rather than the current level of functionality - but it was still the coolest and most immersive AR experience I’ve had to date.

The Haptx gloves were also great. The demo enabled me to feel everything from raindrops to spiders as well as solid objects in the VR space.

Putting my B2B hat on for a second, I can’t wait to have a conference call with my team all sat around my dining room table like Star Wars force-ghosts.

#5 Country Supergroup

With all the interactive talks and general Austin weirdness, it’s easy to forget that Austin is the self-titled Live Music Capital of the World.

With no real destination in mind, I ended up in what turned out to be the famous Continental Club. The old men on stage turned out to be the country supergroup, HeyBale - Dallas Wayne, Earl Poole Ball (Johnny Cash’s pianist) and Redd Volkaert.

If you come to Austin for the talks and you don’t experience any of the music, you’re missing out.

Mark Curtis is ideation officer at Lyreco. He tweets @exmonkey.