Forget CES, SXSW now plays host to the coolest tech party on Earth. The annual music, film, and interactive festival puts the spotlight on the industry’s most “cutting-edge technologies and digital creativity,” giving millennials a closer look at what the present and future hold for us. Flying cars, live-streaming apps, and weed vending machines—we’re living in trippy times.
Check out the coolest tech we stumbled into at this year’s SXSW Interactive show.
Wearables are hot right now with smart jewelry emerging as the next big thing in the product category. Seeing how smartwatches could make our everyday lives easier by providing instant solutions for conventional tasks, this “smart ring” is taking things to another level. The Ring Zero uses programmed gestures to control everything from your home appliances to a smartphone. Control music playback, dim the bedroom lights, send messages, and take photos by just lifting a finger. Now you can literally be married to technology. Pretty sick.
FOVE VR Headset
Virtual reality might still be considered a novelty act, but it’s slowly growing into a mainstream attraction with the help of these hi-tech headsets. Even if it looks like a complete Oculus rip-off, the FOVE performs differently as it uses a wearer’s eye movements to interact and navigate around an immersive 3D world. Right now it’s optimized to execute specific actions like play the piano, type a message, or move characters in a video game, but developers are working on ways to integrate the technology into the Xbox platform, as well as film scenes, to create a more natural VR experience. Somebody get this in Vivid’s hands.
Handiii Robotic Arm
Don’t be scared. This isn’t the dawning of the cyborg—it’s the future of prosthetics. The Handiii is a myoelectric limb designed specifically for amputees to perform delicate functions by recognizing the impulses sent from the upside of their arm. It functions just like a human hand by moving its fingers and picking up items of all sizes. The creators aim to save people money by using 3D printing to create the robotic arm with a price tag of $2,000. If only surgeries went for that much.
We’ve fantasized of the flying car since watching Back to the Future. And though the DeLorean time machine is far ahead of our time, the concept of an airborne vehicle is getting progressively off the ground as seen with the AeroMobil. The car/plane hybrid is built from carbon fiber and engineered to drive the streets, as well as take off from the runway with foldable wings that retract when on the ground. Wealthy supercar buyers will surely embrace their inner Marty McFly when this baby goes up for sale in 2017.
The Truman Show could become our reality if live-streaming apps like Meerkat took off. The most buzzed-about piece of tech at SXSW possesses the ability to broadcast live videos and share the coverage on Twitter in real time. Concerts, sports events, and anything else worth watching—it basically connects your smartphone to your feed for followers to check out and comment on. With Twitter recently buying Meerkat's competitor Periscope, there's definitely a lot of potential for this type of interactive tech to become our new social media obsession.
There’s a new toy out there that lets you play music with just your body: no controller. It’s called the Kagura, and yeah, it rocks (sorry). This motion-performing instrument generates music performance using visual effects, allowing wannabe musicians to create new jams through different production techniques. Append voices, organize the tempo, and place sounds anywhere on the screen as every gesture is processed by Intel’s RealSense 3D camera. Start brushing up on those air guitar skills, champ!
Robots capable of mirroring human actions are creepy, but also cool. Japanese hobby robotics company, PLEN, seems to be at the forefront of such innovations with its latest open-source robotics kit, which lets us personalize these humanoids by building and programming them to perform different commands. Let one bust a move on your cubicle desk or have it drive a tiny car around the office. Sure, it’s no Chappie, but it’s enough to keep us busy till happy hour.
ZaZZZ Vending Machine
Chips. Soda. Weed? We just fell in love with full-line vending again. Dubbed the world’s first consumer-operated marijuana vending machine, the ZaZZZ comes stocked with a wide variety of medicinal and recreational cannabis available for purchase without the need of a human attendant. But don’t expect it to be as easy as grabbing a pack of gum from a dispenser. The government will be monitoring all transactions as part of its mandated inventory control initiative. They better reinforce these things with adamantium before stoners go AWOL.
Drone flying is becoming the new grown man hobby. Why fly a kite when you can explore the skies with a robot helicopter? Might want to pencil this portable UAV on your wish list. The Indago comes loaded with awesome features, including autopilot settings, foldable wings for easy transportation, and a thermal camera. It's also got a flying time of 40 minutes and can carry a payload of up to a pound.
If you're underground on a subway or at a music festival that's taxing the wireless network's bandwidth, you now have another option to send messages. FireChat is changing the way we message, letting users engage with people in private chats or public real-time chatrooms without an Internet connection, instead using Bluetooth-enabled ad hoc networks. That’s it. We’re going off the grid.