SXSW – where innovation gets unboxed

For the past few years SXSW has slowly grown in stature to become one of the premier global events for innovative ideas and a launch pad for the next generation dotcom businesses. This year, more than ever it is a magnet for brands, marketers and agency folk looking for the next big thing. Let’s take a look at what’s been going down…

Marvel ReEvolution

The iPad has been a shot in the arm for graphic novels (I won’t say comics) and now we see things going even further as Marvel move into the AR arena. To quote their website, “An industry first, the Marvel ReEvolution seamlessly brings the worlds of print and digital media together for a comics experience like no other. The first two elements of this exciting new initiative were revealed as Marvel Infinite Comics, a new comic book format, and Marvel AR, the first major augmented reality app from a comics company. And fans will not have to wait long to get in on the action as they will both be released with the hotly-anticipated AVENGERS VS. X-MEN #1 on April 4, when the two biggest super heroe teams in the world go to war!”

In this interview Marvel editor in chief Axel Alonso talks to Forbes’ Tomio Geron about the comic book giant’s announcement at SXSW.

Other major brands have been present at the event including Pepsi, Virgin Mobile, American Express with their exclusive Jay Z concert and Kraft. Each one hoping for a bit of SXSW magic to rub onto them as they meet up with the developers and entrepreneurs creating the next digital revolution. You can read more on AdAge Digital here.

HOMELESS HOTSPOTS

Meanwhile BBH were on the cutting edge of good taste with their Homeless Hotspots. They recruited 13 homeless people and gave them 4G wifi hotspots that people could use for a small donation. The feedback has been mixed but it certainly was a talking point.

BEAMATRON

Of course SXSW continues to be a place for experimentation as this project from Steve Clayton shows. Hrvoje Benko and Andy Wilson presented their Beamatron, an augmented reality concept that combines a projector and Kinect sensor on a pan tilt moving head – of the kind you may find in a nightclub. The setup utilizes KinectFusion to build a 3D model of a space and enables projected graphics to react in physically appropriate ways. For example a virtual car can be driven around the floor of the room bumping into actual obstacles and running over real ramps.

No festival is complete without its own awards so check out the finalists for the SXSW Interactive Awards here. I’ll follow up with a post about the winners.

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