It's that time of year again — SXSW Interactive Festival is back in Austin for five glorious days of keynotes and panels focusing on game-changing innovations in media, technology, and raw human capacity from some of the world's most forward-thinking minds.
With jam-packed days & sleepless nights around the corner, here's the skinny on some of the most exciting badge-required talks at SXSW. It's simply impossible to see and do everything, so here's cheat-sheet for those water cooler chats before, during and after this year's show brought to you by OMD Ignition Factory. Keep it fresh, and see you in Austin! Additional details in the links below:
Extreme Bionics: The End of Disability
Meet Hugh Herr, Director of the Center for Extreme Bionics at MIT Media Labs. In his younger days, Hugh was an avid mountain climber, scaling peaks in the Canadian Rockies at the tender age of eight. At 17, he was caught in a treacherous storm while attempting to summit Mount Washington, resulting in the loss of his lower legs to frostbite. Herr's quest to climb again inspired him to design better prosthetic limbs.
Twenty years later, he's pioneering a technology that "hacks" standard human capability, with a line of bionic limbs and mechanical exoskeletons that allow for optimum performance in a variance of physical settings. Most recently, he helped Boston bombing survivor and dancer Adrianne Haslet-Davis get back on her feet for a rhumba and TED Talk.
3D Print The Smithsonian
While 3D printing has been around for a while, it's only now becoming more of a mainstream technology. From personal printers to scanners that work off an iPad, access to this technology has increased exponentially, and adaptation has literally become part of American history with president Obama recently becoming the first president to have his image preserved in a 3D scanned bust. The Smithsonian has begun the process of 3D scanning its entire collection. Currently only one percent of the museum's artifacts are on display, so 3D will give the public virtual access to the full warehouse!
Beyond Wearables: Future Fabrics and Fashion Design
There are a few items this year at the intersection of tech and fashion. From Wearable Experiment's Billie Whitehouse (whose above blazer vibrates to give you directions) to Imogen Heap's Mi.Mu gloves (basically a hand Theremin), be on the lookout for increasingly relevant conversations about how wearable technology will disappear into functional clothing design.
Athletes and Musicians Direct-To-Consumer Media
Alternative celebrities – like athlete Shaun White and DJ/producer Steve Aoki – have mastered the art of engaging with the fans who helped make them pop culture icons. With the explosion new portals and platforms creating a seemingly endless supply of new touch points, their opportunities for cultural cross-over have increased as well. At SXSW, Shaun and Steve will talk about the world of branding and marketing, and how athletes and musicians can interact to create value and shape content – so be on the lookout for what happens when cultures collide.
AI, Immortality, and the Future of Selves
Keynote speaker Martine Rothblatt has certainly packed more into one lifetime than most people, including co-founding SiriusXM, launching United Therapeutics Corp (where she is the highest paid female CEO in America), and proudly advocating for transgenderism. With a life like that, you can understand why she thinks the current lifespan is too short – and why the mission of United Therapeutics is extending life, and perhaps love, through the use of artificial intelligence and robotics. This is sure to be an amazing talk on radical innovation from space exploration to pharmaceutical development.
A Look Inside DARPA
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is future-focused, working to develop next level technology such as bullets that curve, real life transformers, and robotic exoskeletons. In this session, Dan Kaufman, former co-COO of Dreamworks Interactive and current Director of the Information Innovation Office, will talk about the path that led him to DARPA, and the agency's involvement in the latest of software and cyberterrorism defense.
In case you're wondering: Ignition Factory is a specialty team within the global media agency OMD, purpose-built to activate innovation through emerging platform partnerships, disruptive media ideas and creative applications of technology.
We're excited to contribute to the A+'s SXSW coverage; follow along here and OMD USA's SXSW 2015 Flipboard magazine: http://flip.it/OMD for the latest updates on all things SXSW Interactive.