The Top Four Trends at SXSW 2019

Last updated: 14 October 2019

The South by Southwest (SXSW) conference is now almost finished in Austin, Texas, with exhibitions running from the 8th – 17th March. The event includes both a conference on up-and-coming innovative tech and festivals that celebrate the convergence of the interactive, film, and music. This year the conference boasts the most exhibitors, show floor space, and international representation to date, meaning even more creative and forward-thinking businesses to discover than ever before. We’ve explored all the latest business innovations from the MOON selfie group, who promise to provide incredible lighting solutions for your selfies, to Olopop, a company using the IoT to design the best possible parties, and have come up with a list of the four biggest trends we are most excited about at this year’s SXSW.

The prevalence of AI

The ‘It Word’ this year definitely appears to be AI (Artificial Intelligence), although at a show centered around the power of technology, AI is understandably often the talk of the event. It’s evident that the true potential of AI remains unknown. That said, the power AI and whether it could be a force for good in our daily lives is best demonstrated at an event like SXSW. This year Derq, an MIT spin off, won the SXSW pitch event for their use of AI to predict and prevent car accidents, which could save thousands of lives per year. The trade show also hosted a variety of AI led start-ups including CYBntity LLC, who have created an AI powered platform that works as your personal assistant, Musiio, who use AI software in the music industry to learn from your song choices, predict what music you’re in the mood for and what new releases best suit your tastes and Miro, who use AI to improve performance in sport. The variety of businesses developing products using AI at this year’s event is impressive to say the least and getting to trial and explore these innovations further is a must if you’re there.

Connectivity and the IoT

The IoT has also been a key talking point so far at SXSW 2019. The uses of the IoT stretch far and wide as demonstrated by the array of products displayed at the conference this year. However, unlike other conferences, many companies at SXSW have focused on the application of the IoT in personal devices, rather than the bigger picture and the furor surrounding the launch of 5G later this year. This year products like the Festiie are being exhibited, a wristband to locate friends at festivals that doesn’t rely on phone service or Wi-Fi, as well as Wiliot who are instead opting for battery free Bluetooth tags to connect products and TUNEVU, a company that can use its own network of connected devices to create immersive media experiences, such as visual podcasts. With the number of IoT based start-ups at SXSW increasing every year, the applications of the IoT also get more widespread and fun. We recommend checking some of IoT-based businesses out to see for yourself how beneficial they could be.

Smart homes/cities and Sustainability

The number of start-ups promoting their smart home or smart city innovations for sustainability increased significantly this year. H2Optimize, Pani systems and Varuna tech all tackle the issue of water conservation, by building or using smart-home products to help utility companies and consumers get the best quality water and reduce their water footprint. Similarly, EnVault showcased their off-grid, more environmentally friendly power systems, while Inovues and Yotta are developing solutions to energy inefficiencies, including smart windows that save energy and a battery that stores solar power. With sustainability of the planet at the forefront of many people’s minds, the innovations presented at SXSW may be crucial for the development of the planet’s future and are therefore an important trend to look out for.

Digital Identity

Finally, the last trend is the move from physical to digital, such as the rise of digital driver’s licenses (DDL). A digital driver’s license is a highly secure​ version of your physical driver’s license stored in an app on your smartphone, increasing the likelihood that you’ll always have it with you. Furthermore, it doesn’t require any mobile or Wi-Fi connectivity to work and once downloaded, no one can access your DDL but you. A scan of the QR code is then used in the field to prove it is a valid DDL, reducing the risk of fraud and fake IDs. The app is PIN or biometric protected behind multiple layers of security. As a privacy enhancement, a DDL requires you to only share the personal information required for a transaction, such as your age and that your face matches the picture on the license. This ensures the person checking the ID has no more information about you than is necessary, bringing far greater privacy and control over your personal information. We have been testing the real world functionality and market perception of a DDL since 2017 through a multi-state pilot sponsored by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

At SXSW this past week, the Gemalto team held a panel on DDL, which included a lengthy discussion on the security and privacy implications of a digital credential, as well as real world implementation considerations, such as how to integrate with retail merchants or law enforcement. If you would like to find to out more information about DDLs you can visit the pilot page on our website here.

So, there you have it! We hope you enjoyed our list of the top four biggest trends at SXSW 19. If  you think we have missed a key trend,  feel free to tweet us @Gemalto


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