SxSWi 2013: The Most Interesting Innovations We Saw

Jan 7

South by Southwest Interactive is a five-day mashup of learning, networking, partying, and chatting. Information overload is unavoidable. So, to share with you the best stuff we came across, we’ve broken down our takeaways into three sections: The Most Interesting Things We Heard, The Most Interesting People We Met, and The Most Interesting Innovations We Saw. Read on for our innovation highlights!





8. Nest

Nest is a thermostat that learns your preferences for temperatures throughout the day. You start out programming it just like a normal thermostat, and the system quickly learns to turn itself down when you head to work and to turn itself up when you’re getting ready for bed.


7. TempoAI

Another notch on Semantic Web’s belt, Tempo is a “smart” calendar that aggregates everything you need to know about your schedule, so you don’t need to look in four different places to get directions to a meeting, get a client’s phone number, get the GoToMeeting ID, etc etc. It’s all in one place. It’s a one-stop calendar.



Created by gaming industry veteran Julie Uhrman, OUYA is a video game console for your TV that runs a unique version of Android OS. What’s interesting about OUYA is that it will allow gamers to actually create and share their own games if they’re so inclined.


OUYA is about letting people create the games they want for the screens they want.” – Julie Uhrman




5. Data the Joking Robot

In a panel addressing why humans find things funny, Heather Knight showed us Data, her joking robot.




Data’s back end has a database of jokes that he can access when he’s “performing” in front of an audience. He can actually gauge the audience’s reactions to jokes based on laughter and applause to determine what kind of sense of humor they have, and then tailor his stand-up to those needs. Pretty cool stuff.


4. Makerbot Digitizer

Bre Pettis, creator of the impressive and controversial Makerbot 3D printer, introduced us to his latest work of genius: the Makerbot Digitizer.




Essentially a 3D scanner, it utilizes lasers and a webcam to create a 3D digital model…which is, of course, optimized for the Makerbot Replicator, so you can print your scanned model as many times as you’d like.

This is Pettis’s latest addition to the “3D ecosystem.”


If you want to do something, figure out a way to do it!” – Bre Pettis


3. Google Glass

Of course Google Glass was a huge hit, and with good reason. It’s lens-free “glasses” that you can talk to and get information from, much like Apple’s Siri, but completely hands-free. The “screen” appears in the upper-right part of your field of vision. It’s intended to blend in to the background of your experiences rather than obstruct or interrupt them. Check out a demo here.





2. Club Create

Club Create offers a web-based suite of tools that allows users to mix music from tracks by existing artists, publish, and share their work online. Everything is legal and the interface is intuitive. Kids, music teachers, hobbyists, and fans who can’t afford professional tools can now have access to cloud-based music editing tools.

1. Leap Motion

Leap Motion is a hardware platform that allows desktop users to access their computers using only their hands as hardware – no mouse, no keyboard. Development is focusing on UI solutions that don’t involve traditional gestures (swipe, rotate, etc) but allow for intuitive motions by the user. There are currently 12,000 developers working to create software that supports leap motion. This could be a huge paradigm shift for UX design. We could be designing task flows that read as 3-D objects meant to be pushed and pulled, rotated and sculpted, in the near future.


Photos by Mashable, OUYA, Fahrenheit 212, CBS News



Posted by: David Richard

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