Innovation, Inspiration and Creativity on Display at SXSW Interactive

SXSW Interactive wraps up in Austin, Texas today and Proto Labs was proud to make our debut at the notoriously cool event — both as an exhibitor and attendee. Fittingly, we brought our Cool Idea! Award gallery to SX Create, a come one, come all event within the Interactive Festival that showcased innovative technologies and products that are shaping our future. Visitors to our space could check out a selection of previous Cool Idea! Award recipients to see how the inventive ideas went from concepts to actual products with a manufacturing hand from Proto Labs.

Our booth at SX Create showcased past Cool Idea! Award winners.

One of the many things SXSW is known for is its comprehensive music and film schedule where some tough decisions need to be made — the interactive counterpart is no different. By the time I finished plotting out my schedule, two hours had passed. Here are some session highlights:

  • A group of startups pitched their companies to a panel of judges in the ATI Fast Pitch session. (ATI stands for Austin Technology Incubator.)
  •  A second group of startups pitched their companies to a panel of judges in the HATCH Pitch Competition for Tech Startups: Part 2.
  • Walter Isaacson (president and CEO of The Aspen Institute), Eric Schmidt (executive chairman of Google) and Megan Smith (chief technology officer of the U.S. office of science and technology policy) talked about how innovation happens.

It’s a gliding possum, so that’s innovative right?

  •   A robot petting zoo was something that existed. Not that I didn’t encounter exotic real-life animals. Here’s a sugar glider, which the internet describes as a “small, omnivorous, arboreal, nocturnal gliding possum.”
  •   Kara Bortone (head of company sourcing at Johnson & Johnson), Laura Entis (staff writer at Entrepreneur), Ethan Perlstein (CEO of Perlstein Lab PBC) and Linda Avey (co-founder and CEO of We Are Curious, Inc.) spoke about overcoming startup challenges.
  •   Alastair Green (executive creative director at Team One Advertising), Brian Vogt (director of virtual reality at CBS Local Digital Media) and Michael Wilken (director of 3D at Saatchi & Saatchi) spoke about how virtual products, environments and their enabling technologies are creating radical shifts in media production and delivery. As a marketing girl, I kind of geeked out over this one as it joined the 3D CAD world with the media world. The group talked about how 3D CAD models of cars, for instance, make it possible for ad agencies to virtually produce them to create ads before the car is available, and products like Oculus Rift allow potential customers to get a feel of the car they may choose to purchase, customizing the interior colors and options and taking it for a virtual test drive.

As promised by SXSW in its interactive mission statement, the festival certainly provided innovation, inspiration and creativity, and we’re honored we were a part of it.

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