Traditionally a hotbed and testing ground for new social apps—both Twitter and Foursquare took off here first—South by Southwest Interactive grows exponentially every year.
Surprisingly, this year’s confab in Austin, TX, was less about the next great travel app and more about future-leaning hardware. But there are plenty of intriguing and innovative developments in this area. Bitcoin ATMs, anyone?
It’s also clear that virtual reality is fast becoming real reality. The Oculus Rift virtual reality headset provides a glimpse into the potential of virtual travel experiences; think the Great Wall of China, without the hike or transpacific flight. The Skully AR-1 Augmented Reality Helmet is bringing the infotainment experience (GPS, hands-free texting) we see so often in cars to the motorcycle in a safe and compelling way.
Not to say there weren’t a few apps as well. Spokefly brings the Airbnb model to bikes, and Banter brings back chat with a mobile-optimized, location-based twist. Google dropped some of the biggest news: an Android Wear SDK that has the wearable market in a flurry.
Read on for the gadgets, trends, and next-big-thing-in-digital debuts that caught our eye.