SXSW: 6 Ways Our Lives Are About to Change Forever

Each year SXSW is something of a crystal ball into the future. This year proved to be less about the next great app, and more about how technology is set to radically alter our lives — again.

Here are six aspects of our daily existence that will soon be impacted:

1. Finding a Nice Place to Eat in a Strange City

There was no shortage of robots in attendance. Advances are coming quickly as are the ways to use these increasingly social beings. Hilton has taken an  an interesting first step. They are using robots as concierges to answer simple questions like, “Where is the closest Italian restaurant?”



Retirement homes are also exploring the use of robots to remind people to take their medications and to simply provide company, said Rodolphe Gelin, EVP/Chief Scientific Officer at SoftBank Robotics. He also sees the next generation of robots as a companion “that knows you. In the very close future, it will bring you information you didn’t know about.”

As for now, robots are mostly being purchased by early adopters who “want to be a part of the adventure.”

2. Thwarting Credit Card Hackers

Visa held an inspiring session at its “Everywhere Lounge.” Developers are leveraging its open network of APIs to shape the future of commerce and innovations are happening daily. But, one initiative that really stood out was the Visa Token Service. This security technology from Visa replaces sensitive account information, such as the 16-digit account number, with a unique digital identifier called a token. This way you can make a purchase without exposing actual account details.

3. Knowing How Healthy You Really Are

Data is the new oil, according to Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank. He made a compelling case for “connected fitness,” saying “we know more about our cars than our bodies. In 10 years we’ll look back and say it was crazy that people weren’t tracking their health.” Under Armour Connected Fitness currently has 160 million registered users who are tracking sleep, activity, fitness, and nutrition. Not only is all of this data helping consumers, it is offering a clearer picture of how a large demographic of people’s health is being impact by fitness and diet.

4. Putting Together Your Ikea Furniture

The “why” of 3D printing is just as fascinating as the “how” it will change the way goods are manufactured. 3D transformation will be the next industrial revolution, per HP, CTO, and Shane Wall. Customers’ desire for both “on-demand creation” and the “democratization of design” is quickly gaining traction. Then there is the rise of mega-cities. 

These populations will demand more localized customization. And, the need for sustainable business practices makes it more essential to manufacture items locally versus shipping goods in containers. Especially since this eats up roughly 10% of the Earth’s oil.

What’s next after that? 4D printing. This means the item will actually assemble itself, which is a huge boon for anyone (such as myself) who struggles putting together IKEA furniture.

5. Making it Less Painful to Buy a Home

Capital One had a massive presence, complete with a headline show from Three Doors Down. But the true stars of the show were some powerful examples of how tech is taking the pain out of every day transactions. Diwakar Dewan, Digital Technology Leader of Capital One, broke down how mobile and wearables (check your Apple Watch for the latest rates) are driving sales team efficiency. He used the example of loan officers who are now equipped to provide the most up-to-date information in a much more seamless way than in the past. Having closed on a home more than once, I can say even small improvements can make a big difference.

6. Getting Really into the Entertainment

I saved virtual reality for last. This year you could throw a rock in Austin and hit someone in the head who was wearing a pair of VR headsets. They were the equivalent of last year’s Google Glass, only the main difference being VR will stick around. I took a moment to try out a VR experience compliments of McDonald’s. (What can I say, they had a great band playing at the time and there were free French fries.) Music and food aside, it was a fun, immersive experience that will be in your living room soon enough (if it isn’t already).

While there is always a great deal of SXSW hating, there is no denying that there are few places that offer such a vivid picture of what’s next. Looking forward to next year already.
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