SXSW 2013
SXSW Recap

Startups, hardware, app fatigue: What's trending now at SXSW Interactive

What's trending now at SXSW Interactive

SXSW Interactive Director Hugh Forrest joined Fast Company's Anjali Mullany and Chic CEO's Stephanie Burns for a mid-festival recap of what's in, what's out, and what to watch for at SXSW Interactive 2013.

The quick and dirty Sunday morning panel, "Current Trends at SXSW," covered what the experts have seen so far at the festival, and what you should look for as interactive trends at large.

Startups focus on offline connection

“This year what I’m seeing a lot more of is technology being used to create offline connection," Burns said. Players in this new space are understanding the nature of our experiential culture, one that cares less about ownership and more about the ability to try something (even if it's a one-time use). Of note is a European startup looking to become the "Airbnb of home-cooked meals for travel," in which users will sign up to share meals with homeowners, fully immersing themselves in the local culture.

Hardware gains ground

Hardware initiatives are becoming more important, and pervasive, in the interactive realm. We're moving past the time where looking at a screen is enough. “It’s no longer about the computer," Mullany said. "It’s about being able to scan an image and create a product for yourself." With the advent of new technologies that fall outside the strictly-digital realm, we're entering "a new industrial revolution," one where the 3D printing revolution could change manufacturing as we know it (a theme of Bre Pettis' opening remarks).

Social and apps lose their footing

We're suffering from what Mullany aptly calls "app fatigue," which has resulted in social and location-based apps losing ground during the past year. Instead of providing a one-way connection, “people are now looking to use [technology’s] feedback." Aggregators that can predict behavior or provide preemptive information will be the big buzz. The same is true for social media, where, again, content is king. The next generation of big-business social media will focus on creating content, not just the platform perspective.

Gender equality grows

Women are currently starting businesses at a rate of two-to-one over men, a trend that Burns saw reflected at the festival, especially in the Startup Village. “Women are more collaborative than the traditional male startup," she noted. Burns also noted the impactful message from Anne-Marie Slaughter, who spoke at the conference about her controversial 2012 Atlantic article, "Why Women Still Can't Have It All." Slaughter's talk opened the conversation to both genders, creating an open dialogue about the role of women, without disregard for the changing role of the male population.