Austin festival spotlights next ‘big things’

South by Southwest, or SXSW, ended just a couple weeks ago, and many important things happened. SXSW began in 1987 and was originally a music festival. Over the years, it has become a hotspot for many technologies to showcase and companies to advertise. That does not mean music has stopped. Many bands played at SXSW, including B.o.B, The Ben Miller Band, Hed PE and many more, but recently SXSW has become a center point for new technologies. Companies like Microsoft, Google, Rooster Teeth, Virtuix Omni and many other companies, along with political campaigns, also showcased.

One of the popular attractions of SXSW was Microsoft’s release of Titanfall, an extremely popular game taking the Xbox community by storm. Titanfall is the first release by Respawn Entertainment, a company that was started by two of the creators of the Call of Duty series. Titanfall sales are skyrocketing, and now the game is coupled with the Xbox One upon sale, a move Microsoft went for to increase Xbox One sales. It’s working: the Xbox One, with Titanfall included, has sold over 1 million systems. The premise was that people are buying the PS4 because it’s $100 cheaper. The Xbox One has the Kinect in it, which is expensive in itself, but a lot of people didn’t want to deal with the Kinect. So Microsoft bundled the console and Titanfall together to make the price difference less shocking.

The classic Rooster Teeth podcast was showcased at SXSW, and half the crew, Gus and Gavin, were there to discuss sponsors, gaming and Samsung’s new TV. The new 4K TV is the cutting edge of HD, with crisp images and a resolution unlike any conventional TV we see. The standard Television has 1080 pixels, or 1080p, and the 4K TV has 4000p. That’s a huge jump from the standard 1080p. These TV’s are also known as Full Ultra HD TV’s, which sport 7680 x 4320 lines of pixels, compared to your standard UHDTV which contain a measly 3840 x 2160 lines of pixels. All of this sounds amazing, but there’s one issue: there’s no content that supports 4K TVs. But as on the podcast, Gavin Free made a good point that the development and marketing of these products will force companies to be the first ones to release content for it. That may seem like speculation, but people are going to want these TVs when there is content. The only counter to that is that companies aren’t going to release things for the 4K because the market isn’t stable for them. The businesses feel too secure in the current generation of technology that they won’t delve into this new product.

SXSW had many tech showcases and a competition was held for many tech experts, media and investors. The winner of the wearable category was the Silicon Valley startup Skully Helmets, creator of an augmented-reality motorcycle helmet. The helmet has a 180-degree rear-view camera that projects images to a transparent headset display, so the driver’s eyes can see around them in every direction while never having to leave the road ahead. This beat out Google Glass, which was projected to win, but Skully Helmets snuck up and stole the victory and $4,000.

On a political aspect, a few things happened; Ed Snowden spoke via Skype and Come and Take It Austin had an open carry march. Snowden spoke along with American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) about Americans having to stand up and force a massive change and oversight of the power-grabbing NSA. “I took an oath to support and defend the Constitution. And I saw the Constitution was being violated on a massive scale,” he said to the 3,000 people in the auditorium at the Austin Convention Center, “South by Southwest and the tech community, the people in the room in Austin, they’re the folks who can fix this,” Snowden said earlier. “There’s a political response that needs to occur, but there’s also a tech response that needs to occur.” Snowden said that if he could do it again, he would. He said that it was something that needed to happen. Come and Take It Austin marched along the streets of SXSW, and against what they suspected would happen, everything went smoothly. They taught people that were interested about guns, and the people who didn’t care just went on with their day.

SXSW overall was really good this year, and Austin hopes to have an even better one in 2015. What kind of technologies will we see in a year? What political changes will have occurred? What new bands will have a chance to showcase themselves at the SXSW festival? Only a year stands between the end of this great SXSW and next year’s.

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