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Tech Trends Infiltrate SXSW

Innovative trends impacting advertising and marketing are in the spotlight this week at South by Southwest (SXSW) 2016. Annually held in mid-March in Austin, TX, the massive nine-day long event features conferences and festivals that serve as a confluence for game-changing trends in music, film and emerging technology.

Marketers and advertisers are paying close attention to the developments in interactive media technology. “We must understand and leverage new technology and innovation to create more engaging and exciting customer experiences,” says Ernie Canadeo, founder/CEO of EGC Group, a marketing agency with expertise in digital marketing.

Here are three trends from this year’s SXSW that professionals in marketing and advertising should know about.

Virtual Reality: “VR is very big again this year,” says Canadeo, who has been at SXSW trendspotting. To his point, SXSW features various VR installations, including an immersive virtual experience from McDonald’s that puts participants inside a Happy Meal box. Beyond that, the event features an array of panels on virtual reality, where discussions will cover everything from VR football to virtual storytelling to city planning through VR. “Virtual reality is an application that is going to allow marketers and advertisers to fully immerse consumers into the brand experience,” says Canadeo.

Robots: “There is,” says Canadeo, “a significant focus on robotics and artificial intelligence, which is pretty cool.” Autonomous cars are one interesting AI topic at SXSW, but perhaps even more pertinent to marketers and advertisers is the discussion surrounding emotive robotics, which is driven by affective computing – the study and development of systems and devices that can recognize, interpret, process and stimulate human affects. Canadeo says one of the most impressive robotic creations at SXSW is Jibo, a robot that can simulate person-to-person interaction. Eventually, companies could be able to use such advanced robots to create more personalized brand interactions for consumers.

Wearable Technology: Tech-infused wearables have been trending for a while, and exciting new innovations are being showcased at SXSW. Case-in-point: the “N” headphone from Sony. Shaped like a neck collar, the prototype is a hands-free device that functions similarly to Amazon Echo – the benefit being that it is wearable. “It responds to pre-programmed audio commands and takes hands-free pictures,” says Canadeo.  Sony is interested in having SXSW attendees provide feedback on the prototype.