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Finding the “X” in SXSW

Uncovering the uneXpected at Austin’s famous festival

Finding the “X” in SXSW

SXSW is famous for its interdisciplinary approach, and we’ve learnt by now to expect the unexpected. Even so, our experts on the ground were in for a few surprises, including people, brands and partnerships. Here’s a rundown of our most unexpected encounters.


 People: Personalities & Influencers 


Game of Thrones Cast

Everyone’s favorite fantasy drama series was represented by a panel featuring creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, and actors Maisie Williams and Sophie Turne - who play Arya and Sansa in the show. Discussing the final two GoT series, the group delved into the thrills and challenges of being involved in producing a contemporary classic.


Credit: Twitter/GameofThrones


Joe Biden

Whether we like it or not, politics these days is part of everyday life, so the fact that it was present at SXSW was as admirable as it was unlikely. Former US Vice President Joe Biden was on the lineup to talk about the importance of collaboration in the fight against cancer. His focus on breaking down divisions nevertheless drew inferences that went even deeper.


Credit: SXSW


Cory Richards

On the bill as a “climber and visual storyteller,” Cory Richards delivered a keynote on finding peace and identity within the mountains, and how experiences of nature have helped shape his approach to work and life. A National Geographic Fellow, Richards also represented the popular publication at a Cocktail Q&A event, as part of their supplementary program.


Credit: Photo by Dave Pedley / Getty Images


 Brands: Experiences & Partnerships


One Night x Caspar Hotel x Tesla

We love pioneering partnerships, so this three-way between luxury hotel The Standard, mattress mavens Casper, and mobility mavericks Tesla really caught our eye. The Standard’s One Night app lets users book a room after 3pm on the same day. The trio of brands took over a local motel and used the app to offer attendees a place to crash, nap or simply recharge themselves and their devices. 


Credit: Chute Gerdeman


National Geographics

Speaking of which, Nat Geo’s innovative installation, entitled Further: Base Camp, provided a hub for talks and experiences. Envisioned to promote the magazine’s new scripted series, Genius, the space was a playground of immersive opportunities, from augmented reality and holographics to a robotic arm drawing visitors’ faces in the style of Einstein’s distinctive script.


IBM Watson

Explainability is a key topic in machine learning at the moment, so we were intrigued to find out exactly how IBM’s industry-leading AI works. It was also fascinating to get insight into the diverse applications of the technology, from healthcare to security to productivity.



Sony Wow Factory

Sony’s Wow Factory lived up to its onomatopoeic name, introducing visitors to the tech brand’s new prototypes and works-in-progress. A clear highlight was a piece of hardware that turns any surface into an interactive touchscreen, using projector and 3D tracking technology.


Credit: Sony



The evolution of startup NextEV, Nio took the opportunity at SXSW to unveil its new autonomous electric vehicle, the Eve. A vision of the future of mobility, the Eve’s interior resembles a compact, multifunctional living space more than it does any kind of car. It’s due for launch in 2020, and we’re keen to find out how many of these features make it past the prototype phase. In any case, it’s an exciting glimpse of what’s to come. 


Credit: Nio


New York Times

The NYT has long been a leader in the media’s digital transformation. Their magazine’s music edition coincided with the festival, and the publication partnered with BMW to produce a Sound Wall. The interactive installation emitted sounds of different instruments, creating harmonies in response to visitors’ touches.


SXSW goes North!

Get a taste of SXSW, for the first time in Europe. The festival and Mercedes-Benz pair up to present the debut of the me Convention, an exclusive three-day event covering technology, creativity and business. Coming this September to Frankfurt.


Credit: Mercedes-Benz

15 / 03 / 2017 // by LigaStudios Team

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