SXSW, Austin’s annual festival has transformed into an innovation hub for tech drawing crowds of designers, planners, visionaries, and game changers. Arrowstreet’s VR/AR Design + Development team spent five days in the Capital City, seeking insight and answers to complex questions centered around how the rapidly evolving innovations in tech will drastically inform the future of place-making, visualization, and the role that data and analytics will play in the design process.

The tech circuit began at the SXSW Create Hardware and Maker Expo, showcasing everything from advancements in biohacking to motion controlled drones. Arrowstreet’s team participated in demos given by emerging fabrication companies and gained first-hand experience with advancements in robotics, fabrication, and 3D printing that will provide architects and designers with new potential form and material possibilities. The team discussed new innovations in 3D fabrication with companies like Lulzbot, who is deeply committed to the open source process, particularly regarding advancements in material science. From metals to flexible and composite filaments, the showcase featured large scale 3D printers like RE:3D; a machine that will make building and urban scale fabrication more affordable and available. These new fabrication-based technologies will continue to create more opportunity for craft and industrial engineering to work closely together, democratizing manufacturing.

Although the technology is still in its infancy, driverless cars are already influencing the business of travel and the future landscape of our cities. NIO, the world’s fastest electric super-car made its debut in the Capital City at this year’s tech track. While the car’s design encapsulates the ideals of futurism, it is the collection of user data that will inform grid planning, public transit, pedestrian spaces and create new opportunities for urban development. Spatial detection in autonomous vehicles and their ability to self-operate will reduce the amount of space required to park. Ride sharing may also receive a boost with the addition of self-automation and the economy could see a shift from private ownership of vehicles changing the notion of public transit and increasing accessibility outside the city.

Outside of the SXSW official events, Austin was filled with various tech networking events packed with industry thought leaders and inventors, featuring cutting-edge Virtual/Augmented reality demos from insightful companies such as Meta, LeapMotion, HTC, Merge VR, and Oculus by Facebook. SXSW 2017 was undoubtedly the year of Virtual Reality Cinema, illustrating just how impactful the immersive medium can be. The vast capabilities of AR/VR inspired our team to think critically about the ways in which Designers and Architects utilize the technology as new platform with which to deliver more seamless building operation capabilities and illustrate design ideas. Arrowstreet also had the opportunity to showcase their VR/AR content with other companies and creative agencies across sectors such as Healthcare, Retail, and Fintech.

Overall, this weeklong experience in the interactive circuit was invigoratingly chaotic and inspiring. Arrowstreet’s VR/AR team uses these conferences to guide their customization of technology, enhancing the design process and the built environment of the future for our clients.

To experience SXSW 2017 with our team, click on the link below with your Google Cardboard Viewer for access to 360 VR photo content from the Interactive Track!

Topics: research, Virtual Reality, Visualization, SXSW, Conferences, Technology, Events