Extending Reality at the SXSW Trade Show

by Laura Kobylecky
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Extending Reality at the SXSW Trade Show



The South by Southwest Conference brings together a variety of different professions, companies, and individuals from across the globe. The Trade Show (https://www.sxsw.com/exhibitions/trade-show/)

"highlights the integrations and overlaps between SXSW’s converging industries," and has everything from scientific displays to samples of delicious cookies.


Some of the booths are for companies to show off their latest tricks, tools, and toys. Other booths are there to recruit employees or persuade people to consider a social cause.  There are also booths that exist to highlight the virtues of various countries.


Random concerts are extremely likely to occur. There are, of course, happy hours at various booths. This year, there happen to be a number of booths that also demonstrate VR, AR, and Augmented Sound.


The following are some highlights of experiences that extend reality in various ways...



1. Granden



This company uses VR as a tool for examining the internal workings of the human body. Their technology can help surgeons develop a greater depth of understanding when they are planning a surgery. This is an example of how the dimensional qualities of AR can help people to learn.


Their display shows a 3D image that can be studied and rotated from various angles.


2) Cortina


This company makes a variety of VR experiences and has made experiences for libraries and museums and other organization.


On this particular day, they are using a Microsoft Hololens to make a brief video, of Lyndon B. Johnson signing a paper, appear with explanatory text. Their other experience uses augmented reality to show a very bitey shark floating above the booth.


Experiences like this can add interest and layers of depth to standard museum exhibits. Also, giant floating augmented reality sharks can add fear to almost any normal environment.


3. Meet the Miner




In a game that matches the bleak fun of Oregon Trail, this VR experience allows people to feel like they are a miner in German mine at some point in history.


The tagline for this VR experience is "Meet the miner: Dig the coal." This game does not disappoint, and it is both whimsical and horrifying.


The experience mixes the virtual with the real. Players have weights added to their arm to simulate the heaviness of a shovel.  Bursts of hot air recreate details in the scenes. The players stand on a platform that shakes at appropriate times.


Players descend into a mine and observe the banter of miners who are about to be lowered into the dark depths of a mine. Players then shovel coal and frantically try to keep from being buried under the weight of a collapsing mine.



As usual, NASA has a presence at SXSW. In this case, the presence comes in the form of a series of fun VR experiences. These are designed to draw attention and awareness to NASA's many programs and efforts that may require the support of the public in order to continue.


The children that occasionally roam the convention center are rather delighted by all of it. Future astronauts-in-training watch these sights in wonder.


5. Peru

Sometimes at SXSW, countries set up booths to promote tourism. In this case, Peru showed up to put on a show.


The Peru VR experience takes you into a jungle. You may look around, but the camera moves and you remain sitting in your chair.  The moon is full and the forest world bathes you in an eerie silver moonlight.


A spider’s web appears, and there is no escape.  A strangely sedate python shows up, underfoot. The whole thing culminates with a shaman that makes direct eye contact then creates a fire.


Overall, the VR experience highlights the lush forests and beauty of this country.  


6. Sound of AR: Sennheiser AMBEO® VR



This booth explains more about the concept of augmented sound. Their 360 mike captures moving sound with dimensional fidelity. You record the moving sound, like a maraca shaking around in a circle. In playback, the recording continues to convey a sense of movement.


This concept of augmented can add dimension to the listening experience.


7)VR House (BDX Home Builder Marketing Experts http://www.thebdx.com/)


This is an especially immediate and practical application of VR. In this experience, a virtual showroom allows viewers to "walk" through prospective house plans.


The press of a button can change a floor plan to match whatever whim you may desire. The whole experience can occur from the comfort of a recliner. It’s all very chill.


Laura Kobylecky