Image inside SXSW

What We Saw at SXSW 2017


We attended the SXSW Interactive Conference last week and it was just as busy, exciting, and informative as one would expect. We went to sessions covering everything from art and technology to medical software, hearables, wearables, IoT, audio software, software development, AR/VR, and how technology companies can give back to the community.
Medical software and wearables both covered issues relating to the use of data, with several discussions focusing on making the best use of the vast amounts of data that are now collected. Over at the wearables sessions, makers concentrated more on the accuracy of the limited types of data collected and shared their concerns about keeping users engaged with their wearable devices for more than three months.
The management of data was a hot topic in many sessions and social meetups, and we heard several industry leaders share their views on the fragmentation of communication in national health records and the essential need for new healthcare software to provide information that is accurate, timely, and relevant to the care provider as well as the patient.
As for wearables, along with talking about the importance of accuracy, some wearable hardware makers addressed the ways in which wearable metrics can be customized in order to provide a personalized health plan that relates to performance in life as well as in competition. These kinds of customized, personal plans could help wearable manufacturers overcome the stigma associated with recent reports of inaccurate data and the trend among users to stop using their fitness trackers just a few months after they start wearing them.
Wearables, however, were not just restricted to fitness devices and healthcare IoT, there were also sessions devoted to wearable technology and fashion. At one of these sessions, I heard one of the best things said during the entire conference. Commenting on the challenge of making wearable technology more commercially accessible, designer Lisa Lang said, “You can’t make an emotional connection to a function.”
Can one make an emotional connection to software? In some respects, the philosophy that drives our approach to software development is like an emotional connection. We are called Art and Logic because of the connection our founders see between the creative art of software development and the elegance of well-written, logical code. The emotional connection implicit in our work is in the commitment to writing elegant code even if we’re the only ones who will ever see it.
Of course, there are also other ways to make an emotional connection to software, and some of the examples we saw at SXSW related to the ways in which software, specifically IoT-type wearables, can be used to help people manage episodes of spasticity through musical therapy. One standout session featured a small orb that could be trained to move forward, backward, left and right via brain waves that were calibrated through a wearable headband and an app. This kind of technology could be used to help people with disabilities move objects as well as communicate more effectively.
On a personal note (I was born in Peru), I was absolutely blown away by the work of three entrepreneurs working to make a difference in Peru. One of them created a company that helps teach young, disadvantaged girls how to code, another helped develop affordable, water-free toilets for use in poor communities, and the third helped create a dancing school for street kids.
If we met up at SXSW and you want to follow up or if we missed you there, but you would like to talk with us about your project, just send us a note.

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