Get a bunch of techies together and you know it’s going to be a fun, exciting time filled with possibilities and even a few impossibilities along the way. SXSW 2014 was one of those events where the big topics invited avid discussions and new tech caused some “Wow” moments. Here are a few key moments that were too good to miss and are worthy of being shared on your favorite social network:
NSA Surveillance and Privacy
With surveillance and the NSA controversy still fresh on everyone’s minds, it’s no wonder that privacy was a hot topic at SXSW 2014. The topic was brought to the forefront by Glenn Greenwald, the political journalist that had access to the documents from Edward Snowden on the NSA surveillance program and avid supporter of Snowden’s cause. Greenwald spoke mostly on encryption, the challenges of balancing the responsibilities of journalism and handling sensitive information, and how, “like most technologies that have ever created, the Internet can be a force either for great good or for great evil.”
While you may or may not agree with Greenwald’s radical positionings, you have to commend SXSW organizers for holding such a controversial event and even more controversial speaker. Greenwald contemporaries Julian Assange and Edward Snowden also spoke at the event from remote locations.
Best Wearable Tech
From smart watches to Google Glass, tech that we wear on our bodies and faces is clearly the new trend. However, a new wearable device from Silicon Valley Startup Skully Helmets got big attention at SXSW 2014, one that will surely be popular with motorcycle aficionados. The Smart Motorcycle Helmet was hands-down the winner at this year’s event, taking augmented reality in a fun direction with a 180-degree camera that projects images into the helmet while the rider keeps their eyes on the road. It also features voice control and built-in GPS to further increase the safety of its usage. As a Skully representative put it, the Smart Motorcycle Helmet is the “safest motorcycle helmet on the face of the planet […] helmets exists solely for the sake of saving your head when you hit the ground.” Clearly they now have an increased purpose.
The Smart Motorcycle helmet wasn’t the only headgear to get attention at SXSW. Oculus Rift, a virtual reality headset for 3D gaming releasing to consumers later this year, was part of the Game of Thrones exhibit. Oculus Rift attaches to a users face almost like goggles and creates a whole game world for a user without any need for controllers, television sets or any extensive hardware setup. Oculus Rift is expected to release at the end of 2014!
The Startup Village
It doesn’t matter if you are interested in starting your own business or if you don’t have money to invest in new ventures, the SXSW Startup Village is a must-see every year. It features all of the crazy, futuristic ideas, apps, social media services and business plans from companies that believe they are the next big thing. The craziest thing of all? Some of them probably will be.
See also: The Best Moments of the Olympics on Social Media