South by Southwest, Austin's mega music, film, and interactive festival, is a mashup of the latest films and TV shows, performances by new and established bands, and of course, the buzziest news from the tech scene. In between film screenings and scarfing down BBQ eats, we scoped out (and tested) dozens of the startups, gadgets, and apps that were on display. Here, the trends we can't stop talking about.
1. Virtual Reality Boom
Thanks to consumer devices that are making VR more accessible than ever, like the long-awaited Oculus Rift goggles and HTC's new Vive model, this was the trend that took over SXSW. Most notable, festival-goers lined up daily outside of Samsung's Galaxy lounge to test out the brand's buzzy Gear VR headset.
2. Futuristic Transportation
If you thought grabbing an Uber was cutting edge, think again. The future of transportation and connected cars were huge topics at SXSW, but Hyperloop is currently one of the biggest disrupters in the space. Hyperloop has assembled a team of innovators and engineers to develop energy-efficient, carbon-free pods that move through special tunnels to get you to your destination more efficiently. Metrocard not required.
3. Tech for Foodies
A slew of new apps and tools aimed at elevating your cooking and dininng experiences took center stage. Our personal favorite? The Tasteful app, which helps you locate the healthiest restaurant options (that also meet any dietary restrictions) in close proximity in more than 8000 cities. Whether you're vegetarian, vegan, or gluten-free, you'll never have to worry about where to grab dinner again.
4. Headphones That Don't Rest on Your Ears
Imagine riding the subway without being oblivious to announcements and updates, thanks to Beyoncé blasting in your earbuds. Sony's researched and development division, called Future Lab, introduced this solution, meant to be worn around your neck. It projects the sound directly up into your ears, so you'll still hear your tunes crystal clear, but others around you won't.
5. Next-Level Wearables
The latest in wearable tech goes way beyond smartwatches and fitness tracking bracelets. Apparel with built-in technology not only measures your aerobic movements and calories burned, but also tracks your muscle development, while upgraded compression styles help you get more out of your workouts. One stand-out example? Physiclo's leggings with built-in resistance bands to help push your muscles harder while you exercise.