The 3 Coolest Things I've Seen at SXSW Interactive 2013 From motion-sensor computers to talking shoes, technology editor, Jason Fell's favorites from this year's festival.

By Jason Fell

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

During the Interactive portion of the South by Southwest (SXSW) festival, downtown Austin, Texas, becomes a hub of activity and excitement. Droves of entrepreneurs and investors gather to showcase innovation at the confluence of technology and creativity.

I've been here since the festival started on Friday, sitting in on panel discussions and scouring the trade show floor and venues across town to find out what new ideas the brilliant minds in tech are dreaming up next. While far from exhaustive, here's a look at three of the coolest products and concepts I've come across so far:

1. Leap Motion's 'hands-off' approach to using a computer.
Lured in part by the smoky smell of barbeque, I walked into a tent in a parking lot across East 1st Street from Iron Works BBQ. Inside, I found people of all ages furiously waving their hands in front of monitors, slicing lemons and watermelons. It turns out they were playing the popular game Fruit Ninja using Leap Motion's new motion-controlled device and software.

Forget using a mouse or a touchscreen. Leap Motion's sensor essentially enables you to control your computer with a simple wave of your hand or lift of a finger. Users can browse the web, read articles, flip through photos or play games. It seems particularly handy for designers, who can use it to draw, paint, sculpt, mold and build 3-D objects. Think of it like Nintendo's Wii, but specifically for computers and monitors.

Leap Motion says it is taking pre-orders for the device ($79.99), which is expected to start shipping in mid-May.

2. Google's talking shoe.
Yes. A shoe, that talks. Part of Google's Art, Copy, Code project which aims to "connect" ordinary objects to make them more interactive and social, the tech giant says these flashy kicks -- seriously, they flash -- can talk to and ideally motivate the wearer to be more active.

The sneakers use an accelerometer, gyroscope and pressure sensors to capture movement data of the user. That data, Google says, gets uploaded to an app on the user's smartphone that translates and broadcasts amusing phrases to encourage the person to walk, run or play sports. "That commentary then gets pushed to banners and social media, creating new, interesting content in the digital world from something happening live in the physical one," Google says on the Art, Copy, Code site.

While existing products like the Nike+ FuelBand can also track and measure a person's activity, none of them, to my knowledge, are as good at trash talking as Google's shoes. "Are you a statue? Let's do this already," the shoes tell a man in a promotional video. It doesn't get any better than that.

3. Defiance: A TV show and video game -- all in one.
This is something I haven't heard of before. A TV network (SyFy) and a video game developer (Trion Worlds) have spent the last five years collaborating on a new fantasy TV show called Defiance that's directly linked to a video game.

Essentially, the events and storylines in the game and show weave together to create one seamless narrative. So, something a player does in the game could wind up affecting characters in the show. Events that unfold in the show can dictate things that happen in the game. Pretty cool.

The game launches on April 2. The show, which will air on Mondays, premieres in the U.S. on April 15.

To promote the show and game at SXSW, SyFy took over a parking lot and installed a "container village" in an attempt to recreate aspects of the futuristic world of Defiance. Not only are visitors able play the game and mix with cast members, three of the containers were converted into fully functioning "hotel rooms" for invited guests. Not a bad idea for a city that's crunched for accommodations during the big SXSW event.

Jason Fell

VP, Native Content

Jason Fell is the VP of Native Content, managing the Entrepreneur Partner Studio, which creates dynamic and compelling content for our partners. He previously served as's managing editor and as the technology editor prior to that.

Editor's Pick

Related Topics

Business Ideas

This Teacher Sells Digital Downloads for $10. Her Side Hustle Now Makes Six Figures a Month: 'It Seems Too Good to Be True, But It's Not.'

When one middle school teacher needed to make some extra income, she started a remote side hustle with no physical products and incredibly low overhead. Now she brings in six figures each month, and offers courses teaching others how to do the same.


This Is the Unseen Advantage Your Small Business Might Need

If you're ready to learn how to help your business increase revenue, access new markets, create better customer experiences and brand awareness, strategic alliances may be the answer you're looking for.


5 Ways to Instill a Company Culture Even When Your Workforce Is Virtual

A strong culture grows from working toward shared goals, even when you aren't in the same room.


Do You Have a Strong Identity? 5 Ways to Uncover the Core of Your Organization — And Why It Matters

Understanding and carefully adapting organization identity in concert with emergent realities provides the balance our organizations need in our present turbulent climate.

Health & Wellness

Need More Rest? Try the Bedtimes of These Highly Successful People

You'll be surprised — not everyone works crazy hours.