Only at SXSW: Our Favorite Moments

Entrepreneur was on the ground for SXSW. Check back this week as we recap the festival, giving context to the best insights and trends from thought leaders and innovators.

You come to SXSW to be inspired and enlightened. And sometimes, in a day of long lines and monotone panelists, that actually happens. In fact, there's a fair number of moments that charm and surprise you. That's what keeps people coming back despite the endless haters and declarations that this nutty mashup of a festival has finally jumped the shark. That’s what we’ve compiled here: the moments that made us smile, the moments that could only happen here. 

Only at SXSW: Our Favorite Moments

1. Best stock photos ever


Guy Kawasaki not only signed new copies of his book at the McDonald’s lounge – he posed for a series of fake stock photos, making the celeb-selfie interesting again. 

-Linda Lacina

Only at SXSW: Our Favorite Moments

2. The Science of BBQ


Austin is known for its BBQ, so it was fitting that GE used it as the centerpiece of its BBQ Research Center showing off the company’s research and engineering capabilities. Here chemical scientists manned a smoke velocity and humidity pit, and foodies mixed their own custom sauce from ingredients in beakers and vials. Visitors could even hook themselves up to an EEG to monitor their brain waves as they ate things like sweet and savory barbecue.

-Laura Entis

Related: SXSW: David Chang – What Luxe Restaurants Can Learn From Taco Bell and Google

Only at SXSW: Our Favorite Moments

3. Dessert, SXSW style


The sweetest part of GE’s Research Center? Buttermilk liquid nitrogen ice-cream (from local ice-cream shop Spun), made on site and topped with smoked brisket fat powder, pickled jalapeno glass and cornbread cookie crumbs. 

-Laura Entis

Only at SXSW: Our Favorite Moments

4. Music from the heart


3M’s futuristic Lifelab featured a number of technologies, including its Littman stethoscope, a Bluetooth-enabled device that allows two doctors in remote locations to listen to the same heartbeat, one that’s monitored the heartbeat of an astronaut in the International Space Station. While it was designed to push the boundaries of telemedicine, it was used in Austin to record the heartbeat of a DJ who looped the soundbyte into her set for attendees.  

-Linda Lacina

Only at SXSW: Our Favorite Moments

5. Bizarre promotions


To promote its new show Life Below Zero, National Geographic’s lounge featured foam snow, taxidermy and arctic temperatures. Attendees could solve puzzles to escape and wait at the lounge bar to see which one of their friends survived.

-Laura Entis

Only at SXSW: Our Favorite Moments

6. Robot petting zoo


At this year’s first-ever Robot Petting Zoo, users could don an EEG headset and steer a flying monkey drone. (This one’s named Nikko, named for his drone-free counterpart in The Wizard of Oz.)
-Laura Entis

Only at SXSW: Our Favorite Moments

7. Building robot trust


Don’t trust robots? Well, maybe they’re not that keen on you either. Dar-1, an autonomous social robot, can recognize you, lock eyes with you, and back away if threatened.

-Laura Entis

Only at SXSW: Our Favorite Moments

8. Drink and ride


Hootsuite sponsored this pedal-driven bar-on-wheels. Because the event needed more alcohol?

-Laura Entis

Only at SXSW: Our Favorite Moments

9. Selfie transformed


Messaging app Wickr sponsored an interactive art piece called NARCISSUS, created by visual artists Joan Bofill and Franc Aleu. In the exhibit, users wear a helmet that wirelessly projects footage of their face onto a massive wooden head.

-Linda Lacina

Related: SXSW Thought Leaders on Failing Better & Finding Your Way

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