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Our 20 Favorite Photos From the Wild, Tech-Filled SXSW 2018

Brands and media companies brought their products to life and tapped into nostalgia in Austin this year.

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Every year during SXSW Interactive, attendees have the opportunity to immerse themselves in pop-up environments based on the hottest shows, games, media brands and more. From technology showcases to marketing installations, it's a playground for curious fans and culture lovers.

Click through the galley for a glimpse of what the annual Austin-based festival had in store this year. 

Related: SXSW 2017 Photo Gallery: Our Favorite Photos

 

Tim Mosenfelder | Getty Images

Skeletons snaking through Austin

We're not sure who was behind this reptilian skeleton, but it was roaming the streets of Austin to kick off SXSW Interactive last week.
Jim Bennett | Getty Images

'Not Hot Dog'

Funny or Die and HBO teamed up to create this "Not Hot Dog" installation at the Silicon Valley HQ in Austin last week.

It's based on a scene from the show Silicon Valley, in which character Jian-Yang creates an app that can identify photos of food -- but only as "hot dog" or "not hot dog."

Jim Bennett | Getty Images

'Three Comma Club'

Also at the Silicon Valley HQ house, HBO and Funny or Die created a section called the "Three Comma Club." There, visitors could shoot fake money out of a golden gun and dream of entrepreneurial wealth.
Jim Bennett | Getty Images

Right at home

Fans of the HBO comedy could feel right at home walking through the Silicon Valley HQ, which brought some of the show's iconic sets to life. Here, a section of the garage features character Gilfoyle's ... belongings.
Tommaso Boddi | Getty Images

Paying homage to other futuristic films

On Sunday, March 11, Twitch and IMDb joined forces to stream interviews, game play, 1980s trivia and VR experiences to promote the Stephen Spielberg film Ready Player One, slated for a wide release next month. But they also had a physical installation at SXSW, which featured the DeLorean from Back to the Future -- the car of choice for character Parzival in the film's virtual-reality world. SXSW guests could sit in the car and even pose with a hoverboard.

 

 

Jim Bennett | Getty Images

Sixers in uniform

This group of "sixers" from Ready Player One made an appearance at the red carpet during the film's advance screening at SXSW.
Tommaso Boddi | Getty Images

Some analog tech

No technology festival in this decade is complete without a nod to analog tech. At the Ready Player One activation, colorful cassette tapes adorned the wall. The film is full of '80s nostalgia, and the SXSW takeover of Austin's Brazos Hall was filled with eye-catching, selfie-inspiring props and backdrops.
Joe Scarnici | Getty Images

Reliving the drama

Cable channel AMC took SXSW as an opportunity to promote its upcoming show The Terror, which follows a 19th-century British Naval crew on a deadly polar expedition.

The immersive installation gave guests the opportunity to experience some of the sensations the sailors would have encountered, from ice-cold tempoeratures to sounds of fellow crewmembers fighting to stay alive.

Joe Scarnici | Getty Images

A chilling experience

Here's another view of The Terror installation.
Hubert Vestil | Getty Images

#MashHouse

Media brand Mashable brought the party at SXSW this year with drinks, music and dancing. This year's theme for the Mashable House was "Time Warp."

"This year, we're taking you on a nostalgia-fueled adventure," Mashable stated in an article ahead of the festival. "'Mashable House: Time Warp' will celebrate the old and the new, the real and the artificial. It's our way of acknowledging just how far we’ve come, and how far we have left to go."

Robin Marchant | Getty Images

#SheInspiresMe

On Saturday, Twitter held a #SheInspiresMe brunch at SXSW. Guests could play life-size Connect Four. This ongoing movement spearheaded by the social media company brings together women leaders and creators and celebrates their impact.
Vivien Killilea | Getty Images

'We're not playing the field, we're leveling it'

Dating app Bumble also had a pop-up at SXSW, which allowed visitors to walk through real-life manifestations of the app's three platforms: Bumble Bizz, Bumble BFF and Bumble Date. It was the app's biggest customer-facing activation to date, according to Adweek

Speakers at the space, including Bumble CEO Whitney Wolfe, actress Gina Rodriguez, singer Keke Palmer, political commentator Sally Kohn and others, shared the goal of educating and empowering women and inspiring meaningful connections.

David Paul Morris | Getty Images

Ads in disguise

At SXSW, YouTube's footprint was devoted to educating marketers about the importance of making more engaging ads (of varying lengths) for an online audience. 

An installation titled "The Greatest Stories Retold" in YouTube's Story HQ space in Austin transformed fairy tales into short-form stories.

David Paul Morris | Getty Images

Fully in control

Sony set up a Wow Studio at SXSW, which it called "an innovation laboratory." One of its attractions, the "Interactive CUBE," used light projections, sounds and vibrations to immerse visitors in a variety of games. One, called "Rolling Rover," used motion sensors and cameras to transform participants' bodies into game controllers.
David Paul Morris | Getty Images

It's magic, you know

It wouldn't be SXSW without someone performing magic. The levitation device this attendee is demoing is powered by a projector from Ray Corp.
Hubert Vestil | Getty Images

Yet another sensory playground

Meow Wolf, a Santa Fe-based immerse art collective filled a venue with art, sounds and textures. Guests in the "Control Room" could modify the lights and music, and "actors in costume milled about portraying sentient beings from another planet trying to suss out people and their actions while visiting the mysterious Earthlings," according to a blogger for 365 Things Austin.
Travis P Ball | Getty Images

A lullaby for tired SXSWers

SXSW is exhausting, but some lucky attendees incorporated rest into their event schedules. British-German composer Max Richter performed an eight-hour overnight composition titled "Sleep" at The Bass Concert Hall (from midnight to 8 a.m.), and Beautyrest provided mattresses. A piano, string, electronic and vocal ensemble lulled attendees to sleep. A writer for Austin360 documented his experience alternating between sleep and wakefulness.

David Paul Morris | Getty Images

It's a bird, it's a plane

Microsoft's HoloLens mixed reality headset was available for demos at SXSW again this year. An ongoing partnership with Boeing has resulted in several applications for the device, one of which gives wearers the sense that a plane is right in front of them and another which lets them tour the interior of a 777.
David Paul Morris | Getty Images

Chocolate on demand

Belgian company Miam Factory puts Willy Wonka to shame with its 3D printer that uses chocolate to make various designs. Objects are ready to devour as soon as printing is completed, which can take anywhere between 10 minutes and three hours. "Miam," as the French say instead of "yum." 
David Paul Morris | Getty Images

Meet me anywhere

There aren't a lot of places to sit at trade shows and events like SXSW, especially for meetings and demos. Smartblock has a solution with its portable, modular pods, which can also be used in offices. Because tables are so last century...?