It’s likely that one of the top topics at this year’s South by Southwest Interactive, if we’re talking about emerging tech chatter, will be virtual and augmented reality. We’re in the year when VR products such as Oculus Rift and HTC’s Vive headsets are reaching the market and game developers and filmmakers in particular are experimenting like crazy in these promising new mediums while Microsoft, Google, Facebook and others are betting big on the tech.
The most prominent VR/AR event at this year’s fest will be the VR/AR Track, what the festival is billing as a three-day collection of panels and an exposition under the “Convergence” label, which means all badgeholders will have access to the March 16-18 events.
As the SXSW site not-so-elegantly puts it:
These dates will generally coincide with the new dates for SXSW Gaming which occurs Thursday, March 17 through March 19. The overlap emphasizes the strong connection and carryover between these two verticals.
A SXSW schedule search for “Virtual reality” yields about 252 results, from panels to events across Interactive, Music and Film, many of them taking place outside the VR/AR Track timeframe.
And then there’s likely to be lots of unofficial events that will use VR and AR to draw attention.
For the second year, the unofficial AR/VR Austin will offer up live demos from a variety of software and hardware companies. This year’s event takes place 2-10 p.m., March 13 at Vuka on 411 W. Monroe, a bit of a hike from the area of downtown Austin where most of SXSW is taking place. The event will include a 5-9 p.m. open bar mixer and is sponsored in part by AMD, a company that is making partnerships in VR of late.
Simon Solotko, the organizer of the event and former AMD’er, said in an email, “I got together with other ‘execs’ (we are all running small companies, moving forward bravely and with funding) last year to put together a low cost way for us all to have a presence in Austin during SXSW and decided to take one more swing at it.”
The event isn’t free; tickets are $16.82-$22.09 for earlybird and general admission.
I’ll be keeping both eyes out for other VR/AR-related events around the fest, let me know if you hear of any.
(Info on AR/VR Austin below)