Robots with lightsabers and VR treadmill among SXSW 2018 Trade Show highlights

Posted March 13th, 2018

The South by Southwest Trade Show is always a grab bag of interesting eye-popping technologies (giant robots! Sushi machines! Weird musicians planing digital music in crazy costumes), and more down-to Earth booths for universities such at Texas A&M, vendors who deal in supply-chain items and a vibrantly growing number of contingencies from other countries.

You can check out a photo gallery of some of the more interesting things we saw from the American-Statesman’s Nick Wagner.

For my part, a trip through the Trade Show typically lasts an hour or two squeezed in between panel presentations, and it does get to feel like a battle with my own short-attention span.

Given all the “Star Wars” stuff at this year’s SXSW, it was not surprising to see robot arms doing mesmerizing battle with lightsabers (though I had to wonder if it wasn’t a bit of pandering). 

Mostly, I try to keep an eye out for local companies doing interesting things to catch attention at SXSW. There was, for instance, Kuka Robotics, which has an Austin office and provided a dancing robot figure that could be seen from across the Expo Hall.

And as we mentioned in our VR roundup before SXSW started, Austin’s Blue Goji debuted a VR-enabled curved treadmill that, which I visited on Monday, was drawing a good sized crowd of people who wanted to see how they could burn calories on this new contraption. 

I had a chance to try “Infinity” and found it fun and a little exhausting to try and not very hard to get used to (although steering controls still feel like too much to think about while in action, as I’ve found with past Blue Goji products). 

I also liked a strange floating pyramid controlled by hand motions from Japan’s Ray Corporation and Dentsu’s halo contraption meant to make people jump higher.

Nick Wagner/AMERICAN-STATESMANA Lunavity system from Dentsu, which will enable users in the future to leap higher and further, stands on display to at the SXSW trade show in Austin, Texas, on Sunday, March 11, 2018. 

The Trade Show continues through 2 p.m. Wednesday.