The United Nations of Innovation: Reviewing the SXSW Trade Show

By Kelly Garland, Manager, Invention Studio

I was told that everything is bigger in Texas, and let me tell you, the SXSW Trade Show was no exception. Walking into the space can be overwhelming – it’s a large convention room the size of a few football fields, just filled to the brim with passionate founders pitching their business, and curious SXSW attendees eager to learn more.  My time on the ground was a complete sensory overload. Some startup booths had live music, others had food, but for me, those that were the most intriguing were the ones that enabled me to interact. In a world fueled by data, it’s simply amazing to see this tech in action and pushing beyond the boundaries.

I knew SXSW is a big deal for those of us in the States, but had no idea how much of an international presence had existed at the festival. The trade floor was an amazing representation of forward-thinking from all parts of the globe. I saw a rapping robot from Japan, AI-powered user-generated video distribution from Finland (which could change the way we experience live events like sports), and 3D printing of Belgian chocolate (sadly, I did not get to eat said chocolate). The trade floor might as well have been called the United Nations of Innovation, as every corner I turned there was a new combination of culture and tech waiting to greet me.

Of the variety of foreign tech innovations, my favorite was actually based in food delivery. This wasn’t just any food delivery like a GrubHub or Uber Eats, but food delivery that is capable of being sent to the moon! Inspired by the creation and distribution of music, Open Meals seeks to make food as accessible as the latest jam on the radio. They make this happen by using images of a food item and then with their tech, breaking down and mapping all the components of the item such as texture, flavor, shape, color, and nutrients. Once uploaded, they then use a pixel food printer to recreate the item with a gel-based protein. The expansion to space will soon enable astronauts to receive food from their families and friends at home in real time. The end result does look slightly like food created in Minecraft, but it tastes like the real thing.

To my dismay, I did not get to sample the cubed sushi guarded behind a glass barrier – guess I’ll have to wait until Open Meals goes mainstream! When this tech is more readily accessible, it will be quite interesting to see how could impact our clients. Will we one day live in a world where name-brand snacks can be created by a 3D printer? Or will this be a new logistics hurdle when people live on Mars? It is pretty incredible to think that this tech could be the way that future consumers will be able to get food from their favorite brands.

As I look back on this past week in Austin, I feel so fortunate to have been given this opportunity to represent Mindshare’s Chicago office, and to meet some amazing talent from across our North America network. From thought-provoking panel conversations, to seeing some of the biggest names in culture walking the streets of Austin, to amazing food – this was an incredible past few days.  #TeamMindshare

Check out some of the pictures from the SXSW Trade Show and more on our Instagram account!