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Top Tech Trends At SXSW Interactive

by Lauren Silverman 14 Mar 2013 3:00 PM

KERA’s Lauren Silverman talks to Sam Baker about SXSW trends like 3D printing and weable technology.


The ‘Jawbone UP Band’ is one of many self-tracking tools people are talking about at SXSW Interactive. The wristband, which has been updated several times, now tracks your steps, your sleep, and can even be programmed to nudge you with a vibration if you’ve been sitting for too long. (CC, Arthbkins)

South by Southwest’s tech conference is winding down in Austin. More than 25,000 people were in town talking about the latest in the tech world. KERA’s Lauren Silverman talked with host Sam Baker about a few big trends this year.

3D Printing

Now that the price of a desktop 3D printer has dropped to only a few grand, it’s become accessible to people who might never before been able to get their hands on the new technology.  There are doctors printing custom prosthesis, manufacturers printing components for aircraft, even fashion designers printing jackets.

Check out other objects people are creating using 3D printers.

Self-Monitoring For Health

This year at SXSW it’s all about apps to learn about you. Especially popular are apps like FitBit and Jawbone Up, which you pair with a wristband to monitor your health and fitness goals – how many calories you’ve consumed, how high your blood pressure is, hours you’ve slept.

At one SXSW Interactive presentation, Leslie Ziegler described a full year of tracking everything from how much time she was spending in meetings to her weight gain and blood sugar levels.

Ziegler says there are two major problems with the wristbands and apps currently on the market: precision and usability. For example, right now many of the sleep monitors available aren’t accurate, if you toss and turn they think you’re awake and that can mess up your data. The other problem, Ziegler says, is that the hardware you wear around your arm or clip on your shoes isn’t always comfortable, or you forget to bring it with you. So for self tracking to really catch on, she says it needs to be much more passive and not require strapping on so many clunky gadgets.