The Washington Post

SXSW 2013 in Leaps and Beams

If there’s one thing to be said about SXSW, it this: The conference is enormous.

No, scratch that, ginormous.

The trade-offs of attending one event over another are torturous. Do you abandon the main convention center to stand in line to see Grumpy Cat at the Mashable tent (this blogger did not), or do you venture into the Create space and get a little lost in playing with a Boosted Board (this blogger did)? Do you go to the Gaming Expo, taking the time for the shuttle ride there and back to catch a glimpse of competitive game play (yep)? Or do you stay close to the center of town and hunt for celebrities (nope)? Do you go to the private dinner (not on Saturday night) or blaze through a series of parties to get at least a passing understanding of what it means to party at one of the biggest conferences in the world (not on Sunday night).

I have been to as many places as my legs (and the SXSW shuttle, cab rides and, yes, party buses) could carry me. The following are the photos I took while I went around town both Sunday and Monday, with even more shared via Instagram. From D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray, to the Trade Show and the Gaming Expo and, yes, Will Arnett, Jeffrey Tambor and “Arrested Development” creator Mitch Hurwitz, I touched down to see them all.

Leap Motion: Leap Motion has received, as Stephen Colbert might put it, the SXSW bump. After ample news coverage and a well-received Q&A session and demonstration with co-founder David Holz and CEO and co-founder Michael Buckwald on Saturday, the company’s tent, where they gave visitors an opportunity to play with the technology, was packed Sunday, with staff clearly overwhelmed by the amount of media and attendees interest. Leap Motion, for the uninitiated, stands to make the mouse obsolete, transferring the capabilities directly to your fingers in 3D space. Here, the controller, which costs just south of $80, is being used to play the game Fruit Ninja:

Mayor Gray: Gray was in Austin Saturday to promote the start-up incubator 1776, which recently launched in the nation’s capital. “It’s a very dynamic, electric, fluid, flexible environment, and it’s different from the typical conference you go to,” said the mayor when asked how he felt the conference was going. Gray also spoke to the Post’s Steven Overly prior to his trip saying that his attendance was a way to show that, when it comes to the tech sector, D.C. is “open for business.”

The trade show: While on the trade show floor, attendees were given an introduction to Beam, an enterprise technology that enables users in one location, say Palo Alto, Calif. to have a real-time conversation with someone in, say, Austin. The catch, the person in Palo Alto comes through on a screen attached to a robotic chase they control, giving them not only eyes and ears, but makeshift feet on the ground. The robot costs $16,000, however, not including installation of the system necessary to control it, and the company’s representatives were up-front about the technology being an enterprise product.

I just got pitched by someone in Palo Alto via a $16k robot. What the - !? #sxswi #sxsw

— Emi Kolawole (@emikolawole) March 10, 2013

The gaming expo: The interactive conference is also home to a very strong gaming community. From gaming competitions complete with live commentary to Mario and Luigi look-alikes from the Mario Brothers, the expo was a sea of new games and old. It even had a nook for those who wished to cast off the digital games and stick to board games, such as these conference visitors:

Are you attending SXSW 2013? What have you seen — or what did you skip? Let us know in the comments.

Read more news and ideas on Innovations:

Jason Silva on what it takes to be a ‘wonder junkie’

Reddit’s Alexis Ohanian to ‘geeks’: Run for office

A talking shoe in Google’s ‘Playground’



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