SXSW was a lot of fun. Rothenberg Ventures and River Studios converted a 1930’s bungalow in Austin into a swanky tech hub filled with awesome virtual reality demos and frontier technology.
Check out an interactive 360 tour of the venue that Matterport 3D scanned in under just one hour before we opened it up to the public for three days!
Now let me walk you through:
By the welcoming entrance made of a round rustic stone stood a futuristic EXO house, an emergency shelter for disaster reliefs or festivals like Burning Man. I’ve been day dreaming about living in one ever since.
An artificial intelligence studio Rival Theory demoed their sentient AI-driven character Elise in VR inside the air-conditioned Exo house. A portfolio company demoing their product in another portfolio company’s product. Rad, isn’t it?
Directly across from the Exo house, there were panels going on throughout the day. More than 2,000 people showed up during the three days and lent their ears to how frontier tech companies get backed and how people tell stories using immersive new media.
In a spacious warehouse with green window panels, inVR and 8i set up Vive VR stations. It was great to see familiar faces from VR startups backed by Rothenberg Ventures.
We had another Vive station under a white tent. During the day, we did River Studios football demo where you had to throw balls through the hoops in the hands of target players that pop up one by one. At night we showed Tilt Brush where you could paint with light and fire in a 3D space.
Next to the food and beverage, there was a Machine-Learning-designed 3D printed car called Hacked, created by many organizations like Autodesk and G-Tech. Parked nearby was a brand spanking new GRC River Racing promo car. I got to ride around downtown with our endearing star Collete Davis and her pit dog Pete and pass out VR viewers to SXSW attendees.
Inside the Anthropologie-style house, people checked out Merge VR’s marshmallow foam mobile VR viewers. We also had a screening room for Oculus Story Studios’ adorable short film “Henry” on the Oculus Rift CV1. I thought it was really awesome that anyone who walked into the ranch could get a full tour of the available VR headsets (minus Sony) in the market. (We're still waiting for you, PSVR!)
I shifted in and out of the house to show River Studios VR content on Samsung GearVR. Some had never tried VR before and their minds would start to rush. One local guy who manages a travel website said that this would be perfect for his website. It was also exciting to meet VR creators from around the world who showed their own VR content and shared their experiences building VR.
One of my favorite things in the ranch was a blue satellite and an image of the earth it took from space provided by Planet Labs. Space was a huge theme at SXSW. Google debuted a documentary series about the Lunar Xprize and NASA took people to the Moon on a rover inside VR.
There was surely a lot to see outside of our ranch. During our downtime from 6:00 to 10:00 PM, I followed people I met at the ranch to different music venues and met more people spontaneously. At the end of the day, people wanted to come back to the ranch to let their friends try VR demos, hang around the fire and dance the night away to live music.