If you want to know what’s hot and hyped, you want to keep an eye on the SXSW conference, wrapping up today in Austin. This year, for better or worse, organizers apparently decided that wearables were It. This coincides perfectly with the industry’s position at the peak of Gartner’s Hype Cycle, by the way.
We’re taking a brief break from the road, else we’d have found some way to be at SXSW (and CeBIT, too, which is now running over in Germany). But we’re hearing that wearables were all the rage in Austin, although as befits SXSW, it was as much about coolness as it was changing the world.
There was an inevitable product shootout, which was won in the wearables category by Skully, the motorcycle helmet with a heads-up display showing a rider a 360-degree view of his/her environment. We feel a little churlish mentioning that the Skully isn’t actually shipping just yet.
One sort of weird event for a technology show was Shaquille O’Neal being interviewed by Qualcomm’s Rick Valencia. O’Neal, of course, is a world-famous championship basketball player; Valencia runs Qualcomm’s QualcommLife health network business and $100 million venture fund. O’Neal was waxing rhapsodic about Fitbit, in which QualcommLife is an investor.
We saw one report that there was a tidal exit of people from the Shaq session; that would be a missed opportunity, because health care is going to represent perhaps the biggest and fastest business transformation caused by wearable tech. It may not have been buzzy enough for the SXSW crowd, though.