The five weirdest products at the SXSW Interactive trade show
Tight jeans and awesome hair have replaced the cargo shorts (and jorts) of Austin's 6th Street by now, as SXSW Interactive 2011 is in the books and SXSW Music gets rolling. The SXSW Trade Show -- which didn't open its doors until Monday, the last day of Interactive -- attracted throngs of people to booths primarily aimed at business owners looking to thicken their revenue streams through synergy and online integration. But there were a few weird products amid the booth after booth of redundant phone apps and hot girls in tiny dresses hawking them. Here's the top five.
Somehow, this guy will pay you to eat at restaurants.
5. The InConcert phone app
Steve Revare, founder of the InConcert iphone app.
Ever go to a concert and drunkenly hold up your lighter in an ironic move to show your disapproval of an extra sappy portion of a band's song? Of course you have. But now, with the InConcert phone app -- available on iPhone -- artist management can set up a programmable app for a specific concert. You know how much J Mascis of Dinosaur Jr. loves the color purple? You could hold up your iPhone that displays a purple glow when he shreds through an ear-splitting solo, and save your lighter for lighting up your bowl. The idea started while inventor Steve Revare was at a Low Anthem concert.
4. Furnace Record Pressing
Manish Naik, COO of Furnace Record Pressing, holds up Brothers by the Black Keys, an LP Furnace pressed.
Vinyl pressing at a tech conference, for reals? Furnace Record Pressing is taking advantage of the resurgence of vinyl records -- the warm sound, hipster cachet and twelve inches of glorious album covery -- through a pretty cool online ordering system, where musicians can request a quote to have their songs put on wax. And yes, collector nerds, of course they do color vinyl, in addition to the often maligned picture discs. Said COO Manish Naik, "We're the opposite of the interactive group that's here."
3. Shit Creek Consulting
Hugh MacLeod, the artist behind Gaping Void, at the Shit Creek Consulting booth.
"After the big boys fuck it up completely, feel free to give us a call," reads the poster on display at the booth Shit Creek. It's the brainchild of Miami-based artist Hugh McLeod, whose Gaping Void brand specializes in cartoons drawn on the back of business cards. "We do art for the 2.0 generation. And it works," said McCleod on Monday, while relaxing in a chair, legs crossed and holding a coffee. While caffeinated networkers rubbed elbows throughout the trade show, Shit Creek provided a healthy dose of reality.
2. We Reward
Ashley Edwards promises the We Reward iphone app will give you money for checking in at certain places.
This phone app promises to make its users money by providing a sort of on-the-street viral advertising for partner business. If Restaurant X partners with We Reward and a We Reward user checks into Restaurant X and snaps a photo, they earn points, which are turned into cash, which are deposited into a user's PayPal account. (It seems like you still would have to pay for the meal at Restaurant X though.) "We hope you get paid to do the things you love," says Ashley Edwards, who was manning the booth on Monday.
1. Imaginary University
Mary Wyss of Imaginary University
When it comes to weird products offered at a trade show, perhaps the one that stuck the the furthest out from the pack was that of Ohio-based Imaginary University. For the folks who have always wanted a fake diploma ("Why yes, I did graduate magna cum laude from Bad-Ass University"), or a fake student ID to get them into concerts sponsored by a university they didn't actually attend. Mary Wyss, the brainchild behind the program, says the web-based program was a result of him not actually graduating from college.