South by Southwest, arguably the USA’s most famous multi-interest festival, has now had its fleeting moment in 2015.
It comes around every year in March (this year it ran from the 13th to 22nd) and every year it seems to get more and more popular. The music, film and technology ‘arms’ of the festival is an eclectic mix that can be found almost nowhere else.
Starting out as a small music festival almost 30 years ago, the abbreviation SXSW is instantly recognisable in this predominantly digital age. The popularity of the event means it has even outgrown its own roots.
And the fact the newer Las Vegas event is more focused on entrepreneurship than any of the festival’s previous three staples does show just how successful technology companies have found the original SXSW.
Down the years a number of products and services, which are now a part of our every day lives, have been ‘discovered’. Twitter is a household name that is believed to have gained a raft of early followers from the 2007 event. Two years later Foursquare outright launched at the festival – gaining critical acclaim from digital media news site Mashable.
The event has also been home to some more bizarre tech that is still in its infancy – such as the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset last year.
So what did this year have? What was the big development that got everyone talking? Well, it was an app that does actually get people talking! Meerkat is a video streaming service that taps into users’ Twitter followers – broadcasting live video over the Internet.
Users simply tell the app what their broadcast is about and off they go, with a message sent out via push notifications to their followers on Twitter. And Twitter has promptly responded – launching Periscope, their own rival to the service.
In today’s world of instant results, these seem like two fantastic services. Despite their limitations (only being able to shoot in dreaded ‘vertical video’ seems a bizarre and easily avoidable one), kudos has to be given to the creators of a product that will no doubt succeed and leave many wondering why it has not been thought of before.
And that’s the thing – why has no one thought of it before? Look at some of the great technological advancements we have had a recently. Think AerialMobil or the aforementioned Oculus Rift – they are both massive steps into the future. The thing about Meerkat and Periscope is they are not massive steps forward. They are basically Snapchat for video (Meerkat doesn’t let you re-broadcast videos and Periscope does, but only for a limited time.) It is just an extension of current technology, rather than making something truly ground breaking.
The question remains, then – why not use live imagery to create something ground breaking? Mobile phones now have so much extraordinary kit built into them, there is no excuse to try and utilise it.
The infrastructure is now in place that can support much better quality. Take time-lapse cameras, for example. They are far superior quality than webcams, yet people still opt for the latter. And there is no reason to compromise on quality.
So many television-streaming companies now provide more products than ever before in HD. Mobile phones can handle it and people want the best quality possible. Not to mention the wireless infrastructure in place can handle the amount of data as well.
Remote capture photography also benefits from a stable connection – whether that is wireless or wired. It means exceptionally high quality, Ultra HD images can be transferred securely and quickly, populating a remote viewer every 15 minutes. That viewer can be accessed from a mobile device or from a desktop computer, allowing 24/7 viewing in the highest possible quality – no matter where you are.
It is staggering where we are in terms of mobile technology. But when exciting new products come along, step back and ask ‘is there better out there’? If you are looking for a live view of a construction site, don’t settle for webcam or CCTV quality. Because if you look a little closer at the superior products, the extra detail will come through.