Awesome and Weird Tech Displays at the Interactive Kickoff Party

Erin McCarthy
Erin McCarthy / Erin McCarthy

I’ve been coming to SXSW for a few years now, and I’m pretty accustomed to the weird stuff you see—people in gorilla suits breakdancing, for example. It's all part of what makes coming to Austin for SXSW so much fun. But something I saw at Frog Design’s SXSW Interactive Kickoff party on Friday night took the cake for the weirdest, most uncomfortable thing I’ve seen anywhere, ever: An Augmented Reality Port-a-Potty.

Enter the port-a-potty, and a video projection displayed not just how long a person had been in there, but whether they were sitting or standing (the little avatars even have their cell phones in their hands as they do their business). It was weird, and fascinating, and did I say weird? For the record, I didn’t go in it.

The goal of the party was to embed tech in unexpected places. There were light books, which conveyed the idea that one day, light would be cheaper than ink. Here’s the Gutenberg Bible as a light book:

And here’s a vine video I took, showing it in action:

There were light bikes:

And a robot tending a zen garden:

And a huge LED wall, sort like a big light brite. Partygoers could use wand devices to change the color of individual bulbs:

Also excellent was a huge snake that people at the party could peddle around. The turning radius on this massive rattler was impressive.