Each year nerds from all the world flock to Austin for five days and nights of panels, parties and puking also known a South by Southwest Interactive. It seems each year there is at least one application or technology thing that everyone is using at SXSW. Last year the big thing was geolocation apps mainly Foursquare that had a big swell in users at SXSW last year as all the cool people were trying to find out where all the rest of the cool people are at and which party is the one to be at for the night. In previous years twitter really started to take off and gained size-able adoption and proof of that is in the almost constant chatter about SXSW which is especially annoying to people like me who aren’t lucky enough to be going this year.
So what will be the “it” things at this year’s SXSW? I have two things that come to mind, QR Codes and Live streaming. I think we are going to see QR codes all over the place as people are trying to network and QR codes are a great way to exchange the information that would normally be on your business cards. If you don’t know anything about QR Codes click here for the wikipedia article. I think the band, movie posters and leaflets that are plastered all over the convention center will have the new addition of a QR Code that sends the user to a site with more information about their show or movie. Be prepared to see a throng of nerds in shirts with huge QR Codes silk-screened on them, hawking their blog or whatever.
In the year since the last SXSW, Apple released the iPhone 3GS, the version of the iPhone yet that best suited for live streaming video, and apps like Ustream broadcaster and Qik that allowing people to do live streaming video over Wi-Fi or 3G has become possible. I think live streaming services like Ustream are going to see a lot of use from people at SXSW streaming events going on in Austin. One man who will be doing this for sure is Leo Laporte. Ustream has lent Leo one of their streaming backpacks from LiveU a company that builds this portable computer designed for streaming. The backpack has enough juice for about 6 hours of use. The secret sauce that makes this all work is 8 separate 3G modems, 2 each from the 4 major players, that work in concert to provide a solid connection and sufficient upload bandwidth that produces some pretty good looking video. I think we’re going to see a lot of live streams coming from Austin next week as many of the big podcasts like TWIT, TWiST, Buzz out Loud, NSFW, Diggnation all converge in Austin. At&t epically failed last year, greatly underestimating the strain that the more than 13,000 attendees would put on their network and they say they have been working since then to make sure that this year isn’t a repeat. They beefed up the cell towers downtown with more fiber, installed hardware in the Austin convention center and are bringing a convoy’s worth of cell tower trucks to cover Austin in a rich and creamy layer of 3G. We’ll see if this will be enough to handle the demands of bandwidth heavy apps and thousands of people constantly refreshing twitter every minute.