SXSW 2014 News: Winning Startups Heavy on Wearables, Tracking Tech
This year, South by Southwest Interactive -- the tech expo that precedes the SXSW music and film festival in Austin -- was just packed with startups vying for attention and funding as ever. Here's a rundown of the winners among the crowd.
SXSW Interactive is a great place for startups to get recognition, and backers, through a round-by-round tournament of startups called the SXSW Accelerator. This year, tracking devices and wearable apps and gadgets beat out dozens of competitors for the grand prize in six different categories.
Each winner got $4,000 and an invitation to the next SXSW Interactive -- and more importantly, the kind of recognition at the tech and media-packed event that can take their businesses to the next level.
The winners of the SXSW Accelerator competition included Canadian company Sybiota, which offers a crowdsourcing platform where scientists share information and research for cutting-edge food, fuel, and medicine; think of it as a Wikipedia for next-generation scientific research. Speaking of winning the grand prize in the expo's "innovative world" category, Sybiota's founder Connor Dickie told the Washington Post, "It's fantastic for us, and what's most important is the exposure that comes with it... It shows people what we're doing and where biotech is heading."
The crowded "wearable technology" category was won by a San Francisco motorcycle helmet-maker, whose innovative protective wear has a heads-up display that can show maps, directions and a rear-view camera.
Other wearables that got attention, despite not winning the grand prize, included another Canadian company called Bionym. The Toronto-based company is developing the "Nymi," which is a wristband that can measure a user's unique vital signs like cardiac rhythm to confirm the user's identity, which could make the world of proliferating passwords and login information a simpler place. The startup that beat Nymi in the "big data" category was Trustev, which is online identity software that helps ecommerce destinations prevent identity fraud.
The "mobile app" winner of the SXSW 2014 competition was Waygo, a U.S. company that created a mobile app that provides real-time translation of complicated languages into English. Again, while this wasn't a wearable this could easily be seen in the next iteration of a wearable gadget like Google Glass.
Finally, the "health tech" category was taken by San Francisco-based ThriveOn, which provides a personalized online platform for users to improve mental health, while "Samba.me," which is an app that takes video of users' reactions to a video you send and lays it over the original, won best of the social category.
There's a lot at stake for startups at the SXSW Interactive expo, judging by past winners that you may have heard of: Siri (tap your iPhone for a reminder), Foursquare, social media analytics company Klout, and a little app called Twitter were all previous darlings of past SXSW Interactive fests.