Innovative Spirit

Seven Innovations That Made a Splash at This Year’s SXSW

The massive Austin event has become the place for unveiling cutting-edge tech, from educational apps to virtual reality art

Festivalgoers attend the Trade Show during the 2019 SXSW Conference and Festivals this week in Austin, Texas. (Amy E. Price/Getty)
smithsonian.com

When it got started more than 30 years ago, South by Southwest (SXSW) was a mere music festival. Today the Austin, Texas festival and conference is about music, film, art, technology, education, design, sustainability and pretty much anything else, drawing tens or even hundreds of thousands during its 10-day run. SXSW has become a leading venue for showcasing new technologies and innovations—here are some of our favorites so far.

A Handheld Ultrasound

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((Butterfly iQ))

The winner of a SXSW Interactive Innovation Award in the category of medical technology, the Butterfly iQ is a portable ultrasound scanner that transmits images via an iPhone app. Running on an innovative silicon chip, the device makes it possible for doctors to scan patients right in their office—or even at home. This makes it possible to do scans—whether of the heart, a limb, or a fetus in utero—in places without traditional ultrasound machines. Plus, it's about 1/5th the price of a traditional machine. 

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