Immerse yourself in a new reality at SXSW

Abby Hopkins

Technologies such as virtual reality, augmented reality and mixed reality can feel futuristic and out of reach. South by Southwest is bringing these technologies to Austin’s own backyard.

These technologies are powerful tools for multiple industries. With lots to explore, it can be difficult knowing where to start. The Daily Texan has compiled this list of VR, AR and MR opportunities at SXSW.


SXSW is holding a virtual cinema showcasing 26 unique stories from VR exhibitors at the JW Marriott in Griffin Hall from March 11 through March 13. With engaging documentaries, comedic narratives and immersive experiences, there is something for everyone. 

Follow the life of 17-year-old Rani, who is determined to fight cultural norms, from Varanasi, India with “Girl Icon” at booth 71. A dance-oriented experience is available at Booth Nine with “Runnin,” a retro-future interactive dance party. Take part in a fight for survival on an island planet with “Eleven Eleven” at booth 16.

Speaker Sessions

While the virtual cinema shows what these technologies can do, SXSW is also designating sessions for discussion. Key speakers will explore the ins and outs of how VR, AR and MR can impact specific industries.

With the emergence of these immersive technologies, many may worry about isolation and a disconnect from the world. The panel session, “Better with Friends: The Social Life of VR,” will discuss ways to connect the real and virtual worlds to improve communication. (March 13 from 12:30 p.m.–1:30 p.m. at JW Marriott, Salon 1-2) 

“An Honest Hologram? The Ethics of MR Design” is a dual speaker session that will explore the issue of ethics when utilizing these technologies and offer tools to implement boundaries. (March 11 from 11 a.m.–12 p.m. at JW Marriott, Salon 1-2)

Other sessions explore topics such as VR, AR and MR in sports, space programs and marketing, so look at the full list to find a niche. 

Workshop Sessions

For a more hands-on experience, SXSW is offering three workshops. 

Get to work and learn the fundamentals of designing AR at “Build Your Own AR Prototype,” where participants create and test their own engaging experience. (March 11 from 3:30 p.m.–5:30 p.m. at Westin Austin Downtown, Continental 1)

Interested in app development? “Chalk Talk: Developing for VR, AR and MR,” invites participants to explore the creation of apps using VR and AR technologies. (March 11 from 12:30 p.m.–2 p.m. at Westin Austin Downtown, The Gallery Room, or March 12 from 3:30 p.m.–5 p.m. at Westin Austin Downtown, Continental 1)

Meet Up Sessions

Networking is heavily emphasized for college students. Luckily, it’s also a large part of SXSW. Virtual technology enthusiasts can find their people at these sessions.

“The Women in XR Meet Up” is for the ladies. Meet with other women in the virtual technology industry, share experiences and discuss ideas about the future. (March 13 from 11 a.m.–12 p.m. at Fairmont, Wisteria Room)

The “VR/AR Healthcare Meet Up” will connect you to professionals in the healthcare industry to discuss how the future of technology can impact the clinical setting. (March 13 from 11 a.m. –12 p.m. at Fairmont, Primrose)