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South By Southwest® (SXSW), the annual conference and festival in Austin, TX (March 9-17, 2018) brings people together from a vast range of industries and disciplines, making it inevitable that creativity-driving connections are forged and traditional boundary lines are blurred.

One of the most fascinating aspects is how the conference planners identify and predict the most significant trends. “Convergence” topped the list this year, followed closely by the maturing VR market, the rise of blockchain, hacking health and our bodies and omnipresent AI, among others.

These top-of-mind trends for SXSW attendees are the same that drive our day-to-day work in telepresence technology. From the cutting-edge of the healthcare sector to how technology is changing the way we interact and communicate in the workplace and at home -- here are our can’t-miss sessions for SXSW 2018.


Brainy Surgery: VR, AI and Robots in the OR

Digital technologies such as tractography, a novel method for building computer models of the nerve paths through the brain, and data analytics are revolutionizing the operating room for both surgeons and patients.

This panel will discuss significant software and hardware advances in tractography for building surgical planning and intraoperative guidance systems that can produce better outcomes for those undergoing the nearly two million brain surgeries performed annually in the U.S.

(Panel: Jordan Amadio, MD, MBA – NeuroLaunch, Wes Hodges, Synaptive Medical, Anant Patel, MD, Central Texas Brain & Spine, Khara Ramos, PHD, NIH)

You, Me & a Robot Makes Three – Tomorrow’s Modern Family

From your car to your office, robots are here! And soon they’re going to be in your home. With advancements in engineering & AI, intelligent robots are at our fingertips. But how do you create a robot that people will accept within their home?

Kaijen Hsiao, Chief Technology Officer at Mayfield Robotics will share how she and her team are using personality and cutting edge technology to understand how humans and robots interact, in order to bridge the gap between robotics and mainstream society.

(Speaker: Kaijen Hsiao, Mayfield Robotics)

Reprogramming the Brain with Upper Body

Robotics are the future of physical rehabilitation. Harmony is the world’s first two-armed, upper-body, robotic-assisted exoskeleton suitable for rehabilitation and neuro-reprogramming for individuals with many types of brain injuries.

The UT Austin ReNeu Laboratory, St. David’s HealthCare, and Harmonic Bionics will discuss the challenges and opportunities for robotics in the clinical and home rehabilitation setting, as well as the promise of robotic exoskeletons to improve patient outcomes.

(Panel: Eileen Dawson, PhD, University of TX, Austin, Ashish Deshpande, PHD, University of TX, Austin, Robert Lee, MD, St. David’s Rehabilitation Hospital, Youngmok Yun, PhD, Harmonic Bionics)

When Health Goes High Tech

As a global business leader, Michael Dell transformed the way people buy and use computers. Now, as a philanthropist, he is seeking to transform the way institutions help people get and stay healthy.

In this session, Dell will talk with Dr. Clay Johnston, inaugural dean of UT Austin’s Dell Medical School, about the wide variety of health projects he is supporting through the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, from grassroots-level care teams to new hospitals and academic institutions that are reshaping a city. And he will share how to conquer the massive challenges facing healthcare in the US based on his lessons learned from 30 years in the tech industry.
(Speaker: Michael Dell with Clay Johnston, Dell Medical School at University of Texas, Austin).

So You’re Leading From a Distance: Now What?

In the wake of remote working reversals by Yahoo and now IBM, Drs. Tom O’Neill (University of Calgary) and Laura Hambley (Work EvOHlution) will explain that Distributed Work Success is largely related to leadership skills, attributes, and capabilities.

Leveraging 15 years of research, participants take a mini remote leadership assessment and engage in a collaborative debriefing session. Philip Vanhoutte, former VP of Plantronics, will examine the leader’s role in virtual meetings, which can be the ultimate engagement driver or killer.

A Robot Won’t Take Your Job – Humans Will

While bots are already resetting the dynamic between people, technology, and practices, it’s human creativity, compassion and intuition that cannot be replaced. 90% of companies say they are working on problems so complex that they can only be solved by teams. (Ernst & Young) So why aren’t we investing in making today’s leadership, technical, cross-functional, geographically dispersed, culturally diverse teams all they can be?
(Speaker: Dominic Price, Atlassian)

Virtual Culture: The Way We Work Doesn't Work Anymore

Work from home? Is it a fad or here to stay? Many leaders and organizations are "deer in the headlights" when it comes to addressing the growing demands and expectations of workers who want to work from home or in some remote capacity. Leaders can address this opportunity head on by creating a great virtual culture.

Learn from our experience in growing a 600+ all-virtual team with no office. We'll share our best practices and ideas to develop a meaningful virtual culture that landed us in the #1 spot for Top Company Culture with Entrepreneur Magazine in 2017.

(Speakers: Byran Miles & Shannon Miles, Belay)

SXSW is always a critical stop on the digital future tour. If you can’t make it there, be sure to check out their Live Streaming schedule.

This year’s line-up is sure to offer compelling insights into how technology is shaping and expanding our physical and existential horizons.