Finalists of the SXSW Social Technologies Accelerator
Every year, startups converge upon Austin to pitch their apps and compete in the SXSW Accelerator in front of a live audience. These accelerators have best been known for helping apps like Twitter take off or debut for the first time like FourSquare.
This year, three finalists in the Social Technologies category presented their apps in hoping to be the next big thing. Each of these apps seem to focus our attention back to emotion, intimacy and relationships while also trying to solve some real-world problems we face with exchanging and acquiring information in the digital social age. Those finalists were Samba, Felt and Connect apps.
Samba was this years winner and produced by a team from Tel Aviv, Israel. Its a video messaging service, but what makes it so special is its ability to video record the reactions of people receiving the video message automatically and in turn send that reaction back to the sender. It was presented as an app that recreates the warmth of face-to-face interaction by infusing digital video communication with genuine, authentic responses.
One of our favorites at the competition. Not only for its promise to reinvent and bring back the intimate and tangible value of handwritten letters, but because of the story behind its creationcreating a solution for the founders girlfriend, a love story as he put it. The Felt app, designed specifically for the iPad, allows you to write and send a handwritten card in the real mail. The way it works is that you can choose a design, write your note using your iPad then send it out to Felt where it is then produced and printed from one of their printing partners and then mailed out. The company aims to create technology that makes us more human, expressive and personalnot less. I think they really hit it on the nose.
While Samba and Felt focus more on addressing the need for technology to be more expressive?? for humans, Connect approaches a more practical solution for staying connected with your network within the context of space and location. Its not a geo-location app where you need to check in wherever you are. Although it relies on that technology, its more than that. Its a social map of all your connections and presents your address book in a more interactive and contextual?? manner. The app not only connects to your local address book on your iPhone but to other social platforms. Imagine traveling out of town into a new city, you can use the social map to find out whom among your connections are around. Reversely, you can also be notified when an out of town friend has arrived to your city. Its a great app for planning both social and business trips by being informed about your network within the context of your location.’