SXSW: 4 takeaways for developers

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Bringing together some of the brightest and most creative minds in technology, Austin’s SXSW Interactive conference is a developer’s paradise. While it covers a broad range of topics and interests, a few trends stood out among the rest, and IBM was at the pulse of what’s hot. From serious gaming to virtual reality, we offered developers hands on demos and experiences so they could discover new ways to infuse cognitive computing, big data, and next-generation technology into their own apps, products and games.

Serious gaming

In the IBM Cloud lounge, we provided a hands-on demonstration of an educational game based on Minecraft. Co-developed by local Austin high school students using cognitive computing on IBM Cloud, the game harnesses the power of Watson to diagnose and treat diseases in Minecraft SXSW2villages. Not only did this game-based learning program offer students a new way to engage with biology and research methods, it also gave them practical, hands on experience with cloud development tools and cognitive computing. It also proved that developers of all ages and skill levels can easily create cool apps and games with Bluemix.

Big data

We gave attendees a behind-the-scenes look at how IBM used massive amounts of data to improve our own digital developer community, developerWorks. developerWorks accounts for nearly 25 percent of all visitors, attracts 4.7 million unique visitors a month, and drives nearly half of all IBM trial registrations. This activity produces an enormous amount of data, so the team designed extensive data-capturing dashboards to track and report on user activity, including trial downloads of IBM Cloud products and sales of developerWorks Premium. Armed with these daily trackers, our team made adjustments to execution—driving critical business results for IBM.

The cognitive era

IBM hosted an experiential studio—the Cognitive Studio—for developers, allowing them to play with Watson APIs on IBM Cloud. Experiences could be personalized based on developers’ interests: they could play Rock, Paper Scissors to see the power of Apache Spark; Minecraft to experience Gaming APIs; or test their developer or entrepreneur skills against others in the industry. It was truly a playground for developers of all types, with the goal of getting creative juices flowing and sparking new ideas.

Virtual reality

VR seemed to be everywhere this year, including one of our IBM demonstrations: a Watson analytics-fueled 3D “bike trip” through various landscapes, complete will hills and wind. The video game workflow is built on game engines like Unity (which now works with Watson and Bluemix APIs) where developers can build amazing 3D environments and program controllers so that players can customize their experience. The message for developers was clear: our SDKs are simple, so don’t be afraid to get started and play around with them.

For the full experience of the IBM demos at SXSW Interactive, watch the video series on DeveloperWorks TV.

GM, Developer Ecosystem and Startups, IBM

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