The Upsider: Australia's Answer to SXSW Interactive Kicks Off This Weekend

It’s fitting that Tonsley – Australia’s first innovation district – play host to Hybrid World Adelaide.

The south-western Adelaide suburb was once home to Japanese car giant Mitsubishi’s Australian headquarters. The production line fell silent in 2008; the closure wasthe canary in the mine, signalling that the days of traditional car manufacturing in Australia were numbered.

From the bones of the decaying car plant, the Tonsley Innovation District was born, like a cyborg; an amalgam of past and future.

This week it pays host to the inaugural Hybrid World Adelaide, a tech festival inspired by Austin Texas’ SXSW Interactive. The first-of festival will showcase tech like never before in Australia, mixing business (a trade show and development lab) with pleasure (virtual zombie escape zones, drone racing, ‘how to’ classes’ and film).

We attended opening night and identified the most exciting ideas and events from within a four-day spectacle entirely devoted to the cutting edge; the edge of the edge, if you like.

Using eSports to grow your market share

If you are a youth-oriented business that is splashing cash on TV commercials, you are probably wasting your money. Millennials shun mainstream media and traditional forms of advertising, they stream Netflix and they install ad-blockers. So brands need to innovate.

The correlation between video games and business marketing strategies is perhaps not immediately apparent, but it is a connection that Adelaide Crows COO Nigel Smart powerfully elucidated during his presentation on opening night. Globally, the eSports industry is worth $1.2 billion, drawing both digital and real-life crowds.

To increase brand recognition amongst the millennial cohort, the Adelaide Crows purchased an eSport team. The eSports phenomenon can be witnessed on Friday October 6th during the HWA LAN, which will feature a live cross to the League of Legends World Championships in China.

Shipping South Australia to the World

While SpaceX Elon Musk recently pledged to transport commuters anywhere in the world in under an hour by 2022, Hybrid World is offering a sampler taste of such technology.

The festival, in conjunction with Renewal SA, has deposited a gold-painted shipping container on the Tonsley site. If you step inside this container, known as the Adelaide_Portal, you will come face-to-face with a citizen who is currently somewhere else on the planet; portals exist in more than 15 countries. Inside the portal is a live, fully immersive environment that feels like you are meeting IRL.

This immersive audio-visual experience, which is available to the public for the duration of the conference, is a small glimpse of the conference calls of the future. We are on the cusp of unlocking the potential for new levels of real-time interaction and collaboration between the globally scattered.

Drone On

Drone technology, like the internet, was a military innovation. Like the internet, new uses for drones are being discovered every day.

Treasury Wine Estates, for example, now use thermogenic cameras fitted to drones to detect when the grade A grapes are ripe for the picking. The result? More Penfolds Grange, less cask wine slop.

Drones, while good for business, are also a thrilling leisure activity for the gadget junkie. A drone owner, bored with aimlessly manoeuvring their craft about at the park, can now compete for the fame and riches that come from competitive drone racing. The public can witness this fledgling aerial sport on both Thursday and Friday, and opportunities to test fly the devices are available between bouts.

Hybrid World has curated a program of speakers and events that are ahead of the pack. Anyone wanting to get a head start in the race for the future should step into Tonsley Innovation District from October 5th to 8th.

Heading to Adelaide for Hybrid World? Check our our locals’ city guides.