Mar 18, 2019 · by Softvision Team

A Behind-the-Scenes Recap of SXSW 2019

Cognizant Softvision at Austin’s Largest Festival & Conference

For the third year, and for the first time as Cognizant Softvision, we took part in SXSW. In addition to yoga classes, interviews and talks with some members of our leadership teams, we enjoyed mingling with industry execs at a casual meetup at our Austin Studio on March 8th over the weekend we were proud sponsors at The Current Mansion, one of the major locations of the festival. Read on for an insider’s recap into some of these special events.


On March 8th, we welcomed more than 20 leaders from some of the biggest companies around the world to our global headquarters in Austin. There, we organized a cocktail mix and mingle and showed them some innovative demos with a focus on the retail & fashion industries.


Cognizant Softvision and TheCurrent and dove into the future of end-user experiences made possible through innovative, digital breakthroughs at this private event. We covered three different industries – beauty, grocery, and retail.

The Future of Beauty
The beauty industry is entering a new era—one driven by consumer voices, unconventional experiences, and digitally enabled innovation. As indie brands generate cult-like followings and discussions of inclusivity and equity challenge the foundation of traditional players, it’s clear that incremental innovation is no longer enough to keep up. Our Future of Beauty demo, the Looking Glass, is a beauty vanity of the future that uses two methods of skin analysis – questionnaire and AI facial scanning techniques – to understand customers’ skin in order to generate a personalized serum recipe that is blended on the spot. Our interactive experience leveraged AI, voice, 3D image scanning and robotics technology to provide a hyper-personalized shopping experience that resulted in beauty products that were tailored to the individual consumers.

The Future of Grocery
Grocery retail is shifting as health and wellness become a growing priority for many consumers. Non-GMO and organic foods have become mainstream, in response to consumer preference for healthier foods that have fewer unnatural ingredients. Consumers increasingly are more selective about their food purchases and demand more transparency from retailers. From smart shelf labels to self-checkout, technology is transforming the way consumers make decisions and shop for food. Our Future of Grocery is an on-site interaction point that uses instant DNA synthesis to understand customers’ bodies in order to make healthier suggestions for personalized diets.  In addition, the kiosk fits seamlessly with the current shopping experience, as loyalty cards can be leveraged to record historic purchasing data and health information. Additional services—such as on-site nutritionists—can also be booked through the device.

The Future of Retail
The Retail Innovation demo was used to showcase our Innovation Labs with Banana Republic and the story of our quick turnaround to test a pilot program in their stores. Walking current and potential clients through a simulated demo, we brought to life our solution, showing how we approached Banana Republic’s goals of a low-barrier-to-entry customer experience that enabled them to quickly handle customer requests in-store (and potentially avoid revenue lost). The real kicker for our audience is when we reveal that we went from ideation to rollout in select stores in only five weeks – more than anything, that fact was a surefire conversation starter.


The Innovation Mansion was an experiential activation designed to ignite participants’ curiosity and feed their obsession with innovation, fashion, technology, beauty, luxury, and sustainability.

An elite group of speakers, top executives, partners, and influencers gathered at the Mansion over the weekend of SXSW  to explore the “Age of Transformation” and how brands and retailers can engage with digital-first consumers.

The days began with wellness sessions, which included a cardio mix of yoga and boxing, followed by breakfast and beverages in the pool house. The rest of the day, guests were invited to explore the coolest new technologies, from an integrated Charlotte Tilbury bathroom experience and a YouCam beauty smart mirror activation to state-of-the-art Videri canvases integrating artistry with branding and marketing, and freebies from Supergoop! and Kendra Scott in the world’s smartest vending machine from SocialVend.

While not exploring the new tech, guests could participate in meditation, makeovers, interactive conversations, and fireside chats. Saturday’s fireside chat focused on sustainability, led by Levi’s Head of Global Product Innovation, Paul Dillinger. On Sunday, futurist and best-selling author Brian Solis discussed innovation in the era of digital distraction, and how to live a more creative, productive and happy life. There was also a “Game Show” dynamic focused on wellness with experts from Under Armour, DIRTY LEMON and Recess dissect what the new wellness boom means to products and service of the future. Speakers included Zak Normandin, founder & CEO of Iris Nova, Benjamin Witte, founder & CEO of Recess, and Sid Jatia, global e-commerce & digital at Under Armour.

Innovation Mansion guests wrapped up their days with happy hour, dinner, a DJ on Sunday, and a nightcap to mingle and network.

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