It’s that time of the year again. That time when you either swoon with envy over those who are going, head along yourself or cut loose with (the increasingly popular) ‘SXSW has jumped the shark. I like their old stuff better than their new stuff’ rant. Regardless, it’s on again. We’re going. Grab us for a beer if you are too.

Meanwhile, here are a few things to expect in 2015:

Last year’s all-pervading theme of personalised, health-based tech looks like it’s finding a home on the catwalk in 2015 with ‘Fashion & Wearable Tech’ getting its own dedicated stream in the Interactive lineup. There will be panels on the global rise of fashion technology, mobile shopping, 3D printed fashion and something called ‘The Emperor’s New Wearables’ (which on the surface sounds a little cynical).

Privacy, or the lack thereof, will again be on the most discussed issues list this year. Whereas in 2014 the privacy conversation centred around appearances by Julian Assange and Edward Snowden, this year it looks ‘the internet of things’ and wearables will play a big part in this theme. Do we want our ovens talking to our light globes without our permission? Are we concerned that Samsung is listening and indexing our most banal lounge-room discussions? Probably, yep. Can we sell advertising against that? Absolutely!

In 2015, Bitcoin is more prominent than ever in a range of different topical panels, startup events and workshops. Whereas Square transactions were all the rage over the last couple of years, topping up your Coinjar before you hit Austin might making this year’s payments cool n swift. Hopefully less discussion this year about whether cryptocurrency is a thing and more about how it will be applied and where it will go mainstream.

Star spotters will enjoy appearances from the cast of the TV show ‘Community’ and Julia Louis-Dreyfus, star of the political comedy, ‘Veep’. Also popping up around town will be Charles Barkley, Busta Rhymes, Run the Jewels and, undoubtedly, Shingy.

On the branded front, McDonalds have announced a much bigger Mc-presence than it normally has. The company will be sponsoring the festival for the first time and will provide a ‘Fry-fi’ food truck offering free wifi and, y’know, french fries. Expect Samsung, Intel, Tesla and others to try new and interesting ways to get their marketing and engagement messages to thousands of otherwise very distracted conference goers. Apple is also hosting a major event where it’s expected to provide hands on time (! eh? eh?) with the Apple Watch.

UPDATE: Also, Mophie will be delivering phone recharges via St. Bernards:
http://m.fastcompany.com/3043441/at-sxsw-st-bernard-dogs-will-rescue-those-needing-a-phone-charge

From Friday the 13th, a few of us Royals will be posting from halls ’n streets ’n bars of Austin, so stay tuned for more sights and sounds to come.

Dave.
@daveking
@theroyals