Chrome and Groupon scoop big awards at South By Southwest

Google’s Chrome Web browser which backs a music and imagery website browser won top honours at a South By Southwest Interactive (SXSW).

The Wilderness Downtown, an interactive short film, was declared Best of Show at an awards ceremony late Tuesday that capped the Internet-oriented portion of the festival.

“This was a labour of love for a lot of people,” said Radical Media music video director Chris Milk, who has worked with artists such as U2, Green Day, Courtney Love and Arcade Fire. “It would not have been possible without Google.” combines rich and smooth image streaming capabilities of HTML5 video coding technology in Chrome with music by Grammy-winning Arcade Fire to create an “interactive film.”

“The Wilderness Downtown is meant to be a new type of video,” says Google’s Thomas Gayno.

“For Google it is very compelling because it allows us to push the browser to its limits and move the web forward.”

Visitors to the website enter addresses where they lived while growing up to be taken on nostalgic trips by weaving Google Maps and Street View images with the song “We Used to Wait.”

“It takes you on a wonderful journey all synchronized with music,” Gayno added. “It is like choreography of browser windows.”

US internet coupon deals website Groupon was voted winner of a People’s Choice award in keeping with a trend of SXSW goers using smartphones to connect with friends, deals, and happenings in the real world.

Founded in 2008, Chicago-based Groupon offers discounts to its members on retail goods and services, offering one localised deal a day. It has been vigorously conducting acquisitions in emerging markets.

A group text messaging service aptly named GroupMe was crowned the “Breakout Digital Trend” at SXSW.

Startups that let friends join in group text message conversations were hot properties with SXSW goers eager to swap discoveries, news, opinions and party venues with circles of friends.

In the weeks before SXSW kicked off, GroupMe added location and picture sharing and made it possible for users to send conversation invitations to friends at social networking hotspots Facebook and Twitter.

Longtime language teaching company Rosetta Stone was declared best education resource for its Version 4 Totale system, while satirical publication The Onion won a “classic” category devoted to projects launched before January 2010.

Meanwhile, California startup, born of one man’s frustration at not being able to repair his own computer, was awarded top honors in a community category.

“IFixit works because we actually teach people how to repair things with easy step-by-step instructions and pictures,” said startup founder Kyle Wiens shortly after receiving his award.

“There are a lot of issues with electronics dying and people not being able to deal with it,” he continued. “We are empowering real consumers to fix things, and save money at the same time.”

Wiens writes online repair manuals, with members of the online community contributing to the website’s digital library.

“We see a tremendous amount of new manuals come in all the time with people teaching everything from how to fix old Volvos to blenders,” Wiens added.



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