What investors need to know from SXSW

Behind the scenes at SXSW
Behind the scenes at SXSW

Have you ever wondered what South by Southwest (SXSW) looks like? Well, this is it, a lot of activity spread throughout downtown Austin...with most of the sessions and the learning at the Austin Convention Center.

What's generating buzz here in Austin? What should you as an investor know?

Any list of top trends in tech recently have included self-driving cars, wearables, sensors, all related to the Internet of Things. More than 70 sessions here are related to the Internet of Things. These are all out in force here in Austin.

But let's talk a little about some lesser-known trends investors might be interested in.

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From a macro level, good news as the start-up economy is booming. Officials here say they've had doubled the amount of space devoted to start-up-related content in 2015.

There are new trends in the business of delivery to watch for in the future. Not only are drones a possibility, as Amazon.com (AMZN) CEO Jeff Bezos hopes, but imagine the impact self-driving vehicles will have on delivery. One expert even told me delivery drivers may be drone operators in the future, parking at a central hub in a neighborhood and sending out the drones for delivery.

Watch for robots to become more and more a part of our future, especially in health, serving people who may not be able to do certain things for themselves. There is a Robot Petting Zoo here. So cute, I want to take one home.

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Speaking of health, expect intense technological resources to be poured into the health and medical industry. We're talking beyond robotics. This year marks the launch of the inaugural SX Health and MedTech Expo.

There's also some very interesting sessions here regarding location-based services. As one person put it: Location is the new cookie. Imagine the possibilities -- both good and bad -- opened up as apps that know your preferences and habits can notify you about what's nearby.

The official SXSW App made interesting use of this. Everywhere I go beacons are following me around and let me know what sessions are going on nearby, and even if any of my friends are near.

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Finally, the transportation sector is undergoing dramatic changes. Of course we've talked about self-driving cars for a long time, but let's also think about alternative fuel vehicles. Not only things like the battery-powered Tesla (TSLA) Model S and other battery-powered electric cars, but of course Toyota (TM) coming out with the hydrogen-powered Mirai, coming very soon to the U.S.

This will be a hydrogen car is essentially an electric vehicle because of the reaction between the hydrogen and the oxygen in the fuel cell. Also in transportation, the ride-sharing industry is really picking up steam with Uber and Lyft really disrupting the existing industry.

There is even, supposedly, flying cars? There actually was a session here at SXSW that I attended. And believe it or not, this company already has a working model, a working prototype as you see here in the video. It's really amazing. I won't call that a trend... let's get self-driving revolution off the ground first, shall we?

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Rex Moore writes for The Motley Fool. He has no position in any stocks mentioned, but The Motley Fool recommends Amazon.com and Tesla Motors.

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