Sushi Teleportation and other SXSW humor

 From NASA’s ‘space poop challenge’ to a backpack with propellers

By Niek Eijsbouts, Creative Director SuperHeroes Amsterdam



As humbling as it is to see Elon Musk and Steven Spielberg in attendance at SXSW, some of the true top innovators can be found in the venues and tiny rented houses on the remote perimeters of the festival. Here, and also in the little street of the Japanese, some of the festival’s most unexpected topics take center stage.


NASA’s poop challenge

In 2018, while Elon Musk was busy blasting his sports car into space, NASA still struggled to find a way to give its astronauts a proper toilet. NASA is the biggest Space Agency in the world that employs some of the brightest minds in space technology. They put the first man on the moon for goodness sakes! But for some reason, they couldn’t design a simple pair of astronaut underpants. Feeling a bit stuck, NASA decided to turn to the public for help and organized a competition with a grand prize of $30,000 for the person who could find the best solution. Of course, the internet went absolutely wild. From underpants with built-in toilet paper to pant legs with drain hoses, it seemed no idea was too crazy to be suggested. In no time at all, NASA had a solution and in the process, found a new way to crowdsource a wealth of knowledge and fresh ideas for new innovations. Think you have the answer to NASA’s next challenge? Competitions are always underway, so make your move on




Drone art

We all know that drones are making a huge splash in the world of technology, but what you might not have seen, is that drones are also playing a role in collaborations between artists and technicians. Last month in Milan, Drones and Quadcopters made their Fashion Week debut on the runway carrying signature handbags for Dolce & Gabbana. Léa Pereyre, the world’s first ‘drone costume designer’, gave a special talk about drone fashion during SXSW. She began her work with drones when she was hired by Cirque du Soleil, where she was tasked with making the drones appear more friendly and less military. During the ‘humanization’ process, she worked with programmers and drone builders to create a beautifully choreographed drone ballet, showing that this technology can be not only useful but artistic as well.




Sushi Teleport Machine

How would you like to have fresh sushi made right in front of your eyes by a master sushi chef who’s actually all the way over in Japan? Well, with the first ever Sushi Teleport Machine, your wildest sushi dreams have come true! In this exhibit at SXSW, a chef in Japan artfully prepares several pieces of sushi, while a robot arm in Austin re-creates the identical dish, piece by piece. The only thing stopping us from digging in is a sign saying ‘do not eat’ posted above the arm while it works.

Another eye-catcher was the Lunavity backpack: a backpack with propellers above your head, allowing the user to achieve unimaginable vertical height when they jump. According to the creators, it can come in handy during basketball games or just be fun to wear at a crosswalk.


So why make astronaut-approved underwear, or drone fashion shows, or sushi teleportation, or a backpack that gives you a vertical even Michael Jordan himself would envy? Because innovations that push the limits of science and technology make technique human and fresh and exciting. By experimenting, these inventors get a huge platform which they can use to spread their message, grow their audience, and to hopefully change the world.

SXSW: Transitioning to a life without screens

By Niek Eijsbouts, Creative Director SuperHeroes Amsterdam


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No matter where you go, get on a bus or a train and you’ll see the same universal thing; people with their faces buried in their mobile phones. At home, our tablets, laptops, tv, and mobile phone are on more often than not. We even wake up and go to bed with our screens next to our pillows. Essentially, we’re glued to our screens.


The good news is, this trend is projected to disappear! We’ll go from face down to chin up. Unconsciously, we are living more and more of our lives without the use of a screen. New screen-less technologies are giving way to experiences like using gesture-control in our cars to reduce distraction, liking a song on Spotify using only our headphones, and asking Siri about a recipe while elbow-deep in guacamole.


Let’s face it, we’ve wanted to talk to our computers from the very beginning. And now we want our computers to talk back to us even more. In this world of ‘audio killed the video star’, the fall of screens will give rise to the use of our voices instead.


Take Hollywood for example. Films like “A Space Odyssey,” (2001) Her or – my personal favorite -KITT from “Knight Rider”, voice-controlled and speech-enabled computers invoke fear in the audience but stir up feelings of hope at the same time. They literally speak to our imagination as humans.


The first voice-controlled computer, developed in 1961 by IBM, was called the ‘Shoebox.’ The Shoebox understood an impressive nine numbers and simple calculations. Adding and subtracting, that kind of stuff. Yet, nothing more than a listening calculator.


And now, 57 years later, Alexa, Siri, Google Assistant, and Cortana understand us 95% of the time, which is the bare minimum for a nearly infallible product the majority of people are comfortable with using. This year, Google even expects a 99% accuracy rate with the Google Assistant, “Hey, fam!”. They’ll all understand our slang and dialect soon enough.


For this Italian grandma, who went viral recently, it’s already accurate enough.



Brands will get an opinion

As advertising agencies, we think of how a brand is presented to the world. Currently, we create ideas predominantly for screens and provide brands with a face and a visual identity. With voice control, the stakes are raised, and we can now give brands a voice as well. This new level of thinking will add character and allow brands to join the conversation.  


24/7 customer service

We all know the frustration of trying to reach customer service, only to find out that they are closed for the day or not available. SXSW predicts that soon these call centers will be taken over by a voice-controlled computer after office hours, cutting the time spent running around in circles or waiting on hold listening to that awful elevator music. Moreover, the brand will be represented by one voice and one character and present a clean-branded front. Long gone are the days of call center employees in a foul mood getting in the way.


Voice-search websites

Are your hands full, but you still want to submit your meter readings to your energy supplier? Forget about filling in small text fields. With voice-controlled websites, you’ll be done with just a few commands.


Al-speaker ads

What we’re doing now in radio commercials can also be done through our devices. And even more focused, because we know the user. When you ask Siri when the storm will pass on a rainy day, you’ll hear an ad about KLM’s last-minute deals. This is only the beginning.


As a society, we are slowly transitioning towards being more open to AI and voice-controlled technology. Children growing up in the 21st century already think it’s completely normal to talk to devices, and they’ll expect brands to talk back in the future. I can’t wait until Dutch assistants become even smarter. Then, my three-year-old toddler can finally ask Alexa the existential questions of life. It’ll be a long, endless, and harmless conversation, well, just as long as it doesn’t end in unexpected purchases like these.




Sidekick Season

White room

Introducing our team’s new Sidekicks. Get to know Raisa, Lammert, Alex, and Chloe in this quick Q&A!


Lammert – Strategy


What are your superpowers?

I can time travel with my mind into the past and future, which can be useful sometimes (but often just ends in overthinking).


What emoji do you relate to the most and why?

The cup of coffee, I guess. That’s pretty much all I drink.


Raisa – Creative


Which visual artist do you get inspired by?

Do you know “Project Graham”? It isn’t created by one person/artist, but damn I love these kinds of projects. It’s clever, really well-made, relatable and current.


If you could only be online for 5 minutes a day, what would you do first?

I love to share weird shit with my best friends and my boyfriend. I would send them articles with strange facts or loads of gifs.


Chloe – PR & Social Media


What are your superpowers?

I have a laser eye for detail. 


What IG profile(s) would you recommend following and why?

@ps.ny, because of the combination of the Labradoodle, food and great photography and @plant_proof because of the food, information and most importantly, the guy is hot AF. Homeboy can like… get it.  


Alex – Strategy


What is your personal mission?

To make the world a better place, of course!!


If your batmobile should be sponsored by one brand, which one would it be and why?

KLM, so I can always travel high… in the air.


New Hideout!



We have some super exciting news. Last week, we were busy moving into our spanking new Hideout and we are now officially located at Keizersgracht 585!!!


Unfortunately, we had to say goodbye to our old office. And even though no one wanted to admit it (SuperHeroes don’t cry right? ;), we all had a lump in our throats when we closed our old office doors behind us for the last time. It was actually really sad, but it was time to finally take that next step!


Situated right in the heart of the city of Amsterdam, the Keizersgracht seemed like the perfect spot to locate our ever-evolving international creative Superagency. Just like our team, our headquarters have expanded quite a bit and we are putting the finishing touches on all the different rooms, as we speak.


Be on the look-out for more news about the office and the upcoming office party!


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Our team got bigger!



SuperHeroes is growing rapidly. To keep up with all this awesomeness, here’s a quick Q&A of our new team members!


Daniel Vargas – Strategist


Q: What are your superpowers?

A: I have the ability to read minds… no I wish, but I’m pretty good at reading people, which is a good superpower when you work in marketing.


Q: Which visual artist do you get inspired by?

A: I love the video installations of a Belgian artist called Frederik Heyman, the photography of David LaChapelle and local graffiti artists The London Police.


Kirsten Cave – Project/Account Director New York 


Q: What is your personal mission?

A: To eat all the free samples.


Q: What emoji do you relate to the most and why?

A: For sure the Alien. We’re both weird.


Babo Schokker – Art Director


Q: What are your superpowers?

A: Never settle for ordinary.


Q: If you could only be online for 5 minutes a day, what would you do first?
A: Buienradar to see if the grass is greener on the other side.


Sanne-Fleur – Project/Account Manager


Q: What is your personal mission?

A: My personal mission is to make things work. Get it done, find a great solution and fix it!


Q: If your batmobile should be sponsored by one brand which one would it be and why?

A: Din Thai Fung, probably, I think the sponsorship includes free food right?

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