Ever wanted to just jump into a Mini and race across Paris, Milan, Tokyo or New York? Well now you can in Google Maps latest mash up; Mini Maps. An ideal platform for creativity, Google Maps is no longer a site for navigation, but instead one for zombies, graffiti, ash-clouds and more zombies apparently. Well if they cannot take over the real world, then the virtual one will just have to do, as proven by Fleck and the ever increasingly popular Royal Wedding Zombie application. Here, you pitch your zombies against the might of Buckingham Palace’s guards, who let’s face it, stand a better chance than Leicester City Council, according to the BBC.
Yet, Google Maps is actually becoming a vital part of social media. Whether its health, shopping or the environment, designers continue to develop numerous useful and provocative ways of expressing information. I mean, just take a look at these; Singapore’s Dengue Fever Map, HealthMap & Toronto’s Start STP Map, yet what about other areas of health? Does retail therapy count?
A new phase that has hit the online high street is geo-tagging real time purchases on Google Maps. Zappos, ThisNext, The Book Depository and Net-a-Porter have all experimented within this realm, highlighting current trends and demonstrating the influences that people have on one another’s purchases. Groupon now hopes to capitalise on this, letting consumers view their nearest deals in Chicago, yet how long will Google Maps mash ups last within a Microsoft dominated world and can it become more physical? Just check out this video below for a little bit of inspiration:
Forget the man wearing the oversized Dominoes pizza box at the busy intersection, artificial intelligence technology will be the humanized advert of the future. After pondering the potential for interactive billboards, the route that advertising technology is on is looking mightily familiar, almost human.
What makes up a human, well a number of things, including opposable thumbs, feeling emotion, self-awareness and the ability to learn? ‘Strong A.I.’ can learn to simulate human thinking, recognise emotion, are self aware and thumbs are just unnecessary. Blade Runner hasn’t come to life just yet but the rise of the machines is on the horizon and they can show you the way to your nearest Dominoes.
Google have trained their search bots to understand and categorise humour, digital signs can recognise facial features, race, age, gender and recommend a bag to match your outfit. In the future they could discern emotion, and in turn react to the consumer’s mood. Let’s go one step further. Hooking up social media and your online purchase history to adverts would give the real insight into our minds that these virtual sales assistants need to make their pitch more personal.
NEC are confident in their A.I. signs released in Japan but Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt called facial recognition ‘creepy’. Privacy has been a core issue of controversy for advertising and social networking sites alike, but Amazon’s recommendations and Facebook’s adverts are both dipping into your personal information for marketing purposes and we’ve all grown accustom to it. I thought it would be amazing to have an advert refer to me by name and know what I’ve ‘Liked’ on Facebook but what if I joined the Twilight fan page ironically. Can strong A.I. understand sarcasm, would everyone be as overjoyed by a usually inanimate object talking to them? What if that billboard looked like a human, would that make the encounter anymore comfortable? Perhaps in time it will become the norm, we will grow accustomed to our digitised human advertisements.
Walking past a bus stop may never be the same, signs are increasingly becoming digital. GranataPet Snack Check interactive billboards in Germany dispensed dog food using foursquare check-ins and McDonalds recent Pick N Play digital signs in Sweden saw consumers playing ping pong on the boards using their mobiles. Players that last for 30 seconds are rewarded with a digital coupon for their favourite McDonald’s treat.
Whilst Immersive Labs who specialise in digital signs have already developed a viewer centric A.I. sign that can learn when it is best to play a certain advert, NEC has tested billboards in Germany and Japan with built-in cameras that can discern age and gender.
In my opinion, Immersive Labs technology is impressive, but it has yet to recognise the person as a whole. This includes the consideration of not just physical attributes, but mental, including what they like, dislike, prejudice, social awareness and environmental influence – this is key when creating truly bespoke campaigns for consumers.
The Centre for Future Studies believes that by next year Emotion Recognition Software (ERS) will be widely used within out-of-home media, yet will this also be adopted within the home as well? The software developed by Theo Gevers and Nicu Sebe in 2007 used 3D face mapping to work out which facial muscles were in use and determine the emotion. As a result, digital adverts will become more human, reacting to consumer reaction, consciously and subconsciously. Scary, aye?
Imagine if adverts started to target you by your nickname? What if they knew your deepest darkest desires? Could they evolve to know you better than you do? Just Imagine.
Simply Better by Patrick Barwise and Sean Meehan provides a definitive argument regarding the necessity of brands being able to find out exactly what consumers want , rather than simply delivering a solution that is better than its competitors. Surprisingly, it encourages step-by-step innovation, compared to blue sky thinking, but why?
Naturally, radical innovation is more likely to get you noticed; however the longevity of the product or campaign is reliant on the quality of obtainable research, previously conducted by marketing strategists. Hence, this will generally determine how long it will survive before it starts to annoy consumers. This philosophy tends to lend itself more towards incremental rather than radical change, as it is less unpredictable and easier to control.
So is it better off for an advertising agency to be pioneering or responsive? Pioneers, like ClustaLabs and Ogilvy Labs are heavily dependent on research and development, enabling them to become technical leaders within their field, however this proactive approach can sometimes be risky. Responsive companies, who tend to be in-house design teams, deliberately observe the success of existing innovations that have opened up new markets, immediately “jumping on the bandwagon” if they spot the potential.
At ClustaLabs, we realise the important of getting the correct balance between radical and incremental innovation. As the word innovation is being used everywhere today, the lines between these two fields are becoming blurred, as seen at the 2010 Innovation Summit:
Let’s take Phillips and Apple for example, both commonly perceived as true innovators, yet they are much less radical than one may think.
Philips current strategy is to leverage existing technologies to meet newly-identified customer needs, better than their competitors, in regards to lighting. They continually find new and innovative ways of marketing a light bulb; however at the end of the day, it is still an electric light bulb, invented in 1878 by Thomas Edison. The same goes with Apple. Steve Jobs did not invent the MP3 player, it was a German company called Fraunhofer-Gesellshaft, but what Apple have done is to innovatively break down the barriers of human-computer interfacing, to invent a more tactile, user-centered experience.
ClustaLabs understand that customers and markets do not always welcome innovation unless the benefits are obvious, which is why we take care with our research and development to understand what they want and what they need. This takes time, a luxury that many advertising agencies don’t have. That is what makes us different; we have the time to creative and time to innovate.
A few weeks ago Nintendo released the 3DS, the glasses-free 3D portable gaming platform and the next step in 3D technology. But why then is there still a need for 3D glasses at the cinema?
Last year, the 3D film Avatar took the top spot at the box office and the production-line of 3D cinema has since ballooned. (There was a witty reference to Disney’s Up in there somewhere.) Clearly 3D is the industry buzz-word for 2010/11 with media producers aiming to crack the market and lead the way in 3D experience for consumers, but what is the key to the three-dimensional door?
Speculation online has been rife around the technology inside the 3DS allowing for 3D gaming without the need for glasses – it’s widely known that three-dimensional viewing works by each eye seeing a different image and when put back together by your brain you get a 3D image. Traditionally both polarising and anaglyph (red and cyan) glasses filter images between the left and right eye, this is called stereoscopic 3D. Whilst there’s been no official word from Nintendo on this one, speculation online suggests that the 3DS achieves stereoscopy using a filter over the screen which can be switched on or off to block out light going to your left and right eye – meaning users of the device can switch between 2D and 3D images.
By now you’ve probably guessed where this is going, why not put filters over all cinema screens you may ask. The technology which is speculatively used in the 3DS – called a parallax barrier (yes, another big word) – is highly dependent on the angle at which you view the images, on the small screen of a portable gaming device the filter works well but if scaled up to the size of cinema screens the filter simply wouldn’t effectively split the left and right images.
Recent research has resulted in some speculation around the health-implications of stereoscopic 3D imagery – with your eyes focussed on different images some scientists have raised their concerns of excessive eye-strain and other complications. Whilst there’s no official word on the health implications of cinema-scale 3D viewing, have you ever wondered why some pre-roll adverts are in 3D and some aren’t? Easing your eyes into the 3D experience has been suggested as one way to alleviate some of the traditional symptoms of 3D viewing. So are we going to see more 3D adverts?
Increasing investment in 3D technology both for the home and cinema means that 3D advertising could see a massive surge in the next year. Previously shelling out for a 3D advert would mean that your investment would only get your product or brand promoted in three-dimensions on the big screen, however with devices such as the 3DS becoming popular investment in 3D adverts have the prospect to be used across a multitude of emerging platforms.
Even though the technology used in the Nintendo 3DS can’t be up-scaled to work on cinema-scale, the filters are currently being tested in other hand-held devices and in glasses-free 3D televisions. Imagine a 3D mobile phone, mp3 player or sat-nav – already being trialled in Range Rovers believe it or not.