March 4, 2013

Microsoft Envisions a Surface-Filled, Voice-Activated Future

February 29, 2012

Interfaces of the future

Microsoft Research are working hard to show that they still have the innovative edge in the computer industry. While Google Labs might get more of the attention thanks to their high profile projects like Wilderness Downtown Microsoft are looking to the future showing how people might interact with each other more naturally. IllumiShare enables remote people to share any physical or digital object on any surface. It is a low-cost, peripheral device that looks like a desk lamp, and just like a lamp lights up a surface at which it is pointed, IllumiShare shares a surface.

Another interesting project is Holoflector which is a unique, interactive augmented-reality mirror. Graphics are superimposed correctly on your own reflection to enable a novel augmented-reality experience. Presented at Microsoft TechForum 2012, Holoflector leverages the combined abilities of Kinect and Windows Phone to infer the position of your phone and render graphics that seem to hover above it.

It will be interesting to see how these projects develop. Will they become the next Kinect success story or be another Microsoft Surface which never really took off as the technology was far too expensive (and didn’t seem to do more then let people shuffle pictures, shrink and resize them).

February 12, 2012

The future is 3D

Golan Levin is a creator, performer, innovator, engineer and MIT graduate whose work has been seen around the world. Working with two creative technologists James George and Jonathan Minard they have invented what they call “virtual cinematography” which it’s powered by stock electronics: a Microsoft Kinect coupled with an SLR camera. The Kinect tracks a figure in 3-D space while the SLR provides a sizable upgrade to the Kinect’s own camera. Custom software maps the SLR image onto the Kinect model, creating a fully-textured, digitized human.

Read the full story on FastCo Design

November 7, 2011

Kinect tomorrow

Microsoft continue their quest to convince everyone that they are a technology company for the future rather than the past. Here is their latest video showing what Kinect could become.

October 28, 2011

Future up for grabs

With the sad demise of Steve Jobs the world of technology suddenly has one major obstacle out of the way. Nobody could out innovate Jobs and without him Apple could eventually lose some momentum. Other companies now have a fighting chance of being seen as innovators not just Apple followers. Microsoft has already made huge strides with the Kinect but is still lagging. With this new video they are planting their innovation flag firmly in the world of productivity. It all looks very interesting but can they pull it off in reality. Time will tell…

January 25, 2011

Beyond the Surface

Microsoft Surface has been around for a while but never really seemed to take off. With this new development fro Amnesia/Razorfish things might be about to change.

They say it is a software breakthrough, which “allows instant and seamless sharing and transfer of any content such as photos, music or embedded apps between multiple handheld devices using a Microsoft Surface table using a single gesture. A smartphone owner can now move their content freely between two devices by simply dragging content off their phone onto a Microsoft Surface Table and back onto another device instantly”.

Check out the demo below.

December 1, 2010

Week of tweets #21

My Twitter follower count recently broke through the 1000 barrier (I know Ashton, nowhere near yours). To celebrate here is another “best of” from my most recent tweets…

Small wonder! RT @glueisobar: What a brilliant piece of design!! i3DG: a mobile 3D exhibition. http://bit.ly/aOPECI

  • Just love it when you take an idea from times past and update it for the digital age. This would be great for McDonald’s Happy Meals.

Wise words. RT @MrJonath: “Digital may be everyday but it’s not effortless” – Iain Tait in New Media Age http://bit.ly/aNOcqE

  • Iain Tait is going to be my next featured digital hero in this blog but in the meanwhile he defends the value of digital specialists in this article. We might live in a post-digital age where technology is every day, but (as Iain says) “to deny there’s an art and a specific skillset required to produce and execute great digital products or advertising is a huge, epic, ostrich-like mistake.

Love it! RT @intersphere: Major Oops. Publicis’ Hacked Twitter Video Is a Lesson on Inoculating Your Brand Against Satire http://ow.ly/3bZTN

Sweet idea – unless you’re a tree. RT @BLOGILVYdotNL: When Facebook becomes a book http://bit.ly/ds4bFk

  • Developed by Perfect Fools for DDB Paris, from an original idea by Siavosh Zabeti and Alexander Kalchev. Bouygues Telecom asked them for an idea to launch their Facebook platform. Something that would “go beyond using your profile picture in a funny way, or pranking your friends with a small joke”. They took a look at the way people use Facebook and “found that even though we use the social networking site everyday, we forget our favorite moments we share online”. So they created an app that could change that, and keep your Facebook in book form.

More Kinect goodness… RT @mariegoupry: Xbox Kinect Launch – Interactive Art Installation in Munichhttp://bit.ly/f7zgJT

  • I am always amazed how quickly new technology gets hacked and repurposed. You can find loads of incredible Kinect rehashes online now. They’ve also sold a bucketload of the devices. Which is more can be said for their Windows 7 phones.

The new new media? Richard Branson announces Virgin’s magazine for iPad – in the Guardian UK http://bit.ly/fCwDVA

  • Forget the arms race. Now it is the tablet war with rival media moguls battling it out for our touch screen devices.

And finally, a big bucket of cold water from my good friend and colleague Eric Phu

Reality check… RT @intersphere: View From the Consumer |http://bit.ly/ijfHyG by @ericphu

  • Here’s a sample : I will not jump through your hoops, so don’t even bother asking. If you want me to participate, you better keep things simple.I don’t want to create a custom video, or spend 20 minutes interacting with blatant advertising. I don’t even want to watch a two-minute video intro, or click through 10 pages to get to a point.
December 11, 2009

How to build great (digital) campaigns

under-constructionChapter 5 in David Ogilvy’s book, Confessions of an Advertising Man (the inspiration behind this blog), talks about the discipline needed to create truly successful campaigns. He believed that good advertising “sells the product without drawing attention to itself. It should rivet the reader’s attention on the product”. It should never say “what a clever advertisement”.

How does this apply to today’s world of digital media? Many “viral” campaigns are all about being clever while the product is almost invisible. Ogilvy was all about results and was obsessed with the performance-driven disciplines of mail-order, retail and consumer research. He talked about data years before it became part of the fabric of everyday life.

Ogilvy wrote his recipe for advertising campaigns that made “the cash register ring”. Let’s see how his “eleven commandments” work today:

1 – What you say is more important than how you say it.

“The content of the advertising, not its form” makes someone buy your product according to Ogilvy. In the world of print or TV advertising this may be more true than in the area of digital where brand experience is becoming more important. Form and content become blurred.

A great example is the Doritos Hotel 626 where the product makes way for an entertaining, branded experience that probably does more for the product than a site telling you about the way it’s made.


2 – Unless your campaign is built around a great idea, it will flop.

The face of advertising may be changing with new agencies springing up that offer new models and ways of thinking… but there is one thing that will never change. The power of the idea. Technology can support a great idea but not replace it. Campaigns built on a gimmick won’t have the legs to last very long.

Build your campaign around a bad idea (hello Windows 7 party) and you might end up with the wrong kind of publicity.

3 – Give the facts.

Here digital comes into it’s own. Where space was limited in print ads or 30 seconds on TV could only contain so much information, the internet allows people to dig as deep as they choose. Check out the Dove US website. With different levels of information and opportunities to engage, it really allows you to experience the brand philosophy and products in a tangible way.

4 – You cannot bore people into buying.

Ogilvy wrote that “the average family is now exposed to more than 1500 advertisements a day”. Imagine what that figure must be like today? It’s harder than ever to cut through the clutter and get the attention of your potential customer. Some of the best digital campaigns of the past year are definitely not boring. They even merit their own “making of”.

5 – Be well mannered, but don’t clown.

David’s comments are a definite throwback to the Madmen era of good manners and etiquette. Today “clowning” around online seems to be a required feature of most campaigns. What would Mr. Ogilvy think of it all? Even footballers are happy to be silly in this new campaign for the Fifa 10 game.

6 – Make your advertisements contemporary.

This is surely not what Ogilvy had in mind but being contemporary online means tapping into all the current digital trends. From crowdsourcing to social networking – the Public Polo campaign by Achtung captures the spirit of now.

7 – Committees can criticize advertisement, but they cannot write them.

A single-minded vision cannot be delivered by a group of people making decisions. The best online campaigns have clearly had a very brave client that is confident in a great idea.

Someone at McCann Erickson Israel came up with this original idea and the client went with it. Maybe because it also cost so little.


8 – If you are lucky enough to write a good advertisement, repeat it until it stops pulling.

In advertising history there have been many campaigns that have continued for years, constantly being updated but with one strong concept. The Louis Vuitton Journeys campaign is a great example of a good idea that travels far – and works equally well on and offline.

lv

9 – Never write an advertisement which you wouldn’t want your own family to read.

The Burger King Subservient Chicken was a great idea that didn’t offend anyone. But have they gone too far with the Shower Cam? Trust the British to risk offending consumers with a site where each morning a shower babe “shakes her bits to the hits at 9:30 a.m. every morning”. All to promote the BK breakfast.

10 – The image and the brand.

The internet throws up a big problem. How do you control all that is being said about your brand? Even if you have a consistent advertising and marketing message with a strong, identifiable style… someone somewhere online will upset the apple cart by trashing your carefully constructed image. This might be through an angry blog complaining about customer service or via someone mashing up your ads on YouTube.

11 – Don’t be a copycat.

Sorry to mention you again Microsoft but this was too late too lame…

August 11, 2009

Welcome to the Code War

google-qr-code1Bing vs. Google, Facebook vs. Twitter, Microsoft vs. Apple… the tension is increasing on a daily basis these days. It feels awfully similar to the Cold War of the 50s, 60s and 70s.

Wikipedia describes it this way. “The Cold War (1945-91) was the continuing state of political conflict, military tension, and economic competition existing after World War II (1939-45), between the USSR and its satellite states, and the powers of the Western world, led by the United States. Although the primary participants’ military forces never officially clashed directly, they expressed the conflict through military coalitions, strategic conventional force deployments, a nuclear arms race, espionage, proxy wars, propaganda, and technological competition, e.g. the space race”.

The Code War involves search engine algorithms, copycat functionalities, tit for tat increases in storage space for webmail and big guns swallowing up the little guys. So we’re seeing Facebook buying Friendfeed since they couldn’t get Twitter. Microsoft couldn’t nab Yahoo! so they wait their time then screw them with what will no doubt turn into a shitty deal (it already has made Carol Bartz look dumb). Apple blocks Google Voice from the iPhone. Retaliation? Their CEO steps down from the Apple board and they put Voice on the Palm Pre.

But what does this all mean for the advertising industry. Well they seem to applaud the deal between Microsoft and Yahoo! All this innovation is creating great opportunities for clever marketing. As soon as a new technology is announced the advertising and marketing folk seek new ways to exploit it. Social networks, HD online video, apps… these may all be weapons of mass consumption to attract the internet public – but for agency strategists, creatives and technologists they are shiny new toys for them to play with. Keep them coming!