Category Archives: new technology

Cannes Lions 2017: From stories to experiences

Movies like Terminator, iRobot or Minority Report didn’t predict the future, the creators just opened up a new way of thinking within the realms of their scripting.

Similarly, as an industry, we advertisers pride ourselves on creativity and storytelling. We strive to create new ideas and worlds every day and communicate these through stories. Our stories get seeded online and then evolve amongst communities online and offline. They’re influenced globally by opinions and cultures, evolving and developing as multiple varieties from that one original core. The best stories transcend through the industry as ways of inspiring others.

But we must move beyond just stories. In today’s ‘post cinematic’ world we have so many new and exciting ways of creating, telling and sharing experiences; immersive mediums, alternate realities, cognitive and predictive data, connected and intuitive ecosystems. All of these things push the boundaries of storytelling, so why then, when for years we have successfully told linear stories, do we suddenly get ‘tech fear’ and limit ourselves at the hands of technology stressing over whether it’s been done?

This year I was honoured to be invited to judge the Cannes Lions mobile category and it was clear to me that when creativity and technology meet there are a few key trends emerging across the globe:

  1. Tech for tech’s sake is taking a back seat, FINALLY! The pioneers of converging an idea with the pace of life today are really doing their research to nail the killer insight at the heart of an idea, and you can see how this helps the idea evolve but not stray.
  2. That said, few are brave enough to state they don’t quite know what they’re doing (which is OK by the way as long as you are ‘doing’) and so stick digital and social amplification plasters over the cracks in an idea and talk about reach (I’m rolling my eyes now).
  3. Too many brands are quick to experiment but slow to adopt and scale, they come with an award in mind but lose sight of their audience in doing so.
  4. Very few have really, truly wrapped their minds around how to move from telling a story to putting their user at the centre of it to create an experience.
  5. Those brave enough to explore new terrain are doing so with a cause at the heart of it, which is empowering, I salut you.
  6. Ethics and morals aside for a moment, there’s still a ton of opportunity to just do really cool shit that leaves your brand emblazoned on the minds of those you want to buy your product.

Two words in most of the case studies and two that I hear every day are; Disruptive and Innovative. For me, true disruption emerges at the convergence of technologies, ideas and of course stories.

I was excited to see the bar is inching up, however there is a whole new world we can create through the next generation of stories and experiences that is currently untapped.

Whilst I love a good story, it’s definitely left me fuelled to continue to push for experiences, ones that make hairs stand on end, screeches escape mouths and eyes to well up, all of which happened in the jury room #justsaying.

Cannes Lions 2017

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I Dredd to think…

I’m writing this from one of my favourite cities in the world.

For me Hong Kong is the epitome of where urban dwellings meet the jungle. Tropics growing into brick, buildings built around ancient roots. It feels like a chapter from I Am Legend, except we’re all still very much alive.

The subject of technology outgrowing humans is rife here, I’m collaborating on a project with a friend and it’s come up time and again as this city and the surrounding majors struggle to adopt innovations in a way that resonate with the humble origins the culture is built upon.

This week has left me reflecting on whether sustainable thinking will lend to mega metropolises, or whether global urbanisation will mean that rural areas will get left behind.

As transport becomes more sustainable, more affordable, ever faster and more connected, will it conflict with the debate around borders being reimposed and trade restricted back to regions again? Take Brexit as an example closer to home; if we leave the EU and customs barriers lead to effective restriction to start with, will we note the stagnation that will quickly follow so that when international exchange comes to a standstill we won’t notice the daily conflict?

On a related note but different angle, technology has allowed that we all become producers. Open SDK’s and API’s, 3D printing and crowdfunding all mean that rather than brands lending to personalisation, self made and personally tailored will be the next movement. Will brands play a role in enabling this or will they move to a protective stance on their IP?

I like to think that all my favourite cities are characterised by diversity and as such we will continue to encourage flexibility across the globe, joining forces to build reliance against what could otherwise be a tough future.

But as technology surges with intelligence at it’s core, the biggest question I am hearing repeatedly from all over is whether global cooperation and unlimited interaction will evolve to one diverse world where we see and share everything, or whether the future take us back to the past?

Will Mega Metropolises mean just Mega blocks and Mega highways? Will we live in a Mega City One? Will it be more Skynet than that? So many film references and a tad Dredd I know, but I believe the next few years will impact this more than we care to acknowledge.

I judge you not.

judge-dredd-on-screen-future-still-up-in-the-air-01

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Is it a bird? erm nope.

The next era of connectivity is on the horizon, or rather more accurately hovering above it, as tech giants launch their test projects to provide internet coverage for the harder to reach parts of the world.

Google have test piloted Project Loon a few times since June 2013 near places such as New Zealand’s South Island and Sri Lanka, a series of high- altitude balloons equipped with LTE (more commonly known as 4G LTE) that rides the wind currents in the stratosphere.

Facebook have also developed a fleet of solar-powered drones called Aquila now ready to hover at altitudes of 60,000 to 90,000 feet. These can be steered and controlled more directly, constantly circling a two mile radius to stay aloft.

Both the balloons and the drones can be air born for around three months.

Combined with lower priced smartphones coming to market we are seeing the next evolution of connectivity looking set to be pretty rapid.

There’s still a way to go to stabilise the launch and flight of both, plus the clean up exercise once they come back down but the effort to connect the whole world with the internet is accelerating.

Next we’ll be in orbit, talking to the moon, connecting galaxies… well, maybe.

 

clangers

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in a heartbeat

I’ve always been excited about the possibilities with 3D printing, since the first time I worked with a team to print a fairy (yes you read that right), the wings were like lace, the clothing detail challenged the needlework of the mice in The Tailor of Gloucester and it took minutes to be born from the model we sent to print.

But that feels like nothing compared to the evolutions in the last few months so I just had to share my recent favourites:

In at 3, the first missile by researchers at Raytheon Missile Systems, who are celebrating the fact 3D printing gives them the freedom to make design alterations with much less hassle and cost. 

3D-printed-missile-by-Raytheon-Missile-Systems

At 2, the cancer patient who had his sternum replaced with a titanium implant printed by Anatomics. They partnered with a surgical team to custom design the area that needed replacing so the surgeon could be targeted and precise in removing only what was necessary, safe in the knowledge the replacement part would be an exact fit.

Image found on digitaltrends.com - thank you

And my top spot goes to the guys at MIT who worked with doctors at Boston Children’s Hospital to turn an MRI scan of a heart into a 3D model which was then printed and implanted.

3D printed heart

My heart just skipped a beat. 

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Time is our currency

This week has been all about the disruption of the Financial Service sector, well for me anyway; I’ve been exploring the future of traditional banks through the eyes of millennials, pretty interesting stuff when you really get under the skin of it. 

Once upon a time (which for me is before the Internet became adopted mainstream) banking was based on the banking giants being in control; they had the money, they got to dictate their terms, from opening hours to transfer charges, meaning we mere mortals had to play by their rules. 

The Internet has changed this, and with disruptive start ups like; Transferwise, Credit Karma, Lending club, Privlo, Avantcredit (the list goes on) all delivering better placed insightful thinking with more convenient and contextual user friendly solutions, the consumer now has choice, ease of use and more importantly ease of moving around. 

So what does this mean for the Giants? It means they are no longer in control. 

I was part of a workshop last week with a bunch of industry leads, where we were fueled with coffee and left in a room to decipher how technology has lowered the barriers for these disrupters, and how we should be navigating the landscape moving forwards…

Essentially, startups get to copy the infrastructure set by traditional Giants and simply create a frictionless, seamless interface making it easier to bundle these services together in a friction-free way. This means the old school need to stop trying to use the existing tech to just push services they already have and realize a top down centralised approach won’t work anymore, in our ever increasing Internet of Things, there are thousands of data points now so the model must flip to a bottom up collective. 

Giants will need to truncate their legacy systems to give more choice and more personalization, if they don’t they will lose further pace, they’ve already lost the edge on driving innovation and millennials are losing their patience in equal measures.

In short, we must address the minutiae to reach the mass, empowering rather than enforcing. 

gold egg timer

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Tell me what I want before I want it…

But stop invading my personal space.

It’s a tricky juxtaposition to deliver seamless personal service whilst not freaking consumers out with a big brother approach. I for one HATE banners, especially the ones that stalk me for days on end, however, I would like my utilities provider to remember who I am and take me to the last place I visited, or a nice welcome back page, rather than straight to paying bills even though I have a Direct Debit set up and they owe me money.

So given we’re seeing the fastest evolution in how we interact with devices ever, and that cloud computing means everything is on hand instantly, how long before intelligent assistants make all of our decisions for us?

The key difference will land when the predictive nature moves from our smartphones into our cars, our homes and eventually our offices en masse. It’s happening already; cars are synced to Spotify lists and traffic lights, in-home devices monitor how many bodies are in a room in order to moderate the heating but, this connectivity is not everywhere, yet.

Wearables are bridging some of the gaps; how long before my GP phones me up because my heart rate is too high when I’m out running or how long before my digital radio wakes me up to Stevie Wonder to sooth the after effect of a bad dream…

I’ve been prototyping with A.I solutions recently and can’t help but wonder when I will be able to curate my party playlists based on who’s attending, when I will be able to book taxis to pick up my guests and drop them off in the most effective order possible, when I will NEVER have to do a tax return again or manage my inbox…

I reckon true anticipatory computing is closer than we think.

Now get out of my cloud.

girl-on-a-cloud

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Give a girl the right shoes…

I live in a rapidly evolving world where cars can drive themselves, robots can run warehouses and drones can deliver our parcels. A world where virtual reality blends with real reality (the re substantiation of mere ‘reality’) and I can get anything I want, whenever and wherever I want it, in the palm of my hand, so why do my new shoes still give me blisters?

A friend of mine lost a limb, on his road to recovery I’ve got to know him in a very different light this last year, where many would have turned inside themselves and got lost in remorse and pity, he embraced modern technology and now has a pretty cool prosthetic limb. He’s as strong as before, as balanced as he ever was and he argues, able to endure more than his human limb previously allowed him to.

This got me thinking about the tech available that could be used for solving every day irritations (not that I’m comparing blisters from new shoes to wearing a prosthetic limb!) but we could adapt the thinking…

Why not develop shoes with materials that are electronically charged, materials that transform from being soft to hardy through electro static charges? What about exo-skeletal hiking boots that enhance our ability to scale mountains like gazelles?!

Imagine shoes that transform to your feet, imagine dancing the night away, foot loose and blister free.

Give a girl the right shoes and she can conquer the world!

ruby slippers

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PULS v Samsung Gear S

I’m not sure that ‘next generation’ of wearables is the right phrase for this as we’ve seen a constant stream of evolution in this area recently, but the two that I’m stuck between are Will.i.am’s ‘PULS’ and the Samsung Gear S.

The PULS can be partnered with a jacket that powers it, a backpack to play your beats and shoes that prompt you not to chomp on too many doughnuts (it measures your weight and has a built in pedometer). It also comes with an O2 sim in the UK, which is where it starts to cross into Gear S territory for me…

The Gear S is one of the reasons I’m holding back from getting the iPhone 6, that’s a big (bendy) phone going on right there, not a good look stuck in the pocket of my skinny jeans… whereas the Gear S is just as sleek as Will.i.am’s fashion led creation, also able to put me off doughnuts and seemingly comes with better connectivity through 3G, WiFi and Bluetooth, with the simple touchscreen interface and good ol’ QWERTY keyboard making life simpler still.

Maybe if Will.i.am can stream his amazing tunes as a service that would swing it…

will.iam.s' new smartwatch

Samsung Gear-S

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Less science fiction, it’s really just science

I was just reading about Google’s newest project and it got me thinking about how the gap between science fiction and simply just, ‘science’ has pretty much closed since I was a kid and watching films like Innerspace and Terminator… bear with me…

Google’s new patent sees a range of smart contact lenses equipped with tiny cameras embedded within, to allow for ‘in lens’ photography or assistance for the visually impaired. Google also have lenses that are able to provide measurements of blood glucose levels for diabetics through a sensor that measures the glucose in tears and signals the levels through teeny, tiny LED’s.

Soooo… given we know that human bodies don’t accept foreign objects particularly well and this new lens means we can access the small surface of our eye (which is covered by live cells that can represent our whole body) in a non-intrusive way, how long before a contact lens can analyse what is happening inside our body without actually ever entering it… (that’s the Innerspace reference).

… and how long before we have night vision, or augmented data layered in. How long before we don’t need all the other screens around us, our phones, in-car dashboards… and how long before a simple lens scans everyone around us (Terminator ticked) and along with Arnie and Quaid, Cruise needs to re-draft his Minority Report to be something more actual fiction biased science fiction…

He'll be back...

He’ll be back…

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My Dad is a microwave blender

The only real reason that robots haven’t replaced us yet is simply that robotic engineers can’t program all the knowledge currently required into a robot quick enough. As humans we adapt and learn every second of every day, therefore the sheer magnitude of possibilities a human brain provides excels any manufactured equivalent to date.

What we have seen though is that once configured, current robots in use are quicker, more efficient and less prone to accident. Amazon already have factories with considerably less error where robots are deployed, some Governments are looking to introduce drone delivery systems and Google have tested their automated car in Nevada for over a year and the only accidents recorded happened when a human overrode the system.

And to top that, at the end of last year there was a break through in how robots acquire their knowledge; they can adapt and learn through validated paths that process the human language by understanding how to identify speech patterns, therefore replicating how the brain connects from the frontal cortex to the striatum.

With these developments engineers predict artificial intelligence and robots will replace humans in the next 10 years, and by 2050 robots will be a part of our every day life. Gets you thinking doesn’t it?

To end on a lighter note though, I’d like to share a poem I love by one of my favorite non-robots, Tim Burton:

“Mr. Smith yelled at the doctor,
What have you done to my boy?
He’s not flesh and blood,
he’s aluminum alloy!”
The doctor said gently,
What I’m going to say
will sound pretty wild.
But you’re not the father
of this strange looking child.
You see, there still is some question
about the child’s gender,
but we think that its father
is a microwave blender.”

Tim BurtonThe Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy and Other Stories

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