Viral Marketing

AKQA’s Interactive Party Trick

To celebrate the holidays, AKQA, the San Francisco/London-based digital creative agency, teamed up with members of the Pacific Chamber Symphony and Music Director Laurence Kohl to produce an interactive arrangement of “Carol of the Bells.” They are assisted by “shadow orchestra members” led by a “shadow conductor” who coordinates the performance by linking to Mobile Orchestra.com via wi-fi to get a unique web address. From there, up to 12 people may sync their smartphones, each choosing an instrument played by one of the real musicians. Once the “conductor” sees that all the mobile instruments are ready, he/she presses a key to let the music begin.

Packaging

One in Four Million Bottle Design

As renowned for its creative branding as it is for its premium vodka, Absolut continually tops itself with fantastic new visual expressions. In this case, the Swedish vodka-maker, owned by French company, Pernod Ricard, teamed with Swedish ad agency, Family Business, to give new meaning to the term “limited edition.” The idea was not just to make each Absolut bottle seem unique, but to actually be unique. To do that, Absolut had to reconfigure its bottling production line to recreate artwork with splash guns, 38 colors, and 51 patterns. A complex computerized algorithms program orchestrated these elements in a randomized fashion so that no two bottles were decorated alike. In fact, Absolut estimates that it would take 94 quintrillion bottles before two identical designs resulted. The company is not producing that many, but it did individually number each of the four million bottles in its limited edition line, which it appropriately named “Absolut Unique.”

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Motion Graphics

Jekyll & Hyde: A Moving Story

New technologies go through a number of phases as they progress from “drawing board” idea to prototype to public awareness, assessment of possibilities, learning and experimentation, to practical applications. Augmented reality (AR) seems to be in the late experimentation phase, although some very practical commercial uses are being introduced. Here two Swiss AR experts Martin Kovacovsky and Marius Hugli demonstrate the possibilities of AR by bringing the pages of “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” to life. The images printed on the paper leap into action on the screen when a camera (in the lamp) is focused on a page. Suddenly, traditional print becomes a multimedia vehicle, and the boundaries between analog and digital content all but disappear.

Motion Graphics

Hyundai’s Hyper-Matrix Block Party

At the Expo 2012 in Korea, Hyundai Motor Group staged a mind-blowing display using a controller area network (CAN) called mechatronic. This is a message-based protocol originally designed for automotive applications and now also used in areas such as industrial automation and medical equipment. Hyundai’s Hyper-Matrix installation was designed by Seoul media arts firm Jonpasang. In just two months, the team built a mammoth three-sided display out of thousands of Styrofoam blocks that could be manipulated like pixels.The 11-inch cubes were driven by 3,375 customized actuators and stepping motors that moved the blocks back and forth according to a specially prescribed program. The high-speed data transfer program constantly reconfigured the cubes to create a mesmerizing show.

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Motion Graphics

Projection Mapping Feat

Directed by Filip Sterckx for a Belgian band named Willow, this music video for the song “Sweater” is a tour-de-force in 3-D projection mapping. Three projectors were used to beam backgrounds onto the floor and two blank walls, while the singer feigned movement by “strolling” on a treadmill. The video seamlessly takes the guy through multiple settings, down an escalator, across a park, on a boat and into the water with air bubbles rising from his scuba diving gear. Great concept, optical illusions and execution.

Sustainability

The Scoop on Poop

It’s tempting to turn this story into a string of crappy jokes, but the subject is no laughing matter. In Seattle this week, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation hosted a two-day “Reinvent the Toilet” fair, attended by scientists and entrepreneurs eager to demonstrate their wares. To put these inventions to a credible test, the Foundation placed an order for about 50 gallons of fake poop. The Gates also offered over $3 million research grants, which were part of a $370 million grant initiative to improve the world’s water, sanitation and hygiene.

According to the Foundation, four out of every ten people around the world have no place “to go.” That adds up to 2.6 billion people without access to a toilet. Poor sanitation results in half the world’s hospitalizations. It is the cause of 2.5 million cases of diarrhea in children under five and 1.5 million child deaths a year, according to a United Nations report. Even in industrialized nations, the amount of water consumed each flush puts pressure on the environment.

In sponsoring this cash competition to come up with a toilet of the future, the Gates Foundation set several requirements. The toilet must operate without running water, electricity or a septic system. It must not discharge pollutants, preferably capture energy or other resources, and operate at a cost of 5 cents a day.

This week’s toilet fair resulted in some very promising solutions, including using soldier fly larvae to process human waste to produce animal feed. Other approaches turn human waste into charcoal and fuel. In announcing the cash prizes for the best designs, Bill Gates said, “If we apply creative thinking to everyday challenges, such as dealing with human waste, we can fix some of the world’s toughest challenges.”

Although coming up with the next toilet isn’t as glamorous as, say, creating the next Eames chair, it shows that design runs deeper than cosmetic solutions.

This video was produced by Loaded Pictures, with illustrations by Jay Bryant.

Advertising

Nike+ FuelBand Fuels An Interactive Music Video

This video is not an ad for Nike+ FuelBand, but it is an offshoot project that fuses technology, human movement and music. The “Field” video is based on HTML technology and requires Google Chrome to let viewers control the experience through the use of a keyboard and mouse to change colors and dot patterns. Nike created it in collaboration with Dazed Digital Magazine and Nosaj Thing, the Los Angeles-based music producer, and FAIR, LA, the design/technology collective led by Julia Tsao. It was produced with Swedish interactive studio, DinahMoe.

Engaging users is also key to the Nike+FuelBand, a matte black rubber-coated wristband that tracks the wearer’s activity through a sport-tested accelerometer that translates every move into NikeFuel – a point system to measure progress against a pre-set goal. The wristband notes every movement – walking, running, jumping – and the amount of calories consumed. Each day users set the goal they wish to attain, and the LED display indicates how well they are doing by changing color from red to yellow to green. Users can upload the data onto their computer or send it via Bluetooth to their smartphone. The FuelBand changes users from passive to active participants in setting and meeting their fitness goals. It becomes a one-person sport challenging users to exceed their personal best.

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Advertising

IKEA Catalog Combines Print with Digital

IKEA is redefining retail catalogs by making theirs come alive. On July 31, the Swedish ready-to-assemble home furnishings giant will begin sending their 2013 edition, so keep your smartphone handy. Interspersed throughout the catalog are augmented reality codes that you can access by downloading a free IKEA catalog app onto your Android or iPhone. Look for the smartphone icons on the page and hold your phone about eight inches above the image to activate the digital layer.

Created by McCann agency with Metaio technology, the app-friendly catalog takes you beyond the printed page and launches interactive content – three-dimensional products, video stories about the product designers, an x-ray look behind a cabinet door, etc. It’s a digital magazine and shopping advisor that piggybacks on paper. For IKEA, the largest portion of their marketing budget goes toward the catalog, of which they print 211 million copies translated into some 20 languages. Enabling access to digital content is like expanding the number of pages without adding pages. Unlike websites where you have to find a way to make consumers visit your site first, the printed catalog puts the marketing piece in the consumers’ hands and then encourages them to linger longer, read deeper and return to the catalog repeatedly to discover what else is there.

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Viral Marketing

Seoul’s Emart QR Sunny Sale

Korea’s largest retail chain, Emart, found that slumping sales at midday were casting a shadow over its revenues and came up with a clever way to attract lunch-time shoppers. At its 38 locations throughout Seoul, Emart installed three-dimensional QR codes on outdoor pillars located to catch the sun. Like a sundial, the shadows on the QR code moved as the sun changed position, and passersby were alerted that they could only read the QR code’s message between 12 noon and 1 pm. Consumers who scanned the code were directed to the Emart online store where they received $12 coupons for products that would be delivered to their homes. Thousands of consumers claimed Emart vouchers, and sales increased by 25% during the lunch hour.

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Technology

iPad Magic Convergence

German magician Simon Pierro reviews the iPad iOS, demonstrating feats through sleight-of-hand and digital illusions. Aside from the fact that Pierro is an awesome performance artist, you have to admire his code-writing genius. He had to have spent hours designing apps and editing video and then working out split-second timing to have the image on the screen materialize seamlessly as a real object in hand. It used to be that magicians worked with smoke and mirrors, now the act is man and machine. Although this is entertainment masquerading as product demo, it is a clever sales pitch for iPad engineering – color clarity, speed, multi-screen patterns, instantaneous rotation of images so they can enter screen right and exit screen left or the other way around. At a trade show, Pierro’s act is sure to stop passersby in their tracks, and leave people marveling not only over what a great magician can do, but the iPad too.

Viral Marketing

Mercedes-Benz Made You Look

You read about VW’s transparent factory (below); now take a look at Mercedes’s invisible car. Mercedes-Benz’s new zero-emission F-Cell car is being marketed as a vehicle that is virtually invisible to the environment. The reason is because it runs on hydrogen fuel cells that convert compressed hydrogen into electricity to power the motor. The only emission is water vapor. To promote this fact in a memorable way, Mercedes blanketed one side of the car with LEDs and mounted a Canon 5D Mark II camera on the other side. The LEDs displayed whatever the camera filmed, causing passersby to stop and gawk at the “invisible” car.

Industrial Design

VW’s Transparent Factory

VW’s Phaeton transparent factory in the heart of downtown Dresden runs counter to the traditional impressions of a car assembly plant. Instead of blue-collar workers, there are white-gloved technicians. Instead of deafening noises, there is the hushed atmosphere of a research lab. The floors are lovely Canadian maple, and the walls are clear glass, which is why a loudspeaker outside imitates territorial bird sounds to keep birds from flying into the glass. There are no smokestacks, shrill sounds or noxious fumes. The grungier stamping, welding and painting of steel bodies take place elsewhere. VW’s transparent factory, designed by architect Gunter Henn and opened in 2002, showcases the final assembly of the luxury Phaeton sedan. Futuristic, exacting, open, and pristine, the Dresden facility is as much a marketing device as a working production plant, drawing thousands of visitors for tours each year. This video is from Megaworld Germany.

Product Design

A Plug for a Plug — USB Wall Sockets

A USB socket that doesn’t need an adapter? It’s about time!! Product designers and engineers have focused on extending the battery life of laptops, iPods, cell phones, digital cameras, wireless headphones and the like. That’s all well and good, but at some point, they still all need to be recharged. They still all require a clunky AC adapter to plug the device into the wall socket. Here’s a solution that approached the problem from another direction – not by redesigning the electronic gadget, but by redesigning the electrical outlet.

The U-Socket is a duplex AC receptable with built-in USB ports that can power any device that is capable of being charged via a 5V power adapter. Replacing the standard 3-prong AC wall socket with one that has two USB sockets alleviates users of the need to have an adapter. In addition to making consumers happy, it would seem that any portable electronics device-maker would welcome this change. Here’s the rub: You have to swap out your wall sockets if you want to live in an adapter-free world. The best place to start, in my opinion, is in hotel rooms. Not having to haul around a tangled mass of cords and adapters would free up space in your luggage and make it lighter to carry too. A USB socket would be a hotel guest amenity that beats having a piece of chocolate on your pillow at night.

Viral Marketing

Virtual Supermarket — Wait No More

Up until now QR code technology has seemed more gimmicky than practical. Holding your smart phone up against a QR matrix on a magazine page or a storefront window to reveal the secondary message feels like a bothersome extra step that quickly grows tiresome.

But here’s a QR use that promises real convenience and time-savings. Tesco Homeplus in South Korea opened virtual supermarkets in subway stations, permitting commuters to use their smart phones to make grocery purchases. Designed by Cheil ad agency in Seoul, wall-size displays along the passenger waiting platform simulate the experience of shopping in a real supermarket, showing images and prices of a broad range of frequently needed products. Shoppers merely have to scan the QR code of any product they want to purchase to add it to their online shopping cart. The transaction is all completed online and the purchased items are delivered straight to shoppers’ homes.

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Global Trends

Anti-Forgery Passport Design

Over the next few years, it is likely that many countries will be redesigning their travel passports. The purpose isn’t to make them more attractive, which certainly they can use, but to deter increasingly more sophisticated and dangerous counterfeiters.

Along with hi-res micro images, encrypted biometric information, hidden data chips and other security devices, passports are being issued with different full-color images on every page. They aren’t just any kind of image, but ones using microprinting, holograms, fluorescent dyes, thermochromatic inks, ornamental patterns made with a geometric lathe, intaglio, watermarks, and magnetic inks, among other techniques. All this is for public safety, but since nations are investing millions of dollars anyway, it would be nice if they gave some thought to the aesthetic quality of the new design while they are at it. Like currency and postage stamps, passports can be used to communicate the beauty, style and uniqueness of the issuing country.

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