Let's be honest, the world of technology is overwhelming. In fact that’s an understatement, we are immersed in a world completely obsessed with wanting to know what’s next; always trying to find the upcoming ‘must use technology’. Before we’ve even had a chance to get our head around Google Cardboard we’re hearing about a virtual reality that not only allows us to see and move within the dimensions of the digital experience, but actually feel them, creating something utterly realistic.
There’s even talk of virtual reality theme parks. In the live event space it’s been the same since the introduction of the overhead projector. We’re inundated with articles on trends and predictions, constantly sparking concerns of agency inferiority and questions like: Has projection mapping actually died? Is my drone big enough? And why haven’t I been invited to the Internet of Things?
So how can creative producers bypass this panic? And more importantly, how can we cut through the noise and make these technology trends relevant and helpful for our clients?
First we need to stop overwhelming our brains with content. For me there are five key areas to look at to harvest technology trends. If we use these to drill down why it’s popular in the first place we can then understand their relevance and actually start to apply it to real world business challenges.
Sport and technology have become synonymous. Over the past decade technology has enhanced both the audience’s and the participant’s experience. Nike’s House of Mamba demonstrates this perfectly. The Nike Rise basketball tour used a court with motion-tracking and reactive LED visualisation to train and challenge the players through authentic drills based on Kobe Bryant’s own training.
Not only does the real time reactive technology inform the audience, but thanks to the reactive sensors that intuitively react to a player, the audience in turn inform the technology to create a completely personalised experience. It doesn’t take a genius to very quickly realise the application of such technology in multiple live environments.
Art is the perfect, but often forgotten, area to discover new trends and technology as its very nature requires brave innovation to stand out. The recent Lumiere Festival in London shows how art is moving away from a gallery space, using technology to make us take notice. The same can be applied to live experiences where we can positively interrupt consumers.
Like sport, music and technology also have a strong history. A great example is the Williamsburg Bridge Radio (WBBR). An app that plays a pump-up song on the incline up the bridge in New York City and a cool-down track for the way down. Using Bluetooth proximity technology the radio station app knows when you’ve entered the bridge and will start playing the music automatically to give people the motivation to get across it.
The technology is simple, but how do we make it relevant for our audiences? The key is timing. Content is far more likely to resonate when it’s delivered at a time that is relevant to the given audience. If you get this right your audience will do the rest.
Brands are always looking for innovative ways to make their products stand out. Last year hiking boot brand Merrell used VR to create the first ‘walk around’ virtual reality experience. The immersive journey, ‘Merrell TrailScape’, made people feel like they were walking around a crumbling ledge and over a treacherous wooden bridge high in the mountain. Virtual experiences need to fully immerse our audience in a way that both entertains and informs in order to provoke a positive reaction.
CSR is one of the most powerful channels if done correctly. In the live event space audience involvement can have a real time positive influence. Winner of the Event Awards 2015 Grand Prix, Shell’s people powered football pitch in a Brazilian favela used technology to create unity and encourage entrepreneurial growth within the community. The refurbished community football pitch used Pavegen technology to light up the playing field through the kinetic energy created by the football players.
Why is it important?
It shows how audience involvement has a positive influence, something that can be applied to the majority of live experiences. There are constant developments in technology everyday. All we need to do is navigate this saturated world so we can harness its potential. Harvesting our inspiration from these five areas can help us start to understand technology before blindly applying it - park the what and focus on the how and why.
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