In this opinion piece Chris Panzetta, managing director at creative technology agency S1T2, outlines the three technology trends which he thinks brands should continue to use, shaping the way that they communicate with their audiences.
With the industry’s obese appetite for innovation, the use of creative technology has been very much a case of ‘the medium is the message’. With creative teams continuously working brief to brief on sumo sized orders of “cutting edge”, “world first” and “innovation”, we are on a high speed, high stakes race to discover, explore and exploit new prospective mediums as fast as possible with very little time to invent the medium themselves.
As consumers’ palettes mature, I can see the easy wins of new discovery waning and the hard slog of settlement beginning. It’s the point where we’ll see invested brands embrace the unique and innate affordances of these new mediums, to craft more articulate, affective and memorable stories rather than just looking novel.
Story has always been the most enduring and universal means of communication which is continuously transcending technologies over the ages. We even defining technology’s success by its ability to tell a story, from the pencil to the printing press to the camera.
This is why S1T2 stands for Story 1st, Technology 2nd and we assess new technology on its ability to tell a story or give new life to one. But while we have long known the joys of story in our lives, it’s only in my lifetime that digital and electronic mediums have awoken us to the joys of interactivity. It’s a feeling anyone who has ever played sport or acted on stage inherently knows and which the rise of the game industry has made commercially undeniable.
In the interest of brevity, successful interactivity should create a sensation of agency in your audience. It is a genuinely new experience that is uniquely enabled by interactivity. Be it interactive sculptures, apps, games, or virtual reality, the goal is to create something where people with your work in a meaningful way and to immerse the user so well, they achieve a state of presence.
By using interactive technology, brands have the opportunity to help their audiences discover more about themselves through a brand experience. This is an incredibly powerful gift, and the reason why a large focus of our work goes towards marrying the joys of story with the joys of interactivity.
Out of all the technologies brands are currently working with, there are three particular trends that I think brands should continue to use, shaping the way that they communicate with their audiences.
Intuitive Human Computer Interactions (HCI)
It’s by no means a new field, but as computing power has moved from laboratories to our homes and then to our pockets, our relationship with computing powers has still been defined by a set of knobs, keys or taps. Much of the work of creative techs today is about making that relationship more intuitive and human.
Our interest in motion capture systems, depth cameras, ultrasonic sensors, lasers, proximity sensors and the other more accessible sensor technologies is firstly about finding more natural ways for consumers to interact with experiences and stories. HCI uses more intuitive forms of human interaction whilst removing those interactions away from a screen or terminal into more surprising and immersive settings, for example using underutilized spaces, walls or water, to one or one thousand people.
The Internet of Things
I hate the title, but for the purpose of creative technology the concept is that everything electronic is connected and can be connected to a consumer. Again, this is largely about hiding the technology and creatively liberating our canvas off the screen turning our real world into a potential story. The opportunity for brands to use this is to tell stories in more relevant moments and locations where interacting with consumers makes sense and adds value.
Graphic Processing Units (GPU)
Brands love branding and as consumers, so do we. We are built for visuals. So where HCI and IOT are liberating the story canvas, it’s the advancements and accessibility of graphics processing units that are allowing us to paint the picture of our imaginations to a level which the ‘guardians of brand image’ can accept.
Graphics cards have gone from the world of visual effects professionals and hardcore teen gamers to being in every smart phone, laptop and new car. The success of augmented reality, virtual reality and interactive data visualisation depends on the continued advancements of GPU technology brands aren’t willing to explore the potential of the new medium’s storytelling techniques while sacrificing on their branding.
Ultimately, regardless of what technology we are using, story has given us the language of meaning. Interactivity is giving us control of the story and I’m really excited as more brands are starting to understand the importance of creating a personal, magical and valuable experience for the consumer.