In the conclusion of our Summer 2016 digital marketing wrap-up on the Jim Blasingame Show, Jim and I talk marketing and the IoT.
You know we're entering new territory when Amazon is rolling out a Dash button for Mentos.
Jim's show focuses on startups and SMBs, so the discussion speaks to trends through that lens.
As things turned out, Jim and I got so engrossed in our conversation, we never got a chance to talk about what is probably the #1 buzz-generating digital marketing news story of the summer: Pokémon GO.
In the end, we decided to save that for another show, and perhaps that's for the better.
Even as word spreads that the game may not have as much GO in it as some thought (and with even Target appropriating its most conspicuous icon these days) the game's larger lessons for marketing in the age of augmented reality may be better absorbed with a little more distance from Pikachu's big moment.
Besides, we don't want it to completely overshadow some of the other major trends from the summer that was.
Call it The Internet of Stinks: The new NIVEA NOSE app will tell you what those around you may desperately want to, but won't.
Just put your phone in the NIVEA NOSE protective case, stick your mobile phone in your armpit, and the app uses an algorithm to determine if your fresh—or fetid.
How? According to Creativity, it first benchmarks your normal smell, and then watches for deviations from that level.
Personally, I'm thinking a.) what if your "normal" smell is ferociously bad; b.) if you have to ask, the answer's probably yes, you stink, and c.) if you've got time to rub your phone in your pits, why not just rub on some NIVEA deodorant, instead?
We're still digging this TED video of HoloLens and Kinect inventor Alex Kipman as he shares his vision for the age of holograms.
Of course, we haven't decided how much of this is overly staged to optimize for video capture (clearly it's mapped to the area he's working in here, and it remains to be seen if HoloLens will create the same effect in any space).
We're also amused by some of the hype involved (we're pretty sure a thousand years from now, even AR will be a distant memory, replaced by something that makes it seem antediluvian at best).
And yes, for some reason he had us thinking of Ernie & Bert playing around with an ancient form of augmented reality.
But Kipman's vision is compelling, especially given his work with Kinect, the motion-sensing technology that enables you to interact with AR elements through body movement.
One thing's for sure: We can't wait to see where it all goes in next decade—let alone the 990 years after that.
As I point out in a recent conversation with Charlie Kraus of Limelight networks, there's just one problem: None of these are actually VR. They're 360-degree videos.
True VR is (or will be) far immersive because these videos, while incredibly cool, are missing one key element: interactivity.
I'm not talking visual navigation. I'm talking about the ability to pick up an object. Crouch low or jump high. The ability to move in relation to the virtual environment.
True VR is more like a first-person video game, whether the environment is photo/video-realistic or clearly fantastical, as with video games.
While this current wave of "VR" is an important step in that direction, it's critical that we don't lose sight of the "Holodeck"-like vision on which VR is based.
The evolution of VR will bring us 360-movies and eventually, truly interactive VR—or even better, AR or "mixed reality," that brings fictitious dramas to life within real world environments—for the ultimate movie-going experience.
Dawn of Awesomeness
As blockbuster movie fans (myself included) gear up for this week's 3D IMAX release of "Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice," I found myself thinking about a conversation I had a while back with Steven Amato, co-founder of Omelet LA.
In this short clip (from a source interview for my book, THE ON-DEMAND BRAND), I ask Amato about the future of feature-length mixed reality experiences, and what it could also mean for brands using VR/AR to develop branded content in a world where you might not just sit inside that MINI in "Backwater"—but actually drive it. And where you don't just watch Batman & Superman clash with each other and their villains—you join them.
AR, augmented reality, backwater, batman v superman, branded entertainment, content, dawn of justice, gen wow, generation wow, genwow, holodeck, mini usa, mixed reality, movies, movies, real memories, rick mathieson, virtual reality, VR
While the Amazon brain trust puzzles over how to deliver boxes of books via drone, this Taiwanese beer brand is already headed your way—with beer.
In this marketing stunt promoting Honey Beer (yes, beer brewed with honey), Bee drones were dispatched to bring sample six-packs to office workers. Advertising enticed 15,000 people to register online for delivery in its first 10 days.
Meanwhile, sales were up 400% relative to other fruit-infused beers the brand had recently launched.
It turns out the promise of virtual reality bites when compared to long-term prospects for augmented reality.
At least that’s according to research from Manatt Digital Media that estimates the market for VR-based solutions will account for only $30 billion of a total $150 billion combined AR/VR market by 2020.
But there’s always a “but,” right?
In this case, that “but” is followed by a question: How are we supposed to square Manatt’s research with seemingly contradictory estimates like those from Gartner, whose ever-popular Hype Cycle chart shows AR far behind VR—indeed, far behind even autonomous vehicles—in its advance toward true market traction?
Short answer: You can’t. And in my view, it’s VR’s fault.
A Virtual Conundrum
To get to what I mean, I went to Charlie Kraus, senior product marketing manager for Limelight Networks, which is a leading content delivery network (CDN) provider.
CDNs, of course, are used by carriers and others to deliver all that content you consume online—text, graphics, videos, games, music, etc.—with a high level of availability and performance.
As you might imagine, AR (content superimposed on the user's view of the physical world) and VR (content that immerses the user in a simulated world) can only be as good as the networks through which that content is delivered.
After all, if you think buffering at a key moment on “House of Cards” is innervating, just wait until you miss a critical turn as you make your way around an unfamiliar city using AR-based navigation, or find yourself frozen and subsequently fragged by opponents within VR gaming worlds, due to network congestion.
So while most of the focus is on manufacturers producing devices like Oculus Rift and app developers for more common devices such as iPhones, I figured content networks may have actual usage patterns from which to base projections.
In part one of this Q & A, I ask Kraus to spell out the differences between VR and AR for listeners who may be confused by the terms (and no wonder—look at this article out today that seems to equate the two), and why Limelight is especially bullish on AR.
Then I ask about what I see as a key problem with reconciling contradictory projections about adoption rates for both AR and VR.
Sure, AR seems pretty well defined. But VR is an entirely different matter.
Which is why there’s no way I could resist asking Rich Silverstein and other people central to its creation to appear on-camera to share insights on "The Seagate Living Logo"—the world’s first patent-pending corporate brand identity.
(See video at bottom)
NEVER THE SAME LOGO TWICE
Yes, it’s true that brand identities rendered in real time through data visualization have been around for a while now.
But the Seagate Living Logo—launched at CES last January—is the first to have a patent in play for literally taking its shape using live data feeds flowing from public data sources such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LastFM, Amazon, Getty Images and more.
The idea? To represent the integral role Seagate storage solutions play in storing 40% of the world’s data, and in enabling the data-centric business models of today’s most innovative companies.
INNOVATION IN MOTION
Throughout the last 12 months, new variants have included interactive Living Logos that respond to physical movements through Microsoft Kinect-based technology—allowing you to essentially swim amid social media posts and images.
A standalone Facebook version lets you personalize the experience using your own online images.
And another can be customized in real time using Twitter and Instagram keywords and handles, as well as your own uploaded images, for live business meetings and events.
THE START OF SOMETHING BIG (DATA)
As is typical in social media these days, reaction to the Living Logo there and elsewhere has ranged from the snarky to the sublime.
Yet regardless of where you fall on that score, the Living Logo represents a notable new entry into the annals of corporate branding.
And it seems to have sparked a trend.
Last July, Brazilian telco FS Company launched a dynamic logo that uses code and generative design to reflect the real-time activity on the company’s servers.
And a UK-based design firm called Amaze is now tracking employees’ physical movements and digital activities to drive a “human-powered” living logo using a framework that sounds a lot like Seagate’s.
Which makes sense. Given the fact that Gartner reports nearly 75% of companies plan to invest in big data solutions in the next two years, the Seagate Living Logo surely stands on the cutting edge of what is likely to become a crowded field in the years ahead.
This short video, edited by Seagate’s George Shubin, will give you the inside scoop on the Seagate Living Logo and how it came to be.
(Full disclosure: I've had creative input on the development of the Living Logo, and have worked closely with these and other people working on the project at Seagate, Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, Pet Gorilla and elsewhere.)
DATA IS BEAUTIFUL: THE STORY BEHIND THE SEAGATE LIVING LOGO