Monday, 21 April 2014
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Looking ahead

Are you keen to know how the interaction sector will move forwards over the next few months in terms of technologies, creative trends, markets and influences? Have you wondered who are the rising stars? Suzanne Hinchliffe quizzed eight leading industry figures for their thoughts

Tomas Roope, Founder, Rumpus Room Now it seems that the television commercial and the microsite are slowly on their way out, ’What next?’ is the big question. One of our clients keeps saying, ’Go fishing where the fishes are’ in an Italian accent, and he’s right - social media spaces are where people are. Success is down to attracting participation, which is tricky as we’re all pretty lazy, especially when it comes to doing something for a brand. Minimum input for maximum output is what we want, so we need to make things that create something greater than the sum of its parts. It’s all about bartering, giving something to people they want to share and talk about. We design rewards along the lines of ’get involved and you get this’. And for us this is where TV will begin to play a massive role - there is nothing like getting on TV to motivate people to get involved. Projects need to combine the rational interactive mindset with the emotional sensibilities of more traditional communication. We call it social entertainment.

The person I want to big up at the moment is Kim Asendof. It’s great to see platform agnostics playing between the cracks of everyday technologies, creating beautiful work from the invisible and mundane data of the everyday.

Andrew Shoben, Founder, Greyworld You can’t look at the world of interactive art and design without coming across loads of augmented reality projects. Everyone’s at it. From apps that superimpose historical photographs on today’s street scenes to business cards that spring to life when seen on a screen. My favourite, though, is an AR app by Mark Skwarek and Joseph Hocking called ’The leak in your home town’. Basically, whenever the camera on your phone sees a BP logo, an oil jet is added, spraying out of the centre of the symbol. I think we will be seeing a lot more of these cynical, comical, playful looks at the urban surround. Greyworld has been playing a lot with RFID tags, the small un-powered radio transmitters that were developed to help track clothing around a factory. You have one in your Oyster card. Sinister Big Brother worries aside, there is real scope here for city-wide artworks that use the inhabitants for creative outputs - as notes on a giant musical scale, for example.

I’d like to suggest Samuel Clarke, a rising star of interaction design. He combines the attention to detail of an industrial engineer with the playfulness of a street artist.

Daljit Singh
In this ongoing period of austerity we need to review the efforts of marketers who want to commission and churn out the type of digital communication that has no longevity, destined for the digital graveyards. We need to place interaction at the heart of the digital discipline and create meaningful and useful experiences that people actively want to engage with. Delivering business change for the better we need to produce innovative solutions in the form of utility/ well-crafted digital products and tools that people benefit from and develop a lasting relationship with. This modern type of communication requires rigorous thinking and, ideally, collaboration. And if done properly, this can create new business models and ingenious solutions. Designers are the best and most natural generators of these developments. We as an industry must demand appropriate remuneration for our thinking and craft or develop and push for new fee structures that will enable us to share in the financial reward that will naturally come from the new economy.

My recommendation for a rising star is Simon Waterfall (still aged only 16…) and his consultancy Fray

Martyn Ware, Illustrious Company, Sonic ID and Heaven 17

I can see that the market is generally taking multi-sensory branding much more seriously than previously. With Illustrious we are being approached more and more to incorporate our sonic techniques with HD projection, theatrical lighting and narrative, and even smell and touch installations. The zeitgeist at the moment also seems to be heading towards a genuine hunger for large-scale communal events - these could incorporate a multi-sensory approach, and often are mediated by crowd-sourced interaction.

We have been working for some time with our colleagues at Skrapic Consulting in Paris, whose ’five senses’ approach to brand experience is proving very popular with luxury brands. For example, we recently collaborated to create an all-encompassing immersive experience to launch the new Yves Saint-Laurent perfume Belle d’Opium in New York, to great acclaim. Somehow, the French seem to be a little ahead of us in their appreciation and manifestation of this sensory approach, but we’re catching up.Another rising star in the interaction field is Big Dog Interactive - its multi-disciplinary and lateral approach to interaction and its applications is very refreshing.

Nicolas Roope, Creative director, Poke
I am sorry that, once again, someone from the interactive media space is about to proclaim we’re in the throws of another revolution. Well, maybe not a revolution this time, but another sea change at least. As always, there’s the noise of many fragments jostling all around us, but the thing that’s creating the gutsy rumble of an earthquake rather than the sound of loose falling stones is the huge force of business, limbering up to meet the enormous challenges, risks and opportunities in a market whose sensibility, reactivity, structure and standards have all about-turned on a tuppeny coin. The Web and technology generally have morphed from an operational, accounting and transacting mechanism into the oxygen of businesses’ processes, market intelligence, communications and, increasingly, of the products themselves. We’re being approached to fix deeper business problems than before, with our mix of creativity, strategy, technology and design, and that changing brief stems directly from this profound shift. Digital media is not just a sub-set of design (or advertising) and business is at last realising that. It is becoming its life-blood and there’s a long queue for transfusions.I like Marc Kremers’ cool and playful style. When design meets the Internet, so often all the edges get rounded and softened, but Kremers maintains a really clean and clear vision.

Renee Rosen-Wakeford, User-experience lead, Tonic
The future of interaction does not lie in a specific technology, rather the design of useful, usable and enjoyable products.

All so-called ’new’ interactive technologies are grounded in forms of interaction that have been around for many years before becoming mainstream. Often, when a new technology is first developed the earliest products are more interested in showing off the technology itself rather than considering why or how a user would want to engage with it.

For example, early research into gestural interfaces actually started in the 1970s and 1980s with AccuTouch and The Clapper, and these have progressed to the Wii and iPhone. At launch, neither of the latter had particularly impressive technical specs nor advanced features compared to competitors, but rather had innovative and intuitive interaction design. They are also both fun and easy to use, and are revolutionising their respective industries.

Currently, there’s a lot of buzz around augmented reality. AR first emerged in the 1990s and is now starting to get some success, but is still seen as a novelty. It will only become mainstream when it is really useful, and usable, and when enjoyable products appear.

One of the rising stars in the interaction design field is Whitney Hess. In the past two years, she’s become a well-respected user experience consultant, writer and speaker, and was one of the first to promote live-Tweeting of conferences and other events.

Andy Cameron, Interactive creative director, Wieden & Kennedy London
Creative trends. My pick for the creative trend of the future is social media engagement. I don’t think we’ve even begun to get our heads around the extent to which real social media engagement changes the way the advertising and marketing industries operate. Throw away the rule book - the world has changed for ever. The good news is nobody knows anything. Clients want to be there - they know that’s where their customers are and they know it’s where purchasing decisions now get made. We’re going to see traditional creative shops pitching against pure-play digital consultancies to grab a slice of the social media budgets of big brands.

It’s going to be fun. Neither traditional creative nor pure-play digital really gets it, but the superior quality of creative thinking and planning in traditional shops should win out over the technical shops of pure-play digital. It’s about creating clever and focused forms of engagement. The recent Old Spice campaign is a great example - it the English-speaking Internet for days purely through the quality of the creative idea, the quality of the writing and the quality of the planning.
As for rising stars, I’ve got two names. First, Josh Millrod, one of a new breed of digital strategists who are reinventing the industry by creating campaigns like Old Spice. Millrod is one of the sweetest, smartest people you could meet and he terrifies me - in a good way. Second, Joao Wilbert, creative technologist extraordinaire, ex-Goldsmiths, ex-Fabrica and now at Wieden & Kennedy London. Wilbert is one of those infuriating people who can do everything. His crowd-sourced art installation/website/iPhone app Exquisite Clock was the hit of the Decode exhibition at the Victoria & Albert Museum earlier this year.

Camilla Grey, Digital strategist, Moving Brands
The incredible success of underdogs like Old Spice on YouTube and Twitter, and the rise and rise of the app market, have forced brands to wake up to the true value of online and on-device interactive experiences. Branding consultancies and advertising agencies have clearly spent the quiet summer months developing creative work for clients wanting a piece of the ’digital’ pie. September has already seen many new interaction pieces come into the market - from Tippex and Ikea’s playful YouTube virals, to KitKat’s augmented reality wrapper, to Conde Nast’s announcement that Vogue will soon be available on the iPad. The UK launch of Facebook Places opens a new, location-specific, real-time channel for brands to engage creatively with its customers. Across all industries, companies are discovering that brand flexibility is vital if they are to adapt to an ever-changing landscape of channels and platforms. As we head towards Christmas, I have no doubt that we will see a slew of interactive, Crimbo-inspired expressions - AR wrapping paper, touch-screen Christmas trees and tweets to Santa. Fingers crossed for the Elf Yourself app…

Us Two is the absolute daddy of iPhone and iPad app design and creation (as well as everything else digital). This digital consultancy is getting bigger and bigger in terms of size and the work it is doing. If you don’t have one of its apps on your phone I would be very surprised.

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