We all take for granted multi-media experiences with rich technicolour and surround sound.
Crowds flocked to watch Jaws in 3D in the 1980’s, and today more and more cinema experiences require you to sport slightly daft oversized specs to enjoy the full immersive experience. You can already bring 3D experiences to your living room with top-end (TV) screens. The content available is still pretty limited and there’s a Betamax v VHS sized elephant in the room because there is no current standard specification for your 3d specs so the early adopters of today might find themselves left with 3D specs that won’t work with future generations of hardware, but if you are desperate to reach out and grab the falling leaves in front of your eyes from the comfort of your couch you can.
Yet, however engaging the audio-visual content, it’s still primarily a lean-back, passive screen experience. Lean-forward interactivity didn’t really reach us until 2006 when the movement sensors brought to the mass market via the Nintendo Wii transformed gaming from a pastime for teenage nerds with pcs in darkened rooms to a social sitting room pastime enjoyed by young and old alike. Remote hand-held controllers allow you to play virtual tennis using your physical movements to interact with the game, Wii Fit boards brought your step class to your sitting room.
This year movement and interactivity will move to a whole new level with the launch of Microsoft Kinect for the Xbox platform. The system uses voice and motion detectors rather than any physical controller to interact with software; voice commands and gestures controlling action and reaction reminiscent of the image moving scenes in Minority Report that seemed so futuristic when the film was released in 2002.
Just 8 years later, the future has become the present. Along with the motion-detecting hardware Microsoft are releasing 19 gaming, sport and dancing Kinect-friendly software titles. Kinect is widely tipped to be topping Christmas wishlists, and no doubt providing hilarious experiences for arm-waving gesticulating participants and spectators alike on Boxing Day. Just imagine....
Voice and motion add new dimensions to our ability to interact with brand experiences, as do the intuitive touch-based interfaces we’re all increasingly adopting via our mobile phones, or other portable computing devices like the Dell Streak or the iPad. As marketers it means we need to think broader than ever before about how we bring experiences to life, about how we deliver communication, how , where, and in what form we deliver those experiences and allow people to participate in them, and how we help people navigate around the experiences that we design. That means briefing in new ways, challenging our audio-visual habitual presences, and challenging the boundaries we’ve pre-defined.
It’s a brave new world. As the Latin proverb suggests: Fortune favours the brave.