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SXSW Part 2 - Emotional Rescue: Interaction and Immersion Drive Experiences

By: MaxMedia

[fontspecial]Emotional Rescue: Interaction and Immersion Drive Experiences[/fontspecial]

The first part of our South by Southwest (SXSW) recap focused on how automation is changing the way humans and technology intersect in public spaces, including retail environments. However, as intriguing as bots and artificial intelligence may be, the “human” element indeed remains important to the “wow factor” – and the emotional big picture.

SXSW offered astounding insights into how humans’ emotional interactions with technology are changing through virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR) and more. By adding in a healthy dose of good old-fashioned storytelling, we now have an entire new arsenal at our fingertips to deliver immersive and memorable experiences.

[fontspecial]Make Room for the Experiential[/fontspecial]

High technology has long been associated with solving problems. In the retail universe, the purely functional benefits of technology are an essential element of the shopping experience. How can the retailer evolve how technology is used in the overall shopping experience to trigger an emotional response?

Birdly proved how leveraging experiential platforms can make emotional magic happen. MaxMedia’s Executive Creative Director, Matt Rollins, took flight in a lively exhibit that allowed him to fly like a bird.

Perhaps as part of a larger cross-promotion (could you imagine riding the Game of Thrones dragon?) or something innovated in-house, retailers must be braver and more diligent about creating experiences through technology, as opposed to limiting it to the functional.

Elsewhere, the creative minds at Spatium demonstrated VR experiences in 3D worlds tied to head tracking software. Surrounded by screens, visitors who test-drove this interesting application were treated to a unique visual experience, while onlookers were attracted to the dynamic, animated content flashing across the high-resolution displays.

This attention-grabbing application demonstrates how humans and technology can attract people and increase dwell times in public spaces. Imagine the possibilities of these experiential treatments in a retail store.

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[fontspecial]Interpret, Activate, Amplify[/fontspecial]

Literally incorporating the “wow factor” into its SXSW branding, Sony’s Wow Factory gave each visitor an emotional takeaway via a truly immersive experience. From its ‘true north’ movie experience to taking attendees on a journey through a space theater, Sony made us say “wow” over and over. By leveraging VR and AR technologies with storytelling to drive emotional connections, Sony achieved its wow factor through what attendees did, instead of simply through what they saw.

Examples of these experiences include:

  • Sensors connected to a special suit wore by gamers. Bystanders wearing headphones engaged through touching a sphere, which allowed them to feel what the gamer felt at that moment. This was a real mindblower that suggests potentially game-changing opportunities to draw shopper attention in retail environments.
  • New iterations of immersive VR that allows multiple people to be inside the same game, actively playing against each other.
  • A small device due out later this year that projects onto any surface, and converts it to a real-time musical instrument of your choice.
  • Multisensory, immersive VR that engages the senses to see, ride and feel a train rolling down the track – with the heightened awareness of a potential crash ahead.

This approach to interpretation and activation poses the question: How can we at MaxMedia help retailers create and amplify similarly immersive experiences through entertainment and storytelling? It is something we strive for everyday at MaxMedia as we explore new ways to use technology to augment immersive, multisensory experiences.

[fontspecial]Content Curation[/fontspecial]

YouTube reminded us that content is still king when used effectively. The online video pioneer’s “In Six Seconds You Can…” exhibit was a stroke of genius, taking attendees on adventures through the past, present and future.

A significant element of their SXSW experience was a viewing studio that pulled visitors into curated stories. This proved how effective immersive experiences are to dwell times, and made us reflect on how we video remains an important element of shopper engagement. We also noticed how they brand “on the go” content very similarly to what we have achieved for our clients at AT&T.

YouTube even offered a culture-based print magazine. Similarly to the viewing room, it was all about connecting with people and their stories.

 

[fontspecial]Personalization: Make the Intangible Tangible[/fontspecial]

There were several compelling exhibits that showed the significance of accessibility to creating a memorable experience. Animal Kingdom is a TNT show based in LA with an emphasis on beach culture. By letting people come surf and having Vans available to customize with a killer artist, TNT made the fabric of the show physically accessible.

Amazon offers a second example with its Man in the High Castle exhibit. This interactive, intrigue-based pop-up experience lured visitors into an atmospheric immersion. Like the show itself, Amazon’s reimagination of an existing bar/restaurant, evoked an alternate world where rebellion simmers in the shadows and only secret (RFID-enabled) passwords provide VIP access.

Speaking of interactive, we expect group interactivity to play a larger role moving forward. We attended a session called “The Future of Museums,” offered by the Museum of Natural History in New York, that perfectly encapsulated how group interactivity can make a difference.

Museums are spaces to feel safe, learn and inspire, and connect people to the world. The goal at the Museum of Natural History (NY) is to experience places and adventures, and share them with others. They have been working for decades to move from object displays to full immersion. Their planetarium is accomplishing this with a ceiling projection of space that moves with parallax, adding true dimension to the experience.

Early in the session, the presenters compared a static display from 100 years ago to a responsive animation with real-time rendering. They anticipate that this will personalize the experience in the future. Imagine touching a giraffe’s nose, and having him blink and nudge you back in response: A memorable and emotional experience based on an interactive, tangible event.

Speaking of interactive, we expect group interactivity to play a larger role moving forward. We attended a session called “The Future of Museums,” offered by the Museum of Natural History in New York, that perfectly encapsulated how group interactivity can make a difference.

Museums are spaces to feel safe, learn and inspire, and connect people to the world. The goal at the Museum of Natural History (NY) is to experience places and adventures, and share them with others. They have been working for decades to move from object displays to full immersion. Their planetarium is accomplishing this with a ceiling projection of space that moves with parallax, adding true dimension to the experience.

Early in the session, the presenters compared a static display from 100 years ago to a responsive animation with real-time rendering. They anticipate that this will personalize the experience in the future. Imagine touching a giraffe’s nose, and having him blink and nudge you back in response: A memorable and emotional experience based on an interactive, tangible event.

The common thread across these exhibits: Designing digital experiences in physical environments is important and way better than watching a movie. How can we learn from and apply similar techniques to the brick-and-mortar retail experience?

As SXSW proves time and time again, the possibilities of applied technology can be game-changing – and the pace of which it is moving forward provide all of us with the keys to the ignition. At MaxMedia, we are accelerating down the highway as we work to develop new ideas for retail environments through these and other innovations. The future indeed seems bright.