Engagement Technology Gets More Engaging

Beyond the pixels and the diodes, once the lamps have dimmed, all that will remain is an emotive, tech-after-echo, left behind by the content that we experienced…

I have just returned from my annual pilgrimage to a tech event called Integrated Systems Europe #ISE2017. It was another barnstorming event, wherein the RAI Amsterdam was rammed full of the world’s greatest Engagement Technologists.

My personal Tech Highlights of the Show are but a drop in the ocean. If you plan to seriously make a dent in the exhibitions universe, expect to be there for all three days. Otherwise, concede that you will not get to see everything.

It would be fair to say that visitors saw some of the finest examples of Projection Mapping at the show this year. Whether it was to highlight features of products, draw attention to large areas of wall or indeed to pick out the fine contours of clothing and utilitarian wear. Optoma were showing off Projection Mapper, a brand new mobile app that allows for accurate projection mapping creation on a handheld device.

Curved LED screens made an appearance at the show. As one would expect, the scale of the installations demonstrated an appetite amongst OEMs, to reach out to a market that is far greater than just gamers.

Customer Engagement Technology has featured heavily in Leisure & Hospitality settings for a number of years. On my travels, I have enjoyed seeing the intersection of light, sound and movement, these art/tech installations act as great space fillers that as digital distractions offer up a combination of intrigue and relaxation.

Pioneering companies such as Videotree from the UK blend the borders of art and technology in hotel environments. Whilst the race to zero bezel grips the mainstream manufacturers, this OEM sees a future for wall mounted technology wherein the frame itself forms part of the overall visual piece. They see technology as a medium for transmitting information and believe that this can be beautiful. Thy may have a point – after all is it co-incidence that galleries across the planet put frames around their paintings and prints. Videotree shares the same approach with their digital and mirrored canvasses.

New digital frontiers are being explored by the likes of Samsung with their vision of the Future of Retail. Far from being a dystopian nightmare of a cashless society, void of desire and consuming products like laboratory rats eating food pellets. These Imagineers see a bold future, wherein the user interface comes in many forms and customers engage on their own terms.

At ISE this year I saw visitors interacting with brands through LED pool tables and via interactive mirrors. The myriad of ways to engage with an audience was only limited by the knowledge that these technologies exist in the first place. One such hidden gem came from the wizards at Scala Inc as they provoked much discussion with their touch fabric simulations in a sports clothing setting. It appears that engagement technology is gathering a pace and the Imagineers have finally been set free. Long may they stay one step ahead of their own beautiful, creative debris.

Visitors could be forgiven for thinking that they were wandering in an industrial wonderland as they saw robotic giraffes from Mitsubishi Electric – a name not regularly associated with Engagement technology – and yet proved to be quite a draw.

Robotics and automation were also in evidence on the LG stand. Their OLED Twister Flexible Curve Open Frame screen arrays demonstrated excellently choreographed pieces of theatre that warped and shifted. We marvelled as these banks of panels oozed liquid pixels, bent screens surfaces, rippled reality, distorted our imagination, sidestepped optical physics and twisted our melons man.

If that wasn’t enough, how about signage that incorporated invisible digital messaging. Visitors were handed lenses that, through the ingenious use of polarising filters, revealed hidden messages on menu boards, making these examples seem more akin to John Carpenters 1988 Sci-fi film They Live than ever before.

There were dozens upon dozens of great examples of super wide format LED that shouted loud for your attention. Some LED panels shone with candela levels usually reserved for dwarf stars and indeed many panelled video walls were so huge they risked blocking out our own Sun entirely.

And of course, as we see the rise of Virtual Reality and associated versions of reality shifting technologies, at ISE2017 many companies were demonstrating their 360 dome projectors and fisheye lenses.

A collaboration between Canon and Elumenati gave #ISE2017 visitors a demonstration of a great educational installation that is currently running at the Children’s Museum of Manhattan. The GeoDome Panorama of Mosques of the World allows visitors to use tablet PCs to travel around the globe and dive into 360 photographs of some of the finest examples of Mosques on the face of the earth. Using Canons latest projector and an innovative, ultra-wide, fisheye lens to create a spectacular dome experience, the collaborators hope to commercialise the lens/projector combo.

As AR/VR/MR are currently in vogue, there were Augmented Reality installations at the event in greater numbers than ever before. In terms of headsets, I spotted, Vuzix, Google Glass V.3, Epson Moverio BT 350, Microsoft Hololens, HTC Vive and Oculus Rift. Though possibly the most engaging experiences were evident in the work of EyeVis and their blend of transparent touch, tablets, automation, augmentation and interaction.

More and more in business life, we see that tech companies are shrinking or entirely negating the barrier of geographical location through the development of true collaborative technologies. Multi-touch video walls, that were unimaginable as little as five years ago, now seem to be everywhere. Couple that with the advances of connectivity via cloud services and you suddenly find yourself in 2017, easily able to lead global teams, on massively complex projects in real time and at any scale.

The Integrated Systems Event 2017 definitely gets a thumbs up from the visitors and the participants and we all look forward to next year immensely.

The last word goes to one version of the future of the customer interface – a vacuum formed, rear projected, miniaturised, virtual shop assistant. You can’t make this up – vive la différence…….

If your business seeks to use technology as a lever to excite, delight, inform and capture the attention of your customers then perhaps you could look to Technology Watchdogs like myself, to utilise their services to seek out new ways of engaging.

About the author:

@GraeLaws works with emerging business technology – designing through ideation. Seeing people and technology as co-creators in the interface experience, he innovates through interaction. Grae is a futurist, tech evangelist and creative consultant. He’s never too busy to have a chat…


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