The Tech Trend Haiku

May 20, 2014 by in 3D Scanning, Augmented Reality, BodyMetrics, iBeacon, Opinion, Retail, Technology

2014 has seen a proliferation of articles about tech trends — this is, as it were, the trend in tech trends. News outlets, consultancies, and the random web page all feel an urgency about putting their two cents in.

Even as more voices are being heard about what to expect in the near future (or more accurately, the ‘intimate future’), what is actually said seems to be getting shorter and shorter. Moreover, what is being said seems to be getting recycled year over year.

Where near future predictions used to be long and thoughtful, intimate future predictions have become terse and uniform. This process is known to economists as the process of commoditization. What was once crafted is now generic, easily digestible, and able to be mass produced: predictions in 140 characters or less.

This trend of writing about tech trends seems to be running out of steam. Repetition and terseness are sure signs of an exhausted meme. They are last year’s fashion.

This is a shame, as they clearly once had a purpose in informing, inspiring and entertaining us. In an attempt to revive the genre, the Razorfish Emerging Experiences team has decided to take the trend to its logical conclusion: The Tech Trend Haiku. Enjoy.

Razorfish Emerging Experiences’
Tech Trend Haiku

Surveillance culture
Puts us all in glass houses:
Reality’s show.

The Quantified Self
Takes the means of surveillance
Back from government.

Technology and
Fashion allow me to find
My socks. Wherables.

The revolution
Will be tweeted on an app
You’ve never heard of.

“Drones on leashes shoot
Aerial photos” — creepy.
Drone on, drone, drone on…

All things great and small
Will have unique addresses:
Internet of things.

A 3-D printer
Printed itself from old parts.
The circle of life.

New studies show tech
Harms attention spans among
Lost attention span.

Reality augmented
Through tinted glasses. Only
Virtually real.

Self-driving cars are
A placeholder for our hearts’
Desire: flying cars.


Future of Retail: Indoor Positioning with iBeacons

Mar 25, 2014 by in iBeacon, Lab, Mobile, Projection, Retail, Technology

In the Razorfish Emerging Experiences labs, we’ve been prototyping next generation retail experiences that can identify and track consumers with the goal of offering timely and relevant information. Using Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) indoor location-based tracking, we’re able to see movements and identities of smartphones throughout retail environments. Our systems know how many people are in a space (image below), who they are, when they entered, where they went, where they lingered, and when they left. Based on the location of consumers, we can serve contextually relevant content to their smartphones or to displays in their proximity.


Mobile Integration with Retail

BLE indoor position tracking can integrate mobile experiences into a physical retail space. With indoor location tracking, mobile wayfinding can help guide consumers to items in their mobile wish list or even to less-crowded checkout lines. Consumers could use their mobile devices to signal for help, and associates can use location tracking (image below) to find the customer. Displays near a consumer could recognize them and display messages relevant to their shopping history and accept content that is pushed to them from mobile devices.


Retail Metrics

BLE indoor tracking allows for in-store metrics tracking that is tied to the identity of a customer. Data can be collected from a customer’s entire shopping visit, instead of only at the checkout line. In the image above, a server tracks the movement of a smartphone from the moment it enters and can collect metrics on dwell times, traffic hot spots, and indoor location history. When retail locations connect this data to POS metrics they could track how long each purchase decision took as well as what other products a customer considered during their visit by tracking linger times in front of products that were not purchased. Retail locations could track the effectiveness of in-store messaging, end cap linger times, and incentives that are pushed to smartphones in-store. BLE indoor tracking can also help associates better service customers. By accessing real-time indoor tracking data, associates can optimize where they need to be to offer assistance and guide sales. When engaged with a customer, associates could also see what in-store items a customer was mostly likely interested in.

We’re excited to work with these new technologies and along the way, find better ways for retailers to more effectively connect with consumers.



Mar 25, 2014 by in Kinect, Microsoft Kinect, News, Projection, Technology, Travel

As passengers of San Francisco International Airport (SFO) walk into the newly renovated Terminal 3E they are greeted by a 16-foot wide glowing data visualization that hovers above six multi-touch screens, the Flight Deck. The Flight Deck highlights SFO’s global reach, services, amenities, and museum exhibits. We want to share the backstory about the development of the interactive data visualization component of the Flight Deck.


The Projection

Our goal was to create a visual beacon in an airport that stood out from other digital displays and had the ability to be seen on both sides. We envisioned a uniquely shaped floating image without bezels that was constantly moving to capture the attention of passengers whether they are arriving or departing. To meet this challenge, we experimented with several concepts but decided on attempting a 24/7 rear-projection in a bright airport terminal. Rear-projections in backlit environments are difficult since projectors don’t project black. Initial tests (images below) showed that a projection in the space would be possible given the proper projector, proper dark grey rear-projection film, and window treatment. We worked with the architects to specify a frit for the windows immediately behind the projection. We used a 20,000-lumen projector, the brightest rear-projection film we could find, and optimized the placement of the glass and projector for the visitor approach. Visitors approach the Flight Deck parallel to the projector, so that they experience the brightest portion of the projection when walking toward the Flight Deck.


The Experience

We wanted to create an ever-changing experience where a Kinect camera would use people’s presence to alter the background, and real-time data from flight paths would highlight the global reach of SFO from moment to moment. Key rewards were also synchronized with the touch screens so that visitors are able to take over the entire projection if they collect hidden rewards within the touch screen experience. The software was developed using Cinder, and used OSC for network communication. An early decision was to heavily thread our architecture so that we could maintain a minimum of 60 fps for low interaction latency and smooth animation. Unfortunately several components in Cinder were not properly written for heavy multithreading such as the Console or the Kinect class, so we added locks and properly threaded components as needed. Early interaction prototypes tested the limits of our frame rate and latency to determine areas for optimization.


Kinect Interaction

As curious visitors approach the Flight Deck a Kinect camera captures their form and creates triangles and shapes that play with their form using an attraction based physics system, as seen in the image above. As visitors move left to right the triangles leave trails of triangles on the screen that orbit the space, creating constantly changing visuals. Visitors can also use their arms to attract and control the shapes around them. A rear mounted Kinect camera captures approaching visitors and uses computer vision algorithms to convert the depth image to blobs. The computer vision allows for tracking of any number of people, vs two people for skeleton tracking. In addition, we also use depth data from a depth range that is normally unreliable for skeleton tracking. We modified the Kinect API for Cinder to use an extended depth range to capture people who are up to 16 feet away and to see people within a 15 foot wide area.

Data Visualization

Live flight data is visualized on screen as well as inbound and outbound activity from SFO in the last 24 hours. Positional data from flights is received in a polar coordinate system and is converted to a Cartesian coordinate system on the GPU. Our data visualization uses the positional data from flights so that flight paths can be visualized with bends and waviness vs perfectly smoothed flight paths. The challenge with positional data was that live flight data is not always available in all positions of a flight so some interpolation had to be mixed with the actual data. SLERP was utilized for interpolating positions and real data was combined with interpolated data using a gated smoothing algorithm. The approach allowed for us to properly visualize flights, for example flights to Asia, where positions are occasionally lost but picked up at various locations.

Looking Forward

The interactive data visualization represents only one aspect of the Flight Deck. The Flight Deck also consists of a multi-touch experience and a mobile experience and was a collaboration of creative and technical talent. Since the launch, we’ve heard a lot of feedback where people are comparing the Flight Deck to their favorite sci-fi shows and movies. We hope that we can continue to create forward thinking experiences for the public.


Can’t Make it to SFO? Experience Flight Deck Right Here

Mar 25, 2014 by in 5D, Experience Design, Kinect, Multi-touch, Portfolio, Projection, Retail, Technology, Touchscreen, Travel


While Flight Deck is best experienced in person, you can get a quick fly-through of the experience right now. What is Flight Deck? Read all about it here.


Audi City Berlin Launched

Feb 05, 2014 by in 5D, Experience Design, Microsoft Kinect, Mobile, Multi-touch, News, Portfolio, Retail, Technology, Touchscreen

First London, then Beijing and now Berlin: Audi City has transformed the dealership experience in ways never before seen. It’s delivered by one of the most technologically advanced retail environments ever created and features a variety of multi-touch displays for configuring your Audi from millions of possible combinations. Personalize your Audi then toss it onto one of the floor-to-ceiling digital “powerwalls” to visualize and explore your configuration at a true 1:1 scale. Audi City is a true dealership of the future and an effort we are proud to be part of.






RZRShop Highlights from NRF

Jan 27, 2014 by in 5D, Augmented Reality, Experience Design, Kinect, Mobile, Multi-touch, News, Portfolio, Projection, Retail, Technology, Touchscreen

From a surfboard designer that comes to life right before your eyes, to a one-of-a-kind, dual screen Kinect beach soccer game, RZRShop was a huge hit at this year’s National Retail Federation Annual Convention and Expo. Check out some of the highlights.

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Experience The Future of Travel with San Francisco International Airport’s Flight Deck

Jan 24, 2014 by in Experience Design, Kinect, Multi-touch, News, Portfolio, Projection, Retail, Technology, Touchscreen, Travel

The assignment was, well, not so simple. Design and build a fully immersive, best in class, innovative future travel experience for passengers bustling through one of the busiest and fastest growing airports in the country — San Francisco International. The Flight Deck will serve as the gateway experience to the newly renovated Terminal 3, Boarding Area E (or Terminal 3E as it’s known as).

When the Emerging Experiences team was contracted by Hensel-Phelps, one of the largest general contractors and construction managers in the United States, to create this experience we could not have been more excited. For a multi-disciplinary team like us, built of experience designers, creatives, techies, and passionate people that love to collaborate and deliver unexpected, delightful experiences, this project screamed open canvas. Our team is built for these challenging, yet experimental and fun engagements. And the fruits of the tight collaboration between tech and creative shine bright. Literally. Through a 20,000 lumen projector onto oversized panels of glass displaying real-time flight data.


So just what is Flight Deck? The SFO Flight Deck is composed of three distinct but connected digital experiences — an interactive and real time large scale projection (you can’t miss it), six multi-touch kiosks that are rich with beautiful content, and a mobile takeaway component for those on the go. The entire experience resides in Terminal 3, but the projected visualization serves as a beacon calling all SFO guests to contribute to the global SFO travel story. Content in all three experiences encompasses the entire airport and extends its reach into the city of San Francisco and global destinations.

In order to serve the wide gamut of travel guests, the team operated under the following experience pillars at all times. If an idea did not fit under two or more of these pillars, it hit the floor.

1. Quick and meaningful interactions should maintain quality and depth.
2. Playful collaborations should be maintained throughout the experience.
3. Your personal narrative is part of the SFO story.

Why? As mentioned earlier, the assignment was not so simple. Today’s travelers are in a rush. How and why do we make busy passengers take the time to stop and engage? Inspired by the golden age of travel, when it was considered a magical thing and an experience to do so, we wanted to bring back the joy of the travel experience.

SFO is the just the airport to foster that joy. Featuring an on-site museum with collections that could rival most of the best metropolitan museums we’ve ever visited, we were allowed to dig in to the archives of hundreds of photos of the museum’s aviation collection. And we bring a lot of these golden moments to guests in Flight Deck, hoping they take the time to smile and remember the transformative and magical experiences that travel can bring.

Grand Opening

Terminal 3E is scheduled to open for passengers on January 28, but folks were able to get a sneak peek at the T3E Community Day on Saturday, January 25th. The Flight Deck was a huge hit for folks of all ages, some of which said they plan on coming a bit early on their next flight out of SFO just so they could explore it more. Check out our updates from the event on Twitter and Facebook, and be sure to vote for your favorite feature in Terminal 3 here (guess what we voted for?).





The Biggest Thing in Retail is Actually Pretty Small: Welcome to #RZRShop

Jan 13, 2014 by in 5D, Experience Design, Kinect, Microsoft Surface, Mobile, Multi-touch, Near Field, News, Portfolio, Retail, Technology, Touchscreen


For this year’s National Retail Federation Annual Convention and Expo, we’ve built a highly interactive, surf-and-sand-inspired shopping experience. Built inside a uniquely portable container, RZRShop creates big moments inside a smaller, more nimble retail footprint. Digital meets physical with a Perceptive Pixel-powered surfboard designer that comes to life right before your eyes. And battle lines are drawn with a one-of-a-kind, dual screen Kinect beach soccer game and smart vending experience. Powered by the Razorfish 5D Retail Platform, RZRShop seamlessly connects a variety of devices to attract customers, drive product engagement and arm store associates with more contextualized tools. The end result is a fun and personal experience—the way shopping should be.

Visit for more information, and visit us in Microsoft booth #2703 to experience RZRShop for yourself.

Big Ideas Come in Small Packages

Jan 08, 2014 by in 5D, Experience Design, Microsoft Kinect, News, Retail, Technology, Touchscreen

NRF Container

Our container arrived at New York’s Javits Center this morning where our team is prepping for next week’s National Retail Federation annual convention and expo. What’s in the container? Stay tuned.

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We’re Building the Next Big Thing

Jan 07, 2014 by in 5D, Experience Design, Kinect, Microsoft Kinect, Multi-touch, Retail, Technology, Touchscreen

Stay tuned to find out what it is.