When we’re playing in our Lab, we’re always looking for creative ways to push the limits of technology. Some of our projects are just for fun, and others, like London’s Audi City, completely reinvent the way people shop. We were even thinking about digital wallets before they were cool. So when we set out to create the Razorfish 5D platform, our goal was to design a powerful and highly immersive way for brands to connect with consumers—before, during and after the shopping experience. In our latest video, we show how our 5D platform seamlessly connects a variety of digital devices to better attract consumers into the store, drive product engagement and arm store associates with more contextualized digital tools. The end result is a fun and personal experience, the way shopping should be.
Today Christopher Heine of AdWeek published “Razorfish’s Atlanta Lab Focuses on In-Store Digital” highlighting the Emerging Experiences Lab as a multi-faceted innovative space equipped to continue tackling the changing retail landscape.
Regarding a recent report, Heine concludes:
Bottom line, retailers need to do more than simply slap digital elements into their locations… they need to create seriously-planned interactive customer experiences.
Razorfish’s Emerging Experiences lab is a mind-blowing candy store stocked with seamlessly connected technologies that facilitate the creation of magic moments for guests. It provides an immersive physical space that clients can leverage to strategize, implement, prototype, and employ these interactive experiences for their customers.
From concept to completion, the Emerging Experience Practice is a one-stop shop for clients looking to collaborate with a team of committed, enthusiastic specialists to ultimately create custom solutions that are grounded in the reality of business. The Lab is a unifying space not only for emerging technologies, but also for designers, developers, strategists, and stakeholders too.
In the Lab, all of the walls come down. Traditional barriers between agency and client as well as client and customer are removed. Technology recedes in and out of view through the cycle of creation as it integrates with thoughtful experience touch points.
The results of this one-of-a-kind mix? Solutions that are sustainable and occur as a natural result of discoveries during the envisioning process.
It’s always so exciting when a client visits the Lab for the first time. By experiencing the possibilities in a physical space, the client is inspired by this type of thinking and how it relates to their business. Subconsciously, authentic consumer experiences begin to occur.
The sensory nature of the Lab helps foster the most compelling and innovative ideas possible. It is something that can not be achieved by observing a focus group or relying on evolving data.
It’s brainstorming at its finest. And prototyping at its fastest.
Clients can experience their customers’ point of view in a way that was once never possible.
Razorfish is committed. Our team members are committed. All of the chips are in and the Lab is situated as a crucial space to help our clients realize and understand the needs of today’s customers.
In mid-March, tens of thousands of music lovers, film fanatics and tech junkies descended on Austin, Texas for the annual SXSW festival. This year, we were honored by being invited to come and participate on a panel discussing technology and the future of the in-store experience (official panel info). It was an exciting opportunity that we hope to be asked to repeat in the future years of this prestigious festival.
Its been amazing to watch the festival’s success and attendance sky rocket during the last decade, and the expansion into the interactive industry has been a huge factor in that growth. To say attendance was high is almost laughable – the city was brimming with people, all ravenously seeking out and consuming inspiration for their passions in the forms of discussions, installations and shows. It was really a highlight in our history to be part of that momentum.
There were a lot of very engaging discussions – from Foursquare CEO, Dennis Crowley’s, keynote discussion on how their platform continues to evolve and stay relevant, to the “new buzz” around passive-location app rookies such as Highlight and even some really amazing (and fairly alarming) thoughts from Ray Kurzweil on the democratization of technology…and our imminent replacement by cyborgs. (YAY future!)
The speakers I had the pleasure of joining on the panel were Carrie Chitsey, Founder & CEO of 3Seventy, Tim Austin, CCO of TPN, and Chris Harrison, panel moderator and COO of DMX Inc. The panel focused primarily on the current landscape of retail – both in-store platforms and exterior experiences such as web and mobile/tablet. A lot of discussion was around the tech that is in the market today – QR, mobile, RFID, Augmented Reality, Multitouch – and what we saw on the horizon – NFC, 3D Video Projection, furthered AR and, most importantly, the convergence of these experiences into a connected, holistic platform.
We’ve seen amazing examples of Augmented Reality and Video Projection as jaw-dropping attraction mediums and fun, environmental experiences (think Nike’s Melo Event or RockStar), but how can we utilize this tech to drive purchasing decisions in-store or from a shopper’s living room. One of the larger advancements we saw at CES this year was in the Virtual Dressing room category and how augmented experiences like Body Metrics are impacting shoppers’ decisions while reducing return rates for online retailers at the same time.
However, while this solves ‘online’ shopping pain points for both retailers and consumers, it also creates potential potholes in the path to in-store traffic since the online experience is that much better. This then puts the heat back on brands (and us as marketers) to elevate the in-store component of our model to provide meaningful, inspiring experiences for shoppers so they actually visit the store in the first place. So what does this mean for the marketplace?
It means connecting with customers’ senses of individuality and personal connection with brands. It means empowering the sales staff with tools and theatrical platforms to engage in a higher level of customer service with shoppers. And most importantly, it means ensuring that these offerings weave together to form a cohesive story across all the touch points that form the overall journey from storefront to shopping cart. Our team recently developed a platform, code-named 5D, that connects shoppers with devices and one-of-a-kind experiences like never before.
Lastly, we also discussed the responsibilities we have as agencies, brand ambassadors and shepherds of our clients’ interests to make sure we are not just pushing tech for tech’s sake. There have been far too many failed retail experiences due to the fact that they were simply off-target from the business goals of the retailer, inappropriate for the store’s customer, fledgling technology that needed to be incubated a bit longer or all of the above. QR, for example, is so easy to implement, that every able marketer over-saturated their materials with a QR extension, delivering a poor user-end experience once the consumer actually went through the hoops of snapping the code. This has really eroded the effectiveness of QR as a connection medium and left a sour taste in most peoples’ mouths when they think of QR. Now, at a time when QR’s potential is really peaking through its ability to quickly connect platforms and personal devices, we are finding ourselves having to resell the tech all over again since it wasn’t used appropriately by so many marketers the first time. As an agency, we must always envision our experiences with attention to core business strategies, while at the same time designing consumer services that support the shopper. It is definitely our job to disrupt the marketplace with ideas, but ideas that are tactful and meaningful for brands and shoppers alike.
At the end of the day, or the panel rather, we all agreed that the point is this: products support the experiences we create. Therefore, these experiences should always support our consumers’ lifestyles as well as the business goals of our clients. They must be meaningful and magical to impact a cluttered landscape that’s piled high with shallow executions and disparate messages. Emerging technology is a powerful medium to break through all of this noise and tell compelling stories, but only if it adds value on both sides of the fence. The consumer story is the brand story these days – period -and personal devices + emerging technology is at the center of it all. We must strive to utilize new opportunities with new technology to educate and inspire the people that fuel this trillion dollar industry, but not squander business dollars and consumer energy in the process.
Fresh out of R&D from the Razorfish Emerging Experiences team is a product code-named “5D”. 5D started out as an idea to re-invent personal shopping. Our goal was to create a retail experience platform for both consumers and sales associates that enables multi-channel sales through immersive and connected digital devices in retail environments. And the only way to do it is to seamlessly integrate five key components – devices, content, experiences, analytics and CRM with a touch of digital magic!
The team announced 5D at the 2012 NRF Convention & Expo in New York City in partnership with NEC and Microsoft. Leveraging Windows Embedded, Microsoft Surface, MS Tag, Windows Phone and Kinect for Windows we created a prototype around a fictitious brand “Razorfashion” that demonstrates how various touch points along the customer journey can attract consumers into the store, drive product engagement and arm store associates with more contextualized digital tools.
You can read the full press release here
We recently partnered with London-based technology company, Bodymetrics, to develop a means for online shoppers to buy clothes from the comfort of their couch. Whattya mean big deal? Well, did we mention that the clothes are guaranteed to fit?
Yup, thanks to BodyMetrics’ 3D body-scanning technology, which is based off of the same PrimeSense scanners and camera tech as the Microsoft Kinect, shoppers are able to have their body dimensions scanned in and saved to an online profile. Just think of it like the transport room in Star Trek … if Scotty had a bit of an online shopping problem.
Once users have created their profile and saved their body data, they can virtually try on a wide range of clothing types such as jeans, dresses, skirts and tops from tons of partner retailers. As each piece of clothing is mapped to the on-screen avatar’s body, the user is able to see the exact fit of the item thanks to a visual overlay that depicts the tight spots of the garment. No more guessing games when you buy that pair of jeans online – you get the perfect fit, every time.
The icing on the cake – retailers get to benefit from a drastic drop in their store return rates since their customers can finally purchase with confidence. That, coupled with the exponential momentum and increased basket-size of eCommerce purchases means great things for apparel companies. Plus, you don’t have to listen to some phony sales associate squawking about how fabulous you look in those jeans – just take a look for yourself!
AT&T’s Small Business division asked the Emerging Experiences Group within Razorfish to create an in-store experience as part of a 30 store pilot program to create better awareness and engagement with customers as well as provide associates more powerful sales tools. The project has been a big success and you should be able to take a spin in a store near you soon.
The arrival of NFC technology promises to usher in a variety of new types of multi-channel customer experiences. While NFC technology is still in its infancy, our team has focused our efforts on research & development around experiences that can be enabled by this emerging platform. One of the many uses of NFC is activating mobile payment.
The Razorfish Digital Wallet is a mobile application we developed to demonstrate how customers can send and receive mobile payments over NFC. In the future, this type of consumer-to-consumer payment will become commonplace. For instance, you’ll pay your babysitter or settle a bet with a friend by simply tapping your mobile devices.
In the above video, we’ll showcase the consumer-to-consumer payment scenario along with a variety of other scenarios. NFC has arrived and we’re excited to integrate this technology in our experiences.
Check back soon as we will be posting a behind-the-scenes walkthru of the application.
One of the questions we constantly asked ourselves was how we could utilize Microsoft Surface as an easy and collaborative sharing platform. Surface is a product designed for social environments, attracting and engaging people to take a seat around the table and interact. As smartphones take over the mobile market, it’s important to recognize that people expect to have intuitive ways to connect their handsets and share pictures, information or other data. But we still haven’t seen a solution which leverages the whole Surface potential to create a compelling mobile sharing experience.
This is where our newly developed Amnesia Connect platform comes in. It demonstrates the most seamless and visual sharing opportunities a Surface table can probably provide. With support for any number of mobile devices, users can literally see-through their device and share content as easy and tactile as it can get. It is perfectly suited for sharing visual data like images and video, but works for any other type of content as well.
At the moment we support iPhone and iPad devices and are currently evaluating other platforms as well. But we can already tell that it’s heart-warming to see Microsoft’s and Apple’s devices playing so nicely together and we can’t wait to throw other players into the mix as well.
Read the full press release here.
The Consumer Electronics Show was back for 2011 and our team was on the ground in Las Vegas. We have a number of initiatives going on at CES this year.
First, our team was involved in the Microsoft Surface 2.0 launch. We’ve been working with the Surface team for a few months on the next generation of Surface. We’ve been porting our applications to run on the latest version. We can proudly announce that we are Surface 2.0 ready and we look forward to supporting the new platform and bringing the solution to our clients. The Microsoft Surface announcement caught the media by surprise – it’s been over 3 years since the original Surface was announced. The new device is faster, leaner and costs less than the previous version of Surface. We’ll have an in-detail analysis of Microsoft Surface 2.0 posted on the blog shortly.
Second, we were involved in the launch of another experience for one of our clients. We created a solution that will be experienced by millions of consumers in the market. Unfortunately our involvement must remain confidential so we can’t go into too many details. Let’s just say it was definitely one of those opportunities that we could not pass up!
We took the opportunity to explore the trade show floor in an effort to educate ourselves on the latest technology offerings. We hope to bring some of these technologies to our clients in 2011. Here are some of the technologies that we’ve got our eye on.
2011 has been declared the “year of the tablet”. There were certainly no shortage of tablets at CES. In fact, about 80 new tablet form-factor devices were announced at CES this year.
From a hardware perspective, tablets are getting thinner, lighter and more powerful thanks to innovation around chip technology from companies like Intel, ARM, nVidia and Qualcomm. There are a variety of new form-factors hitting the market. The Eee Pad Transformer tablet can be docked in a base which transforms the device into a traditional laptop form-factor. The Dell Inspiron Duo tablet features a reversible screen to accomplish the same thing.
There were a variety of different screen sizes available. One of the interesting debates between amongst members of our team was around the usefulness of the small screen tablets. These “tweener” devices feature screens between the size of a typical phone and an iPad. The smaller size means they are more portable than an iPad, however they still can’t fit in your pocket and they can’t make phone calls.
One of the most impressive devices was the BlackBerry Playbook. The device features a brilliant user interface which makes use of NUI design principals – direct interaction of content through the use of gestures. In addition, the performance of the device was exceptional. We can’t wait to start developing for this platform.
For the first time, we had the opportunity to see the new Android Honeycomb tablet OS. The exerience is decidedly Android retaining much of the same design language. Improvements have been made to the user interface to take into account the additional tablet real-estate. In all honesty, we were slightly disappointed with the user interface. We were hoping for something game-changing from Google and instead, they delivered an experience that was transitional, not transformational.
One of the major disappointments was the lack of direction from Microsoft on tablet devices. We were crossing our fingers for an announcement around a tablet operating system that was lightweight and provided an exceptional user experience similar to what is being provided on Windows Phone 7 platform. And we wanted this platform soon.
Microsoft did acknowledge they are behind in the space. Right now, their story is positioning Windows 8 as the solution for tablets by supporting system-on-a-chip architecture. By supporting this hardware platform, Microsoft will be able to deliver Windows experiences on tablet devices while taking into account battery life and OS performance.
Unfortunately, no announcements were made around the Windows 8 user interface. Delivering an exceptional tablet UI will be essential to their strategy. It is likely Microsoft will adopt the “Metro” design language currently being used for Windows Phone 7 and Microsoft Surface 2.0.
Gesture Control and Natural Interaction
With the release and success of Xbox Kinect, the gesture control market is heating up. Much like the original iPhone brought touch interaction into the mainstream by putting millions of devices in the hands of consumers, Xbox Kinect will do the same for gesture control. The way we interact with computers is fundamentally changing and we are getting in on the ground floor.
We’ve taken the opportunity to develop for the Kinect platform, however we were looking for a commercial-grade solution to bring to our clients. Enter PrimeSense.
PrimeSense licenses their technology to Microsoft for use in the Xbox Kinect, therefore they seemed like the perfect partner to deliver the hardware and software to support commercialized gesture control solutions. We are actively working with PrimeSense to develop for their platform. Their OpenNI initiative hopes to create a framework for standardization of natural interface development across devices.
We see gesture control technology being used in an in-home setting and also in retail environments. This technology can be utilized to create at-home shopping experiences which combine natural interaction and augmented reality. Imagine being able to virtually try on clothes from the comfort of your own home. Or order a pizza with a flick of the wrist from the comfort of your couch.
We have been champions of the use of interactive experiences in the retail environment and we have the statistics to prove it. To date, the majority of our experiences have utilized touch. This technology provides a new user interaction paradigm and offers an entirely new world of possibilities in the retail space.
Touch screen technology is evolving rapidly. Devices are becoming larger, cheaper and more reliable. Exciting new form-factors and multi-touch hardware will help us deliver new experiences to our clients in 2011.
3M Touch Systems has exciting new hardware and form-factors hitting the market which utilize their massively multi-touch projected capacitive technology. This technology provides extremely stable multi-touch that supports a large amount of touch points. 3M is brining 23” and 32” screen sizes to the market. In additional, the screens can be integrated into a multi-device array to build large size touch wall and table experiences.
We also had some hands-on time with systems from PQ Labs and Multitouch.fi. Both vendors offer touch solutions that are unique and exceptional. We look forward to working with these companies in the future.
Displays are getting thinner, lighter and more energy efficient. 3D technology is also evolving quickly. Much like last year, 3D display technology was everywhere. The most impressive innovation in the 3D TV space comes from LG. They demonstrated how their 3D technology has been standardized – every TV on display in their booth could utilize the same pair of glasses to deliver an exceptional 3D experience. They also demonstrated flicker-less 3D which produced a better 3D picture than we’ve seen on any other consumer device.
The glasses-less 3D technology was a disappointment. There isn’t enough discernable depth with the current iteration of the technology. Certainly this will change over time, however the promise of ditching the glasses has yet to be fulfilled. We wouldn’t be surprised if this changes in 2011.
Ford had the major innovations in the automotive space. The Ford Focus Electric vehicle was announced along with an update to the MyFord Touch interface. The interface features a number of enhancements including the ability to visualize your destination and alert the driver if there isn’t adequate charge in the vehicle’s battery. In addition, an efficiency coach monitors your driving habits to advise changes to your driving style and an “Emotive Display” visualizes butterflies when you are driving in a way that adds range to your vehicle.
MyFord Mobile was also announced. The app allows you to locate charging stations, unlock doors and find the location of the vehicle. In addition, the app goes social with driving behavior monitoring – achievements are awarded once certain milestones are met. These achievements can be shared on Facebook.
Mobile continues to demonstrate its growing importance with many different audiences. People are buying smartphones, texting like mad, and choosing the phone over the PC for web browsing at a surprising clip. All of this points to a need to take mobile ever more seriously. At the same time, the possibilities of mobile display advertising continue to evolve, most recently with mobile rich media formats bursting onto the scene. We’ve gathered some of the best examples of mobile rich media across a wide variety of platforms, networks, and 3rd party specialists – including the Razorfish-built iAd for JCPenney. Check it out.