Zoom conferences, Instagram Music festivals, TikTok Cloud Raves — COVID-19 has exponentially propelled our use of tech platforms for immersive experiences, connection and community while also seeing platforms take on a variety of functions and uses. Now, as the Internet essentially becomes our “real world” brands are starting to think about how they can reinvent digital experiences in more creative and immersive ways, whether that’s a flagship, a fashion show, or event. Meanwhile, even the way we consume entertainment has become more interactive and community-oriented with headlining concerts being staged on Fortnite, and global music festivals — hosted by Diddy — held on Instagram Live TV, experienced with instantaneous “likes” and comments.
The truth is, these are just the latest in a major shift in Internet culture that has been driving for some time. We’re arguably going through one of the most radical transformational periods in terms of what technology looks like in our hands, environment and homes. And very few brands, or marketers, are exploring how to push these new channels as far as they can go or come up with ways to tell stories and communicate.
Recently, Light Years teamed with London-based creative agency Cult to explore this exact transition in our use of technology and specifically how creatives are using technology in new ways to create compelling brand experiences. Our central question: What is the future of creativity and media in an era of radical technology and channel change? The three-part Creatology study explores three key territories in this space: The Sensory Internet — the future where tech is sentient, emotional and provokes our sense of touch and smell; Total Immersion — the world of 5G, the Internet of Things and blurred interfaces like Augmented Reality; and finally, Super Convergence — what media will look like in the rapidly nonlinear world of games as shops; stores as theme parks, and social networks as music venues.
Navigating ways to market, sell and create brand experiences in this new era has never been more important — especially as the pandemic might mean that in-person interactions become more and more infrequent. What is considered an interface, alone, is rapidly evolving into something sentient and sensory as voice recognition technologies start being integrated into virtually everything to cars, street lamps, stoves and more. (Brands are already rushing to create audio-first strategies.) Meanwhile, new connected devices are learning to interpret our neuro patterns, responses and decisions — not just what we type in. On cue, Google has been experimenting with Neuro Aesthetics, the emerging field of research exploring the intersection of psychological aesthetics, neuroscience and human evolution. And of course, there’s the explosion of gaming. Games are replacing our malls, our social networks and entertainment platforms. There’s also the rapid ascent of AI. (In response, see: Samsung’s Neon “artificial human” virtual assistants — the next holographic iterations of Siri and Alexa).
The transition is scary, but also exciting. What we found in The Creatology Report research is that we’re on the brink of a massive renaissance in use of technologies, data and artificial intelligence. There’s also an exciting generation of creatives using these to push the boundaries of their medium, creating new types of experiences, activations and exhibits. They’re leading the way toward a world of converged mediums generally: Where a virtual reality app can be an artistic experience, as well as an immersive health tool for fighting anxiety and chronic pain by using whimsical moving animation to guide deep-breathing exercise (see BreatheVR by Neon — a project backed by Jeff Bezos). Or where an advert for German sleepwear brand Mey can be a scientifically informed kaleidoscopic hypnotic animation that sends insomniacs to sleep (as well as, you know, sell you pj’s). Or, where a store is more of an interactive theme park-meets-art-exhibit than a place to shop for sunglasses. See the SKP-S store by eyewear brand Gentle Monster and London studio Sybarite in Beijing including a “Martian exhibit” and spaceship interiors.