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Creative Links

“Escape The Asylum” and the promise of Interactive Entertainment

Attempts at allowing the audience to dictate the action–games based on VHS or laserdisc, or nominally interactive arcade titles like Dragon’s Lair—have mostly failed to capture audience imaginations over the past couple of decades. There’s a good reason for that. The interfaces were clunky, the options were limited, and the production values, in most cases, were low. Then video games such as Grand Theft Auto came along and earned a billion dollars, stoking Hollywood’s obsession with non-linear storytelling. That’s mostly led to bad movies based on popular video games, and vice versa.

But as technology matures, and viewers get more sophisticated ways to interact with whatever it is they’re watching, the experiments are getting interesting again. Even some big players are joining the fray: Netflix has launched an interactive kids’ program, Puss in Book: Trapped in an Epic Tale. And next month, HBO is debuting Steven Soderbergh’s Mosaic, a film starring Sharon Stone and Garrett Hedlund, via an interactive app that revolves around the viewer’s experiences.

While Chatterbox is more “movie” than “game” in the end, there are strong elements of both contained within the first episode. And ultimately, the question of whether film or gaming is the dominant entertainment medium might become quaint in a few years. With VR technology immersing the audience/player, they could end up being the same thing. That’s Morgan’s expectation for the future, and she’s excited about the way that film and games can converge going forward.


The Shazam for art is like having a docent on your smartphone

This future actually arrived last year, via Smartify, an augmented reality art-identifier for iOS and Android that’s since been adopted by over 30 museums worldwide. That’s right: Long before we had the current wave of AR apps powered by Apple’s ARKit, Smartify found a foothold in fine art at places like the Royal Academy of Art in London and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. From oil paintings to marble sculptures, just aim and identify. You don’t even need to hit a button to take a photo.

Though it’s been around for a bit, Smartify is worth returning to today because it’s proof of AR that works, rather than AR as gimmick. It’s essentially quick, visual search, which focuses its lens on extremely specific environments, and an extremely specific topic: art. While nobody really wants to be on their phone at an art museum, it serves as a handy surrogate for squinting at the tiny title cards next to most paintings, especially as those cards are often nothing more than a title, date, and artist name. Smartify just adds useful context to a piece of our confusing real world.

In short, it’s good for a reason that the most successful existing AR apps are good: It’s fast rather than glitzy. The only novelty here is pure information.


The role of AI in creative industries

To the uninitiated, AI is most commonly associated with robotics and complex digital analytics platforms. Creative disciplines are not usually the first things that come to mind when most think of AI.

A core challenge with introducing AI into creative disciplines is that like any technology, it lacks emotion; as a result creatives, for whom invoking and understanding emotion is a core part of their role, are likely to be sceptical. Empathy is a distinctly human character trait and essential to producing good work that engages markets. However, we are not talking about a creative designer being replaced by a robot, simply aided by AI driven automation technology.

Google in particular has carried out many experiments with AI, showing off its computers ability to caption images. The technology giant has even experimented with creativity by encouraging its computers to dream of unusual ideas such as animals in clouds. Of course fully fledged automated design is a long way off, however Google’s attempts highlight the potential value AI could provide to creatives - an ability to suggest ideas and support design and ideas development process.

Automating parts of creative work can enable teams to dedicate more time to more complex and time heavy tasks, dramatically improving process management and staff resourcing as a result.

The future role of AI in creative is not to do too much creative work at all, but to provide the guidance and intelligence required to deliver the best possible results and make people better at their jobs. The work that experts will refer to as simple and mundane in any industry is often likely to see AI take over and automate.


A day in the life of... MD of an augmented reality company

Richard Corps, MD of Ads Reality, explains what his job actually entails.

“I am the managing director and co-founder of Ads Reality. We help brands and retailers to engage with their customers through augmented reality (AR).

“My daily routine varies immensely as we have offices at GAME HQ in Basingstoke, our development centre in Luton and R&D based in India. So, I am traveling quite a bit around the UK and I am still heavily involved in our international expansion which includes visits to Dubai, the US and Mexico.

“I still see Ads Reality as my baby and I want to see it grow to become one of the leading AR companies across retail/brands. Ultimately, I measure success by profitability but company awareness, an innovative product roadmap and a happy team are also great measures of success.

“As long as I have my Mac and iPhone I can work anywhere. To show off our technology, which is very visual, I am always armed with our AR-enabled business card and company AR temporary tattoo!!

“There is a lot of talk around Apple and Google becoming the main players in the AR space, however the brands that see the ROI opportunities that AR brings, not just the ‘cool tech’, are the ones that will really drive success from this technology.

“Anybody who is keen to work in AR should be looking to get involved now as we’re at such an exciting stage in this industry, with hybrid concepts such as Mixed Reality starting to take off.”


Why Apple Will Win The Augmented Reality Race

Apple has revealed several auspicious AR developments. In June, the company launched ARKit, an open-source platform that lets developers build AR applications for iPhones and iPads.

While other tech titans like Facebook and Google are developing virtual reality (VR) headsets, which offer full immersion in virtual worlds, Cook believes AR will be a bigger opportunity because it is less intrusive. Few people want to be “enclosed in something,” he explained last year.

Analysts predict that when Apple updates iOS later in 2017, the company could load AR software onto as many as one billion mobile devices that currently run on iOS.
ARKit is a springboard that Apple will use for a much larger push into AR. However, Cook has kept his cards close to his chest about his specific plans for the medium. It would make sense to begin with the iPhone—it is a mass-market device and, with the introduction of ARKit, much of the heavy lifting for building AR apps has been removed for iOS development teams.

Introducing AR into a billion smartphones would also give Apple the opportunity to learn about user behavior and experience. The company could then use that insight to build a long-term plan for its rumored "Apple Glasses." Apple is methodically laying the groundwork for a closed ecosystem of hardware, software, developers, tools, and consumers—in typical Apple fashion.


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