OUR MULTISENSORY FUTURE IS ARRIVING

We’re not yet halfway through the decade, and technology is edging us closer & closer to experiences we’d scarcely have thought realistic back in 2010. On the horizon is a new sort of hedonism, offering deeper, richer experiences of the things around us than ever before.

We recently featured M&C Saatchi Sport & Entertainment’s breakthrough work with 02 and England Rugby, which used the Oculus Rift to deliver a full virtual reality immersion into the team setup.

And last week, ‘alert shirt’, a wearable tech innovation, was announced by Australian TV broadcaster Fox Footy. Like Oculus, alert shirt has been labelled a “game-changing technology”. It is designed to ‘physically connect’ the wearer to players on the pitch, with tiny ‘haptic feedback motors’ woven into the shirt relaying the shock of big tackles, reproducing feelings of fatigue and even simulating the nerves associated with high pressure moments. [Watch].

Although it’s early days, when technology like this is combined with the likes of Oculus, the future for virtual reality is compelling. It paves the way for overlaying experiential enhancements onto almost anything, be it in gaming, cinema, sport, travel – etc.

And in a world that is increasingly interested in understanding how and what others are feeling, these technologies present a great opportunity for brands keen to capitalise on and showcase what they mean to people. Sites like [this] provide just a glimmer of what is to come.

By the end of the decade, we’ll probably wonder why we ignored our full range of senses for so long. For the time being, we can marvel at what we have to look forward to.

CHUCKING SOME PARSLY INTO THE MIX

Grocery shopping is rapidly changing in the UK. No sooner than major retailers moved into town centres to satisfy the ‘top-up shop’, they are now feverishly responding to the move online by opening ‘dark stores‘, distribution centres designed for quick and seamless food deliveries.

It is the sort of transformation that is opening opportunities for tools like Parsly, a new online gizmo aiming to help people to get adventurous with their cooking. Responding to the insight that despite our love for online recipes, we often don’t have half of the ingredients we need, so Parsly has been designed to translate a recipe into a shopping basket with the click of a button, ready for the user to complete their purchase.

Tesco have joined up with Parsly straight away, and we think they deserve kudos. They have taken a calculated gamble on what might happen when the top-up shop meets the online delivery. Indeed, one of Tesco’s new ‘dark stores’ in London can process 4,000 orders per day and offers 30,000 items – 50% more than the average store. And Tesco have also started playing with Oculus. [Watch].

Most industries are undergoing some sort of transformation, and we think Parsly is a great example of working with one foot in the future.

SWEDEN’S NEW BRAND: DEMOCREATIVITY

In the 21st century, it’s never been so important for nations to build & develop their brands. It’s an imperative driven not only by the economic benefits of tourism, but increasingly for foreign investment, migration and even diplomacy.

Traditionally, tourism campaigns hone in on distinctive characteristics of geography, people or history. But a new campaign by Visit Sweden, in partnership with other key industry leaders there, is taking a step away.

Regarding democracy as the mother of creativity, the country has sent out the message that its doors are open to the world’s ‘underrepresented creatives’, offering to give them a voice and a platform: Democreativity.

They will demonstrate this by attempting to create a crowd-sourced game. With titles such as Candy Crush Saga, Battlefield and Minecraft all hailing from Sweden, they are hardly short of credentials to make it happen. People are being invited to submit ideas for the game in three categories; ‘environments’, ‘characters’ and ‘ways to win’. After popular voting, they will begin to build the game. [Watch].

Since the 2008 recession, creativity has been seen as a forerunner to growth. Sweden will be hoping its message lands far beyond the game.

SOCIAL PLATFORMS STAY HUNGRY…

It’s been an interesting week for the social media platforms of the West. Here’s an overview:

First up, Facebook bought the Oculus Rift. Zuckerberg, fast becoming infamous for splashing cash, insisted Facebook remains principally a software company – besides what’s the odd $3bn gamble on hardware anyway? It’sbadly upset a large community of KickStarters who got the project off the ground, and it’s not entirely clear what Facebook intend to do with Oculus beyond gaming, but it will surely help make what is a hugely exciting tech both a household name, and ultimately perhaps, a mainstream device?

That news somewhat overshadows a few other platform updates from Facebook, who added to the new trending topics with streamlined news feeds, premium video advertising and auto-playvideos.

Elsewhere, if Facebook can borrow ideas fromTwitter then the reverse is true, so the micro-bloggers have embarked on a bid to grow their user base by making the service more personal. Their latest update is centred on photos, and it means users can tag other users in up to four pics per tweet, without using up precious characters. Most users who lapse from the platform have fewer than 10 followers, so Twitter will be hoping this update gives people a social shot in the arm.

Finally we were fascinated to read that Whisper app, something we featured a few weeks back, is being embraced by BuzzFeed as a source of inspiration for its articles. If you didn’t have a chance to check out the app, then trust us: it’s a mesmerising source of ‘inspiration’…

…AND A COUPLE OF COOL SOCIAL STORIES

Recent research found that 12% of our conversations each day take place on social media. So it’s hardly surprising that brands want piece of that action.

And where Twitter is synonymous with breaking news, The Sun newspaper wants the conversation to continue online long after. So it has declared itself the first paper to print #hashtag stories; dedicated labels that run alongside key articles every day, helping to push the conversation onto Twitter for The Sun to then foster those communities.

To stoke the conversations, they’re deploying an historic tabloid asset: the pun. Hashtags like #Scrumbag will be designed to help enliven debates…

While some newspapers have lost the news agenda, The Sun will be hoping to grasp back initiative.

Over to Google Plus. It’s yet to prove itself as a creative hotbed, but this is a platform biding its time. And their partnership with Manchester Utd is yet another demo of just how cool Google Hangouts is. Fans were invited to post a demonstration of their love of United, using the hashtag #MUFrontRow. Then, during Man U’s match with Liverpool, the most passionate were selected to be beamed live onto the pitchside digital billboards at Old Trafford, live during the game. (Utd lost). [Watch].

We LOVE Google Hangouts. It’s surely one of the most underrated and under-used pieces of tech on the market right now.

READ MORE AND FASTER!

Killer Insight: Technology has sped up our lives. We’re basically all now living in warp speed. Things that took days, weeks and months in the past now take seconds, and the result is that time has become our most important natural resource.

Respect and understanding for people’s time (ref. M&C Saatchi’s Brutal Simplicity of Thought), is paramount. The dawn of SMS and then Twitter made brevity a mainstream discipline and ever since, businesses have been transforming in a bid to keep up.

So we were interested by a different approach to this time challenge. A new app, Spritz, wants to change not how much time we have to read, but the speed at which humans read. In fact, Spritz reckons it can make us read and digest content 3x quicker than normal.

Without going into the science (of which there is plenty), the app hurtles words at the user at break-neck speed, highlighting only the ‘optimal recognition point’ of a word (that is, the 2/3 letters in the middle). It can serve up to 1,000 words a minute. Most of us plod along at 300-600.

It’s exciting not only because we’re sad, but also because it’s awesome when problems get redefined. Take a successful tech like this to its extreme, and it could touch on the very fabric of communications. That’s why Samsung are going to start loading Spritz on all their devices. Ace.

OPINION: THE NOT SO SIMPLE SELFIE

Forgive all the I’s, Me’s and My’s in this piece. It’s to do with narcissism.

Back in 2005, I got my first social media account; MySpace. I distinctly remember squirming at the prospect of having to select my own profile picture. It felt like a horrible window into the soul: revealing to all and sundry what I thought was the best representation of me – or at least, how I wanted the world to see me.

It was a form of self-publicity that simply wasn’t normal to a repressed Brit in 2005. David Brent was the national acknowledgement that self-awareness was preferred to self-publication.

But let’s not kid ourselves. It’s not an unfair generalisation to say that most humans, to one degree or another, are susceptible to narcissism. Some are better at hiding it that others, but its existence is in no small part evidenced by the mushrooming of our social media profiles ever since.

But in 8 short years, there’s been a massive turnaround. We not only select a profile pic, but take it too – “selfie” has entered the dictionary, even Obama & Cameron happily snap themselves at Mandela’s funeral celebrations.

To me, the selfie had come to embody a compete transformation of what is socially acceptable. But instead, we’re starting to see that this matter is not settled. The selfie is not necessarily synonymous with narcissism. It’s a complicated beast.

The organic #NoMakeUpSelfie trend last week in aid of Cancer Research UK was compelling for a number of reasons, beyond the £8m it raised. Firstly, it simultaneously struck a blow to the often self-interested sentiment of the selfie, while challenging us not to worry about what we thought was our best look. Secondly the now infamous ‘nominations’ dynamic was gradually adopted. As the movement matured, nominations were almost the permission required to even post a selfie. Permission is a subtle point, but one with quite interesting implications.

Consider and contrast a recent campaign run by Calvin Klein in the US. To promote their underwear, they asked people to post underwear selfies with their CK hashtag. The agency noted that the campaign was a “the world’s best excuse to pose half naked without seeming self-serving”.

But as self-awareness around the selfie matures, we wonder whether that simple ‘permission’ is really enough anymore. Right now, it is the sticky tape selfie that has taken hold. The idea is essentially to try and look your worst. Posting an image of yourself in CK underwear while your mates have sellotape on their heads, doesn’t quite work…

Perhaps evidence is mounting, that slightly more ‘narcissistic’ behaviours are becoming less ok than they were – and the selfie is not so prepared to be its agent.

These trends and counter trends shift as quickly as the zeitgeist, and watershed moments can be hard to predict. But for brands, the challenge is to keep at the edge these trends, which means being highly tuned in, and responsive.

Direct from M&C Saatchi's fortnightly Tech Bulletin, the most impressive, interesting and fun digital ideas and content from around the world.

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