The Wall Street Journal looks 10 years ahead and imagines how technology will change the way we shop, learn, entertain ourselves, get news, protect our privacy and connect with friends. The long article is structured in seven sections, each written by a different WSJ staff writer:
Just a reminder to all you art aficionados that ARCO 2008 is right around the corner. This year’s edition of the contemporary art fair, starring Brazil as the special guest nation, is underway in Madrid from February 13th – 18th. But take note, it only opens to the general public from the 15th onwards.
The place is huge and covers everything from historical vanguard art to modern masters, contemporary classics and high-tech art using the latest advances and techniques in painting, sculpting, installations, photography, video and new media.
In the past I’ve seen some pretty amazing stuff at ARCO. Last year I remember coming across a Fogscreen projection from the Finnish company that partnered up with us last May for ECSITE Lisbon 2007.
At ARCO, art and new media technologies come together in some really spectacular ways. Overall the ARCO puts on a good show for art and tech aficionados alike – an excellent suggestion for a weekend escapade, I’d say.
Looks like companies are catching onto the idea that people really enjoy interacting with on-screen content and information through simple hand gestures or natural body movements, minus the hassle of mice, keyboards or complicated controllers. It’s all the rage, and many companies are creating products that mimic the experience as recently witnessed at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
We’ve been creating natural interfaces for computing and entertainment experiences that work with gesture-based controls for some time now, only we call it Reality Computing – user interfaces that are natural, intuitive and instinctive. We pretty much made it our guiding principal.
We won’t say we set the trend, but we definitely realized things were headed this way early on in the game.
Video: Reality Computing in action, VIVO Campaign at Cirque du Soleil in Brazil
YDreams opened an office in Austin, Texas last August. This office will be the center for YDreams’ North American operations. It was through YDreams affiliation with the Portugal – University of Texas at Austin Program that key doors were opened in Austin’s business community.
Austin is one of the premier cities in the World for digital media: major video gaming studios, advertising agencies, design companies, independent film makers and well known musicians are based there. Companies such as Dell and Whole Foods also have their headquarters in the city.
In Austin YDreams found a support ecosystem matched only by Silicon Valley at a fraction of the cost. This ecosystem includes media, software and hardware companies but also lawyer’s offices, communication agencies, business angels, venture capitalists, and a major University.
Austin will also be a key location for YLabs, YDreams research laboratory. Ivan Franco, YLabs Executive Director, lectured recently at IBM Research Lab and visited several other major companies in Austin. Texas based companies are already working with YLabs in the development of our next generation of interactive products. Our first quarter in Austin has shown that we selected the perfect location to launch those products.
Blendtec is a great example of the viral video ad phenomenon. Reportedly starting with around 50 dollars, these blender manufacturers created buzz and hype all throughout the web, establishing their product as a synonym of high-quality blending in a fun and appealing way.
The concept of the Will It Blend? videos was quite simple: Blendtec’s CEO wears a lab coat and proceeds to blend anything to test the company’s machine. Marbles, golf balls, even the iPhone was blended.
The videos were a big success and began spreading around the Internet carried by one of the top advertisers in the world: the people. People were even keen to suggest items to blend. Blendtec’s videos and product were then pushed to the mainstream, with appearances on Jay Leno and the Today Show. All they needed was some basic video equipment and a great idea. Of course, some smart online PR strategy doesn’t hurt either.
There are other examples of course, one of my favourites is Draftfcb/paris’ funny spoof on second life, now counting more than half a million views on YouTube.
Neverthless, in these kind of campaigns some problems are bound to occur, and Blendtec found this out the hard way when they tried to blend Chuck Norris:
“The west is the best, get here and we’ll do the rest”.
Jim Morrison, The Doors’ charismatic singer, referred to the American continent’s west… but this could also be applied to Europe’s west, and to Portugal more precisely.
Back in 1992 Portugal was awarded with the organization of the 1998’s international exhibition. I remember hearing about it on the radio just before a meeting with Professor Câmara at the National Geographic Information Center (CNIG). “Have you heard the news? That’ll be a great opportunity to show what we can do.”, he said. And the following years have shown just that.
In 1993, the Environmental Systems Analysis Group assembled the first Virtual Reality laboratory in Portugal. Equipped with a head mounted display (HMD), Polhemus sensors, a Silicon Graphics Indy workstation and two Pentium PCs, the lab was able to produce a lot of innovative concepts of simulation, interaction and information visualization. By innovative I mean these were real breakthroughs. And the fact that we were not working with high-end supercomputers pushed creativity to a whole new level.
One of the areas with impressive results was the level of detail (LOD) management for large digital elevation models. That’s what made possible to have a project like Portugal Digital at the Territory Pavilion of the Expo98. It was a real time 3D simulator of continental Portugal, with 1m spatial resolution in Lisbon and Porto and 30m elsewhere… made from scratch in 4 months by a team of 6 members (including sound design), stable enough to run for 6 months and used by over 1 million visitors. It was impressive enough to get F-16 air force pilots playing like they were kids, and robust enough to withstand real kids flying like fighter pilots.
Few believed it was possible to achieve this result in such a short time frame and with so few resources.
Scott Berkun managed the development o Internet Explorer. I read his “Myths of Innovation” book this weekend. It is the first book I read that understands the messy reality of growing an innovative business after Peter Drucker’s “Innovation and Entrepreneurship”.
Paul Graham is the author of “Hackers and Painters” one of the most provocative books on technology. Check this post especially on the item 8. Colleges will Change. I totally agree with these paragraphs:
“The greatest value of universities is not the brand name or perhaps even the classes so much as the people you meet. If it becomes common to start a startup after college, students may start trying to maximize this. Instead of focusing on getting internships at companies they want to work for, they may start to focus on working with other students they want as cofounders.
What students do in their classes will change too. Instead of trying to get good grades to impress future employers, students will try to learn things. We’re talking about some pretty dramatic changes here.”
Luke W designed Yahoo and Ebay interfaces. He spoke at SHIFT in September 200 (see his talk at this link). His talk on designing for Web 2.0 is also excellent.
I am reading the book “Cirque du Soleil: The Spark”. It’s a short book about a real organization and real people, showing that creativity and perseverance can make any person have an exceptional and thrilling life. It’s not one more book about management crap. You will find many similarities with YDreams I recommend it to everyone with an open spirit and the will to achieve great things.
This morning I gave one more invited talk, this time at Politécnico de Setúbal in the context of an entrepreneurship seminar. The theme of my presentation was “you dream. we make it”.
They have a nice auditorium at Escola Superior de Ciências Empresariais (ESCE) and the audience was around 50-70 people. I am sure most of them, especially students, are now thinking about starting their own businesses (or sending their CVs to us ). Besides being an important MKT/PR component, these kinds of seminars can be seen as part of our social responsibility, inspiring young people to take risks, be creative, aim for the stars and run away from a mediocre & dull life.
I also liked the talk of Machado Rodrigues, Doctor at Hospital Pulido Valente, presenting a set of humanitarian activities his team has been developing in Angola. Another form of entrepreneurship: saving lives, and bringing hope where misery and disbelief rule.