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Digital Trends in Creative Update, April 2013

one figurine playing golf and being filmed by another figurine with a mobile phone powered camera.


Welcome back readers, boy do we have a doozie for you this time. In this blog we talk about interface and how it connects to real world and real time mobile, plus how video is beating other types of content over the head with a big looping stick.

Finally we are very much moving away from the library science approach of the past and into customer focused interfaces, where contextual content is key.

The White House might agree, if its recent competition ‘Health Design Challenge’, to redesign electronic medical records for patients is anything to go by. More than 200 design teams took part and you can see the beautiful selection of healthy creative right here. It’s great to see that even large governments are recognising the importance of balanced user-centric designed interface.

Speaking of big organisations, Google is also continuing to challenge its own interface to improve your experience. You may have noticed that your image searches had a face-lift, which allows ‘in search’ viewing of larger images and other useful functions. It feels so much better to be kept in an interface and where your results aren’t hidden.

Have you ever come back from a holiday to an email box nightmare, you just want to hide from? Well it’s OK, no need to look away. Some smart people at Idea and Apple Alums have come up with Mailbox – an elegant reimagining of how your email can be more manageable. It sort of reminds me of the Clear App which is my favoured organising tool, I’m sure Mailbox will become one of my favourites too.

What’s your favourite way to get your news – tabloid paper, tablet, mobile? The news interface has been very tabloid focused for years and duplicated for digital – that is, until the New York Times decided to challenge that focus for its readers. They have looked at the way their content is consumed and devised a cunning plan to make it a lot easier for customers to consume. It’s such a departure from the existing news formats that I think it could well lead to a ‘new web standard’.

Here’s another new web standard, being pushed by W3C. At the beginning of February, Google and Mozilla both demonstrated their commitment to WebRTC by making the first direct audio/video call between Chrome and Firefox without having to install a third party plugin. This means true, open, real-time communication on the web is possible and will become reality in the future. Now, if only Microsoft and Apple can come to the browser party, Sir Tim Berners-Lee would be happy I’m sure.

Real time mobile
According to Cisco by the end of 2013, mobile devices will outnumber humans on the planet. So personalising customers’ mobile experience with great content and context in real time will drive mobile further forward this figure and beyond. Here are some examples of how it’s happening now:

New York, New York, so good we talk about it twice! The Big Apple loves its citizens and has given their residents and visitors a big bite of useful information with subway transport touchscreens. 90 touch-screen kiosks situated at key stations and integrated Apps will accommodate transport information for a potential 2 million commuters / travellers per day, and is part of the plan to make transport that little bit more human and useful. Transport opportunities are ripe for digitally-minded governments and companies to connect with their digital citizens.

Please DO touch the art; Cleveland's Art Museum has installed one of the largest multi-touch screens that allows their patrons to really get a feel for what's on offer at the museum. 3,500 works can be interacted with on a 40 foot in museum screen, while an integrated App allows for in museum scanning of artwork and the ability to create a custom personalised tour. Changing the way their patrons interact with their space will really make them want to come back for more both online and in museum.

How about a personal assistant in New York? WunWun challenges the typical Google local search results to provide a deeper and more contextual, local and personal set of affordable services. How? They have a network of ‘local’ assistants/suppliers that can help and deliver on almost anything (within reason).

Another thing that could really help with your busy mobile lifestyle is Fleksy. Crafted from the usability world of the disabled and visually impaired, now brought to the masses, it allows the user to type faster, make mistakes when typing and still get it right. Predictive text is the phrase they are using to explain how it works; hopefully it has some less embarrassing misspellings. Expect to see it on your next mobile device sometime soon, but in the meantime check it out here.

Video Content
Everyone loves a good story and video is taking the story to a higher level and audience, by beating other types of content into submission.

We all love video. And we can’t get enough of it. March saw YouTube hit 1 billion users, per month, but that’s only a very small part of the video story. If you're not doing or watching video yet, here's what to watch for:

Vine was released at the end of January and has been hailed as the app that is even better at capturing “the now” than Instagram. The difference is that Vine has Twitter support right from the beginning, whereas Instagram had to prove its worth before it was bought by Facebook. Vine benefits from an inherent limit like Twitter; users shoot videos in six seconds or less. What’s your 6 seconds of fame?

What about Cinemagram? A GIF creation tool which has been around for quite some time, riding the wave of animated GIF popularity around the world. While Cinemagram has seen significant interest Vine is currently winning the battle. A week after Vine’s release date, it already had clout one point higher than Cinemagram.

It’s not all about the content you’re consuming anymore, but the way you are consuming it. YouTube now has a studio where people can go to produce their videos for YouTube. There’s only one so far, but watch as more TV studios turn into YouTube studios, because the next generation won’t be caught dead in front of a TV.

Mobile video
Everyday mobile technology is improving with better phones, faster download speeds and better advertising opportunities. One of the best things about mobile is that like a TV, mobile video is an immersive experience and is difficult to multitask like on a PC. How else is mobile changing the way we make, access and share content? Here are a few examples:

To coincide with Blackberry’s new mobile experience it has included BlackBerry Story Maker, designed for sharing music, photos or videos on mobile. Linked to Dio, a photo-sharing website that links images into interactive stories, more platforms are stretching the boundaries when it comes to content creation.

The way we view news is also changing. Guide is a new iPad app to make it easier to consume news and information. Rather than having to comb through sites and streams for the latest information, the app packages articles into video so you don't have to read. It also allows you to pick an avatar of your choosing to serve as your broadcaster, so you can hear the news you want to hear, the way you want to hear it.

How travel and record our content is evolving. Rather than just uploading travel photos to Facebook, Expedia encourages users to create a slide show video using pictures from Facebook or Instagram, as well as Google Maps in their latest campaign with app “Find Yours”. Surrounding the idea that travel usually involves enlightened journeys, people are prompted to answer questions such as “what are you looking for?” and choose locations, photos, filters, and music in order to create their own shareable short film.

Taking mobile technology to the next level, the film Searching For Sugar Man, which was nominated for Best Documentary at this year’s Academy Awards, might have not been completed if it wasn’t for an iPhone. When the movie ran out of funding with still a few scenes to shoot, the director used his iPhone and downloaded a $1.99 app called 8mm Vintage Camera to shoot the final scenes. The movie had been shot primarily on 8mm film and the footage from the app matched up with the footage from the final scenes without noticeable difference.

Mobile video has exploded because of the rollout of faster 4G LTE wireless networks supporting on-the-go habits, younger audiences and the spread of tablets. But, it’s really video consumption on mobile phones that is growing quickly. In the U.S., video on mobile phones reached an audience of 41 million by the end of 2012, a 22% increase over 2011, according to Nielsen. To keep this figure in perspective, the US audience for traditional TV is approximately 280 million people.

Wow that was a doozie! I hope you enjoyed our latest trends on what’s happening out there in digital land. Next time we’ll be talking wearable technology that connects to the internet of things. See you there.

Marcus Brooke, Digital Creative Director





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