Omega Mobile: Mobile Experience Design Blog
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Archive for August, 2009

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Stop the presses! Sort of…Entertainment Weekly is running a CBS video ad in…their print magazine. InteractiveTV Today had all the details and I was pretty blown away. Not just about the technology – which is amazing – but the idea that online is now going print instead of the other way around. This concept is a great juxtaposition of print and digital. 

The way it works is that the video player insert is a flexible, thin, plastic screen on two pages, activated when opened (like musical greeting cards). The ad has 5 channels with 40 minutes of content. Readers can change the channel by pressing buttons embedded in the print ad. It’s launching “Monday to the Max,” a campaign for CBS’s comedy and drama line up along with a promotional tie in with the new Pepsi Max. (Pepsi Max is billed as “the first diet cola for men” with ginseng and lots more caffeine than regular Pepsi.) 

The Entertainment Weekly issue won’t be out till Sept 18th but is already generating a lot of buzz. The CBS/Entertainment Weekly ad will only appear in LA and NY subscription copies - no newsstand sales - so copies are sure to be scarce. I’m looking forward to more uses of this technology which might have the added benefit of giving the struggling print industry a shot in the arm. Magazines could have unique tie-ins or exclusives with a show or movie. From gardening to news to sports publications, the possibilities are endless.

Looking forward, it would be interesting to use this technology to go further into print, broadcast and mobile convergence. Perhaps readers could have access to a ‘trial’ episode teaser clip of the show. (with appropriate cliff hanger ending, of course) In order to continue the program, you’d need to buy a subscription or pay a fee. 

Or maybe the reader would be directed to a website to sign up for a free promotion to continue watching, yielding valuable consumer information. It would be great for consumers to be able to choose where and how they continue watching the show with availability across numerous platforms. 

Also, short-form episodic content - like mobisodes or webisodes – could be available exclusively through a video player in a print publication. Theoretically, this could drive up subscriptions and test the waters for the show to eventually become a “traditional” television show or feature film. 

CBS says the video player insert, made by a Los Angeles company called Americhip Inc, will be able to withstand the binding processes and mail delivery to arrive ready to go.

InteractiveTV Today discussed the creation of the RVU Alliance made up of founding members Broadcom, Cisco, DIRECTV and Samsung founded to standardize home entertainment user interface and accelerate development.Digital Home User Interface Standards

In short, RVU is helping to get identical user experiences across the connected home. This includes digital TV sets, media adapters, and set-top boxes from multiple companies. I think that’s important and valuable not just for consumers but for content service providers. Confining consumer electronics manufactures to a unified experience might have the potential to stifle innovation. It also diminishes differentiation possibilities through the user interface and user experience.

I do like that features can be updated over the server leading to an adaptable and intelligent user interface. Users who don’t like certain functions can update and change their preferences. Along those lines, additional, targeted customization and personalization of different user interface experiences would be interesting. And intelligent ads per demographics would also be an interesting and profitable feature.

InteractiveTV Today had a blog post ahout a new augmented reality platform called metaio World that is hitting the major mobile platforms including iPhone, Android, Windows Mobile, and Symbian. This is good news for the mobile world – as platforms become more widespread, tons of possibilities are opening up to design more engaging mobile user experiences and immersive mobile user interfaces. 


The platform allows users to link personal content – like Twitter messages, photos, etc - with any real-world location. Content can then be viewed by others who happen onto that location. Using Twitter is very clever as users are much more likely to use the service if it’s tied to a well-known social media platform. I’d like to see even more social media integration – users who happened upon a comment or animation would be able to look up contact information for the creator on LinkedIn or Facebook. 

Integrating the time element would also be a feature that has real world benefits. For example, if a nightclub event starts at 10 pm, information would only be available at certain times of day. Club goers could have the ability to examine current data versus data from months past to tell if the club is hot or on its way out. 

3D components open a ton of possibilities - imagine taking avatars from other virtual environments (Sims or Second Life for example) and using them in the augmented environment as a gateway or link to the actual virtual environment.

There are also retail opportunities if users are given the ability to purchase virtual goods for their character. An example might be messages left outside of a trendy clothing store. Shoppers could receive free or discounted virtual goods based on the stores current clothing line. Virtual shopping might translate into real world purchases and benefit the story, justifying the cost of an AR campaign. 

As you can see, this is just the beginning and I’m eager to see where mobile design and augmented reality will take us, particularly related to mobile user interfaces.

An InteractiveTV Today post revealed that Verizon may have bigger plans for it’s recently launched Widget Bazaar applications marketplace than originally announced. Verizon’s software development kit is set to launch soon opening up a host of possibilities for creative mobile design outside of the television experience. A quote from Verizon’s Widget Bazaar press release states that the company is looking for tools to engage TV viewers and enhance the living room experience in new ways.  

Verizon Mobile Design Digital Home Widgets

Verizon opening up its television widgets is a good thing as consumers will get more options and will be more of a hot content ecosystem. More  choices = more revenue. It’s a win-win for developers and consumers. 

I’d really like to see Verizon promote more convergence between mobile and television. For example, a TV widget could come bundled with a discount on an equivalent or similar app for mobile. Perhaps there could be a variety of features exclusive to the device. In other words, the mobile device can do certain things while the TV has a different host of features. 

The widgets could eventually be tied into a particular network or a specific TV show.  When viewers are watching a favorite show, they could connect with other fans to chat, interact and purchase merchandise from the show. (An additional income stream for the networks outside of advertising)  

I’d like to see more companies embracing mobile design and convergence across numerous platforms to shape the future of entertainment and communication.

Best Buy is the latest retailer to jump into the rapidly expanding Augmented Reality pool. Adverblog had a post on the new “Best Buy in 3D” campaign. Users can take Best Buy’s Sunday paper insert, weekly retail publication or in-store circular and use it (with a webcam) to experience the advertised products in 3D. 

Best Buy Mobile Design of Instore-Ads

Using one-dimensional paper and a traditional advertising delivery system is a great way to transition “old school” consumers* into the new technology. (Yes, they’re out there and they have way more disposable income than the kids)  

A mobile component would be a natural fit for the Best Buy shopper. Instead of wandering the aisles or waiting for a less-than-knowledgeable sales clerk, consumers could use their mobile device to take a picture of merchandise or a QR code to immediately bring up additional information. Some great extra features to help you make an immediate purchasing decision could include: 

  • 3D models
  • Consumer Reviews
  • Tutorials or Videos
  • Additional purchases to compliment a purchase of that item.

Additionally, with GPS, the extra features could be tailored to the section you’re standing in. For example, if you’re in the video game department, you get video game specials. 

Also, with a “smart” feature, the application would remember that 3 months ago you made a specific purchase at the store and suggest additional items to buy. For example, buy ink for a printer. 

I would love the ability to tag a product so I receive a notification when it goes on sale or hits a certain price point. (For example: Notify me when this monitor is $250 or less/Notify me when this washing machine is available in red) 

Clearly, augmented reality is not just for selling stuff and it’s going to blow up like crazy in the coming months. I just saw that multi-platinum Grammy winning rapper Eminem is on the cutting edge with his “Eminem Augmented Reality Competition” Could education be the next frontier for Augmented Reality? What industry do you think will jump in next?

I often don’t think of print advertising and interactivity together. After reading an InteractiveTV Today article about Procter & Gamble’s new campaign, I couldn’t wait to see the ad for Always Infinity. Print design has been combined with augmented reality to make traditional print advertising interactive in a really creative way. (There is both a paper-to-screen and a web component available) 

Augmented Reality Mobile Ads

With a magic theme (think top hat, wand, rabbit, sparkles), the ad directs consumers to a site where they can use the print ad and their Web cam to unlock 3D augmented reality animation. See it here

Pretty cool. This is a great example of paper being the trigger point for augmented reality. Despite too many steps (printing ad, going to website, installing plug-in, etc.) this is still a trial. 

I’m looking forward to more seamless experiences in the future. For example, a magazine ad for a new digital camera would open a browser page using your mobile device. The site would allow you to interface with the product and get an augmented reality demo on top of the magazine ad. Moving your mobile device around the page would highlight different features in the user interface. You could then request more information, forward the ad to friends or, every advertisers dream result, immediately make a purchase. 

Advances will lead to multiscreen integrated advertising campaigns that run across print, TV, mobile and computer. There could be different augmented reality variants depending on the medium. And the campaign could use harvested user demographics to tailor the ad to the person.