News & Views

Connecting the Connected

by Contagious Team

Ogilvy's Labs Day in London last week looked at the rise of the Internet of Things

The day was split up into sections entitled Work, Play, Disruption and Spaces, and speakers from companies from IBM to Jawbone took to the stage to discuss issues related to these topics. 

Liri Anderson, founder of marketing consultancy This Fluid World, kicked off the day with a note of caution. Anderson spoke about the impact that the Internet of Things will have on business, citing Morgan Stanley's claim that 75 billion devices will be connected by 2020. However, she warned that the promise of better segmentation for products and services, thanks to increased amounts of data, could overwhelm businesses. Anderson said that only 0.5% of data is currently analysed, and so when the amount of data available grows expontetially there is a risk that, despite mass investment, few will use it to generate true insights. 

Navid Gornall, Ogilvy's creative technologist, shared details of his work on Hellman's Summer Hacks - ranging from Burger Selfies - printing a mayo version of your face onto a burger through to the Jar BQ - converting a mayonnaise jar into a mini BBQ perfect for one burger. 

Next up, mc schraefel, Performance Imaginist at the University of Southampton, spoke about technology supporting a particular kind of lifestyle, and considered the 'right' Internet of Things, such as using Apple's Watch to help tune the brain/body connection, rather than just improving performance. As self tracking continues to rise, schraefel advocates thinking of the brain and the body as a connected system. 

Picking up on this point, Greyworld's Andrew Shoben opened the Play section of the day, showcasing some of the interactive artworks based that he has worked on, such a playable railings and clockwork trees. Shoben believes that despite all the technical possibilities of the Internet of Things we need to keep a focus on how it connects to humanity.

Materials alchemist, Lauren Bowker, of The Unseen, explained how she has set about combining science and fashion to develop materials that change colour, and textures that can be digitally controlled.

Jermey Bevan, Cisco's VP Marketing, explained how the networking company is thinking about the Internet of Everything: not only connected objects, but the intersection of connected people, processes, data and things, which will bring the Internet of Things' true potential to life. Bevan challenged creatives: 'It's about your imagination and creativity... how can you put people at the centre to create unique connecting experiences that they've never experienced before.'

Internet of Things experts EVRYTHNG showcased how physical objects can become direct to consumer touchpoints, each with their own identity. 

The BBC's director of future media, Ralph Rivera, spoke about his vision for future media being platform agnostic and discussed how best to engage 'with the people formerly known as the audience' - a phrase that resonated throughout the day.

The co-founder of Jawbone and State, an opinion-led social network, Alex Asseily  covered wearables and the fundamentals of their success. For Asseily, the key questions people will be asking themselves are: 'Do I look and feel good?' 'Is it comfortable?' He added, 'When you put an object on someone's body, it becomes jewellery, whether you intend it to or not.' Asseily believes Apple's Watch still has to pass the 'can I be bothered to wear it everyday?' test.

Andy Stanford-Clark, CTO at Smarter Energy at IBM, impressed before his presentation had started by virtue of running it straight from a hydrogen cell-powered Raspberry Pi. He ran the audience through a series of hacks, such as hooking his local ferry services' arrival and departure times up to Twitter, and connecting his mouse traps, so he is alerted when a mouse is caught. For Stanford-Clark, turning data into insights and analysis from which content and meaning can be generated, is at the heart of the Internet of Things.

Rory Sutherland, Ogilvy UK's vice chairman, wrapped things up, speaking with Kate Russell, the BBC's tech reporter, questioning whether tech companies are creating product solutions that solve non-existant problems, and mocking the evolution of the user interface. 

The day's varied range of speakers proved the possible impact of the Internet of Things, but the warnings around data, human connections and experiences all need to be heeded for the technology to fulfil its future potential.