Experiential Design changes as rapidly as the technology that enhances our lives. While design trends fluctuate from month to month, come and go, succeed and fail, it’s the never seen before innovations and creative game-changers which help shape and evolve the industry.
Before we look to the future to see what may be in store it is important to briefly look back at these game changing milestones of the past which now seem common practice, helping evolve ‘Experiential Marketing’ from wiener shaped vehicles selling hotdogs and Bikini clad Guerilla marketing, into integrated omni-channel experiences.
New–age Game Changers
Modern advancements are easy to take for granted, the monumental steps technology has taken has directly effected the path of experiential design, the first new age game changer was the introduction of social media, and with it came the ability to instantly extend the reach of the event not only to people all over the world, but it also continuation of the story long after the event is over, which, in turn led to bigger budgets and more creative solutions.
With this newfound value in experiential came immersive brand experiences and pop-up events. Highly engaging face to face platforms allow brands to tell their story and create long-lasting impressions thereby satisfying the brand loyalty that Gen-Z and millennials crave.
Most recently, virtual, augmented and mixed reality, have taken center stage in enhancing the future of design now while these have been around for a while recent advancement are making them readily available. This means as designers we are no longer bound by the laws of physics and can transport you to another world in a matter of seconds, opening up boundless possibilities.
Immerging Digital Power
With the current world situation, we cannot overlook how COVID will change the experiential landscape. Digital technologies have no doubt been thrust into the limelight and more and more brands have been thrust into digitally enhanced campaigns.
One brand which has done this exceptionally well is Burberry, their multi-dimensional monogram campaign leveraged slick futuristic CGI with Kendall Jenner and retro style gamification with B-surf which allowed players to immerse themselves in the 3D world of the Monogram campaign. Guests could interact with the products by choosing their own character in outfits from the collection before competing with friends across the world using a remote multiplayer feature.
As Gen-Z and Millennials are fighting future-phobia, preferring to look back at the past using nostalgia to stay close to what they feel is familiar, they look to brands which mirror these emotions. Burberry brilliantly balances the two design languages using a bold and youthful expression of style through an abstract and day-dreamy seaside environment which blurs the lines of reality and fantasy, while also showcasing how with the aid of technology we can transport consumers from their sofas to immersive worlds instantaneously.
Uncovering a New Dimension
There are a huge amount of articles claiming a ‘new normal’ and it’s total reliance on digital centric experiences, campaigns and how they will shape the future. While it will strongly influence experiential, ‘the new normal’ is a trend and true brand connections will always be made in person and amplified through digital. The future of experiential is how we enhance physical experiences through the integration of emerging and new technologies
The next big game-changer is how wearable tech with artificial intelligence and extended reality will be driven by 5G technology enabling seamless personal experiences only previously seen in sci-fi movies. By harnessing the power of digital technology and authentic real world experiences, brands will be able to connect with their consumers. This technology is the biggest game changer on the horizon right now and will quite literally change the way we see and interact with the world. Designers are already playing around with the possibilities of iGlass with beautiful renders like @bat.not.bad
Behind the scenes software is at the heart of all technological advancements and one company which is slowly taking over is Epic Games, which Sony are about to acquire a piece of for $250 million. In 1998 Epic Games originally developed Unreal Engine as a program to create first-person shooter games. In Unreal Engine 4 we have seen huge strides forwards in creating dynamic and interactive 3D environments without the need for a technical artist, 3D designer, light technician and a programmer – now any one of those three can do all of it.
While traditionally created for gaming the power of Unreal now goes way beyond computer games and has real life implications. It is a software we have embraced at LIGHTBLUE as it allows us to create digital real-time interactive environments. When linked with the likes of oculus rift, we and our clients can view designs and experiences in virtual reality before anything is even built. This means we can fine tune the total guest journey before production has even begun. With the launch of Unreal Engine 5 mid next year it will bring with it real-world photogrammetry meaning we can generate real time 4K renders, fully immersing clients in photographic quality real time renders and further blurring the line between reality and fantasy.
When you combine a software like Unreal with 5G enabled hardware like iGlass https://youtu.be/FJ3EE65cat8
the possibilities are mind blowing, making tech in most sci-fi movies look like retro Bond movies and his clunky gadgets. While the hardware might not be readily available for a few years, it is important to embrace the tech now so when it does arrive we can be the first to create new game changing augmented experiences.
The next step in sensorial experiences is manufactured empathy, the integration of two big trends, hyper-personalization and wellness. Together we expect devices to be equipped with AI that can sense and read peoples personality and moods through the likes of facial recognition, devices will then intuitively respond with preset preferences and emotional cues.
It also has real life applications which could save lives. It is already being adopted by the automotive industry and this shift is primarily focused on safety. Emotion and activity sensors will detect when a driver is distracted or falling asleep with safety-related actions such as switching into autonomous mode.
Whilst a bit, ok maybe very creepy! This type of sensory automation is guaranteed to seamlessly enhance consumer experiences. With the wellness industry currently valued at 4.2 trillion dollars there is a huge market for devices and experiences that intuitively respond to our initial emotional reactions with pre-programmed scents, audio queues and haptic responses that are scientifically proven to change how a person feels, ensuring a deep and personal connection which is the goal for all experiential experiences.
It’s tough to remember life before social media and in time, we expect all these technologies to become as mainstream. Permanently changing our lives for the better.
While digital can be a feast for the eyes and ears, it’s not how memories are made, and with them, emotional connections. Experiential should use all of our senses, therefore one of these technologies will not change the world but instead it will be a combination of powerful hardware, software and sentient AI, and the unfathomable possibilities it brings to experiential design.