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July 7, 2014No Comments

Future Of Wearable Tech

Sensors, Wearable tech, and personal eco-systems are all the rage, but the craze goes beyond connected eyewear such as Google Glass and smart timepieces such as Apple's rumored iWatch. Wearable technology is an undeniable trend and brands like Nike, Apple, Samsung and Google are all bringing out products to satisfy consumers growing awareness and demand for new products.

Much has been written about smartwatches in particular due to the Samsung Galaxy Gear watch and the new Apple iWatch - What does this mean the future of wearable technology? Is it all about wrist based devices? Can wearable technology cross over from being an fashion accessory to being a functioning part of our everyday lives? What do you think will happen in the future of this industry?

PSFK Labs in collaboration with iQ by intel created this great report which covers how the latest trends are evolving.

Fashion Forward: From The Runway to Ready-to-wear

Designers are creating apparel, accessories and fitness wear that can do everything from monitor your heart rate to charge your smartphone. For the Fashion Forward scene here are some of the latest players in the space:

  • Charge It: Someday you may be able to charge your smartphone with your clothes. Flexible solar panels have inspired designers to come up with clothes and accessories that can power electronics. Start-up Wearable Solar is using the technology to make lightweight wired garments that enable the wearer to charge a smartphone up to 50 percent if worn in the sun for a full hour. And New York-based Voltaic Systems makes a collection of bags that can charge a variety of devices.
  • Baubles and Bangles: In the future, our own personal air purifier may defend us from all that nasty air outside. Worn on the wrist, the Hand Tree design sucks up and filters polluted air, and recycles it back into the atmosphere. It was created by Alexandr Kostin, a semifinalist in the Electrolux Design Lab Competition. The purifier gas a refillable carbon filter, a rechargeable battery and an organic light-emitting diode screen.
  • Rainbow Winters: Some sharp people want to make our clothing to, well,do more.  Amy Winters, the designer of the Rainbow Winters clothing line, makes garments that respond to their environment.  For example, the dress is made with holographic leather and reacts to sound. As volume increases, it begins to illuminate and make what Winters describes as "visual music." The bathing suit reacts to light, with the center panel turning into purple dots in the sun.
  • Trackable Couture: Things can get lost pretty easily in those massive walk-in closets. In his fall 2013 collection, fashion designer Asher Levine included tracking chips that let items be located by the owner using a customized TrackR app. Levine, who has created looks for Lady GaGa and will.i.am., partnered with Bluetooth solutions company Phone Halo on the chip.
  • Adafruit: City bike-sharing programs such as New York's Citi Bike may be great, but the stations may be a bit hard to find without a map. Adafruit, a company that sells DIY electronics and kits, has built a helmet to help make that process more efficient. It has a built-in navigation system that uses lights that flash on the left or right to let the rider know where to turn.  The interface is still a bit complicated, though: The user has to manually enter the coordinates of a destination, but it is still safer than trying to use a smartphone while riding.
  • Ying Gao: Using eye-tracking technology, fashion designer Ying Gao has created a set of dresses that move when someone is looking at them. When the garment is gazed at for a time, tiny motors move parts of it in patterns. The dresses also glow. covered in photo-luminescent thread or featuring glow-in-the-dark threads that make up the base layer of fabric.
  • Sounds That Carry: The merger of technology and high-end accessory design is a definite trend. Handbag designer Rebecca Minkoff has made four clutches that encase speakers for Stellé Audio Couture.
  • A Sock With a Message: The start-up Heapsylon has a smart sock, Sensoria, that is paired with an anklet to automatically detect the type and level of activity based on pressure signals coming from the foot of the wearer. Sensors in the sock communicate data to the anklet, which then can relay the information to the user via an app. For example, it can track a runner's regular form and send an alert when he or she is making an injurious movement.
  • Close to the Heart: Even more intimate than smart socks, intelligent sports bras can track users' performance. This NuMetrix sports bar, made by Textronics, has a small transmitter that snaps to the garment to tracks a user's heart rate.
  • Light It Up: Berlin-based label Moon Berlin, which makes luxury clothing, focuses on using technology to enhance the look of its designs. Soft-circuit LEDs are integrated into the garments, connected to an electrical circuit attached to rubber-like materials that are integrated into fabrics.

The Issues and Questions

While some are creating products to enhance and expand your personal eco-system, others are quite skeptical about the trends because of the following:

  1. Privacy. One thing is poking finger into a touch screen in a public place, the other is talking to the device. Wouldn't people look like lunatics talking to themselves all the time?
  2. Practicality. How practical is it? Compared to poking an icon, sending and processing a voice command seems to take a lot more time, even with the best processing speed and the best voice recognition accuracy.
  3. Data Storage -  Who owns this data? How much of it belongs to the person and how much belongs to the brand? Where do you store all of your vitals?

Getting entrenched in the history

As computing moves from our desktops to our phones, we look into the future to see how technology will become increasingly ingrained in our movements and our active lives. Wearables have the possibility to make us more knowledgeable about ourselves and our surroundings, and connect us with each other in an uninterrupted, more intimate way. From DIY wearables to high-tech sensors and smart fabrics, the years ahead will show how integrated technology can impact our lives for the better.

Any thoughts on this trend?

[Sources: PBS, PSFK, CNBC, CNN, Ted Talks]

July 6, 2014No Comments

The Future of Digital Television

Investment banker Terence Kawaja, founder and CEO of LUMA Partners, is a big-time player in the advertising technology field. His advisory firm, LUMA Partners, has worked to help companies like Google and Yahoo make multimillion-dollar acquisitions, and his industry knowledge makes him one of the tech world's most respected minds. Kawaja has built this presentation after talking to people in the digital media business as well as people in the traditional "linear" television industry.

See a softer side of Kawaja in this four-minute music video Kawaja wrote and produced from the Cannes Lions advertising festival.

June 18, 2012No Comments

#CannesLions Contenders

As the Cannes Lions festivites have gotten underway and the predictions have been noted and posted, the shortlist for 2012 is about to reveal a few winners.  For me, I ask a few simple questions - did the work change the industry? Was there a value exchange that linked business objectives with consumer interests in a way that was ownable to the brand. Did the idea provoke a connection to brand?

As I peruse the submissions here are a few that caught my eye.

In the Promo category
Year 2 of the Small Business Saturday does it for me.  American Express and Crispin have submitted chapter two of an idea that is riding a cultural trend in the states.


What's for dinner tonight?  A common question that is aswered by this app from Hellmann’s which prints recipes on a personlized grocery receipts based on the food that you have purchased.  While some might find this a bit big brother - i think that the use of data creates a value exchnage that will generate more uses of the product.

While Sprite and Ogilvy did not change the industry with this one they did dramatize refreshing for these beach goers in a simple fun format.


This one struck me as pure genius as it played off a simple and true insight. The majoroity of woman question their fashion judement while shopping.  Knowing that, why not offer to let a network of people help you decide.  C & A's Like Fashion app brought the social network to the physical store. This was a great use of technology in the physical world.


Update: The Direct Grand Prix for American Express's Small Business Saturday campaign, which already won a Grand Prix in Promo & Activation.


#CannesLions Contenders via @jpenabickley

April 23, 20121 Comment

Coke’s new comprehensive “liquid” marketing strategy

The media landscape is a very different beast today than it was even 5 years ago. Then agency-led television commercials dominated how we channel our marketing. The very fact you are reading this here proves that things have changed.  With splashes of Henry Jenkins’ spreadable media concept, experiential marketing, Sir Ken Robinson’s whiteboard execution and Coke’s sophisticated marketing aplomb, the videos take us on a discovery that is as startling as it is revelatory.

Coca Cola have always been at the forefront of innovation. In this video Jonathan Mildenhall, Vice-President, Global Advertising Strategy and Creative Excellence at The Coca-Cola Company is the person responsible for leading global creative vision and strategy for the Company's portfolio of global brands. He explains how Coke will leverage the opportunities in the Post Digital landscape and transform one-way storytelling into dynamic storytelling hoping to add value and significance to peoples lives. 

The challenge of content creation in an enlightening way, reminds us that every contact point with a customernis a point of judgement that should tell an emotional story.  The importance of a content fludity model is also referenced. What is most surprising during the nearly eighteen viewing minutes is how willfully the soft drink marketer peels back the layers of their organization to reveal what’s been working and what hasn’t.

What these videos do is demonstrate is that the world has changed and the largest marketing organization in the world has changed with it. Have you moved from one-way storytelling into dynamic storytelling or from consumer insights to provocations thus potentially adding value and significance to people’s lives.  For those of us who have been building liquid and linked content through transmedia storytelling this is simply refreshing. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh!

Coke’s new comprehensive “liquid” marketing strategy via @jpenabickley

March 28, 2012No Comments

Writing Your Next Symphony

"Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail." - Harold R. McAlindon

Over the last few days, I have sat in a number of business meetings with fortune 500 marketers who all seem to have the same problem. There is a huge data conundrum.  Everyone of them spoke of the large agency partners having either too little of an understanding of their data across all channels or that their digital &  direct agencies who were in analysis paralysis and could not produce assets that met the data and technology demands of the new mediums. (Often referred to as perishable assets.)  Now that we are in post-digital era where people and our customers leave digital finger prints behind on everything they touch, why have the people who are supposed to be experts at the customers not figured out how to deliver new value to the Post-Digital client?

One of my early mentors, Marc Beeching once said, "The best stories are like a great piece of music. They have a beginning, middle and an end.  Sometimes you have to decide which pieces go where"  I think that analogy holds true for the data conundrum brands are in.  

Much of the Industrial Age and the Information Ages required focus and specialization.  But as white collar work has gotten routed to Asia and reduced to software, there is a new premium on the opposite aptitude: putting the pieces together, or what I call a Symphony.  What is in greatest demand today isn't more analysis, but synthesis-- seeing the big picture, crossing boundaries and being able to combine disparate pieces in to an arresting new whole.

For marketing & brand leaders and digital & traditional agencies alike who do not wish to follow their competitors down a path to a commoditized value exchange -- which is the typical path that many continue to travel -- They have a choice. Live in the past or get down to imagining and forging a new trail to the profitable future.

I have quickly found that you must marry your creative skill sets to a vastly uncomfortable place to survive. Dare I say "Data Synthesis".  As a creative leader you must act like a composer or a great conductor (my favorite is Gustavo Dudamel) .  Ask yourselves which symphony will you write for your brand or clients?  Will it tell a story? Will it have empathy? What meaning will it carry?  How will it be designed?

Next time your clients or potential clients ask you to show them your value -- create a symphony.  

Your audience will listen and remember you. 

Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.

Writing Your Next Symphony via @jpenabickley



Joanna routinely to speaks and keynotes at conferences, corporations, non-profits, educational and professional organizations. Her subject matter expertise is customized to meet the needs of each audience. 

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