February 2, 2012

12 Days of Innovation for Marketers – Day 4 – Kinecthacks.com

”Human beings must have action; and they will make it if they cannot find it.” Albert Einstein

This seems to me a fitting way to start a post about radically reinventing the way we embed gesture into our products, devices and most especially for Marketers, displays.

I have often found myself working for big companies and their equally big budgets in solving problems.  I, at many points in my career, subscribed to the theory that “with time and money all things are possible.”  However, over time I have found the concepts of radical simplicity and overwhelming economy to be perhaps of even greater value.  You want to create a solution that is “simple enough but no simpler,” as Einstein told us.  For example, I have written about two women who used a salad spinner concept to create a centrifuge for blood separation and a blackboard blogger for news.  I love a cellphone supply-chain from Novartis delivering anti-malarials in Africa.  We have a world in need of simplicity AND economy.

To that end, let’s say you don’t have $75,000 or even $35,000 to spend on a really cool telepresence system to connect your offices and the humans that inhabit them to colleagues.  No worry – there’s a hack for that.  Let’s say you want to create an interactive display surface – there’s a hack for that.  What if you want to enable a physically challenged shopper to have a cart follow her around – there’s a hack for that.

What’s more, one of the world’s previously most locked down organization is allowing a community of hackers to do just this.  The Microsoft Kinect Hackers Community is playing with 3D motion sensor technology to reinvent the way we interact with technology and use gesture to drive responsiveness.

This is so acceptable, so intriguing that BusinessWeek even published a CEO Guide to embracing it.  Whether you are a retailer who wants an interactive mirror, or an urban planner looking to assess light and shadow in a defined area, or anyone who needs a 3D representation of a product to be sent for study miles away, Kinect offers those possibilities (the 10 best KinectHacks are here).  You can even submit your request to enable talented hackers to work on it.

Philosophically, the beauty of this is that virtually every business can afford a Kinect.  And the approaches are lean – they are smart, efficient and even a little quirky.  A few are slick, but for the most part, this is 20% tech and 80% creativity in applying it.  Which is an exceedingly valuable lesson for marketers.

We’re still so busy trying to figure out the advertising or media model for gaming that we are losing site that game principles: 3D, gesture, display – are the real treasures.   By including KinectHacks.com in the #12DMI, my hope is that you look again at how hard and with how much technology you are trying to solve a customer interaction or item display problem.  We spend tens- to hundreds of thousands doing things that might be achieved by a game console and a few hungry technology guys.

Cristene, Kevin and Debbie