Ford Puts New Grand C-Max Into Customers Hands Using Augmented Reality

In late February Ford of Britain launched the an augmented reality campaign using Panasonic’s new 3D depth imaging technology to promote its new Grand C-MAX. The user interface is based on natural movement and hand gestures rather than using printed markers as a point of reference as in ‘traditional’ augmented reality experiences.

Users could interact with the display by holding their hands up to the screen. They can then use virtual buttons to choose the cars colours, open doors or fold down the seats, rotate and explore 3D ‘virtual’ models of the cars on the screen and in their hands.

Mark Simpson of Ford of Britain said:

Mark Simpson at Ford said: “Using live interactive outdoor campaigns is a great way to really engage with the audience in a way that is not possible with static posters. This has enabled us to create a targeted and tactical campaign that is relevant and fun to use.”

The campaign was created by Ogilvy & Mather and digital production company Grand Visual.

Macy’s Uses QR Codes to Promote Backstage Pass to Spring Style Tips

Macy's QR CodesThe adoption of 2D barcodes over the past year has been steadily increasing. What was once considered an oddity (at least in North America) when we first used one back in 2008 is now being used by more small businesses and mainstream retailers each and every month. We are commonly seeing the 2D barcodes on everything from business cards, sales receipts, product signage and transit ads.

Recently Macy’s introduced QR Codes as part of their Backstage Pass campaign. Shoppers can scan the code or use SMS to access the 30-second videos featuring style tips and fashion advice from Macy’s team of spokespeople including Bobbi Brown, Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs and Tommy Hilfiger.

Martine Reardron, Macy’s executive VP of Marketing said:

“Macy’s new Backstage Pass is an exciting evolution that brings our stable of fashion experts and designers directly to the customer while they’re shopping in our store, through their hand-held mobile devices. By providing fun and informative video features via an easy-to-use, direct-to-consumer platform, we are connecting and engaging our customer in a personal way that enhances and adds a new element to their shopping experience.”

To help explain how to use the QR codes Macy’s created a demonstration video “How to Use Macy’s Backstage Pass” (above), making it available to customers who text “learn” to MACYS (62297) or on the Find Your Magic sitelet, Facebook page or YouTube Channel. Macy’s sales associates will wear Backstage Pass lanyards with instructions on how to use the QR codes. Customers can download a free QR code reader application by texting “reader” to MACYS (62297).

Macy’s and Mobile Technologies

This is not the first time that Macy’s has embraced emerging mobile technologies. It first used 2D codes in magazine ads in 2010 was is of the first national retailers to use Shopkick, a mobile application and platform that allows users to earn points for checking in at stores to receive special offers.

QR Codes a Passing Fad?

QR Codes are not simply a passing fad as seen in the answers to my question posted on Quora. As GPS and image recognition technologies advance and customers become more comfortable with the check-in, I think we will look back at QR codes as merely the critical first step in connecting real world locations to online content including loyalty programs, deals and value-added content.

The News360 iPad App is Like Crack for this News Addict

News360 iPad AppAs long as I can remember I have always been a news addict. A habit that has been passed down from my father back in Nova Scotia. An early picture even shows me struggling to open a copy of Sports Illustrated. I would read the local newspapers front to back, gobble up every news magazine I could get my hands on.

These days of course, we have instant access to hundreds of thousands of news sources including web sites, blogs and news feeds. Having access to the web through mobile devices such as the iPhone and iPad has now taken my news addiction to a new level.

Introducing News360

On Monday, development company News360 released News360 for the Pad. News360 is a Moscow-based company dedicated to helping readers experience personalized news. They’ve used linguistic metadata analysis and algorithms to identify trends within the feeds of news sources from around the world.

Interface design was provided by Motka Design Studio.

Over a 1000 News Sources

News360 aggregates feeds from over 1000 different news sources, including CNN, Fortune, New York Times, BBC, Guardian, Wall Street Journal and many more.

The news feeds can be sorted by Stories or Sources, as well as using GPS to locate stories near you. You can see recent tweets on the story or view the story and photos from any of the news sources that it had appeared in.

Deep Dive into background material

One of the more interesting features allows you to turn on highlighted hyperlinks. These links lead you to further background information on all the key people, companies, and subjects within the story. Once you’ve absorbed the background material you’re presented with more even more focused news stories on that keyword.

Customized Feeds

Create your own customized feed by using the My Sources/My Stories feature. Simply drag and drop icons for hundreds of sources and story subjects to the top of the screen and you’re ready to go.

I Like to Look at Pictures

If you like to look at pictures you’re in luck. Simply turn your iPad on its side and you’ll be looking at a series of scrolling news photos. Tap a photo and you see a headline, tap again and you can read the story with access to the hyperlinks as mentioned above.

Sharing is Good

Stories can be shared to Facebook, Twitter, ReadItLater (my favorite), Instaper and Email. Stories can also be saved to your iPad to be accessed later.

The site takes interface design and functionality cues from such popular news apps like Pulse News Reader, Huffington Post’s News Glide and of course Flipboard. However, the GPS feature for local news and keyword hyperlinking are features that I can really appreciate and use.

OK, enough writing I need to go get my news fix.

Social Media & the NHL Trading Deadline

NHL_trade_deadlineToday is one of those days that Canadian Hockey Fans circle on the calendar. It’s NHL Trade Deadline day and hockey fans are tuned in everywhere, by television, radio and especially by the internet and mobile.

For those who don’t know, the NHL trading deadline is when teams try to improve their roster for the upcoming playoffs, or a chance to unload those expensive players before they become free agents at the end of the year.

Reporters would spend their day working their contacts by phone and email looking for that one big trade scoop. These days however, it’s not uncommon to hear that a trade was confirmed by the player through his Twitter account. Or a fake trade announced through a player’s fake Twitter account.

Here’s a quick look at how the NHL Trade Deadline day was impressively handled through three prominent media outlets today.

Toronto Maple Leafs: Leafspace Live
The team that did the least happened had one of the best setups of all the outlets, including:

  • A live feed of LeafsTV
  • Live Boardroom feed where we saw little if anything happen
  • CoverItLive chat featuring user posts, video clips, images and polls.
  • Three columns of Twitter streams with contributions by the Hockey media, official feeds from other NHL teams and tweets featuring the #mapleleafs hashtag in the third.
  • Mentions from Facebook were also being displayed

CBC Sports Trade Deadline

  • Live feed from CBC Sports
  • Twitter integration
  • Clips from Hockey Night Radio on Sirius
  • CoverItLive chat stream featuring polls, video clips and images
  • A poll where users could evaluate each trade

TSN TradeCentre
TSN went so far to brand their presence as TradeCentre on a splash page on their site, including:

  • TradeCentre Live video feed
  • iPad and iPhone apps with special TradeCentre functionality
  • Live Blog
  • TSN Tweetbox
  • Facebook Live Chat
  • Trade Tracker

The Score featured a basic Trade Tracker with links to PuckDaddy radio and Facebook discussion.

Newspapers Toronto Star, National Post and Globe & Mail featured trade trackers as well frequently updated news and live blogs.

It’s always interesting to watch what used to be considered fringe tools now taking their place in  news gathering and reporting.

Instagram’s Success Lures Brands into the Picture

Instagram: NPR, Starbucks, Levi's BraziliPhone app Instagram is one of the hottest tech properties out there right now despite its lack of a traditional web presence. It does display a page images shared by its users on Twitter, Facebook or Tumblr. Virtually all the interaction takes place in the iOS-only app, where users stylize their own photos and follow the stream of others.

The application was launched in the early fall of 2010 by Kevin Systrom of Burbn, Inc. and became an instant hit gaining over 100,000 users in just it’s first week. In late December that user number grew to 1 million, and by last week (Feb 14) that figure has doubled to 2 million users.

Instagram is a simple application, you take a picture using the camera phone or select an existing one from your library. Next, you select one of its 12 retro-look  filters, then share it to your Instagram followers as well as to Twitter or Facebook if you choose. You can follow the shared images of other Instragram users, adding likes and comments as you go.

Here are examples of how brands and news services have started to explore ways to use Instagram to enhance their own photo sharing, or to solicit photos from users for contests.

  • Levi’s Brasil are sharing imagery of their new products line.
  • NH Hotels are hosting a contest asking consumers to share Instragram images on Twitter with the hashtag #WakeUpPics.
  • CNN iReport and NPR are supplementing their existing news with Instagram and are getting comments and dozens and ‘likes’ on each photo they share.
  • Starbucks is sharing images of products and asking followers opinions of new store signage ideas.
  • Brisk is crowdsourcing an Instagram photo shared with the hashtag #briskpics to appear on a new can to be introduced at SXSW.

So,what are these brands and organizations hoping to achieve by using Instagram? In most cases they are simply dipping their toes and testing the waters by sharing a few photos here and there. However, NPR and CNN have built up large followings of 13,000 and 8000 respectively, and images frequently receive dozens of comments and likes. UPDATE: On February 24, Instagram announced a new real-time API that would allow developers to create new web applications and services from its user’s uploaded content.

It will interesting where Instagram goes from here. Similar apps like PicPlz and Hipstamatic are providing some competition plus a rumour is making the rounds that Facebook may add their own ‘retro-look’  filters to user’s photo albums. With big brands experimenting and a user base of 2 million and growing, the only way is forward. One hopes that Instragram will be able to maintain its simplicity as it grows.

As our digital cameras get more sophisticated, the more popular it becomes to make them look like they were taken in another era.