How Kinect Hacking, Augmented Reality Is Changing Marketing

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Sam Ewen
Sam Ewen Credit: Rob Tannenbaum
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Sam Travis Ewen, CEO of Interference and co-founder of Supertouch Group, is perhaps best known as the producer of the electronic graffiti campaign that sent Boston authorities into a tizzy a few years ago. But that controversial and arguably promotional incident is surpassed by the evolution of his firms' innovation in the nontraditional and technology marketing space.

At the Creativity's Creativity and Technology conference in New York today, he discussed this innovation in the context of emerging technologies: augmented reality, projection mapping and Kinect hacking. The latter is evolving at a rate likely beyond what Microsoft had intended when it released its Xbox Kinect gaming system. And it's something that he explained is in part the product of a marketing shift for brands, "from look at me to look at you talking about me."

Mr. Ewen created Mediaflow, a new Kinect hack technology that creates a gesture-based, body-controlled remote control, but rather than talking about his own work he referred to examples and moments of inspiration. One such example is optical camouflage, which knows through depth-sensing where a body is and then creates what looks like a translucent body on a screen, an optical illusion of invisibility. There's potential, he explained, to build the technology into wearable displays or a "screen on the side of a military vehicle," he said to laughter from the audience.

"It's a new way of looking at the world," he said.

Another use of Kinect can be linked to a campaign from Burger King, for which it developed a plush toy that, when held in front of a "Kinectimals" game device, synced up and moved with the character in the game.

In the project-mapping space, Mr. Ewen talked about a Ralph Lauren promotion at its flagship stores in London and New York. The fashion brand projected a show onto the buildings, used images to manipulate the actual building structures, and then engaged the crowd through associated audio technology that enabled people to control the projection, and sound, using their voices.

He's also worked with Junaio, the maker of an augmented-reality browser for smartphones that can be used by businesses. With the app, a consumer looking for office space can hold a smart phone up to a building and see available real estate inside the building.

To keep up with the demands of an increasingly social consumer-base, Mr. Ewen is marrying business and marketing insights and knowledge with the firms' resources that have contributed to technology like interactive mirrors, touch surfaces, live gaming and customizable creative technology, among others.

As best said by fellow Ad Age reporter Kunur Patel just following the session, "mind officially blown."