Cat Conference 2011

Innovation Requires Patience, Sweating the Small Stuff and High Tolerance for Mistakes

Be Willing to Make Mistakes, Says Adam Sadowsky, President of Syyn Labs

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Be willing to make mistakes, because you will anyway.

That's the advice of Adam Sadowsky, president of Syyn Labs, a firm that creates interactive art for a number of agencies, brands and production companies. Perhaps Syyn's most famous piece of work is the Rube Goldberg machine it created for OK Go's "This Too Shall Pass" music video. It's the best example of why anyone interested in innovation needs to have a high tolerance for mistake-making.

It took three months, 85 takes, two pianos, 10 TVs and more than 100 Home Depot trips to complete the video, Mr. Sadowsky, one of the morning speakers at today's CaT: Creativity and Technology Conference in New York, told attendees. In total, the video included 89 unique interactions and, in the end, Syyn ended up with three successful takes. Another piece of advice from Mr. Sadowsky? Small stuff stinks, but it's essential.

Among the other experiments Mr. Sadowsky highlighted on stage at CaT:

  • Cloud mirror, a party game that uses augmented reality to expose partygoers' "virtual personalities." How it worked: Syyn Labs put 2-D barcode around party guests' necks that were linked to their Facebook accounts. Computers then scour the internet for any information they can find out about the people attending. When a person then stands in front of the "cloud mirror" -- really a camera that reads the barcode -- it projects their image onto a screen, augmenting their image with stats from Facebook, such as "I'm single" or, in one mischievous case, noting that there are 20 registered sex offenders with the same name as on e guest.

  • Weather balloon, a concept Syyn is pitching to music festivals. How it worked: Synn suspends a weather balloon with an HD camera attached to it hundreds of yards in the air above a music festival and then establishes viewing stations around the grounds that allow users to view the concert grounds through the HD camera -- they can see what's going on on other stages, see where the biggest crowd is gathering or where the beer lines are shortest.

  • Gary Numan, DieHard commercial, in which Syyn worked with Y&R, Chicago, and director James Frost to build a keyboard-controlled organ powered by 24 black and white cars, each of whose horn emitted a different tone. And then, of course, hiring Gary Numan to play his hit "Cars" using the organ.

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