What excites you about the web these days? Is it social apps, gaming, integration? Invoke account manager Peter Lanfear shares what he is excited about online. It’s somewhere where the Internet blends with electronics to create digital inventions and brand utility.
The Agency Breakfast call it “The Internet of Things” or “Web 3.0,” but I feel like there is a better name waiting to be coined.
Take a look at these two examples of companies using digital inventiveness to solve a problem or need and decide for yourselves what you think this tech should be called.
1. Mercedes Benz
Problem: Finding a parking space in a downtown area on a Saturday before Christmas (or any Saturday for that matter).
Solution: A super smart initiative called Active Parking Assist that helps drivers find locations of parking spaces.
How does it work:
During a busy Christmas shopping weekend in Stuttgart a fleet of Merc’s fitted with Active Parking Assist drove around the city looking for parking spaces. A sensor on the Mercedes would scan for spaces between cars (similar technology to reverse parking assist) as it drove past streets of parked cars. Once a space was detected, an onboard Arduino device would generate a tweet saying there was a parking space, while also assigning a Google map url to the tweet. Those people following the twitter handle @MBTweetFleet would then see where potential spaces for parking could be found.
For those unfamiliar with Arduino, it’s is an electronic platform device that can be computer programmed to perform simple tasks. In this case the device was connected to a GPS/GPRS device allowing it to beam out data in the form of tweets.
This video explains it far better than I could. Obviously the technology is far from a bullet proof parking solution, but it is an innovative idea and who knows where it may lead.
The really clever part of all this from a brand standpoint is that Mercedes chose to do something of value for consumers, whilst at the same time cleverly showcasing a new feature of the latest Mercedes. This is very much what brand utility is all about. Traditional advertising seeks to inform or engage consumers purely on the features and specifications of a particular product. The brand utility method offers a different approach — it’s less concerned with feature sets and more with functionality or usefulness. It explores the question how can your products make the lives of consumers better?
In my opinion Mercedes have done a terrific job on answering that.
Situation: Capturing a fun moment at a party or event with a camera.
Problem: Wanting a tangible polaroid type photo to take away with you and stick on your fridge.
Solution: Instaprint. A clever box that acts like a photo booth and prints your photo for you.
On hearing news that the Instagram were releasing their API, the tech savvy peeps at Breakfast NY, created Instaprint.
What is it? It’s a nifty and stylish bit of hardware that allows you to print Polaroid like photos of your fave Instagram shots. The Instaprint box is programmed with software that searches for Instagram photos with a certain hashtag or assigned geo location and then simply prints them for you. It’s really as simple as that! This means you can capture a moment digitally using your smartphone and then actually walk away with a physical memento of your party, event, or gathering. Already brands such as Nike, Bannana Republic, Fuse and Gizmodo are using Instaprints for their events. While not available to consumers just yet, the product is available to rent for through Breakfast.
Other examples of where Instaprint could be used include a staff party or product launch event. It would also be a superb offering to people attending Moto Guzzi Motorbike meets or sporting events like Tough Mudder. Based on the above examples, what would you call this type of digital meets product tech?