Touchless Technology – the creative inspiration of a future today

Download The Connection 2010 presentation I delivered as Part I, II, and III with embedded low stream video. Or you can download the entire file without video.

e;l gouna 

November 26, 2010.  El Gouna. Egypt.   Over two hundred of the best minds in media, strategy, and design agencies from 11 countries descended upon southern Egypt for The Connection 2010 conference, sponsored by MSN Arabia & ConnectAds.  Notable presentations included Facebook’s Mark Cowan,  Head of Emerging Markets, who covered the advantages of using Facebook as a platform, as well as Adham El Gazzar, from ARPU+, who covered the future of mobility.


Adham cites amazing mobile web app growth. In 2009, 7 billion apps were downloaded. In 2012, this number is forecasted to jump to 50 billion.  Mobile apps are a hot growth sector and the market is hardly saturated. Everybody and their mother creates and consumes mobile apps and the major telcos are clambering over themselves to create a marketplace to cash in.  Who will rule this new market?

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I spoke to Mark offline and told him of my first realization that Facebook could indeed be a platform. Several years ago, I had returned home a dinner out in Manhattan. My demo machine had been on all day and suddenly it started chiming with an instant message alert. This surprised me as I didn’t have any IM software on this machine. I realized that I had opened up a Facebook page hours ago, and because I “trusted” Facebook, I became visible as “online” to allow my friends to interact with me. 

The facts started piling up.  Facebook could do point of presence detection. Facebook had an SDK (Software development it). Facebook developers build applications upon Facebook. How different is this from an operating system? Could Facebook be the new Windows?  Without saying so, Mark explored this concept further by showcasing a variety of applications installed on Facebook.

social media

Ahmed Hussam, Social Media Consultant for OT Ventures delivered the tightest, crispest messaging around Social Media and Trends that I have seen at any conference. The iconography and images powerfully conveyed the importance of social media in marketing and advertising.  Ahmed masterfully wove in the storytelling with the stats. He spoke of the highlight successful Old Spice campaign, with 6 million views in day 1, and 20 million views by Day 3. The videos themselves are unremarkable; it is the banter between the fictional Old Spice character and the social networking followers that led to high traffic, with a 2700% increase in Old Spice followers, culminating in a high-buzz series of interactions between Alyssa Milano and the shirtless Old Spice man, where they exchanged photos over Twitter.

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Click on the images to review the irrefutable facts of the importance of social media.

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Creative Inspiration through Technology

I started the morning with the topic: Creative Inspiration through Technology. Clearly the time for creativity in this industry hasn’t been more pronounced.  Thanks to the good help of my dear friend Sean Seibel, Microsoft’s senor User Experience Evangelist in Manhattan, I presented 5 different inspiration technologies concepts where you can lead with a futuristic design.  

1. apps

Think of your online properties as web applications not web sites – Leverage IE9 Windows 7 features such as pinning and multi-touch to increase stickiness – the time the users spend on your property.  CNN and Facebook do this well, allowing users to pin commonly used  web activities  (think activities, not links) to their desktop. From there, Facebook is treated as an application with direct access to commonly used activities – such as News, Friends, Events. Take a look at the Beauty of the Web for case studies from actual customers. Also, check out the amazing demos of HTML5 and hardware acceleration on the IE9 test drive site. Seadragon’s Canvas Zoom demo caused much a stir with our design community.


2. touchless

I settled on the word touchless as a way to describe our Kinect technology.  The implications for eCommerce and retail are enormous.  As a female consumer, I had no interest in the Xbox, because the games were more focused on the shoot ‘em mentality. (See LEGO studies about male/female software preferences). The best way I can describe this potential is to show an excerpt from the video I ran today.  An empty handed girl stands up in her living room, looking at the TV where a live video of her friend is shown. Between the two stands a wardrobe of clothing.  With a few flicks of her wrist, the girl dons a dress, and tries in on “virtually” spinning and modeling.  Your own private dressing room without getting undressed!  And with your best friend’s colorful commentary.  Retailers are you watching this?


3. fansumer

This is not a new concept – the idea of combining the consumer with a fan.  Don’t just go to Facebook and Twitter. Bring social networking to you.  Every page of every desktop application and website that displays a brand or a product should have at the very least a Like button. Harness the power of your fans.

Ahmed Hussam, Social Media Consultant, echoed exactly this point . That every application page should have at least one social network connection.  As Mark Cowan points out, for Facebook Like buttons, it’s only two lines of code.  (For bloggers, it’s even easier, using Guy Burstein’s Live Writer Plug in that I had covered in an earlier article).


Interaction between you, the company and your fansumers increases your “earned marketing”. Earned marketing comes from word of mouth, not paid advertisement, or owned members of a loyalty program. One great example of the Nike Mosaic Project that I covered in an earlier post.

4. hubs

Hubs allow the user to group together related activities into a common area. We use this model with Windows Phone. The People hub pulls together your photos, Facebook updates, and contacts all into one hub, with many different views.  Why not? Photos, Facebook and Contacts are all people. Think of ways you can create your own Hubs.

people hub

sailing hub

5. unity

Lastly, I covered the importance of design unity between the physical and virtual worlds. You could use Microsoft Photosynth to have users from all over the world upload photos of your building or landmark , and map these to three dimensional rendering using these very same photos.   Microsoft Tag allows you to take a snapshot of an item through your mobile phone and immediately find out what your friends have to say about it. 

Together all these concepts enable the future to be here today.

blue sage

Download The Connection 2010 presentation I delivered as Part I, II, and III with embedded low stream video. Or you can download the entire file without video.