Guest Post by Marc Maleh, GVP Emerging Experiences at Huge
Huge, a leading global experience agency, was founded 20 years ago with guiding principles around the idea that great things happen when you put the user first. We continue to build on our offerings through the work we create across product development, retail experiences, and integrated marketing.
As brands who are trying to engage with consumers, we've experienced monumental change over the last decade. With the wide range of platforms available to us, there are plenty of new ways to engage users through content and experiences--the speed of which is rapidly increasing.
Take the launch of the iPhone 12 years ago. It took two years for the app store to follow-up in the public domain. Initially, Steve Jobs’ thought developers would write amazing “Web 2.0 and Ajax apps” with iOS. In 2008, Apple officially released the SDK and things changed again. They provided developers with many of the same tools and resources that were available to Apple engineers, including access to the accelerometer data. Fast forward to today: the types of sensors in devices--all devices--have increased exponentially. This, compounded with the increase of intelligent data systems in the market, allows brands to create unique personalized experiences for consumers.
When the modern concept of a wearable was first introduced, we recall hearing a quote from an engineer “Understanding the form factor of this face computer isn't important--what we need to focus on is that content and mapped data is now hands-free and more accessible than ever.” Until then, that type of technology had only been available to fighter pilots (and it had actually been around since the 1950s), but now it was quickly gaining recognition with everyday consumers. The foreign idea of digital experiences overlaid on the real world was soon to become the norm. And now it was our job to build branded experiences on top of that.
We did, however, have a challenge that was out of our hands. As software developers and designers who were looking to build experiences on these emerging hardware platforms, we had no control over the actual hardware. Often, the hardware early on was uncomfortable and not terribly conducive to everyday consumer use. And frankly, we continue to be challenged with some of these experiences--even mobile-based AR ones--because of the users’ need to hold up their phone. For instance, the latest iteration of maps in AR goes away when users start walking--safety concerns start to become a factor when consumers walk and stare down at the device. Senior Huge Engineer, Francisco Gutierrez, sums it up practically: “No one wants to keep their hands lifted up in the air for long periods of time.”
This pain point is where Huge identifies audio as a key driver for experiences and is the reason that the agency has formed a strong alliance with Bose’s AR team. Our ability to get early access to the product and SDK updates before other teams--along with access to developer support and events--has allowed Huge to think about how we’re able to bring audio-based AR experiences to our clients.
We all know that sound quality is one of the most compelling aspects of Bose products, but what’s equally intriguing is the potential to open new types of interaction models that don’t require the user to look at a phone or watch. Raise the volume by lifting your head. Skip a call by looking right. Look right to access certain data or experiences. Add in NLU support for voice interactions. These examples all keep the user firmly planted in the real world.
“The SDK allows content to supplement the user's reality without distracting them from it,” said Andrew Nida, Senior Engineer at Huge. “It best succeeds in delivering hands-free content to users over a large area such as cities, trails, stadium events, and golf courses. One of the things I noticed first is how easily you stop noticing you're using it.”
Yes, with the built-in accelerometer on other devices a developer could, in theory, do something similar, but most have kept that out of the public SDK for the time being.
The situational awareness aspect of the Bose Frames is really compelling. A bike rider, hearing a car honk or a fellow biker passing by, is great - especially in a city where it is illegal to ride a bike while wearing headphones. Frames allow users to keep their head up in the real world while having music or directions augment it.
“The Bose SDK was easy to develop on, with support for native iOS, Android as well as Unity. The most challenging part was understanding the user flow of pairing the device and configuring it, but the examples had solid example code and best practices so we were able to get going quickly,” said Nida.
Huge is currently prototyping on the Bose SDK for clients: experimenting with it from the agency’s living retail lab, Huge Cafe, as well as for internal experimentation.
Article by Marc Maleh with content from Andrew Nida and Francisco Gutierrez, Huge Inc.
For more questions about Huge and the agency’s capabilities, reach out to:
Marc Maleh, GVP Emerging Experiences at Huge