Samsung and Sony both had a strong presence at SXSW and we went on a mission to compare what the two had on offer. As we waited in line outside the Samsung VR experience, we were asked to sign a waiver, which made us worry we were in for something life-threatening. When we entered, in front of us was a row of seats with Samsung VR headsets attached. We were then asked to fasten our seatbelts (again… potentially life-threatening), and put on our headsets. When the experience began, we realised we were on one of America’s largest roller coasters at one of the many Six Flags Amusement Parks in the States! I cannot describe how real it felt, everyone on the ride was screaming as we were flung hundreds of metres in the air, turned upside down in every which way (or so we thought). In reality, we were sitting in a row of chairs that were moving a couple of inches at a time! When the ride finished, much like a real roller coaster, we were all a bit wobbly on our feet and not many could stomach the free food Samsung had on offer! Now, if we could get a partnership going with Dreamworld’s Tower of Terror and BCM’s in-agency VR headsets, we may have found the cure for the Monday morning blues!
Sony gave us something a bit different with their prototype testing lab. I came out of this one feeling a little bit like the 2013 movie ‘Her’ was becoming a reality. In case you haven’t seen this movie SPOILER ALERT AHEAD, its set slightly in the future and the plot revolves around Joaquin Phoenix’s character falling in love with his ‘Siri’. Essentially it’s creepy.
The first piece of Sony tech we tried out was their arc shaped ‘headset’ that you wear around your neck called ‘Concept N’. The headset can play music and, through GPS, knows where you are at any time. By knowing this, it can give you location-based information such as real-time maps, the weather, nearby restaurants and can even take photos. You have to command it to do these actions by saying ‘Listen up arc’, so taking a photo of someone unawares isn’t as easy as blinking an eyelid. We were all a bit skeptical if this technology would take off, as it felt a bit gimmicky, but that was the beauty of Sony, as all the products were prototypes, they were really eager to hear from us how this tech could potentially work in our lives.
Sony wasn’t all weird though, they showed us their interactive tabletop and projectors which we were immediately excited about. On the table top there was a demonstration of the book ‘Alice in Wonderland’ coming to life. For both work and play, this technology has huge potential and could open up a world of possibilities – so keep an eye out for it.
On our way out, things got creepy again, as I tried on the arc headset for a photo, a Sony employee to my right started controlling my headset with a discreet ring he was wearing. He was telling my headset to take photos and change the music I was listening to. This, to me, flagged all sorts of privacy issues with the headsets. But I guess more on this shall be revealed in the future …
(Look closely at this pic, and you’ll see the small white ‘Concept N’ VR headset around my neck).
What was great about the Sony lab was that they encouraged you to think outside the box of how their prototypes could help us in the future. For instance, the interactive tabletops would be an amazing resource to have when pitching a digital idea to any of our clients, as we could show them interactively what their new website may look like. The arc headset could revolutionise blind people’s lives, helping them with real-time directions and allowing them freedom they may never have had before. Be it weird like Sony, or thrilling like Samsung, the best part is these massive technology brands are all battling to be the best and we’ll be the ones to benefit.
Sarah Fitzpatrick is an Account Manager at BCM