Innovation To Reality Recap

Leo Clifford of the Telco Global Forum wrote a recap of my recent Innovation To Reality talk here it is reposted below.

Empower. Exponential. Enhanced. These are the three words that Tom Edwards of Blackfin360 – a data-driven digitally centric marketing technology executive and professional futurist speaker – uses to describe the evolution of experience as the innovation scene evolves. He calls it ‘innovation to reality.’ Tom recently spoke at the Telco Global Forum event. In his talk, he mentions them as elements that can help drive business and digital transformation.

“Empower is all about consumer behavior influencing technology. Exponential is all about the role that intelligence systems are going to play. And Enhance is all about simulation. These are the foundational elements to align consumer behavior and emerging technology and its impact on business and digital transformation.”

– Tom Edwards

Understanding consumer behavior and how that impacts experiences

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For Tom, it starts with understanding consumer behavior and how it affects technology. He estimates that 40 percent of the consumer market consists of Generation Z – the demographic of people born between the years 1996 and 2010. “They are the first mobile-first generation. They learn to swipe before they learn to speak. Businesses must understand that affinity and behavior and how it affects technology.” He says.

Today, we are heading to an age of emerging technologies that these consumers will interface with daily, and it is vital to understand how to connect with them at these various points. One popular emerging technology is the voice assistant technology installed on phones.

Alexa, Google, etc. are the first stage of autonomy in intelligent systems. From the research Tom has done across generations, one particular thing is consistent about why people will adopt intelligence systems into their everyday lives. “That is ease and convenience,” he says. These systems serve as delegates onto which people can delegate simple tasks. So they serve as a bridge between consumers and businesses such that ultimately, the mobile device will no longer be the primary means of interacting with technology. Therefore, organizations need to examine these systems and figure out how to communicate and have conversational experiences with them. 

Tom expects that an increase of these proxy-like systems will “require understanding how to provoke emotions from systems” as it is quite different from humans because we will be moving from a human consumer-centric way of marketing to one that is system-based.

How to prepare and what to expect 

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Businesses have data assets they possess and manage internally. The first step is understanding these assets. However, that is not enough. According to Tom, “90% of the information around consumers is unstructured”. They are found on the open web and in conversations online. Artificial intelligence can play a role in expediting the understanding of what is happening. Lastly, businesses want to understand intent signals. These are indicators that identify users who are actively reaching their line of products, and it is tied to search history. Ultimately, businesses want to make sure that they structure data in such a way that they are consequential across not only traditional search but voice ecosystems and spatial computing. All of these things are interconnected. Therefore, it is vital to have a thorough understanding of what information is available, what is usable, and why. 

The role data and intelligent systems will play in the near future

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In the voice assistance technology sector, Google wants to make the assistant in such a way that tasks are set up as real-life scenes, thus turning the whole delegation activity into a seamless experience for the user. An example of this is Google Duplex – a new technology woven into the Google Assistant – that reserved an appointment and rented a car! Tom postulates that with systems like these evolving, what we will begin to see is a virtual assistant acting as preference centers.

With the ever-present connectivity that the emergence of 5G networks will provide, edge computing – i.e., location of information processing where people produce or consume that information – in the form of building smart cities that can process data locally and instantaneously will become a reality. While the focus has been on the disruption happening in various industries as a result of these different technologies, it will move to the convergence of these intelligent systems, which will be powered by artificial intelligence that is fuelled by data. That data is what is going to enhance the experiences as they evolve. Training the machine learning models that drive these technologies will involve tons of data so that they can further improve user experiences. 

Prepare to make the shift from mobile devices

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Eventually, it is not going to be enough to create experiences for traditional desktop and mobile in digital marketing. Voice, vision, and touch are the new modalities that will drive the future of experience, and these are what businesses will need to pay attention to succeed. 

In light of these new modalities that are poised to drive the future of experience and digital marketing in businesses, how do you adopt these emerging technologies in your organization? “I follow a 70 to 20 to 10 kind of approach,” Tom advises. Seventy percent of your investment should be on tried and tested technologies that are going to stimulate business and digital transformation, 20 percent for technologies that are novel but you can prove some type of return based on the core objective you are trying to apply and 10 percent or less for technologies you are making educated guesses. 

“It is incredibly important to have a three-year road map,” he adds. In addition to the traditional four Ps – Product, Price, Place, and Promotion – of marketing strategy, he includes four additional Ps, namely, Plan, Predictive, Proxy, and Pervasive. Plan refers to your data strategy. Predictive involves knowing that data is going to drive a lot of predictive decision making that will get to a point where it can predict human behavior and subsequently lead to the third P, Proxy. Proxy involves understanding that virtual assistants will become proxies or deputies, communicating, and interacting with each other on our behalf, scheduling, and handling tasks. Lastly, Pervasive, you want to understand that you are designing experiences — pervasive experiences — namely touch, vision, and voice that will go beyond traditional desktop and mobile.

In summary, it is about doing what is working today. Next, examine the future experiences that are going to influence behavior and drive business and digital transformation that this article has discussed. Look out for use cases in other industries that you can apply to your business based on your objective and experiment. Finally, review what the 90 percent of your investment has accomplished, what is ultimately coming, and make educated bets on other technologies you want to explore.

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Tom’s Innovation to Reality talk is available here at the Telco Global Forum.

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If you’d like to contact Tom Edwards directly you can find him Here at Blackfin360 or linkedin.com/in/tedwards

Passion Drives Performance Keynote

Wow! It felt good to be back on stage with a socially distant audience. Yes, I wore a mask on stage per the organizer’s policy, but it was great to be in person! This was a bespoke talk designed to motivate future business & technology, men & women.

The talk covered how a passion for gaming, marketing, and technology, has shaped my career journey. This discussion was more personal and reflective than futurist, but I wanted to provide insights into how various passions have shaped my perspective and translated to driving business performance.

Follow Tom @BlackFin360 via Instagram, Twitch, YouTube, and Twitter

Telco Global Forum 2020

I will be speaking on the topic of innovation to reality during the upcoming Telco Global Forum online event. The event runs from September 2nd – 4th, 2020.

Get your free pass today: https://www.telcoglobalforum.com/?usr=14

You’ll learn from an incredible lineup including myself and over 20 technology leaders sharing their #1 tactics on digital transformation challenges: 

  • Innovation To Reality, creating experiences for a digitally simulated reality
  • Avoiding edge hype and understanding the real economics of public edge cloud
  • Capturing the attention and the interest of your customers for 5G success
  • How to build a service-oriented one-stop-shop for consumers and enterprises – bundling connectivity, security, and privacy
  • Emerging technology & 5G
  • Building AI-driven Telco organization

And much more…

See you soon!

Follow Tom @BlackFin360 via Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Twitch

7 Tips To Prep For Keynotes & Public Speaking

Recently, I was talking to an industry associate and he referenced this topic and video. I have been speaking professionally for years now and this is the process I go through in advance of taking the stage and I thought it was worth resharing.

By focusing your time and effort on knowing your audience, framing and refining your story and following these 7 tips, you will be well prepared to take the stage and deliver a great presentation.

Tom Edwards, 2020 OnCon Top 50 Marketer, 2019 Tech Titan Technology Advocate Technology Winner,  Ad Age Marketing Technology Trailblazer and TEDx speaker shares 7 tips about preparing for TEDx or any major public speaking event.

Follow Tom @BlackFin360 on Instagram, YouTube, and Twitter.

Tom Edwards Joins Tripleclix as CMO

I am pleased to announce that I have joined the leadership team of Tripleclix. I have known the founder of Tripleclix, Chris Erb for over a decade and he’s the best in the business at partnership and lifestyle marketing. I am incredibly excited to combine my passion for gaming, marketing, and brand strategy to drive growth and elevate the Tripleclix brand as CMO.

Tripleclix is a strategic gaming agency focused on developing marketing partners for game publishers while helping brands navigate the gaming industry. With over 60 years of industry experience, the agency specializes in building strategy, promotions, original content, and lifestyle marketing by combining publisher driven gaming content with innovative and iconic brands. Tripleclix acts as the connective tissue through which brands, publishers, and consumers interact.

Be sure to visit Tripleclix.com to check out all of the amazing work created by this team!

Here is the full press release.

Appreciate the pickup from sources such as AdAge.

Thanks to everyone in my network that engaged with the announcement. I am incredibly appreciative for all of the support!

Thanks again and please follow @Tripleclix on Twitter & Instagram

Futurithmic 2020 5G Event Recaps & What’s Next

Today, Futurithmic published my latest article outlining key 5G events in 2020. What we have seen so far and what we should expect as the year unfolds. From CES, The Super Bowl, to the canceled Mobile World Congress 2020 in Barcelona.

We explore how 5G impacted the shows and cultural moments so far in 2020 while also outlining the key events to come later in the year that will ultimately shape the role of 5G in advancing consumer experiences.

Read the full article at Futurithmic

Follow Tom @BlackFin360 on YouTube, Instagram, and Twitter

Futurithmic 5G Articles – Enhanced Entertainment

I have the pleasure of working with the Futurithmic team to write a number of articles in 2020discussing the future of 5G and it’s potential impact on various forms of entertainment.

This article explores how 5G will evolve experiences within theme parks and exhibits, enhance wayfinding through computer vision and augmented reality, enable enhanced proximity-based content experiences, digital simulation, and ultimately enhance movie theaters.

This is the second in the series and here is a link to the full article on Futurithmic.com

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2020 OnCon Icon Top 50 Marketer Award

I was recently recognized by OnConfrences as a 2020 Top 50 Global Marketer Award winner. It’s always a great honor to be recognized, especially when the award is determined 100% by your peers. This award originally had hundreds of nominees from across the globe.

In addition to picking up the award, I had the opportunity to also present a number of awards and had the opportunity to share a short story about success which I will post below.

The single most important driver of success in my career has been developing and maintaining a personal brand while in parallel delivering results for the brands I worked for.

I started writing point of view pieces about new and emerging technology, pop culture, gaming, and strategy back in 2007. Now 500+ posts later this helped to propel me as a paid speaker and opened up a number of new opportunities.

The content you create follows you from role to role, it serves as a demonstration for how you think to prospective clients and it also leads to awards. I was on this very stage last year picking up the OnCon Marketing Trailblazer and OnCon Marketing Contributor awards thanks in large part to contributions to the industry through writing.

I would highly recommend that those of you who mentor up and coming employees, that you empower them to develop a POV, allow them to flex their strategic and problem-solving
skills and don’t be afraid to allow them to develop their personal brands.

This is how you can go from an employer to a true mentor. And it’s incredibly satisfying to see those that you invest in find their own success.

Follow Tom @BlackFin on Instagram, YouTube, and Twitter.

Fortnite & StarWars Redefining Marketing

Today at 2 PM eastern one of the largest gatherings of concurrent gamers witnessed an in-game event from a galaxy far far away that may redefine the future of multimedia marketing.

Fortnite and the Star Wars team promoting The Rise of Skywalker collaborated to deliver massive in-game event featuring JJ Abrams and a clip from the upcoming movie.

JJ Abrams via an avatar getting the crowd ready.

Fortnite is looking to redefine multimedia experiences and offering brand collaborations at an audience scale we have never seen.

With tens of millions of players connected in-game and millions more watching the live event unfold (2.2M on YouTube, 1.1M on Twitch), not only did we get to see a clip from the movie but also interact directly with the content to shift the experience from passive to active. The engagement and excitement were through the roof!

Fully interactive experience.

After logging into a queue, players were instructed to go to Risky Reels (An in-game location) and prepare for the show. There was a live countdown.

Countdown to the start of the event.

The day was teased during the recent 2019 Game Awards. Players received a free in-game glider and were promised something that had never been done before in the history of in-game marketing.

The Game Awards 2019 announcement.

After the countdown, The Millenium Falcon flew around and landed and out popped our host Geoff Keighley along with The Rise of Skywalker director, JJ Abrams.

About to reveal the clip.

Next came the interactive quizzes predicting what we were about to see.

This was fun as it determined the color of your lightsaber… purple of course for Mace Windu!

Finally, an actual clip from The Rise of Skywalker IN-GAME!

Rey, Fin, and Poe ready for action #JediMindTrick

The event ended with lightsabers and blaster rifles now being available to all players in the game.

Love the introduction of lightsabers into the game.

This was an absolutely brilliant move by Star Wars to create buzz and awareness pre-film. Previously, in February 2019, EDM superstar Marshmello performed an in-game concert for ten million concurrent users. This dwarfs what’s possible from a reach perspective for live events and opened the door for others such as Star Wars to build upon the success of that in-game event.

Marshmello EDM goodness.

Expect more opportunities for brands to connect directly with a highly coveted audience beyond only sponsoring an esports event. This event included creating value for the players by providing free in-game content to enhance the experience, as well as access to unique content that can only be seen through the Fortnite experience.

I am gliding into the map courtesy of my TIE whisper glider.

Fortnite and other games are looking to redefine awareness and engagement, and those looking to capitalize should start looking to those in the know such as gaming/marketing agency TripleClix. Chris Erb, founder of TripleClix, and I discuss how to create marketing value via gaming during Episode 1 of the TripleClix podcast.

The man, the myth, the legend… Chris Erb, founder of TripleClix.

Follow Tom @BlackFin360 at YouTube, Twitter, and Instagram

Follow TripleClix @TripleClix

Path To Purchase Expo 2019 Keynote

I had the opportunity to provide a keynote on tech innovation for the 2019 Path to Purchase Expo in Chicago yesterday. It was a great crowd, high energy, and with a 30-minute timeslot, we had to cover a lot of ground! 

The focus of the talk was discussing the coming waves of technology and how that will impact consumer behavior along the path to purchase. This is the latest version of the InnovationToReality talk series covering all facets of consumer behavior and emerging technology.

We discussed how Star Wars, Fortnite, Pixar Movies, & The Matrix highlight how emerging technology and consumer behavior will shift in the near future. We also discussed:

  • the role of esports
  • the camera as a bridge to intelligence
  • the role of virtual assistants and commerce
  • the rise of the proxy web
  • the 5 levels of autonomy
  • how the new 4P’s will enhance future strategy
  • the role and importance of 5G in the transition towards ubiquitous simulation.

Here is a link to the final presentation. Book Tom for your event today

Follow Tom @BlackFin360 on InstagramTwitterYouTube & connect via Linkedin.

DFWIMA Headliner Keynote

I recently had the opportunity to provide the opening keynote for the Dallas Fort Worth Interactive Marketing Association discussing trends tied to evolving consumer experiences. This is the latest version of the InnovationToReality talk series covering all facets of consumer behavior and emerging technology.

It was a fun and highly interactive keynote session! We discussed how Star Wars, Fortnite, Pixar Movies, & The Matrix highlight how emerging technology and consumer behavior will shift in the near future. We talked about how the 5 levels of autonomy and the new 4P’s will impact industry 4.0. Finally, the role and importance of 5G in the transition towards ubiquitous simulation.

Here is a link to the final presentation. Book Tom for your event today

Follow Tom @BlackFin360 on Instagram, Twitter, YouTube & connect via Linkedin.

Headliner Keynote – Industry 4.0

I recently had the opportunity to provide the opening keynote for the University of Alabama EMBA Alumni Network Summit discussing trends tied to Industry 4.0. This is the latest version of the InnovationToReality talk series covering all facets of consumer behavior and emerging technology.

It was a fun and highly interactive keynote session! We discussed how Star Wars, Fortnite, Pixar Movies, & The Matrix highlight how emerging technology and consumer behavior will shift in the near future. We talked about how the 5 levels of autonomy and the new 4P’s will impact industry 4.0. Finally the role and importance of 5G in the transition towards ubiquitous simulation.

Here is a link to download the full presentation.

Follow Tom @BlackFin360 on YouTube, Twitter, or Instagram

2019 Tech Titans Technology Advocate Award

Last night my wife and I attended the 2019 Tech Titans Awards Gala. I was a finalist for the Technology Advocate award. This award recognizes a technology advocate/champion for their outstanding leadership in assisting, advancing or accelerating the performance of technology companies and/or the technology community.

It was a really fun night. The Tech Titans awards are like the Oscars for the Dallas technology community. After settling into a delicious dinner and some fun commentary from the Gala committee it was time for the awards presentations to start.

When my category was up for the next presentation the head of North American Customer Marketing & Communications for Nokia, Marianne Strobel did a great job setting up the category and announcing the winner…

After the initial shock of the win, it was time for photos, a great conversation with Marianne of Nokia about their 5G work and more innovations on the way, networking with sponsors and attendees and fun times with my wife Cherlyn from chomping M&M’s pre-event to celebrating post-event Texas-style with Whataburger.

Thank you to the Tech Titans organization, sponsors, judges, thank you to Marianne Strobel for the warm welcome from Nokia, the Dallas Business Journal for their coverage and support of the event and finally to the other deserving finalists.

Follow Tom Edwards @BlackFin360 via YouTube, Instagram, Twitter

Print Innovation Exchange Headliner Keynote

I recently had the opportunity to headline the 2019 Print Innovation Exchange in Minneapolis, MN. It was a fun and highly interactive keynote session! We discussed how Star Wars, Fortnite, Pixar Movies & The Matrix highlight how emerging technology & and behavior will shift in the near future and how the 5 levels of autonomy and the new 4P’s will impact the print industry. 

The full Evolution of Experience Keynote is available below.

Thank you and please follow @BlackFin360 across social platforms for various updates and a little bit of fun.

FB Messenger & Evolving CRM Strategy

I recently attended Facebook’s F8 developer conference. One of the more compelling sessions discussed Facebook Messenger’s role in lead generation, consideration, and re-engagement.

This video is my assessment and analysis of the content presented and additional perspective for marketers looking to capitalize on Facebook Messenger’s shift towards the center of the Facebook product suite. These changes will result in the ability to reach potentially 2 Billion users across platforms and the globe.

Facebook Messenger & Evolving CRM Strategy

Follow Tom Edwards @BlackFin360

In The News: AdExchanger & F8

I was recently asked by Ad Exchanger to provide my thoughts tied to announcements made at Facebook’s 2019 F8 developer conference. Here is a link to the published Ad Exchanger article.

My full commentary is outlined below:

(Ad Exchanger) Does this “privacy vision” feel sincere or is Facebook cleverly positioning its shift?

(TOM) I feel the shift from Facebook to “the Future is Private” was necessary as the shift reflects how consumers have been interacting since 2016 when social messaging surpassed open social in terms of usage behavior. 

The company went through a similar shift in 2014 with the myopic focus on becoming “Mobile First” with 100% focus and resource allocation supporting the vision. I see the same focus here with privacy. It makes sense that this was the macro theme for F8 and a rallying cry to adjust the product suites. The focus on interoperability and encryption as well as shifting messenger to be the new connection point for friends and families is a smart move. 

Separately, how much of an impact will the privacy vision have on how Facebook will be able to monetize?

How this impacts advertising will be interesting. While the focus on reduced permanence and the statements around privacy and encryption are good tent pole statements, item #6 in the privacy manifesto was Secure Data Storage. There will also be the consolation around Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp to create a new advertising network connected to 2 billion people. How data will be used to support the targeting is TBD but the infrastructure to create new avenues of reach and the new consumer acquisition ad units that drive to Messenger will be a key part of their strategy putting the onus on the consumer to share data, as outlined by the new consumer acquisition ad types for Messenger. 

And lastly, how will marketers need to change their Facebook strategy as engagement moves invariably away from the feed and more into Stories, messaging, etc.

(TOM) As marketers it’s important to understand the shift away from content marketing and focus on enabling creativity, utility and entertainment through Messenger and Instagram. Leaning into the ability to co-view video, utility through integration of various API’s, understanding the new payment and commerce capabilities and supporting the creation of AR experiences. Also understanding how to navigate the shift with FB5 towards groups and the role that marketers can play to create new types of connections. 

There is a lot to unpack and as Facebook continues to shift towards fast, reliable and private experiences, it will be interesting to see how the platforms actually evolve and where new opportunities to drive monetization will come from. 

Follow Tom Edwards @BlackFin360

Facebook F8 Recap & Reaction

A quick reaction & recap video with highlights from today’s Facebook F8 event. The macro theme was the future is private and it was all about Facebook’s approach to privacy and it’s product suite.

Messenger is going to play a starring role, advances with Instagram and commerce, further maturing of Facebook’s AR toolset, new and exciting VR announcements, a preview of how CRM will evolve via Messenger and what was missing from today’s show. This and more in today’s video.

Full recap & analysis of Facebook’s F8 Developer Conference

Follow Tom @BlackFin360

In The News: AdExchanger & Apple Live

I was recently asked for my thoughts about a number of the recent Apple Event announcements. From Apple’s original content strategy, monetization, advertising and more. Here is the published article.

Here was my full commentary on the topic:

(Ad Exchanger) Is what Apple planning a Netflix killer?

(TOM) Apple wants to be the Sherpa and curator of content. Their new recommendation engine is more about aggregation across subscriptions vs. being a content killer. I found it interesting that they are still maintaining partnerships with big cable providers while still differentiating through per channel subscriptions. This isn’t a Netflix killer, but Apple understands that moving forward individuals want control over their experiences and multiple subscriptions will exist. They want to be the “Google Search” of entertainment. This keeps their hardware and services sticky throughout.

With Apple TV+ original content, Apple is focusing on creating programming that will create affinity within their services as well. I would not call this a Netflix killer, but it’s a first step to not only control the navigation of content, but also become a destination as well. 

What makes sense in your view for Apple from a monetization standpoint for its original content and its foray into TV?

(TOM) What came through loud and clear from today’s event is Apple’s focus on allowing the consumer to ultimately control their entertainment options. By providing bite-sized subscription services across their ecosystem they gain a consistent stream of revenue that is scalable and minimizes risk of hardware cycles.

It’s yet to be determined how much revenue Apple TV+ will drive in terms of new subscriptions, but with the amount of talent that was showcased, including Oprah, Steven Spielberg, Jennifer Aniston and so many more providers, it just takes a few shows to catch on to drive monetization of original content.

What are your thoughts about how Apple will deal with advertisers/advertising, what a rev share might be if ads are one of the monetization options?

(TOM) I have not heard anything yet about how Apple will deal with advertisers/advertising. One recurring theme was re-emphasizing on device data processing and less information being available to 3rd parties. Apple may be less inclined to leverage an advertising-based model as they dive into recurring revenue with subscriptions. 

This doesn’t mean the end of advertisers with Apple. As with any program, driving awareness will need to occur outside of the Apple TV+ ecosystem. This is through content, traditional & performance-based advertising. Advertisers will need to focus on other affinity-based channels to connect audiences with programming.

Follow Tom Edwards @BlackFin360

Apple Live Event Recap & Reaction

Today’s event was all about Apple’s focus on new services. Normally these events discuss Hardware & Software, but today was all about new forms of subscriptions that allow consumers more control while showcasing Apple’s strategy to not only provide access /navigation/curation of entertainment but also serve as an end destination with new original content for gaming & entertainment.

Apple also provided a shock to the financial services system with the launch of Apple Card. With an interface and features yet to be seen by traditional banks, Apple is making a bold move towards controlling multiple facets of the consumer journey, all without advertising and an emphasis on privacy.

Here is the full recap:

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Tom Edwards Funko Pop Adventures

Recently, my wife had a fun idea to get a custom Funko Pop to take with me on my travels and use that to chronicle events, speaking engagements, and trade shows. These adventures will be logged here on the blog via the #Tompop page as well as Instagram be sure to follow/subscribe to see all the fun.

Special thanks to All Star Custom Figures

ZDNet Interview: 2019 Trends

I recently had the opportunity to be a guest on the Tonya Hall show. Tonya is a contributor to CBS Interactive properties such as ZDNet and Tech Republic.

Our discussion touches upon a number of currently trending topics such as artificial intelligence, spatial computing, voice assistants, proxy marketing, digital twin, 8K and much more.

Here is the full interview.

Full Interview at: https://www.zdnet.com/video/10-macro-trends-from-ces-2019/

2019 OnCon Icon Awards Interview

Recently, I was awarded the 2019 OnCon Icon Marketing Trailblazer & Marketing Contributor awards. Post-event, I was interviewed by the OnCon team and we discussed a number of topics such as what it meant to win the awards, what put the nominations over the top and recommendations for 2020.

The full interview can be read via OnCon

Below is a repost of the interview questions.

What does it mean to you to be voted on as the winner by such an esteemed jury of your peers?

It was an honor just to be nominated. To know that such an esteemed jury of my peers gravitated towards me as a candidate is incredibly humbling. I have an immense amount of respect for the members of the jury and the other nominees across categories. I am grateful that the jury felt my contributions to the industry were worthy of recognition. Thanks again to the jury!

You had some very tough competition in each of the categories. How does it feel to be recognized over such an amazing group of your peers for the two wins?

With a field of 9 incredibly talented nominees, the trailblazer category was highly competitive! Each nominee represented great credentials and accomplishments and each individual brought a unique perspective and examples for how they are driving innovation and creativity. To hear my name called was surprising, exhilarating, and satisfying at the same time.  

What do you feel put your nomination over the top?

I would assume that my passion for creating content and speaking regularly as a marketing technology futurist for the industry over the past 11 years at Blackfin360.com combined with a near obsession for the intersection of consumer behavior and emerging technology were factors in the marketing contributor award.

For marketing trailblazer, having a natural predisposition towards aligning trends, use cases and emerging technology into solutions that drive clients business were key contributors. From publishing yearly trends, covering key events, mapping trends for clients, developing products and solutions, speaking regularly at industry events and applying the latest technology in new and compelling ways was hopefully impactful for the jury.  

Would you recommend your peers to apply for nomination, and why?

I would highly recommend that anyone in the marketing space recommend their peers for an OnCon Icon honor. Many awards today are tied to organizations and marketing campaigns. The OnCon Icon Awards provides the opportunity to recognize organizations and individuals for their contributions to the industry and have their peers recognize individual contributions in addition to company recognition. It’s a great mix and I was incredibly excited for both my organization and for the opportunity to pick up individual awards as well. Apply for, or be reminded to apply for the 2020 Awards here. 

How would you describe the awards evening?

The event was held at the Gaylord Palms in Orlando, Florida. The venue in and of itself was impressive and a great location for an awards event. From the pre-event mixer to the red carpet with my wife, the energy continued to build as we prepared to settle in for the awards presentations.

I was immediately impressed by the brands represented and how senior the individuals were. This added to the friendly competitive atmosphere as there was a mutual respect but also a strong desire to win.

When it came time for the awards the pace of the evening was well kept and when my name was called it was a quick jaunt to the stage with a live band playing intro music. Having an opportunity to thank my wife, the jury, the other nominees and my team made the win more meaningful. I appreciated the opportunity to thank those who have made such an impact on my career over the years and are incredibly supportive.

It’s been a few days since the event, any final thoughts?

I am very grateful to have been a part of the 2019 Oncon Icon awards and would highly recommend nominating your peers for potential recognition in 2020. I am also very thankful for the support of my wife of 20 years, my agency creative tech & innovation teams (Ian, Steve, Wes, Jeremy), and the rest of the organization. Thanks again to the jury and to Sean Tomarelli for putting on such a great and memorable show. See you in 2020!

Follow Tom Edwards @BlackFin360

Innova-con Keynote

I recently had the opportunity to deliver the opening keynote at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington, DC during the Innova-con conference.

I provided a tour of tomorrow and highlighted the coming waves of technology based on consumer behavior. The talk discussed disruption and adaptation with concepts, implications, and success strategies based on my Innovation to Reality content series.

Book Tom for an event here.

Follow Tom @BlackFin360

Carnegie Dartlet Keynote

What a great week! From the OnCon Icon Awards to delivering a keynote during the 2019 Carnegie Dartlet Conference, it was a great week in Orlando!

What was great about #CarnegieConf, besides the fact that it was hosted at Walt Disney World, was the amazing audience of higher education professionals. They were highly engaged both during the talk and via social.

The talk centered around how technology will adapt to us vs. us adapting to it. From the role the camera will play as a bridge to intelligence, why the Pixar Theory explains AI adoption, and how spatial computing combined with virtual assistant proxies will change our view of reality.

Time to leave Disney but can’t wait to be back!

Book Tom for an event here.

Follow Tom @BlackFin360

2019 Oncon Icon Awards

I was recently nominated for multiple awards by OnCon for their 2019 OnCon Icon awards. Marketing Trailblazer, Contributor, and Icon.

As the event unfolded last night I was incredibly grateful to have my wife Cherlyn by my side. As the awards were being announced I was honored to be included with the many other nominees who have made such impactful contributions.

At the end of the night, I was awarded 2 awards and couldn’t be happier or more thankful for my team who helped me achieve this recognition. I love sharing information about the intersection of emerging technology and consumer behavior. Seeing people use this information to grow their businesses is very fulfilling.

Marketing Trailblazer (9 nominees) exhibits innovation, pioneering, and successful creativity.

Marketing Contributor (3 nominees) value to the industry for sharing thought leadership.

Here is a post-ceremony interview with the OnCon team.

Thanks again to OnCon and of course my wife of almost 20 years, Cherlyn for all of the support.

Follow Tom @BlackFin360

BeTheTalk Podcast Interview

I recently had the privilege of joining Nathan Eckel as a guest on his BeTheTalk podcast series.

We talked about the near future, artificial intelligence, spatial computing and my preparation approach for TEDx. 

You can hear all of episode 320 BeTheTalk podcast interview here: 

Time Stamped Show Notes
[01:08] – Behind Tom’s talk called “The Evolution of Experience”.

[02:29] – Empower, Exponential and Enhanced.

[07:26] – Some of the things that Tom and his team is doing to help major corporations.

[09:28] – Tom explained different types of Artificial Intelligence.

[11:27] – The Blitz Round with Tom Edwards.

[16:10] – Tom Edwards’ final word of advice.

Additional Detail On My Preparation for my TEDx talk.

Facebook Live Recording of the Evolution of Experience BeTheTalk Podcast.

BeTheTalk is a 7 day a week podcast where Nathan Eckel chats with talkers from TEDx & branded events. Tips tools and techniques that can help you give the talk to change the world at BeTheTalk.com !

Tom Edwards TEDx – Evolution of Experience

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Full Speaker Bio https://blackfin360.com/speaking-engagements/ 

Turning AI into ROI Keynote

I recently had the privilege to deliver a keynote to the Discover card Pulse network advisory team covering the topic of converting AI into ROI.

For this event, I tailored the Evolution of Experience, E^3 talk tied to Empower, Exponential and Enhanced with a detailed look at multiple facets of artificial intelligence including how the Pixar Theory, all movies are on the same timeline, foreshadows the path for how consumers will adopt AI fueled technology.

Next, we reviewed AI’s potential impact on business results and consumer behavior. The talk also covered the rapid convergence of multimodal technology experiences and the role AI will play in shifting behavior towards the intelligent camera via computer vision and virtual assistants.

The talk ended with a deep dive into the new AI driven 4 P’s of AI marketing and key points to consider to start to prepare for integration of AI into all facets of business.

For more on this topic I recently joined the AI Today Podcast and discussed a number of these topics and more.

AI TODAY PODCAST – Episode 50 – Enhancing Experiences with AI Interview

0:48 – Introduction
1:33 – Recap of Keynote topic at Amazon Alexa Voice Summit
2:53 – Discuss why we are in the “golden age of AI”
4:20 – Discuss The Pixar Theory and Artificial Intelligence
7:00 – Why predictive experiences are key for mass adoption of AI
9:00 – Discuss Gen Z & expectations of experiences
9:37 – How Epsilon Agency is using artificial intelligence
13:25 – What is the future of artificial intelligence?

Follow Tom @BlackFin360 or subscribe via YouTube

United Airlines & Executive Perspective Interview

I recently had the pleasure of sitting down with Jeffrey Hayzlett of C-Suite TV to kick off season 7 of Executive Perspectives. We discussed digital disruption, conversational experiences, artificial intelligence and best practices for leveraging data to connect with consumers.

screenshot-2016-12-15-13-34-43

Now, I have heard from multiple sources that the interview is available On-demand on domestic and international United Airlines flights.

Here is a transcript of the full interview.

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Path To Purchase Expo Keynote

I recently had the privilege to deliver the Evolution of Experience keynote during the Path To Purchase Expo.

For this event, I tailored the Evolution of Experience, E^3 talk tied to  EmpowerExponential and Enhanced to focus on the camera as a platform, artificial intelligence, multi-modal, and the New 4 P’s of AI marketing and how the convergence of all of these will impact the path to purchase.

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Stepping Into The Void

I first heard of the VOID three years ago and I was hooked when I watched the following YouTube video. Since then I have wanted to become fully immersed in the VOID and thought many times about making the trip to Utah where the first VOID facility was constructed.

Today, I didn’t have to travel to Utah. The VOID is now right here in Texas. I immediately bought tickets for a big crew and we descended south to Plano, Texas where the VOID is now embedded in a Cinemark theater, next to Cinemark HQ.

The Void is virtual reality overlaid onto physical environments. I have to say it is the most immersive simulated experience I have been a part of to date. This experience also happened to be Star Wars themed, so it combined two of my favorite things, emerging tech + Star Wars.

With location based elements, virtual reality, physical haptic equipment and environmental elements (feeling heat) combined it was an amazing mix of tactical and visual elements that created a truly immersive experience.

I have tried many forms of VR over the years at CES, SXSW, Facebook F8, Mobile World Congress and more. From headsets, motion simulators and more and nothing has compared to the VOID experience.

As you enter the experience there is a backpack full of a haptics and rumble packs as well as an onboard computer. The headset is a mix of Oculus Rift combined with a Leap Motion module. For this experience we were also able to pick up rifles partway through and then were inside a first person shooter. This included haptic feedback and a lot of friendly fire!

The best part was the social aspect of the experience. My fireteam was right there with me with visual and full audio. I had the opportunity to go through with my boys and I have to say that the real time augmented overlay and motion sensors to 1/10th of a degree and this was the best part of the experience.

When I looked at my boys they looked like Stormtroopers, except my 10 year old was a very short Stormtrooper. If you have an opportunity to visit the VOID experience I would highly recommend it.

One final element I enjoyed was the post event follow up. The message stayed with the theme of the event and also included stats such as accuracy and the number of Stormtroopers taken down.

Overall, the combination of real world physical elements plus incredibly immersive VR set a new bar for immersive digital experiences via the VOID.

Book your VOID experience at Cinemark.com/TheVOID

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AI Today Podcast Interview

AI and cognitive technologies are enhancing many different industries and providing significant ROI for early adopters. However, AI is also providing benefit in improving our various experiences in life. In this podcast, Cognilytica analysts Kathleen Walch and Ronald Schmelzer interview Tom Edwards, Chief Digital & Innovation Officer at Epsilon Agency, who shares insights into how AI is impacting marketing, customer experience, and more. He also shares how the “Pixar Theory” fits into the general vision of technology adoption and how, as a culture, we’ve come to accept AI in our daily lives.

Topics Discussed:

0:48 – Introduction
1:33 – Recap of Keynote topic at Amazon Alexa Voice Summit
2:53 – Discuss why we are in the “golden age of AI”
4:20 – Discuss The Pixar Theory and Artificial Intelligence
7:00 – Why predictive experiences are key for mass adoption of AI
9:00 – Discuss Gen Z & expectations of experiences
9:37 – How Epsilon Agency is using artificial intelligence
13:25 – What is the future of artificial intelligence?

Follow Tom Edwards @BlackFin360

 

 

Evanta CMO Summit Keynote

I recently had the privilege to deliver the Evolution of Experience keynote at the 2018 Evanta CMO Summit in Dallas, Texas.

For this event, I tailored the Evolution of Experience, E^3 talk tied to  EmpowerExponential and Enhanced to focus on the camera as a platform, artificial intelligence, multi-modal, the New 4 P’s of AI marketing and new themes introduced by the Apple WWDC 2018 that happened earlier in the day.

MarTech Conference Tom Edwards Keynote

I recently had the privilege to deliver the Evolution of Experience keynote at MarTech West 2018.

For this event, I tailored the Evolution of Experience, E^3 talk tied to  EmpowerExponential and Enhance to focus on Gen Z & Computer Vision, The evolution of the camera from capture to communication and much more.

Empower is looking at how accessibility to mobile technology has led to consumers being empowered to create, amplify and influence across generations.

Exponential is all about acceleration through intelligent systems. This looks at the rise of virtual assistants and the ability to predict consumer needs and ultimately become a proxy for the individual that will split decision journeys between consumers and algorithms.

Enhanced is all about the bridging of physical and digital and how immersive computing, AR, VR, computer vision will make the user’s camera intelligent and forever our version of reality.

The talk ends with an explanation of how we will evolve from a mobile-centric world to the new normal of voice, vision and touch experiences powered by AI including a date when it will all converge.

It was a good crowd and I really enjoyed the 45 minute session + Q&A.

If you are interested in having Tom speak at your event please contact here.

Tom Edwards Speaker Bio

Follow Tom @BlackFin360

REX Executive Roundtables IHRSA Keynote

I recently had the privilege to deliver the Evolution of Experience keynote for the REX Executive Roundtable group at the San Diego Zoo. This was a lead-up event to recent IHRSA 2018 conference.

For this event, I tailored the Evolution of Experience, E^3 talk tied to  EmpowerExponential and Enhance to bring examples relevant for the evolution of experience in the fitness industry.

Here is the full 45-minute keynote.

Empower is looking at how accessibility to mobile technology has led to consumers being empowered to create, amplify and influence across generations.

Exponential is all about acceleration through intelligent systems. This looks at the rise of virtual assistants and the ability to predict consumer needs and ultimately become a proxy for the individual that will forever alter the path to purchase.

Enhanced is all about the bridging of physical and digital and how immersive computing, AR, VR, computer vision will make the user’s camera intelligent and forever changing the retail experience.

The talk ends with an explanation of how we will evolve from a mobile-centric world to the new normal of voice, vision and touch experiences powered by AI including a date when it will all converge.

It was a great crowd and I really enjoyed the hour with such a highly engaged and interactive group.

If you are interested in having Tom speak at your event please contact here.

Tom Edwards Speaker Bio

Follow Tom @BlackFin360

Dr. Pepper Media Masters Keynote

I had the privilege of presenting to the Dr. Pepper Snapple Group marketing organization today via a Keynote format on the topics of data & the evolution of experience during their Media Masters event.

The first half of the hour-long talk explored how Epsilon Agency approaches data and data design. Highlighting our work with structured data, our view on the alignment of actioning of data through mapping attributes to dimensions and then highlighting multiple case studies tied to our unstructured data work and machine learning approach.


Then the presentation shifted into the full Evolution of Experience, E^3 talk tied to  EmpowerExponential and Enhance and discussed how we will evolve from us inputting into technology, to our environment adapting to us.

Dr. Pepper Media Masters

Empower is looking at how accessibility to mobile technology has led to consumers being empowered to create, amplify and influence across generations.

Exponential is all about acceleration through intelligent systems. This looks at the rise of virtual assistants and the ability to predict consumer needs and ultimately become a proxy for the individual that will forever alter the path to purchase.

Enhanced is all about the bridging of physical and digital and how immersive computing, AR, VR, computer vision will make the user’s camera intelligent and forever changing the retail experience.

The talk ends with an explanation of how we will evolve from a mobile-centric world to the new normal of voice, vision and touch experiences powered by AI including a date when it will all converge.

It was a great crowd and I really enjoyed the hour with such a highly engaged and interactive group.

If you are interested in having Tom speak at your event please contact here.

Tom Edwards Speaker Bio

Follow Tom @BlackFin360

Viva Fresh Expo Tom Edwards Keynote

I recently had the opportunity to deliver a version of the Evolution of Experience talk as a keynote during the Viva Fresh Expo in San Antonio, Texas.

The first half of the talk explored the rise of Amazon and it impacts on consumer behavior and retail experiences. Then the presentation shifted into the full Evolution of Experience through the E^3 Framework of  Empower, Exponential and Enhance and discussed how we will evolve from us inputting into technology, to our environment adapting to us.

VivaFresh Expo

Empower is looking at how accessibility to mobile technology has led to consumers being empowered to create, amplify and influence across generations.

Exponential is all about acceleration through intelligent systems. This looks at the rise of virtual assistants and the ability to predict consumer needs and ultimately become a proxy of the individual that will forever alter the path to purchase.

Enhanced is all about the bridging of physical and digital and how immersive computing, AR, VR, computer vision will make the user’s camera intelligent and forever changing the retail experience.

The talk ends with an explanation of how we will evolve from a mobile-centric world to the new normal of voice, vision and touch experiences powered by AI including a date when it will all converge.

It was a great crowd and I really enjoyed the hour with such a highly engaged and interactive group.

If you are interested in having Tom speak at your event please contact here.

Tom Edwards Speaker Bio

Follow Tom @BlackFin360

The Innovation Playoffs

Over the past 18 years, the first three months of the year always seem to stand out in terms of analyzing the alignment of emerging technology and consumer behavior that impacts trend analysis for the remainder of the year.

2018 was no different. I often joke that the “playoffs” for emerging technology happens between January and March each year. We immediately kick off the new year with CES, the consumer electronics show. CES is all about the latest technology and covering multiple football fields of tech in addition to all of the sessions and announcements culminating in a trend recap and analysis.

February is all about infrastructure and the underlying technology that will power the next iteration of multi-modal computing (voice, vision & touch) through Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. The discussions here highlight key tech tied to the upcoming rise of 5G connectivity and edge computing that will connect our world like never before. Find out what these trends mean for your business.

March then caps the three-month sprint with SXSW. The first fifteen days of March 2018 were especially accelerated from discussing machine learning, blockchain and humanizing artificial intelligence with ZD Net to previewing SXSW with Ad Age and Adweek

Tom Edwards SXSW.jpg

South by Southwest Interactive focused on experiences that build on technology and infrastructure to provide the consumer perspective for how the technology will further adapt to us vs. us inputing into technology. I spoke about our approach to artificial intelligence actioning data during SXSW with John Dubois of Oculus 360. And you can watch our Epsilon Agency SXSW recap video here.

The final leg of the innovation sprint culminated in delivering a TEDx talk on March 17th. Tom Ewdards TEDx Professional photo3TEDx is about sharing “ideas worth spreading”. Since 2009, TEDx talks have garnered over a billion views. I had the opportunity to speak at TEDx Oaklawn in Dallas, Texas on the evolution of experience. I focused on when the mobile device will no longer be the primary way we interface with technology as we shift from desktop and mobile to incorporate voice, vision and touch powered by intelligent systems that will ultimately enhance our reality.

The full TEDx video will be available within the next few weeks.

I look forward to sharing more throughout the year. For more, follow me @BlackFin360

This is a repost from the Epsilon corporate blog

MarTechSeries Interview

I was recently interviewed by MarTechSeries in advance of my speaking engagement for MarTech West on April 24th in San Jose, California.

The full interview covers topics such as my role with Epsilon, advice for B2B marketers dealing with evolving technology, start-ups I am working with, how to prepare for the impact of AI, apps and tools I use, productivity hacks and much more.

Here are some excerpts from the full interview: 

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10 Reasons Westworld Won SXSW

Westworld’s SXSW 2018 activation was one of the most talked about and highly sought after experiences in recent memory. Many elements made this the best experiential experience to hit SXSW in my many years of attending.

Here are 10 reasons why the Westworld experience is one of the best-branded activations ever to hit SXSW.

1) Authenticity – The 2 acres dedicated to recreating Sweetwater was a sight to see. From the white doors of the Mesa Gold Station leading into Westworld to the carefully crafted buildings to the actors who never broke character. This level of authenticity and interaction was a key to why this execution more than any other I have been a part of was so compelling.



2) Exclusivity – The event was one of the toughest tickets at SXSW in 2018. Most of the times were reserved prior to the start of the conference.  The options to score a spot were either the incredibly long standby lines or hitting the lottery with Lyft… more on that later… The amount of social traffic I saw by those who didn’t get into the experience almost rivaled those that were highlighting their time in Sweetwater.



3) Analog in a World of Digital
– Walking onto the SXSW conference trade floor can be a jarring experience upon first entry. Your senses have to take a moment and adjust to the lights, the sea of VR headsets and every type of digital experience you can ask for. What made Westworld so compelling was the fact that it was the polar opposite.

The only technology was what you carried into the park. No Tesla charging stations here! Having a completely analog experience that heightened your natural senses was different than tricking your mind with ever-evolving synthetic realities.

4) Personalization – From choosing the black or white hat to the letter you receive at the post office to the final note you receive via e-mail and mobile, the experience was tailored to include personal elements at every turn. I even sent an IRL postcard from the Sweetwater post office.

5) Immersive within immersive  – In addition to the incredible sets and actors who memorized hundreds of pages of dialogue, it was the experience within the experience that really won the day. Whether it was trying to find additional clues, like a 3D Westworld maze map or a mysterious keyfob to unlocking a locked door with the season 2 premiere date as the code to a secret room in the already locked secret room.

The level of detail spent creating an immersive experience within an immersive experience was Inception level “dream within a dream” scenarios.

6) Secluded – The fact that the experience was 20 miles outside of Austin and in a very secluded location added to the experience. As you get closer and further outside of the city you were not quite sure what to expect and caused anticipation to build.

7) Partnership – How I got into WestWorld was through their partnership with Lyft. While we tweeted at Westworld via social, they responded with a cryptic response about Lyft having the code.

This promotional partnership with Lyft, who had 10 luxury vehicles that starting running special “winners” to the park between 2 and 10 pm, was a great way to drive usage for Lyft and rewarding those who looked for the code.

8) Socially Engaged – Our gateway into Westworld started with Twitter as I previously mentioned. The near-real-time engagement via the @WestworldHBO handle was very well done. Kudos to the Westworld social team as they nailed the tone and persona of the property that helped to cut through the noise of SXSW and focused our efforts towards engaging with the Westworld experience.

9) Limited Time Only – The activation only lasted a few days, which really amped up the conversation and desire to enter the experience. I had friends in Wilton, Connecticut asking if I was able to get into Westworld. Word of the activation spread well beyond the SXSW Interactive Austin crowd.

10) Post Event Follow-up – In addition to the personalized content during the experience, this morning I received a final communication welcoming me “back to reality” with a personalized letter that was optimized for sharing via social. The best aspect was my letter was different than my two co-workers.

I have been asked many times, what does it take for a brand to breakthrough at SXSW? I would say a combination of the 10 factors outlined above is a good starting point, but rarely have I come across an activation that went a perfect 10 for 10. That was #SXSWestworld

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SXSW 2018 Artificial Intelligence Event

During SXSW 2018 I had the opportunity to discuss “How Artificial Intelligence is Transforming Marketing“.

The session was in partnership with Oculus360 & their CEO, John Dubois. John and I discussed our collaborations with machine learning applied to various categories, including eSports and how to align unstructured & structured data.

SXSW 2018

Here is a recorded webinar that we recorded February 28th, 2018 that we reprised during SXSW.

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SXSW 2018 Sony Wow Studio

Over the past few years, one of the most consistent brands across trade shows (CES, MWC, SXSW) has been Sony.

I have been impressed with their strategy to evolve experience interfaces beyond mobile through voice, vision and touch.

At SXSW 2018, Sony’s experience is a showcase of multi-modal interfaces. From interactive projectors, AR & VR experiences, Robotic assistant Xperia Hello!, CES 2018 Star Aibo, and one of the weirdest yet immersive experiences I have been a part of at SXSW.

The Wow Studio is a preview of what’s to come as our environment becomes more of an interface and technology begins to adapt to us vs. us adapting to the technology.

I have experienced the Xperia Hello! At previous shows. The Xperia Hello! Is Sony’s version of a robotic assistant. Think of an echo style form factor with a 4.55 inch screen. The robot assistant responds to voice, gesture and facial expressions and one of the primary use cases I personally tried was tied to Skype and F2F communication.

One of the most unique experiences was the Sonic Surf VR experience. This was a fully immersive experience that did not require a headset. This is a new technology that will allow creators to make sound appear to move on its own. See below for a sample of the experience.

Audio as an extension of Enhanced Reality (AI + AR/VR/MR) is one of the key themes I have observed so far.

One of the final experiences was upon exit of the Wow Studio. This section featured a digital message/graffiti wall. The unique aspect is that the experience was driven by an interactive projector light based interface to create the experience.

Here is the evolving digital artwork.

Sony continues to provide a preview for how consumer centric experiences will continue to evolve. From AI & Robotics to gesture and touch based interfaces to the rise of enhanced audio in support of spatial experiences tying physical and digital together. Sony delivered on the promise of the “Wow Studio”.

On to the next experience…. Westworld

Follow Tom Edwards @BlackFin360