IDEAS: OLIVER YOUNGE // by Justin Tompkins
Storytelling is the oldest form of teaching. The art of telling a tale is as beautiful as it is dangerous. We define ourselves by our words and actions. A positive reaction is a general goal of sharing but we don’t always follow the curve.
Oliver often brushed fear on the words he wrote. Mattifying the gleam of positivity from the porcelain language we communicate by.
War is fueled by the chaos of collection. Trapping and teaching discipline, doctrine and norms to those that don’t already conform. Such a disease conformity is – sadly so.
Nature shares the same building blocks but not one creation is the same as the next. Why should people be any different? Fear doesn’t support the idea of balance. Power of control is sought after by the fearful. To universally be strung by one hand of control is the easiest way to sweep fear under the rug.
This is a narrowly optimistic short story based on a fictional character that explains my reasoning for entering the world of advertising and design.
THE YEAR WAS 2035, and everybody was finally connected. They weren’t restricted by location or finances. A global network was achieved and the rewards were bountiful. They were connected every which way. Nobody was isolated unless by choice. Nobody was better connected than anybody else at minimum. Nobody would be excluded from public content based on bandwidth limitations. All of this connection was due to the united telecommunication efforts between the major players around the world.
Some things about being overwhelmingly connected weren’t quite right, though. Privacy for instance, still drove people crazy by not often being offered as an option. And it was with this that private networks were being made.
It was polarizing, all right, but Oliver and Eliza couldn’t think of a reason why they shouldn’t be built. Eliza had an engineering background, which she cherished as being the reason she met Oliver. And Oliver, while his was in advertising, had found his way into experiential design. He was offered a job by Apple. It turned out not to be right for him, even though as a child he dreamed of working under the name Steve Jobs had built. He was still inspired by Steve Jobs and in fact, always kept Steve’s autobiography in his office. It turned into a way of life. Every two months or so, the book would be picked up and the pages would turn as a simple reminder of what’s possible.
“The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.” — Steve Jobs.
The first time Oliver picked up the book, he felt a unique connection – unknown but present. In fact, in one single night, he started the book, finished the book and prepared a presentation for a class during his freshman year of college. This night surprised him in many ways. For one, this enlightened him with what he’s capable of. Also, that there’s some form of focus or energy that can guide us. People may call this intuition, a calling, fate – who knows?
Oliver sought the feeling again. This capacity. This ability. It took him many years before he was reunited with the feeling but this time he kept it with him.
The way Jobs approached design and life led to explain how the two are interconnected. There is no separation between the two. At the heart of how we live, design is a root to how we’re raised. How we learn, teach, share, create and carve a footprint into the world – whether noticed or not.
The experiences that imprinted Jobs were shared with Oliver. He too was adopted, raised around cars, motorcycles, was taught mechanics and learned how to take care of things himself.
At the age of 10 he and his dad built a shed in their backyard. He was taught how to do framing, electrical, put up drywall, paint, and plenty more.
It took many years to understand just how impressive his dad’s ethic and way of approach was to work. His dad imprinted with him that it was important to do things right. Just because you can’t see it doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be done properly. Hard work should’t be complained about or looked down on.
His upbringing around hard work and hard play, helped dearly with self reflection later in life. Consequently, to remind him why he’s designing experiences.
Haptics & Sensory Deprivation
Oliver and Eliza were touring an installation they built. There were tears on Eliza’s cheeks, but not of sadness, rather from delight, the result from many years of hard work.
The installation projected ballerinas dancing gracefully along a corridor.
A haptic touch notified Oliver. His meeting was moved, now participatory in virtual.
“That was a beautiful decision we made for the dance,” said Eliza.
“Oh, Indeed,” said Oliver.
“We need to do more with dance. Perhaps create our Mars idea. The one having the symphony and dancers performing in zero gravity,” said Eliza.
“I’d love that. The timing is perfect,” said Oliver
He began to think about the violinist floating in space. Her name is Violet and she would be the star of the next experience he’d design with Eliza and team. They were no longer burdened by the lack of computing or man power, that once taxed creatives, especially those working towards something new. Oliver was toying with the vague notion that maybe the dancers shouldn’t be real people and instead be generated. He didn’t get very far with it before another haptic notification scattered his thoughts.
Eliza heard his sigh. Not having a wearable meant she was connected by either handhelds or ear-pods. She had to ask Oliver what his latest thoughts on haptics had been.
“Felt like somebody flicked me with their finger,” said Oliver. “They’re just supposed to be subtle taps but with constant use they’re becoming painful.”
“I’d think it would be real interesting, figuring out the optimal spots for haptic notifications,” said Eliza, a little excited. “Just thinking about all the possibilities makes me overwhelmed though.”
“So far we don’t have a certain point of contact on our body that is designated for external notification,” said Oliver. “Every company uses a different spot and our muscles randomly contract throughout the day. Plus we’re already being affected by increasing visuals, sounds and smells.”
“Creating another target for digital integration is a pain,” said Oliver. “I for one will let others think about it.”
Eliza had worked with virtual reality previously. She knew all too well the difficulty it was to create haptic interfaces that seamlessly integrated with both augmented and virtual reality. The new challenge she faced was figuring out how to create sensory deprivation. Meditation had become an important practice for her during the last few years. With all the new content that we had instant access to, due to the global network, the general populous had become inundated with too much daily data. In fact, due to this, the U.S. Government created a daily recommended intake of data. In response, meditation clinics were built all across the country and in some cases, amounted to the like of Starbucks.
If haptics was one side of this new field of technological innovation, sensory deprivation (SENDEP) became the other. In order to get the Mars idea off the ground, SENDEP would need to be designed to give people the ability to truly embrace virtual reality both at home and at experiential exhibitions.
As visual effects became almost indistinguishable from real-life, the ways they were presented had fallen behind the curve. When the feasibility of VR became an affordable common place, movie theaters had to evolve to prove valuable. Theater rooms became chambers and the seats became pods – sometimes globes. With this evolution, sensory feedback became overwhelmingly important. Expectations were pushed even further and competition was reestablished.
Oliver’s friend Julian entertained an idea around creating soundscapes. Unlike sound showers which they intensively experimented with and used before, a new method of delivering sound was needed. As experiential exhibitions became more common, they needed their work to continue standing out. One idea was to create true 360 sound that would act seamlessly throughout entire spaces.
Vibrations became an important factor as well. Surfaces that could be felt needed to project a sense of vibration to pair with visuals and sound. In a way, both flooring and walling needed to have characteristics like large speakers. Different frequencies would be used with pinpoint accuracy to provide feedback to people. Similar to haptics, but with distance and accuracy being the key factors.
With this thinking, Julian and Oliver came up with a new experience. One that created a new type of sensory exploration. They called it Mystery Box.
“The timing is perfect,” said Oliver. “I’m so thankful rooms can be made omnidirectional now.”
“This isn’t cheap,” said Julian, laughing.
“No doubt but it’s possible and we’ll be the first to showcase the potential,” said Oliver.
“Visitors will walk in the box not realizing how small it really is,” said Julian. “It’s like entering Narnia. They’ll walk into a digital world that will be primarily a soundscape. Like railroading in video games, there will be a focused point of light and sound that will draw the visitor in. The world presents itself like synesthesia. Colors garnish direction. Sound waves carrying information. It’s a big maze and you navigate via sound.”
“That’s mystery box,” said Oliver. “Our mystery in a box.”
One of the reasons Oliver started in advertising was to learn how the industry works from within. By doing so, he could gain insights that wouldn’t be possible to learn from the outside. Since there’s so many professions in the world, he needed to learn what exists, meet the right people, and get his hands on as many things as possible.
Oliver stressed that there’s an important responsibility to guide technology in the right direction. When technology progresses, new use cases are created, possibilities are tested and unpredictable results present themselves. These technologies will need to be advertised for both businesses and consumers to invest in. How they’re used is largely determined by the public, not the inventors. So, with this, Oliver wanted to go through advertising to get close to decision makers in technology, engineering, commerce – everything really.
One particular field caught his eye – vision. The ways advertising is presented had changed drastically since the turn of the century. Print and TV turned into online, social media, and other alternative forms. The mediums people viewed content on kept changing. Often getting smaller, faster and more integrated with daily use. Eventually, a technology would come along that could greatly affect the way we live and which would also be influenced by advertising.
A particular worry of Olivers was how advertising would leak into the worlds of augmented reality and public mapping. These two worlds had extreme overlap. Similar to gasoline and electric transportation. As networks became faster and more reliable, everything publicly viewable could be interfaced or used to present information. This had a drastic influence on mental health with increasing addiction, anxiety and stress. To combat this, laws were placed to exclude certain areas from public mapping. New zonings were created and the definition of a park changed. Now anything that lacks connectivity could be zoned as a park – how surreal.
One big innovation that would become as important as artificial intelligence was the public introduction of a super material called Graphene. For the longest time, graphene was extremely difficult to work with and too expensive to use. Since then, graphene has become a highly available material that is changing the world. Everything people used began to be affected by graphene.
One in particular intrigued Oliver. Apple and others were racing towards a new form of digital interface. One that didn’t have to be charged, didn’t need cables, didn’t need anything, except for users eyes. It was possible to created contact lenses using graphene. With this, augmented reality could be packaged as a contact, merging the digital and physical world into one.
The current digital ID that everyone had could be even more personal. No other devices were necessary. People’s hands would be free again for the first time in a century. But with this, major problems were presented to Oliver.
The predicament that Oliver predicted. The one that led himself seeking advertising. The one he wanted to become prepared for. He was now in a better position to influence how this future would be shaped. He hoped his ideas would be pivotal enough to lead to a utopian future and not the inevitable – a colorfully bleak one on the backs of the dollar.
To be continued...