Digital Strategy

Insights from FITC Amsterdam 2017

Is it still possible to see the physical and digital world as seperate entities? To create a product or service for which you only look at the user experience on the digital front and leave the physical world out of the picture?

At GriDD, we do not think so. The integration of the digital and physical world can no longer be ignored when thinking about new products or improve existing products or services. We saw this at the tenth edition of FITC Amsterdam 2017.

FITC Amsterdam brings innovative, technical and creative people together to inspire one another. A total of 39 speakers held inspiring talks, sharing thoughts, ideas and examples of cool work they did. The impressive venue added to the experience and the audience was left with great insights and impressive immersive experiences. Like the FITC organisation puts it: it is an event for ‘anyone who likes cool stuff’’!

Our agency GriDD was a patron to the event, which meant Inge, Koen, Mark and Jeroen attended and captured observations and insights in sketchnotes of the talks. A sketchnote is a visual summary in which in one overview the content of (in this case) a talk is drawn. In this blog post we share key insights and inspirations from FITC with you.

Integrate physical and digital worlds for the best user experience.

One of the key insights of this year’s conference, is that a shift is occurring in which both large agencies and individual artists and engineers move from a single expertise to the integration of both the physical and the digital worlds. Agencies no longer focus on merely the digital world.

Using the physical world in addition to the digital, the creation of a continuous and integrated user experience can be realized. New and existing technologies, such as Projection Mapping, Virtual Reality and Mixed Reality, merge to create a 100% focused experience. These technologies make it possible for the digital and physical to blend together, so all your senses are optimally utilized to achieve a unique experience. At GriDD we have indicated this shift for a while, so it was extremely cool to finally see it happen!

Make real impact by creating an emotional connection with your customer.

An inspiring story came from North Kingdom. At FITC they showed a demonstration of their skills and combined it with a strong talk about how function design is no longer sufficient. In their work they experienced that an emotional connection is absolutely necessary to have true impact on the user. Using storytelling in UX, design and animation an emotional connection can be created. Technology is a carrier and can make us more human by letting others really experiencing our story. As designers we are the director of various disciplines, not just our own. To create a strong experience, multiple disciplines should merge.

With examples such as Magic Kingdom by Disney,  LEGO Star Wars and The Hobbit, North Kingdom gave us an idea of what they meant. They combined elements from differect sources such as film, audio and images of 3D computer models in these examples. By making interaction with this rich digital world possible, for instance with a smartphone or tablet, users are empowered to shape the story themselves. It is a way to submerge the user in the story and have him or her become part of the story instead of just a spectator. Details in the experience play a crucial role here. Sometimes a computer simulation is not realistic enough to feel like an authentic experience. Combining computeranimation with movie clips of real elements can offer a solution. This way you can connect to users’ emotions and create a memory on top of an experience.

Talk North Kingdom - FITC Amsterdam 2017 - by Koen Terra

Talk North Kingdom – FITC Amsterdam 2017 – by Koen Terra

Future technology is useful and invisible, so learn to design for tech without an inferface

In this year’s talks there was a clear focus on further integration of technology into our environment and lives. This integration will develop more strongly until technology becomes invisible and technology is no longer consciously used. With ‘invisible’ we mean the use of speech, motion and personal data sources to put something in motion for you, for instance walking into your home and the heating is already switched on. Lights turn on to your personal setting without you needing the express the need. Say ‘lights off’ towards the device and it reacts, say this turned away from the device and it will not react: the devices knows when you talk to it. With personal data sources we mean that third parties (such as Facebook or Google) know so much about you that they know what you need before you do.

Jared Ficklin showed us how many of our interactions will leave devices and even interfaces. Apart from seeing interfaces on our devices as we do now, we will be hearing and feeling interfaces. With his organisation Argodesign, he has thought of many innovating solutions and of course he showed us some examples.

Talk Jared Ficklin- FITC Amsterdam 2017 - Sketchnote by Inge Nahuis

Talk Jared Ficklin- FITC Amsterdam 2017 – by Inge Nahuis

Focus on the entire customer experience with integrated experience design

For the named changes to be successful, it is more important than ever to focus on the customer. David Vogel describes this as ‘experience design thinking’. In this design methodoly the entire ecosystem of the user is taken into account and it centers on genuine interested in the customer.

Cyrille Fauvel of Autodesk illustrated this in an impressive way by showing experiments in mixed reality using a Hololens. In the eyes of Cyrille, the integration of 3D environments is a great challenge in which Autodesk Forge plays an important role. Using the Hololens a robot arm was placed in the middle of the audience who were also able to operate it. This made the talk an interesting experience. 

Talk David Vogel - FITC Amsterdam 2017 - by Jeroen Grit

Talk David Vogel – FITC Amsterdam 2017 – by Jeroen Grit

Storyarchitecture is the key ingredient for powerful experiences, so give it significant thought and define a common language in your team

A number of talks confirmed the importance of crafting a good story before creating imagery. Gmunk discovered that having cool motion graphic simply was not enough to make a great music video (and it was cool that he was totally open about the negative reactions on Youtube). 

Talk Gmunk - FITC Amsterdam 2017 - by Mark Geljon

Talk Gmunk – FITC Amsterdam 2017 – by Mark Geljon

The complexity of making powerful stories in new technologies is immense, and at the moment there is no language available to bridge all the expertise areas needed for these new productions. Some of the talks discussed their solutions. For instance, Unit 9 is bringing in more local expertise and ensuring that the teams define their own glossary before projects start, so everyone know what which term means. It is simply necessary because so many different disciplines are involved in these new productions. 

Challenge yourself: do the things you like and do them often!

By doing things because you like them you will learn new thing or get better in those things you already knew or could do.  Even if there is no client involved, keep developing your skills and knowledge. Make prototypes, because to evolve an idea you will have to make it tangible and real. Create showcases from your prototypes and make sure they are visible to others, such as your current clients and potential new clients,  for showing your capabilities to the world might even generate new business (eventually). Keep challenging yourself because it will take you further. 

Although this was a theme throughout many talks, Stacey Mulcahy‘s talk was the best example. She is the program manager at Microsoft Garage and told us about the ‘Tinkerer’s toolkit’. How she created pixel art cushions and skateboards and how this lead to innovations, connections and ‘cool stuff’. From Justin Trudeau to foosball (table soccer) playing robots.

Talk Stacey Mulcahy - FITC Amsterdam 2017 - by Mark Geljon

Talk Stacey Mulcahy – FITC Amsterdam 2017 – by Mark Geljon

Get inspired, for instance by the impressive video graphics shown at FITC: computer-generated, organic and mechanic

Some of the best motion designers came together at FITC. There is a lot to tell about, but just see for yourself.
One of the most impressive projects was the development of the new Chemical Brothers video. In this video a dancer slowly transformed into a figure consisting of 3D printed material. Raoul Marks was inspiring as well, with the introduction of the new tv show Westworld, which provides a glimpse into the develoment of lifelike robots. His inspiration comes from outside of the digital and video world, but from art and and religion. There were also great VR examples, for instance Unit 9 showed a preview of their VR game Storm

Talk Raoul Marks FITC Amsterdam 2017 - by Inge Nahuis

Talk Raoul Marks FITC Amsterdam 2017 – by Inge Nahuis

FITC Amsterdam 2017 was a great event that made us think. We are looking forward to next year!

This article first appeared on Frankwatching.com (in Dutch). 

About our sketchnotes and how you can learn how to make them too!

In this blog post we have shown you several sketchnotes created at FITC Amsterdam 2017 by us. We have also created an overview of all sketchnotes if you are interested.

Would you also like to learn to make sketchnotes? No problem, we can teach you! Enroll in the training ‘Bizz Draw – Basics‘.  In this training we will show you the basics of drawing to convey your thoughts, either for yourself or –as the training title states- on a whiteboard during a session with others. If you are already taking steps into the world of visual thinking, we also have a training that might suit you. In the training ‘Bizz Draw – next steps’ you will learn to transform individual drawings into a more structured visual.

Rather just learn on your own? We also offer a great digital tool to help you out. Download our app Bizz Draw. It offers a visual library with over a hundred visuals aimed at drawing in a business setting and includes tips & tricks on drawing.