In the outside world: March 27th

Anjali Ramachandran, Head of Innovation, on interesting media-related news this week:


The speed at which media owners are now forced to bring new products to market if they want to stay in the game is amazing. I noted Sky Store’s work last week, this week it’s AOL who has finally brought their video on demand service AOL ON to the UK, their first move outside North America. For now it is web only, but the AOL On app will be available here in April. Any bets on who’s next?

Bus journeys can be very boring, but First Aberdeen in Scotalnd are trying to change that. Scan a sticker on the back of your seat with an augmented reality app and you’ll get movie trailers, maps and other video content to tide you over that long journey. This is interesting because it matches content with context; airlines have done this for years and without the hardware that is typically needed (screens), this is a very useful way for buses to use technology to fill that need state.

I’ve seen more than one team here at PHD dispatch a responsible soul to bring back tea for a group of people. A UK agency has invented a card game called Tea Wars that makes that process for fun. What can’t be made more fun with games? Ties in nicely with our Game Change philosophy too! Tweet @wearemudlark with your stories to get a pack of Tea Wars cards.

I love that more brands are using the surplus resources at their disposal to make the world a better place. Samsung’s Power Sleep app donates the processor power of your device to the University of Vienna who are working on cures for Alzheimer’s and cancer – the smartphone’s power is used to decrypt protein sequences. All this happens only after your device is fully charged, so you lose nothing.

Crowdfunding and crowdsourcing are also not new phenomena, but there’s now an app that brings the power of the crowd to the cinema. Let’s say you want to see that old classic or the second-last Lord of the Rings film in the cinema but they’re not playing in the theatres. If enough people declare an interest using Ourscreen, you can bring the film to you instead, at a Picturehouse cinema near you in the UK (it’s existed in the US for a while). Three cheers for the power of the crowd!

MTV has created an interesting digital campaign for a new reality show called Sleeping with the Family. If you have a web cam on your computer, the site will detect when you switch the light in your room on and off, and show content that is suited to either #parentsrules or #kidsrules. Intriguing.

Last but not least, the biggest news of this quarter for me might be the news of Facebook shelling out $2 billion for virtual reality headset makers Oculus Rift yesterday. I mentioned the traction it was getting just last week but I didn’t expect Facebook to make such a quick play; Zuckerberg thinks it’s going to be the next big thing after smartphones and tablets and paints a picture of a future where we can enjoy a courtside seat at a game or sit in a classroom just by putting on a pair of goggles. Here’s the founder of the Rift talking about why he sold to Facebook.


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