IoT Takes Brands Beyond Screens By Using Sound, Touch, Says Agency Exec

As the Internet of Things takes communication beyond visual interaction, voice may end up being only one component of that.

The IoT Daily caught up with Haydn Sweterlitsch, global chief creative officer at HackerAgency, who said the Internet of Things is going to fundamentally shift how brands reach consumers.

“Since the advent of digital platforms, we’ve been in an era where visual graphic interaction and design and interaction with a screen has defined the brand interactions,” Sweterlitsch told the IoT Daily.

“Whether the screen was a desktop computer back in the day, or mobile device, smartwatch, tablet or interactive display in a retail setting, it’s always been on the screen.”

“And that’s in part to how we are as human beings; visual things can grab our eyes and grab our attention.”

As more devices become connected and more IoT devices are adopted by consumers, marketers and advertisers will have entirely new forms of communicating that don’t rely on visual design, according to Sweterlitsch.

One of the areas gaining attention recently is voice interaction through a connected device like Amazon’s Echo, which enables consumers to control their devices and access services all through speaking to, and with, the device.

This new capability and consumer behavior brings with it a need for those conversational experiences to be designed.

Wearables are also another area of the Internet of Things that brands are already leveraging, mostly in the form of using the data from them to help better target marketing and advertising initiatives.

Connected lights are making their ways into homes as well as retail.

For example, smart LED lights from Philips Lighting are being used to communicate with consumers’ smartphones in stores. The Visible Light Communication capabilities in the lights enable marketers to precisely locate consumers and send them messaging and promotions on an individual level, in real time.

Sweterlitsch, who recently opened the MediaPost IoT Marketing forum with a presentation about the future of IoT advertising, said that while different IoT devices can drive new opportunities on their own, marketers and advertisers should use them together to create more immersive and more lasting brand experiences.

“As we get out of this era of purely visual design, we're going to be designing for not just the eyes, but also for the ears, for the touch haptics,” he told the Daily.

“It’s not just conversational design and it’s not just voice interaction. It’s also sensory design and sound design.”

Sweterlitsch said sound design is going to play a huge role in shaping consumer experiences, pointing to some projects currently in the works for a client.

“There’s going to be some very interesting sound design and sound interaction in the telecom world with wireless devices and with people’s mobile device experiences. That’s going to be happening by the end of the year.”

Designing for voice for some brands can be challenging because the conversational element is speaking on behalf of the brand. Sweterlitsch said his team is currently working through this challenge while designing an Amazon Alexa skill (the component that enables conversational experiences) for a client with a very specific brand voice.

“The coding is not the difficult part. The difficult part is scripting Alexa to be able to communicate the way the brand would,” Sweterlitsch said.

“The big hurdle is getting the voice of Alexa to be in tune with the voice of the brand.”

While the Internet of Things brings a new set of opportunities for marketers and advertisers to interact with consumers, those opportunities might not always be welcomed on the consumer side.

Sweterlitsch said brands are going to have to find what level of interaction customers want to have with them.

“When I can sell you pizza through your lightbulbs, it doesn’t mean I should.”


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