Brand experiences and the 9 Volt Battery

It started when I was a kid. A child of the 80s with no less than 5 brothers, I was gradually exposed to new types of technological experience.

I think it was 1984 when it became clear. I was 4 when I realised that by pushing a button, something would happen; the TV would turn on, the alarm clock screech, or the kettle boil and scald me.

Electronic input devices, microswitches and the like, were everywhere. Mum and Dad, the guardians of the remote control to the stereo, bought all the boys a game to share. A derivative of the much-loved Space Invaders, this neon blue and orange device had 3 input buttons (left, right, and let fly the dogs of war), and a status switch for on and off.

 

brand experience space invaders

 

The device was powered by a 9-volt battery that my brothers quickly showed me you could put on your tongue for a ‘crazy’ feeling, whilst the game interface itself was bright red LCDs on a dark red Martian landscape.

I was hooked. I started pushing buttons and I haven’t stopped since.

As a brand experience agency, many of HUB’s digital assets and applications for brand experiences feature input devices; micro-switched music sequencers for the Coca-Cola Beat Fleet; RFID wrist bands for Barclaycard; and the good old touchscreen for Tourism Ireland.

Now we have gesture control, as Stu wrote about recently, and immersive experiences. It’s a funny concept bandied about by marketeers, this fabled ‘immersive’ experience. Allocated to augmented, mixed and virtual reality devices such as Glass, Morpheus and Oculus, it is a newer description that can be applied now to pretty much any digital content mechanic. But hey, if my imagination wasn’t totally immersed in my Space Invaders handheld game 30 years ago, I guess I may have it all wrong.

Amazing, futurist technology may be one side of the story, be it handheld LCD games in the 80s, or VR MMOs today, but without a captivating, imaginative concept to draw the user in, you might as well go back to the drawing board…literally.

So what am I actually driving at. Well, here it is. Let your imagination drive the experience and make you want to touch, click and wave. The tech is there to back us up, and it does a great job, but the user must enjoy it. As experience designers, we must be imaginative and push the boundaries, and most importantly, remember the time when we were flying across the landscape of Mars with nothing but a 9V battery in our utility belt.