DX3 Canada – A Poet, A Robot And A Morphing, Projection-Mapped Love Seat
March 4, 2016 by Dave Haynes
DX3 is a technology/digital marketing show and conference that has been running now in Toronto for a few years, and I went Thursday to see what’s up with the mostly Canadian companies that filled up an exhibit hall.
It’s not an overly big show, but there’s always stuff that intrigues me.
In my walk around, I bumped into the young guys from Poet, a little tech company that grew out of the accelerator programs down the road in Kitchener-Waterloo. They do nice work on tablet-centric interactive signage and POS, focused primarily on the wine industry.
I had a catch-up with Toronto-based PeopleFlow, which does location-based analytics that mashes up anything from the familiar – beacons and WiFi triangulation – to the very different – using the Earth’s magnetic field anomalies. The company started out focused on retail but is seeing a real spike in business working with police departments to help capture and analyze things like crowd patterns and flow.
Longtime solutions provider iGotcha Media was down from Montreal showing some of its interactive solutions, as was Float 4 Interactive, which does interactive experience design and has done a pile of work with Christie on its MicroTiles.
Float 4 was across the carpet in a future retail area that had a variety of technologies that may or may not go somewhere. There was a robot that, when working, can evidently lock on your gaze, look back at you, and help you out with what you’re looking for in a store. Big hmmmm.
There was a 3D body mapping booth that would scan people to match them up with things like a perfectly fitted bra.
The thing I liked, as did a couple of industry friends I was wandering around with, was a French company called Vizera that does indoor projection mapping that isn’t about a Wow Factor experiential show. It instead was approaching the practical application of using projection to imagineer what furnishings, paint, wallpaper and so on would like like in a home or office.
In a demo the company admitted was limited – a single projector instead of a pair of edge-blended units – it showed how a back wall and a neutral coloured love seat picked up at Ikea was easily scanned and mapped, and then projections were applied that steadily changed the back wall and the color and even visible texture of the love seat. An optical scanning device on top of the projector calibrates the visuals to map to the contours and edges of the seat.
Vizera has what it calls a Material Simulation Engine that matches colours, scales and features of real materials. So the projections show exactly how an object would look like if it was covered by another material in the real world.
What was cool, to me, is you could imagine how a “furniture gallery” or kitchen fittings store could work with customers on designs and then show them at real-life scale, instead of a 15-inch LCD monitor. It would be easy to have projections on multiple walls that would make the thing seem somewhat immersive.
The company has a smartphone app that would allow a sales guy to pretty much change things on the fly, like background colours.
The thing reminded me of how this worked in comparison to the goofy holodeck thing that Lowes has installed in some test stores, which sees people design a space, and then enter this special spaceship-y enclosure, and then look through an iPad to see an augmented reality view of the design. So shoppers stand in a big room wondering why they are then looking at it via a 10.1 tablet screen???
I also bumped into a company called Candid that provides retailers – mostly apparel – to harvest, curate, moderate and republish Instagram photos. If I am remembering correctly, the company has several hundred retailers using the SaaS-based service as an inexpensive means to keep content fresh across various channels, including in-store screens.
From the pure digital signage lens, it’s a show worth allocating a few hours to walk if it is local or a quick trip in. I’m not sure there’s enough of the stuff focused on signage to warrant planes or trains.
There are also a pile of talks, but a very broad range of topics that tilt much more to online, e-commerce and mobile.