Smart spaces don’t make you smarter

June 26, 2015

Read time 2 min

For me, one of the highlights of Cannes Lions 2015 so far has been The Rise of the Smart Spaces, hosted by SoDA. It featured three design driven boutiques all heavily involved in creating “spatial experiences”, that is, making a public space – a part of a retail store, an office or a museum, for example – interact with visitors by harnessing the power of the latest digital technology.

In recent years, we ourselves have been doing spatial work for the likes of NASDAQ and OpusCapita. It was very inspiring to hear first hand what other players in the field are currently working on and what are the challenges they face.

What is the ROI of creating an interactive spatial experience, say, in a retail store? Clearly, these spaces can rarely be the direct point of sales because of a number of issues – one being that one does not want to complete a checkout in front of an audience. And talking to a human being or shopping online is often less cumbersome than waving your hands in the air to select the right pair of jeans. What gives?

Smart spaces at the Cannes 2015
Smart spaces at the Cannes 2015


What these new technologies are particularly good at is creating experiences that can be found nowhere else. However, pulling it off with just technical gimmickry alone is getting harder day by day. Most of us are already constantly immersed by the latest tech in our pockets.

So, in order to create brand value, we need to give people something that they cannot get at home – magical moments that spark memories. And while there surely seems to be a plethora of ways to do that, here are my takeaways from the speeches:

  1. Personalize the experience
    Make the service feel unique to each visitor, and they’ll be more willing to interact with it.
  2. Exceed expectations
    People put value on things they have not experienced before.
  3. Make it social
    Getting people to interact with each other through your work is a great way to create shared memories.

In the end, it all boils down to rewarding the audience for their attention. Or as David Schwarz from HUSH put it: “Smart spaces don’t make you smarter, they just connect you more intimately with a brand.”

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