The next chapter – #ItsInTheGame

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A quick update to note that I am moving on from my time at Activision and joining the ranks of EA as Manager – Digital Communications.

Woking at Activision over the last three and a bit years has been a fantastic experience. Getting to have an impact on the marketing across all the titles has been absolutely invaluable for me and I cannot have asked for a better group of people to work with during that time.

A particular highlight was of course Destiny. As many people know working with Bungie was a real dream come true for me and being able to play a part in bringing their latest mega franchise to the world was unbelievable.

I also cannot overstate how exciting it was to work on Call of Duty and what I learnt whilst doing so will always remain with me.

Now it is time for something new and getting to go to EA and join the team that look after digital marketing is incredibly exciting. I cannot wait to get started and get my teeth into the work for the titles that are coming out in 2016 and beyond.

To see what we’re going to be doing make sure to check out all the announcements from EA’s press conference and the streams from this years EA Play event.

Also please take the time to visit EA’s latest charitable initiative – Play To Give.

I wish everyone I know and have met at Activision, Blizzard and the studios Infinity Ward, Sledgehammer, Treyarch, Raven, Toys for Bob, Vicarious Visions, Freestyle games and of course Bungie all the very best and a huge thank you. I cannot wait to see what is coming next from you all.

#ItsInTheGame 🙂

 

365 Seconds – Content Planning for 2016

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This post originally appeared here on Linkedin.

In 2015 I set myself the goal of recording one second of video each day. The idea behind this was to satisfy my creative curiosity and to provide a way to document what I knew was going to be an exceptionally busy year. Despite some issues with some of the images (the Hyperlapse app unfortunately doesn’t work 100% of the time in dull light) I think the final result has turned out really well.

This isn’t the first time I have set myself what can seem like a difficult new years resolution goal. In 2012 I challenged myself many more goals with a central one being to take a photo every day. What I learned then and expanded on in 2015 was that with some simple planning and being prepared to be reactive when called upon this can be achieved and produce strong results.

I have had a few people ask me about how they might go about such a project so here are some thought starters that I think work for a personal project like this and also when approaching a new year of work.

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Welcome to the Future Marty!

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Well since my blog has “Hoverboards” in the title I think it is only fitting I publish a post today which is of course that fateful day Marty McFly arrived in the future with Doc Brown in Back to the Future Part II.

As we are now officially in the future I have compiled a list of my favourite new tech developments for your perusal. There have been some staggering leaps forward in the tech world in the last few years let alone the last thirty and I can’t wait to see where these ideas go next.

Self Driving Cars

For a long time I have felt that it is bizarre how accepting we are of people being involved in car accidents. I think what Google, Tesla and now the wider car industry (and it is now rumoured Apple) are doing in this space is incredibly exciting and one that will have huge ramifications once vehicles that can drive themselves are introduced properly to the mainstream. Add in Uber and other similar tech companies and within 10 years we could see people’s attitudes to cars radically change. Why own a car when you could just tell your watch or phone where you need to go, when then signals a car nearby to take you to your destination for less than a bus fare or train ticket? All these vehicles would be able to talk to each other as well so no more traffic jams and delays on the roads. Once people are convinced of their safety you would also be able to spend extra time with friends, family or colleagues, watch a film or get some sleep. Sounds like paradise to me!

Here are some of my favourite videos highlighting this new tech.

Tesla’s lateset software update allows for a new kind of cruise control:

Imagine what self driving cars could do for all kinds of people:

It’s not just cars:

Perhaps Mercedes vision of the future is a bit too clean…but I kind of like it:

AR & VR

Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality seem like they are at a point to finally hit the mainstream and make a huge impact on everyday life. From what Facebook are doing with Oculus to the incredible Magic Leap and Microsoft HoloLens demos it really does seem like these will usher in a major shift in computing and entertainment.

The promise of Oculus and Magic Leap in particular excite me. The latest demos that both have shown off and the buzz coming from silicon valley around them really gives the sense that something big is coming. It isn’t only video games either but a huge range of entertainment areas are being investigated as well as some great educational innovations.

I am a big fan as well of how Google are attempting to bring Virtual Reality costs down with project Cardboard.

Magic Leap’s latest demo:

Oculus new controller developments demo:

Google cardboard:

AI Personal Assistants

Now perhaps this one doesn’t sound as exciting as the first two, but the fact that many of you already have simple versions of these in your pocket shows the impact they have already have and will have soon. You’ll likely have heard of Apple’s Siri and also Google Now but then there is also the incredible sounding version from Facebook known as ‘M’.

All three of these collect data from activity on your phone and the other touch points they have on you around the Internet and actively attempt to help better organise your life by presenting you with contextual information. Right now Siri and Google Now are only really impressing at odd moments, for example telling you how long it will take you to get home from work, and this is only scratching the surface of what they can and will be able to do.

Facebook’s M seems to take this another step by convincingly having a human like conversation with you. Go to this Buzzfeed article to read more on this.

These AI will not just live on your phone but also your watch or smart clothing, your home appliances and work computer, helping you go about your every day. They’ll also be able to keep an eye on your health and alert you of any issues. We’re already seeing wearable devices providing important health care information, imagine what an AI enabled version could do?

There is definitely an element of creepiness that will need to be overcome. This will likely come down to how information is presented and how our devices act.

Project Soli

This is a difficult one to describe so I’ll just place this here:

What an incredible use of radar to create a personal experience. Hope to see this used in devices soon.

And that’s it! All my favourite new pieces of technology. There is of course a lot more like Hyperloop, 3D printing, drones etc etc but the above are absolutely my top four picks. I hope you enjoyed the read!

One last and very recent development…who could resist self lacing shoes: http://news.nike.com/news/nike-mag-2015

Happy back to the Future day!

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Who needs apps?

Moving towards a context driven and more user friendly mobile world.

iPhone iOS 9

Siri – Proactive Assistant in iOS 9 organises data for the user

After wearing the Apple Watch for a month, watching both the Google I/O and Apple WWDC conferences I think it is clearer than ever that we are moving away from what could be called a traditional mobile app interface to a newsfeed style one and this is a natural evolution for mobile device UI design.

Paul Adams has written far more eloquently and in depth about this than I, you can read his post on the Intercom blog here. (Seriously good read).

Here is my home screen.

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Here is the second page on my home screen.

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It is a bit of a mess. Now granted I know I have more apps than most but this multi app interface is not uncommon and is certainly not as user friendly as it once was. When Apple introduced the iPhone it was a revolution in mobile UI thanks to the touch screen input and app layout, but now it is beginning to feel tired, cumbersome and confusing no matter how pretty the tech companies try and make it. I have myself and witnessed others lose apps within custom folders just like when you put something aside for safe keeping and then can never remember where that was…! Frustrating when you are looking for that one piece of information.

We’ve been trained to download apps, whether free or paid for, and to keep downloading apps even if we already have an app that does the job of the new app. Apps apps apps! What we really want is a certain piece of functionality or data presented to us as soon as we pick up and look at the device. Creating a frictionless tech experience for the user is always on the minds of the engineers as clearly visible at both I/O and WWDC this year. I’d love to be out for a walk, look at my phone and see instantly information about my surroundings and presented with apps that I may want to use in that moment based on what the device knows about me.

The Apple Watch has certainly begun to alter my expectations. I now expect my phone to switch on when I look at it, clicking a button or tapping the screen to unlock it now feels like an unnecessary step. I don’t want to see lots of apps on the screen, just bite sized pieces of relevant information (glances have become more useful than I initially anticipated), and finally I’d love my device to do certain pieces of activity behind the scenes with little to no input from me. The activity tracking in watchOS for the fitness minded is truly fantastic. I am looking forward to playing with Pebble’s new Time UI as I think that could be a real reflection of things to come and I am not surprised to see Apple introduce a similar experience in watchOS 2 with Time Travel.

Now On Tap is able to find relevant data from within natural language

Now On Tap is able to find relevant data from within natural language and understand the context

Both Google Now on Tap and Apple’s Siri Proactive Assistant are definitely drives to this exciting new mobile future. I (sadly) don’t think we’ll see a drastic UI change any time soon, this feed of information similar to the Facebook Newsfeed will likely stay hidden behind a swipe to the notifications stream for I believe at least the next two to three iterations, perhaps we’ll see more use of the lock-screen however.

In the long run I think this could be the big threat to Facebook and explains why they have made so many moves to try and create the elusive Facebook phone. If I can just look at my phone and get presented with information that I want at that moment, including news and updates from friends, then why would I open a social networking app? But then again why will I be looking at my phone when I’ll be embedded in a new VR driven future?

Now I should clarify as I wrap up this post I’m not really talking about removing the downloading of apps (people will always want to and should customise their mobile experience) but more a change to the UI and the idea of using apps in the way that we currently do. There will always be a future for having to open fully fledged applications, think games or enterprise based activities, but the current experience of opening and closing and opening and closing and opening (you get the idea) is one that I believe will go away in the not too distant future.

If you want some further reading try the following:

Wired.com – It’s Official: Everyone Has The Same Plan For Tech’s Future

Quartz – The future of iOS: apps you can enjoy without ever opening them

I Watched A Goal On Meerkat

It feels like everyone in the tech world right now are talking about Meerkat, the mobile video livestreaming app. SXSW has been good to the 11 man team with them reporting over 30% increase in users when the event kicked off. Add on top some Twitter controversy as they throttle the apps access to their social graph in preparation for their own livestreaming service and you have an app that every early adopter is excited about. “Meerkating” has already become a descriptive term.

Bringing an easy livestreaming service to the masses has an incredible amount of power, as we’ve already witnessed with the likes of Twitch and YouTube. Now that it has gone mobile the digital Wild West has become even busier.

Ryan Cooling from Meerkat giving an impromptu interview to Mashable.

Ryan Cooling from Meerkat giving an impromptu interview to Mashable.

I’ve watched Pete Cashmore tour SXSW which included an ad hock interview with Ryan from Meerkat, a chef preparing Pizza’s in his restaurant, book signings, random puppies (can someone please Meerkat a Meerkat already?!) and more interestingly a goal in the NYC v NYE match which was being livestreamed by Dennis Crowley, the CEO of Foursquare. All of these things show how transformative bringing livestreaming to everyday people could become and adds another rights headache to companies who are already struggling with the likes of Vine.

If Meerkat can cement itself, or even if Twitter’s own Periscope takes off, what is going to stop people from livestreaming from football matches, Comicon panels, award ceremonies and the likes? There is definitely a world of new mobile “livestreamers” coming and I wouldn’t be surprised to see someone like Jermoe Jarre really nail the possibilities of these new live platforms.

During the moment that Meerkat’s Ryan found Pete and his Mashable Meerkat crowd at SXSW he gave a really interesting interview. One moment struck me when mentioned about working on a private service so that people can share more intimate moments with close friends and family. It is this kind of thinking that makes me feel perhaps Meerkat are on to something. If they can nail broadcasting and make it just as easy for me to livestream to a close group of friends then they could well start to be able to move away from relying on the social graph of another platform and begin to build their own.

Do I see a high profile buyout of Meerkat in the future? Perhaps. Although the indie app developer part of me hopes they keep building on their own terms for a while yet.

Oh and by the way, the goal was called offside and sadly I was so into watching I forgot to take a screen grab. So to sign off here is a shot from another interesting Meerkat stream.

Motocross action being filmed by Fox Sports 1 from a Red Bull event.

Motocross action being filmed by Fox Sports 1 from a Red Bull event.

Smart Watch Hype Check

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I read a couple of posts today that got me excited again about smart watches. They contained one simple idea: mobile apps could disappear.

Think about it for a second…with your phone safely stored in your pocket or bag or purse, notifications on your watch could take on a whole new dimension. At the flick of your finger or a press on a UI button you could instantly take an action within a mobile game, utility, music service, productivity app, location service, social network…the list goes on! No more having to take out your phone, just look at your wrist and take instant action within a notification.

M.G. Siegler puts it better than me:

On the Watch, the push notification will be far more important than with the phone. With the phone, they mainly serve to get you back into the app. Yes, it’s slightly more convenient to use rich actions in the notification, but they’re limited. The app is just a click away. Why not just open it?

With the Watch, getting to the app means pulling out your phone, unlocking it, and waitng for the app to load. Apple Watch allows you a way to seamlessly do this, but it will be so much faster and better not to have to pull out your phone.

So notifications are about to get elevated, big time. And developers will have to be both smart and cautious about how they wield such power. Spam someone’s wrist and your app is as good as deleted.

Or, create a new kind of app that early adopters can’t live without. An app that may actually disappear.

Now that is exciting. However this leads me nicely onto…

The Rude Watch

I really really really want a smart watch.

This feels like the next awesome gadget that I “need” in my life. But there is a very obvious social problem with them which leads off of the points above about notifications; when someone is talking to you looking at your watch is considered extremely rude. Perhaps even ruder than looking at your phone when you are mid conversation. The implication that you want to know what the time is as you have something better to do is a social no no that has existed for a very long time. So when my watch buzzes or pings me a notification from an app, lets say Clash of Clans, and I look at it to see that AngryNeeson52 has attacked me, any friends or family are going to think I am being incredibly rude.

This is a problem and a similar seemingly small issue that Google Glass had which eventually caused serious problems for that device. People outside of the crowd that love a new device think what you are wearing is intrusive and rude. This little issue could well be the thing that forces me to hold off buying a smart watch for a year or two as people iron out these social issues. Developers you really need to make sure you don’t spam people’s wrists with notifications.

Lets not get started on the battery life. ÂŁ400+ for a blank screen on your wrist after a long journey doesn’t sound like an ideal situation.

However despite these issues I’m still excited to see how quickly they develop after Apple releases their watch.

#SaintsFC Fans – A Call For More Positivity

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It struck me how the central theme to NBC’s documentary on Southampton Football Club was clearly how positive the staff and players think. There is no bitterness towards those who have left with everyone just focusing on the future and rising above any negativity that may surround them in the press. We as the fans should take this onboard.

The summer of 2014 was a rough one but let’s be honest the club has had far more difficult situations to over come and has survived. We lost a manager and some players and before that at the beginning of the year a chairman who played a pivotal role in Saints getting back into the Premier League. But through all of this every message coming out of the club (ignoring some personal expressions by the odd player) felt calm as they looked towards the future. The fact is we will never really know just what happened behind those closed doors beyond piecing together a few interviews from those who left. That summer feels so far away now I think we can start to forgive and forget.

So I’d like to propose some 2015 resolutions for Saints fans:
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My Top E3 2014 Trailers

Like many I love a good video game trailer. Below are my favourite ones that came out of E3 this year (excluding our own of course).

Rise of the Tomb Raider

As soon as this came on at the Xbox conference I got chills. Such a great way to lead on from the last game and build on Lara’s character. Can’t wait to see more!

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10 Years Ago My Job Didn’t Exist

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Today Facebook is celebrating its 10th Anniversary.

In 2004, as dramatised by The Social Network, Mark Zuckerberg, Dustin Moskovitz, Eduardo Saverin, Andrew McCollum and Chris Hughes launched TheFacebook.com and even they didn’t realise what they were about to accomplish. The following year Reddit and YouTube went live followed by Twitter in 2006 with the iPhone being unveiled to the world in 2007.

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A Tale Of Two Conventions – A Photo Essay

This year (2013) I attended both E3 and Gamescom, both being massive moments on the gaming calendar. I took the opportunity to take a lot of photos at both events and have whittled them down to the ones you see below.

The Location

Both conventions take place in two of the most amazing cities, Los Angeles and Cologne.

Downtown LA

Cologne Cathedral across the Rhine

Cologne Cathedral across the Rhine

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