Digital storytelling with multi-touch displays

During the past months I focused my professional efforts towards a very specific goal: exploring the art of storytelling through interactive content that people can experience on large touch displays, in particular the awesome Microsoft Perceptive Pixel.

In partnership with Microsoft Production Studios, I’ve been invited to ideate, design and develop a variety of applications that have been featured in several company tradeshows.

Rather than just posting some photos, I thought it’d be more fun to share a couple of virtual walk-throughs created in Photosynth using a sequence of images captured with my GoPro. Enjoy!

#wpc2014 - industry evidence booth walkthrough by tosolini on photosynth

ww communities and campus @ techready19 by tosolini on photosynth

On the red carpet for a pre-Oscars event

A few weeks before the big Academy Awards event, I had the privilege to be invited at the Oscars Nominees party organized by The Hollywood Reporter in Los Angeles (check out their nice video summary).

Our client Microsoft Bing sponsored an interactive kiosk on the red carpet, and celebrities were invited to cast their ballot on who was going to win this year.

Together with our designer Stephanie Smythies, we created an app that ran on a large 55” multi-touch Perceptive Pixel display. It was highly rewarding watching directors and actors such as Bruce Dern, Ethan Hawke, Richard Linklater and Julie Delpy engaging with the experience and having fun with it.

Definitely an unforgettable night for me.

TV@Work - A podcast interview with Ron Shewchuk

Ron Shewchuk is the producer of the podcast TV@Work, a show focusing on best practices, ideas and innovation in the enterprise social video space. 

I had the pleasure to be interviewed by Ron for his episode #4, which is affiliated to the popular podcast series For Immediate Release produced by Shel Holtz and Neville Hobson.

Here is the interview. Enjoy!

Podcast interview with Ron Shewchuk and Paolo Tosolini

HTML5 + Cloud + Media = Interactive Digital Signage

At my company RUN Studios, we live and breathe visual experiences in the form of videos, motion graphics and 3D animations. All of this media usually ends up on our clients’ web sites, intranets and quite often on big screens at corporate events (and sometimes, on Times Square!).

So it became natural to ask ourselves: How can we make this media more interactive? How about making it mobile too?

We started crafting a vision for a digital signage experience for the retail and hospitality industries, that could be enjoyed not only on desktop PCs, but also on tablets, smartphones and big screen TVs. Furthermore, we wanted to give a choice to users among mouse, keyboard, gestures and touch, as input mechanisms.

To accomplish our goals we needed a capable development partner with a solid background in UX design. Following a careful research, we decided to partner with the Peloton Alliance to turn this idea into reality.

After several months of planning, development and testing, we finally released our first prototype architected around the latest web technologies; namely HTML5 and cloud services.  Our media wall application features:

  • 3D media carousel functionality (scroll, select, play)
  • Standard support for video, graphics, tags and slide show media types
  • Support for custom media types (e.g. streaming, twitter feed, web widgets)
  • Input via Microsoft Kinect, touch screen and mouse
  • HTML5 compatibility (IE10, Safari, Chrome)
  • Local or cloud media storage (Amazon, Microsoft Azure)

Here is a short case study video of our app.

Want employees to create videos? Make it a game

(This interview was originally published on Ragan Communications web site)

Can you spot the differences between these two statements?

1. “You’re required to create three videos a month.”
2. “If you make the effort to create three videos each month, you’ll get your own video equipment and software to use for free. Not only that, we’ll recognize you as a leader in the company.”

It’s like night and day, isn’t it? According to Paolo Tosolini, director of emerging media at Run Studios, all it takes is a little incentive—a little bit of making video production into a game—to get employees excited about bringing their expertise to their company’s video messaging. It’s a good way to get employees to watch important videos, as well.

Gamification badges

The three mechanics

Gamification, when it comes to employee video, isn’t just about rewards, Tosolini says, though those can be an incentive. It’s about understanding what employees want to get out of going the extra mile.
With that in mind, Tosolini lists three mechanics that a video program with gamification elements can have to get employees excited:

1. Game mechanics, which reward behaviors that you want from your employees and which help accomplish business goals, such as finishing up training modules within a certain amount of time.
2. Reputation mechanics, which elevate the statuses of people within your culture using badges, levels, leaderboards, and other methods of displaying accomplishments.
3. Social mechanics, which enable sharing, recommending, and notifying colleagues of positive behaviors.

These three mechanics work together, Tosolini says, to make a program mutually beneficial. Employees get rewards and recognition, and more videos get produced.

More production

If one department is producing every video a company makes, that company isn’t using all its resources, Tosolini says. “Knowledge really resides among employees,” he says.
Beyond that, delegating video production to employees generates a slew of ideas and keeps costs fairly low, particularly if employees use their own equipment, such as smartphones.

“You could run contests,” Tosolini suggests. “For example, the company SAP decided to run a contest for their 40th anniversary to crowdsource the best songs to celebrate their anniversary.”

Qualcomm logo

Enterprising employees submitted about 200 videos featuring 1,000 employees from all over the world, he says.
Qualcomm “created a montage of the videos and used it as the kickoff video for their company meeting,” Tosolini says. That montage was included in the company’s entry into the Great Place to Work competition as well. Qualcomm ranked No. 11 this year.
Qualcomm didn’t even offer any big prizes that Tosolini knows of. The reward was the intrinsic motivation of employees making their voices heard and boosting their reputations, he says.

“If you’re running an employee-generated program, you want to make sure that those who participate become your heroes.”
Even so, prizes can be good, too. A program that Tosolini ran at Microsoft, titled “Academy Rewards,” enabled employees to win all sorts of goodies, such as laptops and phones, by trading in accrued points.
“The idea was that, if you create content, videos, we are going to assign you points,” Tosolini says. “We also want you, the employee who created the content, to tell everybody else you did it. By becoming your own marketer, you’re going to get more points, because for every view of your video, you will get additional points.”

More viewing

Tosolini says companies can use similar elements—badges, points, etc.—to get people to watch a video or series of videos. He used a hypothetical software company that was upping its output as an example.

“How do you train your sales force to get up to speed quicker on your product?” Tosolini asks. “You need to invent some sort of mechanism for them to get their training more often.”
What was a chore now becomes something people want to do.
“It’s not just gamification here,” he says. “It’s smart use of corporate resources to stimulate employees to go the extra mile to accomplish a business objective.”