Mobility, the World of Senses and Where We Go From Here

It’s difficult to explain an experience like the MMA CEO/CMO summit in words. It takes all of the senses to truly appreciate the opportunity. However, what can be shared is the knowledge that was imparted. Marketers, publishers, technologists, futurists and researches shared their thoughts and visions as to how we got here, exactly where we are and where we might be going with the world, mobility and the role of marketing.

There’s a rich and enticing world around us. When and wherever we are, there’s something to see, hear, taste and touch. In other words, there’s something for us to sense. When we sense something, what happens next? We take the input from our senses in order to make informed decisions to determine our next actions and reactions to what’s around.

Last month, my senses were bombarded with rich and exciting input while attending the Mobile Marketing Association’s (MMA) first ever MMA CEO/CMO Summit in the Dominican Republic in July.

First of all, you know you’re in the right place when you find yourself in the proximity of over 150 of the leading executives in the mobile marketing industry. I mean, how much more fun can life get? However, when you find yourself surrounded not only by great people, but also at a venue like the Casa De Campo (a plush resort surrounded by crystal clear ocean, white beaches and jungles), with impressive food and entertainment (including donkey polo, golf, swimming, dancing and more), as well as two days of thought provoking presentations and roundtables you know you’re in for something special, even if you can’t take it all in due to sensory overload. Sadly, I missed the donkey polo, but I heard that it was great fun.

It’s difficult to explain an experience like the MMA CEO/CMO summit in words. It takes all of the senses to truly appreciate the opportunity. However, what can be shared is the knowledge that was imparted. Marketers, publishers, technologists, futurists and researches shared their thoughts and visions as to how we got here, exactly where we are and where we might be going with the world, mobility and the role of marketing. For example,

• Scott Harrison, founder and president of Charity:Water showed us how a small group of people can change the world and improve the life of millions by helping them tap fresh water that exists right under their feet.
• Barry Judge, CMO of Best Buy and Mike Kelly, CEO and president of The Weather Channel talked separately and both explained how and why mobile is playing a central role in their 360-degree consumer engagements strategies.
• Nicholas Wallen from MIT Mobile Experience Laboratory shared how it’s creating hybrid cities and are connecting people, places and information.
• Jessica Kahn from Disney’s Tapulous shared the “nine things that worked,” covering the nine things that helped Tapulous become one of the leading mobile gaming platforms with over a billion games played.

The above presentations and more (click here to download a few) were just the beginning. Another speaker, Fabian Hemmert, PhD candidate at the Design Research Lab, Berlin University of the Arts, showed us even more. Mobile devices and their sensors — the camera, gyroscopes, accelerometers and more — are becoming an extension of our own sensory capabilities, such as the ability to see the world and commerce differently though augmented reality (check out the iButterly YouTube video), but this is just the start.

As Hemmert’s work points out, by adding pressure, moisture sensors and using existing sensors in new ways, entirely new experiences through mobile are possible. Just think, you can squeeze your phone and virtually shake someone’s hand, or give your phone a quick peck and blow someone a kiss. Who would have thought? See Hemmert in action on Ted.

Also, a few weeks following the summit I was fortunate enough to be able to meet Chander Chawla, director and general manager, personal mobile devices at National Semiconductor. Chawla shared what he called “software-enabled hardware” that his team is experimenting with. For instance, by extending and exposing a simple UV light sensor off a chip that’s present in most phones, the phone can monitor the level of UV exposure and alert you to put on sun screen. You can also tweak how sound waves are generated. By adding a few additional speakers you can take a traditional flat sounding device and turn it into a surround sound experience like none other. Finally, Chawla is experimenting with new visual display experiences that latterly add a new spectrum of color that I did not know existed.

If you weren’t able to attend the summit this year, I encourage you to visit the MMA events website and download the presentations. I also encourage you to consider attending next year, or any of the numerous mobile and marketing gatherings that are happening throughout the industry such as Mobile Monday’s, Mobile Marketing Week in New York (being put on by Mobile Marketer), Advertising Week, CTIA Entertainment, MMA LA Forum, ANA Annual event and so many others. I’m sure you won’t be able to make them all, but there’s really nothing like being there in person to meet and exchange ideas with the people around you and to fully embrace and stimulate your senses.