When it unveiled its interactive Touchwall at the Cannes Lions ad festival earlier this summer, WPP-owned Schematic said upfront it considered the project a dry run for a wave of branded touchscreen installations.
So it’s not a huge surprise to learn that the agency has launched a unit to oversee such out-of-home projects. The new group, called Schematic Touch, is headed up by Eric Mauriello and Josiah Hobson, who will lead a group of four dedicated staffers. Others from within and outside the agency will provide creative and technical talent, as well as hardware components and other support.
Mauriello and Hobson join the group from Operand, an interactive agency where they built installations for such brands as Levi’s and Cisco and for cultural institutions like the Smithsonian and the New York Historical Society.
Schematic Touch’s first projects include a multitouch kiosk for a big retailer and a redesigned business center experience for a business-to-business company.
According to Schematic CEO Trevor Kaufman, while many client projects may resemble the Touchwall, others are shaping up to be quite different. For instance, some are interested in creating a transparent experience, and others want the product integrated tightly with a building’s architecture.
“Everybody looks at it through their own lenses,” he said. “When we talk to venues — buildings — they think of added content and utility. Brands think of it as a way to create new experiences that might be multiuser…The opportunities are more diverse than one might think.”
Kaufman said an important lesson of the Touchwall in Cannes was that personal involvement and device interaction are crucial to the experience. These are leveraged through technologies such as RFID and mobile.
“The way the thing interacts with other things is really important. We underestimated that going in,” he said.
Schematic is in talks with approximately 12 clients to create branded touchscreens.