Makers of the Future | Experience with Mill Associate Creative Director Sally Reynolds

Mill New York ACD Sally Reynolds muses on the future of physical and virtual experiences.
Thought March 21, 2021

What innovations have come into play during the pandemic and which have the longevity to succeed post-covid?

Innovation is sometimes minimised as emergent technologies. Whilst new tech surely is innovation, it also includes new methods, markets, designs, and the new organization of any industry. With that in mind, some pandemic innovations: the humble face mask, telehealth, remote education, remote workplaces, home gym solutions, AI-enhanced video conferencing, the western adoption of QR codes, restaurants pivoted to contactless dining, goods delivery boomed (even further), and multiple vaccines were developed, trialed and deployed in record time.

Remote service innovations such as education & health are fundamental to civil evolution, thus they will surely maintain their development post-covid. It would be great to see funding and personnel demand in those areas continue to drive momentum to offer exceptional options for people irrespective of their location. Whilst contactless dining, home gym solutions, and face masks have been indispensable during the pandemic, it seems likely that folks will be quite happy to fold them away in the cupboard and return to socializing with smiles, dining with service, and sweating with strangers.

Broadly speaking, a key impression from the pandemic is that brands & businesses need to be prepared to innovate in times of change. Online and mobile-based services have been essential for businesses to pivot. Where having a tech presence was once a nice-to-have for a business, it is now essential.


Will this forever change the way in which we communicate virtually and physically?

The way we communicate is ever-evolving, and this is no different for the progress in offering a shared presence. Video-calling and work-based messaging apps were fairly well-established technology before the pandemic. What these conditions provided were extreme stress-testing and user uptake to provide those companies with vast amounts of data to generate ideas and solutions to drive their products forward. As our visual and aural communication channels continue to evolve robustly, we find ourselves yearning for more natural communication cues. How can we include body language, share dimensional content in real time, behave more naturally in our space than tethering our unblinking gaze to a camera?


AR/VR/MR: what prevails and what fails in the future and why?

(Augmented Reality/ Virtual Reality/Mixed Reality)

These three R’s referred to as XR are considered to be all plotted on the same graph that implies “it’s only a matter of time” before tech advancements bridge the gap between the three. Broadly speaking, the computing power required to drive each keeps them operating in separate realms – a mobile phone, a small headset (oft replicating glasses) or a large headset (VR). The holy grail being XR glasses which endeavour to seamlessly blend physical and digital reality.

There are upshots to all of these mediums as they currently stand. AR for its democratized accessibility (readily available hardware in your jean pocket!), and designer-centric software streamlining content creation. For MR, the ability to stay in your physical world whilst adding a digital layer to it – holographic magic aside, it is shapeshifting the notion of a computing interface and virtual collaboration. And of course VR – to have your vision and hearing transported to another place, with alternate laws of physics, space and time – escapism is unparalleled.

This family of R’s will all prevail in the future, it seems a question of profitable application as to the speed of their development.

Does the future of brand experiences heavily rely on emerging technologies?

The future of brand experiences relies on effective storytelling and electing a suitable medium with which to express it. Emerging tech provides new mediums. Experiences are moments that shift our emotion or perception relative to our previous state of mind. Since the birth of advertising, brands use a medium to shift your perspective. A cheeky slogan, a jingle, a beautiful rendering, a 30 second film – these are all experiences.

The notable conceptual change in the delivery of brand experiences is that the one-way broadcast has now become a two-way conversation. Thanks to ever-emerging technologies, the audience is able to engage, interact, and affect change on the content. In a digital world blasting streams of content, how do you capture a person’s curiosity and leave them with a strong memory of your brand? Create meaningful dialogue with your audience. Shift their perception. Give them something to feel. Invoke curiosity. Inspire play.


How can we democratize virtual events and make them more readily accessible to the general public – do you think this will happen in the near future?

Virtual events held online are democratic in the sense that they are global, all that is required is an internet connection and cost of entry. We’ve seen rapid advancements in web technology in recent years in WebGL, content personalization via machine learning, improved data security, the advent of 5G, WebAR & VR, and many more. In tandem with the advancement of hardware, design, and development – the web will continue to be a source of fabulously accessible events. 2020 saw the release of Oculus Quest 2, an untethered VR headset at an affordable price point. AR experiences deployable via web, social AR and apps continue to mature and just wait until cloud rendering is the norm in that space! These platforms allow creators to provide location-agnostic immersive content to global audiences.


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Associate Creative Director Sally Reynolds

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