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Maarten Lens-FitzGerald’s Ignite Talk at WPP’s Stream 2011 Conference

Adriane Goetz September 12, 2011

Below are the slides and the transcript of the Ignite talk Maarten Lens-FitzGerald gave at this year’s WPP Stream event (read what else he did, in his own words, here).

“Almost a billion years ago, life started. It wasn’t much then, just a couple of cells and a couple of different species. It was enough to start. 

At about half a billion years ago there was a sudden rise in the number of species. It grew exponentially. This period is called the Cambrian explosion. Life on earth exploded in all it’s infinite variety. 

The question scientists have been pondering is why this big bang of biology occurred. One of the main theories is that it was because eyes were developed. All of a sudden the organisms evolved the ability to see. They saw their surroundings, their context and they saw each other too. 

And with sight, predation evolved. These creatures started to eat each other, and this turned into a competition. Eat or be eaten. With that the types of species started to evolve much quicker. Species evolved with the ability to camouflage, to distract and to herd. The ability to see triggered all these varieties to come about, so the creatures were able to survive.

Today there is an explosion of communication. People are being “preyed” upon to do things and to buy things. Banners, posters ads, emails, all channels are used. The advertisers get better and better; they recognize you with super cookies and gather all the data they can in order to reach you even better. 

With this predation by advertisers, people are developing methods and tools to fight back. Tools like spam filters and ad blockers. There are even makeup techniques you can use so facial recognition software won’t work.

Yet there is one tool ready to play the most important role in the fight for truth and clarity in the explosion of communication: It’s the mobile phone. 

Everyone has one and they are now powerful and capable enough to perform complex tasks. Today’s phone is connected and has access to all information of the world, to all your friends, and it knows where you are. It is also gaining the most important capability of all: vision. 

The phone can see. This ability to see, combined with the power of the web, its content and its tools plus the social graph, will make it unstoppable in helping individuals make sense of their surroundings to see clearly in the explosion of communication.

People hold their phone over a magazine article and see the share button to share it with their friends. Their friends get a good article to read and the publisher enlarges its audience. Posters come alive with fun interactivity for anyone walking past them.

But not all Augmented Reality content will be great for brands and publishers. Not all content will be controlled by them. Just like the web, there will be user-generated content. 

People will be smart and combine web content with products, like augmenting the chicken product with the Associated Press article that there is antibiotics it the chicken. Brand managers had ultimate control over their packaging, but not anymore. With Augmented Reality, any information can be put on their packaging, any message, good or bad. Same goes for campaigns.

People might not like what or how something is advertised. Now they can talk back, like the one here with the muscled body. For some people it triggers the opposite effect; it makes them feel ugly, and with Augmented Reality they can express this. Everyone who looks at the poster in Augmented Reality will see it, that it make someone feel ugly. And with the power of the social graph, 12 million people will like this statement.

At Layar, we foresee this world as a world where all objects are stacked with information. A stack with professional content and with user-generated content. We intend to service both markets: professional content services with Layar to give the brands and publishers a voice, and a product for user-generated content.

Augmented Reality is to be the equalizer, the digital eye that reveals all in the explosion of communication.”

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