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Opinion and Insight

Meet The Creative Technologists

LBB Editorial, 2 years ago

Find out what makes some of adland’s most tech savvy members tick

Meet The Creative Technologists

Stuck deciding whether to invest in the Apple Watch or the latest iPad? Maybe you’re a Windows person? Heck, maybe it’s even a new high-tech kitchen blender that you’ve got your eye on. But what’s exciting the ad industry’s biggest tech geeks right now and what is their all time favourite piece of tech? LBB’s Addison Capper caught up with folks from Holler, Isobar, Wieden+Kennedy, 180, Firstborn, Jam3, Nexus, AnalogFolk and VCCP to find out. 


Alfie Dennen, Product Strategist, Isobar


Hottest piece of tech for personal use?

Google’s Chromecast, hands down. Bang a £20 piece of kit into your TV and turn it into a wireless media hub that wakes you up to your favourite podcasts (Pocketcasts), streams all your music (Google Play) or your YouTube party playlists before settling you into a Netflix binge (not to mention mirroring your Android or iOS phone directly).

All-time favourite piece of tech?

The iPad… I’m a big comics fan and buying paper weeklies is a hard thing to keep up with. There had been tablets before (I have a Toshiba tablet from 2001 that is a doorstop now), but the iPad form factor, screen resolution and distribution ecosystem suddenly meant that instead of having to go to the comic shop on a Wednesday to get my fix I could just download everything I was after – whilst also making discovery of new comics way easier.

Where does your passion for technology stem from? 

When my sister got a Sinclair ZX Spectrum for her birthday we would sit and wait with infinite patience for the tape to load before suddenly, the TV would light up and Manic Miner appeared. I realised that things didn’t have to be *real* to be real, and that changed the way I thought about, well, everything.


Mish Fabok, Digital Producer, 180LA


Hottest piece of tech for personal use?

I am loving invisible apps. These are apps that integrate into existing platforms or products that I use every day to such as email, SMS, iOS apps and apps that work in the background. For example, within iOS, with one tap of a button I can mail whatever I am looking at to a pre-defined email with the mail to self app and using product hunt extensions, a feed of the latest product news can be delivered to my browser. They are less disruptive and make you more efficient! The concept isn't new, but they are getting more powerful, contextual and clever. 

All-time favourite piece of tech?

All time fave tech would be the Tamagotchi – it was the first digital world that lived along side me, in real time. I still remember my pet’s name. 

Where does your passion for technology stem from? 

When I was little, I wanted to know what was inside the landline phone so I dismantled it and pulled apart all of the little pieces. I got in trouble for doing this but that was the day that I forever wanted to understand how things work. 


Greg White, Senior Digital Strategist, Wieden+Kennedy Tokyo 


Hottest piece of tech for personal use?

The Apple Watch might be new, but the iPhone is still king. Our world is dominated by screens – they’re everywhere. And yet it is the most personal and used one in the world. VR might offer more intimate experiences, the Watch might make you look at your phone less, and yet the iPhone is still the most important piece of hardware in your life. 

All-time favourite piece of tech?

The original PlayStation. I remember buying one and getting both Final Fantasy VII and Metal Gear Solid. Both games reshaped my understanding of what a game was capable of in terms of storytelling. It made me question film’s position as the dominant storytelling medium, something I think games continue to do and VR will soon do.

Where does your passion for technology stem from? 

As a kid, I was fortunate to be exposed to technology through my older brothers. One is a sound engineer, always tinkering with new digital recording techniques. The other used to develop websites and invited me to help. The pair made me excited about the possibility for connecting creativity to technology in exciting new ways. 

 

Tom Danvers, Creative Technologist, Holler


Hottest piece of tech for personal use?

Does a car count as ‘personal use’!? The Tesla Model S. Ok it might not be in everyone’s price range, it sure as hell is not in mine, but I’m fascinated by ‘smart’ vehicles and electric cars. They increased its acceleration earlier this year with a software update. How cool is that!?

All-time favourite piece of tech?

I’m going to say the smartphone. It’s a bit of a no brainer. A pocket-sized piece of net-connected hardware that has a processor that my 12-year-old self would have killed for.

Where does your passion for technology stem from? 

I’ve always enjoyed building worlds and storytelling. It started with Lego and is currently facilitated by a Mac and a code editor. New tech opens up new ways of creating useful, meaningful and beautiful experiences to enrich the human experience.


Adam Slayer, Head of User Experience & Development, Jam3


Hottest piece of tech for personal use?

Though it’s not officially out in the wild yet, I’m most hopeful for the Tesla Powerwall. There is an economic, social, and ethical imperative to get these batteries in our houses. Personal electrical storage and infrastructure is a paradigm-shifting event. Centralized power generation becomes more of a backup than a driver in places with existing infrastructure disrupting the status quo. The biggest impact would be felt in developing countries, where solar generation is already cheaper than alternatives and it could be analogous to the way mobile overtook landlines in those countries.

As with all tech products, prices will come down and efficiency will rise, alleviating some of the immediate concerns. Whether it’s the Tesla Powerwall or hydrogen power, our finite resources have forced a shift. Tesla’s recent announcement was a catalyst for that conversation.

All-time favourite piece of tech?

iPhone.  It’s simple, intuitive, and my companion for recording, researching, and enjoying experiences – real or virtual.

Where does your passion for technology stem from?

It started very early in life. As a five year-old, I used to go over to my friend’s house where I was introduced to a very beautiful wood-panelled Atari 2600. Up to this point, we had to physically leave the house — gasp — and go to arcades, so this was a transformative time in my life. This is the first time I distinctly remember technology physically in my hands and I was hooked. My father was also always taking everything apart and putting it back together and I’m positive this curiosity was extended to me. Throughout my life, I’ve had a natural desire to seek out how all things function and how their interdependencies relate, whether a piece of tech or not.


Luke Ritchie, Executive Producer, Nexus Interactive Arts


Hottest piece of tech for personal use?

It’s not the sexiest answer, but frankly for the masses this remains the mobile phone. They get thinner, better, faster and we’re writing more interesting software for them – they remain the hottest and most in-demand accessory by almost everyone. 

All-time favourite piece of tech?

From a gadget perspective it’s got to be the phone – it’s not pure love, like my SNES, but it’s outlasted everything else and still remains glued to my hands everyday. In a pure technology sense, after the Internet, Wi-Fi just doesn’t get enough respect for how it’s changed our work lives. 

Where does your passion for technology stem from? 

I’ve always been interested in computers but despite the cliché it was probably DOOM that changed things for me. I started using its level editor and learning early 3D and it was from there that I crucially started to think about the user for the first time. For about 15 years I’ve enjoyed coding, probably more for therapeutic reasons, rather than actually being any good at it.  


Des Holmes, Creative Technical Director, AnalogFolk London


Hottest piece of tech for personal use?

It has to be the Apple Watch. All Apple product releases bring wider adoption, allowing the industry to move forward and explore new ground. The Apple Watch will increase the number of micro interactions, which in turn will form more intimate relationships between brands and their users.

All-time favourite piece of tech?

The web browser. It's always been there (for me :) ), it has outlived a lot of other tech fads and thrives stronger than ever across a myriad of devices and is embedded as web views in mobile apps.

Where does your passion for technology stem from? 

I trained as an illustrator, but during my second year at university I realised the geeks playing Quake on the Interactive Design course were having much more fun than me. From then I became a full-blown geek. Tech combines creativity, problem solving and most importantly making – which is perfect.


Eric Decker, Technical Director, Firstborn


Hottest piece of tech for personal use?

I’m excited to see where webGL takes us. It’s not really new, but now that more browsers and devices support it by default means that it’s an option for more than just making ‘Chrome Experiments’. Coming from a Flash background (specifically during the PaperVision & Away3D days) I’d love to start making rich and immersive interactive experiences again. I think now that mobile devices are natively supporting webGL we can start to combine that with some of the other unique features of that platform – such as touch, gyroscope & accelerometer, etc. – all which are accessible via web APIs – in order to create some pretty cool things. 

All-time favourite piece of tech?

I’ll always love Flash. It was what got me into web development and programing in general. The reason I think it was an amazing piece of tech was that it had such an easy learning curve to start making stuff. I actually hated the idea of programing – just typing in a text editor all day seems exhausting and unrewarding to me. But Flash showed me the possibilities as it was way easier to understand how things work and to get things moving. It was essentially my gateway drug into becoming a programmer.

Where does your passion for technology stem from? 

I got into interactive design and development originally because I wanted to make video games. I ended up in digital advertising instead because I realised I would have way more control over what I am actually making. I didn’t want to be a cog in a 100 plus person team working on a single project over two or three years with little to no creative input on the final result. So I got into this field because I simply wanted to make experiences that tell a story to a user.


Adrian Gans, Innovation Director, VCCP


Hottest piece of tech for personal use?

I have the delightful Leap Motion controller on my desk at home, and a very tidy Zepp sports wearable, but to be perfectly honest I get the most value out of a Foscam IP camera, that I use with the IP Cam Viewer app to keep an eye on my baby daughter. It’s basically Big Brother for dads.

All-time favourite piece of tech?

Nokia 7110. It’s 1999 and I feel like I’m in the Matrix, ‘nuff said.

Where does your passion for technology stem from?

I guess originally from playing computer games as a young ‘un (from Spectrum to Acorn and Commodore 64) but more seriously at uni where I studied physics, engineering and cybernetics. In ’94 I built a model of global climate using a piece of standard engineering software. Then along came the World Wide Web.


David Caygill, Creative Technology Director, iris Worldwide 


Hottest piece of tech for personal use?

Love my Raspberry Pi running Kodi hooked up to a Synology NAS. It’s great to finally be in control of the sprawling of media mess that builds up in my family at home. Thousands of pictures, videos, songs and media now available anywhere in the house on any device and backed up to Amazon Glacier. It also brings AirPlay mirroring, catch up TV and a host of weird and wonderful plugins. The Raspberry Pi & Kodi stuff is all open source so you’re not locked into a vendor and you get to mess with wires and code; what more could you want?  Sort of make your own Sonos but better.

All time favourite piece of tech?

Ah this changes every day, right now it might actually be remote central locking on cars - it’s just such a huge user experience upgrade, very elegant and has now totally what you expect. If you’ve ever broken your key and gone back to locking four doors separately it just seems totally archaic.

Where does your passion for technology stem from? 

I’ve been taking things apart and putting them back together since I could hold a screwdriver. I guess now we’d brand that ‘hacking’. My targets for tinkering were everything from toys to Walkmans to my Speak and Spell. That didn’t stop when my dad came home with our first computer, a BBC B. It all started with

10)Print ‘Dave is cool’

20) Go to 10

When it comes to coding I’ve always loved the way you could smash together logic and creativity to make magic.