SharpEnd Helps Brands Achieve Full Potential of IoT Technologies

After publishing an article about connected packaging in Big Picture magazine earlier this year, I was introduced to Cameron Worth, the founder of the SharpEnd “Agency of Things™” in London. The SharpEnd agency works directly with global brands to help them maximize the opportunity that emerging “Internet of Things” technologies can provide.

In addition to developing strategies, creative, prototyping, and pilot projects, SharpEnd can help brands scale up successful programs.

“Smart packaging is our bread-and-butter right now,” said Worth. SharpEnd also helps brands evaluate and test technologies for retailing, experiential marketing, and the connected home.

A New Type of ‘Agency’

When discussing SharpEnd, Cameron Worth hesitates to call it an agency. He doesn’t want SharpEnd  confused with a traditional advertising agency that plans campaigns, writes catchy slogans,and buys advertising space.

Cameron Worth, SharpEnd

SharpEnd helps brands choose emerging technologies that fit the technographics of their target market.

“We start with the consumer value proposition and why a brand would want to implement a certain technology in the first place,” says Worth. In the smart packaging space, Sharp End develops prototypes for several types of connected packaging that the brands can evaluate in private.

If a test program is successful, SharpEnd can help clients make the business case for converting a test project into a large-scale deployment.

“We can work with the brand’s existing providers to help them scale up,” says Worth. Working with packaging manufacturers and converters, SharpEnd employees can help test whether a certain technology concept fits in with existing manufacturing and shipping processes. For example, they have studied how the performance of an NFC chip is affected after it goes through a heat tunnel.

Clients

When SharpEnd was founded in 2014, it may have been the first company to promote itself as an IoT (Internet of Things) agency. Worth describes SharpEnd as “an activation partner” for the fast deployment of emerging marketing technologies.

“A massive transformation of opportunity is underway,” says Worth. “We have a responsibility to make sure that people are making the most of these opportunities.” He believes brands must understand the full possibilities of a new technology in order to get the most out of it creatively.

SharpEnd currently has offices in London and Stockholm and plans to open a U.S. office before the end of 2018. SharpEnd clients include Unilever, Pernod Ricard, British American Tobacco, Nestle, and Pepsi.

One connected packaging project SharpEnd is currently working on is a scale-up of a project for Malibu-brand rums and cocktails. Last summer, Malibu applied NFC chips to over 45,000 bottles distributed to 1600 Tesco stores. SharpEnd recommended “near-field-communications” technology because it doesn’t require the consumer to download an app to activate it. They used a printed neck-hanger on the bottle to encourage consumers to connect with the online content.

SharpEnd also demonstrates how “smart spaces” and “smart ordering” can create memorable brand experiences. For Malibu, SharpEnd created a virtual-reality experience for retailers that was much more engaging than a PowerPoint presentation. The immersive brand world contained ads, gifs, recipes, and even retail guidelines. The smart ordering project involved a connected coconut-shaped drink cup.

Sharp End shows brands how the Internet of Things can be used to create memorable brand experiences. For Malibu, they turned an empty cup into a connected marketing opportunity. Users of the connected Malibu coconut cup simply twisted the NFC-enabled base to order another a drink. Servers use the Coco-Nect app and Bluetooth Mesh networking to see where they should deliver the drink. (Photos: SharpEnd)

Malibu Coco-Nect app

Observations

In researching my article, “Connected Packaging as a Marketing Channel,” I learned that brands are curious but cautious about emerging technologies such as augmented reality, NFC, embedded smart codes, conductive inks, and printed electronics.

Early attempts to use QR codes to connect consumers to digital content failed because the “interactive experience” detracted from the consumer’s overall experience with the brand. Instead of connecting to content that was updated, useful, or engaging, the first QR codes often connected to static, boring websites that didn’t display properly on the consumers’ smartphones.

With the right combinations of technology and creative content, brands today can avoid those issues.

As SharpEnd demonstrates, packaging isn’t the only object that can be connected.  Perhaps other forms of Internet of Things connections can generate more immediate sales results (e.g. “smart ordering.”)

From what I have observed over the years, major new technologies (e.g. wide-format printing, the internet, cameraphones) didn’t really take off until some determined, creative people demonstrated killer applications that could achieve large-scale success.

For example, analysts have discussed the potential of “mass-customization” of consumer products for years. But it didn’t catch the attention of major consumer brands until HP and Coca-Cola teamed up to prove that packaging can be customized and personalized on a global scale.

Because SharpEnd can help brands with everything from strategy to creative execution and technology selection, the “Agency of Things” seems well positioned to help accelerate the adoption of connected packaging and other Internet of Things applications. Check out SharpEnd’s work by visiting http://io.tt.

 

Travel Photographers Enlist Copytrack to Fight Image Theft

By Jonathan Appleby
Copytrack.com 2018

Lance and Laura Longwell made it their life mission to travel. Despite both working 9 to 5s they found time to explore the world and in doing so set up TravelAddicts.net, an amazing site full of their adventures and stunning images from all corners of the globe.

However, they soon had issues with image theft as their images were being used without permission. The Travel Addicts turned to Copytrack, the online compensation recovery portal, for help.

Travel Addicts Lance and Laura Longwell
Lance and Laura Longwell of Travel Addicts (www.traveladdicts.net)

Now the couple incorporate the Copytrack service into their day-to-day business lives.  In less than a year’s time Copytrack has settled over 50 copyright disputes for the on-the-go duo!

But that’s just the beginning, the travellers are still in the process of resolving more claims with Copytrack. Here’s what Laura had to say to Copytrack about their life, their work, and their experience with Copytrack.

Tell us a bit about the website.

Travel Addicts was born in January 2008. Initially, it was like a lot of early blogs and was essentially a journal in which we updated friends and family on our travels.

Somewhere along the way, we realized thousands of people were reading it. Since then, our focus has been on showing working professionals how to maximize their vacation time. While Europeans are used to long holidays, most North Americans get about 10-15 days of vacation per year, so it’s important to make the most of it. Now we have readers from all over the world who take advantage of the destination information and travel advice we offer.

Photo of a blue dome in Santorini, Greece by Lance Longwell and Laura Longwell for their blog Travel Addicts (www.traveladdicts.net)

A few years ago, I decided to turn our hobby into a business. The decision was actually prompted by our photography. We were contacted by a major European capital city that wanted to use one of my photos as the focus of their tourism campaign. We ended up licensing the photo, and it changed the way we thought our website and our photography.

What place is a favorite from all the places you’ve visited?

This is the most common question we get, and it’s one that we really struggle with because we love every place we go for different reasons. We have a favorite city (Rome) that we both agree on. However, we split on our favorite travel experience.

I would say the South of France, while Lance’s favourite was our trip to Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands. Yet, there are some countries that we visit over and over again because there is so much to see and do: Mexico, Germany, Ireland, and Slovakia.

Photo of Giants Causeway in Northern Ireland by Lance and Laura Longwell of Travel Addicts.

What tips would you give to anyone getting into travel photography?

Think beyond the obvious. There are 10 million photos taken of the Eiffel Tower from the Trocadero every single day. We all know that shot. There are other photos waiting to be captured. Seek out the unusual and the untold. Try to tell a story.

In our photography, we seek a balance. We need shots that both create a sense of place as well as images that tell a story. For the story, we are always thinking about the caption.

Photo of canal cruise in Bruges, Belgium by Laura Longwell of the Travel Addicts blog (www.traveladdicts.net)

What would be the caption on this shot?

Practice, practice, practice. Nobody becomes an incredible photographer overnight. It involves lots of practice and experimentation. Get your camera out of auto focus and try to experiment.

When did you first notice your images being used without your permission?

It was probably about a year and a half ago that several things happened within a few weeks of each other. First, we noticed that a handful of our photos were being offered up by Google as featured images in search results. Second, a good friend of ours had one of her images taken by a business and turned into billboards. Third, we stumbled on a tour company that was using one of our photos to promote their tours in Africa. Those three things drove our decision to look for a solution that could protect our work.

How did you hear about Copytrack?

We heard about Copytrack from a fellow travel photographer. We didn’t sign up right away and spent a few weeks researching the company and their process for intellectual property protection. Ultimately, I decided that this was the right solution for me.

How do you find using Copytrack?

I appreciate the updates from the Copytrack team on the status of outstanding claims. I’ve been very pleased with the success rate to date of my legal claims and the speed of payment for recovered funds. The portal is quite straightforward and easy to use. And I particularly like the image overlay tool.

And what have the results been like?

I have been very pleased with the results. Copytrack has provided me with sophisticated software to monitor the Internet for illegal image piracy as well as a defined process for legally enforcing our copyrights. Working with Copytrack has become an important step in my business activities.

Learn more about Lance and Laura and their work at Travel Addicts, as well as on social media: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest.

About Copytrack

Copytrack was founded in 2015 by Marcus Schmitt and currently employs around 25 people from legal, IT, customer service and finance. The service helps photographers, publishers, image agencies and e-commerce providers detect and resolve illegal use of their images on the Internet. Copytrack assists with the image search, and the legal process to help ensure photographers receive money whenever their images are used online.

Copytrack is fully responsible for an out-of-court solution in over 140 countries as well as a legal solution in the areas relevant to copyright law. If the image has been successfully licensed, the rights holder receives up to 70 percent of the agreed sum. The pure search function is free of charge.

Package Your Creations and Gifts in Custom Boxes

Thanks to on-demand digital printing, you have the power to convert your art, photographs, and designs into all types of  marketable gifts, decor items, apparel, and fashion accessories. Plus, you can sell or ship your creations in custom boxes that are just as distinctive as your merchandise.

Custom boxes from buyboxes.com

One of the newest custom box printing services is Buyboxes.com. Operating as an independent company, Buyboxes.com has the full support and resources of its parent company Rand-Whitney. Based in Worcester, Massachusetts, Rand-Whitney is the largest independent packaging company in the Northeast. They offer more than 75 years of knowledge and expertise from the world of high-volume packaging.

Some of the benefits of ordering from Buyboxes.com include: zero set-up costs, no minimum order, and quick turnaround.

You can start with a single customized shipping box, mailing box, or gift box. As demand for your products grow, you can order quantities of tens, hundreds, or thousands of boxes as needed.

You can use the online design tool to create your own designs or enlist the support of an experienced team of packaging designers and structural engineers.

Buyboxes.com logo

With the online design tool, you choose a box style, decorate it with your logo, text, custom colors, and artwork. The experts at Buyboxes.com will check your final design, make sure everything looks good, and send you a proof for approval.

Boxes are printed on kraft or white corrugated or white paperboard.

For quality color reproduction on a variety of substrates, the company’s state-of-the-art digital printing system uses 6 colors of UV-curable inks (CMYK plus Light Cyan, Light Magenta, and White) and prints images with a resolution of up to 1000 dpi on media up to 126-inches wide.

An on-site team of skilled packaging engineers and designers can help you with any questions or unique package designs you might need.

“We do way more than just basic box styles,” says Stephanie Shamy of BuyBoxes.com “Our dedicated team of graphic designers can help create eye-catching artwork. We want to help you showcase what makes your products so special.”

Other services include structural design, packaging audits and consults, and kitting and fulfillment. Buyboxes.com can assemble your packaging and pack it with your product to be delivered to distribution centers or directly to your customers.

Project managers with years of retail packaging and marketing experience can provide one-on-one consults when you are ready to take your packaging to the next level.

“We are a group of creative-minded packaging professionals looking to change the way you package what matters to you,” said Shamy. “We have a passion for driving the new, the innovative, and the unexpected into the hands of small businesses, entrepreneurs, and everyday people who want a unique way to package their creations.”

Custom packaging isn’t just for products. You can create attractive, memorable packaging for events and award programs, product prototypes, promotional mailings, weddings, birthdays, and holiday gifts.

Augmented Reality Is Coming to Printed Books and Magazines

With augmented reality technologies in digitally printed books and magazines, readers will be able to use their smartphones to access explanatory videos, supplementary websites, and online discussion groups. Authors, designers, and publishers may have to change the way they plan their content if readers begin to expect “connected books,”

At the PRINT 17 show, I picked up two books and a magazine that demonstrated augmented reality technologies that publishers could use to make printed publications more interactive.

Book: Introduction to Graphic Communication

Two leading experts in printing and publishing technologies showed a prototype of an updated edition of the popular textbook, “Introduction to Graphic Communication.” The goal is to show designers and publishers how they can combine the permanence of print with the vitality of interactive communications.

The key to making the hybrid print/digital book possible is a new Clickable Paper technology from Ricoh. Unlike scannable QR codes that only connect readers to a single website, Ricoh’s Clickable Paper Technology makes it possible to connect with multiple online experiences, including video, social networks, audio content, and live chat.

As you read through the book, you can use the free Clickar app on your tablet or smartphone to access video and other media that helps clarify the content. You can also connect and chat with other people who are reading the book.

This updated version of “Introduction to Graphic Communication”  is being coauthored by Dr. Harvey Levenson, former Head of Graphic Communication at California Polytechnic University at San Luis Obispo, and John Parsons of the Intu Ideas non-fiction writing and publishing consultancy firm. The prototype book distributed at PRINT 17 contained two chapters: Chapter 2 covers the History of Printed Communications. Chapter 8 discusses various types of Printing Processes.

The authors said the ability to marge print and online media changed they way they wrote. Parsons said, “Adding multimedia has made me a more visual writer.” The ability to include links to external media meant they could put less on each page.

“We found no shortage of ways to use the printed book as a ‘platform’ for directing the reader to curated digital content,” said Parsons. For some content, they captured webcam video (using several takes) and edited the results. For other content, they sought permission from creators of YouTube videos and collaborated with Viddler, a developer of video-based training technology.

“We’re not publishing an e-book,” Parsons emphasizes. “This is about a new way to demonstrate the inherent strengths of print.” The authors note that print is a stable medium that can point the way to selected content or interactive connections. They believes digital media isn’t an replacement for printed books, but as a potential extension of a a centuries-long history of innovation.

Book: The Third Wave

The book “The Third Wave” by Joseph W. Webb and Richard M. Romano uses HP Link technology to help owners of printing businesses understand how smarter mobile phones, artificial intelligence, and the Internet of Things will affect printing businesses.

Readers who download the HP LinkReader can scan hyperlinked text and images to get more information, watch a video, or listen to a song. At the end of each chapter, the authors include a short series of survey questions. The answers enable the authors to learn more about the types of business owners who are reading the book.

In addition to engaging book readers, HP Link Technology can be used on packages and other printed products. The HP Link technology delivers serialized marks that enable creators of printed products to securely track individual products throughout its entire lifecycle. These marks can help prevent thefts and diversion of products, reduce counterfeiting, and assist with product recalls,

The pages of the book were  printed on an HP PageWide WebPress T240HD and the cover was output on an HP Indigo digital press. “The Third Wave” interactive book was published by King Printing Co., a Lowell, Massachusetts-based company that provides short-run book-printing services for more than 10,000 authors and publishers.

Magazine: Out of Chaos

“Out of Chaos” is a digitally printed version of the online magazine published by the color-management experts at Rods and Cones.  The printed articles are enhanced with Stampatech “Print Infinity” technology.

Stampatech augmented-reality technology recognizes photographs and logos on printed books, labels, marketing literature, or packaging and triggers interactive content. Users of the app can learn more about the product, give feedback, or even make purchases.

An article in “Out of Chaos” magazine features excerpts from the white paper “Has Augmented Reality Really Gone Mainstream?” by Cindy Walas and Kevin Keane.

The Spring 2017 issue of the magazine was printed, bound, and trimmed on the Canon imagePRESS C10000VP digital press.

Tiny Original Paintings from UGallery Make Unique Holiday Gifts

UGallery, the curated online gallery that delivers original art to your doorstep, is offering a collection of miniature paintings this holiday season. The Ornamental Artwork Collection offers gift givers the opportunity to buy thoughtful, unique, and affordable gifts with the convenience of shopping online.

Tiny paintings in UGallery Ornamental Artwork Collection
Ornamental Artwork Collection – UGallery

The Ornamental Artwork Collections features 350 paintings created by 35 artists. UGallery commissioned the artists to create series of 10 small-scale paintings that exemplify their individual styles. Ready to be mixed-and-matched, each painting is on an identical 4-inch x 4-inch canvas and comes with a small easel for display. The paintings sell for a fixed price of $75.

“In dreaming up this collection, our goal was to offer a very personal, one-of-a-kind holiday gift,” explains Gallery Director Alex Farkas. “We worked closely with each artist to create a series of paintings that are intimate, thoughtful, and long-lasting. It is my hope these charming pieces will become little family heirlooms that remind us of good times and loved ones for years to come.”

The collection furthers UGallery’s mission of opening up access to the art world through its online platform. With its affordable price point, the Ornamental Artwork Collection allows art lovers to begin, share, or expand their collections and purchase artwork by artists whose work may sell for thousands.

“At UGallery, we’ve always believed original art should be universally accessible. This collection offers art buyers the opportunity to take home or gift paintings from artists that typically sell their work at much higher prices,” says Farkas.

Founded in 2006, UGallery represents 500 emerging artists from around the world. With free shipping and free returns, UGallery makes it easier than ever to experience to joys of owning original art.

 

Guide Advises Photographers How to License Their Images for Social Media

To help photographers get fair compensation for photos used across social media platforms, PhotoShelter has released an educational guide, Licensing Your Photos For Social Media. The free guide was produced in partnership with the portrait photography community, Pursuit of Portraits.

cover of PhotoShelter guide on licensing social media

The guide can be downloaded free here: http://bit.ly/2ysZG3A

In the guide, you’ll get a firsthand look at the ever-evolving business side of social media, with insights from influential photographers, photographer representatives, design agencies and brands.

“Photos are the cornerstone of social media success and photographers must be nimble, understand the opportunity each platform provides, and know how to push for the fees they deserve,” says PhotoShelter CEO Andrew Fingerman. “This guide is meant to get photographers thinking about just that.”

The guide includes
– Examples of how creative influencers are leveraging large followings to make money
– Contract-negotiation tips from a photographer representative
– Social media-specific licensing language to consider including in contracts
– Insights into what design agencies and brands look for when hiring photographers for social media content

Comments throughout the guide make it clear that photographers must continue to adapt to the ever-evolving social-media landscape. Social-media platforms are continuing to develop features for monetization and photographers can offer but ancillary services in addition to photography.

Licensing Your Photos For Social Media is the latest in PhotoShelter’s ongoing series of free business guides for photographers and marketing professionals. PhotoShelter’s e-book library includes more than 60 educational guides on topics such as photo contests, email marketing, publishing photo books, and mapping out a photo business plan.

The PhotoShelter platform gives professional photographers an easy way to store images, create beautiful websites, deliver work, and sell or license photos.

Pursuit of Portraits is a global creative community that unites portrait photographers and enthusiasts of all skill levels and backgrounds, facilitates collaboration, and fosters supportive relationships within this creative community.

Brand Storytelling Agency Opens Creative Studio for Visuals

Pace, a large, independently owned brand storytelling agency, has opened a 2,900 sq. ft. studio space for video, photography, editing, collaboration, and creative innovation. Adjacent to the agency’s office in Greensboro, North Carolina, the studio space is called “The Outskirts.”

The expansive, airy studio is an inspiring environment for all types of teams to collaborate and create compelling work for the national and global brands Pace serves. The studio includes:

–Ideation and innovation labs to explore virtual and augmented reality, 360-degree video, and multi-dimensional animation
–a client collaboration lounge and social bar
–Edit bays and stop-motion and retouching labs
–a 25-foot cyclorama (cyc) wall for photo and video shoots

With the new studio, Pace is prepared to meet the growing demand for new forms of digital media.  In addition to custom photography services, Pace can support live-stream interviews and presentations, cinemagraphs and loop videos, broadcast-quality video finishing and editing, stop-motion videos, 360-degree video capture and editing, set design, newsroom editing and publishing, social content, and more.

“The Outskirts is a resource for any and all clients,” said Jason Whiting, president of Pace. “Pace can develop visual storytelling with amazing quality that delivers on a diverse set of creative needs, channels, and price points across digital, broadcast, social media, and events.”

Visual storytelling is becoming an increasingly important element of brand communications. According to a 2017 study published by Google, one in three adults between the ages of 18 and 54 view video from mobile devices and that number is growing. AdWeek reported that 47 percent of brands publish four branded videos each month.

According to Pace executives , the name The Outskirts is an “invitation for thinkers and dreamers to mine great ideas from the furthest reaches of their imagination.”

“Creative ideas are born and nurtured in space like this,” said Cinnamon Pritchard, VP Executive Creative Director.”The Outskirts is going to be a garden for great ideas —to shape them, grow them, and send them out into the world.”

The Pace creative agency develops integrated experiences for a diverse client base that includes some of the world’s most iconic brands. It has more than 370 employees and offices in: Dallas and San Antonio, Texas; Greensboro, North Carolina; New York City; and Bentonville, Arkansas.