Do I Really Need A Smart Watch?

This is the question many people will be asking themselves after Apple revealed their long awaited Apple Watch a few days ago in Cupertino.

Sony SmartWatch 2It’s also the question I asked a few months ago when I was given a Sony SmartWatch 2 for my birthday. I was very excited to receive it and was curious as to just how useful the device would be. I decided to wear it every day for two months to find out for sure. So here are my thoughts about my experience. I’m not focussing on the Sony model here but rather looking at the whole genre of wearable smart watches. And not only do I love my gadgets but I love my watches too. It will require something very special to stop me wearing my classic retro 80s Casio Databank I can tell you.

Let’s start with some of the negatives.

Charging – This was a biggie for me. It’s another device to have to charge. We are programmed by now to charge our phones daily but we’re going to have to develop new habits of charging our smart watches however regularly they need it (about every 3 days for the Sony model). This was a major issue for me as I often forget to charge my smart watch and then that left me without a watch to tell the time. Battery life was also something that wasn’t really covered by Apple in today’s Apple Watch presentation although they did show a rather cool wireless charging unit.

Privacy – The next biggest issue for me was that other people can read your text messages if you choose to have them appear on the watch. If you have a nosey person next to you, you need to be quick to turn your wrist or discard the message before they might be able to see it. And what if you fall asleep on public transport? The person next to you might be able to see all those personal messages from your partner as they appear. There are ways round some of these issues but it’s still something you have to be aware of.

Politeness – You need to keep looking at your watch whenever you get a notification. When you’re with other people this can appear rude and as if you’d rather be somewhere else. Again this probably can be bypassed with user habits and ‘smartwatchiquette’. Perhaps you should think about switching the notifications off when you’re with company.

Bluetooth – Currently most smart watches are tied to a paired phone. Obviously this means you always have to have the Bluetooth on your phone switched on, which will drain your battery life a bit more, but to be honest I didn’t notice this being too bad. The other problem with Bluetooth, however, is that you always need your phone on or near you for it to stay connected. If you leave your phone in the other room then you will just end up wearing a boring old ‘dumb watch’.

Aeroplanes – This might not be the case with all models but some smart watches are yet another device you have to remember to switch off on aeroplanes, so you can’t even have a watch to tell the time with during a flight.

Fashion – Some smart watches just don’t look very nice. This is changing, however. The Sony SmartWatch 2 is slightly bulky but I’m still very comfortable with wearing it out. The Apple Watch looks very nice too albeit still fairly rectangular and we are getting some very nice round models now as well such as the LG G Watch R.

Now onto the positives…

Control – In the past, every time we heard the beep or felt the vibration we had to check our phone which was often in our pocket, or across the room in our bag, and then the screen would have to be unlocked, only to find that it was a spam message or just some non-urgent text that could be looked at later. Smart watches put you back in the driving seat. I found myself in many, many situations where it was incredibly useful having the watch on to know whether or not the message I received was an important one that had to be replied to immediately or whether it could wait. I wasn’t left wondering what it was, itching to get my phone out of my pocket. I wasn’t wasting time getting the phone out before I could look. In a mindfulness zen like state I could just glance at my watch quickly and then carry on what I was doing. Situations like being in a meeting at work, sitting in a conference or lecture, driving a car, ironing, in a cinema, holding a baby, wearing a big long heavy coat when your phone is in your jeans pocket, on a cold night when you don’t want to have to take your gloves off to get your phone out. I’ve had my smart watch in all those situations and I’ve been really glad that I did.

Quantified Self – Health and fitness is huge with wearables. They are on your body and therefore they can measure your body. Heart rate, blood pressure, motion, sleep patterns etc. Many watches have some or all of these built into the watch and this is really where smart watches become not just a ‘nice to have’ or a ’too lazy to put my hand in my pocket’ but they actually add something to your life. This is a huge, new area that wearable tech is opening up and it is a game changer.

Adjustable faces – It sounds small but it’s really cool to adjust the watch face whenever you want. You can have a digital face for when you’re being active and then change it to an old fashioned analogue face for evening wear.

Apps – The convenience factor of having some of your favourite apps always attached to your body is a perfect combination of laziness and productivity. It removes the frustration of wondering where you left your phone and it gives you immediate access to the news or communication channel of your choice. It’s early days in terms of developers making apps work well with Android Wear or with the new WatchKit tools for the Apple Watch but I’m sure we will see some very slickly designed apps soon with great ‘wrist UX’.

Apple Watch - Image from

In summary, the main Pro point for me is the Control one. It alone has made me a wearable tech convert. It gives you more convenience, more choice, more freedom instead of being a slave to the vibrations in your pocket. Wearable tech is the future, there’s no question. Convenience + Added lifestyle and health benefits = Win.

So, to answer my own titular question. Yes, personally I think I do really need a smart watch.

(this blog post first appeared on the LEWIS 360 blog –

The Conflicts in Video Storytelling

We listened to a very interesting podcast this week from Inside PR about The importance of conflict in video storytelling which really resonated with us. As we work on larger videos here at LEWIS with our in-house production team we certainly appreciate the importance of engaging with the audience. The messages discussed in the podcast are very true for all kinds of storytelling where you want to engage the viewer, be it a presentation, a campaign or in this case a video.

Cameraman on a mountain

Conflict is a word that often conjurs up images of fighting or negativity. Another way to look at it, however, is that it is just something to be overcome. Do you want to be known as a company that overcomes things? Especially when it comes to things that your customers care about? Most companies would say yes, but brands can sometimes be too conservative or even scared of the notion of conflict. If you find that your video content isn’t getting picked up then it could be because it was too vanilla or too ordinary. There was no conflict there to engage the user and make them feel invested.

The podcast discussed how conflict is one of the fundamental elements of storytelling along with hook, context, build and resolution. It’s a universal truth of life that we will have conflicts. Decisions to make. Adversity to overcome. Mike Edgell, Video Creative Director at 76BrandFilms had some tips for how brands can use conflict and stated that “there is a way to inject conflict into all kinds of content without damaging the brand.”

  1. Safe conflict – Find a challenge that the organisation can overcome. Avoid large controversial conflicts if you don’t think you will be able to overcome it or if the viewer might not like it.
  2. Empathy – Align with what your customers want to overcome. The recent Real Beauty Sketches video from Dove took an insecurity about beauty and turned that conflict into what the customer was thinking. “Don’t start with what the organization wants to talk about. Start with what the audience fears, wants and cares about.”
  3. Consequence – There has to be some risk involved. Even Disney films often deal with subjects related to death. The risk of death can be a very powerful way to get the audience invested but another way to look at that is the absence of life. Find out what your customers can’t live without and focus on that in a more fun way.

Some of the most shared videos of 2013 had some element of conflict. The Volvo trucks Van Damme splits video has the conflict of danger. Will he hurt himself? The Ram Trucks Farmer video has huge conflicts of emotion. A farmer who sits up all night with a new born colt and then watches it die. The universal truths and the highs and lows of life. The WestJet Christmas Miracle video solves the stresses of holiday travel and makes it enjoyable. And in the same video the WestJet employees are overcoming a race against time. Two conflicts in one video.

We certainly agree that conflict is very important. When coming up with a concept for a video you could consider the following steps.

1. Identify what challenges your customers may have
2. Find a conflict that can represent this with empathy for your customer
3. Choose your level of consequence. The conflict can be made safer or flipped (listen to the donut example on the podcast) depending on the amount of risk/impact you desire
4. Build a narrative around this conflict
5. Shoot your video

If we want to get our audience invested then we need to make them care. We can’t just sit on the fence. Not many people will want to watch that.

Why not go and listen to the original podcast here.

(this blog post originally appeared on the LEWIS 360 Blog)

Transmedia – the future of storytelling?

In an age where we have many channels through which we can digest entertainment it is perhaps inevitable that storytelling keeps getting more engaging. The edges between platform, media and gameplay are blurring. Fiction and reality are combining to form a new hybrid. A form of storytelling that impacts directly on your life.

Actors of your favourite action show performing a scene right in front of your eyes on the streets of London like a flashmob, to supplement a plot point in the show. Playing a video game of your favourite sci-fi show so that you can feel what it is like to be the main character. Interacting with your favourite soap opera drama to help determine what the plot outcome will be. These are all possible examples of transmedia.

It’s nothing new. The phrase was first coined in 1991 but variations of the technique were being used earlier. The 8-bit computer game Elite in 1984 came bundled with a novella called The Dark Wheel which immersed you in the world of the game before you played it (very clever as the game was only depicted using wireframe graphics). Small examples like this are quite prevalent, but it has become more and more intricate over the years.

The Blair Witch Project in 1999 is a famous example which could be classed as transmedia where they placed spoof ‘missing’ posters on billboards to raise awareness of the characters which they pretended were real. They also published a dossier of one of the main characters that people could read to learn more. This helped paint a richer world and made what was a low budget film seem to be something bigger than what it actually was.

Transmedia seems to be a hot topic right now, perhaps as the public has a much greater appetite for multi channel consumption helped in no small part by the second screen phenomenon. The biggest hyped transmedia project right now is the brand new TV show/game Defiance which aired last week. This is being made concurrently as a TV show and a video game which allows you to explore the world depicted in the TV show.

The reboot of Hawaii 5-0 also recently did a Choose Your Own Adventure style venture where they allowed the audience to determine the final ending by voting on Twitter.

But it doesn’t all have to be the latest social media techniques. Doctor Who recently aired an episode where one of the characters was reading a book and this book held clues to part of the storyline. The BBC has now published this book as an eBook for viewers to read and help understand some of the backstory to that episode.

Transmedia is spreading. The balance, however, has to be struck. The more channels you use or the more tactile or interactive you make these channels then the more real and immersive your world becomes. Too many channels and you risk spreading the story too thin, and at the end of the day you still have to have a great story otherwise no-one will keep tuning in. But if done well it can bring the story to life and immerse your audience ever more into your fictional world.

I’m excited to see what other storytelling methods will be used and what new technologies will help to enhance these even more.

(This blog was also posted on LEWIS 360 –

Image source -

8 ways to improve your corporate videos

If they say that a picture paints a thousand words then a video must paint over 25,000 words per second. Video is an incredibly powerful medium which is becoming more and more expected by users online. If you are producing your own video there are several things you can do to ensure that it is the highest quality you can make it.

Choose a style
Think about what you want to get from your video. Who is your audience? Do you want a slick corporate interview or a fun, engaging viral video? Can you make it hand-held or do you need a tripod? The style of your video sets the tone and depending on what style you choose it will affect how you handle some of the other points below. Know what you want, and then go for it.

Know your content
Part of your preparation is to know exactly what you want to film. It can be much more difficult to just go out with a camera not really knowing what shots you want. If you know from the start what you need to get then these shots will come out better. Draw up a storyboard. Print out your questions and know them well. If you’re interviewing someone and they address three of your questions in one answer you will want to be able to adapt on the move and adjust any further questions to fit.

Get your kit ready
Whether you are using a high-end Sony Z5 HD camera, a consumer level camcorder or your iPhone you need to know your kit. Make sure you know how to switch it on quickly and know of anything that can happen accidentally like a particular mode button that can be easily knocked. When you’re busy filming you don’t want to have to be messing about with the menus. Also double-check and triple-check that you have all the batteries charged, spare tapes/memory sticks etc before you leave the office. If your basic kit is 100% ready then that gives you more confidence and less things that can go wrong. Keep these things ready all the time in case you get called out in a rush.

Find a good location
Location, location, location. If you can get a good location then it puts you in control. You need as much control over the lighting and background noise as you can, plus you will want the background and scenery to look interesting whilst not distracting. If you’re filming at someone’s office then try to make sure they book you a room in advance which is big enough for your needs, has decent lighting and most importantly does not have background noise. There are ways to handle small rooms or bring your own lighting, but background noise is one thing that you cannot remove in post-production. Also make sure you arrive 30mins before the subject walks in the room so that you can get setup with camera angles and lighting before you have to manage with the subject.

Some people waste money on cameras or lenses which are superfluous to their needs. These are worth nothing unless you have good lighting. A good lighting setup will improve your picture tenfold. Soft lights are better than hard lights as they don’t produce as much shadow. Direct sunlight can be quite harsh and if you rely on using natural light from a window just be watchful for cloudy periods during filming as that can make your shot look hugely different when you’re editing it later. Ideally a 3 point lighting system is the way to go but even if you have only one light point you can be creative by having that light the subject from an angle, or bounce it off a wall to soften it even more.

Good audio is extremely important. Think about how you can happily watch an in-flight movie on a small screen a few rows ahead of you as long as you have the audio at a nice level in your headphones, but conversely when you’re watching TV on your brand new 42″ HDTV at home and the volume is too low it can be very uncomfortable. The one thing that makes the biggest difference in the quality of a final video is the quality of the audio. Bad audio screams ‘amateur’. Not only can you not remove any background noise in post-production, but editing audio quality is much harder than colour correcting poor visuals. Ideally use a boom mic, a radio lapel mic or even just get the camera’s internal mic as close as you can to the subject.

Put your subject at ease
Many people, even CEOS, melt in front of a camera. Be prepared for this. You may have to record segments several times and then edit the good takes together later. If they have to read text out try to make sure they are familiar with the text in advance. Attempting to tape a makeshift autocue underneath the camera lens doesn’t work as you can see their eyes move. If you are filming an interview on your own, try to get the camera all setup and recording and then leave it alone. If you are fidgeting with the camera during the interview you will break eye contact with the subject and also make them more aware of the camera being there.

Editing out the pauses
You’ll notice from any good video, TV show or movie that the editing is very tight. Try to minimise the awkward pauses at the beginning and end of takes. Tighter editing is better than loose editing. If you are having to cut between different takes of the same headshot, it’s handy to have shot some extra shots of the building, environment, and related activities that you can cut away to during the transition. This way the audio of the speaker continues in the background and you don’t notice the jump cut.

Below are a few examples of our videos, filmed using various techniques and in various situations. Feel free to contact us at if you would like to ask for any advice in video production.

Autoglass 2020
Autoglass April Fool
Boardroom Tweets
IBM Predictive Analytics at Marwell Wildlife

[via LEWIS PR]

Social gaming – are we having fun yet?

Gaming is no longer the domain of the teenager or young adult. And I’m not just talking about video games. They became mainstream years ago. Now we are all allowed to have fun, and we’re allowed to have it anywhere we want. This act of gamification is evident everywhere, from unlocking badges in FourSquare or Gowalla, to making exercise and education fun in video games such as WiiFit and Dr Kawashima’s Brain Training. Fun is being used as a way to instigate interaction and participation. The brilliant Fun Theory videos by Volkswagen take this to another level such as their video where speeding drivers’ fines get put into a Lottery pot which is won by one of the safe drivers on the same stretch of road. Everything now needs fun and rewards.

There’s no question that social gaming has almost always been preferred than playing games on our own. Watching experts play Street Fighter down the arcade was better than just playing against the computer in your bedroom. Playing with a friend on Bubble Bobble or with several friends on Gauntlet are some of the seminal moments in gaming history. And more recently technologies like Xbox Live have revolutionised the gaming experience. This social gaming mentality is now crossing borders and is breaking into mainstream activities. Is it the competitive element we love? Or the rewards? Or just the fact that we can have fun doing things that used to be boring? In a time where recession depression looms permanently overhead, our common woes are being relieved by bouts of social gaming. You know that other people, including your friends, are playing these games and so you feel a part of a bigger group. Or to put it another way you know that you are not alone. After all, isn’t that our biggest fear? Being alone? Stats reveal that some online games have higher audiences than prime time TV shows. Farmville recently had 30 million players per day while Dancing With The Stars in the US had about 24 million viewers (stats via

Nintendo’s new handheld console the 3DS has a groundbreaking 3D technology which doesn’t need glasses. That’s amazing. And yet this isn’t the feature that is drawing everyone to the device. It’s their Street Pass technology, which for example allows users to play a game of Street Fighter wirelessly with anyone else on the train who happens to have a 3DS, or exchange game puzzle information with each other even when the device is in sleep mode, which is proving to be attracting many people.

And no article about social gaming would be complete without mentioning the phenomenon that is Angry Birds. Even though I am one of the few who don’t actually like it (I can hear you gasp as I type this – I prefer Cut The Rope), there’s no denying that Angry Birds has become a behemoth of social gaming. Not only is it linking in with Facebook (almost a necessity these days), where it can access all your personal data, but it is also becoming a mega brand of its own. Over 12 million paid copies have been download, and over 30 million of the free version. It is generating over $1 million a day in advertising and is moving into the areas of clothing, plush toys and even a full length feature movie. All from a little game you play on your smartphone.

One other very exciting technology is Screach which allows people with any smartphone to join in a game, using the phone as a controller, such as on a big screen in a bar and compete with their fellow patrons. It could revolutionise the pub quiz. Every interaction has a value and advertisers might pay to join in those interactions or the user might pay for the experience. This paves the way for the main investers in social gaming: advertising, vouchers and coupons. More and more we are seeing adverts placed inside the games themselves, such as real products being grown within Farmville or in-game billboards in many titles. And vouchers and coupons which have been used in networks such as FourSquare, Gowalla and Groupon for a long time are now making their way into games. One user has a value, but when that user is part of a network with similar interests and has a passion for achieving fun goals, that value is multiplied.

So next time you’re enjoying playing a social game, think about all those people who are benefitting from you having fun. It’s good to share the love. Just remember that, as in any game, we can’t all be winners. Or can we?

[Via LEWIS 360]

Pros and Cons of Geotagging

[ˈdʒiːəʊ-tæg‐ɪŋ]- noun, verb

1. The addition of geographical location data to mixed media such as photos, video, tweets or social media status updates.
2. The last surrender of privacy by telling the whole world where you are and where you are not at any given time. Particularly loved by stalkers and robbers.

Before the days of mobile phones we were always struggling to tell people where we were or trying to arrange to meet up. This is now easy thanks to technology and mobile phones. It’s even now reached ridiculous levels thanks to geotagging, the act of adding location data to everything you do. As if it wasn’t enough telling everyone around the world via Facebook and Twitter what you are having for lunch you can now tell them where you are having it too.

  • Giving out live information of your whereabouts is like broadcasting to burglars that you’re not at home
  • You have to be careful about checking in to places if you have told little white lies to other people about not feeling well enough to go out
  • Unbeknownst to many people, geotagging info is automatically hidden inside photos taken with devices such as the iPhone camera
  • Sadly we all know that paeodophiles are very internet-savvy and geotagged photos of children can help them build up maps of children’s movements
  • Celebrities taking geotagged photos at home have unwittingly given away their home addresses

It’s not all bad news though. Far from it. The technology is great, but is just being misused and misunderstood by many people. Geotagging can be switched off or customised. Arguably it should be opt-in in the first place. Sites like are trying to raise awareness about inadvertent information sharing and helping educate people about how to gain control of their personal location info. On an iPhone it’s easy to switch geotagging off on the camera. You just need to know how to do it. And if you are aware of your location data and are using it wisely there are many advantages of geotagging.

  • Sharing locations with specific friends (such as with Path) to help meet up at concerts or festivals for example
  • Documenting holidays by having your holiday photos arranged by location or uploaded to Google Maps automatically
  • Aiding disaster recovery teams
  • Sophisticated augmented reality apps

One of the biggest ways in which geotagging is currently being pushed is for location based marketing. This started off with companies such as Starbucks offering free coffee to people who became Mayor of their coffee shop on FourSquare or Gowalla. Now you can get push notifications from high street stores when you check-in somewhere nearby. With the advent of Facebook Places, and all the personal data that Facebook stores about individuals, you can bet that soon you will be receiving more and more accurately targeted marketing notifications. If you list photography as your main hobby on Facebook then you will probably be told of camera offers whenever you are near a photography shop. And because they will have access to your trends over time it will help the adverts be more refined to your movements and habits and also provide ads over mixed media depending on your tastes.

I feel that the marketing aspect of geotagging is on the cusp of either becoming very efficient in terms of only giving us adverts we want to see, or becoming very annoying and bombarding us everywhere we go with personalised ads like in Minority Report. We shall see which way it goes.

Oh, and where did I write this blog? I’m not telling you.

[Via LEWIS 360]

iPad: first reaction

We were lucky enough to get our hands on an iPad in our London office today. And I can tell you it’s been hard to get our hands off it.  And yet some people are still saying it’s just a big iPhone. So what’s the fuss all about?

Is it just a big iPhone?
I don’t think so. For one thing you’re not able to make calls on it, and so you shouldn’t be. It’s not supposed to be a replacement for your phone. Replacement versions of things normally get smaller and more compact, not bigger. This is something else. It doesn’t replace anything.

So what is it?
The iPad is something new. It’s a portable viewer. It’s not going to replace your laptop and it’s not going to replace your TV. What it does do, however, is blur the lines between some of the functionality of both of those mainstay devices. You can do some laptop things on it. You can do some TV things on it. And you can do some book things on it too. And the key thing is that you can do these things whilst lounging back on the sofa. You can show your partner. You can pass it round your friends. It’s a portable, sociable, media viewer. It enhances the experience of things you already do and lets you do them in a different way and on one device.

Do we need that?
Maybe not, but how often do you have to call everyone round your laptop to show them something cool and they all complain about having to get up. Or your laptop rocks unsteadily on your knees on the sofa and when you pass it on to show your friend they have to sit upright in order to hold it correctly. And mice just don’t work on the sofa.

What can you do on it?
Here in the UK we can’t yet download apps from the AppStore. That comes later this month. But even the native apps on the iPad are gorgeous. Email. Calendar. Maps. Web. Notes. Mags. Video. Photos. The experience of using all of these apps is much better than using them on your iPhone or your laptop. I am particularly excited, however, about reading books, magazines and comics on it. That alone is 100 times better than a Kindle because it’s colour and has video. Other features it has are a pure bonus. Using StreetView together with a friend sitting next to you is just a joy and so intuitive.

What else could come in the future?
Board games, children’s learning apps, augmented reality apps. You name it.

Is it a game-changer?
Not really, because people don’t actually need it. It’s providing a great solution for a problem that wasn’t huge. But it’s pushing forward an area which definitely will be game-changing. It’s a kick-starter.

Is it essential?
No. It’s a luxury. But I still want one.