MINI Augmented Reality Ad

There is quite a bit of user involvement before he/she can ‘get’ the ad – but the concept is an interesting one. The steps are as follows:

  1. User sees the ad on magazine, follows instruction to the MINI website.
  2. User holds the magazine in front of his own webcam.
  3. MINI website detects the orientation of the magazine, super-imposes a 3D model of the MINI car on the magazine on the monitor.
  4. User plays around, taken by the interactivity of this augmented reality.
  5. ???
  6. Profit!

[via designboom]

Car Design by Evolution

Back in school I used to have a professor who taught us about design+genetics (and called it Geno-metrics). The central thesis was for designers to move away from the role of designing the object to designing the parameters/rules in which the object can exist. In a one-semester exposure this was nothing much more than programming parametric CAD software to churn out hundreds of designs based on a series of randomly varying dimensions (within reasonable bounds).

So we were supposed to find an object, program a range for a core set of dimensions, and let it be randomized within these bounds. Due to the ‘law’ within the programming, the outcome is bound to be varied and yet have identifiable ‘genes’. For instance, here are some stool designs (not necessarily valid) that were executed by the computer:


I remember the majority of the class balked at the idea. Some of the reasons include:

“So what does that make me? I’m here to learn design – if the computer does everything, then what’s the point?” – the same was said for a lot of other things that are taken-for-granted design tools for designers nowadays too.
“How can the computer make good designs – it has no brains/intelligence?” – Well maybe not in 100 iterations – but what about in 1000? 1 million? 1 billion?

I was somewhat sceptical too, but the idea of ‘genes’ captured my imagination. The idea that you can boil a cacophonic, complex external object (or even systems), and distill it into its essence with just a few variables. However, the shortcomings of the above exercise lied in the fact that at the end of the day, the judgement for ‘good design’ is subjective and human. This readily makes the computer seem incompetent.

A contrasting case-in-point:


This was a Flash program by Matthew where a primitive car design is iterated by computer.  The (objective) aim of the car (that defines whether it’s a good design or not) is the length of treacherous terrain it can go pass before crashing. The variables are the size and initial positions of the 4 circles, the length, spring constant and damping of the 8 springs.

If you let it run, you’d see that as it crashes, it reboots and tries to refine the design again, and through time, the design gets improved without further manual input.

Here is the difference – with a quantifiable, objective feedback to the success of a design, computers can automate and rapidly refine designs (very likely) better than a human can. If the evaluation is subjective, however, the process becomes ineffective or slows down by orders of magnitude.

In a landscape where we are increasingly talking about user-generated content, democratic design and increased semantics intelligence for computers, this may become more relevant. There are already web-advertisements that modify its own designs (font size, colors, images, etc.) on-the-fly based on real time feedback on click-through-rates.

How/where else can this be applied?

Carling iPhone Ad

Carling’s clever use of the medium’s inherent (additional) dimension to give a more engaging experience for its advertisement. If you tilt it too much, beer actually get ‘spilled’ out, and the realistic looking foam marks clinging on to the glass also gives it a touch of realism confined behind the glass.

Which also brings to my mind – just how good does your ad have to be when you know it’s no longer spoon-fed and streamed into people’s faces (ala TV/radio/newspapers/magazines)? If you think about ads that people have to proactively download onto their medium, it really has to be THAT great.

Cool Ad

It isn’t the kinds of ad that will blow you away, but I thought this was quite a clever ad. Without spoiling it too much: you’d probably start to get the commercial maybe somewhere in the middle of the ad, and that’s when everything suddenly make sense. And you’d still want to re-watch it, just to revisit the little nuances and hints that was lightly sprinkled within the video.

I also like how switched tacks and turned a usually dry, boring and perhaps ‘too-rational’ topic into something much more poetic. Something from those typical corporate-y and ‘o-big-industry!’ tone to communicating at a much more personal level.

Catch my drift?

Greatest Taglines


Each line above was concocted as part of a commercial campaign, and each of them has resonated with us, associated strongly with the brand behind it, and became classic in their own rights. Tagline Guru has a list of the top 100 most influential taglines in history – check it out to see if you agree!

Coca Cola Unhuggable

Made me smile – in many parts of the world, a great football (soccer, or actually any good sports game) match can unite fans in cheering for their nation (or their favorite team). Coca Cola wants you to think that they’re a big part of this fan-camaraderie spirit through this humorous clip.