PSA: You don’t have to be a designer to work in design! Daniel Rudkin, Technology Manager at isin, talks to us about what his position actually involves and how he is working with clients to shape their brand experiences.

What kind of work does a Technology Manager do at a design agency?

One of the first projects that I worked on involved augmented reality – it was during the pandemic at a time when stock wasn’t readily available. AR filled this gap so that people could experience the new product in a virtual space. We designed an interactive touchpoint where visitors could access a 3D model of the shoe via a QR code, from here you could interact with it to see different benefits and fun features like floating rocks that bounced off the product to demonstrate its durability. At the end of the experience you could sign up to the newsletter and social media channels. 

Another project involved transparent screens which is a fairly new technology. We tested different types before finding one that we could build into an exact fit for the client requirements and integrate into the experience. We programmed screens to show content with a transparency of 80% – allowing you to also see into the wider activation space. For the same project we also implemented trigger screens that displayed key information when the product is picked up. This process involved sourcing the appropriate hardware and programming it to detect when the trigger is released.

For a Vans activation on Oxford Street we created a multi sensory experience to launch the All Weather MTE collection. As a shoe that can withstand the elements, we designed a journey that simulates walking through a storm with the soundscape getting more and more intense as you reach the shoe. We used the same unit as the trigger screens but programmed it to be activated by a motion sensor.

What does the design process look like?

Where relevant, we try to push our clients out of their comfort zone and help them to see the possibilities that are out there. The initial idea usually comes from the creative team before being handed to me to work out the logistics and execution details. Working in this way enables the creative team to be more free in their thinking. I encourage them to think as big as possible – there is always a way to do things and this process has led to the discovery of some really unique technologies that not many people have heard of. 

What are the biggest challenges that you face when incorporating technology into the retail experience?

A huge challenge is making sure that the experience feels seamless and intuitive. A big part of my role is working with the creative and installation teams to ensure that the hardware remains undetected. It’s not about technology for technology’s sake. It’s about about subtly enhancing the overall customer journey.  

Do you have any ideas you’d love to see implemented in retail? 

I would love to create an in-store experience that makes it easier for customers to find their perfect fit without having to go through the sometimes arduous process of trying clothes on in the fitting room. For example, a booth that integrates AI and hologram technology. It would take your measurements before generating a life-sized hologram that shows you how different fits, sizes and colour ways would look on you.  You have access to the full product catalogue meaning that this would be a much faster alternative to the traditional fitting room. If something wasn’t in stock you could order it for home delivery, confident that it fits. The AI could even suggest recommendations for your body type.  It would also be great to add an element of personalisation where you can make changes and see them in real time on the hologram. This could be simple like the colour, the stitching or even adding a retro logo. Ultimately offering a configuration experience much like you get when buying a car. This would go a long way in removing potential barriers to purchase – you’re getting the convenience of online with the reassurance of in-store wrapped up in a simple and fast experience.

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