On Predicting the Future: Roku’s Reward and Augmented Reality

(A new piece I wrote and edited for The Kenwood Group’s blog)

Predicting the future is a tricky business. It’s difficult to know what’s going to happen, and you never know whom you might inspire. 

Jim Samalis, who joined Kenwood as Executive Creative Director on April 1, was reminded recently of a visionary film he made years ago, and was rewarded by seeing the fruit of some seeds he helped to sow.

The story starts seven years ago. Jim worked for another company, charged with creating a video for Hewlett-Packard that tapped the new field of Augmented Reality. Phil McKinney, the client from HP, explained to Jim: “Imagine you hold your device up to a landmark where a battle happened. With AR, you might be able to see in front of it, a scene from the battle that took place there.

“Now imagine playing a video game, where you’re interacting with your environment, and clues are attached to the environment. You’re on a scavenger hunt that’s taking you through San Francisco, and you’re gaining points and gaining information as you go from place to place. As you point your device up at the buildings, you get more information.”

Jim found the idea exciting. He created and produced a video for McKinney and HP called “Roku’s Reward.” (No relation to Roku, the current streaming-video service).

“We literally had to devise a game with little knowledge, and think about what the rules of the game would be, and how the game was played, and how you gain points,” says Jim. “But there was no game, right? It was completely concocted by the director and me. So we came up with this game video idea, introduced a bit of a storyline, and pitched it to Phil.”

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