A Robot Celebration


Last Saturday we witnessed something very special.  Our dear friends Dan and Cody were married in a lovely little ceremony at Sublime Point, a breathtaking location 415m above sea level on the South coast of New South Wales.

How’s the view?

How’s the view?

That in and of itself was not remarkable; people get married there almost every weekend it seems.  What was unique about this wedding was the fact that it was officiated by a robot.  That bears repeating- a robot directed proceedings, asked the relevant questions, and finally, joined the happy couple.  Of course, it was given the power to do so by a Real Live Human Being (robots aren’t able to weld couples in marriage just yet) but for all intents and purposes the robot (Known as ‘Celebrot’) was the celebrant who made it all official between Dan and Cody.

The ring’s the thing

The ring’s the thing

As it happens, Dan is often forgetful, but not on this day, and so was able to produce the ring when asked, however we got the impression that had he been unable, the robot would have been able to dispense a perfectly good substitute.  It asked all the right questions, in the correct order, and even threw in a little robot humour. Robot humour, as it turns out, is at the same technological level as Dad humour, but the guests seemed to take in all in good fun.

Lookout! It’s Sublime Point Lookout!

Lookout! It’s Sublime Point Lookout!

As we arrived, the scene looked no different to any other wedding we’ve attended.  There was a table of nibbles, children dressed up more than they may have cared to be, and the obligatory marquee festooned with flowers.  

Currently a bridesmaid, a bride whenever she chooses.

Currently a bridesmaid, a bride whenever she chooses.

What was different, of course, was the rather fetching robot that (possibly by design) perfectly matched the White Wedding colour scheme of the event.  It had a light ring framing a tablet and a high quality SLR camera. The robot stood ready to perform its duties, and while it did so, it displayed a slideshow of moments from Dan and Cody’s life together, including their friends, some of whom were in attendance that day.  It was also nice to see the photos of some of Dan and Cody’s friends that were not able to attend; it was as though they were there by proxy.

Soon the moment was upon us!  With a tapping of a glass with a piece of silverware, the guests were rallied into position and the ceremony proper commenced.  Cody addressed the guests:

“For as long as I’ve known Dan he’s been interested in robots.  We bonded over watching Doctor Who when we were younger and ever since we met each other at our tech. startup we’ve shared a common interest in technology, and using it in interesting ways.  So when I got the chance to have an actual robot take part in our special day, you can bet I jumped at the chance!  Celebrot, if you’d be so kind?”

That’s when we first heard the robot speak.

Celebrot does its thing.

Celebrot does its thing.

“Dearly beloved.  We are gathered here today to join these two lovely people.. In that most holy and sacred institution- the institution of robot marriage.”

This first example of robot humour went down rather well, and it was a nice icebreaker to what could have been a stuffy and austere affair.  We wondered if the robot might run the risk upstaging the Humans, but our fears were quickly put to rest as Celbrot deftly deferred to Dan.

“Dan, I believe you have some words to say?”

We’ll spare you Dan’s speech- after all it was his special day, and to be frank Dan is not known for his sparkling writing.  But when he was done, there were a few sparking eyes in the crowd. Celebrot continued.

“That was most stirring Daniel.  I wouldn’t want to follow that!”

After a smattering of laughter, Celebrot went on.

“Cody, it’s time to follow that.”

Cody reciprocated, and we don’t mind telling you that we appreciated her wordsmithing more than Dan’s.  When she was done, it was Celebrot’s turn to shine.

“Cody, do you take Daniel to be your lawfully wedded husband, to support him in sickness and health, and humour him as he picks up a seemingly unending series of new hobbies until death do you part?”

We could hardly be surprised at Cody’s response.

“I do.”

Celebrot continued.

“And Daniel, do you take Cody to be your lawfully wedded wife, to make her breakfast in bed, and not only on her birthday, to rub her feet, and not just when they’re sore, until death do you part?’

We held our breath, hoping that Dan wouldn’t take this moment to improvise a ‘funny’ response.

‘I do.”

We exhaled. Rings were exchanged, and with a kiss, the couple were married!

Well done Dan.

Well done Dan.

The crowd erupted in cheers, and Celebrot did what could easily be interpreted as a little dance.  But then came the biggest surprise- the robot’s light ring turned on, and it seamlessly transitioned into becoming a robotic wedding photographer.  Guests lined up in front of the robot and had their photo taken, and shortly a high quality glossy print was produced by the robot.

Until this moment we didn’t know what this part was for.

Until this moment we didn’t know what this part was for.

A view fit for a marriage.

A view fit for a marriage.

Predictably, the first run of photos featured well behaved friends and relatives, and as the night went on and the beverages flowed, the nature of the photos changed and at the end of the ceremony there were a few that Dan and Cody held on to save their friends from embarrassment.

Cheers!

Cheers!

All in all it was a triumphant event and later we heard Dan saying to Cody that the addition of Celebrot made the occasion an extra special affair.


We’ll let you in on a secret- this didn’t actually happen.  But there’s no reason it couldn't! What do you think? Would you welcome a robot celebrant at your wedding?  People get married underwater, while skydiving, and of course in their cars going through a drive-thru in Las Vegas.  And here’s another fact nugget- we have the technology at Streaker to do this today. And if you’re interested, we vow to make it a special day for you!

AI-Driven Events of the Very Near Future

AI-Driven Events of the Very Near Future

Given the technologies available today, what would a day at an event look like if those technologies were put to good use in enhancing the experience of its attendees?  Here are the rules- the technologies must be those we’ve worked with here at Streaker, or at the very least leverage the expertise possessed by our creative technologists.  They must be applied in a way that enhances the experience of attendees (and by extension the event organisers and vendors) and be a feasible implementation; not a fanciful imagining that could be mistaken for science fiction.

Five things we learnt designing emerging technology solutions for the event industry

Now more than ever, audiences expect technology to be an integral part of any experience.

Peter Thiel said, ‘We wanted flying cars, instead we got 140 characters’.

Even the most conservative marketing and event managers are realising more and more that creating a delightful experience requires something more than a great location and sophisticated catering.

However, with the lightspeed at which our tech-focused society is moving, the task of choosing effective, relevant emerging technologies for a particular brand’s storytelling can be daunting.

Witness the marvels of modern technology: AR, VR, AI chatbots, robotics, voice apps and a plethora of drones, 3D scanners, and biotech and neuro technologies evolve constantly, and new and exciting solutions pop up daily.

Apart from the difficulty of understanding the feasibility of these solutions and their effectiveness, marketing managers are particularly concerned about the process and budget required to develop bespoke interactive installations and other experiential technology solutions.

And they should be.

Designing, executing and maintaining a bug-free bespoke installation using new, often experimental technologies requires an appropriate budget and long testing periods to avoid disasters.

The good news is that thanks to recent advances in digital manufacturing, rapid prototyping and modular electronics, creating bespoke technical solutions is easier than ever. If budgets and timeframes are still a concern, plenty of off-the-shelf solutions can be easily adapted, rebranded and combined to create executions that feel fresh and newsworthy.

Implementing creative technology can be expensive, but there are smart ways to do it.

I thought it would be useful to share the five things most valuable things I have learnt over the last 15 years while designing experiential technology solutions:

1. Involve a creative technologist during the concept stage

Having a T-shaped technologist sitting at the concept table can really help you steer ideas towards unexpected directions and find cost-effective solutions that fit your budget without reinventing the wheel.

2. Set an indicative production budget

Blue-sky ideas are great, but at the end of the day, time is money. Spending days or weeks working on ideas that could require 10x your available budget is a waste of time for all parties involved. We all know it is difficult to pull a figure out of nowhere, but setting a target budget to produce a particular project drastically improves your chances of bringing to life a well-executed activation. In fact, having an indicative budget forces technologists to find smart, cost-effective solutions that can still be relevant and newsworthy while ultimately providing great ROI.

3. Keep an open mind

When working on ideas, creatives often tend to fall in love with a particular execution or technology. Perhaps all the buzz around machine learning, mixed reality, 3D printing and drones can affect our judgement. The reality is that after a bit of investigation, you might be a better, sometimes unusual way of doing things that massively improves the quality and efficiency of the final experience.

Accepting a change in direction while maintaining the core idea can be difficult at times, but I believe that what really matters is the quality of the end result.

4. Keep it simple

Avoid feature creep! The ongoing expansion or addition of new features in a product, especially complex hardware or software, can massively increase your risks and bloat your budget and timeframe.

Like in many other fields, less is more in creative technology. Identifying core features that enable the creation of an unforgettable experience is the perfect recipe for success. For example, there is no need to create a VR experience with 12 different scenarios when the average user will only have two minutes to experience it.

5. Trust the experts

Creative technologists spend days, nights and weekends reading about and prototyping with new technologies. They can really make things that feel like magic. Finding technical partners you trust and listening to their advice can help you make amazing things happen. Real experiences still matter, and we are bombarded by content, but nothing sticks like a real-life experience that seamlessly embeds cutting-edge technology that fits the brand.