eSports: The Future of Sports?

by in Big Ideas, News, Technology 

eSports is becoming one of highest growing markets in the sports world. ESPN has its own section on their website dedicated to eSports. Who could’ve imagined 20 years ago that playing video games could become as successful as being a professional athlete. Superstars in eSports make millions comparable to athletes in basketball, football, and baseball. There are Madison Square sized stadiums jam packed during a playoff game. Al of this has us wondering: is eSports the future of ALL sports?

Okay back up-so what is eSports? In layman’s terms, eSports consists of professional video game players competing in teams or individually against each other in a league. The winners of these leagues win prizes, most of the time the prize being money. eSports athletes not only make money like other professional athletes, they also receive sponsorships like them too. The arenas are capable of filling thousands upon thousands of people, one would think they’re at a football game by the size of the crowds in the arena. Tickets to these events cost upward of $99.

So is this the future?, Well, the U.S. government already recognizes the gamers as professional athletes. In 2013, the U.S. allowed the gamers to receive visas and same traveling privileges as other athletes so they can compete internationally. In the 2016 closing ceremonies for the Olympics, they showed a brief teaser video of Mario and the legendary Pac-Man for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. It’s interesting because although it’s a long shot, the Olympic committee has looked into considering eSports as an event for the Paris Olympic Games in 2024.

The future of sports is changing in front of our very eyes. eSports is drastically growing and the advancement of technology is only going to catapult it even quicker to the mainstream. Major corporations and groups are identifying them as professional athletes. It’s only a matter of time before we starting cheering on for our favorite eSport player.

Images courtesy of: DoteSport , Business Insider, MyGaming

Fall Festivities in Chicago

by in Around Chicago, Big Ideas 

Pumpkin Spice Latte season is upon us, and there will (hopefully) be a crisp breeze in the air coming soon. With the holiday season coming up, the city of Chicago will be bustling with activities ranging from the Chicago Marathon to the Chicago Oktoberfest. Besides great scheduled events like these two- there’s also pumpkin patches to visit along with apples to pick. The opportunities are endless in and around the city, but here are some of the events we’re most looking forward to this fall:

  • The Bank of America Chicago Marathon will be held on October 8th while runners make the trek of 26.2 miles throughout various parts of the city. It is definitely too late to sign up as a runner, but it is not too late to get out there and cheer on everyone participating. It’s an amazing opportunity for runners, family, and friends to get together and celebrate Chicago.

  • While we all wish, we could’ve shelled out the big dollars to attend Chicago Gourmet there is indeed a free festival going on until October 7th that includes food and alcohol. (Even though, yes, you will have to pay for food and beverage). This is Chi’s largest and longest annual Oktoberfest. Come out for some live music and a soft pretzel to enjoy September coming to an end and the month of October sweeping in with Halloween and the International Film Festival.
  • For the more artsy crowd, the Chicago International Film Festival is a pretty long running event from October 12th-26th, taking place at the AMC River East 21. Movie lovers from all over come to watch films from an assortment of 150 choices. These films are coming from over 60 countries, with genres ranging from documentary to comedy. So, if you’re looking for a more relaxed event with little to no socializing, this might be the weekend getaway for you.

  • I know many of us have probably taken a walk or two along the beautiful Riverwalk. Whether you’ve stopped inside to check out the City Winery, it is usually 9/10 times packed. Why not take advantage of this warm weather and go sit outside while enjoying a glass of wine and some good company.
  • Aside from scheduled events in the city, there are also many fun things you can go out and do on your own accord. The Lincoln Park zoo always has free admission, but this year is the zoo’s third annual Fall Fest. Starting September 29th, it will be going on every weekend throughout the month of October. They’ll be activities such as a hay mountain, fun slide, corn maze, and a Ferris wheel. A fun and free, family friendly event for families all around that want to get in the Fall spirit.

  • Finally, LUMA8 will be producing an “Arts in The Dark” parade on October 21st. Starting at 6 pm, this magical parade will be bringing together different artists in different fields from all around. It will of course be family friendly and include live music, food, and lots more. It will be the perfect way to celebrate Chicago as one of the most culturally diverse cities around.

Although it might not feel like Autumn yet, I have a feeling that soon enough the leaves will start changing and everyone will start getting into that Halloween spirit. The possibilities are endless when it comes to Chicago, all you have to do is step one foot outside your door.

Images Courtesy of…

http://www.nasdaq.com

http://www.electricbeard.com

http://www.lpzoo.org

 

AUGMENTED REALITY – Coming to a Smartphone Near You

by in Big Ideas, Get Mobile, What We're Thinking About 

The digital and real worlds are coming closer and closer to colliding each day. This has incredible implications for anyone trying to communicate and engage with an audience. As tech developments continue in the AR field, content creators will be able to merge the digital and real worlds in more intuitive ways. This will drastically alter what we can do as we create communications, promotional experiences, events, websites and apps. Now we have to tools to guide people through spaces, show them products in their homes and get them to interact with brands face to face. The best part is that we don’t need to convince them to get expensive devices or learn new technologies. All we need is to repurpose a device they are already using: their smartphones.

Major changes are coming to AR development with Apple releasing ARKit (a set of tools that enable developers to create augmented reality apps.) Apple is already developing AR as a feature for their maps. Imagine what you could do to guide people through a space.

Google has also been exploring AR with Project Tango. This project seeks to develop mobile devices that can map indoor spaces and to know the location of the device within that space using sensors. This project aims to integrate your body and movements, as well as, your surroundings into its simulation; changing the way we interact with physical spaces.

As Apple and Google develop their technologies, brands have also been exploring the use of augmented reality to engage their audience. Here are some examples:

IKEA

Ikea is making the most out of this technology allowing people to virtually place objects into their spaces before buying them. Customers will be able to take a photos of their room and use the app to place a photo-realistic render of an Ikea product into their space. They have partnered with Apple in the use of their new AR tech and it is said to be so precise it will show how the product’s size and lighting will look.

Learn More

 L’ORÉAL

L’Oréal has several apps that let people try makeup on their selfies before trying the products. They are also working on some in-store AR applications, installing AR at beauty counters in stores.  This gives them data on the kinds of products people are buying as well as how the interactions affect their purchase decisions.

Learn More 

 

CEDAR POINT THEME PARK

Cedar Point is taking a more playful approach and has included AR in their app creating The Battle for Cedar Point experience. People visiting the park can join different roller coaster-themed clans and compete by scanning the park with their smartphones. The app transforms the physical park into a video game and changes the way attendees interact with the space.

Learn More

 

What is the coolest AR experience you’ve seen or had?

 

Images Courtesy of  money.cnn.com  globalcosmeticsnews.comalistdaily.com.

 

10 Things I Learned as a Production Assistant

by in Corporate Communications, FLIRT Goings On, Interns, What We're Thinking About 

In the past, we let you in on the keys to success in the life of an event coordinator. But now, the interns put a spotlight on what it takes to be on-site as a Production Assistant. At first, the role as a PA on-site seems broad and daunting. You have assisted the producers and coordinators in the office for the weeks and months prior; ordering props, making phone calls and organizing spreadsheets. But now it is time to see everyone’s hard work come to life on-site.

Before going on-site the office gave me the following advice:

1.“Bring layers, the convention centers are always cold”: Doesn’t matter if you are going to San Antonio where the weather is 120 degrees, or Toronto where it is barely above freezing, pack your biggest cardigan and softest scarf ALWAYS. Just keep in mind that the PA is there to run errands and track down office supplies and props, so always dress in layers for your constant trips in and out of air conditioned hotels and convention centers to the outdoors.

2.”Wear comfy shoes, do not wear your new flats”: This is not a drill!! On-site you will be working 12 hours days, and logging at least 20,000 steps on your fitbit. Pack your black nikes and wear them with pride.

Now that I have been on a couple events myself, here are some of the things I have learned:

1.Take advice from literally everyone. Every member of the crew has been in your shoes before and been new to the world of production. Learn the important lingo from them, along with their organization and backstage tips.

2. Always have a smile on your face and be willing to talk to everyone from the janitor to the manager, because you never know what they can do to make your time on-site easier

3. Be creative. Get ready to think outside the box in order to problem solve. Shipments arrive late, supplies runs out after store hours, clients make last minute changes, and you need to be ready to think on your feet and be willing to do whatever it takes to get the job done.

4. Offer everyone on-site something to drink or eat before you do, because you’re there to make everyone’s job easier. And the crew will have an easier time doing their job if they’re fed.

5. If you’re not busy running around, take a chance to listen to the cues on headset so that you can learn about other aspects of the event, like graphics or audio.

6. Everyone hugs. EVERYONE.

7. Get used to waking up early and getting ready FAST, 5 am crew calls are not a joke

8. Bring a flashlight, or make sure to pack one in the PA kit. While producers and coordinators are discussing cues over headset, you will most likely be leading alent or executives in the dark backstage, so keep a flashlight handy so that 1. No one gets hurt, and 2. No one trips over one of the important wires that keep the event running.

9. Always take the wrapper off the water bottles, and always have water bottles stocked backstage

10. Last but not least…. Being on headset and being on-site is contagious. Once you work on one event, you’ll most likely want to work on more!

 

What’s new in Social Media?

Keeping up with all the latest tech and social media updates is not an easy task. Most of the time your devices are updating without you even realizing it. Companies such as Snapchat, Instagram, and Facebook are constantly evolving and stealing each other’s ideas in order to stay on top. Here are the latest updates for these social media platforms:

Snapchat: Snapchat has been under a lot of pressure after finally going public earlier this year. Instagram and Facebook have been on their tail mimicking almost every move Snap has made. Because of this sticky situation, in order to stay relevant Snapchat has made some major updates to their platform.

1. First, Snapchat is now letting you create your own custom Geofilters inside the app. Within the app there is a creative studio that lets you customize the Geofilter with themes, text, stickers, and of course, your Bitmoji. Once the filter is created it can cover the total area of an event or up to an entire block. Prices start at $5.99 and increase with the size of the area and the amount of detail within the filter. Not only has Snapchat made it easy on the users, it made it easy to take your event or party to the next level…..For only $6.

2. Snapchat is also now letting you become a stalker without any of the ramifications. Yes, that’s right. The newly introduced Snap Map lets you see exactly where your Snapchat friends are around the globe in real time. So if you want people to constantly know where you are, or maybe you’re just interested in seeing what your ex-girlfriend has been up to, this update was made for you. If you’re not one of these types of people that’s okay too. The update lets you have the option to be on “Ghost Mode,” meaning your Snapchat friends will not be able to locate you at any time.

3. Snapchat has also released custom stories, which are exactly what they sound like. Custom stories are perfect for trips, events, and parties. Snap lets you decide who is allowed to view the story, as well as who can add to the story. Of course you are able to add your Geofilter or location.

4. You are now able to attach a website or link into your snapchats. When viewing a snap there is now an option to “swipe up” which will take you to Snapchats internal browser. From the internal browser you are able to go to the attached link. What does this mean? Now you can share funny websites or memes with your friends through Snap. Celebrities and businesses are using this to advertise their brands and sell their items.

Instagram: Instagram has also been very busy that last couple months constantly updating and evolving their app. Instagram is on a mission to make Snapchat irrelevant and become the ultimate platform.

1. Instagram has recently introduced a number of added features to live stories. Everyone knows live stories are all the hype nowadays and Insta is making it even easier. User are now able to replay the live stories just in case you missed out on something. Additionally, users are now able to reply and comment on the live videos. In order to avoid cyber bullying, Instagram added a feature that allows users to block or hide any offensive content.

2. Location Stories and Story Links are two other new and interesting features. When posting a story there is now an option to add your location in which people are able to click on and see similar posts that have used that same location. There is also now a way to add a link into your story (though mostly for businesses or bloggers) if your trying to direct your followers to a specific site.

3. Instagram has also added Hashtag Stickers as well as additional Selfie Filters. Like I said before, Instagram is doing all they can to wipe Snapchat off the grid, and these features are their latest attempt.

Facebook: Facebook has added a stories feature to their site, yet they have been relatively disappointing compared to Instagram and Snapchat. As such, Facebook is focusing their attention on evolving other aspects of their site.

1. Facebook has altered a lot of their advertising practices in terms of placement and formatting. They also now offer users the option to pay a fee in order to optimize their post in order to reach the right audience. They will also implement sticker click-bait rules that will apply on the site.

2. Facebook Live is also going through a reboot. You are now able to have private conversations simultaneously while broadcasting a live video. This means if you and a friend are both watching the same Facebook live stream, but are in different locations, you have the option to create a private chat room where you and your friend can hash out their differences.

To keep up with the latest on-goings at FLIRT, be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Images Courtesy of TechCrunch, AdEspresso, and AdEspresso.