Gleaning wisdom from your futureself

Want to know what the future looks like in 20 years? What technology you’ll be using? What your house, car or even your kids will be like?

Or perhaps you just want to see how bad you look after the passage of time has ravaged that youthful visage?

A new campaign from telecom brand Orange allows you to log on to a website and talk to a future you – a more knowledgeable and wrinkled you.

The campaign was launched to celebrate Orange’s 20th anniversary, with the idea being their customers can take another 20-year journey with them – and they’ve coined it #Futureself.

Created by Publicis Conseil and Jam3, Publicis Paris creative director Steve O’Leary says the idea was all about discovering your own personal future, rather than just the future at large.

“We had this idea of connecting you with your future self in 2034.

“Who hasn’t dreamed of travelling in time, seeing what the future’s going to be like? But the fact that you’re actually interacting with yourself suddenly makes it a much more personal experience. It’s more about my story, what’s my life going to be like in 2034?” he says.

After logging on to the website your facial features are scanned.

Jam 3 creative director Adrian Belina says the process from there is a lot more complex than people will expect.

“The user will never realise how challenging this project is, it seems so simple.”

“What makes this different is the realism – capturing the emotion and using technology you’d see in film and video games. It’s about capturing all of the muscles in somebody’s face.”

The platform uses a variety of digital technologies to bring the future-you to life.

These include Faceshift (facial motion capture software) to track and replicate facial muscle movement, and a range of 3D rendering and ageing simulation tools. The future you has been programmed with Google’s speech API, which allows you to speak to yourself.

You can ask yourself all the usual questions, but there are also a few surprises chucked in for good measure.

“There are a whole bunch of Easter eggs in there, you can ask about celebrities, about sports teams, and even about ad agencies,” Belina says.

The promotion is happening at futureself.orange.com.

More and more companies seem to be aiming to replicate human emotion and interaction to impress and enhance their brands.

The technology even being used closer to home, with virtual reality software being pioneered by Kiwi engineer Dr Mark Sagar, who has also won Oscars for his work bringing to life on-screen characters in King Kong and Avatar.

Sagar is currently working on responsive, realistic avatars that customers can interact with when checking in at airports.

The avatars can read your emotions and facial expressions using complex brain system simulations.

He says the software has a multitude of applications for brands in the future, including interactive billboards, virtual personal assistants, companions and teachers with the human-like avatar allowing brands to control their customer service image.

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