Nike+ has been heralded as a beast of bread application by a brand. As many brands vie for similar success, it’s difficult to not recognize that it success hinges in part as one part product design and one part marketing merged to enable earned media in the social sphere.
We see this marriage trending, again, with Adidas’s the Megalizer project in honor of the release of its Mega collection in France, whereby French Coder Didier Brun was tasked with “dance shoes” that allowed the dancers to control the musical output:
To create the system, called “the Megalizer”, Brun used two force sensors for each shoe — one in the heel and one in the toe — along with a wireless transmitter (Xbee) in each shoe to capture the pressure applied to the sensors. A USB dongle containing the XBee receiver chip connected to the computer received the signals from the Xbee emitter chips.
Brun developed two separate programs to operate the musical shoes — one to process the receivers’ inputs and an Adobe AIR application that interprets the signals, and chooses and plays the sounds. The system let the wearers control the sounds (volume, sensitivity of the shoe and the sound effect) that play when heels and toes are tapped on the ground, thanks to a simple interface (which is called “Minimal Components” and was created by Keith Peters).
While there are numerous debates as to whether marketing should have its hand in affecting product design. The reality of it is that both projects take the real world human uses of its product and use that as its communication message, as opposed to starting with brand objectives to drive communication.