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DS15 day one highlights: how Cancer Research is using mobile gaming to analyse cells & Sainsbury's plans for connected kitchens

The technical and entrepreneurial talent of London today descended on the capital’s East End to celebrate and discuss creativity at day one of the Digital Shoreditch 2015 festival. Here The Drum in partnership with Ogilvy has picked out the best bits including how Cancer Research is using mobile gaming to scale research, Sainsbury’s connected kitchen, and Sapient Nitro on successful storytelling.

Cancer Research

Cancer Research UK is planning a new strategy for its Citizen Scientist initiative, which lets the public analyse cancer cells via mobile gaming apps, to allow the charity to scale up its research ambitions of curing cancer sooner.

The charity, which first introduced the scheme in 2012, has seen impressive results from its standalone apps Reverse the Odds and Play to Cure: Genes in Space and platform Cell Slider – the latter allowed Cancer Research to analyse data six times faster than usual. However it was struggling to bring the idea to real scale, according to Andy Paterson, product lead, Citizen Science, Cancer Research UK.

“The apps showed that we can incorporate scientific analysis within a game and it can be successful,” he said. “But it takes too long to go from the original idea to getting science in front of the public and it doesn’t scale well. The only option we have at the moment is to drive people to play which requires publicity and funding.”

To overcome the limitations, Cancer Research has teamed with popular mobile gaming app The Impossible Line, to utilise its ready-made audience base and has developed a package to allow any game developer to incorporate Cancer Research’s research data.

The collaboration is set to launch in the coming months and while the charity has full control over how the data is used to ensure it provides valid research, the game’s developers are free to decide to incorporate it into the game, which could be an extra level for example.

“We will provide a packaged science analysis and provide non-technical resources (branding guidelines etc) to make it as easy as possible… [this] gives us the scalability that it currently doesn’t have.”


Sainsbury’s head of customer digital experience Charlotte Briscall laid bare the challenges in the grocery industry and revealed how the supermarket is looking to combat the ongoing threat from changes in shopping habits via a digital strategy, which includes the creation of a connected kitchen in its soon-to-open Digital Laboratory.

The supermarket giant, which recently posted its first profit loss in a decade, will hook up the kitchen to one of its stores as it looks to better understand consumer habits and how it can help shape the shopping journey with a digital experience.

As part of that Sainsbury’s is trialling a new mobile shopping app in its Wandsworth store which allows consumers to create a list at home, remember favourite items, and supplies a map to help shoppers find the products once in store. The app then lets you scan the product on a smart phone, pack as you go and pay without queuing.

“The retail industry is in a period of transition and there are plenty of theories of where we are heading,” commented Briscall. “But when the time does come to change, as inevitably it will, we are setting ourselves up to be able to respond to that change by working in an agile way where we can start to deliver customer and business benefit sooner.

“Our new Smart Shopping app is a case in point… We needed to get something out there fast that leverages the importance of our relationship with our customers shopping from home and shopping in store.”

Sapient Nitro

“Only douchebags call themselves storytellers,” according to Sapient Nitro’s global experience design director Daniel Harvey who said that all too often storytelling turns into “storyyelling”.

Speaking about the need for brands to link services and products through related stories to run a successful advertising campaign, Harvey said that this can most effectively be done by creating a true experience for audiences.

“Over time stories become experiences. Harry Potter for example, started as a book, moved into movies and games and is now a theme park,” he said. “That is how stories grow in the modern era.”

Using the example of Google’s Parisian Love advertising, which ran during the Superbowl in 2010, Harvey called the spot “brave” as it was a pure demonstration of the product, showing the search engine’s auto correct functionality and flight map integration. “It wasn’t touch this and it turns into candy like the absurdist advertising that we get,” he added.

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