Small, simple ideas with big, meaningful impact

The simplest ideas are often the best. Here are four different ideas from the community featuring simple but impactful solutions and initiatives helping the world to stay safe in the time of Covid-19.

No Touching

Engineering video conferencing software to detect unconscious face touches during video calls and control the spread of the virus.

By GONG Agency (Poland)

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“It was one of those long video calls with a client, when one of our colleagues laughed that all guys are scratching their beards at the same time. This was during the first weeks of the pandemic, when there was a lot of discussion around avoiding touching our faces. But, that proved easier said than done. It turns out that a lot of the ‘face touching’ we do is unconscious. As we spend more hours on video calls each day, we thought that video conference software could be a great tool to detect unconscious face touching and help us change our habits to reduce the risk of infection.

“But how to build it? We started with quick image recognition prototypes to detect faces and moving objects in front of it. We realised that technology is not the big issue here, scale is. So, instead of developing a demo, we decided to share the idea with all major video conference software developers like Zoom, Google, Facebook and Microsoft. All of these businesses have advanced image recognition solutions that detect facial features and gestures that could be used to develop our idea. We created a short video presenting how the image recognition solution could work and reached them directly by email, feature request forms and through Social Media.

“The idea got great feedback and the video has been the most shared post in our agency’s history. After a few days, both Google and Facebook in Poland contacted us and confirmed that they got our message and are already working on prototypes that look promising, although they couldn’t say if and when it’s going to be implemented on a large scale. Fingers crossed it will launch soon.

“We’ve seen how the science community has opened itself up completely to sharing all research results and ideas during the pandemic and the creative industry should follow suit. We should use our potential and capacity for creative problem solving collaboratively. Timing is everything, so we should keep ideas simple and share them with everyone. Even if the idea in question doesn’t result in a new client or award.”

StayAtHomeWeather

A creative solution to tweak the weather app and remind people to stay at home in sunny weather.

By Samuel Textor and Pascal Deville, Creative Directors, and Norihito Iida , Art Director, Freundliche Grüsse (Switzerland)

Norihito: I’ve been staying at home for a month. But a lot of people were tempted to leave their homes, because of the nice spring weather. This concerned me a lot and, as a creator, I wanted to do something about it. The first thing I did was check the weather forecast on my mobile app. It came to me as a surprise that (in mid-April) only sun icons showed up in the app. Looking at these sun icons, I saw the shape of a virus. That was the moment the StayAtHomeWeather was born.

Samuel and Pascal: Timing was also important. We wanted to execute the idea instantly, because the weather was getting warmer and people started streaming outside. We decided to contact the media that same day and asked them to show the virus icon on their website to remind people to stay at home even when it’s sunny. The idea gained coverage instantly and 20 Minuten, the biggest online media publisher in Switzerland, promoted it heavily in their Corona News Feed.

Norihito: In the middle of a catastrophe such as this pandemic, people are already overloaded with a lot of information. At times like these, I personally believe that visual communication is a very powerful way to reach a lot of people effectively – especially if you want to go beyond language barriers.

A Lens on the World

Using custom Snapchat AR creativity to share and inspire

By Richard Norton, Co-founder of Tiny Giant (United Kingdom)

“When the whole Covid-19 story kicked off, here at Tiny Giant (we’re a UK trio of creative technologists based in Bristol) wanted to help in a fast, practical, uncomplicated way.

“We hit upon the idea of using custom-built Snapchat Lenses as a route to convey key messages in a simple, appealing way. Typically, we combine ideas and technology for our clients to help them stand out from the crowd. Last summer, we started making custom filters and lenses, initially for experiments, but then businesses and brands showed an interest.

“In response to the pandemic, we chose Snapchat over Instagram because we wanted to reach a younger audience. So, we created a collection of custom lenses to help communicate messages and nudge behaviour.

“We started with the importance of hand washing to our most recent lens which celebrates the heroism of those keeping society ticking over. In total we’ve created eight so far. Other than spreading the word on Twitter and LinkedIn, we’ve relied on the lenses gaining traction organically on Snapchat from relevance of message and creativity.

“What’s been rewarding is the speed of uptake: almost a million views, plays and shares since we published the first one on 11 March. It’s nice to know the images created on the lenses are being shared across the planet and hopefully making a difference in some small way. We’re currently working on a new one.”