At the Adobe Summit marketing conference in London, the company showed off some prototypes of creative and marketing tools its R&D teams are working on.
These included a couple of interesting VR ideas and a re-show of a tool for automatically replacing skies in photos (for example, changing a mid-afternoon sky into night).
Adobe calls these presentations 'Sneaks', and are regulars at the company's Max and Summit conferences. They involve R&D staffers presenting prototypes to a celebrity. Today it was Jonathan Ross (below) – previously we've seen Nick Offerman (at Max 2015), Davina McCall (Summit 2016) and Get Out director Jordan Keele (at Max 2016).
Some of the prototypes shown will make its way into Adobe's Creative Cloud and Marketing Cloud software-and-services platforms – Photoshop's Dehaze tool was initially a Sneaks demo at Adobe Max in 2014 called Defog. Others – like the system to using Beacons to link physical artworks to Behance pages shown at the same time – have not.
It's also a chance for Adobe to present itself as innovative and get some tech up on the main keynote stage alongside talks but leading creatives/marketers and – in the case of Summit – I'm-not-sure-what-they've-got-to-do-with-marketing interviews with well-known personalities (today Frank Lampard and Colin Firth).
This first to two VR-related demos was a prototype for adding dynamic, targeted ads to virtual reality content – which it aims to help content produces make money from VR experiences and games.
Adobe showed a 360-degree video of Piccadilly Circus, then opened it in After Effects. An R&D staffer used tracking and masks to add flat and curved planes overlaying the London location's famous advertising billboards (and the side of a passing van).
These surfaces could be populated with targeted ads using Adobe's Advertising Cloud platform.
From the audience, I couldn't see whether this was using built-in tracking of VR footage – which would be interesting on its own as currently you'd need to use Mettle's SkyBox Studio plugin to allow this. We've reached out to Adobe to find out and will update this story when it responds.
Aimed at marketers, this lets them send smarter offers to with fewer opportunities for disappointment or sending people offers for products and services they've already bought. It's out in early beta soon.
First shown at Adobe Max back in November as Sky Is Not The Limit – where I took the below photos – this tool automates the process of replacing a sky in a photo, grey to sunny or day to night (or vice-versa).
Here SkyReplace was shown running in a browser and presented as more of an automated tool for marketers than a potential new feature for Photoshop – but there's no reason why it couldn't be both.
This demo used AI to automatically build out a website, creating subpages based around particulars terms and personalised pages from a database of content without the content needing to be manually tagged.
It's designed to be part of Adobe's Marketing Cloud platform.
This tech demo showed how 'Smart Speaker' devices like the Amazon Echo and Google Home could be used away from the home in retail, entertainment or hospitality. The staffer demoed showed how an Echo could be put in a high-end-but-not-luxury hotel room to act as a virtual conceirge.
This involved created a 'Skill' for the Echo that uses the Adobe IO platform to connect to Adobe Experience Cloud.
This is an AR-based asset viewer. Using 'mixed-reality' from within a VR headset – so you can see the room around you as well overlaid CG objects – you can view and swipe through a grid of images. Select one and you can zoom in, and you can even add images from your phone by using a VR controller to 'pull' the images into the grid.
It was a demo in a very early form – it was a more obvious fit for the AR-focused Microsoft's HoloLens than the HTC Vive VR headset it was demoed with, and you'd more likely want to watch 360 video and CG models and scenes rather than flat images. But, like many of the Sneaks over the years, it has potential. Whether Adobe can or will turn it into a useful tool is another matter.