Dell, Nike, Genius, adidas, and Japanese Comedy — Wednesday Briefing

In this latest MAEKAN briefing, we take a look at some of the recent events that have transpired in creative culture with a bit of context to help you understand their importance. We look at how Nike, Dell, and two tech companies are looking to change how we approach design, the lyric and music knowledge site Genius' foray into fashion, adidas' commitment to sports and inclusion, and Ike Nwala, the black comedian reshaping Japan's entertainment industry.

As always, if you have any comments or insights, feel free to share them with our Slack community.

1. Dell and Nike with a Liberal Dose of The Minority Report

Technology’s role in design and creation has come a long ways since the beginnings of Photoshop. It has allowed rapid expansion from the concepting stage to production. But despite the fact that essentially all industrial designers are working with real-world products that represent a three-dimensional object, most of their work is executed in a way that prevents a more intimate relationship with what becomes the final product.

Dell, Nike, Meta, and Ultrahaptics partnered to unveil a concept into the future of design. Each partner brought a particular level of expertise to the table in what could have widespread interest across all levels of design. The video comes on the back of Nike’s most recent marquee drop, the VaporMax which is never far from the visual story.

The video suggests some amazing interactions, but not without a sense of speculation as to how far along we really are. The video itself suggests a flawlessUX and UI but the reality is uncertain (case in point, Magic Leap’s previous admission that previews of the technology were doctored).

These are the technologies at hand:

VR: The ability to create a fictional world to test products.

AR: Help optimize interactions by offering quick visual insights and overlays in real-world scenarios.

Digital Canvas: Quickly manipulate and make changes thanks to Dell’s Canvas.

Haptic Technology: Provide an important sensory output with touch to humanize the experience.

Voice Control: The ease of voice control and communication allows complex commands to be quickly executed.

How does Ultrahaptics’ touched-based technology work?

The English company started in 2013 as a way to connect people and technology. It uses ultrasound to create sensations on the hand. Ultrahaptics can be used to “interact with technology to feel virtual worlds.” It can also be used to simply get feedback from the use of gestures. Initial usages include VR & Gaming, Appliances, Cars, and Multimedia.

What does Meta do?

  • Meta began in 2012 in New York City but is currently based in San Mateo, CA.
  • More than 1,000 companies and developers are experimenting and working with Meta’s glasses
  • The glasses allow digital content to be layered on top of your real-world experiences.
  • Special engineering ensures a nausea-free experience
  • They’ve raised a $25 million Series A round and a $50 million Series B round.
  • They’re currently offering a pre-order on their Meta 2 Augmented Reality Development Kit.

2. Genius, the Lyric Explainer Site, Expands Into Fashion

Genius has earned itself the title as the media company with the largest catalog of lyrics anywhere on the web. But like most intangible and/or digital offerings,there’s often a lack of connectivity. For years on end, tour merchandise was a simple and effective way of promoting identity and one’s taste. Soon, many brands and companies that existed primarily in the digital space needed some sort of way to be present offline. From musicians to influencers, fashion has proven to be a successful way of creating awareness and serving as a secondary revenue stream.

The Lowdown Behind the “1997” Collection

  • It’s meant to be at the crossroads of story and connection with the Genius mission of educating people on music knowledge.
  • The collection features six themes.
  • It ranges from the Spice Girls and Notorious B.I.G. to Fiona Apple’s 1997 MTVVMA acceptance speech.
  • The items range from $8 for a golf ball to $30 USD for a T-shirt and $70 USD for a beach towel.
  • They’re available exclusively on

Our Take?

You probably needed to be 12-15 years old at the very least to remember what happened in 1997. Which means you’re probably over the age of 30 now. Is this relevant to that demographic? We can’t say we know for sure but some of the designs are clearly in the same vein of streetwear staples based on dad caps and Olde English font. The question is, will the kids care about Celine Dion and the Titanic or the categorical importance of Notorious B.I.G.’s Hypnotize?

3. Adidas Pushes For Inclusion and Sponsors the 2017 World Out Games in Miami

In an incredible act of solidarity, adidas announces its partnership with theLGBTQI-based 2017 World Out Games set to take place next month.

Why is this Key?

The LGBTQI community has ben subjected to increasingly mainstream bouts of institutionalized discrimination. For a brand of adidas’ scale to come out and support this initiative beyond just releasing LGBTQI-inspired product is admirable. There’s no doubt taking a stance like this can be polarizing, but we believe it comes with great societal reward and of course financial reward.

What are the World Out Games?

  • A 10-day multi-sport human rights and cultural event centered around LGBTQI.
  • Taking place between May 26 and June 4 in Miami.
  • The first time it’s being hosted in the US.
  • Athletes from over 40 countries.
  • The sports span basketball, track and field, running, soccer, bodybuilding, field hockey, swimming, tennis, triathlon, volleyball and more.

Also Happening, the Global LGBTQI Human Rights Conference and More

  • Taking place between May 26 and May 29.
  • Features internationally-respected human rights activists, researchers, legal scholars and trade organizations.
  • Renowned poet Robert Pinsky will conduct select readings.
  • Pulse Points, an artistic movement borne out of the Orlando Pulse Nightclub massacre will perform a fusion of dance, music, poetry, and visual arts

4. Ike Nwala, the Black Comedian Making Waves in Japan

Japan’s demographics make it one of the most monocultural countries on the planet. With 98.5% of the 127 million inhabitants ethnically Chinese, the country has never been quite forgiving to foreigners. Enter Nwala, a Nigerian-American employee of Goldman Sachs turned comedian who has become an entertainment phenomenon. While comedy was never his first passion, he’s been welcome with open arms. His appearances in adult comedy are important in their own right for greater cultural connectivity, but as he mentions in a spot for Vice News, it’s his children’s show that affords him the greatest opportunity to educate the next generation. A generation that has grown up largely devoid of cultural diversity.

“I think me being on the children’s show every day is huge,” he tells me. “The children now who are growing up to be adults, they already have the image of different people, you know?”

Ike’s Path to Comedy— 

  • Ike grew up outside of Seattle.
  • As a kid, he taught himself how to program before continuing onwards into college.
  • During this time, he rented a few DVDs from the local video spot that featured legendary Japanese comic, Junji “Uncle Jun” Takada.
  • Inspired by the Japanese approach to comedy, Ike made it a goal to move to Tokyo.
  • Putting his computer engineering degree to work, he took a job with GoldmanSachs in Tokyo.
  • There he would immerse himself in DVDs nonstop while teaching himself Japanese.
  • Eventually he joined a comedy troupe as the sole black member.
  • It was his skit as an announcer at Tokyo Disney Sea resort that gave him his big break.

For the full story, head over to Vice.

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