Branded Content

Driving empathy through technology: a conversation with HP’s Angela Matusik

Driving empathy through technology

Technology is changing storytelling, and the emergence of 5G couldn’t come at a better time. Today’s consumer is increasingly cynical, and mistrust extends from social media platforms to government. Through emerging technologies like VR at the speed and capability of 5G, marketers have the opportunity to evolve the narrative with authentic storytelling that drives empathy.

In this new frontier of creativity, it’s the brands leading with immersive experiences that will break through. We sat down with Angela Matusik, Head of Corporate brand at HP, for a look at how her brand is using technology to create closer human connections.

Q: When we think of HP we think of printers and things that are very tangible. Why is HP investing in this experiential tech space?

Yes, we make printers. But more than that, we make machines that fuel creativity. We’re doing it through work stations, VR backpacks, headsets, and anything that helps drive sensory experiences that can bring people together.

Q: How is HP using VR to bring those sensory experiences to life?

Storytelling is one of the ways technology makes the world more connected. We’re not telling stories about us, we’re supporting stories that make an impact. Like “Hero,” a location-based VR experience that immerses the user in war-torn Syria. You’re in there making split-second decisions to help people, and you’re really feeling the fire and hearing the cries all around you. It’s literally life-changing to be brought to this world you’d never experience otherwise. 

Q: How can technology help bring out real human emotions in your stories?

The idea of having an experience is what gives you empathy. We know the best stories are the ones that make you feel real emotions, and we can use technology to help facilitate those feelings. That’s the experience with the VR film “The 100%,” about a ballerina who’s also a breast cancer survivor. Through our Reverb headset and handheld controllers, users are able to dance along with the film’s star, but slowly lose that ability as her condition worsens. You’re literally walking in her shoes and relating to her experience on an emotional level.

Q: How are you using technology to forward your sustainability initiatives?

You might retain maybe 5% of the information you read, but remember 70% of what you experience. With an issue as important as climate change, we want to encourage people to be active citizens and the best way to do that is through immersive storytelling. With the  virtual reality experience at London’s Saatchi Gallery called “We Live in an Ocean of Air,” users can strap on our VR backpack and actually feel what it’s like to walk around in a sequoia forest, for example. You can live in the world of the film, feeling a breeze and smelling the moss. It makes it real. When people are passionate about something, these experiences go so much deeper than traditional media.

Q: What new technology are you most excited about?

I’m fascinated by the idea of multi-sensory harmony, when all tech is working together at once. Headsets that adjust to your head, headphones that adjust to your ears and how you hear. Future technology will be so biologically connected to you that your brain will think you did these things in real life and remember them. You’ll be able to reach out and grab something that’s not really there, but be able to feel it so your brain experiences it as if it were real. Those are the experiences that will revolutionize storytelling forever.