Journal of Futures Studies

ByoLogyc: exploring future scenarios through immersive experience design

September 21st, 2016  |  Published in Digital Exhibits, Slider

ByoLogyc is a fictional company from the future, brought to life in the world of today by The Mission Business, an experience design consultancy based in Toronto, Canada.

Over 9 months spanning 2012 and 2013, The Mission Business rolled out an immersive and interactive experience that put the ByoLogyc brand in front of thousands of Canadians, giving audiences a taste (quite literally) of what a biotechnological future ruled by corporate influence might look and feel like.

ByoLogyc has appeared as a special guest at the 2013 TED conference and Autodesk University. The project has since been recognized with awards and accolades from the World Future Society, Association of Professional Futurists, Toronto Fringe Festival, and the Digi Awards, where the project won Best in Cross-Platform Storytelling.

The Mission Business was founded in 2012 by Trevor Haldenby, as one outcome of his major research project in design fiction and tangible futures at OCAD University’s master’s program in Strategic Foresight and Innovation.

This exhibit introduces the project and its platforms, illustrating the impact of exploring future scenarios through highly immersive and interactive designed experiences.

 

 

1           ByoLogyc: Where You Become New

Imagine the future of lifestyle biotechnology, right here in the world of today. ByoLogyc is a creative representation of trends in synthetic biology, personal genomics, and lifestyle medicine. It’s a fictional company that acted as the backbone of a pervasive transmedia future designed by The Mission Business to provoke a public conversation about how conflicting social values and corporate agendas are driving a major technological revolution.

2

Tomorrow’s Revolutionary Products, Today

All of ByoLogyc’s amazing products exist as more than just thought experiments — they entered the physical world in the form of functional artifacts from the future that audiences of the ByoLogyc experience could spray in their mouths, ingest, and slap on their arm.

 

3

Exploring the Experience of Lifestyle Biotechnology

Each of the products imagines how a company like ByoLogyc might address individual and societal needs simultaneously — ByoBreath freshens your breath and sequesters carbon dioxide from the air you exhale (helping you fight climate change in six delicious flavours), while ByoMate enhances your desirability while screening your sexual partners for undesirable characteristics.

 

4

ByoRenew – a firmware update for your immune system

At the core of the ByoLogyc experience was the company’s new flagship product — ByoRenew is a virus programmed to modify your genetic code to enable just-in-time immunity to a variety of diseases and infections. It promises an end to risky travel, whether you’re visiting an exotic country or the classroom at your child’s school.

VIDEO: http://vimeo.com/45158276

 

5

20 Years Forward — a Future of Growth and Prosperity

ByoLogyc launched ByoRenew to the public in Toronto, Canada; with a series of exclusive parties where guests sipped champagne, listened to opera, and demoed the company’s products, and met the corporate team that had invented them. Every aspect of these experiences was carefully designed to ensure that audiences hungry for role-play and interaction could dive deeper and deeper into the scenario-driven story world.

FAN-MADE VIDEO: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jksrDhk6fOA

 

6

Digital Design Fiction

The ByoLogyc scenario was presented through all the 21st century channels you’d expect. The fictional company from the future had a website detailing all of the company’s products, video testimonials from fictional customers, and glimpses into the organizational structure that created products like ByoRenew, ByoBreath, and ByoMate.

 

7

Connecting Tangible Futures with Social Media

The senior leadership team of ByoLogyc, spread across 10 divisions, were played by an incredible team of performers skilled in improvisation and forum theatre. At the ByoLogyc live events, these performers worked from scripts and “bibles” created by The Mission Business to provide participants and audiences with a fully immersive and interactive experience. These same actors also played their characters on Twitter — ensuring that audiences could continue to dive into the scenario from anywhere in the world following a moment of connection at a live event.

 

8

ExE: ByoLogyc’s Nemesis

Halfway through the 9-month pervasive experience, audiences who had tired of ByoLogyc’s cavalier attitude towards designing lifestyle biotechnological modifications began to rise up against the company, forming a grassroots activist community called ExE. The Mission Business supported the rise of this alternative force for change in the ByoLogyc story world, providing ExE with an online home and leaks of ByoLogyc documents incriminating the company in releasing untested “beta” versions of their products on uninformed citizens of Toronto.

 

9

A Graphic Novel within the ByoLogyc Story World

Halfway through the ByoLogyc experience, a Toronto graphic novelist named Dara Gold began producing a serial graphic novel as a character within the world — an Icelandic ethnographer hoping to expose ByoLogyc’s corruption through an online comic exposing the back story of each of the company’s division leaders and highlighting their misaligned values around the technology they were commercializing.

 

10

ByoLogyc’s Disciplined Future

Following the sabotage of a production run of ByoRenew, ByoLogyc realized that their “wonder drug” product had been subtly reprogrammed to generate new and undiagnosable diseases in customers taking the beta version of the product. This synthetic disease was branded by ByoLogyc as the “BRX Virus”, and the company quickly launched a crackdown at live events and performances to swab and identify all participants, cataloguing them as vectors of the pandemic spreading through the city’s population.

FAN-MADE VIDEO: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rHenBO_MAxE

 

11

Diagnose yourself for BRX Symptoms on Facebook

The Mission Business created a Facebook app that allowed audiences to diagnose themselves — and their social networks — for symptoms of the BRX Virus, painting an eerie picture of the future of the quantified self, digital diagnostic tools, and the unsettling amount of data a company could capture through a direct line to the genomes of its customers. The Facebook app acted as a viral marketing tool (in the truest sense of the word) for the ByoLogyc experience, as well as another channel through which ByoLogyc asserted its vision of “science needing control.”

VIDEO INTERVIEW WITH CEO CHET GETRAM ON SINGULARITY WEBLOG:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h5LDbfn_FPM

 

12

ByoLogyc’s Collapse Scenario

Recognizing that the BRX Virus had spread uncontrollably through Toronto’s population, ByoLogyc began contacting anyone who had encountered the fictional company’s products through the experience’s 9-month run, and inviting them to flee the city to a special ByoRetreat compound they had designed. The Mission Business took over and radically redesigned the entirety of an environmental education centre just outside of the city, and sold tickets (marketed as salvation from a fictional pandemic) in four different tiers with four different levels of immersion and interactivity — thousands of participants attended this final event as evacuees fleeing the city, they could join either the ExE organization as a saboteur or ByoLogyc’s Sanitation and Containment Division as a perimeter guard, or they could join the recently vacated ranks of ByoLogyc’s board of directors, sipping champagne with CEO Chet Getram before the world collapsed around them, Chet was assassinated, and the ExE anarchists overran the camp in a tense standoff finale.

VIDEO: http://vimeo.com/50479549

 

 

 

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Journal of Futures Studies

Tamkang University, Tamsui Campus
Taipei, Taiwan 251
Tel: 886 2-2621-5656 ext. 3001
Fax: 886 2-2629-6440

ISSN 1027-6084