Monday, 27 January 2014

The Death of Consumers Caring About Smart TV

      In the last several years, smart TV market share in the UK can be argued to be disproportionately small relative to the amount of communications promoting such products. While smart TV usage has increased by 2% annually to 7% of all TV owning households in the UK during 2013 (Ofcom), the amount of challenges to its success are growing quickly.

     The growing problem facing smart TVs can be illustrated by how owners mainly use them, viewing content online, from catch up TV apps (57%) to streaming on apps like Netflix (38%). Consumers using smart TV technology to expand the existing core functionality of TV is expected, but it doesn't provide smart TVs a USP against connected TV
devices like game consoles (an estimated 4m Xbox & 3m Playstation users in the UK), set top boxes and growing plugins such as Google's Chromecast.

Monday, 23 September 2013

Can the iPhone 5s push biometrics into mass appeal?

Until the announcement of the iPhone 5s' finger print scanner or 'Touch ID', you were more likely think of Biometric technologies at an airport or with your passport than on your phone. That's because historically, the technology has only really consistently made mainstream news when added or adopted to immigration procedures and passports, normally holding facial data and/or fingerprints. Despite this, biometric identification has evolved and made its way to a variety of locations in the last decade, from to Disneyland's fingerprinting on entry to identifying high value customers in retail and even processing payment with your face alone. However, the opportunities such technology can provide are counterbalanced by concerns about privacy and data security, as the possibilities for widespread consumer biometric uses are consistently dogged by concerns about who stores your data.

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

3D printing is becoming more tangible and so are its copyright problems

3D printing, like many emerging technologies, is a great opportunity slowly finding a myriad of problems to solve. The decreasing costs and increasing quality of 3D printers, driven by groups ranging from Makerbot and Formlabs down to Maplin’s budget Velleman K8200, has meant that the hardware is becoming increasingly accessible. Companies such as UPS are also increasingly focusing on making 3D printing accessible through their network of locations, negating the need for hardware investment. Meanwhile websites such as Thingiverse and technology such as 3D digitizers and extrapolation technology are creating more and more things of which to print and innovators are creating the amazing and the worrying. With operating system support coming in version 8.1 of Windows 8 and brands such as DVV, Amazon, Nokia
and others expanding the way the technology is used, 3D printing looks poised to move further from industry buzz word to tangible results.

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Telepresence and Advertising: Short Term Gimmick, Possible Long Term Opportunity

Telepresence robots have long been the domain of the back of the business section news article, covering various advancements made by Cisco and others in creating a viable robotic solution to working from home but being in the office. More often than not however, the reality of such solutions has been derided over adopted, as in sitcoms such as the ‘Big Bang Theory’. While guiding a robot around the office and video conferencing on the fly may not be common place, or even free from ridicule, the technology has recently been implemented in two interesting advertising campaigns by San Pellegrino and Coca-Cola Israel. 

San Pellegrino’s ‘3 Minutes in Italy’ campaign utilized telepresence robots to allow Facebook users to control a sandwich boarded and branded robot as they explore the village of Taormina in Sicily. Users were able to interact with locals through video conference, with audio being automatically translated, as they were given a guided tour of the city. The campaign also offered live video from a drone of the city from the sky, but clearly the main attraction here was the ability to interact with the locals. The campaign, while arguably limiting its scale, used telepresence to bring to life the Italian brand values conveyed by San Pellegrino in a novel and engaging way. 

Coca-Cola Israel recently deployed similar technology to allow Israeli teenagers to attend their ‘Summer of Love’ festival when not able to go in person. The robots were similar in set-up to San Pellegrino’s campaign, but allowed users to travel around the music festival, interact with festival-goers and watch bands. The campaign generated PR coverage for both the festival and the brand in a way that extended the technology’s use. 

For both campaigns, the issue of scalability quickly relegates the use of telepresence to a gimmick on first look, despite the possibility for earned media and PR amplification. Though scalability isn’t likely to be overcome in any use of telepresence advertising, campaigns such as San Pellegrino highlight the opportunities for long-term use over more tactical activations such as Coca-Cola. Using robots to bring consumers to the home of San Pellegrino, if only for a limited campaign this time, highlights how brand values can be brought to life through this novel experience for web users in longer ways. Going forward, similar technology could be used to bring other destinations to life consistently, from luxury car factories for perspective buyers online or in dealership, to possible hotel guests examining a resort, with scale coming from long term consistent usage of the tech. Any brand with a location to bring to life, and the time to organize a feasible amount of engagement, could consider a possible telepresence solution. So while cowboy hat wearing robots might not be ferrying Jack Daniel's enthusiasts around Lynchburg anytime soon, it isn't beyond the realm of possibility.

Monday, 19 August 2013

How Smart Watches Can Succeed: By Knowing What Not To Offer...

Growing up, I saw the movie 'Dick Tracy' and as most kids who saw his wrist watch phone, I really wanted one of my own. This was a case of  expectation and reality not quite meeting up, as the watch I ended up getting from the 90's Toys-R-Us was less the size of a time piece and more a full sized 'walkie-talkie' with a velcro bracelet attached to it. Incidentally, this was one of the last watches I owned, as mobile phones came in a few years later and fixed my need for a time piece, something I was quite happy to adopt. These two stories are quite coincidental currently, as discussion around major manufacturers getting into the 'smart watch' subsector of wearable technology stands ready to attempt to usher an updated type of 'Dick Tracy' watch to market and its all because of smart phones.

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Elon Musk's Hyperloop: The rise of the Open Source CEO?

The news of the publishing of Elon Musk's proposal for his Hyperloop transport proposal has spurred a bit of discussion on its feasibility, impact on mass transport and how it would fit within the wider market. While many different pieces have begun to discuss this in depth, reading Musk's 54 page published 'alpha' plan PDF, what has struck me is the way in which he has gone about releasing the idea and his approach to it being completed.Musk's last page show's his open approach to developing this idea, as he's putting the entire design and concept out for someone to implement with him. In interviews he's stated that Tesla and Space X is taking up his time (a rumored 100 hour work week) and that Hyperloop needs someone else to take up the challenge.

Thursday, 1 August 2013

How will Google Chromecast fit in the market?

The launch of Google’s Chromecast aggressively opens a new avenue for the brand towards a presence in the consumer’s living room. At $35, the HDMI dongle allows users to cheaply stream content from Netflix, YouTube, Google Play, the Chrome browser and photos albums to their TVs utilizing the Chrome Operating system. Unlike SMART TV interfaces or connected devices which feature remotes and onscreen menus, Chromecast uses a consumer’s existing devices as a second screen to control it, meaning content can be streamed and controlled from Android phones and tablets, iPhones, iPads and Chrome for Mac and Windows. The ability to stream content to a Chromecast device happens within a second screen app, indicating Google is relying on developers to add functionality to existing apps over attempting to create native versions on their device. Google has positioned Chromecast as a light weight, straightforward and affordable solution to making any TV ‘smart’.