Connection, Communication, Consolidation, Convergence, Context

Last week I was presenting my thoughts & ideas on future tech & trends with a client, so I thought I’d share them here… but let’s look at where we’ve come from, where we are now & where we appear to be heading.

Connection: Advent of the internet; Arpanet (1969), email (1972), internet mainstream (circa 1982), the web (1989)

Communication: Social media, Amazon (1994), Google (1998), Facebook (2004), YouTube (2005), Twitter (2006). RFID & NFC payment systems, Oyster card (2003), Starbucks (10% of transactions are now NF & Mobile)

Consolidation: (Hub Device) Technology & users reliant on connectivity to the internet. Most obvious tech consolidation is the smart phone, no longer separate cameras, music players, web browser (iPhone 2007)

Now
Convergence:
Individual devices share data & influence one another autonomously (AKA The Internet of Things). We’re moving away from a world of dumb devices, to one of connected intelligent smart devices.
Consumption / Gathering:
Wearable devices: Wrist: Nike Fuel, Jawbone UP, Fit Bit, Nymi, Pebble, Samsung Gear, Sony SmartWatch, Qualcomm Toq, TomTom, Nissan Nismo / Head: Google Glass, Weartrons RnR, Melon / Feet: Nike+ Sensor.
Sensors: Medical Equipment (health, safety) Scanadu Scout Tricoder, Climate & Ambient Systems, Automobiles
POS & POI: Info Boards, Posters, Displays, Barcode Scanning, RFID / iBeacons (Estimote)
Smart Devices & Home Appliances: Music, TV, Lighting, Utilities, Security (locks, access controls, monitoring).
Prime Devices: Sony Lens Camera, POV’s, Audio Recorders
Creation / Output: Bespoke Product Design, 3D Printing

Where we’re heading:
Context: Location & context specific “big” data & actions
(The Age of Context / Networked Society).
Example: You’re on your way to a meeting, your Hub Device, knows where you are, your schedule, where you’re going, who you’re meeting (so it likely knows where they are too), what the traffic conditions are like ahead. Earlier it told you to leave early as there was traffic congestion, but that’s cleared, so you’re going to be early, so it suggests you wait it out at one of your favourite coffee shops (it knows there’s space at the coffee shop and can even tell you where the nearest parking space is, it could even pre-order your drink for you if you want), but it also knows it’s your kids birthday and has access to your to do list, so it suggests you can use the downtime to order & pick up the present, as there’s a special promotion on at the moment.

The Age of Context relies on the autonomous sifting of Big Data and putting it into context. Big Data is a cinch to create, but unfortunately a major stumbling block is the lack of correlation between systems & datasets, there are no open standards or protocols for sharing, and the likelihood of the social silo’s of Google, Facebook, Twitter & FourSquare et al sharing our data anytime soon is unlikely without a disruptive element.

The News & Education sectors will continue to go through major shifts, with Healthcare undoubtedly seeing the next major shake up with advances in self monitoring data & preventative care.

Brands & advertisers have huge opportunities to make their offerings even more granular & responsive, so stand a better chance of interaction, by being more personal & engaging by leveraging the viewers personalised preferences & location based data. In effect Contextual Advertising, is the Marketeers equivalent to responsive web design, advertising that adjusts to the viewers location & tastes.

Keeping with the C theme, I could suggest the next stage will be “Coherence” (the quality of forming a unified whole), but I won’t go that far for now… I can’t predict the future, things we take for granted today, weren’t even launched or invented 2-3 years ago, so who knows what we’ll be using in 5-10 years time?

Below is an example of a Networked Society (more examples on the Ericsson Channel)

Can I Ask You For Something?

I just stumbled upon this video by Amanda Palmer, it’s worth 15mins of your time. She outlines her experiences on the relationship of an artist and a fan, and how she overcame her initial feelings of guilt when “Asking” for help. It all boils down to two way engagement and building trust.

Rather serendipitously Seth Godin blogged today about evoking trust, which ties in beautifully with Amanda’s TED talk.

The Beauty of Mathematics

I love mathematics (don’t ask, I generally keep that quiet)
I love visualisation, and I love this video!
Don’t worry you don’t have to like or know anything about maths to love this
(you need to watch it full screen to appreciate it)

“Mathematics. Rightly viewed, possesses not only truth but beauty. A beauty cold and austere, without the gorgeous trappings of painting or music”
Bertrand Russel

Information Visualization Definition

Data: a record of related quantities
Information: organised data
Information Visualisation: schematically represented information

But that only defines what it is, not it’s purpose & why?
Purpose: “to clearly communicate information, stimulating viewer engagement & attention”
Why?: To gain knowledge (meaningfully interpreted information)

There’s a balancing act a creative must perform between form & function, plus they’re influenced heavily by the audience. An infographic is often designed to provoke discussion or promote an idea, so can afford to be more visually rich than a visualisation that’s main objection is analysis.

Personally I define the differences between Infographics and Information Visualisation as:
Infographics: present the viewer with a conclusion or a story
Information Visualisations: give the viewer a means to discover their own conclusions

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It’s The Way I Roll

What do you get when you take a musician, his band, a friend with a cool central London rooftop pad, a couple of digital cameras, and a very (VERY) hot sunny afternoon? Answer: a photo-shoot and two music videos!

Tech has totally changed the photography & video landscapes, it’s a far cry from the 20 years ago, when I first sat in a plush office in the heart of Soho, on a very comfy leather sofa at the back of a darkened edit suite directing an editor. Then waiting every time he made an edit for the stack of tape decks (which had their own room) to spin up to speed, before finally transferring the edit from tape to tape. The equipment cost £100,000′s, it took hours to edit, and a good editor charged more an hour than a good lawyer!

I’m the first to admit that I’m no Ridley Scott, but below are two videos I directed & shot in an afternoon using would you believe, my Sony NEX 5N (the wonderfully light weight little gem of a camera I bought last year for when I spent three months trekking in the Himalayas). The biggest problem on the day, was the glaring sun and trying to stay ahead of it as it chased us around the rooftop (hopefully you won’t notice that the drummer had to move & set up three times during the Stacey shoot!). Incredibly we also managed to have time to do the photo-shoot for the promotional material & album artwork. Which we were able to review on my iPad while we sunk a few pints down the pub afterwards, something else we’d have never have been able to do years ago!

The album is available as a digital download or as a CD form rollingexile

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Stacey & Deep Down, both from the Album Exile

Second Sight

With more and more of us having a mobile or tablet device within arms reach no matter where we are, you’d think that would give advertisers more opportunities to grab our attention, but the opposite maybe true. With DVR’s we pause live TV and watch it when we want, and more often that not we skip the adverts.

But recent research by Ofcom has found that the living room and live TV is making a surprise come back, with 91% of adults saying they watch TV in their living rooms (up from 88% in 2002), with 25% “Media Meshing” (interacting with the live shows via Twitter, Facebook etc), but most surprising of all is that 90% of TV watched in the living room was live. Although that’s only half the story, as  41% of households have only a single TV now, that’s up from 35% 10 yrs ago (with only 50% of 5-15yr olds now, it was 70% in 2007). While youngsters may now spend more time in the same room, they’re focused on their mobile or tablet device, so they maybe  in close proximity, but they’re no engaging or communicating locally.

Below are some interesting stats collected by the Time Warner Media Lab on the effectiveness of advertising and the second screen.

 

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What iWant iWatch To Be, Not a Watch!

iwatch

While very beautiful, the image above is not what I want a wearable from Apple (or any other manufacturer) to be, and I very much doubt Apple would produce it, not because they couldn’t, but because it doesn’t make sense, it doesn’t serve any additional purpose, users already have an iPhone in their pocket, why would anyone slap another one on their wrist?

I haven’t worn a watch for at least 10 years, my mobile is good enough for me when I’m mobile, and the menu bar on my Mac is a glance away when I’m at work, so a watch is redundant for me, if I’m about to put something on my wrist it needs to add functionality, not simply replicate another device (or look worth mugging me for).

I know Apple have started trademarking the name iWatch around the globe, but I suspect that’s either Brand Protecting whatever they do produce from copycats, or it’s putting the rest of the market off the scent of what they’re really working on… who knows, maybe iWatch is a trademark to cover something they’re working on for the Apple TV, referring to what customers view and has nothing to do with time keeping?

I have friends with Pebble watches, but they all tell me not to bother, why? Because they sound great on paper, but in reality they don’t actually add any real purpose or benefit to their daily routine. Example they’ve all said, you receive an SMS, your phone vibrates or goes ping, you start to reach for your phone in your pocket and then the Pebble on your wrist goes ping and vibrates, mmmmm… is that worth $150? There are plenty of others in the market, Sony, Samsung, Google Glass, but personally I don’t want to walk around looking like an extra from Star Trek, at least Google Glass is waterproof! So it has to look like something people would want to wear regardless of it’s function!

Apple have an amazing eco system they can monitor, they monitor how & where users are using their iOS devices, what apps they’re downloading, utilising, erasing, that’s a goldmine of UX. Their partnerships with the likes of Nike have been carefully orchestrated and even more carefully monitored, they now employ a former Nike Fuel Band consultant. They’ve purchased sensor development companies, notably in the medical monitoring and healthcare sectors.

But let’s look at the practicalities… the real world have hard surfaces, technology doesn’t like being smacked around and nobody likes scratching their shiny new bit of tech, why else would their be a multi-billion dollar industry in protective cases. And that’s for something that sits a large amount of it’s time on your desk, in your pocket, or bag… something on your wrist is going to get a lot more abuse, you move your arms around a lot more. And let’s no forget, we’re organic, we sweat, we have bacteria living on our skin, we get wet, we wash, we take showers, we wash our hands, we swim, snowboard, ride bikes, mountain climb, go running etc any device spending the majority of its time on our wrist or any other part of our body, needs to stand up to all of that. Something made of shiny white plastic and glass wouldn’t last long. Plus, with a reasonable size screen power becomes an issue, and with extra batteries comes extra weight.

So rather than a glorified wrist watch that offers a limited and lacklustre phone experience (which in itself is contrary to Apple’s raison d’être), I envisage an elegantly simple looking, non-descript, screenless, virtually seamless device that we forget we even have on our wrist until it reminds us with a little vibration, ping, or illumination. Something water proof, that monitors our biometrics (heart rate, temp, glucose levels, unique ECG pattern, sleeping patterns), our movement, elevation, velocity, has a fingerprint scanner for ID confirmation, handles NFC payments (Ski passes, transportation, Oyster), handles security (opens doors Locitron), connects to other devices around it (BLE & iBeacons), is voice controlled (Siri), has a battery that lasts days, not hours and costs no more than $200-250. If there is a version with a screen, then something with only limited functionality, i.e. SMS, email notifications, alarms, calendar events, media playback control (pause, stop, next, previous, volume etc)… and of course, the time! An always on screen would kill battery life of course, but a screen that only activates when prompted should be ok.

I could go on, but you get the idea, it adds functionality and usability where a mobile phone can’t (or it wouldn’t be practicable). That’s a wearable I’d wear.

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The above image is taken from an Apple patent for a wearable device, akin to a reflective snap on a cyclist would wear.

UPDATE (Jan 2014):
Wow just stubbled across this concept by Thomas Bogner, he must be a kindred spirit!

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iBeacons, Apple’s Stealth NFC Killer (Plus a Retailers Dream!)

I’ve an iOS developers account, so I’ve been playing around with iOS7 for a month or so, and have to say it’s pretty good, there’s still a way to go yet and there’s still a few bugs to iron out, plus I’m glad to see the back of all that digital felt & leather! But that’s not why I’m posting, iOS7 is out now so you can check it out for yourself.

No the reason I’m posting, is iBeacons. Like a lot of people, I’ve been longing for Apple to include NFC in the iPhone, and was hoping the 5S would have it, so was a bit miffed to see that it was still absent… but I missed iBeacons in the launch keynote presentation.

Now it’s all starting to fall into place, fingerprint scanning, Bluetooth 4, iBeacons… oh sneaky! I won’t go into details but let me point out a couple of very important distinctions between RFID & NFC… RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) is a protocol that allows the wireless non-contact use of radio-frequency electromagnetic fields to transfer data. NFC (Near Field Communication) is a set of standards for devices to establish radio communication with each other by touching them together or bringing them into close proximity.

So what does that mean in English… NFC chips are now in almost every credit / debit card and many smart phones, and allow you to make small payments or gather item info etc. As the name implies the great thing about NFC is that the devices have to be in very close proximity to connect… but that’s also a bad thing, as a retailer cannot push notifications to shopper unless they’re within 5 cm.

iBeacons (which is integrated into the iOS7) on the other hand uses the RFID protocol, which means that any iPhone / iPod / iPad (iWatch in the future), can detect other iBeacon devices at a range of 200m (but it can also be limited down to 10cm). So what this means for retailers is that they can transmit customised coupons, product offers / info, location, maps, directions etc directly to shoppers within their stores without needing shopper instigation, is Minority Report Advertising about to become a reality? But there’s another really important factor about iBeacon, the users iOS device isn’t just a passive receiver being bombarded by coupons and offers, as any iOS7 device can also become an iBeacon transmitter! This allows the user to filter out unwanted offers and connections… bad for the retailer you may think, but on the contrary it’s great news, rather than wasting theirs and the customers time with offers they’re not interested in, the user can tell the retailer (or advertiser) what they are interested in, now that’s powerful… plus there’s likely to be greater uptake by users if they can filter what they do and don’t want.

The potential advantages of iBeacons is huge, and with the built in fingerprint confirmation, the concerns over long range cyber pickpocketing or snooping are reduced. Of course if Apple had included a NFC chip as well that would have been perfect, but this is Apple’s way of breaking the back of NFC payments, are at least slowing it down in the short term so it can get leverage (sort of what it did with Adobe’s Flash dominance on the web vs HTML5, and look how that ended up). Apple do have their own a NFC / fingerprint solution in the works, but that may never see the light of day, especially if iBeacons and the fingerprint scanner take off in the way they’re planning!

So maybe I will upgrade to an iPhone 5S after all.

more details here on Gigaom

and check out the Estimote Beacons 

Resigned to Viral Marketing

Fed up with a boss that wouldn’t listen, by being too focussed on viewing numbers and not quality content, Marina Shifrin decided to quit… but rather than simply writing an email giving her reasons why, she created a video herself to get her point across… and with 13,000,000 views in 5 days, she’s obviously getting a lot of attention, news networks, job offers, even several marriage proposals!?!? plus of course the attention of her former employer… who have also released a Meme video themselves, saying, “We’re Hiring”

As I’ve posted before: A campaign can give your product & service exposure, but it can’t make your business a success, only your customers can do that. If your campaign goes viral, great, but if your business or offerings aren’t as well, then the campaign was probably pointless. You want people talking about how good your product is, not how good your viral campaign was.

With 13M hits and counting within 5 days of posting the video, she’s also made a nice chunk of change out of advertising on YouTube.
My rough calculation: Views x 50% of CPM (cost per 1,000 adverts)
13,000,000 x (.5 x  $6.20/1,000) = $40,000

their response

The Real Thing

I really like coca cola, when I was in my 20′s I’d drink about 2-3 ltrs of the stuff a day (yes you read that correctly, that’s 8-10 cans a day), and contrary to what you may think, I was as thin then as I am now, plus I still have all my own teeth!

But Coca-Cola’s having a tough time at the moment, with greater public awareness on the obesity epidemic and the reported dangers of artificial sweeteners such as Aspartame, their sales of diet coke have dropped by 3% (diet Pepsi down 6.2%), while Coke is down 1% (Pepsi down 3.4%). Coca-Cola announced earlier in the year that they would start a new advertising campaign defending the use of these sweeteners. But let’s hope for their sake that it’s more successful than their previous campaign on obesity.

That didn’t go too well, going by the drop in sales, the comments on their Youtube and Facebook pages, plus the meme video with an overdubbed voice over that appeared within a couple of days of the original video. I can’t help but think they would have been better off not trying to spin it in such a positive manner, and rather than telling us to come together, maybe they should have come a bit clearer with the facts, as without doing so, they simply left themselves open.

Maybe due to the online backlash from last time, is why so far, they’ve stuck to print advertising, but in this world of social media, they know better than anyone, you need to be out their participating in dialogue, and not simply broadcasting your message

Meme video 1,714,573 views (1,000,000 more than the original coke advert)

The original commercial (734,458 views)

New Advertising Campaign

Quality-&-Ingredients-hed-2013

What’s the Cost of a Bad Brand and What’s a Good One Worth?

What’s your brand really worth to you? If you’re Coca Cola it’s a heck of a lot, in the past year alone Brand Finance estimate that Coke lost $9bn in Brand Value! In comparison BP and it’s recent Gulf of Mexico disaster lost $3.4bn in brand value last year, only a third of Coke’s loss? Does anyone recall a major Coke slick last year? So what did Coca Cola do so disastrously wrong last year? Not much actually, it appears to be more down to a shift in consumer interests, moving to more healthy and non-carbonated drinks, ouch!

Nokia took the biggest hit of anyone losing $8.8bn in Brand Value last year! The Top of the crop is Google, with a Brand Value (BV) of $44bn

But what does this all mean? To get a bit of perspective, Coke’s BV is now $26bn = 37% of it’s $70bn Market Capital (MC),  Nokia’s BV is $9.6bn = 28% of it’s $27bn MC, Google’s $44bn = 30% of it’s $143bn MC… while the likes of Apple, (whom appear to be in the press all the time) have a BV of $29.5bn which is only 12% of it’s $244bn MC, meaning Coke’s Brand Value is worth 3 times as much to it’s share price than Apple!

While ExxonMobil (the worlds largest company) with a MC of $312bn, has a BV of $14bn, which is just 4.3%

So as you can see, brands are very important, but they can be far more valuable to some companies than others.

more info here

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Do You Know Where You’re Going?

Alice asked the Chesire Cat, who was sitting in a tree.
“What road do I take?”
“Where do you want to go?” the cat asked.
“I don’t know” Alice answered.
“Then, it really doesn’t matter, does it?” said the cat.

If your destination or goals are vague, then the decisions you make will reflect that.

You can apply this philosophy to numerous aspects of your life, be it your job, your personal life, your retirement plans etc unless you’re clear on what you really want, then you’re unlikely to make informed decisions that will help you achieve something truly fulfilling, you need a compass to point you in the right direction.

In Branding terms, these are referred to as your Core Values… as I’ve written before “Your core values are the very essence of what you or your company stand for, strip away everything else and the core values remain, they become your compass in good times and bad times, they guide your decision making process” more on that here

Applying this sort of branding technique to your personal life may seem a bit strange at first, but it could really help, especially if you’re stuck in a rut, or find it difficult to make decisions. Core Values are a reflection of who you are, your essence, you don’t make them up, you discover and refine them.

As David Eagleman explains in his book Incognito, “The next time a friend laments that she cannot decide between two options, tell her to flip a coin. The important part is to assess her gut feeling after the coin lands. If she feels a subtle sense of relief at being told what to do by the coin, then that’s the right choice for her. If instead, she concludes that it’s ludicrous for her to make that decision based on a coin toss, that will cue her to choose the other option”

Why? It’s all to do with the fact that the unconscious mind has already made the decision, it’s just that your conscious mind, which is much slower, hasn’t caught up yet, in this instance, your unconscious mind represents your Core Values. So if you’re someone that usually goes with your gut feeling, great, but wouldn’t it be good to refine the process!