Archives For Technology

If you haven’t bought an Echo or Google Home yet, I’m sorry but you’re an abject failure of a 2017 marketer. And I don’t mean “have you tried Alexa at the store or your friend’s house?”

I mean, “have you bought an Echo, lived with Alexa listening to you, forgot you had an Echo, left it unplugged for a week, plugged it back in and forgot about it, used it only to listen to music and then, oh and then, one day you use it for something extremely useful and IT CLICKS THAT THIS IS A COMPLETE GAME CHANGER?”

Start with an Echo Dot. It’s $50. And you won’t feel like you broke the bank when you need to upgrade later this year.

In Cory Doctorow’s new book, Walkaways, the people of the near-future have an A.I. powered home assistant that not only can order groceries or provide answers to basic questions, it also syncs with appliances, controls entertainment devices, and uses light to highlight chores that need to be completed. Which is basically possible today using the existing infrastructure of Alexa and Google Home. Of course, Doctorow throws in a working sim of your dead lover as the protagonist A.I., but that’s why it was a good novel. And not possible today. Yet.

So assuming you’ve already bought into the serendipity and early brand opportunities with these A.I.-powered assistants, it’s critical we spend some time thinking about next-gen brand opportunities. Specifically, the new Echo Show that debuted this week — featuring not only a screen, but a camera to go along with the microphone.

Chris Messina calls this The Fifth Family Member, pointing out it’s design fits a familiar invisible technology pattern. Not beautiful but not ugly. Something you buy and set-up and forget about. Until you find a few things that make it invaluable. “By reducing the importance of appearance, Amazon can emphasize function over form, keep its prices anticompetitively low, and drown the market with products that offer access to its AI voice assistant.”

Meanwhile, Scott Galloway at L2 is musing about these next-gen brand opportunities higher in the sales funnel and consumer purchase cycle than the conversion — the brand itself.

Voice…will expedite the decline of brand equity as a vehicle for sustaining healthy margins. There is an arrogance in academia and business that a focus on brand building will always be a winning strategy. No, it might not.

Of the 13 firms that have outperformed the S&P five years in a row (yes, there’s just 13), only one of them is a consumer brand — Under Armour. Note: it will be off next year’s list.

At L2 we’ve been running tests (barking commands at Alexa) to glean insight into the Seattle firm’s strategy. Some findings:

1. It’s clear that Amazon wants to drive commerce through Alexa, as they are offering a lower price, on many products, if ordered via voice vs. click.

2. In key categories like batteries, Alexa will suggest Amazon Basics, their private label, and play dumb about other choices (“Sorry, that’s all I found!”) when there are several other brands on amazon.com.

Retailers often leverage their power and custody of the consumer to swap out brands for their own private label. That’s nothing new. Only we’ve never seen any retailer this good at it.

Death, for brands, has a name … Alexa.

Source: “Alexa, How Can We Kill Brands?” | No Mercy No Malice | Scott Galloway | L2

 

 

Will voice-enabled devices and ordering kill brands? No.

But they will certainly impact how the public interacts with them. Especially commodity products and those that aren’t unique enough in marketplace ecosystem to stand out (ie. the battery example above).

All the more reason to jump in and start familiarizing and experimenting with this space now.

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As new smart devices continue to emerge and as consumers embrace new, more natural ways to interact with those devices (like voice commands), the micro-moment behaviors mobile kick-started will only multiply.

And as data and machine learning become more sophisticated in enhancing everyday consumer experiences, the expectations for relevant, personalized, and assistive experiences will continue to skyrocket.

We’re heading toward an age of assistance where, for marketers, friction will mean failure, and mass messages will increasingly mean “move on.”

Source: Micro-Moments Are Multiplying—Are You Ready for the Future of Marketing? – Think with Google

(cross-posted from the space150 blog)

We recently attended CES 2017 in Las Vegas. This year, our annual pilgrimage to tech’s biggest showcase underscored a lot of what we’ve been exploring at space150 in 2016, including voice-enabled devices and VR, but in many instances set the stage for new exploration in 2017. From a new definition of sensory perception to diverging definition for the future of mobility. One thing was clear – 2017 will be exciting.

Below, please find trends we’re watching in 2017 and beyond following CES:

Assistance Through Assistants

While a decade ago, cameras and photos were the function that drove tech, today, microphones are the new cameras. More and more, on-demand, voice-enabled is becoming mainstream. Amazon and their Alexa won CES, and they didn’t even have a formal presence.

While this may mean some very useless and rudimentary experimentation with voice assistants in the short-term, we also saw some gems. Whirlpool, for example, announced appliances that respond to your voice (via Alexa), as did Ford. GE also rolled out voice-enabled appliances. The Internet of Things (IoT) is increasingly practical and affordable, and no where are voice assistants more logical than when built into these systems. I think about my kids who have an expectation for touch screens – but this lays out a future that is much more on-demand. Imagine your child’s first word is “Alexa” or “Ok, Google”.

There was also a lot of buzz about the over complication of consumer devices by making them IoT-capable. Does a hairbrush or clothes iron need an app? Not today (although those products also launched at CES 2017). But the more data we have and greater connectivity of our lives, the more possibility advertisers have to truly understand how consumers act, use products and understand messages. Today, I can ask Alexa in my kitchen to start my car or how much gas is left, and that would have seemed ridiculous five years ago. Now you can turn on and check the status of your iron, coffee pot and crock pot the same way.

What does this mean for brands? As agencies and marketers, we need to help brands think through how screenless and voice-controlled interfaces so that we can add value to the consumer. What is your consumer’s experience with your brand using solely their voice, and how can you provide value day-to-day for them by connecting your existing apps, databases and your knowledge of them? At space150, we launched an Alexa Skill in December, and we’re still learning from that as we build these for clients — interaction design, tonality and more. 

Adding New Senses to Experience Design, UX and Products

On that note – and in addition to Voice, at CES we saw a significant amount of innovations in audio, gestures and haptics. More and more we saw the idea of going beyond the touchscreen to actually bringing feeling to our digital lives. This isn’t smell-o-vision. These are screens and air gestures we can genuinely feel as if they are physical objects.

We saw haptic (touch) technology coming to  shoes, shirts, dashboards, TVs and touchscreens. One of the more interesting demos we saw was Tanvas, which wants to add the ability to feel texture on a touchscreen with a new haptic feedback technology rooted in ultrasonics. Imagine a world where a haptic forcefield could keep your fingers away from hot surfaces such as an oven. That was a demo, and it was impressive (assuming you can keep bacon grease out of the tiny speakers). We also saw VR shoe demos designed to give the wearer the feeling of rough or wet texture. It’s early for this technology, but it’s certainly an area we’ll be monitoring. 

For brands, this mean that we need to start thinking about senses beyond sight and designing for touch. Textures, gestures and feelings will dramatically change how we think about user experiences and how our customers interact with our content, apps and products. 

VR Entering the Age of Inside-Out Enlightenment

Every single major brand (auto/electronics/home/IoT/drone/photography/etc) had some type of VR, 360º or AR experience in their booth this year to tell their story to attendees using immersive media. Most of the experiences were rudimentary and focused more on using VR/AR technology to build a line at the booth versus telling an amazing story using this new medium. But that wasn’t the story worth telling this year.

The biggest VR product launches worth noting at CES 2017 were: 1) Wireless VR coming thanks to new HTC Vive options, and 2) Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Power Rangers Demo, which shows the true future of inside-out VR — powered by your phone, not a helmet hooked to a powerful computer. Think Samsung Gear VR or Google Daydream except it’s six degrees of freedom. This is truly walk-around VR, not 360º video or just up/down/left/right controls.

This is the future of VR/AR — wireless experiences powered by your phone, and we caught a glimpse this year. And although it’s early days, the future of these experiences will be mobile. But the technology is going to take time to get there, from hardware to software to the developer kits that make them run. Marketers should focus on how to tell stories people care about with this new tech as part of their toolboxes. Inside-out, mobile VR is only going to grow, but the only way to be ready for the future is to understand where we’re at today.

Autonomous Cars are on a Mainstream Collision Course

One of the more interesting anecdotes we heard at CES this year was from Shelly Palmer, who advises companies like Verizon on innovation. He relayed a story about Ford CEO Alan Mullaly at CES in 2012 who said at that time that, due to risk and regulations and insurance and human nature, we would never see autonomous cars in our lifetime. But here we are five years later and CES was aflame with autonomous, self-driving and assisted driving innovation.

This year, every major automaker was showing off self-driving templates, sensors, and technology that envision a much different future than what Mr. Mullaly claimed in 2012. In fact, Ford has now announced production of a fully autonomous ride-sharing fleet by 2021. The competition fierce with each company taking a different path. However, what was clear is that driving as we know it now looks much much different in the future. It will change very drastically in the coming years, and every single car company at the show (including Honda, their first year) was showing off their take on this emerging tech.

For brands, we are at the beginning of a post-ownership and post-human-driver age, and that’s worth noting. Volkswagen painted a picture (via VR demo) of all the free time consumers will have in their vehicles when they don’t have to concentrate on driving. This means brands will have new moments to capture a consumer’s attention and new considerations for when, where and how we can engage them with a brand message during this downtime. It also means smart brands are going to starting thinking about this tech ecosystem early to be prepared.

Robots Are Real

One of our least favorite “trends” this year was the continued infatuation with anthropomorphic robots — or robots that look and act like humans.

The media coverage coming out of the show seemed fixated on some examples of robots that walk like us, play chess like us, follow us around and read to our kids. In our opinion these are a distraction from some of the more innovative ways that AI and computer-assistance are really positioned to improve our lives. Because, the robots — machines capable of carrying out a complex series of actions automatically, especially one programmable by a computer — are already here. They’re in our pockets, our cars, our homes and workplaces.

We’re seeing less desire year-over-year for C3PO-style, Rosie The Robot-style tech, and believe brands should instead be laser focused on creating intelligent systems that tie to the cloud and improve our lives.

How Brands Told Stories in Unique Ways at CES 2017

Finally, we saw some tremendous brand storytelling that tapped into emerging tech at this year’s show. Specifically, we would call out a few brands:

  • American Express (client) used CES as an opportunity to unveil an Escape Room for visitors with branded clues.
  • Meanwhile Intel used AR/Hololens tech to showcase storytelling with “invisible” technology.
  • Finally, leveraging the upcoming Power Rangers movie, Qualcomm used CES to create buzz for its new inside-out VR tracking, using a Power Rangers helmet.

Check out our video run-down below. We shot the whole thing using Snapchat Spectacles for that POV feeling. Based on the trajectory of the trends we saw, we expect 2018 to be an even more innovative year for CES. 

What’s Next?

Join space150 for Excited for Change: 2017 Trends for the Modern Marketer in Minneapolis on January 8th. Our VP of Brand Innovation, Greg Swan, will be leading this MIMA panel with leaders from Land O’Lakes Inc., Thomson Reuters, Fjorge and Regis for a forward-looking discussion on 2017 trends, what’s next, and how to avoid fad fatigue in 2017.

Tickets available here.

“The strongest force propelling human progress has been the swift advance and wide diffusion of technology.” — The Economist

Source: Eleven Reasons To Be Excited About The Future of Technology – Medium

Technology is strongest force propelling human progress

Eleven Reasons To Be Excited About The Future of Technology

Very proud of our spaceLab team who pioneered an easy way to unlock your doors using an Apple Watch.

MAKE Magazine was so impressed they asked the team to write this feature AND produced a video!

Check. It. Out.

Make an Apple Watch Door Unlocker — Make:.

We are on the edge of change comparable to the rise of human life on Earth. — Vernor Vinge

The AI Revolution: Road to Superintelligence – Wait But Why.

Lifecasting isn’t new, but today’s tools enable citizen-broadcasting + voyeurism on an unprecedented scale.

It’s important to understand the lessons and pitfalls of our recent history in this era. And of course, Jennicam is the Godmother of this…

We’re Tweeting and Facebooking and Periscoping more of our lives than ever before. But all of these media give us the opportunity to tailor our online presence. To only portray the best, sexiest, smartest moments. Jenni showed us everything. The good, the bad, the exciting, the mundane. She gave control of her online life over to the public and the technology that broadcast it. It was adventurous in a way that even the most public facing lifecaster these days would not dare to be.

via Jennicam And The Birth Of ‘Lifecasting’.

“All Teslas will get an over-the-air update this summer, probably around June, allowing them to drive in “Autopilot” mode… it seems Autopilot will be disabled when you’re not doing freeway driving, which is by far the easiest aspect of autonomous vehicle activity. Musk did confirm that the Autopilot mode would be “technically capable of driving from parking lot to parking lot.” The car will also be allowed to drive itself when you summon it, and when you’re parking it in your garage.

Just to be clear, we’re not talking about some far-off future Tesla. We’re not talking about Google driverless car prototypes or government road tests. This is a car you can buy today, which will be given the ability to drive itself in a few months via the same setup that updates your iPhone.

Automated automobiles, automatically activated.”

Mashable: Tesla basically just ignited the driverless car era.

Greg Swan joins space150

The big news is out that I’ve joined the talented team at space150, and they published a great piece and interview with me you should check out.

The bottom of the piece features the following marketing and technology trends we’re tracking. Good stuff!

Real-time Social Video

With the rise of smart phones and social networks, matched with the prevalence of 4G data networks, consumers can more easily push and pull a significant amount of data between their phones and their followers. The latest exciting step forward in this realm is Meerkat, a real-time life streaming app powered by a user’s Twitter network. This start-up application blends the ephemeral nature of Snapchat with the social newsfeed of Facebook with the real-time video power of today’s mobile tech. We are really excited to see how brands make use of this technology, especially since the streams are not archived. If you miss a stream live you missed it. And launching just prior to South by Southwest Interactive (where Twitter and Foursquare “launched” will give the world’s most passionate early adopters a chance to really push the boundaries of the platform.

Transmogrified Reality

You’ve probably heard of augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR), but Google’s head game designer Noah Falstein recently spoke of a vision of the future called “Transmogrified Reality.” Defined as the culmination of all the different technologies in development (VR, AR, HMDs and faster processors) combined to form one vision of the future and how humans interact with each other, physical and digital spaces, and of course, brands. Here at space150, our team just built an Oculus Rift-powered virtual ride experience for Victory Motorcycles. Beyond Oculus, we’re paying attention to the death of Google Glass, the rise of Google Cardboard and Samsung Gear, and how everyday consumers will react to and potentially adopt transmogrified reality.

Smartwatch Content Strategy

Setting the brands and specific products aside, our team at space150 is exploring emerging user behavior habits around wrist-mounted devices and opportunities brands have to add value to these new platforms. While responsive design has helped companies retrofit their desktop websites for smaller screens, like tablets and phones, formatting content for a screen the size of a wrist requires a different approach entirely. When you add in the wealth of sensors (accelerometers, GPS, microphones, speakers), brands now have an opportunity to root their content and engagement platforms in new contexts like activity and location. Our teams have been experimenting with the Apple Watch and are excited to share some of our findings at the Mobile March conference later this month.