Internet of Things

Google shows off its Artificial Intelligence chops at I/O 2016

Google’s annual I/O event took place last week and it’s pretty clear from some of the most high profile announcements how seriously the company is taking Artificial Intelligence as a platform moving forward. One hardly surprising reveal was the launch of a home AI assistant similar to Amazon’s Echo, imaginatively named ‘Google Home‘. The Echo has been a bit of a sleeper success since it hit shelves in selected markets last Summer and it isn’t much of a shock that Google wants to get in on the action too. It’s not scheduled to ship until the end of the year but it looks like the concept in general is meeting with consumer approval at least.

While Amazon and Google are making headway in this space, you’d imagine that Apple (much more of an actually established hardware manufacturer than the other two) might be waiting in the wings, ready to launch something similar. But as pointed out by Marco Arment, this type of device, despite being a tactile consumer tech product, is much less about the hardware, and much more about the software platform behind it. If an AI voice-controlled interface takes over from a 5 inch smartphone screen as the preferred input method at some time in the future, Apple could be truly blindsided. I’m sure they could use some of their $137 Billion war chest to acquire a suitable AI platform though so I doubt Tim Cook is losing any sleep over it.

Another AI-based product that was showcased was a new messaging app called “Allo” that suggests responses to questions. The potential here is not so much as a standalone app, but for integrating predictive search and suggestions into messaging in general.

Posted by Rob in Amazon, Google, Internet of Things

Target tests iBeacons, Absolut Vodka goes IoT, Facebook ‘LIVE’ & Twitter News

Target experiments with Beacons in 50 of it’s stores

Beacons have been bubbling under the surface for the last couple of years now but any real mainstream adoption has yet to materialize. Lots of brands we have come into contact with recently have expressed interest in the technology, but the issue remains that, to utilize Beacons, they already have to have a mobile application that their customers use. It’s really an add-on to an already operational and successful mobile experience and not a standalone technology. Brands can’t simply decide to ‘do’ Beacons without already having a mobile strategy in place.

Another hurdle is the fact that for Beacons to work at all, your customers need to have downloaded your app, have Bluetooth switched on, and have opted-in to receiving push notifications from you. There’s a lot of friction in the way of adoption. In short, your customers really need to want you to target them with Beacons for it to work at all.

US mega-retailer Target is confident though, and is rolling out Beacons in 50 of it’s stores this year, with more scheduled to follow. They will use Beacons to inform customers of personalized deals, something that bargain-hunting loyal Target shoppers would presumably find value in and be incentivized to avail of. Beacons are yet to really take off in retail but if anyone can do it, it should be these huge retailers.

Absolut Vodka wants to get in on the ‘Internet of Things’ action

Relatively speaking,  we are still at a very early stage of the Internet of Things revolution. While there is some crazy potential yet to be realised for connected devices, it’s unclear how many consumer brands might take advantage of this. Here, Markus Wulff, digital creative business developer at Absolut Vodka, discusses how the brand intends to get involved in connected packaging and how other FMCG brands like Heineken have used this in the past. Some of the examples given are a bit gimmicky but it’s food for thought nonetheless.

Facebook launches ‘Live’ video streaming feature

This week Facebook showed their hand in the suddenly overcrowded live social video streaming space. It’s only open to celebrities for the moment but will no doubt be rolled out to the masses over the next few months as users become more familiar with it.

One thing that makes it stand out slightly from the likes of Periscope and Meerkat is the fact that once the video stream has finished, the video then appears on the user’s timeline, ready to view again for those that missed it first time around. This is one of the most frustrating aspects I’ve found of the other platforms. The amount of times I’ve seen “LIVE on #Periscope” links and clicked through only to find that it’s finished. So annoying, and such a barrier to actually experiencing and familiarising yourself with a new service.

Twitter experiments with a ‘News’ tab

During the week Twitter started rolling out a ‘News’ tab in their app to some users in the US, breaking down trending stories into bite-sized chunks and putting them at the centre of the experience. It’s part of the effort to make its best content easier to find and helps new users get more involved with what’s happening. News is at the heart of what Twitter does, so essentially padding out the discovery section so that each topic has a deeper context will only make the experience more valuable for everyone. A great tweak to their mobile experience in my opinion.

Posted by Rob in Beacons, Facebook, Internet of Things, Links of the Week, Twitter