Tuesday, May 29, 2018

A Blockchain - Illustrated

You may wonder what's so different about a Blockchain, having already used so many peer-to-peer networks. The biggest hope is that it will bring transparency to connections in a supply chain. And each block player will have ownership of its own data - which will be cemented in time, unchanged once entered to the chain. The hype is its security - it is not, as evidenced by cryptocurrency crimes.

Illustration credit: Greg Kessler  

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Content Will Always Be King 

Artificial Intelligence... 5G...Blockchain... no matter what the buzz word du jour might be, content will always be the differentiation point. Yes we need smart distribution strategies but content is what holds the audience’s attention.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Do Your Next Pitch on 360 Video

Immersive experiences communicate deeper and help convert viewers into donors, shows the most recent study from Nielsen on potential VR adopters (paVRr). The study gauged attitudes of 1,000 paVRrs aged 18-54 about 134 charities. The group appeared to be advocates of technology and education in general, with 49% supporting increased technology access and 41% supporting universal primary education. 

To further measure the effectiveness of VR as a donation tool, Nielsen created an experiential setting in its Las Vegas research labs focusing on 14 pieces of charity VR content: about 100 US consumers viewed a 360 video in Samsung Gear, while another 100 viewed a piece of midroll (i.e.,digital ad that appears in the middle of a video) on a tablet as a comparison. The experiment showed that those who viewed the VR content were significantly more likely to recall the brand than those who viewed the midroll (84% vs. 53%). They were also more likely to seek additional info about the brand (48% vs. 37%).  Just as impressively, 48% of those who viewed the 360 video indicated they would donate to the viewed causes afterward vs. 38% of those who watched the midroll. 

The same efficacy in communication can be brought to any 'pitch' -- social or commercial. It's a tremendous opportunity for anyone looking to stand out of the crowd while asking for donations for a cause, seeking start up funding, or asking to be a brand's agency of record. 

Voice Technology Apps Face Return User Issues

The hopeful summary on voice technology from Digiday ends on a somewhat low note: It's hard to get return users on voice apps. In fact, only 3 percent of those who used Google home app skills in late December were actively using these skills in the second week. Holiday effect? Maybe. This trend signals a utility problem. Technologies take off because they help us save time, money. Or they entertain us. No matter what the creative wrap around a voice technology might be, it needs to do these things efficiently or it will not stick. 

Monday, April 24, 2017

Seeing is Believing: How VR Can Speed Time to Market For New Products

I am fascinated by VR and related technologies that can speed up time to market. Imagine if your brainstorm sessions were more fruitful, you could demo the ideas more effectively and sell more and quickly. VR programs such as Tilt Brush, Quill, A-Painter give users the tools to illustrate and collaborate on ideas. Powerpoint - move over! These programs help convey ideas in immersive settings and allow for ideas to flourish vs. forcing things into quadrants.

Once you draw up the ideas, then you can illustrate in fine detail with 3D modeling software. My colleagues Harry Brisson and Matt Price recommended I check out Blender 3D and Autodesk, maker of Maya and 3D Studio Max. There is also Unity -- an open source platform where majority of current VR/AR apps are created.

Majority of use cases for VR/AR/3D software are in entertainment (e.g., animation), education (e.g., training) and healthcare (e.g., doctors training on surgical procedures). They all underscore how we can create both efficient and higher quality storytelling/learning environments.

What if we were able to quantify how VR enabled groups to come up with more and better ideas, got agencies and clients to see eye to eye and overall just converted better? Any other ideas on which VR features or programs can be used in business?

Monday, April 3, 2017

How AI Seeps Into Everyday Life

If people can get emotional about content, why should we be surprised about emotional connections with robots that have life like features and voices? Hasbro's robotic cat that keeps Alzheimer patients company is a micro example of how AI can be social and part of everyday life. 

Here's my SIL's robot cat- whom she claims calms her down, doesn't come with vet bills and has a lifetime renewable by batteries. And here's another NYT journalist who agrees with her on the soothing qualities of robocats.

As we step into the post-real era, there are a growing number of industry reports on how artificial intelligence (AI) is poised to replace human labor. The Obama Administration's report on the topic noted a broad range (nine to 47 percent) of the US labor force can be threatened by AI -- especially if new jobs are not created at similar or higher rates than lost jobs. Spreading news of his latest AI-based initiative, NeuralinkElon Musk even professes that digital super intelligence will surpass that of humans and take over. 

Ultimately institutions look for efficiency - AI will take over in cases where it's cheaper than the real life alternative. 

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

VR for Women's Empowerment: KAGIDER (Women Entrepreneurs Association of Turkey) Luncheon Speech

I had the honor and pleasure of attending a luncheon, hosted by Burcu Mirza, with board members of KAGIDER (Women Entrepreneurs Association of Turkey) who were in town for meetings at the UN. KAGIDER has an amazing mentorship program where they coach select young, low-income, high-potential women seeking employment and entrepreneurship. Their graduates change their (and their community's) destiny by either starting their own businesses or becoming successful at firms they join. KAGIDER leaders cited research pointing to millions of young women of employment age in emerging countries, who are neither able to pursue education, nor find employment. KAGIDER's work is to address this problem. Below is what I shared as my point of view on emerging technology and communication trends, which lead to a dynamic discussion on how these technologies can be used in educating and giving employment skills to young women.

Whatever the technology label might be, we have transcended into post-reality era.
A time when we believe what technology tells us more so than what we see in front of us. For instance, believing our GPS more than the traffic coming towards us on a one-lane street. Or, when children say good bye to Google Home when leaving the apartment.  

There are a few technologies that are driving our post-reality vision as ‘under currents’:
1.       With technologies such as VR and AR, this post-reality vision becomes more immersive and believable. And truth/experiences vary by each viewer not the director or the editor. Before we were told stories by movie directors, news anchors, journalists… Today viewers can look ever which way when immersed in a VR story. We choose the angle in which we’ll take that story – being our own editors.  

2.       Voice activation (e.g., Alexa, Echo, Siri, Adobe’s voice based photo editing technology) humanizes automation, IoT and other connected devices. They induce emotion and forge relations between humans and AI. (Students in a NY State University hacked Alexa to break up with it… some classmates who heard about the break up expressed concern. Post reality experience in this case is heightened by voice and emotion.)

Some companies are taking advantage of this technology in creative ways: eBay is offering VR experience in shops, Google is partnering with BMW and Gap on AR shopping experiences. Adobe is launching voice-based photo editing technology.

VR/AR are poised to generate significant dollars for technology and content makers. Deloitte called it the billion dollar niche in 2016. Some sources, such as Digi-Capital, make bolder predictions, forecasting over 100 billion dollars by 2020, disrupting mobile.

As these emerging technologies edge their way to become mainstream, gender and generational gaps appear. Nielsen study on VR technology (2016) shows a typical early adoption story on VR: Male and younger audiences are more likely to adopt. Women not as likely to be interested or aware! 

VR can fundamentally change the way we communicate in arts and politics. And if women are typically the storytellers, where does that put the female voice in arts, news, commerce and politics? If shopping is gamified in ways that suit men, will women – who are responsible for grand majority of household purchases-- buy more?