tech innovation

Marriott, Wells Fargo Test Oculus Rift for Virtual Brand Experiences

Posted by Sheila Shayon on October 7, 2014 01:42 PM

The Facebook-owned Oculus Rift, by one account, “is the closest thing yet to a consumer-bound product that can deliver what virtual reality experts call presence.”

As Oculus VR chief scientist Michael Abrash told Engadget, “Presence is an incredibly powerful sensation, and it’s unique to VR; there’s no way to create it in any other medium. Most people find it to be kind of magical.”

How it works: The headset straps onto your face and plugs into a computer while an OLED display and twin lenses project images that trick your brain into perceiving a flat image as reality.

As a simulator experience, the technology offers a virtual bonanza to marketers looking to create immersive brand experiences, though it's still in its nascent stage. Still, that's not stopping some brands from testing the technology to create what might be the ultimate digital brand experience.Continue reading...

Mirror, Mirror: IKEA Seduces with Five-Minute Furniture and Full-On Flattery

Posted by Mark J. Miller on October 6, 2014 10:12 AM

When IKEA discovered that nearly half of Brits surveyed didn’t receive a single compliment during the span of week and that a third of the UK population thinks it looks its worst (but don't we all) before 9 a.m. on Monday mornings, the Swedish furniture giant decided to do something about it.

Faster than you can say "Mirror, Mirror..." the retailer's UK arm developed a talking mirror that (thanks to a little digital wizardry) compliments customers with pick-up lines such as “Have you been working out?” and “Your eyes are mesmerizing?” or “You look fabulous today.” The mirror even wolf-whistles at shoppers strolling by.

While the words are spoken (although not, alas, in Billy Crystal-as-Fernando's "You look mahvelous" voice), they are written across the mirror as well. The impact on customers, as you might expect, was immediate and hilarious, as you can see below.Continue reading...

tech innovation

Heineken Frontier Accelerator Woos Tech Startups in Drive for Innovation

Posted by Sheila Shayon on October 2, 2014 12:18 PM

Back in 2010, Heineken set an ambitious target to reach an innovation rate of 6% by 2020. As part of that effort, almost two years ago the brewer issued a global innovation challenge to creatives under the auspices of its Innovators Brewhouse platform.

Now the Dutch beer giant is back with another global challenge, this time reaching out to tech, mobile and digital disruptors for innovative ideas to help "create an ecosystem of services and digital tools" by launching Frontier, an accelerator to foster innovation around the brand's product and customer experience.Continue reading...

tech in the spotlight

Microsoft Reveals Windows 10

Posted by Shirley Brady on September 30, 2014 05:07 PM

Microsoft announced the new Windows operating system today: Windows 10. Billed as "The Future of Windows," it boasts a new Start menu, multiple desktops, and improved multi-tasking, in addition to:

Windows 10 represents the first step of a whole new generation of Windows. Windows 10 unlocks new experiences for customers to work, play and connect. Windows 10 embodies what our customers (both consumers and enterprises) demand and what we will deliver.

Windows 10 will run across an incredibly broad set of devices – from the Internet of Things, to servers in enterprise datacenters worldwide. Some of these devices have 4 inch screens – some have 80 inch screens – and some don’t have screens at all. Some of these devices you hold in your hand, others are ten feet away. Some of these devices you primarily use touch/pen, others mouse/keyboard, others controller/gesture – and some devices can switch between input types.

We’re not talking about one UI to rule them all – we’re talking about one product family, with a tailored experience for each device.

For some Windows 8 users eagerly anticipating the new release, there was just one question: What happened to Windows 9?

See Windows VP Joe Belfiores's twitty response to the naming speculation, along with his video explaining more about the new Windows. Continue reading...

tech innovation

3D Printing Goes Mainstream as Brands Embrace Maker Movement

Posted by Mark J. Miller on September 26, 2014 02:06 PM

It hasn’t been too long that 3D printing has been part of the consumer marketplace, but the new technology is providing a whole new revenue stream for plenty of brands beyond MakerBot, which has helped popularize the process.

It's the subject of a new documentary produced by Netflix, Print the Legendwhich premiered at SXSW, where Mondelez sparked line-ups with 3D-printed Oreo cookies.

Consumers will see more and more applications in the coming months, joining 3D printing innovations by brands tapping into the maker movement including:

• UPS has been testing 3D printing in six locations and is now expanding that to nearly a hundred stores across the US.Continue reading...

tech innovation

Amazon's Not-So-Secret R&D Lab Gets a Boost from Bezos

Posted by Sheila Shayon on September 25, 2014 12:02 PM

Amazon's Silicon Valley research and development arm has been called "secretive" by Reuters and Bloomberg Businessweek. Others have called it "hush-hush" and "mysterious."

While it may keep its projects close to the vest, as any corporate R&D unit worth its salt is entitled to, Lab126 is by no means secret. After all, it's on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and has its own website.

In addition to developing the Amazon Fire phone and a host of other products, from the Kindle family of products to Amazon Fire TV to the Dash at-home ordering scanner, it's reportedly eyeing wearable devices and products for the connected home.

It's also, as Reuters reports, on a hiring spree to staff up its high-tech skunkworks by at least 27 percent over the next five years, in a drive by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos to create Internet-of-things inspired home gadgets with a one-button device to order supplies.Continue reading...

tech in the spotlight

Google Helps Indian Government Achieve Digital Dreams

Posted by Sheila Shayon on September 23, 2014 04:07 PM

India is undertaking a massive digital infrastructure project, connecting 800 million rural citizens by 2019 in a program called Digital India. And it can't do it alone.

The $17 billion government program, approved by the Indian cabinet last month, will cover 50,000 gram panchayats (village-level governments) this year, another 100,000 next year and the remaining 100,000 by 2016. There are 600,000 such villages in India administered by local governments.

“The entire country will be covered by broadband within three years and the internet will reach the remotest villages,” commented Ravi Shankar Prasad, India's minister of communications and IT. “India is sitting at the cusp of a huge digital revolution.” 

While analysts agree in theory, finding financial resources and keeping to a schedule are major hurdles. Enter Google, which is partnering with the recently launched MyGov, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s citizen engagement platform, on a nationwide contest to spur mobile app development and innovation.Continue reading...

tech innovation

Apple, Watch Your Back: Is Google Going More Boldly Into the Future?

Posted by Ilan Beesen on September 15, 2014 03:14 PM

After months of anticipation, and a few days of perspective, the big Apple keynote last week proved less thrill, and more drill. Not to sound like an ingrate—I’m a longtime Apple admirer and loyal customer—but as far as surprises go, Apple is about as full of them, lately, as a bale of hay.

For its latest worldwide product reveal, Apple’s "one more thing" was the highly anticipated, and long overdue, Apple Watch. The sales pitch by Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake was unexpected, although U2's appearance wasn't. And the missing 'i' in Apple’s Pay and Watch caught everyone off guard, but that’s about it. While stirring interest by Apple fans, iPhone devotees (who snapped up the pre-order phones) and the global tech press, the big event by Tim Cook & Co. was a feature-rich, impeccably-designed bale of hay.

Compared to its history full of silicon-fueled subversion, today’s Apple plays it conservative. While typically the winner at whatever it does, Apple is not even close to being first out to the field with wearable tech, for example. It’s the obsessive batter who takes 10,000 practice swings before stepping to the plate and hitting a homerun. Impressive, but where’s the eccentricity, the wonder, the audacity? Whatever happened to going toe to toe with spectacular failure? Expected awesomeness is still expected.

In the euphoric afterglow of Apple’s keynote, it’s sobering to compare Apple's just-announced innovations with some of the recent work of another tech titan.Continue reading...

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