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Wearables change insurance

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The insurance industry is using the information gathered from wearable tech to reshape customer experience and deliver more personalised products and incentives to its clients.

Wearable computers are reshaping the customer experience in life insurance, enabling insurers to deliver more personalised products and incentives to consumers while helping their customers to lead healthier lives.

That’s according to Bryan McLachlan, Managing Director of ABSA Instant Life, one of the first life insurers in South Africa to leverage wearable technology in its life insurance products. He says life insurers are encouraging customers to adopt fitness wearables to monitor exercise, sleep and other health metrics. This, in turn, incentivises people to lead healthier lifestyles.

ABSA Instant Life’s FitLife Cover product offers customers a discount for simply wearing an activity and sleep tracking device. The company doesn’t use the data to penalise customers who show signs of unhealthy living; the goal is to get customers thinking about their health so that they can proactively change their habits.

“We find that customers start to exercise more and adopt better sleeping habits when they track their health using a fitness device,” says McLachlan. “As the technology matures, it will also be able to alert users about health issues such as the danger of a heart attack. In time, we could imagine life insurers, medical aid funds, health providers and other companies using this sort of data to coach customers about ways to reduce their health risks.”

Collecting big data

For the life insurer, the promise of fitness wearables is about collecting big data so that it can begin to model risk more accurately and better understand consumer behaviour, McLachlan says.

The key to making customers more comfortable with sharing their fitness and health data will be using this information in a fair, transparent and ethical manner, and following good practices in data privacy and protection.  Life insurers will be able to put this data to work to create better products that are more tailored to the needs of different customer segments.

In addition, getting customers to use a fitness wearable each day helps life insurers to embed their brands and products in day-to-day life. It is a way for them to interact with customers beyond the sales process, the monthly debit order and claims, says McLachlan.

“Most people don’t want to claim on a life policy,” says McLachlan. “We see this as an opportunity to communicate with customers more regularly and to play a positive role in their lives as a company that has their interests at heart.”

From niche to mainstream

McLachlan expects health and fitness wearables to grow beyond a niche market to the mainstream as people become more comfortable with sharing their data with companies like insurers and begin to understand the benefits of doing so.

Wearables adoption is soaring worldwide, led by fitness trackers. International Data Corporation (IDC) says nearly 100 million wearable devices shipped in 2016. Around half were fitness trackers. This year, IDC expects around 125 million wearables to be sold.

In the not-too-distant future, new classes of wearables could change the way we think about personal health and fitness. Innovations such as ingestible sensors that send information from inside your body to your smartphone or allow health professionals to remotely track health indicators are already in prototype. Contact lenses can monitor blood sugar levels and there are even biometric ‘tattoos’ in development – apply a temporary piece of body art to your skin and it will track your heart rate, body temperature and so on.

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Android Go puts reliable smartphones in budget pockets

Nokia, Vodacom and Huawei have all launched entry-level smartphones running the Android Go edition, and all deliver a smooth experience, writes BRYAN TURNER.

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Three new and notable Android Go smartphones have recently hit the market, namely the Nokia 1, the Vodafone Smart Kicka 4 and the Huawei Y3 (2018). These phones run one of the most basic versions of Android while still delivering a fairly smooth user experience.

Historically, consumers purchasing smartphones in the budget bracket would have a hit-and-miss experience with processing speed, smoothness of user interface, and app stability. The Google-supported Android Go edition operating system optimises the user experience by stripping out non-important visual effects to speed up the phone. Thish allows for more memory to be used by apps. 

Google also ensures that all smartphones running Android Go will receive feature and security updates as they are released by Google. This is a major selling point for these smartphones, as users of this smartphone will always be running the latest software, with virtually no manufacturer bloatware.

Vodafone Smart Kicka 4

At the lowest entry-level, the Vodafone Smart Kicka 4 performs well as a communicator for emails and WhatsApp messages. The 4” screen represents a step up for entry-level Android phones, which were previously standardised at 3.5”.

The display is bright and very responsive, while the limited screen real estate leaves the navigation keys off the screen as touch buttons. It uses 3G connectivity, which might seem like an outdated technology, but is good enough to stream SD videos and music. Vodacom has also thrown in some data gifts if the smartphone is activated before the end of September 2018. 

Its camera functionalities might be a slight let down for the aspirant Instagrammer, with a 2MP rear flash camera and a 0.3MP selfie snapper. Speed wise, the keyboard pops up quickly, which is a huge improvement from the Smart Kicka 3. However, this phone will not play well with graphics-intensive games. 

Nokia 1

Next up is the Nokia 1, which adds a much better 5MP camera, improved battery life and a bigger 4.5” screen. It supports LTE, which allows this smartphone to download and upload at the speed of flagships. It also sports the Nokia brand name, which many consumers trust.

Although the front camera is 2MP, the quality is extremely grainy, even with good lighting. This disqualifies this smartphone for the social media selfie snapper, but the 5MP rear camera will work for the landscape and portrait photographer. 

The screen also redeems this smartphone, providing a display which represents colours truly and has great viewing angles. Xpress-on back covers allows the use of interchangeable, multi-coloured back covers, which has proven to be a successful sales point for mid-range smartphones in the past. 

Huawei Y3 (2018)

The most capable of the Android Go edition competitors, the Huawei Y3 (2018) packs an even bigger screen at 5”, as well as an improved 8MP rear camera and HD video recording. The screen is the brightest and most vibrant of the three smartphones, but seems to be calibrated to show colours a little more saturated than they actually are. 

Nevertheless, the camera outperforms the other smartphones with good colour replication and great selfie capabilities via the 2MP front camera – far superior to the Nokia 1 despite the same spec. LTE also comes standard with this smartphone and Vodacom throws in 4G/LTE data goodies until the end of September 2018. The battery, however, is not removable and may only be replaced by a warranty technician.

Comparing the 3

All three smartphones have removable back covers, which provide access to the battery, SIM card and SD card slots. The smartphones have Micro USB ports on the bottom with headphone jacks on the top. The built-in speakers all performed well, with the Y3 (2018) housing an exceptionally loud built-in speaker. 

Although all at different price points, all three phones remain similar in performance and speed. The differentiators are apparent in the components, like camera quality and screen quality. It would be fair to rank the quality of the camera and battery life by respective market prices. The Vodafone Smart Kicka 4 performed well, for its R399 retail price. The Nokia 1, on the other hand, lags quite a bit in features when compared to the Huawei Y3 (2018), bwith oth retailing at R999.

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SA gets digital archive

As the world entered the centenary of Nelson Mandela’s birth on Mandela Day, 18 July 2018, South Africa celebrated the launch of a digital living archive. 

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The southafrica.co.za  site carries content about the country’s collective heritage in South Africa’s eleven official languages.

Designed as a nation building,  educational and brand promotion web based tool, the free-to-view platform features award-winning photographic and written content by leading South African photographers, authors, academics and photojournalists.

The emphasis is on quality, credible, factual content that celebrates a collective heritage in terms of the following: Cultural Heritage; Natural Heritage; Education; History; Agriculture; Industry; Mining; and Travel.

At the same time as reflecting on the nation’s history, southafrica.co.za celebrates South Africa’s natural, cultural and economic assets so that the youth can learn about their nation in their home language.

Southafrica.co.za Founder and CEO Hans Gerrizen conceptualised southafrica.co.za as a means for youth and communities from outlying areas to benefit from the digital age in terms of the web tool’s empowering educational component.

“We can only stand to deepen our collective experience of democracy and become a more forward planning nation if we know facts about our nation’s past and present in everyone’s home language,” he says.

Southafrica.co.za, with sister company Siyabona Africa, is the organiser and sponsor of the Mandela: 100 Moments photographic exhibition that runs until 30 September at Cape Town’s V&A Waterfront-based Nelson Mandela Gateway to Robben Island.  The 3-month exhibition, which runs daily from 08h00 until 15h00, is showcasing one hundred iconic Nelson Mandela images taken by veteran South African photojournalist and self-taught lensman Peter Magubane.

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