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Where wearable is headed

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With wearable device technology maturing rapidly and gaining consumer traction, the race is on between manufacturers to capture market share in this new product category, writes CHARLENE MUNILALL, GM for the Huawei Consumer Business Group.

The term ‘product category’ is misleading, however, and the brands that are able to grasp this are the ones that will win this race. The term is misleading because wearable technology is the sum of many parts that have to work together in a co-ordinated, cohesive manner.

A wearable device is but one of these many parts – an important part, obviously – and brands unable to leverage the other component parts in the equation will be relegated to the minor leagues.

These other components include the smartphone that drives the wearable technology, the network infrastructure that carries the data, the value-added services that elevate the wearable device beyond a luxury to a necessity, and the innovation that encapsulates all these different elements.

In essence, this is a question of convergence.

Convergence is a subject that has been at the forefront of the enterprise market for some time and the benefits of an ecosystem designed to simplify enterprise IT will soon be seen the hallmark of consumer wearable technology.

In layman’s terms this would be termed a ‘smart life’ or ‘digital lifestyle’, and wearables will undeniably be at the centre of this evolution.

We are already seeing many examples of this vision of a smart, connected world. Devices ranging from intelligent home management systems, smart televisions and devices that are fully integrated and accessible from a mobile device are but some of the examples.

And wearable technology is the obvious candidate to pull together these various systems and services. This is largely because of the convenience factor that makes this technology so compelling, but equally the increasing integration and functionality built into these devices.

Local critics of wearables often point to these utopian views on the future of the technological possibilities by pointing to the undeniable differences in need across a continent such as Africa.

There is certainly merit to the argument, unless one acknowledges that wearable technology’s primary innovation is to address a need and introduce convenience.

In Africa those needs are definitely different from a consumer sitting in New York or London. But they are driven by the need to be digitally, socially and financially included. And wearable technology certainly has a role to play in offering this to African consumers.

The manner in which Africa has leapfrogged other technologies since the introduction of mobile telephony, it is not difficult to acknowledge that wearables hold the same potential for new and exciting innovations to be rapidly adopted and become part of everyday life.

Huawei has adopted a strategy of trialling new innovations on the continent as it is the perfect test bed for consumer adoption.

There is definitely no lack of will in Africa to adopt technology that can contribute to a smart life. There might currently be infrastructure, network coverage and disposable income challenges, but these are slowly dissipating while building an enormous market hungry for technology.

The need to find practical solutions to local needs, including an attractive price point, has also been embraced by Huawei as a challenge to develop products that are relevant and affordable. With Africa’s middle class growing, an exciting opportunity exists to walk the journey with users who see the benefits of technology and will be able and willing to upgrade as their needs grow.

Huawei is therefore taking a long term and holistic view on the potential and future of wearable technology. This is driven by the company philosophy as well as realisation that the benefits will be realised over the long haul.

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Load-shedding leads
local searches

South Africans are searching in the dark, according to the latest Google Search trends.

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With more 1 million search queries generated in the space of 76 hours, load-shedding was by far the top trending search on Google South Africa this week.

Valentine’s Day came a distant second.

After news emerged last Sunday of the impending stage 3 load shedding, South Africans had generated more than 1-million load-shedding search queries by the time Tuesday came around:

  • “Loadshedding schedule” – generated more than 100k searches on Sunday
  • “Load shedding schedule” – generated more than 100k searches on Sunday
  • “Eskom load shedding” – generated more than 100k searches on Sunday
  • “Load shedding Cape Town” – generated more than 50k searches on Sunday
  • “Load shedding schedule” – generated more than 400k on Monday
  • “Load shedding Johannesburg” – generated more than 20k searches on Monday
  • Load shedding schedule” generated more than 200k search queries on Tuesday

Leading up to Valentine’s Day, South Africans generated close to 300k search queries related to the romantic festival, including searches for quotes and gift ideas:

  • “Valentines Day” generated more than 100k search queries on Thursday
  • “Happy Valentines Day Images” and “Valentines Day Images” generated more than 10k search queries each on Thursday, with “Happy Valentines Day 2019” generating more than 20k search queries on Wednesday
  • “Valentines Day Specials 2019” generated more than 5k search queries on Thursday
  • “Love quotes” generated more than 5k search queries on Thursday
  • “Valentines Day quotes” generated more than 100k search queries and “Valentine messages” generated more than 50 000 search queries on Wednesday

Search trends information is gleaned from data collated by Google based on what South Africans have been searching for and asking Google. Google processes more than 40 000 search queries every second. This translates to more than a billion searches per day and 1.2 trillion searches per year worldwide. Live Google search trends data is available at https://www.google.co.za/trends/hottrends#pn=p40

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Showmax invites
student films

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Thanks to the growing popularity of video-on-demand services, there’s a new opportunity to help kickstart the careers of local filmmakers.

Numerous Hollywood blockbusters (District 9Tomb Raider 2018, and The Avengers: Age of Ultron to name a few) have featured substantial shoots in Johannesburg and Cape Town. While providing great opportunities for SA’s production talent, aspiring writers and directors don’t get the same benefit.

So where can local creatives showcase their work? Broadcast TV isn’t a natural home for unknown short films, and while self-publishing platforms are readily available hosting options, it’s tough to get noticed and get traffic when competing with videos from across the planet.

But with the emergence of video-on-demand services into the mainstream, there’s now a solution. The African film school AFDA has teamed up with the streaming service Showmax to give local talent a much larger platform than ever before. From 18 February, eighteen of the best recent short films made by AFDA students from their Johannesburg, Cape Town, Durban and Port Elizabeth campuses will be live on Showmax. Drama, documentary, fantasy, and animation are all represented, in pieces running from under eight minutes to almost half-an-hour long. The full list of movies is included below.

Teresa Passchier, CEO of AFDA, said: “AFDA, Africa’s number-one school for the Creative Economy, is proud to kickstart this exciting and meaningful journey with Showmax and AFDA students, ensuring emerging young African filmmakers’ voices are heard and given a platform. It’s ground-breaking to share young, local, culturally relevant content on the same platform as Hollywood blockbusters. I am certain that this unique initiative will serve to boost and develop the African film industry and the careers of many young South African and African students alike.”

Included in the short films coming to Showmax are the award winners Junior and O-PunchaJunior, directed by Bert Dijkstra, picked up the Audience Award in the Made in South Africa Competition at the shnit Worldwide Shortfilmfestival Awards 2017. O-Puncha, directed by Adam Hansen, won two awards at the 5th annual Eldorado Film Festival: Best Student Made Short, and Best Editing – Alexander La Cock.

Another celebrated film is Sicela Amanzi directed by Mlu Godola, which talks to the subject of water shortage. The film’s heroine Zoleka is a mild-mannered young woman forced to go to extreme lengths when a small community’s only source of water unexpectedly collapses. The power of films like this is they shine a light on critical topical issues in new ways.

Speaking about working with the film school, Candice Fangueiro, Head of Content for Showmax, said: “There’s immense depth of filmmaking talent in Africa and it’s a privilege to be able to give that talent a home and a platform. Showmax is becoming part of the fabric of film and TV production in Africa, and importantly we’re doing this as a partner rather than just as a consumer. This is a key competitive advantage of being local and something we aim to continue to work on.”

AFDA is an Academy Award-winning institution, founded in 1994, and the first and only African film school to win an Oscar – for the Best Foreign Student film in 2006, the postgraduate film Elalini, directed by Tristan Holmes.

The full list of AFDA short films coming to Showmax is as follows:

Film titleDirectorGenre
Lullaby from the CryptKeenan Lott & Raven DavidsAnimation
Ko Ga CherenyaneSibonokuhle MyatazaDocumentary
IzilwaneKyllian RouxDrama
MallemeuleJaco Van BoschDrama
Canal StreetBrodie MuirheadDrama
On the FenceWarrick BewsDrama
The Righteous FewLindo LangaDrama
Hlogoma PeakLuke AhrensDrama
Frozen FlameCameron HeathmanAnimation
WolfBrett van DortFantasy
The Walk HomeSisanda DyantyiDrama
BearWesley RoodtDrama
JuniorBert DijkstraDrama
O-PunchaAdam HansenDrama
UmngenoSiphosethu NdungeDrama
DoreenLuvuyo Equiano NyawoseDrama
ForeverLindo LangaMusical
Sicela AmanziMlu GodolaDrama

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