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AR enters After Pokemon era

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Augmented reality has been around for quite some time, however it was really only used by marketers to engage their customers. However, Pokemon Go has brought the technology to the masses, and raised its general awareness, writes JASON RIED MD of Fuzzy Logic.

While Pokemon Go has brought augmented reality (AR) to the fore, the technology has been around as far back as the ‘50s and has been used across a wide variety of applications and industries. The runaway success of the game in recent weeks has just increased general awareness or AR, encouraging businesses to explore the potential that it offers.

The most common applications of augmented reality in the BP (Before Pokemon) era were as a marketing gimmick; marketers very quickly spotted the potential to engage with users on the next level, and introduced a lot of different apps – with varying degrees of success.

Early attempts at utilising this new technology were more experimental, with people trying to figure out what works and what doesn’t. Unfortunately, the downside to this approach was scepticism from people who tried and failed.

Every industry needs a breakout product that helps take it to the next level, and a big AR success like Pokemon Go was required to reignite interest in the possibilities of the technology, not just for games, but also for business use.

The game has shown – in a fun and engaging way – that augmenting the real world is something that consumers want, and for businesses, it shows that AR is potentially profitable with the right implementation.

In the AP (After Pokemon) era, more people will understand what AR is – either by reading or watching news about it, having downloaded the game and playing it for themselves, or even just through observing other players in action.

Turning fun into revenue 

AR is far more than just gaming though, and some businesses have come to realise that it is a useful tool to connect and engage with customers, building loyalty and potentially even driving sales.

But the applications of AR extend beyond marketing; AR has helped warehouse pickers and technicians become more efficient, and welders and craftsmen more accurate. It has also helped make history and geography more fun, and tourism more educational and engaging.

To take full advantage of this potential, we need to look beyond introducing AR for the mere novelty of it. What businesses need to do is identify a pain point affecting its customers or staff; like successful apps, successful AR experiences look to address one or two pain points rather than a whole series of issues.

Using the technology for something meaningful like enhancing, simplifying, or even just speeding up the way in which people deal with your product or service offering not only goes a long way towards improving customer experience, but potentially drives sales.

In today’s data-driven world, the benefits of a well-crafted AR application extend beyond online virality. Businesses can use these apps to learn more about the end users and their behaviours, and use this information to improve their operations, be it stock planning, product preferences, and more.

They don’t need to know what the ultimate AR solution is going to be, they just need to understand their customers or end-users, and have a crystal clear view of the pain point. An experienced developer can take this information and design a bespoke solution that not only wows and engages the end-user, but also offers an answer to a specific business need.

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ME and Africa Consumer tech spending to hit $149bn

Reaching $130bn this year, consumer spending on technology in the Middle East and Africa is expected to grow just 4% a year.

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Consumer spending on technology in the Middle East and Africa (MEA) is forecast to total $130.8 billion this year, a year-on-year increase of 4.1%. According to the latest Worldwide Semiannual Connected Consumer Spending Guide from International Data Corporation (IDC), consumer purchases of traditional and emerging technologies will remain strong over the 2019–2023 forecast period, increasing at a five-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 3.5% to reach $149.4 billion in 2023.

86.3% of all consumer technology spending in 2019 will be on traditional technologies such as mobile phones, personal computing devices, and mobile telecom services. Mobile telecom services (voice and data) will account for 68.7% of this amount, followed by mobile phones which will account for 26.6%. Spending growth for traditional technologies will be relatively slow, with a CAGR of 2.4% for the 2019–2023 forecast period.

“Faster connectivity, combined with declining data service costs from telecom service providers and the need for end users to use telecom services for an increasing number of devices, will ensure that consumer spending on traditional technologies will continue to grow,” says Fouad Charakla, IDC’s senior research manager for client devices in the Middle East, Turkey, and Africa.

Emerging technologies, including AR/VR headsets, drones, on-demand services, robotic systems, smart home devices, and wearables, will deliver strong growth with a five-year CAGR of 10.2%. This growth will see emerging technologies account for 17.1% of overall consumer spending in 2023, up from 13.7% in 2019. Smart home devices and on-demand services will account for around 93% of consumer spending on emerging technologies by the end of the forecast period.

“The low penetration of smart home devices in the region, combined with growing efforts from market players to educate home users on the benefits and usage of these devices, will serve as an engine of growth for consumer spending on emerging technologies,” says Charakla. “A large portion of end users are already looking to invest in devices that will improve their productivity and quality of life, two key demands that smart home devices can be positioned to fulfil.”

On-demand services represent a new addition to IDC’s Worldwide Semiannual Connected Consumer Spending Guide. “On-demand services enable access to networks, marketplaces, content, and other resources in the form of subscription-based services and includes platforms such as Netflix, Hulu, and Spotify, among others,” says Charakla. “As connected consumers juggle multiple services across their devices, it is essential for technology providers to understand how the adoption of these various technologies and services will impact their customers’ experiences in the future.”

Communication and entertainment will be the two largest use case categories for consumer technology, representing more than 79% of all spending throughout the forecast. More than 70% of all communication spending will go toward traditional voice and messaging services in 2019. Entertainment spending will be dominated by watching or downloading TV, videos and movies, as well as listening to music and downloading and playing online games. The use cases that will see the fastest spending growth over the forecast period are augmented reality games (49.5% CAGR).

The Worldwide Semiannual Connected Consumer Spending Guide quantifies consumer spending for 22 technologies in ten categories across nine geographic regions. The guide also provides spending details for 23 consumer use cases. Unlike any other research in the industry, the Connected Consumer Spending Guide was designed to help business and IT decision makers to better understand the scope and direction of consumer investments in technology over the next five years.

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Could robots replace human tennis players?

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While steeped in tradition, tennis has embraced technology on multiple fronts: coaching, umpiring and fan experiences. Since the early 2000s, the Sony-owned Hawk-Eye system has been assisting tennis umpires in making close calls. At Wimbledon, IBM’s Watson AI analyses fan and player reactions in real-time video footage from matches to create highlight reels just minutes after the end of a match.

Meanwhile, at the ATP Finals in London, similar data analysis is being carried out by digital services and consulting firm Infosys.

GlobalData’s Verdict deputy editor Rob Scammell hears the future of tennis discussed at a recent panel discussion about the use of data analytics and technology in the game.

Scammel writes: “Infosys has been partnered with ATP for five years, providing features such as its cloud-based platform, which leverages artificial intelligence to analyse millions of data points to gain insights into the game.

“Players and coaches can also make use of the Infosys’ Players and Coaches Portal, allowing them to “slice and dice” matches on an iPad with 1,000 data analytics combinations. This is data crunching is vital according to Craig O’Shannessy, strategy analyst for the ATP World Tour and a coach for 20 years – including for the likes of Novak Djokovic. 

O’Shannessy says: “Video and data analytics is crucial for giving players an edge. It’s about finding out of 100 points, the 10 or 15 that matter the most, and explaining that these are the patterns of play that you want to repeat in these upcoming games to win those matches.”

However, although Chris Brauer, director of innovation at the Institute of Management Studies at Goldsmiths, University of London, asked whether the “inevitable conclusion” of technological innovations in tennis was removing humans from the game entirely. ATP chair umpire and manager Ali Nili suggested that while there could one day be robot players adjudicated by robot umpires, it would be an entirely different sport.

Nili told GlobalData: “At ATP, we’re most proud of our athletes. It’s our athletes which make the tennis exciting. It’s how fast they are, how strong they are being. As humanbeings, we compare them to us and we’re fascinated by the things that they’re able to do. They’re the number one attraction for anyone who comes in, watches tennis, and everything else is secondary, you know, all the data and everything else, because we try to make our athletes more appealing.”

Could robots replace human tennis players?

Raghavan Subramanian, associate vice president and head of Infosys Tennis Platform, says it’s a “very philosophical question” and that we can look to the precedent set by other ‘man vs machine’ face-offs.

“In chess, we had [Garry] Kasparov play against the computer. So I think the natural first transition will not be two robots playing against each other, but one robot, possibly playing against the best player today. That’s the first possible bridge before two robots play.”

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