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IFA 2019: AI, 5G, voice rule the tech roost

Artificial Intelligence, voice and 5G connectivity shape the digital world as #Coinnovation powers the world’s biggest consumer technology show

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Artificial Intelligence, voice and 5G connectivity are the three big trends shaping consumer electronics and home appliances at IFA 2019. IFA is once again the platform for the world’s leading brands to showcase the innovation, products and services that will dominate real-world stores and virtual shelves on Black Friday, Singles Day, Cyber Monday, Christmas and into the New Year. With all exhibition space fully booked, IFA Berlin will host 1.939 manufacturers and brands across 163.900 square meters net at two exhibition areas – the Berlin Exhibition Grounds and IFA Global markets, Europe’s largest sourcing show for trade visitors at STATION-Berlin.

Hans-Joachim Kamp, Chairman of the Supervisory Board of gfu Consumer & Home Electronics GmbH, the organizer of IFA, says: “IFA’s success story is underpinned by the constant innovation in our industries, and their agility to react to consumers’ needs. IFA continues to be the world’s most important platform for consumer electronics and home appliances and is a key driver for our industries’ growth and innovation. During the six days ahead, our exhibitors, trade visitors, the media and the general public will see more innovation and new products than ever before.”

Dr. Reinhard Zinkann, Chairman of the ZVEI Association of the German Electrical and Electronic Manufacturers’ Association, says: “Consumer confidence has not really been helped by the broader economic context and political developments. As a result, some markets are trading sideways or have become weaker or more volatile. Despite these business challenges, the household appliance industry is doing quite well, which makes us optimistic for the future. IFA as the most important meeting and marketplace for the home appliances industry will help to give us an extra boost.”

Dr. Christian Göke, CEO Messe Berlin, says: “Our IFA team has two objectives: to showcase the best innovation and inspire co-innovation. What you see here in Berlin is the cutting edge of technology, and ready for consumers ahead of the most important shopping season – from Black Friday and Singles Day to Cyber Monday and Christmas. The high standard of innovation on show here at IFA Berlin just underlines how important it is to keep trade barriers low, because without it innovation would be much less dynamic – and that would be harmful for both consumers and society.”

IFA NEXT

As the first IFA Global Innovation Partner of IFA NEXT, Japan will present an exclusive Pavilion at Hall 26, joining startups and cutting-edge IT companies from around the world. The Japan Pavilion’s maxim is “Interface with Consideration and Sensibility” – with examples of new human-machine interfaces developed in line with inherent Japanese traits, developed for a society where cyberspace and physical space are already highly integrated. Through the Japan Pavilion, Japan will showcase a new user interface that enables all levels of society to benefit from digital technologies in a rapidly developing digital economy.

Artificial intelligence, Voice, Robotics, Smart Homes and 5G, the new mobile telecommunications standard, are just some of the key trends at IFA NEXT, the global start-up stage and innovation platform in Hall 26. Two centrally located stages in the hall – the Innovation Engines – will host presentations on new products, technologies and services. Speakers at IFA NEXT will be drawn from a fascinating mixture of startups, technology companies and research institutions.

IFA KEYNOTES

Every year, the IFA Keynote on the first two days of the show are a stage for the best in innovation, and this year is no different – especially given the political and economic background for Friday’s keynote speakers.

  • Richard Yu, CEO of the Huawei Consumer Business Group (IFA Opening Keynote, 6 September, 10:30 a.m.) explains why 5G could be the technology that will significantly change IoT, autonomous driving and smart devices.
  • Cristian AmonPresident of Qualcomm, will explain why 5G will be a fundamental driver of technological progress and usher in the next era of great inventions” (IFA Keynote, 6 September, 14:00).
  • Anthony Wood, the founder, chairman and CEO of Roku is arguably the most successful challenger to Netflix and cable networks alike. Wood talks about the visions and innovations that will transform television (IFA Keynote, September 7, 10:30).
  • With twelve global brands, Arcelik is a market leader in most of its markets, including two of Europe’s largest household appliance brands, Beko and Grundig. During the IFA Keynote, Hakan Bulgurlu, CEO Arçelik, will explain his strategic insights and his company’s global position (IFA Keynote, 7 September, 14:00).

IFA+ SUMMIT 
The power of data is this year’s top topic at the IFA+ Summit – IFA’s Future Convention. On 8 and 9 September, numerous international speakers look ahead to how disruptive technologies will change and shape our digital future.

With its growing order volume, IFA will continue to drive growth in international and national markets.

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The Outer Worlds creates a twist on lone hero RPGs

With The Outer Worlds being released just under a month ago, BRYAN TURNER played it extensively to shell out exactly what makes it so special.

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The Outer Worlds makes it difficult to turn the console off. It took a while to pinpoint exactly what makes it so more-ish. Eventually, it became clear that it’s not one aspect, but rather several facets that make this game great. We’ve separated this game into its parts.

It comes as no surprise that Obsidian Entertainment, the makers of Fallout New Vegas and Star Wars: Knights of the Fallen Empire, was behind The Outer Worlds. It blends two distinct flavours of gaming – the chaos of Fallout with the intergalactic travel from Star Wars. This makes The Outer Worlds feel familiar but fresh at the same time.

At first, the game felt similar to the Fallout RPG series, particularly Fallout New Vegas, where the player is conveniently more powerful than the other players that exist in the world into which they venture. In Fallout, worlds are generally lawless, and players must navigate their character towards the alignment or “good or bad status” they want the player to be. The plot has scenarios that only a certain type of alignment can be, whether the character is the Restorer of Faith or the Architect of Doom.

The Outer Worlds follows a similar kind of style, but replaces the wasteland with a picture of the far future. Players start off as a passenger who gets unfrozen on a ship that holds a few of Earth’s brightest minds. The main campaign goal is to help unfreeze the other passengers. Instead, players are found in a hyper-capitalist world where workers are extremely disposable. Enormous companies go by names like “Auntie Cleos” but set extremely oppressive policies to keep their workers in line. From this, one can tell that dark humour is rife throughout this game.

These kinds of immersive RPGs, naturally, pack so many side quests into their world that it’s easy to forget the player’s main objective. These side quests are very reminiscent of the Fallout series, because they feature many ways of getting the job done, whether it be fighting, convincing or sneaking. One can even have companions, which present players with even more quest lines.

Not everything is a remix of other games. Companions have a direct effect on a character’s skill set, because the main characters are not always skilled in what players need. For example, we brought along Parvati in a quest where we needed more support with engineering skills, which is a skill we neglected to level up in the main character.

There’s also the ability to have a special combat skill, which becomes very handy in situations where there are many enemies around. Of course, it not only buys players time, but delivers more damage to opponents. Some special combat skills even stun non-targeted opponents, which really helps.

Gear and perks have also been designed from scratch, and it shows. It’s far more intuitive than we’ve seen in other RPGs so far and it makes for a much better experience that saves time on upgrading gear and perks so players can actually play the game.

I’m a huge fan of the Vault-Tec Assisted Targeting System, or VATS, as Fallout players know it. The system allows players to target various limbs or parts of the opponent with precision aim, ensuring a better shot. While The Outer Worlds doesn’t use this, it features a slow-motion aiming system which can be considered an equivalent.

The travel system allows for travel from planet to planet, and they’re all distinctly mapped. While many are filled with enemies and marauders in empty wastelands, there are also major cities. The art style and careful attention to detail with the colour make this contrast distinguishable.

One of our biggest compliments is the completeness of this game. Many games have recently shipped glorified beta versions of their games because they’re pressed for time. The Outer Worlds, however, didn’t present a single bug within 20 hours of gameplay.

Overall, it’s a very enjoyable game, and fans of the Fallout, Star Wars RPGs, and Mass Effect series’ should definitely take a look at what The Outer Worlds has to offer.

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FNB takes shot at Bank Zero

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With expectation building for the launch of Bank Zero by legendary banker Michael Jordaan, his previous employer seems to have taken a strategic shot with the launch of its latest service. 

FNB has launched Easy Zero, a fully-fledged digital bank account with a card to allow customers to transact easily without paying a monthly fee. The mobile account was formerly known as eWallet eXtra.

The revamped digital account will now have a branded FNB bank card, providing customers with free card swipes, cost-effective transactional and ATM cash withdrawal fees. The card now gives customers more options to access their money. In addition, customers will also get free prepaid purchases and free cash deposits of up to R1,500 per month.

FNB Easy CEO Philani Potwana said: “We are aware of the day-to-day financial pressure that our consumers face, and Easy Zero is a direct response to their needs. The account is in line with our strategy to broaden financial inclusion to the unbanked and underbanked. We believe that the ability to operate the account digitally will allow customers to operate it at virtually no cost or minimal cost depending on transactional behaviour.

“We see Easy Zero being a digital bank account of choice for customers who do not have regular income or have limited banking needs. This is partly the reason debit orders are not allowed on the digital account as customers in this segment have limited debit orders. However, for those customers that have a need for debit orders they can still use our competitively priced Easy PAYU and Easy Smart Bundle accounts.”

Through Easy Zero, customers will be able to send money to anyone with a valid SA cellphone number, and skip the queues to pay people and accounts. Easy Zero account holders can also view their bank account balance and transaction history on their mobile phone at any time, from anywhere.

“The success of our digital account, with over 140,000 active customers, shows that anyone who owns a mobile phone can be banked in minutes using a mobile device,” says Potwana. “This showcases our ability to adapt to the ever-changing consumer landscape to cater for the needs of customers through platform innovation. ”

FNB is also offering Easy Zero digital account holders a toll-free number (0800 079 599) where easy customers can call for help on any of their banking needs. To open an Easy Zero account, dial *120*277# on a mobile phone and follow the prompts.

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