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IFA: Huawei debuts smart speaker

At IFA 2018, Huawei unveiled the HUAWEI AI Cube, a two-in-one speaker and 4G router with Alexa built-in, marking its official entry into the smart speaker market

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“Huawei is committed to providing seamless connectivity and enabling the smart, connected experience. To those ends, Huawei has been actively strengthening the value proposition of its product portfolio, and augmenting an increasingly wide range of products with AI technology, with HUAWEI AI Cube being the latest in the line,” said Richard Yu, CEO of Huawei Consumer BG. “HUAWEI AI Cube boasts a complete set of functionalities that showcase Huawei’s commitment to innovation and collaboration. By combining HUAWEI telecommunications technology with Amazon Alexa, the HUAWEI AI Cube is a compelling product that will surely strike a chord with consumers.”

With support for Wi-Fi on 4G LTE, HUAWEI AI Cube can fulfill the myriad connectivity demands arising from the smart home. Setup for the router is easy and intuitive—it only requires a 4G SIM card plugged in to establish a high speed internet connection at LTE Category 6 speeds (300Mbps downlink). HUAWEI AI Cube is also compatible with the 802.11ac Wi-Fi standard, meaning the router is dual band, capable of working on the 2.4GHz and 5GHz channels and transmitting data over LAN at up to 1,200Mbps.

HUAWEI AI Cube also features Alexa built-in, enabling users to effortlessly play music, control smart home devices, and access more than 50,000 skills – hands-free. All you need to do is ask.

“The Huawei AI Cube combines several products into one while balancing smart functionality with high-quality sound,” said Pete Thompson, Vice President of the Alexa Voice Service. “We’re excited to see Huawei bring customers in Europe a natural way to play music, control smart home devices and access thousands of skills.”

In terms of speaker performance, HUAWEI AI Cube is built with a large, 400ml sound cavity and an aluminum diaphragm, enabling the AI speaker to produce high quality audio with crystal clear midrange and highs, as well as full, rounded bass. The audio is also enhanced with Huawei’s proprietary audio solution: HUAWEI Histen. Also featured on a range of Huawei devices, HUAWEI Histen enriches the AI speaker’s set of features by including virtual bass, linear phase equalizer, adaptive gain control, far-field voice recognition and more as part of its repertoire.

All the aforementioned technologies supported on the HUAWEI AI Cube are packed in small matte white body with a seamless 3D mesh base. Moreover, the AI speaker is designed in a way that the ports are hidden underneath the base, allowing it to blend in with any home decor easily.

According to market analyst firm Canalys, the global install base of smart speakers is set to more than double in size to reach 225 million units by 2020. This massive opportunity is underpinned by a strong market interest for this category of products, particularly in the China market. As a leading telecommunications equipment and smartphone manufacturer, Huawei is uniquely positioned to capitalize on this burgeoning trend in China and beyond.

Alongside the HUAWEI AI Cube, Huawei also launched HUAWEI Locator, a powerful small form factor location beacon supporting long operation and standby times as well as four major global navigation satellite system (GNSS) standards, namely GPS, GLONASS, Galileo and Beidou. Compatible with nano SIM and eSIM, the device supports global roaming with near-real-time location reporting and provides a host of services including SOS button, Geofence and BLE Found, a proximity-based service that triggers a buzzer alarm on HUAWEI Locator when a paired smartphone is within 10 meters from the device. Built as a rugged, multi-purpose device, HUAWEI Locator has an IP68 rating which makes it perfectly suited for any type of activity, indoors or outdoors.

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New iPhone pricing for SA

The iStore has announced that the latest iPhones, the Xs and Xs Max, can now be pre-ordered at www.myistore.co.za , and will be available in stores starting 28 September 2018.

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iPhone Xs and iPhone Xs Max feature 5.8-inch and 6.5-inch Super Retina displays that offer remarkable brightness and true blacks while showing 60 percent greater dynamic range in HDR photos. iPhone Xs and iPhone Xs Max have an improved dual camera system that offers breakthrough photo and video features, A12 Bionic chip with next-generation Neural Engine, faster Face ID, wider stereo sound, longer battery life, splash and water resistance,

Pre-orders will be open for cash purchases and on iStore’s revised payment plan in partnership with FNB Credit Card, allowing customers to pay off their iPhone at a reduced interest rate. However, the contract period is 37 months rather than the usual 24 months.
*FNB Credit Card Payment Plan, price per month over 37 months, a 40% trade-in value after 24 months

How to pre-order – Pre-ordering online for either cash or the FNB payment plan gives customers the benefit of reserving their purchase without having to queue and the added convenience of having purchases delivered directly to their door. Pre-orders of iPhone Xs and Xs Max are completed online by visiting www.myistore.co.za.
FREE iCare Plus – Exclusive to iStore, all customers can get its 2-year extended warranty, which includes one Apple Certified screen repair, that normally sells for R1 999, for FREE. To qualify, customers should secure a voucher online now at www.myistore.co.za , and subsequently redeem it when they upgrade their contract or purchase any new iPhone at iStore (iPhone 8 and newer) between now and 31 December 2018. Offer is limited, secure your voucher now.

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Accenture opens Fjord design centre in Johannesburg

Accenture has launched its first design and innovation studio on African soil, Fjord Johannesburg.

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The company says the move significantly expands its design capabilities and demonstrates its commitment to unlocking Africa’s innovation potential through the creation of experiences that redefine industries in our constantly evolving digital era.

The new studio, opening in November, will be located at Accenture’s new 3875m² offices in Waterfall. It will be led by Marcel Rossouw, design director and studio lead for Fjord Johannesburg.

Said Rossouw, “Brands are constantly asking, ’how does one take a business need or problem, build that out into a definition of a service experience, and then bring it to market?’ It’s about re-engineering existing service experiences, identifying customer needs, prototyping rapidly, iterating often and proving or disproving assumptions. But it’s also about getting feedback from customers. The combination of these factors helps companies advance towards the ultimate service experience.”

Fjord is the design and innovation consultancy of Accenture Interactive. The Johannesburg location marks its 28th design studio globally, solidifying its position as the world’s leading design powerhouse.

Working in the same location as Accenture Interactive will allow Fjord to fuse its core design strategy DNA with the digital agency’s expertise in marketing, content and commerce to create and deliver the best customer experiences for the world’s leading brands. Accenture Interactive Africa‘s blend of intelligent design and creative use of technology has already been used by some of South Africa’s largest and most prominent brands, including Alexander Forbes, Discovery, MultiChoice and Nedbank. The digital agency has also earned industry accolades for its innovative and compelling business results, most notably two gold awards in the Service Design category at the 2017 and 2018 Loeries awards.

“Great design tells great stories,” says Wayne Hull, managing director of Accenture Digital and Accenture Interactive lead in Africa. “It unifies a brand, drives innovation and makes the brand or service distinctive and hyper-relevant in both the digital and physical worlds. This is critical to achieving results. Having Fjord Johannesburg as part of Accenture Interactive, and collaborating with all of Accenture Africa, will provide unique experiences and forward-thinking capabilities for our clients.”

“Businesses in South Africa are becoming more design-aware and are looking to take greater advantage of design skills to compete with the rest of the world,” said Thomas Müller, head of Europe, Africa and Latin America at Fjord. “We’re excited to open our first design studio on the continent and to be part of an emerging market that is ripe for design and innovation, and open for business. Developing markets like South Africa are challenging assumptions and norms about what digital services and products are meant to be, and we’ll strive to put design at the heart of the innovation being produced there.”

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