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Wearables change insurance

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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Eugene Kaspersky posts from 2050

In his imagined blog entry from the year 2050, the Kaspersky Lab founder imagines an era of digital immunity

In recent years, digital systems have moved up to a whole new level. No longer assistants making life easier for us mere mortals, they’ve become the basis of civilisation — the very framework keeping the world functioning properly in 2050.

This quantum leap forward has generated new requirements for the reliability and stability of artificial intelligence. Although some cyberthreats still haven’t become extinct since the romantic era around the turn of the century, they’re now dangerous only to outliers who for some reason reject modern standards of digital immunity.

The situation in many ways resembles the fight against human diseases. Thanks to the success of vaccines, the terrible epidemics that once devastated entire cities in the twentieth century are a thing of the past.

However, that’s where the resemblance ends. For humans, diseases like the plague or smallpox have been replaced by new, highly resistant “post-vaccination” diseases; but for the machines, things have turned out much better. This is largely because the initial designers of digital immunity made all the right preparations for it in advance. In doing so, what helped them in particular was borrowing the systemic approaches of living systems and humans.

One of the pillars of cyber-immunity today is digital intuition, the ability of AI systems to make the right decisions in conditions where the source data are clearly insufficient to make a rational choice.

But there’s no mysticism here: Digital intuition is merely the logical continuation of the idea of machine learning. When the number and complexity of related self-learning systems exceeds a certain threshold, the quality of decision-making rises to a whole new level — a level that’s completely elusive to rational understanding. An “intuitive solution” results fromthe superimposition of the experience of a huge number of machine-learning models, much like the result of the calculations of a quantum computer.

So, as you can see, it has been digital intuition, with its ability to instantly, correctly respond to unknown challenges that has helped build the digital security standards of this new era.  

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M-Net to film Deon Meyer novel

A television adaptation of Deon Meyer’s crime novel Trackers is to be co-produced by M-Net, Germany’s public broadcaster ZDF, and HBO subsidiary Cinemax, which will also distribute the drama series worldwide. 

Trackers is an unprecedented scripted television venture and MultiChoice and M-Net are proud to chart out new territory … allowing local and international talent to combine their world-class story-telling and production skills,” says MultiChoice CEO of General Entertainment, Yolisa Phahle.

HBO, Cinemax, and M-Net also launched a Producers Apprenticeship programme last year when the Cinemax series Warrior, coming to M-Net in July, was filmed in South Africa. Some other Cinemax originals screened on M-Net include Banshee, The Knick and Strike Back. 

“Cinemax is delighted to partner with M-Net and ZDF in bringing Deon Meyer’s unforgettable characters and storytelling—all so richly rooted in the people and spectacular geography of South Africa—to screens around the world,” says Len Amato, President, HBO Films, Miniseries, and Cinemax.    

Filming for Trackers has already started in  locations across South Africa and the co-production partners have been working together on all aspects of production 

Deon Meyer, whose award-winning crime novels have been translated into more than 20 languages, with millions of copies sold worldwide, serves as a supervising screenwriter and co-producer; British writer Robert Thorogood (Death in Paradise) is the showrunner. The team of South African writers on the project includes the Mitchell’s Plain playwright, screenwriter and director Amy Jephta (Die Ellen Pakkies Story) and local writer/directors Kelsey Egen and Jozua Malherbe. 

The cast for the six-part miniseries includes Ed Stoppard, Rolanda Marais, James Alexander and Thapelo Mokoena. 

Trackers will make its debut on M-Net 101 in October 2019 and will also be available on MultiChoice’s on-demand service, Showmax. The six-part drama series is produced by UK production company Three River Studios as well as South Africa’s Scene 23. 

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