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Wearables change insurance

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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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ConceptD: Creatives get a tech brand of their own

The unveiling of a new brand by Acer recognises the massive computing power needed in creative professions, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK

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It’s a crisp Spring morning in Brooklyn. The regular water taxi from Manhattan pulls up at Duggal Greenhouse on the edge of the East River. It’s a building that symbolises the rejuvenation of Brooklyn as a hub of artistic and creative expression.

Inside the vast structure, global computer brand Acer is about to unveil its own tribute to creativity. Company CEO Jason Chen takes to the stage in faded blue jeans and brown t-shirt, underlining the connection of the event to the informality of the area.

“Brooklyn is become more and more diverse,” he tells a gathering of press from around the world, attending the Next@Acer media event. “It’s an area that is up and coming. It represents new lifestyles. And our theme today is turning a new chapter for creativity.”

Every year, Next@Acer is a parade of the cutting edge in gaming and educational laptops and computers. New devices from sub-brands like Predator, Helios and Nitro have gamers salivating. This year is no different, but there is a surprise in store, hinted in Chen’s introduction.

As a grand finale, he calls on stage Angelica Davila, whose day job is senior marketing manager for Acer Latin America. But she also happens to have a Masters degree in computer and electric engineering. A stint at Intel, where she joined a sales and marketing programme for engineers, set her on a new path.

Angelica Davila, marketing manager for Acer Latin America

For the last few months, she has been helping write Acer’s next chapter. She has shepherded into being nothing less than a new brand: ConceptD.

Click here to read more about ConceptD.

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Which voice assistant wins battle of translators?

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Take the most famous phrase from the Godfather – “I’m going to make him an offer he can’t refuse” – or “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself” from the inaugural address of US President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and see just how the virtual assistants do in translating them using their newly introduced Neural Machine Translation (NMT) capabilities. One Hour Translation (OHT), the world’s largest online translation service, conducted a study to find out just how accurate these new services are.

OHT used 60 sentences from movies and famous people ranging from the Godfather and Wizard of Oz to Neil Armstrong, the first man to set foot on the moon, US presidents Franklin Delano Roosevelt and John Fitzgerald Kennedy and historical figures like Leonardo da Vinci and Aesop. The sentences were translated by Google Assistant, Amazon’s Alexa and Apple’s Siri from English to French, Spanish, Chinese and German and then given to five professional translators for their assessment on a scale of 1-6. 

Google Assistant scored highest in three of the four languages surveyed – English to French, English to German and English to Spanish and second in English to Chinese.  Amazon’s Alexa, whose translation engine is powered by Microsoft Translator, was tops in the English to Chinese category. Apple’s Siri was second place in English to French and English to Spanish and third place in English to German and English to Chinese.  (See chart). All three virtual assistants are compatible with mobile phones.

“The automated assistants’ translation quality was relatively high, which means that assistants are useful for handling simple translations automatically,” says Yaron Kaufman, chief marketing officer and co-founder of OHT. He predicts that “there is no doubt that the use of assistants is growing rapidly, is becoming a part of our lives and will make a huge contribution to the business world.” 

A lot will depend on further improvements in NMT technology, which has revolutionized the field of translation over the past two years.  All the companies active in the field are investing large sums as part of this effort. “OHT is working with several of the leading NMT providers to improve their engines through the use of its hybrid online translation service that combines NMT and human post-editing,” notes Kaufman. He adds that this will no doubt have a huge impact on the use of assistants for translation purposes.

OHT has made a name for itself in assessing the level of translations by NMT engines.  Its ONEs Evaluation Score is a unique human-based assessment of the leading NMT engines conducted on a quarterly basis and used as an industry standard. 

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