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What users want from technology



Todays’s consumers have become more tech savvy than previous generations and want to get the most out of their smartphones. DEON PRINSLOO, General Manager at LG Mobile says that designing a phone that is both innovative and feature-rich has become a tall order for many manufacturers.

In what seems like an age ago, when we were all just consumers rather than users, it must have been a little easier for brands to provide for us. You want a TV? Here it is. A phone? Done. A camera? Here’s the best technology on the market.

The transition from consumers to users has been swift over the last decade and, in a trail blazed by tech industry leaders, our key concerns have become the value of our experiences. For tech companies, the question has become: how do we create products that provide a seamless transition between the experiences of everyday life and the ease of using innovative technology?

What makes technology work for us?

The first thing we need to do is remember that technology and innovation have always been about what users want. Long before any kind of phone, let alone smart ones, was an option, human beings invented the wheel because it made it easier to move things around. We then developed the cart because it offered better use and further customisation, allowing us to carry more things or different items in different ways. We have repeatedly found and refined uses for the wheel, so much so that no one who uses it – no user – really has to think about how it works. It fits neatly and seamlessly into their daily lives.

Smartphones have offered a similar form of convenience for modern users who are looking to do more with a single device than the previous generations of consumers did. You can pick a tech leader in a line-up because they’re the ones who have cottoned on to what users want and provided an integrated, streamlined experience of their device’s features. Each feature should speak to a different desire from users, covering as much ground as possible in as simple and effective a fashion as they can. You know, like the wheel.

Currently, users are looking for a lot of ground to be covered. Taking a quick look at current trends, there is a desire for more features, each of which provides an edge for every user’s individual experience of the device as a whole.

What users want right now

Finding a combination of all those features is a tall order. Doing so in a way that not only meets user expectations but also feels integrated and distinct is a feat that only the sharpest, most forward-thinking companies can pull off.

Perhaps the company that’s come closest to pulling this off while supplying a premium device to a wide range of users is LG. With their latest release, the G4, the tech giants have produced a smartphone that doesn’t just attempt to give users what they want, but goes the extra mile to surpass their expectations.

Featuring a big 5.5-inch Quantum Display, a camera that shoots pics that rival DSLRs in quality, and the intuitive and seamless UX 4.0 operating system, the new offering really does speak to the company’s careful analysis of user demand. The hardware runs remarkably smoothly for a phone pushing the upper limits of smartphone technology, but is actually contained in a slimmer curved case. And for added personalisation they’ve released six iterations of the phone with genuine, full-grain leather cases, to meet what users are looking for.

The wheel turns

The effect of great technology is that it ends up fitting comfortably into our daily lives, matching the pace of our work and leisure. The wheel works for its users because it responds to our needs, just like all the best technology should.

* Follow Gadget on Twitter on @GadgetZA

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A career in data science – or your money back

The Explore Data Science Academy is offering high demand skills courses – and guarantees employment for trainees



The Explore Data Science Academy (EDSA) has announced several new courses in 2020 that it says will radically change the shape of data science education in South Africa. 

Comprising Data Science, Data Engineering, Data Analytics and Machine Learning, each six-month course provides vital digital skills that are in high demand in the market place.  The full time, fully immersive courses each cost R60 000 including VAT. 

The courses are differentiated from any other available by the fact that EDSA has introduced a money back promise if it cannot place the candidate in a job within six months of graduation and at a minimum annual starting salary of R240 000.

“For South Africans with drive and aptitude, this is the perfect opportunity to launch a career in what has been called the sexiest career of the 21stcentury,” says Explore founder Shaun Dippnall.

Dippnall and his team are betting on the explosive demand for data science skills locally and globally.

 “There is a massive supply-demand gap in the area of data science and our universities and colleges are struggling to keep up with the rapid growth and changing nature of specific digital skills being demanded by companies.  

“We are offering specifically a work ready opportunity in a highly skills deficient sector, and one which guarantees employment thereafter.”

The latter is particularly pertinent to young South Africans – a segment which currently faces a 30 percent unemployment rate. 

“If you have skills in either Data Science, Data Engineering, Data Analytics or Machine Learning, you will find work locally, even globally. We’re confident of that,” says Dippnall.

EDSA is part of the larger Explore organisation and has for the past two years offered young people an opportunity to be trained as data scientists and embark on careers in a fast-growing sector of the economy.  

In its first year of operation, EDSA trained 100 learners as data scientists in a fully sponsored, full-time 12-month course.  In year two, this number increased to 400.  

“Because we are connected with hundreds of employers and have an excellent understanding of the skills they need, our current placement rate is over 90 percent of the students we’ve taught,” Dippnall says. “These learners can earn an average of R360 000 annually, hence our offer of your money back if there is no employment at a minimum annual salary of R240k within six months.

“With one of the highest youth unemployment rates in the world – recently announced as a national emergency by the President – it is important that institutions teach skills that are in demand and where learners can earn a healthy living afterwards.”

There are qualifying criteria, however. Candidates need to live in close proximity (within one hour commuting distance), or be prepared to live, in either Johannesburg or Cape Town, and need to be between the ages of 18 and 55. 

“Our application process is very tough. We’ll test for aptitude and attitude using the qualifying framework we’ve built over the years. If you’re smart enough, you’ll be accepted,” says Dippnall.

To find out more, visit

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Triggerfish launches free digital learning Academy online

Platform designed for anyone wanting to understand more about career opportunities in animation.



Triggerfish, in partnership with Goethe-Institut and the German Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development, has launched Triggerfish Academy, a free digital learning platform for anyone wanting to understand more about the career opportunities and how to get started in the field of animation. 

The website features 25 free video tutorials, quizzes and animation exercises introducing animation as a career and the principles of storytelling, storyboarding and animation, as well as several additional resources to help guide aspiring animators into a career in animation. 

“The South African animation industry is growing – and so is the demand for skilled animators globally,” said Noemie Njangiru, head of Culture and Development at Goethe-Institut Johannesburg, pointing to  the success of recent Triggerfish projects like the Oscar-nominated Revolting Rhymes; Mama K’s Team 4, recently announced by Netflix as their first original animated series from Africa; and this year’s New York Children’s Festival and Shanghai International Film and TV Festival winner Zog.  

Njangiru also highlighted the opportunities for animation outside the traditional film industry, within fields like advertising, app and web design, architecture, engineering, gaming, industrial design, medicine, and the motor industry, not to mention growth sectors like augmented reality and virtual reality

The course was created by Tim Argall, currently the animation director on Triggerfish’s third feature film, Seal Team. He’s roped in many of the South African animation industry’s brightest stars, from Malcolm Wope, character designer on Mama K’s Team 4, and Annike Pienaar, now working at Illumination in Paris on Sing 2, to Daniel Snaddon, co-director of the multi-award-winning BBC adaptations Stick Man and Zog, and Faghrie Coenraad, lead dressing and finaling artist on the Oscar-nominated Revolting Rhymes, as well as Triggerfish head of production Mike Buckland. The featured talent share not just their skills but also their stories, from how they broke the news they wanted to be animators to their parents, to common myths about the animation industry. 

“As kids, animation is part of our lives, so we don’t really think about the idea that animation is actually somebody’s job,” said Argall. “When I was a kid, I loved animation and I loved to draw. I remember when I was about 12, I thought: ‘I really want to see my drawings come to life. I want to be an animator.’ But I had no idea where to even begin.” 

Triggerfish Academy is his attempt to make it easier for the next generation of African animators: an accessible starter kit for anyone considering a career in animation. 

“By the end of working through this course, you’ll have all the background you need to know whether animation is a good choice for your career,” said Njangiru.  

Aspiring animators can also use Triggerfish Academyto learn how to write and animate their own short story, then post their animation on the Academy’s Facebook group for feedback and advice from professional animators. 

Triggerfish Academy is set up so that youth can play with it directly, but it’s also been designed to double as an activity plan for teachers, NGOs and after school programmes to use. Schools, organisations and other animation studios who are interested in using it can contact Triggerfish for additional free classroom resources.

Triggerfish Academy is just one of a number of Triggerfish initiatives to train and diversify the next generation of African animators, like sponsoring bursaries to The Animation School; the Mama K’s Team 4 Writers Lab with Netflix; the pan-African Triggerfish Story Lab, supported by The Walt Disney Company and the Department of Trade and Industry; Animate Africa webinars; Draw For Life; and the Triggerfish Foundation schools outreach programme. For more information, visit  

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