Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Google's Project Glass and advancements in Augmented Reality devices

"The future is already here — it's just not very evenly distributed.", said William Gibson in 1993. In the world of technology, that is as true as it gets. For decades now, many people have longed for their flying cars, cyborg suits and dare I say, time travel. Time (not the 4th dimension but the magazine) published a list in 2010 of some 'failed' predictions. While these haven't exactly failed, they haven't arrived to the masses either.

Not all technologies need to have similar fates though. 2012 has been a breathe of fresh air for technology innovations so far. One of the most promising amongst all emerging concepts this year have been the "Augmented Reality Eyewear". If you have even a remote interest in technology, you may have already seen Google's new AR glasses called Project Glass. Here's their official video:

And here is an image of Sergey Brin wearing one of the prototypes:

sergey brin project glass engadget

While the technology is truly futuristic, there seems to be some reservation amongst the denizens of the internet about the way they will make you look. If they don't float your boat, don't despair!

Enter Oakley. They have been chasing the AR 'beast' since 1997 apparently. As the following video highlights, the thing that would distinguish their glasses from Google's is style.

When will these be available to the masses? No one really has the answer to that yet but their implementation looks very feasible. After all, Android phones have some superb augmented reality apps like Layar and Sky Map already.

At this point, I know what you are thinking. What if you don't like glasses at all? Well, there is both good news and bad news for you. The good news is that DARPA has recently ordered prototypes of Innovega's iOptik special contact lenses that allow a person to focus both on images shown on the lenses and far-away objects for augmented reality. The bad news of course is that they probably won't be available to you any time soon. Still, that's another win for Dr. Michio Kaku's prediction.

The ramifications of these devices are simply too many to mention. However, there are two that have caught my attention. The first is their use in the gaming industry. As you can see from the video below, Battlefield 5 (or 6 0r 7) will be a million times cooler with Google's AR glasses.

Investing your money in some derelict industrial complex never looked more attractive. The second area where their impact would be felt is in the advertising industry. Didn't think you could escape that did you? Here too, depending on how advanced these devices are built to be, the use of marketing concepts like geolocation, gamification and some other bizarre ones would probably go off the scale. Some people on the internet have already envisioned how these ads will be presented to you. They look very familiar don't they?

google project glass advertisement imgur
Read further

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Nokia needs to be different to win

Seems like the good old guys of the mobile industry are running on a second wind. I am of course talking about Nokia. After what seems to be nearly a decade of being in the doldrums of mediocrity, they seem to be coming out really strong, albeit with some help from Microsoft.

Unless you have been living under the proverbial rock for sometime, the new Nokia Lumia 800 and 710, both based on the Windows Mobile platform, has been receiving excellent reviews. The Lumia 800 even won the Mobile of the Year at the What Mobile Awards 2011 at London’s Whisky Mist.

So far so good, but I think this won't be enough for them to become a serious player in the smartphone market again.

To understand what I am all about, just have a look at this video.

Still doesn't make sense? Let me explain. This visually amazing event was organised by Nokia in London a few days ago.I couldn't make it in person and am glad so; firstly because it was freezing outside, and secondly, because what on earth was it all about?

Yes, it was a magnificent sight to behold, watching the Millbank Tower transform into one of the largest screens ever. But the opportunity was lost to promote the phone and what they ended up doing is promoting Deadmau5 and the technicians instead. If they could have used all the technology to highlight what the phone can do, the impact would have been much more powerful.

I stayed home to watch the live streaming and that turned out to be a disaster. As you can see from the comments, this was probably the most choppy live streaming ever.

Another avenue Nokia is using to promote the new phones is by giving them away. No, seriously! They are giving away 85000 phones to developers, bloggers and influencers. This probably is a good tactic. I have tried the Nokia Lumia 800 phone myself and am definitely going to make it my next phone (I currently own an N97). Once people actually have the phone in their hand and start using it, they will realise how good a piece of machinery it is. All said and done though, Nokia can do better.

Apple is where it is today because of the way it brought the future to the masses. Google Android has created a massive fan base because it has marketed it as the definitive open source platform and attracted masses of developers. It goes without saying that Nokia will have it's hands very full trying to emulate those two behemoths.

What it can do however, is to do something which the others haven't done on a mass scale so far. How can it do that? Well, why don't they start by being the first to bring the following into production?
  • Nokia Indoor Navigation

  • Nokia HumanForm Nanotechnology

Those are things so awesome that I don't even need to talk about them. When you see these and the half-hearted marketing attempts, you realise that this is a company with so much passion and enthusiasm for technology and innovation. There are some great ideas which are generated in their incubation centres but somehow, they never really get the execution they deserve.

Marketing gimmicks apart (and I am a digital marketer) I think it's innovation and implementation which makes a company successful. The sooner Nokia realises that the better it would be for them. So please Nokia, it's not that we don't like your marketing campaigns, it's just that we would rather have the bending phone instead. After all, isn't innovation what you have been doing for the last 25 years?

Many thanks!

A Fan.
Read further

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Happy 40th birthday Email

I just found out that email is 40 years old! That's a staggering number for me. As a marketer, I love emails, even though people have been composing requiems for it for quite sometime now. Thankfully, some people in the same industry are not so sure as the infographic below would reveal:

I know which side I am on. Here are some interesting facts that I found on the internet about emails which I wanted to share with you:

  • 1971 - The first email was sent out on this month 40 years ago. It was sent by Ray Tomlinson who strangely doesn't remember what the message really was!
  • 1978 - Gary Thuerk, a marketer for Digital Equipment Corporation, started one of the most hateful acts in the history of mankind by sending out the first spam to 500 addresses.
  • 1982 - The word 'email' was used for the first time. No, I don't know what they used to call it earlier either.
  • 1997 - Microsoft acquired Hotmail for $400. Like most of their major products, its doing well even today.
  • 1998 - With some regret, the word spam was added to the Oxford dictionary.
  • 2003 - CAN-SPAM Act gets translated as the "You-Can-Spam" act for a lot of spam opposers.
  • 2007 - Gmail went public. I never looked back after that.
  • 2009 - Gmail suffered an outage. Thankfully Cloud computing carried on unscathed.
  • 2011 - Hotmail starts attacking 'graymails' - unwanted emails received legitimately

One thing I am quite clear about now is that email is here to stay for some more time. So, the question is, what's coming up next?

11th Nov Update: Econsultancy comes to the defense of email yet again. Apparently, it has grown by as much as 200% year on year!
Read further

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Ferrari 4 - 0 Mclaren

mclaren mp4-12c ferrari 458

As a car enthusiast for the last 16 years, I cannot recall a more talked about launch about a new car than the McLaren MP4-12C. This is the only car McLaren is making after the legendary McLaren F1 and only its 2nd ever. Despite not being the biggest McLaren fan, I have no hesitation in saying that the F1 was probably the greatest car ever made and had no rival cars from Ferrari or anyone else, mostly because it cost £540,000... in 1997.

The MP4-12C however costs only £165,800, and that brings it head-to-head with the current supercar king - The Ferrari 458 Italia. This is easily the biggest and most important car showdown of the 21st century so far.

But why?

One of the reason's is because the pride of Great Britain is involved. Having lost most of their iconic brands to the Germans, Chinese and Indians, McLaren is their last resort to claim a world beating product. Secondly, the McLaren F1 was way ahead of its time when it was launched in the early 90's. The expectation from the MP4-12C is similar and besides, people want to know what's better than Ferrari.

So has it done it then? Is it the new king?

Sadly, especially if you hate Ferrari, the answer is 'no'

If you look at this 'basic' spec sheet that I created, on paper, the McLaren is the clear winner. But performance cars are not just about absolute figures. Figures don't tell anything about how they handle, how confident they make the drivers feel and most importantly, how much fun they can provide. And on those fronts, the Ferrari emerges as the clear winner.

mclaren mp4-12c ferrari 458 comparison

Here are 4 reviews by 'British' magazines and TV shows which highlight the point:

  1. Ferrari 1 - 0 McLaren

    The 458 stuns the McLaren in a review by Car Magazine at the Rockingham circuit.

  2. Ferrari 2 - 0 McLaren

    2nd blood goes to the Ferrari, this time during a test by Evo magazine. The driver here is Ben Collins, the former Stig!

  3. Ferrari 3 - 0 Mclaren

    The verdict from Tiff and Jason of 5th Gear is clear - the McLaren is a disappointment.

  4. Ferrari 4 - 0 Mclaren

    And now for the biggest verdict - Jeremy Clarkson of Top Gear prefers the Ferrari as well. In his inimitable style, he sums up the verdict with a few words.

    "The Ferrari is a pair of stockings. The McLaren is a pair of tights. Scientifically and mathematically and practically, the McLaren is better. And yet somehow, it isn't."

The upcoming review on the Top Gear TV show should be very interesting as well, although I don't think we will come across anything new.

For now, Ferrari still reigns supreme. Better luck next time McLaren. Or maybe, the Union Jack will be held high by the upcoming Lotus Esprit...

Update 10th July: The Mclaren blitzed the power lap at the Top Gear track clocking 1.16.2, nearly 3 seconds faster than the Ferrari. Clarkson's conclusion was a bit ambiguous; he didn't say which one he will buy.

So what does this mean? How can the McLaren be so fast around the Top Gear track when its slower everywhere else? The answer probably was on Top Gear itself. They said that the car was tested on their track which is probably the main reason why its so fast there. A car developed at one track may not be fast on other tracks.

Which test would I say is a more accurate gauge?

I will go with the one's where the driver of both the cars was the same man. In case of Top Gear, the 458 was driven by old Stig making comparison a bit difficult. Also, I kind of am inclined towards what Tiff Needell has to say about cars...

What's next?

Of course, the Nurburgring. But we will have to wait for that because McLaren apparently crashed their car there while attempting to set a new record. Any guesstimates?

Update 14th July: It's 5 - 0 now. Tom Ford gave his verdict on Reason? Same as all the others.

Read further