An Unfair Advantage: May 2021

This month our team have curated a roundup of insights, stories and unfair advantages; the big news has been AI in healthcare, new tech announcements for augmented reality experiences and big moves toward technology for good.
So sit back, have a read and enjoy some of the stories that we found interesting this month.

Technology for good

We're moving towards a more purposeful future and technology can and will deliver the change we need to see. Air-PoT is one example, combining AI, Blockchain, and BigData to harness data from advanced UK infrastructure and thousands of IoT emission sensors to help inform the public about localised air pollution levels.

This is just one of ways that IoT will positively impact the world and we think brands and governments will start to utilise this type of technology to prove and communicate their own sustainability efforts.

Ikea is taking on the high street

IKEA is a true leader within digital retail, leading the sector with augmented reality apps, incredible web experiences and campaigns, and physical product partnerships with Sonos. A move into major high street locations will trigger a significant shift in omnichannel retail shopping experiences that will force the hand of more traditional high street retailers.

Speaking of which...

We're big fan of Darkstore and used the technology with our own retail experience work with Nike, here. Darkstore's new product, FASTAF allows customers to have premium brand products delivered directly to their door within two hours or less and this is, in our opinion, exactly the sort of delivery experience that will become the new normal. Keep your eyes peeled...

Adidas is utilising object detection in store

Don't say it, don't say it, don't say it, don't say it... Omnichannel. Damn.

An overused phrase for years but now that AI and machine learning technology is literally in our pocket it's presenting all sorts of opportunities to develop new consumer touch points. Adidas' app uses Google's ML Kits to let consumers check in store stock using their phone by scanning a shoe on the wall of the store. The result? A really nice and efficient omnichannel digital experience.

One from us

The fear of fear is changing

There's been lots of change across the industry over the last 12 months but one of the biggest trends we've noticed is large businesses being open to new ways of working to GSD quickly. We shared some of our thoughts and observations with Startups Magazine, so have a read.

Data, data, data.

Your data is one of the most valuable assets you have, but do you know which brands are using it and why? Clario have put together a couple of eye opening infographics, so this is well worth a look (why do Credit Karma and Instagram ask how much you weigh? Weird.)

Getting legal

"Data is here and is being used and commoditized and commercialized in ways that we as laypeople don’t fully understand" says New York State Senator Andrew Gounardes. Yes, Andrew. Yes it is. Any brand, regardless of size or location should be paying attention to this case as the outcome could have a major impact on how global businesses will process and use personal information.

Another one from us (sort of)

Staying on the data theme - stay tuned for our own YouGov backed insight report next month. This research piece is all about consumer expectations and understanding of first and zero party data and the impact that this will have on the experiences and strategies that consumer brands will need to consider.

Ever wondered how Spotify's algorithms work?

So have we. Because let's face it,  200million+ users each getting 30 songs they've never heard before every week is seriously impressive. This is a really interesting read into how Spotify combines three established recommendation techniques to develop it's own recommendation framework. Well worth a read if you are looking to understand where and how you might provide more value to your customers via personalised experiences.

Who is really writing our future?

I LOVE THIS. Minority report produced hundreds of patents (apparently) all based around a two-day idea-summit to develop future technology ideas. But now businesses - major businesses like Nike, Boeing etc. - are employing science fiction writers to help them envisage their own technological future by running these summits. It's a super interesting article and one to get your creativity flowing.

Google I/O happened

From new android updates to a more interconnected workspace, Google's major event provided some major news as always. One thing that stood out to us was that Samsung, Tizen and Google's Wear OS are now combining to a unified platform. Just another example of how strategically important the wearable market is becoming.

NB: We included our own thought leadership relating to healthcare and technology in last months newsletter (here, if you "missed" it).

One from us

Chatbots and AI

You may have read about our opinion in GlobalData's recent report into chatbots and AI. Well, off the back of that, James Penfold, our Head of UX was asked to contribute to an article for Verdict and talks through why and how chatbots can be improved. Spoiler: most are crap (we're looking at you, major global banks).

AI depression detection

AI is going to bring immeasurable benefit to society and specifically within the healthcare space. It's already doing so and this is just one of many amazing examples. By hearing just a few sentences, Sonde Healths AI will analyse your voice recording for identifiers called Vocal Biomarkers and then provide this information to the user and specialists.

Google's new AI for skin conditions

Google has recently made further inroads to the health space, this time showing the benefit of AI to help clinicians identify skin conditions using a phone camera. The AI tool will ask questions about skin type, how long the issue in question has bothered the user and other symptoms that the user may be experiencing. Seriously cool, very useful, and once again showing the power of the 'phones' we have in our pocket.

Fifa immortalise Kiyan Prince within the game

Following a tragic death 15 years ago, Kiyan Prince, a player in QPR's youth football (soccer) academy, has been added to the 2021-2022 season of Fifa's recent computer game.

This is great initiative to help raise awareness of the anti-knife crime charity set up in his name, however, it opens up a huge number of questions and opportunities relating to the preservation fo the digital "you" when you die. It's a market that has never really existed, but as we edge closer to incredibly life like simulations, it's a very interesting space to be in.

Shoes 'n' colour 'n' stuff

We love shoes. In fact, our CEO's collection of Jordans is so vast it cannot be comprehend by a human mind. But anyway, Nike's Explore Team and zoologist Andrew Parker’s company Lifescaped have launched a new concept based on a technique called Pure Structual Colour. The coating itself is less than 1/100,000th of a hair thick and this has absolutely nothing to do with digital technology at all. It's just a really interesting read.

Snap Specs

Back to digital and specifically wearables. Snapchat have launched a new range of Specs that allow the user to see augmented reality overlays without the need for a phone, obviously... This is huge and as the rise of digital fashion and virtual try on continues to explode, it is an area of untapped creative potential for brands to explore.

Where there's smoke there's burgers

We didn't do this, but wish we did. This is a great example of how mixed digital touch points, in this case Digital Out Of Home (DOOH) and Augmented Reality can be used to create a really engaging advert. In fact, this is just one creative execution that would be great to try with the Snap Specs mentioned above.