Google Lens Is A Peek Into The Future Of Computing

Squint and you can see how Google plans to bypass the Search box–and the screen entirely.

Just minutes into Google I/O–the company’s biggest event of the year–CEO Sundar Pichai announced what could be the future of Google as you know it: Google Lens.

Google Lens is an AI-powered interface that’s coming to Google Photos and Google Assistant. It’s “a set of vision-based computing abilities that can understand what you’re looking at and help you take action based upon that information,” as Pichai put it during his keynote today.

What does that mean in practice? Using computer image recognition–which Pichai reminded us is currently better than that of humans–Google Lens can recognize what’s in your camera’s view, and actually do something meaningful with that information, rather than just tagging your friends–which is how Facebook uses image recognition.

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Pichai showed off three examples. In one, a camera aimed at a flower identified that flower, in what appeared to be a Google reverse image search in real time. In the second, a camera aimed at a Wi-Fi router’s SKU–a long list of numbers and a barcode which would take time to type–automatically snagged the login information and then automatically connected to the internet. And in the third, a camera aimed around a street full of shops and cafes pulled up reviews of each restaurant, placing an interface element directly over each facade in your field of view.
Later in the keynote, another presenter came on stage to show how, with a tap inside Google Assistant, Google Lens could translate a Japanese menu and pull up an image of the dish–in what looks like a riff on the technology Google acquired with Word Lens.

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Alone, each of these ideas is a bit of a novelty. But all built into one platform–whether that’s a smartphone or an AR headset in the future–you can see how Google is imagining breaking free of the Search box to be even more integrated with our lives, living intimately in front of our retinas.
“We are beginning to understand video and images,” says Pichai, casually. “All of Google was built because we started to understand webpages. So the fact that we can understand images and videos has profound impact on our core vision.”

Source:; 17 May 2017

The tablet market just keeps on falling

It seems safe to say that tablet sales have peaked.

According to the latest preliminary figures from research firm IDC, the global tablet market shipped 36.2 million units in the first quarter of 2017, a decline of 8.5% year-over-year. As this chart from Statista shows, that is the lowest total since the third quarter of 2012, and the tenth straight quarter of declining growth.

As IDC notes, the drop here is coming from traditional “slate” tablets, like the standard iPad. Those appear to have dipped for a number of reasons — the rise of big-screen smartphones, the rise of “convertible” touchscreen laptops, samey designs, certain tablets being good and/or not-used-enough to require regular upgrading, and so on.

On the other side are “detachable” tablets, like the iPad Pro or Microsoft’s Surface Pro, which come with a keyboard. Those are growing with each passing quarter, but they tend to be pricey. We’ll soon see if the launch of Apple’s more affordable iPad affects things, but for now, the tablet seems to have settled into a spot of influencing the PC more than supplanting it entirely.


Source:; 9 May 2017

Facebook Is Working on Technology That Lets You Type and Control VR Devices With Your Mind

Could a ‘brain mouse’ be coming?

Think Facebook’s plans for virtual and augmented reality push the boundaries of how we interact? The social network is now working on technology that lets you type with your mind.

The company revealed it’s working on a “brain-to-computer interface” that will let humans potentially type five times faster with their mind than they currently can with their fingers. The innovation is part of a secretive sector of Facebook called Building 8, a unit that’s devoted to “moonshot” projects that are often as expensive as they are ambitious.

The projects were unveiled today at Facebook’s F8 developer conference in San Jose, Calif., by Regina Dugan, who heads up Building 8. With Facebook’s mind-reading technology, people will be able to wear non-invasive sensors that will hopefully allow them to type at a rate of 100 words per minute by decoding neural activity devoted to speech. Dugan said the technology could be used to help the disabled, but it could also become a way to input thoughts and commands directly into virtual reality and augmented reality devices. On stage, she showed a video of the technology being used to help a woman with ALS type at a rate of eight words per minute.

“It sounds impossible, but it’s closer than you realize,” she told thousands of developers during the final talk of the two-day event. “And it’s just the kind of fluid, human-computer interface needed for AR. Even something as simple as a yes-no brain click would fundamentally change our capability. A brain mouse for AR.”

According to Dugan, the human brain moves far faster than anyone can talk, which creates limits to how we communicate. She explained that the mind is capable of producing around 1 terabit of information per second—roughly the same amount of data as streaming 40 high-definition movies every second. However, speaking is the rate of about 100 bits per second, or about the same bandwidth as an ’80s internet modem.

“Speech is essentially a compression algorithm and a lousy one at best,” she said. “That’s why we love great writers and poets, because they’re just a little bit better at compressing the fullness of a thought into words.”

Along with the mind-typing tech, Facebook is also working on a way to let people hear through their skin. By creating an artificial cochlea, Facebook is working on what it calls a “haptic vocabulary” that lets people wear something on their sleeve to understand words based on vibrations in their arm.

Prior to joining Facebook last year, Dugan led Google’s Advanced Technologies and Projects Lab and before that ran the U.S. military’s R&D lab DARPA. She said Building 8 is modelled after DARPA, while building products “that recognize we are both mind and body, that our world is both digital and physical” and that “seek to connect us with the power and possibility of what’s new while honouring the intimacy of what’s timeless.”

“Your brain contains more information than what a word sounds like or how it is spelled,” she said. “It also contains semantic information that tells us what those words mean … Understanding semantics means that one day you may be able to choose to share your thoughts independent of language. English, Spanish or Mandarin may become the same.”

Facebook isn’t the only technology company investing in mind-reading. Last month, The Wall Street Journal reported that Elon Musk is creating his own brain-computer interface with a new venture called Neuralink, which is developing a way to implant brain electrodes to upload and download thoughts.

Source:; 19 Apr 2017

Gamification marketing to overtake traditional media spend: Fashionbi

With the growth of entertainment on mobile and digital, brands are discovering that by creating marketing efforts with a game-like experience, they make a larger impact.

Italian fashion house Fendi and London’s Harrods department store recently worked together to create a memory game on mobile where users had to match photos of the brand’s handbags. Marketers are adopting more strategies such as this in an attempt to better connect with consumers, with market spend in this way likely to overtake traditional spend.

“The key takeaway is that market of online games is growing, more and more people are using there smartphones for the entertainment (aka gaming) and communication,” said Yana Bushmeleva, chief operating officer at Fashionbi, Milan. “People of all ages are involved in this activity, the case of Pokémons last year demonstrated how successful and global the gaming industry is.

“Important to remember that gamification marketing is not necessarily pure online experience, but can be an omni-experience combining online and offline environments,” she said.

Gamifying marketing

A report from Fashionbi is predicting that by 2019, digital media spend will reach between $7 and $8 billion with traditional media staying at $6 billion.

Video games and broadband are the fastest growing media spend categories, and will likely continue to be.

Marketers are dramatically shift to buying ad spend on digital, with products and services as opposed to traditional media.

With the popularity of Pokémon Go last summer, many brands such as LVMH beauty retailer Sephora opted to partner with the app to gamify their strategy and drive customer loyalty.

Retailers who implement a form of rewards and loyalty with a game-like experience are likely to see the most success.

Advertisers should consider partnering with popular game apps such as Pokémon Go

Footwear manufacturer Jimmy Choo also implemented a gamifying experience for the release of sneakers in London, and became one of the first marketers to do so.

Games and brands

The most effective game-like marketing strategies should be able to span offline and online in an omnichannel experience.

Scavenger hunts can be an extremely effective campaign for brands, with consumers of all demographics being interested in interacting with the brand. But the game can also drive in-store sales.

For instance, department store chain Bloomingdale’s generated excitement with an interactive shopping experience.

The retailer partnered with Museum Hack to create #BloomiesHack scavenger hunt shopping experiences at its flagship store on 59th Street in New York. The potential for prizes attracted new and aspirational customers, allowing Bloomingdale’s to initiate a positive lasting relationship with a new market segment.

However, standard mobile video games can also be a big benefit to brands in drawing attention and connecting to consumers and fans.

For instance, Swiss watchmaker Tag Heuer brought its timekeeping capabilities to a new, digital arena to engage with the next generation of consumers.

Tag Heuer made its video game debut in the Gran Turismo Sport, becoming the auto racing franchise’s first watch partner. Providing depth to the partnership, Tag Heuer made an appearance within an in-game digital museum, giving the watchmaker the opportunity to educate racing fans on its history with the sport.

“The most surprising thing is that gamification marketing doesn’t mean cheap campaign for mass market brands, but it also could be a tactic for the premium and luxury industry,” Fashionbi’s Ms. Bushmeleva said. “Jimmy Choo was one of the first brands to propose a gamification campaign for the launch of new sneakers in London.”

Source:; 21 Apr 2017

Marketing to Gen Xers? Here’s What They’re Watching on YouTube

Generation X, born between the mid-1960s and late ’70s, bore witness to the technology revolution. Its members are old enough to remember a time before the internet, but young enough to have adapted quickly to the changing technological landscape.

The incentive for brands to engage this generation on YouTube is, in a word, massive. According to Pixability, Gen Xers account for over 1.5B views every day on YouTube.1

To better understand Gen Xers’ priorities relative to their YouTube engagement, Google conducted qualitative and survey-based research in partnership with Ipsos Connect and Flamingo.2

The findings? Gen Xers’ behaviour on YouTube reflects broadly held assumptions about the generation: their ability to self-start, their love for nostalgia, and their desire to be in the know, just to name a few traits.

Below, check out the stats behind the YouTube behaviour of Gen Xers.

Click here for more on the research article

Source:; Jan 2017