Tag : tech PR

The Big Five Tech Trends That Shaped 2016

In 2016, tech trends like augmented reality and smart appliances took off while the seeds of virtual reality and artificial intelligence were planted. As the year comes to a close we’re taking a look back at five tech trends that captured our hearts, minds, and wallets.

1. Wearable Tech

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The romance of tech and fashion was a hot topic this year, far beyond the Apple Watch. From heart rate monitors, wearable sleep enhancers, to a dog collar with built-in GPS, it’s clear what direction the fashion industry is heading.

Take for instance the Indiegogo funded Spartan Boxer Brief, an undergarment that repels 99% of cellphone and Wi-Fi emissions. With numerous studies suggesting radiation in cellphone waves causes cancer, the Spartan Boxer Brief is pushing wearable tech that might one day save your life.

2. Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality

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VR and AR are two buzzwords that piqued interest, but do you really know the difference? Here’s the break down:

Augmented Reality (AR) blends virtual reality with the real world. The worldwide phenomenon Pokémon Go was downloaded over 100 million times and now software companies are switching gears to develop more AR titles from its success. Hardware such as Google Glass saw modest adoption and Google now plans to release the second generation of its tech-infused glasses next year.

Virtual Reality (VR) is the complete immersion into a virtual world through a headset. This trend is shaping up to revolutionize the way you communicate in real-time. Sony just released its VR hardware for PlayStation 4 forcing its competitors to rush to market. The barrier of entry here is a hefty price tag. With units costing upwards of $600, it’s up to financially-sound early adopters to become the voice of this industry.

It’s still too early to know which technologies will triumph. Throughout the year AR had a clear lead, but next year when more content releases for VR it will be a major contender. You can expect to witness another contest on the scale of Blu-Ray vs. HD DVD with only one clear victor, the consumer.

3. Internet of Things (IoT)

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Internet of Things is the concept of industrial and home devices being connected through cloud-computed networks to gather information. Think smart appliances. Don’t worry; the washing machine isn’t trying to steal your debit card PIN, but rather it’s becoming ‘smarter’ by learning your usage habits and using that data to improve efficiency.

Imagine owning a fridge that knows when the milk runs out so a grocery reminder is sent to your smartphone or consulting an app to see if you remembered to turn off the stove. Apps are the big mover for this technology and we’re on the cusp of having fully controllable households from the palm of our hands.

But is IoT really that big? The IDC 2016 Global Market Predictions believes so. The market research organization forecast by 2018 there would be 22 billion Internet of Things devices installed, which will promote over 200,000 new IoT apps and services.

4. Financial Technology (Fintech)

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Touted as the major disruptor to the financial industry – the Uber of banking – fintech is creating new avenues to handle day-to-day banking affairs without having to step into an actual branch.

‘Fintech’ is a blanket term that can’t be categorized into one specific area. The rise of crypto-currencies and block-chain provides a secure and transparent allocation of currency worldwide. Meanwhile, companies such as TIO Networks are re-inventing bill payment solutions for the underbanked outside of traditional bank channels. Even financial institutions are investing in fintech through services such as mobile deposits and online banking apps. Studies are showing the millennial generation is shifting away from traditional brick-and-mortar concepts in favour of easy, instant access to finances. 

5. Advanced AI Ecosystem

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Big strides towards artificial intelligence were made. AI was developed so it could be ‘taught’ through complex algorithms and data rich neural pockets operating on a cloud network.

Sound like a quote from Star Trek? The reality is machines are learning how to perform day-to-day tasks that were only thought possible by humans. Google DeepMind created a learning algorithm allowing AI to remember something after only seeing it once. This out performs humans who take two to three times to recall new learnings. AI is also capable of natural language generation, which is working to break down communication barriers across the world. Soon customer support lines will have conversation and troubleshooting capabilities through a live chat-bot eliminating the need to speak to a representative directly.

AI tech is being developed for a multitude of functions including diagnosing human illness, serving and autonomous vehicles. The ride sharing behemoth Uber has already begun testing a fleet of driverless cars throughout Pittsburg. With 94 percent of car accidents involving human error, there could be a drastic improvement of road safety with this technology pushed nationwide.

While AI can tremendously impact our lives there are still questions that need to be addressed. How will the government regulate mass-production of robots? Will self-taught AI possess a moral compass? Are low-skilled labour jobs at risk? Only time will answer these questions, however it’s exciting to see what direction it goes.

In the coming years, expect more groundbreaking discoveries in the field of space exploration, biotech, and medicine. There’s so much to cover in the world of tech, but these are the trends that stuck out most in 2016. Either way, it’s a great time to be alive.

Will Virtual Reality Be the Next Battleground For Consumer Marketing?

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One of the biggest shifts in technology this year has come with the release of several major virtual reality platforms. Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and PlayStation VR are some of the high-end products to recently hit shelves, while lower end rigs like Google’s announced Daydream VR and Samsung Gear VR offer cheap entry points for interested consumers.

With this influx of opportunity, VR has begun to blur the lines between the digital world and the real. Developers aren’t the only ones hard at work discovering the potential of this new technology, so are marketers. Even in its infancy, VR already presents an opportunity that no previous generation in history had the chance to explore; Full immersion.

Think of how consumer products have been marketed to date; Beautiful photography, catchy tag lines and dynamic video all created to draw the attention of the consumer. But what if you could bring the entire experience direct to their own living room?

Virtual reality offers a form of communication and connection that no other medium can express. Imagine a retail brand being able to offer customers to not only shop online but also physically see the way those clothes fit through a virtual reality changing room. Or how about a travel company promoting the newest five-star hotel in Paris with a VR tour of the estate? Consumers could even test drive a new Audi on the famous Monaco circuit all from the comfort of their own couch. The opportunity of VR ushers society to the next generation of brand awareness.

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Creative Ways VR Is Being Implemented

At these early stages, we are only beginning to scratch the surface of possibility for VR experiences. Fortunately, there are some who have taken the risk of early adoption and are trailblazing with new concepts to promote their services. Destination BC became the first destination marketing organization in North America who used VR to launch The Wild Within VR Experience. People from anywhere in the world could experience the beauty of British Columbia in an interactive setting from salmon fishing to viewing the Rocky Mountains in all of their glory. VR continually proves that we can push the boundaries of what we originally thought possible.

An Effective Tool For Discovering Consumer Habits

We’re in the early stages of seeing how consumers react to this new tech. Only time will tell how effective this immersive visual medium will increase conversion rates. Vancouver-based Cognitive VR is a company that understands metrics will be valuable in the coming years in determining effective VR advertising. The company has created software that follows eye movement for capturing interest focal points and A/B testing for virtual ads. This provides significant data into how, if at all, virtual advertisements are being consumed. Knowing what draws people’s attention will help tailor content to increase effectiveness.

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It’s Certainly Not For Everyone, Yet

By now, it may seem like VR is the next wave of consumer engagement but it’s important to understand that with any new technology will come challenges. Like any new platform, VR is relatively untested and a foreign concept not only to consumers but also businesses. It also has yet to reach a market penetration that would be considered substantial, this will surely grow as VR develops but for now, it’s a small audience for an arguably high price tag. App development can be difficult, expensive and hard to implement, and it will take brands with high-risk tolerance or deep pockets to move in  early on. However, there is a prime opportunity right now for brands to establish themselves as innovators and forge into the unknown. These brands will not only benefit from being one of the first to market, but also learn from their own successes and failures, making them far better positioned to engage with a growing audience as VR penetrates households to the extent previous innovations like radio and TV have before.

Vancouver Tech PR – 4 Fashion Products That Embrace Tech

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As managing director of Brix Media Co., a Vancouver tech PR firm that specializes in both technology PR and fashion PR, I often get asked which industry I’m more drawn to. Truth is, I no longer have to choose. Like almost every other sector, fashion has embraced technology and at the cross section are some of the most innovative products that add functionality and enhance day-to-day life.

Last April, Apple Watch presented a slick-looking multi-functional design that style-conscious men and women would actually wear. The accessible price-point generated a new wave of curiosity in the future of wearables.

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From street-style mainstays to complex 3D prints and the integration of virtual reality, here are four products that exemplify what the future holds for tech-inspired fashion:

“Pretty” might not be the first adjective to describe Ringly, the latest in smart jewelry, albeit the design is beautiful. Disguised as a classic sapphire ring, when slipped on it pairs immediately with your iOS or Android device. With a recent investment of $5.1 million, Ringly’s ability to track incoming calls, messages and emails is growing in popularity.

Fit for an occasion yet to be determined, a dress debuted by Columbia designer Maria Orduz Pinto at this year’s CES was decorated with handmade fabric flowers that deflect light and 3D printed flowers and optic fibers that react to sound. Driven by a $20 billion business, the tech-luxury space aims to make clothing beautiful, functional and long lasting.

Swedish designer Ida Klamborn is breaking down the elitist culture of Fashion Week Stockholm with the introduction of a 360 virtual reality (VR) technology. “Democratic Front Row” invites fans from around the world to experience Ida’s runway show, via their mobiles, from a seat in the front row. Located next to the stage, a robot installation will capture the 360-degree view for those tuning in via VR, a view typically reserved for fashion elites and celebrities. Still not impressed? The robot will light up based on the reaction of the fans watching.

Tech-luxury with an ethical twist sounds promising although in this case it means choosing to wear a bikini that absorbs pollution. The sponge bikini, developed by a New York architecture and design studio Eray Carbaj for a wearable technology competition, is made from a material that repels water and absorbs oil. The lightweight sponge material can absorb up to 25 times its own weight.

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The integration of technology and fashion is far from evolved but fashion and design icons are encouraging the process. Von Furstenberg’s upcoming collection of handbags will be outfitted with hidden built-in chargers and Iris Apfel has teamed up with WiseWear’s Socialite collection, a line of fashionable metal jewelry that tracks fitness, receives mobile alerts and sends distress signals to emergency contacts.

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The fascination with tech-savvy fashion will continue to grow throughout 2016 as world-class events like The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Gala and Costume Institute exhibition run with themes such as “Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology.”

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Vancouver Tech PR & Fashion PR – September

Fashion trends, Vancouver Startup Week, and business growth were key topics of conversation this past month. See how some of our clients tie into these conversations.

Vancouver Fashion PR

Michelle Lane – senior designer and stylist at Clearly.ca shares her top picks for the season on Brazen Woman. For those of us subjecting our eyes to screen glare for long periods of time, blogger Jamie Leigh reviews Clearly’s protective, yet stylish Blue Reflect lenses.

Vancouver Tech PR

Vancouver Startup Week attracted tech fans between September 21 and 25th. The Vancouver Economic Commission hosted #VanStartupCity at the Imperial to support Vancouver’s local startup ecosystem. Watch Sean Elbe on Breakfast Television as he celebrates local tech and recent success stories in the adventure and tech space including ShareShed, RentMoola, and Tinkerine. StartupCity events were also featured on CKNW,  Vancouver Magazine and Business in Vancouver.

US Tech PR

At the European Cancer Congress in Vienna, OncoSec Medical announced positive results from the very first trial to combine merkel cell carcinoma with immunotherapy through its proprietary ImmunoPulse treatment.

Fin Tech PR

In the last week of September, Canadian entrepreneur Hamed Shahbazi was featured on Business News Network. As CEO of  software company TIO Networks, he discusses the company’s rapid growth strategy, how it is competing in the United States, and its thoughts on national fintech players like PayPal.

 

 

 

 

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Our Top 5 Takeaways from GROW Conference 2015

 

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The awe-inspiring landscape of Whistler was the perfect backdrop to this year’s GROW conference, which hosted a gathering of emerging and established tech entrepreneurs, investors, creators and executives from across North America.  Here are some of our highlights:

#1. Wearables – So Hot Right Now!

Despite the tepid reception to Google Glass, the wearable space is still searing hot — especially when it comes to sports. One of the first presentations was led by Marcus Weller, the founder and CEO of Skully, a motorcycle helmet packed with smart features including hands free calling, transparent heads up display, and a rear-view camera. This video had most attendees wishing they had their own bike to validate a helmet purchase (us included!).

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photo by kriskrug.com

 

But Dan Eisenhardt, CEO of Recon Instruments, a Canadian smartglasses and heads up display company that was recently acquired by Intel, was quick to share some of the challenges of achieving success in the wearables space: “if you put something on your face it has to make you look better, or at least not worse.” Eisenhardt says the ultimate goal for their product will be making it invisible. His comments allude to a likely future for  wearables, which is that they may not be wearable (in other words, hardware) at all.

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Brix Media Co. Jennifer Maloney - PR tips for business entrepreneurs Vancouver

Six Signs Your Business is Ready for PR

Public relations can invoke trepidation in entrepreneurs, but the right strategy can yield big benefits for your business, says Jennifer Maloney

A well-played PR campaign can magnify a company’s voice and solicit valuable brand evangelists. On the flip side, a poorly executed campaign can bring little to no return on what is often a significant investment for small businesses. Before you call up the press, here are six questions you should be ready to confidently answer.  . . .