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Archive for April, 2014

OK glass, do I look ridiculous?

Tuesday, April 29th, 2014

Google Glass, the golden goose of wearable technology, is on sale for the first time this week to US consumers who can order the $1,500 pair of new age spectacles online. This pricey opportunity to join the ‘Glass Explorer Program’ will broaden its user base to a far greater cross-section of Americans, previously populated by tech writers and software developers sitting in San Francisco cafes.

The consumer release will be a big test for Glass, as it will be truly used in the context of everyday life rather than among niche groups of professionals. Already there is a lot of noise around how such a piece of technology will or won’t function in line with current legislation (there are calls for Australian privacy law to be overhauled, and no one’s quite figured out whether Glass is more or less of a distraction than driving with children).

However, perhaps the most interesting factor in Glass becoming a consumer success is social acceptability. Google co-founder Sergey Brin’s philosophy around Glass is that it is an answer to the anti-social aspects of not having hands and eyes free while using a mobile device. One existing answer to this has been the Bluetooth headset which, let’s face it, isn’t the coolest look. Will Glass be any different, and is it likely to improve sociability in the real world?

Besides one’s perception of whether or not they have the face for it, it seems that Glass’ acceptability will be greatly determined by the strength of its applications. Whether it then becomes an acceptable piece of outerwear, or consumers prefer to remain cyborgs within their own homes, is another matter. Until we figure it out, here are some of the more consumer-friendly apps we can see ourselves giving a go:

1. GlassWedgies – plugs into Google & Twitter to deliver real time social polling. We think this would be a great way of crowd sourcing answers to life’s little questions on the go. It’s limited to yes/no questions at the moment, but could be useful while shopping, looking for restaurants or perhaps while scoping out real estate. Or, as the developer has suggested, buying a riding lawnmower:

2. WatchMeTalk – this could absolutely be revolutionary for the hearing impaired, allowing live captioning for Glass wearers. When the user voice-activates the app, it picks up vocals and converts them to text with very little lag. Another impressive feature is that it’s able to translate other languages to English text – a real bonus for travellers.

3. DriveSafe4Glass – the eye sensors within Glass sense when you’re falling asleep and the app wakes you up with an alert. It then directs you to your nearest rest area. Assuming Glass overcomes initial legal hurdles in regards to in-car use, this has huge potential for reducing fatigue-related road deaths in Australia (fatigue contributed to more NSW fatalities than drink driving in 2012).

4. AllTheCooks – finding tips and recipes while cooking, without needing to smear your smartphone or tablet with gooey fingers. One of the more obvious home uses for Glass, but nevertheless a genius one.


5. Field Trip – a dream for flâneurs all over. It’s the best example yet of how ‘street’ Google Glass has the potential to be, and makes a lot of sense on this device for an app that already works pretty well on smartphones. As one walks or drives around in a new place, imagery and backstory pops up on a hyper-local level with quirky historical, architectural or cultural details which are generally quite interesting.

Field Trip is a great example of potential hyper-local applications of Glass, and with the hardware starting to become more accessible we’ll be likely to see Glass app development increase exponentially across a plethora of utility and entertainment categories.

It seems inevitable that the capabilities of this or other wearable devices will outweigh the ‘naff’ factor of being out and tech-proud in public. In the meantime, we’ll need to rely on brave souls such as Jennifer Lawrence to make Glass a respectable choice of eyewear.

Event TV – An interesting dilemma for viewers and media buyers alike

Tuesday, April 29th, 2014

With shows like MKR, The Block, The Voice and Masterchef, event TV and live sport has become the cornerstone of free to air network programming as networks continue to chase an ever-fragmenting audience which has easy access to downloadable content, catch-up TV and illegal downloads.

In such a congested and competitive market it’s crucial to keep audiences switched on and watching all the way to the finale. However, it’s what happens during the telecasts of these shows that is interesting.

Take the recent finale of The Block: Fans vs. Faves on channel Nine. Despite winning the night with 2.181m metro viewers ratings for the finale have been declining in recent years as newer franchises such as MKR are pitted against the show and inevitably start to steal audience share.

What’s interesting to note are the tactics deployed by the free to air stations to combat this. The Block finale was scheduled to screen from 7:30pm to 8:40pm but due to an A Current Affair special edition, it started late and stretched from 70 minutes to more than 90 finishing close to 9:30pm.

Programs running 5, 10 even 20 minutes past their scheduled running times has been happening for a while now, with audiences becoming accustomed to it. However, when a prerecorded program runs almost an hour beyond its scheduled running time, it’s a deliberate tactic deployed by the networks to discourage viewers from switching channels.

The Block and MKR have been the biggest shows on free to air television this year attracting over 3 million viewers on some nights. Their tactic of running past scheduled times has had a significant impact on the already struggling Ten which would’ve left viewers switching to Ten’s flagship shows Secrets & Lies, Puberty Blues and The Good Wife to find them well under way by the time they got there.

The Block is only a recent example of this as My Kitchen Rules, X Factor and The Voice finales have all also run over time during recent telecasts. As the free to air stations prepare for the post Easter launch of their key television franchises it’s safe to assume there will be further liberty taken with programming schedules.

As audiences start to bunker down for winter and ratings across the networks begin to increase, it’s important for TV media buyers to be aware of these tactics and the affect they have not only on the programs sponsors but the programs running against them in the same timeslot.

How long this tactic will prove successful for the networks is up to the viewers as it can only continue to fragment the audience further away from event TV. There’s potential it could it force viewers across to catch up TV making digital placements across these shows a more cost effective buy. Or will handpicked TV  buying become the norm when looking to buy within these shows? Whatever the outcome, it is something to consider in the immediate future for all media planners and buyers especially after the Easter break.

BITCOIN – The self-contained, unregulated and decentralised worldwide currency

Friday, April 11th, 2014

Having been on the radar of the tech-obsessed and early adopters since 2009, Bitcoin has only recently started to capture the interest of the wider population and main stream press (Guardian, CNN, ABC NEWS) .

It’s a very simple concept, and even though it’s still teething after four years (with some negative press surrounding recent heists, which would understandably make you reticent to invest at this point in time), its philosophy is patently the way of the future for finance.

What is it exactly?  To put it simply, Bitcoin is a form of electronic currency, or otherwise known as ‘cryptocurrency’. Although there are others, Bitcoin is the world’s biggest. Introduced in 2009, it has become the longest-standing, best-known, and most widely-traded cryptocurrency.

What’s better is Bitcoin is not issued by any government, nor is there a central bank or corporation standing behind bitcoins or their value. The currency is self-contained, decentralised and unregulated. As points out, Bitcoins are designed to put the control of personal wealth back into the hands of the individual. Instead of paper or virtual bank balances that promise to have value, Bitcoins are actual packages of complex data that have value in themselves (ie. the value of a bitcoin lies in the bitcoin itself)

What is the value? As I write this, 1 bitcoin = approximately $482 AUD. However the bitcoin exchange rate is highly flexible. Towards the end of last year 1 bitcoin was worth over $1000 AUD.

An unregulated, decentralised worldwide currency does seem like a risky and idealistic system. However the technology that Bitcoins are built on is the same technology that facilitates digital signatures. For this reason Bitcoins are, for the most part, forgery-resistant and relatively secure (a person who takes reasonable precautions will be safe from having their personal cache stolen by hackers). As there are no banks, Bitcoins are stewarded by ‘miners’, a massive network of people who contribute their personal computers to the bitcoin network and are rewarded with newly created bitcoins and transaction fees.

Bitcoin is self-limiting with only 21 million total bitcoins allowed to exist. Some sites are estimating the last bitcoin will be mined sometime around the year 2040. However this is not necessarily a limitation in terms of an ongoing economy. Bitcoins can be divided up to 8 decimal places and potentially smaller units, depending on what is required in the future. As the average transaction size decreases, transactions can be denominated in sub-units of a bitcoin, such as millibitcoins (1 mBTC or 0.001 BTC).

Like any currency, if people are willing to part with goods or services for bitcoins, there will be a bitcoin economy. Despite some of the seemingly risky and darker sides (Silk Road) to cryptocurrency, bitcoin hands back the power over one’s personal wealth, a huge deal when you think about it. With a growing list of sites accepting bitcoin as payment, there is a very real place for bitcoin in our current and future economy.

What does this mean for Vizeum? Well, there could be a place for future global media trading to happen in bitcoins. One of the advantages of bitcoin is that it’s a global currency. Bitcoin doesn’t necessarily require exchange rate conversion. Which would make it easier for a media buyer in Australia to plan media in Japan. Global competitive data could also be analysed in Bitcoins, giving more accurate spend comparisons. When you think about it, the idea of a truly global currency is exciting from a research, global buying and trend analysis point of view.  As it currently stands, we need to translate bitcoins into AUD to understand their value. However, this is not necessarily the way of the future.