Digital trends update

Amazon's Flow app - screenshots

Amazon’s Flow app – screenshots

In 2012 I mentioned a few digital trends to look out for. In this blog post I look at what’s happened since, to the technology I highlighted. For 2014’s “trends”, click here.

2012’s list:
Growth in the popularity of smartphones (especially contextually-aware smartphones and devices),
Image recognition apps,
Indoor Positioning Systems,
Native advertising,
The rise of the Internet of Things and
Facebook’s post targeting.

And over the last year, these technologies have all advanced…

Smartphones
In 2014, not suprisingly, smartphones are still around. In January 2014: “The number of smartphones on earth is about to pass the number of PCs”.

As Chris Sanderson of LSN:Global said in his briefing to Walpole, it’s not so much about ecommerce now, as mcommerce. “The mobile phone sits in the back pocket of your customers,” he says. “As sad as it may be it’s often the last thing they’ll touch before they go to sleep at night, and the first thing they’ll touch when they wake up.” And mcommerce, he says, is largely driven by social media. According to research by Barclays, there will be 3.9 billion social network accounts by 2015.”

Augmented reality apps that can easily recognise products
“We tend to overestimate the effect of a technology in the short run and underestimate the effect in the long run.” said Roy Amara, past president of The Institute for the Future.

Although image recognition / augmented reality apps are becoming more popular, they’re still not essential / sophisticated / intuitive enough for the general grocery shopper. It looks like IBM are still developing the augmented reality app for grocery stores that I mentioned here, in 2012.

Video of IBM’s shopper app:

However, it looks like Amazon is making progress in this area, with its recently-updated Flow app: “Instead of taking a photo of an item or scanning a barcode, Flow recognizes items via their shape, size, color, box text, and general appearance. Hold your iPhone up to a row of items on your shelf or counter, and within seconds of “seeing” it with the iPhone’s camera, every recognizable item is placed in queue that can be added to your Amazon cart.”

Augmented reality is, also, looking increasingly useful for big-ticket products. E.g. Audi car manual.

And artist Lauren McCarthy has seen the future of Google Glass – as a “social prosthetic”.

She wonders “if Glass can make you a better person. “I’m really interested in ways that these kinds of augmentations can do more than just supply you with information, putting you in a kind of autopilot where you barely need to think,” she says. “Could they instead augment your experience in ways that change you as a person, at the level of core values and experience?””

Indoor Positioning Systems
iBeacon is the indoor positioning technology that’s getting attention: Rolls Out To 200 Safeway, Giant Eagle Stores. It will eventually, if it’s not already, be combined with the augmented reality apps mentioned above.

Native advertising?
BuzzFeed is still doing “native advertising”, as is the Huffington Post. Here’s an ASOS example.

Internet of Things?
Apparently over 300 sharks have been tagged and equipped to let bathers and swimmers know of their proximity. And many other things besides.”

Facebook is still here too… but what about deleting by default?
“With 1.2 billion monthly active users, Facebook is still he most popular social network”.

However… “ephemeral media applications“, such as Snapchat, are growing in popularity.

Contextually aware devices
The rise of contextually aware devices is an important trend to look out for. “Context” will transform everyday life, from Google Now – “… I recently opened the app at the end of a workday and it noted without my asking that the subway train I take home was departing in three minutes. As I scrolled down the information cards, the app showed me the weather in New York City and nearby restaurant chains, as well as some items I recently ordered online along with a link to track the packages. Again, all without my asking.” – to Amazon shipping your package before you buy it, to digital billboards that interact with aircraft flying overhead.

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