Monday, April 14, 2014
Has Google Glass made wearable tech sexy at last?

Google is opening up its Glass ‘Explorer’ testing programme for one day tomorrow, inviting US citizens only to buy a set for $1,500. You know what? I wish they’d do that in the UK as when it launches over there it’s going to change our view of wearable technology.

We can't order a pair tomorrow, but we can surf the menu of frames and lenses on the Google Glass site. So far, getting hold of a pair of the internet-enabled glasses has been difficult in the UK. You can pick them up from eBay but you’re never guaranteed they’ll be legitimate and Google is unlikely to help you if anything goes wrong.

Google Glass has its critics. People wearing them have already been nicknamed ‘glassholes’, probably because they’re distracted by the information beaming into their right eye until the moment they decide to film you using the eyepiece’s built-in camera (at which point they freeze and stare right at you).

Travel search engine company Skyscanner ran an event last week showing off all the tech that’s going to change our view of holidays in the next ten years. I was brave enough to push to the front and try out both Google Glass and Facebook’s virtual reality glasses Oculus Rift.

My verdict? Oculus Rift – which Facebook bought out-of-the-blue for $2bn last month – was a huge disappointment. It was not much better than the virtual reality game I played on a school trip to London in 1991. You also have what looks like a small television strapped to your head. Not sexy.

But Google Glass was a totally different story. The headset, made of titanium and glass, was gorgeous. The voice activation (you say “OK Glass…” and then tell it what to do, such as “take a photo”) was flawless, probably because parts of the microphone touch your skull so, unlike Apple’s Siri, it can actually hear you.

The display was the best bit: pin-sharp, with green words projected on a screen a few millimetres from your eye that look like they’re floating in the air much further away from your face. Walking around the room I did act fall four of acting like a glasshole for a moment, as someone tried to have a conversation with me but I was too distracted by the screen to notice, so they just got my blank, far-away look.

Once it arrives in the UK I predict Glass will sell out fast. Some companies over here are already trialling Google Glass, but mainly done as a PR stunt in the style of Virgin Atlantic’s Glass-powered hostesses. As soon as you try it, however, you’ll understand how it’s a genuine step forward from the smartphone screen. It's also small, light and pretty enough to be verging on a fashion accessory.

We should reserve judgement until we’re officially invited to be Explorers, and once we’re wearing Glass I predict we’ll never look back.

Monday, October 28, 2013
Why the Guinness and Jonathan Ross 'TV advertorial' was just too good

Most people are shocked and appalled at the three agonising minutes of TV that made up Guinness' latest campaign. On paper, however, it does seem like a good idea. For these reasons:

1. Nobody has ever done it.
2. It's branded content. Brands are publishers now, right?
3. Jonathan Ross is a popular TV host.
4. It appeared on a time when lots of people are watching their TVs.
5. There's a hashtag!
So how come it was one of the most cringeworthy things the universe has ever seen?

I blame the execution. There's no humour in it. No self-awareness. No irony. No rough edges. Jonathan Ross and Danny Wallace are both sarcastic presenters who revel in things going wrong, or unexpected mistakes. They are both brilliant at ad-libbing.

When you polish all the imperfections out of the script, add a laughter track, and time the reactions down to the second (and make sure the cameras catch them as exactly the right moment) the whole thing looks fake.
The one thing that we don't want from our advertising - which is a huge irony in itself - is fakeness.

The backlash against this mentioned problems such as the campaign didn't have a decent call to action, or that the site wasn't properly mobile optimised, or that the research wasn't interesting enough. That's all rubbish, and way too deep to explain why this campaign was so awkward to watch.

If content itself had been better, and Jonathan and Danny has been allowed to be themselves and entertain us properly for three and a half minutes, then we wouldn't have cared.

Saturday, October 26, 2013
Xbox vs PlayStation: Battle of the videos

Microsoft and Sony released video ads for their new consoles this week. Both are amazing, showing off some of the best creative work I've seen in ages.

For me, Sony just pips it, mainly because I was a PlayStation kid (since 1995, as the video says) and there were so many nostalgic references. I did get a chill when Spock beams into the Microsoft video, howevs.

What one do you like best?

Monday, September 30, 2013
Stunts: Simple is the secret...

I know I've been on a bit of a rant about simplicity recently, but imagine trying to explain this PR stunt to my Mum.

"The new solution allows consumers to scan a smartphone on a vending-machine sensor, which will activate a touchscreen interface with purchase options. If the consumer has the SAP Hana app installed on his or her smartphone, the cloud menu can recognize the user and will eventually build a user profile based on purchase history. Consumers can select promotional offers and give feedback on their purchases. Gifts can be sent between app users, who will be informed via text of their gift credit."

Good luck with that.

Monday, September 23, 2013
Hack the new iPhone's fingerprint scanner in this simple 142-step process

The press is on fire with the news that the fingerprint scanner on the iPhone 5S has been hacked.

All you need to do, as TechRader reports:

... the first step is photographing the enrolled users fingerprint in 2,400 dpi resolution. The image then needs to inverted and laser printed on to a transparent sheet in 1,200 dpi resolution and thick toner setting... Latex milk or white wood-glue can be used to create a mould by spreading it onto the transparent sheet and letting it dry. Then you breathe on the mould for moisture and place it on the sensor to unlock the phone.

As with most security technology, it's more about the time it takes to break rather than the fact that it's unbreakable at all. Even the longest, most diabolically brilliant passwords can be guessed eventually. It's just whether the criminal can be bothered.

When I get my iPhone 5S, I'm not going to worry. Even if they did get in, all they'd find is photo after photo of my dinner anyway.

Are you worried? Would this stop you buying a new iPhone?

Thursday, September 12, 2013
Microsoft's vision for computing came 100% true. (Thanks to Apple.)

This video from June 2000 just blew my mind into tiny pieces.

Wednesday, September 04, 2013
My learnings from not posting for a while

Yeah, so I failed the challenge to ban a different marketing cliche every day through August.

Don't care, been busy.

Anyway, I'm going to carry on regardless. And today's term is... 'Learnings'. You know, like when you're in a review meeting and you've screwed something up. You know you've screwed something up, and you know you're going to have to tell the client. Or even worse, the client has screwed something up, and you're going to have to tell them.

So you title the PowerPoint slide: 'Key Learnings'. You coward, you.

'Learnings' completely removes the fact that someone in the room has ballsed something up. The word you really want is 'lessons', but you're too scared that this will take you back to school, when learning your lesson meant getting told off for doing something wrong. Calling it 'learnings' and it's much less impactful, creating a cushioning bubble of comfort far removed from the harsh reality of the screwup itself.

No more of this, please.

One of the great pieces of advice I took from my Waggener Edstrom days (from either Waggener or Edstrom - I can't remember) was the phrase 'fail forward'. If you screw something up, it means you're moving quickly and trying new things. If everything always goes well for you, then you're doing it wrong.

When you do screw up (and you will), you take it on the chin and learn your lesson. You admit your mistake, and use the information to do something bigger and faster. And next time you'll shoot higher and make an even bigger mistake. Which propels you on again.

'Learnings' is a wimpy word, and totally undermines the awesomeness of fucking stuff up. Next time you write your slide and are about to type 'Key Learnings', call it 'Gigantic ballsups' instead. At least it'll force you to spend time actually learning from them.

Monday, August 19, 2013
Microsoft cuts QR codes, nobody cares

As someone who once fiddled with Microsoft Tag a bit, I just got a shutdown notice from Microsoft. They are removing support for their version of the QR code on... Wait for it... August 19th, 2015.

Let's take two learnings from this.

1. The QR code isn't catching on, and tech like NFC is taking over.
2. Microsoft is more generous than Google with its notice of closure.

In fairness, drinks bottles, shop windows and bus stop adverts don't use the Microsoft standard. They all use the less colourful, classic open standard QR code. Which is a shame because the Microsoft Tag interface and reporting was brilliant, plus it was able to generate standard QR codes and NFC triggers.

Despite the fact they're popping up everywhere, I'd love to see usage numbers of QR codes. Anyone know if they're actually ever snapped?