Category Archives: The Future

Is it a bird? erm nope.

The next era of connectivity is on the horizon, or rather more accurately hovering above it, as tech giants launch their test projects to provide internet coverage for the harder to reach parts of the world.

Google have test piloted Project Loon a few times since June 2013 near places such as New Zealand’s South Island and Sri Lanka, a series of high- altitude balloons equipped with LTE (more commonly known as 4G LTE) that rides the wind currents in the stratosphere.

Facebook have also developed a fleet of solar-powered drones called Aquila now ready to hover at altitudes of 60,000 to 90,000 feet. These can be steered and controlled more directly, constantly circling a two mile radius to stay aloft.

Both the balloons and the drones can be air born for around three months.

Combined with lower priced smartphones coming to market we are seeing the next evolution of connectivity looking set to be pretty rapid.

There’s still a way to go to stabilise the launch and flight of both, plus the clean up exercise once they come back down but the effort to connect the whole world with the internet is accelerating.

Next we’ll be in orbit, talking to the moon, connecting galaxies… well, maybe.

 

clangers

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Curiosity didn’t kill the cat, complacency did

A big part of Leadership is the ability to pivot and adapt to change. Within the creative industry change happens all around us, new ideas, emerging technologies, new skill sets, different teams, in my entire career I don’t think I’ve had two days that went the same way.

I currently help lead the digital discipline across an integrated agency that has moved rapidly from its roots in traditional advertising, to adapt to our clients needs to deliver quality integrated campaigns.

With this evolution we are seeing a new expertise blossoming in the coined value of ‘T-shaped’ people, those that have a strong vertical but can work alongside other teams and departments to see the wider context of their work. For example, my vertical is digital, but I work through ‘the line’ with traditional creative and production teams. Within the digital vertical I am working with other ‘T’s’; designers who work with tech, producers who work with writers and so on.

The success of our agency is inevitably about the ability to embrace change, being curious about what everyone around them is doing and collaborating to make it amazing.

We’re a digitally empowered nation. As an agency our clients and their audiences are smart. They can tell when the dots aren’t joined up so a blended skill set is no longer a nice to have, it’s a necessity to transformation.

The search for the best talent today is less about specialism and more about diversity. This next phase promises to be dynamic, turbulent and challenging.

The last of the dinosaurs are on their way out.

all my friends

 

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Personalisation with a side of ease

As someone who travels a lot there’s nothing worse than stepping off a long flight, red-eye kicking in, knowing you’ve still got to claim your luggage, find your transfer, get across town, find your hotel, complete an arduous check in process and get up to your room before you can finally collapse on the bed.

So imagine my excitement when I spent a day with the top tech bods in the travel and hospitality industry reinventing the entire future-scape for the upgrade needed to cater for Gen X & Y travellers.

We talked a lot about the automation of the journey. How we could put in place a centralised data approach with intelligence systems connected to smartphones and robots aiding the various staff throughout. Whilst I find that really exciting, I’m sure you won’t want to be bored with the tech stack, so to let you in on how it might feel in 2025 I’ll summarise a brief walk through of a typical business trip, we’ll start with stepping off that plane again…

The second you switch from flight mode a signal is sent to your smart suitcase where the built-in tracker connects to your phone as you make your way through customs, you time getting to the conveyor belt perfectly. You pick up your case and activate the next signal, which is sent to your driver who now knows to get to the pick up bay within a three-minute window, avoiding parking fees, congestion and more importantly you being irritated by him not being there.

Your GPS switches to your driver who you find with equal ease. You collapse in the back of the car, whatever music you want is synced automatically, the temperature adjusted and an update sent to your hotel with your live eta feed updating your awaiting concierge.

On arrival your check-in is confirmed through facial recognition, you’re then greeted personally and swiftly shown to your room whereupon your climate is again synced, your drink and snack of choice is freshly prepared and your smart TV pre-loaded with your favourite channels. You can even activate a holographic in-room personal trainer should you so wish…

Your dinner table is reserved at the time you would normally eat and on arrival you see that the menu is based on your culinary preferences with wine recommendations to match. Not only that but the seasonal info and the history of the restaurant Chef are sent to your mobile because they know you like to read the background to what you eat and how it’s prepared.

After dinner, you retire to the lounge and login to a guest screen which is loaded with your business itinerary, options to tailor your travel and where to take your clients, plus recommendations on what to do with your spare time.

You relax, confident that every detail has been taken care of.

In this future-scape our aim is to democratise an executive level of assistance so that everyone can have his or her own ‘Parker’ rather than having to rely on ‘Manwell’.

do not disturb

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Time is our currency

This week has been all about the disruption of the Financial Service sector, well for me anyway; I’ve been exploring the future of traditional banks through the eyes of millennials, pretty interesting stuff when you really get under the skin of it. 

Once upon a time (which for me is before the Internet became adopted mainstream) banking was based on the banking giants being in control; they had the money, they got to dictate their terms, from opening hours to transfer charges, meaning we mere mortals had to play by their rules. 

The Internet has changed this, and with disruptive start ups like; Transferwise, Credit Karma, Lending club, Privlo, Avantcredit (the list goes on) all delivering better placed insightful thinking with more convenient and contextual user friendly solutions, the consumer now has choice, ease of use and more importantly ease of moving around. 

So what does this mean for the Giants? It means they are no longer in control. 

I was part of a workshop last week with a bunch of industry leads, where we were fueled with coffee and left in a room to decipher how technology has lowered the barriers for these disrupters, and how we should be navigating the landscape moving forwards…

Essentially, startups get to copy the infrastructure set by traditional Giants and simply create a frictionless, seamless interface making it easier to bundle these services together in a friction-free way. This means the old school need to stop trying to use the existing tech to just push services they already have and realize a top down centralised approach won’t work anymore, in our ever increasing Internet of Things, there are thousands of data points now so the model must flip to a bottom up collective. 

Giants will need to truncate their legacy systems to give more choice and more personalization, if they don’t they will lose further pace, they’ve already lost the edge on driving innovation and millennials are losing their patience in equal measures.

In short, we must address the minutiae to reach the mass, empowering rather than enforcing. 

gold egg timer

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VIRTUALLY HUMAN

I love as much as the next person donning a head set and immersing myself in a world of fantasy where I can fly around on my very own dragon and slay my enemies, an experience that envelops my physical and sensory powers, transporting me to a space and time beyond my real identity.

But this is fast becoming just a norm, scary? Maybe… maybe not.

VR is winning over on mere fiction; it challenges the mind, it challenges the perception of reality, I guess you could say therefore that it challenges mankind.

Another technology that I love working with is Artificial Intelligence, the only thing I can imagine more exciting than either VR or AI, is the two working together.

AI is the science of making intelligent machines or programs based on algorithms derived from understanding the cognitive ability of the human brain but not limited to biology. Once taught, these machines can be scripted and controlled, but more exciting they can become autonomous.

We’re not quite at the stage where we characterize what kind of computer procedures we want to call intelligent, but they lean towards those that are maybe less mechanical, or less engineered, i.e. prompted by emotion.

Human IQ is the measure at which human intelligence develops based on; speed, short-term memory and the accuracy of long-term memory. AI is arguably the reverse; programs have plenty of memory and speed but their abilities correspond to inputs and commands.

To this end, currently most work involving AI involves studying the challenges the world puts to our intelligence in order to solve them at an improved return on speed or money, but if we were to combine a world created virtually along with the abilities of AI, then surely we could create a new theorized knowledge source; a new perspective… a new reality.

Information is at our fingertips, the likes of Google sorted that one for us, but new insight, new knowledge, that is far more interesting. So if we could create worlds that anticipated situations of the future and then input artificial intelligence into it, then in this parallel universe we could create a new perception, a new reasoning.

Technology is powerful in the hands of humans, if we enhance that artificially then the virtual world could be our new oyster.

Cyborg Head

Now, where did I leave my Dragon..?

 

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Left Brain, or write brain?

For years scientists summarised ‘memory’ as an intricate part of the brain much like an ever expanding filing cabinet, a neural super-computer if you like, but in fact our memory is a brain-wide process. For example, driving a car is reconstructed from several areas; operating it lies in one section, getting from A to B in another and the ‘oh crap that guy just carved me up’ from yet another.

In this intricate system, we have several areas of memory; sensory, which lasts a second, short-term working memory, which last up to a minute and long-term memory, which lasts a lifetime (unless you’re a goldfish). Long-term memory then splits into explicit (conscious) and implicit (unconscious) and that then continues to break down into episodical, procedural and semantic memory systems.

So with all that in mind, who’s to say we couldn’t slip an updated folder into the filing cabinet and start to amend our memories, enhancing them, through neural prostheses…

Neural prosthetic devices are designed to provide artificial reconstruction of neurone to neurone connections where deterioration has occurred, so what if there was a safe way to insert these ‘memories’ into our neural architecture? Could we ‘remember’ that we’re fluent in a language, play guitar or know how to save a life?

If we could work out how to create the file to save it, then could we implant it as a memory? If we could create a common code that works with the electronic impulses in our brain and is understood through computer algorithms, could the future integration of memory be possible?

Gets the cogs pulsing doesn’t it?

data-brain_shutterstock

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