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Jan 19, 2023 13 min read

What happened in tech this week #109

What happened in tech this week #109
Table of Contents

News, insights, and information from the tech economy.


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Is this use of AI and Deepfake tech the future for CVs and job interviews?

Bartosz Pampuch, the ex-VP of Comarch, posted this on LinkedIn this week. It's a video of a 3D avatar he created to demo how an interactive resume could be used for a virtual interview process. The clue is in the "ex" above, because Pampuch had found himself on the job market, and he created this novel approach to find himself a new role.

When I asked him how long it had taken, he told me 3 months!

But, having mastered the process, the time can be substantially reduced, making this a viable solution for the talent acquisition process. He explained how he made it:

I had so much fun preparing this and constantly switching between technologies and contexts. From conceptual and UI work (Figma) to 3d modeling (Blender, Substance Painter, etc.) to reading books about human anatomy and animating characters (especially facial expressions) to weeks spent in Jupyter Notebooks and Python (working with NLP and then performing AI experiments and training different Machine Learning models) to ONNX to Unreal 5, MetaHuman and Blueprints to NVidia Omniverse to Front-end-development in (P)React and Typescript to Azure Function Apps (partially serverless) with NodeJS to real-time video communication with WebRTC to custom signaling server to Microsoft Azure where everything is hosted to DaVinci Resolve, Fairlight and Fusion (to prepare this promo movie).

w/AugmentedReality


US Gov delay rollout of AR army headsets because of issues for the wearers

A week after Microsoft announced that 10,000 augmented reality headsets would be distributed to the US Army, Congress put a halt to it. According to Bloomberg, instead of ordering more of the Hololens headsets from Microsoft, the US gov has instead approved only $40 million for Microsoft to develop a new version that fixes some of the user issues with the headsets.

During field trials last year, 70 soldiers wore the current version of the Hololens augmented reality headsets during three 72-hour scenarios simulating combat conditions.

👉 The results showed that the soldiers suffered “headaches, eyestrain and nausea” and that the system had too many “failures of essential functions.” In addition, more than 80% of soldiers who reported discomfort began experiencing it less than three hours into the 72-hour test.

As part of the recent $1.75 trillion government funding bill, the Army asked for $400 million to buy the latest batch of Microsoft Hololens headsets. Instead, Congress approved just $40 million for Microsoft to develop a new version. This is on top of the $125 million spent with Microsoft to create a working model.

Despite the setbacks, the US Gov plans to spend up to $21.9 billion over the next decade for as many as 121,000 devices.

👉 For more on why this is a great deal for Microsoft.

👉 Microsoft land $21 billion deal with US Army for science fiction headsets.


w/Trends


App Economy slows for the first time as users switch to subscriptions from gaming apps

The app economy slowed for the first time in 2022, with consumer spending down 2% to $167 billion. This is according to the much anticipated annual review by data analytics firm Data.AI (who is better known as App Annie - why did they change the name, I loved that name?)

The new analysis in the firm’s annual “State of Mobile” report is based on consumer spending across all app stores, including third-party Android app stores in China. It shows the impact of a down economy on what, until now, has largely been a growth industry where every year saw apps raking in more money than the year before.

Here's The Thing: in the past, mobile games drove much of consumer spending on apps. But that gap has narrowed as apps have switched to subscription business models. Add to that the current economic downturn, and it looks like non-game apps have proven to be more resilient, according to Data.Ai.

🍎 For comparison, read Apple's own 2022 App Store metrics which touted a record $320 billion in money paid to developers since the App Store’s founding.

📲
In 2022, spending on games dropped 5% to $110 billion, while spending on non-game apps increased 6% to $58 billion — the latter, driven by streaming subscriptions, dating apps and short-form video apps.

📲 Download the State of Mobile 2023 report from Data.AI, or read it here:


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w/AI


New AI smartphone app will be able to decipher Japanese cursive manuscripts

In Japan, historical documents and manuscripts are often written in kuzushiji, a form of Japanese cursive. This poses a hurdle to interpretation and usage, not only to researchers but also to other people who have old letters and diaries stored at home. Today, roughly 0.01% of Japan’s population can read cursive.

A new AI app will allow the cursive forms to be "translated" into contemporary characters, allowing others to read text. This has huge implications for all historical and religious texts all over the globe.

If the tech is successful, it is reasonable it could also be modified to interpret the authenticity of signatures. In turn, the implications for the art world are very exciting. Source: Japan Times


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w/VirtualReality


Audi is the first car manufacturer to provide a Virtual Reality experience for passengers

Audi spin-off holoride was launched at CES 2019, but at this year's consumer electronics show, Audi showcased the VR tech in action. Passengers wearing a VR headset from HTC Vive experience their own in-car entertainment using the holoride technology, which can detect the car's driving movements in real-time and adapt the virtual content as needed.

For instance, if the vehicle you're playing in accelerates, the virtual reality game will speed up with you. The same goes for turning left or right.

Audi claims that holoride can alleviate motion sickness by converting real-world feedback into visual and felt experiences. So, if you're one of those who get sick while watching a movie or reading a book in a car, you may enjoy killing some time by putting a VR headset on.

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w/BrandStrategies


Estée Lauder use AI and AR to assist the visually impaired put their make-up on

Estée Lauder has launched a new app in the UK that helps visually impaired users apply makeup. There are more than 2 million people living with visual impairment in the UK and this is the first use of technology to help them navigate the tricky job of applying make-up. The voice-enabled Makeup Assistant uses augmented reality and AI to analyse the makeup on a user’s face. The app gives audio feedback on which areas need to be touched up or blended.

Estée Lauder are not the first brand to introduce initiatives to help people with disabilities.

👃 Unilever introduced a deodorant for people with visual impairment and upper-limb disabilities in April 2021, with easily graspable features for one-handed use, a larger roll-on applicator to reach a larger surface area, and easy-to-open packaging.

🧻 Since 2021, Procter & Gamble has used a smart app called NaviLens, which uses QR codes that can be scanned from a distance with a smartphone app to read out key product and shelf location information. Kellogg's also launched an app using NaviLens to help the visually impaired read product labels.

💄 At CES2023, L’Oréal launched a handheld motorised device to help people with disabilities apply lipstick. L'Oréal are no strangers when combining emerging tech in the make-up department. In October, they partnered with ready Player Me to launch a collection of hair and make-up inspired avatars.

Other examples of Brand Strategies in emerging tech

👖 H&M is upping its bets in emerging tech with the launch of Loooptopia, joining numerous others, including Gen Z retailer American Eagle, who have made Roblox a key marketing asset in an attempt to connect with younger shoppers.

💰 Mastercard is launching a web3-focused incubator to help artists connect with fans through a new medium.

🍔 McDonald’s new media campaign to celebrate the Lunar New Year uses AI, augmented reality, 3D AR filters and has a metaverse theme. In their press release, a McDonald’s spokesperson said,

"We know our fans live at the intersection of innovation and culture and that's where McDonald's needs to meet them.

This isn’t the first time McDonald’s has created a cool virtual experience around culture and heritage. In 2022, the company created “McDonald’s Hall of Zodiacs: 2022 Lunar New Year by Humberto Leon” gallery in AltspaceVR and in Spatial.

In its latest initiative, McDonald's is collaborating with Karen X Cheng, a viral content creator known for her innovative and creative designs.

“Teaming up with McDonald’s to create a campaign that not only leans into my passions as a creator but also my cultural identity is a dream come true," said Karen X Cheng.
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♾️
To learn more about the use-cases for consumer brands in blockchain, NFTs, virtual and augmented reality, and digital assets, read this.

Brand Strategies for the Metaverse is a unique collection of over 250 consumer brands and their strategies in the emerging technologies of Web3 and the Metaverse. From A to Z, the brands include:

Adidas, AIA Insurance, Alfa Romeo, Asics, Aston Martin, Atari, Audi, Bacardi, Bentley, Bose, Boss, Budweiser, Burberry, Cadbury, Campbell Soup, Carrefour, Champion, Chevrolet, Chipolte, Coca-Cola, DBS Bank, Decathlon, Dior, Disney, Dolce&Gabbana, eBay, Emirates, Evian, Ferrari, Ford, Gap, Gibson, Glenfiddich, Gucci, Heineken, Hennessy, HTC, Hyundai, JBL, Johnnie Walker, Kellogg's, Kia, Kraft Heinz, L'Oreal, Lacoste, Lamborghini, Lavazza, ...

w/Metaverse


Davos goes Metaverse!

The 2023 World Economic Forum (WEF) meeting is currently taking place in Davos. This year's theme is “cooperation in a fragmented world." To address this divide, Metaverse technologies are being used to create virtual, three-dimensional worlds that offer a new way to see, understand, and imagine our world.

Davos has built "The Global Collaboration Village" as the first global, purpose-driven Metaverse platform that aims to enhance public-private cooperation and drive impact at scale.

It is launched in partnership with Accenture and Microsoft, and supported by a consortium of leading global corporations, governments, international organisations, academic institutions, and NGOs.

The point of the exercise is to communicate and collaborate without the limitations of locations. Virtual reality enables two-way experiences that are different from being a passive participant over a video call.

Whether it will stick or not is the big bet that the likes of Accenture and Microsoft are watching for.

For me, the user experience inside a headset is a barrier. But as technology advances, and it has to given the huge sums of investment going into the VR/Metaverse sector, then this barrier will become less of an obstacle.

Metaverse Stats

Read this for more stats, insights and case studies.


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w/Metaverse


Ready Player Me to create interoperable avatars

Ready Player Me is working with Unstoppable Domains to create digital identities that work across multiple platforms and games.

What does that mean? Today, you might use your Google or Facebook account to log into multiple accounts across the Internet. You have a single, certified digital identity that removes the pain, repetition, and hassle of signing up for a new service.

Here's The Thing: In the next generation of web3 and Metaverse, Ready Player Me is positioning itself (and it’s avatars) as the interoperable digital identity that goes where ever you go.

Future of Emerging Tech with Paul Armstrong
In this video interview with Rick Huckstep, digital strategist Paul Armstrong discusses the future of emerging technology, including virtual reality, blockchain, and artificial intelligence.

w/AI


ChatGPT updates features and monetisation is coming

OpenAI updated ChatGPT last week to give the chatbot “improved factuality.” Users can also stop it mid-generation instead of waiting for it to finish doing what you asked.

Here's The Thing: ChatGPT is currently free, and it's being wacked with usage. Log onto the system, and you're likely to see a delay before you hit your daily limit. I've seen a range of estimates on how much it's costing to run. They vary depending on who you read, except that they're all in the $millions.

ChatGPT needs to monetise the thing, especially now that Microsoft is putting in $10 billion that's repaid through future profits. This is why OpenAI is working on a “professional version of ChatGPT” according to president Greg Brockman, who announced the plans on Wednesday.

The main features of the paid version will be:

👉Always available (no blackout windows)

👉 Fast responses from ChatGPT (i.e. no throttling).

👉 As many messages as you need (at least 2X regular daily limit).

There's currently a waitlist for the paid version, where you'll be asked how much you’d be willing to pay.

🤖 If you've not tried ChatGPT yet, read this.

🤖 Or listen to this.

🤖 And check out this list of generative AI tools.


w/AppEconomy


The app economy slows down for the first time

Consumer spending on mobile apps in 2022 was down 2% to $167 billion. This is the first time ever that spending on mobile apps has declined. This is according to the much anticipated annual review by data analytics firm Data.AI (who is better known as App Annie - why did they change the name, I loved that name?)

The new analysis in the firm’s annual “State of Mobile” report is based on consumer spending across all app stores, including third-party Android app stores in China. It shows the impact of a down economy on what, until now, has largely been a growth industry where every year saw apps raking in more money than the year before.

Here's The Thing: in the past, mobile games drove much of consumer spending on apps. But that gap has narrowed as apps have switched to subscription business models. Add to that the current economic downturn, and it looks like non-game apps have proven to be more resilient, according to Data.Ai.

In 2022, spending on the game segment of mobile apps dropped 5% to $110 billion, while spending on non-game apps increased 6% to $58 billion — the latter, driven by streaming subscriptions, dating apps and short-form video apps.

Read the report here, or download from Data.AI.

🍎 For comparison, read Apple's own 2022 App Store metrics which touted a record $320 billion in money paid to developers since the App Store’s founding.


7 AI Creation Tools To Save Time and Be More Productive
The widespread use of generative AI has exploded in 2022. First, with the release of GPT-3, followed by DALL-E and Stable Diffusions, there are now countless content creation and productivity tools utilising AI. Here are 7 AI tools I use the most.
Brand Strategies For The Metaverse
Major consumer brands are investing in the emerging technologies for tomorrow’s digital world. From NFTs to blockchain, from web3 to the Metaverse. This database of over 250 consumer brands is, IMHO, the largest single collection of brand strategies for the metaverse.
Wiser! Top 10 Technology Predictions 2023
From 2023 being the year of AI to NFTs becoming a tech for customer engagement, from Elon Musk walking away from Twitter empty-handed to Meta pivoting again, these are my Top 10 Wiser! Technology Predictions for 2023.

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