Like to stay ahead of the curve? Then the Startacus Technology News Round-up is made for you. A neat collection of all the latest technology news, ideas and developments affecting UK businesses by marketing and technology blogger Justin Firth.
Technology Cleared For Take-off.
Frequent flyers may soon find their flight time much more productive. The American aviation authority has officially cleared electronic devices for use during all phases of flight - including take-off and landing. Europe is expected to follow within months, but airline safety testing will mean some airlines adopting the new ruling faster than others.
There are of course other ways for technology to take flight. A recent BBC report highlighted the growing interest in small unmanned drones for commercial uses including taking helicopter style video, crop monitoring and law enforcement. Permission is required from the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to fly commercial drones in the UK but information released by the CAA shows they have already issued licenses to hundreds of applicants this year.
Mobile Shopping Numbers Rocket
Do you shop on your mobile? E-commerce giant Rakuten have just announced that purchases on mobile devices grew 250% in fashion and 300% in other sectors in the first half of 2013.
This move to mobile shopping is supported by recent ICM research which showed 40% of 18-24 year olds intended to do some of this year’s Christmas shopping on mobile and a prediction from Adobe’s Online Shopping Forcast that 12% of online Christmas sales in Europe this year will come from mobile; a 68% increase on 2012.
Contactless Payment Security Concerns
Some might worry about shopping on a mobile, but paying by credit card in real life may not be much more secure. A researcher from the University of Surrey recently used detectors in a backpack to intercept contactless credit card payment data from up to half a metre away - far more than the 10cm distance required as a security feature.
In response to fraud fears, the UK Card Association have stated that usable information intercepted from a contactless card includes only the card number and expiry date. All other data is safely encrypted.
Real World Advertising Gets Smarter
We are all used to being targeted by adverts online, but what about in real life?
Last week Tesco announced the roll-out of facial-recognition advertising boards across 450 petrol forecourts. The smart boards recognise gender and approximate age to target relevant adverts to queuing drivers. Tesco have made clear that the boards will not take or store any image data, but many see this as a first step towards super smart advertising which is capable of recognising individuals.
Tesco’s facial recognition boards may not be the only smart screens coming to a street near you. Google have just launched a pilot of Google Outside across 160 sites in London. These large screens at bus shelters and tube stations will provide real-time location specific information such as travel routes based on current conditions and suggestions on local activities based on the current weather.
Google Helps Out
Google is also bringing real-time assistance to the small screen with a new service called Google Helpouts. Helpouts are video chats with real life experts designed to assist users with any problem - from a specific health concern to learning a new language.
Chats with experts are charged per-minute or per Helpout with 20% of revenue going to Google and the rest to the expert. Still in its early stages, Google Helpouts could help businesses generate brand new revenue by connecting with customers face-to-face anywhere in the world.
The Next Big Social Network?
We all know the big names in social networking, but there are also dozens of smaller niche social networks attracting users from across the web. Unii - a UK social network aimed at university students - attracted attention last week by announcing over 100,000 new sign-ups in just 6 months. Unii’s tagline ‘What happens at uni, stays at Unii’ addresses the fear student’s may have that shenanigans captured on networks like Facebook could harm future employment prospects.
Unii’s new sign-up announcement came in the same week that Facebook - itself originally a university based network - finally admitted that usage was down amongst young teens. While privacy concerns has been cited as a possible reason, a more likely cause is young teens switching to simpler mobile apps like Snapchat and Instagram.
Wearable Tech And The Not-So-Smart-Watch
Wearable technology is predicted to be a huge growth sector in the coming years, but the sector is off to a shaky start. Samsung’s new Smartwatch - Galaxy Gear - was released in September but according to a report leaked this month, over 30% of the watches sold by US store BestBuy were returned after users found them infuriatingly limited in functionality.
It appears that most people are looking to an iWatch from Apple to really set the standard, but rumours aside, Apple themselves will not even confirm that they are designing one.
It is therefore left to Google Glass to create the first big splash in wearable tech. The augmented reality glasses are likely to reach the UK sometime in 2014, but developers have already been road-testing the early model in the US. And when I say road-testing, I mean that literally. Californian Cecilia Abadie has just become the very first person to be ticketed by police for wearing Google Glass behind the wheel.
The Startacus Technology News Round Up is written by Chartered Marketer and Technology Enthusiast Justin Firth. Visit Justin’s blog at marketingnext.co.uk for more comment on business technology and marketing ideas or follow Justin on Twitter @marketingnextuk
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