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Our MWC 2017 predictions

MWC is one of the biggest shows of the year. It’s the time when the big device makers come together in Barcelona to one up each other with their latest shiny black rectangles.

In recent years, announcements have been spread out either side of the show to avoid the huge volume of news and get some clear air. So, whilst Samsung’s S8 is coming post show and LG’s G6 has already peaked its head out from behind the curtains, there’s still loads to see.

Here’s what we expect to see, want to see and what we think has no chance of making an appearance.

A sure thing:

We’ve already seen LG’s G6. It’s touting an unusually tall screen with an 18:9 aspect ratio, expect to find out why at their conference on February 26th.

Sony are announcing a whole suite of devices, covering everything from budget phones through to top spec flagships like the Xperia XZ.

Huawei too will be updating their flagship P9, we assume P10? Last year they focused on a unique Leica camera that combines a B&W camera with a colour shooter for better photos. The P10 will push this even further.

Motorola are also announcing some new devices with a press conference scheduled for the Sunday before the show.

My personal favourite is that we’re expecting new Nokia phones! Specifically, an Android flagship with some strong specs that they (and I) hope can bring them back to the fore.

Hoping for:

Bendy phones. Every year someone shows off a new foldable screen prototype, this year we want to see someone be mad enough to put it into a real phone.

More Daydream. Right now, there are only two devices for Google’s Daydream platform – the Pixel and Moto Z. We’d love to see some more to go alongside the super comfy view headset.

A phone with decent battery life. It’s been said by enough tech reporters, but we’d love to see someone ship a phone that doesn’t sacrifice battery life to be just a bit thinner. Who can do an Apple and have the ‘courage’ to do that?

Don’t expect:

Modular devices. I think we can all agree that modular devices aren’t a goer. The G5’s strange removable bottom panel has already been confirmed to be removed from the G6. If Motorola’s Z is seeing a similar pick up of its accessories, we think it might be bye bye Moto for the Moto Mods platform.

Micro USB ports. It’s all about USB C now, and for any manufacturer to release a flagship with the old port would just be embarrassing.

Most importantly, don’t expect to get away with not eating ham. Iberico for days in Barca. It looks to be an exciting show; we’ll check in again in a couple of weeks and see just how right we were.

Te veo en españa!

 


#DynamoDoes CES 2017

Ah, CES – another January, another batch of exciting tech, another return flight with broken bodies (but thankfully, not spirits).

Some things don’t change, but often the lineup of Dynamo attendees does – this time, it was Heather and myself taking up the challenge of dazzling lights and sleepless nights.

Here’s our highlights from the show this year – sadly, getting sprayed with champagne by Lil’ John at Hakkasan didn’t quite make the cut, mostly because Heather is intent on sending him a dry cleaning bill…

Concept Cars

The Mercedes Benz EQ concept car

Top billing had to be, much like 2016, automotive tech. CES has, for the last couple of years, been touted to overtake industry events such the Detroit Auto Show, and 2017 was seen by many as that tipping point. NVIDIA were the stars of the show here, making waves with their partnership with Mercedes on the concept car EQ (pictured), which drew crowds thanks to its sophisticated blend of electro wizardry and aesthetics.

NVIDIA also showcased their partnership with Audi, and revealed their joint commitment to delivering a self-driving car by 2020, complete with fully integrated AI and facial recognition. With many other companies reluctant to commit to a delivery date for their concepts, this partnership boldly revealing such a close date has showed us that the true ‘cars of the future’ are much closer than previously imagined.

Homer, you were ahead of your time, buddy.

World’s Fair

This year saw a much more global feel to previous shows, with 41% of companies exhibiting hailing from China. In addition, this year all Chinese companies weren’t confined to a specific section of the show floor, but rather all booths were intermingled. Also, CES 2017 saw a large influx of French companies, with around 240 hardware companies from the region showing their wares, and actually making up a third of the population of Eureka Park. The trend of growing international diversity year on year at the show is a fascinating development, and from an agency perspective, certainly creates ‘areas to watch’ in terms of innovation and exciting new businesses.

Eureka Park

Although the LVCC played host to the household names and multi-million dollar projects, Eureka Park was, personally, the most exciting part of the show. Cool new ideas – some frivolous, some with potentially useful global impact – were in abundance, with smaller, eager teams excited to show off their game-changing concepts. The techniques each company adopted (in some or all cases) in order to stand out as the next big thing can be broken down into simple categories:

  1. Pushing the capabilities of a current technology e.g. enhanced graphics, improved UI, use of peripherals (particularly in VR, with the use of haptics)
  2. Modifying a current technology to produce different user cases, and subsequently, our understanding of said technologies’ potential eg. a fireplace controlled by music – music driven objects are nothing new, but to be seen with fire was quite the thing, and certainly got us thinking about more capabilities of sound-driven technology
  3. Creating a visual, product driven solution to a previously nebulous concept/software driven project, thus driving forward consumer understanding – a great example of this is in the below picture, which we’ll leave you with. I jumped out of my skin when I saw this 3D face scanning booth (and the people at the booth got a good laugh at my expense).

Proving that heads on spikes that can be futuristic as well as historical.

We all know about face scanning, but to see a very realistic head on a spike is both disconcerting and intriguing – especially when you realise the model it’s based on (and the creator) is there watching your reaction! He was nice enough to pose for a photo though, so I didn’t feel completely embarrassed.

So we’re already looking forward to next year’s show now, and whether we’ll be driving more underwater 4K cameras, or learning more about pyjamas that energise you while you sleep, I’m confident that whichever capacity we’ll be attending in, and whoever we’re working with, it’ll certainly be memorable (apart from the blurry evening parties bit).


Interaction and PR relevance at #SXSW

It’s always a pleasure to be back in Texas, particularly when there’s a tech event to attend, so we were thrilled to attend SXSW with our client Makeblock this year.

Austin has, for the last few years, been emerging as a solid favorite for start ups in the tech industry, and it isn’t difficult to see why. Low taxes and cost of living, a Silicon Valley culture, and a very open and friendly community make it a haven for tech lovers. (I’m personally a huge fan of Austin hospitality, and I’m already looking forward to my next fish taco fix!).

Having the huge draw of SXSW brings Austin to the forefront of the music, film, and tech industries during the month of March, with SXSW Interactive offering attendees the chance to see some of the most exciting innovations in robotics, design, IoT and more.

The first day of SXSW Interactive played host to the ‘Create’ exhibition, and of course featured a keynote by none other than Barack Obama, who called on leaders in tech to join him to “start coming up with new platforms, new ideas across disciplines, and across skill sets to solve some of the big problems we’re facing today.”

Interactive Experiences

One big takeaway from Interactive was the importance of, well… takeaways. Companies such as Sparkfun had a station where people could create and personalize their own scrolling LED lanyards, which were hugely popular. Our very own Makeblock offered people the chance to have their doodles and sketches burnt with a lasered onto wood blocks, and another stand had an entire booth with furniture that you could color in and draw all over. Needless to say, I spent a little too much time on that one during my breaks, and came back with a neckerchief covered in my garish scribbles.

PR relevance, not trendiness

This got me thinking – what experiences or takeaways should we be providing to people that delivers more than a simple USB or business card? Much like a lot of current VR campaigns, companies can often miss the mark by shoehorning a trend into what they deliver, as opposed to it being intrinsic to their brand. Basic stationery from an advanced technology company, a keychain from a robotics manufacturer, a tote bag from a mobile game – what is the relevance? These things are a nice to have, but the opportunity to excel is in giving people something they want, could find useful, and will remember your brand for.

Nick Morey
Nick Morey
Categories: Client, Events, Global, US

Brighton SEO 2016: Digital PR Roundtable

Last week I chaired the Brighton SEO Digital PR roundtable, kindly sponsored by PR Newswire. I discussed and debated the latest issues and practices in the digital marketing world with around 30 in-house and freelance PR specialists.

I have been attending the PR roundtable for the past few years, which has meant I’ve been able to observe some of the significant changes in attitudes and ways of working. I feel we have progressed from PR SEO to digital PR and an integrated marketing approach.

Here are three of the key points from the session that I think speak volumes about the industry and how it is changing:

The emergence of influencers versus traditional media

Whilst it was agreed that a top tier press list is not without national publications, it was also clear that the power of influencers like Bloggers and Vloggers were equally important in gaining coverage that drives real brand engagement.

There are specific skills and processes that are required to pitch ideas and content to both types of media, and it is important to know how to engage with them, and how they engage with their audience.

Clients want more

No matter what area of communications you work in, you will notice that clients want (and in most cases) expect more from PR activity. The main reason is the variety of online touch points for brands to reach their consumers. So reporting on readership alone, is weak in comparison to how valuable your coverage is, think about referral traffic, sales conversions and keyword movements.

The next big skill for digital PR is video

There is big shift from PR’s who want to be more digital or SEO’s who want to be better at PR to truly integrated digital specialists. We have evolved in to a true hybrid species!

With video becoming a larger part of the way we consume information and news online, it was no surprise that the topic of video was a key discussion point in the session. Video creation and marketing is a particular area of interest and something that digital PR’s are beginning to introduce into their companies and agencies to develop it within teams as a skill, rather than an additional service.

(Photo credit: PR Newswire)

Rebecca Lee
Rebecca Lee
Categories: Events, Knowledge

Must know VR discussion points from London Games Festival’s VR Summit

London Games Festival Logo

London Games Festival, a new annual event to celebrate the games industry’s huge cultural and economic impact right here in London, hosted a Virtual Reality Summit this week.

I was on the ground listening to speakers talk about all things VR – everything from how games, film and VFX collide, to how developers work behind the scenes to create amazing VR, to the challenges we face with the ever-growing VR market.

Here are my five key takeaways from the first ever London Games Festival VR Summit:

VR is big business – and will get bigger

More than $250million was invested in software alone from VCs to the VR industry in 2015. China is a market to watch as its games market is already worth 22 billion dollars, and large Chinese companies are getting in on the VR game which we will be able to tap into. However, VR brands and companies need to think about the end experience. People will only spend money in VR if it’s on things they care as much about as the things they have in real life.

The industry must learn to share

The idea that developers must share ideas for the VR industry to progress was a key theme. “People who go it alone will fail”, states Sam Gage from previsualization company The Third Floor. People working in VR should even consider sharing their data online for those in the community to help improve on their work; solving problems that they themselves missed.

We can solve VR sickness

Queasiness is still a problem for some VR users, but there are ways this can be controlled with session length, reduced lag and expectation managing. Matthew Newcombe at Ustwo explained how when making Land’s End it was key is for the player to transport to their destination with intuitive “gaze points”. VR should feel comfortable and autonomous, as though if you want to go somewhere you can, but with gentle encouragement to stay within the right space (just as players solve puzzles in a cylinder shape in Land’s End).

Matthew Newcombe from Ustwo speaking honestly about VR development at the VR Summit

Matthew Newcombe from Ustwo speaking honestly about VR development at the VR Summit

VR is still in its infancy

NVIDIA’s Phil Scott argued that VR is not a revolution, but the start of an evolution. We haven’t had the “Mario 64” moment yet – the culturally defining peak that people resonate with. While the Sci Fi London Film Festival shared a rather dark video about how the layers of VR reality could affect us, others warned that we need to nail the basics of VR before getting too ambitious, lamented over the possibility of a VR system untethered from wires, and imagined a new kind of shared, social VR experience.

The quiet renaissance

One of the final thoughts of the day came from Herman Narula, CEO at Improbable. He talked of a subtle shift in the industry – a quiet renaissance in VR, a new freedom in making the game world come to life. VR demands new ways of telling stories from developers. Just as NVIDIA’s Everest demo is hailed as a great example of how VR can convey real experiences, developers are now having to rethink how gamers experience a narrative – how VR as a new medium can tell stories in a new language, and for a potentially new audience.

For those of you keen to explore other VR events on offer, why not head over to Bristol’s VR World Congress next week, Storytelling in VR on 26 April or VRX in London next month, to name a few.

Emma Seddon
Emma Seddon
Categories: Events, Gaming, VR

How the PR Dynamos survived CES 2016

This was my first year attending CES, and as a PR who has previously helped clients plan for the show, I had heard all kinds of stories from people about the madness of CES. It definitely didn’t disappoint. CES 2016 was bigger than ever; more than 170,000 attendees (a stat provided by a very knowledgeable cabbie), a huge amount of automotive tech announcements, and a generous helping of virtual reality demos (including this).

Four Dynamos in total attended the show, and I was lucky enough to be front and centre on the booth of our client, Jide Technology, showing off Remix OS. For those who have never been or for those who are interested, here are a few tips/tricks/stories of how we survived and made a success of CES 2016.

Ellen, Senior Account Manager

Flat(ish) shoes, lip balm and Diet Coke – these are probably the most important things for me, in that order, whilst at CES. The show is spread out over several locations including the main convention centre and The Sands which is adjoined to The Venetian Hotel. You’ll be doing A LOT of walking over the three days of the show hence the flat(ish) shoes, and thanks to the air conditioning and desert air expect your skin to dry out so stock up on lip balm and moisturiser. The Diet Coke is because I don’t drink coffee and I need some caffeine after the long days and nights.

post-2016-ces-neeo

Other than that, I find it really useful to have plenty of time with the client, in this case NEEO, before the show kicks off so that they are comfortable with exactly what is going on, when and where. If your client doesn’t have a booth at CES but still wants to attend, I’d definitely recommend exhibiting at events like ShowStoppers or Pepcom within CES.

Finally, make sure you find the time to have fun and explore Vegas! CES can be intense so make the most of being in Las Vegas and check out the many hotels and shows.

Heather, Vice President of North America

Ellen’s definitely right about the chap stick, and as my Mom would say, make sure you drink lots of water. Again, this comes back to CES being held in the middle of the desert, and although you might have had a big night before, it’s likely dehydration that is causing the headache.

post-2016-ces-city-scape

About that big night before… it’s probably best if you try not to book briefings in the morning and also encourage your client to keep important business meetings for the afternoon. The likelihood of someone not turning up is very high while at CES, both because of big sponsored parties and late nights working.

Paul, Co-Founder and Co-CEO

During the day at the show, forget about sending any emails. If you’re trying to get in touch with someone, use an app like WeChat or WhatsApp – chances are most people use either one of these. Towards the end of the show, expect many meetings to be at best tired, at worst people simply won’t turn up so do take into your planning no-shows.

post-2016-ces-nvidia

Owen, Senior Account Executive

Preparation is always a key part of supporting a client who is attending CES and setting up journalist briefings in advance is one part of that. Though it’s not until you’ve waited in line for a taxi or shuttle bus for 30 minutes and ran to your next client meeting that you realise appointments quickly go out the window. Add this to the huge space that CES controls across Las Vegas and you’re left with a jumbled schedule. The key? Be flexible, and make sure your client can be too. If that fails, there’s always the excellent Monorail:

post-2016-ces-monorail

Oh and although phone signal is generally non-existent in the convention centres, bring a portable battery with you for those times when you are able to connect to free hotel Wi-Fi.

All in all, CES 2016 was a fantastic event to attend. It was a great opportunity to finally meet an international client whom I’d been working with for some time, to speak to a huge number of journalists, and to see some of the industry’s latest and greatest products.


IFA 2015 In A Nutshell

IFA sometimes feels like Groundhog Day. The beginning of September always brings with it a wave of new consumer technology product launches and clearing up rumours, which makes it a busy time for tech fans, allowing IFA, Europe’s largest consumer electronics exhibition and the smaller cousin to CES in Las Vegas, to dominate global tech news during this time.

As electronics companies wrestle to position their products in the forefront of consumers minds, here’s a quick roundup for those who didn’t quite convince their boss to book them a flight to Berlin.

Advancement in 4K

Moving beyond your television, 4K is now becoming the next big thing in smartphone technology.

With Sony showing off their new line of Xperia Z5 smartphones, of which there are three, the Z5 Premium boasts an eye-watering 4K (3840×2160) screen for those times that you really want to show off your ludicrously high definition screen to friends and family. Are they waterproof you ask? Why yes, yes they are.

Wearable technology still a safe bet

With exciting new smartwatches being announced from the likes of ASUS, Motorola and Huawei, the name of the game this year is having a round face and a more luxurious quality.

Samsung show a clear step forward with their seventh version of a smartwatch Samsung Gear S2. Allowing for a round display and two models, Samsung is trying to punch with the likes of Apple in the space which might prove difficult as the Apple Watch was highly prominent on the wrists of those attending.

While you were sleeping

One trend that is appearing at IFA this year is the use of technology to track your sleeping patterns by placing devices in bed with you and watching you sleep (ala the Samsung SleepSense).

SevenHugs is a good example of this new trend as they are showcasing their hugOne device that allows the entire family to monitor their nightly escapades, humidity, temperature, and air quality.  The hugOne then gives the user a clear tracking method to move users to a informative and restful nights sleep.

Who took home the prize?

While Sony dominated conversations in the Press Room with their Z5 Premium phone, it was Apple who took the prize even though they don’t have a presence at IFA, as talk of their upcoming announcement next was the topic of choice.

This might be an indicator of the what people thought of the large announcements this year, and perhaps the word “lackluster” was used in various conversations, but it seems although Apple might not attend IFA, they don’t have to in order to be news.


Gaming takeaways from #E32015

Taking place in Los Angeles, the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) is the world’s premier trade show for the games industry. This year over 52,000 people attended – even Kanye West made an appearance (playing Street Fighter V behind a privacy screen, so I’m told).

Blockbuster game announcements included Fallout 4, Halo 5, Uncharted 4, Lara Croft’s next adventure and a new game in the Gears of War franchise. Design led games include Unravel, Abzu, The Last Guardian. And for a dose of nostalgia, it was all about the Final Fantasy 7 remake.

I was on the show floor checking out the best that the industry had to offer, with a team supporting from our UK HQ. Here are some of the top trends we spotted this year.

Virtual Reality

Microsoft had previously revealed an Oculus Rift tie-up and at E3 they announced a Valve partnership, meaning its HTC Vive VR headset will work on Windows 10. The company also revealed a new live demo of its Hololens augmented reality headset running Minecraft.

Everyone from Paper Crane in the Indie Cade area (a section of the showfloor showcasing indie games) to our client FOVE, who were showing off their eye-tracking VR technology, show that that fans are eager for an immersive gaming experience and see if it lives up to the hype.

May the E3 force be with you

Star Wars fans – which includes most of the Dynamo office – were finally able to see the long awaited Star Wars Battlefront gameplay footage.

EA demoed the Battle of Hoth, available November 17 (one month before the new Star Wars film debuts in cinemas). You can play as Luke and Darth Vader among other Star Wars characters, and gamers will be pleased to see that it actually looks damn pretty good.

Release date anticipation

Sony announced a remake of Final Fantasy 7 with no actual release date, Uncharted 4 and The Last Guardian have long awaited launches, and some were even shown for the second year running at E3 with no nearby official release.

This approach which was more prevalent in 2015 gives game developers a chance to get it right and give fans what they want.

Power to the creative gamer

With PC gaming and its penchant for user-created content on the rise, this year we saw its impact spread to other platforms.

LittleBigPlanet developer Media Molecule revealed Dreams, and Bethesda is offering more scope for user mods after the success of Skyrim (cheeeese?). Other games include GTA V, Fallout and Doom.

On the consumer side is Nintendo’s Mario Maker, where I created my own 2D levels in the style of various titles from across the series’ history. Our client Bloxels also demoed their “build your own videogame” Kickstarter project.

Making gaming more inclusive

Horizon and ReCore featured female protagonists in their debut trailers, Assassin’s Creed Syndicate and Dishonored 2 now have female protagonists too.

EA, as well as revealing that the new FIFA 14 release will have “interception intelligence” to improve gameplay mechanics, also announced in a first for the soccer franchise that there would be female teams.

To many this is a welcome change, showing that the industry is moving in right direction and opening gameplay out to become more inclusive.

So who won?

There are a ton of articles as to who “won”  E3 and it is reckoned to be one of the strongest E3s in quite a bit. In my view, it is ultimately the gamers who won, after all we all want to engage and excite them.  A great tool we use for some of our clients is Brandwatch, and here is its analysis looking at social to find E3’s winner.

Emma Seddon
Emma Seddon
Categories: Events, Gaming, Knowledge

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