Wearable Tech Category

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#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).


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.


It’s official, Dynamo is a great place to work

We’ve done well over the years with award-winning campaigns and team recognition here at Dynamo. But winning PRWeek’s accolade of being the best PR company to work for is a very special award, as it recognises the efforts that we’ve made to shape the company as we’ve grown up.

Whilst Dynamo is nearly four years old, it still feels like yesterday that we set the consultancy up – working in a hot desking environment and discussing what sort of company we wanted to build.

One thing for us was clear from the start. Bringing in great people would turn into amazing campaigns for clients, take Dynamo in exciting new directions and, most importantly, make the many hours we spend at work really fun. However we’d seen at many agencies that keeping great people can be incredibly difficult, and often can work out very expensive for the resource and time you spend replacing them if they leave. So one of our goals from the start has been not only to attract the right staff, but to build an agency where people can grow, develop, and stay.

Back in the early days, it was just the two founders setting direction and culture, but now with more than 20 staff we involve everyone in shaping the business and culture at Dynamo.

We had a weekend away in Copenhagen late last year, during which some staff came up with an analysis which said we should launch a new team. So we did, and have attracted great new clients as a result.

One of our staff joined us as she said we were very ‘Silicon Valley’, negotiating chocolate into her contract, which has evolved to us providing personalised contracts, something even Forbes has written about.

Another of our staff jokingly suggested we should follow Netflix’s policy of unlimited holidays. We looked at it, it made sense, we implemented it a few weeks later, and its working to benefit both staff and Dynamo for over 2 years.

Put all these together with schemes that balance incentives for doing your work well, and bonuses for going above and beyond, and you’ll begin to get an idea of the culture within Dynamo. And we firmly believe that you can have both a great culture, and be a profitable business.

So where does this leave us now? We’re twenty-odd staff strong, and in the past year have won awards for being the best small agency, and the best small agency to work for. How can we make our culture even more exciting? That is the question we’ll be posing staff and new hires in the coming weeks.

P.S. You can read our awesome full profile over at PRWeek here (subscription)


Five things we learned from the Consumer Electronics Show 2015

ChapStick: check. Cold and flu tablets: check. A comfy pair of shoes: check.

As a CES virgin, I did my research before flying out to Sin City and arrived prepared.

But Las Vegas’ Consumer Electronics Show (CES to you and I) only becomes real once you’ve queued for 20 minutes and your press pass is around your neck.

So, this is what I learned from this year’s show: 

  1. Drones are taking over the world

For the very first year, CES had a dedicated area for ‘Unmanned Systems’, featuring drones in every shape and size; remote-controlled, autonomous, selfie-taking – you name it, there was a drone for it. I was fortunate enough to visit the Nevada desert with our client Hexo+, the world’s first self-flying camera, which was competing with AirDog, both autonomous drones, controlled via a smartphone and Bluetooth GPS, making drone filming and flying accessible for everyone.

  1. Kickstarter projects are on the rise

From crowdfunded drones, to smart inner-soles, to electric skateboards, there was a noticeable number of Kickstarter and Indiegogo stickers on company booths this year, promoting how they had launched their products, or if in prototype stage were planning to launch them. Indiegogo even manned its own stand this year, showcasing successful projects.

  1. Car tech is accelerating

Traditionally the biggest stands at CES are the largest tech companies but you certainly couldn’t miss seeing something automotive technology-related at this year’s show. BMW’s i3 electric cars displayed how they can find a parking space by themselves, while Audi’s autonomous A7 roamed the streets, and Ford announced a number of smartcar initiatives.

  1. Sony is in action mode

Is Apple planning a wearable camera? Who knows, but Sony could be one step ahead with its 4K handheld action cam offering. Sony had a big celebrity win through legendary skateboarder Tony Hawk unveiling its slick-looking water/shock/freeze-proof GoPro rival, which got the media seriously talking.

  1. Wearable tech is becoming more fashionable

Designs of many smartwatches have remained the same, however the Withings Activité Pop caught my eye, and was descried by TechCrunch as “one of the best-designed activity trackers to ever come to market”. Jaybird’s Reign is also very slick, but if you are more concerned about your pet’s health then perhaps you should invest in a FitBark, which tracks your dog’s fitness. Woof woof.

Despite some disappointment over no major announcements from the likes of Samsung, the forward-thinking innovation revealed by new start-ups on the scene and the large car manufacturers made CES 2015 a worthwhile visit, and the ultimate tech-filled start to 2015.


Dynamo launches Wearable Tech and Smart Home PR division

We’ve today announced the launch of a new team focusing on wearable tech and smart home technology, after signing NYC based Bluesmart, the world’s first smart, connected suitcase.

The new Wearable Tech and Smart Home team will focus on the latest connected consumer technology products and launches from around the world. The team have also already signed a number of new companies to further expand the division which already includes Digitsole, the first interactive insole that combines the functions of a smart watch with heating capabilities and Atlanta based LightFreq, the multi-functioning light bulb with a built in audio speaker.

Heading up the team, Ellen Powell-Chandler explains: “Our homes and lives are becoming more connected. Different industries, whether it is technology, design or fashion, are battling to help us live and work smarter. Consumers are increasingly wearing fitness trackers and expecting their smartphone to be able to control their home. As the industry heats up, companies need to have a trusted team that know the space inside out and understand how these products and services are transforming lives.”

The wearable technology industry is growing quickly with figures indicating that one in ten consumers want a wearable tech device and volumes shipped reaching close to half a billion by 2018. The Smart Home sector is flourishing as it is predicted to grow to $7.8 billion in the US alone by 2019.

Paul Lamkin, editor and founder of Wareable.com welcomed the new team: “Dynamo are on the ball when it comes to predicting future areas of consumer tech growth. Wearable tech will increasingly need top PR experts to talk to titles like ours, so it’ll be a specialist team to watch.”

The team have helped Bluesmart raise over $1,000,000 on crowd-funding site Indiegogo – making it one of the top 25 most funded campaigns on the platform since launch.

Alejo Verlini, co-founder of Bluesmart in New York, said “The Dynamo team have a great reputation for launching smart technology and driving targeted sales around the world. It’s clear that everything from our luggage to our pets will be connected by our phones or our watches, so we’re excited to work with an awesome team that understands the future and what people are experiencing in this new era.”


Teaching Apprentices about wearable tech

On this week’s Apprentice, we saw the teams trying to tackle the wearable tech market.

We first saw wearable tech in the 1980s with the calculator watch, and now the industry is flourishing, as fashion and technology companies are vying to take over our wrists, eyes, clothing and even our feet.

Watching the candidates struggling to come up with successful, credible products showed just how complex the wearable tech market is, and not an industry one should enter into without thorough research and understanding (i.e. more than attending a conference where it was mentioned, sorry Scott)!

Some of the problems the contestants faced clearly included design, privacy and knowing your audience. The blazer and jumper they came up with were, put bluntly, ugly.

One of the key challenges for companies is to find a way to include technology in a discreet way, so it doesn’t feel like you’re wearing a computer. The smartwatch battlefield is extremely competitive at the moment, and one of the biggest key differentiators is design. People want a stylish looking device that could genuinely replace their watch.

Some companies such as Motorola and LG are certainly a lot closer than others, though no one company has quite cracked the design of the smartwatch for women, so it’s an open field for new entrants.

The boys’ jumper raised the issue of privacy, which is usually one of the first concerns we hear about in the wearable tech industry. Wearable tech is still in its infancy, and as with any sort of technology there is going to be advantages and disadvantages. Only time will tell if the convenience and benefits of wearables will override worries of privacy and security.

The girls’ blazer was the perfect example of less is more (and that a blazer should never light up!) You need to know who you’re going after to make sure that all the features are necessary to your audience. You’re not going to buy something for the sake of it, but you will buy a product that will solve your problems. If the girls had stuck with a phone charger in the pocket, a feature consumers would actually find useful, I have no doubt it would have faired a lot better.

So, what have we learnt? If you’re planning to join the wearable tech space:

• Do your research
• Know your audience
• Have a clear focus for the product
• Be confident so you can pitch it
• Don’t bung fairy lights in cloth and hope for the best…seriously, don’t.

Ellen Powell-Chandler
Ellen Powell-Chandler

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