Mobile World Congress 2016: Virtual Reality Becomes A Step Closer To Reality

What Happened
On the first day of the 2016 Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, several brands eagerly shared news about their latest development in virtual reality.

The HTC Vive, which made its big debut at MWC last year, returns with an official $799 price tag,a preorder date of February 29th, and an early April ship date. HTC also announced that its Vive headset will integrate some phone functions on both iOS and Android to allow users to answer calls, check text messages, and view calendar reminders without removing the headset. Similarly, LG is also making its entry into the burgeoning VR market with a pair of new products: the lightweight and compact LG 360 VR headset and the LG 360 CAM for capturing spherical photos and video. LG partnered with Google for easy sharing of videos to YouTube 360 and photos can even be uploaded right to Google Street View.

Samsung also returned to Barcelona with an aggressive push for its Gear VR headsets. The company made the consumer version of Gear VR available for $99.99 in November last year, and now it is giving out the VR headset for free with the purchase of its new Galaxy 7 phone for a limited time period. Samsung also brought in Mark Zuckerberg for its press event to talk up Facebook’s partnership with Samsung to support 360-degree videos on Facebook and working to make the VR experience more social. Moreover, Samsung also unveiled the Gear 360 camera that is just smaller than a baseball and aims to make shooting and sharing 360-degree photos and videos easier.

What Brands Need To Do
In line with what we saw at CES earlier this year, the news from MWC shows that virtual reality is quickly gaining momentum as a nascent medium, as more and more companies start developing affordable, consumer-facing VR headsets, as well as the tools for capturing, creating, and sharing 360-degree content. While virtual reality technologies may still be a few years away from mass adoption, as we predicted in the 2020 section in our Outlook 2016, companies like Samsung and Facebook are laying the groundwork for that to happen. For brands, this means that it is time to start exploring what VR technologies have to offer and consider developing branded VR content to excite and engage consumers with immersive experiences.


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CES 2015: LG Debuts Functional Open webOS-based Smartwatch

Read original story on: The Verge

LG has unveiled a sleekly designed, fully functional smartwatch, powered by the open source webOS. It features a smooth and innovative circular interface that is unlike anything you have seen on smartwatches before. Plus, it also comes with integration with Audi’s new connected cars. Sources report that LG plans to launch this unique smartwatch by early 2016.

LG Appliances Integrate With Messaging App LINE

Yes, you heard it right. LG will be debuting LINE chat capabilities integrated into their smart appliances, so you can chat with your dishwasher or fridge. The partnership works to let users command their appliances within the popular messaging app, thereby embedding the internet of things into their daily routine. I chat with my friends letting them know I’ll be out of town in one thread and tell my washing machine that it should go into energy saving mode. It works a bit like Siri for text, interpreting commands using natural language processing.

The decision for LG to work with Line opposed to only a proprietary app, for instance, is an interesting one. Instead of creating new systems, LG is bringing itself into the products and service you already use, making them more natural and seamless. 

Leaked: LG’s webOS TV

With days before the kickoff of CES, an image of LG’s new Smart TV interface has been leaked. It appears that LG will be using webOS, which it acquired from HP opposed to the current Google TV OS. It is not identical to webOS on smartphones, but does include a thumbnail overview of any apps that are running. While the future of the living room remains up in the air – will it be Smart TVs or set top boxes or workarounds like Chromecast – the need for an intuitive interface that lends itself to lean-back viewing is paramount.

LG’s “Tap-To-Print” Photo Printer

You may be familiar with NFC technology powering mobile payments from Google Wallet to ISIS, or perhaps some marketing uses that are similar to QR, but the use cases for the tech spans far beyond these two instances. At this year’s CES we saw NFC used primarily for device pairing, like connecting your mobile with a smart fridge or speaker system. But LG takes that concept to a whole new level with their “Pocket Photo Printer” which will print photos from your camera simply by tapping it against the printer. The printing happens nearly instantaneously, speaking to fast data transaction through the tags. This could be pretty fun theater at events and is a great example of using NFC to trigger real world events. 

Deezer Music App Comes To Smart TVs

Digital music service, Deezer has inked a deal with Samsung, LG, and Toshiba to incorporate their streaming app into their Smart TVs. While these ecosystems are more or less walled gardens, it’s good to see some new entrants to the space. The majority of Smart TV owners are accessing Over the Top services but few are exploring non-video apps like Facebook so expect Deezer’s supposed 600 million reach to be drastically smaller. However, if the TV does becomes the hub for all media in the future, then that number may actually be attainable.

Layers of influence reign at CES

Layers of Influence at CES 2010 (Lori Schwartz)Imagine a world where any screen you come into contact with has the capability to play multiple streams of content that are contextually relevant to you, to your gender, location and purchase habits.  Imagine that this content could take the form of video with additional layers of text, graphics or audio.  Then picture a powerful 4G network, with 80 megabits of data being delivered with HD quality video and 3D enhancements. Data would be fed back and forth to respond to interactions and navigation would be more primal, responding to touch and movement. Marketers would have a field day with targeting content based on demographics right down to the individual.  And imagine if the foundation of this world was presented to you at a yearly consumer electronics trade show…

While there were no earth shattering products or mind-blowing reveals at this year’s CES, the world I described above has been set in motion. Never before have so many consumer electronic companies all committed to embracing the same technology trends in such a way that the dividing line between competitive offerings is hard to see. All this sets the stage for what I’d like to call “layers of influence.”  Continue reading “Layers of influence reign at CES”