Posted by Jeevan Jayaprakash

In this issue, we look at why the 4th of October could be a pivotal moment for Google, Deloitte’s recently released UK Mobile Consumer Survey and a Japanese startup who are leading the way in VR eye-tracking.

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Hi Mum! Said Dad

Why 4th October could be historic for Google

Google have dished out the press invites en masse and undertaken a rather uncharacteristic marketing offensive. Speculation in the tech world is at a fever pitch — the 4th of October can’t come quick enough.

The Mountain View giant is expected to launch a whole host of products including (but possibly not limited to): 2 smartphones (the Pixel and Pixel XL — yes, the Nexus moniker seems to have been abandoned as Google positions itself to take on the iPhone and Galaxy Edge/Note head to head), a 4K streaming Chromecast, a router, a VR headset and Google Home (its response to the Amazon Echo).

However, Hiroshi Lockheimer, SVP of Android, Chrome OS and Play tweeted the following: “We announced the 1st version of Android 8 years ago today. I have a feeling 8 years from now we’ll be talking about Oct 4, 2016” suggesting that Google might unveil (or at least hint at) something huge on 4th October. Most people are eagerly anticipating that this will Andromeda, Google’s attempt to blend Chrome OS into Android.

This could be a really big deal. JR Raphael, a veteran Android journalist from Computerworld, has concocted his own extremely compelling theory as to what this could mean. Long story short, he anticipates that Google is looking to give users the ability to seamlessly move between a touch-centric Android view and a desktop mode for heavier, laptop-like use (Android apps already work in Chrome OS thanks to a recent update from Google). Google wants to tighten its grip on people who are already heavily invested in its suite of online services such as Gmail and Drive as well as its physical products.

This is very interesting indeed and if it does become a reality, designing products that can transition and adapt fluidly between mobile and desktop instantaneously may potentially become a new challenge.

All should become clearer next Tuesday.

Google placed a mysterious state overnight in Brooklyn. Image source: Android Authority

Deloitte: UK ‘has never been more addicted to smartphones’

Deloitte recently released their UK Mobile Consumer Survey for 2016 in which they claim that smartphone penetration is approaching its peak.

Other notable findings were the rise of the smartphone fingerprint reader with UK smartphone users forecasted to use their fingerprint readers over 100 billion times in the next year to unlock their phones and authorise transactions. It is also expected that an increasing number of apps and websites will begin to utilise fingerprint reader access (Apple Pay and Android Pay’s arrival on mobile web will only accelerate this).

Furthermore, IoT devices such as fitness bands and smart watches have doubled in adoption over the past year but despite this, penetration is still yet to reach double figures. Deloitte argue that the main reason why people have been resistant to IoT devices are need, cost and ease of use. IoT devices are yet to prove themselves to align with typical consumer behaviour.

Last but not least is the increasing adoption of 4G among UK adults. Increasing mobile speeds tend to reveal latent needs such as live broadcasting and video streaming. It is only naturally to expect that as speeds tend towards a gigabit, we may see new unanticipated needs and desires from consumers.

Half of 18–24 year olds admitted to checking their phones in the middle of the night. Image source: Era Home Design

The next frontier for VR: tracking eye movements?

Yuki Kojima is the 29 year old founder and CEO (and former games producer at Sony) of Fove Inc, a Japanese startup looking to introduce eye tracking into VR headsets.

It is Kojima’s belief that VR will not be able to achieve mainstream success until eye tracking functionality is incorporated into headsets. Some of the benefits of eye tracking include the ability to reduce motion sickness, improve graphics performance and arguably most important of all, make VR a social experience by making virtual eye contact possible. Eyes also express intent and emotion and therefore tracking provides scope for creating a deeper, more intelligent experience with an environment that feels more reactive.

One of the other problems that VR faces is the fact that users are free to look where they please. This obviously means that a user’s attention may not be focused on where the storyteller intended. Eye-tracking technology will allow storytellers to devise techniques to shepherd users towards where their attention ought to be.

Fove’s current focus is on collecting and analysing data in order to improve their tracking algorithms and the best way to do this is by getting the headset out into the developer community. Fove’s headset will be available to pre-order on November 2nd and is expected to cost circa $600.

Fove Inc.

Fove’s VR gaming demos take the notion of a death stare to a whole new level. Image source: Fove

Originally written as part of Hi Mum! Said Dad’s Weekly Digest.

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