Posted by Jeevan Jayaprakash

In this issue, we look at the exciting virtual reality developments coming out of Sky, Google’s next two big plays as well as a critique of the brainstorming process that has become an institution at companies, big and small.
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Hi Mum! Said Dad

Sky VR app to debut this summer

Sky has confirmed that it will be launching VR content through a dedicated app and it is expected to cover its vast portfolio of content ranging from arts and films to sport. Sky have historically been the first-movers or at least one of the few industry leaders in a lot of areas including HD, 3D and more recently 4K. They have now set their sights on VR.

3D was clearly a failed experiment but VR seems to have a different feel about it given the early traction with entry-level Google Cardboard viewers. US broadcaster NBC has already committed to streaming certain events from the Rio Olympics in VR this summer, including the opening and closing ceremonies, basketball and beach volleyball (not live but with a 1 day lag). Unfortunately, the Rio Olympics seem to have come too soon for the BBC who aren’t quite ready to stream VR just yet and so UK viewers will have to sit tight for a while longer. This is not to say that the BBC aren’t thinking about VR though.

Sky will be using the Jaunt VR 360-degree camera to produce its VR content. Image credit: Techradar

Google’s Play Store update hints at VR and app streaming

Google impressed the audience at its recently held annual developer conference, Google I/O 2016, with a demonstration of a new functionality called ‘Instant Apps’. This functionality allows Android users to stream a certain part of an app without having to download and install the whole app. This is particularly useful for those apps you only ever use once — e.g. paying for parking at a conference venue. It can also be useful for m-commerce as Google have confirmed that Instant Apps will integrate with Android Pay allowing for users to checkout with their fingerprint. It is also great for incentivising users to download your app by showing them how useful the app can be through a short interaction.

However, Google did not set a date on when we could expect this feature but in an exciting development two days ago, eagle-eyed Android enthusiasts spotted references to Instant Apps in the source code of the latest version of Google’s Play Store. They also spotted references to the purchasing of VR apps and games, which coincides nicely with the imminent launch of Android 7.0 Nougat and Daydream VR (Google’s dedicated VR platform that will be supported by all flagship Android smartphones launching henceforth). Yep, you just can’t get away from VR at the moment!

So, Instant Apps and Google backed mobile VR before the year is out. Watch this space.

Examples of 3 unique use cases for Google’s Instant Apps: m-commerce, video content and payments. Image credit: Tech Insider

Time to dump brainstorming once and for all?

Here at Hi Mum! Said Dad, we are constantly defining and redefining the way we approach problem solving. During recent projects, we have been experimenting with our approach to ideation, with a greater weight on focused individual work to complement group sessions. We have seen some encouraging results with positive endorsements of our new approach from our strategists, technologists and designers. It turns out that our hunch that group brainstorming alone isn’t very effective seems to have been vindicated by recent academic research.

Paul Paulus, a Psychology professor at the University of Texas has apparently found the most effective way to generate ideas which he refers to as ‘brainwriting’. Professor Paulus says the optimal way to generate better ideas is for people to convene as a group, write their ideas on a piece of paper and pass it around for others to read whilst continuing to write down further ideas. This allows people to come up with their own ideas and also to build on others’ ideas without all the faff that comes with egos and defending one’s idea. This group session should then be followed up immediately with individual sessions as this is where the magic supposedly happens. This approach was tested with the employees at a tech company that is rated among the top 20 businesses in the world, where it proved to be very effective.

According to Professor Paulus, “We’ve found that what happens is once you’ve been in a group for a while, interacting and sharing ideas, and then you’re alone, there’s a big jump in your creativity. That’s often when the greatest ideas come”. He also says that solitary reflection time should happen quickly after the group session: “If you take too much time, you tend to lose all that stimulation — all that brain activity dissipates”.

“Alone, you never get other people’s ideas. And if you’re in a group all the time, you may spend more time thinking about other people’s ideas than your own. So you get the best of both worlds if you combine the two.”

Image credit: Fastcodesign

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

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