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Is the ‘Internet of Things’ becoming a reality?

19 Jun, 14 | by Claire Bower, Digital Comms Manager, @clairebower

You might not be aware but we are currently approaching the end of Internet of Things Week 2014. For those who aren’t familiar with the concept, the Internet of Things (or IoT, or M2M, or machine to machine) refers to an expanding network of interconnected internet-enabled devices.

It’s currently a very hot topic over in Silicon Valley, where they describe it as “a global, immersive, invisible, ambient networked computing environment built through the continued proliferation of smart sensors, cameras, software, databases and massive data centres in a world-spanning information fabric”.

So what does that actually mean and what is being done to realise this vision?

Translated into layman’s terms, IoT is billions of gadgets, each one of them connected to the internet and communicating with one another without much in the way of human intervention. John Naughton sums it up nicely: “So your fridge can talk to your smartphone to tell it that you’re running out of milk, while your bathroom scales messages your GP’s computer to let it know that you’re not sticking to your diet plan, and the webcam in your living room sends you a text to tell you that the cat has been sick on the sofa, and cool stuff like that”.

Technology giants are already on the case, viewing IoT as a logical progression from the personal computer and smartphone races of previous years. At its Worldwide Developers conference (WWDC) , Apple introduced Homekit, an Internet of Things platform that will bring together various third-party home automation accessories, enabling users to unlock doors or turn on lights via an iPhone.

Google, too, demonstrated its enthusiasm by paying £1.9bn earlier this year to buy Nest Labs, a home automation company co-founded by the creator of the iPod. Already recognised for its connected thermostats and smoke detectors, the company is currently exploring a range of other applications related to the home – everything from health tracking to security systems.

Household brands EE, John Lewis and Unilever have pledged their support this week for a £1m Launchpad competition which will provide support for early and growth stage businesses working in the Internet of Things space.

Launched Monday at London Technology Week, the competition is the result of a collaboration between Tech City UK, the Technology Strategy Board and Cambridge Wireless and will provide business and marketing support, mentorship, routes to market and grant funding to successful applicants who are developing ideas, prototypes, or have an existing business, and want to accelerate their development.

They are looking for projects that:

  • may be too risky for companies to take forward without support
  • may take companies into new innovative areas
  • the majority of activities are carried out in Cambridge and/or London.

More information on applying is available here.

Beyond gaming: virtual reality in healthcare

27 Mar, 14 | by Claire Bower, Digital Comms Manager, @clairebower

Following the high profile purchase of WhatsappFacebook has made yet another acquisition. The company behind the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset, which found success on Kickstarter (and has since been the darling of the indie tech scene) was bought for $2bn this week.

Although gaming is a cornerstone of Facebook’s business, Mark Zuckerburg’s statement shows that he has further reaching ambitions for virtual reality (VR):

“Imagine enjoying a court side seat at a game, studying in a classroom of students and teachers all over the world or consulting with a doctor face-to-face — just by putting on goggles in your home.…This is really a new communication platform.”

In fact, healthcare is already a big adopter of virtual reality, with applications already in surgery simulation, phobia treatment, robotic surgery and skills training. 

Soldiers trying out Virtual Iraq


iBeacons: a step forward in location based marketing?

21 Mar, 14 | by Claire Bower, Digital Comms Manager, @clairebower

Brands including WHSmith, Macy’s and Eat are using a new technology to deliver targeted messages to their customers’ mobile phones. ‘iBeacons‘ allow retailers to send discounts and offers straight to users who are in a specific location, without the need to open an app, scan a code or browse a website.


iBeacons use a Bluetooth connection to send data to mobile devices from stationary beacons. They use Bluetooth 4.0; a new format of Bluetooth that is built into many modern smartphones. The easiest way to understand how they work is to imagine them in terms of a traditional beacon: an object that sends a signal to communicate its location to those around it. As such, iBeacons only transmit small amounts of information from distances of between two inches to 50 metres.


Smart contact lens for diabetics? What’s next for digital healthcare

22 Jan, 14 | by Claire Bower, Digital Comms Manager, @clairebower

Diabetics could soon avoid pinprick blood tests using a smart contact lens that measures glucose in tears. A prototype shown off by Google (with a little help from Microsoft) uses an embedded miniaturised glucose sensor and wireless chip to measure glucose levels as often as once every second.

“We’re also investigating the potential for this to serve as an early warning for the wearer, so we’re exploring integrating tiny LED lights that could light up to indicate that glucose levels have crossed above or below certain thresholds.”


Technology predictions for 2014: wearables, branded content and smartphones everywhere

6 Jan, 14 | by Claire Bower, Digital Comms Manager, @clairebower

Predicting the future, especially in the dynamic world of Technology, is a risky business. However, it’s that time of year when the great and good cast caution to the wind and suggest key areas to watch in 2014. Here’s a round-up of the main themes to look out for.


This is the big one. A survey for software firm Citrix showed that 91% of Americans are excited about gadgets you can wear – be they glasses, wristbands or clothing. 2014 promises smart-watch launches from Google and Apple, as well as a host of other tech accessories.


Going native: the right way forward for advertisers?

5 Nov, 13 | by Deji Sodipe, Digital Intern

Earlier this year we introduced the concept of native advertising, which in the context of the advertising world, is still a relatively new concept. In the space of a few years it has developed from a burgeoning and beneficial idea to what many believe will be the advertiser’s tool of the future. Initially picked up and tested by leading digital platforms, such as Google and Youtube, native ads are now a totally integrated part of online browsing.

Social networks in particular have assimilated native ads more than any other platforms, specifically with Facebook’s suggested posts and Twitter’s promoted tweets and users:




Reaching digital natives with native advertising

12 Apr, 13 | by Claire Bower, Digital Comms Manager, @clairebower

In last week’s blog I looked at the innovative ways that publisher’s are monetising their products in the face of a shifting digital landscape. One of the most ground-breaking moves has come from Forbes Media, who opened up their content creation platform, not only to external authors but also to marketers and brands.

This idea of interweaving promotional content with both editorial and user-generated content (UGC) is central to a much larger concept gaining traction in the online advertising community; native advertising.

But what is it? One of the biggest advocates of native advertising is Dan Greenberg, CEO of Sharethrough (the agency that runs Forbes Media’s ‘Sponsored Stories’). When asked for a definition, Greenberg offers the following:

It refers to digital ad formats that integrate more seamlessly (yet transparently) into website aesthetics, user experiences and/or editorial in ways that offer more value to both advertisers and readers. Put simply, native ads follow the format, style and voice of whatever platform they appear on.

For a more in depth discussion of Forbes’ collaboration with Sharethrough, take a look at the video below:


“He who refuses to learn deserves extinction” – Guardian Changing Media Summit 2013

5 Apr, 13 | by Claire Bower, Digital Comms Manager, @clairebower

There were a number of key themes at this year’s Guardian Changing Media Summit — an annual conference which brings together a mixture of CEO and director level executives responsible for commercial, creative and digital strategies.

Most significantly, it was clear that publishers are beginning to see more opportunities than threats from digital technologies and much time was spent discussing the innovative monetisation of digital products.

Death of Journalism


The Future of Digital (according to Google)

1 Mar, 13 | by Claire Bower, Digital Comms Manager, @clairebower

Richard Robinson, Director at Google, kicked off this year’s Technology for Marketing and Advertising event with a keynote presentation on the ‘Future of Digital’.

Project Glass

He reeled off some impressive statistics relating to three main areas of development:


  • There are currently 2.4 billion users of the Internet worldwide. This figure was 1.8 billion 18 months ago and is expected to reach 5 billion by the end of the decade. He described this growth as the ‘democratisation of technology’. more…

Apple’s iWatch: Technology you can wear

15 Feb, 13 | by BMJ Group

The humble wristwatch, an invention of the early 20th century, looked set to be consigned to history as consumers dumped single function devices and switched to smartphones and tablets which tell the time alongside dozens of other applications.

But Apple is rumoured to have 100 engineers working on a curved glass wristwatch computer, heralding a new era of wearable technology  and arguably the most significant development since the digital watch first appeared in 1970.

Technology blogger Jason Perlow predicted that Apple’s “iWatch” would not be an autonomous computer but a “remote display and interaction unit for applications running on a smartphone.” In practice this could remove the need to dig deep into pockets and bags each time you are called, texted, or emailed.


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