Category: Technology

Capturing Minds: Augmented Reality & Cognitive Performance

 

As we have covered in our recent blog posts, the adoption of Augmented Reality is far ahead of schedule compared to expert predictions. With more AR experiences flooding the marketplace, the competition for valuable real estate in a customer’s mind will reach an all time high. The highly interactive nature inherent to AR experiences will present a unique opportunity to create lasting imprints in the minds of your customers. In other words, you can create memories designed specifically for your target market. To understand how to best capitalize on this innovative emerging technology, one must first come to understand how AR influences cognitive performance. 

 

Duration, Path, Outcome

Our brain is divided into two distinct sectors: conscious and unconscious. The conscious side is continuously processing information, looking at possible outcomes, developing predictions, and assessing the world around us. The information it perceives as “non-prioritized” is sent to the unconscious sector.

This process of Duration, Path, Outcome is constant now more so than ever via the seemingly endless scrolling through social media feeds. Our brain is actively passing actions to automation mode while searching for a dopamine fix. 

This brain process is simply broken down to Signals vs Noise. 

Memory Creation & Plasticity

Emerging Technology allows for a further push on brain plasticity, or the ability for the brain to be shaped and molded. When looking at AR, VR, Spatial Computing, or any form of interaction with technology, there are significant signs that the brain is stretched and able to rewrite former engrained paths and their outcomes.

The goal of every experience should be the creation of new memories. Using this as our foundation and core Key Performance Indicator (KPI) creates the desired interaction between technology and the user. If our desired effect is to create a memorable moment, the brain is at the focal point of our interactions. Immersive and impactful experiences will be tied directly to the Signals, rather than more Noise. 

Tying It All Together

Creating Signals is the key to obtaining valuable brain real estate.  While creating more Noise will further distance a company from its desired outcome. 

But, we have always done it this way…

Consumers are currently on Noise overload. They are being bombarded from all angles, whether it be from mobile apps, social media, or eCommerce websites. Experiences are all the same and what was once amazing is now normal. Everything is blending together.

Creating experiences that push past the brain’s dismissive functions is the core of our team’s purpose. Creating memories will be realized through the use of  Emerging Tech. At PeakActivity, we help you build Signals that will allow you to own the most valuable real estate in the world: inside a consumer’s mind.  

Want to learn more about the implementation of Augmented Reality and how it can help your business?

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Augmented Reality: Why it Means Things Are Changing

As the third quarter came to a close, SnapChat (Snap Inc). released a report detailing the quicker than expected adoption of Augmented Reality (AR) experiences. With such massive growth in this space, continued heavy investment in AR is inevitable. This report underscores the fact that Augmented Reality and Emerging Technology are here to stay and it will have an enormous impact on businesses that are quick to adopt and implement this game-changing technology. Augmented Reality is no longer simply a tool to fix a flower crown or dog ears on the user. Its potential impact on education, experiential marketing, retail, and data visualization cannot be understated. 

 

Education & Training

“There is significant evidence that indicates that the grades obtained in the learning unit that was taught using AR are better than the grades obtained in the unit that was taught using traditional methods four weeks after the initial assessment” – The Turkish Online Journal of Educational Technology 

What is the benefit of faster, longer-lasting, and more intuitive training to your business? Augmented Reality allows end-users to understand complex data and training modules with a longer rate of retention of knowledge. This understanding of a product or process will ensure a longer stickiness in your end-users mind driving a higher cognitive recall. 

Marketing & Experiential

“Traditional electronic commerce (e-commerce) is limited because it cannot provide enough direct information about products…The technology presented in this paper shows how Augmented Reality (AR) can be used to help overcome the limitations and enhance e-commerce systems.” – International Conference on Human-Computer Interaction

Creating Signals above the Noise for customers is more important now than ever. With the average American adult spending 3 hours, 43 minutes on a smartphone device per day we are more apt to disregard traditional marketing efforts within social media, websites, and installed apps. Creating Interactivity within AR experiences delivers a more immersive experience which will drive up a higher usage and retention of information. Spikes in browsing interactivity must be triggered by “new” experiences that a user has not come across yet. 

Retail & Conversions

“AR-based product presentations generally provide effective communication benefits compared to web-based product presentations and the positive relationship between interactivity/vividness and usefulness/enjoyment is mediated by a sense of immersion.”  – Journal of Interactive Marketing

Augmented Reality experiences are currently impacting customers’ shopping habits that drive higher engagement and conversion. Options such as “see before you buy” allows customers to place any product where they want and interact. In a similar vein, AR features allow consumers to “try on” clothes before buying them without the hassle of actually putting them on. 

Data & Visualization

“The main benefit from the implementation of the MR approach is human experience improvement…visualization allows convenient access to huge amounts of data and provides a view from different angles…Furthermore, it ensures actionable insights that improve decision making.” – Journal of Big Data

Creating interactive data and seamless interactions within digital objects allow users to understand and grasp complex findings unseen in the 2D world. Placing the most essential data in the central area of the human visual field in Mixed Reality would allow one to obtain the presented information in a short period of time without significant data losses. Improving visualizations by using cognitive psychological principles and by implementing the most natural interaction with visualized virtual objects is destined to yield the best results. 

Augmented Reality is changing the landscape of customer engagement. Its adoption is far more rapid than experts had previously predicted. Its ability to create effective and meaningful experiences for your target audience is undeniable. Augmented Reality is here and it is not going anywhere anytime soon. 

Want to learn more about the implementation of Augmented Reality and how it can help your business?

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Emerging Tech: Terminology & Acronym Guide

It can be a daunting task to keep up with the ever-growing list of acronyms and trending buzz words in the technology space. With the more rapid and widespread adoption of spatial computing and mixed reality technologies, we thought it would be helpful to dive into what they mean and how they differ from each other. 

 

Types of Experiences

AR – Augmented Reality – Digital objects within your real-world setting  

XR – Extended Reality – Less often used term for AR 

VR – Virtual Reality – Fully Immersive experience where you see none of the real-world 

MR – Mixed Reality – The encompassing spectrum related to AR/VR/XR

Marker Based – Within the real-world a QR code or some other real-world marker, or point of reference, is needed 

Non Marker-Based – No real-world marker is needed 

Windowed AR – Using AR via a Smart Device 

Immersive AR – Using AR via a Headset / Wearable 

Room Scale – An experience the size of the room 

Table Top – An Experience that is the size of a…table top 

 

Global Terms

Spatial Computing – An umbrella term for the more immersive kind of digital experiences within the digital world, it is the engine that drives the core of the experiences, input and output of data from both the processing unit to the users’ vision

API – Application Programming Interface, is a computing interface that encompasses interactions between various software intermediaries.

CDN – Content Delivery Network

Wearable – Something that a user will wear

Tethered – A device that needs to be connected to another unit and or power source.

FOV – Field of View, how much a user can see

Hologram – Interactive 3D object that appears in front of the user

Light Field – The ability to capture the depth of a space

Spatial Mesh – The visual representation output of a light field that can be seen by the user/computer system

Digital Twin – Creating a 3D Model replica of a space or object

SDK – Software Development Kit

Eye Tracking – Tracking of eye movement on a headset

Hand Tracking – Tracking of the hands via a headset

Controller – Device held to interact with objects

TPU – Tensor Processing Unit – Processing AI-based information such as photos or video

A.I. – Artificial Intelligence

Machine Learning – Teaching a computer to learn a task

Visual Search – Uploading photos and finding similar photos

Voice SEO – Conversation Based experience that provides value to business/user

 

Coding Languages

WebXR – an API that allows developers to create XR experiences; 

React360 – a coding framework for the creation of interactive 360 experiences that run in your web browser 

WebGL – is a JavaScript API for rendering interactive 2D and 3D graphics 

Unity3D – Unity is a cross-platform game engine used to create AR Experiences

 

3D Object / Viewers

OBJ – 3D File Format 

GlTF – 3D File Format 

USDZ – 3D File Format 

STL – 3D File Format 

Model Viewer – Google’s 3D viewer for Web pages 

Unity to WebGL – The process to move unity experiences to Web Pages 

 

Cloud Storage Options

AWS S3 – Amazon Storage 

GCP Cloud Bucket – Google Storage 

Azure Blob Storage – Microsoft Storage 

DigitalOcean Spaces – 3D Party Storage 

 

AR Content Delivery Networks

○ AWS Cloudfront – Amazon

○ GCP Cloud CDN – Google

Azure CDN – Microsoft 

 DigitalOcean CDN – 3D Party 

 

Hardware

Magic Leap 1 – Augmented Reality Headset from Magic Leap 

Holo Lens – Augmented Reality Headset from Microsoft 

Oculus Rift – Virtual Reality Headset from Oculus/Facebook 

Oculus Quest – Virtual Reality Headset from Oculus/Facebook 

Oculus Go – Virtual Reality Headset from Oculus/Facebook 

HTC Vive – Virtual Reality Headset from HTC 

 

Want to learn more about the terminology discussed in this blog and how it can help your business?

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Blurred Realities: Understanding Spatial Computing and the Mixed Reality Spectrum

Spatial Computing is an umbrella term for the more immersive kind of digital experiences within the digital world. Spatial Computing uses input from both the user and the environment that they are in. In order to do this, more intuitive interaction tools are required, especially in comparison to more traditional tools like a keyboard and mouse. This includes processing natural human responses, such as speech, head motion, body movement, and eye-tracking. The data from these responses is used to create 3D-like environments that are overlaid onto the real world. These overlays are more commonly referred to as Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR), and Mixed Reality (MR). 

Virtual Reality

Virtual Reality is exactly that – virtual. By wearing a VR headset, you are immersed in an entirely digital world, completely separate from the physical environment that you are currently in. 

Augmented Reality

Augmented Reality merely supplements the real world that you’re in. Think of apps like Pokemon Go and Snapchat that overlay filters onto the real world to augment what is seen on-screen versus what is there in reality.

Mixed Reality Spectrum

The best way to understand the range of technology used in spatial computing is to visualize how that technology functions on something called the virtuality continuum, as defined in a research paper by Paul Milgram and Fumio Kishino called “A Taxonomy of Mixed Reality Visual Displays.” 

This virtuality continuum defines a spectrum, with the physical world on one side and the digital world on the other. Technology is placed upon it depending on how it interacts (or doesn’t) with the physical world and where it “places” the user. With that definition in mind, tech like Augmented Reality is placed on the side closest to the physical world because it takes the user’s environment and merely augments it. Virtual Reality is found on the opposite side, in the digital world. This is because the actual interaction of VR with the physical world of the user is non-existent due to its very nature of existing in a virtual reality.

So, Where Exactly Does Mixed Reality Fall on This Spectrum?

This may be a slightly misleading question. Mixed Reality (MR) essentially is the spectrum, as MR interacts with both the physical and digital worlds- hence the term, mixed reality.

How Exactly Does MR Interact with Both the Physical and Digital Worlds?

Basically, given that MR itself exists on a spectrum, its use of the physical and digital worlds can vary. What makes it different, however, is that although it has the ability to transport users to the virtual world, it also takes into account the physical environment that the user is currently in and uses that to create a digital experience. A common example of this is if a user has a desk in the room, the MR tech would take this into account. If there was something hidden under that desk, the user would have to physically look under that desk in the real world to be able to access whatever is hidden in the digital world.

Given that MR operates on that spectrum, the extent to which it actually transports users to the digital world or augments their physical environment will differ for different systems. It is predicted that headsets that can cover the entire spectrum will be a reality in the near future.

On the most basic of levels, those are the fundamental differences between VR, AR, and MR. Virtual Reality transports its users to the virtual world without consideration for their physical world. Augmented Reality only takes in the physical world to augment it for the user. Mixed Reality combines the functions of both VR and AR. At the same time, all of these fall under the overarching term of Spatial Computing, given that they enhance how users interact and receive data from their computational devices and make them more intuitive and natural to humans.

Want to learn more on Spatial Computing and Mixed Reality and how it can help your business?

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Low-Touch Commerce: Helping businesses adapt to change.

As people around the world continue to live in the virtual era due to the public health crisis, we are adjusting to the new way of conducting business. We’re now in a world where virtual meetings are the norm and handshaking is a thing of the past. Some retail businesses have closed their doors, restaurants shifted their models to delivery and curbside pickup only, and the hospitality and airline industry took a hard hit due to travel restrictions. Just exactly how do we conduct business during this shift in normalcy? At PeakActivity, we have outlined a digital initiative called “Low-Touch” Commerce that will allow you to gain an advantage over your competition through innovation. The best part is that you can start implementing this strategy to start seeing success now.

Defining “Low-Touch” Commerce

“Low-Touch” Commerce combines social distancing, digital-first interactions, best-in-breed technology, and innovative ideas to drive conversions in our virtual environments. “Low-Touch” Commerce will likely extend well beyond the next 8-12 months. With this in mind, PeakActivity is focused on helping every industry get back on its feet with minimal investment dollars and maximum returns.

With our daily lives being affected due to the pandemic, we are seeing large swings in public policy, as well as shifts in person-to-person communication, like limited face-to-face contact, travel restrictions, and hygiene requirements. In addition to these social changes, we’re seeing more businesses shift to a focus on remote work, virtual healthcare, and eCommerce.

There has been a massive change in how customers consume everything from information to food and entertainment. Some of the most affected industries have been retail, health, fitness, entertainment, restaurants, grocery stores, and education. However, it’s not hard to notice the boom in technology related to “Low-Contact” Commerce, as we have seen rises in virtual meetings, contactless payment systems, AR & VR experiences, and virtual shopping assistants.

 

How To Start Seeing Success Now

This plan can be applied across every aspect of business in three key paths to have you driving more conversions. Align leadership and identify the key areas of improvement on a micro and macro level, all while keeping your employees safe. Stabilize and execute. Accept the new market of “Low-Contact” Commerce. This is new and unfamiliar territory and businesses must pivot in order to stay relevant and competitive in this new market. Reinvest in research and development, along with other areas that are experiencing rapid growth. Now is the time to develop new products and business models. PeakActivity has already seen huge success with furniture retailers that have adopted “Low-Touch” Commerce. The program generated tens of thousands of dollars in sales with a 15% conversion rate for one retail furniture chain. It’s crucial to integrate top-tier tech solutions to deliver immediate contactless results for internal teams and customers during these times. PeakActivity is fully focused on continuous innovation within any industry, and we are committed to expanding companies and their ability to drive conversions. Get in touch with us today for a FREE strategy session for “Low-Contact” Commerce.

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20 Apps for Peak Productivity in 2020

20 Apps for Peak Productivity in 2020

A new year offers a fresh start, with 365 opportunities that could change your life!
A new year offers a fresh start, with 365 opportunities that could change your life!

1. Slack (Communication)

Slack is a great way to stay connected with your team wherever you may be. Chat one-to-one or with your group, and create channels where you can have focused conversations.

2. Mindly (Mind Maps)

Track your creative ideas with Mindly, a tool for mind mapping. Formulate topics and subtopics effortlessly, then print or share from the app.

3. Trello (Team Management)

Trello visually organizes your projects, much like a whiteboard full of sticky notes does. You can create boards and add cards to help you keep track of what’s done, in progress, or to-do.

4. Spotify (Music)

Spotify makes the list because it’s no secret that listening to music can help increase productivity. Check out a pre-made playlist for productivity (or whatever mood you’re in), then get to work!

5. Todoist (To-Do List)

Todoist helps you complete your to-do’s by synching tasks across platforms and devices. More than a to-do list, the Todoist app makes it easy to add tasks quickly, set reminders, and manage your days in a way that helps increase productivity.

6. Strides (Goal & Habit Tracker)

Strides allows you to track anything from habits to SMART goals, with helpful reminders to hold you accountable and charts to keep you motivated.

7. Pind (Task Manager)

With Pind, you can do much more than create to-do lists. You can set location-based task reminders, collaborate on shared tasks, and even get directions to help you plan and carry out your tasks more efficiently.

8. Otter (Voice to Text)

The Otter app allows you to record live audio, but it also lets you search, play, edit, organize, and share your conversations from any device. Use Otter for more efficient note-taking, whether it’s a lecture, business meeting, or organizing your thoughts.

9. Fabulous (Daily Motivation)

The Fabulous app aims to help users create a healthier, happier life by building on daily habits and routines. Create your own goals, stay motivated, and gain self-discipline with science-based sessions that can transform your life.

10. Flora (Team Focus)

The Flora app helps you (and your team) stay focused by planting ‘seeds’ that potentially flourish into healthy trees of progress. It’s simple. Plant a seed when it’s time to focus. Stay on task, and the seed will grow. But, should anyone use their phone, the tree dies.

11. Adobe Scan (Document Scanner)

The Adobe Scan app can turn anything — receipts, notes, documents, photos, business cards, whiteboards — into an Adobe PDF with the ability to reuse text that’s been scanned. Recycling content is easier than ever with Adobe Scan.

12. Fiverr (Freelance Work)

Need help with projects outside your wheelhouse? Use Fiverr to find someone to help! Fiverr is the largest marketplace for digital services, making it easy to commission the right person for the right job. Transparent pricing and helpful reviews are also a plus.

13. Toggl (Time Tracker)

Toggl is the time-tracking app that helps you see precisely how you’re spending your time and make improvements to boost productivity. It breaks down your hours by projects, clients, and tasks so that you can see what’s making you money and what’s holding you back. Plus, there are 100+ app integrations to help cut down on distractions.

14. Acorns (Investments)

The Acorns app is a financial tool that invests small amounts of money, turning it into big savings. You can still control how much you contribute while acorns makes data-driven decisions that help you invest in a way that saves you time and makes you money.

15. Mindvalley (Personal Growth)

The Mindvalley app is for personal growth and development, helping you reach a better state of mind to accomplish everything you want to do. Mindvalley lets you access video-audio trainings and exercises led by world-class best-selling authors, experts & coaches who will coach you through your goals.

16. Grammarly Keyboard (Writing)

Grammarly is the perfect app to help you eliminate writing errors and communicate effectively with others. Unlike spellcheck, Grammarly offers suggestions on style and tone, and works with Gmail, Twitter, LinkedIn, and nearly everywhere else you find yourself writing.

17. Robokiller (Call Blocker)

Is your phone constantly ringing with calls from robocalls and spammers? Then it’s time to get Robokiller, the app that will save you time and frustration by blocking these unwanted calls, even if they use different numbers. In fact, Robokiller claims a 90% reduction in spam calls within 30 days.

18. TimeTree (Shared Calendar)

Time Tree serves as your living room calendar, work calendar, and social calendar, all in the palm of your hand. Use the Time Tree app to maintain a productive schedule in a space where you can share and communicate with everyone in your life.

19. Asana (Project Management)

Asana is a project management app that visually organizes your work. Simplify workflows, reduce errors, and see how busy team members are across projects—all in one view. If you have more to do this year, using Asana can help increase your team’s efficiency by 45%.

20. Evernote (Note Taker)

Evernote is a single place for your notes, ideas, lists, and reminders. You can scan webpage content, share information, and even search your notes by voice command. Bring your team’s ideas together and receive reminders about deadlines to stay on track.

Any other Apps for Peak Productivity in 2020​?

Want to learn more?

Come back next week for more awesome content as we’ll examine more upcoming posts.
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Kubernetes as the Future of Infrastructure

Container organization allows developers to package applications to be deployed more easily and quickly. Containers are enveloping the world of software development for companies of all sizes, from small startups to Fortune 100 companies. The momentum behind Kubernetes, as the future of infrastructure, will not be slowing down any time soon.

What is Kubernetes?

Kubernetes is a platform first developed by a team at Google. The goal of Kubernetes is to provide a container management system. Kubernetes has rapidly become the most popular among the engineers at Google, with many other companies actively contributing to the project. By leveraging Google’s extensive experience of running software on a large scale, Kubernetes can now help run software in a modern cloud environment.

How does Kubernetes work?

Let’s say an application environment is your lunchbox. The contents of the lunchbox are all made and assembled before you put them in, and changing one item in the lunchbox does not impact the other. Each piece is isolated in its own container. The Kubernetes system is like a lunchbox that allows for the expansion of certain contents (scaling), with the isolation of every unique item and the ability to remove any item without affecting any of the other contents (immutability).

Kubernetes eliminates many of the manual processes involved in deploying and scaling applications in containers.

Kubernetes is an open-source platform that automates container operations. With containerization as a trend that’s taking over the world, Kubernetes allows people to run all kinds of different applications in a variety of different environments. If you need to keep track of many different containers, schedule them, and orchestrate them, Kubernetes is your solution. 

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Computer Vision: The Next Step in Artificial Intelligence

Computers have gotten a little more human-like than anyone is really comfortable with. Robots can open doors, perform surgery, and create literally invincible tic-tac-toe strategies. It’s a crazy world. But one thing computers can’t do? They can’t see you…yet. They actually can’t see anything or understand the context and content of visual things. Artificial intelligence is trying to change that, and it could help to bring in the future of eCommerce.


Turns Out, Seeing is Actually Really Hard

Can computers see? Most have cameras, but it turns out the answer is a little more complicated than that. Computer vision is the process of giving computers AI algorithms to detect and classify objects more accurately and efficiently. One example of this already in practice is facial recognition. Don’t panic, but computers are probably already identifying your face all the time.

More practical applications of computer vision are the next step for artificial intelligence, and this will allow computers to see AND understand images and videos. Computer vision has the potential to streamline processes within every department, from manually entering product codes or barcodes in a warehouse to reviewing eCommerce photos.

Computers with Vision are Probably Smarter and Faster than You

Computer vision is starting to play a big part in eCommerce. Think of a world where your customer could search for a product with an image of a similar product on your site. Your computer could scour the entire internet for your products and bring back pictures to use on your site.

Even better, computer vision has the potential to take over retail with facial recognition, cashier-less stores, inventory visibility, and visual search. This tech has recently made a noticeable impact on these four vital areas. Walmart has already been using computer vision technology in more than 1,000 stores to monitor checkouts and deter potential theft. So maybe don’t steal from Walmart.

Basically, Replace All Your Employees with Computers

Computers with vision have the ability to solve tasks that can be time-consuming, from manually entering UPCs or barcodes in a warehouse to reviewing eCommerce environmental photos for specific products. Its expansive use of big data collection allows the software to grow smarter and faster in decision making.

Today, only 3% of retailers have computer vision technology in place, however, 40% plan to start or finish implementing the tech within the next two years. Computer vision is a possibility for any company looking to streamline processes that take a manual user time to visually review and conduct an outcome.

PeakActivity is a leader in creating future-proof eCommerce. If you think your computers need a little bit of vision to drive your company forward, we can help you out with that. Visit our website for more information. Get in touch with us by filling out this form.

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