What is Machine Learning?

We have all seen movies set in a dystopian future where Artificial Intelligence (AI) has sinister intentions to overrun humanity. While the scenarios depicted in these films are often far-fetched, the fact of the matter is that the fundamental building blocks of such technology already exist. There is, however, no need for alarm. The world will not be taken over by AI any time soon. In fact, the term “Artificial Intelligence” is often misapplied. Artificial Intelligence is actually the overarching category encompassing such technologies as Machine Learning (ML). This exciting field offers enterprising businesses across every industry, from retail to healthcare, the ability to enhance customer experience with near-real-time feedback and deliver a higher level of conversion and brand affinity.

Machine Learning is an application of Artificial Intelligence that provides systems the ability to automatically learn and improve from experience without being explicitly programmed. In practice, Machine Learning focuses on the development of computer programs that can access data and use it to learn for themselves. 

Machine Learning allows businesses to provide a more personalized experience for their customers. As the system learns to study consumer habits, it provides eCommerce retailers the ability to analyze millions of interactions every day and ultimately target offers down to a single customer. 

Leveraging Machine Learning, digital marketers are able to create customizable user experience paths based on browsing habits, previous purchases, and aggregated user data. If you have ever been browsing your social media feeds and come across an advertisement for products that you have previously Googled, there’s a good chance you are experiencing ML at work. These targeted advertisements can be the fruits of Machine Learning’s labor, giving marketers the ability to predict the demand for specific products based on searches and forecasts from the data aggregated by Machine Learning. 

With the deployment of Machine Learning-driven marketing, businesses will need to further leverage their ML technology to ensure demand is met by sufficient supply. As demand inevitably increases, it is able to optimize the supply chain and order fulfillment using historical data ranging from orders to shipping and everything in between. It also offers the added benefit of refining key marketing messaging for “just-in-time” inventory management and purchasing based on product availability.

As it offers so much to gain, Machine Learning is sure to be a mainstay of successful businesses today and into the future. At PeakActivity, our Emerging Tech & Innovation team is developing and leveraging ML to provide added value to our clients. If you are interested in learning more on how PeakActivity can help you elevate your business with Machine Learning technology, fill out the contact form below.

Are you interested in elevating your business through the implementation of Machine Learning?

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Unlocking New Perspectives: Windowed vs. Wearable Augmented Reality

 

If you ask most people what they associate with Augmented Reality, chances are they will say Snapchat and Instagram filters, you know the ones. Day by day, Augmented Reality is becoming more commonplace, reaching well beyond the ability to superimpose puppy ears upon your grandma’s head. This emerging technology is steadily becoming more accessible for customers, as more companies adopt Augmented Reality through both “Windowed” and “Wearable” experiences. This begs the question, what do Windowed and Wearable mean in the context of Augmented Reality?

 

Wearable Augmented Reality

Wearable Augmented Reality, as its name would suggest, refers to devices that require the user to physically wear them. Using computer vision systems, Wearable AR devices are able to analyze environments and provide feedback in real-time using spatial computing. Wearable devices, such as Magic Leap or Halo Lens, offer hands-free AR activity without the drawbacks of vertigo and motion sickness often associated with Virtual Reality experiences. 

The hands-free nature of Wearable AR technology naturally lends itself to highly interactive experiences. With these deeper, more meaningful interactions, including remote free hand-tracking, come a significant boost in cognitive performance. As we covered in a recent blog, Augmented Reality possesses the ability to imprint longer-lasting memories and cut through the noise that consumers are bombarded with on a daily basis. As a result of this enhanced ability to create memories, Wearable AR technology can provide more effective, impactful training experiences. The interactivity provided by this technology greatly improves the imprinting, retention of knowledge, and memories gained in a training setting. In a practical setting, Wearable  AR experiences have been deployed in environments that range from warehouses to science labs for training sessions to drastically improve the effectiveness of memory retention rates. 

Windowed Augmented Reality

The previously mentioned Snapchat and Instagram filters are, perhaps, the most widely known example of Windowed Augmented Reality. Using a camera-equipped smart device, Windowed AR uses the device’s screen (or, window) to overlay digital elements not present in the physical world, in real-time. Given that nearly everyone and their grandmother owns a smartphone, the barrier for entry to Windowed AR is inherently low. With no need to splash extra cash on a wearable device, this segment of Augmented Reality technology offers opportunistic businesses the ability to connect with consumers in uniquely effective ways.

Take the eyeglass industry for example. With Windowed AR, users can “try it on” when shopping for new frames online quickly swapping between frames until they find the ideal fit, while never leaving the comfort of their bed. Another real-world use case for Windowed AR resides in the retail furniture industry. If you have ever shopped for furniture online, you will be familiar with the thought, “I love this piece of furniture, but how well will it actually fit in my living room?” With Windowed AR, this is no longer a worry. Using the camera on a smartphone, users are able to see the desired product superimposed on their living space. Using pre- and post-experience customer surveys, you can easily track the effect that Windowed AR has on such metrics as customer confidence.

Prior to COVID-19, industry trends indicated that Wearable AR devices were the flavor of the week. As the pandemic surged and turned the world on its head, there was a shift in focus towards Windowed AR experiences using personal devices. As this emerging technology becomes more accessible through both windowed and wearable experiences alike, there will be a steady stream of Augmented Reality hitting the market in an ever-expanding set of sectors. 

Do you need help building Windowed & Wearable experiences that will surprise and delight internal teams and external customers?

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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.  

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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.

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How PeakActivity Got an Aftermarket Auto Parts Manufacturer Back in the D2C Race

How PeakActivity Got an Aftermarket Auto Parts Manufacturer Back in the D2C Race Get in touch
DREAM. DELIVER. ELEVATE.

A year after implementing an agency redesign, our client saw a precipitous decline in site conversion revenue. PeakActivity was called in to get them back in the race.

STAGE 1: DREAM

To begin the Dream stage we performed a User Experience (UX) audit and an analytics audit to dive deeper into the challenges they were facing. An array of problems were uncovered, most notably the following:

  • Checkout: Issues related to checkout causing customers to abandon at higher than expected rates
  • Search: Poor guided-search implementations and confusing search results displays that negatively impacted product fundability
  • Design: Design-over-function issues created visual confusion for customers resulting in increased bounce rates
  • Site Speed: Overall site speed issues, with page load times running in excess of 6 seconds
  • Site Analytics: Gaps in data made for incomplete or problematic reporting
  • Business Processes & Communication: Multi-agency engagements across teams led to breakdowns in communications
A series of Collaborative Visioning sessions yielded a Phase 1 Roadmap along with wireframes and comps to begin correcting these issues. They established the nature and cadence of the agile implementation and clearly defined expectations for the client. The sessions were also a springboard to dream beyond the immediate need, and to start to imagine the future of their online presence.

Client: Automotive Parts Manufacturer

Services Provided:

• Technology & Engineering
• Analytics
• User Experience & Design
• Platform Integration
• Graphic Design
• Email Strategy & Implementation
• Social Media & Social Commerce

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Reach out and let’s see how PeakActivity can help Dream, Deliver, and Elevate your business goals.

STAGE 2: DELIVER

With the Roadmap pointing the way, the PeakActivity UX team socialized clickable prototypes of key user flows to get directional feedback to help guide the technical implementation. The areas of the site addressed in Phase 1 were:

  • Checkout: Critical flaws and inconsistencies in checkout were remedied, thereby growing conversions
  • Header | Search (parts configurator) Redesign: Parts configurator was decoupled from header allowing each to function optimally
  • Category landing pages: A page structure heavy in graphics and high-level messaging was re-designed allowing customers to more quickly get to product
  • Site Speed: By optimizing files and re-designing pages, site speed was enhanced
  • Site Analytics: PeakActivity implemented A/B Testing programs, which worked to enhance customer experience and cultivate brand loyalty
  • Business Processes & Communication: PeakActivity began the process of unifying teams and processes, yielding greater efficiencies across the board
  • Search Engine Optimization: PeakActivity increased organic and paid search results by refining on-page SEO measures, creating unique landing pages, and improving search rankings.
  • Conversion Rate Optimization: PeakActivity analyzed the points at which customers were abandoning carts, then optimized site paths to improve conversion rates

“I’ve found Peak Activity to be on the leading edge of web development and design, analytics and social media. They’ve done amazing work with my client – an after-market automobile parts manufacturer – on both the eCommerce digital structure and with social media. I highly recommend them to anyone looking for top-drawer results with all things digital.”

- Scott Koerner, Chief Marketing Officer at Chief Outsiders

INITIAL RESULTS

Through this engagement, PeakActivity delivered results that drove increases across key metrics for our client in order to make them successful and achieve their professional goals.

12%

Website traffic up

29%

Conversion up

33%

Revenue up

45%

Transactions Up

82%

Sessions attributed from email

72%

Sessions from Social Media

INITIAL RESULTS

Through this engagement, PeakActivity delivered results that drove increases across key metrics for our client in order to make them successful and achieve their professional goals.

12%

Website traffic up

29%

Conversion up

33%

Revenue up

45%

Transactions up

82%

Sessions  attributed from email

72%

Sessions from Social Media

STAGE 3: ELEVATE

After delivering positive initial results, PeakActivity has continued to keep an eye on future growth opportunities for our client’s DTC business. To that end, the following initiatives have begun.

  • Email Program: Providing strategic direction, as well as marketing and design execution 
  • Social Media Marketing: Implementing programs and strategies to leverage the Company’s dynamic brand to engage their passionate user base.
  • Migration of site from legacy system to a modern eCommerce system: Moving from a sluggish, unwieldy eCommerce platform to highly-flexible way to build, optimize, connect, and manage their content, merchandising, and commerce for now and the future
  • Ongoing Site UX Enhancements: Continue to identify and correct friction points in the customer journey
  • Testing & Continue Improvement: Continue to identify and correct friction points in the customer journey, and enhancing the site UX accordingly

Request a User Experience Audit

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