Smart phone powered VR goggles

cardboard-vr

VR had been trying to make a comeback. Starting with the hype of Oculus then quickly followed by the Google cardboard project.

Despite the interest of large companies to push the VR and 3D bandwagon, the form factor has not quite reach the mainstream audience yet. Though I do like the direction where things are going, to make these goggles lighter, cheaper albeit they are of a lower quality than what the technology allows.

I had the chance to try the cardboard goggles on today. A little late I know. I had access to the Oculus Rift and Samsung Gear VR at work. When compared to the Oculus, these iOS powered goggles offer a much lower resolution. But they’re not too far off from the likes of the Samsung, since they’re practically the same thing (despite the obvious additional features that the Samsung Gear VR offers).

cardboard-vr
Photo: Converse  is using VR content to promote the Chuck product line on the Flat Iron plaza. The experience was done on a pair of VR cardboards(with an iPhone 6 inside.

I really can see this form factor or a slightly more durable variation could be the panacea to enter the home for an entry level VR experience. These cardboards go for around $7 on Amazon ($30 for the sturdier version), while many already have or at least access to a smart phone.

Now all I need is a pair of GoPros (or maybe the $60 Xiao Mi Yi action camera) and start creating stereoscopic content.

How Retail Banking should take a few cues from the software industry

Original image from @tomloverro Original image from @tomloverro

Like the software industry, Retail Banking has been disrupted by smaller niche players. In both cases, fingers are being pointed at the changing customer behaviors and shifting demographic. The software industry has been lucky having the right environment for it to go through a little trial by fire. Are there anything banks can learn from the software industry?

Banks are more like Software than Apps

What is the difference between computer software and Apps? By definition, Software and Apps are different words for the same thing; a collection of binary that gets executed on a chip. However each term carries massive philosophical differences.

You need to be invested in Software

Remember the days when we had to take lessons and get certified to use a word processor, those days are far gone. If I can’t work out how to use an app (or if the app simply don’t align to my values), I’ll trade it with a better, simpler, bigger, smaller, faster or open source option. And I bet you, there is an option out there for me.

Apps do one thing and one thing well. I take photos with the iOS camera app, edit them in VSCO, fix a few things with Skew then share them on Instagram. They are more focused than their older siblings, and because of this limited functionality, I need very little time to start getting the most of it.

Traditional banks are like Software, they have all sorts of trick up their sleeves. This however, just like sofware, makes it almost impossible for its customers to make the most of it without proper training.

On the other hand, smaller services like Venmo, Robinhood, Circle do one thing and one thing (arguably) very very well. Because of that, they are just much easier for us to get familiar with. Each one of these companies are focused on making sure their service is indeed easy to understand.

Maybe I should switch camp, but I can’t

Whatever the software maybe (Powerpoint vs. Keynote, FCP X vs. Premier, Aperture vs. Lightroom, Cubase vs. ProTools, the list goes on), there are moments where we probably thought – I am so missing out right now. I can’t believe I still don’t have that feature. The guys on the other camp have it so much better.

Apps need to be the best as they can be in the only thing it offers. And for everything else, Apps often play nicely with other Apps. They wouldn’t necessarily offer mediocre features, implemented just for the sake of ticking a checklist for some RFP or product reviews. Apps let their customers pick, choose and string different services together exactly to their preference, which is a win-win for everyone.

When my bank say “we’ve got the same thing as what Mint offer”, well yes – but you forgot that I also have money in my Paypal, Venmo, Circle and Amazon accounts. Before you start becoming amazing on all fronts, or start to augmenting what you lack with offerings from your “competitors”, I would stick to using those smaller best of breeds in their own little niche, thank you.

But you need serious tools for a serious job

There are obviously cases where we just need that almighty computer software that can’t quite be replaced with anything else. Cough … Photoshop. But for many, we don’t even know half of the features Photoshop offer. All we know is that it’s a powerful tool that takes a lifetime to master.

Banking is the same. Unless the bank is committed to educate me in every single part of my financial life why not stick to the ones they’re really committed to?

Banks need to open up like the software industry

Giant software companies like Microsoft are starting to realize that the only way for them to be amazing is to be a collection of startups. Microsoft cloud offering can’t just run Windows in this world full of Linux servers. Microsoft Office can’t just run on PC, while the rest of the world is moving to the web, mobile and Macs. Companies like Microsoft, unbundle, innovate and start becoming good members of the ecosystem in each of the different areas they choose to be a part of.

It’s time for banks to be amazing in every single way … or start unbundling.

Redeeming iTunes gift card with camera is quite a spectacle

In the era of “plastics” (read: credit card), redeeming a gift card isn’t something that one might do frequently. I was surprised by the fact how cool the process of redeeming an iTunes voucher on the iPhone.

itunes-card-01

The redemption feature is hidden inside the iTunes Store app under music. After tapping on a  little link to redeem voucher, I was prompted with the option to use the camera to scan the card.

itunes-card-02

 

I was expecting that the app would scan the barcode like any other QR reader, but instead the app recognizes the actual code with a little glowing animation.

P.s. if you are thinking of trying to redeem the gift card code, you’re a little too late.

OK Google Glass

Me in Google Glass

photo by Andrew Mistophiles

The office just received our shipment of Google Glass today. And it’s hard to not be excited about this piece of hardware. The direct to retina projection system, bone-conduction speakers, not forgetting all the innovation (and data!) that Google have accumulated throughout the year building their meta-services. If this piece of gear isn’t the present, I sure hope it is the future.

I’ll be posting more of my thoughts around Google Glass in the coming days as I get more experience with it.

Cannot sign in to Yammer on iPhone

Yammer on iPhone blank screen after login

Trouble signing in to Yammer app on the iPhone and getting nothing but blank screen?

Most probably your company’s Yammer has corporate single-sign-on turned on (so you can use your corporate password to login). The Yammer app seem to not let you login using the Http digest pop-up (a popup dialog to put in your username and password) unlike within a normal web browser.

The solution is simple.

  1. login to http://yammer.com
  2. on top right, click the “…” (elipsis icon)
  3. select apps
  4. scroll down and find iPhone
  5. click on the ‘iPhone’ link (not learn more)
  6. you will get a temporary password, use this password within the Yammer app. Password is case sensitive

yammer-pass

You need to do the same for Yammer on iPad and Yammer Now (the chat).

The Apple Store iBeacon experience

Apple Store SOHO

I’m spending a few weeks in New York, so I thought I would check out the new iBeacon roll out in the Apple Stores. I went to the closest store from work which is at SOHO.

ibeacon-1

Before I went to the store, I installed the Apple Store app on my iPhone 5. During the induction process, the app prompted me to subscribe to in-store notification. From this point on, I had given the permission for (and also subscribe to) Apple’s iBeacon push messages.

Ibeacon in the Apple Store App

As I enter the store, I was greeted with the iBeacon notification and provided access to some information like the next Genius or Workshop events. Unfortunately I didn’t receive any of the marketing promotions (to upgrade my iPhone) or what not.

It seems that Apple still rely on the EasyPay (scanning using the iPhone camera and then letting me pay using the credit card associated to my Apple account) to handle contactless/self-service payments. No additional iBeacon support here.

Robo-mannequin: Innovation in high street retail/online

robo-maneguin

To me, this robotic mannequin makes alot more sense than the typical Kinect demo augmented reality mirror approach (looking at a digitized version of a piece of clothing on top your digital self).

I dont know how it scans and copy a person body shape though. Hopefully it has the potential to replicate the user’s body through a Kinect-based 3d body scanner.

read more at Wired

Growth Hacker Marketing by Ryan Holiday: a review

growth-hacker
Growth Hacker Marketing by Ryan Holiday

A book written for the “old skool” marketeers, aspires to give that shock factor and aha moments: reminding that marketing isn’t all about advertising but also touches upon product design, isoteric promotions and contextual relationships.

Now If you’re born alongside blogs, dropbox and gmail, Growth hacking is what most of you probably already do, with now a good “google-able” name for it.

However, this is NOT insignificant as it hopefully open up so much opportunity in the space. Perhaps even a key for the new generation to move into the upper echelon in some of the massive corporations.

The book is still worth a read as one could probably finish it in a single sitting. I didn’t realize how short this book was until I actually started reading and noticing that the % complete indicator is going very very fast (I’m not delusional to think I’m that fast of a reader). The book serves as a good departure point in solidifying one’s understanding in the current dynamic that exists between the different silos in big companies (products, marketing, ops, customer service, etc.).

The question left untouched is: what would be the new org structure template that allows the growth hacking mindset to foster? Are there any opportunities for digital agencies or any other external parties act as the agent of change?

from My GoodReads review of ‘Growth Hacker Marketing’

How to fix Lenovo ThinkPad Helix (with Dock) issues with Windows 8.1

work-desktop

Since the Windows 8.1 preview came out (and now fully released), I had to put up with a huge amount of issues with connecting external devices to either to the keyboard or the USB 3.0 dock. I couldn’t connect to external monitor issues most of the time, wired connectivity kept on dropping and usb devices like my Wacom tablet had trouble connecting. The issue seem to start especially after undocking this beautiful tablet from its keyboard. The remedy had been to restart the computer, which you can imagine was very painful to do.

I had been religiously checking the Lenovo Software Updates and got excited everytime I see a new update. Unfortunately the fix is still a manual process.

How to do it? simple. Update the Helix to the latest DisplayLink driver. DisplayLink is the technology used by the keyboard to connect to the dock. As of this post was written, the version is at 7.5. Watch out as there is a dedicated version for Windows 8.1.

Go get the driver here: http://www.displaylink.com/support/downloads.php

Slow download in Dubai, can’t download from CDN

In Dubai, I use Du internet connection and in the past few weeks Internet has been very slow. Most of the experience has been like the screenshot above, even Mac App Store is showing just a series of crossed out icons/broken images.

After some trial and error (and Du’s excellent customer service assistance on Twitter then over the phone), I finally figured out what was wrong;

Apparently, Du have recently changed their DNS server and it’s affecting those who had use a custom DNS server (say Google Public DNS?). Removing the manual DNS entries will fix it, but if you want to explicitly add Du’s new DNS servers, they are:

94.200.200.200
91.74.74.74