What The Tech?! is a blog series exploring technology news, product releases, updates, and innovation. These posts aim to cover the latest news in tech, and offer an opinion on why they are interesting in the wider context of digital.
In this edition we look at how Uber helps local government plan for the future, a new Ad product on Instagram and a connected product no-one knew they needed.
In Ubers first announcement of 2017, it was announced that in the coming week's people will start receiving access to a new platform called 'Movements'. Movements leverages anonymised data from over two billion trips taken using Uber. This will help city planners and government bodies to better understand the movement of traffic within their cities, and help the planning of future infrastructure.
As a company who has been highly criticised by traditional taxi drivers from cities around the world, and city officials for the disruption within the taxi industry, the release of this new tool could be seen as a peace offering by Uber. Opening up this incredibly rich data set to local governments could have huge long-term benefits in city planning. This tool has never been offered at this scale, so it’s now up to the cities in how they make best use of it.
Instagram Stories Video Ads
Instagram Stories - the virtually identical cousin of Snapchat Stories - now offers select brands the opportunity to place advertising in amongst organic user content.
The announcement, which includes the news that Instagram Stories now has 150 million daily users (matching Snapchat’s own number), marks the first time that the company has monetised this particular feature.
Ads within Stories look practically the same as regular content, apart from having the word sponsored at the bottom centre of the image or video.
The feature is currently open to an initial group of 30 partner brands and will be rolling out globally over the coming weeks.
Google Tango x Detroit Museum
Detroit Institute of Art premiering a new exhibition called Lumin, the exhibit takes advantage of Google’s Augmented Reality technology, Tango. Visitors to the exhibition will be able to enhance the experience by viewing it through a Tango enabled device. When doing so they’ll see virtual objects mapped on top of the real life exhibits, for example when looking through the phone at the sarcophagus they’ll be able to see, in the style of an x-ray, the actual contents inside. Another example is being able to view a 3D recreation of a Egyptian architectural arch in full scale, by aiming the Tango enabled device towards the ceiling visitors will arch as if it was in front of them.
Google’s Tango technology couples Augmented Reality and precise positional tracking to allow users to move around, or direct the phone in a different direction to be able to explore more of a virtual object.
Withings X L'Oreal Hairbrush
Earlier this month Las Vegas hosted the tech industry for the annual Consumer Electronics Show, CES, among the announcements was a new product developed by Withings – a company owned by Nokia – and L’Oreal. The product is a connected hairbrush filled with sensors to tell the user how well they’re brushing, whether or not they’re brushing too hard as well as if they’re brushing dry or wet hair (something they would already know). The array of sensors and the collection of data help the companion app identify brushing patterns and suggest how to improve brushing in order to maintain healthy hair and scalp.
This new product marks a change in its category. It’s the first time a hair brush is using data help to improve the user's life, I’m not saying that this product will be a success, I very much see this as a proof of concept, but more importantly, it shows how a brand can partner with a technology company to create innovative products and new categories.