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Augmented Reality and Brand Experiences: Examples and Business Opportunities for Enterprises

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Augmented Reality and Brand Experiences: Examples and Business Opportunities for Enterprises

By Alfred Taren | April 9, 2020

The best brands are continuously seeking new and exciting ways to reach their target audience. The brands that hope to stay relevant need to express themselves in refreshing ways to make their consumer base take notice and pay attention. With the advent of augmented reality technologies, many companies are already working toward that goal, giving their customers a new way to engage through immersive interactions.

Two Engineers Works with Mobile Phone Using Augmented Reality Holographic Projection 3D Model of the Engine Turbine Prototype. Development of Virtual Mixed Reality Application.

Augmented Reality [AR] is the latest trend in new customer experiences, and it is working well for early adopters of the technology. Most consumers enjoy trying out new techniques and experiences, making the widespread inclusion of AR in applications a reality. Whether they’re using an app that lets them see new furniture in their homes, an app that applies different makeup to their faces, or an app that lets them walk through a real estate investment, AR applications offer consumers new and better ways to engage with brands.

AR is changing the way in which companies reach and interact with their customer base, helping them stay relevant in a flooded market. With augmented reality, engagement, conversion rates, and overall sales can increase simply by creating a better brand experience.

The current applications of augmented reality for businesses show promise, and the future of AR looks bright. Businesses in every industry can feel the positive effects of AR technologies, including the gaming, healthcare, real estate, education, and entertainment industries.

The Rise of Augmented Reality
Augmented reality is a technology that allows users to superimpose 3D objects into their physical world through a mobile device. Essentially, AR overlays digital information onto the existing environment to create a new environment. One popular example is Pokémon Go, wherein users catch Pokémon they can see in the real world through their smartphones.

Many tech companies are working on improving the framework and capabilities of AR, including Apple, which launched ARKit to help app developers meet this goal. Developers can now access new tools to produce stunning augmented reality and virtual reality applications.
Analysts predict continued market growth for the AR and VR industry, citing that in 2020, there will be more than one billion people using AR applications worldwide. However, even though analysts have made sizable estimates on the market growth for a unified AR and VR world, software developers feel strongly that AR is the future and will drive the majority of growth in immersive technology.

Why won’t VR be as big as AR? Virtual reality is far more complicated than augmented reality, requiring more attention for the user, who is fully immersed in a digital environment. This limits communication with the outside world while the technology is used. On the flip side, augmented reality allows users to interact with a digital world and the physical world at the same time. Users can implement AR into their everyday lives without the need for a special headset and closing themselves off from their environment. AR users can easily switch from using AR for gaming and business to shopping and entertainment, all while staying connected to the real world.

Augmented Reality (AR) information technology about nearby businesses and services on smartphone

Augmented Reality in Marketing
Many brands have already entered the AR field, integrating AR into their mobile device and browser applications for practical and marketing uses. Some example users include Home Depot, Timberland, Sephora, Chiquita, and Genius Ventures Inc.

In 2015, Home Depot released a way for customers to see how a paint color would look on their walls before they bought the paint. The Project Color app included ways to account for light, objects, and even shadows. This gave customers a realistic idea of how the color would look inside their real environment.

In 2017, Home Depot increased its AR offerings to include furniture and furnishings. Now, customers can see how colors would look on their walls and how various furniture items would look in their homes. This technology has since been adopted by Lowe’s and IKEA, too.

Timberland has also taken advantage of augmented reality, offering a virtual dressing room that allows customers to see their faces on a model body with features similar to their own. Users can then try on different clothes and accessories that the brand sells before they purchase them. Customers have a better understanding of how the clothing will look before they invest in the items, saving time and money.

Sephora offers a virtual makeup artist program inside their app that lets customers try on high-end makeup and different combinations without having to buy the makeup first. While many people prefer purchasing their makeup in-store, some people don’t have that luxury or the time. Sephora’s virtual artist app eliminates those barriers and brings the makeup studio to users’ homes.

Chiquita has partnered with Shazam to show customers exactly where their bananas came from. The new transparency app follows the entire route of bananas from Latin America to their destination. The goal is to help consumers understand the sustainability practices Chiquita is using. To view the life of the banana, users scan the blue sticker on the banana in the Shazam app and watch the virtual journey take flight on their phones.

This year, To celebrate their 50th anniversary Superstar shoe, Adidas and WSS teamed up Genius Ventures Inc to create an in-store Augmented Reality Snapchat activation. This in-store activation with Snapchat code was highly successful, so successful, that they moved on to a second phase to include a coupon-code for a free hat upon making their purchase in-store.

ADIDAS x WSS – Snapchat Activation – Augmented Reality

Augmented Reality in Other Industries
Another example of AR integration is in the insurance industry. Insurance companies are providing ways for customers to show real-time views of damage from traffic accidents and natural disasters. On the other end of the video, operators use AR to gain a better picture of the damage, measure different aspects, and estimate the full extent of the damage and the future costs of repairs. AR accelerates the reimbursement process.

Surgeons Perform Brain Surgery Using Augmented Reality, Animated 3D Brain. High Tech Technologically Advanced Hospital.

In the healthcare industry, augmented reality gives medical students the ability to train in AR environments with mannequins that are overlaid with AR to simulate real diseases and treatments. Physicians are learning more through access to AR, and students have a more in-depth understanding of medical procedures before they enter hospitals.

Augmented Reality: The Future of Customer Experience
AR is rapidly changing the way that consumers communicate with businesses. In retail, the implications of AR in marketing are enormous and promise increased engagement and sales. AR is also taking over education, healthcare, and even the way people interact with their insurance companies.

AR is becoming more widespread and more convenient for mainstream audiences and is continually integrated into more applications and industries, making it more accessible. The technology is an ideal tool for many different brands to utilize in their marketing tactics, offering new and exciting ways to reach their customer base.

 

Alfred Taren | President
a: Genius Ventures Inc | Los Angeles | Vancouver
e: alfred@geniusventuresinc.com | w: www.geniusventuresinc.com
p: + 1 626 736 3625
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The Inland Empire Business Journal (IEBJ) is the official business news publication of Southern California’s Inland Empire region - covering San Bernardino & Riverside Counties.

Economy

No Near-term Recession Says Leading Forecast; Supercharged Consumers will Propel U.S. Economy into 2023

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Recession Potential Will Grow If Federal Reserve Tightens To Control Inflation… But The Sooner The Better; California On Verge of Recovering All Jobs Lost To Pandemic

Despite real signs of stress in parts of the system, for now, consumers will carry the U.S. economy through this year and into 2023 without a downturn, according to Beacon Economics‘ latest outlook for the United States and California. The wealth created by the excessive fiscal stimulus enacted in 2020 and 2021 continues to drive a consumer consumption binge and the new forecast anticipates economic growth to look better in the second half of 2022 (when final numbers are available) than it did in the first half.

Inflation will continue to run hot, and interest rates will continue to rise as a result, but those circumstances are not recession causing, according to the outlook. Instead, expect a slow pace of overall economic growth, with weaker numbers from the more rate sensitive sectors.

“Functionally speaking, policymakers went from maximum acceleration – the stimulus – to maximum braking – tightening by the Fed – over a single year, something that would create turbulence in even the healthiest economy,” said Christopher Thornberg, Founding Partner of Beacon Economics and one of the forecast authors. “But in the near-term, while parts of the economy will remain cool due to rising interest rates, that supercharged U.S. consumer, armed with a $30 trillion increase in household wealth over the pandemic period, will keep momentum going.”

The new forecast also argues that inflation may have peaked but will not decelerate rapidly. “Until the Fed gets serious about tightening, that is reducing the money supply and raising interest rates, expect price growth to remain elevated,” said Thornberg.

Although the potential for a real recession in the nation will increase if and when the Fed applies more aggressive quantitative tightening to control inflation and push up real (rather than nominal) interest rates, the faster the Fed acts the better in order to prevent a truly deep negative business cycle, according to the forecast.

Starting in 2023, if Fed action is inadequate the United States may be looking at 3 or more years of very weak growth, with consumers in a relatively poor financial position at the end. If the Fed stamps out inflation in the near-term by aggressively reducing its balance sheet, it will drive up interest rates, cool financial markets sharply, and possibly create a modest recession next year led by consumer cutbacks. However, the nation would come out of it with a strong private sector.

In California, the state is on the brink of a milestone: recovering all the jobs it lost during the pandemic-driven downturn. While many states have already reached full recovery, as of this writing, California still has a 73,000 job deficit. However, if the economy adds the same number of jobs as it did in the latest numbers in the next data release, the state’s job count will be above water.

“California’s labor force contracted during the pandemic and employers have struggled to hire the workers they need, especially in coastal communities,” said Taner Osman, Research Manager at Beacon Economics and one of the forecast authors. “These difficulties circle directly back to the long-term affordability crisis facing the state as the labor forces in more expensive coastal areas have declined while they have grown in relatively affordable inland communities.”

View the new The Beacon Outlook including full forecast tables here.

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Economy

It’s The Demand Curve, Stupid…

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It’s The Demand Curve, Stupid…

By Christopher Thornberg

The biggest obstacle to slowing inflation is that the real causes of it—excessive consumer demand and rapidly rising wages—are too politically toxic to acknowledge.

The August CPI report showed prices in the United States continuing to increase, contrary to the predictions of most Blue-Chip forecasts and the Federal Reserve. This has spooked the markets and caused a sharp decline in the various indexes—the S&P 500 dropped over 4%. The decline in the markets doesn’t surprise me—they are the ultimate drama queens of the economy, overreacting to everything. They will likely bounce back soon enough.

What does perplex me is how we collectively continue to be surprised when the official inflation forecasts fall well below reality. This same kabuki dance has been repeated almost monthly for more than a year now, with expert economists assuring us that price growth will soon decelerate and maybe even reverse, followed by a gnashing of teeth and predictions of doom when it turns out the data is not living up to the optimism.

I am certainly not suggesting that inflation is easy to forecast—especially on a month-to-month basis. But the problem I see here is different. The major forecasts and official prognostications aren’t just missing the mark, they have consistently predicted lower inflation rates than have been occurring. In statistical parlance the forecasts have bias. And this bias stems from the fact that the cause of inflation has been misinterpreted as primarily a supply chain issue, when in fact it is an excess demand and labor cost issue.

Consider the various explanations for inflation over the last year. They have typically attributed the problem to parts shortages (e.g., empty car dealer lots and high used-car prices), energy markets (the high cost of gasoline), the war in Ukraine and grain markets (food prices) among other issues. The following quote is from a Wall Street Journal reporter discussing her interviews with various economists prior to the summer CPI estimates:

“[June] will probably prove to be the peak for the annual measure of CPI. That’s because pretty much all of the major drivers of the inflation surge this year and last year are fading or outright reversing. Energy prices are on the downswing, most obviously gasoline prices. Upstream, energy and food commodity prices have come down a lot in recent weeks too, which suggests that there’s more easing to feed through to consumers in store, particularly on the grocery front. Supply-chain pressures seem to be gradually improving.”[1]

If we think about inflation as being strictly driven by limitations in inputs, then any relief in those supply pressures should cause prices to fall. But this is not the case today, as the August number clearly demonstrates. The supply-chain theory of inflation is wrong. And the reason many experts continue to get it wrong is because the true causes of today’s inflation—excess consumer demand and rapidly rising labor costs—are politically toxic and difficult to acknowledge in these terse populist times.

Excess consumer demand has been caused by an overstimulation of the economy on the part of the Feds. As I have written many times, the pandemic hit to the economy was never the crisis it was portrayed to be, and the $6.5 trillion in fiscal stimulus, largely funded by $5 trillion in new money created through the Fed’s quantitative easing program, was vastly more than necessary. It set financial markets to new (unsustainable) highs and ultimately generated a 25% bump in household net worth ($30 trillion in new wealth) in just 2 years. This new “wealth” has driven consumer spending to new highs, and that is what is causing inflation. As Milton Friedman famously quipped: “Inflation is caused by too much money chasing after too few goods.”

Looking at the supply side only mistakes the symptoms for the disease. Gasoline prices shot up because the minor issues with supply were magnified by the major jump in demand. Estimates of short-run demand elasticity for gasoline suggest the market is inelastic, but still, an increase in price will lead to a decrease in consumption if those prices are only being driven by supply constraints. Yet, the Bureau of Economic Analysis’ GDP data shows that in the last 18 months, even as energy prices rose 97%, consumption of energy products increased by 7%. Prices rose so dramatically because of the surge in demand, not the limitations on supply.

And now that energy prices are falling as supply catches up, money not spent on energy is simply flowing to other spending—healthcare, housing, restaurants, travel—and causing more inflation in those categories. And those sectors also have supply shortages—driven by labor shortages rather than supply chain issues. Just as excess demand drove up energy prices, excess demand is also causing a rapid increase in worker earnings, which is another important contributor to business costs and output prices. According to the Atlanta Fed’s wage tracker, U.S. worker earnings are now growing at a 6.7% annual pace—the highest rate ever recorded in the 40 years of data they have created.

And therein lies the political problem. If we acknowledge that inflation is being driven by excessive consumer demand, then we must admit that Americans are overconsuming. That’s an idea that doesn’t fit the miserabilist narrative that underpins political debate today. Both parties consistently tell their supporters how terrible they have it and then immediately blame the other party’s policies. Apparently, in the political world, most U.S. households are living hand to mouth, workers are highly underpaid, and we’re all just one paycheck away from financial disaster. To suggest otherwise would be gauche.

For the record, U.S. consumers are overconsuming. Consumer spending as a share of nation’s GDP is the highest it’s ever been, except during the runup to the Great Recession—not a comfortable comparison. This overconsumption is one of the root causes of the growing U.S. trade deficit, currently at almost 5% of GDP, again the widest it’s ever been except for the 2005 and 2006 period. As for the idea that real earnings growth is negative, you only get this result if you use the CPI estimate of inflation, which overstates the situation for technical reasons we won’t dive into here.[2] The appropriate deflator is the PCE deflator from the Bureau of Economic Analysis, and if we use that, real earnings growth is positive, albeit not at a 40-year high pace.

Of course, this story is only explaining the mechanisms within basic monetary theory. If you want to predict how much prices will increase, you only need to look at money supply. The Federal Reserve’s quantitative easing program expanded the money supply of the United States by 40%. Therefore, holding all else constant, prices need to go up by 40% to equilibrate the size of the economy to the size of the money supply.

While the Fed’s quantitative easing caused inflation, oddly their response to the problem has been primarily to push up the Federal Funds rate, the old tool that Ben Bernanke had largely moved past during his tenure. The big hikes in the Federal Funds rate have done very little to reduce the money supply; it has only stopped growing. If the Fed is serious about slowing inflation, they need to engage in quantitative tightening—which they say they will be starting this month.

By tightening of course, they will, by definition, cool consumer demand and weaken labor markets, as these are the ultimate sources of inflation. Given that policymakers are seemingly unwilling to acknowledge that the problem is excessive spending as well as wage growth, it unfortunately suggests they will be unwilling to do what is necessary to slow inflation.

The only question then is how much longer will we continue to be surprised by it.

[1] https://economics.cmail19.com/t/ViewEmail/d/A6E3C20BCF922DDB2540EF23F30FEDED/DE3F8A096023AA9114399806BE9B4083?alternativeLink=False

2 For more about the CPI’s inflation estimate see: https://www.clevelandfed.org/newsroom-and-events/publications/economic-trends/2014-economic-trends/et-20140417-pce-and-cpi-inflation-whats-the-difference.aspx

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Opinion

These are tech companies Americans want to work at most 

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Google is where Americans want to work the most in tech, receiving more than 487,000 searches a month Apple and Tesla take second and third, respectively

New research reveals that Google is the tech company Americans most want to work at. 

The new study from document management company SmallPDF analyzed monthly searches for openings at the biggest tech companies in the US to see which brand was getting the most interest in job opportunities. 

It found that Google comes out on top for searches, with ‘Google jobs’ receiving more than 339,000 searches a month on average in the US and the term ‘Google careers’ receiving more than 148,000 searches a month, adding up to a whopping total of 487,000 searches. This is more than 200,000 searches a month higher than second place. 

Apple comes in second place on the list, thanks to 180,000 searches every month for ‘Apple jobs’ and 99,000 searches a month on average for ‘Apple careers’, adding up to 279,000 searches a month. 

Coming in third place is a multinational automotive company, Tesla, with an average of 185,000 monthly searches for opportunities at the company. This is split down into 109,000 searches monthly for ‘Tesla jobs’ and 76,000 searches monthly for ‘Tesla careers.’ 

Facebook takes fourth place in the list, with 94,000 searches for ‘Facebook jobs’ and 49,000 searches a month for ‘Facebook careers’, which adds up to a total of 143,000 searches a month on average for Facebook work opportunities. 

Rounding out the top five is Microsoft, which receives more than 141,000 searches a month for openings at the company. ‘Microsoft jobs’ receives 66,000 searches a month, and ‘Microsoft careers’ receives 75,000 searches a month on average.

 

Company 

“Jobs” searches 

“Careers” searches 

Total 

 

Google 

339,000  

148,000  

487,000  

 

Apple 

180,000  

99,000  

279,000  

 

Tesla 

109,000  

76,000  

185,000  

 

Facebook 

94,000  

49,000  

143,000  

 

Microsoft 

66,000  

75,000  

141,000  

 

Salesforce 

52,000  

41,000  

93,000  

 

Verizon 

45,000  

41,000  

86,000  

 

Spectrum 

43,000  

38,000  

81,000  

 

Netflix 

45,000  

34,000  

79,000  

10  

AT&T 

37,000  

31,000  

68,000  

Commenting on the findings, a spokesperson from SmallPDF said: “While some of the US’s most well-known tech companies do indeed make their way into the top ten, many do not, indicating that the job searches for many people are varied and job seekers in the tech field are keeping their options open. The companies at the top of the list benefit from the prestige that their brand holds, which helps them attract the best talent, which helps them continue to lead the industry.” 

The study was conducted by SmallPDF, which offers easy PDF conversion tools, allowing you to be more productive and work smarter with documents.

 

Source: smallpdf.com

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