Verizon Plans New Wireless Network Exclusively for Connected Devices

What Happened
Does the Internet of Things need a cellular network of its own? Verizon seems to think so. The nation’s largest wireless service provider announced on Wednesday that it is building a new 4G LTE network core specifically designed for connected devices that only require occasional internet access for small amounts of data. Currently, each connected device is treated as just another mobile device when plugged into the existing cellular core networks, which isn’t very cost effective regardless of carrier.

Market Impact
The high minimum monthly fee remains a major barrier to mass adoption of connected devices. Therefore, Verizon’s initiative to cut the cost for low-data-usage devices is a step in the right direction for the development of the IoT market. Lower the monthly fee should help encourage further proliferation of connected devices and enable more everyday devices to come online.


Source: Re/Code

MasterCard To Turn Everyday Gadgets Into Credit Cards

What Happened
Soon you may be paying for a dinner with your car key. Earlier this week, MasterCard announced it is launching a new program that aims to add contactless payment capabilities to everyday gadgets. MasterCard has already gotten some tech partners on board to create some prototypes, which include a key fob made by GM, a ring from Ringly, and a wristband from Nymi, all with MasterCard’s wireless payments tech built in.

What Brands Need To Do
As more and more devices become connected, MasterCard is smart to start experimenting with connected devices and develop payment solutions that are independent of smartphones. As mobile payment continues to evolve, brands need to keep up with changing consumer purchasing behavior and start integrating value offers and loyalty programs into a growing array of emerging payment solutions.


Source: The Verge

Amazon Echo Integrates StubHub For Event Info

What Happened
Amazon’s connected speaker is quickly expanding beyond its initial functionality, adding support for a handful of new third-party platforms, including popular event booking and ticket sale platform StubHub, as well as several smart-home platforms such as Cree. The StubHub integration, in particular, stands out for it customizes the information based on location and utilizes Alexa, Echo’s embedded virtual assistant, to offer info about events nearby within a natural, conversational context.

What Brands Should Do
As a nascent media platform, devices like Amazon Echo and, allegedly, Apple TV – both well-poised to become the central hubs of connected devices and all sorts of services – are slowly and surely gaining momentum as the future standard of digital interactions. And brands, especially those in the ecommerce and smart-home space, need to be mindful of its potential. For brands that wish to experiment with Amazon Echo, there is the Alexa Skills Kit, a free SDK that allows for creating new features for Echo’s platform and integrating branded digital assets with Alexa’s conversational U/I.


Source: Engadget
Header image courtesy of Amazon Echo Product Page

Event Recap: MobileWeek 2015 Conference

Yesterday, the Lab trekked into the west end of Hell’s Kitchen to attend the first day of MobileWeek 2015. Great talks were given on new developments in the rapidly growing mobile world, and enthusiastic discussion on the future of mobile ensued. Here are the four key takeaways for brands seeking to conquer mobile.

Connectivity is Growing
The evolution of the connected car has long been on our radar and mobile is the current medium fueling it all. Vijay Doradla of Verizon predicted that “by 2025 every car shipped in the world will have some sort of connectivity”. He also believes that the underlying fabric of this revolution is due to low latency and the ability of the network to scale to consumers.

Make Data More Ubiquitous
“There’s too much data out there and too many secrets”. Kurt Collins of explained that if we create a back-end that holds the data of all our mobile devices, we can have a more seamless experience; currently, bowered, data is stuck in silos. In order to have a fully unified experience, Collins believes that the implementation of “personal API’s” that can access all data on all devices will enable personal preferences to continue across all interfaces.

Mobile Security Matters
Gary Davis of Intel put the importance of mobile security in perspective: “the value of the data that sits on your phone is worth 10x that of a stolen or breached credit card”. With the progressive growth of IoT, our connected devices are producing prolific data and the weakest link in this ecosystem of connectivity is the smartphone. Davis states that “30% of people don’t have a pin or password on their smartphone”, which is alarming considering the hypergrowth of malware in mobile apps. Davis also predicts that the “adoption of NFC for digital payments from mobile devices will attract cyber thieves”. Similarly, Andrew Sugaya of APX Labs expressed his concern towards the security concerns of connected devices when discussing the future of wearables.

New Tech To Blend Into The Background
During his presentation on the endless potential of beacons, Kevin Hunter of Gimbal made it clear that the beacon is not only great at sending contextual value offers in retail environment, but can also power new discoveries and experiences at events or venues, seamlessly bridging reality with the digital world. Wearables could be a particularly effective medium for this, but for wearables to go mainstream, they have to seamlessly blend into the background with a natural, intuitive user experience.


By The Numbers: Quantifying Consumers’ Fear About Connected Devices

As we pointed out in last week’s By-the-Numbers, privacy concerns are holding back mainstream consumers from embracing connected home devices. This holds true for all connected devices, as the following AdWeek infographic perfectly illustrates.

Fears about personal privacy and data security, either through company misconduct or malicious hacking, rank as the top challenge for the IoT industry. In addition, a lack of perceived value in connected devices and associated pricing concerns don’t help the industry’s case.

Unsurprisingly, consumers prefer convenient devices, with fitness devices receiving an approving nod.  Meanwhile, the products in the least-wanted basket all share the trait of low practical value—most of the connected functions they offer can be achieved by simply looking at or smelling the items.


fear of connected devices


(Infographic Source: AdWeek)

Trigger + Michelle Cortese – LogMe

What if your necklace could detect and record your moods like an emotional journal? That’s the idea behind LogMe, a sentient-recognizing smart necklace designed by Michelle Cortese, the Lab’s very own interaction designer. Watch this trigger + to see our interview with her on the design and application of LogMe, as well as the reactions it has received so far.

2013: The Connected Year

According to ABI Research, 2013 was a year of increased connection, across media, platforms, and rooms. In the living room, there were 282.6 million set-top boxes sold, a 3.2% year over year increase, while mobile subscriptions, broadband subscribers, and wireless connectivity sets were up 5.8%, 6.1%, and 8.2% respectively. As well, smartphone sales were up 34.8%. The connected world is only continuing to develop, but if this trends report is any indication, we’re quickly hurtling towards a world of connected people, devices, and nations. 

Flash POV: Do Mobile Devices Have A Blurred Lines Problem?

Earlier this year, Blackberry CEO Thorsten Heins questioned the future of tablets in a Bloomberg interview, saying that “in five years, I don’t think there’ll be a reason to have a tablet anymore.”  Indeed, the release of smartphones with larger screens, such as the Galaxy Note, have given rise to the term “phablet” to indicate a device that is somewhere between a phone and a tablet, ostensibly eliminating the need to have both devices.

So are the lines between mobile devices blurring?

Maybe a little, but we don’t see it having any kind of substantial impact on tablet sales in the near future.  For now, the lines are more distinct than ever—even if the terminology is not.  Here are some key points to consider:

+        Phablet is a misleading term, because it’s really just a smartphone with a bigger screen.  A phablet (defined as having touchscreen between 5 and 6.9 inches) is a replacement for a smartphone.

+        In the early days of smartphones, smaller devices were desirable, but now that touch has become more sophisticated and responsive, screen sizes have got larger.

+        MAGNA currently estimates that there are about 169 million smartphones and 87 million tablets in the hands of Americans—but the latest ComScore data shows that “phablets” only account for about four percent of smartphones (just under seven million).

+        Recent research from Flurry confirms our own findings that tablets are largely an at-home, media-playing device (content, design, gaming), while smartphones are task-driven (navigation, shopping, mobile banking).  We think “phablets” fall into the latter category as well.

+        We agree with Time reporter Jared Newman that “phablets” are a niche, not a fad, and their emergence is simply an indication that consumers are enjoying bigger screens.

+        A recent downward trend in iPad sales has led to speculation that tablets could end up becoming more niche themselves, but it’s not that surprising given the influx of cheaper Android devices like the Kindle Fire.  Tablets remain the fastest growing media machines in history, and we project continued (albeit slower) growth over the next five years.

As the debate continues, what’s important for marketers is to be aware of is how consumers engage with brands on the various devices:

+        Phones = more ownership and more situations

+        Phones = shopping as an activity (product reviews/research, driving in-store, show-rooming, driver of purchase intent)

+        Tablets are used mostly at home, for personal content consumption

+        Tablets generate better video ad recall than other devices (see June 2013 Media Economy Report), and generate more spending per user compared to smartphones

+        eMarketer: In 2013, 63% of tablet users will make purchases vs. 39% of smartphone users


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