Technological Trends to Look Out for in 2017 Episode 2: 360 Video

Technological Trends to Look Out for in 2017 Episode 2: 360 Video

360 Video

Now onto this week's thoughts on Virtual Reality, specifically the use of 360 degree video.

If you’ve ready any of my previous blogs regarding VR or have seen my VR Whitepaper, you will already have some knowledge of what 360 video is, but for those who haven’t had the pleasure in doing so yet, a basic description is that it is a video recording where an omnidirectional camera records in every direction at the same time. During playback the viewer is fully immersed in the spot the recording was made, the panoramic feature allows you to scroll around to see the surroundings, or using a VR headset with a gyroscopic sensor the viewer turns their head to look around them, seeing the whole environment exactly as it was recorded.

VR viewers are becoming more and more available, but content is key! Everbody and their grandmother has been on a VR rollercoaster (producing some incredibly funny youtube videos, may I add!) but what we're seeing more and more of is people filming events, shows even football matches in 360 degree video. One thing that helped me pick 360 video for this list was the fact that you were able to view the London 2016/17 New Year’s fireworks in 360 degrees. This wasn’t created and put out there by some start up tech-company; this was broadcasted by the BBC, which only reinforces my views on how big I think this is going to be this year, so look out for more 360 videos coming your way!

Last year in the promotional industry we saw an increased interest in ‘Google cardboard’ style headsets, these theoretically work fantastically in the promotional market because the whole item is printable, thus providing a blank canvas for branding. Whilst saying this, this year we are noticing suppliers seem to be concentrating more on the high end side of VR viewers, finding new and better ways for people to enjoy the experience in a more comfortable manner, rather than it just being a handheld device. Although these are more expensive then the cardboard option it does go to show, in the promotional industry the selection of quality over price definitely has it’s time and place, with this being one of them. 

360 Video is a fantastic concept, now if you combine this with the technology virtual reality brings, alongside the upcoming trend in the next blog, you have life changing tech at the tip of your fingers.

Technological Trends to Look Out for in 2017 Episode 1: USB Type C

Technological Trends to Look Out for in 2017 Episode 1: USB Type C

The Running Man

 According to the 1987 movie “The Running Man,” starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, 2017 is the year the world goes into economic collapse, even though things aren’t all rosy in the current climate worldwide, they definitely aren’t as bad as this movie predicted! One thing 2017 will definitely be exciting for is seeing what technological trends and consumer markets have to offer us this year! Over the next 5 Episodes I aim to show you what I think will be big this year not only in the world of technology but how this will translate to to the Promotional Product Industry.

Earlier last month, the world’s biggest Consumer electronics and technology exhibitions took place in Las Vegas Nevada, CES 2017. It was so exciting to see the plethora of new technologies hitting the market this year, some of them relevant and ready to hit the market, others wacky futuristic concepts, but all have one thing in common, they are all pushing the technological boundaries showing us what could be the world of tomorrow. And what does consumer electronics and technologies being introduced into society have to do with the promotional product industry? I almost guarantee you if there is a popular product finding its way into the consumer market, it will just as quickly become a popular item in the promotional merchandise market also, nine times out of ten you can see a straight correlation between popular new products to buy and popular new products to brand. Over the next 5 Episodes I aim to show you what I think will be big this year not only in the world of technology but how this will translate to to the Promotional Product Industry.

Type C Cable1)    USB Type C

 I know what you’re thinking, not another type of connector, but bear with me for one moment as theoretically USB Type C has the ability to be THE One and only Connector you’ll need (One Connecter to rule them all!...for now anyway!) The transformed shape is actually not too dissimilar from current USB connectors; it is just slightly thicker and wider than the popular micro-usb. Great news is for those of you, like me, who plug your phone in to charge in the dark, you will be happy to know, like the Apple lightening connecter, Type C can be plugged in front to back or back to front! The unique quality USB type C has is that it supports all different types of connections, from 

charging, to data transfer, audio and even visual! This means that the USB type C can replace not only all of your current USB charging and transfer cables, but it will also replace Aux, HDMI, VGA and DVI cables.

USB Type C Flash DriveUSB chargers can currently only handle 5 volts at 2 amps (generally) whereas to fully power a computer, the source would need to output at least 20 volts at 5 amps.. Coupled with USB 3.1 and type C connectors the power is now scalable up to 100 watts, providing enough power to charge computers, laptops, tablets, phones, cameras, home robots, spaceships ok maybe not a whole spaceship…. Possibly just the LED lighting… Although I joke about spaceships this integration process is not a distant future, flagship mobile devices have already started incorporating USB Type C ports and reaping the benefits of superfast data transfers and charging. Although USB type C and USB 3.1 are different things, you will generally see them combined to create this USB connected powerhouse, which will make smart devices smarter and your personal and portable computers more portable. 

In the next episode we will see the newe developments in virtual reality and what we think 360 video has to offer us this year.

BTC Group's Introduction to Drones Blog Series: Episode Two - Follow the Drone Code

BTC Group's Introduction to Drones Blog Series: Episode Two - Follow the Drone Code

Before we enter the exciting world of drone use for commercial or leisure, it is very important to know and understand the safety and legal matters surrounding remotely piloted aircraft systems.

Once purchasing a drone, you are legally responsible each time your drone takes flight, it is very important to follow the rules and regulations. It is very tempting to want to fly your drone as soon as you get it out of the box, but not knowing the law surrounding them can get you in deep trouble even ending in criminal prosecution!

The first thing you must do before every flight is check your drone for any signs of damage, and that everything is functioning properly, before you start flying it. If your drone malfunctions mid-flight, you are still responsible for its actions. Whilst flying, never fly higher than 400 feet and make sure it is always in eyesight for obvious reasons, not being able to see your drone, is not a good enough reason for breaking rules and regulations.

I would strongly suggest flying your drone in an open field or park and under no circumstances should you fly your drone near an airport or within close proximity to aircraft. It is illegal to interfere and endanger the safety of an aircraft whilst it is in flight. As the person controlling the quadcopter, you are responsible for making sure collisions with other people or objects is completely avoided. It is in fact illegal to fly drones in a congested area; your drone should be at least 50 metres away from buildings and other people. If flying a drone with a camera, please remember that the data protection act applies in these cases, if you collect imagery of identifiable individuals, you will need to read and understand the rules on the utilisation of these images.

If you’re looking to fly a drone for commercial purposes, you will need to get permission from the CAA, as there are further rigorous implications regarding minimum distance from people and buildings etc. Flying drones is fantastic fun, and with practice can become a great past time, it is just important to always apply common sense when flying, generally all the rules and regulations are in place to make sure yourself and nobody else is upset or injured.

BTC Group's Introduction to Drones Blog Series: Episode One - It's All Just a Game of Drones

BTC Group's Introduction to Drones Blog Series: Episode One - It's All Just a Game of Drones

Up until relatively recently, the term drone never really bothered us; it was a word that was seldom heard of, and when it was mentioned, was used in a military context 

Now if you thought the widespread characteristic of the word ‘drone’ was extensive, categorising what can be considered as an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) is somewhat equally ambiguous. Without going through the ins and outs of UAV’s from this point forth whenever I talk about drones, just imagine the flying robot kind, generally also called quadcopters.with several other complex military terms. Over the last few years these technological wonders have become a rather hot topic, not only in the world of military, but in the consumer environment also. The term drone is incredibly broad, initially conceived in the English language as a male honeybee, eventually transforming into a regular phrase for an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle.

How do they Work?

Now the reason that they have only become popular in recent years is all down to the sheer complications involved when trying to accurately command each propeller not only to spin, but to spin in correlation with each other, keeping the quadcopter stable at all times. For the quadcopter to work correctly it needs to achieve ‘hover equilibrium’, a concept that is influenced by three variables, torque, thrust and drag.So what has made these flying robots so popular in the past few years? One of the main reasons hobbyists and remote control enthusiasts are a fan of these quadrocopters is all down to just how simple the mechanics are. In terms of moving parts, there are 4 spinning motor shafts, connected to four rotating propellers and that is virtually it, simply add the frame, electronic speed control, receiver, controller, Li-Po flight batteries, the electronic stabilisation kit and voila you have a ready to go quadcopter.

Resolving these manually would be nigh on impossible, but with the intervention of computing and micro processing it is achievable. Modern technology was needed for these because there are absolute thousands, if not millions, of calculations that need to be executed on a small scale, hence why the first quadcopters introduced the market were much larger and had very simple controls, anything more adventurous just wouldn’t have been possible.

As episode one I hope this blog provides you with a slight insight into how drones work and why they have become and are becoming increasingly popular not only in the consumer world, but in the commercial world also. In episode two I aim to provide further insight into the uses of drones, and episode three will show drones and promotional application. 

BTC Group's VR Blog Series: Episode Three - Promotional Branding Opportunity

BTC Group's VR Blog Series: Episode Three: Virtual Reality and Promotional Merchandise

The unique quality that the Google Cardboard headsets have is the vast branding area the product pertains. Due to the nature of the product and the material, every inch of the outer surface can be branded, which is an absolute bonus in the promotional branded products industry.

Virtual Reality Car GogglesBut what use can these products have promotionally? The question has already been answered by several large companies that are already using Google Cardboard like products in several different ways. Last month on our website I posted a blog detailing what I thought would be the top three trends in promotional merchandise this year, in this I mentioned the concept of VR headsets being used alongside experiential marketing.

I used the example that if an estate agent gave out the cardboard headset to prospective buyers, they could send the buyers ‘virtual tours’ of properties on sale, and if the buyer then needs to contact the estate agent, their contact details are right there printed on the headset. Another idea derives from a practice that already happens in the automotive sales industry, where a 

Virtual Reality Car Goggles inside

salesman would video a tour of the inside and out of a vehicle, outlining the unique selling points, as they are videoing them, even showing some of the functions  in use. Now if you translate this to virtual reality, an automotive sales company can do a 360 degree video of every vehicle that comes in, inside and out, outlining the functions etc. and when someone shows interest send them a fully branded VR cardboard headset, with access to the videos of the vehicles they have interest in. Almost all experiential services could benefit from ‘taster virtual reality tours’ tourist excursions could be revolutionised with these first person experiences, I can literally think of hundreds of ways this technology can be used to benefit companies in several different sectors.

New York Times Google CardboardAs I mentioned before large companies have already started using these products promotionally in their own unique ways, a very current fantastic example is the New York Times, whose campaign created a milestone in VR history. Early last November The New York Times launched their VR mobile app, and on the following weekend sent out Google Cardboard headsets to every home subscriber, this means they sent out over a million VR headsets across the USA. This is an incredible step forward in the world of virtual reality, the NYT VR app’s first 360 degree video will show the struggle of three refugee children; this video was produced in partnership with VRSE.

It is important to remember that we are still in the very early stages of mass consumer adoption with this technology, and several of the world's largest organisations are already using this technology for promotional uses, companies like Coca Cola, Volvo and Disney etc. In the promotional product industry companies are always looking for something different, something new, something that provides their customers, or potential customers, with a brand experience that stays in their mind, and this is exactly what Google Cardboard does. Promotional Virtual Reality has only just begun and who knows where we will be in 20 years from now, we could have food companies emailing taste tests of their food, we could have perfume companies sending you glimpses of their latest scent, we could even run the worldwide marathons, from the comfort of our living room, the opportunities are virtually endless.

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