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Everyone (or nearly everyone – my mum hadn’t :) has heard of Google Glass in some shape or form. It is by far the most talked about wearable currently. Yet, it is also one of the least mainstream with only approximately 10,000 users in the world as I write this – all carefully selected for the ongoing testing phase of the product.

Following in the footsteps of Nike’s Fuel band, Glass has stolen the spotlight as its deserving successor. Newsworthy in its own right, the extensive and constant media coverage is also no doubt partly the result of Google’s well-oiled PR machine.

Not surprisingly, quite a few other connected wearables have since launched, all equally eager to tap into our insatiable hunger for new and shiny hi tech objects. Some loosely reminiscent of Glass in design offer super niche functionality with only limited audience reach (e.g. Nissan’s 3E HUD), whilst others are of questionable use – if not taste (e.g. a collar camera for your petMicrosoft’s bra).

Despite everyone’s best efforts, Glass remains unsurpassed to date in my opinion. And as I was getting tired of the abundant PR, one particularity suddenly piqued my curiosity and has since made me follow the product evolution with great interest.

Unlike most – if not all – other wearables, the device strength appears to lie in its ability to constantly evolve and extend its many practical uses. This in my view makes Glass stand out and puts it firmly ahead of the pack.

Below are some of the most recent product evolutions that are good cases in point:

Glass as the surgery tool of the future

As I found out recently on the Australian Popular Science website:

Glass as a publishing platform for apps

It may not be mainstream yet but by the time it goes to market, Google Glass will come with hundreds if not thousands of apps. I came across one of these recently – the ColorSnap Glass from Sherwin-Williams:

Glass as a life changing experience for the disabled

Google has been paying close attention to how the disabled use its eyewear, as a way of improving their lives.

Glass as a way of modernizing orchestras

More recently, a conductor and music professor has been experimenting with Glass in a number of ways. It has proven to be a useful feedback tool for her students in particular. The eyewear is also being considered as a possible alternative music stand and paper score.

According to Hunter Walk, “Google is Love + Greed”. It may well be, but for as long as it endeavors to change our lives for the better, it is okay to be greedy.

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I have just come across an article on Forbes that outlines the results from Havas Media’s 2013 Meaningful Brand Index.

The MBI measures consumers’ perception of a brand’s influence on society, environment, economy, health and emotional wellbeing – in other words, the higher a brand in the MBI, the more positive impact it is seen having on consumers’ lives.

In this year’s results, tech giants Google, Samsung and Microsoft are the top 3 (interestingly Apple hasn’t made it to the top 10 – a sign that perhaps we are suffering from Apple fatigue?). And according to Havas Media: ‘’What the results tell us is that tech companies have done some powerful things over the last few years to focus on people’s lives and they’re starting to reap the benefits of that.’’

I couldn’t agree more.

However, this brand ranking takes on another dimension when read in conjunction with the following stat:

“The majority of those surveyed worldwide say they wouldn’t care if 73 percent of brands no longer existed tomorrow, and only 20 percent of all brands are viewed as having a positive role in consumers’ lives.” (Just to put this into perspective: 134,000 consumers were interviewed in 23 countries on 700 brands.)

If that statement doesn’t shake things up in the corporate world, then what will?

In short, as a brand you ‘d better play an active role in improving your consumers’ lives if you want to stay ahead of the pack – and more to the point, stay in business in the years to come.

The current economic climate has further reinforced the need for brands to play a meaningful role in our day to day lives and the community at large, and stop taking our custom for granted. Recent research shows that consumers are expecting brands to help solve the issues society faces and provide tangible proof of their efforts – that’s where CSR and Fair Trade come into play (ref. WARC Trends Toolkit 2013 report).

Finally, as I ponder over the correlation between the MBI score and Net Promoter Score (the score we give a brand on how likely we are to recommend it – a key performance indicator for most brands), I would say the higher the MBI ranking, the higher the NPS – which means all brands efforts should focus on the former to help increase the latter.

A lot of ink has been spilled in the press on Microsoft’s lost decade (and also on its unpopular leader’s antics). Nowadays, the once game changer is mainly known for loosing the race against innovation with its underwhelming product launches and poor attempts at copying others with inferior products. And so with this in mind, I was pleasantly surprised to read about the latest proof of concept from its research team: IllumiRoom – a technology that “augments the area surrounding the television screen with projected visualizations”. The pilot premiered at the CES last month and if it ever goes to market, it may well redefine not just the gaming experience but also home entertainment as a whole – I am no gamer but I could see myself watching Avatar in 3D IllumiRoom-style and loving it!

How successful the technology will be largely depends on which commercial uses Microsoft intend to make of it, its mass appeal and adoption potential by content creators amongst other hurdles. For now however, it is said to be the most advanced and user-friendly use of immersive imaging compared to earlier efforts reliant on similar techniques (e.g. see the over-the-top Peugeot Emotion & Motion show, or check out Sony’s DIY AR-room projection videos here).

Here is to hoping that something good comes out of Microsoft’s latest effort, that its concept sees the light of the day and gives the giant some of its past glory back…

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