Emotive Robots Key to Unlocking IOT Potential

Over the 15 years of my digital career, I have witnessed significant technological innovation and massive shifts in consumer behavior based on the impact of innovation. Highlights include the evolution of the personal computer, the now ubiquitous smartphone, and the explosion of consumer-centric social media.

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Looking to the near future, the current rate of exponential technological advancement will continue to accelerate, and we are primed for another significant leap forward; the concept of emotive computing is about to enter the lives of early adopters and has the potential to shift our behaviors once again.

During SXSW 2015, the personal side of robots session presented by Dr. Cynthia Breazeal caught my attention. Her session focused on the potential impact of emotive computing as the next wave of computing innovation.

emotive computing

Emotive computing is based on systems and devices that can recognize, interpret, process, and simulate elements of human behavior. The key to the concept is the alignment of both emotion and cognition as the drivers of adaptive behavior.

I have followed Dr. Breazeal’s work at MIT since the late ’90s when I first heard about the Kismet project. Kismet was designed to be one of the first socio-emotive AI. The core focus was to move past simple cognitive skills and align psychosocial elements into the robot’s ability to understand and treat people as people.

MIT Kismet

During the session, Dr. Breazeal discussed the evolution of Kismet to the next iteration of the AI, Leonardo, as well as how emotion + cognition should be the basis of intelligence and adaptive behavior – which is key to creating an emotive AI.

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The advancements made with Kismet and Leonardo have set the foundation for a new type of consumer device that is focused on delivering multiple levels of utility while also demonstrating adaptive behavior.

Reviewing the current landscape of personal robots, we see mostly single utility or cognitively-driven robots. They enhance our lives by the tasks they complete but are weak in their ability to conceive emotional engagement.

personal robots

This is where I begin to consider the current product/market fit for socially emotive AI. When you start to consider the Internet of Things or the Internet of Better Things, there are key components missing that would unlock new levels of value, which would lead to mass adoption. Most of the current ecosystem is comprised of single-utility solutions that are neither interconnected nor adaptive.

Internet-of-Things

Initially, my assumption is that the IOT would benefit from a central hub that is built to scale. The basis for the hub has already been approached by Amazon with Echo. But the current technology tied to virtual assistants is built around search and retrieval based entities with limited capabilities to learn.

virtual assistant

With the rise of emotive computing, it is feasible that the core hub for the connected home could be an emotive AI. Toward the end of her talk, Dr. Breazeal revealed that her current initiative as founder and Chief Science Officer of Jibo is to deliver such an entity into homes sooner rather than later.

Jibo is being touted as the first “family robot” and positioned as a support and an enhancer to humans. The IndieGoGo crowdfunded robot raised over 2.2 million dollars and the first run is currently in production. Jibo can see, hear, speak, learn, assist, and relate to individuals, and is going to be the first mass-produced emotive AI.

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Jibo is also going to be built on a comprehensive developer ecosystem. With toolkits and a full SDK available, the focus is on creating a scalable content delivery platform.

Jibo SDK

I have talked a lot about how the IOT needs to be navigated with the consumer at the center, and I have shared my view of the #databaseofyou as the key to unlocking marketing value from the IOT, but little did I know that the database would actually reside within an emotive AI.

Evolution of Social Marketing Future - Tom Edwards

From a marketing perspective, I am very interested in the adoption and advancement of Jibo. If an emotive AI becomes the primary hub for the connected home, then it also becomes a potential content delivery platform that is the key connection between brands and consumers in the connected home.

By leveraging the full SDK and potentially certifying content, brands could provide contextually valuable experiences delivered through Jibo, or potentially new skills that extend the utility of the robot.

This is obviously speculation on how to potentially leverage emotive computing to create marketing value, but it is important to begin understanding that a significant shift is coming and that it may have just arrived in a small robotic form.

Follow Tom Edwards @BlackFin360

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TechnologyAdvice Expert Interview Series

TA Expert Interview Series featuring Tom Edwards of The Marketing Arm

Tom Edwards, the Executive Vice President of Strategy and Innovation here at The Marketing Arm, was recently invited to be a guest on the TechnologyAdvice Expert Interview Series to share his insight on the digital marketing landscape. The series, which is hosted by TechnologyAdvice’s Clark Buckner, explores a variety of business and technology verticals through conversations with industry leaders.

Edwards joined Buckner to discuss modern day digital, social, and mobile innovations, the importance of bridging technology and marketing, and the four core elements that bring a campaign to life.

Below are a few of the highlights from our conversation:

TA: Tell us about what life is like at TMA and some of the projects you work on everyday.

Tom: At The Marketing Arm, we’re really a consumer engagement agency, so that touches a wide range of project types. Everything from digital, to promotional, to talent, to production, to just a number of different types of projects that come across my desk on any given day.

I’m a part of the digital engagement division and we service about 16 core clients, everything from Exxonmobil, to GameStop, to name just a few organizations. So over the last 15 years, my role within the industry has really shifted from starting more on the technology side, and really kind of incorporated being that bridge between technology and marketing.

As digital continues to progress, we’ve seen it all: the end of the dotcom boom, massive portals, the rise of consumer social. All of these different types of trends we’ve seen definitely had a hand in touching and guiding different project types across multiple platforms and different routes of sale. It’s been a fun, interesting ride and it continues to get better.

TA:  What suggestions do you have for a team trying to compare and find the right marketing automation vendors? What should they be looking for?

Tom: Portability. So if I’m able to either leverage a tool that can aggregate content, redistribute, visualize things that can basically whether it’s a seamless flow, whether that’s your API through an SDK or whatever it may be, like that’s what I’m ultimately looking for now.

I’m looking for how can this one piece fit into the larger strategy that I’m trying to deploy and continue to add value without adding additional barriers or additional layers, that’s really the key piece. Because we’re touching so many different channels, everything from top line awareness via digital all the way down to shopper and point of sale.

So making sure that we can have programs that can work in scale. Scale is another key piece for us too and the data considerations depending upon local versus global so there are a lot of different pieces that we look at when we’re evaluating but for me, it’s how can whatever tool that you’re leveraging best provide value for everything as a whole versus just one specific piece or one specific function.

To learn more about The Marketing Arm, visit www.themarketingarm.com. Connect with Tom on Twitter @BlackFin360 and follow his blog at BlackFin360.com/blog. Be sure also follow @TheMarketingArm.

BlackFin360

Listen to the entire show above in order to hear our full conversation, or download the show to listen later. You can subscribe to the TA Expert Interview Series via Soundcloud, in order to get alerts about new episodes.

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This podcast was created and published by TechnologyAdvice. Interview conducted by Clark Buckner.

NCAA March Madness & Snapchat

TMA EVP, Strategy & Innovation Tom Edwards recently talked to Mobile Marketer about the big players for social media and brands during NCAA March Madness.

Q: What role could Snapchat and other social media platforms play in March Madness marketing?
TE: “Snapchat is actively looking to connect and extend physical experiences digitally. With their our story product, they are looking to provide brands with an opportunity to authentically connect their brand with content being created by event goers.

In addition to Snapchat, platforms such and Twitter and Instagram will see heavy usage for brands trying to capitalize on real-time opportunities as well as visual storytelling. Facebook will see usage, especially their video products to further extend the reach of television and create incremental value for their brand partners.”

Q: What makes social a good fit with this tournament?
TE: “The enthusiasm that individuals share for their participating schools, combined with the water cooler nature of brackets creates a lot of conversation, especially as the tournament draws to completion. Social is a great enabler of word of mouth, that combined with the passion for sports makes the platform ideal for large sporting events.”

Q: What brands are likely to be big players in social in March Madness?
TE: “A number of brands will try to create real-time moments associated with the tournament. Brands such as AT&T, Capital One and Coca-Cola will play a big part in March Madness once again. What will be interesting is to see the creativity of brands that are not official sponsors and how they align with the events that transpire on the court and how they try to relate it in some way to their brands social persona. We have seen a sharp rise in brand-to-brand conversation around marquee events over the past year. I am assuming we will see more of the same when the tournament starts.”

Q: What sorts of campaigns could we see these brands launch during the tournament? What campaigns have worked well in the past?
TE: “With an event such as March Madness you will see everything from on-site activations to digital sweeps. Brands that can create an authentic connection with the fan and provide fun and engaging creative that moves the viewer from consumption to creation behaviors will have a leg up.”

Follow Tom Edwards @BlackFin360

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Virtual Reality A Reality At SXSW 2015

Another year, another SXSW Interactive is in the books. Each year I look to get inspired, reconnect with publishers and 3rd party partners and look for new or incremental innovation that can add value for my clients. This year, one of the areas that caught my attention was the advancement of 3rd party integration and applications tied to virtual reality experiences.

In 2014, one SXSW exhibit in particular received a lot of attention for creating an immersive Virtual Reality Game of Thrones experience courtesy of Oculus Rift. 2015 did have it’s share of branded experiences tied to Oculus, see Samsung below, but a majority of 3rd parties were focused on showcasing how they create value through integrating VR and mobile devices as they prepare to go to market.

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Samsung – I had the opportunity to experience the Samsung Gear VR headset while at SXSW. The Samsung Gear VR is powered by an Oculus Rift headset that integrates with the Galaxy Note 4. The approach of serving as an extension of an existing device that can scale through various media and applications is the right approach to allow optimal personalization of experiences through devices and media entities that consumers already consume.

The #GalaxyLife VR exhibit was a rich experience that I definitely enjoyed.  My tour featured a Mountain Dew branded snowboarding adventure. There are pros and cons to the experience as it was immersive, although the audio was a bit lacking. If you have not tried the core Oculus Rift experience and this was your first foray into VR it is an impressive experience and for the average consumer, consuming media, be it VR cinema, gaming or 360 degree experiences can all be achieved through the Samsung Gear headset.

This type of VR experience is ideal for branded integrations as the experiences are tied to the mobile device and with the right SDK, it is possible to extend immersive content experiences through the Samsung Gear VR.

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Google – One of the more unique takes on a similar premise to the Samsung Gear VR came from Google. Google Cardboard is a simple, inexpensive way to enjoy VR based experiences through either Android or iPhone devices. When the Google team handed me the device, it was about the size of an iPad Mini. After a few minutes of folding I had an instant VR viewer that I could view media from VRSE or other Google Cardboard supported applications.

As with most things Google, there are Android and Unity SDK’s available to easily integrate Cardboard into existing VR applications to ensure that it is supported. The experience is surprising rich and the fact that it is inexpensive and also supports iPhone VR applications is a plus. Google Cardboard is a great tool to introduce younger audiences to enhanced VR experiences. It definitely passed the test with my crew of 12, 10 and 7 years of age. And with the simple design, I am not concerned about how they would handle the device.

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Intel and 3rd Parties – The SXSW Gaming Pavilion featured multiple extensions of the Oculus hardware with various groups working to create new integrations that could bridge the gap between traditional gaming and VR. Intel and CybertronPC showcased one of CybertronPC’s gaming rigs that supported an Oculus experience. This experience drew quite a crowd as onlookers wanted to catch a glimpse of PC gaming + Oculus.

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Another 3rd party that caught my attention was Sixense’s STEM System. This was a Full-Body Presence VR system vs. just an Oculus Visual experience. The system provides motion controls, haptic feedback and additional spatial awareness in the VR experience to create a full body controlled experience in game. The demo featured a light saber duel, think Microsoft Kinect in terms of open space, body controlled motion but with a fully immersive Oculus Rift visual experience.

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We are inching closer to mass consumer availability and I have been impressed how much has been developed within a single year. I still have my doubts as to whether or not Facebook’s Oculus Rift based experiences as they exist today will appeal to the mainstream consumer. We are still at the nascent stage of the technology and I do believe that augmented, virtual reality and digital overlays will become a part of our lives as some point in the next 10 years it just may not be a bulky headset, it may be something as simple as a bionic contact lens.

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I definitely enjoyed playing with the new hardware and look forward to what the future may bring at SXSW 2016.

Follow Tom Edwards @BlackFin360

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Aligning Employee Passions to Relevant Programs

This is the third and final post taken from my recent interviews with iMedia. This post & video discuss aligning employee passions to relevant programs.

Agencies know that turnover is high industry wide. They are learning that one way to keep good employees, accomplish creative marketing, and boost morale is to learn the passion points of each of their people and put them on projects that best align with them. Employees who are passionate about their campaigns and clients do better work, and are more positive in the workplace. These small shifts and adjustments sometimes make all the difference.

Tom Edwards is the Executive Vice President of Digital Strategy & Innovation

Follow Tom @Blackfin360

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Mobile Marketer: Facebook TV Spots

I was recently asked by Mobile Marketer to provide commentary about the recently released Facebook TV ads.

Mobile Marketer How unprecedented is it for Facebook to do a strict branding campaign like this? Why is this symbol of the social media/mobile age going to television ads, a traditional tool generally used for branding?

Tom Edwards – The brand campaign aligns with recent shift towards a reach and frequency approach vs. social engagement. Facebook is now positioning itself to drive incremental revenue from television while also focusing on discovery and video as key drivers moving forward. By using traditional media, it can create a bridge and further align itself as a mass media entity in it’s own right.

Mobile Marketer What opportunities or challenges can this campaign open for FB?

Tom Edwards – Facebook does not have an awareness problem, however the usage behavior, especially within the younger demographics are shifting. By positioning the brand and the core promise of what Facebook delivers, connections with the people that matter the most and share your life, they are reinforcing the core value of the platform.

Mobile Marketer- What do these ads say about how Facebook is positioning itself for consumers?

Tom Edwards – The campaign reinforces some of the core behaviors associated with why consumers engaged with the brand in the first place and it carefully highlights multiple audience segments while reinforcing the value of connection. 

Mobile Marketer- What does the ad say about the internal challenges Facebook is facing?

Tom Edwards – Facebook has reinvented itself multiple times over the past few years. In order to maintain it’s massive user base Facebook will need to continue to evolve. You see this in the acquisitions of Instagram, WhatsApp, Oculus and Live Rail as well as the parsing out of messenger from the native app. Creating relevant points of connection and value across physical and digital while creating value and scale for advertisers will be key areas of focus moving forward.

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Tom Edwards is the Executive Vice President of Digital Strategy & Innovation at The Marketing Arm

Follow Tom on Twitter @BlackFin360

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Integrating Celebrities and Online Influencers

This is the second of three posts taken from my recent interviews with iMedia. This post & video discuss integrating celebrity talent and online influencers.

Millennials love online celebrities, and with the ascendance of the Pluralist generation the importance of integrating influencers will only continue. Both of these groups live and breathe online, and agencies have a huge opportunity to work with social media stars, Vine talent, and popular bloggers to accomplish viral marketing. Brands and publishers don’t have these connections. Agencies are the creative places where online influencers will thrive. The dialogue is more open and the people are more willing to take risks. Smart agencies are remaining relevant by turning into mini-production houses

Tom Edwards is the Executive Vice President of Digital Strategy & Innovation

Follow Tom @Blackfin360

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