What’s the most gluing and addictive social media app ever? Well, not Twitter, nor Snapchat or Instagram; it’s Facebook. Have doubts? Well, you won’t after reading these statistics:
- Facebook has 2 billion active users as of now
- Around 1.66 billion people use Facebook every day on their mobile phones
- 1.57 people open the application daily to check the updates from friends (or strangers) and connect with the pages they like! [Source]
Interesting enough, there are more women users on Facebook than men! The ratio isn’t skewed since the number of men and women who surf Facebook is quite closely the same.
Apart from being a source of networking and social interaction, the platform also helps understand the demography is an area or region by pooling in data from user’s likes and profile info.
The social media giant has till now introduced a host of features, almost a new one every month, to help people connect virtually. However, the latest in its list of inventions is ‘Faceboom Spaces’.
The latest Virtual Reality application by the social media giant lets people hang out with each other in virtual reality spaces. This means, you could be in the same room as your friend, while both of you’re a billion miles apart!
Is that all I need to enjoy Facebook Spaces!
To step into the experience of Facebook Spaces, you’ll need to possess an Oculus Rift headset; noteworthy to mention that Oculus was acquired by Facebook back in March 2014 for US$ $2 billion. To interact with your friends, be able to feel the gestures, you need to own Oculus Touch Controllers where you’ll be able to catch the things in your VR space.
The app is available in beta version since April 2017 and can be downloaded from the Oculus Store.
And, here comes the fun part!
Facebook has always tried to protect the privacy of people and let the genuine relationships flourish. Facebook Spaces try and incorporate the same where one can create the truest version of oneself. For this, the users can choose their best pictures, most similar to what they look like. The eye color, facial expressions, hair style, etc. can all be changed to replicate the real you. The content comes under three verticals – Media, Tools, and Friends.
The application lets up to four ‘Facebook friends’ share the virtual space by allowing them to watch videos together, do video calls, click selfies, chat, etc. The VR spaces have been launched on Oculus Rift, however, Facebook aims to launch the technology on other VR platforms as well to avoid inhibiting the scope of its use. The users can have a great time in Spaces by interacting with 3D videos and photos which might be their own or provided by Facebook. In case some of your friends don’t own an Oculus Rift, you can still connect to them through Facebook Messenger call.
Facebook tries to go beyond the usual imagination and break free the barrier between the real and virtual world. The change awaits.
CA corporates with a healthy representation of people from different communities, religions and a balance of both the genders are likely to make the best bang. A report tells that the companies with more women on board had 42% better return on sales, 53% better return on equity and 66% bigger return on the invested capital [Catalyst].
Another report by Credit Suisse Research Institute informs that the larger companies had a more proportion of women directors. A deal of this trend is down to the fact that women tend to be more patient and tender towards the peers [Link].
Diversity and inclusion are the buzzwords in the corporate field and of late, there’s been a lot of talk about recruiting more women, especially in Tech companies. An observation by an economist Guy Berger at LinkedIn reveals that the technology industry has hired the most women between 2008 and 2016, the overall percentage increase being 24.4% [Article]. Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg has been consecutively winning the title of ‘the most powerful woman in technology’ since 2011. The leading lady acquired the 7th position in the Forbes’ 100 Most Powerful Women list. YouTube’s CEO Susan Wojcicki is a close successorat the number 8 position highlighting the fact that any woman is just as competent as a man, given the autonomy to chase her ideas.
We are moving towards a work culture of equal representation and shared responsibilities. IBM and HP both have women CEOs on the panel and the companies flourish well through the guidance of their Chief Executive Officers namely Meg Whitman and Virginia “Ginni” Rometty, respectively. The leader of e-commerce in China and a major player in the world market, Alibaba as well is co-founded by Lucy Peng. The industry which is becoming the favorite destination of high school graders is showing a positive trend by adapting to the demand of women leadership. For women starting to make a career in tech, the road is not a cakewalk, but it has surely gotten much better than how it was a decade back.
It is as important to be in one’s own skin, as is to adapt to the needs of the company. Just like the software language changes, the work environment has also improved, and just like the technologies and software, it has upgraded exceptionally. Since the industry favors the best, it is time for the working women in tech to speak up and be heard. Time to not rely on the previous trends, but connect the dots and shape the future.
Virtual Reality is a pedestrian term you hear of every month, however, the chances are you have underestimated how big this market is. The pace at which the Virtual Reality is making a name for itself in the commerce sector is too fast to limit into words. Gaming and education have been a key area of progress, whereas a lot of Research & Development has taken place under other businesses.
The Michigan based company Ford has been investing in Virtual Reality for automobile for over a decade and a half, beginning 2000. Big brands like BMW and Audi have also geared up to bring Augmented Reality to the mainstream consumer. Audi plays a strategic move by involving the maximum sensory organs of the human body. Theirs is an upscale VR experience where the customers can move around the car and see its experience while sound effects in the backdrop add more life. The customers can also distinguish between minor changes in different variants of a model including color, inlays, etc. Toyota’s Teen Drive 365 safety campaign is a successful attempt at ensuring driver safety. The motorists face real driving challenges and test drive while coordinating their movements.
Using the Oculus Rift, Ford has developed its century old business while incorporating Automotive Development [Forbes]. Ford’s Immersion Lab is a key area through which a person using the VR headset can roam around to check out a car and walk around it. His friends can see on a screen what a user can experience through the VR.
Until now, the technology that prominently aided the research and was an underdog is being used to improve the user experience and satisfaction. A customer now has varied options to test drive any car anytime. An automobile company doesn’t have to roll out numerous test drive models, nor is the use of manpower for test driving needed anymore. The same staff can be better used to engage the clientele. A survey by Woodstock Motors reveals that 48% of the drivers in a study want Virtual Test Drives in showrooms. 52% of potential buyers look forward to checking out the product online [VRFocus].
The autonomous car industry expects positive feedback wherein VR is used in the cars. The salesman’s job becomes simpler as VR promises better chances of sale after a VR demonstration of the motor cars, motor bikes, etc.
In June 2017, KTM recalled its latest launched model Duke 390 and Duke 125 bikes in Europe due to issues pertaining to the headlight turning off without a warning. This expenditure of time and effort by the employees and glitches faced by the consumers can be reduced when Virtual Reality is imbibed right from the buying model to the ‘service time’. The manufacturers can release the prototypes of their upcoming roll-outs without bearing the marketing and low selling costs of the products. Such a method also improves getting a feedback from the customers. Marketers would also approve of this strategy where the customers feel valued and heard.
Like the movies, automobile manufacturers can release teasers and trailers of their upcoming models bragging about their latest integrations in the updated versions. Broadly, VR in automobile combats the economic constraints, provides flexibility and comfort to the buyers, reduces the chances of failure of a product, gives the opportunity to the companies to work on the feedbacks, and avoids instances like repealing of the vehicles. Virtual trips prove more engaging, refreshing and give a freshly brewed experience to the potential buyers.
VR in Motoring coexists with other leading developmental changes in line. The technology can drive great traffic towards showrooms. Fasten the belt, get set, and vroom!
With one of the highest global per capita internet penetration levels and country literacy, almost every business in the Middle East gears up to go the ‘Digital Way’. From 27% in 2013 to 42% in 2015 [Online Shopping Behavior Study: Middle East], there has been a quick escalation in the number of online shoppers.
In many places of Bahrain and the UAE, population up to 90% has access to the internet [Research and Markets] which makes the ground for e-commerce market pretty fertile to flourish. Travel bookings and electronics form the major part of online purchases.
- The countries of the region are growing rapidly and the same is evident from these observations
- The commerce ministry’s initiatives to welcome e-commerce in Bahrain and Oman have helped both the countries
- In the UNCTAD B2C E-Commerce Index 2016, UAE grew by 41 positions
- Bahrain, Qatar, and Kuwait are amongst the Top 10 developing economies in the UNCTAD B2C E-commerce Index, 2016 [Source]
With Amazon adding Souq.Com in its Wall of Fame, there’s been a major topsy-turvy in the e-commerce region of the Middle East market. The UAE-based Souq.com had always been known as the ‘Amazon of the Middle East’. Well, staying true to its pseudonym, the company has merged with the Seattle-based e-commerce biggie Amazon.
Syrian-born entrepreneur Ronaldo Mouchawar (@ronmou) struck a deal with Amazon to settle the deal at something speculated above $650 million. Russ Grandinetti, Amazon Senior Vice President, International Consumer shared his thoughts on the acquisition, “Amazon and SOUQ.com share the same DNA – we’re both driven by customers, invention, and long-term thinking.”
Souq has been the biggest online retail and marketplace platform in the Arab region and has a loyal fanbase already. The young market in the region has already reached maturity for responding to this trend. The website gets around 45 million visits per month [Press Release] and Amazon is set to take full leverage of this stepping stone.
So what does this partnership mean to both the parties?
- Amazon gets a dynamic market of $8.5 billion active users
- Amazon also gets the revenue from 10 million mobile app downloads of Souq
- Souq can grow multitudinously by serving more products and serving to more people
- Souq has already raised commission rates to 20% from 15% for five major niches which implies that the sellers get more business and customers also get more variety and benefit from the competition
- Souq can offer to its customers a wide range of 40 million products on Amazon
The partnership is all in all a big impression for the e-commerce industry. Not to forget, that Noon.com, whose release was announced in November last year, is also preparing for a grand launch in the Arab market. The e-commerce website is the brainchild of Mr. Alabbar., an Emirati billionaire and the founder and Chairman of Emaar Properties.
With big players coming to the e-commerce market of MENA, it is the customers who’d have the most benefits.
The modern chalkboards are a lot different than those 50 years back and since the last decade, there are systematic upgradations that have shaped the EdTech. Every child is imbibed with creativity and the sole purpose of schooling is to bring out that strength through modern means. Modern technologies, teaching methods, ways to open up introverts and extroverts and give equal opportunities for all can cultivate creativity in students.
The Google Earth update of April 2017 introduced us to the key addition as Voyager. While Google Earth has been giving wings to many for flying around the world, Voyager provided expressive guided tours framed by “the world’s leading storytellers, scientists, and nonprofits,”. By partnering with National Geographic, Google has taken another step towards helping teachers and students discover realms of the Earth. Through Google Voyager, the students can visualize the Street View to walk through the places around the Eiffel Tower and the Burj Khalifa. Then there is Earth View which enables the virtual learning in classrooms by taking students to the landscapes and terrains around the Earth. Through 3D cities, the students can tilt and see the realistic photographs of cities worldwide. Another verticals of Voyager are Satellite imagery updates & Highlight tour.
With 10 new immersive and guided virtual tours, Google prepares to upscale the STEM learning, just like Munfarid Consulting. This company in Bahrain recently partnered with Google, while having a similar vision. Munfarid’s product VRXOne is the only Google expeditions partner in MENA. Through interactive Virtual Reality sessions, VRXOne is equipped to bring out the best of classroom learning. How? Well, the kit makes it possible to travel to any place in the world without leaving the classroom premises, thereby cutting short the time, human resources, and cost. The hardware is fully adapted to make the students understand the concepts of STEM Learning. The students can use their understanding and analytical skills combined to gauge the phenomenon happening around and respond accordingly. This VR enabled kit empowers the teachers where they can make all the students work in sync. The said feature is helpful for the tutor where they can ensure that their students are wanderers, but only of lessons taught.
Apart from Expeditions in VR, Google also announced Expeditions AR during the Google I/O 2017 where
Clay Bavor, VP, Virtual Reality at Google introduced the technology telling that it would use indoor location tracking to substantiate the GPS. The system is set to give educational advantage to schools.
With companies focussing on Artificial Reality for classrooms, the schools are motivated to imbibe passion-driven content in their curriculum. A major plus point of EdTech is that it changes the physical state of the classroom to a newer and more engaging one. Educators also suggest that Artificial Intelligence in classrooms will develop pedagogy. Some also suggest the development of AI Robots to accentuate communication and understanding. To schools in more ingenious ways and utilize the eight hours dedicated to classrooms in the most efficient manner is the purpose of ISTE. With Education technology growing in classrooms, students get their individual times to comprehend the lessons and work independently.