All posts by Mitchell Goss

What the San Francisco Facial Recognition Ban Could Mean for Digital Signage in 2019

Early in May, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted 8-1 to ban the use of facial recognition by city agencies, capturing the attention of digital signage companies everywhere. 

Facial recognition has been used in the past by law enforcement to recognize identity theft suspects but not everybody’s happy with the new AI. Whistleblowers have been calling for regulation for years on the grounds that it’s a slippery slope towards compromised privacy. 

The effects of the San Francisco facial recognition ban are being hotly debated right and you may be wondering—what does that mean for digital signage? Let’s take a look.

What started the San Francisco facial recognition ban?

The San Francisco facial recognition ban was introduced as a proactive effort to stop government agencies, such as the city police and county’s sheriff’s department, from abusing a technology that isn’t yet reliable. 

The problem with facial recognition technology can be broken down into two main factors:

1. Reliability

As of now, AI technology has trouble accurately identifying faces that are female or have darker skin, with error rates as high as 35%. Unsurprisingly, this presents a problem since this kind of error can lead law enforcement to false identification, not to mention further entrenching existing biases within law enforcement.

Women and people of color aren’t the only ones that could be harmed by facial recognition, though. Existing technology also has problems identifying transgender people, especially transgender people of color, putting an already marginalized group at higher risk of misidentification.

2. Privacy

Facial recognition technology has yet to be abused in the US but in China, citizens are exposed to near-constant monitoring. While we’re not looking at a totalitarian takeover just yet, privacy advocates caution against entrenching facial recognition technology before its accuracy has been improved and reliably regulated.

It’s worth noting that prior to the ban, San Francisco law enforcement didn’t use facial recognition technology. Not to mention that despite worries about privacy, facial recognition has been used positively to:

So, while facial recognition technology should be approached cautiously, it can be used for good.

Who does the San Francisco facial recognition ban affect?

At the moment, the ban only affects government agencies within the city such as the city police and county sheriff’s office. Federal agencies and public businesses won’t be affected and government agencies can’t solicit information from places that do use facial recognition technology. 

Private individuals using facial recognition technology can still call in tips to share with local law enforcement, however. Agencies will be required to ask how tips were obtained so that they can keep track of how prevalent facial recognition is, but those tips can still be used.

Outside of San Francisco, the ban has since gone on to inspire a slew of similar facial recognition bans. Somerville, Massachusettes was the next to follow in June and Oakland, California soon after.

What’s the difference between facial detection and facial recognition?

Facial detection and facial recognition are often used interchangeably, but there are some subtle differences:

  • Facial detection refers to computer technology that can detect the presence of a human face within a digital image. This can be used to identify characteristics like a person’s age, gender, or facial expression. This information is then collected anonymously and used to advertise to targeted consumers.
  • Facial recognition, in contrast, can actually identify someone by their face. Now, don’t freak out! While this may sound alarming, facial recognition is already being commonly used among public companies and isn’t inherently bad. If you’ve ever unlocked your phone using your camera, you’ve already been identified by facial recognition technology. 

What does this mean for digital signage?

At the moment, nothing. In fact, despite the ban, many industry experts expect facial recognition to become a staple in the digital world. 

“Written feedback, voice feedback and body language will be the holy trinity to delivering a robust customer experience once facial recognition technology is mastered,” says Brennan Wilkie, Senior Vice President of Customer Experience Strategy at InMoment.

Others recommend a more cautious, but still optimistic view.

“We have to regulate how to use it in the future. Everything can be useful for good things and for bad things,” says Mikhail Ivanov, CEO of NTechLabs.” I think there are lots of cases where facial recognition can be used for good things to make our lives safer and more comfortable.”

Proactive measures need to be taken if digital signage vendors want to avoid strict government regulation, however. As more and more people become aware of facial recognition and the dangers it could bring, it’s important for digital signage vendors to maintain complete transparency. As shown by Facebook’s most recent lawsuit, people don’t take kindly to their personal info being exploited.

Maintaining transparency doesn’t just fall on a single company, however. One bad experience can ruin things for the entire industry. Digital signage vendors need to be willing to call out all counts of misuse of data within the field if they want to maintain consumer trust.

In Conclusion: Key Takeaways

  • San Francisco’s facial recognition ban only applies to government agencies within the city
  • Digital signage vendors are as of now unaffected by the ban
  • Maintaining transparency within the industry is vital to avoiding strict future government regulation

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Touchscreen Technology Trends

Today, consumers expect nothing less than control at their fingertips. Sectors across the business sphere are taking the tech in new directions to differentiate themselves and enhance the customer experience.

The history of the touchscreen is a fascinating one. The modern capacitive versions of the technology can be traced back to the mid-1960’s and its beginnings in radar. It was the advent of Apple’s iPhone in 2007 which brought touchscreen into the mainstream, however, and people have embraced it as their preferred form of data engagement ever since.

A study from the University of British Columbia highlights why consumers enjoy the tactile element of touchscreens. They create an element of fun and influence the making of hedonic purchases. Hedonics are the opposite of utilitarian purchases like tissue paper or cleaning products; they give consumers pleasure and include things like buying new clothes, a burger, or a night at the movies.

The latest touchscreen trends are keeping pace with the tastes of modern consumers. And advances in technology promise more effective and competitive communication for businesses of every size.

The demographics driving touchscreen trends

The preferences of the latest generations of people always dictate the next trends in tech. Millennials have a marked preference for the self-service enabled by touchscreens, with almost half expecting more kiosks in retail stores to speed up the buying process. The majority of millennials bluntly state that they dislike interaction with store staff.

Gen Z, the youngest consumers, have similar preferences and will be the biggest buyers by 2020, accounting for as much as $143 billion in direct spending. Those kinds of numbers mean the marketplace will give their biggest audience what they want, and they’ll do this by trending toward more and more touchscreens across the retail sector.

Trends also usually mirror successful changes made by the biggest companies. For example, McDonald’s realized in 2018 that touchscreens were netting them more purchases than if consumers dealt with employees. They attributed the upturn in sales to extended customer dwell time on the screen, which is a typical result when using digital displays in various settings. This is driving McDonald’s to add digital touch kiosks to 1,000 stores every quarter over the next two years.

Trends in application and technology

Consumer demand for touchscreens will fuel the growth of the digital signage market and drive down prices in the coming years, making larger and more engaging screens a possibility for even the smallest business. New developments will include:

  • Multi-touch technology – Many of the touchscreens currently in use can recognize input from only one touch point at a time. Multi-touch, however, will enable users to activate different parts of a display simultaneously from two or more contact points. Multiple processes by multiple users greatly improves the speed of customer transactions. The tech has been around for over a decade on mobile devices, and it is now set to become common on larger-scale, retail digital displays.

  • From landscape to portrait – You may have noticed that many in-store digital displays are becoming vertically aligned rather than being horizontal/wide aspect. Screens will continue to trend toward an upright presentation to mirror the appearance of a giant mobile device. Consumers are used to browsing and buying vertically on their smart phones, so more digital signs will duplicate that visual/tactile experience on a larger scale.

  • Touch without touch – Standard touchscreens are classed as “capacitive,” which means they require direct contact from a pressure point. This can be detrimental to the screen’s visual appearance and overall performance, so today’s displays are trending toward projected capacitance. Projected capacitance screens offer superior optical clarity and do not require direct touch contact in order to receive information. A user’s finger only needs to be close enough for the display to register it and execute the command.

  • Resistive screens – Projective capacitance is one way of handling the wear and tear caused by thousands of pushing fingers, but there are other ways screens are getting tougher. Resistive touchscreens have greater resistance to water and screen debris, making them perfect for outdoor displays as well as the physical demands of high-traffic indoor areas.

  • Force-sensitive screens – While projected capacitance screens are trending, there is still demand for very large capacitive screens. There is debate as to how much they will impact the market and how big they can get, however. The application of finger force works well on small screens like a phone or tablet, but it doesn’t scale so well to some of the much bigger, thicker screens in public spaces.

    Researchers at the University of California San Diego and the University of Texas at Austin have made impressive advances in force-sensitivity and claim their tech can easily be scaled up to large surface areas with latency of less than one millisecond. Widespread adoption of very large force-sensitive screens would allow users more interactive options such as zooming in on a large Wayfinder map.

Interactive touch is here to stay. The tech is advancing, and it offers endless communication possibilities for businesses. Zero-In makes that connection possible with customizable technology that provides the experience your customer is looking for.

At Zero-In, we’re passionate about creating digital experiences for the real world. Our award-winning agency includes web application specialists, motion graphic designers, computer and audiovisual hardware engineers, and network specialists. You can chat with us live on our site or click the contact form on the bottom right of any page.

Digital Marketing in a Virtual Future

The Impact of Augmented and Virtual Reality on Advertising

Virtual/Augmented reality has vast marketing potential. This imaginary world will create very real experiences, connecting businesses and consumers like never before.

Look around and you’ll see the dawn of a golden age in digital marketing. Data from the Commercial Integrator includes some impressive figures:

  • The digital signage market sat at $21 billion in 2017 and is projected to hit $32 billion by 2023

  • Digital ads will make gains of 18.3 percent in 2019

  • Digital out-of-home (OOH) ads will dominate advertising with a 54 percent audience attention share, outstripping the 31 percent held by television

  • 76 percent of integrators will be utilizing digital marketing this year

Digital is advertising’s present and future. And it’s a role that will only expand and evolve into something completely new as virtual and augmented realities (AR/VR) start  to create incredibly powerful experiences for consumers.

The roots of augmented and virtual advertising

Virtual reality (a wholly digital experience apart from the real world) and augmented reality (the addition of digital elements to a real-world view, as seen in the popular Pokémon Go app) are still in their early phases. There’s no doubt, however, that both will play a key role in boosting the digital signage market by $11 billion in the next four years.

The drive toward VR/AR is powered by the preferences of Millennials and Gen Z. These two demographics are ready to spend $350 billion, making them the largest commercial target group in the world. And virtual and augmented sales materials are already very attractive to these age groups:

“25% of [these] mobile prodigies were looking for product discovery and purchase possibilities from VR, and 23% put AR on their wish list for digital shopping. Furthermore, among those that want AR, millennials led Gen Z by eight percentage points.”

VR/AR has the power to make unprecedented advertising connections, setting the technology apart from common and predominantly passive marketing approaches. Think of it this way: Digital advertising is now dwarfing television. And VR/AR will do for digital what digital is about to do to TV.

Experiential marketing takes center stage

The tag “digital marketing” will likely give way to “experiential marketing” as these two technologies evolve. Even the most eye-catching digital signs on 2-D media won’t be able to compete with the immersion VR/AR will offer. Take the travel sector, for example: Consider these images of big, bold and innovative digital signage from around the world. They’re impactful, but can any of them compete with the kind of transporting VR engagement Marriott has offered customers? Check it out:

<iframe width=”560″ height=”315″ src=”https://www.youtube.com/embed/rf1aC6aebq8″ frameborder=”0″ allow=”accelerometer; autoplay; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture” allowfullscreen></iframe>

For fashion retailers, augmented reality can let shoppers “wear” an item or apply make-up rather than merely browsing a website. AR-enabled mirrors and digital fitting rooms immerse clothing and cosmetic customers in the products. Almost 70 percent of consumers expect stores to implement augmented reality in some form, 61 percent prefer stores that do, and are 40 percent more likely to make the purchase if AR was part of the consideration process.

Stepping into a pair of Nike’s took on a new dimension last year when stores in China deployed Reactland. This digital experience projects shoppers onto big screens and takes them running through fantastic scenarios while adding elements of gamification. Gamification is an important element, since that’s where VR first connected with most of the public and Millennials prize gaming as an experience.

Why signage has the edge on headsets

VR is attractive to consumers, but the headsets that often make it possible aren’t as well-received. Negative effects from current models like causing eye strain and nausea in some wearers make shoppers less likely to put on a headset if it’s offered to them in a retail environment. This is where digital signage may have the edge in creating an immersive virtual/augmented reality experience. Consumers can be surrounded by digital signs and screens of all sizes and be fully engaged while avoiding the side effects of close-proximity visual stimulation.

Reaching the masses, one at a time

Samsung, General Motors, and Pepsi have all tested the waters of VR/AR digital advertising in the recent past. Investment in the tech and successful marketing efforts from corporate giants like these will only create further demand.

VR/AR in digital displays immerses consumers and brings marketers and their audience closer. In effect, they become part of the campaign. It’s that close connection which businesses have been seeking since advertising began – and the next few years seem poised to finally make it a (virtual) reality.

At Zero-In we’re passionate about creating digital experiences for the real world. Our award-winning agency includes web application specialists, motion graphic designers, computer and audiovisual hardware engineers, and network specialists. You can chat with us live on our site or click the contact form on the bottom right of any page.

When is Wi-Fi 6 Coming? And What are Its Features?

The number’s up for traditional Wi-Fi as the next generation approaches

Wi-Fi was once a service free of typical version numbers; those digits which quickly identify previous tech as irrelevant or redundant. That all changes next year when wireless will adopt its own simplified, number-based name system. The change is intended to foster greater understanding of Wi-Fi for users and the industry alongside major improvements in performance.

Understanding how Wi-Fi gets its classifications

The notion of numbered Wi-Fi may seem like a shake-up but it’s more like coming full circle. When wireless began, it was named in numbers – 802.11. Each successive iteration simply added a lower-case letter after the last digit. How that system played out seems counter-intuitive in retrospect, since the letters weren’t added in alphabetical order.

Fast-forward to today, and Wi-Fi 6 is approaching. It’s another step up in performance with fresh branding from the Wi-Fi Alliance. The organization believes the new numbering will promote clearer public understanding. They should know: it was the Alliance that first helped shape the term “Wi-Fi” to prevent wireless being labeled “IEEE 802.11b Direct Sequence.”

The public will be able to tell at a glance which Wi-Fi their hardware supports instead of confronting technical designations created by engineers, for engineers. Numbering for a new generation is more suitable in many ways, since that “6” may ultimately be the only designation that counts. The very people who created “Wi-Fi” view that name as pure marketing – and the misleading and meaningless kind, at that.

Why we’re “suddenly” on 6 and what it aims to improve

If you’re worried that you missed out on versions one to five, don’t be. You’ve been using them for years under their more laborious numbered names. If you’re curious, the Wi-Fi Alliance hasn’t left the last twenty years of wireless in the past. Each version has been retroactively rebranded as Wi-Fi 1 to 5.

The world won’t get to experience Wi-Fi 6 (destined to be lesser-known as 802.11ax) until 2019. The biggest goal of this new version is tackling overcrowded Wi-Fi channels. A connection might be the fastest in town, but if there’s a host of signals all packed into the same channel it slows things down for everyone. Wi-Fi 6 will offer superior performance when users find their device stuck in one of these “dense” environments.

Other improvements on the horizon are a boost to Wi-Fi capacity. The current capacity maxes out at 1.3Gbps (gigabytes per second) under optimum conditions: an important term to remember when calculating any Wi-Fi’s capability. The Wi-Fi Alliance states that devices carrying Version 6 will benefit from a 1024 quadrature amplitude modulation mode (1024-QAM) which will enable peak gigabit speeds for emerging, bandwidth-intensive use cases. When you consider that the highest QAM in common use today is 256, Version 6 looks impressive.

Outdoor connectivity and range are two more areas which stand to be improved. The Alliance is confident that even businesses with large-scale Wi-Fi deployment won’t have to worry about losing any of the predicted benefits. Things will be overseen by the Wi-Fi CERTIFIED 6 program to ensure the service lives up to its promises.

Wi-Fi 6 comes hot on the heels of major security updates

Version 6 is taking shape at just the right time to capitalize on new standards of Internet safety. Summer 2018 saw the Alliance unveil Wi-Fi CERTIFIED WPA3 – the most significant improvement to wireless security in more than ten years. It makes some welcome changes to current security levels:

  • Private connections get stronger – Weak passwords are an open door for cybercriminals. Bad memory and sheer laziness have crashed many a hard drive, but Wi-Fi 6 will change that. Even if a weak password is chosen, the WPA3 standard should be tough enough to compensate and protect private connections.

  • Screenless connectivity improves – You’re not alone if you’ve had difficulty linking devices without displays to your Wi-Fi. Version 6 intends to make devices – like Amazon’s Echo or your home lighting – link to your wireless with greater ease and without using a laptop or cellphone as a middle-man.

  • Public connections will get more private – Open Wi-Fi networks are all around us at places like coffee shops, airports, and hotels but their security leaves a lot to be desired. Since anyone can connect, whatever we view can be seen by others and intercepted. Version 6 comes with individualized data encryption, automatically layering your viewing with enhanced security.

There’s more to learn on the Wi-Fi Alliance site, where you’ll find detailed whitepapers and a closer look at Wi-Fi then, now, and tomorrow. Today is the perfect time to make Wi-Fi’s evolving capabilities part of your retail strategy. Faster, stronger, and safer wireless means your marketing message can reach more people, more reliably with the right digital displays.

Modern digital signage is fully customizable, instantly responsive and all controlled by you from a central location. We’ve helped some major names across nine industry sectors create the perfect interactive solutions to put them in the public eye. Call us at 888.260.7291 today to learn how we can do it for you.

 

At Zero-In we’re passionate about creating digital experiences for the real world. Our award-winning agency includes web application specialists, motion graphic designers, computer and audiovisual hardware engineers, and network specialists. You can chat with us live on our site or click the contact form on the bottom right of any page.

Zero-In on the Road

September and October were busy and exciting months for Zero-In! Between mid-September and late October ZI team members exhibited at conferences to showcase our digital solutions.
  • September 23 – 25th ABA Marketing Baltimore, Maryland
    • Focusing on trends in bank marketing, VP of Sales Mitch, Senior Account Manager Stephanie, and Sales & Solutions Manager Alex participated in the flagship conference for bank marketing and retail professionals.
  • October 1 – 3 FSTec Orlando, Florida
    • Alex and Mitch were back in the conference hall in early October, this time presenting restaurant technology solutions at the industry’s most comprehensive technology conference. With over 1,400 attendees, this event gives insights into the future of restaurant tech.
  • October 22 – 23 NEFMA Portsmouth, Rhode Island
    • Rounding out a busy month of travel, Stephanie headed to the northeast for the New England Financial Marketing Association fall conference. Focusing on networking within the New England banking sector, NEFMA holds two conferences per year, once in spring and fall.

Check out some images below!

 

AI & the Art World – A Historic Mix

Christie’s, a 252-year-old auction house, sold its first piece of AI art created by a collective called Obvious. The print, expected to auction for between $7,000 – 10,000, sold for a surprising $432,500. Members of Obvious used a machine learning algorithm known as GAN (generative adversarial network), training the network on a dataset of historical portraits, similar to the one it created, to generate the piece.

AI is being used more and more in everyday lives from voice assistants like Alexa and Google Home, to helping scientists predict when the next big earthquake will be. Now, with the creation of AI art, where do you think the future of AI will take us next?

The Return of Real-World Retail | Digital Displays Impact Shopper Experience

How shoppers’ five senses are reviving in-person retail

Cyberspace gives retailers a global presence with none of the physical hassles while delivering consumers a virtually-instantaneous experience. But (with apologies to Mark Twain) the rumors of the demise of in-person shopping have been greatly exaggerated. So why is there a renaissance in real-world retail?

There are numbers to support the idea of this rebirth and a few that detract from it, but there’s one constant that seems to win in the end: it’s humans who are doing the buying. Online may be fast and footwork-free, but it’s image is starting to feel the pinch from shoppers who want to touch, see, and hear the items they’re interested in.

The figures that make Amazon cheer: Brick and mortar bombing?

The stats on how many street stores are closing shop could be blamed for the idea that physical is finished. Close to 7,000 stores shut their doors in 2017 and named migration to online sales as the prime culprit (some sources cite the figure as being closer to 9,000).

Some sources measure the closures in millions of square feet lost this year, while others simply count the brands that have closed certain locations or simply gone out of business. There are some big names on that list including Toys R Us, Walgreens, and the Gap. These are the kind of giants most would think are immune from shifts in consumer taste, but the stats are a lesson that even the big guys can go under. At the same time, others continue to thrive – with a smart strategy.

The flipside: Brick and mortar booming?

In contrast, consider this recent data from the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Commerce. Table 1 (Page 2) shows dominance in retail sales … by real-world stores. They’re outstripping their cyber competition by 10 to one, with e-commerce accounting for many millions of dollars but ultimately only about 9.0% of total retail sales.

The other 91% of purchases are still being made at physical locations. So, just what is keeping these brick and mortar retailers alive and, in many cases, thriving?

Understanding the “chore and cherish” effect

Day-to-day living requires many mundane items. When we walk, drive, or ride to pick up items like bathroom tissue, detergent and deodorant, we do so because they’re things we must shop for. These personal care and cosmetic products aren’t exactly a thrilling buy, which is why these “chore” purchases account for most buys made online. Shoppers simply aren’t motivated by them like they are when shopping for something that’s more personal and exciting.

At the other end of the customer spectrum is the “cherish” retail experience. This hinges on three cores: novelty, personalization, and connection. These aspects are things that physical stores excel at providing – both through the product they sell and the in-store experience.

Something to cherish

This is where the physical stores start to edge ahead. They offer social interactivity that digital cannot. A welcome greeting as customers enter can combine with sights, sounds, smells, and the opportunity to see and touch a product; this experience is valued by over half of consumers.

Being able to see a product is a big draw among shoppers, second only to being able to touch it. Being able to handle what we see is also a decisive factor in following through on a purchase or engaging with a brand. This creates a connection that no online experience can match. In addition, remember that while e-commerce shopping is instantaneous, delivery isn’t. It’s an illusion of immediate gratification.

Physical stores offer the chance to engage with a product and take it home that minute. And consumers still value “cherish” experiences as a chance to engage physically, express themselves aesthetically, and connect with an item on a personal level. The retailer who can communicate with these customers and offer an equally individual in-store experience is more likely to see increased sales.

How businesses can novelize, personalize, and hybridize

This list explaining how to optimize the customer experience from Small Business Trends places interactivity, social media, and relevant in-store content as prime ways to individualize physical retail. In short, you need a combination of real-life experiences with digital ones. An in-store medium which ticks all those boxes is also the most vibrant and effective way to let your customers know who you are and what’s on offer: digital displays.

The most advanced digital providers can develop customized displays that exist for your store and no one else. These elevate your customer experience to one which ties seamlessly into your physical and digital inventory; what’s in stock, what’s on its way, and what’s currently on sale. What’s shown on these digital signs is as versatile as our imagination. If it can be conceived, it can be digitally realized.

The digital in-store experience also involves sound. Tailored audio helps create a unique retail environment, and a wealth of research shows the power the right music also has over purchasing habits.

Beyond these benefits, digital signage is interactive; it can communicate with customers and direct them to what they’re looking for in the store. And digital displays make updating specials, sales, new items, and other vital information easy. A central user interface allows displays to be updated instantly across any number of signs, ensuring only the most current information is on display.

There’s no arguing that these are transitional times for the retail sector. This change is killing some brick and mortar stores, while others are adapting. The physical retailer who can capitalize on the in-person experiences that many shoppers still crave will survive – and beat its competition.

 

At Zero-In we’re passionate about creating digital experiences for the real world. Our award-winning agency includes web application specialists, motion graphic designers, computer and audiovisual hardware engineers, and network specialists. You can chat with us live on our site or complete the contact form to get more information.

The Future of Wireless Charging

The signs point to far field wireless power on the horizon

Keeping one eye on your battery level and the other open for a charging port is a drain on us all. The ideal is all devices being able to wirelessly charge at any time over any distance. How far away are we? Small steps and giant leaps are being taken every day.

Short range and long-range wireless both have their place. There’s no need for a broad transmission range if we’re sitting at the charging device we’re using. The real demand is for wireless that can provide on-the-go, over the air power across a significant distance.

Wireless charging operates via radio frequency waves and within two parameters: near field and far field. Wireless device charging received the go ahead from the Federal Communications Commission at the close of 2017, and there have been impressive developments since then. It was mid-range clearance (meaning up to three feet) but this hasn’t stopped the field’s innovators from looking even farther forward.

Wireless charging today

Qi is an industry standard, currently at version 1.2.4 and used in thousands of products by many major companies including Apple. Transmitters of 12 types (among them single, array and moving coil) deliver up to 15 watts into Qi-compatible devices and can be powered by USB charger. Qi can be found at airports, hotels, restaurants, and public venues.

Every Qi enabled device is compatible with every Qi charging transmitter regardless of their respective manufacturers. This is a big reason for its mainstream adoption. Qi may be mainstream, but it still suffers from transmission limitation. Powering works best if devices remain in close contact with charging pads with induction coils must be precisely aligned (this is less of a necessity with a multi-coil system).

Resonant charging is possible but only at 45mm. Qi refers to this distance, perhaps over-generously, as “spatial freedom.” Consumers and businesses want more. To this end, there are two companies leaving the charging pad behind and increasing transmission ranges.

Current innovators in the field: Energous

Energous is the company that received the FCC’s blessing and went on to impress audiences in 2018 with the WattUp wireless model. Their revolutionary tech is intended to operate on three tiers: Near, mid, and far field. All three transmission types are designed to be sent and received by standalone or embedded methods. To summarize:

  • Near field – The lowest transmission range (millimeters in this case) equates to least in cost and size. Intended for smaller electronics, Near Field will come packaged with the hardware as the successor of the standard power adaptor and USB cable. It will be impressively versatile in deployment by being integrated with furniture as well as tech devices like laptops and gaming consoles.

  • Mid field – This increases the transmission range to 2-3 feet. It’s no great distance, but it’s still a powerful step; one capable of charging multiple devices simultaneously. Authorized users will be able to prioritize which of their devices are at the front of the line for charging.

  • Far field – The most far-reaching iteration can be connected directly to a device or attached to walls or ceilings. The projection of 15 feet can be expanded by linking multiple far-field transmitters together to cover larger areas. Like the mid field, users can designate the priority chain for devices being charged.

It’s the transmission framework of WattUp that really edges the field forward. It delivers small amounts of power by gathering micro energy beams from the transmitter. Radiofrequency waves are then adjusted in content and shape before being sent to the receiver and converted into DC current.

WattUp’s applications cover more than the expected computer hardware/software and mobile electronics. It can power security cameras, smoke alarms, lighting, electric toothbrushes, and hearing aids. A major selling point when this one hits the market is being manufacturer-agnostic, meaning devices can be charged from any transmitter regardless of the manufacturer of both items.

Ossia and the Cota Power Receiver

This future-facing company won the 2018 North American Wireless Power Charging Technology Innovation Award. Devices with the Cota Power Receiver (a tiny silicon chip) can communicate with a Cota Transmitter which supplies in-motion wireless power across multiple paths.

Devices can receive power simultaneously as in the Energous WattUp model; power which bounces from walls, ceilings, and other objects on its way to the device. For the tech-phobic among us, Ossia assure users that people and pets will not be used as rebound relays. The transmitter has thousands of antennae which helps it select an optimum transmission path that’s safe by FCC standards.

They currently have the edge on their competitors as their transmission range is 30 feet with one transmitter and 50 feet with two, with everything being user-controlled via the Cota Cloud. Ossia is also ambitious in projecting wireless power beyond traditional electronics. The company has its sights set on powering automobiles, medical devices, and industrial equipment.

Another notable company is Wi-Charge. They’re also award winners utilizing infrared to enable full-room wireless power coverage.

The future – Physics and The Airfuel Alliance

Universities in Texas and New York have been at work on some of the issues hindering long-range wireless. Their work is predictably advanced. The layman can understand it as effectively interfering with the standard transmission signal, allowing for an adaptable phase and amplitude that compensates for environmental changes. In even fewer words, it could mean maximum power all the time.

The Airfuel Alliance is working toward making the entire world wireless by supporting a safe and reliable public infrastructure. The advance of long-range wireless certainly won’t be stopped by a lack of imagination. It’s the FCC requirements dictating safety and legality which perhaps pose the biggest possibility of delays.

It may not happen soon, but long-range wireless is visible on the tech horizon.

 

At Zero-In we’re passionate about creating digital experiences for the real world. Our award-winning digital agency includes web application specialists, motion graphic designers, computer and audiovisual hardware engineers, and network specialists. You can chat with us live on our site or complete the contact form to get more information.

 

Digital Banking Tools to Enhance Customer Experience

A look at Zero-In’s bank digital signage solutions

 

Today’s technology is transforming the banking experience for customers in ways most couldn’t have imagined even 4-5 years ago. Innovative devices are bringing the online experience into branches, offering new conveniences and ways to educate customers about financial matters, new programs and services, and even help strengthen community relations.

 

Zero-In offers many solutions to create a user-friendly experience for all of your customers’ banking needs. From digital signage and interactive displays to video walls and teller line displays, we use state-of-the-art technology to bring a new message to your audience. Our tools are tailored to fit each bank’s unique needs, from remote branch offices to large regional headquarters. The best thing about Zero-In technology is that we use cloud-based solutions for all of our tools. That means everything can be easily managed in real-time and across many different locations.

 

Zero-In Digital Solutions

 

Bank Digital Signage, Video Walls, Window Projections & Outdoor Displays

 

Banks are no longer limited to posters and brochures to tell customers about new programs and services. Now, you can broadcast the latest offerings and news to everyone who comes inside the bank. You might also display logo animations or the bank’s latest postings on social media channels. Of course, you’re not limited to only the people inside. Window displays, window projections and outdoor displays are great ways to promote your brand and attract new customers.

 

Interactive Displays, Kiosks & iPads

 

Interactive is the name of the game, no matter what kind of business you’re talking about. These displays offer convenience by helping customers find information while they’re waiting. Interactive tools can be used in a variety of ways; from helping them set up online or mobile banking tools to educating them about financial matters. Customers can check credit scores, find out about average home prices in the area in which they want to buy, watch a video offering tips on how to boost the value of a home, or learn what to watch out for in a home inspection.

 

Digital Coffee Tables, Teller Line Displays & Drive Up Displays

 

Now, you can better target customers no matter where they are in the bank. What better way to catch the attention of a “captive” audience than to promote daily messages while they’re waiting, either in line or in the lobby? Offer financial tips, digital brochures, or even allow customers to play games or look at YouTube videos.

 

Ad Free TV, Community Walls & Digital Rate Boards

 

Build your own private TV network that incorporates your branded marketing. You can also use technology to build community awareness and let people know about important events that your bank sponsors, from Little League teams to corporate walks and charity fundraisers. Digital Rate Boards can display all your current rates in real-time, with tools that make it easy to update the information on a daily basis.

 

If you’re looking to step up your customers’ experience with digital signage for banks, Zero-In can help. Call us at 888.260.7291 to get started.

 

The Present and Future of Personal Aircraft and Drones

Check out some of the players and regulations in modern drones and personal aircraft

Commercial flights and private pilots have been around a long time, but both everyday individuals and businesses are now laying claim to their own piece of the sky through drones and new personal aircraft. Exploring this new frontier has all the excitement and innovation you’d expect. And there are a series of Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) laws that govern pilots and tech before they’re cleared for take-off.

New advances in drones

The start of 2018 saw drone registrations soar. Over a million U.S. applications for drone ownership have been filed across the recreational, commercial and public sectors since January. Although operated by human hands, drones are classified as a UAS (Unmanned Aircraft System) by the federal government under Public Law 112-95, Section 331(8).

DJI is a prime example of a company at the cutting edge of drone tech. They’re thrilling amateur flyers, revolutionizing photography and taking business and mail delivery to the next level. The company’s designs provide high-resolution photography, 7km flight ranges and speeds of up to 65kph. Drones are capable of live-streaming, as well as obstacle detection in 5 directions.

Agriculture, construction and public safety are only a few of the areas benefiting from modern drones. They’re proving their worth beyond recreation by contributing to repair efforts in disaster zones like Puerto Rico. Innovators like Aerones are deploying drones to aid in firefighting and de-icing of wind turbines.

New heights in personal aircraft

Say “personal aircraft” and the term may conjure images of large-scale private jets. Today’s leading innovators are taking aviation tech in a different direction by downsizing the scale. Kitty Hawk is developing the Flyer: a new type of personal aircraft designed to make solo flight accessible for all.

The Flyer is meant for recreational use over water and uncongested areas. First-rider flights maintain a low altitude of 10 feet and a top speed of 20mph; stats which will doubtless increase with pilot skill. The highly-maneuverable light craft is powered by all electric motors which keep the running volume to a minimum.

Interested viewers can learn the piloting basics on Kitty Hawk’s Instagram page. The aircraft is not currently available for purchase and the price is still under wraps – but Kitty Hawk is currently taking applications from any organization looking to bring Flyer to its community.

Current regulation for drones

Drone registration with the FAA is federal law; it’s an inexpensive requirement at $5 per aircraft. The exceptions are amateur flyers and hobbyists who need only pay a single fee, regardless of the number of drones they own. Gaining a remote pilot certificate is costlier, at around $150.

If registering via paper, the unmanned aircraft must weigh 55 pounds or more, be intended to be operated outside of the territorial airspace of the United States or registered through a trust or voting trust. Online registration is only for drones weighing less than 55 pounds and more than 0.55 pounds (250 grams) on takeoff. This includes everything on board or otherwise attached to the aircraft.

All recreational flyers must contact any airports, heliports, sea-based airports and air traffic control towers within five miles of the proposed area of operations if flying under the Special Rule for Model Aircraft, Public Law 112-95, Section 336. Federal law forbids drones flying within three nautical miles of a stadium hosting a major sporting event such as an NFL or Major League Baseball game.

The FAA imposes heavy fines and punishments for non-registration. They do assess the situation fully and offer education for uninformed flyers; but in the worst instances, penalties can reach fines up to $250,000 and/or three-years imprisonment.

Current regulations for groundbreaking personal aircraft

It may be surprising to note that Kitty Hawk’s manned Flyer operates under fewer constrictions than a drone. The Flyer must adhere to FAA CFR Part 103 regulating Ultralight aircraft. This means that a pilot need not meet any requirement of age, aeronautical knowledge or experience, nor are Ultralights required to be registered.

Pilot training is fully recommended of course, as are standard safety steps and regulated fly times (30 mins before and after sunset and daylight hours in-between). This lenient registration opens numerous opportunities for anyone with access to an Ultralight, and the FAA is showing no signs of making the regulations more demanding.

Regulation for the future

Drone regulation for hobbyists looks to be tightening up, however. Google and Amazon have been pursuing airspace for their own drone programs and seeking tighter controls on recreational flyers who could impede commercial airspace. The U.S. Transportation Department has filed two proposals with the White House to allow drones to fly directly over populated areas and to initiate remote tracking and identification of unmanned aircraft.

Geo-fencing is one proposed regulation that could become law. This may see drones internally programmed to avoid certain coordinates. Alternatively, a border signal may be continually broadcast from no-fly zones and received by both manned and unmanned aircraft.

Drunk driving has traditionally been thought of as a land-based crime but that looks set to change too, as drones fall under review. The tech is advancing to such a degree that NASA has been involved since 2016. They’re in the third stage of developing an unmanned aircraft traffic management system. NASA’s expertise will help to bring order to the hundreds of thousands of drones set to be airborne by 2020.

Further resources

You can access the FAA’s guide to becoming a drone pilot here, as well as learn safety tips and where it’s acceptable to fly. The FAA also offer its own safe-flying app available for free download from Google Play and iTunes.

More competitors will doubtless arise in the drone and personal aircraft markets, furthering consumer and business-use options and marking the coming years as an exhilarating new era in flight.

At Zero-In we’re passionate about staying up to date on all developing technology, as well as creating digital experiences for the real world. Our award-winning digital agency includes web application specialists, motion graphic designers, computer and audiovisual hardware engineers, and network specialists. You can chat with us live on our site or use our contact form to tell us how we can help you.