Net Neutrality or the open internet is the principle that internet service providers should give consumers access to all legal content and applications on an equal basis, without favouring some sources or blocking others.
In the United States, the FCC recently ruled to reverse a previous legislation which classified the internet as a utility. This change has put the power into the hands of ISPs to determine the future of the internet. A possible consequence of this is that internet subscribers could have to pay additional subscription fees to access the websites that they were previously using for free. Costs for internet access could quickly rise for consumers if they have to pay additional fees to access email, social media, browse online news, stream video and play online games – similar to how cable TV subscriptions are now sold. ISPs could be free to discriminate against web traffic by slowing internet speeds to sites that they do not own or that users do not pay extra for – and if they don’t like certain content or certain websites, they could completely block access to those sites.
This helpful article from The Verge points out that ISPs will have to inform users if they want to block websites, throttle internet connections or charge some websites more. The article also looks into how large American ISPs including Comcast, AT&T, Verizon and more treat net neutrality and how they may act in the future.
This decision by the FCC has been slammed by representatives from tech companies including Amazon, Facebook, Microsoft, Netflix, Reddit & Vimeo. Any web-based business could now be at the mercy of ISPs to allow users to access their services.
The loss of net neutrality may become a large issue for gamers who rely on fast internet speeds to remain competitive, as any gamer who has experienced lag in an online game knows that it is very frustrating.
Luckily for Canadians, our government has taken a stand to protect net neutrality. At a recent question period, Navdeep Bains, the Minister of Innovation, Science & Economic Development stated “Our government stands to support net neutrality. We support an open Internet. We support the CRTC framework for net neutrality, because we know an open Internet is critical for our economy and our democracy.” It is encouraging to see the Canadian government stand up for the rights of all internet users.
Only time will tell how the loss of an open internet in the United States will affect the digital world, but residents there could be in for a shock once ISPs start to make changes.
Announced this Summer through Facebook’s Newsroom, Facebook has recently launched Facebook Watch to some users in the US, which will host video content including hundreds of shows, similar to Google’s YouTube offering, Sony’s Crackle, or Amazon Prime Video. Content on Watch will include many original shows including Safari Live by Nat Geo WILD, Returning the Favor with Mike Rowe, Kitchen Little, & sports broadcasting one MLB game per week. Watch will be available for viewing on the computer, tablets, mobile and on TV apps.
The feeds of Facebook Watch will be personalized to help users discover new content that they will be interested in, which is organized around their friends and communities are watching. Users can use Facebook’s reactions to give feedback on shows they watched, and there will be categories of shows based on users reactions, such as “What’s Making People Laugh”. Facebook Watch is trying to establish a community and bond between viewers, so comments from other viewers can be seen during the show to help create conversations. Users can subscribe to shows by adding them to their Watchlist, which will let users know when new episodes are released.
Like YouTube, the revenue model will include the Pre-Roll style advertisements – the first of their kind on any of Facebook’s platforms, with the money raised through advertising being split between Facebook and the show’s creators. The closest thing they had to pre-roll ads in the past was mid-roll video ads that appeared in the middle of videos that users watched on Facebook, this original content will give advertisers a new way to reach their audience on Facebook.
Users in Canada will be able to access this content once it is fully rolled out – once you see a “Watch” tab in your feed, clicking that will bring you to the feed of shows and videos to watch. For anyone interested in creating shows for the platform, you can learn more on Facebook’s Media Blog.
Web Geeks is excited to see what new shows will be released when Watch rolls out to Canada, and what Canadians will produce for others to watch. For all of your social media marketing & digital advertising needs, Web Geeks is here to create a strategy that works for your business to connect with its audience.
With the improvement of voice assistant technology and an increasing amount of household devices being developed with wifi connectivity, we are living in the age of the smart home. Many tech giants are working on their own versions of this technology – Apple has Siri, Google has the Google Assistant on many Android phones that connects to Google Home and Chromecast, there is Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant on the Echo devices, Microsoft has Cortana and Samsung has developed Bixby and SmartThings. These are becoming more used in daily life as most modern smartphones include a voice assistant, and the home technology is becoming more affordable every year with the introduction of the Google Home Mini and Amazon Echo Dot. Voice assistants are becoming so used so frequently, it is estimated that by 2020, 30% of all web browsing will be done without a screen.
Personal Voice Assistants
These personal assistants are becoming more sophisticated to be able to listen, understand and respond to a persons’ question in a natural manner. Rather than a person having to take out their smartphone and type in a Google search, choose a result and read through the answer; they can ask Google Assistant, Alexa or Siri who will immediately read the answer or instructions out loud, allowing people to get quick and easy answers to their questions without stopping their current task. They can also perform other tasks like sending a text or email, checking calendars, reading the weather forecast or looking up directions and warning users about heavy traffic on their routes.
Smart Home Entertainment
In a household with a Google Home and a Chromecast plugged into their TV, a person can tell Google what to stream on the TV and it will respond immediately by finding their show, movie or playlist and casting it onto the TV. For example, you could tell Google to “Play Stranger Things on Netflix” and it will put your current episode on the screen – this can also play videos from YouTube or music from Spotify, Google Play Music or other services. Families will never have to search for a TV remote again to change what is playing on the screen!
The Smart Home, Energy Efficiency & Security
Having a variety of wifi connected devices creates a smart home environment where many things can be controlled remotely through a smartphone or by voice. Nearly any household device or appliance is now available with smart connectivity, with the most significant being smart thermostats such as Nest, Lyric & Ecobee, that allow homeowners to adjust the temperature settings of their homes while they are away to save energy. Connected lightbulbs can change colours, be dimmed and turned off remotely, and there are even smart motors for blinds that can be scheduled and controlled remotely to let natural sunlight in the home or to block it out. There are also smart doorbells, locks and security cameras which allow homeowners to see who is at their door and remotely unlock the door for friends, visitors, contractors or delivery people. Now wifi enabled plugs like WeMo allow anything that is plugged into them to be turned on or off remotely by turning off power to the outlet, truly creating a smart home environment.
We are now living in the future with personal assistants in our pockets and will soon be exploring the internet without even looking at it or having to read. For business owners, now is a great time to make sure that the content of your website is optimized to be read by search engines to ensure that the people who are asking their assistants to look up your product or service will be told about your business! Get in touch with the Web Geeks to get your website up to today’s standards and optimized for search.
I consider myself to be a pretty avid gamer, and one who has always followed Nintendo. I grew up playing Nintendo 64 with Super Mario 64 being the first game I completed 100% at the age of 7 years old. With that being said, the past two Nintendo consoles (Wii & Wii U) have left much to be desired. While they were innovative, they just didn’t match up with Sony and Microsoft’s powerhouse consoles. But growing up as a Nintendo fan, the little kid inside of me still got excited when I found out Nintendo would be showing off an announcement trailer for their new console set to release in March of next year.
The Nintendo Switch blurs the line between console and handheld gaming. With this new console, Nintendo wants you to bring your gaming experience anywhere – a bus, a plane, the park or your couch. The console is powered by a ‘tablet’ that you place inside the console. If you want to take it on the go, you simply pop it out and take it with you.
The announcement also emphasized its multiplayer focus. The controller can be pulled apart, be placed on the screen or given to friends to play multiplayer games. In short, this is a console that can be played by anyone, anywhere.
Seriously, can Nintendo not come up with good names? Since it’s creation, I’ve hated the name ‘Wii’ and we’ve had to deal with two consoles under that name! Now they have a chance to make up for it with a cool name, and they call it ‘Switch’? Granted, it’s better than ‘Wii’ but it’s still so bland!
Yes, I realize the numbering system of PlayStation isn’t exactly creative, and the third generation of Xbox’s being called ‘Xbox One’ still doesn’t make a lick of sense to me, but Nintendo is THE creative front runners for creative gaming – make a name that shows this! They almost touched greatness with the name ‘Revolution’, but we all know how that ended.
This leads me to my next point – where’s the innovation Nintendo? Yes, it’s portable, but the PlayStation 4 has been doing this with the PlayStation Vita for quite some time – though arguably not to the same extent. While yes, this looks like a great feature for a console, it’s just not the innovation that Nintendo is known and loved for.
As I’ve previously stated, I’m not a huge fan of the Nintendo Wii & Wii U. From a gamer’s perspective, outside of the core Nintendo titles there just weren’t many games that appealed to me. I’m also what many call a ‘graphics snob’ so when the original Wii came out with PS2 graphics while the Xbox 360 and PS3 were giving us almost CG-quality graphics, I was very off put.
With that being said, the Wii & Wii U were both extremely innovative for their time. Up until then, motion controls were almost unheard of and the Wii U allowed people to utilize dual screens at home. This completely changed how games played, and no other consoles had this at the time. What does ‘Switch’ have? It forfeited these innovations for portability. Don’t get me wrong, portability in consoles is an awesome idea – but again it’s just not Nintendo. Give us a new way to play games, not just the ability to play them on a bus.
It may sound like I’m giving Nintendo a lot of grief for the Nintendo Switch, but it’s just because as someone who has grown up with Nintendo consoles, I want to see them succeed. After the Wii & Wii U, Nintendo’s not really in the best of lights with serious gamers. Even large game companies had dropped support for them, and as such the consoles had been missing out on huge AAA titles.
The Nintendo Switch is Nintendo’s chance to redeem themselves with the gamers. It’s a chance to gain the trust back from third party developers and show that they have a console that can redeem past errors. While the presentation was underwhelming, it didn’t show too much of the most important aspect of success – the games.
I want to be excited for the Nintendo Switch. While I’m super excited for a new ‘Super Mario’ and ‘Zelda’ game, a part of me can’t shake off the feeling that this console may be the final nail in Nintendo’s coffin. In time, we’ll learn more about the pricing, features and games – all of which are vitally important aspects for determining the success of this new console.
At Web Geeks Marketing, we’re always staying up to date on the latest technology trends. Two pieces of technology that we’re very excited for in the future are augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) platforms. This new technology is no longer just something that is seen in the movies—it’s on the fast track to becoming a reality. Virtual reality has already been released in several manifestations on different devices, with 2016 seeing even more platforms coming in. Augmented reality isn’t far behind, however, with technologies like the Microsoft HoloLens being released very soon.
But the debate remains, which one is going to win the technology war? We’ve seen this scenario in the past— two similar modes of technology being released in the same time period, with only one holding up into the future. It takes us back to a decade ago, when Blu-ray & HD DVD were battling it out for the hearts, minds, and dollars of the people. Though we may not see one disappear from the AR vs. VR war like we saw with HD-DVD (both technologies have their advantages to different applications), there’s no doubt that one is going to be more successful than the other. The question is, which one?
While virtual reality and augmented reality may seem similar on paper, their applications differ greatly. Virtual reality is a computer-generated simulation that transports you to a completely different and artificially created environment. It sets you in the middle of a YouTube video, or in a fantasy world inside of a video game that you can interact with.
VR is created with more commercial implications in mind. It’s made to steal you out of the real world and place you in a whole new one. Video games, movies, and even swimsuit magazines will employ virtual reality as a new media platform. Facebook and YouTube are already making use of this, creating 360° videos for viewers to enjoy using the different virtual reality platforms. Of course, there’s use for virtual reality within the business world as well. VR has already greatly impacted various industries and employment sectors, from gaming and entertainment to medicine and tourism. VR training modules are already being increasingly used today to help train pilots, surgeons, and military personnel.
Unlike VR, augmented reality allows you to interact inside your real-life environment and is meant to enhance your surroundings by superimposing things like images and labels onto your physical world. So for example, with Microsoft’s new HoloLens, you can project a television screen onto the wall, or look at the specs of a car by placing it in the middle of your living room. In addition to gaming or entertainment, it can be used for education, e-commerce transactions, manufacturing, and much more. Lockheed Martin, for example, has invested in this technology for its engineers, who wear AR glasses to see the names of the engine parts as they work. If augmented reality glasses sound familiar (enter Google Glass), it’s technologies like this that will potentially become available on a mass scale. While Google’s hopes for its glasses to go mainstream may have shattered, newer startups like the Google-backed Magic Leap are working to create even more inconspicuous AR technologies that could soon become a reality.
On an individual consumer level, AR allows your surroundings to be informative, personalized and even “shoppable.” It can help you find out more about an object you see or navigate your way through a new city with directions and labels guiding you. Imagine seeing a product you really want to purchase while you are out for a walk, and instantly receiving a link pop up in front of you to buy it. AR offers this sort of tangibility that VR cannot yet provide.
Let’s look at a couple of the factors that differentiate VR and AR. While we’ve seen that both technologies have significant uses today, one may be more feasible than the other when it comes to mainstream consumption.
The production and manufacturing budgets to create VR equipment alone are substantial, and that’s not including the added time and cost it takes for companies to assemble and then distribute the hardware. In addition, the actual immersive VR software content is extremely expensive to program.
AR can be incorporated into existing technologies such as smartphones and mobile devices, with the development of applications already underway. In addition, wearable AR technologies are more user-friendly and affordable for consumers. AR allows brands to be profitable in a broad scope of industries due to AR’s versatility, and this saves them more time and funds too. Because of the limited everyday applications and the high costs of VR, it’s easy to see why the AR industry will be much more profitable.
While the wearable gear that VR requires, such as Oculus Rift or Samsung Gear, is crucial for a unique, immersive experience, it can often be bulky, cumbersome, and downright strange. A virtual world is not a readily accessible one because it heavily relies on the special hardware designed specifically for its purpose.
When it comes to AR, smartphones are becoming the means for delivering AR software, apps, and much more, meaning that you can have access to AR right in your hands. The accessibility and mobility of AR suggest that users can engage more intimately with the world around them no matter where they are. This is a great next step for brands that seek to increase their reach and offer more branded experiences to consumers.
It isn’t lights-out for virtual reality by any means, and the developments currently taking place in the VR world are nothing short of exciting. While VR and AR can certainly coexist, AR carries more feasibility, accessibility, and convenience for consumers and brands alike, and we can expect to see more companies investing in AR initiatives. Both technologies are opening up new worlds, both real and virtual, and it will be interesting to see what the future has in store and who will prevail.
to talk about your goals?