Virtual Reality Helps U.S. Athletes Train to Win Olympic Gold

When U.S. Alpine skier Mikaela Shiffrin won a Winter Olympics gold medal in the giant slalom race February 15, she also achieved a victory for virtual reality.

She is among the members of the U.S. Ski & Snowboard team who have used a virtual reality (VR) training regime from STRIVR Labs to prepare for the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang County, South Korea, according to the team.

The team’s deployment of VR training, reported widely, also shines the spotlight on VR’s potential to improve performance in sectors ranging from sports to retail. Continue reading

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Blessed Are the Change Agents

Years ago, an agency asked me to define its target buyer as part of a brand repositioning. My client wanted to do business with companies eager to innovate. I recommended that my client stop thinking of its buyer in terms of a formal title such as CMO and instead seek out a persona I referred to as the change agent — which I described as a leader who is in a position to effect behavioral change needed for a business to grow and innovate. Find the change agents, I reasoned, and you find the wellsprings of innovation inside a company.

So I read with interest a new report from Brian Solis, The Digital Change Agent’s Manifesto. It turns out that over the past few years, Brian has been interviewing about 30 change agents (with a focus on digital change agents) to better understand them – and to provide a road map for change agents to flourish.

A Revelation

Brian’s report is a revelation. Here is a report that helps businesses identify change agents inside their own organization and set them up for success. His report is also a rallying cry for people who believe they are change agents or on the path to becoming one. Brian maps out the attributes of a change agents, calls out stumbling blocks to success, and identifies 10 mandates for change agents to prosper. Although he focuses on digital change agents — because of the distinct challenges and opportunities digital presents — the report is a manifesto for change agents of any type.

Why You Should Read Brian’s Report

Business leaders should read Brian’s report for one simple reason: at a time when digital disruption has become the norm, companies that can find and support change agents more quickly than their competitors will possess a distinct advantage. Companies that fail to nurture and support change agents will lose these visionaries to someone else who can. And change agents don’t exactly walk around wearing “Ask Me about Change” buttons.  In fact, they might be flying beneath the radar screen, by choice. Brian’s report will help a C-level executive find and uplift them.

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Apple Wants to Liberate Your Medical Records

How easily can you obtain your medical records from your provider? Do you know what your precise cholesterol levels are? I’m willing to bet my new iPhone that your answers to these questions are “Impossible” and “No.”

But if Apple has its way, we’ll finally have always-available access to our own medical records – at least those of us who own iPhones will.

Announcing Health Records

On January 24, Apple announced that its Health app will make it possible for users to see their medical records right on their iPhones, which would thus empower potentially 90 million Americans who own iPhones. The capability became available for patients of 12 medical institutions January 25. Following a beta launch, Apple will expand the program for participating medical providers. Continue reading

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How Virtual Reality Transforms Training and Improves Performance

Minnesota Vikings Quarterback Case Keenum will always be known as the guy who passed the football to Wide Receiver Stefon Diggs to pull off the stunning Minnesota Miracle last-second victory over the New Orleans Saints in the NFL playoffs on January 14. Case Keenum also symbolizes the future of virtual reality (VR) as a training tool to improve performance.

During the 2017-18 NFL season, Keenum stepped up his game dramatically en route to leading the Vikings to a 13-3 record. As reported in ESPN, he used a VR tool developed by training company STRIVR to improve. The Vikings are among six NFL teams that use VR to help players sharpen their mental abilities as they react to the many moving parts that affect the outcome of a single play. Keenum has practiced thousands of plays with VR throughout the course of the season – just as professionals in other industries, including doctors, van drivers, and retailers, use VR to train themselves.

Helping Quarterbacks Escape Blitzes

Although VR has been around for years, the technology has yet to catch on among consumers. The cost of the equipment required, lack of available content, and clunky user interface remain impediments. But the enterprise sector is a different story. VR, which immerses the user in a different world through the use of special headsets, is an ideal tool to train people for complex, high-risk situations that leave little margin for error.

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How and Why Businesses Are Adopting Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality

At the 2018 Consumer Electronics show, robots, voice assistants, connected cars, and even connected cities created buzz. Augmented reality and virtual reality – not so much, with the exception of augmented reality applications in the automotive industry.

But proponents of augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) should take heart: the real action with AR and VR isn’t happening with consumer products, anyway. The compelling stories about AR and VR are happening on the enterprise side.

Throughout 2017, companies such as Audi, Ford, IKEA, Sephora, and Walmart shared examples of how they’re using AR and VR to run their businesses more effectively. For example:

  • Augmented reality simplifies the purchase decision for IKEA customers: IKEA released Place, an app that makes it possible for shoppers to see how IKEA furniture might look in their living spaces.

With augmented reality, users overlay simpler forms of content on to their physical spaces, usually by using their mobile phones. Niantic’s Pokémon GO and forthcoming Harry Potter games are examples. With Place, users overlay 3D models of furniture into their physical spaces to test for fit, which takes reduces the risk of buying a sofa or bookshelf before carting it home. Continue reading

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4 Ways Brands Can Adapt to Facebook’s News Feed Overhaul

Everyone is freaking out about the latest Facebook algorithm change, which CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced on January 11. And yes, the change is big. Facebook will:

  • Downgrade in users’ news feeds the content that businesses publish.
  • Boost posts from users’ friends and family.

This development has negative implications for any business that acts as a publisher, ranging from news outlets to content marketers. But the change is not the end of the world for brands. Corporate publishers will simply need to work harder and get more creative about posting content, such as relying on their employees and influencers to share the brand’s content on their personal news feeds.

“Meaningful Interactions between People”

In a post on his page, Zuckerberg wrote, “[R]ecently we’ve gotten feedback from our community that public content — posts from businesses, brands and media — is crowding out the personal moments that lead us to connect more with each other.”

As a result, Facebook is changing users’ news feeds to amplify content from users’ friends and family. “As we roll this out, you’ll see less public content like posts from businesses, brands, and media,” he wrote. “And the public content you see more will be held to the same standard — it should encourage meaningful interactions between people.”

Zuckerberg cited research indicating that Facebook users should spend more time interacting with each other and less time viewing news on their feeds. “The research shows that when we use social media to connect with people we care about, it can be good for our Continue reading

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How Lana Del Rey Could Beat Radiohead in Court

Did she or didn’t she?

On January 7, Lana Del Rey said on Twitter that Radiohead has sued her for copyright infringement because of the similarities between her song “Get Free” (released in 2017) and Radiohead’s “Creep” (released in 1993).

She tweeted, “Although I know my song wasn’t inspired by Creep, Radiohead feel it was and want 100% of the publishing – I offered up to 40 over the last few months but they will only accept 100. Their lawyers have been relentless, so we will deal with it in court.”

At issue are similarities between the chord progressions in both songs (although the lyrical content is not a matter of dispute):

According to attorneys quoted in a Variety article, Radiohead has the upper hand in the argument for two reasons:

  • The songs sound too similar. As Bill Hochberg, an attorney at Greenberg Glusker, said, “I would say this case does cross the line. This Lana Del Rey song is way too close to what is a rather unusual set of chord changes and a very distinctive melody line.”
  • Lana Del Rey’s willingness to offer up to 40 percent of the publishing revenues out of court suggests she recognizes that the songs are too similar. “I don’t think you would offer 40% of your publishing if you believed the claim was frivolous,” said James Sammataro, an attorney at Stroock & Stroock & Lavan.

But anything can happen when music copyright cases are decided by a jury of everyday people, especially when the dispute occurs over something as subjective as the way a song sounds as opposed to the lyrics used. Case in point: Led Zeppelin. Throughout Led Continue reading

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The Visual Genius of Elvis and Bowie

January 8 looms large in the history of rock. On this day in 1935, Elvis Presley was born in Tupelo, Mississippi. Twelve years later, David Bowie entered the world in London. Elvis would not live to see his 43rd birthday. David Bowie almost made it to 70. These two giants of rock and roll share more than birthdays and influential musical careers. They also appreciated the power of visual storytelling long before the age of Instagram.

Before he became the king of rock and roll, Elvis wanted to be in the movies. And when he became a rock star, he got his wish. Sadly, most of his films became a blot on his career thanks to the money-grubbing instincts of his manager, Colonel Tom Parker, and Elvis’s overly deferential attitude. But his appreciation of the power of movies made a positive impact on his career in a crucial way: as a teenager, seeing movie stars on the giant screen shaped his choice of clothing – flashy before he was even a singer – and informed his attention to crucial details such as the way he combed his hair and applied eye shadow to create a sultrier appearance. His riveting stage performances had as much to do with the way he dressed and gyrated his legs as the way he sang. Elvis was every bit an intimidating sex symbol as latter-day stars such as Prince were, which can be difficult for readers in 2018 to appreciate. But in the 1950s, Elvis changed everything.

By the time David Bowie’s career exploded in the 1970s, rock and roll stars such as Mick Jagger and Jimmy Page were wearing make-up and fancy stage suits that even had their own Continue reading

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Four Companies Gobbled Up Immersive Reality Investments in 2017

There is good news and bad news for the immersive reality industry, which consists of businesses that provide augmented reality (AR), mixed reality (MR), and virtual reality (VR) products. First the good news:

  • These investments occurred across 28 categories ranging from education to music, suggesting how wide-ranging immersive reality is.

Now the bad news:

  • More than half the investment came from just four major players: Improbable, Magic Leap, Niantic, and Unity. As Lucas Mateny of Tech Crunch noted, the actual deal flow for smaller immersive reality start-ups is getting smaller.

The largest category of investment was gaming, partly because of the $200 million received by Niantic, creator of AR sensation Pokémon GO the forthcoming Harry Potter AR game. The popularity of gaming apps underscores how immersive reality continues to be perceived as an entertainment phenomenon on the consumer side. But gaming accounted for only one tenth of the total investment into immersive reality for 2017, with hardware devices (such as smart glasses) and applications across many other fields accounting for the lion’s share.

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Memorable Album Covers of 2017

Don’t let anyone tell you album covers are dead. Album artwork continues to express the visions of artists and the musical content of the albums themselves as powerfully as covers did in the era of album-oriented rock. Memorable album covers of 2017 reflect a year in which artists made compelling political and personal statements.

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