At Ignite, digital and tech are our passion and we’re geeks following all the news in the industry. Here is a rundown of top stories this week.
Fibre broadband & 5G promise
The government has pledged to provide fibre broadband to every household in the UK by 2033.
Currently, only 4% of the UK internet users have fibre broadbands. Fibre (as opposed to copper) provides a better quality of internet connection. Moreover, it will allow the country to stay competitive on the digital arena (as a comparison Spain’s fibre connection is 71% and Portugal’s is 89%).
Together with fibre broadband, they will bring full 5G coverage for mobile devices.
The government is planning to execute this idea through new legislation and public investment in the most difficult to reach areas. The project will require £3-£5 billion funding.
Critics point out that in 2012, the government pledged to introduce the fastest broadband in Europe by 2015 and the promise clearly was not fulfilled (the UK is 35th in the global ranking of broadband speeds).
smartARM wins Microsoft Imagine Cup
A Canadian duo, smartARM, won Microsoft Imagine Cup – a global competition for students who use technology to innovate and change lives. Samin Khan and Hamyal Choudhry competed against 3,000 teams from all around the world.
smartARM created an intuitive, 3D-printed robotic hand prosthetic utilising Machine Learning, Azure Computer Vision and Cloud Storage. The machine uses a camera embodied in its palm to recognize objects and calculate the most appropriate grip for an object. Due to the machine learning technology, the more smartARM is used, the more accurate it becomes.
Khan and Choudhry won $130,000 in cash and $50,000 worth of credit to Azure, and most importantly a one-to-one session with Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella.
Congratulations smartARM, this is a brilliant idea!
Snap abandons Snapcash
Snap announced that on the 30th of August it will discontinue Snapcash which allowed users to send money. The app has partnered with Square since 2014 to provide the feature. However, it looks like that the market for quick money transfers got saturated enough with companies like PayPal, Zelle and Square Cash itself. Not only did these FinTechs innovate, but also are more secure – and so Snap struggled to compete with them.
Although Snap did not officially give any reason as to why Snapcash will be abandoned, a mini-investigation by Tech Crunch suggests that lack of regulation led to Snapcash being used by sex workers. It is speculated that to avoid a PR scandal, Snap decided to discontinue the feature.
Snap has been focused on recovering from the hit from Instastories for a while – to grow their user base, they redesigned the UI and UX of the app and released a new line of Spectacles. We’re yet to see the impact of these changes.
Heated race to $1 trillion
Amazon, Apple and Alphabet (Google parent company) are the closest contenders in the race to become America’s first 1-trillion-dollar company.
Whilst Apple is leading the pack with over $949 billion worth, in Q2 Alphabet ($870 billion) saw a 26% increase in revenue year-on-year, which led to a 5% spike in its share value. Observers point out that the pattern of Google’s growth (steady pace for its core business and booming sources of other income) is similar to Amazon’s.
According to the poll conducted by CNBC among institutional investors, nearly 70% believe that it’s Amazon ($888 billion) that will win the trillion-dollar race. Due to increased demand for Amazon Web Services, company’s shares rose by over 50% in 2017; plus, Jeff Bezos acquired Whole Foods (although critics point out that Amazon’s multi-billion-dollar spend on Prime TV may hold the company back).
Who do you think will get there first? Let us know in the comments below.
Tommy Hilfiger’s smart clothes fail to innovate
Tommy Hilfiger released a new connected clothing line, Tommy Jeans Xplore, that rewards customers for wearing brand’s clothes.
Bluetooth chips sewn into the garments (tops, bottoms and accessories) will send information about wearing habits to the app. Therefore, the more you wear the Tommy merchandise, the more points you collect (you can later use them to get gift cards, concert tickets or Tommy Hilfiger clothes).
The idea was met with mixed reception. Tech Crunch sees it as “a loyalty program requiring customers to overspend in order to join”. It’s hard to disagree with that – even the lovers of TH who defend the idea in the comments see this range merely as a tool to earn goodies and do not expect groundbreaking technology to be involved.
There are also voices that question privacy – although TH claims that the data they collect is encrypted and can be deleted anytime you want. Digital Trends summarised the release as “smart clothes that are not so smart after all” pointing out the missed opportunity to create something innovative.
What do you think about Tommy Hilfiger’s release? We’re keen to hear your opinions.