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Using Virtual Reality for Brand Marketing & Product Showcasing

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Using Virtual Reality for Brand Marketing & Product Showcasing

Virtual reality (VR) can boost the visibility of your products to stand out from your competitors. 

If you understand the basics of how virtual reality works, then you know that the potential for virtual reality in the coming decades is almost unlimited.

A good marketer will also know the composition of the audience for VR and have their message ready. But is virtual reality really the medium that you should be using? In order to determine that, you will have to find out a little more about this technology; virtual reality is an exciting frontier in every aspect – including marketing – but you want to make sure that you use it in the best way possible and know what kind of VR experience you’re going to give your audience.

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The Hardware of Virtual Reality

There are various types of hardware within virtual reality as it applies to the different media available for it and the people that are going to be using it. You have to understand the hardware behind VR if you are going to be able to design the right content and make good decisions when planning a VR experience.

Head-Mounted Displays

The virtual reality hardware that most people are already familiar with is the head-mounted display. The head-mounted display, also known as the HMD, is the primary way that people access virtual reality; 360 video and handheld VR devices are also available, but nothing makes an impact quite like a fully immersive headset and headphones that take you out of the real world and into the virtual one.

The first viable virtual reality device was the Oculus Rift. The Oculus Rift started the entire virtual reality revolution, but it was a private company funded mostly by crowdsourcing. Then Facebook bought Oculus Rift and with the money and research that the social media company brought to Oculus, the headset became the cutting-edge machine that it is today, competing with all of the other headsets out there developed by gaming companies that had already been doing their research into VR like Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft.

Oculus uses 360-degree positional tracking, OLED displays to prevent eye strain and a variety of other factors that make people not only able to be a seamless observer in a virtual world, but also to seamlessly interact with that world. The Oculus Rift has been used by lots of different industries already including healthcare, biotech and the pharmaceutical industry. It is very likely that they will continue to be able to compete in the VR world.

However, the HTC Vive divided the customer base solidly by bringing some of the most advanced laser positioning and tracking technology to the market and allowing customers to actually walk around with responses in the virtual world. Obviously, problems with limited movement come to mind when considering immersive games and environments, but these problems will be fixed very soon.

The main problems with both of these headsets is that first, they are relatively expensive and not everyone will be able to afford one, and second, they require a powerful computer to run. For example, both of these headsets need at least a Core i5 processor and 8 GB of RAM minimum to be able to work with VR headsets – and most great games will require a lot more than that.

Head-Mounted Displays for Marketing

Although the problems of affordability and space to roam may be things that have to be solved before VR will revolutionize gaming the way that most gamers want, the technology is perfect right now for marketing and branding – and completely worth the investment. For tradeshows, the addition of virtual reality to showcase products will give you a major advantage over the competition.

Some of the major companies out there are already using virtual reality in order to connect with customers in a way that was impossible before the advent of VR. For example, Toyotas distracted driving simulator that they used in their TeenDrive 365 campaign was able to demonstrate teenagers what might happen when they get distracted behind the wheel. For example, if teens were to send a text or answer the phone, they could be involved in a serious accident. That message is not getting through to teens enough. Toyota uses Oculus Rift to present this message around the country at trade shows, causing more and more people to associate the Toyota brand with safety.

Mobile & Standalone VR

The problem with the Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive is that they are expensive and must be paired with a computer that is just as expensive in order to provide that immersive virtual reality environment. But what if you want to communicate through virtual reality to a large crowd? Spending the money on enough VR headsets and computer hardware to do that is simply not possible or smart for most companies. Both Google and Samsung have come up with solutions for this. The Google Cardboard VR headset and the Samsung Gear VR are inexpensive virtual reality headsets that work with smartphones. In fact, while these are the premium models that offer the best experience, you will find virtual reality headsets that work with smartphones being sold in department stores for as little as five dollars.

The other side of the coin is Standalone VR which comes in two varieties. There is the Oculus Go which is Facebook’s version of the standalone (no PC required) headset, and then there is the HTC option that is the Vive Focus headset which is also a mobile option and much free-moving than the Oculus Go in that they offer a full range of motion via 6dof (degree of freedom).

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Other VR Options

Of course, there are other VR options out there as well. One of the most popular virtual reality types that people have been using for years now is the virtual 360 degree tour. This is simply a video tour that is interactive, allowing people to use their computer or smart device to virtually take a tour with video on your website. Obviously, this could be seamlessly integrated with one of the aforementioned crowd VR devices, but it might also be easier for you just to have it available on your site.

The bottom line is that as the capability of virtual reality grows the options available for business become almost unlimited. There are exciting things coming up in the world of virtual reality, and smart businesses will be keeping their eye on those advancements and start thinking now about how to use them to their full potential.


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TECHNOLOGY

Next-gen chips, Amazon Q, and speedy S3

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AWS re:Invent, which has been taking place from November 27 and runs to December 1, has had its usual plethora of announcements: a total of 21 at time of print.

Perhaps not surprisingly, given the huge potential impact of generative AI – ChatGPT officially turns one year old today – a lot of focus has been on the AI side for AWS’ announcements, including a major partnership inked with NVIDIA across infrastructure, software, and services.

Yet there has been plenty more announced at the Las Vegas jamboree besides. Here, CloudTech rounds up the best of the rest:

Next-generation chips

This was the other major AI-focused announcement at re:Invent: the launch of two new chips, AWS Graviton4 and AWS Trainium2, for training and running AI and machine learning (ML) models, among other customer workloads. Graviton4 shapes up against its predecessor with 30% better compute performance, 50% more cores and 75% more memory bandwidth, while Trainium2 delivers up to four times faster training than before and will be able to be deployed in EC2 UltraClusters of up to 100,000 chips.

The EC2 UltraClusters are designed to ‘deliver the highest performance, most energy efficient AI model training infrastructure in the cloud’, as AWS puts it. With it, customers will be able to train large language models in ‘a fraction of the time’, as well as double energy efficiency.

As ever, AWS offers customers who are already utilising these tools. Databricks, Epic and SAP are among the companies cited as using the new AWS-designed chips.

Zero-ETL integrations

AWS announced new Amazon Aurora PostgreSQL, Amazon DynamoDB, and Amazon Relational Database Services (Amazon RDS) for MySQL integrations with Amazon Redshift, AWS’ cloud data warehouse. The zero-ETL integrations – eliminating the need to build ETL (extract, transform, load) data pipelines – make it easier to connect and analyse transactional data across various relational and non-relational databases in Amazon Redshift.

A simple example of how zero-ETL functions can be seen is in a hypothetical company which stores transactional data – time of transaction, items bought, where the transaction occurred – in a relational database, but use another analytics tool to analyse data in a non-relational database. To connect it all up, companies would previously have to construct ETL data pipelines which are a time and money sink.

The latest integrations “build on AWS’s zero-ETL foundation… so customers can quickly and easily connect all of their data, no matter where it lives,” the company said.

Amazon S3 Express One Zone

AWS announced the general availability of Amazon S3 Express One Zone, a new storage class purpose-built for customers’ most frequently-accessed data. Data access speed is up to 10 times faster and request costs up to 50% lower than standard S3. Companies can also opt to collocate their Amazon S3 Express One Zone data in the same availability zone as their compute resources.  

Companies and partners who are using Amazon S3 Express One Zone include ChaosSearch, Cloudera, and Pinterest.

Amazon Q

A new product, and an interesting pivot, again with generative AI at its core. Amazon Q was announced as a ‘new type of generative AI-powered assistant’ which can be tailored to a customer’s business. “Customers can get fast, relevant answers to pressing questions, generate content, and take actions – all informed by a customer’s information repositories, code, and enterprise systems,” AWS added. The service also can assist companies building on AWS, as well as companies using AWS applications for business intelligence, contact centres, and supply chain management.

Customers cited as early adopters include Accenture, BMW and Wunderkind.

Want to learn more about cybersecurity and the cloud from industry leaders? Check out Cyber Security & Cloud Expo taking place in Amsterdam, California, and London. Explore other upcoming enterprise technology events and webinars powered by TechForge here.

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HCLTech and Cisco create collaborative hybrid workplaces

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Digital comms specialist Cisco and global tech firm HCLTech have teamed up to launch Meeting-Rooms-as-a-Service (MRaaS).

Available on a subscription model, this solution modernises legacy meeting rooms and enables users to join meetings from any meeting solution provider using Webex devices.

The MRaaS solution helps enterprises simplify the design, implementation and maintenance of integrated meeting rooms, enabling seamless collaboration for their globally distributed hybrid workforces.

Rakshit Ghura, senior VP and Global head of digital workplace services, HCLTech, said: “MRaaS combines our consulting and managed services expertise with Cisco’s proficiency in Webex devices to change the way employees conceptualise, organise and interact in a collaborative environment for a modern hybrid work model.

“The common vision of our partnership is to elevate the collaboration experience at work and drive productivity through modern meeting rooms.”

Alexandra Zagury, VP of partner managed and as-a-Service Sales at Cisco, said: “Our partnership with HCLTech helps our clients transform their offices through cost-effective managed services that support the ongoing evolution of workspaces.

“As we reimagine the modern office, we are making it easier to support collaboration and productivity among workers, whether they are in the office or elsewhere.”

Cisco’s Webex collaboration devices harness the power of artificial intelligence to offer intuitive, seamless collaboration experiences, enabling meeting rooms with smart features such as meeting zones, intelligent people framing, optimised attendee audio and background noise removal, among others.

Want to learn more about cybersecurity and the cloud from industry leaders? Check out Cyber Security & Cloud Expo taking place in Amsterdam, California, and London. Explore other upcoming enterprise technology events and webinars powered by TechForge here.

Tags: Cisco, collaboration, HCLTech, Hybrid, meetings

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Canonical releases low-touch private cloud MicroCloud

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Canonical has announced the general availability of MicroCloud, a low-touch, open source cloud solution. MicroCloud is part of Canonical’s growing cloud infrastructure portfolio.

It is purpose-built for scalable clusters and edge deployments for all types of enterprises. It is designed with simplicity, security and automation in mind, minimising the time and effort to both deploy and maintain it. Conveniently, enterprise support for MicroCloud is offered as part of Canonical’s Ubuntu Pro subscription, with several support tiers available, and priced per node.

MicroClouds are optimised for repeatable and reliable remote deployments. A single command initiates the orchestration and clustering of various components with minimal involvement by the user, resulting in a fully functional cloud within minutes. This simplified deployment process significantly reduces the barrier to entry, putting a production-grade cloud at everyone’s fingertips.

Juan Manuel Ventura, head of architectures & technologies at Spindox, said: “Cloud computing is not only about technology, it’s the beating heart of any modern industrial transformation, driving agility and innovation. Our mission is to provide our customers with the most effective ways to innovate and bring value; having a complexity-free cloud infrastructure is one important piece of that puzzle. With MicroCloud, the focus shifts away from struggling with cloud operations to solving real business challenges” says

In addition to seamless deployment, MicroCloud prioritises security and ease of maintenance. All MicroCloud components are built with strict confinement for increased security, with over-the-air transactional updates that preserve data and roll back on errors automatically. Upgrades to newer versions are handled automatically and without downtime, with the mechanisms to hold or schedule them as needed.

With this approach, MicroCloud caters to both on-premise clouds but also edge deployments at remote locations, allowing organisations to use the same infrastructure primitives and services wherever they are needed. It is suitable for business-in-branch office locations or industrial use inside a factory, as well as distributed locations where the focus is on replicability and unattended operations.

Cedric Gegout, VP of product at Canonical, said: “As data becomes more distributed, the infrastructure has to follow. Cloud computing is now distributed, spanning across data centres, far and near edge computing appliances. MicroCloud is our answer to that.

“By packaging known infrastructure primitives in a portable and unattended way, we are delivering a simpler, more prescriptive cloud experience that makes zero-ops a reality for many Industries.“

MicroCloud’s lightweight architecture makes it usable on both commodity and high-end hardware, with several ways to further reduce its footprint depending on your workload needs. In addition to the standard Ubuntu Server or Desktop, MicroClouds can be run on Ubuntu Core – a lightweight OS optimised for the edge. With Ubuntu Core, MicroClouds are a perfect solution for far-edge locations with limited computing capabilities. Users can choose to run their workloads using Kubernetes or via system containers. System containers based on LXD behave similarly to traditional VMs but consume fewer resources while providing bare-metal performance.

Coupled with Canonical’s Ubuntu Pro + Support subscription, MicroCloud users can benefit from an enterprise-grade open source cloud solution that is fully supported and with better economics. An Ubuntu Pro subscription offers security maintenance for the broadest collection of open-source software available from a single vendor today. It covers over 30k packages with a consistent security maintenance commitment, and additional features such as kernel livepatch, systems management at scale, certified compliance and hardening profiles enabling easy adoption for enterprises. With per-node pricing and no hidden fees, customers can rest assured that their environment is secure and supported without the expensive price tag typically associated with cloud solutions.

Want to learn more about cybersecurity and the cloud from industry leaders? Check out Cyber Security & Cloud Expo taking place in Amsterdam, California, and London. Explore other upcoming enterprise technology events and webinars powered by TechForge here.

Tags: automation, Canonical, MicroCloud, private cloud

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