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Blippar builds computer vision solution to improve AR in cities

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Pokémon Go introduced smartphone augmented reality to millions of people, capturing new fans by overlaying gameplay on the real world. Blippar has been working with the technology for years though, developing AR apps that display information about the places around you.

Augmented reality startup Blippar has announced a prototype app that makes augmented reality in cities faster and more precise. The company intends to make future augmented reality apps, like the next Pokémon Go, more responsive and visually accurate.

AR on smartphones faces two related challenges: it’s often slightly sluggish and it tends to look slightly out of place. Because AR apps have to continuously work out your location using a combination of GPS, accelerometer and compass data, performance can be lacking.

When the GPS signal is weak, such as in a city, responsiveness can be further degraded and measurement inaccuracies occur. The result is the virtual objects don’t quite move with the phone and can seem to be mis-aligned with the edges of the real world.

Blippar’s now working to solve these problems using a new approach. The MIT Technology Review reports the company is licensing street-level imagery from services such as Google Street View. It’s then indexing the images and matching them with their real positions. When a smartphone user points their device at the location, the image in the camera viewfinder should match one of the indexed reference shots.

By using computer vision technology, Blippar can determine the phone’s position using the feed from the camera alone. The app continually matches the image from the camera with its set of indexed photos. The dataset contains photos of buildings and public places from different angles, directions and distances, accounting for every possible position of the phone.

Blippar claims the technology is accurate to within eight meters. In a best case scenario, it could be accurate to three meters. This compares favourably with the typical five metre range of GPS, especially as GPS becomes notoriously less accurate in built-up areas.

prototype video created by Blippar demonstrates the technology in action. Although the graphics are obviously basic, they do seem to respond quickly and move smoothly through the scene. Blippar intends to rollout iOS and Android apps later this year that will offer public demonstrations.

Blippar’s approach to AR positioning is innovative but not without its own fault. Because it relies wholly on previously captured imaging data, it only works in locations that have been indexed by the app. So far, it’s limited to select areas of London in the UK, and Mountain View and San Francisco in California.

James Walker
Author: James Walker

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Acceleration and AI: The digital transformation of sales in 2020

77% of sales leaders say their digital transformation has accelerated since last year.

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When the pandemic started, most industries had to work quickly to adapt to the now-ubiquitous ‘new normal.’ Whether that meant adjusting to work-from-home or using new tools to better reach and respond to customers, agility — and digital transformation — was at the forefront.

And sales departments, no doubt, had a significant shakeup.

According to Salesforce’s recently-released, data-driven Fourth Edition State of Sales report, 72% of sales reps say success metrics have changed in light of economic trends. The report — generated from a survey of almost 6,000 B2B and B2B2C sales professionals from around the world — also found that 58% of sales reps expect their roles to change permanently. 

When results are narrowed to sales professionals within the technology sector, 55% of respondents say their customer relationships are stronger than in 2019, and 60% say they expect their role to permanently change.

Digital transformation 

Looking specifically at the state of DX in sales, 77% of sales leaders say their digital transformation has accelerated since 2019. This aligns with the overall trend of DX adoption being expedited as a result of the pandemic — a topic we’ve covered. (See here, here, here, here, and here.)

(Image via Salesforce)

In addition, “81% of respondents say sales technology needs have changed significantly since last year, and that they’re implementing changes faster than in 2019.” Among sales operations, 84% say DX has accelerated since 2019. 

One technology that’s seeing increased adoption in sales is AI. Its use has grown by 76% since 2018, the report found. According to Salesforce’s summary, “salespeople consider AI’s most significant impact to be improved understanding of customer needs — which speaks to the speed of change and importance of insight into customers’ evolving situations.” Among high-performing sales organizations, 57% report using AI to “improve internal processes and customer experience.”

DX Journal Staff
Author: DX Journal Staff

DX Journal covers the impact of digital transformation (DX) initiatives worldwide across multiple industries.

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Digital transformation is vital for COVID crisis recovery in Latin America and Caribbean

“The crisis has created the momentum for long-overdue reforms that can help spread the benefits of digital transformation to achieve inclusive and resilient growth,” says OECD Secretary General.

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A new report from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) shows digital transformation is the key to quicker recovery from the COVID-19 crisis for Latin America and the Caribbean.

Produced jointly with the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (UN ECLAC), the Development Bank of Latin America (CAF), and the European Union (EU), the report details the harsh impact of the pandemic on marginalized populations. 

Titled Latin American Economic Outlook (LEO) 2020: Digital Transformation for Building Back Better, the report found that microenterprises were hit especially hard — 2.7 million are likely to close, at a loss of 8.5 million jobs.

“The socioeconomic crisis makes a new development model more urgent than ever,” said Alicia Bárcena, Executive Secretary of ECLAC. “Digitalisation could be a powerful tool to overcome the structural challenges of the region, only if it is considered as a comprehensive way to foster progressive structural change, through policies for the generation of new sectors, quality jobs, the development of capacities and innovation.”

According to Ángel Gurría, Secretary General of the OECD, “the crisis has created the momentum for long-overdue reforms that can help spread the benefits of digital transformation to achieve inclusive and resilient growth.”

“It also highlights the urgent need to bridge the digital divides between territories, families, students, workers, and firms.”

The role of DX

How can digital transformation help Latin American and Caribbean communities? 

“By stimulating business innovation and new consumption models, transforming production systems and value chains, re-organising economic sectors, and introducing new conditions of competitiveness,” the report found.

One way digital tools can help is providing support for better access to services, such as healthcare and education, in addition to putting the people at the center of policymaking.

As Luis Carranza, Executive President of CAF added, “digital transformation offers a unique opportunity to boost productivity and to provide better public services in Latin America and the Caribbean. With Covid-19, the region has accelerated its digital processes, but there is still a long way to close the gap with advanced economies.”

“A rough road ahead”

There are certainly challenges in the way of advanced digital transformation acceleration. 

Take internet access. In 2018, 68% of the population in LAC used it regularly, behind the OECD average of 84%. Inequality is also evident here. 75% of the richest population in Latin America use the internet compared to only 37% of the poorest population.

In terms of digital transformation, over 20% of jobs in some countries are likely to be automated in some fashion. As a result, investment in education and training in digital skills is crucial.  

In order for the digital transformation agenda of the region to be successful, the report details recommendations for better coordination of efforts, and how these need to align with National Development Plans. There’s also an emphasis on the importance of international partnerships to the success of DX efforts. 

DX Journal Staff
Author: DX Journal Staff

DX Journal covers the impact of digital transformation (DX) initiatives worldwide across multiple industries.

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Accenture Cloud First launches with $3B investment

New business unit is designed to help clients rapidly become ‘cloud-first.’

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Accenture will be able to help clients more rapidly move toward being ‘cloud-first’ — thanks to a $3 billion investment.

While not a cloud technology company, Accenture is known as a leading partner of most major cloud providers around the world. This investment will form Accenture Cloud First, described in the company’s press release as:

“a new multi-service group of 70,000 cloud professionals that brings together the full power and breadth of Accenture’s industry and technology capabilities, ecosystem partnerships, and deep commitment to learning and upskilling clients’ employees and to responsible business, with the singular focus of enabling organizations to move to the cloud with greater speed and achieve greater value for all their stakeholders at this critical time.”

Cloud First will be led by Karthik Narain, a tech industry veteran who most recently headed up Accenture Technology in North America. 

(Paul Daugh is Group Chief Executive – Technology & CTO at Accenture)

Cloud computing has seen a massive increase in demand — especially with the surge in remote working and need to cut costs, both as a result of COVID-19. Numbers from Gartner show that the worldwide public cloud services market is forecast to grow by 6.3% in 2020. The total in dollars? $257.9 billion, up from $242.7 billion in 2019.

As Accenture CEO Julie Sweet is quoted in Fortune’s CEO Daily newsletter, “today we are 20% in the cloud. We are moving to 80%…instead of happening in a decade, it is going to happen in five years.” 

“This is the Henry Ford moment of the digital era,” she added.

In Accenture’s press release, Sweet emphasized how the pandemic has brought to light the importance of accelerating digital transformation across all organizations and industries.

“COVID-19 has created a new inflection point that requires every company to dramatically accelerate the move to the cloud as a foundation for digital transformation,” she says, “to build the resilience, new experiences and products, trust, speed, and structural cost reduction that the ongoing health, economic and societal crisis demands — and that a better future for all requires.”

DX Journal Staff
Author: DX Journal Staff

DX Journal covers the impact of digital transformation (DX) initiatives worldwide across multiple industries.

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