Experiencing augmented reality with Microsoft HoloLens

It was only when I had taken the Microsoft HoloLens off that I had appreciated what I had witnessed. For a few moments the digital displays on my Apple Watch, iPhone, Windows PC, even games consoles had been one and the same world. Graphics were no longer confined to screens, but a tangible real-world thing.

It felt so natural at the time, but the graphical human skeleton standing before me that Microsoft HoloLens had projected into my eyes felt real. It stood neatly on the floor, you could walk behind it, even stick your head inside to see different parts of the body. When I used the internet for the first time, I knew it was different, marking the next technological leap – the same emotions were with me when I took off that headset.

In the same week I saw the Virtual Reality (VR)/augmented reality power of Microsoft HoloLens at the Integrated Live show at the ExCeL London and then at Lansons’ GIANT healthcare event, held at the edgy start-up-esque venue The Coronet. The first time the headset was being used it showed how prototype cars could be engineered without physically having to build. At GIANT it was being used to train medical students about parts of the human body.

Just imagine, using augmented reality in healthcare could mean loading up a virtual human tragedy in front of 10 students to explore. Together they would witness the same simulation, knowing how to tend for different crash victims. Alternatively interior designers could load up the finished product of 3 months of work, before their work has even started. The possibilities are endless.

Whilst experimental digital marketing isn’t new, over the last 12 months the discipline has thrived thanks to the availability of VR and augmented reality. You can pre-order Microsoft HoloLens for £2,719 today, but prices will considerably crash over the next three years. It’s only a matter of time before this experimental technology becomes a mainstream consumer option.

The same applies for other technologies making our shopping lists. Virtual assistants such as Siri and Cortana continue to become more intelligent, and Amazon’s Echo is bound to make shopping lists in the US and UK this Christmas. In addition, wearable technology such as fitness devices and smartwatches offer platforms for PR campaigns to target. A few years ago my mobile was just for simple games, texting and phone calls – today it knows my heartrate, GPS positioning, and even the number of stairs I’ve climbed.

The “diffusion of innovations” theory shows us the rate of how new ideas and technology spread. You can read more about the theory on Wikipedia. When the late majority adopt a piece of technology, such as smartphones in 2007/8, it’s easy to begin taking the technology for granted. Today the innovators are creating software for the early adopters to use on VR headsets.

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As I write this, I can’t imagine taking VR or augmented reality for granted, but it will happen… fast. Will you offer it to your client first or will your client request it?

Keep up with 350+ news sources without breaking a sweat

‘Don’t you ever worry that you’ll run out of things to say?’ was a bemused line delivered by a University friend back in 2008. Today it’s amusing; a Public Relations person running out of things to say? Bah… as if! Although oddly, I feel like he was onto an idea that I actually believe in today, if I’m to provide consultancy to organisations then I must have done my reading.

If you work in PR then you’ll relate to this next bit, if not then you’ll soon understand. Explaining what PR is to normal people is tough.

The industry agrees it is primarily about managing reputation but the growth of online has spurred evolution in the industry. Instead of speaking to journalists, the steady growth of social media over the last eight years has changed the way reputation needs to be managed. As a digital account director at Lansons my primary focus is how to manage the online reputations of organisations.

It’s a big job, but I’m thankful it’s not a physical one. The intensity is on the brain and I need to know the pulse of the digital industry including social media news, search engine optimisation updates, and online analytics. Keeping up-to-date about an industry that changes on an hourly basis is challenging and if I enter a client meeting without the latest news then my consultancy will be poor.

So whilst my friend’s innocent question was quaint, it touched on a truth; for every 10% of consultancy I provide it must be backed up by 90% research. In my professional life I treat clients like essays, the hardest part is the learning and analysing, the easiest part is the delivery of information. This balance of knowledge is part of what makes a good or poor consultant; in the agency world this is financial life or death.

Of course there are other factors at play. For instance, you could be the smartest person in the room but a real arse to deal with!

I know for certain that to be a successful consultant then you need to have a timely plan for how to digest and analyse news. This needs to stand tall even when your working weeks go into the interstellar 50+ hour mark. In the PR industry we’ve recently started calling the mixture of internal business cultures and balance of tools part of a business workflow.

Using Feedly to make news digestible

I’m dependent on Feedly, an online platform and app that delivers me the latest news from every blog, magazine and newspaper I choose to follow. Without Feedly most people would struggle to keep up-to-date with one newspaper, let alone that and 349 other news sources!

Feedly, overview of topics

As social media sites have progressed, Feedly has been a reliable tool to return to. Twitter has become too noisy, Facebook prioritises old viral videos, and Google+ is near extinct. For in-depth news my first visit is Feedly; on iPhone during commutes and via the browser whilst at work. It’s even played a small role helping position myself professionally in the industry through the Feedly app’s ease of social sharing.

Feedly finance

Whether you’re new to the industry or an old-timer, Feedly remains a simple and free way to keep up-to-date with the news. After having used the tool since the closure of Google Reader in 2013 I’m beginning to consider pro features such as collection sharing to help inform my client teams. As it’s my source for news, it has helped me maintain relationships with fellow bloggers and has been integral to the consultancy I’ve delivered for the last five years.

So my honest (unpaid!) advice for PR professionals is to consider Feedly as part of your PR workflow. It will only help make you smarter.