Friday Five: World Cup highlights and Amazon’s fashion assistant

Each week Zone’s Letty Key handpicks and shares the five best stories on new trends and technologies…

1. (Screen) time well spent

Digital wellbeing is a hot topic of late, and fittingly Apple is taking steps to put users in control of their device interaction through a new feature called Screen Time. It will be on hand to provide information and key stats regarding the amount of time spent in certain apps and the notifications received.

This is certainly a step in the right direction, especially seeing as the addictive nature of notifications has been questioned. I suppose the aim is not necessarily cutting down the amount of time people are spending on their phones, more ensuring that this time is spent in a productive and healthy way.

2. Highlighting the magic of the World Cup

Every football fan’s dream could be within reach thanks to a collaboration between Fox Sports and IBM. Using AI and machine learning, fans will be able to construct their own personal highlights packages from footage of every World Cup since 1958. In case you were wondering, that is a lot of football.

Allowing fans to customise the content themselves rather than having the AI attempt to (often incorrectly) personalise it is a smart move, and the whole concept feels just on the right side of video editing to remain fun. This innovative use of tech should enable fans to create custom cuts and personally tailored content without the need for in-depth technical knowledge.

3. Alexa gets fashionable

Amazon is aiming to put users ahead in the style stakes with the launch of the Echo Look, a wardrobe assistant kitted out with full Alexa support. The sartorially savvy will be able to snap a pic or video of their look and even get style advice from a machine-learning algorithm that assess outfits for fit, colour, styling and current trends.

Initially I thought this was a narrow-minded use of a technology that holds great potential. But the more I thought about it, the more I thought this micro-targeting could become a strength, in that a product designed with a clear-cut function will do that one thing incredibly well, as opposed to another all-in-one device that adds the feature at a later stage.

4. A fitting way to find new clothes

Staying with the theme of fashion, TG3D Studio has created an infrared body scanner that creates a 3D avatar of users via an app on their phone, complete with detailed measurements of various parts of their body. This data is then used to suggest the perfect size when shopping at a number of well-known retailers.

With Amazon’s acquisition of Body Labs and the launch of the Zozosuit it seems body scanning is on the verge of taking off, but there are still doubts, ranging from the tech behind it to data privacy issues. TG3D’s powerful Scanatic looks to address this by keeping intimate physical data on the user’s phone as opposed to handing it to retailers. Is this the answer? It will be interesting to see, so watch this space.

5. Seeing the road through different eyes

Cyclists and motorists are often at odds with each other but Ford is looking to extend an olive branch in the form of WheelSwap, a VR experience that puts drivers in the shoes of cyclists having to deal with dangerous driving and vice versa.

This is a great use of VR that could be built into a fantastic road awareness programme thanks to its immersive nature and the ability to create empathy in the two groups of road users. Early results are encouraging, with 70% of those who took part displaying greater empathy towards their counterparts and 60% reporting that they had changed their behaviour during day-to-day travels.

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