New Year, New Tech 2017: Showcasing Innovation

Guests play Long Shot, a VR archery game.

Each and every year, tech teams around the world work to stay relevant and competitive in their respective industries. What new innovations have entered into the world and how can we ensure that our skill sets are keeping up with the curve? What changes have been made to already-existing technologies? And most importantly; what do these changes specifically mean for our clients?

So often do we read about the latest tech and gadgets but so little do we have an opportunity to interact with this tech. Raizlabs hosted an evening of interactive stations and it was great to foster an immersive experience with the attendees. If you weren’t able to attend or perhaps only made it to a few of our stations, here are a few of the things that we’ve worked on and how they may be relevant to you.

Voice Booth – Google Home & Amazon Echo

Machine learning allows developers to teach both Google Home and Amazon Echo how to recognize different aspects of a conversation to communicate with its user. This type of technology is bridging the gap between a brand and its audience, allowing for targeted user listening. Whether the consumer is asking to make a reservation, requesting a ride, asking for a news update, or purchasing an item, Google Home and Amazon Echo adapt to the behavior of their user. It’s technology like this that brings authenticity to the user experience. Curious to know what your team can be doing to implement this type of tech? We may have a few ideas.

 

Interactive Maps

Does your business display physical locations of customers, stores, or points of interest? If so, a custom map can highlight parts of the map you care about rather than the out of the box  features (streets, other points of interest you don’t care about, etc). These might detract from what you’re trying to show users, so consider using a custom app to focus your users.

Six Flag's Interactive Map

Six Flag’s Interactive Map helps users navigate the park.

Of course, if you’re doing anything with wayfinding (think turn-by-turn directions, navigating someone to a particular location, or seeing the map of a theme park, venue, or conference), you should be using a custom or interactive map to cater the entire experience to your customers and their use case, rather than just dropping pins on the map.

The Boston Common as a Marauder's Map.

Inspired by Harry Potter, we created a Marauder’s Map for the Boston Common.

At New Year, New Tech 2017, we had a blast sharing our map of the Boston Common, designed to resemble Harry Potter’s Maurader’s Map, and our Six Flags app.  Our examples included components like hand-illustrated map tiles and extracted routing data from images. Do you need help guiding your users in the right direction? We’d be glad to help you find your way.

 

Virtual Reality

You may have noticed that Virtual Reality (VR) devices have been trending (especially this past holiday season), and there’s a good reason for that. While previously VR was used primarily in the gaming industry, we see VR as one of the next frontiers in software innovation and have had a lot of fun exploring which use cases exist across industries.

We demoed an environment with Oculus Rift and Oculus Touch hand controls. Guests were invited to step into our beautifully-designed forest and set with the goal of using archery to hit as many targets as possible in a short amount of time. This VR game is called “Long Shot.”

Can creating another world help you connect with your users? Get in touch to learn how your team’s next project may be made for Virtual Reality.

Accessibility & Inclusivity

Keeping accessibility and inclusivity in mind when building your application is incredibly important. Developers and experts now say that general accessibility approaches used on the web also apply to apps. There is also ample crossover between accessibility and general usability. We worked with The Perkins School for the Blind, the MBTA, and a group of visually impaired individuals to create our BlindWays app, which we demoed at New Year, New Tech 2017. For this app, we developed the means to crowd-source clues about the objects around bus stops, and deliver those clues to users via the BlindWays app.

Raizlabs at the NYNT Accessibility booth

Raizlabs shares innovations in accessibility and inclusivity, which includes our BlindWays app.

We ensure these principles and best practices are brought to the forefront of even the earliest design and development discussions. Designing with accessibility in mind will help you reach the greatest potential audience while also delivering an end product that fits the greatest spectrum of needs. Since everyone’s accessibility needs are different, when an app is made more accessible, it helps all of your users. If your team has an upcoming project which requires expertise in accessibility, we are more than happy to collaborate.

Connected Devices (Internet of Things)

“IoT” (meaning “Internet of Things”) is a 3-letter word with a big potential. This type of technology allows users to use their mobile device to connect and interact with their environment. It’s a whole new way for brands to connect with their users. The ability to connect to a user’s device affords a company all the benefits that mobile apps give, including sending push notifications and a persistent Internet connection.

We demonstrated a few different ways that this could benefit your team, most specifically with Beacons and Simulations at New Year, New Tech. When a client’s app wasn’t aligned with the final hardware, we used Bluetooth to simulate use and test usability. In another case we used the Beacon App together with Google Home to explore how an app adapts to its surroundings.

 

Document Scanning

Imagine a world where filing cabinets were completely obsolete. We created technology that detects the edge of documents and then used machine learning to interpret text. At New Year, New Tech, we demonstrated this tech by allowing it to read and store the business cards of our guests, but this technology can be extended to receipts, credit cards, and other documents.

Document Scanning for Raffle

Developer Mike Skiba uses Document Scanning to run our event raffle!

If you need something scanned, read, and stored, then this is a tool that could be useful in several ways. If you’re not sure how exactly to implement Document Scanning or other visual scanning techniques, we are happy to answer any questions you have.

 

Facebook Bots

Facebook messenger has 30K bots and about a billion monthly active users worldwide. Do you know how many of your users are actively using that platform? One way to leverage this audience is to use a bot to interact with the users and to engage with others in your market. Our team created a bot called OrderBy.chat that receives and responds to callbacks. While it is still earlier on to pinpoint where Facebook Bots will take us, it’s clear that they could have a large impact on industries like Customer Service, Hospitality, eCommerce, and more. If your team is interested in collaborating to explore this frontier, please get in touch.

Raizlabs teammates at NYNT event

Chelsea, Elise, and Sandy, of our Development and Design teams, loved interacting with guests at NYNT to share Raizlabs’ newest innovations!

Each client we partner with has a different motivation for investing in. Whether it’s increasing user listening, bringing authenticity back to the user experience, or creating technology accessible to users with varied needs, Raizlabs is ready to design and develop for your distinct users and share expertise on the greater trends in the tech world. Do you have questions about something we showcased at our New Year, New Tech event? Would you be interested in learning more about a particular technology? Get in touch—we’re always looking forward to collaborating with new partners and improving more lives through tech.