Business Technology

Six futuristic outdoor tech trends SMEs can use to stay ahead

6 min read

15 March 2017

Since the dawn of the internet age, businesses have faced the constant challenge of incorporating the world’s ever-evolving tech trends into their daily operations.

Just as manufacturing firms who avoided automated production were left behind, so will be those who ignore the aspect of life that tech trends have most radically altered – the way we send and receive information.

Tech-savvy business leaders know that keeping on top of the latest in advertising communications (which, today is overwhelmingly digital and full of tech trends) is crucial for engaging with consumers.  But, for SMEs, staying ahead of the curve can be an uphill struggle compared to resource-rich larger firms.

However, business leaders that keep their ears to the ground often find that knowing what’s just around the corner is the sure way to adapt and evolve with tech trends. As new tech trends emerge, are fine-tuned and reimagined, costs quickly drop, allowing eagle-eyed firms to jump on recent innovations and connect with new and existing customers in new, often radical ways.

These are what I believe to be the six most innovative outdoor tech trends all SMEs should watch:

(1) AI advertising

Perhaps the most significant change in advertising tech comes, rather fittingly, from machines. While this won’t look like I, Robot-meets-Mad Men on the surface, we can certainly expect an advertising intelligence far beyond the capabilities of even the most observant ad executive.

Imagine if a computer algorithm could think like a human, react to events in real time and change their advertising based on the news of the day, the outcome of a cricket match, or even the weather.  This smart, adaptive thinking is what AI Advertising will allow.

It takes just one look at the solutions Linkett is building, which adapt ad campaigns in real time, to see that AI advertising is already here.

(2) LiFi

When LiFi emerges, the prospect of WiFi will be met with giggles akin to those heard when dial-up internet is referenced in our age of broadband.

Quite simply, LiFi is the next giant leap in tech trends and communication, boasting speeds and a level of reliability currently unthinkable. By using light rather than radio waves to send coded information, any light source can, in theory, become a router. This means that anyone in direct line of sight will be able to connect.

While we won’t see LiFi rolling out anytime too soon, I have hopes that our ECHO displays can use this technology to transmit hidden content, unlockable with a handheld device.

(3) Internet of Tthings

While this it isn’t quite on the same scale of Tom Cruise being offered Amazon-style recommended purchases by Minority Report’s retina-scanning technology, WiFi and Bluetooth can now be used to tap into your buying data, personalising in-store adverts, and at the point-of-sale. Proximity marketer BlueBroadcaster is already making this a reality.

Continue on the next page to find out how these tech trends can decipher the public’s thoughts, whether they’re about Trump, tax or twerking.

(4) Social barometers

Just what does the public think about “X”?  Whether it’s tax, Trump or twerking, simply check out the trending section of any social media site and you’ll at least get a snapshot of what the connected-world thinks.

With traditional opinion polling failing to predict tectonic political shifts such as Trump and Brexit, major broadcasters are starting to measure viewer sentiment by analysing their social feeds, and are shifting their editorial positions as a result.

Perhaps the online echo chamber will soon reach the streets, showing only the adverts, and reflecting those filtered viewpoints we like to see.

(5) AR4U

You’ll be aware of virtual reality, which conjures images of headset-clad gamers immersed in a virtual world. augmented reality brings the virtual world into our own, just like, well, Pokémon Go.

Apply this technology to advertising and you soon realise how it will change the medium. AR advertising’s true impact will lie in its personalisation – the ability to show real world adverts specific to the viewer.  You might, for example be shown an advert for a holiday to Magaluf, the Cotswolds or Florida, depending on your age.

Should a developer make the breakthrough of popularising augmented reality glasses (sorry Google Glass), blank billboards could be all that are required for hyper-scale AR adverts.

(6) Device-less AR

Like all those images of commuters catching Pokémon on the bus, AR typically involves an interface that manipulates the screen of a portable device to incorporate new, digital information into the real world.

Our own ECHO display unit consists only of a 20cm reflective strip of light, yet, a digital image of up to 200 metres-tall will appear when the viewer makes natural sideways eye movements.

As such, we don’t expect it’ll be too long before we see device-less AR being a regular form of brand communication in the advertising world.

Stephen Allen is marketing director of Lightvert, a digital outdoor media technology company

Image: Shutterstock