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Marketing Featured South Asia

Kinder Joy, KidZania launch kid-centric experience to drive learning around animals 

Mumbai, India – Ferrero’s confectionary brand Kinder has partnered with interactive family entertainment destination KidZania is all set to enter the world of Metaverse with Natoons Metaverse Safari, this World Animal Day on October 4, with the aim to drive learning around animals in a unique way.

The companies are introducing an immersive metaverse experience for children to celebrate World Animal Day and understand its importance. To experience the metaverse zone, visitors can put on VR headsets and go on a Natoons Safari in the Metaverse and learn about animals in a unique way. 

The Metaverse Safari will showcase animals such as porcupine, whale, blue macaw, otter, tortoise and many more in their natural habitat. Kids will also have an opportunity to take photos in the experience.

Additionally, the phygital experience through the AR feature on the free Applaydu app, will further amplify the fun experience. The first Metaverse journey of Kinder Joy will be inaugurated in Delhi and Mumbai on 1st October and will continue till 9 October in Delhi up until 17 October in Mumbai.

Amedeo Aragona, regional marketing manager for Indian subcontinent for Kinder Brands at Ferrero said, “With our entry into the world of Metaverse, we wanted to engage children into learning more about animals while having fun. It is our constant endeavour to consistently find new and innovative ways to nurture the imagination and creativity of children through novel content, based on new technology platforms. Metaverse is one such initiative that drives children to learn, build, and explore exciting themes”.

Meanwhile, Prerna Uppal, chief partnership officer at KidZania India commented, “At KidZania we are always looking forward to the future. We did that by creating a one of its kind multi-sensory Kinder Joy Treat Factory experience that brings alive the joy of manufacturing everyone’s favourite treat. We are extremely excited for adding another innovative dimension to our partnership with Kinder Joy by creating a truly unique environment – “The Natoons Metaverse Safari”. Through this hybrid experience not just kids but even young parents will have fun, learn about animals and values of respecting nature & all its creatures – a truly inventive celebration for World Animals Day”.

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Platforms Featured Southeast Asia

KROMA teases ‘tradigital’ entertainment offering through XR event

Manila, Philippines – Local media and entertainment company KROMA has teased its so-called ‘tradigital’ entertainment offering through an extended reality (xR) event hosted by the company on 6 April. In it, they showcased KROMA’s immersive experience for its online audience by combining the physical and virtual worlds.

Far from the usual green screen execution, the xR disguise is a more dynamic and intense production. It allowed KROMA officials to interact smoothly with complex virtual effects and real-time computer graphics, resulting in more natural shots. Moreover, The xR disguise platform creates exciting live visual experiences based on augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), and mixed reality (MR).

According to Denise Seva, head of KROMA’s full-service activation brand LiveMNL and Music, they will continue to evolve by integrating the live component and product and tech innovations in the digital space.

“We at LiveMNL are always on the lookout for something fresh and innovative in delivering our events – be it ours or for our clients. I’ve seen a lot of comments that people were very impressed and happy with what we produce, so expect more of that coming from LiveMNL,” Seva said.

Meanwhile, Ian Monsod, CEO at KROMA, said the launch production is not the sole proof that shows how KROMA is going beyond content to further enrich the audience experience. He added that by being part of the Globe Group’s telecommunications and technology ecosystem, KROMA can connect consumers to related interests and passion points, communities, brands, websites, apps, and services essential to their daily lives.

“We are a diverse team of passionate individuals who bring together varying perspectives and points of view to create something engaging, exciting, and trailblazing for the Filipino audience. We do this across our ecosystem of brands, creators, content, and experiences. We have something for everyone’s entertainment,” Monsod said.

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Technology Featured East Asia

VoicePing taps Vonage to power innovative VR travel experience

Singapore – Japan-based virtual space office platform VoicePing has tapped global cloud communications company Vonage to power its virtual reality travel experience via its Dokodemo (Anywhere) Door Trip service, which uses 360° photography and video, as well as VR goggles and a computer, to enable users to enjoy virtual travel as if they were there in real life.

To provide a high-quality VR travel service, VoicePing needed to implement superior video calling capabilities quickly and seamlessly within their application and at scale. Using the Vonage Video API, VoicePing built a VR travel service that enables overwhelmingly realistic video playback, two-way voice communication, and automatic AI translation. 

In addition to Dokodemo Door Trip, VoicePing and MetaReal are developing a variety of VR services powered by the Vonage Video API, including Dokodemo Door Party, which creates a realistic karaoke experience; VR Therapy, which allows users to experience therapy in a virtual space; and VR Music, a live music distribution service. 

Kei Shimizu, project manager at VoicePing, said that their company aims at building solutions that empower people around the world to interact with anyone, anytime, anywhere, language-free, and enjoy their lives, work, and lifestyles through the use of the latest technology.

“We chose Vonage to develop the video function within our advanced VR experiences because Vonage provides high-quality video and audio, is easily implemented and operated within our applications, and has global reach and scale to grow as user adoption grows around the world,” Shimizu said.

Meanwhile, Amitha Pulijala, VP of product, platform services, AI and video at Vonage, commented that they are proud to enable innovative businesses at VoicePing to build immersive, interactive virtual experiences around the world.

“The pandemic has greatly restricted the ability to travel and experience new countries and cultures, and caused a major shift in the way we engage with one another. As more and more experiences become virtual, demand continues to increase for experiences that rival in-person interaction,” Pulijala said.

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Technology Featured East Asia

HIKKY’s new ¥500m funding to expand services to local, global markets

Tokyo, Japan – HIKKY, a Japan-based virtual reality startup, has raised another ¥500m (around USD4.3m) in a new series A funding round through a third-party allotment with management consulting company MEDIA DO. Said funding will help the startup amplify its services to the local and global market.

This funding follows the recent ¥6.5b funding round (around USD57m) raised by the startup with the aid of mobile phone operator NTT DOCOMO. In total, HIKKY has raised a total of ¥7b (around USD60.6m) in funding.

The funding will also aid in strengthening HIKKY’s organisational structure and building a new VR consulting service. Their services include development and operation of a Vket Cloud-powered open metaverse, Vket events and Vket Cloud.

Other objectives include service provision and development of the open metaverse, team building for Vket Cloud engine development, improving the development system for Vket events, launching a VR consulting business, and internal team recruitment.

“HIKKY is developing and providing services for the open metaverse using their proprietary VR engine, Vket Cloud, and with the help of many creators and partner companies connected by the Vket business. The open metaverse will also provide a variety of innovative services recognizing the unprecedented value of creativity and communication,” the company said in a press statement.

As part of the funding round, HIKKY and MEDIA DO also entered into a partnership, which entails the two companies creating an official publisher’s space where users can exchange their thoughts and opinions in the metaverse. In this place, users will enjoy meeting other fans of their favourite manga or other content, publishing and exhibiting their fan art, and expanding the possibility of IP collaborations with exhibitors at Vket events.

In addition, the partners will also pursue synergies with MyAnimeList, a global anime and manga communities and database site, which is operated by the MEDIA DO Group.

For Yasushi Fujita, president and CEO at MEDIA DO, they believe that the metaverse, with its diverse communities just as in physical reality, will become an ecosystem with a large area for content distribution as the gap between the metaverse and physical reality disappears.

“We are delighted to partner with HIKKY, organisers of a global event in the metaverse who develop a unique and open VR platform. We empathise with the concept of creating a new ecosystem in an open metaverse, and we take on the challenge of metaverse content distribution in a wide variety of sectors, including e-books. Together, we will deliver new experiences to users and help expand the distribution of all kinds of content,” Fujita said.

Meanwhile, Yasushi Funakoshi, CEO at HIKKY, commented that through leveraging the trust and experience that MEDIA DO has built with many publishers and bookstores together with HIKKY’s know-how, they plan to elevate how users read content in the metaverse.

“We also aim to build a new environment where users interact to share the charm of manga and other content, either with other users or with publishers. I am confident that these initiatives will further expand creator potential,” Funakoshi said.

He added, “Today’s announcement with NTT DOCOMO and MEDIA DO is a first step towards the realisation of other ideas in the works, and we will continue our efforts to expand the metaverse and provide experiences that bridge it with the real world.”

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Main Feature Technology Partners

Spotlight: MY-based digital agency on crafting immersive campaigns and the future of AR/VR in marketing

Immersive technology used to be a far-fetch concept, provided only by lofty-funded companies and experienced and appreciated only by banked consumers capable of grabbing cutting-edge tech. Today, innovation in tech has seen more than just a sophistication in features but has evolved to provide the most important development of all – AR and VR can now be experienced by everyone. 

When mobile game Pokémon GO was released in 2016, AR had started to become a household name. Now, with the unprecedented digital lifestyle brought on by the pandemic, AR and VR had similarly risen to new heights – becoming brands’ top consumer engagement strategy, infiltrating people’s everyday life.

For the latest episode of MARKETECH Spotlight, we sat down with Malaysia’s fast-growing digital experience agency Unicom Interactive Digital (UID) to deep dive into how these digital experiences are developed. Through a conversation with its Chief Operating Officer Jareth Eng, we were let on the behind-the-scenes of AR development, and most importantly, the best practices and future trends in immersive technology straight from the experience builder.

Watch the full MARKETECH Spotlight episode on Unicom Interactive Digital feat. Chief Operating Officer Jareth Eng

Pivoting from on-ground activations to digital experiences

Pre-pandemic, UID started out as a provider of on-ground activations, but just like every business during the pandemic, the digital agency had to pivot to meet new demands with the firm finding itself at the cusp of a challenge and an opportunity.

“UID is in [the] position [of] bridging traditional marketing norms with digital touch,” said Eng in the MARKETECH Spotlight interview.

With its core specialization in physical to hybrid marketing activations, it didn’t come easy for the agency to shift to crafting purely web and digital experiences.

One of the on-ground activations UID did pre-pandemic for Eu Yan Sang, a Traditional Chinese Medicine brand in Malaysia.

“Suddenly, there was an influx of inquiries [asking] could you do this web-based campaign for us, could you build this digital site for us, and then we thought, why not?” shared Eng. 

Before the demand for digital risen, UID had worked with brands like Clarins, Victoria’s Secret, and TeaLive, and a staple of the on-ground activations UID mounted was installed with touch-screen and sensor devices that amplified consumer engagement. 

Transforming the firm’s value proposition to delivering web-based experiences was not something that UID was a stranger to. As Eng puts it, UID had the skillset and the ‘tools’ to build ‘software’ and that although partially an uncharted territory for them, there had been no reason to “stop us from trying.”

“Since then, we went full-force ahead, trying out [and] testing out what works [and] what doesn’t work, and we just kept finding our process, and that’s how we got to where we are today,” said Eng.

The characteristics of a good digital experience

With consumers locked in the four corners of their abodes at the height of the pandemic, the ways to explore products and services have been drastically reduced. With the presence of e-commerce, consumers are still able to fulfill their transactions, but only a similar live brand engagement can answer to consumers’ indulgence – and this is what has been the greatest role of AR and VR at this period.

After over a year, UID is finding firm its ground and has since launched a virtual concept store for skincare brand Sulwhasoo and AR applications for FMCG Nestle and Ascenda, telco Maxis, and skincare Aiken, among many others.

First off, Eng says that the common denominator among successful campaigns is content, emphasizing on the importance of ‘personalizing’ content. Eng’s advice? Be real, be sincere.

One of the things enjoyed today is the increased accessibility to almost any type of digital content and comes with that is the heightened demand to rummage through and find the one that’s most engaging and trustworthy, therefore, making personalization and authenticity top values, according to Eng.

“More and more, let’s be honest, we start to get bored of the same stuff, and we start to look for authenticity in content, because there are so much paid advertisements today [and] so much paid endorsements, and we reach a point where we do not know what is being said is real or not.”

Technically, Eng cites the element of building a good digital infrastructure, more specifically on the issue of loading speeds, as a vital aspect of a good digital experience. On-demand is now the name of the game and said area, when overlooked, can be a dealbreaker for brands. 

A basic example would be, Eng continues, when a brand is running an AR campaign based on QR codes and upon scanning, a consumer is made to wait, that dead air becomes a potential pitfall where they ought to abandon the experience. 

“It’s a matter of milliseconds that you will lose a potential customer, this is why infrastructure is very important,” said Eng.

Now, Eng says that besides knowing the components of a highly-engaging digital experience, brands must simply decide to be a proactive player in the digital space. With digital the present and future of marketing, this is the way brands are able to stay ‘relevant’.

“The drive towards digital transformation may have been fueled by the pandemic but even as the world recovers and we are no longer restricted by social distancing constraints or pandemic constraints, the perks of adding digital elements to campaigns have proven themselves during the past year. Even as we head back to a norm that we were used to, digital elements will still play a part,” said Eng. 

Lastly, as a digital partner themself, Eng stresses the importance for brands to find a ‘good match’. He says it all boils down to the chemistry between the brand and agency.

“Finding a good digital partner is very important. We could be a good fit, we could not be a good fit,” Eng commented. 

He adds, “A digital partner that understands what your brand is trying to achieve is gonna be key.” 

With UID’s case, Eng believes the firm’s strongest suit is their unique perspective of having been able to execute both on-ground and digital campaigns, and therefore having a good combination of the skills and knowledge of both. 

“As a company that was borne out of delivering on-ground campaigns to the digitalization of campaigns…I’m not saying that we are the best but [we] have learned the lessons,” said Eng.

The process of building a digital experience

According to Forbes’ tech council, remote try-on capabilities will be one of the biggest tech trends that will impact business and consumer marketplaces moving forward, and therefore, VR and AR will carve an even more pivotal role in making this stride possible.

In order to bring this to fruition, players in the digital ecosystem must work hand in hand. A brand with a platform to engage and influence the consumer must forge strategic partnerships with VR and AR experience builders that share the same values and vision. 

A combination of simplification, innovation, and strategic data, Eng says, is what will hit the ground running for both agency and brand, and what would, eventually, set the record for one-of-a-kind and out-of-the-box marketing campaigns.

First, the process from conceptualization to execution must be simplified. Eng shared that in UID’s case, the process is made seamless by simply removing any technical jargon from the communication. 

“As former marketers ourselves, we understand the pain that marketers face especially when dealing with tech. We don’t bombard you with all the technical jargon,” said Eng.

With AR and VR a fixture of the burgeoning new-age tech, innovation will always be at the heart of building these ultra-immersive brand engagements, and Eng couldn’t agree more. 

He says that with UID, innovation is built from dealing with the roots, that is, learning a brand’s story – how they operate pre-pandemic so that the agency is able to bring out a digital experience that is both never-before-seen but also a continuity of a brand’s identity. 

“As brands are restricted by physicality in recent times, such restrictions don’t apply in the digital space,” said Eng. 

He adds, “Tell us what you used to do before the pandemic, what your objectives were, which touchpoints were important to you, and what your measure of success [was] for on-ground campaigns…for your audiences, it is like you [have] always been there.” 

Lastly, strategic data or the right metrics is what will keep the campaign team aligned – the brand and the agency to be on the same page. With the wave of creative innovation today, marketers on the client and agency side must not lose sight of best-serving metrics that will assure precedents to enable the repetition of success, and foolproof action plans from rewriting mistakes.

On UID’s side, Eng says that its strength comes from the team’s marketing background; that as former marketers, they know which metrics will best serve as compass for directing efforts into the most befitting strategies and channels.

“We filter off what is coined ‘white noise’ and keep the data that matters,” said Eng. 

He adds, “Again, as former marketers ourselves, we know the type of metric that you need for improving customer retention, we know the type of metric in driving your sales.”

The future of AR

AR has started to penetrate the general consumer’s lifestyle and campaigns have been evolved to commercialized and friendly formats to make AR inclusive – not just for those that have hi-tech devices to experience and not only for the tech-savvy to appreciate. So if AR is the present, what more can we expect for the development of this area in immersive tech?

Eng says that the amount of research & development had been immense in the past year, and immersive tech definitely hasn’t seen the best it’s yet to offer.

Tech and social media behemoths Apple and Facebook are determined to lead the way in immersive tech by announcing futuristic new features and products with premature news surrounding Apple’s launch of a headset and glasses with AR and VR capabilities and of course Facebook’s investment in the metaverse. 

Not getting too ahead of ourselves, Eng said that a much proximate innovative feature that’s as exciting to both brands and consumers is that AR is no longer restricted by app-based experiences. 

“The beauty of web AR is you don’t need to download an app for ease for accessibility,” said Eng. 

When face-to-face interactions were phased out in the pandemic, brands had to cruise through with the biggest question of all: How can we show our products to consumers? 

“Brands no longer [have] consumers going to them, [in your] brick-and-mortar stores and retail shops,” said Eng. 

“Augmented reality provided a way for consumers to experience a product and to still be educated, and to have a sort of [an] experience with a brand,” Eng adds. 

Now, with just a simple scan of a QR code, and by being connected to holy grail social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram, consumers can be transported to different realities, be entertained with games, and even go as far as experiencing AR-activated concerts without lifting a finger. 

“Brands should start incorporating AR technology into their everyday business simply because they are now easily accessible, engaging for consumers, and most importantly, drive sales,” said Eng.

Brands who want to reach out to Unicom Interactive Digital may visit their website at uid.asia and may contact the agency at [email protected].

Listen to the full conversation between MARKETECH APAC’s Regional Editor Shaina Teope and UID’s Chief Operating Officer Jareth Eng on Spotify:

Categories
Platforms Featured East Asia

VR startup HIKKY bags US$57m in funding to push open metaverse project

Tokyo, Japan – Virtual reality (VR) startup HIKKY has announced that it has successfully raised US$57m or around ¥6.5b during its recently-concluded series A funding round. Part of the funding will be used in developing and operating a new open metaverse project using the company’s Vket Cloud, a browser-based VR engine.

The company will also use said funding to help expand their virtual reality services both domestically and abroad, as well as to strengthen their organizational foundation.

The Vket Cloud is used to create metaverse content that users can access with a link click, without a dedicated computer or mobile application. It also supports multiplayer mode, and users can enjoy communicating with others in the same space with voice or text chat.

According to Yasushi Funakoshi, CEO at HIKKY, they will be accelerating their metaverse business with the help of communication infrastructure, research institutes, and global networks of the Japanese mobile phone operator NTT DOCOMO, which is under the Nippon Telegraph and Telephone (NTT) Group.

“We will continue to provide NTT DOCOMO with XR services, technologies, and content production as per our strengths. We are extremely grateful to all the creators who have supported us, as well as the visitors and companies who have taken part in Vket events,” Funakoshi said.

HIKKY is known for hosting a VR-based event called Vket, where thousands of artists, many international corporate sponsors, and millions of users visit these events. For this year, Vket 2021 will run from 4 to 19 December this year.

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Platforms Featured Southeast Asia

WATCH: This latest MV by SG musician Benjamin Kheng merges reality with virtual influencer Rae

Singapore – In a first-of-a-kind music collaboration in Asia, Singapore-based singer Benjamin Kheng has recently published its newest music video called ‘WORLDS’, with virtual influencer Rae also taking part in the video, signaling the creative merge of reality and virtual talents.

Rae’s singing is made possible by her latest text-to-speech (TTS) technology that allows audio content to be generated almost instantly. The technology also allows Rae to express her bold personality through a new medium, deepening her engagement with her followers in the digital world and online communities. As a virtual being, Rae speaks in an alto tone with a slight robotic pitch, and is effectively bilingual in English and Mandarin, opening up room for more versatility and creativity in content formats for collaborations.

Speaking about her participation in the music video, she notes that her presence at ‘WORLDS’ was a way to ‘find her voice’, and that it symbolized the natural extension of their interactions across two different realms.

“To create a new experience, we experimented with an electronic treatment for my voice, in contrast to Ben’s vocals. I enjoyed every bit of the co-creation process, from the recording to the filming of the music video. For me, the song expresses the friendships and rapport I’ve established with every individual across our universes. It’s about how our worlds, while different, can converge and connect. I hope that fans will enjoy checking out the video and listening to the new release,” Rae stated.

Meanwhile, Kheng commented, “The song was written about a loved one who passed on, and how I missed her so much I’d dream of lifetimes with her. I was so curious as to how working with Rae would be, but finally meeting ‘her’ was a blast. She might be virtual but she, her team and the whole process felt real ‘real’ to me.”

Rae, as seen on one of her promotions with the new Audi R3 Model last May.

Rae, who debuted last October 2020, has worked closely with local and international brands as their representatives, including working with Audi Singapore for the promotion of the new Audi A3 Model, as well as launching her own non-fungible token (NFT) series collection called ‘TAKE A BYTE’ in July this year.

Virtual influencers, both the human-like and caricature ones, have been recently popping out in support of brand campaigns. For instance, South Korean insurance company Shinhan Life has tapped virtual influencer Oh Rozy for their latest brand campaign, done in collaboration with creative agency TBWA\ Korea. In the caricature realm, ‘VTubers’ or virtual YouTubers have proliferated, from Sony Music Japan announcing auditions for their large-scale VTuber project, to AirAsia debuting their first-ever virtual idol Aozora Kurumi.

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Technology Featured APAC

Virtual event platform EventX scores partnership, US$10m funding from HTC VIVE

Hong Kong – Realizing the greater need for virtual event management platforms in the Asia-Pacific region, virtual event platform EventX has announced an alliance with virtual reality (VR) company HTC VIVE, following its conclusion of a US$10m funding from its series B funding.

Aside from the funding being led by HTC VIVE, the funding also saw participation from Gaocheng Capital, a top China-based private equity fund focused on enterprise software and technology-enabled services sectors.

EventX’s virtual event management platform has been well-used in the region, especially for events that involve Mainland China attendees where its unique design architecture overcomes internet firewalls to enable the service of any cross-region events. Meanwhile, HTC VIVE has gained great attention and acclaim for its strides in VR research and development. By combining the knowledge pools of the two respected digital trailblazers, a range of unique experiences is set to be developed through this strategic alliance. 

A major player for the rise of these virtual event management platforms can be attributed to the COVID-19 health pandemic, which has drastically curtailed travel and how people spend time in crowded places, decimating the wider event industry, estimated to be worth more than US$1t annually before the pandemic. 

COVID-19 has permanently transformed the professional events category and in turn raised attention to venture capitalists to pour in massive capital to the virtual event software space.

Speaking about the partnership, Sum Wong, co-founder and CEO at EventX, said, “It is certain that virtual workspaces and virtual events will become the new norm. The creation of this alliance will result in a deep level of integration between our own expertise and HTC VIVE’s groundbreaking work in the VR space. This collaboration will result in EventX bringing virtual and hybrid event experiences to a brand new level of immersion and interactivity. To take the responsibility as one of the event industry leaders, EventX will keep exploring new possibilities of event technology, popularizing the application, and creating users’ needs.”

EventX is going to invest heavily in products and engineering for leading the recovery of the events industry during the current pandemic, which will not only stabilize and solidify existing virtual event services but carve out new spaces and opportunities for the marketing and event industry. 

Meanwhile, Joseph Lin, president of VIVEPORT said, “VR has the power to improve the world. At HTC VIVE we strive to create the tools to expedite VR adoption — using not only our VR devices but also computers, tablets, and smartphones — and interact effectively. The strategic alliance with EventX illustrates HTC VIVE’s continuous efforts in providing people and enterprises with the tools to meet, socialize, and learn in VR and beyond. Massive possibilities and enthusiasm can be seen in this partnership to bring people closer together without any geographical boundaries.”

With their unique China accessible ability and together with HTC VIVE, they will be adopting VR and prospecting technology into the core capabilities of the event software-as-a-service (SaaS) product to make it accessible and reinvent the virtual event experience. For the first attempt to add VR and prospecting technology into core capabilities, they would be releasing a virtual event lite platform and open it for segments such as NGOs, SMEs and startups to register and organize virtual events for free.

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Technology Featured Southeast Asia

Huawei’s newly-launched DIGIX Lab to empower app developers

Singapore – DIGIX Lab, operated under the services of the Huawei Mobile Services (HMS), has officially been opened in Singapore to help app developers drive idea exchange, business growth and collaboration.

The innovation hub works in the way that it offers a space for developers to connect and experience the full range of HMS developer resources, ranging from augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), artificial intelligence (AI), HMS Core kits and other open technological capabilities. The DIGIX Lab services can also be accessed online, allowing developers across the region to make use of the resources virtually.

DIGIX Labs also operates under a so-called ‘1+8+N’ Seamless AI Life strategy, which is defined when the smartphone serves as One (1) centre, and Huawei’s ecosystem partners connect across Eight (8) supporting Huawei devices to create a fully connected IoT environment consisting of Endless (N) services.

Huawei-Mobile-Services-DIGIX-Lab-Tech-Developer-Inside
HUAWEI DIGIX Lab @ Singapore’s “Experience Zone” showcases Huawei all-scenario products. Developers, partners, and tech enthusiasts can look forward to a series of Residency Programmes like developer workshops, knowledge sharing sessions, and onsite consultation with tech experts hosted by Huawei online and offline. (Photo Courtesy of Huawei)

For Shane Shan, director for Asia Pacific at Huawei Consumer Cloud Service, the strategy system aims to empower tech developers and partners in the Asia Pacific in the mid of 5G rollout.

“The new DIGIX Lab serves as an all-encompassing innovation hub to give developers the boost they need to succeed. Huawei will continue to strengthen our collaboration with partners and institutions in the community and cultivate a resilient, evolving pool of tech talents in the Asia Pacific region,” Shan said.

The DIGIX Lab is divided into three main zones where partners and developers can communicate within the community:

  • Experience zone: An area for visitors to experience Huawei’s “1+8+N” all-scenario ecosystem. This area displays the latest smartphone models, and eight different types of Huawei devices including tablets, PCs, smart wearables and VR smart glasses. In addition, third party IoT home products supported by HUAWEI HiLink are also exhibited here.
  • Engage zone: A multipurpose zone with a collaborative area and training rooms to support community building. Developer programmes such as training, workshops, industry and networking events will be held in this area. Meanwhile, tech enthusiasts or individual developers can also book the space to host community events related to mobile app development.
  • Enable zone: This zone consists of three meeting rooms where developers who are facing challenges while developing an app can meet with Huawei engineers or business teams to get hands-on support. Four debug terminals are also available at the lab to support developers with the resource requirement.

HMS has also recently launched the HUAWEI Developers app, an official open platform for Huawei developers to manage their apps backend system, access the latest developer activities and receive event notifications on the go.

Three community programs are also slated to launch this year, namely the HUAWEI Student Developers (HSD), the HUAWEI Developer Groups (HDG) and the HUAWEI Developer Experts (HDE) to help developers of all levels grow with the HMS ecosystem. Developers in APAC will also be able to sign up for training courses to learn how to deploy HMS development tools into their apps and receive the ‘Huawei Developer Certification’ upon course completion.

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Platforms Featured Southeast Asia

Malaysia-based Fotobox unveils new division for brands’ immersive tech experience

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – Social media engagement agency Fotobox has announced its new immersive division ‘Conten.T’, short for content technology, to bring digital engagement offerings to retailers.

Conten.T will stride into immersive technology productions, which include augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), mixed reality (MR), gamification, and mobile-based technology to help brands create experiences to reach consumers at home, especially relevant following the COVID-19 pandemic.

Fotobox’s Conten.T has expanded the brand portfolio it has worked with for immersive ad experience, including brands such as Korean beauty brand Mamonde, sportswear Adidas, Coach, Gucci, Calvin Klein, Ferragamo, Hendricks Gin, and Scotch whiskey brand Glenfiddich.

“Having predicted a growing trend in immersive technology even before COVID-19, the adoption of immersive exploration was accelerated by the shift of digital-centric consumers largely caused by the pandemic. The launch of Conten.T has proven to be a step in the right direction as industries are beginning to see the increasing need to craft their own experiences digitally,” said Jason Ang (pictured), founder, and managing director for Fotobox.

For instance, collaboration with Mamonde’s revolves around the creation of a virtual retail experience by allowing users to enter a hyper-realistic virtual environment just by scanning a QR code. Within it, one can explore featured rooms and learn about the brand’s products besides chancing upon surprises in a few corners for users to redeem prizes and free samples. By partnering with an e-commerce site, consumers have the option to add products to buy.

Hendricks Gin partnership with Conten.T for immersive experience.

“This is all experienced through mobile phones – no apps, no downloads – just scan a QR code and experience through your mobile browsers, and customers have access to this in the comfort from their home,” Ang commented.

With Adidas meanwhile, Conten.T’s latest work revolves around AR, which allows customers in Adidas’ largest brand center in Malaysia to experience the athletes on the move on an AR journey that leads one to the store at Pavilion Kuala Lumpur.

Sportswear brand Adidas’ immersive experience partnership with Conten.T

“It is an exciting time for brands to steer into digital experience – not just on the grounds of the shift in consumer behavior but also in reference to the accessibility to technology. Fotobox believes that when one door shuts on physical retail, another opens into a new digital world; one that can reach today’s tech savvy consumers in an impactful, emotional, and interactive way,” he added.

Fotobox’s presence expands beyond Malaysia, including Singapore, South Korea, and Hong Kong, with brands ranging from fashion retail, beauty and cosmetics, the fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) and other consumer-based industries.

“Digital & Hybrid experiences are here to stay, we aim to become the technology partner every brand needs to venture into offline and online immersive engagements in SEA and APAC, as more and more younger, tech savvy consumers don’t want to be advertised to. They want to be part of the brand experience.” Ang concluded.