What Are Consumer Brands Doing In Web3, Blockchain and the Metaverse?
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Mar 10, 2023 12 min read

🤔 Wiser! #116: Robots | Avatars | Bluesky | Meta | Surveillance | Virtual | Augmented | Real

🤔 Wiser! #116: Robots | Avatars | Bluesky | Meta | Surveillance | Virtual | Augmented | Real
Table of Contents

Wiser! #116: Consumer brands are jumping on the generative AI bandwagon, integrating ChatGPT to create new, better ways to engage with customers. PLUS: Dorsey releases his Twitter alternative, Robot workers, Meta's Avatar strategy, CBDCs are coming, and much more...

w/Wiser! #116 - Friday 10th March 2023


For the past 6 months I've been building the Brand Strategy Collection. It contains hundreds of examples of the application of emerging technologies by consumer brands, from the likes of adidas and Nike, to Bentley and Ferrari, to airlines, department stores, fast food chains and whiskey distillers. For good measure, I've included locations and destinations from around the world and over almost a hundred celebrities and sporting organisations that have dipped their toes into the emerging tech space.

The single thing that links them all together is consumers. The Brand Strategy Collection is a comprehensive list of use cases that all focus on customer engagement, either building loyalty amongst existing followers, or finding new ways to interact with new customers. The point is that these brands, places and celebrities are all going to where the next generation of consumer is to be found. Whether that's in immersive games or via digital assets or as 3D conversations, the technologies deployed include blockchain, NFTs, virtual and augmented reality, artificial intelligence and crypto.

Every week, I'll include the latest updates in the newsletter so that you can see what's happening. I start with a feature on 5 consumer brands that have integrated ChatGPT into their marketing and branding engagement.

The Brand Strategy Collection is a product for Premium subscribers. If you're on the free plan, consider upgrading to get unrestricted access to the Collection. All the information you'll ever need about what's happening and what's coming next is right there.

ATB, Rick

P.s. Remember: Insight and Information Gives You Leverage!

“very interesting - cant wait to read more!” - Catherine H, Swindon, UK

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Five examples of consumer brand adoption of ChatGPT

“We are excited to unleash the next generation of creativity offered by this rapidly emerging technology,” said James Quincey, chairman and chief executive of The Coca-Cola Company.

The AI genie is out of the bottle

In November 2022, OpenAI launched ChatGPT, making the world of artificial intelligence as easy as having a conversation with your mate, mentor or mum. ChatGPT has moved the boundaries of conversational AI, allowing consumers to engage with brands in a more conversational manner. With the release of the OpenAI API integration, a feature that allows firms to literally plug into the AI chatbot, consumer brands are finding new and innovative ways of bring generative AI to marketing, branding and consumer engagement.

In this week's Premium article, I look at five of brands integrating with ChatGPT:

  • Shopify has integrated an online shopping assistant that allows customers to have a conversation with the platform for shopping ideas.
  • Instacart has implemented an AI chatbot feature called “Ask Instacart”.
  • The Coca-Cola Company has signed a deal with OpenAI and Bain Consulting to implement ChatGPT and DALL-E into its marketing and global operations.
  • Snapple, the Dr Pepper iced tea brand, is engaging with their customers by giving them access to ChatGPT to create their own interesting facts.
  • Quizlet, the online learning platform with 60 million users, has integrated ChatGPT as an online tutor.

As the use of ChatGPT in consumer brands continues to grow, it is becoming evident that conversational AI is transforming the way brands engage with their customers. By offering a more conversational experience, brands can increase customer satisfaction and engagement, and offer new services that were not possible before.

Let’s take a closer look at what these consumer brands are doing…


1. Are humanoid robots the solution to the world’s diminishing labour force?

There’s a robotics startup called Figure in the US. This week they came out of stealth mode and released the first images of its all-purpose humanoid robot. The company has generated excitement and much speculation since September when it was announced they’d raised $100 million in starting capital. Figure is founded by Brett Adcock, also the co-founder of Archer Aviation, and it counts former Boston Dynamics, Tesla, and Apple engineers among its team of 42 staff.

Here's The Thing: The world is running out of workers. That’s due to a number of factors, including demographic changes and ageing populations. According to Adcock, the answer to our labour and productivity woes are robots. And he’s not alone in that thinking.

Continue reading...(for more info on Figure, and what Tesla and Alphabet are doing with Robots.)


2. Meta changes course from Virtual Reality to Augmented and Artificial Intelligence

This week, Meta revealed its AR/VR roadmap for the next four years in an internal presentation. Meta plans to release its first pair of smart glasses in 2025 alongside a neural interface smartwatch designed to control the glasses (instead of a smartphone). Meanwhile, its first pair of full-fledged AR glasses, which CEO Mark Zuckerberg has predicted will eventually "be as widely used as mobile phones", is planned for 2027.

Here's The Thing: Wiser! readers will remember that one of my 2023 predictions is that Meta will pivot (again) and shift focus from virtual reality to augmented. From recent annoucements, this appears to be happening. That doesn't mean that Meta are giving up on the Metaverse pipe dream, but it does seem as though common sense is prevailing and the massive R&D spend is shifting to AR and AI.

Continue reading...(for details on Meta's AR and VR plans. Plus Zuckerberg's aspiration for "AI Personas" - AI powered avatars for Meta's family of apps - and Snap's plans for its own AI chatbot.)


3. The story of Klarna, more Lose Now, Profit Later, than Buy Now, Pay Later

Klarna, the “Buy Now, Pay Later” company has announced its losses had deepened a further 47%, reporting a $1 billion loss for 2022. Klarna competes in the increasingly crowded BNPL space, which allows for consumers to pay for things in instalments. That can be a new TV, clothes, makeup, holidays, dinner -  pretty much anything can be BNPL'd at the touch of a button. Even a $12 vodka cranberry can be split over 4 payments if you’re that way inclined.

Here’s The Thing: Like so many startups that accelerated through 2020/21, Klarna has had to pull the hand brake on hard. It's slowed down on its aggressive expansion into the US, as investor sentiment turned against fast-growing, cash-burning businesses, towards more sustainable (read: profitable) business models. The company maintains that it’s on course to get back into the black, but investors have lost confidence. Since its peak, Klarna has been forced back to the negotiating table at lower and lower valuations, most recently raising $800 million at a $6.7 billion valuation.

Continue reading... (for more, including Apple's move into BNPL)


4. Dodo Corner: What’s going on at Twitter?

I may be Twitter free (3 months now) but that doesn't mean I've escaped the steady stream of headlines about the social media app that punches well above its wait. This week kicked off with further signs that Twitter is creaking, revenue is down and bills aren't getting paid. Just another week in the office...

Continue reading for...


5. Reserve Bank of Australia to explore CBDC; and WeChat integrates the digital yaun into payments

Two CBDC stories that caught my eye this week are from Australia and China. The Reserve Bank of Australia has announced a set of projects that will explore use cases for a digital dollar, known as eAUD. Meanwhile, the Chinese social media superapp, WeChat, has incorporated the digital yuan into its payments app.

Here's The Thing: There's great utility in central bank digital currencies. Not to be confused with cryptocurrency (which they're not), CBDCs are literally real money in a purely digital form, but without the baggage and cost that comes from today's digital money (like with credit cards or Apple Pay.) China has a two year head start on what is, IMHO, the inevitability of CBDCs. But then China doesn't have to navigate the vested interests protecting the cash cow that is payments for many financial organisations.

Continue reading... (for details about the RBA and WeChat stories)


6. TikTok COO accusses US lawmakers of giving in to “anti-China sentiment”

The COO of TikTok has criticised the calls of US politicians to ban the app for giving into anti-China sentiment. Vanessa Pappas stressed the contributions TikTok has made to sharing information about current events, ranging from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine to the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. TikTok is facing mounting political pressure in the US, Canada and the European Union where lawmakers across the political divide have raised concerns about the risk its ownership will allow Beijing to access consumer data or influence users.

Here's The Thing: I'm with Pappas on this. There's a ton of conjecture but hardly any evidence that the CCP is actually collecting data or influencing the algorithms. That's not to say that they're not. But I've seen no evidence that TikTok is doing anymore than Facebook, Google or Apple when it comes to collecting data they don't need. Or that TikTok poses any more of a threat to manipulating a population with a political motive than Fox News or the Daily Mail.

Continue reading... (for more on attempts to ban TikTok and an explanation as to why that's much harder to do than said!)


7. Huawei is accused of spying after it puts tracking chips in conference passes

At the recent Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, delegates given a Huawei lanyard with a booth pass appeared to get more than they were expecting. Apparently, Huawei was using low-powered Beacon technology which can track people over a distance of about 70 meters. Huawei mention the use of radio frequency (RFID) and Bluetooth technology on the back of the badge, saying it's "to collect the swipe time of this Huawei Card at the entrance of Huawei exhibition area, real-time location information, and the residence time information of [these] Huawei Card holders within Huawei exhibition area..."

Here's The Thing: If this had been Apple, Amazon, or IBM planting a tracking device into the delegate badge, there wouldn't be much attention to the story. But make it a China tech firm, especially one of the biggest competitive threats to American tech and all of a sudden we've got a spy scandal on our hands. Maybe Huawei could/should have done a better job at letting everyone know what they were doing, but they didn't make a secret of it either. It was spelled out on the back of the lanyard. But maybe they didn't think they needed to - after all, tracking delegate movements in a large conference is nothing new.

Continue reading... (for a longer version of this story and an interesting fact about Huawei)


8. Virtual and Augmented Reality to step back inside your memories

Wist is a two year old VR/AR technology startup that has developed a system to “let you re-live your memories.” It works like this:

  1. You capture a memory in our iPhone app (basically, you take a video.)
  2. The app captures 3D information as you record the video.
  3. You then watch the memory (aka video) back using either the augmented reality features on your iPhone, or by putting on a Meta Quest headset and watching it as an immersivce experience in VR or AR.

Here's The Thing: It looks pretty rudimentary at the moment, but with time, money and resources, there’s no reason why this couldn’t be how we capture video on our smartphones in the future. Instead of watching back in a flat 2 dimensional format, the idea is that you’ll be able to “walk around” inside the video, increasing the experience.

Continue reading...(for a short video demo of how Wist works.)


9. HungerStation uses eye tracking cameras and AI to figure out what you want to eat

HungerStation is a popular online food ordering platform in Saudi Arabia, kinda like DoorDash or Uber Eats. To solve the problem of deciding what to eat when we’re faced with choice overload on the menu, the food delivery firm has created a tool to help people decide what to eat. The tool tracks your eye movements as you scan the menu, watching how long you look at the options. From this, the AI makes a qualified guess as to what your subsconscious brain fancies to eat.

Here's The Thing: The average adult spends around 132 hours a year looking at menus online according to HungerStation (I havn't fact checked that, just taken them at face value.) One reason for the time spent chosing is that we (humans) don't like too much choice, which can be stressful. It's a phenomonen that partly explains why TikTok is so addictive, because the app takes all the decision making about what to watch next away from the user. In this case, HungerStation's system uses Vision AI and Topic Modelling AI to help users order food based on what they're really craving.

Continue reading...(to test the app for yourself and see what it suggested for me, which I have to say was spot on!)


10. Bluesky is the latest social media app to take on Twitter

Jack Dorsey has launched a new Twitter alternative called Bluesky. The invite-only app joins the list of Twitter alternatives that are out to challenge Twitter’s place as the largest of the relatively small social media news apps. Bluesky began in 2019 as a Twitter-funded side project when Dorsey was running the show. Bizarrely, Dorsey was not only released from Twitter without a non-compete that stopped hime launching a competing social media app in his exit agreement, there was nothing to also stop him continuing with Bluesky after he left Twitter!

Here's The Thing: Early reports describe Bluesky as looking very much like Twitter from the outside. It’s under the hood that Bluesky is fundamentally different, where it is closer to the decentralised architecture of Mastodon. The point is that with Bluesky, users will have more flexibility to create their own user experience, define their own algorithms, and have greater choice over what they get to see. No more at the mercy of Musk making the decision for you. Whether it will succeed where all the others have failed, has yet to be seen.

Continue reading...(for more on Bluesky and Twitter alternatives)


What else is happening in tech?

Continue reading... (for more detail on each of these headlines)


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Wiser! is a weekly newsletter that makes sense of what's happening and what's coming next in the tech economy. From disruptive technologies, like blockchain, crypto and artificial intelligence, to emerging trends, like Web3 and the Metaverse. Plus there's a big focus on BigTech and the impact of social media.

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