w/Wiser! #122 - 21st April 2023
The language learning app, Duolingo increased its revenues by 47% in 2022. Thanks in large part to the use of AI. Now, the app with half a billion registered users and only 500 staff has rolled out a ChatGPT-powered feature that accelerates language learning. In this week's Premium article, I make some sense of Duolingo's use of emerging tech to build customer loyalty and enhance the user experience.
In other news, consumer brands Nike, Adidas, and Mastercard have all dropped new NFT collections. And Starbucks appear to be getting ready to publicly launch NFTs into the Rewards loyalty programme that drives around half of Starbucks' business.
Porsche and Siemens are amongst the latest to venture into the "industrial metaverse", deploying virtual reality tech in their internal operations. Meanwhile, consumer brands continue to roll out augmented reality in their customer experience, with Amazon Fashion and Tommy Hilfiger's using AR for virtual try-ons.
These are just some of the many insights and stories you'll find in this week's issue of Wiser! For the long form versions, head over to Wiser! Tech, log in using your email address and enjoy a 20 minute read!
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At Duolingo, humans and AI work together to create a high-quality learning experience
Duolingo, the language-learning app, has been using artificial intelligence to create personalised educational experiences for its users for many years. Through its AI system, called Brainbird, Duolingo analyses how users interact with the app and identify areas of strength and weakness. This allows the Duolingo app to adjust lessons and exercises to make the experience more engaging and efficient, resulting in a more personalised experience for each user.
And it's paying off!
Duolingo generated sales of $369 million revenue in 2022, a 47% year-on-year increase over 2021. The language learning app has over 500 million registered users brushing up their language skills in 38 different languages.
Here's The Thing: Duolingo’s goal is to make learning fun and accessible to everyone. They're using AI to do that. This is how they build brand loyalty and enhance customer engagement using emerging technologies. Now they've integrated OpenAI's GPT-4 to take the Duolingo AI system to the next level.
In these week's Premium article, I make sense of:
- the how, why and what of Duolingo's use of AI to build better customer engagement.
- Duolingo's brand strategy for building loyalty amongst its customers and personalise the user experience using technology.
- Provide multiple examples of other consumer brands deploying AI to enhance consumer engagement.
Read the Duolingo brand strategy article here...(€)
1. The AI Dilemma
“50% of AI researchers believe there’s a 10% or greater chance that humans go extinct from our inability to control AI” - Tristan Harris, The AI Dilemma
There's a video you should watch to increase your understanding of the unanswered issues emerging around AI. In this presentation, Tristan Harris and Aza Raskin make sense of how generative AI works, discuss its capabilities and pose some of the catastrophic risks that AI pose to a functional society. I’m a big fan of Tristan Harris and the way he explains the ethical issues from our growing use of technology.
Continue reading…(to watch the video called The AI Dilemma)
2. Google’s AI search engine
Google is developing an AI-enhanced search engine called Magi that will offer a more personalised search experience using a conversational approach and learning from previous searches. Google is also working on several other AI tools, including a Duolingo competitor, an AI image generator, and a Chrome chatbot. This push to integrate AI with search comes after Microsoft integrated ChatGPT into Bing and Samsung announced that it may make Bing the default search provider on its phones.
Here’s The Thing: Google have to do something. For a decade, Alphabet have been the leaders in AI, albeit fairly low key by today’s ChatGPT-fuelled standards. But Microsoft are eating their lunch right now with their tie up with OpenAI. The big prize for Microsoft is the digital advertising complex with AI threatening to undo Google’s dominance of Search. The threat from Samsung to swop to Microsoft as their default Search engine must have been a huge wake-up call, if one was needed.
Continue reading…(for a lot more detail and explanation of what we can expect from Google in ads and generative AI)
3. Apple launch the Savings Account as they take one step closer to being a bank
Apple are one step closer to being a bank. The latest product is the Apple Savings Account, which has been added to the tech giant's growing lineup of financial products. In classic Apple fashion, they’ve designed the experience around the customer, with the sign-up process being quick and easy, taking less than a minute to set up the account on the user’s iPhone.
Here’s The Thing: for younger generations that has become accustomed to cashless payments and digital money like Apple Cash, Robux, and Acorns, and who are just finding out for the first time what an interest rate is, the Apple Savings Account looks appealing. To them, it’s just another app on the phone. Better still, Apple are paying a higher rate of interest than most American bank.
Continue reading...(for a more detailed explanation of Apple Savings and Apple's brand strategy.)
4. Seven leaders in Generative AI
I saw this neat listing of the top seven AI platforms that are fuelling the 1,000's of AI tools currently on the market. I saw the list on BotEatsBrain, the daily AI newsletter I read every day:
1/ Midjourney: working on what are arguably the best text-to-image tools shaking up the creative industry. Currently at version five. Founded 2021. Valued at $1 billion+. 11-50 employees.
2/ HuggingFace: AI community promoting open source contributions. Acts as a hub of models for Natural Language Processing, computer vision, and other AI fields. Used by 5k+ orgs. Founded 2016. Valued at $2 billion. 51-200 employees.
3/ Cohere: building secure LLMs for developers and big companies. Powering Spotify, HyperWrite, etc. Founded 2019. Valued at $6 billion. 51-200 employees.
4/ Eleuther: non-profit AI research group following in OpenAI’s footsteps, building LLMs and training text-to-image tools. Founded 2020 from a Discord group. Valuation unknown. 36 employees.
5/ Stability AI: creators of Stable Diffusion. Working on breakthrough AI models for text-to-image tools, language, code, and video. Founded 2019. Valued at $4 billion. 100 employees.
6/ Anthropic: AI research company building reliable and easily steerable AI systems. Creators of ChatGPT competitor Claude. Working on deep learning research and LLMs. Founded 2021. Valued at $5 billion. 100 employees.
7/ OpenAI: private research lab currently leading the AI movement. Creators of DALL-E & ChatGPT. Founded 2015. Valued at $29 billion. 375 employees.
And I also saw this, which made me laugh….
5. Porsche steps up Metaverse collaboration with Microsoft
Porsche has announced a collaboration with Microsoft to use its virtual reality headsets to "revolutionise skilling, training, and customer experiences." Porsche are investing in Microsoft's HoloLens 2 to deliver immersive experiences that enable real-time collaboration and empower frontline workers.
Here’s The Thing: consumer adoption of virtual reality may be sluggish at best, but its the corporate adoption of metaverse technologies that’s going to drive this sector, if anything will. Industries from manufacturing to healthcare are embracing new capabilities such as 3D visualisation and virtual and augmented reality to find new ways to deliver operational efficiency and customer engagement innovations.
Watch this YouTube I made earlier about Porsche’s entry into the NFT space.
Continue reading...(for insight on Porsche's use of emerging technologies)
6. Starbucks’ NFT loyalty programme is the gift that keeps on giving
It seems like Starbucks are close to taking their NFT loyalty rewards scheme out of beta and into full blown production. Starbucks sent an email to Odyssey beta testers on Monday, with the subject line, "We're Getting Closer," suggesting an upcoming public rollout. Basically, the scheme works like this: you buy coffee from Starbucks and earn NFTs as a reward on the app instead of a Star. One of these free NFTS was recently sold for $2k, indicating that the value of Starbucks’ collectibles can transcend from physical mugs to digital tokens.
Here’s The Thing: you should keep an eye on what Starbucks are doing with NFTs and customer loyalty. I have a feeling this is going to be big. Which is good news for Starbucks. The more users there are earning NFTs, then the more NFTs will be circulating and traded. And the more NFTs are traded, the more royalties Starbucks will earn…because unlike in the physical world, every time there’s a secondary sale of a Starbucks collectible NFT, the coffee chain receives a fee (as well as retaining a direct relationship with the new owner.) All for something that cost them almost $0 to make and they can give away for free to encourage more in-store purchases. It’s the customer engagement gift that keeps on giving!
Continue reading….(for more on Starbucks’ plans for building customer engagement with NFTs).
7. Don’t call the latest NFT Collection from Nike an NFT collection
When it comes to NFTs, Nike are another brand to keep an eye on. They have just launched a new range of virtual sneakers called Our Force 1, which celebrate 50 years of Nike design. But these shoes do not exist physically. In a shift from convention, the tokens will be stored in a digital wallet secured to Nike's platform, preventing them from being traded elsewhere. Nike have gone as far as to not call them NFTs at all.
Here’s The Thing: Nike are the leading consumer brand when it comes to NFTs. They know what they’re doing and how to engage with their fan base. Interestingly they’re doing something different here. These NFTs are not tradable, meaning the relationship between Nike and the first owner will stay intact. My assumption is that value of these NFTs will be in the forward utility of the digital tokens as a means of enhancing brand loyalty (and not from speculating on future trading.)
Continue reading…(for more details about Nike’s non-NFT NFTs)
Move over ChatGPT, AutoGPT is all the rage
I’ll be writing more about this shortly, but to give you a flavour of what’s coming, AutoGPT is generating a ton of excitement in autonomous AI. AutoGPT is an AI-powered tool that supercharges GPT-4 by fully automating workflows. AutoGPT is a self-prompting agent that can manipulate files, browse the web, and complete tasks on your TODO list. It is flexible, remembers previous responses, and is open-source. AutoGPT is a major stepping stone towards full automation and AGI.
You can check it out and play with it here.
Continue reading...(for three examples of what can be done with AutoGPT.)
What's happening in Brand Strategy?
The latest news for the Brand Strategy Collection of over 250 use-cases in emerging technologies:
- Amazon Fashion is using Snap's augmented reality lenses for its virtual try-on facilities.
- Adidas released Chapter 1 of the ALTS by Adidas collection, a new dynamic NFT collection with eight different "ALT[er] egos"
- Reddit released their third NFT collection.
- Mastercard dropped an NFT that launches its Web3 music program in support of emerging musicians.
- Tommy Hilfiger implemented virtual try-on in their London store, a trend of the future and the metaverse.
- Planet Hollywood is launching Club-3, an exclusive members only club for web3 and Metaverse customers.
- Mattels' American Girl brand has opened a virtual museum to build brand loyalty amongst younger demographics.
- Siemens AG and MIT announced a collaboration examining the emergence of the industrial metaverse.
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In Other Tech News
- The U.S. House Financial Services Committee recently published a draft of new crypto legislation. Proposals include pausing stablecoins backed by other cryptocurrencies and commissioning a study on the impact of US central bank digital currency.
- FalconX, an institutional crypto trading platform, will launch a bot to help crypto investors who use its platform. The bot, named Satoshi, will be powered by ChatGPT.
- AI’s first hit song, featuring fake versions of Drake and The Weeknd, has been removed from streaming services after it racked up 600k Spotify plays and 15 million views on TikTok.
- Amazon Fashion is leveraging Snapchat’s augmented reality Shopping Lenses to enable the app’s users to virtually try-on thousands of eyewear brands and styles available from the Amazon Fashion store.
- Meanwhile, Snapchat is introducing AR Lenses powered by generative AI. The platform is rolling out a new “Cosmic Lens” that turns you and your surroundings into an immersive, animated sci-fi scene.
- And Snap CEO Evan Spiegel said in an interview Wednesday that a ban of TikTok would benefit his company. He later conceded a ban would raise longer-term concerns about singling out one technology company with regulations.
- Walmart is working on tech that can hyper-inspect your groceries. The company filed a patent for automated food selection using “hyperspectral sensing,” which essentially uses special imaging to select the freshest produce for your online orders without using human labor.
- The man-child known as Elon Musk of Twitter has threatened to sue Microsoft after he claimed they illegally used Twitter's data to train their AI model. By pure coincidence of timing, Microsoft have reportedly dropped Twitter from its advertising platform.
- To give you an idea as to how far and fast generative AI is being integrated into our digital lives, Mercari, a secondhand goods marketplace, has debuted Merchat AI, a shopping assistant that uses the artificial intelligence software ChatGPT. And has Men’s Wearhouse unveiled “Wedding Wingman”, a digital tool that helps grooms and groomsmen pick their wedding attire.
- Fashion brands Gucci and Vans have launched a first of its kind collaboration on the pseudo-immersive gaming platform, Roblox. “Gucci Town x Vans World” demonstrates how brands can drive engagement with digital spaces and how metaverse platforms can work toward interoperability in a way that could increase adoption.
- Apple has opened its first retail store in India this week, 25 years after Apple first entered the Asian markets. This is important for Apple as it is expanding its manufacturing capacity in India to produce 25% of all iPhones by 2025. Apple has exported more than $5 billion worth of smartphones from India in the last financial year.
- The metaverse is no place for kids, according to a group of more than 70 advocates for children's rights and online privacy. Those concerned are asking Facebook's parent company, Meta, to abandon its plans to attract young teens onto its Horizon Worlds metaverse platform.
- Australia now has more Bitcoin ATMs than all of Asia.
Wiser! is a twice weekly newsletter that makes sense of what's happening and what's coming next in the tech economy...so that you don't have to. From disruptive technologies, like blockchain, crypto and artificial intelligence, to emerging trends, like Web3 and the Metaverse, Wiser! gives you the top stories of innovation and strategy from the tech economy.
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