Apple takes a giant leap into spatial computing

We’re an agency driven by a passion for new technology and we’re used to staying on top of cutting-edge tech innovations, so it takes a lot to make us step back and have a truly ‘wow’ moment.

But that happened this week with the launch of the Apple Vision Pro headset at the company’s WWDC event.

Rumours have been circulating for a very long time that Apple would enter the mixed reality space, and so expectation was high. After all, we’re used to Apple breaking the mould, selling us products we don’t yet know we need, but that have the potential to totally shake-up not only how we engage with technology and consume content, but also how we live.

This felt like the next big shift.

In the run-up, it felt like we’d been here before. At NB, we worked with HTC in the lead-up to the launch of the Vive headset and were involved in arranging hands-on demonstrations for journalists. I remember being totally wowed by the experience and with all the content available around the launch.

Coming eye-to-eye with an enormous blue whale as it swims past in an ‘under the sea’ experience is something that sticks with you.

I’ve personally dabbled a little more in VR at home. Earlier this year, my family and I had our first look at our new kitchen through a VR headset in the showroom. My 5-year-old daughter had the chance to see how it would look and walked around the virtual space before we agreed to the final design. It helped her to get excited that all the disruption would be worth it. She now asks when we can go back and do it all again (we can’t!).

Apple’s Vision Pro goes way beyond that experience. Even in the kitchen showroom that day, we still risked walking into walls or desks if we didn’t heed the warning that we were stepping out of the defined area quickly enough. I’ve heard personal stories of friends’ kids nearly taking their grandparents out at Christmas because a boxing game got a little too close for comfort. (Thankfully no grandparents were seriously hurt in the encounter.)

At WWDC, Apple showed us how their approach is different. It takes into account that there’s currently an invisible barrier where the real and digital worlds collide, and so has been developed to look at the experience as a whole.

Spatial computing, they say, aims to provide a seamless experience which bridges both worlds, and so avoids some of the pitfalls with the current technology. 

While the concept of engaging with someone (even one who can see your eyes) through a headset has received mixed feedback so far, it’s exciting to see that Apple has tried to push the mixed reality category beyond some of its current limitations.

It’s clear that a lot of work by developers, content creators and Apple’s marketing machine will need to happen now to create the breadth and depth of experience needed to excite consumer appetite and give this technology real use-cases. We’ll certainly be watching with interest to see what else emerges in the realm of spatial computing.


Staying one step ahead of trending tech: Four key takeaways from South by Southwest 2023

In recent months we’ve watched ChatGPT bring artificial intelligence into public consciousness, seen the biggest tech companies making widespread layoffs and witnessed the rise of health tech. It’s easy to feel that we’re living in an age where we’ve already achieved ultimate digital literacy. But the truth is, technology is evolving beyond our imaginations, and we have to strike the balance between keeping up with the opportunities presented by tech, and keeping mindful of the implications and risks too.  

A few of our team members were lucky enough to attend TMW x BIMA’s breakfast event (you read that right – that’s our friends over at TMW Unlimited!) to recap their experience at South by Southwest back in March. South by Southwest is a music, film and technology festival held in Austin, Texas, each spring, bringing over 300,000 people to the state’s capital to celebrate all things tech, media, and culture. The TMW team, beyond hosting and attending events, went to scope out the latest tech trends, and brought back their findings to share. We came away from their BIMA Breakfast event with a myriad of different learnings on the importance of hanging onto our humanity in a tech-driven world.

The overall message was that it can be tricky to separate tech from ourselves, and that’s something to be mindful of both as a marketer and as a consumer. So here are four key ways to use rather than be used by tech:

Upskill yourself

Don’t let artificial intelligence pass you by. It’s a bit marmite at the moment – it’s hard not to be impressed by the capabilities of ChatGPT, for example, and how much easier it makes certain tasks, but tech leaders are concerned about the risks AI could pose to society. And with good reason: it accelerates the digital literacy divide, making the gap between those who have and those who don’t cavernous, and encourages the loss of critical thinking skills. It has been reported that AI could even be doing some of our jobs for us in the near future. So it’s important to learn how to use it to amplify our own capabilities instead of watching it overtake our abilities. Try using tools to do the drudge work, leaving more time for us to imagine, create and direct. Don’t get left behind. Don’t let AI pass you by.

Think about your tech health

How many times a day do you hit ‘accept cookies’ without really thinking about it? Do you wear a smart watch? Do you use apps like MyFitnessPal, Flo and Strava? Private data about us is everywhere – and do we really know where it’s going? It might seem inconsequential, but being mindful of the wider impact of this data is vital. Flo, for example, stores data on menstrual cycles to help people manage them better – but surely that means it holds onto data around pregnancies too. In a time when abortion rights are seemingly vanishing in some places, mismanagement of data like this could be catastrophic for users. So we need to be as aware of our tech health as we are our physical health. So much of tech conveniences us, but it’s important to consider the risks to our data, and society, too.

Take care of your ‘self’

Tech can be a health hazard or a health hero. The bad news is it can desensitise our reactions and emotions and can reduce our sense of self. If you’ve ever spent a day mindlessly scrolling TikTok and struggled to regulate your mind afterwards, you’ll know what I mean. Tech detaches us from the world around us, and numbs the risk and friction we experience, which are important aspects of feeling things, whether it be love, hate, boredom, excitement, joy or sorrow. But on the other hand, advances in tech are making genuine inroads to improving our health too; wearable tech can detect atrial fibrillation and enable people to get treatment quickly, for example. Wellness apps like Headspace and Thrive are bringing tactics for supporting our own mental health to us whenever we need them. Tactics for enhancing our health and wellbeing are all-the-more accessible and we’re living longer, so we need to be embracing the opportunities tech gives us – but ensure we use it wisely in connecting with ourselves, rather than numbing our sense of self.

Make informed choices

We already know that sustainability is a growing factor in the decisions customers make. But how much of that is rooted in real knowledge? What does sustainability really mean in your industry? Businesses are often accused of greenwashing, creating cynicism for some consumers and downright confusing others. So transparency is key – and we need to know not only how our tech habits impact the environment, but also how innovations in tech can inform our climate knowledge. Consider the impact of churning through iPhone after iPhone every two years: aside from emissions from manufacturing and delivery, how many tangled sets of earphones lie in landfill? And what about the emissions that result from cheap Amazon phone cases being imported from the other side of the world? But it’s not all bad news. AI, for example, can be used to track carbon emissions across the planet, which can be used to inform renewable energy infrastructure. Tech can also be used to make global supply chains more transparent. And as sustainability continues to grow as an area of concern, all of this helps us to reflect and react to take meaningful action – both as marketers and as consumers.

Above all, the key takeaway that has been stuck in my mind ever since the TMW x BIMA event is that we need to be one step ahead, because tech desensitises us to our capabilities. Consider how many skills and activities can be performed by tech now – we’re hurtling towards a future where technology can outsmart the human mind. It’s hard to comprehend how terrifying that is! And the more we blindly rely on technology, the more we forget how incredible humans can be.

Of course, being one step ahead is easier said than done. We’re all busy people, and who has the time to sit through endless AI courses? But if you pause and consider where your data is going before you automatically hit ‘accept cookies’, or if you stop to reflect on whether an app has become too addictive to you, you’re already on the road to mindfully using tech.

Ultimately, the greatest innovations in technology should enrich our humanity and enhance our skills – rather than eliminating them altogether.

Check out SXSW 2023 event coverage to find out more about trending tech:


Webinar: CMO Priorities in 2023 featuring WW, Vodafone and Barratt Developments

Following the release of the CMO Barometer report, UNLIMITED brought together a star-studded panel to discuss what will be key differentiators for businesses in 2023, how agency relationships will continue to evolve and the importance of creativity. 

More than 450 CMOs across eight European countries were interviewed about their key priorities as we head into 2023.

Whilst the term ‘digital’ is quite ubiquitous and has been thrown around pretty nonchalantly for a number of years, many businesses are still finding difficulty in understanding how to prioritise their efforts.

Most modern customers – whether consumers or businesses – are digital natives. In order to succeed in a digital world, your team’s ability to unearth creative solutions is vital as the demand for online attention only increases. 

Hosted by TMW’s very own Chris Mellish, the panel featured insights from: 

  • Tony Miller, CMO / VP of Growth & Performance Marketing at WW (formerly Weight Watchers)
  • Natalie Sylvester, Head of Marketing Communications and Base Engagement at Vodafone
  • Jeremy Hipkiss, Group Customer and Change Director at Barratt Developments

Catch up with this exclusive panel webinar here.

PRIORITY: Continued understanding of target audience and individual channel value

Given the current economic climate, many marketing teams might be expecting a budget cut in the new year. This makes applying the right performance analytics to effectively understand where your customer acquisition is taking place even more crucial.

“We use MTA (multi touch attribution) models to really get under the skin of what is that right mix for us,” said Tony Miller

“Budgets can change from month to month or quarter to quarter in terms of how much we have available to us to spend and we’re constantly having to rebalance channel attribution and performance accordingly.”

By taking into account an entire user journey, including user-level data and cookies, Miller said his team is better positioned to measure the cross-channel impact of advertising.

WW takes data analysis a step further by using multi touch attribution (MTA) models to better quantify its customer lifetime value and acquisition costs in order to optimise its overall spend.

“If we were to see a cut in budgets for whatever reason, having that clear understanding of what are the best channels to cut is invaluable so we can bring the right audiences in that will ultimately stay with us the longest,” Miller concluded. 

Over at Vodafone, self-serve is viewed as a highly cost-efficient way of gaining data on customers and ensuring a clean user experience. 

With the numerous potential avenues for cross-selling and upselling, the telecommunications giant has to balance their end objective with not being too demanding and risk harming its reputation or losing a customer. 

Natalie Sylvester explained: “It’s one of our main focuses at the moment to see how can we improve that journey more. I think the biggest challenge that we probably face certainly with our base of customers is that we have a lot of older customers.”

“For us, understanding what channels are best to encourage that older audience on why digital is the best format to engage with us is pivotal to success. Making that journey as simple as possible after that is just as important.” 

PRIORITY: The creative conundrum

The CMO Barometer report supports the agenda around the importance of creativity in order to see considerable success with 92% of those interviewed highlighting creativity as ‘essential’. 

Despite this, only 40% of CMOs reported creativity was felt to be a lever for delivering our ROI so building a case for creative-first campaigns can be difficult. 

“We need to continually understand all digital channels, how people respond to the content within them and evolve with this in mind,” said Jeremy Hipkiss.

“To give an example from our own creative perspective, the most important factor is that someone is interested in buying a home. So the quality of that imagery and how emotionally people are going to respond to one image versus another image can be the difference between a successful campaign and a disappointing one.”

Insight into the impact of different outputs allows businesses to optimise their processes and enable more precise use of creativity, ultimately leading to a better ROI. 

Creativity often requires a willingness to make mistakes and be wrong however it’s in every organisation’s best interests to keep any failures to a minimum. 

Miller believes if a business has a culture around creativity and the right tools in place to be able to measure success, creativity can be a game changer in establishing that emotional connection with consumers.

“I think creativity and emotional storytelling is so important for any brand these days as consumers are so savvy now. They’re really scrutinising what brands and partners they want to connect with and stay loyal to and looking way beyond just the functionality of the product that you’re serving or the service that you’re offering,” commented Miller.  

“Creativity is what is going to unlock that emotional connection. People’s ideas will change continuously but investing in creative outputs, the right imagery and messaging allow you to learn more about both your business and potential customers.”

To learn more about the study and see the facts and figures behind the report as well as what brands should be taking stock of in 2023 and beyond, click here.