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H&M Home to launch Google Assistant app for voice-enabled style advice

H&M Home - google assistant
H&M Home

H&M has teamed up with Google to experiment with voice technology for its homeware brand, providing customers with personalized style advice through Google Assistant.

Announced during Stockholm Fashion Tech Talks, the voice app provides suggestions, mood boards and inspiration for every room in the house.

To make the experience even more personal the H&M Home Stylist, as the assistant is called, will reportedly have an exclusive human voice responding. This comes off the back of the Google I/O event last month, which featured an incredibly human-sounding version of Google Assistant placing a call to book a hair appointment.

H&M’s Monki brand has also announced it has partnered with London-based startup HoloMe to test high-definition human holograms in augmented reality.

The initiative sees images of nine select Monki outfits enhanced with digital effects, allowing the viewer to explore each of them in greater detail via their smartphone or tablet and experience the holograms as though they are present in the room.

“At H&M group we constantly work on innovations that create extraordinary customer experiences. The fashion industry is changing fast and technology is more important than ever as an enabler in adapting to an ever-changing society,” says Elin Frendberg, who leads business development for the H&M group.

Both initiatives come off the back of a tough trading time for H&M and a commitment to technology in order to turn things around.

“We know the industry is undergoing a huge shift – the catalyst for this transformation is technology. It’s not just one technology, but a set that includes artificial intelligence (AI), augmented reality (AR), robotics and more,” said the group’s CEO Karl-Johan Persson at the company’s Capital Markets Day in February.

“There are changing consumer behaviours as a result – they are expecting more and more. They expect a more tailored offering in how we set up our stores, in how we communicate with [them]. They want a hassle free shopping experience, and the ability to shop anywhere and anytime. And they want even better designs at higher quality and better prices.”

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Editor's pick technology

At CES 2018, beauty tech ruled the scene

Foreo's UFO - CES
Foreo’s UFO

CES might have been heavily about automated vehicles and voice technology, but beauty also played a big role in 2018. From skin analysis gadgets to smart mirrors and even a miniature custom laboratory, here is our pick of the best new tech straight from Las Vegas. Note the key theme of personalization throughout.

Neutrogena’s SkinScanner
Neutrogena's Skin Scanner - CES
Neutrogena’s SkinScanner

Neutrogena unveiled a device called SkinScanner – a small gadget that attaches to your iPhone and uses sensors to analyse your skin. All users do is press it right onto their faces to capture a series of images. In an app called Skin360, they are then able to see the health of their skin over time, analyzing moisture levels, wrinkles, and pore size.

Created with a New York-based company called Fitskin, the device uses 12 LED lights and a 30x magnification lens to capture incredibly close-up images. The app meanwhile uses machine learning to compare skin health with others in the same age range. For poor skin health, users are directed to the Neutrogena store.

L'Oréal's UV Sense
L’Oréal’s UV Sense
L’Oréal’s UV Sense

L’Oréal unveiled a battery-free wearable electronic that provides consumers with individual information of their ultraviolet (UV) exposure through a small design worn on the nail. UV Sense, as it’s called, will launch for dermatological skincare brand La Roche-Posay this summer.

The launch follows the first stretchable skin sensor measuring UV exposure from the group unveiled at CES in 2016, called My UV Patch. This new one is less than two millimeters thick, nine millimeters in diameter and designed to be worn for up to two weeks on the thumbnail. It can also store up to three months of data.

Foreo’s UFO
Foreo's UFO - CES
Foreo’s UFO

Swedish brand Foreo launched its UFO smart mask, an at-home treatment device combining LED light therapy with cryo-therapy, thermo-therapy and T-Sonic pulsations, all activated via your smartphone in 90-seconds. This comes off the back of “face masks”being the number one searched term within the beauty category on Google in 2017.

The device has been in development for four years and is now available to pre-order in partnership with crowdfunding platform Kickstarter.

HiMirror

Beauty tech brand HiMirror released its voice-interactive smart mirror, for which it was named a CES 2018 Innovation Awards Honoree. The HiMirror Mini offers in-depth, personalized skincare analysis based on the evolving conditions of the skin, local weather conditions and more. As with the Neutrogena SkinScanner, it records the user’s skin overtime, tracking goals and the results of products used.

It is equipped with Amazon Alexa-enabled features, as well as facial and voice recognition account access. It even reminds users of product expirations and features an entertainment center consisting of current news stories, music, ambient make-up lighting, video tutorials and a virtual make-up feature. It will be available in the US in late summer 2018.

Kohler’s Verdera Voice Lighted Mirror

Another voice-activated mirror came from Kohler. The Verdera Voice Lighted Mirror, which retails for $999, is equipped with Amazon Alexa to allow users to control light setting to give them a better make-up application or grooming experience. In fact, you get all of the functionality of Alexa, including weather updates, shopping, playing music, receiving traffic alerts and more.

The device also works as a motion-activated night light, meaning it automatically brightens to a comfortable level for hand washing.

Romy Paris’ Miniaturized Laboratory
Romy Paris’ Miniaturized Laboratory - CES
Romy Paris’ Miniaturized Laboratory

Romy Paris introduced a “miniaturized laboratory” that creates a personalized skincare serum for users every day. The cosmetic formulator uses technology similar to the cold exaction used in a juicer, reportedly, to create the right combination of ingredients for your skin. 

A beauty coaching app meanwhile takes the users’ environment, activities and sleep habits into consideration. The idea is that just as you don’t eat the same food every day, your skin needs different nutrients dependent to best suit its condition and surrounds. A multi-user mode makes the $800 device able to create custom serums for different people in the household.

Schwarzkopf Professional SalonLab Analyzer

Schwarzkopf launched a handheld device that measures hair condition as well as hair color to provide hyper-personalized recommendations on products and services.

The SalonLab Analyzer uses near infrared spectroscopy and a multi-channel color scanner to read the hair. The system is also accompanied by an augmented reality app that enables users to then try on different hair colors.

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data e-commerce technology

The simple ways Topman is thinking about a personalised customer experience

Topman's student prices toggle on its homepage
Topman’s student prices toggle on its homepage

Topman’s global digital director, Gareth Rees-John, took to the stage at Shoptalk Europe this week with a welcome reminder of the things it’s possible to do without huge budgets.

He noted how many retailers are still operating on legacy systems with “jumbled data” making it hard to move forward fast, and said his focus is on “making little changes that have robust business cases”.

The key, he said, is about doing things the retail board will understand – referring to Sir Phillip Green as an owner that is becoming increasingly tech savvy but still at his roots a traditional shopkeeper – and said it’s about nudging people along.

He highlighted three simple ways his team is personalising the e-commerce experience for shoppers in order to help drive conversions.

The first is dedicated to students. A simple switch at the top of the website, facilitated by SaaS company Qubit, enables users to toggle all products to student prices – a 10% discount. “Normally we see 38% of spend on the website is with students, when we do this then we see 50%, so it’s huge – just by taking the friction out,” Rees-John explained.

The second he said is about personalising the website based on geography. “We see trends in the data as to what people are buying and where. Sterotypically, for instance, we don’t sell as many coats in [the northern city of] Newcastle – it’s all lads in short sleeve shirts – compared to in the south-east.” So the website is set up to over-show on categories where they do sell.

The last pulls in artificial intelligence: Canadian company Granify helps optimise Topman’s conversion rates by serving different messages to shoppers when they are at flight risk. The notifications use machine learning to address issues that will help retain the individual in question, such as letting them know an item is low in stock, as one example. It’s seeing an uplift of 3-5% in doing so.

Long-term Rees-John is looking to streamline the creative process for personalised content. “One of the biggest barriers to personalisation is the creative output – dynamic ads have their limits and if you have multiple segments then you need multiples of artwork. Our view is by the end of the year to have six different modules on the homepage and every person will see them in different orders but only see three at one time.”

The result will equal 720 different permutations of the website. “It isn’t a big data exchange it’s just a different experience of the brand going forward,” he said.

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social media technology

Burberry and Google bring emotion to digital with virtual kissing campaign

Burberry Kisses

The latest digital innovation from Burberry sees a reimagination of the classic love letter, as fans around the world are able to send and share virtual kisses with one another.

Burberry Kisses, as it’s called, is a partnership with Google that combines personalised content and new technology in a bid to bring an element of emotion to online communications.

Users are able to send an impression of their own real kisses to loved ones by either using their desktop webcams via Google Chrome or by having direct lip contact with their touch screen devices. This so-named “kiss recognition technology” captures the outline of the pout, from which one of five Burberry lip colours can be added to dress it up, and a message typed in to the intended recipient.

On sending, both parties will see personalised animated content dependent on where in the world they are and where they’ve sent their kiss to, thanks to Google Earth and Google Streetview technology. The skylines of New York, Hong Kong, London and more are each shown for instance as the love note flies through the air to its destination. Detail also appears in puddles reflecting local views and recognisable street names.

The aim, according to the company, is to “humanise technology”, and to “translate the emotion of what we create and experience in the real world, into the digital space”.

Christopher Bailey, Burberry’s chief creative officer, said: “We’re constantly thinking about how we translate the emotion of what we create and experience in the real world into the digital space, whether that’s capturing the energy and excitement of a live gig, the hum and buzz of anticipation before a runway show, or just the feeling you get when you pull on your trench coat on a rainy morning. Burberry Kisses began with the idea of giving technology a bit of heart and soul, and using it to unite the Burberry family across the world – by telling a story that makes the digital personal.”

The soundtrack, Evergreen Love, by British Burberry Acoustic musician Misty Miller, was also chosen to provide “emotional resonance”. All outcomes can of course be shared over Google+, as well as the other usual social platforms.

The entire project will be captured in a World of Kissses map. This has two views – a real-time interactive version that shows ‘live’ kisses as they move around the world, and an ‘all’ option that reveals the cities sending and receiving the most.

The initiative is part of Google’s Art, Copy & Code series, which will be showcased during next week’s Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity.

BurberryKisses1Burberry Kisses - Skyline (New York)Burberry Kisses - World of Kisses

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Comment Startups technology

Capturing #SXSW Interactive’s fashion crowd

Hundreds of individuals can be spotted out and about during SXSW toting hefty cameras, ready at any moment to snap the über eccentric crowd for their various street style blogs…

During the music portion of the festival that is.

During Interactive, it’s somewhat of a different affair. The nerds are in town, an estimated 28,000 of them, and the style bloggers don’t so much follow. But there is a little bit of fashion hanging around in there too. Honest!

So as a little bit of a joke, my dear friend Sarah Owen captured some of them for me during Monday’s Fashion Brain Bar, thrown by Fashion’s Collective.

The best thing about the resulting mini gallery below, is it epitomises Fashion & Mash, each of those featured working at the very crossroads of designer and digital for the likes of Net-a-Porter, Burberry, Calvin Klein, Donna Karan, Aritzia, WGSN, Moving Image & Content and the aforementioned Fashion’s Collective. There is also, of course, the lovely Cannon Hodge from Bergdorf Goodman, and Aliza Licht, better known as DKNY PR Girl, in there too.

SXSW is all about what’s next; in our industry, these are some of the people really paving the way…

More insight to follow from the festival keynotes and panels soon…

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social media Uncategorized

Best of the web!

This is one little note to say a big thank you to Become.com’s Be In Style blog, which has featured Fashion & Mash this week in its Best of the Web round-up.

With us being halfway through fashion week season, right in the middle of Social Media Week and on the verge of SXSW, it’s undoubtedly true that I currently “eat, sleep, live, and breathe fashion”, as quoted. The best bit of course, is that it’s from a very unique designer meets digital angle.

The praise comes at an appropriate time too, for this week marks the two-year anniversary of this site. I hope you’re all continuing to get as much out of it as I do putting in. There’s never been such an exciting time as there currently is in all things tech, and I continue to try and cover it for everyone in our industry as comprehensively as possible.

As promised earlier in the year, there’s some exciting developments ahead for F&M, but as always if you have any feedback on the kind of content being posted, some more things you’d like to see, or better yet some stories of your own to send, please do get in touch.

Best wishes, Rachel