Bilue appoints Phil Whitehouse as General Manager

 

 

PRESS RELEASE

Bilue hires Phil Whitehouse as General Manager and expands focus to become The Mobile and Emerging Technology Company

Mobile company Bilue has strengthened its senior leadership team with the hire of Phil Whitehouse as General Manager.

Phil joins from DigitasLBi where he spearheaded the establishment and growth of the Qantas account, and he brings over 20 years’ experience across a variety of industry sectors including Travel, Banking, Education and Telecommunications. Prior to DigitasLBi he founded the Sydney office for DT as General Manager.

Phil commented: This is a great time to be joining Bilue. They’ve already established an envious reputation for the strategy, design and development of mobile solutions in Australia, and they’re perfectly positioned to help customers take advantage of technology advances on all fronts, including mobile payments, blockchain, augmented reality, voice apps, and much more. It’s an exciting era in the technology space and we’ll be helping our customers to thrive on the opportunities arising from mobile and emerging technologies.

Phil will report into Cameron Barrie, CEO and Founder of Bilue.

 

Cameron commented: We’re delighted to bring Phil on board. His arrival at Bilue marks our transition from a boutique agency into a premier outfit, and we’re therefore taking this opportunity to announce our evolution into The Mobile and Emerging Technology Company. Companies need to take advantage of the ubiquity of mobile platforms or risk being left behind, and we’re already heavily invested in the next wave of technology. Our current customers are already experiencing a competitive advantage as a result, and we look forward to continuing to support them on this exciting journey.

 

About Bilue

Bilue is The Mobile and Emerging Technology Company, based in Sydney and Melbourne.

 

We are the only company which focuses exclusively on cutting edge technologies that give our customers a competitive advantage. We offer a full stack of services from strategy, product design and content development through to build, test and launch. Our approach to data ensures rapid and continuous business growth for our customers.

 

Our work to date includes applications created for Woolworths, Domain, Stan, Amaysim and many more.

For more information, visit bilue.com.au  

GOTO Conference, Amsterdam

This June one of our stellar Android Developers, Silvio Brasil, made the journey to  the GOTO Conference & Workshop in the city of fries, cheese and poffertjes – Amsterdam. Renown for its insight into cutting edge and trending technologies this year’s overarching theme at GOTO was ‘Digital Transformation’. The two days of workshops saw Silvio dive deep into the world of data science and machine learning so naturally, we wanted to find out what he learnt. 

20170612_090333.jpg


Hi Silvio, tell us about the workshops you went to.

The first one was Data Science which explains how to deal with big data and identify patterns between the data and its behaviour. Understanding this was really beneficial for me in gaining a deeper insight into machine learning. It helped me understand the data and how to deal with the data science itself and use this in machine learning. It also gave me a really good grasp of what data scientists are doing and what would be the best way to work with them in the future. Ultimately, it will help me help them.

Day two was learning more about machine learning with TensorFlow and directly correlated with the Data Science workshop. While TensorFlow makes it easier (you don’t need too much code), being very specific in what you are doing and how to handle data goes hand in hand with the data science.

20170612_083526.jpg

How will this help your work?

I think in the future everything will be able to handle machine learning. By continuing research in this area and training with TensorFlow it will be easier to apply this to mobile and use within different applications.

 

What was your favourite part about the conference?

Everything. Firstly, Amsterdam itself is an amazing city, a very nice place to go and walk and see a different life. Secondly, the workshop was in a massive conference centre, Beurs van Berlage, that was really quite mind blowing. It was almost hard to pay attention because the ceiling was so high with church pillars – I found that really impressive. On the last day it was a different venue on the other side of the city. The building was an office and it was also nice to see the different lifestyle of work.   

My main goal of going there was to learn more about machine learning and TensorFlow and I think that the workshops were really amazing. Even though it was just two days I learnt so much.

 

20170615_110931.jpg

Would you recommend this conference to other developers?

Totally. Not just learning about machine learning itself but the whole package – going to another place, getting lost, people speaking a different language and trying to find your way, asking questions and meeting and talking with people at the conference. It was an amazing experience.

Dank je Silvio!

20170614_184147.jpg

Google I/O 2017

In May this year, Jonathan C, Bilue’s Senior Android Developer from our Melbourne office was one of the several thousand developers selected at random to attend Google I/O 2017 in Mountain View, California. With a welcoming conference bag that included a T-shirt, water bottle, glasses, sunscreen and a casual Google Home (the push on AI was huge this year), Jonathan was ready to take the next few days of forward-thinking announcements on board.

Google IO 1.png

Although it was to be expected that Google would have lots of AI tricks to boast, that didn’t stop them from being exciting.

Google Assistant is more responsive and smarter than ever, and is expanding beyond Android to iOS.

The announcement of Google Lens showed the latest in AI integrating with a phone camera (they’ll be able to do much more than sightseeing and selfies). Google Lens uses machine learning to enable a camera lens to understand exactly what it’s seeing: you could translate text directly from a photo, read reviews about a shop across the road or automatically access a Wifi network by capturing the password and network through the lens.

Hand in hand with AR Google have also been pioneering VR. Like its Android and Chrome platforms, Google plans to make VR accessible to millions. Along with the announcement of stand-alone VR headsets, one of the most memorable panels from I/O was Designing for VR. This panel unveiled efficient ways of designing VR interfaces, including a new way to work with measurements and best practices. The talk covered new workflows and techniques used by the Daydream team to create enjoyable VR experiences while avoiding common pitfalls.

Google IO 2.png

Google also announced the release of Android Instant Apps. This feature, which was unveiled during the keynote last year at Google I/O 2016, allows Android users to run apps instantly and without installation. This will eliminate the friction associated with the discovery, installation and use of native Android apps, while maintaining the things that make them great. Now everyone, not just the select group of partners that have been making their apps modular up to this point, will have access to this unique feature.

A good session to get a good intro into product & business opportunity was the Introduction to Android Instant Apps session.

Google IO 3.png

More exciting news came from the sessions that discussed the new Architecture Components that Google have released. These components are libraries with the aim of helping developers design robust, testable, and maintainable applications. These sessions involved technical breakdowns about the structure of each component, what problems they solve and how best to utilise them.

In contrast to their previous silence in this regard, Jonathan notes that ‘it was really interesting to see Google step up to the plate and provide the community with some tooling and guidance on how to create well structured apps, this is a win for all Android users’.

A sense of community was also given through the news of Android Go. This will be a lightweight variant of Android optimised for entry-level hardware that will allow lower-cost devices to operate in areas where internet is weaker. Now that Google has passed the 2 billion active monthly Android users mark, this is no doubt how they are preparing to reach a 3 billion milestone.

One of the biggest surprises from the festival was the news that Google will now fully support the Kotlin programming language for Android. According to Jonathan, it was this announcement which got the biggest crowd reaction during the keynote. As he adds, fully supporting Kotlin will mean ‘developers now have the endorsement to use a more capable and modern language and allow us to focus on creating interesting solutions to business problems and hopefully work faster and happier towards the goals we have set for ourselves.’

Despite the media hype and everything we can watch from the day, Jonathan says that the most memorable part of the whole experience was simply being there. ‘The keynote and the excitement of being part of such a large community, the suspense, seeing what everyone was going to announce – that was the real take-away of the 3 days’.

Until next year, then. 

Webstock 2017

Renowned as the technology conference with soul”, two of Bilue’s designers, Amy and Anna, took off to Wellington this February to get the latest in the world of design and development. They returned refreshed, revived and replenished with ideas and stories thanks to Webstock and the city of Wellington itself.

cookies-from-conferenceDespite being touted as ‘windy Wellington’, the air was crispy and still. The bright-faced UX passionates gathered at St James Theatre where the conference would take place over the next two days. Webstock’s details were finessed with attention and taste; branded mugs and t-shirts, the abundance of ice-cream sandwiches divine, the stage lighting and setup was clear and colourful. Even the conference credits were considered by including every attendee’s name as though they had all watched a film they were all a part of.

The lineup included an array of speakers with vast experiences. Despite differences in expertise the most memorable talks demonstrated ways in which we, when working in tech, can step outside of our sometimes silo-mentality. Opening our ears, eyes and skills to the processes and people around us, biases can be deconstructed and ideas met with innovation.

The Conference Stage at St James Theatre
Some key notions included

– Kim Goodwin spoke about avoiding UX purgatory. Working across the journey designers can expand their point of view by focusing on the transition between experiences. It’s about ensuring what happens before and after ‘your part’ makes sense and is communicated as smoothly as possible. This comes down to the idea that we’re people and not just roles.

– Jeff Gothelf gave insight to how bigger organisations can scale Agile and Lean UX methodologies at scale. He focussed on four key principles to keep in mind when doing so;

               –  Customer Value = Business Value

               – Value learning over delivery

               – Radical transparency

               –  Humility in all things

– Gothelf emphasised that internal teams already want to work this way, it’s up to decision makers in the business to carve out an environment for teams to work in this way.

– Sacha Judd discussed the biases inherent within the hiring process. This included pattern-matching experiences with those we may onboard and therefore limiting selection.



Sacha also outlined how the stigmas surrounding the tech industry prevent people with relevant skills from feeling welcomed. She used the example of fantasy fiction, mostly millennial One Direction fans who have contributed to popular websites to feed their fanbase. When asking these fans if they would ever work in tech they scoffed ‘no’, however most of these kids possessed coveted industry skills.

Overall Webstock withheld their high reputation and offered insights into a broader scope of the tech landscape. Despite an incident of misconduct with one speaker on the final day, the appropriate response reflects the conference’s commitment to positive values that reflect the future of technology being inclusive, respectful and most of all, aware. We look forward to attending next year!

Ammy and Anna on a hill in Wellington

Google Home Has The Internet Hooked

The latest Google Home experiment has gone viral for all the right reasons.

The video uploaded to Twitch of the two Home devices getting to know each other is touching and hilarious in its humanness. Since gracing the world wide web in a 30-hour live stream, the video has been viewed over 4.2 million times. After all, we do love to watch ourselves. 

It shows the two devices getting to know each other through a combination of small talk, flirting, lying and confusion – much like the way humans go about things. With an added touch of wry humour, the devices’ names are Vladimir and Estragon, a fitting reference to Samual Beckett’s play Waiting for Godo where the two main characters of the same name succumb to their own hopelessness as they wait for the looming ‘Godot’. They fight, they hug and they fantasise about an escape as a way of passing the time. Except Godot never arrives. 

While Google Home is due for an Australian release sometime this year, I guess that leaves us “Waiting for Google”. At least we have this 30-hour upload to entertain meanwhile.

To watch @seebotschat’s video go to: https://www.twitch.tv/seebotschat/v/112970232


IMG_0845.jpg Relatable content.

Screen Shot 2017-01-09 at 2.49.57 pm.png

Robots with attitude.

Screen Shot 2017-01-09 at 2.52.01 pm.png

Another screenshot from @seebotschat 30-hour upload.

Bilue Christmas Party 2016

The 2nd of December, 2016.

We knew that Friday the 2nd of December would be a scorcher. As some of us stepped into the office before lunch we were already sweaty. The forecast predicted tops of 38 degrees, only adding to the intensity that would result from a combination of harsh competition, kinetic limits, good times and lots of alcohol.

28 (Priime Zion).jpg

Secret Santa
Kicking off the day we rekindled with our Melbourne team over early drinks, lunch and Secret Santa. On our much-loved Raphael’s last day at Bilue, he was the obvious choice to involuntarily play Santa. One by one, we each sat on his lap and received our gifts from mysterious senders. An assortment of chocolates, wines, personalised stamps, fungi farms, notebooks and hardware were given out.

Phil pays a visit to Santa                                                Cam’s turn on Santa’s lap
IMG_5745 (Priime Zion).jpg           IMG_5759 (Priime Zion).jpg


Keep Cups

Each Bilue employee was also graciously gifted with our own cute and colourful KeepCups for use in the endless flow of caffeine that we each chug down day-in and day-out. 

Thank you, Santa!
keep cup xmas gift.jpg


Scavenger Hunt
It was then revealed that we would all be participating in the very first Bilue Scavenger Hunt. Through careful planning and organisation over the preceding days we were all assigned to teams, given matching bandanas and specially-printed Cards against Biluemanity t-shirts featuring different cards from Bilue’s favourite game – Cards Against Humanity. We were given meticulously imaginative task lists that as we each scanned over, caused some of our faces to churn with nerves and doubt, others with excitement and relief. But most of us were affixed with the glaze of our deep inner sense of competitiveness. Some challenges included:

Take a team photo with a Christmas Tree…                  Hug a stranger….
IMG_20161202_162621 (Priime Zion).jpgBlue - 59 (Priime Zion).jpg


Wear the horse head in public…                             Order a Bilue-flavoured Messina…
85 (2) (Priime Zion).jpg      34 (Priime Zion).jpg


Who would win?

The Public Humiliation to Difficulty ratio throughout all of the activities ranged widely from, ‘Video of your team on a roller coaster at Luna Park’ to ‘Photo of a member of your team joining a park fitness class’ and ‘Order a Bilue themed Messina ice cream flavour’. Team leaders were decided with a quick game of Scissors, Paper, Rock and given a survival bag containing all items necessary for the challenge: cash, selfie sticks, wigs, rub cubs, water and sunscreen.

So with that, we were off.

As part of team Yellow (our shirt read ‘Mad-Hacky-Sack Skills) we decided to execute our tasks with meticulous planning and strategy. We ticked off the most achievable tasks combined with the ones which would score us the most points. ‘Team photo with Christmas Tree’ evidently became our forte and Myer’s Christmas Wonderland floor was our reigning domain. Hoards of points were tallied as we snapped all the Christmas trees we could find, completed a successful flashmob (bonus points ensued when others joined our Macarina), found a doppelgänger and took a photo with Santa (bonus points for crying).

55 (Priime Zion).jpg#3 AND #88 (Priime Zion).jpg

Live updates were streamed out to everyone across the city via Slack from Bilue HQ. Melinda and Marina kept track of which teams were leading and posted the funniest highlights (and/or lowlights) throughout the day. As we scrambled to gain as many points as we could, we could watch other teams chase points like chickens – around the Harbour Bridge, Darling Harbour, each interpreting their idea of ‘Lemon Party’ differently, some of us sipping espresso martinis while others climbed trees. We are a talented bunch indeed.

                                        Screenshot of Min & Marina keeping tally of the teams
Screen Shot 2016-12-05 at 9.42.38 am.png

5 PM
As quickly as it started, it ended. Our final destination was delivered to each team via carrier pigeon (i.e Slack) as we all jumped into Ubers and cabs and raced to Timbah Wine Bar in Glebe. First team to arrive wins 200 points, last team to arrive loses 500 points. With everyone settled in at Timbah either sipping on a fine glass of wine, or from a chilled bottle of beer, Min and Marina stood up to deliver the final points overview and award Gold and Silver medals to the winning teams. Winners also received $100 JB Hi-Fi gift vouchers and a whole lot of pride.

IMG_5786 (Priime Zion).jpg  IMG_5785 (Priime Zion).jpg

Having crowned the winners (Yellow Team), there was little more to be done than celebrate an absolutely incredible 2016 at Bilue, with many ups, downs that we would not have had any other way. There was not an empty glass in sight for the entire night, and the sound of laughter never stopped. When it got late, a few people left opting for some face time with their pillow and a good night’s sleep, those of us who didn’t soldiered on at a Pub in Glebe, playing pool, drinking and laughing right up until closing time.

IMG_5797 (Priime Zion).jpgIMG_5784 (Priime Zion).jpg

Breakfast
For our Melbourne people there was still enough time on Saturday morning to gather together at Brewistas in Glebe for breakfast and coffee. A sobering wakeup call to what was a hazy 24hrs of sweat, thirst and fun. Till next time!

Screen Shot 2016-12-06 at 3.50.01 pm.png

Screenshot_20161202-155610.png
12.jpg
1 (Priime Zion).jpg

An API First Strategy

People say a lot of things about taking a mobile first approach to building their digital experiences, “We absolutely need to be mobile first”, “Consider the customer”, “Build for the devices customers are using day in and day out”.

This is short sighted.

There I said it.

Yes, I am an avid fan of mobile devices, of mobile apps and of the entire smart phone ecosystem that we’ve built up in recent years. Bilue was founded on the back of my passion and enthusiasm for building amazing mobile experiences. But it is patently untrue to state that our technological future hangs on this fleeting interest in everything mobile. Limiting yourself to a fixation on the mobile experience above anything else supposes that mobile devices are and always will be the main touch point for the customer.

Mobile apps are the present, they’re what your customers are using now. Today.

You can ask me what the technology of the future will be, but I will not have the answer. Anyone who says otherwise probably has deeper underlying interests of their own. Hear them out, shake their hand, and then make a break for it. Run for the hills.

People said HTML was the future, the Web was the future, Augmented Reality was the future, Virtual Reality was the future and this list of things that weren’t quite what we made them out to be only continues to grow, into the future. No one really knows what the future holds.

When investing in technology, think as long term as you can. Technologies like ‘The Web’ or ‘HTML/CSS’ are all content delivery technologies. They’re great at what they do and they will continue to be great at what they do, and you will need to continue to invest in them, but they’re client side technologies. By and large the popularity of that technology is not defined by, or decided by you. Your users will ultimately decide where they want to interact with you. If they don’t choose to use the Web, then they won’t. If they don’t want to use an iPhone, they won’t.

This is where APIs (Application Programming Interface) come in. APIs enable one piece of software to communicate with another piece of software. APIs are nothing new, they’ve been used to communicate between software systems since writing software began.

APIs come in many flavours, and as you can imagine, engineers have many opinions about what makes a good API. With everything from SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol, BTW, if this is the simple version, I’d hate to think what the complex one looked like), to RESTful (Representational state transfer), then there’s the various opinions on RPC and Hypermedia, XML, JSON, and there’s always the cool new kid on the block GraphQL.

This is a complex landscape, but one that with the right direction, and a proper strategy driving it, really opens up the possibilities of what your business can achieve.

Invest in APIs and you’ll find yourself able to react to the needs of your customers faster than ever before. With a good API Strategy you can serve websites, mobile apps, interface with your partners, vendors & clients, create interfaces for things like Facebook Messenger, Amazon Echo, Google Home, Apple TV, Chromecast and even a SmartTV or a SmartFridge. When you provide an interface to connect your software to other software, you create a promising opportunity and potential for your business to exploit. If you want a competitive advantage, develop a solid API strategy today. The only known thing about the future of digital technology, is that software talking to other software will be the driving force behind it.

Issues Faced With Kotlin During Android Development

Kotlin seems like the future of Android development. It is a new statically-typed programming language that runs on JVM, with a very refined syntax and enhanced features. There is a lot to love about it. Kotlin is interoperable with Java, which should reduce the risk of future incompatibility. The additional language features such as Function Extensions and High Order Function make it much more extensible and scalable. The code is concise with data classes, single expression function, infix and many more… enough said. Kotlin is just great!

Screen_Shot_2016-08-10_at_2.10.19_pm.png

I started working on some real apps using Kotlin that have since been published on the playstore. I have to say it was relatively smooth sailing. Nonetheless, there were some hiccups along the way that are worth sharing.

1. Method Count Increase.

Method count increase was one of the issues I was fully aware before starting with Kotlin. At the time of writing, there are an additional 7’191 methods adding to the total method count. This would add more than 10% to the 65k methods limit. Nonetheless, I didn’t worry that much as the MultiDex support is there to help to overcome this issue.

2. Using Libraries that require Annotation.

There are many cool libraries that can assist with making Android Development much more efficient. However, when switching over to Kotlin, using some of them becomes a challenge. There are two libraries which I can’t manage to use directly after switching to Kotlin, i.) Icepick and ii.) EventBus. The main reason is that the Annotation (i.e. @State and @Subscribe) is not picked up by the code. Fortunately, with EventBus, I managed to work around this by creating a composite class object using Java Code. Note that this doesn’t mean all libraries using Annotation would not work for Kotlin. I managed to use Retrofit 2.0 and Dagger 2.0 (where both use Annotation extensively) in Kotlin directly.

3. Mocking Need Open Class/Function.

By default a class and function is considered final for Kotlin. Mocking (using Mockito) requires a non-final class. So in order to have that, we have to explicitly open a class if we would like to mock it for testing. If this is not done, it would error out easily. The more tricky issue is the function. If the function is not open, there would be no error issue when running the test. Instead of intercepting the function, it would call the actual internal function, where the test would fail with NPE. Without knowing the function needs to be open, the root issue might not be easily discoverable.

4. Java to Kotlin Converter Limitation.

The Kotlin Plugin for Android Studio is just great, especially allowing to auto convert from Java to Kotlin. However, the conversion might not be ideal. e.g.

 

is converted to

class SimpleClass(memberVariable: Int) {

  internal var memberVariable = 0

  init {

      this.memberVariable = memberVariable

  }

}

Whereby it could be as simple as

class SimpleClass(val memberVariable: Int) {}

Anyway, it’s always good to review the converted code and explore so that we don’t just have Kotlin code in Java style, without the real advantage of Kotlin.

5. Other Converter Issue.

I love writing a new function from an object, and pressing Alt-Enter to trigger the auto-function creation. If you are writing on the Java side of code, and call a Kotlin function (that you just intended to create), sorry you are out of luck. Android Studio will only auto create that function for you in the Kotlin code.

At times for experimental purposes we would also like to convert from Kotlin to Java, given that it was inter-operable with Java. This is not possible however the tools only allow you to convert from Java to Kotlin and not vice versa. Perhaps this is by design, and I could imagine it would be difficult for Java to handle conversion of more advanced Kotlin language features.

None of these issues are show stoppers. The advantage and fun of learning new things outweighs them in any case. The language features are richer and there is so much to explore. I haven’t really faced many issues from Kotlin’s language as yet. I’m sure I’ll uncover more issues, but I don’t expect them to “kill me”. Java is always there to the rescue 🙂

As with any new thing, one other challenge is finding community support. Suppose you are experimenting with new Android Features and face a road-block. If you post your question to Stackoverflow using your Kotlin code, you are unlikely to generate support.

So… you might as well be the one who supports others… which is in itself a good thing! 🙂

Taking smart shopping to the next level

When shoppers enter a retail store, they are generally free to browse and shop as they wish. They can move around the store, inspect products, engage with staff, perhaps price check items on their phone. This free-flowing, customer-controlled shopping experience stands in stark contrast to the rigid checkout process where customers are funnelled into a specific location so that their items can be tallied before they pay by cash or credit card.

In practical terms, this kind of static payment process can act as a bottleneck, whether from lack of staff or unprepared customers who have to dig around in their wallets for a credit card or cash. Yet retail stores, for the most part, continue to follow a traditional in-store model which no longer matches evolving buyer behaviour. Not to mention that the purchasing bottle-neck takes up valuable time which the customer could spend moving about the store and exploring other products.

The proliferation of internet-connected devices like tablets and smartphones is interrupting this traditional retail model, providing customers with more flexible ways to shop, while offering retailers an inordinate amount of data which can better inform the delivery of products and services.

At Bilue, we take the retail shopping experience very seriously. Our prototyping team has put significant investment into R&D, developing a model that speeds up the bricks-and-mortar experience by removing the checkout bottleneck. Here’s what we came up with:

The Smart Shopping Bag

The Smart Shopping Bag is a personal, mobile point of sale (POS) system which scans items as they are placed into the bag and keeps a running tally as the customer moves around the store.

 smartBagDiagram.jpg

This prototype pairs with an app on the user’s phone, connecting their physical shopping bag to an online cart. Placing an item into your digital cart is as simple as adding it to your physical bag.

Customers download the Smart Shopping Bag application (available on iOS, Android and Windows phones), fill in their registration and then visit the ‘pair shopping bag’ option in the menu screen. Each identified phone will have a shopping bag icon next to it. To pair, they simply select the icon next to their phone’s ID and hit connect. The bag will connect to the app via Bluetooth.

All of the products in-store are fitted with RFiD tags which the app will read and update in the cart when they are placed into the Smart Shopping Bag. Once the customer has completed their shop, they simply unlock their phone, enter the app to see the total, hit the pay button et voila, checkout complete!

Because we can track what a customer has added in real-time, there is no need to interface with the traditional POS system. Decided they no longer want an item? They simply remove it from the Smart Shopping Bag and the app will automatically deduct it from the subtotal.

Once a shopper is done, all they need do is detach the inner bag and walk out of the store.

Where to from here?

While 2015 was a strong year for mobile payment systems with the launch of Apple Pay in Australia, the technology and its implementation is still in its infancy. We have yet to see saturation of these innovations in bricks-and-mortar stores, meaning the next two to three years will likely see a mobile payments gold rush to bring the retail experience into the 21st century.

Apple Pay increases the speed of payment transactions, but still requires users to choose a payment method, authenticate with their fingerprint and place their phone or Apple Watch on the POS terminal. Being a deliberate play in increased security and convenience during payment, it is no surprise that Apple Pay does not yet address the pain point of having to stand in a checkout line.

Smartphones allow retailers – and their customers – to do an awful lot more than they are currently taking advantage of. Customers are literally holding the technology needed to bridge the innovation gap. In order to remove these payment bottlenecks in the shopping experience, it is now up to bricks-and-mortar stores to invest and connect to these devices.

By allowing customers to scan their products as they shop with a one-touch checkout, retail stores get the added efficiencies from a distributed checkout system. This is the beauty of internet connected devices, with every customer carrying a potential POS system with them. When transactions are completed on a mobile phone, it closes the loop between the physical shoppers and your digital customers.

The Smart Shopping Bag is still in prototype stage. However even this proof of concept showcases the technology that can be utilised for enhancing the customer experience in retail stores today.

Rolling out RFiD tags to the products in a retail store opens up a raft of new experiences for businesses and consumers to enjoy. Leveraging these technologies would allow retail environments to be free of traditional payment counters and to focus on crafting the ideal retail experience. Consumers could browse and interact with products they are interested in and simply be charged for whatever they are holding when they leave the store.

Creating a network that can identify a customer and the individual products they are interacting with, without manual input opens up possibilities for the next generation of shopping experiences.

We would love to get your feedback on our first round of prototypes. If you are interested in helping shape the future of retail experiences, contact us and join the conversation.

Collective Growth at Bilue

At Bilue we aim to do impactful work. We collaborate with clients, we encourage creativity and we deliver inspired solutions. Recently at our half yearly team day our CEO Cameron Barrie, urged us to pursue personal and collective growth in the year ahead. Cameron said connection is fundamental to the work we do at Bilue, but in order to truly connect and inspire others, strong communication skills are critical at both an individual and company level.

infographic-01.jpg

Only 7% of communication takes place through words. Voice makes up 38% and body language a whopping 55%. It is essential to be aware of your body language and align how you present yourself with what you’re saying, in order to get your point across and inspire others to listen to what you have to say.

To this end Cameron invited leadership developer and coach, James Brett, to facilitate a half day training for the company in body language, connecting and creating rapport. Having worked in technology for 20 years, James is able to appreciate the synchronicity between understanding the problem space as a developer and understanding the problem space as a consultant.

It is our mission at Bilue to empower people through technology. When we present our inspired ideas the physical messages we communicate are potentially more powerful than the words we use. For example if we cover our mouth with our hands or stand with folded arms, our audience may not feel our message is genuine and they may not be convinced by what we say. If we are busy scratching our nose or stroking our chin, clients might think we are untrustworthy and unreliable.

Furthermore, understanding the problem space for our clients involves reading their body language and observing the visual cues they provide. James taught us about four levels of active listening, ranging from simply ‘downloading’ what someone is saying, to taking in content and observing body language ‘factually’, to more ‘empathic’ listening, and finally what he called ‘presence’ and so listening without having any agenda at all. To define the core problem our clients are communicating to us, engaging active listening and empathy helps us develop a deeper understanding of their thoughts and motivations.

infographic-02.jpg

During the second half of our team day we were given the opportunity to put our increased appreciation for the power of body language and active listening into practise. Impro Australia facilitated a highly active session to loosen us up and take us out of our comfort zones. Working together in pairs or groups and individually, we were forced to think laterally and quickly on our feet. Encouraging us to have fun with communication, we were taught how to deliver a message with confidence and to embody excitement and enthusiasm.

Team_Day.jpeg

Marina, Annelise, Marcelo and Phill doing the “Arms, Double Figures” game

We were given exercises to challenge and extend boundaries by responding to spontaneous challenges. One of the most powerful games we played was the “Yes, But”, “Yes, And” game. Countering everything our partner had to say with “yes but” was surprisingly easy. Being on the receiving end of this was much more difficult and constantly having to defend decisions and come up with counter offers was draining in the end. When you apply “yes, and” to real life situations people feel heard and supported. When you apply “yes, but” it is deflating and shuts the conversation down. Having a potentially difficult conversation with “yes, and” is much more effective and people feel like they are part of the solution rather than the problem.

With our new perspective on communication and connection we finished the day in true Bilue fashion with an awesome party back at Bilue headquarters. Putting our new found confidence into practise, there was twerking, the cha cha and even some dirty dancing! Come Monday morning we needed just a little refresher on what had transpired the Friday before and then we determined to stay aware of our body language wherever possible. Feel free to point out if we are folding our arms and crossing our feet when we meet you. I’m confident we will get to it before you do and our expression will be open and confident within the blink of an eye.

save-new.jpg

Rhys, Marcelo, Phill, Craig, Tom and Gary finsihing the day with a beer

logo-outline

Contact Info

Sydney
Level 1 6 Bridge Street, Sydney, NSW, 2000

Melbourne
Level 1 520 Bourke Street, Melbourne, VIC, 3000

Copyright 2018 Bilue Pty Ltd ©  All Rights Reserved