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Talk Social: 7 November, 2017

Google Adwords gives rise to the emoji search

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Traditionally, Google AdWords had policies against using emojis in ad copy, until one buyer recently shared a screen grab allowing him to bid on the rose emoji for money.

While Google deems emojis to be ‘invalid or unsupported characters’, it will display them in organic search results should the query specifically request it.

It’s still uncertain whether Google AdWords has entirely altered its policy on emojis but this is definitely one development to watch going forward.

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Alexa can now tell you if your doors are locked

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August Home has announced that DoorSense technology has been added to the August Smart Lock skill for Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant.

DoorSense is able to tells users whether their doors are open or closed, as well as locked or unlocked. DoorSense works much like a traditional sensor, proving especially useful as a safeguard against a door being left ajar when the lock hasn’t properly engaged.

Now, users can ask Alexa if their door is locked and receive confirmation as to whether it’s open or closed. They can go one further and request that Alexa to lock or unlock a door. The skill asks users to set a pin number during the account linking process for increased security.

To use the August Smart Lock with Alexa requires the August Connect Wi-Fi Bridge or August Doorbell Cam to connect the Bluetooth lock.

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How WhatsApp plans to monetise customer service

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WhatsApp, which was acquired by Facebook for $19bn in 2014, has revealed plans to launch WhatsApp Business to help companies manage their customer service.

WhatsApp Business will offer a free standalone social app for SMEs and an enterprise solution for larger companies that will ‘provide customers with useful notifications like flight times, deliver confirmations and other updates.’

The app will also give access to verified profiles that include business addresses, phone numbers, web addresses and operating hours to help users differentiate between real and fake accounts.

Users can opt out of being contacted by businesses and while any conversations with a verified account may not be deleted, further communication can be blocked in menu settings. Messages will be ‘end-to-end encrypted’, protecting information from being leaked.

Pilot programs are underway in Europe, South America and Asia, with businesses investing in messaging services as smartphones and social media raise the standards for  customer service. Consumers are now accustomed to immediate responses, particularly because of Twitter, and WhatsApp aims to go one further, by developing increasingly seamless interactions between business and customers.

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3D scanning app improves the AR experience

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The new Qlone app from EyeCue Vision Tech allows users to scan objects in real life and the software will subsequently transform them into a digital model file. This is an exciting development for AR, the first step having brought digital content into reality, leading to real objects now being sent into the digital world.

The rendered models can be viewed on phone, shared with others and also edited and exported into different file formats to be used in various ways, such as in animations and 3D printing.

The app, only available on iOS, uses the iPhone camera to scan objects, recording the dimensions and colours within a grid guide. Done properly, the resulting AR model of the scanned object can look just like the real thing, blurring the lines between what’s real and what’s not.

Demos include a Lego building tutorial, with the same file having been exported into popular video game Minecraft. This is important as people want to be able to view the products they’re buying from multiple angles, as any Amazon or eBay seller will testify. 3D scanning could help to enhance the experience when embedded on product pages in e-commerce platforms.

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Google creates search engine for 3D objects

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Staying with the world of 3D objects, Google has devised a new search engine called Poly which is designed to help developers find 3D objects to use in their AR projects.

Poly is integrated with Google’s Tilt Brush and Blocks tools and contains thousands of 3D model options that are free to use. Liking an object allows users to drop it into the tools and remix or build up on it.

The resulting 3D models can be downloaded as GIFs or viewed in VR with Cardboard or Daydream view. Currently, Poly can’t place an object in a room with the user but there’s no reason why this capability couldn’t evolve over time.

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