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Posts From February, 2015

The importance of colour in branding 

26 February 2015 08:50:00

We all associate colours with different emotions and actions. Red means stop, green means go (as does yellow if you’re in a hurry!). Therefore getting the colour right for your brand is imperative, you want to stand out from the competition, but not so in a way that is detrimental to the brand. Colour is the first element the mind sees and the last it forgets and therefore is one of the most important components in creating brand identity.

Research by Xerox discovered consistent colour branding across all your platforms (branding, social media, advertising and logo) not only makes you look more professional, customers are more likely to remember your brand and your business. Colour improves brand recognition by up to 80% and increases comprehension by as much as 73%.

We all associate colours with emotions, blue can be related with cold and depressing if the wrong hue, however it can also represent authority and calm. Red induces excitement but can be seen as aggressive. These two are the most popular colours online, when you consider how many social media platforms have a blue logo, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter it is clear that brands are considering their colour. 

Colour is so important in branding that confectionary giant Cadburys have copyrighted the pantone colour 2865c for chocolate bars and drinks, winning an intellectual property argument against Nestle in 2011.

Colour offers an instantaneous method for conveying meaning and message without words and is the aspect people remember most about a brand. So the colour of your brand should not be random. Below are two factors to consider when deciding on the colour for your brand.

Target Audience

People are affected by colour in different ways according to cultural trends. For example, the colour white in the US represents purity; however in some parts of Asia white represents mourning.  So when you pick the colour for your brand it is important to ask – who are your target audience? What do they care about? You need to decide on a colour that best conveys the values of your brand, whilst also distinguishing your brand from your competition. 

Brand Character

Colour influences how people view the personality/character of a brand. When choosing the colour for your brand you need to consider what colour best represents the attributes of your brands personality.  For example, if one of the attributes of your brand is excitement, then the colour red would be an ideal choice, however if you want to convey trust then perhaps the colour blue is more suited.

Once you have decided on the colour, logo, shape and message of your brand you can then move on to label and packaging production. At Fascia, we can advise on how your brand colour and character can be translated into a physical product, and we also have the capabilities to match to any colour system (Pantone, RAL, BS, Munsell etc), or a corporate hybrid, ensuring that when printed your labels are the perfect representation of your brand.

5 top tips for designing a label 

25 February 2015 06:18:00

When it comes to designing a product label, it can be a very daunting task. There are many different things to consider in the design. Below are five tips to help with design the perfect label.

1.When designing product labels the first thing you need to consider is; what is the message your want to put across to your customers? And what information do you want to include?

It is very common for labels to have limited space for all the information required; therefore it is important that you select the most important information to be printed on your label. Information such as product name, company name and registration number, contact details, ingredients, country of origin and barcode, are just some of the information you should consider adding to your label. It is also important you know the demographic you are marketing to before designing your label.

2.Size and shape is very import in the design of your label. The shape and size can make a fundamental difference, whether it will stand out from your competitors, or just be buried in a crowd.

Good practice is to take a look at what labelling your competitors use, and see what shapes and sizes they used, using something a little different can help you stand out. It can pay to get creative with the shape of a label, however you have to know your market as a cool creative funky looking label will not look good on a bottle of toilet bleach.

3.As well as the shape and size of your product, the font is also extremely important. The font needs to be readable so use a serif or sans-serif font, as scripted fonts can be difficult to read. Your font also needs to be big enough to be clearly and easily read, don’t make your customers squint to read your labels.

Depending on the demographic and age group of your customers, the font you use can be vital. For example if you are targeting teenagers a quirky fun font will be more effective, whereas it is the complete opposite for 50+’s, where a clear more formal font would be appropriate.

4.Once you have decided on the look of your label, you then have to decide on the feel. With many different materials and finishes available, each producing different textures and effects. You need to consider how you want your label to be viewed by your potential customers.

Do you want a metallic finish? A matt or gloss finish? Do you want the material to be clear? Do you want the material to be white? There are so many different options, so it is important that you take your time before deciding, so your label can be produced for the best results.

5.If you are unexperienced with design, for the best results you may want to use a professional designer.

Just discuss with the designer what information you want the label to contain and any aspects of the label design you have in mind and they could create a stunning label for you.

Fascia Graphics can match to any colour, shape, size or font you desire so that when printed your labels are the perfect representation of your brand.

Transforming the in-car experience - connecting drivers to their cars 

25 February 2015 06:02:00

Enrico Salvatori, senior vice president and president of Qualcomm Europe, discusses how consumer demand for mobile technology is shaping the connected cars of 2018.

From the early days of developing bigger and better engines that up a car’s top speed, to the more modern concepts of in-car comfort, safety, driver-assistance and infotainment, the automotive sector has spent decades pushing technology innovation forward.  Now, as more smart devices have come to market, a new benchmark for the pace of innovation has been created. Current generation cars are expected to be as much connected devices as they are modes of transport.

Just as with the mobile industry, Qualcomm’s first contributions to the auto industry were focused on enabling, enhancing and extending connectivity. Over the past decade, and working closely with key players in the automotive sector, we at Qualcomm have developed a number of new technologies that enhance the in-car experience through wireless connectivity. The GM OnStar telematics system is present in over 10 million cars on the road today, and the first cars with embedded LTE, the Audi, Cadillac, BMW are already on the market. The demand for connectivity is already there, and only set to expand. Bringing much of our expertise and success from mobile, we are focused on transforming automotive communication as it’s known today to improve driver safety, deliver more personalised in-car experiences and enable in-vehicle entertainment.

Increasing connectivity

The connected car of the future has become the new platform for the development of mobile technology. ABI Research reports 60% of new cars purchased will be connected through mobile technology by 2017. One in five cars on the road will be ‘aware’ by 2018, according to Gartner.

The connectivity demand is an important issue in automotive design, one that is spurring increasing collaboration between technology companies and car manufacturers. What the consumer is demanding, whether they realise it or not, is hardware that both lasts for years and can be updated with future features that run on a standard system. At the same time, engineers need to grapple with creating more aesthetically pleasing designs, developing more efficient engines and alternative fuels, and improving safety.

All the tech under one bonnet

Mobile technology has slowly crept into cars, both on the dashboard and under the bonnet. Not so long ago, the pinnacle of in-car tech was having a powerful sound system and perhaps a small screen with an early sat-nav system. Now, full colour and 3D sat-navs are the norm, decent sound systems are a given, and background technologies have snuck in to tie everything together; Bluetooth connectivity, multimedia screens, front and rear displays, 3G and 4G connectivity, Wi-Fi hotspots and more. As these existing technologies get replaced, what’s in a car’s dash quickly becomes outdated. Automotive manufacturers and engineers need to build-in systems that can be updated incrementally so drivers aren’t left with outmoded technology.  

At CES, the international technology trade show, this year Qualcomm debuted two concept technology cars to show how designs are changing in response to consumer demand for increased connectivity and entertainment. A ‘mashup’ of a Maserati Quattroporte GTS modified with a host of connected technologies, including both the QNX CAR platform and the Snapdragon Automotive Solutions platform, alongside an Android based Cadillac XTS, were present.

The Maserati is equipped with advanced infotainment, digital instrument clusters, and driver assistance systems, all aimed at improving the overall driving experience. Such systems all feature the latest multi-touch high-resolution displays and user interfaces (UIs), 3D graphics for navigation, and LIDAR-based obstacle detection. Even the standard wing mirrors were upgraded with smart displays that both provide colour-coded information for improved driver safety and remove the usual blind spots from regular glass mirrors. Despite being a concept car the possibilities for improving the overall passenger experience through improved connectivity and upgraded technology are clear to see.

A future-proof system

What sets both cars apart is the technology found deep inside, and how it seamlessly improves the overall driving experience The Snapdragon Automotive Solutions platform works to manage all the infotainment features, process vehicle safety data and information from a number of camera, proximity and LIDAR sensors, and reports all the relevant information back to the driver in real-time.  

How is this different from other cars on the road today? To answer that it’s important to understand what the Snapdragon Automotive Solutions platform actually is; a highly integrated, thermal-efficient automotive-grade platform that combines a number of components in a single system; CPU, GPU, 4G LTE modem, GPS/GNSS, Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi. As well as enhancing the driver (and passenger) experience through modern infotainment systems you’d expect to see in current-generation cars, the system also provides a glimpse of the car for next-generation features – whether they’re on the drawing board or at concept stage now, or are still to be dreamt up by automotive designers and engineers.

Three areas where the Snapdragon Automotive Solutions platform makes the biggest impact include: the instrument panel, the connected infotainment system, and the driver information assistance system. While some of these features can be seen as a polished version of what’s on the market today, it’s important to note they are built on a system that supports both today’s features and the next-generation of developments that will appear in years to come.

The digital, reconfigurable instrument panel

The instrument panel is not a static display, and can be adjusted to a number of different views to provide a range of information to the driver; the view from a rear park assist camera, the current audio track, sat-nav information and routes, and vehicle data, to name a few.

The connected infotainment system

Alongside the digital instruments is a second, larger touchscreen. Built on the QNX CAR Platform for Infotainment, which in turn runs on the powerful Snapdragon processor, the system’s UI supports voice recognition, has a touch screen with the ‘tap’, ‘swipe’, and ‘pinch/zoom’ functions you’d expect to find on your smartphone, and allows rear-seat control of navigation, audio selection and temperature by passengers. 4G LTE embedded SAS platform enables drivers to seamlessly switch to digital streaming radio feeds delivered by popular streaming radio applications.

Driver information assistance system

Using LIDAR and proximity sensors, the system detects obstacles near the car and provides the driver with warning information through either the instrument panel, side-view displays or a set of dashboard LEDs.

Conclusion

Although the Maserati Quattroporte GTS and the Cadillac XTS have been designed purely as concept cars, they embody Qualcomm’s vision of advanced in-car experiences delivered through wireless and computing technology. Most importantly, with the pace of innovation and customer demand, current and future connected technologies must be built on integrated systems to ensure infotainment technologies can be upgraded for the lifetime of a car. With the evolution in the connected car space set to intensify, automotive manufacturers will begin to look at ways their designs can differentiate themselves in terms of connectivity, infotainment systems, performance and aesthetics. The safety, servicing and entertainment benefits delivered by a connected car with integrated platforms will increasingly influence the decision making process of car purchasers.

As automotive manufacturers and engineers approach the design stage for new cars, connectivity and infotainment features should be front and centre of new designs.  Consumer demand for the latest technology in their car will become a prerequisite, rather than a nice extra, by 2018.  

Back to a healthy development pace: 2015 China wearable tech industry prospects 

11 February 2015 10:22:00

Wearable tech was a major sensation in 2014. The wearable tech industry generated extensive interest among media, investors, start-ups, wearable tech enthusiasts, technology leaders and trade fairs. Many events were held around wearable products and industry last year.  The trend for early 2015 has seen the industry fall back into a healthy developmental pace. Investors are keen to see a return on their capital injections and former start-ups are now reaching maturity.

While the industry is on a steady footing, the market remains hot and investors optimistic about prospects in wearable tech. The government recognises the strength of the industry too. Wearable tech is a key highlight identified in the Notification on Launching the Mobile Internet and 4G Industrialisation Project released by the National Development & Reform Commission. In 2014, the Shenzhen Municipal Government set up a special fund managed by the Municipal Economic & Commerce Commission to support the robotics, wearable tech and smart equipment industries.

The medical and health segments remain on a strong upward trajectory. According to a report by iiMedia Research, the wearables market is still in the early stages of development, with the medical and health segments regarded as offering the brightest prospects. Baidu’s Wearable Product User Demand Report released states that sports and health monitoring have become core use demands in wearable tech. Industry experts believe that wearable products are an opportunity to transform the medical equipment landscape. Smart technologies have the potential to revolutionise the whole chain of medical service delivery, including clinics, treatment, care and medication. A recent report by Guotai Junan Securities also predicts that new technologies, like mobile internet, wearable tech and big data will disrupt the traditional medical equipment industry.

The wearable tech industry spans hardware, industry applications, social networks, operation services, big data, clouds and other elements. Companies must find the right entry point to capitalise on burgeoning prospects.  Industry development is being driven locally to make the most of segment opportunities. Today, two major hubs are leading industry in growth: Shanghai and Shenzhen. Pudong and Zhangjiang are at the forefront of Shanghai’s efforts, focusing on R&D, localisation of specialised chips and integration. A range of leading domestic brands are emerging in Shanghai, including Guokr, Oviphone and Cloud Ants. Shenzhen is featuring a complete industry chain, from raw materials to production and processing. Many wearable tech makers are setting up factories around Shenzhen or locating EMS partners there.

Building on a 30-year legacy and a reputation as the must-attend event for Asia’s electronics manufacturing industry, NEPCON China 2015 will take place in Hall 1 of Shanghai Expo Exhibition Center, from 21st to 23rd April, 2015. NEPCON is a one-stop platform for SMT and automatic packaging solutions. The event attracts manufacturers and developers on the application side too, particularly those involved in the R&D of wearable tech.

According to the general manager of Oviphone, Mr. Yu Wenjie, wearable products are fun, fashionable, functional, and, at the same time, customised.  Mr. Yu believes that wearable products will become indispensable personal accessories for consumers. The product may evolve from a simple watch to a full-sized wearable garment. To unleash the full potential of the technology, top-level expertise is a must - from design to production. Manufacturers and developers should come to professionally organised trade events like NEPCON to gather information on the latest equipment, processes, and solutions, under one roof, in a very short space of time. Information gathering, after all, is the first step to tackling problems and challenges.   

NEPCON China 2015 will feature the latest technologies in SMT, surface welding, electronic measurement, automatic electronic production, static electricity prevention and new materials. The exhibition will span 25,000 sqm and gather over 500 leading companies from 22 countries and regions, who will exhibit to 21,000+ trade visitors. NEPCON guarantees you top quality and top business leads. Don’t miss it! 

ESL ushers in the age of smart shopping 

11 February 2015 09:35:00

Ms. Smith goes to her local hypermarket to buy steaks for dinner and an LED lamp. In the past, she would have to search the aisles for these products, but not today. She gets out her smartphone, starts the app provided by the store to look for the LED lamp.  The app shows her where the LED lamps are and how she can get there.

As she puts the LED lamp into the shopping cart, her smartphone beeps to let her know that steaks will be sold at a special discount for the next ten minutes.  The new price is posted right after the announcement, and she rushes to the food section. Just after she grabs the meat at the discounted price, the price switches back to the original price.

This everyday scene is not set far in the future. It's actually happening now with many supermarkets and department stores introducing the Electronic Shelf Labeling (ESL) system. Just what is an ESL system and why is it causing a sensation among both consumers and the distribution industry?

Electronic shelf labels are the newest solution available to large supermarkets and department stores, enabling them to replace old paper labels with LCD, e-paper and other forms of display to show the price and advertise products that are on sale. Electronic shelf labels wirelessly receive the data from a central server. The system is composed of a gateway that delivers product information by using low power wireless communication technology and a tag that acts as a receiver.

With the implementation of an ESL system, distribution chains can manage the prices and inventory of thousands of items in the store on a real-time basis. An ESL system can also greatly save time and labor in changing the price labels. As for consumers, they can receive the location of the items they want as well as product information through communications between the ESL system and their smartphone, and order the items they want, pay for the merchandise and fill out the delivery request right on the spot. The ESL systems are likely to evolve into an Internet of Things (IoT) hub that provides a wide array of distribution-related services. TechNavio, a UK based technology research and advisory company, forecasted that the ESL market will post an average annual growth rate of at least 20%, and the market size will grow from $2bn this year to $5bn by 2017.

Many global suppliers of electronic parts are taking an interest in ESL, and some have launched initiatives in the development and mass production of ESL. One of them is LG Innotek, a global materials and components manufacturer which has been aggressive in pursuing its ESL business based on its global leadership in wireless communication and control systems, combined with its core technology for IoT development.

LG Innotek can provide customised ESL solutions to suit the characteristics of every store. Its product lineup includes small size 1.5" and 4.2" monitors and medium size 9" monitors, while the company has developed an NFC-based solution and products with special features such as water-proofing and sensing temperatures and humidity. In particular, the company has succeeded in developing and commercialising an ultra-thin ESL that is only half the thickeness of existing products with its exclusive technology. 

The company also plans to actively promote mid-range ESL products by using TFT-LCDs that offer full colour to screens.

LG Innotek developed stable, low-power ESL solutions by applying Zigbee, Wi-Fi and IR-UWB. They offer secure and integrated management of the central store system network by providing two-way communications that connect gateways with every ESL in the store. It's structured to monitor the current battery status of all the tags and send out a warning signal when the battery is low.  It also uses two-way communications to enable stable network management through real-time monitoring of tags and a gateway for the system administrator to take necessary measures in case of a system error.

The company is also developing a system that precisely tracks the location of a shopping cart in real-time to help customers shop more conveniently. The system can be applied to existing systems without any additional construction, resulting in more revenues for the retailers by saving costs. LG Innotek is planning to roll out its ESL products to large distribution chains in the U.S., Europe and Asia as part of a global marketing campaign.

Meeting the UK’s big appetite for truly wearable technology 

04 February 2015 09:42:00

Sales of wearable devices in the UK is on the rise, according to a new survey from consumer insights research company GfK. Ownership of wearable tech amongst Brits has shot up with a total of 420,000 units bought since January 2014, reaching a combined value of £51m.

The research, undertaken to investigate the main selling points for wearable tech, suggests that the crossover between technology and fashion in wearables is likely to increase. 73% of those surveyed said that they would consider wearing clothing or jewellery items with integrated trackers.

Earlier this year we conducted our own survey of consumers’ views on wearable technology and our results pointed to a similar trend. The research found that 72% of Brits agree that it’s important that wearable technology devices look good and 67% think that it’s important that their wearables fit with their personal style.

However, GfK has found that companies are not yet meeting these expectations. The report states for example that there is a widespread perception that smartwatches are regarded as “gadgets for geeks” and haven’t yet achieved mainstream appeal desired by manufacturers. This should mean that we can expect new and exciting designs ahead, prompting even more growth for the industry.

In order to prove that a device can balance being both fashionable and functional, we at CSR decided to develop a range of connected jewellery ourselves.

Designed in conjunction with boutique jeweller Cellini, the pendant-style connected necklaces contained CSR’s Bluetooth Smart solution – the CSR1012. The integrated electronics enabled the wearer to customise the colour and brightness of the integrated LED to suit their mood or to coordinate with a particular outfit.

What is also clear from this report is that the challenges faced by manufacturers extend beyond just looks. Those surveyed by GfK ranked battery life, comfort and functionality as almost equal to or more important as the device’s design. What CSR’s connected pendant proves is that manufacturers can achieve great aesthetics as well as battery life, small form factor and fast connectivity.  

If you are interested in learning more about the CSR1012, visit our product page where you can purchase a CSR µEnergy Development Kit.

Five key IT security trends for 2015 

04 February 2015 09:16:00

Ian Kilpatrick, chairman Wick Hill Group, specialists in secure IP infrastructure solutions, looks at five key IT security trends and solutions for 2015.

Rise in security breaches
The current high level of security breaches, from the largest organisation down to the smallest, will continue unabated. What will also grow in 2015 will be the acceptance that security breaches are pretty well unavoidable for the majority of organisations. Companies will need to change their approach to security in order to reflect this. Security spending will continue to increase, with spending growth higher on asset security over perimeter security.

Cloud/virtualisation
The ongoing growth in cloud (and cloud data breaches) will carry on boosting awareness of the need to manage risks in a virtualised world. Identity management technologies will continue to experience a resurgence. Some of these technologies, such as two-factor authentication, despite already being well-established, will experience high growth, as companies secure access to key data and application assets

Mobile and wireless
The new multi-gigabyte 802.11ac wireless standard, coupled with BYOD, tablets and the apps they support, will continue to drive businesses into a mobile universe, willingly or unwillingly. The slow shift from a wired network to a wireless one will interestingly be driven by SMBs and public sector organisations.

Wireless and mobile security has lagged considerably behind the security curve. For example, research has shown that the majority of smartphones (i.e. devices with more capabilities than many old laptops) don’t even have PIN protection, never mind antivirus, encryption, remote wipe etc. So there is huge growth potential for both security on these devices, and also for securing the wireless connection. This has already been highlighted by a number of high profile security breaches in 2014 and will become even more evident in 2015.

Big Data
The continued growth of big data and virtualisation has already shown that virtualisation security and the security of data farms in general is often lower than that of the data, before it was migrated to data farms. The huge volumes of data thefts will continue to accelerate, with a corresponding increase in compliance fines, as organisations struggle to upgrade their security to keep pace.

The next area for big data management is log files. Organisations have huge amounts of business beneficial information in their log files. However, these files are typically held in large numbers of silos and are often treated as more of a storage problem, than a business benefit. 2015 will show a clear shift toward aggregation and analysis of these log files.

Visibility reporting and remediation systems
One of the big challenges for organisations is the sheer volume of security information they have to deal with. Multiple security solutions create multiple reports and it is often difficult, if not impossible, to get the big picture and identify the actual threat. In fact, the average time from breach to detection is over 100 days!

Significant growth in consolidation solutions can be expected. However, given that most organisations aren’t green field sites, there will be even greater growth in solutions that report on and carry out remediation over multiple security platforms
Compliance, an acceptance that breaches will occur, and a fundamental need for C- level access to relevant security information, will drive this area strongly forward.
 

Innovation in sensor solutions and virtual reality holds the key to transforming the UK healthcare landscape 

02 February 2015 09:12:00
With articles about poor NHS performance dominating news headlines, Plextek Consulting argues that upcoming technological advances in the medical industry will start to drive the most active and rapid progression the UK health system has ever seen during 2015. Moving away from the typical ‘doctor-patient’ model, the company predicts that the next five years will witness the health service become increasingly more open to portable, easy-to-use and low-cost systems, that empower patients to self-monitor, prescribe and resolve medical problems to ease the burden on over-stretched GP surgeries, A&E departments and hospitals across the UK.
 
Analysts predict the sensor market in Consumer Healthcare is expected to reach $47.40bn by 2020 and will bring real value to the medical industry in terms of potentially enabling more patients to be screened and treated in the community, with post-operative patients returning home just 48 hours after major surgery. However this mass introduction of sensor technology needs a major education programme to help speed adoption by consumers and enable the rapid movement of the market.
 
Collette Johnson, business manager medical at Plextek Consulting commented: "To realise innovative care models and make our vision a technical and commercial reality, emerging start-ups, manufacturers, retailers and healthcare professionals must all work together to ensure innovative devices and revolutionary medical systems make the step from concept to reality. Sensor technology will revolutionise the future of our health for the better, and with the correct education of users of the system and intelligent interpretation of the data collected in areas such as dementia and hydration monitoring, it can change the way we deliver healthcare. Consumers must embrace this technology, start using it and be in control of their health." 
 
In virtual reality (VR) Plextek Consulting is already seeing a perception shift in the medical industry with VR systems helping rehabilitate and train patients and industry professionals, with the medical simulation market estimated to be worth $1.9 billion by 2017. Further innovation in VR will lead to the development of systems to help patients overcome traumatic situations or rehabilitate their body; unite the family by providing a greater understanding of how loved ones are being affected by their particular health issue e.g. schizophrenia; and open up VR as an effective distraction technique for subduing pain.
 
To elaborate on how pioneering technologies in sensor applications and virtual reality systems will enhance healthcare delivery within the next five years Plextek Consulting's Collette Johnson has authored a vision paper "Patient of the Future: 2020” drawing on more than a decade’s knowledge and experience of the NHS and working with breakthrough medical start-ups. This paper can be downloaded here.
 
Plextek Consulting is actively involved in the design of new products, systems and services in the medical sector helping device manufactures to innovate and take ideas from concept to market. The company has extensive experience integrating technologies for medical, health and well-being applications; enabling life changing systems for integration into the home setting to provide optimum patient benefits; and using its sensor expertise to enable suitable technology at the right value proposition for the market application.
 

Michelle WinnyMichelle Winny

With a combination of news, products and feature articles, Michelle provides up-to-wire commentary on new technology and legislation. Coupled with in depth coverage for specifiers and purchasers of electronic components and equipment, Michelle brings everything within the electronics market directly to her readers.