View a full range of our ebooks

View full library


Our Location

The PHA Group
117 Wardour Street,
Hammer House,

0207 0251 350
PHA Digital Studio
Fourth Floor,
47 Dean St,

0207 0251 350
PHA Finance Department
117 Wardour Street,
Hammer House,

0207 0251 350

Spotlight on… Film Technology

Spotlight on… Film Technology

The 2018 awards season is well underway. Commentators are announcing their last-minute predictions ahead of today’s Oscar nominations and #TimesUp is making this one of the most memorable and poignant seasons of all time. It’s no surprise that the media has a sharper focus on the film industry than ever before.

The filmmaking business has undergone some real change in the past couple of years, and technology has been monumental in driving progress and empowering independent filmmakers and content creators. But which Film Technology companies should we be keeping an eye on in the next year?

The edit: is the tool that helps creatives keep the creative process moving. Editing content is often slowed down drastically by file transfer and lengthy review processes. replaces Dropbox, for file sharing, Vimeo for video review, and email for feedback. Integrated with all of filmmakers’ favourite tools including Premiere Pro, After Effects, Final Cut, Slack, and Vimeo, this is a collaboration platform with some serious streamlining powers.

The training: Masterclass

Masterclass has firmly made its mark on the online learning space in the last year with its all-access pass to online classes taught by some of the biggest names in the creative industries. With screenwriting programmes from Aaron Sorkin, film scoring lessons from Hans Zimmer, directing classes from Ron Howard, and writing masterclasses from Shonda Rhimes, the platform offers unparalleled access to flexible learning course from world-class industry professionals.

The grade: DaVinci Resolve

A favourite of editors and colourists around the globe, the latest iteration of DaVinci Resolve is an industry leading set of tools for editing, colour correction and professional audio post production. The software – which is completely free – was originally designed for the industry’s elite colourists, but is now available to all. With Resolve 14, creatives can switch between editing, colour correcting and audio mastering almost seamlessly, making it one of the easiest tools to use.

The soundtrack: Filmstro

Finding or scoring music for pre-shot footage can be an incredibly frustrating process for creatives, but new platforms such as Filmstro aim to make this time-consuming process far easier. Filmstro is a music library for content creators and filmmakers that sits behind ‘intuitive software’ and allows them to create musical scores to accompany their footage. Now integrated with both Premiere Pro and Final Cut Pro, the platform uses a roster of talented composers from across the globe to allow users to control the momentum, depth and power of their music.

The gadget: DJI Osmo

DJI have been leading the way when it comes to drones in recent years, but one of their newest tools is a game-changer for creatives looking to create professional looking video on the go. The newest version of the Osmo Mobile is a compact handheld gimbal for smartphones. With a lightweight design, cinematic movement, and active tracking, this is the perfect tool for professionals on the move.

The subscription: Flix Premiere

The appetite for independent films is growing year on year, and Flix Premiere is looking to feed this growing demand for originally storytelling with its video-on-demand platform. With new, exclusive, releases each week, it’s an online cinema that helps overlooked independent films find their audiences. The platform offers exclusive access to curated theatrical releases, and award winning independent productions making it perfect for movie goers tired of studio blockbusters.

Spotlight on…. London Blockchain Week 2018

The technology that defined 2017, even if we didn’t necessarily realise it, was blockchain. Providing the foundations for the volatile and fascinating world of cryptocurrencies which stole the headlines. For a whole week, starting tomorrow, the world’s leading blockchain experts and enthusiasts will meet in London for Blockchain Week 2018.

Kicking off with a Hackathon, the weeklong event sees the original Blockchain Conference return for its fourth year. Featuring an expo of some of the most exciting blockchain companies from around the world, the following two-day conference will explore blockchain/ DLT across all sectors, led by those innovating at the very forefront of the field.

Here we’ve picked out some of the hottest companies exhibiting and speaking during the event to watch in the coming months.


Qadre is on a mission to redefine how businesses onboard, quantify and manage trust in enterprise through harnessing blockchain technology. Ultimately, they aim to solve the problems with trust in the digital world. With a whole suite of products and solutions, Qadre is providing the much-needed tools to businesses; minimizing inefficiencies and chances for fraud. With big plans for 2018, this is definitely a start-up to keep on your watch-list.

Green Energy Wallet

There are two significant emerging technologies that will determine our future – renewable energies and electric vehicles. However, to ensure we fully move away from fossil fuels and protect our planet’s future, an efficient facility to store renewable energy is needed. Green Energy Wallet has utilised blockchain technology to create a battery leasing system, that harnesses the combined storage capacity of electric vehicles and home batteries – maximising the production of renewable energy and resupplying the grid as needed.

The Artificial Intelligence ecosystem has grown at an explosive and exponential rate but has largely been driven and dominated by the likes of Google, Facebook and Amazon. aims to create an open, decentralised network that provides all services in the AI market to ensure AI is available to all – known as The Effect Network. Based on the NEO blockchain, and fuelled by a network NEP-5 token called AIX, the team behind the network is on a mission to define the future relation between AI and humanity.


Realising that only when we can spend and lend digital assets as easily as fiat money will they supplant traditional currencies, Lendingblock has created the first open decentralised exchange for borrowing and lending such cryptocurrencies. The company aims to create a financial system that provides equality of access to everyone, regardless of financial status or location. An exciting company who is working hard to make this goal a reality.


There are billions of IoT devices spread across the globe and ensuring they all are trustable in terms of interoperability for both data and commerce is essential. Rooting the identity and reputation of these devices on a distributed blockchain-based immutable ledger, Atonomi provides a new security and infrastructure to do exactly this.


Trading has become a complicated, time-consuming practice, with little trust amongst parties. Tallysticks is aiming to make trading simple again – helping independent businesses to grow around the world. Using software automation and existing banking products, Tallysticks is helping to build trust between trading partners through its single online tool for documentation, communications and payments.

Five legal tech apps disrupting the legal market

Since the dawn of crime, technology and law have managed to co-exist together almost entirely indifferently. Yet, as they say, all long periods of slumber and denial must come to an end. And for the legal world, technological apps hell-bent on increasing efficiency and destroying the businesses of all honest lever arch files salesman, have arrived to transform the profession and challenge its robust conservatism.

Total investment in UK Lawtech firms has only just reached £16m, in comparison, Fintech generated £1.5bn in 2015-16 alone. But the market is still in the initial stages of development and is largely unexplored. The expectancy however, given the UK’s legal services generate over £25bn annually, is that this is where the next tech drive is going to take place.

Here are five of the early contenders attempting to disrupt the legal market.


In May this year, the world’s best Go player lost to an AI machine for the first time. ‘Go’ is a hugely complex ancient strategy game where hundreds of years of received wisdom and intuition were believed to mean humans would always retain the edge over machine calculations. It’s different in that way to chess, where more than twenty years ago, IBM’s Deep Blue defeated world champion Kasparov in its first-ever game. For two decades since that defeat however, professional Go players had remained undefeated to technology.

How then did they finally teach an AI machine to outthink the world’s best player? Well, in many ways, they didn’t. Instead of providing it with information about the game as had previously been the technique, they let the machine teach itself. AlphaGo played millions of games in the space of a few days and by correcting its every error, generated its own knowledge. It then baffled the world in its first game (over 100 million people tuned in) by producing moves unseen before, but which in hindsight, made perfect sense.

The development and potential of ideas like this outside of the realm of board games are what is captivating the legal world now and it’s not hard not to see why. What could happen if AI strategy games could be developed into legal strategy?

Cambridge graduates were out to test this theory when they created CaseCrunch, an AI software that can predict

Image courtesy of Finished Go Game

legal decisions with high accuracy, and it appears, a higher accuracy than human lawyers.

Lawyers from the leading law firms in the UK, including magic circle firm Allen & Overy, were asked to assess 800 historic insurance misselling claims in a week-long competition and predict the outcomes of the cases. The results?

Lawyers  – 62%

CaseCrunch – 87%.

The first ever competition to pit lawyers against AI, and it was decisive. The expectation going forward, however, is the two will work together, rather than apart, we hope…


This company may be the most disruptive of all. Premonition knows “Which Lawyers, Win Which Cases, In Front of Which Judges.”

The database is gigantic and growing by 40,000 cases every day in the US alone. The slogan is you can “Select Your Lawyer on Data, Not Anecdote”. By entering your requirements into the database, the technology will return the lawyers with the best success. This includes who wins the most, who are the most hired and who are the proven losers that are continually re-hired. Hard to guess why lawyers have been resistant to technology, isn’t it?

But it’s not all bad news, as the data alone is fascinating. In Civil Appeals there is a barrister with 11 straight defendant wins, despite the fact, plaintiffs win 75% in UK courts. It also revealed Law firms select barristers 38% worse than random, and General Counsel’s 18% worse than random!

Aside from collecting this hugely valuable data and significantly strengthening the hand of the consumer, a more juvenile dive into the stats gives the perfect opportunity to settle old scores. According to the data, female partners win 12% more than their male colleagues and female associates win 3% more than their male colleagues. Something to do with multitasking etc…


Another UK legal tech start-up, Cognitiv+ applies artificial intelligence to the task of contract reading to background music of grateful cheers from training contract applicants everywhere.

As legislation, contracts and new regulations continue to grow to sizes of the extreme, the argument in favour of this technology is that managing contract changes are going to become an increasingly impossible job for humans. The AI should be able to monitor changes in legislation and then compare its analysis to a company’s own contracts, flagging up potential conflicts or alerting its users to the important changes.

The AI’s engine effectively automates contract analysis and management, offering businesses a way to stay on top of legal risks, contractual obligations and changing regulatory landscapes. Brexit has likely come along at exactly the right time for this startup, with new legislation and regulations likely to arrive in their droves in the next few years.

Check recipient

While so much time is dedicated now to worrying about the next big cybersecurity attack, Check Recipient worries about what happens if a data leak is done from within, by mistake. The technology studies your emails and alerts the user when it believes an email has made its way to the wrong person, blocking the attempt and allowing the grateful and-still-in-a-job associate a second chance.

Photo by Shane Rounce on Unsplash

There’s more to this idea than just potentially saving you from accidentally sending your boss your CV. The future of data protection may mean the consequences of email misdirection will result in more than just social faux pas. EU regulations set to enter legislation in 2018 could mean mandatory reporting of data breaches and subsequent fines.

A plethora of horror stories have entered the press recently regarding misdirected emails. From an HIV clinic accidentally releasing the names of its patients to a school in Australia sending its students a link to an “inappropriate adult website” instead of the intended annual breakfast event. Yet, closer to home, something as simple as sending the wrong email to an opponent or client when a legal case hangs in the balance would be mortifying enough. Check recipient has got that bit covered.

FLEXEBOSS is an online legal marketplace which enables people to search, select and interact with high quality, affordable (20% cheaper than the market rate), vetted UK solicitors to solve their legal issues. Lord Justice Jackson may not have been able to convince the profession of fixed costs outside of personal injury claims, but this app goes ahead and fixes them for you. You place the service in your shopping basket, send the documents the lawyer requests, and the Lawyer returns the work to you in the agreed timeframe.

It’s a win for both sides, however, as Lawyers can also sell their services through the site. It functions a little like an Amazon for legal services and the potential for growth, as more lawyers become self-employed could be endless. It could be an interesting future for the legal trade should concepts like this become the preference of the consumer. It gives more certainty over cost and an online interface more familiar to the modern customer. Viva la legal revolution.


Tech & Innovation’s Smarter Working Initiative Shortlisted for PR Campaign of the Year

The PHA Group’s Technology & Innovation team is delighted to have its work recognised in this year’s B2B Marketing Awards – shortlisted for ‘PR Campaign of the Year’.

The Smarter Working Initiative (SWI), which the T&I team first developed in 2016 with long-standing client Powwownow, has been listed alongside eight other PR campaigns, with the winner due to be announced at a gala dinner on 23rd November.

The T&I team worked closely with Powowwnow to develop the inaugural campaign designed to have significant longevity. The brief was to challenge existing perceptions of flexible working and promote the benefits of embracing a working culture that aligns with employees’ personal lives.

As a business with a core ethos of efficiency, productivity, and collaboration, Powwownow’s objective in 2016 was to increase awareness of the benefits of smarter working among UK business leaders and employers. Aware that only 6% of UK businesses proactively offered flexible working to their employees, the team set out to fundamentally change how employers think about smarter working practices.

The SWI was foremost an awareness day: Monday 25th July 2016 – the first day of the school summer holidays. A supporting integrated PR strategy, combining cut-through thought leadership content, data stories, news agenda hijacking and relevant and insightful broadcast interviews for members of the senior management team, helped position Powwownow as a leading authority on smarter working across a range of business sectors.

In the build-up to and following Monday 25th July, the team achieved over 30 pieces of media coverage, reaching a significant business audience across the UK and Europe. MD Jason Downes and FD Andrew Johnson appeared on BBC News ‘Business Live’, Sky News, London Live, talkRadio and Share Radio discussing topics including business efficiency and the rise of technology to facilitate flexible working.

Powwownow FD Andrew Johnson on Sky News


The team’s efforts saw Powwownow more than double their initial target of business sign-ups by securing over 120 businesses, including leading UK employers such as, RED Driving School and Orebar Brown. Over 100,000 UK employees worked flexibly on the day thanks to the initiative.

The SWI received prominent coverage across online and traditional media. Online, we reached business leaders through thought leadership pieces for MD Jason Downes, CTO Chris Martin and FD Andrew Johnson in a variety of publications including and Real Business. Targeting employees, the team also secured press on consumer-led websites such as Metro and Marie Claire, using unique data stories supported by thought leadership. The initiative was also covered nationally in The Telegraph and The Sun, with a prominent photo story in the latter reporting the social media campaign which ran over the course of a week.

Not only did the SWI reach a far wider audience than originally anticipated, it established positive brand awareness and positively changed assumptions about flexible working. After the initiative, 78 percent of business owners who did not previously offer flexible working to their employees said they would do so in 2017 and beyond – a tangible change in attitudes towards smarter working.

Most importantly, Powwownow were delighted with the campaign and last month the Tech & Innovation team oversaw the SWI 2017, which saw over 200,000 employees from over 200 businesses work flexibly on Monday 24th July, resulting in MD Jason Downes appearing on BBC News.

Powwownow MD Jason Downes on BBC News

What exactly is Industry 4.0?

When you think of the first industrial revolution, steam trains, dark factories, and Isambard Brunel in his tall hat all spring to mind. Skip forward to the early 20th Century, and the surge of mass consumption with the trusty assembly line, symbolises the second industry revolution. Fast forward again to the late 1940s and we find ourselves in the ‘Digital Revolution’ or third revolution. Led by revolutionaries like Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and companies such as IBM, this period of history has seen more technological advancement than the previous two revolutions put together.

They say the best things come in threes, but I beg to differ – think The Beatles, ABBA, Queen and of course four leaf clovers. And now the fourth industrial revolution, or Industry 4.0, has joined this elite club.

The first and second revolution were a reaction to a sudden demand for industries which required a huge surge in productivity and innovation. To grow in these times, you needed to be producing more and putting more back into the economy – but this is where economies today have become stagnant. Industry 4.0 is the answer to how companies are overcoming this problem.

Industry 4.0 isn’t digitalisation of the mechanic industry, this has already been happening for nearly 50 years, rather it encompasses how we have begun to harness data in real time and use this information to structure the existing manufacturing chain. Ultimately creating a more efficient global ecosystem. But how is Industry 4.0 making an impact on our lives right now?

In 1909, Henry Ford famously said, ‘Any customer can have a car painted any colour that he wants, so long as it is black.’ Mass production used to be king, but there’s a new guy in town now – personalisation.

With the dawn of Industry 4.0, mass production is being replaced by scale customisation, meaning all customers can buy the product they want, with the design they want, for no extra cost at all. Companies, and so their machines, now revolve around the individual customer, rather than the other way around.

The technology leading the way this personalisation trend is additive manufacturing more commonly known as 3D Printing. Factories using 3D printing can design prototypes and test new parts in hours rather than weeks – significantly reducing the amount of time and money it takes to create custom products for customers.

Honeywell Aerospace are pioneering the use of 3D printing and Airbus unveiled the first aircraft to be entirely made by additive manufacturing. Engineers can keep adding, checking, and changing their products, with no time lost. This is a huge benefit to not only the customer but the company itself as it reduces costs while maintaining quality and keeping customers happy.

 Another way Industry 4.0 is changing our everyday lives without us knowing is through creating smart factories. A ‘smart factory’ is a networked factory harnessing data from design teams, supply chains, production lines and quality control are linked to form an intelligent machine. According to McKinsey, the economic impact of smart factories could reach up to $2.3trillion by 2025.

Companies like Amazon have embraced robots scuttling around their warehouses for years, with over 30,000 Kiva robots darting around its warehouses across the globe reducing the operating expenses by about 20%.

As well as having robots running factories, everything on factory plants is now connected. Industry Internet of Things (IIToT) enables companies with huge factories to gain a comprehensive understanding of all current operations which means they can understand and monitor their products in real time. This benefits the customer too, as they also can find out exactly where their product is from ordering it online to receiving it in the post. Industry 4.0 is creating a more transparent business model for all involved.

Industry 4.0 is putting customers at the centre of production. Increasingly, they will be able to personalise their purchases when and where they want to. According to a PWC report, manufacturers expect to reduce operational costs by 3.6% while increasing efficiency by 4.1% annually through 2020 thanks to Industry 4.0. Ultimately, it looks like industry 4.0 is going to revolutionise manufacturing and the future is looking very bright.

How tech is widening the discussion around mental health

This year’s Mental Health Week (8-14th May) will focus on raising the discussion around mental health and uncovering why too few of us are thriving with good mental health. The Mental Health Foundation rightly argues that rather than focusing on mental ill-health, we should be exploring how we can cultivate good mental wellbeing; shaping a national approach that individuals, families, and communities can utilise to reframe our attitudes to mental health.

The recent support that the young royals – William, Kate and Harry – have given to Heads Together has brought mental health and well-being to the forefront of the nation’s mind. Their simple message that “shattering stigma on mental health starts with simple conversations” is one that everyone should take on board.

With this conversation finally getting the national attention it deserves, we have witnessed a sudden explosion in technology specifically focused on improving mental health alongside creating new therapies and tools to help diagnose and treat mental illness.


A key area that technology has opened up is mental wellbeing and mindfulness. With figures of those suffering from anxiety and depression on the rise, it is essential that people focus on reducing stress in their everyday lives.

Apps, such as Headspace and Calm, show users how 10 minutes of simple meditation and mindful exercises can help create a more positive perspective of the world around us. These apps have been proven to be effective in treating those suffering from stress, anxiety, depression, insomnia, and chronic pain. Picking up on the serious implications stress can have on our everyday lives, these apps have pioneered the way for digital meditation – making the benefits accessible to more people than ever before.

Marko Ahtisarri, the ex-head of product design at Nokia, has also launched the Sync Project to explore the impact music has on the brain and how this can help increase relaxation. The project has developed a Slack bot that delivers a personalised playlist to 400 teams around the world which encourages listeners to feed back on their reactions to the music. Through this bot, the project applies machine learning to curate personalised music therapy to trigger health benefits.

Sync Project combines Artificial Intelligence (AI) with music from British ambient trio Marconi Union to tackle stress levels, utilising recent research that has shown that music affects the same neural pathways that are regulated by psychostimulants and other drugs. It is still in early stages, but it offers an interesting insight into how AI can create personalised therapy.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Alongside creating technology which can help people better understand what contributes to good mental health, there have been several advancements in technology which assist doctors in diagnosing and treating certain medical issues.

One such MedTech product that has been receiving praise is Babylon, the ‘virtual doctor’ which offers patients instant, digitised consultations through their app, ultimately cutting down the time wasted trying to get a doctor’s appointment. The AI tool helps doctors by providing them with a diagnosis of more routine conditions and puts you directly in touch with your GP – whether it by via messenger or a GP video chat.

US based NeuroLex has also utilised AI technology to create a service which screen’s patients for schizophrenia, depression, Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s Disease. The company’s CEO Jim Schwoebel was inspired to create the product after his own brother developed psychosis. It took doctors more than 10 primary-care appointments to diagnosis his psychosis and Schwoebel wanted to make a service that could do this faster, by recording and then analysing a patient’s conversations with a doctor to spot any linguistic clues of mental illness.

These companies are proof that mental health and the wider conversation are beginning to break into the mainstream tech scene, encouraging new discoveries to help in advance conversations around mental wellbeing and diagnosis. Combined with the increasing number of safe spaces being launched online, such as Big White Wall, this is definitely an area of innovation to watch.

The Future of Meat

Drought Arid Soil - Environment Water Shortage

It is now widely understood that modern industrialised farming, and by extension, a carnivorous diet, is bad for the environment and often one’s health. In recent years people have become aware of not just the ethical and emotional arguments for reducing meat intake, but also the stress it puts on the planet, specifically in its unsustainable use of water and implications for ecosystem and soil degradation. The in-and-outs of these consequences are innumerable and would require reams of text to properly address, however, the UN nicely sums up the proximity of the catastrophe in its estimation that we have just 60 harvests left.

So what are our options? Many suggest a complete overhaul of modern farming systems, switching to a lower intensity, decentralised system and one that embraces the natural diets of many animals – i.e. grazing cattle and feeding pigs on scrap food, which both animals would be able to digest better than the currently preferred soya or corn. However, such a top-down change seems unlikely, and as is so often the case with these things, the consumer must take charge to see change. This is where the recently super-popularised diets of vegetarianism, veganism and flexitarianism come in.

Awesome infographic! To everyone spreading the word and supporting this movement, THANK YOU.

A post shared by Cowspiracy (@cowspiracy) on

The market has exploded in recent years to cater to these newly established segments, ones especially driven by millennial engagement. This has likely been helped by social media movements and awareness garnered by celebrity spokespeople, as well as a number of internationally acclaimed documentaries such as Food Inc. and Cowspiracy. Millennials have shown their interest in and commitment to healthier diets, and in five years they’ll have families and will be the target market.

Get your burger hands on. 🙌🍔

A post shared by Impossible Foods (@impossible_foods) on

This shift has prompted huge innovations in the food sector; US companies like Beyond Meat sell a plant-based burger in Whole Foods nationwide, and Impossible Foods have created a burger that sizzles, smells and even bleeds like real meat. In fact, Impossible Foods has been so successful that the critically acclaimed David Chang has introduced the ‘Impossible Burger’ to his menu at Momofuku Nishi.

For those of us over the pond, we have London-based More Than Meat, which can be delivered to your door, and the Scottish-based Mheat, who make vegan ‘cheeze’ and a range of deli meats!

Steak and chips anyone? Vegan, of course. 🍖😍

A post shared by Sgaia's Vegan Meats (@sgaiaveganmeats) on

With American’s consuming on average 50% more than their body weight in meat every year, and Britons only slightly lower at just over our body weight, there is clearly a lasting market for meat. These innovations in consumption provide a lasting alternative to industrial farming and could help reduce greenhouse gas emissions by over 70%. However, for those who are most concerned with maintaining their high protein intake, there may be another entirely different alternative. Insects.

French company Jimini’s make a range of insect-based snacks, from fruity curry Grasshoppers to sesame and cumin mealworms, and the more conveniently packaged banana and dark chocolate cricket flour protein bars. As it turns out, these little insects are absolutely packed full of protein, fibre, iron and calcium and so provide a great alternative to the more adventurous individual looking to cut down their reliance on farmed animals. Although not suitable for vegetarians or vegans, insect-based foods have been praised for their minimised impact on the environment.

Jimini’s make good breakfast bars? Go FIGure! #canyoucricket #edibleinsects #eatsmaller #healthy #food #instafood #eatinsects #insectfood #foodinnovation #insectsnack #entomophagy #breaktime #snacktime

A post shared by Jimini's (@jiminisfood) on

However, it is clear that not everyone will be willing to make this switch to a meat-free lifestyle, and this is where a number of leading labs in the USA are breaking some serious ground. Companies like Super Meat and Memphis Meats are producing real meat that is grown in lab conditions. It looks like, tastes like, smells like and really is real meat, just without the environmental consequences (and of course animal suffering).

These products offer a sustainable alternative to the meat-centric society of today. Such food innovations paint a picture of a modern meat-landscape that can feed our growing populations without jeopardising soil and water quality. Hopefully, this can do something to reduce the whopping 14% of greenhouse gas emissions that agriculture currently contributes.

Clearly, views are shifting, and people are increasingly open to alternatives, but which one will come out on top and what will the ‘foodscapes’ of the future look like?

Top 10 Augmented and Virtual Reality Companies to Watch at CES 2017

Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality exploded in 2016, with $1.1 billion being invested in the technology and 2017 is set to be no different, with hundreds of companies looking to showcase their wares at this year’s CES in Vegas. But who will take home the gold? We’ve picked our top contenders in this year’s Augmented and Virtual Reality Category:

  • Amazon Alexa: The Alexa is often just viewed as the voice behind Amazon Echo, but it is so much more than this. It is the software that provides the device with the skills and know-how to allow users to interact with the device in a more personal way. Always getting smarter, Alexa is set to reveal a whole host of new abilities this year.
  • Holo Lamp: This UK startup is making its first appearance at CES this year with the first portable device to offer an AR experience that needs neither a headset nor hands view. A must have for gamers, the device connects to computers and creates a 3D image directly on your environment using an optical effect based on projection and eye tracking.
  • Go Touch VR: This French company has dived into the haptics side of VR and created a wearable ring that generates a real contact under the user’s fingers. This combination of VR and real touch creates the illusion of touching a real object. Set to launch a Kickstarter campaign next year, this is a company to watch!


  • WooHoo by Smart Beings: If you’re looking for a smart device that has the latest and greatest technology, then look no further than the Silicon Valley start-up SmartBeings Inc. They will be showcasing their latest device, WooHoo in Vegas, which integrates facial recognition, voice recognition, LED Display and an IoT Hub, along with the world’s 1st cloud-based Smart Home software. What more could you need?
  • VISR VR: The brainchild of the gamers at Hull University, VISR VR has worked with the likes of Google, Microsoft and Coca-Cola to create tailored VR experiences. At CES they will be unveiling an imaging device, which they claim will bring VR capability to anyone with an imagination.
  • Artec 3D: Innovators in 3D hardware and software solutions, Artec have become well known for their Artec Shapify Booth, the world’s only automated 3D body scanning system for making 3D printed portraits. This year they are set to showcase their latest range of handheld 3D scanners.


  • ARM: The digital leader in all things smart, ARM is constantly creating new technology that is transforming the world we live in. From smartphones, tablets, and the Internet of Things to what is in your house or on your wrist, to the networks and cloud that connect it all, ARM will have something for everyone at their stand this year.
  • Tanvas: Despite advances in graphics, sound and vibration, today’s touchscreen is still just a static window to the digital world. To tackle this, Tanvas have utilised surface haptics to make touch possible. Creating infinite dynamic textures that simulate touch and create a new dimension of interaction, Tanvas have generated the next gateway to multisensory experiences.

Enjoyed this post? Read more of our series on the latest and greatest from CES 2017

Dear Theresa, love from Tech

Dear Ms May,

It’s us, the tech world. We know you’ve been busy recently, what with your whirlwind prime ministerial campaign and now moving in to your new home at number 10. We know against the current political backdrop, it’ll also be a while before you get a chance to read this – from the looks of things, you’re going to be quite preoccupied steadying the boat as the country contemplates its future role within Europe and beyond.

But as a sector full of budding start-ups and pioneering entrepreneurs, we’d be lying if we didn’t tell you we’re nervous. Banks and investors are already pulling funds out of the UK left, right and centre, and Berlin is waiting in the wings to snap up our talent. It may simply be a matter of waiting until the dust has settled to find out what the real impact of this upheaval has been, and we are a resilient bunch, but it’s a sad fact that some of us will not survive this.

We’re always up for a challenge, and we’ll work hard to keep our economy thriving and ensure the UK stays at the forefront of technological innovation for generations to come – but we need your help. A few promises to allay fears while you tackle some of the bigger fish will do just fine.

Image courtesy of Kristoffersonschach on Flickr

Image courtesy of Kristoffersonschach on Flickr

Please, reassure our talent

It’s no secret you’ve been vocal about your views on immigration as former Home Secretary – you were strict with foreign students applying for work visas here and have considered high entry requirements for those from outside of the EU previously. Then again, you were also instrumental in developing the Tech Nation Visa Scheme.

What we ask is that you consider the position of our current EU entrepreneurs and employees facing an uncertain future – they need to know that they remain welcome and that they can continue to develop their businesses and careers here for the long-term. Even with the best will in the world, we simply don’t have enough STEM graduates coming through the system to keep up with demand, so we must embrace foreign talent.

Reconsider the Snooper’s Charter

You put the Investigatory Powers Bill forward with good intentions to help tackle threats to national security – that in itself is, of course, no bad thing. But when that is coupled with authorising the state to bulk collect UK citizen’s personal data across every digital device they own, it’s something that few technology companies would condone or indeed want to be a part of.

Technology is a sector filled with unknowns, mysteries and jargon – the least we should be able to promise our users or customers is that their privacy is secure with us.

Allow us to abide by EU standards

In a similar vein, Europe is very particular about the way their citizens’ data can be used and stored due to privacy concerns – something that led to the collapse of the Safe Harbour arrangement last year and is bringing its replacement, the Privacy Shield, under intense scrutiny.

If the UK leaves the Union, the legislation will no longer directly apply – but unless we abide by the same standards, we will experience many of the same challenges currently being faced by the US and it could take years for us to rebuild these relationships. We’ll find ways to cross borders of course, but it’s just one extra hurdle.

Encourage diversity

Your gender shouldn’t define you – you’ve worked hard to get to your position and are extremely qualified for your new role on the global stage. Yet there’s no denying that you have navigated what is an extremely male-dominated sector, and for many, will represent a world of possibility as one of the few that ‘made it’.

Technology is an industry that faces similar challenges in diversity, all the way from the classroom, where few young women are opting for STEM subjects, right through to the boardroom. Help us reach minorities and let them know they all can and are very welcome to take leading roles within the digital economy.

We know you want to just get on with the job, so we won’t keep you any longer, but we hope you’ll take these requests into consideration to give the industry the best tools with which to face the fight ahead.

We wait with bated breath,

Yours sincerely,


You can read an abridged version of this letter in City AM’s Letters to Editor, 15/07/16

Snapchat: The App for Innovation in Social Media Marketing

Snapchat Logo

Credit: REUTERS/Mike Segar


The world of social media is fast-paced and ever-changing. You never know when the latest update, trend or social media fad is going to kick off. Case in point: you might remember last week we posted a blog: ‘Make it Snappy: Brands Who Got Creative on Snapchat’. Within a couple of days of posting, Snapchat had already started to roll out its latest feature; one which could completely change the game altogether – Snapchat Memories. (Just when you started to get to grips with the app, eh?)

Snapchat are leading the industry in terms of innovation right now; not only have they managed to find something that is unique to them, they are also setting an example for other networks – who often scramble to follow suit whenever an update is made.

But I don’t get it, what is Snapchat?

Get downloading, it’s the fastest growing social network! For the uninitiated, let’s take it back to basics…

Snapchat is a mobile messaging app, and social media network, where users engage through short disappearing videos and photos known as ‘snaps’. This is different to all other social media because it is ephemeral. Users are able to create daily stories in 10-second max bursts which can be sent to friends privately, or viewed for up to 24 hours if submitted as a ‘Story’.

In May, Snapchat revealed that over 10 million Brits use the app on a daily basis. The app has exploded in use, recently overtaking Twitter in terms of daily users. Originally, content was completely raw and curated ‘in the now’. The founders of Snapchat say it is an app for “instant expression”. There is a certain ‘fear of missing out syndrome’ attached to Snapchat; limited viewing time on snaps makes users log in daily to view content. Clever move? I think so.

So what about Snapchat Memories? Are they, too, ephemeral?

In the past, Snapchat has encouraged instant communication and the sharing of moments as and when they happen, but now Snapchat also wants you to share your past. Memories does exactly what it says on the tin – it provides a way to save snaps and share old ones within a new section of the app. You guessed it – Snapchat Memories don’t disappear! This is a highly ambitious and significant move by the social media giant, as it takes on the likes of Facebook and Google by moving away from its ephemeral roots. In the meantime, other networks are moving to promote more real-time sharing.

Memories is probably one of the biggest updates to Snapchat in the company’s history (a mere 5 years!) Snapchat has always pitched itself as the app that didn’t store anything for long, but the introduction of the ‘save’, ‘replay’ and ‘stories’ features shows how this has gradually changed.

But what does this update mean overall? And how will this affect companies and brands who use Snapchat?

Initial feedback on Memories has been positive. The main effect could be that Memories will push users to think of Snapchat as their go-to camera app and photo storage space – and, wait for it, there is no cap on storage as of yet. It has yet to be seen, but this may become a problem for other image sharing sites like Instagram and Facebook.

Personally, I think it’s a win-win for Snapchat. While 18-24 year olds are Snapchat’s core base, a recent report in The Wall Street Journal said that 14% of US smartphone users over the age of 35 are now on the app, while 38% of smartphone users aged 25-34 have also signed up to the platform. The rate of growth amongst older audiences is high, and with that, there must be innovation and change to satisfy the audience base. Before dedicated Snapchat fans wince at the thoughts of change they must remember that Memories is essentially a compromise, and Snapchat have simply made another option available.

In terms of marketing, the introduction of Memories is a turning point for marketers looking to use the platform to increase brand awareness and reach new audiences. There is now flexibility to upload branded photos and previously curated content as you would on other platforms. As Tim Peterson of Marketing Land said: “brands will be able to take photos and videos that they had created for use elsewhere – be it print magazines, billboards, YouTube or TV – and syndicate them to Snapchat”.

Memories is not the only place where brands can realise the potential of Snapchat. Apart from having owned Snapchat accounts, brands can also tap into influencer marketing and geofilters. Geofilters are “a fun way to share where you are, or what you’re up to, by adding a fun overlay to your snap”. More and more brands and agencies are experimenting with on-demand Geofilters, where people and businesses design filters for specific physical spaces during set periods of time. This is a great way to increase brand awareness for a launch or major event, or even when a consumer visits a retailer or restaurant, for example. It takes just one day for filters to be approved. Win!

At The PHA Group, we recently created a bespoke Snapchat filter for our summer party and it went down a treat, with lots of engagement across the agency. We had a total of 3.1k views on the filter during the evening.

PHA Summer Party Snapchat FilterPHA Summer Party Snapchat FilterPHA Summer Party Snapchat Filter










So, what’s next?

Snapchat is a really exciting space at the moment, for personal and business users alike. I don’t know about you, but I absolutely love Snapchat right now. For me, Snapchat has always seemed like the most authentic social network. It’s a quick and easy way to be social, to learn and to be engaged by other people’s experiences and personalities. So far, the app hasn’t focused too deeply on numbers, with no follower counts. You and you only can see how many people viewed your content – so it’s real, and less of a popularity contest. As it grows, it is likely that there will be a more robust system for analytics introduced, but for now, the onus is on the content, rather than the numbers.

The app is a real platform for innovation right now, as if you don’t change you don’t grow. I believe more and more brands will jump on the Snapchat bandwagon this year as it has become more accessible, but let it be said – to be successful on Snapchat you must also be like the app itself – open to change and ready to meet the demands set by your audience.