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No longer just a sci-fi dream, virtual reality and artificial intelligence are here, and new research has revealed they are working Britain’s 45 million smartphone owners1 into a frenzy.

A report2 by online smartphone retailer, has not only charted the sharp increase in demand for VR, AR, and AI as part of our everyday lives, but also how game-changing technical advancements are shaping the capabilities of tomorrow’s smartphones. was able to determine changes to UK consumer interest of certain technologies, in the last 12 months.

• Up 300% – Virtual reality / VR
• Up 56% – Artificial intelligence / AI
• Up 25% – Augmented reality / AR
• Up 7% – Curved screen / curved display

In sharp contrast, Google searches for ‘wearable technology’, which had previously been hailed as ‘the next big thing’, dropped by 18%, suggesting that awareness has peaked, and interest is now beginning to abate.

• Down 16% – Phablets / phone tablets
• Down 18% – Wearable technology / wearables

Andrew Cartledge, Mobile Expert at said, “This data highlights what the public wants, and the numbers are pretty clear – technology that encourages escapism, or helps to make our lives simpler is key. Technology that encourages us to track and moderate our behaviour is becoming less appealing.

“So many of us want to try the latest tech, and knowing that a new handset can deliver more than just a quicker operating system or extra battery life really is driving sales. In turn, this is encouraging manufacturers to invest in the development of smartphone-friendly technology. It’s a win-win really!

“What’s interesting is how these are technologies are also now filtering into day-to-day life – from eating out to shopping..

“We’ve also seen apps like FaceApp come onto the market and boom in a matter of weeks. There is no denying that AI, VR and AR are here to stay – because people want them.”

Offering further insight, Sean Duffy, Technical Director of Holosphere VR, based in Birmingham said: “Google Daydream is having a big impact on the mobile VR experience.

“2017 should see a boom in Google Daydream-ready devices on the higher end of the android ecosystem, and this has the potential to bring quality VR experiences to the masses via the world’s most wide reaching mobile Operating System.

“Android’s software distribution network mixed with rapid advances in mobile graphics capability mean it’s only a matter of time before most devices on the market will be ‘VR ready.”

‘Virtual Reality’ Google Searches – top five related topics (source: Google Trends, 1 July 2017)
• PlayStation 4 – Video game console
• Game – Topic
• Mobile app – Topic
• Google Cardboard – Topic
• Samsung Gear VR – Topic

Discussing AI, Steven van Belleghem, one of Europe’s thought-leaders in the field of customer engagement in the digital world added: “AI reached a tipping point the moment Google Deepmind defeated the world champion in Go. That was when the world knew: machines are learning on their own, and we are 10 years ahead of schedule.

“Since that day, we have seen many examples of focused AI applications. For instance in customer service, we see the rise of automated bots to help customers with AI technology.
He adds: “For smartphone users, the consumer benefits are very clear: faster than real time customer service where AI helps to solve problems before they occur. “

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