Checkout the innovative tech coming out of 'xone' - our high tech labs - and find out how you could help shape the future of each one...
Vodafone has always been about connecting people but we know that connecting people doesn’t just involve sending text messages and making phone calls these days. With the internet connected to every facet of our lives now – from our daily health and activity, to our calendars, entertainment and even love lives – the ‘connected life’ space is a logical place for us at Vodafone UK to head towards. And that’s where Vodafone xone comes in.
‘xone’ is the name for a series of projects that have all started life in our innovation factory, and it represents the bleeding edge of Vodafone. What’s more, xone is something we’ll soon be asking for your help with. Intrigued? To get the full story we sat down with the project’s head, Americo Lenza. Read on for a sneak peak…
“The new frontier of technology”
“xone is all about figuring out where there are opportunities to make your life better with easier and simpler with technology,” explains Americo. “Essentially, we look at new tech and figure out how it can be developed and applied to address things that affect us in the real world.”
xone’s based in London and has been around since 2011. As the second biggest hub in the world for tech startups and innovation – with companies coming from all over the world to be a part of the culture – London is the perfect place for xone to be.
If you head over to xone.vodafone.com/uk, you’ll get a good idea of the wide variety of projects Americo and his team are working on right now. Take drivexone, for example – a smart device and app that tells you everything going on under the bonnet of your car, from trip histories to technical issues. You may not immediately associate a driving app with Vodafone, but as Americo explains, that’s exactly the idea behind xone:
“Vodafone has a long history of innovation,” he says. “We were first in the UK to make mobile phone call and that innovative spirit is still a really important part of what we do, and xone is the forefront of that — working to help make your life easier every day.
“Every product we develop starts with the question: ‘who are we trying to help?’”
“Every product we develop starts with the question: ‘who are we trying to help?’ For example, we were looking at the idea of a connected bag; targeted at a theoretical person we called ‘Jessica’. So, for instance, Jessica is constantly connected, very social, interested in fashion and enjoys going out. By understanding who we were trying to help and talking to people who fit into that demographic, we can really develop our thinking.”
xone is primarily focused on ‘early adopters’ – those of you who want to be at the forefront of technology, and who are confident and comfortable using it. There’s a term – ‘crossing the chasm’ – for when something goes from being early technology to a mass appeal product – it’s very much before the chasm – the ‘new frontier’ of technology.”
We need you
“The thing is, it’s very easy for me to explain that, and much harder to actually find those people,” Americo laughs, “but we’re getting there! User involvement is critical to what we do at xone. When the technology we’re dealing with is so new, user feedback is vital to steer the product in the right direction, in terms of functionality, features, and improving the overall quality and experience.”
So here’s the obvious question: do you consider yourself an ‘early adopter’ when it comes to tech? Well, there’s absolutely nothing stopping you from getting involved with Vodafone xone’s latest projects. And when Americo talks about ‘feedback’, he’s not just talking about forums and emails – xone users are valuable members of the team, with real input on the direction each product should take.
“We run lots of focus groups here at the office or in other locations,” he says. “We’ve recently had a load of cyclists into the office to have a chat about ideas for our bikexone – a device you attach to your bike that will tell you if it’s being stolen – and we’re heading off tomorrow to talk to some customers about their experiences with the product.
“There are loads of ways that people can interact with us and feedback on our products,” he adds. “drivexone has a group of about 50 people using the product, for instance – all very active and helpful – so whenever there’s a new idea floating around, the team will send it out to the users to get their input.”
And if you help get a xone product through its teething stages? What then?
“Eventually, the idea is that it would become a Vodafone product available to all,” says Americo. “It might be called something different, but it’ll be available in our stores and online, and you’ll have been part of that development process.”
Bringing ‘life’ to your ‘smart life’…
So, fancy getting involved? First step is to head over to xone.vodafone.com/uk to sign up, take a look at some of xone’s current projects and go from there. You can download the galleryxone – an app that uses new image recognition technology to automatically sort your photos so they’re easy to find – for free now, and with xone only going from strength to strength within its top secret lab at Vodafone’s London office, you can be sure that there’s plenty more in the pipeline for you to take a look at and try out before everyone else.
“We want to bring the ‘life’ to someone’s ‘smart life’,” says Americo in closing. “So we’re doing a lot of work with connected devices, intelligent infrastructure, image search, predictive technology and more. It all spells exciting times ahead. There’s lots of stuff I can’t tell you about, but stay tuned for more in the next few months…”
We want your feedback! You can send feedback on any of the three products – drivexone, findxone and galleryxone – now, and make sure you look out for brand new products coming soon!