20 September 2017

Sony launches new 4K HDR camcorders

  • Fast and reliable autofocus (AF) function adapted for shooting with a 1.0-type stacked Exmor RS CMOS image sensor
  • High quality images and versatile shooting features
  • Instant HDR workflow

  • Source: Sony. Sony launches new 4K HDR camcorders.
Sony has announced three new 4K HDR1 (high dynamic range) camcorders featuring its Fast Hybrid AF system: the XDCAM PXW-Z90, the NXCAM HXR-NX80 and the Handycam FDR-AX700.

All three palm camcorders combine a fast and reliable autofocus (AF) function adapted for shooting with a 1.0-type stacked Exmor RS CMOS image sensor, delivering high quality image clarity alongside a range of versatile shooting features. The new camcorders support an instant HDR workflow, enabling users to produce HDR content with minimum post-production.

The Fast Hybrid AF system ensures highly-accurate focusing and tracking during shooting, delivered by 273 phase-detection AF points that cover approximately 84% of the shooting area, high-density placement of autofocus points and a newly developed AF algorithm. This reduces the burden of focusing especially when highly accurate focusing is required for shooting 4K2 films. 

In movie recording mode, the appearance of phase-detection AF frames indicates the focused area and allows users to easily monitor a subject that is in focus. The new camcorders feature a high-resolution OLED viewfinder (0.39-type OLED, 2,359k dots) and a 3.5-type large LCD screen (1,555k dots). The AF drive speed, tracking depth range and subject switching sensitivity can all be configured as required.

The new camcorders support 4K HDR1 recording with HLG (Hybrid Log-Gamma) offering an Instant HDR workflow. This enables users to reduce the post-production work and produce high-quality HDR content smoothly, without the need for a grading process, which usually requires highly skilled technique and special knowledge. The new models are equipped with:

• 4K2 full-pixel readout without pixel binning using an enhanced BIONZ X image processing engine

• Super Slow Motion3 recording up to 960fps4 which is industry-leading among palm categories; and Slow & Quick MotionFull HD recording up to 120fps6

• S-Log3/S-Gamut3 capabilities

• 29mm7 wide-angle ZEISS Vario-Sonnar T* 12x optical zoom lens and 18x Clear Image Zoom8

• Less image distortion (rolling shutter phenomenon) in comparison to conventional models when shooting subjects in motion

Workflow efficiency benefits such as proxy recording, relay recording and simultaneous backup recording are also delivered thanks to the new camcorders’ dual memory card slots and multicamera operation capabilities supported by TC (time code)/UB (user bit). The new camcorders also have REMOTE terminals, multi-interface shoes, and HDMI type A to ensure enhanced operability.

“We strongly believe in empowering customers to tell amazing stories, whether it’s a journalist out in the field covering a breaking news event, or a freelancer working under the tight deadline pressures of a one-day corporate shoot,” explained Hiroyuki Takahama, Assistant GM, Content Creation Solutions Marketing, Professional Solutions Company (PSAP), Sony Corporation of Hong Kong. “Our new palm camcorders do exactly that. By minimising the efforts required to focus on a subject in-frame and streamlining the post-production workflow, we’re helping users concentrate on what they do best - storytelling.”

In addition to the above key features, the XDCAM PXW-Z90 and NXCAM HXR-NX80 also feature dual XLR audio input, a detachable handle, and access to Content Browser Mobile - a supporting smartphone application to enable Wi-Fi monitoring, camcorder remote control and wireless timecode sync9 between multiple cameras.

The PXW-Z90 also includes several features to suit broadcast-specific requirements - XAVC format recording that provides high-quality images at 4:2:2 10 bit (HD) and 4:2:0 8 bit (QFHD) in addition to conventional broadcasting MPEG2HD9 format recording; 3G SDI connectivity for compatibility with existing broadcasting equipment; and networking functions to support news reporting, such as compatibility with XDCAM air, the Sony cloud-based ENG subscription service. 

NXCAM HXR-NX80 and Handycam FDR-AX700 adopt XAVC S10, an extended format of XAVC for consumer use and it can record high-defined 4K films.

Interested?

The XDCAM PXW-Z90, NXCAM HXR-NX80 will be available in December 2017 and the Handycam FDR-AX700 will be available in October 2017.

1 3,840 x 2,160 pixels.

For the FDR-AX700 and HXR-NX80:Connect to a HDR (HLG) compatible Sony TV via a USB cable when displaying HDR movies is required.

For the PXW-Z90: Connect to a HDR (HLG) compatible Sony TV via a HDMI cable and TV setting change required when displaying HDR movies.

2 3,840 x 2,160 pixels.

3 4K recording is not available. Sound cannot be recorded. A class 10 or higher SDHC/SDXC memory card is required.

4 960fps in NTSC, 1000fps in PAL.

5 Sound cannot be recorded. A UHS-I (U3) SDHC/SDXC memory card is required.

6 120fps in NTSC, 100fps in PAL.

7 35mm equivalent.

8 18x(4K), 24x(HD).

9 Optional licences required.

10 A Class 10 or higher SDHC/SDXC memory card is required to record movies in the XAVC S format. UHS-I (U3) SDHC/SDXC card is required for 100Mbps.

18 September 2017

What we really want in chatbots: Amdocs

A study of over 2,500 consumers CEOs and other senior decision makers on artificial intelligence (AI) spending at some of the largest communications and media companies in the region revealed how plans for a rise of the robots for frontline customer interactions could be hampered by wrong investment choices and a lack of human talent. These are part of the findings from a commissioned study conducted by Forrester Consulting on behalf of Amdocs in the Americas, Europe and Asia.

Nearly a third (31%) of consumers in Asia interact with virtual agents at least once a week. While 46% say it is convenient and saves time (46%), 47% also say they had no other option. If offered a choice, 83% would prefer to speak to a human since human agents better understand their needs (81%) and can address multiple questions at once (60%). Bots, say consumers, cannot deal with complex requests (their biggest problem), deliver personalised offers as well as humans (the second-biggest problem) or understand human emotions (the third-biggest problem).

Consumers also have strong views on how they want bots to look like and behave. Forty-eight percent prefer their bot to look like a human, as opposed to 20% who want to see an avatar. While 43% of consumers are neutral, 42% prefer them to be female, rather than male (15%). In order of importance, sounding polite, intelligent and caring were ranked the highest in terms of preferred bot personality traits, followed by being fully customisable and funny. Conversely, sounding serious and authoritative ranked much lower than other attributes, receiving 14% and 12% of the vote respectively.

The research has shown that service providers priorities are not investing in the right areas in terms of their AI investments. Thirty-eight percent of service providers in Asia are prioritising AI investment in increasing information security and privacy and 33% are focusing on speed of response. Yet customers would rather have bots deliver better personalisation and more comprehensive information. Both are lower on service providers’ priority lists at 8% and 4% of respondents saying they are important. 

Thirty-one percent of service providers are also creating avatar images for their bots whereas consumers prefer human-like images. They are also investing in undesirable features - more than half (56%) of service providers are building bots that sound serious and nearly a quarter (24%) are making them sound authoritative. The fact that 39% of consumers experience problems with today’s bot services but do not complain about it means the industry is working in the dark, Amdocs said. 

Eighty-seven percent of service provider AI decision makers in Asia say that 85% of customer interactions will be with software robots in five years’ time. And almost a half of these decision makers (46%) fear they are lagging behind their competitors in the use of AI to improve the customer experience. To catch up, over a half (58%) plan to increase their AI budgets by at least 6% in the next 12 months and 87% intend to expand their AI workforce within the year. 

But this expansion might still not be enough, Amdocs said. Contrary to the common perception that tomorrow’s service provider will be run more by robots than humans, only 4% of service providers see AI as the opportunity to replace a large number of staff. Most decision makers (67%) actually see the lack of human skills to set up and run AI as one of the top two risks to delivering on their AI strategies, just behind technology not being mature enough (79%). A third are seeking external support, predominantly from their existing vendors as opposed to native AI solution providers (25% vs 8%).

“Consumers have a good sense of how bots can serve them, better-developed than perhaps the industry’s. Their level of frustration with today’s bots is striking; a third even say they will take their business elsewhere if the poor service continues,” says Gary Miles, GM, Amdocs. "The good news is consumers actually believe that if anyone can get AI right, the communications and media industry can. And that’s ahead of banks and retailers. So AI could be a winning gambit for service providers as long as they sync up their AI investment priorities with what customers actually want.”

“The research shows, however, that many service providers do not believe they will be able to achieve this on their own,” added Miles. “They are mostly turning to their existing vendors and not to native AI solution providers, probably in order to ensure AI does not become another tech silo that is hard to scale and manage."

The research covered consumers and senior service provider decision makers in Asia, providing a wealth of market-, gender-, age- and role-based information. An equal mix of 2,575 female and male consumers between the ages of 18 to 74 were surveyed, as well as ten service provider executives from the region’s top communications and media service providers, half holding C-level roles.

Interested?

Check out research highlights by video

17 September 2017

Taiwan is top business travel destination

Asia Super Team has uncovered the top incentive travel destinations in Asia for business travellers from across the region. The fourth edition of the Asia Super Team business competition, hosted by the Taiwan External Trade Development Council (TAITRA), incorporated data-driven insights from more than 4,000 participants of its first ever cross-market incentive travel survey. The survey replaced the finalist selection process for the first stage of Asia Super Team.

Insights gathered from the survey findings were used to more precisely assess companies’ abilities to plan and organise incentive travel trips in Taiwan. Based on the survey, eight companies were shortlisted to participate in the second stage of Asia Super Team in Taiwan.

Asia Super Team’s growing popularity resulted in over 4,000 business travellers signing up for the competition within a month and a half. A total of 4,023 valid questionnaires were submitted by business professionals from eight target markets across Asia, including Singapore, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Philippines, and Vietnam.

An analysis of these questionnaires revealed that Northeast Asian countries such as Taiwan, Japan and South Korea, ranked in order of popularity, are the most popular destinations for incentive travel due to the convenience of travel within these countries and comprehensiveness of tourism attractions and activities available.

Upon further analysis of recent incentive travel trips embarked on by these companies, Japan, followed by Hong Kong and Taiwan, were found to be preferred destinations for Northeast Asian companies, whereas Southeast Asian companies showed a preference for visiting Singapore, Hong Kong, and Taiwan.

Taiwan emerged as the top incentive travel destination in Asia due to its status as a major hub in the region, its safety, convenient transport system, warm hospitality, and abundant incentive travel resources.

The final Stage of Asia Super Team: Adventure to Dreams will be held from 16 to 20 October 2017. Finalist companies from each of the eight markets must assign a team of four to participate in the five-day, four-night competition in Taiwan, during which teams will have the opportunity to experience MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions) attractions in Taiwan’s various municipalities, as well as immerse themselves in Taiwan’s unique culture and picturesque natural landscapes. Yeap Medical Supplies, a local medical device wholesale distributor, will represent Singapore to compete in Taiwan for the championship and a chance to win the grand prize of an incentive travel package to Taiwan valued at US$50,000.

Online voting will open at 6pm, 16 October until 11:59pm, 18 October (GMT+8). Members of the public can visit the Asia Super Team website to vote for their favourite team, and stand a chance to win plane tickets sponsored by China Airlines.

asiasuperteam.meettaiwan.com


14 September 2017

Enjoy a 20 Carat Gold Getaway with JW Marriott Phu Quoc Emerald Bay and Maserati

Source: JW Marriott Phu Quoc Emerald Bay.  The lobby lounge.
Source: JW Marriott Phu Quoc Emerald Bay.
The lobby lounge.
Guests visiting the JW Marriott Phu Quoc Emerald Bay will be transported to the sports university-themed resort via a Maserati automobile*. Continuing on the resort’s successful debut of DMC’s SS2017 womenswear collection, this collaboration between luxury brands JW Marriott Phu Quoc Emerald Bay and Maserati will delight sports and automobile enthusiasts alike.

“With the resort’s reputation in redefining design-centric journeys, the partnership offers guests enriched experiences and reaffirms a standard of true luxury synonymous with JW Marriott,” says Ty Collins, GM, JW Marriott Phu Quoc Emerald Bay.

Maserati's sophistication and style have been long associated with sportiness and performance. This reputation is in line with JW Marriott Phu Quoc Emerald Bay’s design narrative of being a fabled sports university as conceptualised by architect Bill Bensley. Thousands of original antique pieces, many being school-themed memorabilia, are dotted around the resort. Additional touches include sports-inspired spa treatments to “lecture room” and “auditorium” function spaces.

Visitors to the resort during this time will see the Maserati Ghibli on display at the entrance of Rue de Lamarck, the resort’s main shopping street.

Interested?

JW Marriott Phu Quoc Emerald Bay is offering a 20 Carat Gold Getaway package for a retreat with Maserati, which includes:
  • A 20% discount on room rates for bookings in Turquoise Suites or Villas
  • Pickup from desired location in Ho Chi Minh City by Maserati*
  • Complimentary round-trip airport transfers between Phu Quoc International Airport and JW Marriott Phu Quoc
  • A 20% discount on spa treatments and in all dining outlets (excludes in-room dining)
Stays for the 20 Carat Gold Getaway must be completed by December 20, 2017.

*Only available for transfers between the guests' home or hotel in Ho Chi Minh City and the airport. Terms and conditions apply.

The Dream Collective empowers potential female leaders in Singapore with inaugural bootcamp

Source: The Dream Collective. Woman looking at a sunset.
Source: The Dream Collective. 

The Dream Collective, a global female corporate leadership training platform which offers a refreshing perspective on female empowerment and sparks a much-overlooked dialogue around talent development of female leadership in a corporate landscape, has launched the Emerging Leaders Bootcamp - Singapore Edition. 

Inspired by the MBA syllabi of the world's leading business schools, the programme works with leading corporations to identify, shape and equip high-potential young women with leadership capabilities. Designed to equip the next generation of corporate leaders with the skills, confidence, network and knowledge necessary to advance into higher management positions, the programme also recognises the importance of harnessing and honing soft skills. 

The two-day intensive programme focuses on upskilling five main areas of development – leadership, business, innovation, communication and wellness. The programme encourages collaboration through facilitated discussion, debate and skills training to deliver to members the skills and knowledge required to succeed in today's ever evolving and highly competitive corporate landscape. At the end of the programme, members are urged to set attainable goals to help them achieve new career heights.

Founded in 2012 by Sarah Liu, an entrepreneur deeply passionate about unlocking individual potential, The Dream Collective has worked with 123 leading corporations across Australia to deliver leadership programmes that empowers and equips high-calibre young professional women, and now, Singapore as well. 

Noticing a gap in leadership development opportunities that women faced in the corporate workplace today, The Dream Collective strives to build the pipeline of female leaders worldwide by empowering and equipping high calibre young professional women during the early to mid-stage of their careers. 

While Singapore is progressive in fostering entrepreneurship amongst women – it is ranked 8th best city for women entrepreneurs by the 2017 Women Entrepreneur Cities (WE Cities) Index by Dell – the Singapore corporate ladder is still proving to be a steep climb for women. According to the UNESCO Institute of Statistics, female representation within the science, technology, engineering and mathematics industries (STEM) in Singapore has been hovering around the 30% mark since 2006. A new study by Monster Singapore of 2,000 respondents revealed that 41% of local women cited a lack of opportunities for their career advancement. 

Liu said: “Singapore and Tokyo are proactively seeking out avenues to foster greater female empowerment in the corporate landscape. This is promising to see because like Australia, there is currently a gap in these markets when it comes to building up emerging female talent in the workplace.” 

Since its inception in 2012 in Australia, The Dream Collective has helped advance the careers of thousands of emerging female talents. With its launch in Singapore and then Tokyo, The Dream Collective hopes to power the momentum towards unshackling women from the gendered norms in corporate workplaces today. 

Interested?

The first session will kick off in October 2017. Register interest

13 September 2017

And now, you can take calls on your Apple Watch

Source: Apple. Apple Watch 3 includes phone capabilities.
Source: Apple. Apple Watch 3 includes phone capabilities.
Apple has introduced Apple Watch Series 3, adding built-in cellular to the smart watch. Apple Watch Series 3 with cellular allows users to stay connected, make calls, receive texts and more, even without an iPhone nearby.

The third-generation Apple Watch is billed as a health and fitness companion with intelligent coaching features, water resistance of up to 50m1 and a new barometric altimeter that measures relative elevation. 

Apple Watch Series 3 comes in two models, one with GPS alone and one with both GPS and cellular. Both feature a 70% faster dual-core processor and new wireless chip.

“We believe the addition of cellular will transform the way people use Apple Watch, providing a new sense of freedom since they can stay connected with or without their iPhone,” said Jeff Williams, Apple’s COO. “Apple Watch Series 3 combined with the power of watchOS 4 is the ultimate device for a healthy life.”

The combination of cellular and watchOS 4 will allow Apple Music users to stream 40 million songs right from their wrist. 

Apple Watch Series 3 (GPS + Cellular) features a full LTE and UMTS cellular radio that switches seamlessly to cellular when it is away from an iPhone. Customers have the ability to make cellular calls directly with Apple Watch Series 3 (GPS + Cellular) and, when paired with AirPods, enjoy a seamless and fully wireless experience. The watch shares the same number as the owner's iPhone. To help get customers started, participating carriers are also offering special introductory cellular plans at launch.

Apple also pioneered an antenna design that uses the display itself as both a transmitting and receiving element for LTE and UMTS, while introducing a built-in eSIM that is over one-hundredth the size of a traditional SIM card. This makes over-the-air activation possible without compromising on space2.

Powering Apple Watch Series 3 is the S3, Apple’s third-generation architecture featuring a faster dual-core processor, which allows for quicker app launch times and smoother graphics, and, for the first time, enables Siri to speak using the built-in speaker. Apple designed a new custom wireless chip called W2, making Wi-Fi 85% faster and Bluetooth and Wi-Fi 50% more power efficient, while still providing all-day battery life and keeping the size virtually the same as before. Apple Watch Series 3 also features a barometric altimeter that assists with tracking activity, flights climbed and outdoor workouts, including elevation gain.

WatchOS 4 features an updated Heart Rate app, giving more insights to heart rate, including measurements during resting, workout, recovery, walking and Breathe sessions. Customers can also choose to receive a notification when their heart rate is elevated above a specific threshold while inactive. Other watchOS 4 highlights include the proactive Siri watch face that displays the information users need most throughout the day, an enhanced Workout app with new interface, custom High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) workout type and auto-sets for pool swims. With GymKit, users will soon enjoy the ability to connect to their favourite cardio equipment and experience two-way synchronisation of data with just a tap3.

The redesigned Music app experience automatically syncs playlists like New Music Mix and Favourites Mix, along with the user’s most listened to music. Later this year, Apple Watch Series 3 (GPS + Cellular) will stream music, giving users access to any song from Apple Music, straight from the wrist. The new Radio app also enables listeners to access Beats 1 live or any Apple Music radio station while away from iPhone or Wi-Fi.

In addition to silver or space grey aluminium, Apple Watch Series 3 now comes in gold aluminium, along with silver or space black stainless steel cases. All pair with an assortment of new bands and styles. The Woven Nylon is updated with a new pattern and the lightweight Sport Loop effortlessly adjusts to fit wrists.

Apple Watch Nike+ has been popular, and this fall (roughly Q3 to Q4), the partnership continues with both models of Series 3 pairing with a new pure platinum/black Nike Sport Band or Sport Loop in exclusive grey. The Nike Run Club app has been updated to introduce new features such as Audio Guided Runs that deliver coaching and motivation from Nike’s elite coaches, athletes and entertainers, and Cheers which makes running more fun by allowing friends to send audio-based cheers as motivation. Just Do It Sundays continues to provide inspiration and rewards from participation in the world’s largest running community.

Apple Watch Hermès models come with built-in cellular and pair with a collection of new bands, including the Single Tour Rallye in perforated Gala calfskin, inspired by the classic Hermès driving glove, and the Single Tour Eperon d’Or, in printed Gala calfskin, inspired by the equestrian scarf pattern designed by Henri d’Origny in 1974. A new watch face, inspired by the Carrick Hermès watch, also designed by Henri d’Origny in 1993, completes the existing selection of Hermès watch faces.

Interested?

Apple Watch is available in two different case sizes, 38mm and 42mm. Apple Watch Series 3 (GPS + Cellular) will be available in gold, silver or space grey aluminium, or silver or space black stainless steel paired with a variety of bands. Featuring new upgrades like a faster dual-core processor and wireless chip, along with a barometric altimeter, Apple Watch Series 3 (GPS + Cellular) also debuts a special red Digital Crown and exclusive “Explorer” watch face that shows cellular connectivity through a unique design.

Apple Watch Series 3 (GPS) will be available in gold, silver or space grey aluminium cases with a Sport Band starting at S$498. Apple Watch Series 1 is available in silver or space grey aluminium cases paired with a Sport Band with a new starting price of S$378. Models will be available from apple.com/sg and Apple Stores, as well as select Apple Authorised Resellers and carriers (prices may vary). Check for Singapore availability. Apple Watch Nike+ starts at S$498.

Beginning September 15, Apple Watch Series 3 (GPS + Cellular) will be available to order in 10 countries and territories, and Apple Watch Series 3 (GPS) will be available to order in 28 countries and territories. Both models are available in stores starting September 22.

Customers in the Asia Pacific and Middle East regions can order Apple Watch Series 3 (GPS + Cellular) beginning September 15, with availability beginning September 22 in Australia, mainland China, and Japan. Other countries will follow next year. Check for carrier availability.

Customers will be able to order Apple Watch Series 3 (GPS) beginning September 15, with availability beginning September 22 in Australia, mainland China, Hong Kong, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, and Taiwan. Apple Watch Series 3 (GPS) will be available beginning September 23 in UAE. Apple Watch Series 3 (GPS) will then be available beginning September 29 in Guam, India, Macau, Thailand and Turkey, followed by availability beginning September 30 in KSA, Kuwait, and Qatar.

Apple Watch Series 1 is available on apple.com/sg and anywhere Apple Watch is sold.

Apple Watch Nike+ will be available to order on apple.com/sg beginning September 15, with limited availability from October 5 in Australia, mainland China, Guam, Hong Kong, India, Japan, KSA, Kuwait, Macau, New Zealand, Qatar, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, and the UAE. Apple Watch Hermès will be available to order on apple.com/sg beginning September 15, with availability beginning September 22 in Australia, China, and Japan.

New Apple Watch bands are available today on apple.com/sg and will be available soon at Apple Stores, as well as select Apple Authorised Resellers and carriers in the US and over 35 countries and regions, including Australia, China, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, and the UAE.

Apple Watch Series 3 (GPS + Cellular) requires iPhone 6 or later running iOS 11 or later and Apple Watch Series 3 (GPS) requires iPhone 5S or later running iOS 11 or later. Some features are not available in all regions or all languages.

Customers who buy Apple Watch from Apple will be offered free Personal Setup in-store or online3 to help set up and personalise their new Apple Watch with calendars, notifications, apps and more.

Anyone who wants to start with the basics or go further with their new Apple Watch can sign up for free Today at Apple sessions.

Read the WorkSmart Asia blog posts on the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus, and the iPhone X.

1 Apple Watch Series 3 has a water resistance rating of 50 m under ISO standard 22810:2010. This means that it may be used for shallow-water activities like swimming in a pool or ocean. However, Apple Watch Series 3 should not be used for scuba diving, waterskiing or other activities involving high-velocity water or submersion below shallow depth. Stainless steel and leather bands are not water resistant.

2 Apple Watch and iPhone service provider must be the same. Not available with all service providers. Roaming is not available outside your carrier network coverage area. Wireless service plan required for cellular service. Contact your service provider for more details. Check apple.com/watch/cellular for participating wireless carriers and eligibility.

3 In most countries.