News 26.05.2022

Need to Know

A platform empowering visually impaired people, Microsoft makes data storage more carbon-friendly, and young people in MENA face an unemployment crisis.

A platform helping the visually impaired navigate the city

Dot Go, Germany

Munich – For years, object recognition apps have assisted visually impaired people to navigate the city by using the camera on their phones to identify the objects and buildings they encounter while walking in the urban environment. Taking it one step further, Dot Go is a platform that not only assists with object recognition, but connects identification with actions.

A user of the platform that encounters a bus stop, for example, can use their phone camera to identify the object and then buy a ticket or have the timetable of the service read out to them. Similarly, users who are visiting a museum can point their phones at an artwork and have the corresponding Wikipedia page read to them.

The platform goes well beyond mere identification to connect recognition to action, helping the visually impaired ‘navigate the world, find objects and automate daily tasks which enable them to lead a more independent life’. As a result, the project is giving everyday tech an inclusive overhaul.

Strategic opportunities

With so many consumers living with hidden disabilities, how can technology companies cater for consumers who need extra assistance?

This Flat Age campaign brings condoms to garden centres

The Hornicultural Society by Relate and Ogilvy, UK The Hornicultural Society by Relate and Ogilvy, UK
The Hornicultural Society by Relate and Ogilvy, UK The Hornicultural Society by Relate and Ogilvy, UK

UK – Relationship charity Relate is broaching the topic of sexual health among over-65s through an unconventional campaign. Entitled The Rise of Horniculture, the campaign features a series of vegetable-themed condom packet designs that have been displayed in independent garden centre Finchley Nurseries, alongside conventional seed packets.

Each illustrated condom packet is also a playful nods to sexually suggestive emojis, including aubergines, plums and courgettes. Through this tongue-in-cheek initiative, the campaign seeks to raise awareness of the importance of safe sex in later life, in a way that appeals to a generation that still largely feel a sense of stigma about the topic. ‘By bringing the sexual health debate to an unexpected environment like a garden centre, we’re once again trying to help break down taboos and get people up and down the country talking about the joy of later-life sex,’ says Anjula Mutanda, relationship psychotherapist and president of Relate.

This campaign also follows the charity’s previous efforts to spotlight sex and intimacy in older adults, recognising that traditional media and advertising often leans towards younger consumers.

Strategic opportunity

Wellness brands hoping to target older consumers must explore ways to normalise conversations about sex and sexual health. Consider creating accessible safe spaces that appeal to the interests of these groups

Microsoft reduces the carbon footprint of the Cloud

Washington – The multinational technology company is helping businesses reduce the environmental impact of their operations by releasing the Microsoft Cloud for Sustainability.

The new programme helps companies streamline their data management, build more sustainable IT infrastructure, reduce the carbon footprint of corporate activity, and create planet-friendly value chains from top to bottom. Available from 1 June, the programme tackles the environmentally burdensome nature of data storage, which is energy-intensive and a key concern for global heating.

According to the press release, ‘Organisations can reduce their environmental impact and increase business value when they replace tools, systems or activities with more efficient options. Moving workloads to the cloud, for example, can increase both carbon and energy efficiencies.’

Consumers and businesses alike are realising that data storage, unnecessary files and even just open tabs in a browser all have a carbon impact, something which we explored in the Decarbonising Digital section in our Sustainability Report.

The WiLD Network by Guy Mills, UK

Strategic opportunity

As companies ramp up their sustainability efforts, they should encourage their employees to be conscious of the carbon footprint of data storage.

Stat: MENA’s youth unemployment is the highest in the world

A Concise Passage by Rashed Al Shashai at Desert X Alula 2020. Photography by Lance Gerber, Saudi Arabia A Concise Passage by Rashed Al Shashai at Desert X Alula 2020. Photography by Lance Gerber, Saudi Arabia

Young people living in the Middle East and North Africa are facing an unemployment crisis, which is being exacerbated by the region’s existing inequalities. Research by Unicef reveals the scale of the issue, finding that the region needs to create more than 33.3m new jobs by 2030 to be able to absorb the large number of young people entering the workforce, and to stabilise youth unemployment.

Meanwhile, the research also shows that youth unemployment in these countries is almost twice as high as the world average, and grew 2.5 times faster than the world average between 2010 and 2021. Given this situation, there is a pressing need for improved education systems in the region, with curriculums that prepare people for the changing labour market in MENA.

As we explore in our Emerging Youth: Saudi Arabia article, some young people in this region are breaking into traditionally unequal sectors. Women, for example, are now able to work as hostesses, baristas and waitresses.

Strategic opportunity

Education and careers services have an opportunity to tailor development opportunities to the needs of this region. Consider creating learning environments based around sectors such as hospitality

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