One of the largest computer manufacturers in the world found religion last year – and now Acer wants to help alleviate the fear and pain caused by the COVID-19 pandemic by combining faith and innovation.
The Taiwanese electronics giant is known for its laptops, monitors, and play equipment. Acer was the fastest growing computer company in the world in the third quarter of 2020 according to Canalys and the leading monitor provider in the US and Canada according to NPD August data. What's behind the explosive growth? The rapid changes of the past year have changed consumer behavior: we don't just want laptops, we also want video conferencing solutions. Not only are we looking for distraction games, but camaraderie (and distraction) as well. In an exclusive interview, Jason Chen, global CEO of Acer, told Digital Trends that the company had seen the battles around the world – and looked for solutions that went beyond its traditional strengths.
"Believe it or not, we have launched a product that can calm and calm people down: religion," Chen told Digital Trends. Released almost a year ago in collaboration with the Vatican, The Click to Pray eRosary is a brushed cross combined with 10 consecutive black agate and hematite beads, a modern take on a symbolic item that Catholics around the world have been using for more than four centuries. A companion app also helps with guided audio and video content.
In his prayer network, the Pope urges Catholics to use the device to pray a new rosary for crisis and health and to ask God for help in healing the wounds caused by the pandemic.
“I wear this all the time because I'm a new Christian. I'm very proud of it, ”said Chen. "I feel good about it."
A digital rosary is hardly a product you would expect from a computer manufacturer. And it's hardly the only deviation from the norm: From clothing and handbags to social media platforms, air purifiers and technologies for combating bacteria, Acer has recognized the pandemic and revised its product portfolio.
Another mission: antimicrobial coatings everywhere
Laptops – the workhouse of the working world – are changing. With video conferencing at the forefront of our lives, computer manufacturers have relied on higher resolution cameras and new software. But beyond that, can better laptops save lives?
"The first thing that came to mind was antimicrobial, and how do we apply this technology to our products as widely and as widely as possible?" Said Chen. As detailed at a product launch at the end of October, Acer is now coating its touchscreen-enabled laptops with antimicrobial coatings to prevent the virus from spreading.
The displays are a special Gorilla Glass 3 formulation that Corning unveiled in 2014. Acer may not be the only laptop manufacturer using this technology. A Corning spokeswoman told Digital Trends, "Unfortunately, not all of our customers allow us to publicly share their use of our technologies." Regardless, Acer is the only company that uses the technology publicly.
"Corning's Gorilla Antimicrobial Glass inhibits the growth of algae, mold, mildew, fungus and bacteria because of its built-in antimicrobial property that is inherent in the glass and is effective for the life of a device," said James R. Steiner. Senior Vice President and General Manager of Corning Specialty Materials. “This innovation combines the best antimicrobial functionality in its class without compromising the properties of Gorilla Glass. Our specialty glass provides an excellent substrate for developing antimicrobial and other functional properties to expand the capabilities of our Corning Gorilla Glass and to meet the demands of new markets. "
In addition to the touch screen, the new Acer Swift 5 is completely coated from head to toe with an antimicrobial coating. According to the company, the coating on the surface of the case, keyboard, hinge and fingerprint reader is an Environmental Protection Agency-compliant silver ion agent. even in the labels. The coating has been shown to show a consistent reduction in a wide range of bacteria. Even the rubber feet are made of an antimicrobial material based on silver ions.
Acer plays a huge role in Chromebooks that have become the face of the changing world of education. And antimicrobial coatings are in great demand in this area, said Gregg Prendergast, president of Acer Pan America.
"The bigger boroughs like New York, Chicago … ask about antimicrobial properties."
“Education is one of our key industries. We have sold over 15 million Chromebooks, "said Prendergastsaid." The larger boroughs like New York, Chicago … require antimicrobial functions to be built into the Chromebooks. In a normal setting, the children pass them around all day. Right now it's more one on one, they're home. But at some point we will get back to where it is a shared device. For education, that's a big deal for us. "
It's not the only thing the coating gets, Chen said.
"We're shipping bags, rucksacks and handbags … we will have antimicrobial handbags and bags available so people don't have to worry about bringing back bacteria or viruses or something like that when they come out and back in," he added.
Bringing a neighborhood together … in the PC store
More people are playing more games during the pandemic, and Acer leaned on that too. The company's social gaming network, Planet9, recently launched a unique feature. SigridWave, as it is called, is an in-game translator that uses speech recognition and neural machine translation to understand the game language and overcome language barriers to provide a better gaming experience.
“We started looking at the bigger picture of esports. What is missing? What can we do to make esports more useful and effective? One thing we realized was social media, ”said Chen. Games like League of Legends have over a hundred different characters with different winning strategies.
“You know what? It's hard. It's hard to get in, it's hard to get good. How are you going to learn over time? You need people to help you: to carry you, to teach you, to coach you. We started thinking about how people could learn from each other, ”he added.
In addition, Chen hopes the platform will bring communities together. He cited Dixons, a giant retail chain that runs the Currys PC World chain in the UK. It is similar to the British Best Buy. The stores used the platform to set up teams leaning into local school districts, Chen said, helping bring people together.
“Each business has sponsored a team in their school district. The store became the anchor for this community, and they built their teams and competed against each other to become a tournament. On our social platform. And we welcome that, we support them, ”he said.