Archive | September 12, 2013

New tracking tools/technologies

  1. To Hack Health Care Costs, Employers Can Now Track How You Grocery Shop

Fruits and veggies

It’s no million-dollar bonus, but your HR department could soon be offering you a new perk to help you stay healthy — and help your company save money on health care.

A just-launched online service called NutriSavings will give workers coupons and cash back to encourage the purchase of more nutritious foods. In exchange, you’ll have to lift the curtain a little on what you buy at the grocery store.

The benefit program is a joint venture between employee benefits multinational Edenred and digital coupons startup SavingStar. It arrives as many companies are seeking to curb their health care expenses through so-called wellness programs.

Some companies are seeking a more intimate connection with their workers’ habits in an effort to socially engineer better behavior. Drugstore giant CVS is reportedly demanding employees enrolled in its health insurance plan undergo a wellness screening and disclose various personal data, including weight and body fat percentage. Those who don’t will face a $50 per month penalty.

NutriSavings, by contrast, requires the same level of disclosure required of anyone who uses a grocery store loyalty card to get discounts when they shop. The NutriSavings system tracks what you buy and scores your food purchases according to nutritional quality. If you score low, NutriSavings offers you discounts on healthier alternatives. If you score high, you get coupons to keep you going back for more of the same.

To be clear, NutriSavings does not let employers monitor specific purchases made by individual employees.

“Your boss will never know what you’re eating,” says NutriSavings CEO Gerard Bridi, who says NutriSavings is an opt-in program.

But employers do get to see aggregate data on how healthily their workers are shopping. At NutriSavings, for example, Bridi says employees can get up to $30 cash back per month through the program on the purchase of fresh fruits and vegetables. If despite that perk, the collective nutrition score of employee grocery choices still comes in low on a scale of 1 to 100, the company can tweak the benefit to encourage them to put more produce in their carts.

According to Bridi, the economic incentive for companies and insurers to get more involved in their workers’ eating habits is plain. Most health care spending goes to treat chronic diseases, many of which are preventable through better lifestyle and diet choices.

To ensure employees hear that message over and over again, the NutriSavings system is designed to ensure those workers have to return to the site regularly, where they’re showered with articles on better eating. Their accounts also list everything they’ve bought at the store; anything that rates lower than a 50 on the nutrition scale comes with a clickable suggestion for a healthier alternative, and often a coupon for that better option. Employees are forced to come back to the site because their coupons aren’t redeemable at the register. Instead, they pay full price at the store, then redeem their discounts afterward on the site in many forms, ranging from money in the bank to farmer’s market vouchers to dollars shaved off their health insurance premium payments.

“There aren’t many wellness programs around nutrition that are measurable or trackable. Most are ‘read this book’ or ‘attend this seminar’ and you’re good to go,” Bridi says. “We wanted something based on continuous education.”

NutriSavings isn’t identifying the specific companies or health insurers signed up for the program but says those that have will likely start offering the option to workers around June. It will be interesting to see whether employees will welcome this kind of lifehacking from their bosses, or whether they’ll see the coupons as an excessive intrusion into their personal lives. On the one hand, who doesn’t want to pay less to eat better? On the other hand, could a company-issued FitBit be far behind?

(Marcus Wohlsen is a staff writer for Wired Business and the author of Biopunk: DIY Scientists Hack the Software of Life)

Martin Wholsen in his article states the following: “According to Bridi, the economic incentive for companies and insurers to get more involved in their workers’ eating habits is plain. Most health care spending goes to treat chronic diseases, many of which are preventable through better lifestyle and diet choices.”
I have been reading most of the comments and it appears people are having many different opinions/thoughts about this topic. 

I also found another ‘related’ article. The next article is not about tracking employees, but about the tracking customers.

     2.     Wi-Fi Indoor Positioning Firm YFind Launches Analytics Tool

yfind logo

Prepping for its U.S. expansion, Singapore-based indoor positioning technology firm YFind has launched a broader analytics tool so that its customers can slice and dice foot traffic information in malls.

The company’s service tracks unique visitors as they move through a mall. It relies on Wi-Fi to do this, so it can track users who have their Wi-Fi active on their phones. Because it doesn’t rely on GPS, it can track people indoors, and in dense environments with about 3-meter accuracy, says the company.

YFind founder, Melvin Yuan, said the new analytics board, called TheRetailHQ, is hoped to offer shop owners and mall operators a way to figure out where people are going in the space, and correspondingly what promotions can be run where foot traffic is heaviest. And because unique visitors are tracked, some new information can be derived, such as identifying repeat visitors and how long people spend in each store. Some predictive analytics is packed into the new dashboard as well, said Yuan.

YFind is gearing up for its US expansion out of Singapore. This year, it will set up offices in New York and Hong Kong, and next year, Sydney and London are planned.

Last June, it raised $1.22 million (S$1.5 million) from Innosight Ventures and Walden International. This, in addition to a $609,409 (S$750,000) seed grant from the Singapore government.

YFind TheRetailHQ analytics dashboard


I thought it would be interesting to know your thoughts on tracking employees and customers. While sharing your thoughts keep the following two topics in mind: 

…Invasion of privacy?
…Life/work balance? 

Looking forward reading your comments! 

A Phone Worth Keeping?

This is Phonebloks. The phone of the future? It could be, because I think the idea is perfect. Everybody can design his or her own ideal phone. You don’t care about NFC, a good camera or good speakers? Then use that space for a huge battery or memory! You dropped your phone and the screen broke (familiar for many iPhone users right?), just buy a new screen block and replace it yourself. It is just like Lego, pick your pieces, put them together and enjoy your own creation.

While this sounds like a great idea, there are also many less enthusiastic reactions, like the phone will never become as flat as recent smartphones and four pins are simply not enough to connect the different parts.

Though this project seems to me like an amazing idea, but I have my doubts about how much these blocks would cost and if it can overcome its technological difficulties.

What are your thoughts about this innovative Dutch (yeah it is Dutch) project? Is this actually the phone worth keeping?



Piracy is bad, right?


Online piracy is a big issue these days. Foundations like BREIN are hunting for uploaders and try everything to take down providers of pirated content, while music and film companies want internet providers to give them information about illegal downloads. Short: Piracy is EVIL.

Torrents is one of the main platforms for content sharing. Because of the huge amount of pirated content, Torrents is seen as evil by the entertainment industry and therefore music and film companies think they can earn more money by hunting down piracy.

Piracy helps music artists to become famous, because when it is free, more people will download your music and when they like it they might buy a ticket for your concert. That should be the new way of making money in the music world. For movies there is a nice example from 2007.  Eric Wilkinson produced the movie “The Man from Earth” and didn’t have any money left to finance advertising. The movie was uploaded on Torrents, like almost every movie, before it got released on DVD. Many people downloaded this unknown movie and they loved it. These downloaders wrote overwhelming reviews about it and IMDB ratings of the movie went sky high, convincing other consumers to buy the DVD.

I think that companies in the music and film industry should accept that piracy can’t be banned, there will always be new ways for downloading illegal content. What they should focus on is finding new ways to earn money and use the valuable source of advertising that pirates actually can be. Because piracy is bad, right?




Apple’s shifted strategy

Last Tuesday Apple announced not one but two new iPhone designs in order to reach higher market shares. The iPhone 5C is supposed to target the low-end users market (mainly Asia) and iPhone 5S the high-end users market. It sounded like a promising strategy to me. However, iPhone 5C is not as cheap as it should be. iPhone 5C on-contract is only $100 cheaper than iPhone 5S. The cheaper model also fails to excite the Chinese consumers. The words ”too small” were mentioned frequently when comparing to the larger screens of the rivals, but the main issue remained the price of iPhone 5C (about $700), which is more expensive in the Mainland China than HongKong. Apple replaced iPhone 5 by introducing iPhone 5C, which has a higher margin. I think here is where Apple went off the track.

“It’s more about margins and longevity than uplifting their place in the market,” said Gartner analyst Carolina Milanesi.


For many years Apple differentiated itself with focusing on innovations and came up with major improvements. After the latest announcements, it seems like that Apple switched its focus on innovations to marketing and margins, which is disappointing. The iPhone 5S did not have any major improvements like the previous model. The only noticeable changes are the new fingerprint scanner and the processor apart from the shiny colors. Apple might gain a larger mid-range market share with this strategy, but on the long run it will lose its share on the high-end market. The company was already losing high-end users to its rivals Samsung and HTC.

On the day of the announcements the tech giant’s stock was down by about 5 percent. The price of the iPhone 5C exceeded the anticipations of the analysts. In my view Apple is making a strategic mistake. Sustaining the current market share/value should be the company’s biggest concern instead of getting higher margins.

‘It it doesn’t need to sell more mobiles than everyone else to win the smartphone war.’ – Jason Jenkins, editor of CNET UK.