Archive | September 25, 2013

Smartphone with SilentSense knows it’s you

I think that everybody already knows about the new feature on the Iphone 5s. The new feature of Iphone 5s offers fingerprint recognition with a Touch ID. It looks like a creative and interesting idea of protecting the smartphone. However, this feature already has been hacked. Researchers from the Illinois Institute of Technology thought of something else to protect the smartphone. They have developed another technology that locks out anyone that is not the owner of the smartphone. With this new technology people do not have to log in to a device. It will identify someone by the way they tap and swipe on a touchscreen. This technology has built-in sensors that record the unique patterns of pressure, duration and fingertip size and position each user exhibits when interacting with their phone, called SilentSense. Machine learning algorithms turn this into a signature that identifies the user.

This technology is unique because you have different users with different habits in interacting. The test results of this technology are very accurate. After no more than 10 taps the SilentSense was able to identify the phone’s owner with 99 per cent accuracy. This kind of technology could help use to preserve privacy. When someone is looking into your phone some applications or documents cannot be accessed because of not recognizing the owner of the phone.

I think that users will find this new way of protecting their smartphone very convenient, because it keeps everyone out of personalized data easily. No fingerprints or code numbers are necessary to unlock your phone. It brings smartphones to another level of security. However I can also imagine that people do not want this technology on their phone because it can also be very annoying when the phone is not working properly. After all the phone needs to identify every move that the user is making. It can happen that this technology locks yourself out of your phone.

So, are you in to use this kind of technology? Do you think that this technology will replace the present way of entering a number to unlock the smartphone?


Emergency Push notifications on Twitter.


This Wednesday Twitter announced that they would be incorporating emergency push notifications into the mobile services they already offer. ‘’Twitter Alerts’’ will be a function that allows people to get notified straight away when they are in or near a potentially hazardous area. For now around a hundred organizations have pledged to join this cause but we can be sure more will follow.

Whilst this might seem a small feature it has big implications. In our last two lectures we have already seen the potentially huge impact Twitter can have in predicting the spread of diseases or if we are approaching a new financial downfall. Since Twitter has a huge user base the new feature will probably be quite widely used right away. This means that when a big disaster occurs somewhere you will get a tweet immediately after the authorities are updated. Evacuation times will decrease immensely in regions subjected to natural disasters, you will also easily be able to see the closest center of help near you.

Besides these obvious humanitarian benefits it also offers a new way for researchers to improve upon rescue efforts. If everything can basically be followed live through twitter you will also be able to see the areas in which twitter is showing a lack of help or perhaps another area where there’s a mass confusion going on. The resulting data should be quite interesting to see what today’s points of improvement and bottlenecks still are in complex operations like an earthquake or tsunami.

In conclusion we have yet to see the potential benefits of this feature in practice but we can already safely assume that it will only be of huge assistance in helping our global rescue efforts. Personally I do not see any direct downsides to this feature and am curious to hear them if you áre able to come up with some.





Handy tools for entrepreneurs

I’m a big fan of TechCrunch for several reasons. Not only does TechCrunch provide me with the latest information on anything happening in the tech world, it also gives me lots of ideas for tools that I could use for my own startup that I am planning to launch in the near future. Over the past months, I’ve discovered some tools via TechCrunch that facilitate various aspects of setting up your company. Here are the coolest ones:

–          Shopify ( ) / e-commerce solution

This company helps people turn their website into a webshop. Merchants can select a template for the layout and all they need to do next is upload photos of their products. What I like about it is the fact that anyone who wants to sell something online, can.  They offer a two-week trial period and then you pay on a monthly basis.

–          Wix ( / website creation

 Wix is a do-it-yourself web publishing platform which enables users to create and host websites without having to learn to design or code. It is completely free. A cool and easy way for anyone who needs a webpage to make one quickly.

–          Longstride ( / webdesign

This startup makes really cool webdesigns, videos, logo redesigns, trailers etc. My personal favourite is Even if you don’t want to pay for their services, it is a good way to get inspired. Check it out!

–          Startup-giraffe ( / all-inclusive startup solution

This startup helps entrepreneurs develop an idea into a product and launch the accompanying website. The thought behind it is that many entrepreneurs don’t know where to start or get lost in the amount of work to be done. Startup-giraffe delivers a product within 7 weeks. It’s a pricy option though: 50 000 dollars and 5% equity. I’d recommend this for anyone who has money but no clue on what to do 😉

–          Zendesk ( / customer care solution

Zendesk is an on-demand customer care solution that deals with email, phone, chat and social media. Effortless Housing uses Zendesk and even though I have to admit that I wasn’t that impressed with their interface, from a startup’s perspective, Zendesk is an easy tool that deals with the entire customer care-part of a business.

–           MailChimp ( / CRM solution

This startup provides easy templates to set up an email campaign. You can select from a number of templates and then add text, columns and pictures as you like. If you have less than 2000 subscribers, you can send up to 12,000 emails for free.

–          Xobni ( / inbox solution

This company (the word Inbox spelled backwards) makes your inbox and address book smarter. The application creates profiles of all your contacts and provides additional information about job title, company details, email history and updates from social media. It was acquired by Yahoo in July 2013. Personally, I think it is a cool app, but if you use it for work, I wouldn’t want to see social media updates from my partners.

Should you know of other handy tools for startups, I’d be happy to hear about them!



John McAfee promises a new Internet that is “impossible to hack”

Rotterdam – John McAfee, Founder of McAfee software is trying to re-enter Silicon Valley by establishing a new company that will create a new Internet. An Internet that will, according to him, be impossible to hack.

McAfee states that his “new technology is going to provide a new type of Internet, a decentralized, floating and moving Internet that is impossible to hack, impossible to penetrate and vastly superior in terms of its facility and neutrality. It solves all of our security concerns,”. This sounds promising in a world that keeps on developing into an online direction, and where security issues and online attacks are becoming increasingly common.

25 years ago, John McAfee was a highly reputable software pioneer. He was seen as one of Silicon Valley’s most credible innovators and entrepreneurs. His company, McAfee Software was once valued at an estimated $100 million dollars.

But most people now remember John McAfee from burying himself in the Belizean sand to hide himself for the police and faked a heart attack in a Guatemalan detention center in order to buy time.

John McAfee, a genius or a maniac? We cannot deny that he have proven to have amazing entrepreneurial skills with his past success with McAfee Software, which left him a great fortune after he left the company 15 years ago. At the same time, his credibility is rather questionable. Let’s also not forget about his controversial video “How To Uninstall McAfee Antivirus“, a viral YouTube video with a lot of swear words and half-naked woman.

Feasible or not, the goal of creating a new Internet that is impossible to hack would solve many, if not all, of the security issues with the current Internet. If McAfee would indeed be able to create an Internet that is impossible to hack, he would be able to serve a enormous market that has long been waiting for this solution.

McAfee said that more details will come Saturday when he speaks at the inaugural C2SV music festival and tech conference at the San Jose McEnery Convention Center, so stay tuned!

Tom van Berkel



HP introduce notebook with Leap Motion technology .

Imagine if you could do things on your computer just like you do them in real life. If natural movements replaced all those clicks and taps and drags and drops. The Leap Motion Controller senses your hands and fingers and follows their every move. It lets them move in all that wide-open space between you and your computer. So you can do almost everything without touching anything. It’s the tiny device that just might change the way you use technology.

HP has announced a notebook with a Leap Motion technology. Thus, hand and finger movements are used to control games and other apps. The USB box (leap motion) is sold separately for several months, but the Envy 17 is the first laptop which technology is built in.

It’s interesting that HP is the first to bring out such technology in a short time, since the technology is so new and unexplored.  I can imagine how many bugs this leap motion will have at this stage. I think many people will buy the laptop because of its sensor, if the interface doesn’t work as expected people will be very disappointed.

I’m afraid the technology is not accurate enough to use without massive training. It doesn’t come with any kind of software that would integrate the device with the operating system in a way that it would be useful as an everyday computer. Another thing is that your arm gets tired if you’re trying to use the device as a mouse for too long. Furthermore you see that companies sometimes launch new products too soon. Could this be a marketing strategy rather than a technological one? I’d rather just wait a year and buy it when the technology is at a further stage and available on other brands as well. What ‘s your opinion on this?

Indoor Positioning System will be bigger than GPS or Maps!

You’re in a hurry, you’ve rushed to the nearest Bijenkorf 2 minutes before closing, looking for one item, on item only, a birthday gift for your girlfriend, a new pair of shoes! It will be a one-hour task to find the right item- and you are not familiar with the location in the store. That’s a tough job! But fortunately I can say that Google and Apple are working on the solution for this problem.  The next big thing in town is Indoor Positioning System (IPS).

But what is an Indoor Positioning System (IPS)?

IPS is a network of devices used to wirelessly locate objects inside a building or shop.  IPS uses RFID chips on products to locate were a product is located. For example you’re shopping for groceries.  You made the shopping list with the Appie (Albert Heijn) app. Tonight you’re trying to cook a new dish. You’re always going to the same grocery, so you know where everything is. Except this time, the dish contains special ingredients.  The Appie App uses the IPS en RFID to locate this special ingredients in the store. Besides the location of products the IPS could even determine if all the products are available in the store. This new innovation save lots of time and frustrations during shopping!

But why will IPS be the next big thing in town?

Because we spend most of our time during the day indoors, working, shopping, eating etc.  In the aforementioned situations people are seeking for the product they need, and situations occur where a product is not available anymore.  GPS technology have navigate people through their outdoor surroundings for the past decade. With indoor GPS (IPS) people have no problems to find products anymore. Shops have the opportunity to support costumers with extra information (e.g. special offers and product information). Besides its more user friendly and shops could support costumers with extra information for us BIMers it is interesting because it is easier to make strategic decisions (information strategy) based on gathered information of costumers using IPS.

It will still take several years before indoor navigation systems are fully developed such as GPS. The video below is an interesting video from the Google developers conference I/O 2013 were the first concepts of indoor navigation maps are presented:

I think IPS offers a solution for shopping without frustrations (product availability, custom-made offers).  So fellow BIMers what do you think about this new maps innovation?