Archive | October 1, 2014

Texting without an internet connection?

Last Sunday, October 28th, 2014, rumors were spread that the Hong-Kong government would shut down the mobile-phone network due to the protests. This caused more than a 100.000 users to sign up on FireChat within 24 hours and with a peak of 33.000 active users on Sunday night.

So what differentiates FireChat from other messaging applications such as Whatsapp or Facebook Messenger? FireChat allows users to send messages and pictures without any 3G/4G or Wi-Fi networks nearby. This application connects their users through mesh-networks. Traditional networks are based on a few centralized points or internet service providers. In contrast, a wireless mesh-network is able to connect through numerous mesh nodes (which can be anything with a network transceiver like smartphones and computers). This allows information to travel from point A to point B across this network.

These wireless mesh-networks allowed the protesters to use it as a political tool because it preserved the confidentiality of their online communications and it is nearly impossible to shut down. However, this is only one of the many the problems this network is able to solve. FireChat is often used during events that attract so many people that the network is overloaded such as festivals and sport games.  It can be used to connect poor neighborhoods  where it is too expensive to connect through an internet service provider or in areas without cell-connections. The latter might explain why 10% of the FireChat users are in India (Barria, 2014). Nevertheless, the biggest benefit of wireless mesh-networks is that it is for the community and by the community. Especially with the NSA and other governments monitoring your every step online.

However, if these mesh-networks are so great, why is not everyone making use of this? This is caused by the following barriers:

  • The technological barrier: The difficulties to set up and maintain a network.
  • The marketing/perception barrier: These networks are often seen as a last resort during political or environmental crisis.
  • The barrier political barrier: The fear of not being able to monitor online activity and the threat of creating a criminal platform.

What do you guys think of these ideas or would you know any other applicable areas for mesh-networks?

Virtual reality becoming mainstream: Google Cardboard!

Every year during the Google I/O, the annual developer focused conference by Google in San Francisco, Google gives out items to the attendees. During this year conference Google didn’t gave out fancy products like tablets or phone but a piece of cardboard. This google cardboard entails a message which is way bigger than only a product, the message entails that virtual reality can be really simple and that it will become mainstream very soon.

The cardboard toolkit is a box that can be assembled in 10 minutes to a virtual reality kit. It gives an oculus rift like virtual reality viewer using only your android smartphone and the cardboard. Using the cardboard app, the screen of your android phone will be split so every eye can look at a different image. The innovative part from this product is that it uses all functions of the android such as the gyroscope to create the virtual reality view. In this way it becomes instantly interesting for everybody since no new hardware except the cardboard is required.

According to Google this Cardboard was built as part of the company 20% projects. These are project where employees of google can work along their normal tasks. Another features that will make this innovative idea bigger is the developer kit that google provides. With this toolkit developer can create their own virtual reality applications or adjust current applications to the use of the cardboard. This give a new dimension to virtual reality accessibility and content. Due to this innovation many developer can think of new ideas to bring life to the virtual reality movement.

Sources:

http://mashable.com/2014/06/25/google-io-2014-wtf-cardboard/

http://www.businessinsider.com/google-cardboard-2014-6?op=1

http://www.dodocase.com/products/google-cardboard-vr-goggle-toolkit

https://www.google.com/events/io

The Internet of (Google/Amazon) Things

More and more we see news of big companies turning towards the Internet of Things. The Internet of Things can be defined; as “sensors and actuators embedded in physical objects—from roadways to pacemakers—are linked through wired and wireless networks, often using the same Internet Protocol (IP) that connects the Internet” (McKinsey, 2010). Basically, advanced connectivity of all kinds of devices through the Internet. Amazon is rumoured to be expanding its research department Lab126 to further focus on developments around “home automation” (Reuters, 2014) and Google recently bought Nest for US$3.2 billion (the Wall Street Journal, 2014). So there is no denying that large parties are becoming more and more interested in home automation, or smart homes.

But why are companies like Google and Amazon the companies investing in this industry? As described in this article on Wired (2014), Google creates value from understanding consumers. Google is already well established in doing this while we are online, but not that much in our offline life. By using these Smart Home Appliances, Google could tap into a vast amount of additional knowledge about people’s daily behavior outside of the Internet. As Amazon has not yet released a product in this aspect yet, we can only speculate as to what they plan to release. However, keeping track of our “offline” lives could prove very valuable.

There are of course large privacy concerns involved in this. Nest has stated that customer information will not be shared outside of Nest, but anonymized data can still prove valuable for Google in some way.

Currently there are no definitive answers as to how these companies will use this technology to support their core business. What do you think? Will this really be the next big thing for Google and Amazon? How would you see the Internet of Things being used in Amazon’s business model?

Sources:

http://www.mckinsey.com/insights/high_tech_telecoms_internet/the_internet_of_things

http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/09/24/us-amazon-hardware-strategy-exclusive-idUSKCN0HJ10520140924?feedType=RSS&feedName=topNews&utm_source=twitter

http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702303595404579318952802236612

It is all about the money


No matter who you are, no matter where you are.

For a business analyst, student, father of a huge family, in North America, on business trip, on exchange, traveling or just in every-day life, you need to think about the budget and the mo
ney you have in your pocket.

Designed specially for making the financial aspect of your life easier – COINKEEPER will help you to manage all the inflows and outflows of your budget.

demo1What is a CoinKeeper

It is a popular mobile application (available for Apple and Android users) which helps you to record expenditures, manage personal finances, keep the budget.

What do you waste your money on? How to spend less? If you are interested in these questions – upload CoinKeeper – the easiest app which allows you to see comprehensive picture of your finance on one screen!

Why you should use a CoinKeeper:

❤  Innovative interface, which is easy in use even for beginners

❤  Allows to export your date into any device you would like to

❤  Full freedom of budgeting – you can choose yourself the budgeting period the most suitable for you – a week/ two weeks/ 4 weeks/ quarter/ year starting from any date

❤  Automatic calculation of your budget

❤  Availability of different currencies – you can set your spending in any currency and it will be converted automatically

❤  Adding expenditures takes 1 minute, due to different categories already existing in the app

❤  Expenditure icons have certain colors, what will notify you if you are close to over-spending

❤  Periodic reminders help you to restrict yourself in spending

❤ Setting of financial goals allow you to collect money wisely

Analysis:

It can be easily observed, that CoinKeeper is a breakthrough innovation in personal finance managing area.  Statistics say for itself, as more than 850 000 of downloading has been done since CoinKeeper’s appearance. It makes finance managing easier and more sophisticated as now you can set financial goals and implement a more sophisticated level of following your budget.

Another interesting aspect about this application is its natural global scale and applicability. Created by Russian entrepreneurs, the application is available in 7 languages in various countries of the world. It is one of the best examples of “born globals” phenomena in the business world. More and more in order to be successful you are advised to start on a international venture. And that is what CoinKeeper did.

Conclusion:

If you are a person, who cares about your personal finance, CoinKeeper is a great application for you. Its value proposition: easiness in use, customization and broad range of functions will satisfy many segments of customers.

If you are an entrepreneur, you should take an example of CoinKeeper and to go ahead of the geographic borders in order to expand globally and to succeed more widely.

Opinions: 

“I surely recommend this app to those, who search for unique budget advisor. ” — AppAdvice.com

“CoinKeeper is our most successful application, available in 7 languages, it helps people to easily structure their financial balances and to reach new financial goals faster. ” – Founder of CoinKeeper, D. Orlov

Sources & For more information, check:

https://www.facebook.com/CoinKeeper

http://coinkeeper.me/

Multi-touch Table to simplify user interactions

An earlier interesting blog post here mentioned about Texture Rendering Algorithm for touch screens. I take the discussion further and delve deeper into the business applications of multi-touch interactive tables. There are several companies such as E-table Interactive (http://www.e-table-interactive.com/), Ideum (http://ideum.com/products/multitouch/) and 3M touch systems which are building systems that allow multiple users to operate on a single large touch screen. The technology employed behind this product is multi-touch interface where multiple users can simultaneously execute touch actions and perform basic independent information retrieval functions on the same screen. These tables offer a combination of traditional work table, touch technology and simultaneous input collaboration. A video would explain the technology better:

What could be the possible business applications of this product? Which specific businesses/companies could employ this technology and connect with customers in a differentiating manner? A few examples have been outlined below:

  1. Restaurants/Bars: E-table Interactive has installed touch tables at a restaurant Izkaya (http://www.izkaya.nl/en/de-touch-tafels) in Rotterdam which allow customers to order through table, change the table ambience, book a taxi, plan a route and also have a view of the kitchen. They have other restaurant clients such as Inamo (http://www.inamo-restaurant.com/) in UK and TOT in Turkey. In the highly competitive restaurant business, this could be the next way to differentiate with a unique customer experience in the restaurant. The Pizza chain “Pizza Hut” recently collaborated with Chaotic moon studios to create a concept video about interactive table (http://goo.gl/kQfCX4)
  2. Education: Another application of touch tables has been in teaching pre-school students through interactive learning systems designed by Promethean (http://goo.gl/EfwQb2). Using inbuilt educational software, these touch tables allow students to learn to collaborate, cover school curriculum, are fun interactive activity and promote self-learning among students. The market size is quite large worldwide and these interactive tables can change the learning methodology.
  3. Museums/Exhibitions: In these businesses, the need is to communicate a wide range of information to visitors and guide them to appropriate sections of the place. Multiple visitors can simultaneously easily retrieve and share information (by gliding their screen window on the touch table to the other visitor) on the same screen. These touch tables can actually lead to active interaction with the visitors and replace the passive displays. Visitors can also post comments, their opinions, and share on social media etc.
  4. Apartments/Hotels: Consider the case of a real estate company or a luxury Hotel wishing to display interactive information about their new apartments or various categories of hotel rooms respectively to customers. This is intended to give opportunity to customers to get more information about the products available for sale and also to get recommendations from their social media friends since they can login from Facebook and see if their friends have recommended the hotel or the real estate company.

There can be many other business applications of this multi-touch table which can change the way the customers interact with the system to simplify as well as promote the business activities. As a technology product still in its initial stages, there are a lot of opportunities one can brainstorm on.

Sources:

  1. http://www.prometheanworld.com/us/english/education/products/interactive-table/
  2. http://big.cs.bris.ac.uk/projects/multi-touch-classroom
  3. http://www.gizmag.com/ideum-3m-platform-multitouch-tables/27823/

Living the new life! Why we’re not all doing it

what-can-i-ask-siriNew and innovative IT technologies have made it possible to live a more efficient life with lots of new opportunities. However, there are now so many choices that it has become next to impossible to figure out what’s actually really helpful to you. That’s why the transition to that efficient new life is going a lot slower than it should.

An example: Imagine that you’ve got this idea for a great new business! You’re really excited about it and a few of your good friends are willing to help! But to make it a reality you need funding! So you’re thinking: “I know a lot of people believe in my idea, perhaps I can use one of those new crowd funding platforms?” Well let’s see what shows up on a Google search: Kickstarter, Indiegogo, Crowdfunder, RocketHub, Crowdrise, Somolend, appbackr, AngelList, Invested.in, Quirky, GoFundMe, Razoo, PledgeMusic, Sellaband, Teespring, YouCaring.com, Causes, Giveforward, Kiva, FundRazr, HoneyFund, FirstGiving, crowdtilt, Fundable, FundAnything, Patreon or maybe Fundly? That’s a lot of options! Maybe it’s better to limit yourself to Dutch platforms since you believe that’s were you have the most backers? Google says: Geldvoorelkaar.nl, Crowdaboutnow, Symbid, WeKomenErWel, Leadfunder, Kapitaal Op Maat, Fundyd, The Dutch Deal, Viviad, Geldoverenweer, Share2Start, or maybe Seeds is something for you? You decide it’s all too much and realize it’s easier just to borrow some extra cash from DUO.

crowdfunding
I think you catch the drift, the choice is overwhelming. Choice is not a bad thing, far from it. But too much choice is. We as consumers have never had this problem before. Choice was limited to what was physically near you. With the internet that’s different now. And the above example is only one of many. Perhaps you’ve wanted to find a faster way to take notes, quickly sell your old stuff or maybe book a cheap holiday? In all these examples you’d most likely google for a solution and be overwhelmed with the options that you’re faced with.

How are we then dealing with this right now? We look for top 10 lists, ask on social media for recommendations or just go with the first hit on Google and keep our fingers crossed. But if I want to upgrade all aspects of my life, should I go through dozens of recommended lists, keep bugging my friends for their experiences or just go with whatever pops up first for everything I’m looking for? Doesn’t sound very appealing… And thus I still physically go to the supermarket even though I can probably get it send to me at home, I still call for a taxi, I still write down what I’ve spent this month… I still go with the tried and true methods that I’ve always used. Not really the new and efficient life that I know is out there!

How about you? Have you figured out how to live your life more efficiently, are you asking your iPhone what movies are on or are you also still taking notes on paper?

Oh! and for those actually looking for a good crowd funding platform, look at the top 10 list on http://www.crowdfunding.com 😉

Gamification for Recruitment, Training and Networking

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Gamification is a process of making anything looks like a game. Gamifying every aspect in life simply allows more fun incorporated to whatever people do. For instance, there is an application that keeps track of your burned calories for every single day; the application displays the information in an attractive and game-like user interface. Picture on the top left shows how design of a workout-trainer application is applying the concept of gamification. Another example in field of education is the gamified grading system (picture on top right). Instead of giving students with grade like F which can demotivate them, gamification allows school to modify its system in a levels-based environment. In other words, those who are eager to move to the next level must study or finish their homework. In this sense, the motivation for studying turns oppositely from “surviving” into “achieving”. The question is now how to apply it to working environment where older generation were not exposed to playing game as often as children and teens. The answer relies on which type of business activities you are trying to gamify.

Recruitment

As number of applicants for a vacant job position increases largely, many companies are having difficulties selecting qualified candidate by just screening though stack of CVs. Even the best CVs do not always produce the best possible performer. In this case, gamification can be a solution to the organizational hiring policies. Basically, selection and screening procedure will be replaced by a game that is configured to test the ability of people in performing certain task expected by the employer.  For instance, analytical skill of the applicants is tested with detective-logic game they have to play. Those who manage to score adequately high can possibly get an interview invitation considering other criteria (age, gender, education) to be taken into account. Marriott international Inc. was one of the very first company adopting the idea of gamification with the creation of Marriott developed (you can compare it to Farmville or The Sims). It was created to interest millennial (age 18-27) to the industry before then the recruitment process begins. Furthermore, certain achievements can be shared on social media, such as LinkedIn or twitter. Another example of successful candidate, Vugar Huseynzade, 21 years old Azerbaijan in 2012 was appointed as a manager of one football club in Azerbaijan Premier League after glorious performance in Football Manager computer game.

Training

As mentioned in the introduction, gamification can also improve learning process. The reason is our brain can process and absorb information more quickly when no stress, anxiety, or even pressure is associated with it. Unlike ordinary training, game does not risk employees’ reputation, it rather challenges them to become more competitive in more fun way. One example is done by Deloitte, biggest audit company, partnering with Badgeville in creating digital innovative training program for its senior executives. The goal is to brand the player’s online identity on Twitter, Facebook, and Linkedin with badges obtained after completing gamified trainings. Game is also very cheap to be put into practice. For instance, prospective pilot will practice on simulator before they fly the real plane, or else it would be very expensive if an error leads to crashing the real airplane. US department of Defense also uses game to replace its large-scale drills training which can be very costly. Nowadays, development of 3D technology such as 3D glasses makes gaming experience even sophisticatedly good and real. Thus, businesses have yet to notice that including game in training make an effective training that at same time providing enjoyful experience

Networking

In a more recent genre of computer games (Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games, or MMORPGs), descending from these MUDs, hundreds of thousands of players now interact on a daily basis (Ducheneaut, N., & Moore, R. J. 2004).  It indicates gaming experience is becoming more and more social rather than solitary activity. Moreover, the increasing number of users in networking systems (e.g., Internet) also amplified the social interactions effect towards the interacting groups. Thus, the practice of gamification might as well facilitate more interaction among groups of employees within internal or external organization. With little adjustment, a game can be created in a way that it requires the players, which in this case is employees, to team-up while solving some group-related issues.

In an organization where majority of employees are accepting technologies, gamification is deemed to bring nothing but success.  Gamification can be widely approved if people start making good fuzz about it. Regarding to these three fundamental aspects we believe the end goal of gamification is still to increase productivity (Smith, R. 2011).

Smith, R. (2011, November). The future of work is play: Global shifts suggest rise in productivity games. In Games Innovation Conference (IGIC), 2011 IEEE International (pp. 40-43). IEEE.

Ducheneaut, N., & Moore, R. J. (2004, November). The social side of gaming: a study of interaction patterns in a massively multiplayer online game. InProceedings of the 2004 ACM conference on Computer supported cooperative work (pp. 360-369). ACM.

Twiage : the ‘Twitter’ designed for doctors to obtain the patient information on time

For emergency patients, every second is vital. Racing against time is every doctor’s duties.

YiDing Yu, from U.S. Boston, is not only a female doctor, but also a technical fan. She co-founded the Twiage, which  uses information technology to save seconds for emergency patients.

Imagine the following situation. There was a 3 cars’ accident on the Williamsburg Bridge. The EMT immediately rushed to the spot. They got in touch with the nearest hospital via wireless devices to arrange the treatments for the injured. However, the voice communications was not clear at all. The doctors in the hospital could not get the correct information from the EMT.

After installing the Twiage app on the phone, the EMT can quickly and easily send the real-time data to the emergency roomin forms of videos, pictures or text. These data usually describe the patients’ life conditions, which are really important, such as symptoms and physical signs data. In this way, doctors can log in the web and get to know the situation of the patients and make emergency preparations before the patient sending to the operating room.

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Twiage is an enhanced version of the Short Message Service (EMS). It works simply and do not have the need for expensive equipment. But this simple app has already gained a lot of recognitions from hospitals and medical associations. What’s more, Twiage won 2013 Mass Medical IT Award, profiled by MEDTECH Boston. Currently, the busiest emergency room in Boston started the usage of Twiage, and it did improve aid efficiency.

Twiage also developed a Google glass version, which is really convenient when the EMT can not take photos by hand. It can convert and send the photo that the glass captured directly to the data that meets the American Medical Act (HIPPA) regulations.

Two female founders of Twiage, YiDing Yu and Crystal Law, both have a solid medical background. They believe the model of Twiage can be applied to those where the information needs to be conveyed immediately, such as the fire spot to ensure the numbers of firemen and fire engines that needs.

In my opinion, this app focuses on the niche market which has really made big change in the medical emergency industry. And its functions can be improved by combining the founders’ real experience with the market demands. Considering that IOS 8 has already added the health function to measure people’s daily situation,Twiage could refer to the daily data and come out with a comprehensive information to the emergency doctor. In the future, such an app may be an secure guard in the daily life.

Resources:

http://www.twiagemed.com/

http://tech.163.com/14/0918/11/A6E1V68500094ODU.html

http://www.fastcompany.cn/go.php?m=content&c=index&a=show&catid=18&id=1865

http://www.36kr.com/p/215471.html