Archive | October 12, 2014

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows: Which Version Do You Want?

Harry Potter 7

During the last decade, multiple generations have had a common addiction. Do you remember your excitement when a new Harry Potter book was about to be released? Those were the good old times of impatiently awaiting the release date for months, and then finishing the new volume within two days. However, which version of the books did you buy? Were you determined to obtain an adult version of the book, or a children’s version? And how much did you pay for it? Did you pay any attention to the price difference between the books?

One might wonder how it is even possible that the adult and children’s version differ in price. After all, the only differences between those versions are the covers and the fonts that are used (Difference Between, 2014). More specifically, the children’s version has a cover of colourful illustrations, whereas the adult version has a more sophisticated cover with darker colours (Difference Between, 2014). Furthermore, the font of the children’s version is larger than the adult’s version. But is this really enough to charge Harry Potter fans a different price?

The answer to this question lies in that books in general, and therefore also the Harry Potter books, are information goods. Information goods are goods that are easy to replicate, and easy to distribute (Li, 2014). A concept that is related to information goods, is the versioning of information goods. The versioning of goods, in this case books, entails that different prices are charged for essentially the same products, which is also called vertical differentiation (Bhargava & Choudhary, 2001; Li, 2014). In this case, the publisher of the Harry Potter books (Bloomsbury) offers its consumers two versions (adult and children) of the same Harry Potter book. Then, the consumers can choose themselves which of the versions satisfy their personal needs. Yet, by means of this self-selection, the publishers uncover the customers’ willingness to pay for a different version (second-degree price discrimination) (Li, 2014). Hence, the publisher can obtain valuable information about the type of customers from the Harry Potter book sales, which can then in turn be used for marketing etc.

Having read this blog, the next time when you will buy a (Harry Potter) book, you will be aware of the business tactics that underlie the book assortment.


Bhargava, H., Choudhary, V. (2001). ‘Information Goods and Vertical Differentiation’. Journal of Management Information Systems. Volume 18, Number 2, pp. 89-106.

Difference Between. (2014). ‘Difference Between Harry Potter Series for Kids and Adults’. Difference Between. Available from:
[Accessed on: 12 October 2014.]

Li, T. (2014). ‘Slides Lecture 6: Information Goods’.

The Google Doctor

Nobody wants to go to the doctor. Before there is no other option than seeing the general practitioner, we all start looking for help on the internet. Reading all kinds of forums, which does not always makes you happier, or just checking all sorts of medical sites is probably something we all have done. In the Netherlands there is a site called, on this site people are able to find reliable medical information. Thanks to sites like this, the number of visits to the general practitioner has decreased in the Netherlands.

So where is Google in this story? Google was already gathering information from her users. Based on their searching, Google has created a flu map. With this flu map Google tries to detect epidemic diseases before they are broken out. With this way of collecting information Google wants to prevent other diseases as well and now they have started something new.

It is an extension of Helpouts. Helpouts is a Google service, which connects people who wants to know something with the recommended experts. With the help of a video connection both persons are able to communicate with each other. With the extension people who are searching for some specific medical information are receiving a notification that they can make a video call with an doctor to ask some questions. In the beginning Google will pay for the costs and it is not sure in how many countries this function will be available. The question is or this extra service of Google will actually help people and are the users of Google willing to make a video connection with the doctors?


Big Data and Predictive Maintenance: Fast tracking past the Trough of Disillusionment

Last week Rotterdam School of Management organized their annual “Leadership Summit”. This year’s topic was Big data – what’s in it for me? Many examples were presented on how data with high velocity, variety, and volume can bring added value to organizations. What was left somewhat uncovered was how much benefit can big data bring. What is the monetary gain of collecting, cleaning and analyzing the vast amount of data points? General Electric recently held their “Minds + Machines” event presenting their vision on how data will change organizations. They organized a customer panel to provide insights on how they have benefited from GE’s software. Interestingly, GE’s customer cases happened to almost coincide with ones that Jens-Peter Seick, Vice President Product Management and Development at Fujitsu presented on stage, but provided some additional information on how much value can be gained. Let’s take a look how these two companies are adding value to other organizations through big data.

In his presentation Jens-Peter Seick from Fujitsu explained how big data is already being used for predictive maintenance purposes. Predictive maintenance allows machinery and equipment to be maintained based on their condition instead of a time-based schedule. This allows to save on costs as maintenance is only done when it is required. The condition is monitored using sensors and data logged by information systems and is analyzed using statistical techniques to plan and predict maintenance operations. These sensors form a part of the often talked about phenomenon “Internet of Things”, or Industrial Internet as GE likes to refer to it. Mr. Seick used the example of jet airplanes collecting gigabytes of engine data to relay to maintenance personnel in order to predict fleet malfunctions and be prepared with the correct parts available. As a GE customer, AirAsia used data collected from the GE engines in their fleet to route their planes on more efficient routes saving up to $10 million in fuel costs.

Mr. Seick talked about how offshore wind farms can relay information on their condition observed by sensors. It can then be combined with weather and other external data sets to predict failure points and find the right time to send out a boat for a maintenance operation. GE provided the example of an offshore oil rig that saved 7,5 million dollars by predicting a parts failure and allowing preventative maintenance to be done. Energy company E.ON has benefited from GE’s assistance with the data gathered from its wind farms, generating 4% more power in the turbines than previously.

By saving millions for its customers, GE’s annual revenues from its big data analytics efforts already tops $1 billion and they are continuing to invest heavily into the field. In addition to GE and Fujitsu other players in the field include all the big names from IBM to Microsoft. Professor Eric van Heck mentioned the Gartner Hype Cycle in his presentation at the Summit and pointed out the position of big data on the verge of falling into the trough of disillusionment. With so much interest and added value already brought to companies I can’t see big data staying in that valley for too long.

Are there any areas you know where big data is already being used effectively?


GE’s Customer Panel at “Minds + Machines”

Jens-Peter Seick at the RSM Leadership Summit 2014

Technology of the week – group 38 – Blendle vs. De Correspondent

This blog will mention two recent Dutch innovations in the world of (digital) journalism, Blendle and De Correspondent. Moreover, it will discuss both companies and compare them. At the end of the blog there will be made a conclusion about these two companies.

Blendle is a Dutch company which created a digital kiosk, where users only pay for what they want to read. This means individual articles as well as complete magazines and newspapers from all the ‘big’ Dutch publishers, completely digital. Moreover, Blendle has created a social network, whereby users are able to share and recommend articles, and where users are able to follow friends, famous Dutch people and so on. In this way, the two-sided market is visible. Because publishers of all the ‘big’ Dutch newspapers and magazines are connected with the readers through Bendle.

De Correspondent
De Correspondent is an innovative Dutch journalism platform, which used crowdfunding to start and now uses crowdsourcing to create journalism. They offer readers news about context and background articles. Not looking for sensation, but looking for the deeper meaning. Especially in the digital age where news reaches everyone within seconds, it is important to deliver not only sensation but also context and background. What is very interesting about de Correspondent, is that the members are able to discuss and react on the articles. By doing so de Correspondent has created a social community. The members of this community are displayed with a name tag of their own specialism/job.

Revenue model: Blendle earns 30% of the articles they sell; the other 70% goes to the publishers. The Correspondent earns 60 euro per member for a one-year subscription.
Business model: Blendle acts as an intermediary between publishers and readers, whereas De Correspondent created a ‘new’ digital paper, focusing on quality content and crowdsourcing.

We think both innovations have great potential. Especially now, when journalism is struggling, innovative concepts like Blendle and De Correspondent are needed. Perhaps, in the near future, Blendle could offer an all-you-can-read subscription to involve even more readers. The Correspondent could market their platform better, to involve more readers and journalist to make even more use of crowdsourcing.
When we take a look at the revenue model of both companies, we think that Blendle has a better market position. The low prices in the range of 10 and 89 cents are a much lower threshold compared to the membership fee of €60,- at De Correspondent. Besides, De Correspondent has higher costs than Blendle. Blendle does not have to pay writers, they only operate as a mediator. So we think that Blendle has a higher potential than their opponent De Correspondent.

Two extraordinary ways to make traffic in the city a little safer

We already have a lot of technological developments around cars and other motor based road users. However, technologies designed to make traffic safer for pedestrians and cyclists are not that common, but they are upcoming!

The dancing traffic light


Smart, the manufacturer of the Smart cars, introduced the dancing traffic light. Set up as a marketing campaign, the introduction of these clever lights actually did lead towards a safer city. Their test results showed that the innovation dropped Jaywalking, crossing the street recklessly, by 81 percent where the Dancing Traffic Lights were installed. This campaign was part of their WhatAreYouFOR campaign, to push for innovations that will make cities safer in a non-conventional way.

So how does this dancing traffic light works? First Smart installed motion capturing cameras in a disco booth, away from the place where the traffic lights were located. These motion capturing cameras translated real-time movements from volunteer dancers, who could dance in their own private mini-disco. These movements were translated onto the ‘Do Not Cross’ sticky figure onto the traffic light. Instead of a boring red man standing still in the traffic light box, the LED traffic light show a red sticky figure doing all kinds of crazy dance moves that the volunteers came up with. What happened next is that people are entertained while waiting. Restless pedestrians were way more likely to wait instead of crossing the street, which is of course much safer then Jaywalking.

Cyclist Airbag

Another non- conventional idea is the cyclist airbag. It will definitely look better on you then cyclist helmet, however, it’s probably a little too expensive for students.

invisible_helmetThis cyclist airbag is a design of the Swedish Anna Haupt and Terese Alstin, under the brand name Hövding. We all know that it’s better to protect your head while on your bike, but we are all not quite behaving like it (unless the people that don’t really care about how their hair looks afterwards). Another reason to come up with this idea is the conflicting data about how effective helmets actually are. With these arguments the two students created a fashionably looking scarf with an airbag inside for their thesis and eventually made it into a real product that is now sold in many countries. In tests from a Swedish insurance company, Hovding was shown to be at least three times better at absorbing shocks (at 24 km per hour) than conventional helmets. Hovding’s weakest point is probably that it can’t protect riders from “direct hits” like street signs or a stationary car, an issue that hasn’t prevented the company from winning Europe’s CE conformity label.

So, both are two extraordinary ways of making city traffic a little safer, but they are definitely not the only ones. I’m curious if you know any more non-conventional and technological ideas for pedestrians or cyclists!

Click to access overtakingprobrief.pdf

Tile: the ultimate solution for people that constantly lose things

Do you constantly misplace or always lose things? Then Tile might be your ultimate solution. Tile is a small (37mm x 37mm x 5.3mm) hardware device, which can be attached to items you may misplace or lose. It makes use of a Bluetooth 4.0 connection that communicates with the Tile application that is, until this moment, only availablefor iOS devices.

The-Tile-app-7-days-left-and-limited-price-offer-pic-1The Tile application shows you where your Tile is currently located or, if outside a 50-150ft range, was last seen. The application lets you know if you are getting closer or further away from the Tile. The Tile itself also has a built-in speaker, which makes a sound if you are getting closer. The range that the Tile reaches does not seem that large especially when you left your phone or wallet in, for example, a restaurant. Here is where the community comes in play. Other Tile users can help you locate your Tile by sending an anonymous update of your Tile’s location. Obviously this service will not be that effective when the application is first launched, but as usage of the app grows, the more effective the network will be in finding your lost item. Although this might seem very handy, it could also be dangerous as other people can see where you left your phone or wallet, or can trace you as you have you wallet inside your pocket. The company insist that it takes your security seriously, as other Tile users cannot search for your Tiles and only you and the Tile users you’ve explicitly shared your Tiles with can search for your Tiles.

A single Tile can be pre-ordered for $20 dollars. If you buy three Tiles you will get one for free. Shipping is free for the US and for shipping to the Netherlands you pay a fixed $14 dollars, which makes it quite expensive if you just buy one Tile. In addition, orders placed today will ship November 2014.

A Tile works for one year before the battery runs out and the user must replace it. With it I mean the whole Tile, as the battery is not rechargeable. The fact that a Tile has quite a long lifetime without recharging might seem positive, but it is not that environmental friendly. The company tries to mitigate this image by sending an empty envelope, when consumers are repurchasing the Tile, in which they can put the empty Tiles and send them back to the company for recycling.

What about Android phones?
Until this moment Tile is only available for iOS devices. However Tile is working on their first Android version for over a month and is actively hiring more Android engineers. The first Android phone Tile will support is the Samsung Galaxy S5: “We chose to start with the Galaxy S5 because it is the most widely used phone worldwide that supports Bluetooth Low Energy (4.0), a requirement for Tile. Once we launch on the Galaxy S5, we will quickly follow with versions for the other top Android phones.”

At the moment there are several alternatives for Tile. One of its most interesting competitors is Duet. Duet has a current price of $19 dollar and makes use of the same technology as Tile. It also has an upcoming community searching function, but next to that differentiates with its colours and replaceable battery. Although it might seem that Duet is a better alternative for Tile, the app and the Duet’s functionality still need some improvement to outperform Tile.

Would you use Tile? Do you think Tile is the future or wouldn’t you pay $20 to always know where you left your wallet?

Post your comments below!


Say hello to Ello, the anti-Facebook

This week’s topic is all about platform mediated networks. So it seemed a good moment to introduce to you, a social mediated network platform: ELLO.

Ello blogpost

What is Ello?

Ello is an ad free and free to use social network existing since March 2014. You can compare it to tumblr, or twitter since you can write short messages, put photos on your own page and you can write messages to others via the @. Besides you can follow people but these people don’t necessarily have to follow you back.

What makes Ello different?

There are three main points that make Ello different (and interesting)

  • Ello doesn’t have any advertising on their platform. This is because no personal data is sold, so there are no personalized adverts.
  • You can use Ello under whatever name you want. Transvestites and transgenders felt discriminated on facebook because they were only able to join facebook on their real names and turned to Ello, this is how Ello became so popular all of a sudden this month.
  • Last Ello is only joinable on a request, your request has to be accepted by the users of Ello

Ello and data

Information from the users of ELlo won’t be sold to any third party, only under several circumstances

  • If you tell them it’s OK
  • If they will have to do so by law
  • If a third party offers services for you as a user (for instance payment information for credit card company)

If information needs to be shared because of what reason whatsoever Ello will notify this to you in advance.

Once your account is deleted the data is still available on the servers run by third parties. These parties may keep backups of Ello’s data (the information you shared during your time on Ello) even after you deleted your account. This information won’t be longer visible or publicly accessible.

But how does Ello make money?

Facebook makes revenue from our data in the form of adverts. Your social network is property of the advertisers, every action you do is being recorded and further developed into data, which are then released on you in the form of (personalized) adverts. You, as a user of the mediated platform network, are the thing that is being bought and sold.

Ello makes money via:

  • The gifts of users
  • The purchase of premium tools and apps to users of the network besides the basic functionality.


Because of the ever increasing ‘Facebook tiredness’ there is a need for a user-friendly alternative, which is also carefull with sharing personal information of users. Ello seems a solution:  it is now growing with 40.00 users per hour.

But once you put on your critical glass you find some downsides. First facebook and google+ also started without adverts, but because of their enormous increase in users this was no longer feasible. Second how is Ello going to be financed in the future, will the users keep on giving gifts or will they buy enough extra application which can be used on the Ello platform? Third Ello says they don’t use data for third party purposes but your data is kept on a third party server and is not removed after you deleted your account. Last Ello also admitted that maybe in the future data will be shared under certain circumstances. These circumstances of the future are not further explained.

So, my question for you is, would you use Ello? Do you think Ello will survive?

Brandhorst, C. 2014 Algemeen Dagblad [online newspaper] Available at: <> [Accessed 12 October 2014]

Ello, 2014 [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 12 October 2014]

Ello, 2014 [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 12 October 2014]

Amazon vs eBay – Group 34, Technology of the Week

Amazon and eBay are the two most well-known online e-retailers in the Western world. Books, cars, furniture, clothes and even a jar of Tom Cruise’s breath can be find on either one or both of these online platforms. In this blog we will summarise and evaluate the differences and similarities of the two platform mediated networks. Also we will address the question how these platforms have been able to co-exist for such a long time.

Diving straight into the different value propositions, we discovered some important differences between Amazon and eBay. Amazon originally started off as online bookstore, but has expanded tremendously. It still offers predominantly first-hand products offered by retailers (B2C), but has also extended towards connecting individuals by allowing second-hand products to be sold (C2C). Amazon acts as mediator, facilitating the transaction but not creating further engagement between the actors. Amazon focuses on providing goods at the lowest prices as well as ease of purchase and delivery.

eBay, on the other hand, is particularly known for their online auction strategy; individuals can bid on an item and thus determine their own price they are willing to pay. All products on eBay are offered by individuals to individuals (C2C). Although, the online auction is still a major part of eBay’s value proposition, it has also introduced a Buy-It-Now feature by which customers can avoid the bidding an pay a fixed price. eBay acts as a moderator, providing a platform for buyers and sellers to connect.

Building on Eisenmann’s (2006), principles we can explain why neither eBay nor Amazon has driven out the other of the market space. He argues that three conditions should apply: high multi-homing costs for one user, strong and positive network costs for one user and no strong preference for special features by either side. For Amazon and eBay none of these conditions are currently present. Users can still freely, and more importantly, cheaply move from one platform to the other and can even use both. Also, because platforms are open to all users, products will often be offered on both platforms. Lastly, because the users of both eBay and Amazon’s platform require special features this opens the door for differentiation efforts which further supports the co-existence of both platforms.

One interesting point to mention is that despite their differences, Amazon and eBay also try to become more like each other. Where eBay started out selling second-hand products, Amazon has by now also tapped into this opportunity. Conversely, by introducing the Buy-It-Now feature, eBay also allows buyers to buy products for a fixed price.

Future research could explore the threat that Alibaba may pose in the upcoming year. With Alibaba’s current IPO – the biggest to date – and its sales revenue surpassing 240$ billion, it is interesting to see whether it can expand across Chinese borders and penetrate Amazon and eBay’s market share (D’onfro, 2014). Moreover, additional research could shed light on the question where eBay and Amazon will be in 5 years. Will they be able to maintain their business strategies and current market share?

D’onfro, J. (2014, September 19). 22 Astounding Facts About Alibaba, The Giant Chinese E-Commerce Company With The Largest IPO In US Stock History. From Business Insider:

Eisenmann, T. P. (2006). Strategies for Two-Sided Markets. Harvard Business Review , 10 (84), 92-101. (2014). About Amazon. Retrieved October 8, 2014 from

eBay Inc.(b). (2014). ebayinc. Retrieved October 8, 2014 from

This ring will rule them all

Some years ago I wondered what new technologies would appear in the future. A smart watch didn’t cross my mind. Yesterday I’ve read about a ring that controls your devices via Bluetooth. Just make a simple gesture and it powers your TV and controls your mobile devices and even your smart watch.

After a successful Kickstarter campaign, a Japanese company created a ring to control all devices by simply making movements with your finger. Just put the ring on your index finger, power it and make gestures. Do you want to take a photo or control your music player? Do you want to write a tweet? It’s all possible with this ring. It can tweet, check the weather, control your volume, controls the temperature in your living room. The possibilities are endless.

The battery lasts 1-3 days, depending on how much you are going to use this ring and it takes just 3 hours to charge. You can also set your own gestures for each device you are controlling with this ring.

But why should you control your smart watch that controls your smartphone with a smart ring. If connected to a Google Glass, why should you make a gesture to take a picture? Why would a mobile device have a touchscreen if you don’t need to touch it anymore while using this ring?

This ring connects to devices via Bluetooth and controls it using gestures, so it makes the touch with mobile devices irrelevant. Is this an innovation that activates a chain reaction in several industries? I think this small creation will have a big impact on the smartphone industry. If touch screens become irrelevant, companies will think of other ways to control your devices. What are your opinions? What do you think will happen with the introduction of this ring?

UberPop: what is it about?

U probably have noticed it in the newspapers recently: drivers get fined for using UberPop up to 4.200 euro’s. UberPop is a new service presented bij Uber. Uber is a company which recently got valued at 17 billion dollars and got very controversial when announcing their new services allowing amateurs to become taxi drivers.

So what is Uber? Uber is an app which allows people to order and pay for a taxi drive through their phone. One can see on their Smartphone which Uber taxi’s are in the area and can order the one they prefer. The app provides cost estimations accordingly. One pays for a ride afterwards through a credit card which is linked to your Uber app account. In this way you won’t need cash anymore.

Last Thursday Uber launched a new service named UberPop. This app enables normal customers to act as professional taxi drivers, and thus pick someone up underway to work for example. It does check the customer’s age, driver’s license and driver’s history. After a ride a customer can rate the driver. A downside for the driver is that the rate per hour is a lot lower than for normal taxis.

The app was immediately blocked in the Netherlands, and also in a lot of other countries. In Germany for example the entire Uber app is illegal. In San Francisco the changed some laws to allow services like Uber to operate. Reasons for this were that the driver has no official license, the app enables unfair competition and travelers won’t be ensured. Because of the lower rate per hour travelers will probably choose for the non professional drivers instead of professional taxi chauffeurs. The government is currently fining unlicensed drivers actively using ‘mystery customers’. Fines can be as high as 4200 euro’s

What do you think about UberPop? Should it be legalized?

Technology and Criminal Behavior

It has always been a very interesting topic. The known nature vs. nurture debate. In this case, we can relate it to criminal behavior. Are criminals born with the genes that can cause criminal behavior or are criminals actually ‘made’ by their environment. Personally, I always thought criminals are not born. I believe that everyone is born good, and that someone’s environment and surroundings can make someone become a criminal or psychopath. However, recently I saw an interesting article that explained something else.

In this article (Psychology Today – Criminal Genes and Criminal Brains) psychiatrist/neuroscientist Adrian Raine suggests a link between low levels of activity in the prefrontal regions of the brain and psychopathy. Another link is between brain structure and alledged criminals: the size of the striatum (responsible for planning and executing pathways of movement) is on average larger in criminals. In addition he claims people with the enzyme monoamine-oxidase or a variant of this enzyme tend to be more violent.

In addition, U.S scientists can predict criminal tendencies by looking at the brain of three-year old children. Studies have shown that these alledged criminal children have developed certain parts of their brain differently than similar ‘non-criminal’ children. Especially parts of the brain that deal with behavior, guilt and empathy.

What do you think about this topic? Do you think their is a relation between genes and criminal behavior or do you think that the environment of someone plays a bigger role in becoming a criminal? Or maybe it is a combination of the two? And what about the future? If there is a relation between genes and criminal behavior, can we use technology to ‘prevent’ crimes from happening based on these research results?


Want to be an internet entrepreneur? Go Poker!

No, that is not exactly what I want to say, but it sounds nice. First of all I want to specify Internet entrepreneurs as creators of online mediating platforms. Secondly it has something to do with apples and oranges, but sometimes you have to make a comparison like that to make clear what you mean. However I would like to suggest that there are similarities between this kind of internet entrepreneurs and poker.

At the beginning of the Internet age, entrepreneurs were looking in real-life to find something they can copy to the “online world”; Facebook (social interaction between people), dating sites (Explanation is not needed, I think), music platforms, job-vacancies, news-sites, Ebay and so on.

More specific, they create a platform for two existing parties. To create such platforms, you have to analyse data, maybe big data, of what is happening “a lot” in real life. You transform this into a platform, and there it is: a big start-up.

Nowadays every two-sided market in real life is already transformed in an online platform. The only opportunity is to be a ‘copycat’ and making a “better” one. Result: a big start-up too.

It sounds quite simple, of course it isn’t, thousands of (potential) Internet entrepreneurs try, maybe millions. Unfortunately, “we” are not alone.

Except for the real creative ones, who create one side of the market by themselves, by their platform. They are just alone. It fascinates me. I mean social platforms such as Uber and Airbnb. Uber makes everyone with a five-door car a taxi driver. Uber has created million of taxi drivers with one platform, all of these persons do not know they were a taxi driver before Uber exist. The same applies to Airbnb; nobody knew that his or her house could act as hotel. This is somewhat exaggerated, I think. But you know what I mean.

Of course there is the question whether it is legal or not, whether it is terrible for the economy or not. All because of the taxes where the official hotels and taxi drivers have to comply with, and that the created ones can bypass. But what is wrong, the new business models or “the” system? Anyway it does not diminish the astounding result of the powerful combination of simplicity and creativity.

When you come up with an idea to create a new two-side market, please do not comment below! Give it a try! While the two-side market does not exist yet, there is no competition: it is only you and your idea!

So it is about knowing what people want before they know it themselves, about inventing a completely new strategy and about knowing what is the value of the idea, while no one else knows and no one else thinks of. Oh… That is poker about too.

A device that can detect cancer

Many people of a certain age visit their doctor year after year and undergo uncomfortable tests to screen for different types of cancer. Most of the time these tests are focused on the most common types of cancer, like prostate and breast cancer. But what about all the other types of cancer, for instance brain cancer or leukaemia? And there are even millions of young people who never get tested at all. Lots of people go to the doctor for tests when something goes wrong with their health, and then realize they might have cancer. This is all because diagnostic methods are very expensive and invasive.

This will change in the future, with a device called Miriam. This device can easily and affordably check for dozens of cancers using a single blood sample. The goal is to make this device so simple that even untrained people could use it. It is still in the early stages, but in the future it could make regular cancer screenings as simple as getting blood drawn.

The device works as follows: you prepare the blood sample with a pipette into the plate. If you put the plate into the device, the reaction begins. In an hour, the reaction is complete and the results are sent to a cloud server. Then the system is able to make a judgement.

With this device it must be possible to detect cancer early and not when it is too late. Do you think this device will make a change in the medical world and save more people from dying of cancer?



The end of the future – Peter Thiel

I write this blog post based on something I’ve read a few days ago on Blendle (Dutch website where you can read news articles for 10 to 50 cents). This article was a profile of Peter Thiel (1967), founder of PayPal who claims the end of the future.

PayPal was founded in 1998 and acquired by eBay in 2002. Peter Thiel personally received around 50 million dollars due to the sale and decided to invest in all kinds of start ups. Peter is a real cocky man. He believes the government is holding us back and that we are therefore in a technological stagnation. Until the seventies we were innovating in a rapid speed and were able to land a man on the moon. Science fiction books predicted we could all live on several planets and have eternal life. Thiel’s investment fund’s motto: “We wanted flying cars, instead we got 140 characters” to symbolize the innovations we are dealing with today. He claims that innovations within computer science and technology disguises the stagnation on other fields like energy, food, transport and healthcare. We stopped trying to answer the biggest questions in life.

I think his thoughts are kind of pessimistic and don’t agree on the technological stagnation, but do acknowledge there has been a shift from societal innovations to personal innovations. If you look at the biggest companies from the past 10 years (Google, Apple and others) you can see that all of these companies made our life a bit easier, but none really solved the questions for our future as a society.

Going back to the article about Peter Thiel where he explains his tactics involving investments, he doesn’t invest in information technology, but only hard tech start ups. So no new websites or social media.

What do you think? You can read the article provided in the link below (Dutch only). Do you think Peter has a point and we are currently not moving forward? Do you think investments in Facebook, Twitter or other social media start ups are a waste and it should rather be invested in health care issues?

Sources:  (Account needed)

We could type 48% faster, but why don’t we do it?

The most-used keyboard layout globally is the QWERTY layout.QWERTY_1878 The layout stems from the time of the typewriter and the key distribution on this layout is not actually designed for fast typing, as one may expect, it is designed to make sure that the hammers of the machine wouldn’t jam or interlock when a person was typing rapidly. In the modern-day application of this layout this design requirement is obviously no longer necessary, but then why haven’t we moved from this sub-optimal layout to a layout that would let us type faster?


Optimal keyboard layout for the Dutch language

Well it sure isn’t for a lack of trying. Over the years there have been several attampts, like for instance Neo, Colemak and the most famous: Dvorak. Since the year 2000 physicist Martin Krzywinski (Warschau, 1971) has been looking for the optimal keyboard layout, where the optimum is fastest typing. He has developed an algorithm that processes a large amount of text and subsequently gives a keyboard layout that would be optimal for typing it. For the Dutch language the optimal keyboard layout would be a QFKLM layout, as shown in the picture.

Why then is it unlikely that we as a society will start using the QFKLM layout? According to economist Paul David (1985) it has to do with path dependence. He argues that because everybody is using the QWERTY keyboard, and everybody has gotten used to using a QWERTY keyboard (muscle memory), the switching costs for changing keyboard layout are high. Aside from this, human beings are creatures of habit and that is why we will probably never see a QFKLM keyboard in stores.


(re)Captcha codes and language learning apps: what do these two have in common?

The answer is ‘Luis von Ahn’ and ‘crowdsourcing’ – Yes well that makes it two answers!

Captcha codes are well-known and have been easily admitted in everyday language: they are indeed these (annoying) distorted images that need to be deciphered and copied in order to prove our non-robotic existence.

Captcha codes are made of two sections:

  • The first section is the infamous distorted word we all have had trouble guessing. This one checks our human capabilities and should be unreadable to bots and automated programs.
  • The second section however is much more interesting. Most of the time it also contains a word – or sometimes a weird zoomed-in picture of a number – that may or may not be easier to guess. Did you actually know that the word in the second section is not meant to check whether you are a human but rather meant to help a firm digitalize thousands of books or articles? That’s the whole idea behind reCaptcha: millions of users worldwide help Google and the New York Times digitalize scanned books or archives by transcribing previously scanned words. Every day over 100 million reCaptcha codes are deciphered by internet users and then sent back by the subscribed websites to the reCaptcha service.

Now let’s have a closer look at the language learning app Duolingo. Created by Guatemalan entrepreneur and associate professor in the Computer Science Department at Carnegie Mellon University Luis Von Ahn in November 2011, this free app was selected as the iPhone of the Year App 2013. Duolingo is simply a language learning app which allows you, freely, to learn grammar and words by writing. Yet, Duolingo does have a very particular and interesting business model. Instead of getting its income from its avid language learners or by ads, it gets paid by external organizations (CNN and BuzzFeedbeing among them) willing to have certain texts translated. The language learner practices his skills on taken-apart sentences (which he is required to translate) and these organizations benefit from this crowdsourcing effort through Duolingo.

Could you now answer the question in the title of this article? Luis Von Ahn was not named the most influential man of Latin America and Spain in the Foreign Policy Magazine of 2011 for nothing! The reCaptcha codes system has indeed proved to be very effective both as an additional security against automated programs on the internet as well as a digitalization and translation tool in crowdsourcing environments. Despite certain criticisms emitted by disabled individuals having difficulties using Captcha codes and certain debates as to the level of protection it really gives, it can be argued that the reCaptcha slogan “Stop spam, read books” still has some beautiful days ahead!

Have you already tried Duolingo? Let me know in the comments!





4D Sound – Something you never heard before!

If you go to a club these days, the best you can get is a sound that is coming from four different corners; the audio waves received are usually just stereo. In this scenario the listening experience is limited to the tunes and two-dimensional tones created by the DJ/producer.

The 4D Sound system enables the DJ and producer to augment the audio-experience and bring it on the next level. The hardware of the system is constructed on a 16 square meter setting with 16 columns, which each have 3 convex shaped speaker, and 9 subwoofers which are inserted in the ground. With this sound system construction it is possible to play sounds not only two-dimensional but also spatial, such that it appears you are not listening to various speakers anymore, but a real-life sound space. Software enables DJ’s and producers to design and create a sound that has a size and shape, that can be conceived big or small, can fly around or rain down on you.

However, the 4D sound experience is not only limited to clubs, concerts or events. It also raises opportunities for the movie industry, more specifically for cinemas, which may utilize the new 4D sound system to present a novel and more realistic sound experience for their audience. The conventional Dolby Surround sound, which is currently used by cinemas, only generates the sound around the audience, but not above and below it.

Implementing the 4D sound would mean positioning speakers across the whole hall, such that the sound becomes a reality. People talking in the movie would sound like they directly sit next to you or if it is raining in the movie it would actually sound like it is raining in the cinema hall.

This kind of extraordinary sound experience may boost the movie industry and its revenues. A similar phenomenon occurred when the visual 3D technology was introduced in 2009, which raised the box office revenues by around $1 billion per year (MPAA, 2013).


Click to access MPAA-Theatrical-Market-Statistics-2013_032514-v2.pdf

Technology of the week-Group 36 Microsoft Xbox VS Sony PlayStation

This report talks about the two major players in the video game industry and how these act as a platform for the consumers and the video game producers. The revenue sources for these players in the console industry have been discussed. Also how these console developers are vying for more of the customer attention by offering new launches has been mentioned.

Platform Networks: The Video Game Industry

In the video game industry, the intermediary or platform is represented by the console producer – in this case Microsoft with Xbox and Sony with Playstation. The two sides of the market, which connect through this platform, are the consumers and the video game developers. In the video game industry, consumers are seen as the ‘subsidy’, while game developers are viewed as the ‘money side’ . Value grows as the platform matches the demand from both sides, so video game developers prefer platforms that have a critical mass of players while players favor platforms with a greater variety of games.


PlayStation is a series of video game consoles created and developed by Sony Computer Entertainment. This brand was first introduced on December 3, 1994 in Japan with the launch of the original PlayStation console system. It now consists of four home consoles, a media center, an online service, a line of controllers, as well as multiple magazines.


Xbox One vision is “taking over the living room” but the business model has not really changed from the Microsoft`s first console in 2001 – gamers pay on average €60 for a game before they are able to play the game they wanted. Developers took major cut from games they sell and platform providers (Microsoft) need to find more ways to make profit. The business model isn´t any more that you only try to sell as many games and consoles as you can with high profit margins.

PlayStation VS Xbox

The main sources of two consoles’ revenue are the same, video game developers and console players. For Xbox, they put more focus on increasing its install base. On the other hand, PlayStation TV has launched to compete with Apple TV or Amazon’s Fire TV while still focus video gaming.


In Xbox, mixed bundling is always the common strategy, which ensures all the important feature can be seen from this bundling. However, the major cost of PlayStation has till be the manufacture cost of consoles. Moreover, after launch the PlayStation TV, the maintenance of cloud network service can be increasing important as well.

Distribution channel
Due to its wide electronic business network, PlayStation is available in major online and offline retail store in more than countries while Xbox mainly use third party platform like Amazon and GameStop to sell its devices.

Xbox has partnership with Netflix to enable player to watch TV or movie on their devices as well. For PlayStation, they put effort on many sports event and tried to partner with popular plays to attract the attention of buyers.



Platform Mediated Networks – KINDLE VS BLENDLE

Technology of the Week- Group 39
For the technology of the week, our team (Team 39) decided to compare two players that are examples of platform mediated networks- Amazon Kindle and Blendle. In our two cases, Amazon Kindle and Blendle, we have two distinct groups i.e. the readers and the publishers.
E-book platform Amazon: KINDLE 
The Kindle was first introduced by Amazon Inc. in 2007 and changed the way people read books, newspapers and other written work. A Kindle is an e-reader that allows a user to read published work on a small and easy to use handheld device. The Kindle platform is a perfect example of a so-called two-sided market, connecting readers to publishers
Media platform: BLENDLE
Blendle is a Dutch news aggregator, a combination of a newsstand and social media, where people pay for articles from newspapers and magazines. As a two-sided market, Blendle connects journalists with the readers. Users can then buy articles on the website with the use of an online wallet and read those articles on their desktop, laptop, tablet or smartphone. It is also possible to share articles, comment on them and ‘like’ other user’s comments, as with Facebook and other social media.
Two-Sided Market: While Kindle connects users of books to publishers, Blendle connects readers to journalists and newspaper publishers.
Revenue: Users pay a fixed price to buy the reader device to access Amazon’s online platform, but it can also be accessed via mobile devices. Users pay a small price for each book that they buy in the online shop. Amazon receives a commission on each sold item. For Blendle Users can register and then buy articles on the website with the use of an online wallet and read those articles on their desktop, laptop, tablet or smartphone. To pay for articles, users can transfer money via iDeal, credit card or PayPal to their online Blendle wallet.
Advantages:  Kindle allows users to find and read books they like on a small piece of technology. Customer is able to store many titles on the reader and take them on the go. Good use during holidays. Publisher can easily distribute a new title and reach a large audience. In Blendle, Users can register through their Facebook account, share articles, and comment on them and ‘like’ other user’s comments. Blendle users also get refund for articles they do not like.
Limitations: Kindle does not allow re-sell or to pass along the book that a customer has bought. For Blendle the limitation is that they offer content only in Dutch.
The likes of platform mediated networks have experienced huge growth in the past decade due to increase in strength of internet and online connectivity. Both Kindle and Blendle have their advantages as they provide a platform to users to access and store their favourite contents online and hassle-free. With increase in number of users shifting to digital reading, both of the platforms show extreme growth potential​.

Information goods: better informed users or hurdles of biased followers?

During the last lecture we covered the topic “information goods”. Due to the emerging of the internet, we have increased access to many types of information goods. In the lecture examples such as CD’s, or DVD’s were given but information goods can also have a sensitive character such as information regarding medical health reports, or any other medical condition. This has certain advantages, for instance, consumers can Google shameful conditions and save embarrassments, they can become more informed, and also, those who are suffering of an illness can find support on several blogs, patient-centric websites and support groups (Medicomhealth, 2014).  On the other hand, because of bad regulation over a great amount of sources, people might get misinformed due to misleading information. Nowadays, we are so exposed through all kinds of sources such as Facebook or twitter that it might lead people being over exposed to sensitive information. This is especially dangerous in cases where people tend to take what they see as true, while in reality, information and especially its source is highly biased. For example, propaganda concerning extremist behaviour. There are tons and tons of sources online that preach any kind of extreme religion or belief. In its extreme, someone who is naive and/or curious might be affected by a certain source in two ways: either he will grow a hatred against the group and start to generalize others, or he will grow affection and start to emphasize and support the group. Two opposite ways that might have big consequences. Our modern society makes us more and more connected and informed. We are not bounded by geographical borders anymore but our reach expands across mountains and seas. When I speak of reach, I speak of reach in the widest possible meaning of the word. We can expand our knowledge by soaking up literature that is widely available, experience free online classes, interact with other cultures, or like I previously mentioned, Google our conditions, and possibly eliminate doctor appointments. However, on the other hand, this has big disadvantages as well, such as being misled or influenced by the wrong type of information.

Sensitive information causes us to be more informed but are people aware of the true nature of certain information goods? What do you think ? Do the benefit outpace the threats? Is our modern society contributing to better informed and thus wiser citizens, or are we getting more and more biased due to over explosion?