Archive | October 13, 2014

Should Disney buy Nike FuelBand?

Since a while now,  Disney has implemented MagicBands in their theme parks in Florida. The MagicBands enables users to get into parks, open their hotel rooms, pay their drinks and foods and use the Fastpass lines they subscribed for. They increase the theme park experience and make a trip to a Disney Theme Park easier for the customers.

The MagicBands are simply RFID chips in a fashionable wristband. They are not powered by a battery, neither do they have led displays. The MagicBands solely interact with a great amount of scanners that are spread throughout the Disney parks. They can be found at for instance, the entrance, turnstiles, ride entrances and cash registers. By scanning the MagicBand at a so called touchpoint the transaction takes place. Some functions can be turned off or on through the internet however, the MagicBand itself is continuously active.

Nevertheless, the MagicBand does not provide any realtime information as for instance, the current time or personal activity. Would it be an idea for Disney to buy an idea/product that does have this, like Nike FuelBand.

Nike FuelBand is a wristband that tracks movements and has a led screen that serves as a clock. The product measures the calories you burn, the steps you have taken and the vigorousness of a day’s activities. It is an extensive fitness tracker and has a sharp design.

If Disney would buy a product like Nike Fuelband, it could give its customers a premium MagicBand experience. Guests would be able to find all the extra information the Nike Fuelband provides. They could keep track of the time, see the steps they took, see the rides they have taken, their heart rate and much more. It would make the theme park experience even more complete than before. It would be a great opportunity to rescue Nike’s dying platform, however would be an evenly great opportunity for Disney’s MagicBands?

Dear Easyjet, are you sure you want to take the risk?

Easyjet%20aircraft

People who travel a lot know how much effort it takes to fill in all your travel document details when booking plane ticket. You have to fill in a lot of information and you better do it right otherwise it could cost you a lot of money.

Easyjet thought that this should be easier and tried to come up with an extra feature for their booking app. Today they presented the new feature; Recognition of your travel document details with the camera of your smart phone or tablet.

The feature makes it possible for the user to scan a travel document which will enable the app to read the details and use them for your booking. This will save a lot of time for the user and will ensure the absent of any typo’s.

So far everything sounds very positive, less effort for the user and simultaneously a creation of more customer loyalty. Yet I have doubts if I would have implemented the app if I was in charged of Easyjet. My concerns are about the security issues of the app. Sure Easyjet says in their press release that the safety of the app is secured, but I always learned that every lock can be broken depending on the effort you are willing to put in to it. And for this kind of for criminals very valuable information it will pay of for them to put some effort in it.

I think Easyjet, as a not technical company, is taking a huge risk in trusting another company in this matter. Dealing with such sensitive information as travel documents it is a huge problem when things goes wrong. Easyjet will face a major negative publicity when the app turns out the be vulnerable for hackers and they do not have this in their own hands.

So my question to Easyjet is, are you sure you want to take the risk?

http://mediacentre.easyjet.com/stories/8765

Google Helpouts: The Online Doctor

The in November 2013 launched Helpouts by Google is an online live video platform that connects experts with users. Experts can share their knowledge and passion with other people around the world via live video chatting, in a wide variety of topics. Each person who wants to market their skills and business as an expert via Helpouts is screened by Google to confirm that he or she is qualified. After qualification, the expert can name his or her price and start offering video consultations or lessons in their personal area of expertise (Fallon, 2014).

A few days ago Google confirmed that it is currently testing a Helpouts-style feature, which offers live video chats with doctors when you search for symptoms via the Google search engine [Fingas, 2014]. With this new feature Google detects when users perform a symptom-related search, and shows a search card with a video icon beside it indicating the option for online medical consultation. As this feature is currently in its test phase, all visits are currently covered by Google during this period. Future charges depend on the popularity of the service (Mogg, 2014).

google-helpouts-doctor-consultation

Most doctors advice not to go for self-treatment by browsing online. Medical advice given by non-medical persons via the internet can do more harm than good. It is hard to identify whether the medical advice given on websites are given by qualified medical people, therefore there is some risk involved when following their advice. Google has found the right solution to this problem by offering a service where people can consult medical experts when searching for medical advice (Hull, 2014).

However, some concerns are also raised by the introduction of this service. The most important one being that this service offers medical consultation over a video call, which constraints the doctor from examining the patient physically (Hull, 2014).

What do you think, will this service be a new gap in the market by providing qualified online medical consultation and result in a decrease in physical doctor visits over the years? Or will the constraint of not being able to physically examine the patient over a video call eventually lead to the end of the test phase of this service and Google deciding not to continue offering this service?

References

– Fallon, N. (2014), ´4 Unique Ways to Get Paid for Your Expertise´, BusinessNewsDaily. [Online] 17 September 2014, Available from: http://www.businessnewsdaily.com/7140-get-paid-for-expertise.html [Accessed: 13 October 2014]

– Fingas, J. (2014), ´Google Tests Doctor Video Chats´, Engadget. [Online] 11 October 2014, Available from: http://www.engadget.com/2014/10/11/google-tests-doctor-video-chats/ [Accessed: 13 October 2014]

– Mogg, T. (2014), ´Forget WEBMD, Google May Let You Video Chat With A Doctor While You Search´, Digitaltrends. [Online] 13 October 2014, Available from: http://www.digitaltrends.com/mobile/google-testing-video-chats-with-doctors/ [Accessed: 13 October, 2014]

– Hull, A. (2014), ´Google to Offer Doctor´s Consultation Through ¨Talk with a Doctor now¨ Service´, CapitalOTC. [Online] 13 October 2014, Available from: http://www.capitalotc.com/google-to-offer-doctors-consultation-through-talk-with-a-doctor-now-service/24106/ [Accessed: 13 October 2014]

People Analytics. Yes, people being analyzed!

As if it wasn’t bad enough that Facebook, Google, Whatsapp etc. store every kind of personal information about you, today, Volometrix has successfully raised $12 million for a people analytics service. Yes, you read that right. An analytical tool for your employer to monitor how you spend your time at work.

EnterpriseNetworkGraph

The Seattle-based Volometrix market their campaign and service as a wonderful product and they mean for it to be solely about how much time an employee spends in a sales teams communicating with customers, or how different teams work together (or not). Whereby they also state that all of the data is collected right from the corporate communications system (even e-mails and instant messaging) and then anonymized. However, I myself would feel that my privacy is being invaded and compromised. Some employees can do nothing productive for 2 hours straight, and then deliver top-notch quality whilst being under pressure (time-constraint/deadlines etc.) in half an hour for example. What would be the consequences of that?

In the day and age that ‘flex-working’ is increasingly gaining in popularity, this people analytical tool gives off a wrong vibe even though Volometrix sugarcoats their service. Should everyone work in the same fashion and manner? I care to differ.

“The idea is to use this data from emails and calendar events to help businesses streamline their operations.” Would employees that don’t fit that idea of ‘streamlining the operations’ be fired? What are the deeper lying motives?

Even though I am highly critical of such a service, I do believe that for some companies this could be useful. Companies that are very lean, have standard-routine processes and basically don’t waste any time. But still, I wonder. Will it just serve as a tool/service for an employer to monitor the time being spent on certain aspects of the daily operations and no further implications follow. Or, are employers in the future going to set a standard of ‘X’ and ‘Y’ amount of time that should be spent on certain operations, and if the employee doesn’t meet that standard he or she shall be fired?

What would you say, ‘Yay, or Nay‘?

Sources:

Lardinois, F. (2014). “VoloMetrix raises $12M for its people analytics service”. Accessed on 11/10/2014, at: http://techcrunch.com/2014/10/13/volometrix-raises-12m-for-its-people-analytics-service/

Romano, B. (2014). “Volometrix raises 12M to market people analytics software”. Accessed on 11/10/2014, at:http://www.xconomy.com/seattle/2014/10/13/volometrix-raises-12m-to-market-people-analytics-software/

Selling through Amazon: Bad for business.

 

amazon

Amazon is a company we all know. The reason we all know Amazon is because of their enormous success. Part of that success was that Amazon is a platform that mediates a two-sided network of third party retailers and consumers. These retailers are often small businesses that use Amazon to gain access to a large audience and become visible.

It seems like a good deal. A small retailer doesn’t have to spend a lot of money on its own website and online marketing. Amazon does it for him and all he has to do is put his products on Amazons platform and ship them as the orders come in. Piece of cake. How this might seem like a smart and easy way to make money, it also comes with a dark side: Many small retailers feel exploited by Amazon and often have trouble generating any profit at all.

The first big disadvantage of selling items through Amazon is that Amazon takes a fee for every product that it sold. This fee consists of a referral fee and a closing fee that are variable and a fixed fee of $0.99 per product (Amazon.com, 2014). This means that, especially for cheaper products, the fee directly cuts a large part of the profit margin and sometimes even turns a profit into a loss.

One would have to sell its products at higher prices in order to cover for the fees that have to be paid. This is, however, easier said than done and this brings us to the second disadvantage: Companies hardly have any brand recognition (Power, S. 2013). If someone asks you where you bought your book, you’ll say “Through Amazon”, instead of the third party reseller where the book actually comes from. This makes it difficult for the seller to differentiate on anything other than price.

On Amazon, the competition between third party resellers can be fierce, but as a retailer you could even be competing with yourself. When you sell through both your own web shop and Amazon, you have the problem that people are likely to find your Amazon shop faster than your regular shop. This is because Amazon has vast resources to invest in their SEO. Even if you would close your Amazon web shop, it would still come up in the search results with the status “Product not available” (Orsini, RO., 2012). This is disastrous for small retailers, because people visiting that page will click through to competing retailers offering substitute products.

These are just three out of many negative same-side network effects (Li, T., 2014) that small retailers face when selling on Amazon. The sad thing is that most retailers do not have a choice but to sell through Amazon. Otherwise they cannot keep up with competition. Do you think that Amazon is playing a fair game? Or are they just viciously exploiting small business owners?


Bibliography

Amazon.com (2014) Fees and Pricing, http://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html?nodeId=1161240, 13 October 2014.

Li, T. (2014) Information Strategy Session 7: Platform Mediated Networks, [lecture to Msc Business Information Management] Erasmus Univercity Rotterdam, 13 October 2014.

Orsini R.O. (2012) How Amazon exploits small online retailers, http://www.dailydot.com/business/how-amazon-exploits-small-online-retailers/, 13 October 2014.

Power, S. (2013) Why Amazon Is Bad For (Small) Business, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/steven-power/why-amazon-is-bad-for-sma_b_3427279.html, 13 October 2014.

Technology in the medical world

When we look at the healthcare industry, there are a lot of possibilities for improving and better monitoring the patients. Google is already working on real life communication between the patient and a medical expert. Using a video connection the patient can be helped. But that is not what I want to talk about. Let’s talk about Philips, most of the people know this company because of the televisions or lightning technology.

But Philips is no stranger to the healthcare industry. This October a new device with LED light, which let you treat your skin diseases will be introduced in the Netherlands, Germany and United Kingdom. But Philips is diving further into the medical world. The company developed a gadget for COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) sufferers. This gadget is continuously gathering diagnostic data like heart rate, respiratory function and physical activity and/or inactivity. All of the data is collected on this sensor and transferred to the patient’s mobile device and uploaded to a cloud-based healthcare repository.

635487462139892239-Philips-COPD-sensor-hero-2

These ‘gadgets’ are just three examples of the fact, that seeing doctors is not always necessary anymore. Will the medical world develop in a technical way that appointments with doctors will disappear and eventually the doctors themselves disappear? Of course, the doctors should diagnose the physical problems, but the these three developments show that the role of the doctor is not as important as it was. Every week an appointment for just checking on you is not the most fun part to do for both the doctor and the patient.

Is the medical world ready for this technological developments? You should ask yourself whether the patients will trust the technology. Of course it is way more convenient and easier for the patient, but do you want to be dependent on technology?

I think there is a long way to go for the medical world to be totally ‘technology based’. With the pace of the developments it is very likely that even the diagnosing of the medical problems can be done without doctors. But I cannot believe that doctors will not play any role in the near future, mainly because of the fear of technology dependency. People are afraid and want the security of a medical expert. Do you guys think the medical world is ready for these technological developments?

References:

http://www.engadget.com/2014/10/13/philips-copd-sensor/

http://www.engadget.com/2014/09/30/philips-bluecontrol/

http://mashable.com/2014/10/13/google-live-chat-doctors/

http://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/2014/10/13/philips-gives-copd-patients-a-lifeline-with-new-gadget/17171535/

What Language Will the Internet of Things Speak?

The Internet of the future will be heavily shaped by a few key trends, from hybrid and personal clouds, to new visualization and analytics techniques that will solve challenges in the domain of Big Data. But perhaps most noteworthy of all is the expectation that new companies and applications will realize the concept of an Internet of Things.

By 2020, the global internet will have 100-billion connected devices. But no longer will the majority of these devices be comprised of computers and smartphones. Instead the future envisions a web of connected washing machines, fridges and vacuum cleaners.

Companies such as Microsoft and Cisco have heavily invested in projects related to bringing the Internet of Things into fruition. They have partnered with key institutions such as the Industrial Internet Consortium and the Allseen Alliance, both dedicated to standardizing how things will connect and communicate.

Today the Internet of Things is a far away prospect in its infantile stages of conception. We see more and more devices becoming connected, such as TV’s and Alarm Systems, but connectivity on an industrial scale is lacking. One of the primary causes of this predicament stems from the lack of a common, industrially-applicable framework for the connection and communication of the myriad of ‘things’.

Allseen Alliance has released AllJoyn, a free software originally created by Quacomm but given to the Allseen Alliance for further development. It is designed to operate in any device, regardless of the manufacturer or operating system, and mediate direct communication via wireless linkages (i.e. Wifi or Bluetooth). The basic idea being that objects broadcast what they can do in the immediate vicinity. Ideally, upon entry into a defined space, your future smartwatch should be able to access and command all connected devices located therein.Thread

The Thread Group, supported by Samsung, ARM and Google’s NEST has another perspective on how the framework for the Internet of Things should look like. Most notably, Thread explicitly distinguishes itself from being ‘just another standards body’ and bases its framework on existing standards and adds software for functions like security, routing and setup. According to the group this is imperative to minimize battery usage in devices which will have to deal with a multitude of active, broadcasting devices. Thread’s de facto sponsorship of the Bluetooth Smart brand has allowed it to capitalize early on the Internet of Things, as do its partnerships with Google and Samsung.

As the horizon draws near, companies are rushing to create the foundations of an increasingly connected global economy. The Internet of Things represents only one of the trends we expect to be realized in our lifetimes but it is taking measurable strides, being driven by a host of companies and interest groups representing a broad and diverse range of potential users. An environment of near total connectivity brings forth many challenges that will have to be confronted in the economic, social and ethical domains. Luckily, all efforts to develop a framework for the Internet of Things are open, exemplifying the level of collaboration and farsightedness that will be necessary in this awesome undertaking.

Sources not mentioned in-text:

The Student Hotel Rotterdam

In September 2012 the Student Hotel Rotterdam was opened at the Oostzeedijk. The concept had already gained a lot of attention with the hotel chain operating Student Hotels in Liège and Amsterdam. The Student Hotel offers fully furnished rooms for (international) students, but also young professionals, interns and the occasional parents visiting. Guests can book a single night or stay longer, even up to 10 months. A month’s stay costs around 650 Euros. The Student Hotel in 2012 had a total of 250 rooms. Each room offers a bed, desk, cable-TV, WiFi en a bathroom. Kitchens are shared with 8 other guests. Suites offer a private kitchen, larger bathroom and bed against a premium. Directly from the opening, all rooms were fully booked until end 2013. In the beginning of 2014 it was announced that the Student Hotel was planning an expansion, scheduled to be ready at the start of the academic year 2014-2015. After the reopening in August this year, the Student Hotel now has 484 rooms.

1398345058_2014_q1_in_het_vizier_rotterdam_uitbreiding.1398345122.9357

Clearly the Student Hotel has positioned itself well, which explains the 100% occupancy rate over 2013. The hotel has guests from 60+ countries, from Iraq to Australia or New Zealand. Student guests express that they felt that staying in the Student Hotel was the perfect kick-off for their period in Rotterdam. Lino Schaus from Switzerland: “The Student Hotel has excellent facilities and moreover a great location. Booking a room is very easily done via the Internet. I really enjoyed the international community within the hotel. I got into contact with many international students.

Indeed it seems like a smart business concept targeting international students in need for a room in Rotterdam. However from Kamernet can be found that in 2013 the average price for student accommodation in Rotterdam was 450 Euros per month, versus 540 Euros per month in Amsterdam. In Amsterdam it is quite difficult for students to find accommodation. Yet in Rotterdam it does not prove to be that difficult. It is thus highly interesting that international students are prepared to pay rent well in excess of the average price for a room in Rotterdam. What is that makes the Student Hotel so special?

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Sources:
http://www.rotterdam.nl/zestignationaliteitenonderndak
http://www.dichtbij.nl/amsterdam/regionaal-nieuws/artikel/3488456/studentenkamers-duurder-prijs-per-vierkante-meter-lager.aspx
http://hotel.blog.nl/nieuws/2014/08/13/student-hotel-rotterdam-weer-open-na-verbouwing

Make drones, not war!

Since I am pretty much the only Latvian writing here, I decided to fulfill the national duty of my tiny 2 million country and devote the following lines to the most promising Latvian high-tech start up that will revolutionize the way how we capture our action sports footage

In July 2013 a bunch of tech and sports fans in Latvia got together with one idea in mind – how to capture the sickest moments of extreme sports in the most beautiful way, that is accessible for  the majority of consumers. Soon they realized, that as beautiful as the current GoPro videos are, they lack perspective, an aerial view from the third person. Surely, one could rent a helicopter plus professional photographer to take a video of that black diamond run of yours, but the budget for this kind of fetish significantly exceeds the willingness to pay of the average consumer.

So they thought and soon enough came up with a novel hi-tech solution – AirDog – an auto-follow Drone for GoPro camera.  It is a compact, fast reacting  an agile quad copter, designed for those who strive to take the best quality footages of  their extreme sports endeavors.

So how does it work? The Airdog quad copter is programmed to follow the Airleash – a tracking device which is attached to the wrist of the device user.   Both devices are equipped with  highly sensitive positioning systems and continuously interact with each other. The built in gimbal stabilizes the footage and keeps the user in frame. The user can use the Airleash to alter the setting of the drop – the distance, altitude, and proximity of the drone. Once that is done, the device sets up and automatically follows the movement of the user.  Since  a video says more than thousand words, have a look at the drone in action:

The project has already attracted 1,3 million dollars of investment through Kickstarter crowd-funding campaign and the first early adopters are to receive their robotic sidekicks in November.  Nevertheless, the device has several glitches and points of improvement. The battery only lasts for maximum of 25 minutes and the number decreases depending on outside conditions and intensity of the usage. Furthermore, there is still a lot of work on the algorithms for the drones to be able to deal with physical obstacles, such as an approaching tree  in a ski-track. Nevertheless,  I believe that the combination of drone technology and wireless communication backed up by sophisticated self-learning algorithms has the potential to change the world in more meaningful ways, than

So here goes my question for those close to the action sports: Do you see the potential in the technology and how much would you be willing to pay for owning Airdog?

Sources:

http://www.bloomberg.com/video/meet-airdog-the-drone-you-want-to-follow-you-FoNv_PCWT_Siiq1p_Q8CHQ.html

https://www.airdog.com/

Being incognito with the Blackphone

In a time wherein privacy and data issues are becoming more and more important, manufacturer Silent Circle recently introduced a new smartphone on the market that is called the Blackphone.

The Blackphone isn’t just a random smartphone. Since the smartphone market is dealing with fierce competition, the people behind Silent circle may have thought that differentiation could do the trick in entering this market. So the question arises; what is it that makes the manufacturer think that the Blackphone will find a place in the though smartphone market?

Like Silent Circle parades ‘Blackphone is the world’s first smartphone to put privacy and control ahead of everything else. Ahead of carriers. Ahead of advertising.’ (blackphone.ch, 2014)

What becomes clear is contrast to other smartphone developers, Silent Circle put privacy concern ahead of other specifications. With this business model, the Blackphone responses to the longing of the customer for data privacy. Herewith, the Blackphone thus seems to response to the long tail of the mobile phone market.

The Blackphone runs on a customized version of Android. The user of the mobile phone can operate without being watched or traced due to the encryption of calls, texts, emails and Internet browsing. The phone seemed not to be secured enough in the first instance, since hackers succeed to hack the system. However, after cooperation with the hackers Silent Circle succeed to make an ‘incognito’ mobile phone.

Since the release late june 2014, the sales numbers are all except disappointing. CEO Mike Janke recently stated that his firm is, despite their role as newcomer in the market, already making profit. Moreover, Janke pronounced that he expects that the next year a total of 2 million Blackphones will be sold.

I think that the business model of Silent Circle, and thus the Blackphone concept, stands or falls by the question whether they will be able to maintain the status of ‘being safe and secured’. So potential hacking attacks might affect the success of the Blackphone in a crucial way.

How do you guy’s think about this recent phone launch? Would you consider to buy a Blackphone or do you think that privacy concerns play a less important role in the process of choosing a new mobile phone?

Poort, F. (2014) http://www.nutech.nl/reviews/3721625/review-beveiligd-mobiel-verkeer-met-silent-text-en-phone.html, 13 october 2014

Kraan, J. (2014) http://www.nutech.nl/mobiel/3901764/volgend-jaar-2-miljoen-beveiligde-blackphones-verkocht-.html, 13 october 2014

Author unknown (2014) https://www.blackphone.ch, 13 octover 2014

The right to be forgotten or The right to maybe be forgotten?

The last few years there has been a lot of controversy about the practically and establishment of the right to be forgotten. Main concerns is that the right to be forgotten impacts other rights such as freedom of expression and right to privacy. Others also claim that this right stimulates censorship in the society.

Google, who has been firm proponent of free internet and freedom of expression on the internet, has said that it understands the issues from individuals. Google has created link-removal form where individuals can request to remove links for the google search engine. The European court of Justice has decided in March 2014 that individuals that are worried about their privacy can ask search engines such as Google to remove their links. Last week google has shared information regarding the amount of requests and approvals. In total 144,954 request has been made for in total of 497,695 links. Of that amount in total only 42% has been removed by Google.

With having this knowledge I would like to make a statement, individuals do not have the right to be forgotten anymore but only a right to maybe be forgotten. In this current model, Google has too much power to decide which links has to be removed or not. With the current development I would like to make suggestion for creating independent authorities that can decide for link removal on national level. By creating such an authority, request can be assessed on national level and so make the decision making more accessible and understandable. By doing so I am convinced that we can have real right to be forgotten!

Sources:

http://money.cnn.com/2014/10/10/technology/google-forgotten/index.html

http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2014/09/29/solace-oblivion

HTC RE camera: a GoPro for the rest of us

Four days ago, HTC introduced its own GoPro-style action camera, called the HTC RE camera. The Taiwanese brand usually focuses on smart phones only, since it has been proven before that HTC does not have much luck with selling devices apart from smartphones. Nevertheless, the company tried something completely new and decided to expand its assortment with its own camera. At the same time HTC introduced its new smartphone, the Desire Eye.

The RE camera looks like an underwater periscope. It is a waterproof camera with an IPX57 certification, HTC says it is perfect for underwater selfies. There are different accessories to attach the camera to:  a bag or clothing piece and with the standard screw-thread underneath the camera, it can also be attached to other camera-accessories.

The RE is comparable to a GoPro however, HTC focuses more on filming concerts or on parents who would like to make movies of their children. It is therefore less concentrated on adventurous and professional filming and focuses on a larger target group. They try to position the camera as a GoPro “for the rest of us”.

The camera takes a 16 megapixel photo with a 1/2.3-inch Sony CMOS sensor. The lens is a 146-degree wide-angle lens and has software stabilization for video shooting. The RE works with an app available on Android and iOS- products. The app provides an overview of all your videos and pictures captured with the camera. In addition, your phone can be used as a remote viewfinder and shutter trigger. The camera has its own storage capacity of 8GB and supports micro SD. HTC says that the camera can approximately film 1 hour and 40 minutes of full hd-video.

It seems HTC has a lot of faith in this product and hopes this gadget will be a breakthrough in their potential product portfolio. However, this will be a hard market for HTC to compete in since GoPro is starting to expand beyond the professional market as well. Will the RE ever make a chance against GoPro?

References:

http://www.nu.nl/gadgets/3898342/htc-onthult-eigen-gopro-achtige-camera-en-selfiesmartphone.html

http://www.coolest-gadgets.com/

http://techcrunch.com/2014/10/08/htc-re-camera/

Lithium-ion batteries’ days are over?

Lithium-ion batteries are crap. I’m an addicted smartphone user and I have been using my for more than one and a half year. On usual day my device is dead after 3-4 hours of web browsing and text. No videos or game playing. How is that even possible?! I had charged it for 5 hours! I want my Nokia 3310 back…

Turns out there are people currently working on that. Like Israeli startup StoreDot, which is now developing quantum dot-utilizing fast-charging smartphone battery technology. A quantum dot is a nanocrystal made of semiconductor materials that are small enough to exhibit quantum mechanical properties. StoreDot pitches its bio-organic nano-crystal technology as an enabler for faster charging batteries.

StoreDot has been developing biological semiconductors, made from naturally occurring organic compounds called peptides, or short chains of amino acids, the building blocks of proteins. The technology can be used, among other things, to speed charging times, the company says.

In October 2014 the company has closed a $42 million Series B funding round, very recently in June this year Roman Abramovich invested in the company $10 million, so the financial backup of StoreDot is secured.

And things look promising, although every now and then we hear about a capacitor based batter that charges in seconds, but also discharges very fast. The fouders are proper research scientists from top-notch universities, thus they know what they are doing.

StoreDot’s CEO and founder Dr Doron Myersdorf said: “The fully functioning prototype that fits inside the phone for commercialization will be ready the second half of 2016. In early 2017 it will be on the market.”

If this technology turns out to be both flexible and scalable, we will suddenly wake up in a new world of rapid charging electronic devices, cars, e-bikes or maybe even planes?

Sources:

http://www.reddit.com/r/Futurology/comments/286s5j/russian_billionaire_roman_abramovich_invests_10m/

http://venturebeat.com/2014/10/01/storedot-grabs-42m-for-its-bio-organic-ultrafast-charging-batteries/

http://blogs.wsj.com/digits/2014/06/12/roman-abramovich-invests-10-million-in-israels-storedot/

http://techcrunch.com/2014/10/01/storedot-series-b/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quantum_dot

Twitter Beating Facebook in Race to E-Payment

Twitter users in France can now tweet money to their followers. This effectively means that Twitter has beaten Facebook by being the first to introduce P2P transfer of money over their own platform.

Social networks have been in a race to implement integrated e-commerce solutions on their website. Facebook was the first to introduce e-commerce solutions (e.g. Shopify), but the possibility to transfer money is still missing. However, Facebook is rumored to already have applied for the relevant licenses for the ability to transfer money. An interesting addition to this is that Facebook has hired former CEO of PayPal to head their messaging division, which hints that in the future e-payments might be included in the functions of the Facebook Messenger.

BPCE (the second largest French bank by number of customers) has teamed up with Twitter to enable anyone with a bank account in France and a Twitter account to make use of the service. It is not yet clear if the transfer would remain private or if it would be shared with followers, as it is done on Venmo (owned by PayPal). Further details should be available after the company’s press conference in Paris on Tuesday, 14 October 2014.

This initiative is following Twitter’s introduction of a „Buy” button last month, which was the platform’s first direct step into e-commerce. Nathan Hubbard, head of e-commerce at Twitter stated, that conversations between brands and other users were mostly transactional, thus the enabling of selling directly through the platform was an obvious next step.

As S-Money, the subsidiary of BPCE coordinating the payments through Twitter mentions on their website, the payment mode should be simple, free, quick and most importantly, secure. As payments through social networks should be gaining importance in upcoming times, banks are faced with new challenges, including their decision whether to be included in this trend.

Would you use such systems to transfer money through? And do you think all banks should move in line with these developments?

Sources:

http://www.shopify.com/facebook

http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/10/12/us-twitter-payments-idUSKCN0I10UV20141012

http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/6f6c273c-525b-11e4-b55e-00144feab7de.html?siteedition=intl#axzz3G0urq3sI

http://gadgets.ndtv.com/social-networking/news/now-transfer-money-via-twitter-if-you-live-in-france-605961

http://www.s-money.fr/blog/actu-smoney/s-money-lance-le-paiement-entre.html

Spritz: reading novels in under 90 minutes

naamloosIt sounds like a magic pill, something that is too good to be true; a technology that can learn you to read faster. Yet Spritz is anything but that. The inventors of the technology discovered that while reading you spend most time on moving your eyes across the page, to focus on the right words.

In fact, while you are reading you spend only 20 percent of your time actually recording information and you waste 80 percent controlling your eyes. Sin right? The creators of Spritz came up with a solution which eliminates the movement of the eyes. Obviously the only way to do that is centering each word in your field of vision and that’s exactly what Spritz does. So, instead of reading text on a page the text is presented by rapidly successive words, all of which are centered so that your eyes do not have to move a millimetre. Thus, you are almost 100 percent of your time working on recording information and not with the management of your eyes.

Spritz claims that each word we read imagesCAMO0T9Khas its own Optimal Recognition Point. If we process that we are able to grasp the meaning of the word much faster. Spritz highlights this Optimal Recognition Point by marking a single letter in each word red. The words are shown in a large font on your screen, showing up in quick progression at any speed you want. It has been developed for quite a while and has recently been released for portable devices which are supported by iOS and Android (Samsung Galaxy S5 and Gear 2).

Does it actually work?
People might read faster but do they also comprehend the text they are reading? Penn Schoen Berland tested “spritzing,” against traditional reading in overall reading speeds and comprehension. The study showed that even though Spritz readers are reading at a faster rate, they retained a comparable size of information as traditional readers. Although these results seem convincing a critical comment is that the research has been sponsored by Spritz.

Have you ever tried Spritz or one of the apps that uses the Spritz technology? And how did you experience it? You can try it on http://www.spritzinc.com!

Leave your comment below!

References:

http://www.spritzinc.com/faq/

http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/penn-schoen-berland-psb-study-finds-spritz-technology-increases-reading-speed-without-sacrificing-comprehension-273092371.html

Big Brother Google goes Terminator

After Assange, Snowden and most recently, Meneses, we can all be pretty certain of the old notion: “Privacy is dead, deal with it” (Scott McNealy). The all-time champion in gathering private data is no doubt Google, with their search engine, Android, Chrome and YouTube they can keep a tab on pretty much everything you’re doing on-line and offline. The comparison to George Orwell’s Big Brother is easily made. This comparison is also old and needs an update.

Google X is the division of Google doing the unexpected, Google Glass comes from that office just like the self-driving car. Eigh t years ago, nobody would have expected these products to come to the market, just like now everyone will refuse to connect the dots and admit that Google X is turning into Terminator’s Skynet.

Here’s the argument: Next to the accumulation of information about what everyone does at any time, Google X acquired the following robotics companies in December 2013: SCHAFT, Inc., Industrial Perception, Redwood Robotics, Meka Robotics, Holomni, Bot & Dolly and Boston Dynamics. The latter is the most interesting: Take a look at one of their projects Petman and realize that these might be walking the streets before you know it.

With the addition of the Artificial Intelligence company Deepmind Technologies for $800 million last January, it seems like the stage is set for Google to take over.

Read more:

http://singularityhub.com/2013/12/08/google-officially-enters-the-robotics-business-with-acquisition-of-seven-startups/

http://www.technologyreview.com/news/524026/is-google-cornering-the-market-on-deep-learning/

http://www.artificialbrains.com/google/