Archive | October 7, 2015

The success of Instagram

It all started five years ago when Kevin Systrom posted a photo of his dog and girlfriend and now today there are 80 million pictures posted to Instagram per day. From Kim Kardashian to Barack Obama to your favorite local restaurant. It seems like everyone is using Instagram nowadays and the amount of users keeps growing every day, peeking now at 400 million (The Guardian, 2015). Since the popular application is blowing out five candles this year, there have been a lot of articles based on the future of Instagram and what the contributions to its success.

Photos vs text

A huge advantage Instagram is enjoying now is that people are more attracted to images than text. An image lets us experience the moment of the shot and is easier to interpret. Thanks to this, Instagram has become a way to communicate, with people being able to express themselves through a square sized, filtered image (Time, 2015). The experiences through Instagram are becoming more and more important to users, especially since the addition of the video feature. For example, users have took Taylor Swift’s 1987 tour and Ariana Grande’s Honeymoon tour live to Instagram, making the people who did not go still able to experience it. The same happened during the previous Fashion Weeks, where people mostly relied on images and videos from bloggers, celebrities and designers on Instagram to get live updates on the shows (Time, 2015). These important changes offer Instagram many opportunities and should be embraced by the company.

Joining forces with Facebook

A year after Instagram was found, they already had the then two biggest social media platforms Twitter and Facebook competing over them, resulting in Instagram being sold to Facebook for $736.5 million. This has led to many opportunities for Instagram and helped them grow fast over the years. The resources that Facebook has, contributed a lot, especially Facebook’s resources regarding sales advertisement which helped Instagram become bigger than its competitors. Instagram’s ad revenue is predicted to grow to $2.81 billion in 2017, which will make it bigger than Twitter (Forbes, 2015). Facebook will also help Instagram reach new users. An example is that Facebook plans on launching its own internet satellite so that certain places in Africa can be provided with internet, which would also result in more potential users for Instagram (Nu.nl, 2015).

Addition of options

While it seemed like Instagram could not do more than providing us with new filters to make our selfies look better, they surprised us each time. Instagram keeps making new features that we either needed or did not know we needed them until they got introduced. The direct messaging addition, video function and more options to edit photos have proven to be a successful reaction to competitors like Snapchat and VSCO cam. Recently, Instagram introduced a “search and explore” function, which allows users to view more diverse content, which has also been well received by the public. There are still many options left for Instagram to grow and they surely will embrace all of them.

Sources:

http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2015/oct/02/instagram-kevin-systrom-interview-working-on-time-travel

http://www.forbes.com/sites/greatspeculations/2015/03/19/heres-why-instagrams-business-will-become-huge-for-facebook-in-the-future/

http://time.com/4059656/this-is-what-the-future-of-instagram-looks-like/

http://www.nu.nl/internet/4139462/facebook-lanceert-in-2016-eerste-internetsatelliet.html

Online Gambling Market

online-gambling2

It all started in 1994 when the island nation of Antigua and Barbuda passed its Free Trade & Processing act. With this act, licenses could be granted to companies who wanted to start an online gambling platform. The first real online casino was founded in 1996 when this market was represented by 30 websites.

The three main players active in the online gambling market are:

  • Software vendors (e.g. Viaden Gaming)
  • Online gambling business operators
  • End customers

Different customers

There are different forms of online gambling that facilitates different type of online players. The most popular forms of online gambling are traditional casino games, wagering and poker variations. The popularity for these forms of online gambling depends greatly on the gender segmentation. Most of the online gamblers are men, aged between 25 to 35 years. They generally gamble online for excitement and choose more complex games compared to women who prefer games that offers relaxation. Nowadays more women getting involved in the online gambling market. Their preference goes to Bingo games that offers relaxation in a social environment.

Markets & Revenues

The global online gambling industry revenues increased by $217 billion in 1999 to $485.1 billion in 2015. The biggest and quickest expanding market for online gambling is Europe. It has a large number of countries like the Netherlands with established online gambling regulations. The second largest market is North America followed by Asia and the Middle East. In Asia most of the online gambling practices are illegal or controlled by the government. Also in the United States gambling is restricted. Each state is free to regulate or prohibit the practice within its borders.

Gambling 2

Internet influence

The internet has a huge impact on how we communicate and the way we do business. Mobile devices such as tablets and smartphones have revolutionized the gambling industry and it is now one of the largest online industries in the world. The number of mobile device users is with 51% significantly higher compared to the 42% desktop users. Due to this change, it is important for online gambling operators to migrate their online business with mobile devices.

Gambling 1

References:

http://www.pwc.com/gr/en/publications/assets/global-gaming-outlook-2011-2015.pdf

http://www.smartinsights.com/mobile-marketing/mobile-marketing-analytics/mobile-marketing-statistics/

http://www.rudeboyslacrosse.com/the-female-of-the-species-online-gambling-and-gender/

http://blog.everymatrix.com/blog/overview-online-gambling-asia

The New Era of Humanitarian Aid?

Syria-refugees-elearning
ICT helping Syrian Refugees

Is the era of humanitarians distributing physical goods to refugees with clipboards in their hands over?
More and more Syrian aid efforts are being digitalized in order to efficiently handle the high amount of Syrian refugees. By the end of 2015, the number of Syrian refugees is predicted to be around 4.3 million according the the United Nations. Most of these refugees, as well as the countries that are acting as hosts (e.g. Lebanon or Jordan) are quite tech-savvy. This allows the integration of Information and Communication Technology, that helps to allocate aid to where it is most needed.

These technologies help with the registration process, the delivery and allocation of goods, the prevention and treatment of illnesses and diseases, as well as the access to education.

The registration process no longer consists of paper-back registration forms but is now conducted in a more time-effective manner by collecting the data digitally. This allows the exchange of data with the appropriate aid insitutions in a timely manner. It also secures the validity of the data. Often refugees used to register multiple times with different names in order to receive more help. Nowadays, the UN’s refugee agency even uses iris scans for registration. A total of 1.6 million Syrian refugees have already been registered using this method.
These iris scans are also used as tools for the delivery and allocation of goods. Humanitarian aid no longer focuses on giving refugees physical goods but they provide them with financial help in order to buy those goods themselves from designated stores, giving them higher variety and preserving their dignity. This not only reduces the allocation of unneeded goods, but also fosters the local economy of the host country. Financial aid may be distributed through different channels: while SmartCards may be used as payment method in other areas, in Jordan the iris scanner can be used to withdraw a refugee’s cash entitlement from ATMs. Soon, refugees might be able to purchase food according to their entitlement in supermarkets cash-free, simply by using iris recognition.
The application of ICT furthermore facilitates the prevention and treatment of illnesses and diseases. Through online real-time consultation of e.g. US specialists, doctors in host countries such as Jordan and Lebanon receive support while treating the vast amount of refugees. WHO Lebanon and WHO Jordan together with national governments are furthermore currently working on a program to monitor refugees’ health and to prevent diseases from breaking out.
ICT can also greatly help with the education of Syrian children. 700,000 Syrian children in Lebanon, Jordan, and Turkey do currently not receive any education, since the host country facilities cannot cope with the high amounts of new students. In order to find a way to educate those children, UNICEF is currently developing a distant education program that can be used virtually (Favell, 2015).

So, do these ICT-based processes really introduce a new era of humanitarian aid or is it just a one-time-thing?
I believe that, as mentioned above, there are a lot of advantages that come from the use of ICT in this context. It is fascinating, how ICT can be used in this context to facilitate the helping of all those people in need. However, it should not be ignored that Syria is quite a special case. People had widely had access to technology before they had to leave their country and they are therefore rather familiar with its usage. Those processes that need actual interaction might, however, not be transferable to refugees from other countries. If we consider humanitarian aid in African countries, people might not necessarily be familiar with technologically savvy programs. This could lead to refugees not being able to take advantage of the help they are granted. It is therefore necessary to assess the tech-affinity of future refugees before introducing these ICT processes in other contexts. More hands-on learning would be required to educate refugees on how to use these technologies and to explain their significance. For Syria, however, this application seems to be very fitting and highly valuable. Other cases of humanitarian help will need to be considered when determining whether this process can be used widely in the future and therefore whether it is the beginning of a new era.

Favell, A., 2015. How technology is helping deliver aid to Syrian refugees in the Middle East [online]. ComputerWeekly. Available at: http://www.computerweekly.com/feature/How-technology-is-helping-deliver-aid-to-Syrian-refugees-in-the-Middle-East [Accessed 7. October 2014).

Thanks UN, but you are too late. Facebook’s already handling it!

If you still believe that governmental bodies will be the drivers of societal and infrastructural change, your perception might not be up to date. In the past, several organizations such as local governments or supra-national bodies such as the UN have been seen as responsible to intervene in global issues. However businesses are nowadays proving to be entities driving important societal and infrastructural changes, both at a local and international level. Businesses are increasingly “fixing” institutional voids in emerging economies where public bodies have not tackled these problems efficiently. An example of this would be Facebook’s initiative to make world-wide internet access available.

Through its initiative Internet.org, the idea is to enable collaboration within the tech industry through partnership focused on challenging the great barriers developing countries face in terms of internet access, which Zuckerberg himself has outlined as a human right.  Their offering pursues to make this access a 100 times more affordable, through a twofold strategy: reducing both the cost and the amount of data, two pillars in which Facebook believes it is able to successfully perform. Moreover, the task will not be addressed by Facebook alone; by collaborating with important players in today’s tech industry, the Internet.org partnership aids to get the best knowledge for the task possible. Additional partners participating in the initiative include Sony-Ericsson, Samsung, MediaTek, Qualcomm, Samsung and Eutelsat.

Whether Facebook’s intentions are altruistic, or it merely aims to give 5 billion people access to its internet jewel, the end result is the same. While in the first world we constantly praise the wonders and progress brought about by the internet, the truth is that two thirds of the world are still not connected to it. As our economic focus switches from resource-based to knowledge-based, the internet provides the backbone allowing global sharing of ideas and information. And the simple truth is that no public body is as able as one of today’s tech giants to tackle this issue. Facebook has the tools, the means, and more importantly the knowledge necessary to undertake this task. Earlier this month, for instance, Zuckerberg stated that for the past year, Facbeook has been looking into aircrafts and satellite technology to develop solutions which would enable “beaming access down to communities from the sky”. In addition, 100 million users (mostly in developing countries) already benefit from its “Facebook Zero: Facebook for every phone” initiative. If this is its reach independently, what they will be able to achieve through a partnership surely looks promising.

It seems that the new heroes of today’s societies may not be in the public, but in the private sector. In an era where knowledge and information sharing are drivers of economic growth, Facebook and other partners in the Internet.org initiative have certainly undertaken a highly relevant yet challenging task. Will they succeed in switching the two offline thirds of the world online?

(Representation of Global Internet usage: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Global_Internet_usage)

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SOURCES:

Finley, K 2015, Facebook looks to space to bring the internet everywhere, Wired, 05 October, viewed 6 October 2015, <http://www.wired.com/2015/10/facebook-looks-space-bring-internet-everywhere/&gt;.

Internet.org by facebook n.d., Internet.org, viewed 6 October 2015, <https://internet.org/&gt;.

Russel, J 2015, Facebook and telecom partners launch Internet.org to drive universal, global internet access, The Next Web News, 21 August, viewed 6 October 2015, <http://thenextweb.com/facebook/2013/08/21/facebook-and-telecom-partners-launch-internet-org-to-drive-universal-global-internet-access/&gt;.

Deep Learning: Teaching Machines To Act Human

Deep Learning -Teaching Machines To Act Human

Recently there were increased news articles about AI: Artificial Intelligence. Some very smart people were concerned about the progress made in the field of advanced machine learning. Among them were serial Entrepreneur Elon Musk, the famous researcher Steven Hawkins and legendary philanthropist Bill Gates. All of them signed an open letter expressing their concern about the future of AI. Cause for the signage was a video showing Google owned company Boston Dynamics recording a trial run of their human robot ‘Atlas’ running through the woods among other recent advances in advanced machine learning.

What is advanced machine learning?

The field of machine learning in computer science has been there for a while. Starting during the second world war, the first attempts to teach computer to learn and being human were made. The recent movie around pioneer Alan Turing shows the origins of this scientific research field. Until today the Turing Test is still applied to evaluate if a computer is categorized as intelligent.

During the 80ies and early 90ies further attempts were made to teach computers to behave human. Early solutions weren’t practical caused by the limited processing power during that time. A lot of time passed since then.

So what exactly is machine learning? It’s basically to teach a computer to make sense of data. To teach him to recognize patterns in input values and gain insights from the process. Simple machine learning can be a regression analysis or simple classification of data depending on a single value pair into different categories. Advanced machine learning, of which deep learning is a part of, applies multiple analysis layers in analyzing big data sets. The first layer of an algorithm look only at certain parts of the data and then deliver the output value to an analysis layer further up the hierarchy conducting more abstract calculations with the input from the lower layer and itself delivering values to an even more abstract layer of algorithms. This structure allows the modeling of the human brain, imitating the network of neurons in the brain with many (trillions) of synapses.

Tapping into the huge potential

Today many layers are applied to solve difficult data analysis problems, therefore the name deep learning. With this methodology it is possible to teach a computer to analyze pictures, handwriting, speech, maps or even videos. In the future all applications that seem to be ‘magical’ will be the result of some kind of deep learning. The application are many: Categorization of images, indexation of unlabelled data, analysis of maps, using big data of many sources to refine and improve prediction models and so forth.

Facebook, Google, IBM and many start-ups today already apply deep learning technologies to gain an edge solve difficult problems. Until today there is no computer who can itself program something that can program. But that day will come, its just a matter of time.

Is it dangerous? Maybe. But it can also do much good if applied correctly.

If you’re interested in deep learning, here are some very interesting companies applying this cutting edge technology:

Have you heard about deep learning before? What do you think: Is it the future? Are you afraid of AI? I’m interested what you think so please leave a comment!


Sources

http://data-magnum.com/how-nosql-has-fundamentally-changed-machine-learning/

http://techcrunch.com/2015/06/18/deep-learning-and-the-future-of-search-engine-optimization/#.pqcv8h:Uwgw

Who is Amelia 2.0?

IPsoft has just announced that their creature, Amelia 2.0 got another step closer to passing the Turing test. But what is Ipsoft? Who is Amelia? What is the Turing test?

All the enthusiastics are surely familiar with these; however for non-expert readers let’s start from the beginning.

amelia_cropped-100620338-largeIPsoft and Amelia

Ipsoft is an IT sercives company, established in 1998 by Chetan Dube. It offers solutions to enterprise customers for outsourcing global Internet operations. They focus on four fields of services: Big Data analytics, cloud services, automatic IT services and Amelia. It has a worldwide network of data centres and network operations centres located in North America, Europe and India.

Their project, Amelia is a cognitive knowledge worker, interfaces on human terms. She is a virtual agent who understands what people ask – even what they feel – when they call for service. Using the same instruction manuals as, for example, call centre operators, Amelia can be deployed straight from the cloud in a fraction of the time. She learns as she works and provides high-quality responses consistently, every day of the year, in every language your customers speak.

The first release of Amelia was in 2014, now the newest version has really good result in passing the Turing test.

Turing test

The Turing test is named after Alan Turing, who was a famous mathematician in the 20th century. He was highly influential in the development of computer science, providing a formalisation of the concepts of algorithm and computation with the Turing machine, which can be considered a model of a general purpose computer.

The Turing test is about to distinguish the machine from another human being. The person, who judges, asks questions through a screen and a keyboard for the two test subjects. None sees and hears each other. One of the test subjects is a human, another is machine, but both of them try to convince the asker that they are humans. It the asker cannot decide after five minutes that which one is human and which one is the machine, then the machine passed the test.

Amelia 2.0

In this October Amelia graduated to version 2.0, bringing the technology another step closer to passing the Turing test, according to IPsoft. Her physical appearance and expressiveness have been transformed to create a more human-like avatar for deeper customer engagement. The developments are that she gained maturity and core understanding capabilities, thereby broadening the range of roles it can assume.  Amelia 2.0 has new advances in comprehension and emotional engagement through improvements to memory, contextual comprehension and emotional responsiveness. Her memory functions as the human memory, for instance, she can have more natural conversations. Amelia 2.0 has richer mood and personality attributes, enabling her to personalize the customer service she provides. What is more she has a lot of architectural change, the entire backbone has been rewritten so that the technology can scale seamlessly and remain resilient throughout extreme peaks in volume.

According to IPsoft, she speaks 20 languages and has an emotional quotient. Also new is that the technology can interpret the user’s facial expressions as conveyed by a camera and generate appropriate ones in return.

To sum it up the biggest development in version 2.0 is what is called semantic understanding, however, tools like Amelia are becoming cognitive-like, but they still can’t pass a Turing test.

Other virtual assistant such as Siri and Cortana and Amelia 1.0 did not pass the test. Amelia 2.0’s first performance is going to be on this week at the Gartner Symposium/ITxpo in Orlando. We will see if she passes or not.

I believe that artificial intelligence is not going to beat the human intelligence. I think our feelings and developed emotional intelligence is always going to differentiate ourselves to machines and to animals. Maybe a computer can make better decisions because they decides everything on facts, but there are many situations that our human attributes are needed to make the right decisions.

References:

http://www.itnews.com/article/2990025/ipsofts-amelia-virtual-assistant-just-got-a-whole-lot-more-human.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alan_Turing

http://www.ipsoft.com/

Team 8: ToW Coursera & Duolingo

For our technology of the week assignment, we studied two innovative business models, namely; Coursera and Duolingo. The reason we chose to focus on these companies, is because we were extremely interested in how the rise of the Internet has enabled the democratisation of education; a phenomenon that may revolutionise the education system entirely. The Internet has been regarded as “the world’s largest library” (Becker 1999) as it has enabled individuals to access an enormous pool of information on millions of topics. Furthermore, individuals are able to personally add to that knowledge in the forms of comments, personal blogs or vlogs. Much like we are all doing on this blog now!

The accumulation of an abundance of websites that contain educational content, and geographical, physical and demographical constraints that individuals face have been the driving forces for the creation of alternatives to traditional classroom-taught methods. In turn, these events have paved the way for online platforms and applications that are considered, effective, efficient, user-friendly and in most cases, free. The rise of these newly founded companies, has inspired the development of various business models that can create value for society. In this report, we discussed two innovative business models in online learning, represented by two companies that operate in slightly different areas; Coursera, in higher-education, and Duolingo in language learning. Based on our research, we created two business model canvases to describe the firms.

Coursera Business Model

Coursera Business Model

*Adapted from businessmodelcanvas.com

Duolingo Business Model

DuoLingo Business Model

*Based on information from duolingo.com

There were a few points that stood out the most to us while researching these firms.

Sustaining a Free Offering

The fact that both Duolingo and Coursera provide a free offering makes them quite unique, yet it also complicates the financial sustainability of the firms. Both firms still rely heavily on investor funds. Investors are generous with their investment due to the nature of the industry and the social benefit of the service these firms offer, however, the firms will not be able to rely on these funds forever, and investors will want to see a return on their investments in the near future.

Business Networks

A second interesting point that can be made is the use of business networks. Coursera relies on them, as their partnerships with universities are a main driver for their success and reputation. The risk that can be identified here is that if Coursera continues to grow, universities may no longer be interested in subsidising the platform, especially if MOOCs threaten to replace university offerings. Duolingo also recently started making use of business networks, as it partnered up with Uber. This promises to be a great source of new business and revenues for Duolingo.

 MOOCs: A Hype?

Whether MOOCs are over-hyped remains unclear. For instance, one of Coursera’s founders, Koller (205) states that MOOCs are currently emerging from the trough of disillusionment in Gartner’s hype cycle. The New York Times (2012) referred to 2012 as the ‘year of the MOOC’. It was said that MOOCs had the capacity to entirely overtake educational institutions. However, this did not happen and the success of MOOCs has not diminished either. Coursera has seen steady increases in both user numbers as well as active user numbers (Koller 2015). Furthermore, Google Trends contradict the hype as well. MOOCS have proven to be a complement to university classes as opposed to a threat, many lecturers use a combination of online videos and class discussions and presentations to maximise student learning (Ulrich 2014).

 Disruptive Innovations

MOOCs cannot be considered to be a disruptive innovation, as they are not revolutionary and work as complements to traditional university offerings. Furthermore, MOOCs are not able to replace the true essentials of universities, such as being part of a community, building a network and the true university experience (Terweich 2014). On the contrary, Duolingo can erupt the market and become a strong language learning provider as well as being a complement to schools and universities. This is the case because Duolingo is not a MOOC, it has entered the online educational market as well as the (educational) gaming market. The latter is still a blue ocean, and as a first-mover Duolingo has a great competitive advantage (Shapiro 2015).

‘Obesitas? Infobesitas!’

You’ve probably all heard about obesitas, but never heard of infobesitas. Infobesitas is a ‘disease’ whereby you’ve the fear to miss anything of the great amount of information. Nowadays there are several community platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest etc. which contribute to the infobesitas disease. Perhaps you do it yourself during work or during your lunchbreak: quickly check facebook for news, opening a snapchat, posting a tweet, scrolling through the text messages of WhatsApp. Some are doing it because they are bored, but others might suffer from infobesitas.

The rise of WIFI caused that we as people have a continuous access and a continuous temptation to search/check for new information. The younger generation is more sensitive for stimuli and feedback. Media consumption gets, just as gaming, addictive features.

Yvonne van Sark of Youngworks says that the fear of missing some news has a lot to do with peer pressure: the children are afraid to miss news that all their friends know of. She states that infobesitas has an influence on how a children feels. Research states that someone holds his breath when he opens his e-mail.

Media use and mobile internet are relatively new to the parents. Nearly one on four children gets a mobile phone from their parents between their sixth and eighth year. Fancy parents sometimes send a text message upstairs with the statement that dinner is ready. But on the other hand, parents complain that there is less quality time to talk with each other. Moreover, they complain about their children being easily distracted and having problems with concentrating to finish homework.

The result of infobesitas is fatigue, lack of sleep and concentration problems.

A solution for infobesitas I think could be to remove some applications from your mobile phone, like Facebook. So the only access to Facebook you’ve got left is via the iPad or laptop (which you probably don’t have with you whole day). As mentioned above, people will more socially interact with others as a result of keeping off their mobile phones.

Have you ever heard of infobesitas, and if so, do you suffer from infobesitas? What are the consequences for you in your daily life? How do you think you could resolve your suffering from infobesitas?

Kind regards,

Fabian Overschie, 375226fo

Van Trigt, R. (2010) ‘Infobesitas is nieuwe ziekte’ [online] Available at: http://www.trouw.nl/tr/nl/4324/Nieuws/article/detail/1090359/2010/02/22/Infobesitas-is-nieuwe-ziekte.dhtml [Accessed at: 07-10-2015]

Virtual shopping time

Do you often shop online? Well, I don’t because I am still hesitant to buy clothes, shoes or jewelry online. I rather shop in the city where I can see, feel and try on the products. When shopping online, there is a high chance that the clothes or shoes will not fit, or even that the clothes or shoes are not that beautiful when you receive them. However, I know enough people who regularly shop online and there are millions other people who do like online shopping. Because of this,  the online shopping environment has been innovating and will continue doing this to attract even more consumers to this market.

However, there is a challenge for retailers to make online shopping a more enjoyable, effective and profitable. Like I mentioned earlier, the online shopping environment is different from traditional shopping because it is a virtual environment, where you cannot see or try on the garment in real life. Most consumers are hesitant to purchase garments online or are unsatisfied with their online shopping experience, which results into high return rates. The most important reason for this is because many online retail stores lack product information (Tokucin, 2013). Online retailers try their best and keep updating their tools to help consumers during their visit to make it more enjoyable for the consumers, and in turn profitable for the retailers. They even introduced a Virtual-Try-On. Virtual try-on applications have become popular because they allow users to watch themselves wearing different clothes. This helps users to make quick buying decisions and, thus, improves the sales efficiency of retailers (Hauswiesner et al, 2013: 1552). The purpose of a Virtual-Try-On is to serve consumers with better information that is similar to physical examination. As a result, the consumer will be more confident in their final purchasing decision and the probability of consumers returning clothing will decrease (Tokucin, 2013).  .

They are also applying this tool in other branches, such as the watch market. They even developed an application for your smartphone to try on watches. By adjusting a so called Mode in Motion bracelet to your wrist and pointing the camera to it, you can see the watch appear on your wrist as in real.

What do you think of the concept Virtual-Try-On? Does it come close enough to reality, and if you did not like online shopping, are you convinced now to buy more products online if this tool is provided?

Hauswiesner, S., Straka, M. & Reitmayr, G. (2013) ‘Virtual Try-On through Image-Based Rendering’, IEEE Transactions On Visualization And Computer Graphics, 19, 9: pp. 1552

Tokuçin, H. (2013) ‘Virtual Try-On Technology’, 16 August 2013

Shopping +neuroscience=Perfect decision

Nowadays one of the most emerging fields of studies is neuromarketing. The Japanese clothing retailer, Uniqulo just set up its unique system to get to know what is inside of the customers’ brain in Australia. They use brain waves to match customers with the right T-shirts.

 Uniqulo

2000px-UNIQLO_logo.svgUniqulo is a well-known Japanese casual wear designer, manufacturer and retailer. It was established in 1974 by Ube Yamaguchi. Uniqulo currently has over 1,400 stores in 16 markets worldwide, the first shop was opened in April 2014 in Australia. Uniqulo was always at the forefront of research and innovation. For example in 2007 they had a project called “UT Project” it was a futuristic convenience store for T-shirts, Each T-shirt style is displayed on forms in stainless steel display cases, with individual T-shirts packaged in clear plastic canisters resembling tennis ball cans.  The aim was to provide a virtually self-service shopping experience.

What is neuromarketing?

letöltésNowadays one of the most emerging field of studies is neuromarketing. It is a field of marketing research that studies consumers’ sensorimotor, cognitive, and affective response to marketing stimuli. Researchers use technologies such as functional magnetic resonance imaging (FMRI) to measure changes in activity in parts of the brain, electroencephalography (EEG) and Steady state topography (SST) to measure activity in specific regional spectra of the brain response, or sensors to measure changes in one’s physiological state, also known as biometrics, including heart rate and respiratory rate, galvanic skin response to learn why consumers make the decisions they do, and which brain areas are responsible

The new shopping experience

On 7 October 2015 Uniqulo released the UMood, which is a system to match the right t-shirt to a person based on a brain-wave analysis. With this application the marketers could get inside of the customers brain and they can make the product better and more attractive as the consumer wants. What is more it also helps to customers to choose the perfect item, so we can ignore our friends opinion and just concentrating on our decision.

It works by us ing a headset which is designed by a Japanese neuro science company, Dentsu Science Jam. The headset is an electroencephalography (EEG) device. This device is often used in the medical field but for instance it can be useful for gaming and assisting the disabled. After the headset is personalized for the customer, he/she is then shown a sequence of images on a large screen, such as rippling waves, a dog, someone blowing confetti or anything else, and the headset records brain waves 20 times a second. Then the record is analyses by an algorithm, and gives usable and practical information for marketing experts.

The signal of the brain has five different elements: interest, like, stress, concentration and drowsiness. According to this observation Uniqulo great selection of T-shirts, which have been subjected to surveys that were used to determine a sort of average mood that people felt when looking at one. After the algorithm has determined the person’s mood, the appropriate t-shirt is shown.  Hopefully the customer is also going to be satisfied with the choice.

Cheating?

Of cousre, customers can cheat on the system with gimmicks. This is a very initial version and its aim is to make the shopping experience fun. However, I think it has a great potential for marketing managers to get to know their customers and also good for customers because the choice is getting bigger and bigger and it is really hard to find the best one for us. Unfortunately this application does not help us to find clothes which fit to our body shape as well. But I think it is a small step to get to know ourselves too. In my opinion this application is more for marketing researches and campaigns.

UMood will move to various Uniqlo stores in Australia over the next three weeks.

References

Never miss a mandatory class again?

image-20150728-9853-1tvflh2

Every students knows how annoying it is if your schedule does not comply with the schedule that the University had in mind. Mandatory classes at 9.00 a.m. can be a real struggle if the night before turned out to be a bit more fun than you planned.

The courses of the future will be designed to help the poor students with this kind of typical problems. Virtual classrooms will be the way of teaching of the future. The concept entails that all physical aspects are removed and teachers and students are connect through an online platform. This platform will contain all class material digitalized. Furthermore it will contain a platform where students can discuss topics and ask questions to their teacher.

Scientists are taking these virtual classrooms to a whole new level with introducing a groundbreaking 3D hologram technology. The teachers and students will have the impression that they are in a classroom, when they can be anywhere in the world. This hologram will provide a lifelike experience. You will be able to see your teacher and other students that are in the same class.

Even though the technology exists, the implementation will be quit a challenge. First of all, the costs associated with the implementation are very high. Eventually a cost benefit will be that no physical space provided by the school is necessary, however before that is possible, the system needs to be widely adapted. Also, the users of the 3D hologram need to have a fast Internet connection, which can also be a struggle sometimes.

Besides all the financial and technical flaws, a virtual classroom will eliminate the social aspect. People are already communicating tremendous via online application, but are we willing to totally give up face-to-face interaction and only have an online relationship with your classmates?

In my opinion, the whole technology of a 3D hologram sounds very interesting, nevertheless I would not totally give up on the traditional learning. We are slowly creating a world where nobody have to leave his or her house ever as next to all your basic needs as food and clothes who will be delivered at your front door, you can now also stay inside to study and work! What do you think? Would you be willing to try this new way of studying?

http://theconversation.com/classrooms-of-the-e-future-will-be-virtual-with-life-like-reality-45251

Your phone got hacked by a ‘Nosey Smurf’.

Hacked?

Not so long ago, iPhone users all over the world were exposed to a bug able to shut down their phone by one simple text message[1]. I too received such a message as a prank, but did not consider the security implications that come with phones reaction on text commands. Later this year an android vulnerability “Stagefright” came to light, allowing hackers access full access to every Android phone with just a phone number[2]. Luckily both bugs have been fixed by the companies right after, but the security risk remains. There is no guarantee every bug has been revealed instead of being exploited by hobbyists, hackers, or governments.

The latter is now expected to be the case. Edward Snowden explains in an interview by the BBC how UK intelligence agency GCHQ is able to control your phone by text messages, completely hidden from the knowledge of the owner[3]. It does so by sending an encrypted text message to gain access.

Smurfs?

Snowden talks about a “Smurf Suite”, a collection of phone control tools of GCHQ named after various smurfs. “Dreamy Smurf” is able to shut down and boot up the phone, “Nosey Smurf” can turn on your microphone and listen to your conversations, and “Tracker Smurf” is a tool able to track your geo-location with greater precision than normal triangulation of cellphone towers. And they can do even more, like taking pictures without your knowing, viewing your mails, texts and browsing history, and even

Snowden explains how NSA is understood to have a similar program, and are suspected of providing the technology. “GCHQ is to all intents and purposes a subsidiary of the NSA.” he tells the BBC, where GCHQ receives tasking and directions to go after. These projects are aimed to catch suspected involvement in terrorism, pedophilia or other serious crimes, but in order to do so, they have to collect mass data. Your data.

What now?

Snowden makes a valid point by stating you don’t own your phone, but “whoever controls the software owns the phone”. We see this increasing risk in software and privacy issues, and users are becoming more aware of this. The Windows 10 release has been highly critiqued by its security statement[4] and Europe’s highest court just rejected the ‘safe harbor’ agreement after Max Schrems started a case against Facebook[5]. It is clear that the battle for privacy has just begun.

-Jurgen

Sources

[1] http://www.engadget.com/2015/05/27/apple-fixing-ios-text-crash-bug/

[2] http://fortune.com/2015/07/27/stagefright-android-vulnerability-text/

[3] http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-34444233

[4] http://www.wired.com/2015/08/windows-10-security-settings-need-know/

[5] http://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/24/business/international/adviser-to-europes-top-court-calls-data-transfer-pact-insufficient.html?partner=rss&emc=rss&_r=1