Archive by Author | Mirabeli

Health-Promoting Texts Could Help Battle Heart Disease

The health of heart disease patients can be improved by technology that they are already familiar with: cellphones. During a recent study, patients with heart disease enrolled in a program and received four text messages on a weekly basis on their cellphones, whereby encouragement was made to make heart-healthy lifestyle choices (the name of the technology is called TEXT ME). These encouragements include messages related to reducing salt intake, quit smoking, etc. 325 patients have received such messages over the course of a six-month study. In order to establish a comparison, a separate control group of patients with coronary heart disease did not receive a text message concerning the health of their heart. At the end of the study period, the group that received texts had lower levels of bad cholesterol, lower body mass indexes (BMI) and lower blood pressure than the control group. The text receiving groups were more likely to have a tendency to quit smoking.

This study is one of the many recent studies that attempt to reap the benefits of technologies to tackle heart diseases by using everyday technologies (e.g., cellphones) to fight against cardiovascular diseases. Many apps exist that aim at assisting patients to monitor their heart health, but not much research has been conducted that tests whether those apps actually work. These trials such as TEXT ME prove that interventions concerning mobile health, can positively influence behaviors of patients and improve risk profiles in the short term, even if these applications are extremely simple. Even other text-messaging technologies that aim at motivating to act upon the tendency of weight loss and smoking cessation have shown equally promising results.

The study however had some limitations, even though the technology showed promising results in fighting heart disease. The first limitation is that is solely conducted on one location (Australia), which makes it unclear if the results would be the same among patients living elsewhere (Chow et. al, 2012).
What do you think about this technology? Do you think it would help you being more healthy and skip that glass of soda in the evening?

Reference

Chow, C. K., Redfern, J., Thiagalingam, A., Jan, S., Whittaker, R., Hackett, M., … & Hillis, G. S. (2012). Design and rationale of the tobacco, exercise and diet messages (TEXT ME) trial of a text message-based intervention for ongoing prevention of cardiovascular disease in people with coronary disease: a randomised controlled trial protocol. BMJ open2(1), e000606.

Wearable Sensors Will Help Deaf People to Communicate Verbally.

Yes, you read that correctly. You might wonder how this will be enabled. It all comes down to a magic word: Technology.

Wearable sensors will provide a high-tech solution and be able to interpret the gestures in sign language and translate them into English, making the barrier between deaf people and those who don’t understand sign language. Engineers at A&M University in Texas are currently developing wearable devices that can sense movement and muscle activity in an individual’s arm.

How does this life-enhancing device work? This device operates by figuring out the gestures someone is making by the utilization of two distinct sensors. These sensors consist of one that is able to react to the motion of the wrist and the other one to the muscular movement in the arm. Afterward, a program wirelessly receives this data and converts it into English translation. After doing some research, the engineers concluded that there are devices that aimed at translating sign language into text – these did unfortunately not have a very advanced design. A prototype system was developed that recognizes words that people use daily in their daily conversations. Gradually more words are added that are not frequently used with the means to initiate a more profound vocabulary.
Even though the technology has the potential to drastically enhance the lives of deaf people, an important drawback is associated with the system. The system has to be trained to respond to each individual that wears the device. This training process involves in asking the user to repeat every hand gesture a couple of times. The latter can take up to 30 minutes to complete. The underlying reason for this mechanism lies in the fact that each body and each muscle structure is different, obliging the system to get acquainted with the user’s body movements (Dodgson, 2015).

What do you think about this technology? Do you believe it will enhance many people’s lives or make it more difficult?

The wearable sensor.

The wearable sensor.

Reference

Dodgson, L. (2015). Wearable Sensors Could Translate Sign Language Into English. Retrieved from: http://www.livescience.com/52491-wearable-sensors-translate-sign-language.html

Makeup Genius: How L’Oréal is transforming and taking over the cosmetic industry.

Along with tackling the premise of information asymmetry in its online web shop, L’Oréal has acted upon a very strategic and innovative way of testing make up with the use of an app that integrates augmented reality within its system. Instead of going to crowded drugstores, being frustrated by the fact that trial makeup is not the most hygienic way of testing the product on your face, and the disability to test products within a short timeframe, this application enables you to test a large variety of L’Oréal’s products anytime and everywhere. In order to establish Makeup Genius L’Oréal cooperated with Image Metrics, a company that creates facial recognition software for video games and movies. This technology enables you to use the front-facing camera as a virtual mirror.

Makeup Genius enables you to have a drastic way of trying on make up with using nothing but your phone. Makeup Genius scans your face and allows you to select from a large range of L’Oréal’s products. The results are extremely realistic, which makes it seem as if you’re actually wearing the products. In order to make this Augmented Reality application, L’Oréal invested 18 months to develop, test, and enhance the application. While developing, the multinational incorporated thousands of products and over one hundred unique facial expressions. You can try out just eyeliner or create complete looks. Once you like what you see, you can save your look and share it with friends, as well as purchase the products online.

Furthermore, another way Makeup Genius removes the hassle of the in-store experience is by allowing you to scan the products and try them on virtually. Since the launch of Makeup Genius, many magazines have appraised the application. Fast Company even perceived L’Oreal to be one of the most innovative companies of 2015 (Mala, 2015). Additionally, more than 10 million people have downloaded the application and have tried on more than 25 million looks altogether, while using more than 65 million products (which is thus 65 million more makeup trials of L’Oreal’s products) (Makeup Genius, 2015).
This implementation of AR reduces information asymmetry in a very significant way, allowing customers to witness the traits of the products in a real life manner, whereby certain ambiguities about the product performance are slightly diminished. However, the product does not allow a customer to witness whether the product quality and user-friendliness is compatible with their expectations.

Will you be the new Makeup Genius user? Would you download the app and use AR to buy cosmetics of L’Oréal?

TOTW Team 26: Clicking instead of walking into markets: a comparison of Light in the Box and Etsy

The way of shopping has changed due to the rise of the Internet. These changes have brought new business opportunities, under which the emergence of e-commerce. E-commerce is not something retailers can ignore as it has set a firm foot in today’s digital environment, and it has characterized electronic markets. As the digital environment keeps on evolving, it is interesting to examine two companies to understand the innovative and creative elements that underlie e-commerce. Two companies that are relatable and have their similarities. However, although both were initiated as online marketplaces, they are distinctive enough to tap into their markets effectively. 

Both Light in the Box (LITB) and Etsy have focused their business model on catering the need for customization. These companies made the gap between manufacturer and buyer smaller. LITB offers attractive low prices for their products and good customer service with a far reach. Unlike LITB that is B2C, Etsy is C2C-focused and provides an online platform for individuals who sell and purchase unique handcrafted products with a strong customer service and customer education. Both founded within ten years; they have achieved a high presence in the markets that they are operating with both international and local competitors. One large similarity between these two companies is the power of the suppliers. In the case of LITB, collaborations with large suppliers are the central part of its business model. For Etsy, this is the case as well. However, the suppliers in Etsy’s case are individual crafters who offer their unique handmade goods. They are mainly dependent on their suppliers to execute their business model. One large dissimilarity between the two companies is their revenue model. For LITB, their main source of revenue is sales of their products, and for Etsy listing and sales fee will be collected for every listed and sold item. Due to this fact a second dissimilarity arrises as Etsy is more dependent on the performance of its sellers, whereas LITB is dependent on itself for selling products. This has led to a difference in customer focus where LITB offers more services to the end buyer, whereas Etsy focuses more on the sellers instead of the end buyers. 

As the digital environment is changing rapidly and very uncertain, both companies should keep on evolving their strengths that underlies their competitive advantage, and they should be open to opportunities for changes and innovations that will harbor growth. One opportunity for both companies is the potential of the Asian (Chinese) markets that is strongly characterized by e-commerce in recent years. Globalizing their business should go hand in hand with glocalization, where the needs of the local consumers are addressed. However on the other side of the coin, both companies should work on their weaknesses and potential threats to limit the chance of competitors using these weaknesses to their advantages. 

We are inviting you to join our discussion about the futures of these companies. What are your thoughts on both business models and their success in the future? Will LITB be more susceptible to losing their competitive advantage compared to Etsy, or is it the other way around?