Tag Archive | Internet

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;.

Technology of the Week “B2C e-commerce”: The future of shopping

deprives-you-of-tangibility

Since the rise of the internet in our everyday life, a lot has changed. Firms had to revolutionise their product strategies, adapt to a whole new 4Ps conception, and serve a whole new platform of markets, namely e-markets. The trend of e-shopping was then introduced in order for firms to increase sales via the e-commerce channel. This lead to further innovations in order to contrast the vicious competitive environment of e-markets, while trying to transfer the in-store shopping experience directly online. With that being said, this article will introduce two new emerging technologies that are involved in the realistic transition between in-store and online shopping through Augmented Reality (AR).

Social Shopping

Social shopping is an e-commerce methodology bridging social media and online shopping together. Social media impacts the shopping behaviour in a way in which other people like friends, family, bloggers and celebrities recommend and suggest certain products and services to the consumers. The idea behind a social shopping website is that it provides the potential customer with blogs and virtual communities to help him in his decision in buying consumer goods and services. This is achieved by the average consumer share his shopping ideas, exchanging opinions on products, and recommending one another on what to buy and what not to buy.

A research on social shopping in 2010 found out that consumers’ trust in product recommendations had not only a direct and significant positive effect on their purchase intentions, but also a strong indirect positive effect on buying the product from that specific website where the information was originally found. The intention of a consumer to purchase a good directly from the website could in that case directly be affected by the trust in the website, thus creating an incentive to build a online shopping platform (Yu, 2010).

To better understand this, we used Shopcade as an example to analyse the technology further, and base conclusions.

shopcade

Shopcade is a website and mobile app that creates a community of fashionistas and allows anyone to easily purchase the items that they see posted. The site has two main sections: the trending section and the feed section.

The trending feed is curated by the app itself. This means that it is a section with content posted only by the Shopcade team. This content comes usually in the form of blog posts regarding different fashion trends, whether it is for clothing, accessories or other items (for example, one post gave the most recent trends in duvet covers). Being a content provider as well as a service provider definitely adds value for the customers of the company. On the other hand, the feed section contains content created exclusively by bloggers and members of the community. This adds even more to the social aspect of Shopcade, giving a very Instagram-like feel to the whole social experience. This is what Shopcade does successfully. It actually created a situation where online shopping offers an experience that would be awkward to achieve in the store.

Below, the SWOT analysis of Social Shopping can be observed. It is directly applicable to the case of Shopcade.

Schermata 2015-09-24 alle 18.43.52

When it comes to their revenue model, Shopcade offers nothing new. As can be expected from such a business, they make money from affiliate marketing and sales. This means that they receive commission for all the purchases made from their website. In addition, some brands want more exposure, which requires them to pay more money to Shopcade.

Virtual Fitting Room (VRF)

Fitsme-has-built-a-virtual-fitting-room-platform-that-can-be-easily-integrated-onto-the-sites-of-online-retailers.

VRFs are the online substitution of in-store fitting rooms. It is available on PC-laptop and mobile devices. VFRs rely heavily on Augmented Reality (AR), which employs specialized software and hardware to merge the digital and the physical worlds by immersing digital information into real video to generate persuasive looking scenes in real-time. Personal measurements can be included online to allow the framework to build a 3-D avatar of the customer fitting the item. It’s built on a three-step algorithm: it builds/scan the user body through data measurements (size, width, length…), reference points (i.e face and figure) via AR, and finally, it builds the avatar incorporating the clothes on a superimposed 3D image.

Software companies such as Virtusize, Fits.me and Clothes Horse have all adapted this new technology providing it to big retail companies, attempting to tackle the fit challenge with a range of technology-based solutions, from “morphing mannequins” to size recommendation engines, all with the goal to simulate the physical fit and sizing experience (G. Randall, 2015).

Often enough shoppers complain about long waiting lines in shops and poorly set up fitting rooms. Conditions such as terrible lighting and a lack of space in the room tend to dominate the endless list of complaints. The slow but steady introduction of VFR has revolutionised the shopping industry, specifically the e-commerce aspect of it.

Using VRFs could actually increase the pleasure of shopping in many ways. Firstly, there is no hassle of having to physically put on several different clothes. The ability to take pictures whilst “trying on” these clothes means that customers can easily compare outfits. Furthermore, many side-menus can be added into the technology, this would be up to a firm to research what sort of features its customers need when trying on clothes. Some great features that many shoppers and experts posted include the ability to like and dislike garments, save pictures of outfits for later, see reviews and prices of products, as well as the ability to call in real-time service (LinkedIn, 2015).

Below, the SWOT analysis of Social Shopping can be observed, applicable to every aspect of the VRFs. As it can be observed, it is filled with opportunities leaving thoughts and space for improvement.

Schermata 2015-09-24 alle 18.53.09

Future perspectives

With the VFR component only, the customers missed the social element of shopping. On the other side, the current social shopping services do not offer a developed VFR experience yet, making a visit to the store easily a necessity. We believe these technologies will merge together as the result will provide an improved customer experience. In the future those various digital resources – VFR and Social Shopping included- will be combined in an overall bigger market. Indeed, as someone will be shopping from his home -trying out clothes through the VFR system-, the person will be able to ask the opinion of a friend or a shopping assistant; involving social shopping (IBM, 2010).

The combination of those two technologies presses the question whether physical retail shops will exist in the future. It seems not to be a question of “If” but “When” physical stores will become obsolete. The reader should ask himself in how much time this change would have taken place: 5, 10, 20 years? It is difficult to say. Humans tend to think linearly, however the rate at which technology imposes itself on the world rather corresponds to an exponential curve as Ray Kurzweil and the institution of Singularity University (2012) are professing.

Sources:

Yu, K.-L. H.-C.-Y.-P. (2010). Antecedents and consequences of trust in online product recommendations”, Online Information Review.
Randall, G. (2015). Fashion ecommerce: are virtual fitting rooms the silver bullet?. [online] Econsultancy. Available at: https://econsultancy.com/blog/66058-fashion-ecommerce- are-virtual-fitting-rooms-the-silver-bullet/ [Accessed 18 Sep. 2015].
LinkedIn (2015). Virtual changing rooms will revolutionize fashion retail [online] Available at: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/virtual-changing-rooms- revolutionize-fashion-retail-moles-mba

Team 13:
Claudio Corti
Maximilian Wiedmaier
Alex Furnica
Maxim Gggurevic
Paul Grandjouan

How to lose your Internet weight!

apple

Ever wonder why seemingly simple web pages take long to load? Chances are it’s not the content that is weighing you down, but third party trackers. These parties track your movement over several websites, analyzing your behavior and record your browsing habits.

To put things into perspective the following example from a Guardian article provides some figures. In loading the popular tech site ‘The Verge,’ the actual content only ran 8k, whereas the surrounding ads ran to 6MB. During a second study, it was discovered that almost an order of magnitude more data is needed for the trackers than the article itself. A more recent study explained this ‘weight’ in a measure more familiar to the everyday user; seconds. By turning off third party scripts, the homepage loaded within 2 seconds, down from 11 seconds.

We can therefore conclude that third party trackers take up more data (and thus more time) not only during the launch of a page, but throughout the entire duration of our browsing. These are two luxuries few of us can afford on our mobile contracts nor during our busy lives. An additional consequence for portable devices is less battery.

But fear not, solutions are available, with my personal favorite being Ghostery! This extension for your browser identifies which services are trying to track you and then gives you the option to block them. When first installing the extension the following categories are given; Advertising, Analytics, Beacons, category_iso, privacy and widgets. Given you full control of where you would like to make exceptions.

I like the newly found control I was previously unaware of. Since installing I can say I have observed a slight increase in speed. However, I do enjoy it when I load specific websites that a customized experience is opened for my profile, for example making my purchase recommendations better or my preferred settings more familiar. This customization is reduced if not lost when disabling all the trackers, therefore in the future I might consider allowing certain websites to use third party trackers for my own benefit.

Remember; “if you’re not paying for something, you’re not the customer, but the product!”

Questions?

-Is this something you would install?

-What are some additional trade-offs of these services?

-If adopted on a grand scale could these extensions create problems?

Sources:

https://www.ghostery.com/en/

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/aug/23/beginning-of-the-end-for-web-ads

http://www.networkworld.com/article/2226989/security/ghostery-a-tool-for-paranoiacs-everywhere.html

https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2009/09/online-trackers-and-social-networks

http://murphyapps.co/blog/2015/6/24/an-hour-with-safari-content-blocker-in-ios-9

I rather eat cookies

cookiemonster

Acookie law? Why would they make a law about cookies? When I first heard about a cookie law some years ago I laughed and said what are they putting into this law? The maximum amount of sugar? Unfortunately the law wasn’t about eatable cookies, but about cookies on the internet. I heard of their existence once but I didn’t actually know I came into contact with these cookies every day, since no website informed me about them. From that moment onwards websites were obliged to inform you about the use of cookies.

So what are cookies?

A cookie is a small text file which is stored during your visit to a website. Whenever a person visits the same website again, the website keeps track of what the user is doing on the internet.

There are three types of cookies:

  • Functional cookies: without these cookies the website isn’t able to function, as an example the things you put in your shopping bag on a shopping site
  • Analytical cookies: these cookies keep track of how often you visit a site or read an article
  • Tracking cookies: these cookies follow your browsing behaviour, so if you search for shoes on one website, you probably get a commercial about shoes on another website

What are the rules for cookies today?

For functional cookies no permission from the user is required. Concerning analytical and tracking cookies a permission from a user is required via an accept button on the particular website which is using cookies.

What is going to change?

The ministry of economic affairs wants to put an end to the mandatory asking for analytical cookies. These cookies don’t have major consequences for a person’s privacy. Only when it’s really necessary to protect the privacy of the user permission will be asked. The mandatory asking for tracking cookies will remain.

What’s in this for us users?

This change in the law can be positive for us users, since you don’t get the annoying pop-ups of cookies all the time. A lot of us just click on accept for cookies without even reading what the cookies do or what kind of cookies you are coping with. But this case also raises some important questions, since there is a very thin line between users’ benefit and their privacy. In my opinion this line is subjective, as persons around the world will have differing opinions about this. For instance users in countries with political suppression will probably opt to avoid cookies as much as possible.

Another topic is whether people will still be informed about the use of analytical questions. Informing users will be necessary to allow people to choose not to visit a particular website when it makes use of analytical cookies.

So for me it’s a difficult case since I do mind my own and other people’s privacy but on the other hand I almost always just accept the cookies without even reading. In the short run I think we will benefit from the improved usability of websites, but for me the effects in the long run are yet to be determined. Therefore I am interested in your opinion about this case. Do you just click on accept? Do you mind about your privacy regarding cookies on the internet? And most important.. what would you vote for on Tuesday if you were in the government?

http://www.nu.nl/internet/3893252/geen-expliciete-toestemming-nodig-cookies.html

http://www.rtlnieuws.nl/nieuws/binnenland/wat-zijn-cookies-en-wat-doen-ze-zes-vragen

http://www.rijksoverheid.nl/onderwerpen/internet/bescherming-privacy-op-internet/cookiewet-regels-en-richtlijnen

Li-Fi: Internet emitting light bulbs

As the internet is expanding rapidly and new households are being connected to the internet on a daily basis, the demand for new technologies to facilitate this rapid expansion is growing as well. The old architecture of the internet had several drawbacks such as IPv4. However, we have come a long way and practically every place has wireless internet (Wi-Fi). The advantages of Wi-Fi over cable networks are obvious and are the catalyst for the surge in mainstream adoption of wireless technology worldwide. For example, Taipei is currently implementing a free public Wi-Fi network for the city.

China is a rapid rising economy at the moment and, as a result, its huge amount of citizens are moving to urban settings in a fast pace. These demographic changes put a huge amount of stress on governments, both national and local, to facilitate this transformation adequately. Although a large part of China is already making use of the internet, it still is very limited in terms of amount of connections in smaller cities and internet speed. Moreover, let’s not forget the great firewall of China blocking a large amount of content on the internet to Chinese society. Nevertheless, scientists at China’s Fudan University have managed to create a futuristic solution: internet emitting light bulbs.

This technology, dubbed Li-Fi, can at the moment provide 4 computers per bulb internet at speeds of 150 mbps which is much higher than the average broadband connection in China. As you can see, this new technology might provide China and other countries new ways for internet adoption. Moreover, it could provide companies huge investment costs of large internet servers and router networks within the firm; rather, it could replace all the light bulbs with Li-Fi ones as light is essential within society.

To me, these are interesting developments and could lead to a more worldwide adoption of the internet, creating an even more connected world. Also, imagine the possibilities of this techology such as Li-Fi streetlighting. Can you think of other usefull solutions?

http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/china/2013-10/17/c_132806591.htm

http://www.zdnet.com/cn/china-achieves-wireless-internet-access-via-lightbulbs-7000022108/

http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/feat/archives/2011/09/18/2003513543

The next generation Internet Protocol: IPv6 the enabler of a larger internet

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The last days of IPv4
When the internet was originally designed in 1970, their founders seemed that is would be highly unlikely that the IP address space would become an issue overtime. Because with the current IP address scheme (also known as IPv4) it is possible to allocate almost 4.3 billion IP addresses. Which seemed to be more than enough space at that time. But despite this incredible number they could not have overseen the massive growth of the internet in the late 90s. During the last decade the number of Internet users has grown even more (see image below).

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To anticipate on these space issues of IPv4, the IPv6 scheme was introduced in 1996 by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF). IPv6 will be able to hold an impressive amount of: 340,282,366,920,938,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 unique IP addresses. However, IPv4 is still operational and used to facilitate the internet today. Actually the last block of IPv4 addresses space has been allocated in February 2011.

Transition from IPv4 to IPv6
This year an actual transition has been set in motion to migrate the internet protocol from IPv4 to IPv6. But the problem is that over the years the internet has become quite complex, and it is challenging to coordinate such a migration as it involves governments, enterprises, manufacturers, internet service  providers (ISPs) and even individuals. It will require a collaborative effort from many users. To encourage this, an initiative was launched on June 6th which announced the beginning of the official transition of internet to IPv6:  http://www.worldipv6launch.org/. However, the actual transition will probably take several years, because many governments and enterprises are still hesitant to invest in their network infrastructure to make it IPv6 compatible. China and other connected Asian countries, have heavily invested in IPv6 deployment, and European companies transacting with Chinese businesses in that region will probably need to head the line of IPv6 transition in this country.

The future is IPv6
At any rate, the transition from Ipv4 to IPv6 is essential for the growth of the internet. If the transition does not happen in the near future, newly produced internet devices which will not be able to connect to the internet because of the lack of available IPv4 addresses. On the other hand, when this transition has been completed, techniques like NAT (Network Address Translation) would become obsolete. Also, smart phones, digital cameras, cars, refrigerators, microwaves, TVs, and many more devices will be able to seamlessly communicate which each other in the future.