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Technology

Innovation of Smartphones

March 30, 2017

Since their inception, smartphones have had a significant impact on the everyday lives of everyone globally. They’ve given power to people in several different ways, from giving news stations being able to relay information instantaneously to giving some the power to upload a picture in real-time to their instagram account. However, despite its overwhelming influence, companies insist on making the smartphone even more innovative than it was before. In addition to the smartphone itself, app developers and other tech savvy groups continue to stay in tune with smartphones wanting to make an amalgamation of products to make life as easy as a couple swipes and touches away. Listed are some of the new ideas that are going to be incorporated into smartphones in the near future.

AI Assistance

The first AI assistant on the smartphone was Siri, and since the inception of Siri, digital AI assistance has made leaps and bounds in progress. Following the creation of Siri came Google Now on the Android and Cortana on Windows phones.  Siri has since extended itself to other Apple devices; Google rebranded Google Now to the Google Assistant, making it exclusively for their Pixel smartphones; and Cortana reached out and has made itself available on Android devices as well.

There are several things to look out for in regards to future additions to these AI assistants. For the iPhone, there have been rumors that Siri and Apple creators have been flirting with the idea of technology trends like VR and AR, which may mean that these features will be incorporated into the digital assistant. As of right now, improvements towards the Google Assistant have been kept under wraps, however there has been some talk of repurposing the AI to select phones again. With the Windows phone, many thought that they phone was dead in the water compared to the Android and iPhone, however they refuse to simply lay down. The Google Pixel has been breathing life back into the smartphone and expect new phones to come out with the AI Cortana installed already.

Yet, despite the moves these phones have made there has been an AI that has taken the forefront in regards to usability and overall functionality. Amazon’s Alexa has been the hottest AI item and expect for it to be equipped in several different branded smartphones. Pairing itself with the Amazon Echo, makes Alexa the favorite when it comes to innovative AI assistants.

Sensitive Apps

Regarding the first apps designed on smartphones, they have gone a long way in regards to innovation and overall usability. Games have improved graphic and functionality and apps have since been developed to aid medical professions with their tasks throughout the day. SInce their inception, app developers have moved away from just fixing glitches in apps and have moved more towards making improvements to apps so that people can stay interested with the most up to date information.

Apps like Waze are on the rise in giving people the most recent traffic information. Although it may seem like a small project, the app crowdsources the information on such things as accidents, traffic, roadblocks, and other hindrances one would experience on the road. The app wants to create an interactive community to help everyone’s commute a little easier in tandem with creating a healthier environment by stopping idle, running cars.

Another app pairs itself with a product to make for an interesting new way to check fertility. The YO app is the first at home sperm test kit that has the capability to take live video of your sperm. Equipped with two test kits, use your smartphone’s camera to help you and your partner find out whether you are ready to conceive.

Wearable Technology

Everyone first saw the first wearable devices placed in the ear, and everyone has made, or almost made, the mistake in saying hi to them when they they hello to someone else on the other line. Since Bluetooth devices have passed that point of confusion and is expected now, several different companies have made strides to make innovative, wearable software. Produced now have been items such as the FitBit, enabling you to track your health, as well as the Apple Watch, which works as an extension of the iPhone with other perks.

Take the WELT for example. The WELT is a wellness belt that pairs with your smartphone and determines your health. The product can identify the wearers waistline and counts their steps while they perform their daily functions. Also equipped is a feature that helps track over eating, which is activated through tension experienced in the belt. Although considered a prototype right now, the WELT is on the forefront of creating another health tracking device.

Technology

Top 5 Tech Events Trends

March 14, 2017

When it comes to staging an event, technology is proving a major boon for organizers, exhibitors and attendees alike. Not only does it allow for an improved immersive experience for those attending, it also allows organisers to monitor their traffic, streamline the staging and promote activities in real time.

Here are the five top trends for events in 2017…

RFID

Just as RFID technology is revolutionising retail and manufacturing it’s also reaping major rewards for events, and usage is only set to increase in 2017. Used for ticketing, tracking and to connect people attending the event, these information-packed chips can be built into tags or wristbands.

The added bonus of RFID ticketing and attendance check-in is it’s as simple as sourcing the tags and setting up a tablet and secure kiosk at the entry to your event.

Meanwhile RFID also has the potential to provide a wealth of data, such as identifying most used admission points and real time attendance to hone future events. RFID can be further linked to social media accounts like Facebook or twitter allowing attendees to interact with RFID points at the venue and each other, and post updates to their friends.  

Kiosks

From the check-in to individual exhibits tablet and iPad kiosks are a staple at any event, with On Spot Social noting the prevalence of these mobile devices lends itself to marketing capability.

“Tablets and iPads can provide a wide variety of entertaining, fun and meaningful, in-booth activities,” they state.

These can range from interactive games, immersive apps and guided augmented reality tours to simple visuals, registering contact details and product ordering.

The benefits include affordability and ease of set-up, with only software, the device and secure stands required to interact with clientele.

IBeacons

Meanwhile coupling kiosks and mobile devices with iBeacons has almost limitless potential to engage your audience throughout a trade show.

OnSpot Social notes: “By implementing iBeacon technology, you can do this by setting up a number of iPad kiosks where attendees can input their information. You can send push notifications to attendees’ mobile phones as they approach your booth. These notifications will post options to forward a response by email, scan a code or print on site. This will allow a direct connection to get in touch with you”.

In 2014 CeBIT Hannover began utilising beacon technology at their flagship event, using it to register attendee’s details in the careers section. When participants then approached relevant booths, they were provided with notifications of job vacancies, apprenticeships and traineeships directly on their smartphone.

Now, after the initial launch of the iBeacon at WWDC in 2013, beacons are a widely used tool at events, offering easy registration, smart networking, heat mapping of attendee movements, lead marketing and more, according to event2mobile.

Virtual reality

While beacons, tablets and RFID are being readily rolled out across events, virtual and augmented reality (AR/VR) have only just begun their infiltration of the exhibition world, according to Forbes. They note AR/VR offers exhibitors the opportunity to showcase their wares or services in an immersive way, but without the cost and inconvenience of transporting equipment.

Ted Spies of Gateway Exhibit Services told Forbes: “AR/VR will saturate the event marketing and trade show space. Rather than paying large sums of money to transport and stage a piece of equipment or a structure, forward thinking companies are already investing that budget into developing AR/VR applications and experiences that are immersive, effective, reusable and cost effective. This trend will only accelerate in the coming years.”

Live streaming

Whether your event is sold out, you’re looking to generate further interest or you’re an exhibitor hoping to showcase your expertise and authority to an audience that’s not in attendance, live streaming is another tool on the rise for events, and it’s only set to increase with last year’s launch of Facebook Live.

Web Analytics World explains live streaming has numerous benefits for event organisers and exhibitors alike.

These include:

  • Creating a wider audience
  • Giving your event urgency
  • Promoting online interaction
  • Opening up possible new streams of revenue
  • Having your event stand out from the crowd.

Meanwhile livestream.com states: “67% of live video viewers are more likely to buy a ticket to a concert or event after watching a live video of that event or a similar one”.

The final word

No longer are tradeshows and events just about opening your doors, offering information and allowing the attendees access to individual booths. Increasingly clientele seek an immersive, interlinked experience where technology furnishes them with the tools to pick and choose what they want to see, find it readily and even source it externally online.

That makes cutting edge technology a must for any organiser, in the knowledge it could make or break your event and even take it beyond the confines of your location and to the wider world.

Technology

Keeping Your Data Secure

March 1, 2017

Scamming is something that has been around for a very long time because there have always been people trying to take advantage of others they believe to be gullible. Before the internet age, most scammers used telephones and other available means to relieve people of their hard earned cash. However, the internet has made their jobs much easier for them.

According to digitalconnectmag one of the reasons scammers have been using the internet to cheat people out of their money is the fact that it is more difficult for authorities to track them. Someone living in a third world country can use a proxy or VPN to mask their location, which makes it difficult to determine exactly where they are.

Some of these scammers also use sophisticated methods to cheat unsuspecting targets, which means even veteran internet users can fall for their scams.

If you’re unfamiliar with the way scammers operate, here are a few tips to help you keep your data secure.

* Never click a link or download attachments in an email if you are unsure of the source. The link or attachment could contain a virus or malware designed to collect private information from your computer.

* Never give out your personal information if you receive an email from a bank or financial institution. The reason you shouldn’t provide your personal information is that your financial institution already has it and will never ask for it in an email. If you have any business with the bank that requires you to provide personal information, do it in person at your closest branch.

* If you receive an email telling you that you just won a large sum of money or you’ve been approved for a loan you never applied for, don’t bother opening up or responding to the email. This is a classic example of a phishing email, where the scammers will direct you to a legitimate looking website where you will be asked to provide personal information to claim the “prize” you won.

* You can easily spot a scam email by paying attention to the little details. Most email scams are written by people who don’t speak very good English, meaning there will be a lot of typos and grammatical errors, letting you know they are fake.

* Keep your anti-virus software updated and run a virus scan on your computer at least once a day. This helps eliminates any viruses or malware you might have accidentally picked up when you opened an email from a scammer.

* Report the spam email to prevent receiving more from the sender.

For more information on how to keep your data secure, visit Data Label.

Technology

Technology Is Changing The Face Of Retail

January 24, 2017

Scotland is among the latest countries across the globe that has chosen to adopt the cashless payment system in various industries and markets. This system is becoming more and more convenient and acceptable among people each day. Thanks to IT, this system can be made easier, faster and more convenience for the average citizen.

Scotcoin is a new emerging payment system and structure that is neither controlled by the government or bank. User can only use online cashless systems to make transitions without physically handling any money.

What does this digital money offer?

• Transactions will become fast, easy and tax less. No bank will have control over the online money since the money will not go directly to them.

• This will especially benefit businesses since no physical cash will be used in transactions. Robberies cases will reduce and the safety of the business will be guaranteed.

The downside to this cashless system would be;

• Change is not accepted by everyone. There might be protests against this cashless system especially by banks. This will mean very little money will get to the banks and bankers will lose their jobs as less banks will remain open

• Businesses will have to settle for low insurance premiums and less protection against any incidents that may occur.

Implementing this cashless system might prove difficult for everyone to embrace it unless a solution for each posing problem is found.

The cashless system will slowly take charge of the way business is done with some countries having already embraced it. Let’s take Sweden for example; some transport companies and restaurants are only accepting digital payments. Sweds only prefer to use debit cards or phone applications such as Swish, an app allows users to transfer funds using their phones, to conduct any payments.

Cartridge Save, a surveyor found that about 70 percent of Scots are not as ready to embrace this cashless payment system citing fears of the safety and security of the system. They would also be worried on these online services since government agencies have been known to track transactions. All in all most money nowadays is electronic; this cashless system would just be an evolved form of it.

Technology

What Can Cameras See that We Can’t?

January 17, 2017

We all take cameras for granted now – we carry them around in our mobile phones even, snapping images right, left and centre. We rely on them to capture sights and events exactly as we see the ourselves, including colour, light and detail, but cameras are actually capable of “seeing” and capturing things that we can’t see. Let’s have a look at just a few.

Split-second images

While the human eye can see rapid events and changes as they happen, they can’t freeze time or images, or fixate on a single instant of time. A camera, however, especially a high-speed model, can effectively freeze motion (and almost time), as long as there’s enough light or a decent flash.

These types of camera are often used in sports photography, as the magic often happens in an instant – the ball crossing the line, the high jumper soaring at maximum height then touching the ground again, for example. Other events, like a water balloon bursting or a match head combusting, were never been seen in detail until relatively recently.

Very faint light

This is something of a mixed bag, actually. Our eyes can see faint light, especially if we give them time to adjust – just walk into a dark room, or look up at the night sky and wait a few minutes. If you look up at the night sky you’ll see countless stars, but even these stars are only the brighter ones. With high-tech cameras with high ISO values, like the ones produced by Andor Technology, even more stars can be captured.

Cameras can do something that our eyes can’t and that’s collect light over a longer period of time and turn it into a single image. By using longer exposures, cameras can collect enough light from otherwise invisible stars to turn them into images.

Very fine details

While the human eye is good enough to see fine details, it can’t zoom right into the image to pick up all the details that are available in the object or image. A camera with a macro lens can do just that, picking up the details in tiny insects, or the grain of wood, leading us into a hidden world.

One interesting application of the macro lens is to look at everyday objects in a different way. It can be quite surprising to see extreme close-ups of the familiar objects we see and use every day as they can often seem unrecognisable.

See tone without colour

Many people wonder why black and white photography is still very popular even though we’ve had colour photography for more than a century now. We see in colour, apart from a few people who are completely colour-blind, so seeing an image in black, white and grey is something most of us only do when looking at a photo.

The reason we like black and white photography so much is because this rendering can bring out the differences in tone, as well as emphasise the form, shape and lines of objects and scenes. When colour comes in, many of these contrasts and differences are lost or harder to pick out.

Technology

Google Joins The Home Speaker Market

October 16, 2016

Tech giant Google recently announced its plan to join the home speaker market, unveiling a new personal assistant the company says will allow people to control their homes, surf the internet, book movies, and sort through photos using voice command.

The new Google Home will place the company in the middle of the competition between other tech giants like Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, and Facebook, who all have their own version of a personal assistant.

Unlike the other companies, Google refuses to give its assistant a gendered name, and has instead decided to call it Google Assistant. The physical form is a small white speaker without buttons called Google Home. It is similar in appearance to the Amazon Echo, which is powered by Alexa.

According to Google, what differentiates its personal assistant from the competitors is the fact that the company has been cataloging the internet and physical world for 17 years, which means its assistant is smarter and easier to use since Google already makes software for smartphones, smartwatches, and regular computers.

Google says users will be able to communicate with multiple machines at the same time thanks to its new assistant.

While speaking on stage, Google CEO Sundar Pichai gave the example of how Google Home works, asking his assistant what movie he and his wife should go see. After being given a first set of choices, Pichai added that he wants to bring the kids. The assistant then gave him a choice of three kids’ movies, including Disney’s Jungle Book remake.

Pinchai, who became Google’s CEO after its recent restructuring, is a known artificial intelligence geek. Over the years, he has devoted a lot of resources to making machines think more like humans, and he envisions greater uses for the technology in the future.

During his presentation, Pichai highlighted how Google’s intelligence recently defeated a world champion at Go, a Korean board game that is considered to be more difficult than chess.

There was a video shown on stage that showed a family going through their morning routine. The father was making coffee, while telling Google Home to turn the light on and to start playing music in the children’s room. The mother asked of her package had shipped and google confirmed it had, and the daughter asked Google for help with her Spanish homework.

After announcing the new Google Home, the company also announced plans for an updated virtual reality headset that comes with a hand controller and a new messaging app called Allo. The headset is also going to use the Google machine learning tools.

Technology

Apple Watch Banned From Government Meetings

October 16, 2016

Politicians in the UK have apparently been banned from wearing the Apple watch at cabinet meetings due to fears that the mobile device could be hacked. According to reports, the government is worried that the microphone in the device can be used to listen in on high level conversations on policy, especially by Russian hackers, who have been targeting politicians lately.

The paranoia by the British government is justified because of an announcement last week by the United States government blaming Russia for the he hack on the Democratic National Committee. According to a well-placed source, the Russians are trying to hack everything.

While the ban of Apple Watches might sound strange, it really isn’t unusual. Smartphones were already banned at cabinet meetings in the United Kingdom, so extending the ban to include Apple Watches isn’t that much of a stretch because they have the same electronics and are just as vulnerable to hacks.

In another report, it was announced that Australia has also banned the Apple Watch from cabinet meetings for security reasons. An advisor to the Australian Prime Minister told reporters that there has to be more attention paid to communications security as an increasing number of mobile devices, from glasses to running shoes, offered internet connectivity, which makes them susceptible to hackers.

The advisor said that we live in a world where it is necessary for government officials to private conversations with no electronics in the room, there will be more items that will be have to be locked away during cabinet meetings.

Visitors to Australian government agencies like the Australian Signals Directorate, which is the Defense Department’s cyber spy department, are asked to store all electronic devices in lockers before they are permitted to enter the building.

The reasoning behind the rule is to prevent people from using the electronics as listening devices and to stop them from inserting viruses into the building’s systems.

According to a British newspaper, politicians were allowed to wear smartwatches while David Cameron was the Prime Minister, but that practice came to an end when Cameron left and the new ban was put into place.

The paper also disclosed that former justice secretary Michael Gove once interrupted a cabinet meeting when he was chief whip by accidentally playing a Beyoncé song while checking his emails.

With the British and Australian governments banning smartwatches and other electronic devices from their cabinet meetings, expect to see more governments follow suit to avoid being embarrassed by hackers, who have been uploading sensitive information on the internet in an attempt to embarrass politicians.

Technology

Mac OS Sierra – what’s new?

October 16, 2016

The macOS Sierra is the next-generation operating system from Mac. It was unveiled on June 13 at the Worldwide Developers Conference, and was released to the public on September 20. According to reports, Apple ditched the OS X name in favor of the macOS to bring it in line with their tvOS, watchOS, and iOS.

Since the macOS was announced, plenty of Apple users have been wondering what the new operating system brings to the table. Now that bit has been out for almost a month, we have some more information about the operating system we can share with you.

The main new feature the new Apple OS has is the Siri integration, which brings Apple’s highly rated personal assistant to the Mac for the very first time, which is similar to what Microsoft did with Cortana. Siri will offer Mac users the same functions that are available on iOs, and some new functions designed specifically for the Mac, like the ability to quickly search documents and files.

The macOS Sierra also allows you to pin Siri search results to the Notification Center or add them to your documents. Siri can also search through photos, initiate FaceTime calls, set reminders, as well as other functions.

In addition to having Siri on the macOS Sierra, computer vision and deep learning algorithms allow the In Photo app to recognize people, places, and things in images using facial and object recognition, which should be a lot of fun to test out.

The app uses the information to group images into smart collections, while enabling powerful search capabilities. There is a new memories tab that creates curated collections of past photos to bring back old memories, and a Places option for displaying all the photos you have on a world map.

You can also preview web content using the rich links in the messages section, and watch videos directly from the app. The macOS Sierra also supports iOS 10 features like Tapback and bigger emoji, which allow you to quickly respond to messages.

The Apple iTunes interface has also been updated on the new operating system and it has a simpler interface that allows you to browse through the music collection very easily.

The macOS Sierra also has some continuing features from the other Apple operating systems, and a new Auto Unlock feature for people that own Apple Watches. When an authenticated and locked Apple watch is in vicinity of a Mac, the watch unlocks automatically without having to use a password. There is also a Universal Keyboard feature that allows you to copy one thing from an Apple device and paste it in another Apple device.

These are some of the new features on the macOS Sierra, but there are a lot more neat things that can be done with the new operating system, so expect the demand for it to be very high.