Posts tagged wants

Acer founder wants to see Taiwan smart cities come to life

Taipei city in the afternoon

If the founder of computer giant Acer has his way, Taiwan will be jumping into the smart city fray backed by public-private partnerships.

An article by iTech Post reports on recent comments by Stan Shih that urged Taiwan toward further smart city development through collaboration with the private sector.

Shih was speaking at a seminar on the advancement of smart cities hosted by the Industrial Technology Research Institute.

Shih urged the Taiwanese government to foster more smart city projects by fully embracing the potential of public-private partnerships.

He said that Taiwan’s smart cities initiatives are strongly positioned to take advantage of the thriving technology ecosystem offered by the country’s private sector.

Specifically he highlighted the country’s advanced position in such fields as information and communications technology, software and administration design. This technological advantage in the private sector should feed into collaborative efforts by the government to build out its smart city strategy.

One of the key outcomes that these smart city initiatives should be that there is greater support for the country’s youth, says Shih. This can be done by backing industrial clusters and innovative business models that allow the talent of tomorrow to succeed.

Taiwan smart city efforts are building

Shih’s comments come against the backdrop of a recent report that suggests cities in the U.K. could access nearly $7 billion in funding if they were better able to access private capital.

“Cities around the world are increasingly engaging in smart development to improve efficiency of local services, enhance sustainability, improve the lives of their citizens and develop their competitiveness,” said Chris Wilkinson of Siemens Financial, which prepared the report. “Private sector asset finance allows cities to make the full range of SmartStart technology investments in a timely manner.”

The Acer founder’s vocal support of greater smart city support  follows news this spring that Taiwanese investment firm Fu Hwa Securities is launching a $625 million global investment fund that focuses on Internet of Things (IoT).

Fu Hwa said its new fund will target the plethora of opportunities that are emerging from IoT technologies such as self-driving cars, big data, smart logistics, cloud computing and advanced manufacturing. As well, It added that it will be exploring investments in such sectors as pharmaceuticals, energy, environmental and biotech.

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Consumers’ group wants Uber to publicize self-driving tests

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Uber has started to integrate self-driving Volvo XC90 cars into its Pittsburgh ride-hailing fleet this month, a noticeably large leap for a company that only started to work on autonomous cars last year.

Public interest group Consumer Watchdog is one of the many with eyebrows raised, and has called on Uber to be as transparent as possible with its self-driving tests.

Privacy project director John Simpson sent a letter to Uber CEO Travis Kalanick, providing ten questions and four transparency requirements that echoed most of California’s self-driving laws.

Simpson said Uber must disclose all crashes, loss of control, and system failures, release technical data and videos of the crash, and provide a monthly report, similar to Google, that detail all activities, things the company learned or added, and miles driven.

It’s a comprehensive transparency request, but one that Uber doesn’t have to abide by, since its testing in Pennsylvania. The state currently has none of the self-driving laws California has introduced, meaning if Uber doesn’t want to disclose information, it doesn’t have to.

Still a compelling argument

That said, Simpson makes a compelling argument on why Uber should disclose information. In the letter he says: “Once you have opted to use public roads as your laboratory as you have done, you take on a moral obligation to be completely transparent.” This looks to be the rallying cry for Consumer Watchdog, if Uber refuses to disclose.

Here are Simpsons’  — shortened and edited — ten questions to Uber:

  1. Will you publish a complete list of real-life situations the cars cannot yet understand, and how you intend to deal with them?
  2. What do you envision happening if the computer “driver” suddenly goes offline with a passenger in the car, if the passenger has no control over the vehicle?
  3. Will you agree to publish its software algorithms, including how the company’s “artificial car intelligence” will function in a collision?
  4. Will you publish all video from the car and technical data such as radar and lidar reports associated with accidents or other anomalous situations? If not, why not?
  5. Will you publish all data in its possession that discusses, or makes projections concerning, the safety of driverless vehicles?
  6. Do you expect one of its cars will be involved in a fatal crash? If so, would you be held accountable?
  7. How will you prove that self-driving cars are safer than today’s vehicles?
  8. Will you agree not to store, market, sell, or transfer the data gathered by the car, or utilize it for any purpose other than navigating the vehicle?
  9. Do you have the technology to prevent malicious hackers from seizing control of a driverless vehicle or any of its systems?
  10. When do you expect to deploy and carry passengers in fully driverless cars without backup human drivers

The impact of consumer groups has yet to be felt in this booming new industry. It will be interesting to see Uber’s reaction.

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Japan wants us self-driving to the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics

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Mitsubishi Electric, Zenrin and nine other automakers will start collecting high resolution 3D maps for self-driving cars to use, in preparation for autonomous car deployment in the country.

The project is backed by the Cabinet Office’s Cross-ministerial Strategic Innovation Promotion Program (quite a mouthful), which commissioned Dynamic Map Planning, a joint venture of the 11 companies, to build the 3D maps.

See Also: EU, Japan to connect for faster autonomous car rollout

Japan’s government hopes that self-driving cars will be on the road before the start of the Tokyo Summer Olympics in 2020, according to Nikkei.

Better 3D mapping needed?

Highly detailed 3D maps provide a ton of data for self-driving cars, which can be analyzed by machine learning systems and fed into an entire fleet of vehicles. Once an entire city is mapped, the self-driving car could, in theory, know every single traffic light, walkway, and intersection while driving less than a mile.

Increasing the resolution provides a clearer picture to the self-driving cars on highway off ramps, which may result in less technical issues on the road when an autonomous car doesn’t know what to do.

The consortium of companies will start mapping 300km of the country’s main expressways. It hopes to extend the mapping to cover the entire country, but that will take time.

The Japanese government wants to be a leader in the self-driving market, but so far it has lagged behind some of the Asian Tiger regions, especially Singapore, which has already trialled nuTonomy and Delphi, two self-driving programs.

To make up for lost ground, the government has invested in several self-driving and electric car projects. Honda, Toyota, and Mitsubishi are all working on self-driving systems, so there’s a fighting chance Japan will become a leader like it has been in almost every tech revolution for the past 30 years.

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Philips wants to help you get a better night’s sleep

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With more patients seeking medical care for sleep disorders, the world is waking up to the challenge of healthy sleep, its impact on overall health and the need for a good’s night rest.

During the recent IFA conference here in Berlin, Philips presented the Dream Family solution designed to improve the sleep therapy experience for people with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). More than 100 million people worldwide are estimated to have OSA, a serious condition that is treated with positive airway pressure (PAP) therapy. The Dream Family, comprised of the DreamWear mask, DreamStation PAP device, and DreamMapper patient engagement app, is designed to engage sleep apnea patients with one of the most comfortable and effective therapies available.

The components of the Dream Family were inspired by feedback from more than 900 patients as well as insights from clinicians who treat sleep apnea. This input combined with Philips’ more than four decades of experience developing revolutionary patient-centric solutions led to the award-winning design of the Dream Family. Since their launch in October 2015, DreamWear and DreamStation have been honored for excellence in design, including recent iF Design, Red Dot, Good Design Australia, and Core77 accolades.

“Sleep therapy can be challenging, and our goal is to help people across the globe get a better night’s rest – whether they live with a chronic sleep condition or are struggling to achieve eight hours a night,” said John Frank, CEO of the Sleep and Respiratory Care unit at Philips.

“Next to nutrition and exercise, sleep is the third pillar of health and now we are looking to the future for all people who need help with improving their sleep quality. We intend to make good sleep possible for everyone.”

It’s interesting that they’ve stuck to the design of a mask for treating sleep apnea. This year, Startup Airing raised more than $1.5 million on Indiegogo for its creation of a far cheaper, mask-less, cordless, continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) device to treat obstructive sleep apnea, an alternative to masks which many users find uncomfortable to wear at night, to the extent that 50% of CPAP users stop using it within one year. However, they have yet to get FDA clearance, a process that can take some time.

Light therapy goes mainstream

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Philips also showcased two light therapy solutions designed to improve the experience of getting out of bed.

Philips’ EnergyUp Energy Lights lights help combat energy dips caused by jet lag, long hours inside an office, or general fatigue. A white light mimics the natural energizing power of daylight, and is clinically proven to increase energy levels and mood.  There’s also a blue light for people to use when traveling or at the office.

There’s also Wake-up Light, clinically proven to provide a more energetic wake-up in the morning and reduces sleepiness after waking up. The technology allows users to simulate the sunrise and choose the preferred sound for their wake up. They aren’t cheap, retailing from $159 but do also function as a radio and alarm clock.

It’s good to see Philips creating products that have the benefit to improve the lives of many sleepless people, who would probably pay anything for a good night’s sleep and greater energy levels.

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IoT and companies: Everyone wants a piece of this revolution

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The Internet of Things is taking over the world. Well, maybe not in a literal global domination kind of way, but just about every “thing” we interact with these days has the potential of becoming part of the growing Internet of Things. This is a big opportunity for companies that produce these products to expand their reach into the rich tech sector.

A toothbrush is worth $5 by itself. A toothbrush that tracks how well you brush your teeth can be sold for many times that amount. The toothbrush company goes from creating plastic handles and bristles to producing electronic devices with transmitters, sensors, and more. This can be a great thing for that company. It expands its reach and makes it a more tempting target for investors.

Under Armour is a great example of a company that has moved in to the IoT game in a big way. On the surface, it’s an apparel company that sells spandex and moisture-wicking clothing that athletes love. In order to make its brand more relevant, it expanded into more aspects of the fitness world. This includes tracking diet and exercise with MyFitnessPal,  activity with the UA Band, weight with the UA Scale, and more.

Companies beyond manufacturing and IT are involved

This expansion into the Internet of Things isn’t just a habit of product manufacturers. Even retailers and web service providers are getting in to the mix. Companies like Amazon don’t just profit from sales of IoT devices on its retail site, but in hosting the apps that power them through Amazon Web Services (AWS). Amazon is a leading provider of cloud services, and its variety of cloud services makes it especially appealing to IoT developers.

The possibilities for businesses to find an angle to profit in the IoT sector is virtually limitless. Construction companies that build buildings and roads are beginning to create the foundation for the smart cities of tomorrow. Companies that have long provided the networking technologies that power the Internet are shifting their focus towards IoT-specific projects in anticipation of this massive shift.

So, whether you sell sneakers or highrises, everyone seems to want a piece of the IoT.

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Vodafone wants you to dress smartly this summer

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Vodafone has released a suite of connected smart clothes aimed at holidaymakers jetting off this summer. The range includes a swimsuit, child’s sunhat, and suitcase, all fitted with sensors.

The swimsuit has a built in UV exposure sensor that detects harmful rays and provides data on the UV level and how long you’ve spent in the sun. Vodafone shows all of this data on a companion smartphone app.

See Also: Vodafone and Philips to help cities cut lighting costs

Similar UV technology is baked into the sunhat. Vodafone will differentiate between devices on the app. The hat also comes with a location tracker, showing the location the child and sending alerts if they wander too far.

The last product, a smart suitcase, has tracking functionality that works with mobile base stations inside airports to provide more accurate positioning of the case.

Vodafone getting well into IoT

Vodafone has built all three devices using narrowband-IoT tech, a standard being developed by the 3GPP body. Narrowband is the perfect communications standard for low-power connected devices, according to Vodafone and others involved in the standardization.

The British mobile operator is one of the key networks involved in Narrowband IoT, pushing the standard for M2M and IoT developments.

“To date, Vodafone has been providing IoT solutions around 2G, 3G and 4G and, of course, 5G is just around the corner. But to understand how we are gearing up for IoT it is important to also look at new standards like narrowband-IoT,” said Vodafone chief of IoT, Cyril Deschanel to Siliconrepublic.

“It is a low-cost, low-energy technology and enables machines to last longer with greater autonomy. For example, it helps penetrate inside or under buildings and reach places that cellular cannot. You can have machines that are five metres under a house or building that can communicate where cellular just can’t.”

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TankTaler wants to Tesla up your tired old ride

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It’s easy with the evolution towards cars that are not only connected but autonomous vehicles to forget that such technologically enhanced vehicles are preceded by cars that have operated with perfect functionality for many years despite their lack of technical prowess.

Up until now, the owners of such cars have been faced with two options: remain “disconnected” or upgrade to a new car. Thanks to a Munich-based IoT company called ThinxNet, car owners with model years from 2001 onwards can get some of the technological advances afforded to those with newer car models.

The system is called TankTaler, and includes a hardware dongle  — which includes a SIM card and GPS monitor — and a corresponding smart phone app. The dongle plugs into the OBD II interface,  the port located below the steering wheel that mechanics access to get diagnostic information about your car.

Once paired with the app, the car owner can get a range of information about the car, This includes battery and fuel levels, details of travel routes and driving behaviour, anti-theft protection and more. We spoke with Regina Werner at ThinxNet to learn more.

TankTaler concept actually came from the farm

TankTaler was launched in November 2015 after the ThinxNet founders pivoted from their original plan to use GPS technology to track the location of cow herd on large farms in the Alps or Argentina. The dongle and app are free for participants who additionally earn bonus points called TankTaler which can be redeemed in gift vouchers — from gas stations or retailers like Amazon around Germany with loyalty program with cash-back system.

The TankTaler device offers a range of functionalities, that interest different people in different ways.  Werner explained:

“Some users want really simple features, for example, people who live in the cities often do not have a private parking lot, hence they spend hours looking for a place to park their car – and thus always park at different sites. Additionally, they often share cars. This means they never know where their car is parked. Then there’s tech driven people  who are super interested in the statistics around the car such as the driving behaviour, how harsh they are breaking, how much they’re accelerating and the distances they’ve travelled. Then you have people that like using TankTaler as they like to save money”.

Currently, they have about 25,000 customers, “the largest private fleet in Germany,” mainly in Munich and Cologne. They generate revenues through partnerships with various companies including gas stations, garages, car dealerships, restaurants and retail chains; McDonald’s and IKEA are both partners.

Discount benefits…and reclaiming your data

That means TankTaler users get discounts and other benefits. You can imagine there being some attractive connections with car insurances also. However, ThinxNet’s work is underpinned with the idea of personal “sovereignty” over personal data. Werner notes that:

“Right now most car manufacturers are collecting data without drivers being aware of it and trying to earn money out of it. We believe that drivers should own their data and decide what to do with it, according to what will directly benefit them”.

It also benefits people who use their car for business. As Werner explains:

“When you use your car also for business you get tax deductions according to your mileage but you have to document your journey in a log book. Through TankTaler people can download all their trips as a spreadsheet. By comparison, a competitor’s product offering only this feature costs over €700”.

TankTaler also enables payments

The dongle works without the need for a mobile phone connection. This has meant that it is possible to track the cars location precisely and get help in the event of a break down or accident as the device is connected to an emergency call number. This is akin to the functions of the latest BMW motorcycles and is expected to be made mandatory in all new cars by 2018.

ThinxNet are working to join forces with automobile clubs to enable the tracking of broken down cars with the app able to send their precise location. As the dongle has its own battery, it can send data even if the dongle is removed by a car theft or the car battery gets disconnected in the case of a crash.

Perhaps one of the most innovative uses of the TankTaler is in one touch payments at gas stations. Users can fill up, tap the app, and get back in their car. They are then sent a monthly bill to pay. This is very innovative for Germany where you normally have to pay inside the shop and many retailers favor cash over other payment methods. Werner notes:

“Gas station owners are sometimes 60-plus (years old) and hard to explain the technology to, but when you show that people can pay through the app, people think that’s really revolutionary. Some owners are like ‘This is the biggest revolution in the last 40 years in the industry.’”

But perhaps some of the more indirect benefits of TankTaler are through big data analysis.

The device has the potential to track large groups of drivers throughout concentrated areas and thus is able to measure the popularity of driving routes and determine weak spots where a road needs to be repaired or there’s a spot with high rates of accidents.

This could potentially include information for smart city planners such as where to situate traffic lights and how to control them with the help of real time data to get a smooth flow of traffic. It can also help developers determine where gas stations should be built according to traffic flow.

ThinxNet intends on branching up to other parts of Europe in the upcoming months, paving the way for enter into other countries around the world. The irony of such an enterprise as this is that as connected cars become more normal, they will gradually be placing themselves out of a job, but for now, that time is a long way off.

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McLaren embraces autonomous cars, but wants humans in control

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British luxury automotive manufacturer McLaren has signalled an interest in adding autonomous car functionality to its cars in the future.

In an interview with Motoring, McLaren’s global corporate communications manager Duncan Forrester said the automaker may build autonomous safety features into the car, but promised that drivers would still be able to take over control with one button press.

See Also: Will autonomous cars kill motorsports?

McLaren is one of the first ‘luxury’ automakers to express an interest in autonomous cars. Ferrari and Lamborghini have been silent on the subject, most likely due to their main market being customers that want to drive the car, not see it drive itself.

“We have to find our way and I suspect what will probably happen is that some of the main roads, where safety is difficult, we will have an autonomous mode. You press a button and everybody is on autonomous mode,” said Forrester. “Then you get to back roads or wherever and turn it off and go and have some fun.”

Expect the usual McLaren design…and pricetag

Clearly, McLaren don’t want to take the fun away from owning their ridiculously expensive cars, the cheapest costing a cool $187,000.

At the same time, the automaker sees opportunity with autonomous functionality. It may interest people that enjoy driving on weekends or on freeways, but don’t want to steer their car during insufferable 5 mph traffic jams in city centers.

The safety aspect is a good way for McLaren to insert the functionality without polarizing its market. Forrester didn’t say if McLaren were actively working on the functionality, or if it plans to partner with one of the many tech companies working on self-driving systems.

Either way, it seems unlikely that McLaren will outfit its next car with autonomous systems. We’ll probably hear about it after the major automakers—BMW, Audi, and Ford—launch their own autonomous cars.

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Huawei wants in on Australia smart cities

smart-city-huawei

Huawei has expressed its desire to implement more smart city and safety tech inside Australia in the near future, a move sure to excite the country’s incumbent Liberal Party, which published a Smart Cities Plan in April.

The Chinese networking giant has two major platforms, Smart City and Safe Cities. The smart city platform integrates key data from the city and combines it with Internet of Things infrastructure to provide detailed reports on traffic, crime, energy usage, and other statistics.

See Also: Huawei focused on Internet of Things and virtual reality in 2016

“Australia is not facing too many major issues. [Australia] is like Canada – satisfied with what they have today,” said Joe So, chief technology officer of industry solutions at Huawei, to Electronics News. “However, every Western country is waiting for something bad to happen – then they say ‘I need this.’ Just like France and Belgium.”

So says that public safety could be crucial for Australia, because of its relationship with the United States and “where it stands in the world,” but he didn’t detail exact what smart safety Huawei would provide.

While Australia has not seen the same smart city development as Western developed countries, there has been some projects. Autonomous trucks are being tested for mining, and Huawei has worked on a smart sewage project with South East Water in Melbourne.

The $50 million investment from the Australian government should entice some developers, including Huawei, to implement smart city infrastructure. The U.S. had a similar smart city project, where hundreds of city leaders worked with private investors and smart city firms to propose new tech changes. Columbus, Ohio won that contest last month.

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Baidu wants you to tour China by autonomous car

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Visitors to Wuzhen, a scenic town close to Shanghai, may be able to book an autonomous car ride from their hotel to various tourist spots in the near future.

The autonomous cars will be supplied by Baidu, the Chinese search giant that has been working on self-driving for two years now. It announced a partnership with Wuzhen Tourist Co. to research viable routes for autonomous cars and the number of cars needed.

See also: Toyota, Mercedes-Benz, and Honda lead the autonomous car race

Wuzhen is starting to become another tech hub inside China, due to recent modernization of IT infrastructure in the town. It became the permanent host of China’s World Internet Conference in 2014.

Baidu and Wuzhen Tourist Co. did not say when the research would be completed and did not give a potential launch date.

They plan to test its autonomous cars in ten locations. It has already announced Wuhu City and an industrial park in Shanghai as two of the locations, with Wuzhen being the third city revealed.

Baidu car efforts also have a Silicon Valley footprint

Outside of China, Baidu has set up a self-driving lab in Silicon Valley and tests its cars in the United States. We suspect that the company wants to compete for autonomous partnerships outside of China too, potentially making its brand more commonly known to Westerners.

Baidu said it wants to commercialize autonomous cars by 2018, a bit earlier than some of the Western rivals that see 2020-2022 as the launch period.

In China, Baidu faces increasing competition in the autonomous car market. LeEco has announced plans to launch an electric, autonomous car, and rivals Alibaba and Tencent are both scoping out the market.

Even with all of this interest from major companies, people in China are uninterested in autonomous cars. Only nine percent have a positive view of the technology, according to a survey by J.D. Power and Tencent Auto, compared to 18 percent in the United States.

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Makelight wants to connect you with Macy’s fireworks on July 4th

Fremantle,WA,Australia-January 26,2016: Colourful fireworks display over the Indian Ocean with crowds on Australia Day in Fremantle, Western Australia.

This year’s usual Macy’s July 4th fireworks extravaganza has always been a great show for anyone lucky enough to be in New York City during the event. But courtesy of Makelight, you can also participate from home.

On top of the pyrotechnics in the sky — usually the country’s largest July 4th gunpowder-and-bright-lights-blowout — this year, Macy’s plans to let you all put a little of that light in your hands via a partnership with Makelight.

(Editor’s note: Please don’t hold fireworks in your hand. “A little light in your hand,” that’s a figure of speech. To reiterate, phone apps that mimic fireworks = ok to hold in your hand. Actual fireworks = really stupid to hold in your hand. Eom.)

See also: YAP’s beacon just wants your shopping to be fun

Makelight, a cool new mobile special effects platform, has designed an app to incorporate audiences into events like the fireworks display. Download the app at the Google or Apple iTunes store, and your phone will sync with the event and everyone else’s phones, mirroring the colors seen in the show live as they light up the Manhattan skyline.

“As the nation’s premiere Independence Day pyrotechnic display, the 40th anniversary of Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks promises to celebrate America’s 240th birthday in grand style,” says the clearly very shy Amy Kule, executive producer of Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks, adding that the event — “always the nation’s largest display” — pulls together over 56,000 effects ignited from five firing locations on the water, “making this year the biggest Macy’s Fireworks show since our once-in-a lifetime millennial display in 2000.”

Fireworks: now there’s an app for that?

The way Kule’s talking, it sounds like it might be tough for Makelight to keep up.

But the firm is building a community at events like this, so no real need to compete with the pyrotechnicians.

“We talk about People As Pixels,” says Makelight co-founder Joanna Alpe. “I think conceptually it’s a brilliant metaphor for people coming together en masse to form meaning and communication. Like the individual pixels of a screen, each person has a part of play and is a meaningful part of the overall whole. I like that symbolism. There is something so fundamentally human about uniting around an experience, and idea, a moment in time.”

She adds Makelight aims to remind event attendees and their users that “Hey, it’s not just me, there are a bunch of us thinking, doing, responding together at the same time to a central idea.”

“This gives the audience a feeling of strength and significance,” she says.

The Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks Spectacular will be in NBC at 8pm ET on July 4th. If it’s too late to get to NYC in person, and too impersonal to just watch along on TV, download the Makelight app to join in.

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YAP’s beacon just wants your shopping to be fun

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While at the Mobile World Congress Shanghai conference, I had an opportunity to walk through a day like a Yapper, and it’s an eye-opening experience.

Launched in 2014, South Korea-based Yap is a location-based integrated online-to-offline (O2O) commerce and payments platform — and now, that means beacons.

Calling it a “breakthrough innovation for the indolent people of the world,” once deployed in stores or with other outlets, their Yap beacon will broadcast pop-up coupons, offers, memberships, other useful information, as well as an opportunity to purchase, as long as the Android app is installed but not necessarily turned on.

The beacon also uses a unique tone to remind the user and the store of each others whereabouts. It was the first hybrid beacon in Korea, using Bluetooth and ultrasound to communicate with passing users.

YAP and the buying decision

The service is currently available in South Korea and Vietnam, and is coming to China soon. A North American rollout is also expected.

While the U.S. is just getting around to the widespread adoption of not having to swipe decades-old magnetic strip technology stuck to piece of plastic, the battle in the payments arena will likely focus on “beacons versus NFC” in the near future.

YAP may be an concept who’s time is now, especially in North America. What the connected consumer experience looks like for brand-conscious buyers could wind up centering more around payments systems than impulse indulgence.

Being reminded that you’d like to buy something without instant fulfillment could doom some branded IoT technologies to fad status — really, Amazon, how much Play-Doh do we need — rather than actually enabling the impulse decision to purchase with a seamless transaction process.

It may be a consumer’s emotional “chicken and egg” – do we browse for fun and buy because we have money or are we always ready to buy and our financial resources are our only limit? Outstanding credit analysis of the U.S. consumer marketplace might provide clues, but the fewer step needs to incentivize a customer to buy certainly makes that decision to buy much easier.

And, of course, YAP could use the beacon to educate users about wise purchasing choices, too. It will be an interesting to see how technologies like these play out.

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U.S. state department wants IoT to save them money

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The Department of State has announced plans to deploy an Internet of Things (IoT) energy platform to conserve more energy, identify potential issues quicker, and monitor the department’s sensors.

It will be working with C3 IoT (formerly C3 Energy) to deploy the IoT platform to hundreds of thousands of “data points” over the coming years. This may include foreign embassies and treaty rooms, which the State Department control.

See Also: U.S. government spent 20% more on Internet of Things last year

“We will be able to identify and address outliers across our global buildings portfolio, learn how to improve upon previous embassy designs and operations, and … lower utility and maintenance costs,” said State Department senior adviser for energy, environment and sustainability, Landon Van Dyke, in a statement to the Wall Street Journal.

C3 IoT provides a development platform and a range of software-as-a-service apps for energy preservation. Detailed analytics can be provided to give the State Department smarter ways to lower energy consumption, while still keeping buildings secure.

State department looking for millions in savings

The platform runs on GovCloud servers, which are owned by Amazon Web Services and isolated for sensitive government information.

In the announcement, the State Department said it wants 200 posts deployed by 2017, with the job finished by 2020. It currently has 275 posts, all of which are expected to be upgraded in the next four years.

The project will see C3 IoT pocket $25 million if successful. The State Department seems confident in the capabilities of C3 IoT, after an initial deployment before the announcement happened.

C3 IoT is not the only energy company involved in the Internet of Things, Blue Pillar earlier this week announced Aurora 5.0, a new “Energy Network of Things” dedicated to lowering energy consumption and ensuring that if a state grid goes down, the lights stay on.

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Mais Oui! France wants all of your startups

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This week, French Tech, an organization dedicated to promoting innovation and technology in France, introduced its second global competition, with the goal of bringing the best tech entrepreneurs to France.

The competition is called French Tech Ticket, and it is offered to non-French entrepreneurs from across the globe that might be interested in living in France for a year, with the purpose of developing a startup there.

See Also:  Bonjour!  GE opens new digital IoT foundry in Paris

Winners of this awesome contest will earn more than $50,000 in cash, a permit to reside in France, along with three co-workers, a year-long incubation period in one of France’s best incubators and several additional prizes such as mentoring and special events, business support and investor meetings.

Last year, there were 722 projects turned in by a total of 1,372 contestants.  The result of this first contest was 23 startups, with 50 entrepreneurs moving to Paris to enter one of French Tech Ticket’s 10 partner incubators.

You could be loving Paris in the springtime

The competition is open to any team with its own startup project or co-founders of startups that meet the contest criteria.

Each team must consist of two to three English-speaking founders, with no more than one French national.  The founders must hold at least half of their company’s share capital, if applicable. They must be based in France for at least a year, after selection, with an obligation to work fully on the project in the partner incubator.

The startups can be any young creative company, technology-based or not, that seeks a business model that will provide very large and speedy growth.

French Tech was established in 2013 to help grow the technology and innovation ecosystem in France, and to offer France the best conditions for cultivating startups and innovation. With its establishment, the amount of capital earned for startups doubled from 2014 to 2015, and many French companies have been given more than $100 million in funding.

 

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What your boss actually wants from your local search reports

Do you ever find your eyes glazing over when putting together and presenting your regular local search reports? Columnist Lydia Jorden explains how to develop a revenue-based report that will be sure to impress both your client and your boss.

The post What your boss actually wants from your local…

Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.

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Startup Jio wants to protect children with invisible wearables

Mother and toddler son crossing the street on the crosswalk close up

Times have changed, and there are few areas of our lives that remind us of this fact more than with our children. Whether you’re a baby boomer or a millennial, there is a good chance that some of your childhood memories involve walking or biking around your neighborhood and playing with your friends – often without supervision.

That isn’t so much the case today. Keeping track of your children, and ensuring that they are where you expect them to be, is of the utmost important to parents. Unfortunately, current technologies require that you send your child out to play with a smartphone, smartwatch, and/or a bulky tracking device that wirelessly transmits their location to your smartphone, tablet, or desktop computer.

These devices are a distraction for your child, and are easily annoying enough to encourage them to remove it and leave it behind, rendering them useless. Jio, a stealth-mode startup launched in 2015, hopes to change that with their Jiobit wearable.

In a recent blog post, Jio CEO John Renaldi said, “We should be encouraging our kids to be more independent and to experience the freedoms that we had as kids. To do this we need to feel confident that they’re safe –  that’s the solution we’re offering at Jio.”

Jiobit won’t be worn on the wrist

He went on to tell the story about his children and how impossible it was to convince them to wear a watch. Wrist-based wearable devices are currently bulky devices, in part because of the batteries required to power them, their straps and latches for easy adjustment and removal, and of course the electronics required to drive them.  “They’re more or less just taking the smartphone guts and putting it into a watch,” he said.

Additionally, wrist-worn devices are easy to spot. An individual wishing to subvert its functionality could easily find and remove it. This stands to reason that if you’re going to place the wearable on your child for their safety that it be as invisible as possible.

While we don’t yet have any idea exactly what Jio is working on for the Jiobit, what we do know is that it will be a child safety device, almost definitely with location tracking capabilities,  and it won’t be worn on the wrist.

Jio has a team of 12 spread between Palo Alto and Chicago. The team includes designers, marketers, and engineers – each with experience in producing innovative products that ship. With over 150 patents under the team’s belt, this is one startup worth keeping an eye on.

The post Startup Jio wants to protect children with invisible wearables appeared first on ReadWrite.

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Topshop wants you to look good while paying

visa_innovation_02

With bPay, it appears that shopping has moved beyond store merchandise, also embracing fashion when it comes to payment at the register.

British fast-fashion outlet Topshop just introduced their next collection of bPay contactless payment accessories which have been introduced into its UK stores, as well as online.  Apparently, this payment method is starting to increase in popularity.

See also: Expect contactless payments to surge: Juniper

Two lovely bracelets, two adorable robot keyrings and two phone cases make up the newest collection, with prices ranging between $43 and $48, including a bPay NFC chip.  The design style includes snakeskin and metallic finishes and is considered the luxury collection, compared to its previous colorful Monster Fish series.

This previous, less expensive collection, which starts at $18 for stickers, is currently on sale, with Topshop giving the bPay wearables some nice exposure on its homepage.

Topshop also running a contest

If you have a UK-registered Visa or MasterCard, you can use bPay, which is comparable to Apple and Android Pay.  Similar to smartwatches, you can tap them to terminals wherever you’d use your contactless card, once it has been pre-loaded with $7 to $285.

Along with this new product launch, Topshop has also been running a month-long contest to hear ideas from wearable tech startups.  The startup winner will be awarded with the opportunity to present their product to Sir Philip Green, get the chance to secure investment and have Topshop stock its product.

The post Topshop wants you to look good while paying appeared first on ReadWrite.

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Topshop wants you look good while paying

visa_innovation_02

With bPay, it appears that shopping has moved beyond store merchandise, also embracing fashion when it comes to payment at the register.

British fast-fashion outlet Topshop just introduced their next collection of bPay contactless payment accessories has just been introduced into its UK stores, as well as online.  Apparently, this payment method is starting to increase in popularity.

See also: Expect contactless payments to surge: Juniper

Two lovely bracelets, two adorable robot keyrings and two phone cases make up the newest collection, with prices ranging between $43 and $48, including a bPay NFC chip.  The design style includes snakeskin and metallic finishes and is considered the luxury collection, compared to its previous colorful Monster Fish series.

This previous, less expensive collection, which starts at $18 for stickers, is currently on sale, with Topshop giving the bPay wearables some nice exposure on its homepage.

Topshop also running a contest

If you have a UK-registered Visa or MasterCard, you can use bPay, which is comparable to Apple and Android Pay.  Similar to smartwatches, you can tap them to terminals wherever you’d use your contactless card, once it has been pre-loaded with $7 to $285.

Along with this new product launch, Topshop has also been running a month-long contest to hear ideas from wearable tech startups.  The startup winner will be awarded with the opportunity to present their product to Sir Philip Green, get the chance to secure investment and have Topshop stock its product.

The post Topshop wants you look good while paying appeared first on ReadWrite.

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Me too please! FTC wants in on US federal IoT dialogue

Federal Trade Commission Doorway Sign

As more US government departments and lawmakers wake up to the growing influence of the Internet of Things (IoT), the Federal Trade Commission says they want in on the regulatory conversation.

As reported by Pymnts.com, the FTC has decided to stick its oar in the IoT waters by issuing an official response on IoT in a call for comments by the Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA).

Specifically, the FTC responded to NTIA’s efforts to drum up conversation between US government departments on the potential drawbacks and benefits of governmental regulation in the burgeoning IoT segment.

“The comment addresses a number of proposed best practices for businesses regarding the Internet of Things, providing recommendations regarding data security, data minimization and how best to give consumers meaningful notice and choice about the collection and use of their data,” said the FTC in a media release. “The comment also addresses the role of government in enforcing consumer protections in the Internet of Things.”

FTC looking at risks in a connected economy

The FTC comment includes staff opinions on a variety of areas including anticipated risks in an economy with widespread IoT connectivity and the positive impact of regulated data monitoring.

“Big data analysis of information collected from connected health devices can facilitate health research and lead to breakthroughs in treatment,” it said in its comment. “Similarly, analysis of data collected from a connected public infrastructure to detect, for example, the lighting patterns on public streets, can help improve energy efficiency.”

And in a broader scope, the FTC sees further benefits, where such “analyses can also help target public service messages and resources to relevant populations, including low-income and disadvantaged communities.”

On the risk side, the FTC warns that common risks from traditional computer and networks may be heightened with IoT “in part because many IoT chips are inexpensive and disposable, and many IoT devices are quickly replaceable with newer versions.

“As a result, businesses may not have an incentive to support software updates for the full useful life of these devices, potentially leaving consumers with vulnerable devices,” the FTC concludes.

The post Me too please! FTC wants in on US federal IoT dialogue appeared first on ReadWrite.

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