Robin Wilding is a professionally trained Canadian journalist striving to bring journalistic-era intergity to online media. Robin has a second degree in Political Science - with a focus on International Relations and the developing world. Currently Robin is a contributor to several technology publications, including Brajeshwar.com, SocialTechnologyReview.com, HostingIndustryWatch.com, and CompareBusinessProducts.com. She also works for several web developers; and does ghost writing for several high level executives within the technology sector. For more writing examples try the blog at http://BramptonOpenHouses.ca Robin's work is showcased in her portfolio: http://shownd.com/robinwilding
Anybody who read the classic American tale Johnny Got His Gun has a slight comprehension of what it’s like to live trapped within your own body, incapable to move, nod, speak or even blink. The mind reels; the body does nothing. Unfortunately, this form of communication-stripped torture isn’t a fictional tale but a reality for many with Locked-in Syndrome (it was featured in the House episode with Mos Def guest starring), which is why the new functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) scanner, Brain Bee, that can translate brain waves into words — is a big deal.
This new system empowers fully paralyzed and ‘locked-in’ people to mentally select letters of the alphabet in their brain, which are recognized and typed out on a screen, serving as a brain-based, non-communicative communication system for those unable to speak, sign or blink to indicate their needs. Researchers are able to recognize letter-based thought patterns by using characteristic blood flow patterns.
Before you conjure up images of telepathy or Vulcan mind melds though, this technology is a little more difficult than that to use. In order to ‘think’ of a letter, the technology divides the alphabet into three rows, nine columns, and 27 squares (26 letters of the alphabet plus the space bar). Each row is assigned a mental task, a motor-imagery task, a mental calculation task, and an inner-speech task, that the subject must perform to select the row. The letters then cycle through and the subject selects the correct one by performing the task as the letter appears on the screen. It is a time-consuming process but the technology is rather easy to learn, with test subjects learning it in under an hour.
The system has passed the theoretical and initial testing stages and has become a concept system. Although it is still in its initial phases — it has already shown promising results.
Just imagine walking into the home every day after work wearing a pair of O2Amps, glasses that can warn you of your wife, girlfriend’s, female roommate’s, sister’s, mother’s emotions. Most importantly you can detect her emotion BEFORE you say the wrong thing. Brilliant no? By increasing our perception of blood physiology 2AI Labs have come up with the O2Amp glasses, which amplify whether a subject’s blood is oxygenated or deoxygenated, and pooled or free-flowing–or in layman’s terms determine the general emotions of their viewing subjects.
Millions of years of evolution (sorry Scientologists) have already given human beings the ability to interpret blood signals into emotions and overall states of health, like rosy cheeks for overall health, blushing for embarrassment, green for nausea, and yellow for fear — or jaundice. Now, like Viagra and boob jobs, scientists have improved on mother nature again.
Mark Changizi, director of human cognition at 2AI Labs and evolutionary anthropologist explains how the glasses work with human evolutionary features, “our eyes have been optimized to sense spectral changes in skin color. It turns out you can do even better because other parts of the spectrum that we perceive in the skin are just noise. If you get rid of the noise, you’re amplifying the signal”. The technology behind the glasses is based on Changizi’s color-perception research.
O2Amps from 2AI Labs
The O2Amp glasses come in three flavors, each with their own designs that filter light in unique ways: ‘vein-finders’ that distinguish between oxygenated and de-oxygenated blood, that will help medical professionals find veins; ‘hemo-finders’ to find pools of blood or areas drained of blood, which will obviously be used for zombie finding; and ‘health-monitors’ that can distinguish between red and green and/or yellow and blue skin, which will help doctors diagnose blood-related conditions.
The ‘health-monitors’ is the most hyped ones (although personally I am excited about the ‘hemo-finders’ given the impending zombie apocalypse I keep hearing about) as they are the pair that will help people read emotions and detect health.
“If you’re angry, you get red. When you’re showing weakness, the opposite is true — your blood becomes deoxygenated and your skin appears greener,” says Changizi. “Yellow is associated with fear because the blood gets pulled out of your extremities and flows into your organs. The opposite of being yellow with fear is being blue, which your skin exhibits when you’re sedate. These are the kinds of things that are being signaled with these color signals. And whereas muscular facial expression signals can be faked, it’s harder to fake actually being red in the face with anger, or feeling weak.”
The glasses are currently sold solely to medical distributors, but they will hopefully reach the general public sometime next year. 2AI Labs are in talks currently with Oakley — so expect a decent price tag… and polarized lenses?
Rarely are thieves, animators and illustrators frightened by the same technology — but all of the above should be on the lookout for Animetrics’ new software – Forensica GPS. This new software-based technology is able to turn low-res photos into stunning 3D renders.
While my mind is reeling with the possibilities, Animetrics specifically designed their software to help police investigators track down subjects — without the time-consuming sketch artist process. This automation process is able to capture distinct facial features like that of the trained eye of a sketch artist, but being a machine it can do it much quicker (and cheaper?).
The software is based on the growing technology of the facial recognition software movement, and uses facial recognition techniques to turn 2D images into 3D visualizations. Forensica GPS is able to best some of its 3D competitors and 2D counterparts by capturing small changes that make up definition, with things like lighting, tattoos and makeup.
If you’re like me then you are sick of SEO. These cookie-cutter predictive patterns that create a myopic filter for the content we see online make as much sense as casting a rapper in a film noir, or taking a three-year old to a fine china shop.
This must be what Krassimir Fotev thought when he looked at how we gather, process and retrieve information and thought — pssst… I can do better. So he did. (Don’t you just love people like that?). He created Peer Belt — a personalized search engine that organizes the content you encounter online.
After first getting a masters degree in Physics, then giving up a cushy job at Credit Suisse Krassimir created Peer Belt, and hasn’t looked back since.
We had tons of questions for Krassimir — like what the heck Peer Belt actually does, so we fired off a series of rapid-fire questions to him about his entrepreneurial experience and the technology behind the brand. He then banged his head against his desk until something brilliant came out. And brilliant it was…
If you’re anything like me when you were a kid you dreamed that in the not-so-distant future you would be driving around in an anti-gravity car, living in an apartment hovering in a space-age bubble in the sky. Oh and with Rosie Jetson would be your back-talking robot maid. And if you’re like me then you are bitterly disappointed with the present epoch’s lack of hover jets. Well, to soothe that bitter sting of disappointment you can comfort yourself with the new robotic maid that will hopefully come to market soon.
Shaking your head in disbelief? You should be because this isn’t exactly Rosie-caliber as of yet. The new robotic droid that could soon be playing Rosie — or Jeeves — in homes is programmed to scan a disheveled room, identify objects, and is capable of putting them back in their rightful places.
In addition to being maids, these drones also have practical applications as warehouse workers, manufacturing line assemblers, auto repair shop lackeys, and other manual labor tasks.
So why just now are these being released, when we’ve had electronic arms around for years and the cameras and software that allow for manual labor tasks? Well, thanks to advances in 3D technology droids are now able to work with multiple objects at a time and can place them in more complex patterns. 3D technology is also allowing robots to place items on 3D surfaces, instead of only flat surfaces, a feature that has improved the technological leaps and bounds.
The 3D-backed robotic improvements are primarily thanks to the Microsoft Kinect camera. When combined with robotic technology the camera employs an infrared scanner to create 3D models for the droids. Turns out the Kinect is good for more than just gaming, it has also changed how robots interact with their environments, and since it is an established technology it should make the production of the robots that much simpler.
Thanks to the 3D technology these robot maids have been extremely successful, boasting a 98% accuracy rate when placing objects like books, toys, clothing, and other items in over 40 unique spaces. That success rate drops slightly though, to 82%, when dealing for the first time with unknown objects.
There are still small glitches in the software and infrared scanning though. For example, if you’re a beer drinker looking for a maid, currently the robotic robot has no ability to tell whether the bottle they are throwing in the recycle (another problem in itself if you’re in an area where they are returnable for $.10) is full or empty.
The robots are still more accurate than Roombas though, the world’s most significant robot-enabled cleaning device — which previously sold 8 million units.
By the time the Rosie-esque bots get to market, the researchers hope to significantly improve through output with things like high-res cameras and tactile sensors, and with programmable preferences.
Dayson’s passion is incubating services and products for the web, brand identity, print, mobile & digital field — hence the creation of his digital agency and cybernated incubator, Webly. His understanding of the “Wild, Wild Web” as he calls it, has built a solid entrepreneurial base for his many endeavors. Finally, his many hats are beginning to pay off — with the success of many of his ventures, including his most recent, Textme.
Before my pothead readers get all bent out of shape about the German’s weed-annihilating laser, know that it isn’t designed, specifically, to work on that type of weed. Nope this little gardener’s friend from the Leibniz University of Hannover is designed to zap the average backyard or farm weed (and no, not THAT type of ‘farmer’).
Peter Christianson’s resume, as he tells it, is like a who’s who of NASDAQ success stories – so when he lent his talents to new startup, Retailigence, people paid attention.
Retailigence and its founder, Jeremy Geiger, are leveraging Peter’s thorough portfolio of skills: business development, revenue growth, supply chain management, operations research, statistics, management consulting, business-process re-engineering and mathematics; skills Peter is using to help turn Retailigence into the next big thing. Retailigence is a hodge podge of all those skills, mashed together to create a data-driven, traffic-management platform that connects the 3 prongs of the retail sector: retailers, brands and developers – all without an app or search engine.
If you want to know just what that means, read our interview with Peter below:
Can you give me the quick, elevator pitch for Retailigence?
Retailigence is a hyper-local marketing platform that drives qualified foot traffic into local retail stores. Retailigence does this by distributing a brand or retailer’s product availability information via a network of location-based application partners, used by consumers who are close to finalizing their buying decision, as well as through thousands of publishers in the form of digital advertising, to drive high-value ‘action’ (in-store sales).
You have a three-pronged approach to connecting online retail participants—including retailers, brands and developers, what inspired this approach?
With the explosive growth of online shopping, it is important to realize that over 90% of all purchases are still completed in brick-and-mortar stores. If retailers want to maintain this balance, they need to have a way to leverage the ever-growing population of smart phone users who use their phones to research before purchasing. Unfortunately, the mobile app development community is extremely fragmented. Our platform approach makes it easy for retailers or brands to get immediate visibility in many applications at one time, and makes it easy for app developers to immediately get access to multiple retailers at one time. We feel our unique approach of bridging these three areas addresses this new opportunity to provide shoppers with hyper-local product information.
What advantages do users and businesses have by participating in Retailigence?
With Retailigence, retailers get more motivated shoppers into their stores at the time they’re most interested in purchasing. The in-store shopping experience is also changing; smart-phone customers are now demanding easy access to detailed information about the products in front of them. Retailigence helps make this type of information available to customers when an employee is not available to help them.
What is your educational and work background?
I have a successful track record in starting up new markets and building businesses at an accelerated pace. As Founder, Managing Director and Board Member of Real-Time Technology Asia-Pacific (subsidiary of RTT, a public company), in 3 ½ years, I grew revenue 1000% and built the organization from 0 to more than 50 employees. Earlier in my career, I held a variety of management positions in NASDAQ-listed CDC Software including VP of Business Development, General Manager and CEO for the Business Intelligence division.
My first experience in a start-up was with LA-based Supply Chain Management company Adexa, where I was involved in the founding of multiple new country operations. When I left Adexa, those regions accounted for 50% of Adexa’s global revenue. I started my career in Management Consulting, advising clients on Supply Chain Management, ERP software and business process re-engineering on behalf of PriceWaterhouse (now IBM Global Services) and KPMG.
I hold a Bachelor degree in Mathematics (with an emphasis on Operations Research, Computer Science and Statistics) and an Executive MBA from Sasin (associated with Kellogg School of Management).
What are your biggest challenges as an entrepreneur?
I’d say the biggest challenges are the 4 “P’s”: pacing, product, pivot and personnel. The early life of a startup is not a sprint, but a very fast-paced run. Too fast and you burn out, too slow and you miss the opportunity. You also need to have a good product which takes many iterations. You must be willing to pivot when necessary, and you have to be able to attract and motivate excellent personnel.
What are your plans, hopes and marketing ideas for the future of Retailigence?
Retailigence will become “the” platform powering the increasingly important online to offline (O2O) commerce market.
What are some of the mistakes and/or failures that you learned from while starting up?
In looking back over the life-span of Retailigence, I see several decisions that could be viewed as mistakes, but were good decisions at the time. As a fast-growing start-up in a “hot” space, we are continually being presented with offers for partnership and investment. What is more critical than making the right decision is to make a decision and act on it. If that decision turns out to need adjustment, then make the change and keep on going. Action will win over deliberation in the long haul.
What were and are the challenges that you face(d) starting up?
I faced the usual challenges: finding the right team, securing funding, and early on, fine-tuning the message so it was easily understood by retailers, application developers and end-users.
How have you personally changed since you started?
When we started, we were focused on the concept of Retailigence, which was a new concept at the time. These days, I need to spend much more attention on execution and metrics (both internal and for our customers).
What has been the biggest surprise been as an entrepreneur and business owner?
One of the biggest surprises has been the topic of international. Before starting Retailigence I started-up 12 different new country operations for 3 different software companies. International growth was expected and it required starting-up from first principles.
These days with the internet and with the visibility that Silicon Valley start-ups get, we are seeing huge demand from international markets, far before I would have planned such expansion. Also related to international, I learned early on, that many Silicon Valley venture capitalists are still wary of international markets. I’m seeing a very different perspective on international expansion then when I was in the trenches leading such efforts.
What development, event, or new understanding since you started has had the most impact on your original plans and how have your plans changed in response?
Retailigence had traditionally focused on serving brick & mortar retailers exclusively. When some of the biggest brand advertisers in the world started reaching out to embed “Point of Purchase” information in their advertising campaigns, we started to see an important value-add that we could provide to them too. The great thing is that this development has come back to benefit our retail customers too.
What sacrifices did you have to make in order to focus on your startup?
I had to make a decision to give-up my well-paid position in a fast-growing public company that had many perks including continuous international travel.
Which do you think is most important and why: the right market, the right product, or the right team?
Obviously all 3 are critical. But without a market, there is no need for the other two.
How did you lure your first customers?
Retailigence doesn’t lure customers, we engage them. Our first customers were forward-thinking people who saw the emerging possibilities resulting from the explosion of ecommerce, and understood the need to bridge the retail experience of yesterday to the retail experience of the future. Most retailers quickly see the value proposition of Retailigence. After developing their own app, they start to realize that there must be other things they can be doing in mobile marketing, especially as part of the explosion of 3rd party apps.
If your company tanked tomorrow, would the experience have been worth it?
Absolutely. I believe the journey is what enriches all of us, not just the end goal. Having started so many new subsidiary P&L divisions before, I know I can make a successful business. The experience of working with some of the world’s leading venture capitalists has been a fun and interesting new experience.
What made you first think that starting a company is right for you?
I’ve always had an internal entrepreneurial spirit, and with Retailigence, the market timing was just right. Even in the mid-90’s when I was a supply chain Consultant at KPMG, I envisioned the need for a solution to solve the “last mile” in supply chain management — connecting consumers with local retail stores.
Was there anyone/anything who inspired your managerial style and defined the culture of your company?
Every culture is different. The culture and management style I use in Japan or Australia or Singapore or Denmark or here in Silicon Valley is very different. I learn and adapt from what I see around me.
If you pay a woman for sex, that’s illegal — it’s prostitution. If you film it it’s legal — it’s porn. If you put a soft lens on the camera — it’s art. What do you call a website that assists rich men in plying attractive young gold diggers with ‘free’ trips around the world? Digital pimpery? Perhaps. Brandon Wade calls it MissTravel.com.
After being told so repeatedly, the U.S House of Representatives thinks they might not be using their wireless spectrum block to its full potential, so like any good bureaucracy — they formed a task force. They assuredly hope it will be more effective than pretty much every other task force the government has ever made, or maybe not. The U.S congress is aiming to free-up government-owned spectrum for airwave-hogging 3G and 4G consumer networks and appliances as wireless spectrum availability becomes a strong issue in the country as available spectrum wanes despite less than half the population having upgraded to high-speed 3G and 4G networks.
This bipartisan task force, dubbed the Federal Spectrum Working Group, hopes to trim the fat from their spectrum use to help solve a good chunk of the spectrum crunch. The U.S government is currently the largest owner of wireless spectrum. The FSWG will focus on freeing-up airwaves, especially on spectrum-hogging departments like the Defense Department, who uses a large bulk of government spectrum in surveillance and, surprisingly, weapons testing.