10 Gmail Plugins That Will Supercharge Your Team’s Productivity

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Gmail is one of the most popular email platforms in the world, and for good reason; it’s easy to organize, it’s free to open an account, and it comes with significant technical support (though you probably won’t need it). It works quickly, and on most of your devices, so you can spend less time emailing and more time being productive.

But here’s the thing—most of us waste significant time on email, taking too long writing or reading, misplacing or poorly organizing our messages, or starting conversations that don’t need to be started. In the 6.3 hours a day we spend checking email, at least some of those hours are wasted.

Fortunately, there are tools that can help us recover that lost time supercharge your team’s productivity:

EmailAnalytics

EmailAnalytics syncs with your Gmail or G Suite account to collect information on how many emails you send and receive over a given timeframe, your average response times (as well as the average response times of people who send you emails), email traffic by day of the week, email traffic by hour of the day, and a whole lot more.

There’s no better tool for analyzing your email productivity – or that of your employees – since it enables managers to sync and track employee email accounts as well.

Boomerang

Boomerang is an app that reminds you about important responses and follow-ups you might otherwise forget. It’s perfect for keeping conversations alive, whether you’re talking with sales leads, customers, employees, or vendors.

You can schedule automated follow-up reminders for any emails that don’t receive a response within a designated period of time, or schedule emails to go out at a specified date and time in the future. It’s a convenient way to make sure nothing falls through the cracks.

The Email Game.

The Email Game literally turns your inbox into a game by challenging you to respond to emails within a certain amount of time.

By forcing you to make quick decisions on your emails, whether it’s to reply to them or snooze them for another time, it gamifies the act of climbing inbox mountain; a welcome change from time to time.

TaskForce

If you’re the type of person who best functions when working on clearly defined lists, TaskForce is worth a try.

Operating fully within the Gmail interface, TaskForce allows you to quickly organize your emails by turning them into tasks, which you can then check off with an interactive list. If you hate the idea of sorting your emails into folders and labels, but want a more efficient way to keep tabs on your most important assignments, give it a try.

KeyRocket

Did you know that you can press the “C” key to compose a message within Gmail? There are actually dozens of different keyboard shortcuts available in Gmail that you probably aren’t aware of. KeyRocket is a simple extension that informs you of these shortcuts, whenever you take an action that could have been simplified with a shortcut.

Over time, you’ll become familiar with them. It may not seem like much, but shaving even a few seconds off each email could add up to hours saved every week.

GmailSnooze

A product by Streak, GmailSnooze is an interesting concept you might not have considered—a “snooze” button for individual emails. With the tool, you can hit the “snooze,” on a given email, removing it from your inbox temporarily so you can focus on other, more important matters.

At a time interval of your choosing, the email will return, appearing as a new message, so you can deal with it then.

Inbox Pause

Similar to GmailSnooze, Inbox Pause literally puts a “pause” button in your inbox, preventing any new emails from showing up until you “unpause” it.

When you unpause it, all the paused emails immediately show up in your inbox. It’s great for when you need to work on a project without the constant temptation to check your inbox for new emails.

Unroll.me

How much time do you spend manually deleting emails from lists and senders you want nothing to do with? Probably more time than you’d like to admit—and you won’t take the time to unsubscribe.

Fortunately, Unroll.me can help you take care of everything at once, unsubscribing from all your unwanted lists so you can keep your inbox clutter-free.

Yesware

Yesware is a popular tool for sales professionals who conduct outreach via email because it notifies you when a recipient opens your email, enabling you to follow up at just the right time.

The tool also includes analytics for open rates and response rates, as well as a handy mail merge feature that enables bulk email sending from right within your Gmail account.

IFTTT

IFTTT is a free service that allows you to connect with multiple other platforms (including Gmail) to set parameters for executing automatic functions under specific conditions. That sounds complicated, but it’s really simple; using IFTTT enables you to set automatic reminders, timers, and task lists in your Gmail account, and you can even set parameters for your other common apps to email you updates about your activity—such as automatically emailing yourself a shopping list after recording it with Alexa.

Most of these tools will give you new information, or new functions you can use to make the most out of every email session—but you still have to apply them correctly if you want to see their benefits. Learn what you can, but try not to get distracted with insights that aren’t actionable, or new tools that cost more time than they save.

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From Lip Reading to Google Glass and Beyond: The Evolution of Wearable IoT Devices

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Up until a few years ago, interconnected devices were more dream than reality, and it’s easy to feel like the fitness tracker fad was the beginning of wearables. In reality, of course, the groundwork was laid decades before— years even before the Internet was launched.

With all the amazing potential for wearable IoT devices, it’s important to realize how far we’ve come—and how many devices didn’t end up changing the world, but did make important contributions to the future of IoT. Even dreams of the future in culture and art laid the framework for one of the world’s most exciting industries. Let’s take a look at how we got to today’s incredible wearables—wearables that will one day be replaced by even more sophisticated technology.

The First Wearable Computer

Surprisingly, the first wearable computer on record was created in 1955—and was designed to predict roulette wheels. The developer, Edward O. Thorp, used the device secretly in the early 60s. It was not known to exist until 1966, though it was developed years earlier.

Early Wearable IoT: Head-Mounted Displays

Back when televisions were still a marvel of engineering, head-mounted displays were already piquing the interest of enterprising minds.

In 1960 Morton Heilig received a patent for head-mounted display technology, but it was not until 1968 that the first head-mounted virtual reality system was built. The Sword of Damocles was a rudimentary headset developed by computer scientist Ivan Sutherland, and had to be suspended from the ceiling as it was too heavy to wear. Though the graphics were very simple, the fact that this early VR device was created nearly 50 years ago is incredible. The year before, in 1967, Hubert Upton used the head-mounted display concept for a more practical purpose: aiding in lip reading. His device was mounted using glasses, and was one of the first wearable computers.

Sega’s VR Glasses and Google Glass

Consumer VR devices had several flops before they started to become successful in recent years. In 1993, Sega’s prototype VR glasses never made it to market and cost the company a huge amount of money. Google’s much-anticipated Google Glass headset (a complete wearable computer with displays designed as a pair of glasses) came on the public market in 2014, but soon lost momentum, since it struggled with technical difficulties. Recently, however, it has successfully reemerged with an Enterprise Edition as a tool for workers in industries like manufacturing.

Fitness Trackers & Beyond

Fitness trackers like FitBit didn’t really introduce new technology of their own—but they fused several technologies together into one wearable device. GPS, pedometer functions, heartrate monitor, and other sensors heralded the future of wearables—multi-function trackers.

Wearables used to track health and fitness are common among people who are watching their weight and trying to live healthier lives, but they’re also beginning to emerge in healthcare settings. By helping patients monitor their health more closely and making healthcare professionals more efficient, wearable technology could reduce healthcare costs by $ 200 billion in the next 25 years.

Present and Future Applications for Wearable IoT

Obviously, we’re only beginning to scratch the surface when it comes to practical applications for wearable IoT. There’s a lot more that can be done with sensors and IoT technology than tracking our steps and sleep.

One area that could see incredible benefit from wearables is emergency management. Hurricanes in the 1960s and 1970s caused trillions of dollars in damage, and spurred the growth of the emergency management field. With hurricanes causing extensive damage each year, disaster relief is more important than ever. Now, IoT wearables could help get relief to victims and help them find their loved ones or their way to safety when phone lines and other methods of communication are shut down.

Wearables are also becoming popular for personal safety—people who are out late on their own can call for help at the press of a button. Some of these devices even record audio that can help loved ones gain context about the danger.

History Illustrates IoT’s Potential

The great minds of the 20th century set the stage for a boom in VR devices and other wearable technology that’s helping us live better lives. With all the progress that’s been made in the last 50 years, it’s exciting to think about how far we still have to go—and about all the devices we’ll one day be able to wear.

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The Internet of Things (IoT): Is your future secure?

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We’re currently on the verge of the greatest human evolution possible. Where the shift is from Information Age to the Digital Age. Where intelligent devices can feel the presence of human and ask accordingly.

This phenomenal shift is due to a person’s desire to create efficiency, specifically with everyday tasks to automate the process. Additionally, the costs that are associated with these devices is no longer prohibitive, so companies of all sizes can bring products to market.

Many people laughed when in the year 2014, John Chambers mentioned, Cisco CEO mentioned “Internet of Everything” as a potential market of around $ 17 trillion, plus it will take over the whole market in the next 5-10 years. Two years down the lane and Chambers phenomenon came true in the form of the Internet of Things(IoT).

Although the shift from the Internet of people to the Internet of Things(IoT) initiated a new breed of innovation, on the other hand, there is even a greater chance that sensitive personal data is available online for anyone to access. Whether be it our health records, or family information or even our daily activities, we are all wired up with IoT.

The bad news is that with according to a survey by McKinsey cost of ineffective cyber security will rise up to $ 3 trillion by the year 2020. Given that the devices connected with humans will reach to 20.8 billion by the year 2020, there is a huge amount of risk associated with it.

Data has an entire lifetime

Throughout the 90’s, everyone was focused on data in motion – that is communication between two parties. However, companies have realized that with the advancement of data, there is a greater chance of data breach within the companies.

What we need is to consider data as for the entire lifecycle, not just when being transmitted among out devices, which becomes meaningless if the device itself is compromised.

For now, data is not just for a day, or a decade, it is for a lifetime. Whatever you do or store over the internet stays there forever. Whether be it your customer data, your personal information, or even your business secrets.

Considering the above, you need to make the necessary changes as per the advancement of the there comes a strong breed of hackers that can take your data and use it for their benefit.

Personal does not mean secure

It is a clear deceptive assumption that machines have data that is secure over the internet. Information security has three components:

Confidentiality: Here the data is restricted & protected.

Integrity: It is assured that there is no compromise on data & information.

Availability: Those authorized to access this information can do anything with the data.

There are some major security protocols you can make to strengthen your security – encryption, firewalls, tokens, and two-factor authentication – we need to target data confidentiality, secured barriers against unauthorized access and developing effective business dashboard.

But machines, have their own protocols, software, rules & exposed APIs will have exposed vulnerabilities.

What will happen when the data will have these weak points and breach points that will surely compromise the security.

The integrity

Unfortunately, there is not even a single security expert that think that we can build IoT networks without vulnerabilities. For that, we need a new approach. We need to know how is data changing and what can we do to stop the breach.

This is called the integrity issue – and it should be focused on modern security where everything relates to everything.

Data integrity is a different subject. Schemes such as scalable provable data possession (SPDP), the blockchain, and Merkle hash trees, and dynamic provable data possession (DPDP) are great places to start off your research.

To scale these technologies, we can make them reliable for the large networks. For this, we need to train our team how to tackle these types of issues.

To wrap it all up

The Internet of things(IoT) is not a new thing anymore. With great data comes greater responsibility to encrypt that data and save it from the eyes of the hacker.

Whether you’re an individual or a company that is struggling on the road to success, you need to secure your data. You need to develop strategies that can prevent you from great loss.

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Benefits Of Using Virtual Reality In The Classroom

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Just a few years ago, virtual reality seemed to be a sci-fi concept for most people. Currently, virtual reality is playing an increasing role in reshaping such industries as medicine and real estate and educators started using VR in academic settings. A lot of people now believe that this technology is the future of education and that students will benefit from VR-enabled textbooks and virtual classrooms.

This article explores the impact of virtual reality on students and educators. You will learn about typical advantages of using virtual reality in the classroom.

VR Can Stop Classroom Smartphone Distraction

According to the study, results of which were published in the Journal of Medical Education, students spent a fifth of their time in the classroom using their mobile devices for the activities not relevant to their school work.

The research findings showed that the students checked their smartphones 11.43 times on average during their lessons. If these smartphones were used for VR technology, the problem could potentially be solved. Students would not be able to waste their time on smartphones because they would use their devices to engage with VR software.

Eliminates Language Barriers

Language differences can be challenging in today’s multicultural societies. If students want to study in a foreign country, they need to achieve fluency in a foreign language to be able to understand the material if they are taught in another language. With virtual reality, language translation can be built into the software and there will be no language barrier that can prevent students from achieving their educational goals. VR visualizations can be experienced in any language.

Outstanding Visualizations

VR video simulations allow students to explore different realities and have an alternative learning experience that is impossible in the traditional classroom. Wearing VR headset, students can experience high-quality educational visualizations that have a positive impact on the whole learning process. VR can help students easily understand complex concepts, theories, and subjects. they are able to digest and retain complex information at a much higher rate.

An average person can remember only 20% of information that they hear and 30% of information if they see it. But if they get this information through personal experience, they remember up to 90% of it. VR technology creates an immersive experience that helps students learn effectively.

Research has proven that immersion of students in the virtual world enables them to learn better. Such learning activities don’t feel like work and students enjoy the learning process that increases their motivation.

Social Integration of Students

Students achieve better results in a positive learning environment when they can connect with their peers. Virtual reality can enhance social integration of students with different learning needs and styles.

Students who commonly struggled to become a part of a group were accepted by their peers because they had strong technology skills. These are the findings of Dr. Connor Galvin who evaluated virtual reality learning program that involved 20 schools. This technology can ensure positive outcomes for children experiencing problems at home, with learning difficulties or from ethnical minorities.

Virtual reality changes the way we learn, teach, and communicate. The learners are engaged during the lessons because there are no outside distractions as this technology is immersive in nature, inspires creative learning, and promotes curiosity.

Now we are witnessing as more and more progressive schools all around the world start using the VR technology within their classrooms and curriculum. With VR, teachers can teach different subjects in new and exciting ways, making learning process fun.

Virtual reality has the potential to transform education. It offers endless possibilities for higher education institutions as well. It can be a powerful tool in supporting STEM education.

VR is used in architectural design and allows students to view their own designs in real time. It is also a great learning tool for medical students who can use it to simulate real-time surgeries. Universities can use this technology to create virtual tours for recruiting students.

The use of virtual reality in higher education is likely to increase over the next few years. Virtual reality is unlikely to replace old-school face-to-face teaching methods, but this technology will continue to be used to enhance learning experiences for students.

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Augmented Reality Technology: The Nuts And Bolts

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Augmented reality (AR) is obviously one of the world’s biggest digital stories of all time. The successful release and debut of Pokémon Go happened to be a striking demonstration of the potential abilities of the new technology which is aimed at providing a new and solid platform for customer engagement. This is the mobile game produced by a mobile app development company that brought Augmenter reality (AR) into the limelight.

For the first time in history, developers were able to successfully turn imaginations into reality. Now, many mobile app development companies are following suit. Though Pokémon Go didn’t last that much on the radar, the underlying technology that powered its ascension is not really over as many may be thinking. As a matter of fact, the technology has just begun its course.

Now that some brands are beginning to consider AR for their local marketing initiatives, it is obvious that the technology isn’t just for gamers alone.

What is the technology all about?

Augmented reality (AR) is one aspect of modern technology that is steadily proving its usefulness in daily lives of every technology buff. Due to its wondrous ability to transform the real world with awesome elements from the virtual world, AR is just on the move to enhance the things people feel, hear, and see. While serving as a link between the real world and the virtual world, augmented reality is holding the ace for mixed reality spectrum.

Just so you know, this is a unique technology that seeks to augment the live views (direct or indirect) of the natural environment using superimposed computer-generated images to establish an enhanced version of reality. Basically, it seeks to use images to provide an enhanced version of how individuals perceive reality and view the real world.

When you hear word “augmented,” the first thing that comes to bare is “add something.” This is exactly the principle behind the objectives of this technology. Ultimate, AR is concerned with the use of touch feedback, sounds, and graphics to augment the natural world of its users. In this situation, you don’t need to inhabit a whole virtual environment as is the case with virtual reality.

AR revolves around the use of virtual information to augment, in other words, enhance, the existing natural environment of the user. To this end, users tend to achieve an augmented reality (AR) experience of a whole new and improved world where virtual and real worlds harmoniously relate. In a bid to provide the required assistance in their day to day activities, virtual information is also employed to enhance the augmented reality experience.

Application of AR can be experienced in either a simple fashion such as a text-notification or more complicated manner such providing relevant information/instruction as to how a life-threatening surgical procedure can be effectively performed. Already, many AR app development companies are using this technology to provide accessible and timely data, enhance understandings, and highlight certain features.

It may interest you to know that business apps and smartphone apps are only a few of the numerous applications already driving augmented reality (AR) application development in the industry. It is important to know that the relevancy of this technology in the today’s world of transformations cannot be underestimated as it is gradually going to affect every stratum of human engagement and interaction.

Types of Augmented Reality

At the moment, there are several existing categories of AR technology. It may interest you to know how they employ varying application use cases and objects. Here are some of the various technologies any AR app development company can explore to develop their own augmented reality apps.

Superimposition Based Augmented Reality

Whether partially or dull developed, most AR app development companies employ superimposition based augmented reality to create a newly augmented view of an object that can be used to replace the original view of the very same object. The app will only be able to effectively replace the original view of an object with an augmented one only when it can determine the object model.

So, when it comes to developing AR apps based on superimposition, it is important to understand the role object recognition plays. A typical example of this form of AR technology can be observed in the Ikea augmented reality furniture catalogue. This type of superimposition based AR strategy presents a strong consumer-facing example that enables users to strategically locate virtual Ikea furniture in their own home with the help of augmented reality (AR). All they need to do is to download the app and use it to scan digital or printed catalog in some selected places.

Projection-Based Augmented Reality

With this technology, users can easily get involved with a new form of AR which simply projects artificial light onto real-world surfaces. It allows for human interaction by releasing light onto a real-world surface and then stimulating the human interaction of the projected light through touch or any other means. Most projection-based augmented reality apps are designed to detect user interaction by differentiating between a known or expected project and the altered projection which occurs as a result of the user’s interaction. The use of laser plasma technology to launch an interactive hologram (based on a three-dimensional analysis) into mid-air is another interesting application of projection-based AR.

Markerless Augmented Reality

This technology is one of the most widely utilized applications of augmented reality. Also known as GPS, position based, or location-based, markerless AR employs an accelerometer, velocity meter, digital compass, or GPS embedded in the device to provide data based on the user’s location. The wide availability of mobile devices (tablets and smartphones), as well as their enhanced location detection abilities, have helped to establish a strong force behind the growth and expansion of the markerless augmented reality technology. This technology is commonly featured with location-centric mobile apps that are used for finding nearby businesses and mapping directions.

Marker Based Augmented Reality

Also known as Image Recognition, any AR app development company can employ the marker based AR technology to create application-based results. Basically, it involves the use of a distinct, but simple pattern such as a QR/2D code and a camera to produce results. This is only achievable when a reader is used to sense the marker. The camera on the device plays an important role in helping to distinguish a marker from other real-world objects.

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Internet of Things in Events: What’s in it for Event Planners

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Event planning and management have gone far beyond what it was in the past. From manual registration to collaboration with the attendees, everything has changed with the emergence of technology. From mobile event apps to Virtual and augmented reality, event planners are finding unique ways to engage attendees as much as they could.

With the rise of technology in the event industry, Internet of Things has become the buzzword as well. If you are not aware of what Internet of Things is all about, let us have a brief overview.

What is the Internet of Things?

Internet of Things is defined as the network of Internet-connected objects, able to collect and exchange data using embedded sensors.

Connected things include everything from refrigerators to coffee makers and wearable devices to cell phones.

The recent hype in IoT has been quite surprising and an estimated projection suggests that there will be as many as 50 billion connected devices by 2020.

The opportunities offered by IoT in any industry will also play a vital role in revolutionizing event industry. From attendees tracking to check-in and cashless payments, event industry will see a major shift in driving attendees and engaging them.

Why is the Internet of Things Helpful in Event Management?

The event industry is dependent on data more than any other industry. From attendees to caterers and venues to speakers, everything needs a valid data and it is only possible through the Internet of Things.

The data helps event managers and planners to make informed decisions. The data extracted can be helpful in automating attendee management, intelligent lighting, keeping your guests safe and comfortable, and automatic notification based on iBeacon technology.

How Event Planners and Managers Can Benefit from IoT?

The event industry can benefit from the opportunities offered by IoT. How event planners and managers can benefit from IoT, let us have a look.

Access to Information

Events are successful only if attendee experience is unique and drive engagement. For instance, NFC device like iBeacon can connect with attendees in order to access schedule seamlessly, check in to the event and offer precise mapping and direction within the event premises.

Beacons also allow event staff to view visitors’ data from the wearable devices, such as wristbands and smart lanyards. It helps them to collaborate and pitch them in a more personalized way.

Moreover, smart lanyards can help attendees to attend specific session or talk based on their profile. In addition, they can also inform other attendees to attend sessions based on their profession and profile. Hence, IoT can help event managers and planners perfectly pitch tailored message to the attendees based on their interests.

Automated Registration and Check-in

Smartphones are now equipped with NFC, GPS, WIFI, and BLE. These features can help event managers to automate the registration process of attendees at events without making a mess. For instance, BLE connectivity can enable attendees to use their smartphones to collaborate with the onsite registration software to check in when they are near event venue.

Moreover, they can be directed to collection booth to get their event badges through a notification on their mobile phone. It would help event managers to save time and utilize automated system instead of the workforce for onsite registrations.

Interactive Posters

With the help of NFC, attendees can tap on posters or products through their mobile device to get more information. It would allow the exhibitors to extract the list of potential customers who are interested in the product offering.

The potential of IoT is beyond one’s imagination. The real advantage of using IoT in events is to collect data from any device. Imagine if an event planner incorporates the attendee data, it allows them to collect useful information, allowing them to create a personalized experience for the audience.

As you leave the event venue, you receive a notification that acknowledges you for visiting the event and a link to an event survey. At the same time, an email is sent to you with the list of exhibitors that you have visited and information about their service offerings.

Heat Map and Navigation

Allowing attendees to connect to the WIFI or adding BLE chips into the event badges can allow event managers to generate a heat map. The heat map will keep track of the attendees’ location to know which part of the event engages them the most.

With the help of this data, event managers can start improving the way they organize and arrange a venue. Moreover, they can also analyze the most visited areas where attendees were engaged the most and devise new strategies to market the product in a better way.

Security and Safety of Attendees

Smart buildings are optimal to deal with any kind of problems or hazards. Windows and doors in smart buildings are controlled wirelessly through the connection of beacons and cameras. With minimum to no human intervention, guests can be welcomed and unwanted visitors can be kept out. Moreover, the air conditioners, lighting, and heating appliances can be managed wirelessly in order to meet with the rapid changes in the venue.

Conclusion

The deployment of new technologies in your event can help you gather useful data, leading to more efficient event management. It depends on you how you utilize the data because deploying the latest technology is not beneficial unless you are ignoring the key data metrics.

 

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AI and Blockchain Tech Are The Future of Successful Trading

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In the past five years, the global financial industry has experienced major disruptions thanks to innovative technologies in AI, Machine Learning, and Blockchain. The rate at which supercomputers are taking over the financial sector is leaving no doubt that the future of finance will largely depend on computer scientists and big data experts rather than the traditional financial advisors and traders.

It is no wonder that the world top financial institutions are now hiring more quantitative analysts and computer scientists than the traditional financial analysts and investment advisors. The CFA Institute, the provider of the world most prestigious professional designation for financial analysts, has realized that it is no longer business as usual in the industry and is now including AI, Big Data, and Machine Learning in its Curriculum.

On the other hand, Blockchain, the technology behind cryptocurrencies, is also having its fair share in the industry with analysts predicting that it will do to the financial system what the internet did to the media. Cryptocurrencies as an investment asset have seen explosive popularity since 2016 with Bitcoin the mother of all cryptocurrencies soaring above 1,500% in 2017 before crumbling 63% in the first month of 2018. Other cryptocurrencies (as of now there are over 2000 of them) are seeing the same level of growth and volatility, creating massive investment opportunity on the one hand and big risk on the other.

As the amount of data on these digital currencies continues to pile up, crypto-traders are finding it hard to find investment insights manually. This has prompted the emergence of AI and Machine Learning driven solutions. The application of computer algorithms driven by AI and Machine Learning to analyze big data and execute stock trades is not something new in the mainstream financial markets.

AI and Machine Learning can be applied in the crypto markets in similar ways to the way it’s used for data analysis. The key advantages of algorithm-driven investment decisions include speed and accuracy, which are the two most vital elements to success in the highly volatile crypto markets.  Also, machine-driven trading does not require the trader to have specialized skills in a certain discipline or to have insider information to compete.

For instance, Signals, a blockchain platform launched on the Ethereum Network, seeks to utilize Machine Intelligence in order to enable crypto traders to make smarter and faster trading decisions and maximize trading profits. With the Signals platform, both the experienced and inexperienced crypto traders can access trading algorithms ranging from traditional technical analysis to the sophisticated machine learning techniques.

Another example is Robo Coin Advisor, a platform that has been work in progress since 2014. The projects, which claims to be the first robo-advisor for cryptocurrencies, combines AI with cryptocurrencies and blockchain to provide investors with daily forecasts and statistics relating to cryptocurrencies and their tokens.

But how can we be assured that the trading algorithms are accurate and will make the right call when subjected to a lot of varying data? The answer can be found in back-testing. The process involves subjecting the algorithm to historical data in order to determine how it would perform in various scenarios. Platforms such as the Quantopian have been providing back-testing avenues for stock-trading algorithms and some are now offering such solutions for crypto trading.

Another aspect of algorithmic investing that is bound to benefit crypto traders is market scanning for tradable news. In high-frequency trading, Computer algorithms equipped with Natural Language Processing are taught to scan and identify tradable news as it develops and execute trades instantly. This approach can be very helpful in crypto-trading given the crypto-markets volatility and sensitivity to emerging issues.

For instance, in the recent past, news on regulatory crackdowns has proven to have a very big impact on the price movement of cryptocurrencies. With an algorithm that is trained to identify regulatory crackdown news as they emerge and instantly execute trades, traders can profit on their crypto holdings both on the bull and bear markets.

As blockchain and cryptocurrencies continue to gain traction in the mainstream society, the amount of data generated from related activities and transactions will keep growing. Long-term investors and day traders must, therefore, be ready to embrace cutting-edge technology if they are to remain competitive in this industry.

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Efforts in Disaster Prediction Take a Step Further with IoT Sensors

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The past decade has seen hundreds of natural disasters in various countries. While the US stays one of the most affected ones, developing countries remain the major sufferers particularly due to denser population and poor evacuation infrastructure. Catastrophic events lead to massive destruction of property and incalculable loss of human and animal life, and handling the post-event adversity is an extremely challenging task that follows.

Is IoT making an impact in efficient natural disaster preparedness?

With adverse climate change becoming more of a concern for the entire world, experts continue to explore the use of the Internet of Things technology in addressing and optimizing the emergencies that arise as a result of natural calamities. Whether the occurrence includes earthquake, tsunami, wildfire, volcanic eruption, flood, hurricane, tornado, landslide, extreme weather conditions, or any geological process, the loss is often uncontrollable. However, we are fortunately in an era where the immense advancement in technology can help to reduce the intensity of immediate and eventual effects. To be precise, the Internet of Things technology has become sophisticated in no time – extending its practical application areas. Several researchers, scientists, and IoT experts from around the world have been taking efforts to deploy this smart technology in minimizing the destruction caused due to natural disasters.

IoT, although cannot prevent any disaster from happening, can definitely aid in efficient disaster preparedness. It has been found to be useful in predicting the upcoming event and delivering an early warning to community through smart systems.

Why is IoT a highly potential technology in disaster prediction and management?

The very first application is, by default, to minimize and possibly prevent the risk of a natural catastrophic event. With the help of GIS, smart devices, and satellite communication, the IoT technology can be used to design the systems meant for early warning.

Following this, awareness about the upcoming event is another important application. What could create awareness and offer quick guidelines about the preparedness better than social media? Conventional media also play a major role.

Real-time communication in order to deliver an emergency response is the next potential application of IoT here.

The most challenging and probably the most exhaustive job that follows any disastrous event is recovery and rescue. The IoT technology can be efficiently used in creating online systems that search missing people and even manage emergency funds.

Moreover, IoT-enabled devices and systems can function as an alternative way for communication when the conventional infrastructure for communication is poor, sensitive, or not working. Though the latest innovations in IoT do not directly account for disaster preparedness, they do bring about excellent disaster resilience. However, deployment of IoT-enabled devices helps here in a totally different way. It does not help in disaster preparedness and resilience but enables a viable option to communicate in such circumstances, in form of limited or emergency communication.

How do IoT sensors contribute in disaster preparedness?

IoT sensors development is perceived to be an excellent innovation that poses itself as an efficient solution to the lack of foresight which intensifies the adversity of any natural disaster and the following emergency situation. This is exactly what the sensors concentrate on, by monitoring multiple climatic parameters. IoT sensors can be installed within a particular area to create a system that ultimately acts as an emergency unit in case of catastrophic events. Weather parameters, such as humidity, moisture, temperature, air quality, pressure, water level, and many more are constantly monitored by these sensors and the moment any one or more of them reach a dangerous level, the sensor network grasps it.

Any other notification system could hardly match up the speed of sensors notification, when it comes to alerting emergency responders and message broadcasters. Moreover, sensors contribute to the available data that provides the real-time details about weather, possible ways of evacuation, traffic, medical services, and police. They in a nutshell anticipate the upcoming hazards well in advance so as to help decisions regarding the next plan of action.

Sensors that are designed to predict flood situations through identification of possible critical hazards affecting infrastructure, have to be installed in a strategic manner. Flood depiction and management system can be complicated but if well planned and implemented, its versatility does an excellent job in flood-like events. Several IoT sensor network systems can efficiently function on an automated response solely on the basis of the real-time data absorbed by the sensors. In case of a forest fire, IoT sensors on trees monitor temperature, moisture, CO and CO2 levels. Local population is notified in advance and all the details are informed to firefighters even before they reach the location.

Researchers are further working on specific IoT sensor types, including infrared and microwave. While the former one may have its application in flood prediction and management, the latter one is foreseen to be a valuable sensor in case of earthquakes.

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Technology Needs to Make Healthy Food Scalable and Affordable

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Humm

Many have been calling the healthy and organic food category the next trillion-dollar industry. With allergen-free foods experiencing 30 percent sales growth in the U.S. and healthy snacks alone estimated to top $ 138 billion by 2020, it’s not surprising that 88 percent of consumers say they’ll pay more for access to healthy foods.

The demand is there, but the problem is scaling health food production to meet it. And many worry about what will happen if healthy food doesn’t become more cost-effective to produce: American adults hit an all-time high in obesity in 2017, with just shy of 40 percent considered obese. Nineteen percent of young people fit in the same category.

Some big corporations have jumped in the fray to produce healthy foods at scale, from Coca-Cola’s Honest Tea to PepsiCo’s KeVita kombucha. But many who purchase natural and organic foods argue that big corporations create synthetic products or dilute the richness of the products offered by smaller manufacturers using traditional methods.

The onus is on technology to make health food production more scalable and cost-effective, as Humm Kombucha’s Eric Plantenberg explains.

Old-School vs. High-Tech

Plantenberg, the chief sales and marketing officer at Humm, remembers watching his mother make kombucha in their family kitchen. His mother, a nurse who grew up on a largely organic farm, made the drink for its health benefits. “We’re full of low-nutrition food these days as a country,” he explains. “Thirty to 40 years ago, the entire food industry changed from producing high-nutrient food to high-caloric because it was less expensive to produce.”

Plantenberg continues, “It was a great ‘feed the world’ mentality, but it completely stripped foods of nutrients. And the bacteria in your stomach drives your tastes and preferences — if you eat an apple a day, you crave an apple because your body wants what it knows. People have been feeling bad — they’re unhappy with their bodies, not just in image, but in microbial discomfort — and it was a setup for the entire movement of natural foods.”

Humm was founded by friends Michelle Mitchell and Jamie Danek in the middle of the recession in 2009.  They got 15 orders after trying to sell the homemade product to friends. Plantenberg says it had a viral effect immediately — people felt better after consuming the fermented drink, even if they didn’t change their daily Snickers or McDonald’s habits. That momentum often propelled customers to take on other lifestyle changes, including food modifications.

But as the call for kombucha grew, the grassroots brand had to keep up with it, transitioning from making 10 gallons per week in the kitchen to making 250 in the first six months. The company struggled to figure out how to get bigger vessels, transport the large quantities, and manufacture 50,000 gallons each week. “How do you bridge a very small-batch process and scale it to something 20 million people are asking to drink?” Plantenberg asks.

Following a Steep Trajectory

Humm’s team felt the steep growth of the health food market. “We’ve been through a lot to figure out how to make the tech scalable,” Plantenberg says. “The affordability issue of clean, healthy food is very real. Natural products facilities’ processes are very labor- and time-intensive.”

He explains, “Whole Foods gets a bad rap, but the markup on junk food is so much higher than it is on healthy food. The whole supply chain of healthy foods is broken, and demand has far exceeded our capacity to make products. How do we do this and maintain our quality? A warehouse brand approached us to buy massive amounts of our product, but the quality has to remain the same.”

Mackenzie Stabler, the brand’s director of innovation, has been trying to help the brand do just that: “When Jamie and Michelle started out in the kitchen, they had recipe flexibility, but also inconsistencies from batch to batch. These days, we define quality as having consistency, but it has to make sense with our size.”

She said there’s very much been a relationship between technology and the brand’s ability to keep its products accessible. “Four years ago, we didn’t need a full lab and guard columns (GC). We measure consistency through technology: GC, data tracking, flavor profiles layered on top through GC information to see the peaks and valleys from batch to batch.”

Scaling up has been challenging, as what worked even a year ago doesn’t make sense now. The company has adopted data analysis akin to other high-tech business segments. “Everything we do now is through data collection, algorithms, and quality control software — we’re finding where things correlate, extrapolating trends and outcomes, and doing variable testing. It’s been huge in scaling our process development,” Stabler says.

Jumping Hurdles

Tweaking each aspect of the process to scale has created new hurdles to overcome. Stabler says the brand had a flavor in a conventional version that it had to reformulate as organic. It had created a sensory experience with one conventional product, but it couldn’t replicate it with a singular organic product. Instead, the brand put the new version together through all-organic flavor compounds and aromas.

Stabler says tech-fueled tweaks have also lowered the sugar in Humm’s kombucha, making the healthy product even healthier. “The relationship between sugar and acidity allowed us to change the flavors,” she says. “We had the same base product and just adjusted the sweetness or acidity in either direction and used the lab to determine the content of each item.” The brand’s new line extension has only 5 grams of sugar per serving.

But this testing carries a price. Stabler says mass-manufactured kombucha tends to share more similarities with juice from concentrate than 100 percent juice, which is more akin to handmade kombucha. “When a company is using concentrate, the first ingredient will be water; full-strength products will list kombucha first and then the ingredients of kombucha in parentheses,” she explains. “There’s no legal requirement to advertise whether it’s from concentrate or not; from concentrate is cheaper, diluted with water, and it doesn’t require the business to manufacture or grow cultures. They’re essentially a co-packer of a kombucha product.”

Healthy foods, Stabler says, are in the beginning stages of their revolution. “Go back to when beer started — looking at the tech advances, it was very similar to how kombucha has grown,” Stabler says. “But kombucha, until the 1980s, was a pocket thing that still resembled how it had been made in China and Russia. Now, we have mainstream demand to make more, but a consistent, safe product only happens with technology. You can’t do things the old-fashioned way and serve a million people. We want to be sustainable.”

As Humm’s experience proves, the healthy food market may be the next trillion-dollar industry, but it’s already flagged a ripe opportunity for entrepreneurs in the tech arena: healthy food manufacturing. If tech companies shift some of their focus to automating and streamlining the production of healthy food, data-heavy companies like Humm will be able to meet demand — and make people healthier — that much faster.

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Is Business Headed for a Cognitive-First Future?

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As the world generates more and more data — at a clip of 2.5 quintillion bytes each day — it simultaneously struggles to manage it. With humans unable to manually process such large amounts of data and analyze its implications, the business world has to turn to machines to take on some of the load.

Smart machines can transform data points into patterns and insights; imbuing these machines with human knowledge and allowing them to “learn” from the additional information they gather can speed up the computations needed by businesses. Cognitive machines aren’t just reactive, however. With enough data, they can anticipate problems, suggest solutions, and carry them out without human intervention.

Cognitive predictive maintenance for the Industrial Internet of Things, an arena in which machines detect failures in other machines, is poised to influence whole industries. Empowering machines to perform unsupervised (or partially supervised) techniques to identify equipment failures quickly and accurately will save money for businesses. From preventing downtime to freeing up employee time for higher-level issues, cognitive predictive maintenance will revolutionize how enterprises handle asset management.

Thy Machine’s Will Be Done

Cognitive predictive maintenance uses sensors and artificial intelligence to monitor operations of complex systems, giving early warning in the form of anomaly detection. This early detection can help address minor issues before they turn into more serious problems.

Deep reinforcement learning, a component of many cognitive predictive maintenance systems, uses algorithms to determine which pieces of information — gathered from resources such as manuals and operator notes or through real-time happenings — are relevant. Combining these with feedback received from a company’s techs, these autonomous solutions will create a library of knowledge without human input — beyond the manual feedback, of course.

“The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is unlocking new possibilities for asset-intensive industries. … Sadly, almost 85 percent of these industries let this data sourced from trillions of data points go unused,” explain the experts at DataRPM, a Progress company, considered a cognitive disruptor in the IIoT maintenance space. “Only the remaining 15 percent possess the capabilities to derive insights from the limited data sourced from a select few sensors. This leads to building generalized models that encompass only a few assets, which are then extrapolated to the entire asset population.”

And that’s a big deal: DataRPM has calculated that a 1 percent improvement in productivity across the manufacturing industry can result in $ 500 million in annual savings. Predicting anomalies can result in a 70 percent elimination of breakdowns, the firm says. With McKinsey predicting the IoT industry will have an economic impact of approximately $ 11 trillion by 2025, that’s a lot of potential money left on the table without cognitive-first processes.

Which Industries Will Benefit?

The saying that “data is the new oil” has gained momentum in recent years, and even the oil industry should feel that way. It’s one of a handful of industries that stand to quickly benefit from cognitive predictive maintenance.

Oil and gas. With decades-old pipelines, old technology, and dangerous terrain, the oil and gas industry is ripe for machine intervention. Its outsized impact on the environment underscores the importance of predicting failures before they happen. Updated sensors and data analysis can result in not only avoided tragedies, but also 10 percent cost savings through enhanced performance.

Manufacturing. Factories are constantly on the lookout for ways to improve their analytics and equipment effectiveness. Cognitive predictive maintenance can help with both these areas, as well as with conducting cognitive visual inspections. Deloitte’s findings suggest that cognitive predictive maintenance helps manufacturing equipment achieve more than 90 percent effectiveness.

Automotive. Just like other manufacturing arenas, automotive companies are searching for ways to increase the uptime of their assembly lines and decrease malfunctions and subsequent recalls. Although only 8 percent of automotive manufacturers currently use cognitive predictive maintenance, these companies could save more than $ 1 million per day by issuing recalls sooner.

Aviation. Unsurprisingly, nearly every transportation and logistics industry can benefit from cognitive-first solutions, and aviation’s tight regulations, safety concerns, and replacement schedules make cognitive predictive maintenance a perfect fit. With an aircraft like the A350-900 costing nearly $ 305 million, it’s clear that downtime for any part of an airline’s fleet can be devastating. Cognitive predictive maintenance can help airlines take care of problems before they need to ground flights.

Energy and utilities. With the environment and climate changing rapidly, extreme weather power outages doubled between 2003 and 2012; extreme weather is considered the culprit behind 80 percent of outages. In a society becoming further chained to the internet and machines on a daily basis, energy and utility companies would do well to adopt cognitive predictive maintenance, which can help them predict and manage blackouts and brownouts before they happen.

Producing enormous amounts of data means we also need to build systems that can absorb and use that data. Industries that need to process such data before major problems occur likely have a cognitive-first future ahead of them, led by machines smart enough to fix what isn’t yet broken.

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