Apple announced a wide range of education-focused products and initiatives at its March 27 “field trip” keynote, held at Lane Tech College Prep in Chicago. The event features “creative new ideas” for both educators and students, and is just part of a wider initiative by Apple to increasingly move into the education sector. In addition […] Read More… iDrop News
Ahead of the weekend, MMW learned that Urban Airship has big plans in the works.
Fast-following the announcement of AI Marketing Orchestration for cross-channel messaging coordination, Urban Airship has unveiled what it calls the industry’s first in-app automation engine.
So how does it work?
In-app messaging is a proven lifeline for apps to engage all users, but limitations in triggering and delivery timing meant there was always the possibility for messages to be seen as irrelevant, annoying or interruptive. With Urban Airship’s new in-app automation engine, brands can create rich, interactive in-app messages that instantly display based on customers’ multiple behavioral and lifecycle events with automation logic included in the app itself. This ensures messages are seen in the exact moment that matters most to each individual — in-session, in-context and on specific screens.
Marketers and mobile app product owners can now use Urban Airship’s marketer-friendly UI to fully customize native templates or custom HTML for different rich, interactive message layouts, define automation logic, edit messages and view their performance.
The company says that this skips the uphill battle of getting developer resources during app update cycles for instant in-app messages, saving marketers time and expense, and offering new levels of flexibility to address key onboarding and engagement opportunities.
“The vast majority of customer journeys today are self-directed, and digital offers consumers effortless, limitless choice, so it’s more important than ever to engage people as they learn about brand offerings and features — it’s their point of maximum influence,” said Brett Caine, president and CEO, Urban Airship. “We’re on a mission to disrupt the status quo of digital customer engagement, making it easier and more automatic to use customer data and drive action across all digital channels.”
Sam Barlow and Her Story [$ 3.99] fans, the wait is over. #WarGames, the next project by Barlow, will release on iOS on March 14th, so get ready to hack the world or die trying. As we talked about a few months ago, #WarGames reimagines the classic 80s movie with the same name (minus the hashtag) in some intriguing ways. In #WarGames, Kelly, played by Jess Nurse of Scandal and Grace and Frankie, is an ex-military brat who has decided that the world needs some fixing, and that type of fixing can only come through some “well-intended” activist hacking. So, she and a band of other international hackers (think Anonymous minus the cool masks) take it upon themselves to bring peace to the world, a laudable goal that will most definitely lead to a huge mess. As you can see from the trailer below, it doesn’t take long for everything to fall to pieces around this hacker team, with the stakes getting higher and choices becoming much more consequential.
Speaking of choices, #WarGames will you have you switching between video feeds—since the hackers are communicating remotely—and experiencing the story from different perspectives. What’s interesting about #WarGames is that the series will “learn” from your choices, which the developers claim will make experiencing #WarGames “unique” and “personal.” The exact details on how that will work aren’t that clear yet, but what is clear is that #WarGames will try and break new ground in what an interactive video game can be.
Specifically, #WarGames will use the technology developed by Eko, an interactive entertainment company developing a new live-action medium that enables viewers to truly shape the stories they watch. Eko uses its proprietary technology to let players control live-action narratives in a way that (the company believes) is nothing short of the future of digital entertainment. Eko looks at interactivity as a way to create deeper bonds with the audience while still retaining a structured narrative; “give them a way to react to your story,” Eko’s guidelines point out, “but don’t forget you are the one telling it.”
In an Eko show, the story changes seamlessly based on both explicit and implicit choices made by the viewers. Pretty lofty goals, but it does look like Eko is poised to demonstrate these capabilities to us pretty soon. If you want to find out more about Eko and how it hopes to change live-action video games, head over here.
As for #WarGames, the six-episode series will launch on March 14th on the Eko iOS app (among other platforms). No word on pricing yet, but I don’t expect the game to be too expensive based on how Her Story was priced. I have faith that Barlow can give us another great live-action game, and I’m very curious to see how Eko helps him break new ground. I’m always intrigued by new technologies in gaming, so Eko and #WarGames definitely have my attention. Hopefully both the narrative and the technology will come together in a very memorable experience. Not too long to wait now until we find out.
The following is a guest contributed post from Sudha Reddy, VP Product Innovation at Sabio Mobile.
Marketers have essentially become data scavengers, gathering various scraps of information on potential customers and stitching them together in order to get a better picture. The big issue they contend with on a daily basis is where they should be getting their data from. Should it be coming from someone’s cookie trail, left behind as they peruse various sites, or should they rely on 3rd party vendor data or insights coming from a brand survey? Or, better yet, is the information coming from a source that you know people spend a great deal of time on, and that is able to keep up with a marketer’s constant need for updated, near real-time information (ie. mobile phones)? After all, why waste time piecing together a data quilt when you can simply examine people’s behavior on a much larger and more accurate scale? App science allows you to do exactly that, giving you the ability to examine the behavior of smartphone users and then using that information to give you a better, more comprehensive picture of your potential consumers – which in turn will make you a better advertiser.
There can be a big difference between what people say and what they do. App science removes the guesswork, and allows the customer to be seen exactly as they are.
Think about how much of your daily life occurs through the lens of your smartphone. When you commute, do you stream music using Spotify or Pandora? Maybe you scroll through The Guardian’s app to catch up on the latest news. Perhaps, when you’re at a coffee shop waiting for a friend to arrive, you order that pair of sneakers that you’ve had your eye on for a while. Every single interaction you have with an app says something about you, about the way you respond to certain stimuli.
Not only that, every action that someone takes on their smartphone constitutes another data point, a data point that can be used to map out consumer behavior and build models capable of predictive analytics. Let’s say, for example, someone is looking to get fit in the new year. They decide to download a few apps to monitor their diet, count their steps and log exercise. Based on that information, an advertiser might conclude that this user is more likely to respond positively to an ad for a nearby gym, or a meal subscription plan, or exercise clothing, and be targeted accordingly.
It seems shocking, then, that so few marketers are looking directly to smartphone data to provide a window into their customers’ lives, especially considering what that data can tell you about people’s habits and buying tendencies. Consider how many millions of people, in the US and around the world, use their smartphones and/or tablets on a daily basis. Using app science, all of the information from those interactions can be collected and analyzed to discover patterns that will help marketers reach their consumers at the right time, in the right place, and with the right product.
For those who might be skeptical about what new insights smartphone data can offer, I would offer several statistics. First, there’s the fact that over three-quarters of US adults say they own a smartphone, which is a sizeable source of information to begin with. Second, Mobile usage has not only long surpassed desktop but 90% of consumer’s time is spent in apps. Third, it’s important to keep in mind the fact that more and more households rely solely on smartphones as their primary way to access the Internet, both in the US and abroad. So, if one were to focus only on data from desktops, one would not only leave out the experiences of a considerable slice of the US population (around 12%, according to some estimates) but also miss out on measuring several advertising metrics.
The great revolution that app science promises, then, is to give voice to a larger percentage of people than ever before, and make sure that their experiences are taken into account. There are so many different sources of data, but few that are capable of providing as holistic a picture as smartphone data. By understanding how and why people use apps, brands will be able to market their products to the people who need them, and ensure that they are able to reach people where they are and with the message they’re looking for. Using app science allows marketers to take into account such factors as a person’s location, demographics, purchase behavior and interests, which in turn will enable them to better understand their audience and the people most likely to respond to their ads. App science no longer remains a value add but a necessity for marketers if they truly want to capture the right audience at the right time.
In 2017, the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) successfully completed cryogenic vacuum testing that lasted for over 100 days, solidifying the instrument’s capabilities and potential as a full observatory. In a NASA media briefing on January 10, officials at the Johnson Space Center in Houston discussed these efforts and the magnitude of this successful testing. The “world’s largest space freezer,” as described by Mark Voyton, Webb telescope Optical Telescope Element and Integrated Science Instrument Module (OTIS) manager at Goddard, allowed the team to successfully test the instrument and its pieces at the extreme temperatures it will endure in its missions.
Additionally, this testing showed that all mirrors and instrument models were aligned, with the primary mirror’s 18 segments all operating as one monolithic mirror. The tests also allowed NASA to exercise operations as they would occur in orbit, confirm that the integrated fine guiding system can track a star through the optical system, and ensure that the telescope could maintain correct observatory pointing. This laundry list of successful testing puts the JWST right on schedule to move forward and open our eyes to previously unseen corners of the universe.
The Webb testing was completed in Chamber A, a thermal-vacuum test facility that was first made famous in testing the Apollo spacecraft. While the Apollo tests were completed with both extreme heat and cold in mind, the chamber was heavily modified for the JWST. The Apollo craft were tested at temperatures as low as 100 Kelvin, but with these modifications, testing commenced at temperatures as low as 40 Kelvin with no high-temperature testing.
The success of this testing is not only a significant milestone for the James Webb Space Telescope and its highly-anticipated 2019 launch; it’s also a testament to the human spirit. This cryogenic testing occurred 24/7 throughout Hurricane Harvey, uninterrupted, as its international teams worked together in a collaborative effort.
The capabilities of the JWST will far surpass anything that has been created before. This mammoth telescope, described by Voyton as “the world’s most magnificent time machine,” proved a piece of this capability in testing: it detected, with all four instruments, the light of a simulated star for the first time. The fine guidance subsystem was successful in not only generating the position of the light, but also in tracking its movement. This was a first in testing, and it shows the remarkable applications that this telescope will have.
Because it is an infrared telescope, as opposed to a visual light telescope like Hubble, the James Webb Space Telescope requires a cold environment such as the one it was tested in. This will allow it to observe light from some of the earliest moments of the universe. Additionally, it will give us clarity in viewing exoplanets that we’ve only before dreamed of, closely observing Earth-like planets that could hold the promise of solidifying the existence of extraterrestrial life.
It hasn’t even left Earth yet, but this phenomenal instrument continues to inspire.
Instead of producing another failing battery, Wolverton and Zhenpeng Yao, a PhD student in Wolverton’s laboratory, used computations to create a new formula that allows it to function. Specifically, they found the right balance of lithium, iron, and oxygen ions that enable the oxygen and iron to cause a chemical reaction that doesn’t result in the oxygen escaping, which would render the battery unstable.
“The problem previously was that often, if you tried to get oxygen to participate in the reaction, the compound would become unstable,” explained Yao. “Oxygen would be released from the battery, making the reaction irreversible.”
In the end, their battery not only works, but it’s rechargeable, cheaper than traditional lithium-cobalt-oxide batteries — as iron is one of the cheapest elements on the planet, and cheaper than cobalt — and has a much higher energy capacity. It could one day be used in smartphones and electric vehicles, thereby boosting their capabilities. According to Wolverton, their new battery could keep phones powered eight times longer “or your car could drive eight times farther.”
“If battery-powered cars can compete with or exceed gasoline-powered cars in terms of range and cost, that will change the world,” said Wolverton.
Wolverton and his team aren’t finished working on their battery. In fact, Wolverton has since filed a provisional patent with Northwestern’s Innovation and New Ventures Office. He and his team also intend to test other compounds and materials to see if their methods will continue to work. If so, we could see an even wider range of cheaper, more efficient batteries.
However, metalenses have a flaw — they do not focus well in all points across the spectrum of light. But now scientists have developed the first-ever single lens that can focus the entire visible light spectrum, meaning all colors of the rainbow, in one spot.
Before, this has been possible only through stacking lenses. That’s because different colors move through materials at different speeds. Red travels through glass quickest and violet the slowest, because they have the longest and shortest wavelengths, respectively.
Those speeds are a problem for cameras, because they cause aberrations in the resulting photographs since each color doesn’t act the same. In order to bring each color into proper focus, cameras have to stack multiple, curved lenses together. Having multiple lenses gets rid of the distortions, but the resulting cameras are heavy and bulky.
This is the first time that focus of every color has been accomplished with a single lens. Published in the journal Nature Nanotechnology, this newly developed metalens has several advantages over traditional, curved lenses.
Less Bulky VR
According to Federico Capasso, the Robert L. Wallace Professor of Applied Physics and Vinton Hayes Senior Research Fellow in Electrical Engineering at SEAS and senior author of the research, metalenses have advantages over traditional lenses. “Metalenses are thin, easy to fabricate and cost effective. This breakthrough extends those advantages across the whole visible range of light. This is the next big step.”
So, not only do these lenses cover the entire visible light spectrum, they are also less expensive and much more lightweight. The researchers said the next step is to scale-up the metalenses to be one centimeter in diameter — a size that has applications for AR and VR.
If these single metalenses can be manufactured on a larger scale and adopted by companies, it is very possible that they will revolutionize VR and cameras, making them less bulky.
For the first time, we have a truly global technology revolution on our hands, fueled by smartphones, sensors and blockchain tech.
A version of this post was originally published at thebarefootvc.
The price of bitcoin reached $ 10,000 on Tuesday. This just in: Make that $ 11,000. Over the years, I have seen a significant change in conversations around virtual currencies, from “It’s for drug dealers!” “There’s no underlying asset!” and “It’s a fraud!” to “How do I buy bitcoin?” and “Can you help me look at this ICO?” And we are no doubt at the cusp of more widespread acceptance of the concept. It’s important to note that a fair amount of the recent capital in the market is driven by speculation from the astronomical returns that cryptocurrencies have achieved in 2017, and a “fear of missing out.”
True alpha returns have been difficult to achieve in the globally low interest-rate environment and softening of many real estate markets, all factors that have been fuel for cryptocurrency market cap growth. Many of these investors have not experienced the price volatility that many earlier investors have, and it remains to be seen how a significant shock to the market will be handled by these investors. However, there are other, newer investors who are believers in the concept of a more decentralized transaction system, particularly in light of increased cybersecurity risks, as well as widespread geopolitical uncertainty. Additionally, many early investors in bitcoin and ethereum have either held or reinvested profits into other cryptocurrencies.
I believe that these cryptocurrencies (which are built on blockchain tech) emerging as an asset class are just oneapplication of blockchain technology. Bitcoin at $ 10K and a cryptocurrency combined market cap of $ 300 billion is only an introduction to what the underlying technology means in terms of value creation.
I went to my first bitcoin conference in 2013. I knew that decentralized technology would form the thesis of the new venture capital fund I was launching, and I was interested in learning more how bitcoin would contribute to the thesis. That conference reminded me of the first time I logged into the internet in 1994 — I literally got goosebumps thinking of how revolutionary the technology could be.
I bought my first bitcoins after Mt. Gox imploded and China first shut down bitcoin exchanges in April 2014, when the price hovered around $ 400. Early in 2014, I launched FuturePerfect Ventures, an early-stage venture fund, to invest in the infrastructure and early use cases around blockchain and other decentralized technology.
While similar to the internet in many ways, I viewed the buildout and new business models that would emerge as exponentially larger in potential. For the first time, we have a truly global technology revolution on our hands, fueled by smartphones, sensors and blockchain tech. In 2000, there were only 415 million internet users in the world, only 8 percent of which were in developing markets. By 2017, the number of internet users had grown to 3.9 billion, 40 percent of which are now in those same developed markets.
Imagine what will happen when the next three billion people come online and the opportunities for value creation that will follow — particularly in markets where there is no legacy infrastructure in place and decentralized technology can leapfrog financial institutions, real estate, capital markets, identity platforms (and more) as we know them in the developed world.
I broke down the first fund’s investment thesis into four categories that I believed represented opportunity in the first phase of the technology: Infrastructure (the blockchain wallet); emerging-market use cases (including payments; for example, Abra); enterprise migration (including supply chain management — see Everledger); and identity management (for example, Civic). Our second fund builds on these areas as we see new protocols and applications continue to emerge, with the added thesis of tokens as a new asset class.
The combined market cap of Google, Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Microsoft is now at $ 3.4 trillion. Given the inherently global, accessible and nonlinear nature of decentralized technology, I would not be surprised if we quickly exceeded this number. The real excitement — from established investors to bootstrapped businesses in far-flung places — comes from the palpable potential that the next phase of this new market buildout has to create value by, and for, all seven billion people in the world.
A technology veteran with over 20 years as an entrepreneur and VC, Jalak Jobanputra founded FuturePerfect Ventures in 2014. She has invested in more than 80 early-stage companies over the past 15 years, resulting in several multi–billiondollar acquisitions and IPOs. She is widely renowned as a blockchain thought leader, and was one of the first investors in the blockchain space in 2013. She was recently named one of Institutional Investor’s Most Powerful Fintech Dealmakers. Previously, Jobanputra was a director at Omidyar Network, managing mobile investments in emerging markets, and SVP at the New York City Investment Fund, where she launched a seed tech fund and the Fintech Innovation Lab. She was also at Intel Capital in Silicon Valley from 1999-2003, on the founding team of a web startup in 1997, and a tech/media/telecom investment banker at Lehman Brothers in NYC and London. She has served on multiple advisory boards for the White House, NYC Mayor’s Office and the U.S. State Department, and serves on the board of directors for the Center for an Urban Future. Reach her at @jalak.