Current Affairs

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November 24, 2015

Saving Lives with Mobile Technology



The thought of surgery being performed by a robot might be a bit too close to science fiction for folks to stomach. However, the healthcare industry is quickly approaching the intersection of once far-fetched medical technology and a global need for better healthcare. 

Mobile technology is a huge part of this growing trend in health sectors across the country, and the world. In fact, mobile advancements in healthcare are predicted to play a large role in saving lives, and influencing preventative medicine. Here’s a closer look at some of the specific mobile advancements on the cusp of this fast-approaching technological horizon:


Healthcare and Gamification 

Along with making medical technology more available, creating ways to empower and proactively engage patients for long-term success is just as important as medical prognosis. 

Gamification involves adding game elements to the outpatient process and preventative repertoire to help patients stay on track with a diet, take their medicine, and maintain healthy habits.

We’ve already seen great examples of this in mobile apps like Luminosity, for brain stimulation, and HAPIfork, which monitors healthy eating. By incorporating mobile technology into the medical paradigm, doctors can help patients well after they leave the hospital. 


Comprehensive Communications 

Mobile is also a unique tool in healthcare because of the communication access it delivers and its ability to spread information democratically. The Internet and digital resources play a large roll in this as well, but mobilizing these resources has added millions of new Internet users to the healthcare network.

In 2014, mobile Internet access surpassed desktop usage—in other words, the mobile community is farther-reaching than ever before, making it possible to share, crowdsource, store, and gather pieces of medical information on a globalized network.


Saving Lives 

Aside from these abstract healthcare improvements, mobile technology has the ability to save lives immediately. For example, UNICEF has implemented a mobile communication system in one of the most dangerous and densely populated areas in the world: the Gaza Strip. 

Using mobile technology, school children in these areas are able to attend school more regularly, and safely, by allowing school administrators to communicate with parents directly. School administrators can send out SMS messages warning parents of potential treats, as well as let them know when school will resume. Since 2011, 29 schools have used this program regularly, and more than 11,000 students are benefiting from the results. 

From 3D printing and robotic nurses, to wearable tech and live-streaming surgery, the future may be in fact be closer than we think, and mobile technology has found a relevant niche within this growth to do its part in making the world a healthier and safer place to live. 

November 06, 2015

Roaming Charges Have Been Scrapped in Europe


The extra costs associated with using a mobile phone in European countries other than the one you live in are to be scrapped. The ban on data roaming charged, agreed by MEPs in June after years of negotiations, has been passed into law, and will take effect from 15 June 2017.

Roaming charges are currently added to phone bills when users browse the web, make calls or send text messages while abroad. Once the ban kicks in, tourists traveling within the EU won’t notice any difference between the cost of mobile connectivity at home and abroad. The move was described by former vice-president of the European Commission Viviane Reding as “a victory for consumers.”

It’s been a long road for anti-roaming campaigners, as EU member states voiced concern about the potential financial impact on their domestic telecoms providers. A proposal for a roaming ban to take effect this year was scrapped after negotiations stalled. 

The overall ban will be preceded by a ‘phasing out’ process to lessen the burden on operators and allow time for the infrastructure to adjust.  

As things stand, operators can charge tourists up to 22 cents (around 14 pence) per minute for outgoing calls, five cents for incoming calls, six cents per text message and 20 cents per megabyte of data. That’s in addition to their regular tariff. As of April 2016, the costs will be reduced to five cents per minute, two cents per text message and five cents per megabyte.

The impending ban has been welcomed by consumers and campaigners, especially advocates of net neutrality, who broadly oppose unregulated tariff-setting for electronic communications. Under the new telecommunications law, operators will be required to treat all web traffic equally. For net neutrality advocates, the ban on roaming charges is another victory in the fight to keep the lines of digital exchange as open and free to the widest number of people possible.


November 04, 2015

NYC Taxi Cabs are Taking on Uber at Its Own Game

If you thought traditional taxi services were going to roll over while ride-hailing apps like Uber and Lyft proliferate across the country, think again. The New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission is currently taking steps to push back against the industry-disturbing apps, piloting a program that aims to utilize familiar technology in the hopes of winning back passengers. 

In 2007, New York City taxis got a tech upgrade: a backseat TV monitor blaring news reports and advertisements. The convenience of the screen was used to help process payments as well as entertain passengers, but was ill received by a majority of riders and cab drivers alike. 


Understanding Taxi TV

At the time, Taxi TV was considered a necessary evil, but with snappy services like Uber and Lyft cutting into market, the TVs are about to get the boot from the back seat.  

According to the taxi commission, the pilot will include 1,000 vehicles from up to four companies. Each company can choose its own payment technologies and install them in up to 250 vehicles. Instead of Taxi TV, these technologies will include mobile devices like smartphones and tablets, which passengers will then use to complete transactions. 

It’s not quite as simplistic as Uber’s payment method, but it’s a process most people are familiar with—and it’s a lot less annoying than Taxi TV

The pilot is scheduled to last for about a year and includes one other notable shift. Currently, cabs use the rotation of the tires and stopping times to calculate fares. The pilot will integrate GPS to record the distance traveled. This particular aspect of the pilot will be monitored closely to ensure the fares come out equal to the previous system. 

The only major concern reported so far is with disability compliance outlined by a city law passed in 2012. The law requires taxis to provide audio fare updates and requires alternative payment methods for the visually impaired. Currently, the commission is working to ensure these requirements are met if the driver uses a mobile device. 

It’s safe to say the commission’s effort is a solid attempt to compete more directly with popular ride-hailing apps. Getting rid of Taxi TV is a great way to improve the passenger’s experience, but will the use of GPS and mobile devices be enough to sway Uber or Lyft riders? The commission may need to think a little further beyond the proverbial checkered box to make an impact on the industry in a meaningful way. 

November 01, 2015

Mobile Helps Propel UK Adspend to Record Highs


According to the Advertising Association/Warc, UK ad spending hit a record high in 2015. Spending increased by 5.8% to reach £9.42bn in the first half of the year, and mobile is predicted to exceed the billion-pound barrier for the first time. Digital channels remain the force behind this growth, as Internet spending is up 13.3% for H1 to £3.9bn. Mobile makes up 79% of this growth, with ad spending increasing more than 52% to £1.08bn. 

Growth is noticeable throughout the industry, including both television and cinema forms. Only print has seen a decrease in revenue. 

“Advertising’s resilience points to the strength of the broader economy in the first half,” said Tim Lefroy, chief executive at the Advertising Association. “The UK leads the world in eCommerce and the trend to mobile means serving the public better ads in the right place at the right time.”

Ad spending is expected to demolish the £20bn barrier in 2016, with the Advertising Association’s media breakdown is as follows:  

  • Radio: Radio ad spending decreased by 2.2% to £116m in Q2, branded content excluded. Full-year growth is expected at 3.0% in 2015, and 2.3% with branded content included.
  • TV: Spot advertising “recorded solid YOY growth of 2.9% to £1,144m in Q2, compared to a quarter in which the FIFA World Cup was held last year.” TV spot advertising also enjoyed a fantastic Q1 via ad revenues rising to 11.5%. An “increase of 6.7% is forecast for 2015 as a whole.” 
  • Out of Home: YOY growth was strong at the beginning of 2015 with an increase of 9.7% in Q1, though it decreased 3.6% to £249m in Q2. 
  • Regional Newsbrands: These newsbrands saw a decline of 7.2% in ad spend in Q2 2015 compared to 2014. This “represents a 12.1% drop for print (to £246m) and a 24.0% increase for digital revenues (to £55m).” 
  • National Newsbrands: Print ad revenue decreased by a staggering 19.2% Q2 2015 to £239m. Digital ad spending, in comparison, increased 5.9% to £51m.
  • Magazine Brands: Ad spending declined by 6.8% in Q2. Print advertising saw a 11.0% decline to £168m, while digital saw an increase of 5.2% to £70m. 
  • Internet: Internet ad spending included a 12.8% increase in Q2 2015, which was followed by “revised growth of 13.9% in Q1 (+1.1pp).” Mobile made up 79% of total internet growth during H1, resulting in ad spending of £1,079m (up 52.1%). 

Cinema and direct mail ad spending saw increases as well. Separate Advertising Association research indicated the UK as the biggest mobile advertising spenders in Europe, and the third-highest spenders in the world following the United States and China. 

October 04, 2015

Lawyers Finding Business Via Text Messaging?


Navigating the laws that regulate advertising options for lawyers can be tricky.  Changing times bring up changing opinions on what constitutes forbidden telephone solicitation, and what does not.

Contacting potential clients via text messaging is a practice that has recently been reviewed by the Florida Bar. This method of communication has been deemed acceptable, but there are still restrictions that an attorney must follow. 

As a lawyer, how do you keep up with technology, communicating in a way that most people now do, while following state laws and regulations? Let’s take a closer look at how text messaging can work for an attorney and how lawyers are finding business via text messaging.


Acceptable and Unacceptable Means of Communication

Lawyers are not allowed to solicit business in person. They are also not allowed to call someone on the telephone and ask to be hired. But, an attorney can send a text message, according to a recent Florida Bar decision. 

In-person and telephone solicitations are forbidden because, the American Bar Association says, “the situation is fraught with the possibility of undue influence, intimidation, and over-reaching.” Just this past February, a Florida Bar committee said the in-person and telephone ban on advertising also barred text messages. But, the Bar’s board of governors reversed that ruling in July. They concluded that texts are more like emails than phone calls. 


Times are Changing

Bar President, Ramon Abadin, says that text messages are “an adaptation to reality.” He states, “Most people communicate by mobile data devices that happen to be phones, too.”

Abadin notes that a change in perspective regarding text messaging is “part of the national dialogue. It’s what we should be doing as professionals. We should be looking at how best to serve our clients.”

An attorney, Abadin says, should be looking at the ways in which his or her clients want to be communicated with, and the ways that communication could appear as inappropriate. The issue of text messaging arose when law firms inquired to the Bar as to whether or not texts were appropriate. An Orlando law firm that sent a second inquiry succeeded in getting text messages approved as logical means of communications. 

The firm described how it planned to send texts to criminal defendants, those whose email addresses were not available. It offered the argument that “criminal charges can change your life forever,” and suggested that a solid sample message might say, “You might feel scared and alone. The government accusing you has power; it has money; it has police; and it has many lawyers who will be working to convict and punish you. You should have a lawyer, too.” 

This law firm presented data showing that 90% of adults in Florida have at least one mobile device like a smartphone or tablet. It also showed that 90% of them use these devices for text messaging. 

The Board concluded that laws needed to be updated to reflect this change in American culture. Text messaging for lawyers is now a viable way to gain clients needing representation in a variety of circumstances. There are, however, regulations that must be adhered to even when sending text messages, and it’s important to keep these in mind to avoid breaking the law.



September 30, 2015

Crammers Charged with Multi-Million Dollar SMS Scam


Two men are facing charges of running a ‘cramming’ scam that netted them tens of millions of dollars by charging mobile users premium rates for unwanted text messages. 

Six defendants were charged in a New York federal court with an ‘auto-subscribe’ fraud. The scam involved sending text messages containing celebrity gossip, horoscopes and other trivia - and charging up to $10 per month to the unsuspecting recipients bill. The fraud charges were brought by a New York attorney, Preet Bharara, who had previously lodged charges against another six defendants connected with the scam, alleged to have taken place between 2011 and 2013. 

The case is just the tip of the cramming iceberg. So how do they work? And how can you stay vigilant for the signs of a scam? 

Crammers use local exchange carrier (LEC) billing to charge mobile users through their local telephone company accounts. By doing this (rather than charging through the providers of the product or service) the cost to the customer often goes unnoticed. Charges might be made for premium messaging services, special ringtones, apps or long-distance calling. Anything the crammers believe they can slip ‘under the radar’ on a phone bill is fair game. It won’t work on people who - as we all should - check their bills carefully, but, like all scams, the hit rate doesn’t need to be very high to make it worthwhile for the fraudsters. Add automation technology into the mix and crammers are able to target thousands of people in a short space of time, with minimal effort. 

The defendants at the center of the most recent cramming scandal were charging close to $10 a month for text messages sent without the users consent. Most users simply ignored the messages because the amounts were not big enough to ring any alarm bells. The scam is designed that way, which is why such schemes can levy huge amounts of money without being detected.

The Federal Communication Commission (FCC) offers some useful tips to prevent mobile users falling prey to scammers. Recommendation #1 is to cast a careful eye over your monthly statement to check for unusual charges. They may appear as a one-time charge or on a monthly auto-renewal basis. Be wary of generic-sounding fees, company names or services. Also look out for unsolicited text messages. If you receive text messages from a source you don’t recognize, relating to services you didn’t ask for, you should view this as a Big Red Flag. Knowing what’s going on with your phone bill, and contacting your service provider if you see anything suspicious, should keep you safe from being stung by crammers.

September 13, 2015

8 Apps to Get You Through NY Fashion Week


“There’s an app for that.”  

These words now apply to the fashion industry, with numerous apps cropping up to help fashion addicts get more of what they love. Let’s look at a few of the many nifty apps to take full advantage of during New York Fashion Week


Fashion’s Night Out

Fashion’s Night Out is an app from Vogue that makes it easy to decide which fashion-tastic after-party to attend while enjoying the famous New York event. The app customizes recommendations based on your favorite stores as well as your current location so you get where you need to go without walking a long distance in high heels, or missing shindigs featuring favorite duds. 



Milk is one of New York Fashion Week’s premier hosts, and created a companion app to help you navigate the ins and outs of the runway. The app streams images of models as they saunter down said runway, and can sync with the show you’re attending by listening to the room’s audio. Interesting... and a tad creepy?


Lifebooker App 

Lifebooker’s super-cool app is a great thing to have during fashion week, as it provides access to fantastic discounts on manicures, facials, and haircuts. It also offers discounts on local restaurants and entertainment options so you can make it a (relatively) inexpensive evening out. 



If you’ve been fascinated with runway models since the heyday of Linda Evangelista, Christy Turlington, and Naomi Campbell, you’ll love Modelinia. The app gives access to model “stats” as well as their coolest beauty, travel, and fashion tips.  



Svpply is likened to “polyvore for grown-ups,” as it’s a wishlist creation platform that’s also an app. It allows you to follow new products available through most-favorite stores and organize wishlists by category—up to 30 categories, to be exact.


AHA Life 

Want to “shop the world’s most unique designers and artisans” via mobile device? AHA Life is the app for you. It makes it possible to shop over 1,000 designers and artisans in more than 45 countries, and is curated by Tim Gunn and the one and only Diane Von Furstenberg. Find favorite fashions, as well as foods, purses and wallets, books, headphones, and a slew of other great items.



Hailed as “the Instagram of fashion,” Trendabi gives users the opportunity to share pictures of their most style-tastic outfits and tag them according to the store, label, or price. Comment and like favorite ensembles, and get inspiration for new looks. 



Looking to do a bit of urban streetwear blog-consolidating? ChicFeed does the work for you by providing a feed of the latest Fashion Week streetwear images. 


September 05, 2015

5 Ways to Mobil-ize Your Fall Marketing Strategy


As kids return to school and tans start to fade, you know summer is officially over. For mobile marketing campaign managers, the shifting seasons provide an ideal opportunity to regroup and devise some thematically-appropriate ideas. To help you, we’ve put together some mobile marketing tactics sure to boost revenues during Fall…


Autumn-ate Your Website

Give your homepage a Fall makeover to show your audience that you are up to the minute. A themed blog post or two can - if this one is anything to go by - will give you fresh, topical content! 


Think of the Children!

Offer school-related special offers and promotions. If you’re in clothing retail, push seasonal outfits - try the local college campus to reach students, and give them discounts to engender brand loyalty.


Support Local Sports Events

Most of the major sports seasons kick or tip off during Fall. Capitalize on this by getting involved with your local team. Many large high schools have established, sponsored athletics programs, and small schools currently lacking something similar might be amenable to you approaching them with ideas. Of course, sponsorship requires an outlay of money, the return on which may not be easy to track. One thing you can be sure of: if you get your name attached to a team, there’s a guaranteed weekly audience for the rest of the season. If you’ve got the budget to go all out with free t-shirts, samples and coupons, it could turn into a lucrative long-term partnership.


Thematic Social Media Engagement

As with your website, letting your audience know that you’re constantly in tune with current events will project a positive brand image. Use social media to engage your audience, and share seasonal links and special offers. Social media is a great tool for receiving feedback, so listen to what your audience has to say and respond in kind.


Mark the Main Events

Fall is punctuated by two main holidays: Halloween and Thanksgiving. You’d be crazy to ignore these massive commercial opportunities, so make sure your office does something for each. If appropriate for your business, why not run a Trick or Treat day for kids? Encourage your workforce to dress up, and document the event for sharing on social media. When Thanksgiving rolls around, send out cards to your customers to let them know you’re grateful for their business.

Making the most of Fall is easy with mobile. You can easily scale up a mobile marketing strategy that seemed to work at the micro level, and if you want to keep everything low-budget, there is still much you can do - you just have to get creative. 


September 04, 2015

MiTu Goes Mobile Following Acquisition of Video Company


On April 30, HIP Entertainment Group launched MiTu—a bilingual network that’s part of a digital multi-platform initiative aimed at capturing contemporary Latin/Hispanic millennials—on Youtube. Network executives like Beatriz Acevedo, as well as Doug Greiff, partner and chief creative officer, are looking to capitalize on a growing Latino audience as well as an increasingly mobile one. 

This month, MiTu announced the launch of it’s own technology platform that will work in unison with MiTu’s recently acquired mobile video company, Lightt. Lightt’s video platform allows users to generate unique video content, edit and share videos with other users.

According to MiTu’s website, “We reach millions every day through video and social content on more than 1,500 YouTube channels, nearly 5,000 social channels, and leading destinations for today's Latino millennials and content creators.”


What MiTu Offers 

The new technology platform will allow users to discover, upload, and manage creators and social commentary from multiple sites like YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. 

The platform will also help MiTu better understand growing analytical data on the 100 million global users. With this data, MiTu will be better equipped to manage advertising and monetize content across various platforms. 

According to Roy Burstin, MiTú's CEO, “…Our expanded technology ecosystem... gives us the ability to offer a data-driven approach to both our influencers and our brand and media partners.” 

The partnerships he’s referring to include Discovery, Spanish-language network Televisa, AOL, and Univision as well as brands like Microsoft, Pepsi, Bud Light, and Ford.

It’s an empowering sentiment that MiTu sees a value in proliferating Latino/Hispanic content to this underrepresented group in popular media. Developing the technology platform and increasing the visibility of these content creators and social influences will hopefully allow their voices to be more equally represented in the democratic space of online content. 

Alex Mostoufi, MiTu’s chief technology officer and founder of Lightt, said the users are highly creative and engaged in media creation. 

“We are building a platform that is truly state-of-the-art in digital media," he added.

On the other hand, the smarter these analytical tools get while spreading user-generated content, the more accessible this market will become to advertisers and other marketing schemes across emerging mobile platforms.

So while it’s terrific to empower the underrepresented, it’s likely not in the best interest of those it seeks to represent—Mitu likely serves a different master in the market economy.

September 03, 2015

Infographic: Tackling the Flu with Text Messaging

The flu virus costs our economy billions each year. By promoting vaccinations for workers and children, it's possible to reduce the number of sick days and alleviate the annual burden placed on the healthcare system. We've put together an infographic that highlights the scale of the problem and demonstrates the role text messaging can play in increasing vaccination rates...