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Can Smartphones Help Manage Bipolar Disorder?


Bipolar disorder is a condition characterized by mood swings that vary from extreme elation to severe depression. Patients suffering from this mental illness experience extreme highs and hyperactivity, and at other times suffer devastating lows and lethargy. Because symptoms of most mental disorders can only be seen as changes in a person’s behavior, rather than a chemical or biological change, treating these mood changes can be extremely difficult. But recent studies indicate that phone apps may be able to help people with bipolar disorder manage their conditions so that they can live more productive lives.



Italian researchers have found that smartphones can be used to diagnose and manage mental health illnesses such as bipolar disorder. Thanks to their built-in sensors, sudden mood changes can be tracked easily. Just recently, computer scientist Venet Osmani of the Trento, Italy-based Centre for Research and Telecommunication Experimentation for Networked Communities (CREATE-NET) used data mining to study human behavior and health. He knew that people with bipolar disorder often demonstrated signature behavior patterns and used smartphones to measure these patterns. According to Osmani, the behavior patterns associated with bipolar disorder can be accurately detected by smartphone sensors, which allow changes in mood to be spotted as they occur. This is amazing news for patients, as it could lead to faster treatment and better outcomes for sufferers.


How the Smartphone App Works

How will the smartphone app work? The bipolar manic phase is often characterized by physical hyperactivity, which can be measured by an accelerometer and a GPS; symptoms like rapid speech could be measured by sound analysis software, and frequent conversations monitored through phone call patterns. Similarly, slow movements, fewer locations travelled, sluggish speech, and fewer conversations with others can be signs of the depressive phase. The app includes GPS information to localize the user in case of a manic crisis, and it can be used either as part of a treatment with a therapist or as a standalone app. There are currently a number of different apps on the market being used to detect mental and physical ailments as they occur. This is just the beginning of how innovation is changing medicine.



All of this is good news for bipolar sufferers. Patients with bipolar disorder are more susceptible to stress events or changes in their routine. With a smartphone app, the possibility of early detection in a patient’s state could mean facilitating timely intervention and getting him or her the best treatment possible. 

For the most party, treating bipolar illness comes after the fact. Patients are usually given questionnaires after an episode has already occurred. An accurate way of diagnosing mood changes in real-time would be hugely useful, both for patients and their health providers to predict oncoming symptoms. 

With technology continuing to change, and innovation creating better and faster ways to communicate, many of today’s health problems might soon be more easily detected. 


Written by Jeremy Pollack


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. 

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. 

Mobile Tech as CPR Guide


It’s always nice to see technology working for the greater good and not merely motivated by profit. Some apps, like PulsePoint, aren’t working for profit at all—they’re in the business of saving lives. The non-profit app has been endorsed by a number of agencies including the American Heart Association and the Red Cross for delivering updated CPR guidelines and empowering the public to become more than bystanders at the scene of an emergency.  

Did you know that almost sixty perfect of US adults have had training to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) or use an automated external defibrillator (AED)? What’s more, these trained individuals would be willing to put their skills to good use in the event of an emergency. However, it’s been estimated that only 11 percent of these people ever use their training. 

These numbers have become a viable resource in the fight against heart diseases and the struggle to protect patients who succumb to cardiac arrest. Using mobile technology, PulsePoint has modernized the CPR guidelines while finding a way to tap into this trained population. 

In the event that someone goes into cardiac arrest, the time it takes the EMS team or paramedics to arrive can greatly impact that person’s chance of resuscitation. Starting CPR quickly can double and sometimes triple the rate of survival. Now, imagine a well-trained and mobilized populace that could provide assistance during this critical window.


How the App Works 

That’s where PulsePoint comes in. Individuals trained in CPR, or the use of an AED, register with the app and are notified if they’re ever in the proximity of someone experiencing cardiac arrest. The app is also equipped to notify the trained individual where they may locate the nearest public AED. 

Once the EMS workers arrives, they’ll take over—but until then, having help there a few moments sooner could be the difference between life and death. As soon as someone calls 9-1-1 with a cardiac arrest emergency, the app alerts anyone nearby that has installed PulsePoint and is trained in CPR.

The app is already working in cities both big and small, including places like Cleveland and Fargo, North Dakota.

One of the most interesting features of this app is that it has a lot of crossover potential into other areas of public health, education, and security. Depending on how well the app does in assisting with cases of cardiac arrest, we might see variations of this software developed for other civil service functions.  

Messaging App Line Has Added Encryption


Messaging App Line will now allow end-to-end messaging encryption. If you are not familiar with Japan-based Line, it is an alternative messaging system that provides free voice calls and text messages to users. A group chat function is available, as is a simple social networking app. Line works similar to iMessage and WhatsApp, and is said to have over 300 million world-wide users, most in Japan and in Southeast Asian countries like Thailand and Indonesia.


Encryption Key 

This new encryption addition will allow Line to compete with other apps by letting users do an end-run around wireless carriers. This feature is called Letter Sealing, and will store the encryption key on the customer’s device instead of on its server. For Line, this means updating their security system, creating even a more secure method of communication. This will give their customers the ability to chat and share content without the fear of private information being disclosed in the server or to a third party. The new encryption scrambles chat content with a key, making it technically impossible to disclose content.



What are users most excited about? Line integrates an overwhelming amount of cuteness into the app. Users can slap stickers and emoji’s into their messages, often in the form of playful, cartoon baby animals. Ducks, bears, and other fun characters are what makes this app most popular. A game involving candy and animal heads is also built into the service.



The new Line encryption feature will first rollout to Android and ioS users. Users will have to switch on encryption, and will only work if it is activated and present on all involved parties device. The new encryption is currently only default for Android registered users but Line plans to add encrypted sealing for desktop and other operating systems. The Line App is also available for BlackBerry, Windows Phone, Firefox OS, Windows and Mac OS. 


Some Concerns 

This new encryption feature could be frustrating for those who want access to user content. Privacy is a big concern, with the Thai government recently announcing that it was able to monitor messages sent by its users. Line denied it to TechCrunch, but it doesn't mean the Thai government wasn't pressing for access to Thai people's private lives. It started requesting access to chat streams in 2013, according to the Associated Press.


Line Growth

Regardless of privacy concerns, Line is expanding outside Japan, where 80 percent of its registered users reside, and is currently focused on markets in India, Turkey, and Western Europe. The App is free to download, as Line makes most of its money from licensed characters like Hello Kitty. Line has also recently begun expanding into additional apps, including both drawing and a calendar.

Samsung Launches Second Tizen-Powered Phone


Samsung Electronics has recently unveiled the second smartphone powered by its own Tizen operating system. This phone is priced slightly higher than its predecessor, the Z1, and offers better hardware, a faster processor, a higher-quality screen, and improved cameras. The improved design is noticeable right off the bat, with the back featuring a curve on both edges like the one we saw on the Galaxy Note 5. This should help with handling, while also giving the phone a premium look. The Samsung Z3 will go on sale in India, an emerging smartphone market.


Lower Price Point

While this second Tizen-powered phone is higher than the first version, it is still selling for a relatively low price. Samsung hopes to continue competing with Apple and Google to capture a larger share of premium phone users with its latest models. The Z3’s low price will attract buyers in markets like India, where smartphone use is still considerably low. The previous Samsung smartphone has done very well there, while other companies find themselves with lower user rates.


Tizen Powered 

Samsung is trying to reduce its dependence on Google, whose Android operating system powers Samsung’s flagship Galaxy smartphones. The company has launched other products powered by Tizen this year, including the Gear S2 smartwatch and premium televisions. Samsung needs to attract more smartphone users to the operating system in order to gain more third-party developer support, analysts say. 

In a recent article on CNET, Samsung said that it eventually wants Tizen to be in every type of device, a move that would help it gain independence from Google. Setbacks and delays have slowed its arrival on smartphones, though. Samsung's OS does power its Gear S2 smartwatch and several high-end televisions that the Korean company released earlier this year.



The specs of Z3 show a display that is a 5-inch HD Super AMOLED and a 1.3GHz quad-core processor with 1 GB of RAM. The rear-facing camera is an 8-megapixel, while the front camera is a 5-megapixel unit. Internal storage can go as high as 128 GB (by adding a microSD), but the standard is only 8GB. The phone sports a 2,600 mAh battery and supports Samsung's Ultra Power Saving Mode.



The latest smartphone will be protected by the Samsung KNOX security suite.

The KNOX security suite is designed with the safety of users in mind, especially for the public sector. A top level of safety and confidentiality is ensured, which makes the phone highly compatible with tasks of the police, banks, government departments, and hospitals. Users love Samsung Z3 for supporting version 1.0 of KNOX on Tizen. While the hardware of the phone is decent for a low-tier device, the safety suite embedded in the handset adds value and makes the phone a viable option for many countries. With the security of personal information being so important to users nowadays, this Samsung phone is even more desirable to the target audience.

Be Wary of the Latest Text Message Bank Fraud Scam


Internet scams make the news fairly regularly, spurring conversations about prevention with advice from experts as well as victims. While most of us know not to provide personal information via email, or when asked to do so by a pop-up window, few practice the same caution with regards to their smartphones. 

The latest scam involving identity theft is presenting itself to mobile users via text messages. The Better Business Bureau (BBB) recently got involved after several complaints surfaced regarding text massages from alleged financial institutions requesting data verification through a live link in the message. The BBB warned consumers about the fraudulent texts and reminded them of a similar case back in 2012. 


How it Works 

According to the BBB, mobile users were receiving alerts from their personal banks, asking them to verify their names, online IDs, and passwords at a site linked in the messages. In most cases the URL had the bank’s name included (or some variation of the name) and appeared to be almost identical to the legitimate website. Unsuspecting users would enter their personal data into the fraudulent site and would become at rick of identity theft and subsequent financial loss.  

Scams like these are, in essence, very similar to those we regularly encounter on laptop or desktop computers—usually via email or pop-up window. Over time most people have learned to avoid these scams and report them to the appropriate authorities.

So, what makes this so different? The success of this scam is tied to the emotional and irrational belief that our smartphones are safer because they are typically in our possession at all times. The intimate space of text messaging is falsely perceived as secure, more trustworthy, and relevant. 

This is unfortunately not the case. Just like unwanted push notifications, incoming solicitations and scams are very real threats if certain settings are left unchecked on a smartphone.


How to Combat Text Scams 

Most of have learned to deal with dubious emails and pop-up windows by deleting suspicious messages. Use the same caution on your smart device. Ignore the instructions of a text message asking for your participation to retrieve or verify personal data via text.

Further, you should check your phone bill every month. Check for services you haven’t ordered. Fraudulent changes may appear as one-time charges or be labeled ‘subscriptions,’ and may appear on each monthly bill.  

Commercial text messages, push notifications, and text subscriptions should lawfully provide you with an easy way to unsubscribe from them. If the option doesn’t appear to be available to you, check with your service provider to ensure your account hasn’t been compromised.  

Finally, ask your phone carrier about blocking third-party charges. Most phone carriers allow third parties (app companies, special ringtone services, etc.) to charge you for their services. Some carriers also have a way to block third parties from making charges. 

Don’t be afraid to call your service provider if you ever have any questions or suspect fraudulent activity. The worst thing mobile users can do if they suspect they are being scammed or unlawfully charged for services they don’t receive is nothing. Be proactive about your mobile safety, and you won’t become a victim of mobile scams. 

Apple Acquires AI Startup Perceptio


Science fiction is appealing to many people because it tends to blur the lines between reality and the seemingly impossible. Yet, time and again, sci-fi has proven on a number of occasions to be within our reach. Ideas like space travel and super computers were once a glimmer of someone’s imagination, inspiring a new generation to implement those fantasies in modern technological endeavors. 

Apple kept the sci-fi ball rolling this week by announcing its purchase of a software company that deals in artificial intelligence. Is this just another page from science fiction, or is it soon to be a reality for Apple users the world over?



It’s a real Cinderella story for AI startup Perceptio, which was purchased by Apple for an undisclosed sum. According to Apple, it was a business-as-usual kind of acquisition. 

“Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time,” said Apple spokesperson Colin Johnson, “and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans.”

The mystery as to why Apple has added Perceptio to its portfolio of smaller tech companies is somewhat unclear, although many speculate that the startup’s intellectual property and executive talent will help give other Apple companies superior AI systems for an array of Apple products: iPhone, iPad, and so on.  

Rumor has it that Perceptio deals in advanced calculations and algorithms without the use of a cloud-based system, which aligns with Apple’s plans to minimize user data and allow more processing on each individual device. 

This week’s acquisition follows Apple’s decision to buy a UK software startup VocallQ, which specializes in a native voice dialogue platform. It’s speculated that this tech company is working to build upon the current Siri software with hopes of improving its potential as a personal assistant and establishing longer, more intelligent conversations.  

Perceptio is a Palo Alto-based company headed by AI researchers Nicolas Pinto and Zak Stone. Prior to creating Perceptio, Pinto and Stone built an app called Smoothie that utilized many of the same AI principles and software algorithms found in Perceptio. 

The startup’s goals for Smoothie included developing techniques to run image-classification systems on smartphones; Smoothie would allow users to rework short videos into animated GIF format and use them in messages and emails. Unfortunately, none of these developments ever went to market—Smoothie has yet to be released to the general public as a social app, and depending on how things go with Apple, it might remain that way. 

Critics suggest Apple’s plan is to utilize this tech to improve its own propriety photo apps to compete more aggressively with Google’s.

For now, the fantastical idea of artificial intelligence is still somewhere on a distant horizon. However, Apple is making strides to see that future realized, perhaps sooner than some of us may have thought possible. 

Google's Latest Startup Acquisition is a Mobile Messaging App


Google recently announced the acquisition of Jibe Mobile, a messaging startup specializing in helping carriers with mobile video chat services. The idea is to make video chat as commonplace as text messages, with the purchase designed to bring Rich Communications Services (RCS) to Android products. RCS is Google’s “new standard” for carrier messaging. Financial terms regarding the acquisition were not made public. 

“We’re very excited to announce that the Jibe Mobile team is joining Google to help us bring RCS to a global audience,” Google said in a statement to Re/code. “Jibe is a leading provider of RCS services and they’ll continue helping carriers easily deploy RCS to their users. We can’t wait to work with them and build on the great work that they’ve already done.” 

The search engine giant also noted that the acquisition is part of its support of RCS and subsequently the new mobile messaging strategy.  

“Mobile messaging has never been more central to people’s lives, and there is an incredible amount of innovation happening with chat applications across the mobile ecosystem,” Mike Dodd, Android RCS Software Engineer and Minister of Messaging, wrote in an Official Android Blog post about the purchase. “SMS carrier messaging is used by billions of people every day and enables people to reach anyone around the world, regardless of their device, carrier, app or location. However, the features available in SMS haven’t kept up with modern messaging apps. Rich Communications Services (RCS) is a new standard for carrier messaging and brings many of the features that people now expect from mobile messaging, such as group chats, high res photos and more.”  

Dodd wrote that Google’s work with carriers on this project will continue, and that Android is “excited” to support RCS standards and therefore help drive consistent deployment. 

Jibe has raised over $9 million dollars while marketing itself as the “Cloud Communications Company for Mobile Operators, [which] provides an open end-to-end technology platform for IP Communications.” In 2012, Jibe raised $8.3 million through donations by MIT and Vodafone to build “carrier-quality” messaging options into apps. 

“The big opportunity we saw at the start: to change the way people communicate using their mobile phones,” Jibe CEO Amir Sarhangi said in a statement. “The ‘small’ challenge we focused on: the future of messaging, the super simple mode for communication that’s favored by billions of people, all over the world.” 


Future of Texting

Sarhangi remarked in 2012 that the days of simply calling or texting someone were coming to an end, and that most of the time people were communicating through apps. Examples of such apps include the oft-used Facebook Messenger. 

“We’re already working closely with many of our partners on implementing RCS, and look forward to growing the RCS ecosystem together,” Dodd wrote in the same blog post. 

Will video chatting become as common as text messaging? This acquisition will certainly test this notion. For now, texting and chatting remain the favorites, with chatting over Google Hangouts and the aforementioned Facebook Messenger topping the charts in popularity. 


3 Ways Mobile Has Influenced Social Media


Where would social media be without mobile? On-demand access to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram et al has made us take it for granted. For many social media addicts, anything less than hourly engagement is punishing. Smartphones have satisfied (or pandered to, depending on your perspective) this urge for constant connectivity.  

B2B marketers who are new to digital marketing may feel clueless about how to launch a mobile marketing campaign. To help you get started, we’re going to take a look at the key ways in which mobile technology has influenced the way people interact with social media, and offer some tips on how to capitalize on this shift in online habits:


Mobile is Mainstream

Mobile is no longer the ‘alternative’ to desktop browsers. According to social media mogul Jeff Bullas, 71% of social media users access their network via a mobile device. This trend has been heading steadily skyward since the first web-enabled small-screen devices hit the market, and social networks have responded accordingly. The most effective mobile marketing strategy will reflect this. 

Budget permitting, a dedicated mobile app is best, but it’s quite possible to optimize an existing website in a mobile-friendly fashion. The columnated design of major social networks like Facebook were conceived, in large part, with this in mind. Be sure to use a visually striking header image, and make the bio section an attention-grabbing tagline capable of communicating your core brand message. In addition, use highly shareable, rich media content like videos and images.


Cache has Cache

Print media is no longer the king of the crop in terms of credibility. Social networks and online sources are by far the most common ways people consume news. For B2B marketers, becoming a credible source of industry news is a really good way to extend your reach. Become a ‘thought leader’ on your industry, using primary sources from within and without your own company. It could be interviews with experts or direct coverage of industry events - anything original that will appeal to readers and make them more likely to share your content across their own networks.


Intuition Breeds Loyalty

The easier your promotional efforts are to engage with, the better the user experience will be. Interactive ads ask for feedback and involvement from users, which in turn solidifies brand recognition: the longer a person spends with your marketing, the more familiar with and loyal to your brand they’ll become. Similarly, native ads (those that appear as regular, non-marketing content) generally offer greater value. The more immersive the experience, the less likely users are to switch off. Approach your content in as creative a way as possible. Avoid sales-speak. Talk to your audience as people, not cash-cows waiting to be milked.

Think a little differently, without a transparently profit-driven approach, and the long-term benefits will be far greater than an old-school aggressive sales pitch. In an age of endless, free content at the click of a button, an effective mobile marketing campaign is one that puts the user first.