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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 20, 2015

Swrve Raises $30m



Last week, mobile marketing software company Swrve raised $30 million in funding to further the company’s goal of global expansion and product development. To date, the company has raised more than $50 million, with this latest round led by Evolution Media Partners and Irish investment firm TPG Growth and Participant Media. 

The funding money was a huge victory for Swrve and its CEO Christopher Dean, who recently helped acquire adaptive.io, a data automation platform for mobile. 

With help from the latest round, Swrve and adaptive.io are positioned to roll out the latest produce line called Swrve Amplify, which allows clients to manage multichannel campaigns with real-time targeting data. 

“We’re excited about the simplicity of Swrve Amplify in allowing us to make real-time decisions based on all of our data sets,” said Dean. 

What he’s referring to is a combination of predictive analytics, which contain an evolving behavioral algorithm that predicts user behavior, segmentation, AB testing, and in-app messaging. The sum of these parts has resulted in the California-based company’s major success; today Swrve is considered the word’s leading mobile marking automation platform. 

In 2015, Swrve made considerable headway in terms of building out its client portfolio. Earlier this year, Swrve added The Guardian, Condé Nast, Glamsquad, Warner Brothers, and Microsoft to a growing client list.


Important Mobile Developments

“Mobile has reached a point where brands and games can’t ignore it,” said Dean. 

In addition to improving and simplifying omnichannel communications, Swrve is attempting to fully measure the app user’s collective behavior online as a distinct category of activity from the spectrum of devices and channels we choose (or don’t choose) to interact with every day. 

The end game is a more sophisticated advertising and marketing strategy for business, and what will hopefully result in more meaningful and relevant content for users. 

With the addition of $30 million, Dean and Swrve have found a bit of breathing room to let the innovation process begin. 

November 18, 2015

Lifesaving Mobile Tech Gets Support from Verizon



If there’s on thing most smartphone users don’t expect from their phones, it’s the potential to save lives. But thanks to Verizon, startups focused on lifesaving technologies are getting the opportunity to share their initiatives and compete for a chance to win funding. In fact, 12 startups have already been crowned winners at Verizon’s annual Powerful Answers contest, with specific prize money to be announced Dec. 9 in San Francisco. 

In total contestants stand to win a total of $6 million to bring their lifesaving apps and technologies to life. Fourteen hundred people entered this year, and of the twelve finalists, three are women-led ventures. Here’s more info on a few of the finalists that have a shot at winning this year’s grand prize: 


Drone Lifeguard

That’s right, folks—lifesaving AUVs (unnamed aerial vehicle) anywhere, anytime.  The ‘lifeguard as a service’ model introduced by founder and CEO R.J. Tang is a unique concept for one of the world’s leading causes of unintentional death. Tang and his team are using drones to safely, and more quickly, deploy inflatable life preserves to swimmers who may be drowning. 


Disaster Mesh 

Disaster Mesh helps people affected by a disaster reconnect to vital digital communications. Using small devices shaped like maple seeds, the ‘Mesh’ is literally thrown from the sky and intended to cover a large area with network nodes. Survivors then connect to the network, which delivers simple survival options like “I’m trapped,” “I need medical help,” or “I’m okay, continue to network.” 



This ride-sharing app is all about the family—kids especially. Built for parents, by parents, Pogo connects busy family members with community friends who can provide a trusted ride for children. Users can create private groups as well as run background and DMV checks on members. 



Swiftmile is on a mission to reduce the number of cars on the road, particularly those making short commutes to work. With the Swiftmile Swiftstation, users can enjoy secure, emission free, and economical transportation. The Personal Electronic Transporter (PET) sharing system is designed to help cities, corporations, universities, and other highly congested areas decreases emissions as well as reduce the number of cars on the road. 



Speaking of auto accidents, motorcyclists are often the most at risk when forced to share the road with traditional automobiles. Ganindu Nanayakkara is a software engineer dedicated to ending avoidable motorcycle accidents. The iHelmet was designed to bring safety features for motorcycles into the 21st century at an affordable price. Nanayakkara’s model includes features like blind-spot assist, high-speed alerts, and automated SOS in case of an accident. 

Some of the finalist may save lives through abstract means, while others have the potential to impart significant lifesaving technologies almost immediately. Either way, the startups in Verizon’s contest offer an inspiring use of technology and innovation. 


November 12, 2015

New ATM Concept Brings Mobile to the Fore



Will that be cash or credit? These days most of us use plastic to pay for just about everything—from groceries and clothing to digital music and parking meters. But this hasn’t stopped Diebold Inc. from introducing a new line of ATMs aimed at providing future consumers with a unique mobile banking experience. 

In late October, Diebold unveiled two new ATM concepts at the Money 20/20 tradeshow in Las Vegas. The Irving and Janus models are the latest series to exclude common components of traditional ATM design and functionality. Most notably, both designs feature cardless transaction capabilities and mobile integration, which according to Diebold, will create a smoother and more convenient experience. 


New Features

Unlike traditional ATMs, the Irving is a sleek, screen-less, and pad-less terminal. Near Field Communication (NFC) activates the ATM when a user approaches the device.  NFC syncs with a user’s smartphone, thus eliminating the need for various material interfaces. To access funds, users verify their identities using contact-less technologies like QR codes or iris-scan and then withdraw cash. The Irving is also 32 percent smaller than traditional ATMs.

While the Irving delivers on speed and convenience, the Janus offers customer service in an entirely new format. The Janus is a dual-sided terminal, sharing basic components like alarm boards and connectivity, but can individually service two users at once from each side without compromising security or privacy. 

The Janus also incorporates mobile access features like NFC and QR code technology but also offers a tablet touch screen, which allows users to scan checks and sign documents. Additionally, if a user needs assistance, the Janus offers a 24-hour video teller for more complex problems. 


But Are They Safe? 

Mobilizing the ATM experience is a likely evolution. As consumers become increasingly familiar with mobile integration and applications, especially with the proliferation of banking apps, the need for brick-and-mortar bank locations decreases. But are these new cardless ATMs safe for consumers? 

Diebold’s ATM concepts reassure users with safety features covering several types of threats. First, the new machines remove nearly every skimming threat, because users would not have to slide a card or type a PIN. Second, the QR codes and other scanning technologies don’t contain any sensitive data about the user; they simply notify the smartphone of the connection. Connections are also set to expire after a short length of time, so even if the phone were lost or stolen, accessing the account would be impossible without proper user identification. And finally, the increased speed of the transaction greatly shortens the amount of time a person spends at the terminal.

Like all mobilized tasks, the use of mobile integrated ATMs will probably take some getting used to. In the future, it probably won’t be the end of the world if you forget your wallet at home, provided that you have your cell phone.



Jeremy Pollack has a B.A. in English from USC and has been writing professionally since 2001. He is the founder and editorial manager of Compelling Content Solutions, A copy writing and content marketing services company.


November 05, 2015

India's Smartphone Market is Booming


With a billion-strong population and a growing economy, India is an increasingly significant market for mobile developers. Homegrown companies are vying with bigger players from China and South Korea to bring mobile devices to a market primarily concerned with budget technologies (although that too is changing, with one in three mobile devices a smartphone). 

In the face of local and regional competition, one company comes out consistently on top. Samsung remains the industry leader as we enter the final quarter of 2015. During Q3, the electronics behemoth cornered 23.2% of the market; its nearest competitor was local brand Micromax, which rose one percent to 17.7%. 

Such impressive growth in India only emphasizes the current stagnation in saturated markets like China and the United States. During Q2, smartphone sales showed a 44% year on year growth, and some analysts predict that, by 2017, India will overtake the United States as the world’s second biggest smartphone market. 

The reason Samsung has stayed in pole position is their flexibility and willingness to create a wide range of devices, each catering to then specific demands of regional markets. Mostly known in the west for the Galaxy S6 and Note 5, Samsung’s biggest sellers in India are the Galaxy J, a mid-priced device that retails at around $190, and the Galaxy A, which is priced towards the higher end, starting at around $480. 

It’s this wide-ranging approach to innovation, taking into account all budgets and needs, that really separates Samsung from Apple in the global marketplace. Indeed, Apple had a marketshare of just 1% in India (which still accounts for a not-to-sniffed-at 1.7 million devices). 

Not that Samsung can or should rest on their laurels. The aforementioned Micromax, and Indian company, is shifting more than 100,000 mobile phones each month, and prides themselves on even more diversity than Samsung, developing 30 different designs in a single year. This gives them different price points for different parts of the market, not dissimilar to the way automobile brands have multiple models for various price segments.

Apple are unlikely to shift towards this model. It goes against their brand image as the exclusive top dog, dripfeeding updates to their devotees - and ramping up the marketing assault each time. Diversification is not on the cards. Which suits Micromax, Samsung et al just fine.

November 04, 2015

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


October 26, 2015

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.

October 19, 2015

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. 

October 15, 2015

Mobile Marketing for the Over 65s


The huge disparity between the amount of attention marketers pay to the over-65s, and the spending power of that demographic should give brands with an eye for opportunity pause for thought.  

There are two main misconceptions about older audiences. One, that they have already defined their brand loyalties and so aren’t worth chasing; two, that they aren’t tech savvy enough to engage with a social media or mobile marketing campaign.  

In terms of brand loyalty, it may be true that baby boomers retain allegiances to familiar brands. But their sheer spending power allows them to explore new products and services without sacrificing loyalty to brands they’ve used for 20 years. It’s not an either-or situation.

On the second point: this view may have been true a decade ago, but a 65 year old in 2015 was only in their mid-forties when the Internet Age got under way, and although the digital landscape has changed somewhat since then, we’re hardly talking about fuddy-duddies here. This generation were some of the earliest adopters of mobile technology. They understand how it works.

In fact, Pew research reckons close to 40 million over-65s have a Facebook or Twitter profile, making them the fastest growing group of social media users. What’s more, they’re using social media for the same reasons as everyone else - and that includes commerce.

Reluctance to engage this demographic has nothing to do with how lucrative it might be, and everything to do with a lack of understanding of how to communicate with them on the part of young start-ups and their marketing teams. The elephant in the room is ignored because businesses (especially technology-based businesses) don’t speak elephant.


What’s Good for the Goose…

Overcoming this communication problem is simply a matter of adjusting the processes by which users engage, particularly with apps (which, admittedly, only started really booming during this decade). The onboarding process should be kept simple, with as few steps as possible. But guess what? That should be the case regardless of the demographic you’re targeting. Apps are supposed to be intuitive and user friendly. Design your app with a 75-year-old in mind and it will appeal to all generations.

Similarly, your text content should use relatable, universal language. Avoid aggressively youth-oriented slang - it won’t be understood by older people, and will be embarrassingly wide of the mark for high-schoolers. Don’t waffle, and try not to sound like you live in a marketing bubble.  

Mobile marketers and social media bods are wrong if they think they don’t know how to reach baby boomers. If they know how to market a product to 30-year-olds, they’re already speaking the right language. So for your next mobile marketing campaign, keep it simple, visually appealing and non-age specific. Cast aside your stereotype of ‘the grey dollar’ and treat all consumers as equal - you’ll find that the over-65 demographic isn’t as elusive as you thought.

October 05, 2015

Mobeam Promises to Be a Comprehensive Mobile Wallet


Mobile shopping has made great strides in the last year, thanks to technology that allows smartphone users to scan in-app barcodes for food, tickets, merchandise, and more. Shopping is already convenient, but is there an even smarter way to shop? Mobeam thinks so. 

Mobeam, a mobile barcode beaming technology provider for Android, has partnered with Mobiquity Network to deliver a comprehensive mobile wallet solution. Mobiquity Network, a subsidiary of Mobiquity Technologies Inc. is a location-based advertising and app engagement software provider that should prove a useful ally for Mobeam. 

Mobeam will integrate Mobiquity Networks’ ad platform and software into its Beep’nGo app, which will enable the company to deliver highly targeted barcode-scanable offers to smartphone-holding shoppers. These shoppers can redeem target discount and coupon offers at in-store checkouts via scanable barcodes on their phones.

The partnership gives Mobeam the potential to reach 260 million monthly shoppers who already use Mobiquity’s network. Mobeam’s Beep’nGo app will now be able to detect Mobiquity Networks’ beacons, which are currently placed in high-traffic mall areas like food courts, walkways, and corridors.


Creating True Mobile Wallets

George Garrick, Mobeam’s CEO, says integrating Mobiquity Network’s ad and software technology with Mobeam's offerings creates a true mobile wallet for smartphone users. 

“Our goal is to make the shopping experience for consumers as easy as possible using mobile technology which enables true digital wallets, not simply digital credit card alternatives,” said Garrick. 

Mobeam chose to work with Mobiquity Networks because Mobiquity powers the biggest shopping mall-based beacon advertising network in the United States. Mobiquity Networks is known for providing proximity marketing in a way that enhances the user’s experience.

Garrick continues, “By joining Mobiquity Networks’ publisher network, we can improve the shopping experience even more by enabling shoppers to redeem their Mobiquity offers by simply beaming them into the checkout scanner.” He explained, “We complete the ‘last mile’ of capturing valuable targeted retail deals and enabling the shopper to easily transmit those savings into the checkout POS for an instant redemption.”


How Does It Work?

Garrick states that Mobeam “will integrate Mobiquity Networks’ software into its popular Beep’nGo app, enabling it to deliver smarter and more convenient ways to pay and save while shopping.” He adds, “Popular and emerging ‘mobile payment’ apps rely on NFC or other technologies that communicate with credit card payment terminals, but not with scanners.”

Mobeam’s barcode technology enables true mobile wallets, not just NFC-based card substitutes. This means that Beep’nGo users will now be able to carry membership cards, loyalty cards, gift cards, vouchers, coupons, tickets, and more in one app, offering universal POS access at retailers. And, they’ll get targeted discounts delivered to this app, which provides more opportunity for saving money at stores where they shop most.

The integrated technology solution will deliver highly impactful offers to users’ smartphones, at the moment they’re looking for deals.

Mobeam’s patented light-based beaming technology excels at overriding technical barriers and enables POS red laser scanners to read barcodes on Android mobile devices. Mobiquity Networks is a national leader in location-based mobile advertising and application engagement software.