Archive for January, 2014

Will The Smart Wheel Propel Bicycle Commuting Forward?

January 30, 2014 Leave a comment

TechnologistWill The Smart Wheel Propel Bicycle Commuting Forward?

October 16th, 2013 | by Rachel Nuwer 

Traveling by bike has clear advantages. It’s cheaper than driving, produces no greenhouse gas emissions and gives peddlers a convenient workout on the go. There’s also at least one obvious disadvantage: running into a morning meeting with armpit stains and sweat streaks down the back of your shirt after hustling through a bike commute.

“I bike a lot, and I always go to meetings sweaty,” says Niko Klansek, an entrepreneur who first tried to solve his problem by tinkering with electric bikes for several years. But the sole purpose of those contraptions is to provide an effortless ride, and Klansek soon realized he “wanted to do something more with bicycles.” So he founded FlyKly, a Brooklyn-based startup dedicated to “bringing bicycles to the 21st century.”

This week, FlyKly is introducing the Smart Wheel, a product two years in the making. The 12-person team responsible for creating the Smart Wheel calls it the world’s first intelligent wheel for bikes. The nine-pound device fits onto nearly any bike by replacing the rear wheel. They say the installation process takes just a minute or two to complete. It contains a slender electric motor that can be adjusted to carry riders up to 20 mph for 30 miles. “Now, you can dress for the destination, not the ride,” Klansek says.

At the end of the day, commuters looking for a bit more exercise can turn the wheel off and pedal home without the added boost.


The company’s patented motor includes a layer of thin magnets surrounded by batteries and several protective casings that form a disc. The motor fits over the Smart Wheel’s spokes, and owners lock it into place on their bike frame with a special key. It charges itself on downhill descents and when a user pedals, or it can be plugged into the wall to recharge.

A wheel with its own app 

Once installed, owners control the Smart Wheel with a FlyKly app downloaded onto their iOS, Android or Pebble device. A contraption called the Smart Light—which simultaneously acts as smart phone holder, charger and bike light—is situated on the bike’s handle bar and uses powerful Van der Waals forces (also known as gecko adhesion) to hold the phone in place. It also comes with two external straps for extra security. “We are 100 percent certain your phone won’t fall off,” Klansek says.

In addition to setting the wheel’s speed, the app helps riders map their route according to convenience, safety or best scenery and tracks statistics like distance pedaled, average speed and ride duration. The FlyKly team built an open-source platform so developers can design apps for other wearable technologies like the Nike FuelBand. “People can build their own software or hardware on top of it,” Klansek says.

When riders reach their destination, they can lock their Smart Wheel with the app to deter theft. If someone does run off with the bike or the wheel, the built-in GPS will alert owners via Bluetooth that their machine is on the move and allow them to track its whereabouts.


Users can opt to share favorite routes or stats with friends, or even share their data anonymously with city planners. Klansek imagines Smart Wheel users’ compiled data assisting with designing safer and more efficient bicycle lanes in cities, for example.

FlyKly’s first functional prototypes were developed earlier this year, and the company plans to deliver preordered Smart Wheels in April 2014. To reach that goal, FlyKly launched a Kickstarter campaign on Wednesday to help with production costs. Preordered Smart Wheels cost $590.

All images: Courtesy FlyKly.

Rachel Nuwer is a freelance science journalist who writes for venues including the New York Times, ScienceNOW and Audubon Magazine. She lives in Brooklyn, NY. She tweets @RachelNuwer.

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How My Art Brought The Cambodian Worker Struggle to Times Square

January 30, 2014 Leave a comment

GOOD,isJanuary 27, 2014 at 1:20 PM

On Friday Jan 17, in the shadow of giant retailer H&M’s Times Square store, I wore a bloodstained shirt and surgical mask and began working behind a manual sewing machine for eight hours. It may have been easy to miss among the bright New York City lights and the blaring cab horns, but those who stopped to watch throughout the day saw that it was not cloth running through the machine, but US dollar bills.

In this performance “Less Than Three,” I chose to sew for the entire cold January day. As a Khmer-American artist, I did so in solidarity with striking garment workers in Cambodia who were forced back to their stations in fear of their lives by a brutal military police crackdown earlier this month.

By working in front of the dazzling high-tech store front, I wanted to remind consumers that weplay a role in this violence. We too have blood on our hands. With numb fingers, I fed the bills back and forth through the machine, elaborately stitching together two and two-thirds dollars—the daily salary of the average garment worker in Cambodia. Fast fashion seduces consumer culture and disguises the fact that behind every stitch, is a hand, a face, a person.

The textile industry is by far Cambodia’s biggest export earner, bringing in over $5 billion in 2013 from corporations such as H&M, Gap and Walmart. This figure shows a 22 percent increase from 2012. The market is incredibly profitable and steadily on the rise, but most of the industry’s over 500,000 factory workers continue to live in poverty. When the workers began organizing against the imbalance last December, they were violently silenced.

Labor unrest intensified following the highly-disputed 2013 re-election of Prime Minister Hun Sen, whose opponent Sam Rainsy ran on a platform of widespread reform including a promise to double garment workers’ salary to $160 a month—considered a reasonable living wage by supporters.

Over 400 factories were forced to halt operations earlier this month when hundreds of thousands of workers joined a strike to demand the promised wage increase as well as better working conditions and protection of workers’ rights. On January 3, military police opened fire on demonstrators in the Cambodian capital Phnom Penh, killing at least four people and injuring dozens.

Locals report the continued presence of armed soldiers patrolling the streets and breaking up gatherings, and many workers are choosing to forfeit their last paychecks and flee the cities where they work.

Global corporations are gaining huge profits by providing consumers with cheap clothing, at the expense of workers’ lives. Simultaneously, the Cambodian government does not hesitate to kill protesters, enforcing silence on the issue in order to maintain the status quo.

It is time for us to examine our priorities as American consumers. We know our clothes are made in sweatshops on the other side of the world. So is there anything we can do about it? Despite international protests, demonstrations, petitions, and boycotts, the industrial machine grinds on. The scale of the problem can seem overwhelming.

There are no easy solutions, but the first step is to engage with the grim reality: our constant demand for new cheap clothes has an unaffordable human cost.

In the age of two-click transactions and armchair charity, I choose to take direct action and engage in creative forms of dissent. I want to call for everyone, and especially other Khmer-Americans, to join in making our voices heard. Here, in America, we have the privilege to express our critical opinions without fear of persecution. I want to collaborate on street theater and art, DIY writing and publishing, and to open space for unpacking the Khmer-American experience.

A step in this direction is the upcoming Up Srei project, people-powered media focused on Khmer women, workers, and activists through a feminist and anti-capitalist lens. Will you join me in this important cause?

We’re growing the community of people sharing creative solutions for living well and doing good, and want you to be a part of it. If you have an insight, experience, idea, or project you want to share with the GOOD Community and need more space to tell your story than posting a link allows, email us at

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The Case for Marketing Apps

January 30, 2014 Leave a comment

The Case for Marketing Apps


More content. More messages. More clutter. Content overload is everywhere. And it’s diluting content marketing to the point that many of us are questioning its worth.

Marketing apps cut through the clutter with useful digital experiences. Reduce bounce rates, improve engagement and increase conversions.

The Case for Marketing Apps answers these important questions:

  • What are marketing apps?
  • How can they impact results?
  • And what are industry leaders saying?
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Examining the Timing of J.C. Penney’s Poison Pill Change

January 30, 2014 Leave a comment

DealBook - A Financial News Service of The New York Times

 By STEVEN M. DAVIDOFF     1/30/2014
Customers at a J.C. Penney store in New York.
J.C. Penney’s announcement on Tuesday that it had set a new, lower threshold for its poison pill raises the question: Why now?

The struggling retailer reduced the limit to 4.9 percent, from 10 percent, preventing any single shareholder from holding more than a 4.9 percent stake without board approval.

J.C. Penney is subject to the occasional takeover rumor, but more important, it has lately been a hedge fund hotel. William A. Ackman’s Pershing Square Capital Management came and noisily left. So did David Tepper’s Appaloosa Management, though less noisily. But others like George Soros’s fund and Richard Perry’s Perry Corporation have arrived and stayed. Still, Perry has reduced its stake, and hedge funds’ interest in the company has waned. The immediate conclusion of many in the media was that J.C. Penney’s move was intended to prevent any more activist investors from accumulating a large position.

But this may not be the case, and the reason lies in the tax reasons behind its action.

J.C. Penney can justify the low trigger because of tax rules that are even more complex than normal. When a company accumulates losses, called net operating losses or NOLs, these have value. If the company returns to profitability, it can use them for up to 20 years to offset future gains and avoid paying tax. In some cases, the NOLs can actually be transferred to other parties.

The tax code also sets forth a limit on the NOLs being transferred, a so-called ownership change.

Unfortunately, the way the tax code defines a change of control is quite broad. An ownership change occurs when the percentage of a company’s stock owned by shareholders with a stake of 5 percent or more increases by more than 50 percent over a three-year period. If, for example, a shareholder with a 5 percent stake acquired enough stock to go over the 7.5 percent level, this would constitute an ownership change. The company would be at risk of losing its NOLs unless an exception could be found.

The rules, of course, have lots of intricate exemptions that keep tax lawyers busy, but the 5 percent threshold is the sticking point.

The risk is that a shareholder goes over the 5 percent level and then again increases its shareholdings enough to kill the NOLs. The risk is real, and companies have used this risk to justify adopting poison pills that deter shareholders from acquiring as much as a 5 percent stake. According to FactSet SharkRepellent, 162 public companies have such poison pills, which are sometimes known as NOL poison pills, including Citigroup and Krispy Kreme.

But pills with these limits are controversial. They are a blunt hammer. A poison pill meant to preserve a company’s tax advantages could have exceptions and allowances for share increases less than 50 percent as well as initial positions above the 5 percent level. None do, though.

That is probably because a poison pill that limits a shareholder’s stake to less than 5 percent has a convenient side effect of deterring activist activity. A hedge fund may now be unwilling to undertake an activist campaign because it cannot buy enough stock to justify this activism.

And even though questions have been raised about the tactic, it has been blessed by the Delaware courts.

J.C. Penney stated on Tuesday that had $2 billion in NOLs. So it has some justification in adopting the new limit for its poison pill. The retailer is even taking steps to deal with any shareholder objections. It is putting the issue to a shareholder vote. If shareholders approve the pill, it will be in place until 2017, a relatively long period but not unusual.

In addition, J.C. Penney is going to ask shareholders to put similar provisions in its charter, making it more permanent. This seems a bit like overkill, though we haven’t seen the text.

If J.C. Penney’s shareholders approve the pill, it will make it make it difficult for anyone new to acquire a significant stake. Right now, according to Capital IQ, J.C. Penney has only two 5 percent shareholders — Soros Fund Management, with 6.6 percent, and the Vanguard Group, with 6.2 percent. They would be prevented from acquiring more shares. Other shareholders would be limited to a 4.9 percent stake.

But J.C. Penney could have adopted this poison pill at any time. Why is it doing so now, especially when it appears that the threat from hedge funds is receding?

I asked J.C. Penney for comment. Daphne Avila, an employee and representative of J.C. Penney responded that the “tax benefits represent a significant corporate asset that the company believes may deliver substantial benefits to stockholders.” She said that the J.C. Penney board had considered a number of factors, including “the potential for diminution upon an ownership change, and the risk of an ownership change occurring.”

It’s hard to even read tea leaves from this statement. But perhaps now that things have settled down — Mr. Ackman has left and J.C. Penney’s former chief executive has rejoined the company — the board felt that it was safe to just deal with this issue. Or maybe the board felt that it wanted to protect management for a while to make sure it had time to turn around the company’s fortunes.

Both seem to ring true, but it’s hard to know. And of course, there is the question of why it even bothered to lower the threshold for the poison pill at this time, since the company never acted while Mr. Ackman and others were acquiring shares.

We are left with a mystery, while shareholders may also be wondering what the true effect will be. The hedge funds, though, seem to have already come and gone.

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Here’s the first carbon fiber 3D printer

January 30, 2014 Leave a comment

Just days after Stratasys unveiled a 3D printer that can print multiple materials in various colors, a new product once again pushes the boundaries of what’s possible for commercial 3D printers.

The “Mark One” printer, from Boston-based startup MarkForged, is the first 3D printer to use carbon fiber. It can also print with fiberglass, nylon, and plastic filament used in most desktop 3D printers.

At a cost of $5,000, the price is reasonable considering that the price point for some 3D printers that only print with plastic aren’t far off, though prices for plastic-only printers are dropping. The company is taking pre-orders next month and plans to ship later this year.

The main benefit of carbon fiber is that you can print stronger items. The company says that the carbon fiber used in the printer is 20-times stiffer than the ABS plastic used in other 3D printers, and five-times stronger.

3D printers have already been used to print items like prosthetic limbs. But this could mean strong, lighter, and more practical limbs could be printed. Considering the price of prosthetics, the idea of one day purchasing a $5,000 3D printer to print off prosthetic that generally need to be replaced every few yearssounds like a smart investment.

Of course, prosthetics aren’t the only items you could print with a carbon fiber printer. Gregory Mark, the founder of MarkForged, developed the carbon fiber printer because he was looking for a way to take advantage of 3D printing to make parts for race cars. As Mark told Popular Mechanics:

“It’s a material that everybody knows, but probably most people haven’t used. So we made the price low and you can start using it. We wanted to make it really easy for people to start printing with it, so they can explore prosthetics, custom bones, tools, and fixtures.”

This is could be a giant step for 3D printers that could help move them forward from prototype makers to useful tools for making practical items.

Check out the Mark One in action:


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How to Deliver Immersive Content Experiences Using Webinars

January 30, 2014 Leave a comment

How to Deliver Immersive Content Experiences Using Webinars

How to Deliver Immersive Content Experiences Using Webinars

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

1:00 PM EST/10:00 AM PST

Content Marketing is a hot technique to attract and retain customers by creating and curating valuable content. How do you do it well during a webinar? During this session, Dr. Carmen Simon shares the latest neuroscience findings on how to deliver an immersive content experience online.

Specifically, you will learn about:

  • Interactivity. Unlike other forms of marketing, webinar participation renders itself to constant interactivity from customers through chat, polls, or downloads. You can use such interactive tools well when you decide to teach your own participants how to do something instead of promoting more of your capabilities.
  • Design. This is critical because good design (a combination of art, imagination, and science) is engaging, and creates an emotional bond with an audience. High quality images, copy, and composition lead to full immersion in your content.
  • Person vs. persona. Successful content marketing is personalized, not generalized. Learn how to do this even when you’re not seeing your audience.
  • Metrics. Once you’ve included the mandatory variables for optimal content, wouldn’t it be great if you could replicate that experience consistently, across many webinars? Let’s learn what metrics to use to maximize your content marketing efforts and precision.


Joe Pulizzi, Founder, Content Marketing Institute, @JoePulizzi

Dr. Carmen Simon, Co-Founder, Rexi Media, @areyoumemorable

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Made in China: Chinese air pollution now causes smog in Los Angeles

January 30, 2014 Leave a comment
24 Jan. — written by Stephen Kennett , 2degrees
2 degrees
Chinese air pollution blowing across the Pacific Ocean is caused by the manufacturing of goods that are exported to the US and Europe, according to new research.

A study by UC Irvine is the first to quantify how much of the pollution reaching the West coast of the US is from the production in China of consumer goods.
A study by UC Irvine is the first to quantify how much of the pollution reaching the West coast of the US is from the production in China of consumer goods.

A study by UC Irvine is the first to quantify how much of the pollution reaching the West coast of the US is from the production in China of consumer goods that end up being imported there.

Los Angeles experiences at least one extra day a year of smog that exceeds federal ozone limits because of nitrogen oxides and carbon monoxide emitted by Chinese factories making goods for export, according to the analysis found. On other days, as much as a quarter of the sulfate pollution on the US West Coast is tied to Chinese exports.

“We’ve outsourced our manufacturing and much of our pollution, but some of it is blowing back across the Pacific to haunt us,” said UC Irvine Earth system scientist Steve Davis. “Given the complaints about how Chinese pollution is corrupting other countries’ air, this paper shows that there may be plenty of blame to go around.”

However, China is not responsible for the majority of pollution in the US. But powerful global winds, known as ‘westerlies’, are pushing airborne chemicals across the ocean, causing dangerous spikes in contaminants, with dust, ozone and carbon accumulating in valleys and basins in California and other Western states.

“When you buy a product at Wal-Mart, it has to be manufactured somewhere,” added Davis. “The product doesn’t contain the pollution, but creating it caused the pollution.”

He and his fellow researchers conclude: “International cooperation to reduce transboundary transport of air pollution must confront the question of who is responsible for emissions in one country during production of goods to support consumption in another.”

Also of interest
China’s carbon emissions: A global dilemma
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Lenovo to buy Motorola business for $2 billion

January 29, 2014 Leave a comment
Updated: 2014-01-30 02:02

By Gao Yuan (

Lenovo Group Ltd is likely to buy Google Inc’s Motorola Mobility business, giving the Chinese company a bigger say in the global tablet and smartphone market.

The acquisition, worth at least $2 billion, will include more than 10,000 mobile communications patents currently held by the United States company, according to a person familiar with the matter.

The deal is expected to be announced on Thursday morning in Beijing.

Lenovo refused to comment, only saying the announcement is about a “major acquisition.”

The world’s largest personal computer maker is speeding its pace challenging Apple Inc and Samsung Electronics Co in the global consumer electronics sector.

Yang Yuanqing, chairman and CEO of Lenovo, said the company’s tablets and smartphoneswill be entering the US and western European markets by 2015. The region is dominated by Apple and Samsung.

Motorola Mobility was a money-loss subsidiary for Google. The segment reported a $248 million operating loss during the third quarter of 2013, according to Google’s financial report.

Google acquired Motorola Mobility in 2011, spending about $12.5 billion.

Lenovo said a week ago it will buy IBM Corp’s x86 server unit for $2.3 billion, if the US government approves the acquisition, it will be the largest deal involving a Chinese tech company.

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Meet The BFC/ VOGUE Designer Fashion Fund 2014 Winner

January 29, 2014 Leave a comment

Meet The Fashion Fund 2014 Winner


28 JANUARY 2014
Picture credit: InDigital

PETER PILOTTO is the winner of the 2014 BFC/Vogue Designer Fashion Fund. The designers behind the label – Peter Pilotto and Christopher de Vos – were awarded the honour despite tough competition from fellow London design stars Emilia Wickstead, House of Holland, Mary Katrantzou, Osman, Peter Pilotto and Zoe Jordan.


“Christopher and Peter are deserved winners of this year’s Fund award,” said Alexandra Shulman, editor of British Vogue and chair of the BFC/VogueDesigner Fashion Fund. “They have remained true to their vision of a print and colour-focused brand, but have managed to expand and grow the businessto a level where they can now compete on an international stage. It’s a pleasure to be able to support them.”

Meet The Fashion Fund 2014 Winner
  • November 2011
  • November 2012
  • November 2010
  • January 2014
  • November 2012

After meeting while studying at Antwerp’s prestigious Royal Academy of Fine Arts in 2000, Pilotto (who is half-Austrian, half-Italian) and De Vos (who is half-Belgian, half-Peruvian) established their label. Building a unique handwriting by combining their signature digital prints and feminine sculptural silhouettes, Pilotto became a red-carpet favourite for stars of all ages – from Rihanna to Cate Blanchett – and this year joined the ranks of bankable designer names to have created a collection for American retailer Target.

“Peter Pilotto and Christopher de Vos are an incredibly dynamic design team, who since launching their label in 2007, have won the hearts and minds of the industry and the public with their vibrant colours and unforgettable prints,” Caroline Rush, chief executive of the British Fashion Council, said today. “They demonstrated they are a thriving fashion label with a great vision to take the next step in building a global designer fashion brand.”

Since its inception, the BFC/Vogue Designer Fashion Fund has supported young British-based designers – including Nicholas Kirkwood (2013), Jonathan Saunders (2012), Christopher Kane (2011) and Erdem (2010).

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Galaxy Gear: Experts’ views on Samsung’s smartwatch

January 29, 2014 Leave a comment


By Leo KelionTechnology reporter

The Galaxy Gear can be used to make calls if linked to a phone

Samsung’s Galaxy Gear smartwatch has been the big launch at Berlin’s consumer tech show Ifa, but has the firm got its timing right?

The device features a 1.6in (4cm) screen which owners can use to make “hands-free” calls; use apps, including a number of fitness trackers; check email and text alerts; and track their activity.

A camera in the wristband also allows them to snap pictures, but not engage in video chats.

However, Samsung’s eagerness to beat rivals Apple, Microsoft and Google to the punch means that the device is not the sleek flexible-screened gadget that many had expected.

There’s also the question of battery life. Samsung says the device should last roughly a day with “regular use” when new, but those wanting a more intense experience will have to recharge it more often.

Galaxy Gear and Galaxy Note 3The watch needs to be linked to one of Samsung’s newer smartphones for all its functions to become available

Part of the reason is that it uses a colour LED screen. To save power the display turns off when not in use. People are used to that with a smartphone, but not their watch.

In contrast, chipmaker Qualcomm is showing off another watch, the Toq, which features its new Mirasol screen tech, similar to e-ink but in colour. Its display may be less bright than Samsung’s, but it is always on.

The Toq’s battery – which is built into the wristband – is said to last between three and five days.

Samsung has also raised eyebrows by limiting many of the watch’s functions to working only when it is linked to some of its newer Android handsets. That saves users needing to take out a separate mobile subscription, but limits its use as a standalone device

The BBC asked four experts what they made of the news.

“Start Quote

Tony Cripps

Barriers of interoperability may make sense for manufacturers but may not do so for consumers”

Tony Cripps, Ovum

The launch of the Samsung Galaxy Gear smartwatch is merely the tip of a bigger gadget iceberg that will generate headlines, if not necessarily huge additional profits, for smartphone and tablet makers.

The intention of next-generation accessories such as these – Sony’s QX detachable camera modules are also good examples – is to add value to two categories where meaningful innovation and market differentiation is becoming harder to come by: namely smartphones and tablets.

While significant improvement in these smart devices is ongoing in areas such as screen, network, camera and processor technology, the fundamental user experience of these devices has changed little since the first iPhone.

The current fixation of manufacturers in areas such as variations in screen size and colour – and even the resurgence of cameras with ever higher megapixels – is at least somewhat symptomatic of this.

Next-gen accessories are a way to try to claw back some real differentiation.

But while they undoubtedly have their utility – and an undeniable “fun factor” – their primary purpose is to help sell more smartphones and tablets. They are, after all, accessories, and almost entirely dependent on their host device for real utility.

As such we expect a growing number of them to be offered as sweeteners in new retail bundles.

We shouldn’t expect gadgets such as smartwatches to compete with the volumes sold of their host devices but that doesn’t stop them being a worthwhile business for their brands.

However, there may also be a backlash from consumers who have become used to accessories, apps and services largely interoperating across different devices.

Many of the new accessories are designed with only their maker’s smartphones and tablets in mind.

Their relatively high price tags demand more flexibility. Erecting new barriers of interoperability may make sense for manufacturers but may not do so for consumers.

“Start Quote

Deyan Sudjic

Samsung’s problems aren’t just technical”

Deyan Sudjic, Design Museum

The Galaxy Gear is not going to be a defining product for Samsung in the way that the Walkman or the iPhone were for its competitors. But the build-up to unveiling what is not quite a wrist computer has been brilliantly, cynically effective.

It is an essential part of Samsung’s relentless life-or-death drive to set itself up as the kind of company that one day soon will have the kind of cool that Apple still has for the moment.

Critics have focused on the fact that this is not a self-contained device, but is really an extension to a smartphone.

There are questions about the battery life, and the suggestion that you will need to carry around a separate dock to charge it.

Samsung’s problems aren’t just technical. Their designers have tangled with something that goes beyond technology. We wear wristwatches for all kinds of complex emotional reasons, of which telling the time is no more than an alibi.

Deyan Sudjic

In those terms, the Galaxy Gear is a clear failure

It is schizophrenic about the message that it is trying to communicate.

.You never actually own a watch, you just look after it for the next generation, as one irritating but brutally effective advertising campaign puts it.

The rubbery strap in a choice of fruity colours that meshes seamlessly into a screen owes a big debt to the kind of thing that Philippe Starck was doing in the 1990s, and murmurs “lifestyle”.

The metallic frame for the screen, with the four visible screws set into it, is clearly intended to signal watchmaking precision, a reference to a Cartier Tank watch detail.

Put the two together and you have an object which is more like an attempt to make a friendly-looking heart monitor than something that is going to put Rolex out of business, at a price that comes close to the smartphone that you will also need to buy to make it work.

Now if only they could have done something like a smart Swatch, that really would have been a category definer.

“Start Quote

The lack of a GPS chip… is a bit of a head-scratcher”

Sophie Charara, Stuff magazine

The wrist is quickly becoming a crowded battleground and I fully expected Samsung to launch a smartwatch promising to save us from our increasingly wobbly selves with a whole host of fitness features at Ifa.

Instead, the Galaxy Gear arrived with a compact, relatively easy-on-the-eye form factor but not too much fanfare over fighting the flab.

In a brief hands-on, the pedometer and S Health apps showed promising hints of training programmes.

But the lack of a GPS (global positioning system) chip to provide location data is a bit of a head-scratcher for anyone wanting to accurately track running distances and stats.

Sophie Charara

  • Reviewer for gadget magazine Stuff
  • Says she previously glued an Android phone to a GPS watch “but it didn’t take”

The question of whether the Galaxy Gear becomes the go-to health accessory depends on whether it can nail no-hassle synching of exercise and food information to both Galaxy phones and full-blown desktop interfaces via Samsung’s own software or third-party apps like RunKeeper.

Second-screen functionality means it could become more of an everyday essential than Jawbone’s Up or Nike’s Fuelband activity trackers too.

That could prove tempting enough for legions of early-adopting fitness junkies.

“Start Quote

Can we make [recharging] part of our daily habits?”

Dr Ulf Blanke, ETH Zurich university

Looking back, it was hard to believe that a smartphone requiring daily battery charging would ever be successful.

Yet Apple has verified that we, as users, trade this effort with a device that connects us continuously to the web, navigates us through the city, and offers us a multitude of apps to work or to play with.

But using it all the time, when can we actually charge it? The simple answer: at night, when we sleep.

What makes this answer ingenious is that we do this almost automatically. In fact, connecting the smartphone to the docking station became as natural as brushing teeth before going to sleep.

But does this principle hold true for smartwatches?

Dr Ulf Blanke

Samsung says the Galaxy Gear should last “about a day” when new but its battery is not removable, meaning owners will need to be get used to taking the watch off to recharge it at least once every 24 hours.

But many users tend to wear ordinary watches continuously throughout the day and even at night.

Nevertheless, our daily routines leave space, where we put our wearable accessories aside – for example, while showering.

Equipped with small batteries, a smartwatch may be charged within the duration of having a shower and could be indeed seamlessly integrated into daily life.

I believe the question is not “Do we accept the battery life in absolute duration?” but “Can we make it part of our daily habits?”, so that we do not notice battery charging as an extra effort, but as a natural routine action.

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Turning Customer Clicks and Hovers into Profitable Landing

January 29, 2014 Leave a comment
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Costco Kills Self-Checkout In The Name Of Efficiency—But That’s Not All

January 29, 2014 Leave a comment

June 10, 2013 | By 

Costco (NASDAQ:COST) is in the process of removing its self-checkouts, the warehouse-store giant’s CEO has told Bloomberg Businessweek. The official reason: Employees do the work more efficiently. Self-checkouts are “great for low-volume warehouses, but we don’t want to be in the low-volume warehouse business,” said Costco CEO Craig Jelinek.

All that may be true, and Costco isn’t the only chain that has removed self-checkout from U.S. stores in the name of efficiency—Ikea did exactly that last year, although it still uses self-checkout in many European stores.

But employee efficiency isn’t the only reason Costco isn’t so fond of do-it-yourself checking. The chain first began trialing self-checkout in 2010 in a handful of stores, and at least one Idaho store showed $60,000 in merchandise loss over a six-month period—attributed entirely to the self-checkout system.

The problem then: Costco’s system used an item’s weight to confirm that the barcode had been correctly scanned. If there was a mismatch between what the weight-sensitive conveyor belt measured and what the item was supposed to weigh, the system rejected the item and didn’t charge the customer, who was supposed to contact an associate for assistance.

But if the customer didn’t notice the rejection (or “didn’t notice” it), the customer would walk away with the item. If the associate at the door didn’t notice the failure to charge, it went down as a loss. And that, it seems, was happening regularly.

In fairness, once that Idaho Costco store pulled the self-checkout lanes in 2012 to stem the losses, management noticed another change. “Our members (processed) per hour went up, from 50 per hour to 60 per hour,” a Costco source said at the time. It appears that now Costco is applying that lesson to the whole chain.

Read more: Costco Kills Self-Checkout In The Name Of Efficiency—But That’s Not All – FierceRetail
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PayPal Waives Payment Processing Fees for Startups

January 29, 2014 Leave a comment


October 30, 2013 | By 

Looking to generate awareness about its payment processing services, PayPal (NASDAQ: EBAY) is waiving the processing fees for some global startup businesses.

PayPal Vice President of Growth Stan Chudnovsky said the global payment company would waive up to $50,000 in processing fees in the first 18 months in its PayPal Startup Blueprint program.

“Every dollar matters when people are starting and running a new company. Every dime, every penny. Many of us here at PayPal have been there before: PayPal itself was a very small startup company just 15 years ago,” Chudnovsky wrote on the company’s PayPal Forward blog.

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There are a few caveats, of course. To be eligible, startups must focus on making mobile or web software or services, make less than $3 million in annual revenue, or be less than five years old. PayPal did not say how many startups would be approved as part of the program.

Then, companies must be nominated by PayPal or one of the accelerators or incubators enrolled in the Startup Blueprint program. Initially, Blueprint includes “top” incubators such as 500Startups, Seedcamp and Elevator, but eventually any startup will be able to apply.

Chudnovsky said PayPal is providing Blueprint so startups can grow faster internationally. “We can connect startups with 137 million active account holders and 15,000 financial institutions in 193 markets around the world,” he bragged.

Perhaps this is another move on PayPal’s behalf to take over the global payments processing market. eBay already acquired PayPal’s chief rival, Braintree, for $800 million in late September. We wonder whether competitors such as Google Checkout and Amazon – touting its new “Login and Pay” program – will respond with an in-kind “free” program for startups.

What do you think? Is this just a smart public relations move by PayPal, or a program that will actually benefit thousands of startups around the world?

Read more: PayPal Waives Payment Processing Fees for Startups – FierceRetailIT 
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January 29, 2014 Leave a comment
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Propelled By Women, Pinterest Beats Out Email In Social Sharing For First Time

January 29, 2014 Leave a comment

Jan 16, 2014 at 4:22pm ET by 

pinterest-logoPinterest has snagged the bronze from email. New data from social sharing service ShareThis shows that for the first time, Pinterest outpaced email to become the third most popular sharing channel in the fourth quarter of 2013.

While sharing via email declined 11 percent year-over-year, Pinterest shares increased 58 percent, making it the fastest growing sharing channel in 2013. Most of that growth was driven by women, who account for 56.76 percent of social shares across all channels and 57.63 percent of shares to Pinterest.

“The fact that Pinterest, which is still relatively young compared to the other social channels, has surpassed email, which has been a sharing tool for decades, is just one example of how quickly consumer preferences and habits are constantly changing,” says ShareThis.

Midwesterners shared via Pinterest more than consumers in other regions of the US. Overall, Northeasterners share more than every other region, yet they are the least likely to share via Pinterest, preferring Twitter and LinkedIn.

On the whole, 2013 set new social sharing records. Consumers shared 37 percent more often in 2013 than in 2012. Clicks on those shares also rose 12.6 percent year-over-year.

ShareThis published the results in its quarterly Consumer Sharing Trends report, which analyzes consumer sharing across more than 120 social channels on both desktop and mobile and breaks down geographic and demographic sharing trends as well. See the infographic below for more social sharing stats.

ShareThis Consumer Sharing Trends - More Shares From Pinterest Than Email

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