Thursday, December 29, 2016

Five Funky Little Android Widgets

 The World of Wonderful Widgets

Who would have thought that something with a silly name like ‘widget’ would one day play such a big role in our daily lives? We’ve all heard Apple’s slogan, ‘there is an app for that’ and there is an app for just about everything under the sun, but what about widgets…

There’s a Widget for That

In an age where time is a precious commodity, minutes – and even seconds are becoming more and more valuable. And this is why widgets are so important. The basic difference between apps and widgets is that you have to open an app to access its functionality, whereas a widget functions in the foreground and thus saves you precious seconds. 
Here is a list of some of the best widgets around:

1. The Dashclock Widget

Everybody needs a clock, but this is no average clock. Dashclock is customisable with various extensions including world time, battery stats, weather updates, and even a word of the day. You can also customise the way it looks. 

2. Google Keep

The Google Keep app is great for things like making notes, drawing up to-do lists and saving images, but the widget is essential for seeing everything you kept with the app in one place. It can easily be set up on your home screen and syncs smoothly and quickly over multiple phones and tablets.

3. Plume for Twitter

If you are a Twitter fan Plume lets you set up more than one Twitter account if you need to. If you set it up full-length on the home screen it makes replying and re-tweeting super-quick - and it updates Tweets in real time.

4. Power Toggles

Power Toggles does exactly what it says on the tin, it toggles powerfully between functions like GPS, Mobile Data, WiFi and more, saving users a good few swipes and taps.

5. Zooper

If you are into epic looking home screens and creating your own custom widgets, the Zooper Widget is for you. It is all about preferences and the possibilities are endless. 

There are tons of widgets available for Android phones and tablets – if you can think it up, it's probably out there. 

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Do you Really Need Smart Headphones?

Smart Headphones: Smart Move? 

In the early 1990s the world was taken by storm with the first smartphones making tech history. The idea behind smartphones, and other smart tech, is to connect to other devices or networks with wireless protocols like WiFi and 3G. Smartphones was just the start – now there are phablets, smart watches, and even smart key chains, smart cars and bikes.

In 2013 Jason Hardi started Muzik – a headphone company with the goal of ‘connecting the world’. Sound familiar? Yes, Hardi started creating smart headphones. He has been showing off his fancy hardware for years and even got a nominal investment from social media giant Twitter this year.

Smart, Smarter, Smartest

How can we measure the relative value of all of these devices? Phablets are great for those who are tired of carrying a phone and a tablet around. Although hybrid products are not always winners, there is usually a market for all-in-one devices. Think printer/copier/scanner combinations and hybrid cars. Smart watches are the most accessible wearable tech and are becoming increasingly popular – and functional. The ever-growing list of options for smart watches include mp3 players, GPS receivers, digital cameras, altimeters and barometers - to mention but a few options. In effect, most smart devices have more than one function, and are pretty useful. Most of them…

What’s So Smart About Smart Headphones?

Let’s go back to Jason Hardi and Muzik. After years of development, Muzik’s new-fangled smart headphone product was finally unveiled and is called Muzik One. Launched in partnership with Spotify, the One is a set of headphones that allow you to share whatever you are listening to on social media. While that is rather nifty, whether it is a big enough deal to warrant spending US$300 is not clear.

The One Is Quite Nice

Smart tech song-sharing functionality aside, the One headphones look and feel good. They're constructed with aircraft aluminium and soft leather, fold inwards and have passive noise isolation (although this is nowhere near as fun or functional as the active noise cancellation that Bose has). You can also choose between on-ear or over-ear cushions that are interchangeable with magnetic clips. 

Unfortunately, with all the incredible inventions doing the rounds in popular tech, ‘quite nice’ does not cut it. The One is more or less like all the other premium headphones, and the song-sharing will probably not warrant the hefty price tag. Maybe Jason Hardi should get Twitter to sponsor him to construct premium headphones with the same (useful) functionality that smart watches come out with, or even with built-in VR goggles or GoPro.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

The Future of Retail

Emerging technology is impacting on every industry these days and the retail sector is no different. According to research, retail store formats are being overhauled and various digital technologies are integrated. 

All in the Name of Overcoming Challenges

What is the ultimate aim of technological advances? It is to meet and overcome various challenges from consumers. The emerging tech trends in retail are aimed at doing just that. Consumers these days have to deal with fast-paced lives, and their shopping experiences have to meet the needs created by this. In this increasingly demanding world, customer experience is enhanced with various technological applications. 

High-Tech Shopping

Consumers are given more options with online shopping. The popularity of social media is leveraged to achieve instant feedback and product reviews. Instead of phoning in enquiries or driving from store to store, price comparisons take mere moments. In an increasingly mobile world, access to goods while consumers are on-the-go is becoming effortless. Retailers strive to create a unique, personalised shopping experience with targeted messaging and marketing by using big data. There are drive-through pick-up locations aimed at buyers who prefer time-efficient and targeted shopping trips instead of large stock-up shopping excursions. Remote, interactive product showrooms enable shoppers to try out products at their leisure without the help of programmed sales associates. Before buying, they can now have an immersive experience. It seems like shopping is fast becoming akin to a sci-fi film.

Is It the End of People in Retail?

Despite the phenomenal developments in retail tech, all the digital dooh-dahs in the world still don’t stand up to the human touch. The human race is fundamentally a helpful bunch. We are programmed to be that way. We are also programmed to expect something in return for being helpful and this is where money comes in. Conversely, when we spend money, we expect some level of service and we have come to get used to being served. Luckily, it all works out in the end. Yes, technology is deemed a threat to many retail workers, but it should really be seen as a way in which an outstanding workforce can be even better. Retail workers can rest assured that the machines are not taking over. At least, not yet… 

Monday, November 21, 2016

Crowdfunding is Rocking the Startup World

Whether you are well-connected or not, getting funding for your bright idea could soon become easy. According to Massolution, crowdfunding is about to outstrip venture capital funding. The company’s Crowdfunding Industry Report projects that funding a project through the Internet with sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo could take over by the end of 2016. 

How It Is Affecting Startups

This is excellent news for aspiring startups, but what kind of impact could the crowdfunding platform really have on your company? This is what’s happening:

* Funding has become lightning-fast - While angel funding or securing a business loan usually takes several months, it could take around a month or even a few weeks to achieve your target with crowdfunding. Indiegogo claims that the average length of a campaign is between a month and 39 days.

* Lending has been disrupted - By connecting everyday people with companies trying to launch a service or product, crowdfunding has taken the startup world by storm. Conventional lenders have had to start shifting perspective to keep up with how the evolution of crowdfunding is affecting their business.

* Instant feedback - Entrepreneurs can sink their life savings and more into their business long before they form an understanding of their target market. With crowdfunding, they have the unique opportunity of finding out what the core audience thinks before spending a penny.

* An instant fan base – While an angel investor might be excited about your venture while funding you, it is not doing anything to develop a following. Crowdfunding streamlines the process and connects startups with an enthusiastic fan base that ready to fund them and spread the word. 

* Enhanced marketing – There is a direct link between increased funding and the speed at which it happens based on how well a crowdfunding page is marketed. Crowdfunding and social media go hand in hand, and social media is a critical component in contemporary marketing. 

* Reaching a global audience – Time and resources are limited while raising funds. With conventional funding, it is unlikely that startups would pitch to investors from around the world. Crowdfunding brings the world closer and drastically increases potential investors in terms of diversity and resources.

Will Crowdfunding Surpass Venture Capital in 2016?

By the end of 2015, crowdfunding had already achieved over US$34 billion around the globe. Based on this, and the huge impact it is already having on the market, it is not at all unrealistic for this projection to come to light

Monday, November 7, 2016

How to Stay On Top Of The Latest Technology Trends

Tech Insights from the CIO and CTO Elite 

In the world of technology, everything changes, and fast. With a new trend around every corner, it is becoming quite a task to keep up with what’s hot and happening. To figure out how to achieve something quickly, it is always a good idea to look at what the experts are doing. The Forbes Technology Council is home ground to some of the most eminent tech executives around the globe. Here are some choice insights on offer from successful CTOs, CIOs, and other contemporary tech experts:

News Aggregation Sites

Adam Wray from Basho Technologies uses news aggregation sites for his tech fix. There are several excellent tech news sites available for online perusal. Techmeme conveniently removes the task of searching between sites by aggregating only the top stories of the day. According to Wray, Reddit is also worth having a look at.

Keeping in the Loop with Flipboard and Industry Events 

UM Technologies’ Scott Stiner believes that Flipboard is invaluable to every tech enthusiast. Stiner suggests starting or ending your day by scanning through the tech section, which includes TechCrunch, Recode, and Venture Beat, to name a few. This will help you get a feel for the tech news of the day. He also enjoys attending industry events like the Collision Conference and TechCrunch Disrupt, where you are guaranteed to return inspired and in-tune with all the latest in tech. 

Social Media Is Still It

Although I probably sound like a broken record by now, David McCann from CLEAResult Inc. agrees with me that social media continues to be vital to so many industries and areas, including insight into the tech industry. McCann suggests that small doses of targeted and curated information on trending tech topics in social streams are an ideal way of achieving this. 

Tech Blogs and the Power of Smart Personalisation Algorithms

Goutham Kourra from Glint likes reading tech blogs. He is also impressed with smart algorithms. To make social media even more relevant to tech devotees, algorithms that power feeds are highly personalised. There is a lot to be said about data gathering, but let’s face it - in this regard, it is very useful. 

Tech Life Hacks

By using these simple ‘technology life hacks’ brought to us by the top Forbes Technology Council, anyone can easily keep up with the changing times, and what is probably the fastest moving industry on the planet. 

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

The Science Behind Crowdfunding Success

Six Sure-Fire Ways Not to Fail With a Crowdfunding Campaign

Professor of Economics at Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge, Emanuele Giovannetti, has been doing research into predicting how successful Kickstarter crowdfunding campaigns are likely to be. Of nearly 10,000 Kickstarter projects he investigated, 26% were successful and 74% failed.

board filled with formulasPredicting Success

After studying patterns indicating the success or failure of campaigns, Professor Giovannetti created a model with an 87% chance of forecasting the result of a campaign. The model reflected the six key factors that determine the outcome of a campaign:

Reputation – The success rate of previous campaigns will drastically influence the success of future projects. Financing innovation requires trust, and trust is based on reputation. To start building an excellent reputation, start with smaller campaigns geared for success before tackling the bigger, more risky campaigns.

Timing - The earlier a campaign gets its first funding, the more likely it is to be successful. Make sure you spread the word wide and far so that you get interest sparked before the launch date. 

Social Networks – Use external social capital to create awareness of the campaign. Although it may have a relatively small impact on funding, social media capital can also be leveraged to improve timing. A project promoted on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram will have a better chance of being funded earlier on in the campaign.

Ambition – While every campaign is started with a target in mind, the research indicates that the less ambitious campaigns are usually the most successful. Ambition could be perceived as an antisocial feature, which is generally considered unsuitable for crowdfunding. In other words, the simpler, and the more realistic it looks, the better your campaign’s chances at success are.

Impatience – The longer a campaign lasts, the less likely it is to succeed; shorter projects are highly recommended. 

Reciprocity – The research also indicates that a project is more likely to succeed if the campaigner has backed other projects. Again, a spirit of social unity and community is considered important.

Interesting Results

According to Professor Giovannetti, the method he uses can accurately predict the success rate of close to 90% of the projects listed on Kickstarter. He found it particularly interesting that positive attributes like patience and ambition have a negative influence on the success of a campaign: an intriguing development in the business world, and perhaps a herald of an increasingly communal-centric future. 

Sunday, August 7, 2016

What Happens When a Crowdfunding Site Goes Mainstream?

Exciting things are happening at the crowdfunding platform Indiegogo. In the next few months the company plans to launch its equity crowdfunding service. Although the exact plans are still a mystery, this is huge news in the crowdfunding world and could have a massive upshot for Indiegogo. 

The Evolution of Equity Crowdfunding 

Indiegogo logoUntil very recently equity crowdfunding has not been accessible to the general public. In May this year everything changed when legislation was implemented that allows minor investors to buy a smaller stake in startups. Bear in mind that small means up to US$1 million. Before this rule came to play, only investors who had at least a million in assets or a huge annual income could join in the crowdfunding fun. In part because of this rule, crowdfunding sites like Indiegogo have only allowed companies to raise funds from punters in exchange of incentives like discounts or early supply of products or services. The new law allows companies to sell equity, as long as it is done through a registered portal, a broker or a partnership with a broker. 

Why this is Good News for Small Businesses – and for Indiegogo

This new law is a big deal for entrepreneurs who need just that bit extra to jumpstart their product or service offering to take it to the next level. The impact it is likely to have on Indiegogo is immense. The crowdfunding platform has been rocking and rolling for the past eight years and rolling out impressive numbers:
• Close to 700,000 campaigns have been listed
• More than seven million backers have funded campaigns
• Nearly US$1 billion has been raised
• Around 15 million campaign curious people visit the Indiegogo site every month
• According to Indiegogo, almost half of the campaigns have been for small businesses

Looking at the numbers, Indiegogo clearly has a powerful global presence, and just like its supporters, the popular crowdfunding platform may well be ready launch itself to the next level. By making money-raising campaigns available through investment rather than perk-based financing it becomes easier for Indiegogo entrepreneurs to market opportunities to potential backers - and to the millions of site visitors every month. This could be exactly what some of these visitors are looking for when they drop in. 

Thursday, July 7, 2016

5 Cool Kickstarter Campaigns

C is for Cool – And for Crowdfunding

the Crowdfunding Cycle
Remember all the cliques in school? The nerds, the jocks, the popular kids? There is a crowdfunding campaign for every crowd and any thing. Whether you get excited about NASA sending a probe to Mars or how Lewis Hamilton and his Mercedes AMG do in the next Formula 1, there's a cool crowdfunding campaign for you on Kickstarter. 

The Star Wars Fans

Mars City Design hopes that Mars will be colonized, and are designing sustainable cities. Every September adventurous people from Carnegie Mellon, NASA and MIT get together at USC to collaborate. Even Buzz Aldrin, the second man to walk on the moon, attends this annual event. By pledging US$150 to the crowdfunding campaign, a sci-fi fan can get a day with these space enthusiasts. For US$500 they can hang out for a whole week. 

The Fitness Freaks

The very first AI personal trainer is the Vi. It has biological sensing ear-buds, automatic workout planning and monitoring, and even responds to voice commands. For US$199, you can have one of these pioneering gadgets. 

The Environmentally Conscious Petrol Heads

Venture Automobiles are running a crowdfunding campaign to build an electric car capable of 400mph. A US$100 pledge gets you the thrill of knowing you are contributing to zero-carbon super-speed - and a Venturi t-shirt to prove it. 

The Foodies and Art Fiends

Who ever thought that a knife could be so deliciously beautiful? The Bulat has an ergonomic hardwood handle and a high-carbon folded steel blade. It is not only extremely effective, but also so good looking it seems more like a piece of art than a kitchen utensil. At US$100, this eye-catching tool is around half the price of comparable knives, and you are contributing to further development of equally functional and aesthetic products. 

The Gamers

Crowdfunding has been responsible for a huge resurrection of table-top board games. CoolMiniOrNot, who have run some of the most successful crowdfunding campaigns of all time on Kickstarter, have recently brought a revamped version of the old Dungeons & Dragons concept called Massive Darkness. For US$120 you get all sorts of freebies.

Kickstarter Success

Whether it’s the ‘cool factor' or not, all these campaigns have been wildly successful and pledges continue to grow. Maybe this shows that there is a fun side to business, and especially to crowdfunding.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Can you Please Sponsor my iMac Pro?




The Dark Side of Crowdfunding

More and more people are using crowdfunding sites and social media platforms to ask for money for all sorts of things - not just for getting businesses off the ground, products launched, or to get genuine help. There is even a fundraising website designed specifically for personal causes – it's called GoFundMe. Although there are many startups make use of GoFundMe, there are also pleas for things like veterinary bills for desperate pet owners, and requests for money for holidays, birthday parties and luxury items. There is even a request to sponsor fancy wedding shoes that cost over US$1,000, and a hopeful young man, who apparently 'desperately needs' a MacBook Pro. 

Many hands make light work

There is no shame in asking your friends (or even strangers) for help. Shifting a financial burden from one set of shoulders to many makes sense, and many people are delighted to help out. But, is asking for an electronic device that costs thousands not taking it a bit too far? Would that money not be better spent on people who need help rebuilding their lives after a natural disaster, medical costs for a young cancer victim, or to get a brilliant young startup going? There have been major changes in the crowdfunding world, and with the rapidly growing power of social networking, it is making an impact on the world – and not always a good one.

The cultural conundrum of crowdfunding

The implications of this global cultural shift is massive. Say you decide that you cannot do without the latest and greatest fancy new smartphone. You create a campaign on GoFundMe or a similar site and share it to Facebook. Your friends see it, and some of them will share it with their friends – who, if it is interesting enough, spread your message even further. Even though it is not always expected to have a return, the reality is that public appeals like this are conveying a shocking message. It communicates to the world that you are either not capable, or not willing to solve the problem or buy the product. Until this shift, it was always expected that people work to earn birthday parties, holidays abroad and luxury goods. 

Do these people really need fancy shoes, holidays and computers?

Whatever happened to determination and being proactive? Of course, crowdfunding for businesses is a different story, it is not just mindless self indulgence – both parties gain and the economy improves as entrepreneurs ply their wares. Also, crowdfunding for charity is doing good for people who actually need it. Luxury holidays and exorbitant electronic gadgets cannot fall under the same umbrella.

Me, me, me

Baby boomers were known as the 'me' generation, and there is a risk that this generation will become the 'me, me, me' generation - if something is not done about it. Maybe crowdfunding sites should become stricter with what campaigns they accept. They could make a rule that campaigners have to provide proof that they have tried other means to fund their project. They should somehow illustrate that they are determined and willing to work at getting what they are campaigning for. Perhaps it is time for a line to be drawn when it comes to what is 'crowdfundable' and what is not.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Crowdfunding Innovation in Africa

Reducing Global Warming with Crowdfunding and Tech

An intrepid group of mechanical engineering students at the University of Lagos have come up with an innovative invention: an urban electrical vehicle with zero emissions. Via an an exciting crowdfunding campaign, they are now hoping to find backing for their new product, which was built with the aim of reducing global warming. 

Project Dove starts to fly

The car is completely chargeable, built with locally sourced materials and is called Dove P1. Once the youngsters completed the first prototype, they started spreading the news about their invention. They were overwhelmed with the positive feedback from their peers and the vice chancellor of Lagos University, and decided to launch a crowdfunding campaign. On the 29th of January 2016 they activated their campaign on, where they hope to raise US$25,000 to start replicating the technology at other universities across Nigeria. The students believe and hope that the project can eventually grow beyond the country.

The powers that be love it

The vice chancellor of the University is not the only person who is excited about the project. Representatives of the Lagos State Ministry of Commerce and the Nigerian Stock Exchange have confirmed that they are behind the project and believe that it is an initiative that will expand across universities. 

Taking it to the next level

The team is positive about establishing the initiative in 20 education institutions before the end of 2016. The roll-out project includes equipping students with the tools required to design and construct the vehicles. According to Olusanya, the team leader, it is logical that electric cars will become a future trend, since fossil fuels are fast running out. 

It’s about the future

The group is excited about raising funds with their crowdfunding initiative because they believe that the platform is about more than just finances; it is a way in which investors can express concern and care for the next generation, which is exactly in line with what these guys are trying to do.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Where Crowdfunders Hang out Online

Top 10 Crowdfunding Sites
Birds of a feather flock together, right? There is nothing quite like the spirit of collaboration and when you are an entrepreneur with big dreams, it is great to share your vision with likeminded people. The question is where to find other people with epic ideas like you, and at the same time get financial backing to launch your dream into becoming more than just a dream. 

The WWW of course

Everything and anything is on the World Wide Web these days. Whether you are looking for some gadget you can’t find in the shops or tips on how to take care of your bonsai, the Internet is the place to be. The same applies to finding inspiration for a new project, meeting new people – and getting that funding in. The Internet is indeed the information superhighway and here is where crowdfunding enthusiasts are cruising around on it:

1. Kickstarter – With over US$220 million raised with over 60,000 projects so far, Kickstarter has a colossal online following and a simple submission process. The only major downside (for some) to Kickstarter is that you have to be a US citizen with a social security number to create a project. 

2. Indiegogo – Focus is placed on independence on Indiegogo and you will find a lot of interesting projects and charitable causes. Unlike Kickstarter, everybody is welcome – not only people living in the US. The downside is that the site will charge a 9% of the fund fee is your campaign fails to reach its goal – although you do still get to take the funds away.

3. Rockethub – What makes Rockethub different is that members can work with top-notch companies and brands to help them raise interest. The site has two options, FuelPad is geared for crowdfunding and LaunchPad is an ideal space for creative people like musicians, artists and photographers.

4. GoFundMe – Aimed simply at raising money for whatever you can imagine. If you are desperate to go on holiday in Mexico or to buy a pet chinchilla, this is the place for you. This site’s motto could easily be ‘Sharing is Caring’.

5. Razoo – More concentrated on causes than profitable projects, Razoo has fancy technology to back up its upward trajectory in the crowdfunding world – and even a handy iPhone app to help you manage your project on the go.

6. Crowdrise – Real world issues are addressed with Crowdrise so if you are into animal welfare, education, healthcare or cultural projects, this is the place to be. 

7. PledgeMusic – This site is all about bringing new talent to the music industry. With a similar interface to Kickstarter, PledgeMusic is professional but simple to use.

8. Sellaband – Over 80 musicians and bands have been funded through the site. A nice thing about Sellaband is that artists can match the background design of their page to match their music making it a bit like MySpace, just with crowdfunding thrown in. 

9. Appbackr – This site is all about getting funding for mobile device apps, and there is an app for getting funding for your app!

10. Crowdfunder – While most of the other sites target everybody from individuals to investment firms, Crowdfunder is aimed at helping US startups to raise capital through selling debt, equity and revenue-based securities while also attracting the attention of angel investors and venture capitalists. 

Well there you have it. One of these sites could be the key to turning your vision into a reality.