Blade: The Uber of Helicopters

Blade phone app for Business NO CREDIT

Blade phone app for Business NO CREDIT

Life is hard all over. It seems like every time you really need a chopper to fly you from your Manhattan luxury apartment to the Hamptons, there’s never one around!

Well no worry no more! A new company called Blade is here to help.

Blade bills itself as a sort of “Uber for helicopters” allowing riders to book short flights between Manhattan and the Hamptons, among other nearby cities.

According to the Business Insider, it’ll run you about $575 a seat to get to the Hamptons.

Go grab your Blade app and get flying.

Businessfriend is Where Professionals Collaborate at CES

BusinessFriend logoLove ’em or hate ’em, social networks are here to stay. Over the years, many companies have entered this market. Networks like Facebook want to connect everyone, while networks like LinkedIn are aimed at business users. A new network called Businessfriend hopes to bridge the gap between the personal and professional social network.

Scott met with Glenn from Businessfriend. Glenn explained that Businessfriend is a “one-stop shop” for social networking and collaboration tools. Businessfriend users can do standard social-network stuff like follow the feeds of friends, colleagues and brands. But Businessfriend users can also access tools like instant messaging, video chat, audio chat and cloud-based document collaboration. Best of all, Businessfriend is one app that can be accessed via desktop computers or iOS and Android mobile apps, allowing users to connect no matter what platform they’re on.

Interview by Scott of F5 Live: Refreshing Technology for the TechPodcast Network.

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Voiceboard Brings Interactive Presentations to CES

Voiceboard logo

Technology is changing the way we live, communicate, and work. Innovations in smart technology are making collaboration with coworkers easier and more effective than ever, and Voiceboard is great example of how technology is changing the world for the better.

Scott talked with Nigel Sharp from Lionsharp, Inc. about their latest product, an interactive presentation technology called Voiceboard. With both voice and gesture control, Voiceboard’s innovative application enhances your office presentations and allows you to manage slideshows, display web pages, play videos, and much more.

Voiceboard is available for purchase at www.voiceboard.info for $599, or search for “Voiceboard” on Kickstarter.

Interview by Scott Ertz of F5 Live: Refreshing Technology.

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Payleven Mobile Payments at The Gadget Show

Payleven Chip and PINOne of the common problems facing start-ups and small businesses are the costs associated with taking credit card payments. The transaction costs can be high for small turnovers and point-of-sale machines are expensive with a monthly rental fee. To counter this problem, Payleven offers a low-cost mobile payment solution for European businesses using a Chip’n’PIN card reader that uses Bluetooth to communicate with both Apple, Android and Amazon smartphones and tablets. The Chip’n’PIN unit costs only GB£60 (ex-VAT) with a transaction charge of 2.75%. Payleven have partnered with GoTab to offer a complete solution for around £250 including a tablet and the card reader.

The approach is similar to US-based Square, but as Chip’n’PIN is only beginning to be required across the pond, Square’s reader unit is a simpler card-swipe device that plugs straight into the smartphone. Having a full Chip’n’PIN card reader in Europe is a necessity but the independent unit makes the transaction look much more professional anyway.

Simon from Payleven tells me about their solution and takes me through some of the features.

UberConference

UberConference Anyone who does a lot of audio conference calls is aware on how little they have changed in years and how hard they can be to set up and control. You have to call into a number, hit access wait for the beep and then spend ten minutes figuring out who is on the conference call and who is supposed to be on the conference call. If you want to mute someone or prevent them from hearing what you are saying you have to input a certain code, and you forget the code.

UberConference was designed to try to solve these and other problems audio conferences present. UberConference is visual interface for an audio conference. It is available on iOS, Android and through the web. When you are on a conference call you can see who is there, the person who is speaking is always at the top. If you want to find out more about a person, simply click on their picture and their Linkedin , Twitter or Facebook profile will pop up. As the conference organizer if you tap on a person a lot of controls come up including the ability to mute or unmute them. Plus UberConference has also created what they call “earmuffs” which blocks the person from what you are saying.

UberConference has a free version which allows up to twenty people on a conference and requires you to call into a number in Los Angeles. There is a pro-version which allows up forty people on a conference call. The Uberconference branding is removed and you can have a local number to dial into. The pro-version also automatically dials the participants, so they don’t have to remember to dial in. More information about UberConference is available at the UberConference website.

Interview by Jeffrey Powers of Geekazine. and Interview by Nick DiMeo of F5 Live: Refreshing Technology.

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iON Audio: Talking Point

iOnAudio iOnAudio introduced the Talking Point at CES 2013 which was developed to make conference calls easier. The device which is the size of a small disk and is light connects by Bluetooth to your smart phone. It has an omnidirectional microphone. It works with several audio profiles and the quality is crisp and clear. It has DSP inside so feedback is not a problem. It works through simple touch controls. No landline needed, you simply plug it into the wall connect your phone by Bluetooth and you are ready to go. The Talking Point will come out in Q2 for $179.00

iOnAudio also showed off the Party Rocker which they describe as a party in a box. It is a personal sound system. It has Bluetooth and lights built-in. The lights pulsate with the music. They also showed off the Air Copy a wireless scanner. The Air Copy generates its own wi-fi network. It scans at high-resolution 300 dpi and gives you a real-time preview. You can download a PDF with more information on each of the products at Ion New Innovation for 2013

Interview by Jeffrey Powers of Geekazine, and by Nick DiMeo of F5 Live: Refreshing Technology.

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How To Succeed With a Mobile App

Smashing Magazine LogoGetting into mobile app development often seems like a path paved with gold, but the reality is very different with many apps failing to succeed. Good apps do not simply “get lucky” but rather their developers work hard at  planning a successful app. Smashing Magazine’s article “How To Succeed With a Mobile App” shows the elements needed to plan for app success.

Smashing Magazine identifies six areas to consider for a great app.

1) The Idea. Find a vaccuum or empty niche for your app.

2) Money. Plan the business model for your app.

3) Define. Write down what your app will do in one sentence and stick to it.

4) Design. If the user has to think how to use the app, you’ve failed.

5) Coding. Native, high-quality, robust code is essential.

6) Marketing. Make friends, build buzz, launch big, love your fans.

But don’t simply read the above and move on. Check out the original article by Jeremy Olson at Smashing Magazine as it has plenty of further information for would-be app coders.

 

Kickstarter Team GB

Kickstarter LogoUs Brits are pretty good at inventing stuff. Telephone and TV; radar and jet engine; antibiotics and vaccination; pneumatic tyres and hovercraft; these are all great British inventions or discoveries. And don’t forget that new-fangled worldwide web thingy from Sir Tim Berners-Lee. We might be a nation of shopkeepers but we’re also a nation of cracking inventors.

Consequently, I’m delighted to see that Kickstarter is now allowing for UK-based projects, which if nothing else, will save on the typical $20 postage across the Atlantic. From today, proposers will be able to start putting together their Kickstarter projects for launch on 31 October (not October 31).

Intelligently, there won’t be separate UK Kickstarter site: all Kickstarter projects will appear together so brilliant ideas can be funded from across the world – you’ll just have to pay in pounds sterling rather than US dollars. I doubt this will reverse our trade deficit but every little bit helps.

The only obvious difference at this stage seems to be that payments won’t be made through Amazon but an unspecified “third party payments processor”.

I’m very much looking forwards to funding some truly British Kickstarter projects and I’ll keep GNC posted as I do.

(For pedants everywhere, I know that UK and GB are not synonymous but I really can’t be bothered explaining the difference to Johnny Foreigner every time.)

Kickstarter Accountability – Part II

Kickstarter Logo Following on from my post last week about the role of patron at Kickstarter, NPR has run a piece called, “When A Kickstarter Campaign Fails, Does Anyone Get The Money Back?” This appears to have nudged Kickstarter into responding with a blog post, “Accountability on Kickstarter.”

I suggest that you read or listen to NPR’s show before reading Kickstarter’s reply but one of the key statements Kickstarter makes on this matter is below.

Is a creator legally obligated to fulfill the promises of their project?

Yes. Kickstarter’s Terms of Use require creators to fulfill all rewards of their project or refund any backer whose reward they do not or cannot fulfill. (This is what creators see before they launch.) We crafted these terms to create a legal requirement for creators to follow through on their projects, and to give backers a recourse if they don’t. We hope that backers will consider using this provision only in cases where they feel that a creator has not made a good faith effort to complete the project and fulfill.

That’s great, but does it change anything in reality? Are you really going to take out legal action to recover $100? I  think not. Kickstarter even points out that it feels that legal action is only appropriate if the creator has failed to make a good faith effort.

Consequently, I don’t think this changes anything. Kickstarter is still a great site, but go in with your eyes open as to the possible outcomes, especially the one where you lose all your cash.

Note that UK folk may have some protection if they paid for a failed project using a credit card under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974 as it appears to cover purchases outside of the UK too. I am not a lawyer, etc.

You are a Patron at Kickstarter

Kickstarter LogoI like Kickstarter. It’s a world full of promise, where great ideas vie for money. I’ve pledged for a handful of projects, most of which met their funding targets and of those, all delivered on their promises. A few of the products weren’t as I expected but who hasn’t bought something that they later regretted?

For sure, it’s not always million dollar projects at Kickstarter. Plenty of projects fail to meet their targets and many of them rightly so. I’m not going to name names, but you don’t need to look very hard for projects that have no merit whatsoever (IMHO). Conversely, there are many worthwhile projects  that don’t make the cut too.

But what of those projects that do get funded but don’t deliver on their promises? Fortunately, there haven’t been too many of them and while Kickstarter distances itself from the projects themselves, it encourages project owners to return the funding if the project gets into difficulties. But there are no guarantees…if the money is gone, it’s gone.

In a consumer and customer-oriented world, an older world perhaps more accurately describes our role. Patron.

From Oxford Dictionaries, definition of a patron:
1. a person who gives financial or other support to a person, organization, or cause: a celebrated patron of the arts

The definition makes no mention of reward or goods and it’s easier to comprehend with the more artistic projects on Kickstarter given the historical context of the term. Regardless, it applies equally well to the technological ones in that there might be a hope of a product at the end of the project but there is no certainty.

Don’t get me wrong – I like Kickstarter and will continue to support projects there. However people need to understand the risks. At the moment, Kickstarter occupies a useful unregulated niche but I fear that a few high-profile failures losing millions of dollars will draw it to the attention of the authorities and regulation. I sincerely hope that day won’t come, but until then, remember you are patron at Kickstarter.