Tech Billionaires Team Up to Take On Climate Change

Wired - Top Stories - Mon, 11/30/2015 - 10:17am

The Breakthrough Energy Coalition will fund clean energy companies in a range of industries.

The post Tech Billionaires Team Up to Take On Climate Change appeared first on WIRED.

Categories: Open Source, Technology

Pixar’s Sanjay’s Super Team Turns a Real Childhood Into Art

Wired - Top Stories - Mon, 11/30/2015 - 10:00am

"Sanjay's Super Team," which debuts in front of "The Good Dinosaur" this Thanksgiving weekend, is the the studio's most personal short yet.

The post Pixar’s Sanjay’s Super Team Turns a Real Childhood Into Art appeared first on WIRED.

Categories: Open Source, Technology

Office 365 enterprise users get Skype for Business meeting, conferencing, and calling features (Emil Protalinski/VentureBeat)

TechMeme - Mon, 11/30/2015 - 9:55am

Emil Protalinski / VentureBeat:
Office 365 enterprise users get Skype for Business meeting, conferencing, and calling features  —  Microsoft today released new Skype for Business voice and meetings capabilities in Office 365.  The new features include Skype Meeting Broadcast, PSTN Conferencing, and Cloud PBX with PSTN Calling.

Categories: Technology

You’re Never Too Old to Color—Especially Math Patterns

Wired - Top Stories - Mon, 11/30/2015 - 9:00am

Enough coloring inside the lines—it's time to start coloring inside the cosines.

The post You’re Never Too Old to Color—Especially Math Patterns appeared first on WIRED.

Categories: Open Source, Technology

People Catalog Every Object They Touch in 24 Hours

Wired - Top Stories - Mon, 11/30/2015 - 7:00am

See what a cowboy, tattoo artist, and chef use in a given day.

The post People Catalog Every Object They Touch in 24 Hours appeared first on WIRED.

Categories: Open Source, Technology

Here’s the Best New Stuff Coming to Netflix in December

Wired - Top Stories - Mon, 11/30/2015 - 7:00am

This holiday season, Netflix is most decidedly not giving you a lump of coal. Instead, it's filling your devices with a lot of fantastic things to watch.

The post Here’s the Best New Stuff Coming to Netflix in December appeared first on WIRED.

Categories: Open Source, Technology

Architecture Builds on the Intricate Structure of Bone

Wired - Top Stories - Mon, 11/30/2015 - 7:00am

Buildings can learn a lot from your femurs.

The post Architecture Builds on the Intricate Structure of Bone appeared first on WIRED.

Categories: Open Source, Technology

Microbiome Startup uBiome Will Sequence Poop for the CDC

Wired - Top Stories - Mon, 11/30/2015 - 7:00am

uBiome wants to shift its business from direct-to-consumer kits to clinical tests ordered by doctors.

The post Microbiome Startup uBiome Will Sequence Poop for the CDC appeared first on WIRED.

Categories: Open Source, Technology

On Cyber Monday, Friendly Robots Are Helping Smaller Stores Chase Amazon

Wired - Top Stories - Mon, 11/30/2015 - 7:00am

When it comes to fulfillment, Amazon is far ahead of everyone else. A new firm wants to change that by offering smaller players a high-tech helper: robots.

The post On Cyber Monday, Friendly Robots Are Helping Smaller Stores Chase Amazon appeared first on WIRED.

Categories: Open Source, Technology

Solar or Coal? The Energy India Picks May Decide Earth’s Fate

Wired - Top Stories - Mon, 11/30/2015 - 6:50am

India will make a choice, but it will not be India's alone.

The post Solar or Coal? The Energy India Picks May Decide Earth’s Fate appeared first on WIRED.

Categories: Open Source, Technology

How To Save Money When You're Shopping Online

ReadWriteWeb - Tue, 11/03/2015 - 5:43pm

This post is sponsored by ChameleonJohn, a provider of online coupons, promo codes, and daily deals. It reflects the views of the sponsor, not ReadWrite's editors.

When the Internet was introduced to the general public, it brought changes of all sorts. Some, we could have predicted; some, we couldn’t. Through the Internet, we now have conveniences like buying items from halfway around the globe, learning any language we desire, making friends, expanding our knowledge, marketing our businesses, and even saving money. 

Hey, the cost of living is rising and our paychecks don't always keep up. So these tactics may well be useful for you when you shop online—because every penny counts.

Add Items To Your Shopping Cart—And Leave Them There

This strange-sounding method works because, the way most sites work, the price of an item you leave in your cart without checking out will always be updated with current discounts and promotions. (Look out for websites that automatically remove items in your cart after a certain amount of time—they're on to you.) Some sites will email you if you leave an item in your cart—and give you an incentive to complete your purchase by offering you a discount! You'll never rush to check out again.

Add "Coupons" To Your Search

The Internet is filled with coupon websites that are ready to offer you savings when you purchase online or offline. You can search on Google for the brand you desire and include the word "coupon," and you’ll be rewarded with a number of promotions that will help you save some dollars. One popular coupon site you might find as you search is ChameleonJohn.

Compare In-Store And Online Prices

Sometimes your favorite brand may sell certain products at cheaper prices online than they do in their physical stores. This can be for several reasons—to increase traffic on their website, achieve more online reach, or hit a certain target for online sales. There are also companies that are secondary sellers for products that you’re looking for or regularly buy. For instance, buying your preferred brand of protein shake from Supplement Warehouse may be cheaper than buying from the brand's website.

Sign Up For Email Newsletters And Use Social Media

Most brands and companies would want to divert customers’ attention to their store, and a popular way of doing so is by giving discounts and offers to those who’d sign up for their newsletters and emails. At Rebecca Minkoff’s, you’ll be entitled to a 15% discount on their products when you sign up with your email address. When it comes to social media, companies do engage their customers and potential customers in contests where they can win products, coupons or even cash prizes. These contests are a great way to save some money or to win some money!

About ChameleonJohn

ChameleonJohn is a brand-new website where everyone can get the best coupons, discount codes, and learn other ways how to save online. It's worth your time to explore, with a vast amount of stores, services and fun activities to choose from. At ChameleonJohn, you will find all the places you want to shop at, and always get the best discount deals, too. This online-coupons website offers excellent discounts from thousands of the largest online retailers. You'll always be able to save money!

This post is sponsored by ChameleonJohn, a provider of online coupons, promo codes, and daily deals. It reflects the views of the sponsor, not ReadWrite's editors.

Categories: Technology

Lyft Is Getting Ready For Developers To Hop On Board

ReadWriteWeb - Tue, 11/03/2015 - 5:00pm

With three recent announcements, Lyft, a ride-hailing and -sharing service, is making moves that suggest it will soon become more open to third-party developers.

On Tuesday, Lyft announced a new way to hail a ride through an integration with Slack, the team chat service. Instead of using a mobile app to summon a car, you can now install a bot within Slack that orders one for you. 

See also: Taxicab Industry Has A New App To Compete With Uber

That follows a recent announcement by Lyft of a still-brewing partnership with Starbucks that would let you tip your drivers with credit towards a cup of coffee instead of cash, and a broad-ranging deal with Chinese ride-hailing giant Didi Kuaidi to share customers traveling abroad.

Losing The Race For Developers

What all of these have in common is a need for partner systems to talk to Lyft—through, as one does these days, an application programming interface, or API.

Lyft and its larger archrival, Uber, have for the most part, raced to match each other's features and scrap for market share in the cities where they compete. But—despite Lyft CEO Logan Green's rhetoric—Lyft hasn't matched Uber in courting developers with a platform that can extend its ride-sharing service into other apps.

Uber has embedded itself in a variety of apps, from Google Maps, where it offers people searching for public-transit directions a tempting trip-time estimate if they take a private ride instead, to Expensify, which uses bookings you've submitted for an expense report to order a ride when your flight lands. Uber even gives developers an incentive to hook up with its API by paying them a bonus when a new user signs up for Uber through an app.

Lyft has an API already, CTO Chris Lambert recently told me—it's just private, meaning that its details aren't published and developers must apply to use it

Slack is "our first external marquee API integration," Lyft spokesperson Katie Dally told me. (The Starbucks and Didi Kuaidi integrations, while announced, have yet to be rolled out.)

Slack's chat interface, while friendly to humans, also gives a pretty good idea of what API access to Lyft means. Besides calling a car, you can also get an ETA or a price estimate. Here are a list of commands—which, you can imagine, maps pretty well to functions available in Lyft's private API:

The Lyft chat bot still has some rough edges. For example, while you can set a home and work address within Slack, those aren't synchronized with the home and work addresses you pick in Lyft's mobile app. Before Lyft opens those features up to developers—say, connecting an address book app to one's Lyft account—it needs to do some back-end work to tie up loose ends like that example.

Get On Board The Developer Train

There's far more that Lyft could open up, of course, than just letting bots hail rides for you. Fare data could go into expense-reporting systems like Expensify or deduction trackers. Cities might be interested in an API that offers aggregate data about traffic conditions Lyft drivers experience.

That's precisely the point of having an open API—to unlock the imaginations of developers and put them to work extending services like Lyft to new interfaces, like Slack's chat bot, and new experiences. As Slack cofounder and CEO Stewart Butterfield discovered years ago, when he was running Flickr, it's far easier to open up your API than labor your way through one-off business deals.

Lyft's team seems ready. Notably, Lambert's second-in-command, Lyft VP of Engineering Peter Morelli, oversaw APIs at developer platforms at Twitter and Salesforce. And before Lyft, Lambert worked on the Maps product at Google, which is heavily used by third-party developers. So the company's technical brain trust has the experience necessary to run a big, successful developer program.

Caution is due. No one wants a poorly written script to call bogus rides that must be cancelled. And Lyft is certainly going to be watchful for signs that rivals like Uber are poking at its systems. (The two companies are already taking each other to court for various claims and counterclaims of digital skulduggery.)

But that's no excuse. Lyft has gotten us to open up our cars to strangers. The least it can do is open up its API to developers. I've got a feeling they're ready to share the ride.

Lead image by Brad Berman for ReadWrite; screenshot courtesy of Lyft

Categories: Technology

How One Startup Aims To Solve The Wired VR Issue

ReadWriteWeb - Tue, 11/03/2015 - 4:15pm

A growing number of hardware makers are searching for the best way of bringing virtual reality (VR) to the masses: Current contraptions cover every price point and style from Google Cardboard to the Oculus Rift (consumer version due 2016). The AuraVisor, currently raising funds on Kickstarter, sits somewhere between the two. 

Like Cardboard and Samsung's Gear VR, the AuraVisor goes for a cable-free approach. Unlike those phone-based offerings, this one integrates all the computing power directly into the headset itself—no need to drain your smartphone's battery or feel like you're jacked into The Matrix, just to enjoy a 360-degree film. 

See also: Samsung Unveils A Cheap, Mass-Market Gear VR For $99 

That's the big sell here: Not only is there no need to run a thick cable from a computer, there's also no need to slot in a smartphone. Everything you need is integrated and ready to go out of the box. The AuraVisor makers say that makes for a smoother, more powerful graphics experience. 

Consider AuraVisor more evidence of how VR makers, small and large, are trying all sorts of approaches to tackle the varying issues brought on by this nascent technology. 

Going All In With VR

The AuraVisor platform is based on Android, and its technical documentation covers both 3D movie and 360-degree video support. To get up and running quickly, users can get started with Cardboard-compatible apps already available on Google Play. A developer kit will be available soon, while backers pledging £135 ($210) or more get a Bluetooth controller thrown in.

Of course developers are likely to gravitate toward the bigger names and more popular products. But it sounds like the AuraVisor team aims to take on Oculus—there's support in the SDK (software development kit) for Unity Engine titles, for instance. The SDK is coming out "as soon as possible" after the campaign ends at the start of December, AuraVision said.

"We are working with a number of key partners to deliver more apps and content, including movies, live streaming events, games and educational experiences," the campaign page reads. "There is already a huge selection of apps and videos ready to use. The AuraVisor will ship with a number of apps and games pre-installed to provide a true 'out of the box' set up."

Earlier this year the makers of the Fove VR headset also ran a successful Kickstarter campaign, making for a cheaper, smaller-scale run of devices that could give the likes of Oculus, HTC and Sony something to think about. (Samsung announced a $99 headset in September.) Although an independent project may not have compatibility from the likes of the PlayStation 4 or Xbox One to call on (yet), they're priced competitively enough to attract the casual gamer or intrigued VR movie fan. 

That the AuraVisor can now offer integrated high-quality graphics in a wireless headset costing just a couple of hundred dollars is testament to how quickly the technology is moving—and even Oculus founder Palmer Luckey knows the importance of a tether-free virtual reality experience. No doubt he would approve of the Kickstarter funding route too.

Images courtesy of AuraVisor

Categories: Technology

How To Grow A Partnership From A Single Trial Into A Major Booster

ReadWriteWeb - Tue, 11/03/2015 - 2:46pm

Guest author Ramgopal Vidyanand (Anand) is vice president of corporate marketing and business development at Celltick. 

Partnership deals are never really closed—even if your initial deals don’t cover additional opportunities.

Entrepreneurs often start small, on an experimental basis, with the expectation of growing the reach of their products from city to city, state to state, country to country, or from one device to multiple devices. Within that approach, there are always growth opportunities. 

See also: How To Target The Right Customers

Even after you’ve expanded your partnership as much as possible, there are relationships to nurture, case studies to create and intros to make. The weight cannot be just on the sales teams, it’s a company-wide effort to ensure your trial turns into a bigger partnership.

When we secured a partnership with a top cellular carrier in one country, our team was ecstatic. We knew that if we played our cards right, the partner would bring our app into cellphones across Europe. We’ve done this in the past, and we knew that it would take a concerted effort, so we prepared for it. Today, we are partnered with over 50 OEMs and mobile carriers. Now, we continuously focus on expanding our partnerships. Here’s how we do it.

Set And Reset The Right KPIs

Bear in mind that “show me the money” may not always be a company's mantra. Of course revenue is always an important factor, but OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) and service providers also focus on customer satisfaction, business intelligence and engagement. It’s not always about just turning a profit from your app.

Each country and company will have their own unique objectives and goals, which will keep changing at different times based on market conditions. Listen to their needs, understand the KPIs (key performance indicators) that would be key to their success and tailor services to help them achieve their goals.

Here’s an example from my own experience: In one region of a very large European operator that we worked with, our KPI was only revenue for about a year. Then a management change brought a new head who was much more concerned with the volume of complaints received every month. That became the main KPI over the next 6 months.

We spent weeks trying to understand the problem, working with the head of customer service, and revamping customer service training. Then we noticed that tech support calls asking for help on using the app were logged as complaints. Other communications were also errantly categorized.

Six months after we implemented the customer service changes and met those KPIs, revenue returned as the focal point again. As times change, so do the needs and the definition of success for the partners. Target metrics can and will change numerous times, and you need to be prepared to cater to these changes. Create multidisciplinary teams in which everyone knows the common goals and can work toward achieving your goals.

Always Be Testing—And Teaching

It’s important to remember that we are doing business in a market that’s always changing its trends and needs. In a constantly shifting industry, we aren't always going to make all of our clients happy. Understanding what went wrong could be a valuable lesson for future partnerships.

If you find that an experiment goes wrong in a particular market, share that with other teams in the company, so the same mistake doesn’t get repeated.

When we found that selling ring-back tones on our app worked very well in Russia, we implemented the same feature into our app in Southeast Asia. We did a very small trial, and although the project looked promising, we found that it did not work very well. We wound up abandoning it.

What works in one market may not work in another, and what fails could become your surprise hit somewhere else. Either way, you don’t want you or your partners to wind up with burnt fingers. So continuously research the markets that you are involved in, so you can find out what’s not working early.

Truth Builds Trust

Stuff always happens, and even if you’ve done all the research, sometimes you just don’t hit the mark anyway. If something went awry, let partners know that something failed and explain why it happened—before they ask you about it. Present it with a plan for next steps and a solid strategy, and it might not be as bad you think.

Handling those relationships with honesty may be easier said than done, but it’s crucial. If you don't make those foundations strong, your deals will amount to Jenga towers that could fall at anytime.

That can be easier to manage in smaller trials, which is one reason limited runs have become rather standard among even the biggest OEMs and carriers. Many came to this conclusion, after having learned valuable lessons from the past.

In 2013, Facebook launched Home on HTC First. Known to many as “the Facebook phone,” the device landed on AT&T and rolled out nationwide with much fanfare. It was a disaster. Within a month, the company dropped the price within one month from $99 to $0.99 cents. Turns out, the problem wasn't the pricing, but the flawed value proposition of the interface. Customers flocked to return the phone, and AT&T quickly dropped the First altogether. Many at HTC blamed Facebook’s Home for the flop.

Many operators and OEMs carry out smaller trials with just one device, one geography or only a limited number of installations. These trials can take anywhere from 6 to 18 months.

If something misfires or goes wrong during that time, don’t be afraid to disclose it. Partners want to hear about successes, obviously. But in a true relationship, it is not just about the wins; it’s also about how you handle the failures and work through them that can strengthen your bonds.

In 2006, we signed on with a widespread South American mobile carrier, working with them through shifting KPIs and numerous problems. Its confidence in us was at a different scale when we developed a new product line years later.

Relationship Building Is The Foundation For Growth

Sounds simple, but don’t forget to keep in touch. Before you know it, you might realize that you have gone more than two weeks without contact with your partner. If your expansion plans succeed, you may even have find yourself stretched across a number of them, and you need to check in with them all.

Setting up regular progress calls with clear data discussions ensures that you are following up on the KPIs and results. Weekly or biweekly meetings are also critical to building lasting relationships. You want to let your partners know they are a top priority.

With one of our long-time clients, we slowly let the account move from a complete mapping of our relationship to a matter of maintenance by an account manager. It happened slowly, and no one on the team picked up on it. We had lost focus on the account from a management perspective. Then one day, the CEO of the operator visited our booth at a trade show and asked if he could meet with us. We realized that our attention on this partner had slipped.

We immediately started to revamp the relationship and nurture it back to health. The partner has been continuously growing in revenue ever since. The company has now grown five times in revenue, becoming one of our largest customers.

Make Sure They Look Sexy

Your partners can become your very own sales force—a very effective one. Make sure they look good, and they could become your staunchest supporters. That’s very valuable, particularly in front of other prospects.

One partner wanted to better understand how we can generate higher ARPUs (average revenue per user). After much discussion, we decided to test different ways of natively generating revenue. We realized that we could increase the revenue generated from 5 cents per active user per month to $1.10 per active user within 4 months.

The operator was thrilled that we were able to increase its profits for no extra cost, and it not only decided to rapidly expand our reach, but it become our evangelists in the market. 

Photo by Derek Σωκράτης Finch 

Categories: Technology