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7 results returned for "Technology"

Tuesday, Nov 1st, 2016

Lauren Basil

8 Technology Trends to Look for in 2017

1. Artificial Intelligence

Artificial intelligence and advanced machine learning are composed of technologies and processes like deep learning and neural networks. Techniques are moving beyond rule-based algorithms to create systems that understand, learn, predict, adapt and potentially operate autonomously making smart machines appear "intelligent". As encouraging as AI and machine learning sounds, many people don't realize that as AI evolves, so does its criminal potential.

2. Intelligent Apps

Intelligent applications such as virtual personal assistants (VPAs) are making everyday tasks easier. VPNs and virtual customer assistants (which promise to enhance customer service and sales) should transform the nature of work and structure of the workplace.

3. Intelligent Things

Intelligent things, such as drones, autonomous vehicles and smart appliances, permeate the environment, but we expect to see a shift from stand-alone intelligent things to a collaborative intelligent things model. Intelligent things will leverage AI and ML to interact with humans and surroundings.Smartphones, smartwatches and smartglasses will partner with intelligent things and form a Smart Ecosystem.

4. Virtual and Augmented Reality

Immersive technologies, such as virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR), have captured the imagination of gamers and other consumers, but they will increasingly have business-to-business implications. We are still in the beginning stages of VR and AR and we will evolve dramatically through 2021. We will see rooms and spaces become active with things, and their connection through the mesh will appear and work in conjunction with immersive virtual worlds.

5. Digital Twin

Within three to five years, hundreds of millions of things will be represented by digital twins. A digital twin is a dynamic software model of a physical thing or system that relies on sensor data to understand its state, respond to changes, improve operations and add value. Organizations will use digital twins to proactively repair and plan for equipment service, to plan manufacturing processes, to operate factories, to predict equipment failure or increase operational efficiency, and to perform enhanced product development.

6. Blockchain Technology

Current blockchain technology hype is around the financial services industry, but a growing number of industries have joined the party. According to the Economist, a blockchain is a distributed database that maintains a continuously-growing list of records called blocks secured from tampering and revision. Each block is chained to the previous block, and the process is noted in a specially encrypted peer-to-peer network.

7. Conversational Systems

Currently the focus for conversational interfaces is focused on chatbots and microphone-enabled devices. Soon, they will move from chatbots to a broader digital mesh, which will move to an expanded range of endpoints that we will all interact with on a daily basis. These will work together to a growing extent. This will enhance ambient digital experience in the process.

8. Digital Technology Platforms

Digital technology platforms provide the basic building blocks for a digital business. There are five major focal points to enable digital capabilities and business models:

  • Information systems

  • Customer experience

  • Analytics and intelligence

  • IoT

  • Business ecosystems

Every organization will have some mix from across these five digital technology platforms. The platforms provide the basic building blocks for a digital business and are a critical enabler to become a digital business.

Tuesday, Oct 18th, 2016

Lauren Basil

8 Reasons Snapchat Spectacles Won't Last

Snapchat is attempting to stay relevant by introducing their first piece of hardware and changing their name to Snap Inc. Obviously, the Snapchat app is still their bread and butter, but they're exploring hardware as the next endeavor to further the company's influence. I don't see this as the next stepping stone in growing their company, but only time will tell.

That Ray Ban Vision

Let's be honest, if I'm going to buy myself a pair of sunglasses for $130, I'm going to buy myself a pair of Ray-Bans that look great and won't go out of style. Not Snapchat Spectacles that only have one frame available that may or may not look good.

Kim K.

The Spectacles can only be used outside, unless of course you think you're Kim K and wear sunglasses no matter where you are. But truthfully, the fact that they are sunglasses limits use to outdoors and if I were to buy something like Spectacles (for the purpose of recording), I would want to be able to use them wherever and whenever.

Lights Out

To limit the use of the glasses even more, half of anything worth documenting outside is going to happen while it's dark out. Snapchat Spectacles won't do you any good then.

Thirty Seconds

Realistically, that's not a lot of time. Not to mention, you have to prompt the glasses to continue recording past 10 seconds if you want a longer video. The glasses are set to end after 10 seconds in correspondence with the length of a snapchat video. So what happens if you record a longer video and want to upload to Snapchat?

Blurred Lines

Who's to say how good the quality of the recordings will be? We won't know until the hardware makes it's debut and users give their feedback. My guess is that I wouldn't want to use the video many other places outside of the Snapchat app because of the quality.

Sorry Android

Using an Android limits the user friendliness. You have to be connected to wifi in order to transfer the recordings onto your phone, unlike an iPhone user who can easily transfer via bluetooth.

Need an Endorsement?

So far, the only person endorsing Spectacles is the Snap Inc. CEO, Evan Spiegel. That doesn't instill very much confidence in potential buyers because of course the CEO should LOVE the product.

Creep it real

They have the ability to classify someone as creepy. I could be wearing the glasses and be recording my friends and they might not even realize it... or frankly, they may not want to be recorded!

The Spectacles give Snap Inc. a glimpse into the world of hardware, an unknown territory for the company thus far. I can't say this will be their breakthrough product, but it's a start and they will continue to improve the hardware just like any tech company would. Everyone has to start somewhere.

Wednesday, Oct 12th, 2016

Paul D'Angelo

Wanted: solutions looking for problems

While planning, researching and writing this blog, the following tools were used:

  • Slack to receive countless reminder messages to write this thing already...(Cough Lizzie)

  • Trello to add a card to remind myself when it was due
    Google doc to write it

  • Trello again to gather research

  • Oh sh#t, I put some of those links in Slack too

  • Damn it where did I save those screenshots?

  • There they are, in the Google Drive

  • Ok done, the Google Doc is shared in the drive

  • What? Ok I will Slack it to you too

  • Wait now you want me to post it to Trello because you can't find it in Slack?

Talk about more than one way to skin a pig...

If this sounds like a familiar scenario, then you are not alone. While the boom of productivity tools continues to surge, the market is becoming saturated with an overwhelming variety of options to in theory, help streamline your day. In reality, the glut of "solutions" has created a vast ecosystem of tools that, while often integrated with each other, lack a central home base to help the user make sense of it all. A One app to rule them all, one may say. We've stumbled into a situation where the solution for streamlined processes and increased productivity is more processes and tools than we can effectively manage. Isn't that Ironic? Don't ya think?

So which tools are the best? Does Trello save your documents and tasks in the most efficient way? Is Asana the PM'iest tool out there? Should I Slack? I always hate Slack's delay on mobile, should I have one chat for interoffice and another for mobile? Obviously we have Google Mail, should we use Google Drive too for document storage? Dropbox has such a clean ux, and is awesome, especially for design work. Maybe we can use Dropbox for images/visuals, and Google Drive for everything else...

Rather than bore you all to death with my 2.5 cents regarding all of the options out there, I want to discuss something else. With the level of sophistication required to simply get to market, the incremental improvement between option A and option B is negligible. Instead, I want to talk about how to get the most out of their tools, whatever they may be, because a true craftsman should never blame their tools...who doesn't like a good cliche`.

The first step is to assess what your current needs are, as well as what your needs will be in the future. What is good enough to get the job done now may not be able to support you 6 months down the road, and the switching costs from platform A to platform B are tangible. Additionally, it's tough to find the solution when the problem is not clear. At the same time, begin collecting information as to the options available, and what each is capable of. With virtually every platform employing some variation of the Freemium model, it's easy to simply ignore the paid options. Don't! Assess each option independent of their cost. Remember, freedom isn't free...

Once you have a clear idea as to your needs and the options out there, ask around for some insight from others in your industry, as well as have a discussion with your team to solicit their feedback. Getting their buy-in is critical, but it's also important to not get stuck trying to make everyone happy. Since everyone will have their own preferences, and these will rarely align perfectly, an objective viewpoint is necessary to ensure the best decisions for the group are made.

After you've talked things over with the team, its decision making time. It's important that you don't compromise your solution by prioritizing free over useful. As we discussed earlier, most platforms have some basic free option, and many companies can get by cobbling together a Frankenstein of 6 free tools. However this simply creates more friction and drastically reduces the overall potential impact on productivity. Most paid options are still reasonably priced to say the least, so choosing the best set of tools will pay for itself in time saved.

Once you have made your decision, the most challenging part will be not only getting the team to buy in, but also getting the team to commit to consciously using the tools. There are many different ways to manage the transition from the old to the new, but the most important thing is that you develop and plan and stick to it. Depending on your team's tendencies, the bandaid approach, where you clean house and roll out everything over a short period of time may work best. Gradually transitioning project by project to new tools until your entire current workload is connected is another option. Regardless, consistent effort is key.

If the team does not commit for the long haul, then nothing will seem to work, and your team will begin to look for different tools because the current ones suck. To convey the effort necessary, it's important to provide specific timelines to help manage expectations. In this article by Jason Selk for Forbes, he talks about the myth of habit formation in 21 days and the real challenges needed to create good habits. He references business coach Tom Bartow's model of the 3 phases of habit formation:

Phase 1: The Honeymoon
Fairly self explanatory. You start using your new tool and everything's great. This is so easy! I am CRUSHING it this week. I may as well stay home Thursday and Friday because i'm going to do 5 days worth of work in 3 at this rate...

Phase 2: The Fight Thru
You start to encounter situations where you default to your old habits, rather than the new process or whatever it may be. You are pressed for time, and know that you'd save time if you just went back to what you are used to. Winning 2-3 "fight thru's," where you encounter these moments and are able to stick to the new script is essential for these new habits to take root.

Phase 3: Second Nature
After battling through phase 2, you typically settle into a new routine and feel good, and are on your way to a better life. To ensure you stay on track, they go on to describe 3 common speedbumps that can knock you off course, The discouragement monster(we all know him), Disruptions(my throat hurts and the only thing that seems to help is this whole gallon of ice cream), and the seduction of success(see I was able to sustain it for 4 weeks, I can basically turn it on and off, no need to do this all the time).

Managing change is always a challenge. These challenges only get harder when it entails simultaneously changing multiple habits, and the success is dependant on the everyone buying in. Nobody said it would be easy! But like any challenge, people can change. All it takes is time, patience, and maybe a small miracle or two.

Friday, Aug 1st, 2014

Shawn Broukhim

To Code or Not to Code?

In a recent YouTube video produced by Code.org, President Obama, encourages young people to spend some time this week learning how to code. He remarks, "Don't just download the latest app, help design it." With these words, Obama joins the ranks of a number of other entrepreneurs and celebrities encouraging computer science to play a bigger role in our nation's education system. The idea seems to be that by learning how to write code, we will become masters over our technologies, rather than simply consumers of it.

As someone who recently learned how to build web applications in an intensive twelve-week long boot-camp, I agree that gaining computer literacy beyond basic use has changed my life. When I graduated college with a liberal arts degree, I felt frustrated by my lack of practical skills and found it difficult to secure a fulfilling job that paid the bills. Taking a bootcamp reversed my trajectory - I enjoy the variety of challenges in writing code and work at a place with people like myself.

However, the notion that coding is a new form of literacy, that we wouldn't be able to function as citizens if we don't know how to code, is a tentative one.

Having a solid background in the liberal arts has helped me to more easily grasp the ideas that drive programming, such as object orientation and behavior inheritance. So much of programming is not just math and science, but also rhetorical in nature - we are constructing systems, driven by conditional logic, being creative, visually and dynamically, and pushing the boundaries of our knowledge. In some ways, I didn't learn the true value of my liberal arts education, years of reading old books and writing essays, until I learned to code.

Steve Klabnik, a prominent coder and Ruby educator, gives a really interesting talk on Object Oriented Programming and its relationship to Philosophy. He begins by tracing a connection between classes and instances to Plato's notion of forms as abstract from real objects. The relation is helpful when designing objects and modeling behaviors - something we spend a lot of time dong while building web applications. He also identifies a direct relationship between RESTful practices and semiotics - that routes point to database entities in the same way a signifier and signified join together to form a sign. There is also a Google group about the relationship between Philosophy and Programming.

Even though coding is important, it is worthless as a skill if one learns it in a vacuum. The true merit of coding only becomes apparent if we experience it through the lens of whatever else we are interested in or passionate about. Overly stressing the importance of learning to code ignores the importance of a well-rounded and multifaceted education in developing individuals who are thinking and feeling beings. We must learn how to program, but only if it makes us better human beings.

Tuesday, Jul 1st, 2014

Jesse Mauro

Death to Internet Explorer

If you have done any front-end development, even if you know someone that does, you've probably heard this before: Internet Explorer sucks. Once the most used browser after conquering the mighty Netscape in the mid 90's, IE has gradually fallen behind its competitors the past 15 years and has managed to piss off every web designer with continued support for its prehistoric browsers.

When I was 10 years old in the 90's, computers had started to become common household items. Dial-up, AOL, Netscape, peer-to-peer file sharing applications like: Napster, BearShare, KaZaA, and Limewire. Like many during that time I experienced the growth. I got my first laptop when I went to college. It was a Dell running Windows XP and Internet Explorer 6 - what has become know to developers as generally the worst browser ever created. This was the browser that I started to develop websites on.

Internet Explorer 6 was released in August of 2001 to coincide with the release of Windows XP making it the default browser. At the time there wasn't much competition. Netscape (who had already lost the battle to IE) and Opera were the primary choices. Firefox was released in September of 2002 but didn't gain popularity for a year or two after its initial release. IE6 had been widely criticized due to its security issues and lack of support for (then) modern web standards. Meaning code that worked fine in other browsers, did not in IE. There were constant work-arounds and hacks needed for developing in IE.

Internet Explorer 7 - which was released in October of 2006 - made slight improvements but was still a major headache for front-end development. By the time it had been released, Firefox and Apple's Safari had developed significant market shares and the concept of cross-browser compliance was more relevant than ever. Developing websites to work across these browsers was an unbelievable hassle. Mostly due to IE6 & IE7. So much so that conditional comments (which were introduced in IE5) were being used to aid with the development of IE. Web browsers accepted code that read "if this is IE...do this". There were no conditional comments that targeted other browsers, for example: "if this is Firefox..." or "if this is Safari...". Simply "is this IE or not?". Quite often these conditional comments were being used to load an entirely different (CSS) style sheet to handle IE's behavioral issues.

*Note: conditional comments have been deprecated with the release of HTML5. With compliance to the release, IE9 was the last version to accept conditional comments. 10 and 11 will not recognize them.

I know what you're thinking: "Ok, we get it, it was a pain to develop back then. But 2001? 2006? That was so long ago". Correct, so why is IE still so hated? Even with versions 9-11 being essentially on par with modern web standards? It's IE's continued support for versions 6-8 and not forcing users to upgrade. There are websites counting down to the usage death of IE6 and IE7. Meaning today...2014...people are still using versions 6, 7 and 8.

As far as web development goes, I have found it best not to worry about IE8-and-lower users. Cross-browser compliance extends from IE9 and up only (IE9 was the first version to accept CSS3 standards). You can call it arrogance or inconsideration but to me someone using a 5+ year old browser to view the web is not someone I value as a consumer. If you want to join in on a modern day street race you can't show up in a car from the 20's. But still, it's hard to avoid these dinosaur browsers 100% of the time. Just recently a client of the Devshop came to us with continued work on an app whose audience primarily uses IE6....awful.

So death to Internet Explorer! With usage slowly but steadily decreasing each month since 2008, it's time to say good riddance. Once the browser of choice for over 50% of all computer users, IE (depending on which stat provider you choose) is now in the 10%-20% range and dropping. I don't know about you, but I'm counting down the days until we live in an IE-free (virtual) world.

UPDATE: It's Dead

Monday, Jun 30th, 2014

Laura Meyer

Tech for the Fashionista

The tech and startup world isn't known for its fashion. Just as the fashion industry isn't known for its advances in technology.

So while even though these two worlds seem to repel one another, a beautiful hybrid has developed...

Fashion Tech!

Fashion tech companies are popping up all over New York City.

The fashion industry is turning focus to technology from sponsored hackathons, to fashion tech accelerators, to evolving education.

Yesterday, I had the privilege of meeting with Fashion Accelerator 360 CEO, Liza Deyrmenjian. We had an awesome discussion on the importance of education and how the fashion industry can leverage technology to simplify processes, but more importantly improve the experience between brand and customer.

One of my professional role models is Angela Ahrendt. She is an amazing example of leveraging technology and digital presence of a "traditional" fashion brand, into a relevant brand. If you aren't familiar with her strategy check out the interview.

As fashion tech becomes more popular I will be interested to see the relationship between fashion tech companies and big brands/retailers. Nordstrom is another great example of a traditional brand/department store investing in fashion tech startups. They are beginning to achieve a reputation as a bit of an incubator due to their involvement with Hautelook, Gilt, wantful, and recently wanelo.

What I am most excited about in fashion tech are the little guys. The young and innovative startups that are out to disrupt the market. I'm not talking about the trivial apps that help you find the best price for the Alice and Olivia dress you want, or the app that lets you trade clothes with your peers, but true game changing fashion tech startups that will change the way we view fashion. Some of the technologies I am most excited for is implementation of 3-D printing, tech eco fabrics, integration of virtual reality and reality in relations to shopping, fashion shows/events, and the design process!

Friday, Jun 20th, 2014

Jesse Podell


Like everyone else who has a tech twitter feed, we started hearing about the Yo app yesterday, by the end of the day, after opening enough articles about the damn thing, we decided to download it. Turns out this whole phenomenon is a huge lesson for all the startups we meet and work with. You can have an app that barely works, "doesn't do sh-t", and have incredibly viral user growth and raise money at the same time. Your idea doesn't matter. Your deck doesn't matter. You've just got to get something out there and really quickly even if the CSS doesn't line up the way you like on your Terms of Service Page. If people love something about it, you'll be golden.

It wasn't the promise of a new and easier life fulfilled with "zero characters communication", or the burning desire to ping someone in a new way that led us to download the app - but the sheer curiosity that led us to download. Truth is, we're all really busy here, building things, paying bills, and ambitiously trying to find a some free time with our loved ones after 60 or so hours of trying to make clients happy a week. We know we have a problem staying in touch with cousins, college friends, moms, dads, etc, but weren't really looking for a solution for this problem. We have zero idea if this whole thing is going to work in the long term, but it's working very well for now. The founder's vision of success was very clear, and he has exceeded it. Have fun, get users, make noise, see if there's a business here.

When the first random Yo pushed to the screen of our iphone, we gotta admit, it felt pretty cool! We sent a few, and sadly didn't get any responses. Oh, there's a small problem, we had absolutely no idea how to go back and try to add contacts my linking a new social account like twitter the way it asked us in the beginning. Yeah, and pretty much half the app doesn't work, such as the Find Friends button, which does nothing at all- can you believe it! A button that does nothing! What's more, how on earth do I add a username? I have to go and actually LOOK through my social feeds for people who are putting status updates to tell us their username and add them in manually. Ghastly! Wait, he built the whole damn thing in EIGHT HOURS?

You've probably read about the founder already, and the first thing out of people's mouths is "did you hear he raised a Million Dollars?!" Yeah? If your startup was worth north of half a Billion, you probably kick your bestie a couple hundred thousand too. When people tell us their strategy for getting users is organic viral growth, we feel sad for them, because they're doomed- UNLESS they're actually this guy, or someone like him.

So laugh all you want. Hate all you want. Hack it all you want. Call it useless, but it is in our minds the personification of the two greatest startup lessons: 1) If you're not pissing people off, you're not doing anything right, and, 2) If you're happy with the way your app looks when you launch it, you waited too long.