At Perpetual we work on a diverse range of projects from advanced professional news applications to web and mobile apps for fast growing startups. With the new year just beginning, one of my resolutions is to work on improving and refining my design process to tackle these challenging projects. While I’m still nailing down my ideal workflow, I’ve found some great tools and programs in 2017 that I’ll definitely be using this year. These tools are some of my favorites–they have either saved me time, given me new insights, or made it easier to share and collaborate on my work.
With just a quick keyboard shortcut, I get an in-browser image of a Sketch artboard. This has been infinitely helpful in ensuring the typefaces I’m using are actually legible in the colors, weights, and sizes I’ve selected for them. I’m also able to gather if the overall layout works–with each tweak I make in Sketch I can just cut to a new browser preview to quickly toggle between new and old versions of the same screen. Trust me, this beats waiting for InVision to finally sync–use this for a quick look at quick changes.
When I found myself designing for accessibility for a recent project, I realized that with each design decision I made, I had to check and double check that it was a good decision for all users. While I found a great resource in webaim.org, it wasn’t very efficient. I had to work in Sketch, copy a hex code, move to browser, paste in, and then check the output. Enter, Stark. This plugin has multiple capabilities to test text and color legibility. Simply open the plugin, select a text layer and a background layer, and click “run.” Right away, Stark lets you know the contrast value for the selected layers, and if that text is indeed easily read. Another interesting feature Stark has is the ability to simulate different types of colorblindness within Sketch–it provides a good exercise in establishing hierarchy and difference without relying on color.
As a self-proclaimed Google Girl, I love when things integrate with my existing apps. I use Draw.io to create user flows, but it can also be used for wireframes. The best part is that it can save right in Google Drive! Sharing work for review is incredibly easy, plus it’s one less document to bog down my laptop.
Another great way to preview your work. There are a ton of these kind of apps in the market, but I’m a big fan of Skala. With a quick keyboard shortcut I get a preview of my work right on my phone. If I make a change, it updates instantly. (Plus it works on Android phones!) By using this I just get a much better sense of the success of my layout and type choices.
Although I know many people who avoid browser plugins, I 100% recommend this one to any and all designers I know. We’ve all been there: you’re on a site and there’s some amazing typography, but you’re not sure what it is or how to find it. With WhatFont, just click on the toolbar icon and then hover over the typeface in question. Click it and you get the exact style, weight, size, line height, and color that it’s set in. I’ve found so many new typefaces this way, plus it’s been really helpful when testing sites–you can easily check whether that H1 matches the spec you worked so hard on.
Shawna is a UX Designer at Perpetual.
Downloading an app to fight app addiction is ironic. But smartphone addiction is a growing problem as the amount of time people in US spend on Mobile Phone is increasing at an alarming rate and almost 92% of the time we spend on our phone is on apps like Facebook and other Social Media platforms.
In an era where there is an app for every possible purpose, there is a category that has been gaining popularity: apps that allow you to unplug from using your smartphone and other apps We reviewed several such app blockers and find people use them to spend less time on their phones and generally, increase productivity.
If you happen to sink an inordinate amount of time on your smartphone, we have shortlisted 5 applications that help keep you focused.
Price: $2.99 on iOS, Free with in-app purchases on Android
Offtime tracks device usage and helps you to monitor your usage habits. If you find yourself constantly distracted by a particular application, you can set restrictions to access it. For Android users, it also allows you to block calls, texts and notifications that may disturb you for a chosen period of time and choose the selected people who can still get through to you during your downtime. If you do better as part of a group invite your friends to a shared Offtime session.
Price: Free, Only available on iOS
Similar to Offtime, Moment automatically tracks your iPhone and iPad usage, helps you create daily limits on phone usage and sends you reminders when you approach those limits. The overall goal of Moment is not to get you to put down your phone completely but to create a healthy balance in your life, as such it does not have the feature of blocking applications.
Price: Free, with in-app purchases on both Android and iOS
Launched : 2015
What’s unique about Flipd is its two different tracking modes. You can refrain from using your phone using a gamified “casual lock” setting that requires self-control on your part, or a “full lock” setting that allows you to lock yourself out of your phone and hide your applications. There will still be access to some basic functions such as calls and texts but your social media applications will stay hidden until the timer runs out.
Price: Free, with in-app purchases on Android only
AppDetox helps you understand your phone usage habits and set different perimeters in terms of how you use them. It offers the features to limit your number of application launches, usage time and restrict accessibility according to your set time range. Afraid of breaking your own rules? You have the option of setting a password to protect your rules with a PIN number as well. Though this requires some form of self control as well, an alternative solution is to ask a friend to set your password without telling you what it is.
Price: Free for trial period, or sign up for their monthly plan at $6.99/month or yearly plan at $2.42/month, available on Android, iOS, Windows and MacBook
Through the use of a VPN profile, Freedom helps you block select applications and websites for up to 8 hours. It also features scheduling of recurring sessions on your devices to build productive habits. Similar to AppDetox, it allows you to enter locked modes to prevent you from modifying your Freedom sessions.
We have also reviewed reams of user feedback on these applications and many users commented that they can bypass the app restrictions by simply deleting it. As such, these applications do not offer an absolute solution to manage your phone addiction and they are most suited to users who are determined to improve their productivity and exercise some self control.
In light of this, it may be more useful to work on users’ motivations towards using their phone excessively instead of just depending on these applications, but using them is definitely a start to a more phone-free lifestyle.
Among the list of blocker apps, our favorite is Freedom as it is easy to use, works as described, available across both mobile and desktop platforms and fulfills its purpose of preventing distractions by time-wasting apps and websites.
Perpetual was featured in an advertisement for a financial services company where Perpetual founder Amish shares his passion for technology and entrepreneurship.
In this four-part series, you will learn about Perpetual’s motivations, approach to innovation and education and the experience of becoming an entrepreneur.
“I am exploring technologies that are out there and I am trying to create value.”
On Rapid Innovation
“I can think of an idea in the morning, build it in the day, and then ship it at night.”
“Education is one thing that no one can take away from you.”
“To get to the next level, you have to be willing to be uncomfortable.”
News is a key driver of fluctuation of financial markets, for example when Donald Trump was elected as president of the United States, the markets swayed and many a fortune were made and lost. News is also a vehicle for reporting fundamental company information like M&A activity, a CEO or key officer leaving a company or an important financial research finding or analyst rating.
For financial professionals, having news accessible to them at their trading terminal is critical: news that is fast and in-tune with various wire services, that can be searched easily to find that nugget of information about a topic, and that is easily readable among the tens of windows across multiple screens. This is even more true in this age where humans are racing against machines to seek competitive actionable information
Achieving such mission-critical capability in the past required installed desktop applications with a Windows SDK and advanced technologies based on C++ and others close to machine hardware. However with the rise of the consumer internet and several realtime apps and technologies, similar SLA’s are achievable with modern technology stack. On a financial user’s desktop, the last mile is the installed application. Till date, various financial information providers and organizations have resorted to building custom applications in bespoke technology stacks compatible with their other legacy applications and desktop IT infrastructure.
OpenFin, a provider of HTML5 runtime technology for the financial industry, is leading the charge in this arena. Perpetual is a New York City based innovation lab that provides advanced User Experience Design and Full-Stack Development expertise derived from years in the financial information services industry. The Perpetual team is proud to bring you Beacon, a scrolling news app leveraging the OpenFin framework.
This version of Beacon offers realtime scrolling news from multiple sources, with the ability to search news, select news sources and bookmark articles for later reading. Upcoming versions will have watchlists, alerts, trending news and lots more.
You can see the full set of features currently available on Beacon here.
You can download the Beacon Desktop Application here.
OpenFin is used as the container for the app. The framework allows the application to open and run in its own desktop application and windows, and pages launched from the main application are opened in their own child windows. OpenFin also controls the initial configuration for the application, including window size, the app icon on the dock, desktop, and window, and how the application behaves when opened.
The application front-end is built on top of Bootstrap’s grid. This allows the application to easily resize to fit the user’s needs. The rest of the styling is done with custom css, and is designed to fit the needs of a user with a finance background.
The bookmark feature allows users to save articles for future reference. These bookmarked articles are stored in the Open Fin app’s HTML5 local storage. This allows the Beacon app to retain the data across browser sessions. Since the app is run on the OpenFin framework, the local storage is not affected by deleting the cache on the user’s actual browser. The only way the storage is wiped is if the user uninstalls the Beacon application. Local Storage is also used to store NewsAPI’s source list, which saves the application some AJAX calls when it is opened after the first load.
The news articles seen on Beacon are provided by the NewsAPI service. The Beacon App real-time model is currently based on a configurable polling mechanism, with a pub-sub mechanism under consideration. Since news is derived from different sources, some of which can only be sorted by top articles, some new articles will occasionally appear further down in the visible list of articles. However it is clear which articles are new by the ‘new article highlight’ that is applied to such articles, so they can be brought to a user’s attention.
One of the limitations of the current app is the lack of direct relevance of content to financial news, as well as the ability to filter content more accurately for the financial professional audience. Accordingly, one of the next steps for Beacon is to integrate with CityFalcon’s API for financial news. CityFalcon will allow the app to display news about specific companies that a user chooses. It will also allow users to categorize news and rate it on importance. The user will be allowed to keep a watchlist of companies so that they are up to date on financial news for companies in their portfolio.
Download the latest version of the Beacon application here.
Wordpress currently powers more than half of the websites on the Internet. For those new to front-end development, it can be difficult to grasp the idea of creating your own website from scratch. Using Wordpress is one of the easiest ways to build your own website and it is actually not as complicated as you might expect.
We have prepared an extensive list of resources to help you learn the art of building your own website with Wordpress, right from the moment when you need to install WordPress to the point when you are publishing your WordPress website.
1. How do I Install wordpress?
Most WordPress web hosting companies support WordPress and the process of installing it takes less than 5 minutes. Domain hosting companies use different WordPress Installer tool such as QuickInstall, MOKO Marketplace etc. This method allows you to install WordPress within 1-click, and removes the need to create a database manually or upload any files, as the procedure is automated.
Installing WordPress with 1 click method
However, many WordPress experts express that installing WordPress manually is a more secure alternative to 1-click installation. It may sound intimidating, but it is still a 5 minutes process that simply requires a few additional steps.
Installing WordPress manually
Long-form Guide to installing WordPress
2. How do i replace the default theme in wordpress?
Apart from the default theme included in your WordPress installation, you can also customize your own WordPress theme according to the look and feel of your website.
Installing a new Theme on WordPress
Long-form Guide to installing a WordPress Theme
Online Library of WordPress Themes
A few of the Most Popular WordPress Themes in 2017
3. How do i create pages in wordpress?
If you think of your WordPress website as a book, then the pages form the chapters of your book. Find out how to create new pages and maintain them on the following websites.
Creating Pages in WordPress
Long-form Guide to creating Pages in WordPress
4. How do i customize wordpress with plugins?
Even though WordPress offers a wide range of features and flexibility, its capabilities out of the box are limited. The solution to this is to install plugins for further customization, giving you a head-start without having to build a feature from scratch.
However, with almost 40,000 plugins to choose from, it can be difficult to select options that are most beneficial for your WordPress website. Following is a list of websites that have curated the top WordPress plugins.
Installing Plugins in WordPress
A few of the Most Popular Plugins of All Time
Yoast SEO: For managing your website's Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Contact Form 7: For adding and managing contact forms on your WordPress website
Jetpack: For website analytics, engagements and social sharing
5. Where can i learn more about wordpress?
Being one of the most popular and powerful content management systems (CMS) out there, working with WordPress is not as complicated as you might expect. The great thing is that there is an abundance of resources for you to learn and master WordPress. We have collated our favorite resources to help you discover the extensive features available on WordPress.
Resources to Master WordPress
6. Any other interesting resources for wordpress?
Now that you have picked up the necessary skills to install, create, build and customize your WordPress website, you may have a specific feature you are looking to build with your website. Or perhaps you are looking for interesting WordPress related resources that do not fall in the categories mentioned earlier.
To find out what WordPress Theme a particular Website is using
To convert an HTML website to a WordPress Theme
To build your WordPress website with a Point-and-Click site builder
To generate Codes to make basic Front-end Edits to your WordPress website
To build an Ecommerce website
To start your own Podcast
To build a Coupons website
To build a Web Directory
To build a Multilingual WordPress website
To build a Non-Profit website
To build a Community-based website
To see a list of the Most Popular websites running on WordPress
We hope that this article has provided you with the resources you need to kickstart your journey in building your own website with WordPress. Let us know if you have any other useful resources to recommend!
Organized by Consensys, the Ethereal Summit aims to encourage conversations on decentralization and its impact on the future of technology. We spent the day hearing media influencers, government officials, futurists etc share their views about the future of Blockchain, Tokens and their influence on our digital world. Here are 10 key takeaways summarized from various thought-provoking panels across the summit.
1. The Importance of Community in a Decentralized World
“In a decentralized world, it is all great when things are functioning. But what happens when things go wrong? People will want to go to a place or a thing to blame and this is when the community will need to come together to fix them.” - Sandra Ro, Executive Director and Head of Digitization at CME Group
2. A Framework is needed to control multiple manifestations of our Online Presence
“In the Physical world, we view ourselves as our identities, and possess what we know as ‘personhood’. In the digital online realm, we have multiple versions of our ‘personhood’. There needs to be a way or a framework to control this.” - Melanie Shapiro, Co-founder and CEO of Tokenize
3. Our Data will represent a form of Currency in the Future
“One of my favorite books is Homo Deus, which paints a future that is influenced by science and technology. I can picture a world where our data is our currency, where an everyday transaction is based on the data that you are willing to hand over, what you are willing to share and what you feel uncomfortable sharing.” - Jake Porway, Director of DataKind
4. Blockchain is a form of Distribution
“Blockchain is not a form of decentralization but rather a form of distribution. It is a mechanical tool to record the DNA of transactions. Nobody can monopolize it. The beauty of Blockchain is that it creates similar development opportunities for both developed and developing countries.” - Giorgi Vashadze, Founder and CEO of Innovation and Development Foundation, Member of Parliament of Georgia
5. Blockchain and other Future Technologies need more Media Coverage to educate people about their Potential Impact
“Media helps build the foundation of knowledge. Many people still do not know the ideas and key terms related to Blockchain. Media has an important role in shaping the future of how people view Blockchain. The biggest challenge is to get people to understand and build a positive association with it, especially with new tokens being launched everyday. There should be more content on Blockchain and the reason why nobody is writing it is because there is a lack of interest in articles related to Blockchain.” - Alex Klokus, CEO of Futurism
5. Cryptocurrency creates new Investment Models for the Film Industry
“A popular way for independent filmmakers to raise funds is to approach a large studio or to leverage a crowdfunding platform. Through Blockchain technology and a tokenized system, filmmakers can connect directly with their audience from the beginning by giving them the opportunity to become investors in the film. This also enables filmmakers to better understand their audience and provide them with favored content.
Once the audience has invested in the film, they are considered equity holders and are incentivized to market and promote the film, increasing its success rate. With this method of fundraising, artists can also maintain creative control of the film.” - Mitzi Peirone, Filmmaker and Director of Braid (First feature film to be fully financed through equity crowd sale using cryptocurrency)
7. VR and other Technologies will merge to produce Hyperrealistic Interactions
“Where Virtual Reality (VR) is now is not where it will be in 10 years’ time. In the future, there will be a whole new way of storytelling. Holographic avatars may exist for us to communicate not only with one another, but with historic figures as well. Expect merging of various technologies to produce hyperrealistic interactions.” - Cortney Harding, Professor at NYU, Author and Consultant
8. Automation, if executed incorrectly, could have the most significant impact towards a Dystopian Future
“Automation and IOT could both have significant impact. When you have automation, the data transacted can come from anywhere, so we need systems to keep them in check or we risk going off the rails. There is a dystopian potential to it.” - Peter Asaro, Assistant Professor at The New School & Affiliate Scholar in the Center for Internet & Society at Stanford Law
9. Utility of Tokens is growing at a rapid rate
“The token is a new form of currency that will fuel the Blockchain economy for the next 10 years. It is not an ownership of some sort, but it can be part of an application or a software. At its core, it consists of an account and an account number. These tokens can represent everything, from financial assets to products. Their utility is growing at a rapid rate.” - Nick Dodson, Founder of Weifund and Boardroom, Consultant at Consensys
10. A Tokenized System is more favorable for companies than a Traditional Equity System
“Traditional equities such as shares give shareholders the professional rights to a company’s profits. This system of equity drives shareholders to focus solely on growth of profits, and when companies have this sole narrow focus, they are more likely to face market failure. With a tokenized system, a token holder is incentivized to get more people to use the token to increase the company’s financial value instead of getting the company to fixate on increasing profits.” - Joel Monegro, Investment Team at Union Square Ventures
It was an eye-opening event at the frontier of innovation, with industry leaders delineating how Blockchain and Decentralization are disrupting their respective industries. If you want to know more about other emerging technologies beyond Blockchain and Tokens, check out 6 Emerging Technologies and their Applications.
A Power Packed Design Driven Meetup: First Designer at Twitter, Product Designer at Facebook and VP of Product at Kickstarter
The Design Driven NYC meetup on May 3rd brought an impressive lineup. The speakers were Vítor Lourenço, Partner at Expa and first designer at Twitter, Bradford Shellhammer, Head of Personalization and Engagement at eBay, Jonathan Smiley, Product Designer at Facebook and Deepa Subramaniam, VP of Product at Kickstarter.
In case you missed it, or if you just want a recap, we’ve summarized key takeaways from some of the talks.
Product Designer at Facebook, Jonathan Smiley on Compromising
The designer’s responsibility is to define and design the product, and they are typically reluctant to any changes to what they have so artfully designed. However, the fact is:
“You don’t have all the answers and there will be compromises you need to make.”
It is difficult to create a product that works for everyone and compromises will usually need to be made in 5 different areas:
While compromising, there will be times when you start to doubt yourself but the solution is for you to be clear about your role. It’s key to figure out when and how to compromise. Over time, you will develop good instincts about what users are looking for and bring key priorities for your environment to the table instead of bringing everything to the table.
VP of Product at Kickstarter, Deepa Subramaniam on Team Dynamics, Testing and Engagement
Though Deepa is currently with Kickstarter, she spoke about her experiences as Director of Product at Hillary for America. Deepa shared with us some tips for building good team dynamics, executing efficient user testing and creating effective engagement.
Partner at Expa and First Designer of Twitter, Vítor Lourenço on Launching Companies
With experience as the first designer of Twitter and a partner at startup studio, Expa, Vítor explained the lessons he learned from launching more than 10 companies at Expa in 3.6 years.
Find something that sucks
Design Driven NYC is a monthly event organized by Firstmark to inspire design enthusiasts through the stories from entrepreneurs and industry leaders in the design community. The organizers believe that “great design is storytelling at its finest, and that it is a critical element to any successful product.”
On 5th April, we attended their 26th Design Driven event held at BuzzFeed’s office. The featured speakers were Alain Sylvain (Founder/CEO of Sylvain Labs), Marcela Sapone (Founder/CEO of Hello Alfred), Luke Chesser (Founder/CPO of Unsplash) and Bonnie Siegler (Founder/CEO of Eight and a Half).
Here’s a recap of what we learned during the engaging exchanges between the presenters and the audience.
Alain Sylvain of Sylvain Labs on User Research
Sylvain Labs, an innovation and brand consultancy, is the brainchild of Alain Sylvain. 7 years ago, he observed that very few companies offered services that catered to both creative and business needs. Inspired to create a company that meets these needs, he started Sylvain Labs and along the way it has helped popular brands such as Nike, Google and Airbnb to launch new products and reinvent their brand positioning through innovative solutions.
"Learn to differentiate the user needs."
When designing a product for users, we have to understand the complexities of a user’s needs. In short, what drives people to do what they do. During his speech, Alain touched on different solutions to make sense of a user’s needs.
Marcela Sapone of Hello Alfred on Design
Hello Alfred is a service that offers on-demand butler services to help you manage your daily chores. Founders, Marcela Sapone and Jess Beck were the first all woman team to win the Techcrunch Disrupt competition with the Hello Alfred concept and have currently raised $12.5 million in funding.
"Life is too short not to design for what you want."
Marcela started her speech with one of her favorite design mantras, “Life is too short not to design for what you want” and this was the quote that inspired her to create Hello Alfred. While going about her daily chores, she wished for someone to help her complete them so she could spend her time on more important tasks. With this idea in mind, she built this service to turn the idea into reality.
"Sometimes you want to increase friction to increase trust."
She believes that when designing for UX of trust, you will need to increase friction to increase trust. Instead of hiring an employee with 1099 form for the role of an Alfred (what the butlers are referred to as), she and her team decided to hire W2 employees. From an employer’s perspective, hiring employees with a 1099 form is usually preferred as they would be able to spend less on staffing since the 1099 form regulations do not require them to cover benefits that a W2 employee would receive.
However, Marcela views that using W2 employees would be necessary in increasing the users’ trust towards the Alfreds since W2 employees are full-time employees as compared to contractual 1099 employees. Even if this decision increases friction, the company still insists on hiring W2 employees and ensures that they are carefully-screened through background checks (identity, criminal and credit), references, and in-person interviews to build trust between the users and the Alfreds.
"Do not be afraid to do things that are difficult to scale."
Hiring practices alone are insufficient in building trust with users. They realized that it was important for the Alfreds to leave personalized notes for the users after every session as well. It is more tedious for the Alfreds to do so, but they discovered that this small action translated into increased mutual trust.
"Be really specific and intentional about what you are designing."
Marcela commented that designing the Alfred application was one of the hardest things she and her team had to do, as Hello Alfred is a category that does not exist. She knew that she needed to build a User Interface that would convey the ability to accomplish multiple things at once, while humanizing the exchange between Alfreds and the users. How does one build an communicative interface for Alfreds and users that could constantly remind the users of the presence of a human being that is constantly doing all of their tasks for them?
As such, her team built a task list with toggle buttons and this was an efficient way for users to manage all their tasks at one go through a familiar interface. A profile image of the Alfred is strategically placed at the top of the application to remind users that a human is completing their tasks for them and an operational tracker is displayed beneath each task. This gives users the ability to see what is happening with all their requests. As the Alfred is out in the field doing things, the tracker stays up to date. Users love watching the progress across their tasks, engaging users with habit-forming designs.
The application also included profile and background stories of Alfreds to minimize the transactional nature of their relationship and create a new relationship of trust. Every design was intentionally created to allow the application to be as transparent and human as possible. Every point of contact with the users on the Hello Alfred application was thoughtfully planned to increase trust between users and their Alfreds.
Luke Chesser of Unsplash on Entrepreneurship
Unsplash is a photo sharing service that features free high-resolution photos which are curated by professional photographers. What started out as a Tumblr page to post excess images available became a photolibrary that has more than 1 billion photos viewed per month.
"It's okay to not have all the answers when you are building your company."
When Luke created Unsplash with his team, they did not know what they were building. He commented that many companies do not have the answers to everything, such as a well defined long term strategy or a monetization plan. Founders have to learn to be comfortable with uncertainty and need to figure out solutions along the way.
"You should start building things, regardless."
Many companies tend to share their stories in a way that only highlights their successes and not their problems. Every idea a person has is going to bring a lot of problems, but despite these complications, they should still work on building their idea. There will be many reasons pulling them back from their ideas but the great thing about designers is that they understand that there will always be solutions. The key takeaway is to be innovative with ideas and solutions, as safe decisions build safe products and mediocre companies.
Through the Design Driven event, we got to learn more about User Research, Design and Entrepreneurship. The founders’ conviction and determination about their companies was truly inspiring. Indeed, it was an evening well spent.
As the saying goes, the only constant in life is change. As with technology, the landscape is constantly evolving too. It is amazing to see the speed at which technology has pushed its boundaries to create new value and transform experiences for both businesses and consumers.
Here’s a look at the top 6 technological trends we have observed to be transforming the way we work and live, along with some use-cases to help convey their applicability. For the entrepreneurs reading this, consider thinking about how you might leverage these technologies to super-charge your business.
Drones are unmanned aerial devices that can fly or move without an onboard human pilot. They can operate autonomously via inbuilt computers and travel on a predetermined flight plan that is controlled remotely or directed manually. The presence of drones can potentially impact a larger segment of the courier industry and support a new phase of digital business. Just Imagine receiving your Amazon delivery at your doorstep via this nifty flying vehicle.
Potential Industries: Precision farming, Cargo delivery, Railway safety, Construction site management
Use Case: Medical Supplies in Rwanda
The government of Rwanda partnered up with Silicon Valley startup, Zipline to deliver medical supplies to 5 of its hospitals. The drones can transport up to 150 deliveries per day and have reduced the duration of a single delivery from 4 hours to 15 mins.
In layman’s terms, Blockchain is a system which functions as a self-auditing network of information. It uses a network of computing nodes to document the value of transactions sequentially in “blocks” across a database that can be shared among multiple parties simultaneously.
Rather than persisting a central system of record, the information is kept public and hosted concurrently by multiple computers, allowing it to be easily accessible and verifiable. This increase in transparency makes the Blockchain system more credible than other similar systems, and reduces business friction as a result. Another way to think of Blockchain is as a shared Google Document for digital transaction records.
Potential Industries: Peer to Peer transactions, Supply chain auditing, Governance, Data management, File storage, Stock trading
Use Case: Host and Guest Integrity on Airbnb
Guests can easily verify a host’s credibility by checking their ID number as representations of people’s online identities are stored on a Blockchain. Unlike Facebook, users cannot delete their accounts and re-register if they receive unfavorable reviews, as records on Blockchain cannot be tampered with.
3. Automation: Robots
Don’t worry, robots are not taking over the world (yet), but a world with robots automating human-exclusive tasks does not seem that far away. Robots are electro-mechanical machines or virtual agents that assist humans with their daily activities autonomously or through a set of instructions set by a computer program. As much as they have the ability to improve productivity, the implication of robots lowering the employment rate is also a cause for concern by some groups.
Potential Industries: Manufacturing, Service industry, Hazardous industries, Hotels and tourism, Automation of predictable tasks
Use case: Automated News in China
A publishing company in China, Southern Metropolis Daily, has published its first robot-written report that summarized the train transportation schedules during the Lunar New Year and advised readers on recommended routes to travel.
IOT (Internet of Things) is a network of internet-connected objects, devices and vehicles that are able to collect and exchange data using embedded sensors. This technology links all our devices together and makes them hum in a veritable technological harmony. As a result, we are able to collect and exchange data seamlessly across devices over the internet, control the devices and monitor them remotely.
Potential Industries: Inventory and material tracking, Real-time asset monitoring, Customer self service, Data integration and analytics, Real-time market insights, Dynamic billing and pricing application
Use Case: Smart Homes by Samsung
Samsung’s SmartThings system helps households automate their in-home devices. It allows users to control lights, locks, plugs, thermostats, cameras and speakers from a centralized location like your phone.
5. Augmented Reality and Virtual reality (AR/VR)
Most people first experienced the wonders of AR through Pokemon Go, which had over 100 million downloads. AR (Augmented Reality) enables blending of the real and virtual world via a graphic and/or audio overlay through a supplemental device. This is not to be confused with VR (Virtual Reality), which is a computer-generated simulation of a 3-dimensional image or a complete surrounding within an enclosed space, usually requiring tools such as a VR helmet or headset.
Both AR and VR create an immersive environment and are transforming the way individuals interact with each other. Although most devices are still in early-stage development, enterprises can anticipate targeted applications of VR and AR in the coming years.
Potential Industries: Immersive journalism, Virtual workplaces, Architecture/construction, education and training, Entertainment, Healthcare, Merchandising
Use Case: Physical to Digital Bridge for Brands by Blippar
Blippar has developed an Augmented Reality platform, pioneering a solution for brands to create augmented digital experiences through a scan of an image or a logo. More recently, it developed a ‘visual browser’ which allows users to scan the real world around them and receive a layer of information about objects and places in their surroundings.
6. AI and machine learning
AI (Artificial Intelligence) is an umbrella concept that is made up of numerous subfields such as machine learning and natural language processing. It encompasses a combination of extensive parallel processing power, massive data sets to feed its software algorithms and advanced systems that can teach themselves to become more intelligent.
By leveraging AI, providers can focus more on advanced analytics, streamline business processes and create more conversational interfaces. Gartner predicts by 2018, the world’s largest 200 companies will be leveraging intelligent apps for their various offerings.
Potential Industries: Managing personal finances, Automated virtual assistance, Real time fraud and risk management, Data analytics and advanced analytics, Customer support, Transactions and helpdesks.
Use case: Intelligent Routing for Uber and Lyft
These ride-sharing applications use machine learning to predict rider demand and arrival times of rides, and optimally plan routes across passengers to minimize detours.
The tech industry is constantly progressing and making predictions about the course of its future is no trivial task. Disruptive technologies and their application can sometimes gain rapid recognition and acceleration, making it a moving target. However it is important to be aware of the state of the industry and attempt to foresee the most likely technologies to be adopted next. This could prove pivotal in helping to catch the wave of the next billion dollar business opportunity.