Why Augmented Reality Is The Future

Posted in Tips on 27 August 2014
“What’s the next big thing to come out of the tech world during the coming 10 years?” the man asked in the sweltering sunlight. The setting was Lightning in a Bottle, a music, arts, and spirituality festival held each year in California. Chad Hurley, the founder of YouTube, was on stage at the Temple of Consciousness giving his take on founding and building a successful business in the age of the internet.
YouTube, as you may know, was purchased by Google to the tune of over $1.5 billion back in 2006, giving Chad and his colleagues an inside look at upcoming innovations.
“It’s certainly not Google Glass,” he said. “Have you heard of augmented reality?” a subject that has interested us at Fueled since we heard about it. Augmented reality technology has been in the works for years, with the first AR mirror already on the market.
Essentially, augmented reality provides a real-time look at the world, with added features. For example, popular Smartphone apps offer the ability to look at a landscape while simultaneously viewing GPS information. Other well-known possibilities include the ability to gaze at the night sky with constellations highlighted. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
There are myriad applications of augmented reality technologies in the professional world. For example, in the near future, architects will be able to construct 3-D digital blueprints of their projects and superimpose them on the construction zone, allowing them to better visualize and modify massive buildings before the concrete sets.
Volkswagen already uses augmented reality to assess safety tests. And on the topic of safety, augmented reality technology shows promise for increasing the abilities of doctors and surgeons, allowing medical professionals to simultaneously view injuries and valuable information about the patient’s pulse, body temperature, and more.
Beauty company Sephora recently launched the world’s first augmented reality mirror. While it may lack the practical applications of other technologies, this product is sure to become a favorite with the luxury crowd. The screen allows users to visualize the effect of makeup on their faces, without putting any on. In the near future, products like this will make their way into the homes of the wealthy, just one of the ways that augmented reality promises to make life more convenient.
Video game companies have been researching augmented reality capabilities for years, and the time that this sort of entertainment hits the streets is fast approaching. Soon, indoor games that use AR will create fantastic worlds, mimic laser battles, or pose challenging puzzles through a blend of real and virtual components.
Another promising lead is the idea of virtual geo-caching, where participants are forced to navigate the real world to find digital objects in a series of challenging adventures.
Aesthetic considerations also play into augmented reality predictions. As Mr. Hurley explained, people will soon be able to add to their experience of the world. “If you like palm trees, you’ll be able to walk down a street lined with palm trees, no matter where you are.”
Perhaps more disturbing would be the capability to recall dead relatives or distant friends, placing them within a world that is only half-real.
Whatever the case, augmented reality will give everyday users more direct control over their experience of the world.


Pinterest Testing News Section With iOS Users

Posted in News on 27 August 2014
Pinterest is testing a “News” section with iOS users.
News updates will appear in users’ notifications tab, to offer updates on new likes as well as pins and follows from the people they follow.
“If you’re on mobile, you may notice a new section in your notifications called ‘News’,” reads a Pinterest blog post.
“Your News tab gives you a snapshot of what’s up with your Facebook friends and all the different Pinners, brands and boards you follow.You’ll discover things like the latest projects people are collecting Pins for, or interesting companies they’ve found to follow. (The one thing you won’t see are Pins that people save to their secret boards—as always, those are totally under wraps.)”
Pinterest said it will be testing the News section over the next few weeks and asked users to offer feedback.
News of the new feature comes close on the heels of the social media site’s announcement of Conversations, the new direct-messaging tool enables users to exchange private messages with fellow pinners via its website or its iOS or Android apps. Now, once a pin is sent, the recipient can send a pin back to them or reply with a message.
“Every day, people send more than two million Pins,” reads a Pinterest blog post. “Sending a Pin is a great way to let someone know you found something they’d love. We wanted to make it easier for you to have a good old-fashioned conversation about those Pins.”
Conversations also allows pins and messages to be sent to multiple people.
Pinterest has made a number of improvements and updates to its app to capitalize on and continue to foster the growth it has experienced in the past year.
Pinterest topped the recently-released American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) with a 76 percent satisfaction rate. The site has steadily gained the approval of its pinners over the past three years due to its improved features and search functions.


Ballloon Provides Quick Trip to the Cloud

Posted in News on 27 August 2014
A new Google Chrome extension aims to pop wait times when it comes to saving items to the cloud.
ChromeBallloon — yes, it’s spelled with three Ls — helps users collect images, pics, PDF files or links straight to their Dropbox, Google Drive,
OneDrive or Box without the downloading steps similar extensions can require. It makes saving material to the cloud quicker and much more simple. All that is required is one left click on the mouse.
“It is just like a floating balloon, which will fly directly to clouds,” the extension’s site explains.
Users needs to only hover their mouses over a picture, for example, for a small icon with clouds to pop up, they then choose the desired destination and send it to the cloud.
“We have designed Ballloon to be as easy as possible,” the site explains. “There is still a lot more we want to do, to make saving simple and fast for all.”
The extension has been created by Madhouse Tech and, since being launched, has received a handful of favorable reviews on the Google site.
Files are saved to a Ballloon folder in a user’s cloud account. Once saved, files can be shared with other people or accessed on other computers.
One of the nice features about Ballloon is if a user happens to lose track of where they have saved their files they can just go to the Ballloon departures page where there’s a log of what has been saved and where.
While the extension is currently available there are more options coming, the site explains.


Amazon Gets its Game Face On With Acquisition of Twitch

Posted in News on 27 August 2014
eCommerce giant Amazon is adding Internet video broadcast channel Twitch to the fold in a cool $970-million cash-deal.
Although the actual purchase price comes in under the $1 billion-mark, sources told Reuters “some retention agreements” will push the deal past that amount.
The move comes as no surprise — CEO Jeff Bezos is doing his darnedest to make Amazon a one-stop shop for all things entertainment. The purchase puts Amazon in direct competition with the mobile gaming big boys — Apple and Google — as the eRetailer looks to take a substantial slice from the massive mobile gaming app market. Currently, online games make up more than 75 percent of all mobile app sales.
But the purchase could also mean more competition for Netflix.
Although Twitch is geared toward gamers, the video platform offers commentary, and online shows as well as gaming footage.
“Broadcasting and watching gameplay is a global phenomenon,” Bezos said in a statement. “Twitch has built a platform that brings together tens of millions of people who watch billions of minutes of games each month — from The International, to breaking the world record for Mario, to gaming conferences like E3.”
Twitch has more than 1.1 million unique broadcasters per month and its videos reach more than 55 million gamers.
Twitch CEO Emmett Shear said the acquisition will not impact its location or staffing.
“We chose Amazon because they believe in our community, they share our values and long-term vision, and they want to help us get there faster,” Shear wrote in a blog post. “We’re keeping most everything the same: our office, our employees, our brand, and most importantly our independence. But with Amazon’s support we’ll have the resources to bring you an even better Twitch.”
It was reported earlier this year that Twitch was also in talks with Google, but a deal never materialized.


Google Merchant Center's New Shipping Tool: Everything You Need to Know

Posted in Tips on 25 August 2014

Recently, negative feedback started accumulating for Google Merchant Center. That feedback centered around a lack of transparency in multiple areas, but, especially relating to shipping. To combat the issue, Google Merchant Center added a new shipping tool on Aug. 5.

The Issue

In certain situations, customers were given a price at the beginning of the process that was supposed to be inclusive of shipping charges. At the end of the process, the final price differed from what was shown originally in certain situations. This led to an increasingly dissatisfied customer base and could have hindered the Merchant Center in the future.

The New Shipping Tool

The new shipping configuration tool is designed to display accurate pricing throughout the online shopping process.

The tool allows merchants to configure accurate rates based on:

  • Shipping Rules: Merchants can use the tool to select an option from an expanded list of available methods that can be customized based on a hierarchical set of rules.
  • Multiple Shipping Methods: Google Merchant Center merchants can now differentiate between multiple methods – like ground shipping verses overnight express shipping – for the same country so Google is able to display the lowest potential price to any given shopper.
  • Customization Based on Location: Rates can now be configured based on shipping destination to various countries, states and cities.
  • Simplified Exclusion Options: Merchants can now openly share which products cannot ship to certain regions.
  • Reusable Shared Library: Google Merchant Center Merchants can use the Shipping Configuration Tool to create a repository of shipping methods that can be easily selected and reused across various custom configurations within the system.

New Shipping Attribute

Along with the Shipping Configuration Tool, the Merchant Center also released a new shipping attribute that’s designed to allow merchants to assign shipping labels to certain products and to configure exact rates based upon the selected label. The labels could include “fragile,” “bulky,” “standard” or “perishable,” and are customizable for the merchant. This saves time when multiple similar items need to be shipped or for merchants who routinely ship certain products.

To be more specific, according to Google’s official terms, the new attribute has four sub-attributes. They include:

  • Country: this is by country code. By default, it is set to coincide with the merchant’s target country.
  • Geographic Area: This is accompanied by an additional four sub-attributes. A merchant can select one with each order.
    • Region
    • Postal Code
    • Location ID
    • Location Group Name
  • Service: This allows the name of the shipping method to be clearly displayed with a description.
  • Price: This is for fixed delivery prices.

Each of these sub-attributes is optional. While they allow for higher rates of customer satisfaction and overall clarity, they are not required to be used by the merchant.

This attribute, and its related sub-attributes, requires no additional effort or updating on the part of Google Merchant Center merchants. The system automatically migrated existing shipping settings to be compatible with the tool.

Shipping Policy Check and Questions You May Have

Even with the new tool and attribute, it is critical that merchants using Google’s Merchant Center familiarize themselves with Google’s shipping policy, since new and existing shipping methods will be subject to approval.

The policy states that Google’s shopping tool allows only the promotion of products and websites that offer shipping to the areas or country regions that they are targeting. Reaching beyond this market is not permitted.

Merchants are required to be upfront and transparent at all times – the reason for the tool’s creation in the first place – by providing shoppers and potential customers with “complete and correct shipping information and costs.” Any handling fees, insurance fees or miscellaneous costs must be included in the shipping price.

Shipping outside of the country

For retailers looking to ship from outside of a target country, it’s essential that they provide shipping information relevant to the target region or area and that they “prominently state that all customs and customs-related fees are not included in the item price or shipping price” during the checkout process before the order is actually placed.

What if a Product Listing is Disapproved Under the New Policy, Attribute and Tool?

Because of the new policy and tool, certain listings may be disapproved, even if they were approved in the past. If this happens, the merchant will receive a notification with the reason the product was disapproved, along with steps to remediate the situation. It’s a straightforward process.

What if I fail to adhere to Google’s Merchant policy?

In some situations, merchant accounts can be suspended. This stops product listings from being displayed and halts the acceptance of new data. This can be temporary or permanent, so it’s critical to follow the new guidelines carefully.

Google Merchant Center’s new shipping tool and shipping attribute make it easier than ever to build solid customer relationships built upon trust and transparency. This should be your top goal as a retailer. No one wants to be deceived, and there’s nothing worse than thinking a total price will be one thing then finding hidden fees and costs at the last minute that weren’t expected or explained at the start.

The upgrade has been automatically applied to all Google merchants, so reconfiguration or action is not necessary to activate the tool. However, Google does recommend that users take a look at the new system and become more familiar with its offerings to utilize it effectively. To learn more about the Shipping Configuration Tool, visit the Merchant Center today.



Twitter Takes First Place for Company Culture, Values: Glassdoor

Posted in News on 25 August 2014
When it comes to culture and values, Twitter is tops, according to a new list from Glassdoor.
The list is compiled by the company-review site based on hundreds of thousands of U.S. employee surveys across all industries.
Twitter stole the No. 1 spot on Glassdoor’s first-ever Top 25 Companies for Culture and Values list, followed by Google in third place and Facebook in fifth. The other companies making up the top 10 are not from the technology sector.
Further down the list was Apple, which nabbed the 15th spot and Adobe in 20th, NetApp took the last slot — No. 25 — on the list.
Only companies with at least 1,000 employees were considered.
Employee reviews of Twitter were glowing, with one calling it “the best place I have ever worked.” Another called the company culture “amazing,” citing “massive growth potential and really interesting product.”
“The people are just the best,” reads one review. “Amazing culture. Always learning something new at Twitter University. Team meetings on the roof are the best, great teamwork and a lot of smart people. I love how the 10 core values drive the company to always be better.”
A friendly atmosphere with approachable managers and executives were also labeled as major pluses.


Amazon Looking to Expand Advertising Revenue

Posted in News on 25 August 2014
There’s an advertising war brewing online.
While Google currently leads the Web advertising market, Amazon is looking for a bigger slice of the pie. The Wall Street Journal reported Amazon is developing a system to replace ads that come mainly through Google with its own in-house ad platform.
This means the company could start making more cash off the Internet and pull some of the $50 billion Google makes each year off advertising.
It’s a natural evolution considering Amazon’s in-depth knowledge when it comes to consumers. The company has a stronghold on online purchasing and, over the years, has developed an intimate knowledge of consumerism on the Web.
“Amazon could use the data it has about buying behavior to help make these ads much more effective. Marketers would love to have another viable option beyond Google and Facebook for their advertising,” Karsten Weide, an analyst at researcher IDC, told The Wall Street Journal.
Many of the ads people see on Amazon pages now come through Google, reported Computer World. Amazon does have some of its own advertisements on other sites but nowhere near the scope of Google’s. This new system could change that in a major way.
This new system, reportedly, will be similar to Google’s AdWords with keyword-targeted ads placed near search results.


Windows 9 Preview Set for Sept. 30: Reports

Posted in News on 25 August 2014
Microsoft is gearing up for the debut of Windows 9 next month, according to various news reports.
The software giant has tentatively scheduled a special press event for Sept. 30 to introduce Windows 9, people with “knowledge” of Microsoft’s plans told The Verge.
Not much is known, as yet, about the new operating system — code-named Windows Threshold — although it is thought Microsoft will continue on with its numerical names. It is widely thought the new version will be known as Windows 9.
ZDNet reported Microsoft is planning to launch a “technology preview” of Threshold at the end of September or early the following month. According to the report, users would be able to test the operating system but, to do so, would need to have software updates automatically downloaded to the platform on a monthly basis.
Threshold — or Windows 9 — is expected to include a “mini Smart Menu,” separate windows for Metro-style apps running on the desktop and support for virtual desktops.
Microsoft, The Verge said, will be revealing some of the upgrades and new features at the Sept. 30 event. It is expected the operating system will launch as a beta preview soon after its debut.


Facebook Offering Rewards for Bug Discoveries in Oculus Rift

Posted in News on 22 August 2014
If you’re a virtual reality aficionado, there may be a way to make money from your passion.
Facebook is now including Oculus Rift, its virtual reality gaming glasses, in its bug bounty program. The social network doled out $2 billion last month to purchase the maker of the device: Oculus VR. Oculus Rift is expected to hit the market later this year or in early 2015.
Now that the Oculus Rift headsets are part of the bug bounty program, users can report bugs to Facebook for a monetary reward. Those who notify the firm of small or minor glitches will receive the minimum reward of $500. The reward increases based on the severity of the bug discovered and there is no maximum payout. Last year, the social network shelled out $1.5 million in bug bounties.
Facebook security engineer Neal Poole told The Verge most bugs are in Oculus’ messaging system, but he anticipates that could change when the device — Facebook’s first hardware product — goes on the market.
“A lot of the issues that come up with Oculus are not necessarily in the hardware yet,” Poole told The Verge. “Potentially in the future, if people were to go explore and find issues in the SDK or the hardware, that is definitely of interest to us.”
Oculus first gave a demonstration of the Oculus Rift prototype at the Electronic Entertainment Expo in June 2012. Since then, its invention has generated a lot of interest. The company launched a Kickstarter campaign in August 2012 to further develop the product and surpassed its $250,000 goal in just four hours. It had secured more than $1 million within 36 hours and, by the time the month was up, it had managed to raise more than $2.4 million.
Oculus is Facebook’s second multi-billion-dollar purchase this year — it snapped up messaging app WhatsApp in February for $19 billion.


Chairless Chair Geared Toward Safety, Productivity

Posted in News on 22 August 2014
Wearable Ergonomic Device Being Created
Have a seat without ever sitting down.
It sounds odd but a new product being worked on by Noonee is exactly that, a chair that is not a chair but still provides support and relieves stress on one’s body. It’s being pitched as a means to help productivity among factory workers while lessening the fatigue and stress they face each day at work.
Explained in a simpler way, it’s the latest ergonomic creation that could truly benefit companies and employees.
“It enables a completely new experience of resting your legs while moving around. Our innovation is based on robotic principles for Bio-Inspired Legged Locomotion and Actuation, and on the principles of Passive Dynamics research,” the company’s website explains. “Integrating the knowledge and insights gained from these research approaches has allowed us to overcome the weight and power constraints of wearable mechatronic systems.”
The Chairless Chair is lightweight and worn on the legs directing bodyweight toward the heel of the wearer’s shoes. The device itself does not touch the ground meaning users can still walk with it on but, when working in a stationary position, supports normal muscle function in the lower limbs.
The team behind the product says the Chairless Chair addresses not only productivity but safety concerns for companies across the globe.
“Safety concerns must be addressed for all groups represented in the workforce, especially those related to injuries due to awkward postures or repetitive stress,” the site says. “Such injuries result in heavy costs, including medical expenses, operations down time, workers compensation premiums and retraining. These costs are a major burden for companies and their employees and can be reduced by using adequate preventative measures.”
The patent for the Chairless Chair is still pending.


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