Jack Wetson Reviews Google Glass

July 30th, 2014

In today’s blog, Jack Wetson, a member of our Technical Support team offers his views and predictions via a Q&A session, after trialling Google Glass for one week.


Q: What was your first impression of Google Glass on the first wear?

A: At first, disappointed. I’d hyped myself up into expecting a ‘Terminator-like’ experience with a crystal clear fully immersive overlay screen. What I was presented with was a device that felt clunky with an ‘off-view’ viewfinder which took some getting used to.

Q: Did your initial impression change – and if so how?

A: Absolutely! When you accept the fact this is just the first release of Google Glass, you really start to appreciate the ingenuity that has lead the device to where it is today, as well as the incredible potential that the device has for the future.

Q: How easy was the set up process/integration with Android devices etc.? Is it compatible with Apple devices?

A: Google Glass can work partially without being tethered (via Bluetooth) to a device. However its functions are limited, for example something as simple as connecting to a Wi-Fi point has to be done via a tethered device, but once it’s done it is remembered for future use. On both Android and iOS it’s a simple as downloading the MyGlass app and following the instructions. Once paired with a device, some of the functions of Google Glass become seamless; taking a photo with Google Glass becomes almost immediately available on the paired device.

Q: What were your thoughts on the available apps?

A: Unfortunately a bit limited, but the key thing to remember is that this is more of a developer release designed to give the tech to innovative companies who will help drive the product forward and, vitally, to inspire and promote creativity. Some fantastic projects have already started as a result of this release.

Q: Why would someone buy/use Glass?

A: At present Google Glass is ideal for enthusiasts. More importantly, businesses that can see the potential in this device can start programming more complicated apps for the device, helping to drive development in a product which has huge potential!

Q: What apps do you think could/should be developed to make Google Glass more useful? What would you like to see?

A: It’s very difficult to say at the moment, with the hardware somewhat lacking (such as the quality of the screen display) I personally think there should be a greater focus from Google on the hardware side. On a personal level, more social interaction would be good.

Q: How do you think this could be incorporated into business use?

A: Some businesses have already done so. Virgin airlines are currently trialling the devices; Upper Class passengers step out of their chauffeured limousine at Heathrow’s Terminal 3 and are greeted by name, whilst Virgin Atlantic staff wearing the technology will start the check-in process. At the same time, staff will be able to update passengers on their latest flight information, weather and local events at their destination and translate any foreign language information. During the four week pilot scheme, the benefits to consumers and the business will be evaluated ahead of a potential wider roll-out in the future.

Q: Is it value for money?

A: This really depends on how you look at it. If you were to buy Google Glass expecting it to be a fully-fledged, streamlined, immersive, wearable technology, with the device starting at £1000 you may feel you’ve paid significantly over the odds. However, in terms of being able to get your hands on an early technology with massive scope for the future, then yes, it is definitely value for money!

Q: In your opinion, what does the next year/future hold for Google Glass?

A: Better hardware and better software is the future for Google Glass. Later versions are already looking at being trialled for America and due to hit the UK some time later. I think a ‘consumer-friendly’ version of Google Glass is still a long way off. Some of the technology needed for this, although much of it may be invented, is nowhere near small enough to fit within Google Glass. Businesses driving both software and hardware to the device will be critical for its future. Competition is already on the horizon; Apple has had patents in place since 2012 for a similar device. With Google Glass now out in both the US and the UK, it will be interesting to see what Apple does next.

Have you tried Google Glass yet? If so, what did you think?

Catherine Howe is a Marketing Executive at Total Ltd – a business to business service provider, delivering genuine solutions across all core telecommunication services, based in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire. Total Ltd is a business that brings together and unifies all the component parts. For up to the minute business telecommunications news, please view the Total Ltd blog.

Meet Laura Pawlowska

July 29th, 2014

In today’s blog, we get the lowdown on Laura, our newest Regional Sales Manager at Total; from her background and experience, to her passions and interests.


Q: How did it all begin?

A: Over 13 years ago, I started my career as a Helpdesk Support Executive for one of the UK’s first internet service providers. As my career progressed I gained experience working directly for BT, along with some of the UK’s most forward-thinking resellers and distributors. I’m also a self-confessed geek and, like a magpie, a collector of shiny things.

Q: Why did you join Total?

A: I was aware of Total’s reputation through partners and clients so, when the opportunity was presented to me, I jumped at the chance to join the team.  Total has a friendly and open culture, whilst operating a slick machine when providing services for their clients. It’s not always easy to get the balance right, however Total has done just that. I’m thrilled to be part of the company’s future growth. The free fruit and snack bar and dreamy breakout room also helps!

Q: What do you feel has been the biggest change in the industry?

A: When I first started out, cloud-based solutions were for innovators and futurists! The cloud has now become part of every day life, and a genuine need.

Q: What do you feel is the most exciting aspect of the industry?

A: Telecommunications are, now more than ever, becoming a vital part of most businesses key infrastructure. Synchronising IT, data and voice into one converged solution has become critical in terms of cost, manageability, productivity and efficiency. And with BYOD (bring-your-own-device) becoming an increasingly popular solution, it is imperative that businesses get it right from the offset. The segregation of technologies is a thing of the past. It’s an exciting time for technology and I am glad to be involved with it.

Q: What aspects of business are you most passionate about?

A: I am passionate about service. There are so many companies out there that want your business, that much is true, but the question is how many of them can actually deliver? In my experience, I have only seen a handful. It’s great that I can confidently say, ‘Total will deliver’.

Q: What do you enjoy doing outside of work?

A: If I’m not found in a park with my young daughter, Phoebe, I’m usually creating something crafty (usually ‘Frozen’ related). Otherwise I do enjoy a glass of Merlot with friends.

If you would like to contact Laura with any queries, or to arrange a free telecoms audit, simply call 0845 070 5460.

Catherine Howe is a Marketing Executive at Total Ltd – a business to business service provider, delivering genuine solutions across all core telecommunication services, based in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire. Total Ltd is a business that brings together and unifies all the component parts. For up to the minute business telecommunications news, please view the Total Ltd blog.

There’s an app for that #23: Travelling

July 25th, 2014

This week we take a look at some highly useful and very interesting travel apps.


Currently only available for the iPhone, Jet Lag Genie is a good place to start, because you will need to use it in the days heading up to your travels.

This app works by encouraging you to alter your sleeping patterns in gradual increments leading up to your trip into an alternate time zone. It even works out when to wake you based on where and when you are going.  It tells you when to use darkness or get sunshine, and of course when to take a nap. It may be a little fiddly to follow because it really does go against routine, however it may be worth it if you want to experience another land without the confused grogginess of jet lag.

Watch those rays with World UV! Created by the British Association of Dermatologists, working alongside the Met Office, World UV provides UV forecasts for over 10,000 locations worldwide.

The UV reading is displayed scored from high to low with suggestions on how to protect your skin according to that reading, and according to your skin type.

Use it on a day out, or plan in advance and ensure you take the right SPF with you. World UV is free and available on iOS and Android.

Want Wi-Fi abroad? Of course you do. Wi-Fi Finder allows you to download all destination Wi-Fi locations to your smartphone or tablet before you leave to ensure you are able to find a hotspot offline on arrival.

Enabling users to find both free and paid services, via whichever provider is preferred, this app also allows you to find Wi-Fi via venue types (a restaurant, for example). The app covers 144 countries, encompassing over 550,000 locations, the odds are in your favour when it comes to your international Wi-Fi quest.

Wi-Fi Finder is free and available on iOS, Android and a version by a different developer is available for BlackBerry.

How does downloading ‘The World’s Largest Audio Guide’ sound? For just £2.49 via Apple, or 65p via Android (free ‘Lite’ version also available), you can enjoy your own personal tour guide via HearPlanet. The best approach would be to plan where you want to head and ideally download collections of content for offline use, as you travel.  Find places of interests and view the map to get there. It works in a similar way to the guided museum tour, however with HearPlanet you are free to roam the world with one app imparting wisdom.

With over 300,000 locations (more being added all the time) and global coverage, this is the ultimate speaking guide book – simply walk whilst you hear it talk. Why not download it and take it out locally for a spin? HearPlanet is available for iOS and Android.

Have you used a particular app to help you with your travels? If so, which one and would you recommend it?

Catherine Howe is a Marketing Executive at Total Ltd – a business to business service provider, delivering genuine solutions across all core telecommunication services, based in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire. Total Ltd is a business that brings together and unifies all the component parts. For up to the minute business telecommunications news, please view the Total Ltd blog.

Plant a seed, self or crowd-fund

July 22nd, 2014

Crowdfunding is developing in style and approach rapidly, having recently seen several ‘seed funded’ or ‘self-funded’ projects appearing. So, what’s the difference?


Crowdfunding

Using a website like Kickstarter or Indiegogo, virtual strangers can ‘pledge’ as little as £5 towards projects seeking funding. Pledges increase in value via ‘packages’ which can be the basic £5, to more lavish sums of £400 to incorporate the finished article being delivered post-production along with other perks (being named in the programming), gifts (additional free sets of your desired invention or a supportive t-shirt) and more. Most projects won’t go live (or take your money) unless they reach their full goal, however some projects are labelled as ‘flexible funding’ which means that even if they don’t reach their goal, the pledges will be retained for further development purposes.

One crowdfunding project of interest we have stumbled across is the ‘CreoPop’, the world’s first non-heated 3D pen! And, as the pen is completely heat-free it enables artists of any age to re-imagine a flat drawing into a true 3D solid form.

At the time of writing this blog, the project had already exceeded its $40,000 goal by 384%. Although you can contribute any sum you like to support the CreoPop, the $99 pledge will grant you one pen and three cartridges. The limited edition $999 pledge secures you a set of 18 pens

Self-funding

As previously reported, Tile is a success self-funded scheme. The idea is simple; Tile is a ‘lost and found’ device which is tethered to your smartphone via Bluetooth. Coming in the form of a clean and simple square, or tile, it can be attached to any object you want to keep track of.

Tile started life as a ‘Selfstarter’ campaign. The developers opted to promote and seek funding themselves, independently, as opposed to utilising the usual fee-payable crowdfunding websites. Incredibly Tile raised $2.6million and the product is now available to reserve for around $20, with shipping due later this year.

Seed Funding

Like Ringly, which we recently reported on, ‘GoTenna’ is another ‘seed fund’ project. The developers invested their own money, then raised an astonishing $1.8 million in seed funding via backers Bloomberg Beta and MentorTech Ventures to name just two. By obtaining seed funding, often in small increments by larger companies or venture investors, projects are funded to get off the ground.

GoTenna has used the seed fund route and it isn’t hard to see why it has been invested in. As an example, if you are camping in the wilderness (i.e. no Wi-Fi signal) and the group splits up, each group keeps a GoTenna device on them. The small device creates a closed network using low-frequency radio waves enabling the users to send messages to each other via the offline app. Not only can you communicate with the other group’s GoTenna, but in an emergency you can also send a signal to any GoTenna in the area, within a 50 mile radius, asking for help. It even works in ‘Airplane mode’.

Keep up to date with our crowdfunding interests via our Blog, LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter. We go back and review previously reviewed innovations to find out how well they did, which often throws up some surprises.

Catherine Howe is a Marketing Executive at Total Ltd – a business to business service provider, delivering genuine solutions across all core telecommunication services, based in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire. Total Ltd is a business that brings together and unifies all the component parts. For up to the minute business telecommunications news, please view the Total Ltd blog.

SCiO: Where is it now?

July 21st, 2014

Back in May my colleague and fellow blogger Catherine wrote about a recent start up project called SCiO, the world’s first affordable molecular sensor that fits in the palm of your hand. So, where is it now?

The start-up had a pledge goal of $200,000 and after acquiring more than 12,500 backers, SCiO managed to raise an astonishing $2,762,571 allowing the company to take the next step.

SCiO, the non-touch optical sensor, has the ability to read the chemical make-up of materials, from food and plants, to medication and plastic.

SCiO has the functionality to:

  • Get nutritional facts about different kinds of food: salad dressings, sauces, fruits, cheeses, and much more.
  • See how ripe an avocado is, through the peel!
  • Find out the quality of your cooking oil.
  • Know the well being of your plants.
  • Analyse soil or hydroponic solutions.
  • Authenticate medications or supplements.

Once an item has been scanned, the information is sent to an app which you will need to access using your smartphone.

The company are currently focusing on the mass-production of the device, which is priced from $249.

If you’re interested, you can pre-order your own SCiO by clicking here. Shipping is expected to begin in March 2015.

If you would like to discover more about SCiO here.

Jamie Sansom is a Marketing Assistant at Total Ltd – a business to business service provider, delivering genuine solutions across all core telecommunication services, based in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire. Total Ltd is a business that brings together and unifies all the component parts. For up to the minute business telecommunications news, please view the Total Ltd blog

Innovate Your Smartphone

July 17th, 2014

It’s been a little while since we explored some up and coming tech, so let’s do just that.  This week we look at a small selection of projects which have inspired the Total team.

When we first saw Google’s virtual reality cardboard template, a simple cardboard enclosure to turn any smartphone into a virtual reality headset, we really wanted to make one and try it out, until we realised that we had to buy several components in batches.

Luckily someone out there had the simple idea to buy the components in batches, create the template provided by Google and sell them on as one complete pack via a crowdfunding forum. In this case, Indiegogo.

WantCardboard is seeking £13,000 to manufacturer Google Cardboard using UK based suppliers. This is a flexible funding scheme, which means that WantCardboard will keep the money should it not reach its full goal – the upside of this is that your order will be honoured. With pledges available from £15 to £100, you can pick and choose which suits you best, with the key advantage being that every supporter will receive one complete kit.

Supported by a member of our Technical Support team, and with delivery due this month, we’re looking forward entering a cardboard virtual reality soon!

Another project which has gained some interest by one of our Business Development team members is Tile, a ‘lost and found’ device which is tethered to your smartphone via Bluetooth. Coming in the form of a clean and simple square, or tile, it can be attached to any object you want to keep track of.

It works with the accompanying app, currently only available for iOS, and users can add up to eight Tiles on one account – tag your bicycle, laptop, keys and more. Although the app can only track your items up to 150m, Tile operates on a community basis meaning that other devices with the app can also track your item – and if it does, you receive a notification of the GPS location, whilst user information remains hidden.

Interestingly, Tile started life as a ‘Selfstarter’ campaign. The developers opted to promote and seek funding themselves, independently, as opposed to utilising the usual crowd funding website. Incredibly Tile raised $2.6million and the product is now available to reserve for around $20, with shipping due later this year.

Another uniquely funded project of interest (at least to the Marketing Department) is Ringly. Thanks to a small group of investors Ringly exceeded its original goal of $60,000 in just eight hours and is now taking orders.

Founded by former Etsy and eBay employees Ringly is a device which allows women to see (via the custom colour flashing light or small vibration) whether a message or call has been received on a smartphone buried deep in a cluttered handbag. The cocktail rings can also be synchronised to apps ensuring you don’t even miss a social media update – or the vital eBay final bid.

Available in a variety of precious stones, the 18ct gold plated ring is available for around $145 and supported by the accompanying Android or iOS app.

Today’s innovation could well be tomorrow’s mobile must have. Do any of these projects inspire you?

Keep up to date with our crowdfunding interests via our Blog, LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter. We go back and review previously reviewed innovations to find out how well they did.

Catherine Howe is a Marketing Executive at Total Ltd – a business to business service provider, delivering genuine solutions across all core telecommunication services, based in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire. Total Ltd is a business that brings together and unifies all the component parts. For up to the minute business telecommunications news, please view the Total Ltd blog.

World Cup becomes most tweeted event

July 15th, 2014

It has recently been announced that the 2014 World Cup in Brazil has become the most tweeted about event, ever.

Germany’s World Cup victory over Argentina has become the highest ‘tweets-per-minutes’ event as it peaked at 618,000 tweets per minute during the game.

A total of 672 million tweets with the hashtag #WorldCup were tweeted over the course of the 32 day football tournament as people took to the social network to express their views and opinions.

It may come as no surprise to see that Germany’s 7-1 defeat over hosts Brazil was the most popular match on the social network, generating a rough total of 35.6m tweets!

Neymar Jr, one of Brazil’s biggest stars and arguably their best player throughout the tournament, was the most mentioned individual on Twitter, followed by Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Cristinao Ronaldo.

Facebook has revealed that 88m users generated more than 280m likes, comments and posts during the World Cup final, setting itself a new record for the most interactions received for an event.

Do any of these statistics surprise you?

Let us know.

Jamie Sansom is Marketing Assistant at Total Ltd – a business to business service provider, delivering genuine solutions across all core telecommunication services, based in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire. Total Ltd is a business that brings together and unifies all the component parts. For up to the minute business telecommunications news, please view the Total Ltd blog

Appolution

July 14th, 2014

Can you remember when the most advanced feature on a mobile phone was a ‘personal organiser’? From humble beginnings, it now it seems we can’t live without our apps.

The earliest memorable ‘apps’ date back to the late 90’s, and included the classic 70’s game Snake, which was followed by Tetris, Pong and Tic-Tac-Toe. All were pre-installed on the device and came as part of the manufacturer’s package. There were no add-ons, no alternatives.

In order to provide a more bespoke offering, manufacturers realised they needed a portal; the internet – and WAP, initially – provided the solution.  Ringtones and wallpaper catalogues followed quickly as the first commercial ‘apps’ available, with premium prices and delivered as an image or audio file specific to the device.

Leaping forward, gradually new platforms emerged, with Palm OS and RIM BlackBerry OS being the first. Apple iPhone iOS and Google’s Android followed in 2007 and 2008 respectively.

It is hard to believe that apps, as we now know them, have only been around for a relatively short period of time. Let’s say 6 years. During this time we have come to expect apps as part of our mobile service. We also expect our banks, online stores and social media sites to develop them for us as opposed to the handset manufacturer.

So, where are we headed? Overall app usage increased by 115% in 2013. Messaging apps, in particular, were up 203% on 2012. Free apps dominated 2013 with 83 billion downloads. Snake has been well and truly cannibalised by Angry Birds, which has been downloaded more than 2 billion times in total. Candy Crush ‘crushed’ its opponents, being the most downloaded free app of 2013, played an estimated 700 million times a day on smartphones and tablets. Candy Crush is predicted to generate more revenue than Angry Birds with estimates of between $623,000 to $850,000 a day and growing.

In 2013, the total revenue generated from apps reached $26 billion. Interestingly, Gartner predicts that 94.5% of downloads will be for free apps by 2017.

Where do you see the future of apps heading?

Catherine Howe is a Marketing Executive at Total Ltd – a business to business service provider, delivering genuine solutions across all core telecommunication services, based in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire. Total Ltd is a business that brings together and unifies all the component parts. For up to the minute business telecommunications news, please view the Total Ltd blog.

Portable chargers for travellers, festival goers and campers

July 11th, 2014

When packing for a festival you must always check you have the essentials – a chair, a tent, a pair of wellies, a sleeping bag, a change of clothes and all the food and drink you can carry. However, for a lot of festival goers who want to capture and re-live the memories, a smartphone and a portable charger has been added to the list of necessary festival equipment.

There’s nothing more I enjoy than camping with my friends in a field, meeting new people, drinking warm lager that’s been left in the sun and getting a buzz from seeing my favourite artists perform on stage. However, unfortunately I am one of those sad people who cannot live without their smartphone. I never leave the house without it and it’s probably my most important item to take when attending a festival.

When I’m not enjoying the music, I do like to record the whole festival experience for posterity and also post the odd snap to social media to share with my friends who aren’t lucky enough to be there.

If you can relate to me then you will also know that countless photos and videos aren’t great for your smartphone’s battery life. In fact my battery will often die on day one of the festival meaning I can no longer use my phone.

This has now changed as I have discovered the genius invention of portable chargers!

Last year I purchased the EasyAcc 10000mAh Portable Power Bank and it is fantastic. It cost me around £22 and it was able to fully charge my iPhone 5 four times before losing its power. I leant it to a colleague who recently attended Glastonbury and she also said it was brilliant, charging two mobile devices simultaneously and also a pair of portable speakers (the mains charger to power up my portable power bank cost me an extra £10). If you’re crazy enough to take your tablet to a festival, it can also charge that.

The power bank slightly too big to fit in your trouser pocket (or shorts pocket if you’re like me) but it’s a reasonable size and isn’t too heavy. It comes with a USB suitable for the iPhone 4 but any cable with a USB on the end will work.

It will never be as important as the music, tent and ticket but it’s on my check list, along with my smartphone, whenever I’m packing for a festival.

My friend also has a portable charger which is slightly more powerful than mine and his gets more than four full charges from it. His charger is bigger, bulkier and more expensive but depending on how long you camp for will depend on which charger is most suitable for you. I would recommend investigating and investing in something similar to anyone who travels, camps, or attends festivals as it really is a simple, yet great piece of technology.

The device is also useful for business use and working professionals who are always on the go. Phone calls and emails are regularly used as a means of communication and the last thing you want is your business mobile or tablet to run out of battery half way through the day!

And more recently, changes in airport security have been reported where if our devices won’t power up, we may be forced to leave them behind. I think my portable charger will be coming on holiday with me next week.

Jamie Sansom is Marketing Assistant at Total Ltd – a business to business service provider, delivering genuine solutions across all core telecommunication services, based in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire. Total Ltd is a business that brings together and unifies all the component parts. For up to the minute business telecommunications news, please view the Total Ltd blog

There’s an app for that #22: Silly Walks, Blek and Angry Birds Epic

July 10th, 2014

Let’s take a look at some new releases; from the sublime to the ridiculous, it never fails to amaze us what is out there.

It seems timely to report on top selling new app ‘The Ministry of Silly Walks’ courtesy of Monty Python.

For the uninitiated, ‘The Ministry of Silly Walks’ was originally a comedy sketch, performed by John Cleese, who played the role of a developer of Silly Walks, for the government. Timed to coincide with Monty Python’s final tour, the game has become popular on both platforms.

The premise is simple, (silly) walk, run and jump around London collecting coins whilst dodging pigeons and various other obstacles planted in your path. The graphics are clear and the gameplay is smooth. It’s simple; “showcase your increasingly frantic promenading as far as you possibly can”.

This is certainly an interesting evolution for the popular comedy group who rose to fame in the 70’s before mobile phones were even contemplated, let alone mobile gaming. Surprisingly it isn’t their first foray into the world of apps, with Python Bytes being their first.

Available for both Android and Apple, priced at 99p. For those who would like to practice their moves in the real world, full gait instructions are available here.

Now for something completely different. Blek.

This is an award-winning Bauhaus style art puzzle game. Not only is the visual description difficult to explain but so is the premise, so I would wholeheartedly suggest viewing the official trailer first. Once you’ve done that, the premise of joining coloured dots, avoiding black dots with a drawn, dynamic flowing line, with no instructions may make more sense. Due to its uniqueness and described by one reviewer as a ‘stroke of genius’, the game continues to be a phenomenal success.

Blek is available for both Android priced at £1.75 and Apple, priced at 69p.

Angry Birds is still going strong five years since it was first released, with Angry Birds Epic on the new release list.

Slingshotting birds directly into enemy pigs and random structures continues in a new Epic setting and with all new weapons.

From snow capped peaks to tribal villages, destroy your villains with magic potions, defend yourself with armour. Wear a cactus hat if you wish.

Available for Android and Apple, Angry Birds Epic is free to download.

There is something for everyone so, if you’re going on holiday, why not download some in-flight entertainment for both you and your family before you leave. Just don’t forget your charger.

Catherine Howe is a Marketing Executive at Total Ltd – a business to business service provider, delivering genuine solutions across all core telecommunication services, based in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire. Total Ltd is a business that brings together and unifies all the component parts. For up to the minute business telecommunications news, please view the Total Ltd blog.