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.

Kickstart Your Monday: GOkey, Rainforest Connection and Earin

July 7th, 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 three very different projects: GOkey via Indiegogo alongside Rainforest Connection and Earin via Kickstarter.

If you want to be part of GOkey, you need to move quickly as it is coming to the end of its crowd-fundraising period via Indiegogo.

I have to say that this is one of the most extraordinary overachievers I’ve spotted to date; the original goal of $40,000 has been exceeded by over $850,000, with time still left on the clock. What makes this such an object of desire?

Well, it’s a USB stick sized unit which contains an OTG (on-the-go) battery to keep your smartphone alive for an additional two hours in emergencies. It also contains a USB cable so you can charge/sync at will. It’s a locator – find your keys, find your phone. It is also storage – incorporating up to 32GB of (password protected) flash memory depending on which one you buy. As an aside, it is also a phone remote (think camera, music, incoming calls).  And all of that is conveniently compacted into one key ring, which you can plug directly into your phone or power outlet and, of course carry around with you as you would your keys.

As we’re a generation of consumers who like to have everything crammed into one device GOkey has really tapped into that desire. Why not take a look at the video and see what you think?

When you’re ready for your upgrade and handed your device in for recycling, do you ever wonder where it goes? This innovative project, called the Rainforest Connection, makes good use of them and not in the way that you would think.

The device, made out of recycled mobiles, is used to alert local teams in real time to illegal logging and poaching in rainforests, which is the first of its kind in the world.  The device is set up to listen for ‘sounds of destruction’, chainsaws are a good example. In another respect, users can simply listen to the sounds of rainforest, should you ever wish to visualise yourself there. The first project has been set up in Indonesia where, within days, the device alerted a local team to illegal logging and subsequently they were able to arrive on scene in minutes and catch the loggers red-handed. The developers are hoping to roll the project out across Africa and the Amazon, with Brazil and Indonesia if more money is raised.  According to the developers, when it comes to rainforest preservation as a whole, one device is the equivalent to taking 3,000 cars off the road.

Campaigning via Kickstarter, Rainforest Connection is seeking $100,000 in pledges; will you help them reach their goal?

We’ve been looking for Earin our whole lives. Although this is technically not accurate, who hasn’t cursed headphone wires at some point, whether tangled or pulling the speakers out of your ears in the gym? As this blogger has experienced both annoyances, often simultaneously, I am relieved to see that a completely wireless headphone set is in the offing via Kickstarter.

The two speakers sit in the ear independently of each other and any wires. With absolutely no interface required, simply pair with your smartphone and press ‘play’. The developers also promise a clearer sound and better energy efficiency than any other in ear speaker.  The buds are stored in a capsule for safety – the capsule also charges them so the speakers are ready to go whenever you are.

If you want to be part of this project and want to be one of the first to own a pair of Earin ear buds, you have around two weeks left to take part. Coming a close second to GOkey in the over-achievers stakes, at the time of reviewing Earin, it had exceeded its £179,000 by almost £580,000.  With all the lower price pledges now all taken, backers can still get their own Earin set via the £119 Pledge, which is still less than the likely retail price of £159.

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

Would any of today’s innovations inspire you to pledge?

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.

Hash tags: #Where #Why #How

July 3rd, 2014

Oddly enough, hash tags were invented alongside the pound (‘lb’) abbreviation, around 700 years ago. The initial appearance of ‘lb’ appeared with a line through the centre of it (‘lb’). Moving from the end of a number to the beginning, the hash tag evolved to replace the word ‘number’ (#1), eventually mutating into the Twitter friendly symbol – ‘#’ – we use daily with a very different meaning.

Hash tags are now a symbol of metadata, utilised to stipulate a topic or name which generates a clickable link, to enable users with similar interests or topics to engage in conversation or follow those topics. Hash tagged topics are not moderated and are never ‘retired’. A single hash tag can be used for many things, for example ‘#Tip’ can be placed within a post to relay useful information or absolute nonsense, by scholars or pranksters. Spelling can also be an issue.  But they do have their uses – want to know more about #BreakingBad or even the #NobelPrize? Click on the hash tag, read all about it, view the latest images and feel informed.

Originally rejected as being ‘too geeky’ by Twitter, hash tags have only been utilised in their current form since 2009. The hash tag now also provides a way for social media users to express their emotions, #great. There are plenty of #awkward posts out there too, thanks to the number of teenagers using the site.

When the same hash tag is used by many people, Twitter reports this via ‘trending topics’, which of course offer a direct route for Twitter voyeurs into the hot topics of the day. You stand more chance of your post being read if it relates to a hot topic, or ‘trend’.

However, after just 3 years, the hash tag is evolving outside of the environment it grew up in. The text messages I receive on my mobile – outside of any social media app – contain #hungry, #tired, #bored, along with an endless list of abbreviations:  “HIG. POS. TTG. TBC, TTYL #awkward” is now an actual text conversation. The word hash tag is even said in conversation: watch Justin Timberlake and Jimmy Fallon demo how it’s done here. In fact, JC Penney recently ran a scheme where customers received a discount if they spoke the word hash tag at the till, #notimpressed.

Hash tags are now used across various social media sites; Facebook and Instagram are two which have recently bowed to the pressure to allow hash tags. Despite appearances, before you know it they have a way of infiltrating the way in which you relay information.

In short, utilise the hash tag sparingly to allow others to find your #topic. If you want to message someone on Twitter use their Twitter name instead (@Total_ltd for example).  You can use hash tags on Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram, Google+ and Tumblr. Grammar and punctuation has little to do with it; so it’s no to spaces in between words and no punctuation within your hash tag itself. #GoodLuck

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.

An introduction to cryptocurrencies

July 2nd, 2014

We’ve all heard of Bitcoin, but have you heard of Namecoin, Litecoin, Mastercoin, Betacoin and Globe? We have seen at least 50 variants of known digital and cryptocurrency come and go in cyber space. How did it all begin?

Pre-millennia, there was ‘E-gold’. Boasting ‘better money since 1996’, by 1999, the Financial Times called it “the only electronic currency that has achieved critical mass on the web”.  Unfortunately it wasn’t the right kind of critical mass. E-gold traded in precious metals via an online account, which was accessible to international users.

Instead of becoming a legitimate currency rival, E-gold’s optimistic creator, Douglas Jackson, saw it abused by hackers and drug dealers looking to launder money, due to not running user identity checks. Despite his before-its-time innovation, Jackson ended up on the distinctively wrong side of the law himself in 2005 when his house was raided and he pleaded guilty to running an unlicensed money transmitter business. It is worth noting that the upside of creating and using an asset backed currency is that Mr Jackson was able to liquidate vaults of gold to pay out on $20m claims.

All that aside, the fact that E-gold users opened more than 4 million accounts, with more than $60m in deposits, proved the need and inclination to develop an online currency. And soon enough, Goldmoney was hot on E-golds heels, featuring all the corrected verification issues omitted during E-gold account set up. With the growth of e-commerce, we’ve never looked back.

Introducing a cryptocurrency isn’t for the feint-hearted, with strict regulations now in place involving identity checks, registering as a money transmitter and account monitoring; it is a costly exercise to embark on and a difficult business investment to fund. And by no means is every loophole closed, with many regulatory debates held in full view of the world media.

Fast forward to 2014 and skimming over alternative cryptocurrencies, we reach the highly-publicised Bitcoin. The fact that Bitcoin is decentralised and remains in effect ‘a concept’ makes it hard to pinpoint any potential blame in the way in which the E-gold case was handled. Some countries have banned it and, in the USA, Bitcoins are not recognised as currency but as ‘property’ for tax purposes and subject to capital gains. As reported in the Guardian, “paying for a beer in Bitcoin would be a taxable event with the buyer having to work out if they had made any capital gain on the asset they had just sold.”

But for the e-user, Bitcoin could be a good option. In today’s international marketplace, Bitcoins can be transferred to a location on the other side of the world almost instantly and with no fees or change of currency. Small fees are requested for certain processes and to pay those who run the Bitcoin network, however it remains the users choice as to whether to pay the fees or not.  Buy Bitcoins from friends or ‘mine’ them. However, ensure you don’t accidentally throw your digital wallet away like this person did, losing around $7m. Ouch. There are several Bitcoin videos available to illustrate the scheme; why not take a look at this one?

Yes, the concept is completely different to anything we’ve known before and will take some getting used to. The question is, if the circulation of Bitcoin ever ceased, could the balance of an account suddenly find itself worthless, with no way of selling any assets to replenish it?

Are you a Bitcoin user? And if you are, what have you found to be the key benefits of using cryptocurrency?

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.

The Samsung S5 mini is official!

July 1st, 2014

Yes, it’s true, Samsung has officially announced the arrival of the Galaxy S5 mini, a few months after the S5 was released.

I’m guessing it comes as no great surprise for Samsung fans as the majority of them would have been anticipating the announcement given that Samsung had previously offered ‘mini’ versions for its earlier Galaxy range, the S3 and S4.

Over the past few years some Samsung fans have been slightly disappointed by the ‘mini’ versions of the premium smartphones, feeling they lacked many of the features that their older siblings had.

However, the S5 mini is sure to keep a lot of Samsung fans happy as it offers a range of high tech features found on the S5 including the finger print scanner, the heart rate monitor and the IP67 water and dust resistant chassis.

Galaxy S5 mini Galaxy S5
1.4GHz quad-core processor 2.5 GHz Quad-core processor
1.5GB of RAM 2GB of RAM
16GB of internal memory 16 or 32GB of internal memory
8MP rear camera 16MP rear camera
2.1MP front camera 2MP front camera

The S5 mini will run Android 4.4.2 KitKat and it will be 4G enabled. It has a 4.5inch touch-screen display as apposed to a 5.1inch display found on the S5.

We are still unaware of the release date and price for the S5 mini but it should go on sale sometime during July.

If you want to discover more about the Galaxy S5, check out our Youtube video, Samsung Galaxy S5 in a nutshell

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