Well I Never, Five Tech Developments We Didn’t See Coming

touchscreenThe world of modern technology moves so very quickly. It is difficult to keep abreast from week to week as scientists, computer experts and programmers come up with so many new and exciting developments.

Some innovations – such as the useful and fun Google Goggles – have come right out of nowhere in so far as the consciousness of the majority of the public is concerned.

Even mobile telephones with MMS capability, camera integration and web access are something which the public could never have imagined 15 years ago but which have become a necessity now. Other advances such as digital photo frames, mobile phone payments which work with scanners and online gaming with voice chat were hard to predict yet seemed likely with the way in which technology was headed for so long.

Here are just five of the most interesting developments in technology so far – we definitely didn’t see these ones coming!

iPod: The iPod is one of the iconic gadgets of our modern generation. Considering that the predecessor was the personal stereo CD player then this compact little machine really did amaze the general public. The gadget has come a very long way since the original came out and now boasts a touch screen, internet access, video capability, and an incredible amount of storage for games, music and apps.

Reverse image search: The reverse image search sites were a real innovation in themselves. To think that one could upload a photo and that software would find that item and all its relevant details on the internet was incredible.

Google Goggles has taken this technology mobile and through taking a simple photograph with a mobile phone you can find all manner of results on your chosen subject.

Cloud: Cloud computing is something which many in the know could have predicted. However, the way in which it has changed how we work forever is remarkable. By storing information and software on the internet, we now have access to our data in a way like never before.

Touch screens: We now take mobile phones with touch screens for granted and these can be purchased for a reasonable amount of money. However, when these first were introduced they were an incredible innovation.

Google Glass: Google Glass takes us into the realms of science fiction with its “augmented reality”. These streamlined glasses with a small screen above the right eye will give you information on your next appointment, the weather up ahead – and potentially so much more. This is one innovation which – if it caught on – would change the face of the world as we know it.


Sarah Paige is a writer with a keen interest in telecommunications. Sarah currently has her eye on cloud computing companies such as the Macquarie Telecom Group (ASX:MAQ). Follow her on twitter @sarahleepaige.

The 5 Best Annual Technology Conventions

From the creation of cars, to ergonomic couches, to prosthetic joints, technological advancements lay down the path for a brighter future. As everyone at Box and Dice knows all too well, it’s essential that we foster our excitement for technological development and learn as much as we can about its possibilities. Here are some top class technology conventions to keep you informed and enthused… and they couldn’t be in better locations!

International Consumer Electronics Show – Las Vegas, USA

The international ICA is one of the largest consumer technology conventions in the world, so a pilgrimage to Las Vegas is a must for all die-hard techies. Occurring in early January each year, the event showcases revolutionary gadgets from high-tech headphones to automotive electronics, and never fails to gain the support of high-profile technology stakeholders. Between the concerts, competitions and celebrity appearances, it promises to be an eventful four days.

CeBIT – Hannover, Germany

CeBIT is a showcase of digital IT and telecommunications technologies for both work and play. Over the 5 days, Hannover swarms with It enthusiasts who are passionate about the future of the industry.  The convention most specifically targets sectors such as retail, finance, government, science and hobby groups. Go along to compare notes with fellow tech heads or simply take in the spectacle.

iWorld – San Francisco, USA

If you’re wondering why you haven’t heard of this one before, it may be because it was previously known as MacWorld. The convention constructs a Mac world where almost everything is virtual and interactive. If that doesn’t do it for you, I’m sure a sneak peak at new apps and devices will!

GSMA Mobile World Congress – Barcelona, Spain

Mobile World Capital Barcelona hosts the world’s largest convention on mobile technology. Take a moment to listen to the range of keynote speakers and discussion panels conversing about the future of mobile devices or play around with the hot new products on the market. Just as you think that mobile innovation has just about reached saturation point, check out some of the concept designs and realise that there is a whole new level of creativity that is yet to be tapped in to.  A good excuse to book a flight to Spain!

LeWeb – Paris, France

Industry leaders from around the world gather in Paris every year to discuss the opportunity that presents itself in the form of the World Wide Web. Whether you’re an entrepreneur, a major corporation or an interested individual, you are likely to walk out of this convention with new insight into the future of business practices in the age of digital convergence. Word on the street is that the December 2012’s guest speakers will be unmissable, given that 2011’s speakers included Karl Lagerfeld and Google Chairman Eric Schmidt.

Guest Blogger: Sarah Paige is a freelance writer who loves any and all kinds of tech conventions because of all the random things she learns from watching plastic moulding demonstrations, to hearing speeches on the future of the internet. Follow Sarah on Twitter @sarahpaige or connect to her on Google+ here.

10 Ways to Use Foursquare for Business

Foursquare is a location-based smartphone application which offers check-in service to customers, marketers and businesses alike. You can use this mobile application to check-in to venues and share with your friends where you are, and obtain info about those places.  Based on your updates, the application might assign you merit badges. It’s an interesting social concept for consumers and at the same time, a strong business tool that can be potentially used for creating brand awareness and profits. Hence if you want to leverage your business, this platform platform is worth looking at for several reasons. To do this, you’ll have to understand how it works. There are 10 ways to use Foursquare for business. To help you get an idea about promoting your own business through this platform, there are a few tips discussed below.

How to use foursquare for business

To begin with, check your business on Foursquare. If your business is not there, add it and then, claim it on the listing. Connect your Twitter account with the listing. This process is quite simple. Once this is done, you can proceed further to use Foursquare for business promotion. In this endeavor, following things can be done:

  1. Create interesting deals to draw in customers. Deals can easily be created if you have claimed your business on this platform. You can give special discounts to those users who checks in to your business, for instance – announce to give 10% off on one’s next merchandise shopping. However, just ensure that your deals are special and creative so that new customers get attracted and keep coming back to you.
  2. Design reward-based programs on Foursquare for loyal customers to retain them. If deals help you draw new customers, rewarding those who are regular visitors to your business is useful in winning their loyalty. It can create a bond between your customers and the business and entice them to come back to you. Your reward-based programs should be smart and intelligently devised, for instance – a program asking one to check in 5 times in 15 days and win a surprise gift.
  3. Use Foursquare to collect demographic details of your customers. Through this platform, you can know the average check-in rate of a customer, his/ her age and gender, check-in timings and where he or she is sharing the check-in details – on Facebook or Twitter.
  4. Another interesting way to use Foursquare for business promotion is to get feedback from your customers about your business. Customers can leave their comments or tips about a particular venue they visit. You can use their feedback to bring improvisation in your business.
  5. Foursquare is a powerful medium to advertize your business for free. When you claim your business and optimize the listing by adding authentic contact details and website, you increase the chances of promoting your business across various social networking sites which are used by millions.
  6. If your business doesn’t have a physical presence, you can use Foursquare to set up a page instead of claiming a venue. Foursquare page is not much different from a Twitter page. Those who follow your business on Foursquare can obtain information about you from there.
  7. You can enter a partnership with other brands which are physically present to derive optimum benefit. For instance if you are a book publisher, join hands with a local bookstore to increase the reach of your business.
  8. Design Foursquare event at your venue to boost massive check-ins and brand consciousness.
  9. You can encourage your staff to join Foursquare and check-in at your venue there whenever they report to work. This will also help spread awareness about your business among their friends and followers.
  10. You can also share useful tips on Foursquare to engage with your customers and thereby, attract their attention to your business.

These are few ways to use Foursquare for business. You can use these and other innovative techniques as well to make success out of your business.

Edoardo Piccolotto, is an Internet Marketing and Strategic Consultant that provides specific strategy advices to business that want to use internet to generate new business opportunities. Follow him on twitter @epiccolotto.

QR Codes on Gravestones to Access Memorials

Walking through a cemetery is often eerie and rather uncomfortable, especially knowing there were people who lost their lives and were buried in the ground beneath you. It’s not unusual to wonder about those who are deceased and what their stories were. When looking at gravestones you know their names and their life span, but who were they really? What did they do with their lives and what were they known for. Soon these questions will be answered with as little as a scan of your cell phone.

QR codes, the two-dimensional barcodes that have grown to be extremely popular over the past few years, are making their way now onto gravestones. Starting in the UK and quickly moving to America, gravestone producers are offering the addition of QR codes to direct those interested to an interactive memorial for the person who has died.

These interactive memorials can include anything from pictures, videos and contributions from family and friends. There are even people now who are creating their own memorials so that they can structure how it’s laid out and how they’re remembered.

Imagine being able to structure what people see in your memorial, what your last thoughts were and what messages you’d like to send to family and friends. This also creates easy access to family tree information, making it much easier than digging for birth records in the future.

Of course with new technology such as this, there are bound to be challenges. The idea of putting a QR code on a structure that’s made to last for hundreds of years creates a number of difficulties. You can go to any graveyard and see how different recent gravestones look compared to stones that are hundreds of years old. As a gravestone weathers and changes over time, a QR code can become much more difficult to read and scan. Textures like sandstone and granite will change and the codes you have etched into them will change as well.

Another challenge you run into with adding these codes to gravestones is the technology itself. While the QR code technology has been around for a couple decades already, it’s never a sure thing that it will be around in another 10 to 20 years. With technology always evolving, another two-dimensional technology could replace the QR code, making the current QR codes obsolete and unreadable.

By creating a memorial for someone online, this creates another issue regarding the website URL. With the Internet constantly evolving, URL technology could very well change within the next several decades. This puts you at risk of losing all of these records over time. While the current technology appears to be here to stay, you never know what the future holds for us and what advancements will be made to completely change the way we do things today.

The idea of preparing for your own death may be morbid, but it’s a reasonable thought process. Rather than being remembered for a tragic accident, a health condition, etc, why not shape exactly how you want to be remembered and implement that as an interactive memorial. This way, the next time someone’s walking through a graveyard and sees the QR code on your gravestone, they have the opportunity to learn about who you really were, not just when you passed away.

Patricia Goldbum is a freelance writer focusing on technology. As a business owner, Patricia has just implemented barcode stickers and labeling to stay on track and keep her business organized.

The First 5 Apps for Professionals on the iPhone 5 [OPINION]

Even as a longtime iPhone user, the excitement of getting a new phone is palpable. I just picked up my iPhone5, making me among the first to get the new iPhone at the flagship Apple store in San Francisco.

The larger screen is great for apps, which I’m eagerly downloading now. Apparently I’m not the only one who is app-happy. The average number of apps installed per smartphone has jumped 28 percent in 2012. No wonder, really. We’re on the go so much, and there’s a seemingly infinite array of apps to save time, money, and (for me at least) some sanity.

I’ve got a well-rounded list of must-have apps: two to be productive, two to travel smarter, one to stay informed.

Mobile productivity

Apps are the key to mobile productivity, and DocuSign Ink (of course!) was the first app on my new phone. Version 2.0 works with iOS6 and the iPhone 5. You’ll want it too, so you can sign documents—from permission slips for school to contracts from the office—while you’re standing in line at the grocery store. Skip the print, sign, scan, email routine. We use it at work to get sign-off on documents from nondisclosure agreements to contracts to purchase agreements. 

As busy as we are, who couldn’t use a little brain assist to keep things organized? Evernote promises to help you “remember everything.” I use it to capture anything from good ideas to the grocery list—and then rest assured I won’t lose it before I need it.

Travel smart

If you’re on the road or in the air much, TripIt is the app to have. Forward all of your confirmation emails (air, car, hotel) to plans@tripit.com, and you’ll magically get one consolidated itinerary that’s easy to share with colleagues and family. It even adds local maps, weather, and event information. I don’t travel with a stack of printouts anymore, just TripIt.

If, like me, you find it challenging to keep track of expenses on the road, get an app like my download #4, Concur. I use it throughout each trip to snap photos of receipts, which are then automatically added to my expense report—thereby dramatically improving my reimbursement rates.

Stay informed

These days, on-the-go is far from out-of-touch. I got Flipboard to read the latest happenings from my favorite social sites, all happily assembled in one place.

What’s on your “Day-One Downloads” list?  Let me know in the comments. I’m always on the lookout for new apps to download.


About the Guest Blogger:

The article was provided by Robin Joy, Vice President, Online & Mobile at DocuSign. You can follow the company and all the latest news on twitter @docusign.

Snaptag Versus QR Codes

QR codes have been a new and unique source of executing mobile marketing campaigns in recent times. Many seem to not only enjoy participating by using them, but have actually begun to look for offers from those with QR codes and may even have begun to ignore those that do not have them at all.

What is a QR Code?

QR is short for quick response and that is exactly the purpose of the QR code. These codes take an element of data from transitory media and sends it to your mobile device. The code will give you details about that business, item, or even discount information on products and services.

QR Codes are more useful than a standard barcode in that they can store a more data and a wider variety of it. QR codes commonly include URL links, text, coordinates and more.

How Does This Benefit Businesses?

Most marketers are well aware that mobile marketing is becoming increasingly more important, almost by the day. No method of advertising could be easier than one that consumers reach out for, instead of being asked to look. QR codes allows those consumers who prefer not to be barraged with overt marketing tactics to choose where they will show interest in a product or service.

There is really no limit to the options that can be embedded in a QR code.

  • Running a restaurant? – Embed a great recipe, a buy a meal get one free discount, a special on this evenings dessert.
  • Authors – Add a QR code to the back of your book that enables a consumer to get extra features or hidden endings to your script.
  • Good health practices – Doctors, or other medically related practices can add good tips and tricks for healthy living to their QR codes, update them every month for innovative creativity in the medical field.

Vital Aesthetics Arrive to QR Coding

Traditionally, QR codes have retained a Rorschach look to them, leaving the responsibility on the advertiser to make sure consumers know whose QR code they are scanning. However, with Snaptags, QR codes and increasing brand awareness have meshed nicely. Snaptags have traded out that whole inkblot look for a code ring that serves the same functional purpose.

Who is Using Snaptags?

Because of the applied branding ability on Snaptags not previously available on QR’s, we can now see who is actively using them.

Picture c/o http://www.socialsnaptags.com/

Snaptags Cons?

Although Snaptags no doubt win out in the aesthetic element, there are other issues that can make Snaptags less beneficial than they appear. Many venture because of the supporting copy, Snaptags are not as easily accessible as QR codes. Snaptag stands by the fact that all advertisers would need to do is determine the required supporting copy, but this does lend itself to the inaccessible accusation.

Many current QR code advertisers agree that if a mobile marketing campaign is managed correctly, the aesthetic element of the Snaptags versus traditional QR’s is hardly advantageous.


Mobile Growth in Retail: Cyber Shopping 2011

What is known as Black Friday and Cyber Monday was extended this year to 10 days, with online retailers continuing their discounts throughout the week. What do the online shopping numbers for post-Thanksgiving sales tell us about the state of online shopping?

It’s important to remember that the data is recent and fresh, many analyzers point out. The real numbers will not be available until all the stores report their sales numbers.

Black Friday

  • 226 million shoppers visited stores and shopped online in the 4 days of the Thanksgiving weekend, compared with 212 million a year ago.
  • The average spending rose as well, to $398.62 per shopper, up from 365.34 last year.
  • Overall sales climbed 6.6% this year and stood at $11.4 billion. Up nearly $1 billion from last year. It was the largest amount spent in one day since 2007.

“Black Friday has evolved from an early morning shopping activity to a late night entertainment,” says Ellen Davis, spokeswoman at The National Retail Federation. “A lot of people stayed up until 1 a.m. or 2 a.m. to go shopping, and then went to bed.”

Not everyone.

  • Online shopping on Black Friday jumped 26% to $816 million. Compared with $648 million this past year, such a big jump is unprecedented. The year to year growth in 2010 was only 9%.
  •  50 million Americans visited online stores. The most visited were Amazon.com, Wall-Mart, Best Buy, Target and Apple.

Online sales increased much more than the store sales, with stores open at 10PM Thanksgiving day, pepper spraying and bone crushing included.

Cyber Monday:

The strong sales continued into Cyber Monday.  This past Monday was crowned ‘the biggest online shopping day ever.’

IBM’s Benchmark research firm published these numbers:

  • Spending online was up by 33% from last year.
  • The average spending per customer was $198 per order, up $5 from last year.
  • People are using tablets and smartphones to shop as well. Traffic from mobile devices was 10.8% of online commerce.
  • What is even more impressive is the sales using mobile devices were up to 6.6% from all online sales, an increase from 2.3% in 2010.

Experts say the numbers point to the fact that Americans are growing more and more comfortable with online shopping. The mobile shopping increased thanks to companies embracing the tablet, with 5.2% of tablet shoppers making a purchase.

Considering the top 50 online retailers, J.C. Penny, Apple and Symantec performed the best as for availability and response time.



Professional Spotlight: Stephanie L. Schierholz (NASA)

Stephanie Schierholz is the Social Media Manager for NASA, buts that’s not all. This talented professional like many others also participates as a active member of other organizations. At the time of this article she is president-elect for Women in Aerospace, an inaugural member of the British Council’s Transatlantic Network 2020, and a member of the Public Relations Society of America.

Stephanie earned her MBA at Georgetown University and also holds a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and English.

Stephanie’s most recent work is in a new frontier at the Space Agency, as the Social Media Manager. It was during the Social Media World Forum in New York City that dbmei staff learned how NASA had a thriving social media presence and how it had been built by the brave souls who volunteered their time to generate a new communication tool for NASA. Unlike many other agencies and organizations NASA cannot advertise, which until recently left the agency at the hands of reporters. Now social media provides NASA with the opportunity to communicate and reach out to millions of followers. In addition to the recent TweetUps, they had the opportunity to do some location based services checking in on Foursquare, from SPACE?

Stephanie is passionate about change and everything space, but what you might miss is the underlying message about how she does that, it’s through communication.

While most can get lost in causes and ideas, Stephanie has stayed true to the core value that it’s all about communication. Stephanie sees social media as a “tool” that has done wonderful things allowing people and organizations to communicate. This was relayed intensely when she talked about both her experiences at NASA and with the British Council’s Transatlantic Network 2020. Stephanie shows great interest in communications being the tool to understand one another, in fact when faced with the question “What advice would you have for young people who face struggles and failure?” Stephanie immediately went back to her core explaining that critical evaluation has to be done to understand the “why” and ask questions to both yourself and the people around you.

Stephanie’s advice seems to consistently be about communication and exploration, she urges young professionals to reach out to experts but not be afraid to try something new, and again understand the “why” if someone is critical or when you face failure. Stephanie also warns to be careful, if you do something make sure you enjoy doing it because once you become the expert, it’s only natural that you’ll be expected to do that from now on.

As the President Elect for Women in Aerospace, Stephanie is passionate about opening the doors and setting up support systems by both men and women to help generate more resources for women to seek out careers in “everything from aviation to space and all that in-between”.

Stephanie was raised in Colorado, and has done quite a bit of moving around, but says she is enjoying the east coast for now, and in talking to her you can’t help but wonder if this star eyed professional has something more grander in mind for her future.

Stephanie Schierholz seems to be paving her way to something great, based on the roles she is in now and her passion for exploring new ones, you cann’t help but expect we will be hearing a lot more about her as time goes on.

As of today, Stephanie Schierholz is a passionate and professional contributor to society, social media and a role model for communicators everywhere.

Video: Interview done via Skype has been edited for sections to share on the post and via YouTube, the video is edited from the 45 minute original video to 15 minutes and includes sections thought important by the author.

dbmei.com previous article on NASA from Stephanie L. Schierholz Presentation at Social Media World Forum North America:

#SMWF: NASA’s ‘Out-Of-This-World’ Social Media Engagement Success


Social Media is Work

Conversation Prism Brian SolisIt’s true.  Anything worth doing is worth doing well. And social media is no different.  If you want to be successful in social media, you need to work at it.  You can’t just create a Facebook page, Twitter account, and LinkedIn profile, add very little content, and expect people to show up.

Because, unfortunately, people won’t show up.  It’s the same with any retail business.  You can’t hang up a sign, open our doors, and expect people to show up.  It just won’t work.  You need to put in the effort.

My last cliche’ — You get out of social media what you put into it.

So, what do you need to do to be successful in social?  For me, it is a 2 step process:

1.  Find and post great content

2.  Engage with your customers


How to Find Great Content

In order to really find content that your audience is interested in, you should watch and listen.  See what they are talking about.  Ask questions.  Even use Polls within Facebook or your e-mail newsletters to find out what they want to learn about.

Once you have an idea what they are interested in, check out sites like StumbleUpon, Alltop, Digg, and Diigo for articles that fit into the categories you’ve decided you’re going to share.

And then share.  And don’t forget to ask that your clients comment and share the articles that are of interest to them.  If you don’t ask, they won’t share.  It’s that simple.


Engage With Your Customers

So, you’ve been posting and asking that the articles be shared.  But that is only half the social media battle.  You also need to be engaging with them.

What, exactly, does that mean?  It means replying to their comments, thanking them for sharing, asking questions, and offering help.

Don’t just post articles, pictures, and stories and walk away.  Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn aren’t meant to be stagnant bulletin boards, where you post a flyer and never look at it again.

This all takes time.  There is no question about it.  But with tools such as Hootsuite, and Tweetdeck, you can spend some time each week scheduling posts, so all that is left is engagement.

Always remember, that if you want people to engage with you, you must do the same.

So, how are you engaging your customers?  What have you found to provide the highest level of engagement?  Which network do you engage with the most?  Sound off in the comments!



Is Keeping Up Social Media Hard Work? 

5 Tips:  Making Social Media Seem Less Like a Chore and More Like an Investment

Hard Work in Social Media Marketing Does Pay Off

6 Ways Social Media is Like Ironman

Why is Social Media so Hard? 5 Ways to Relieve the Stress 

Image courtesy of:  Brian Solis, The Conversation Prism

#SMWF: NASA’s ‘Out-Of-This-World’ Social Media Engagement Success

NASA has quite an impressive social media plan in place that has already created quite a social buzz. There innovative and interactive ideas has gained them a solid reputation for achieving success with social engagement. At the Social Media World Forum in New York, I had a chance to hear Stephanie L. Schierholz, Social Media Manager talk about what NASA has been doing with Social Media, and specfically location based services recently.

NASA Partners with Gowalla

Gowella, a mobile and web service, partnered with NASA in 2010 to provide them with an interactive contest where users check in via Gowalla to help locate four NASA-related virtual items. Those items were a NASA patch, a spacesuit, space shuttle, and a moon rock. NASA displays moon rocks from past moon missions at expositions, planetariums, and museums throughout the world. Moon rocks were easily located when users checked in to any location where an actual moon rock was on display.

Gowlla in collaboration with JESS3 created a special edition of a visual map to help users locate the moon rocks and the other required treasure hunt items could be found by checking in through Gowalla at any one of the over 400 science centers, observatories, nature centers, aquariums, museums, and planetariums that are part of NASA’s large Museum Alliance. Gowalla users that collected at least three of the four required items received a special pin in their digital Gowalla passport.

Plus, the first one hundred people who collected three of the four items also received a hardcopy version of the map in the mail.

Tweets from Above and Beyond

During this impressive social media campaign, NASA also had Astronaut Douglas Wheelock, or @Astro_Wheels, check in from Space Station announcing. “Houston, I’ve just unlocked FourSquares’ NASA Explorers badge.”

Check out the NASA Explorers Badge at FourSquare.

Campaign Statistics

This NASA social media campaign turned up some pretty impressive stats for Gowalla and Twitter. Gowalla had never had a past completed by so many, so quickly. Over thirty-thousand of each of the four required items were located through check-ins, and followers were increased by 4,278 during this campaign.

Since this campaign began more than 10,000 people have unlocked the NASA Explorer badge, and over 130,000 people now follow NASA on Foursquare.

Aside from the statistics, NASA’s campaign on Twitter has had other benefits as well. Some of the photos posted by any given @Astro to Twitpic can be what Douglas Wheelock referred to as ‘life-changing’ such as this photo of the earth’s aurora from space.


You Don’t Have to Be an Astronaut to Learn from NASA

Check out what the social media manager for NASA has to say about their relationship with Twitter and how they engage with their followers, as well as how you can engage yours!

Some lessons that NASA social media staff has taken away from their campaigns may help you as well.

  1. Use Twitter yourself first. Know the format and how it works. Get familiar.
  2. Identify the specific business case for your use.
  3. Locate new resources for growth.
  4. Keep the account active.

“You may not have a spaceship, but your company has a fan base. They won’t think of themselves as fans until they’re in a room with like-minded people. They won’t think of themselves as members of a community until YOU bring them together.”

-David Rosen, @davidhrosen (group VP, Makovsky + Company)



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