Archive for Neal Leavitt

Blockchain Technology Poised to Shake Up Main Street and Wall Street

Posted by Neal Leavitt on September 28th, 2015 at 6:54 pm

Because it’s still relatively new, most consumers - and marketers - probably don’t have a clear understand of bitcoin. But it’s really the blockchain – the technology underpinning the digital currency – that could have a huge impact on financial and consumer markets.
Gil Luria, a financial technology analyst with Wedbush Securities, estimates that 20 percent of U.S. GDP – about $3.6 trillion – is generated by industries that could be disrupted by blockchain technology. And Aite Group, a market research consultancy, predicts that capital markets will spend $75 million this year alone on developing blockchain technology, reaching more than $400 million in four years.
So what exactly is a blockchain? In brief, it acts as a globally-distributed ledger that logs transactions.
Here’s one concise explanation from Re/code:
“A blockchain is essentially a record of digital events – one that’s “distributed” or shared between many different parties. It can only be updated by consensus of a majority of the participants in the system. And, once entered, information can never be erased. The bitcoin blockchain contains a certain and verifiable record of every single bitcoin transaction ever made.”
Regardless of what you think about bitcoin, the blockchain itself has so far... Read more

Emerging Technologies Showcased at SIGGRAPH 2015 Could Be Tomorrow’s Products

Posted by Neal Leavitt on August 20th, 2015 at 6:23 pm

SIGGRAPH has always served as a unique forum for an array of cool and innovative technologies and computer graphics approaches. Last week’s SIGGRAPH 2015 conference continued the trend.
This marked the 42nd conference and exhibition; SIGGRAPH reported that almost 15,000 attendees, partners and media from 70+ nations descended upon the Los Angeles Convention Center.
Kristy Pron, SIGGRAPH’s Emerging Technologies Program Chair said at this year’s conference, “we wanted to find technologies that can be applied to daily life, whether it will be tomorrow or in a few years. We also wanted to uncover practical emerging technology apps from various industries such as automotive.”
So here are a few examples that are still in the nascent stage but could have real-world applications soon:
SemanticPaint – A collaborative effort by Microsoft, the University of Oxford and Stanford University. The SIGGRAPH demo unveiled what the research team says is a “new and interactive and online approach to 3D scene understanding.” The system lets users simultaneously scan their environment and interactively segments a scene by “reaching out and touching any desired object or surface.” Users have continuous live feedback online. The researchers further stated that errors can be immediately corrected in the segmentation and/or learning, which... Read more

Can Technology Help Solve California’s Drought?

Posted by Neal Leavitt on July 26th, 2015 at 11:48 am

On April 1st, California Gov. Jerry Brown issued an executive order mandating a substantial reduction in urban water consumption compared with 2013 levels. One key element - a 25% reduction in urban water use to help mitigate the state’s worst ongoing drought in more than a century.
And while a number of climatologists and meteorologists have predicted a better than 50% chance of an El Nino winter – which means greater than average rainfall- there’s no guarantee that the desperately needed rain will arrive.
Enter the Internet of Things (IoT). The drought has spawned a welter of startups and innovative partnerships with public agencies and the private sector that utilize the IoT to find smart solutions to manage both water distribution and electricity use.
A few examples:
The Monterey Regional Water Pollution Control Agency (MRWPCA) has teamed up with Candi Controls and MC Engineering to install a system of low-cost, industrial-class IoT devices. By collecting data from connected sensors, the system is helping to optimize distribution of reclaimed water among farmers and everyday users; it also minimizes energy by tracking usage and power consumption.
According to Tom Kouretas, an MRWPCA engineer, the agency is able to mitigate some of the costs associated with... Read more

The Robot Swarm Is Upon Us

Posted by Neal Leavitt on June 28th, 2015 at 9:30 am

“Exterminate, exterminate.”

-Briefing warning from the Daleks before firing their extermination rays on various "Doctor Who” episodes

What is one of the most well-known catch phrases on the long-running BBC series, “Doctor Who,” might eventually be uttered by a robot greeting you at your front door to take care of your termites.
Farfetched? Maybe right now, but a robot may soon be coming to your home to spray pesticides, clean your windows, and perhaps even tutor your kids.
ABI Research expects the global market for consumer robots to top $6.5 billion by 2017. BI Intelligence says the market for consumer and office robots will grow at a CAGR of 17% between 2015-2019, seven times faster than the market for manufacturing robots.
And some other key takeaways from BI Intelligence in their ‘The Robotics Market Report’:
• Three distinct categories will dominate the consumer/office side: home cleaning and maintenance; telepresence (i.e., telecommuting to events or remote offices) and advanced robots for home entertainment.
• The ubiquity of smartphones and tablets is making it easier to develop robots for consumer and office applications. The report says mobile devices offer designers the opportunity to ‘outsource’ computing and user interface tasks to companion devices, allowing developers... Read more

Discreet Affairs Sites Generating Gobs of Revenue – and Controversy

Posted by Neal Leavitt on May 30th, 2015 at 5:11 pm

Thou Shalt Not Commit Adultery
--Exodus 20:14

What’s considered adultery really isn’t readily defined in this Biblical passage. And for the numerous online sites that offer a chance to be anonymously naughty, that’s probably good for them – and good for their business. And it is a big business.
Earlier this year I wrote a piece on how the dating industry has become a global multi-billion dollar annual industry. Market research firm IBISWorld predicts, for instance, that it will be just under $3 billion in four years.
Data on extramarital dating sites is sparse but UK-based The Independent reported these interesting snippets back in February:
• Canada-based Ashley Madison, the 800-pound gorilla of the industry, is hugely popular in the UK, for instance; it currently operates in 45 countries with more than 32 million members worldwide. Ashley Madison (parent company Avid Life Media is now trying to raise about $200 million by listing shares for Ashley Madison in London later this year) also claims to be the world’s second largest dating site – only is bigger.
• A 2013 freedom of information request showed that Members of Parliament, peers, and their staff in Parliament had clicked on an extra-marital dating website called Out of... Read more