Archive for Neal Leavitt

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 Match.com 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

Marijuana Industry Growing Like A…Well…Weed

Posted by Neal Leavitt on April 22nd, 2015 at 12:54 pm

“Dave’s Not Here Man”
--Tommy Chong
“They’ve Outlawed the Number One Vegetable on the Planet”
--Timothy Leary

Grass. Pot. Weed. Ganja. Reefer. Wacky tobaccy.
The monikers are infinite.
And apparently, so is the growth potential of the burgeoning cannabis industry. GreenWave Advisors, a marijuana research and financial analysis firm (could anyone have remotely envisioned such a firm a decade ago?) prognosticated last year in a report that if the federal government and all 50 states legalize recreational marijuana, it could be a $35 billion annual business by 2020.
While that’s probably a Rocky Mountain High pipe dream for the near future, another cannabis industry investment and research firm, Oakland, CA-based ArcView Group, said that the U.S. market for legal cannabis almost doubled from $1.5 billion in 2013 to $2.7 billion last year. ArcView also predicts that by 2020, another 14 states will legalize recreational marijuana and two more states will legalize medical marijuana.
Currently four states – Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, and Washington – have legalized retail marijuana; Washington D.C. voters legalized recreational use but sales are still illegal.
Erik Devaney, writing in HubSpot, said it’s not just marijuana growers, distributors and dispensaries comprising this potentially lucrative landscape.
“It’s also fertilizer companies, and lighting system... Read more

You Can’t Hide from Your Apps – They Know Where You Are

Posted by Neal Leavitt on March 31st, 2015 at 8:30 pm

A recent study at Carnegie Mellon University shows that when people are aware that free smart phone apps may be sharing private info with third parties, they’ll often rapidly move to limit further sharing.
Carnegie Mellon News reported that the study evaluated the benefits of app permission managers (for Android 4.3, known as AppOps) that tell them how many times info like location, contact lists or phone call logs had been shared.
One example:
“Your location has been shared 5,398 times with Facebook, Groupon, GO Launcher EX and seven other apps in the last 14 days.”
“App permission managers are better than nothing, but by themselves aren’t sufficient,” said Norman Sadeh, a professor in the School of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon. “Privacy ‘nudges’ can play an important role in increasing awareness and in motivating people to review and adjust their privacy settings.”
All of this available location data can be a bit of a sticky wicket for marketers, who are trying to drive sales for their products/services, but at the same time, increasingly realizing they need to respect consumer privacy. Marketers, according to Greg Stuart, CEO of the Mobile Marketing Association, will pay 10-20 percent more for online ads that contain... Read more

Women in Tech Industry Still Facing Career Challenges

Posted by Neal Leavitt on February 25th, 2015 at 7:39 pm

A few months ago a long-standing colleague of mine decided to leave her tech company after 14 years. The pay was good, benefits great, but she came to the realization that she couldn’t breach that proverbial ‘glass ceiling.’ Despite her stellar qualifications, she resigned.
She’s now getting her teaching credential and wants to teach computer programming to high school students. Any high school that hires her will immediately be that much better.
But her story isn’t an isolated one. Tracey Lien recently wrote in the Los Angeles Times that women are leaving the tech industry in droves. It’s becoming a significant issue for the tech economy.
“According to the industry group Code.org, computing jobs will more than double by 2020, to 1.4 million,” said Lien. “If women continue to leave the field, an already dire shortage of qualified tech workers will grow worse. Last summer, Google, Facebook, Apple and other big tech companies released figures showing that men outnumbered women 4 to 1 or more in their technical sectors.”
Vivek Wadhwa, a tech entrepreneur and fellow with Stanford University’s Rock Center for Corporate Governance, said that when women go to venture capitalists seeking financing for their new startups, they are sometimes treated differently... Read more