Remind isn’t a game or social network—it’s a texting tool used in many parts of the U.S. to establish stronger lines of communication among teachers, students, and their parents.
About 1 million teachers and 17 million parents and students have downloaded Remind, a free app developed by a San Francisco startup of the same name. In such states as Texas, Alabama, and Georgia, 40 percent to 50 percent of teachers use the software, the company says. Educators can update homework assignments, solicit volunteers for field trips, and send photos from the classroom without having to count on paper handouts making their way into and out of backpacks or on parents regularly checking their e-mail.
This is the age of invisible apps “that just notify us when something is going on,” as trend spotter and venture capitalist Mary Meeker said recently. Cyriac Roeding, 41, started reaching out to shoppers in 2010. Shopkick’s cofounder and CEO, and a German expat, he did so via ultrasound, a high-frequency signal that communicates with the app, verifies shoppers are inside the store and offers them kicks. “I’d done some soul-searching,” says Roeding, who wondered, “What’s the intersection of mobile and the physical world? The answer was easy: It’s called shopping.”
When in an unfamiliar neighborhood, you might turn to your GPS-equipped smartphone for navigational help, or, if you’re feeling gregarious, you might ask a stranger for directions. Soon you may not have to do either: Your shoes may subtly guide you on your way.
That’s the promise of Lechal, a new kind of sneaker that vibrates to signal which way you should turn. Developed by the Indian startup Ducere Technologies, the Bluetooth-enabled shoes will sync with an app that uses information from Google Maps to steer the user toward her destination. A buzzing on the right foot signals an upcoming right turn, a vibration on the left means turn left.
In addition to serving as personal tour guides, the shoes will be personal fitness trainers, recording such data as calories burned and miles walked, as well as signaling when to speed up or slow down to achieve specific exercise goals.
The Arccos ($399, arccos.com), which goes on sale this month, is like having your very own caddie, except it doesn't carry clubs or polish balls. This set of 14 gumdrop-shape sensors, which stick into the top of your golf clubs like thumbtacks, keeps track of your game and suggests appropriate clubs to use. It's similar to a competing product called Game Golf, but that model requires you to clip a vibrating beeper-like device to your pants; when I used it, I was never sure if my shots were registering or my table was ready at the Olive Garden.
Leveraging my smartphone's GPS via Bluetooth, the Arccos app not only figured out what course I was on, it knew I was at the 18th hole, 393 yards from the green. (The app has access to maps of 17,225 golf courses in the U.S.—which the company says is all of them.)
Though you still have to deal with due dates, hold lists and occasionally clumsy software, libraries, at least for now, have one killer feature that the others don't: e-books you actually want to read.
To compare, I dug up best-seller lists, as well as best-of lists compiled by authors and critics. Then I searched for those e-books in Kindle Unlimited, Oyster and Scribd alongside my local San Francisco Public Library. To rule out big-city bias, I also checked the much smaller library where I grew up in Richland County, S.C.
Of the Journal's 20 most recent best-selling e-books in fiction and nonfiction, Amazon's Kindle Unlimited has none—no "Fifty Shades of Grey," no "The Fault in Our Stars." Scribd and Oyster each have a paltry three. But the San Francisco library has 15, and my South Carolina library has 11.
“The palazzo unites characteristics from motor, yachting and aviation sports such as a sports car rear diffuser, the business jet gang way or the motor yacht flybridge. The interior is just as extravagant as its owner: minimalistic and modern shapes fused with classy and antique design elements embedded in timeless ambiance.”
The Chicago mapping and traffic information enterprise started life as NAVTEQ, acquired by Nokia in 2007. The map databases curated here go into four out of five cars with in-dash navigation, and the company makes 2.7 million map database revisions every day. Here's global traffic-monitoring effort supports nav/traffic routing in 41 countries and processes more than 1 billion data points per day coming in primarily from anonymized cellphone GPS signals and roadside traffic monitors. Twenty-five traffic "editors" cover North America and Australia from Chicago, monitoring police scanners, government Twitter feeds, and 12,000 traffic cameras to provide real-time traffic route guidance.
The traffic team is done with this probe data minutes after it arrives, but it doesn't get discarded. The Big Data analysis team at Here teases other useful info out of it, such as mapping drive-through restaurant lanes and confirming POI viability. (No cellphones have stopped at that supposed fuel station in a month; should we strike it from the database?) But the most interesting knowledge they're teasing out of this pile of ones and zeroes is behavioral. By studying the speed traces of millions of vehicles on freeway ramps, dead-man's-curves, and blind-uncontrolled intersections, they can begin to model how real humans behave in these situations and teach this to the would-be autopilots.
Metlife has been piloting insurance kiosks at Walmarts in a few states
“The initial screen requires the user to select from three options based on whom they are buying coverage for – themselves, a family member or as a gift. The next screen offers policies for four age groups – 18-44, 45-54, 55-59 and 60-65. Once the user selects the appropriate age group, the following screen presents two coverage amount options. Based on their inputs, the system notifies the user of the annual rate for their term policy and which color policy package to grab from the kiosk display.
The user then locates their designated colored box on the kiosk display, which contains a prepaid $5 card for the policy amount, and scans it at the store checkout. Once paid, the individual must call the firm to answer six health questions, with no medical exam required. If approved, individuals can activate the term life policy for a full year. Those who don't qualify can get a refund at Walmart."