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Archive for the ‘Technology’


WiFi on the Bus and Train? 0

Posted on September 26, 2013 by Daniel Francavilla

GO Transit has been running a pilot project with IMA Outdoor to provide free WiFi internet access to customers at select GO Stations.

Even though this sounds like great news, they have gone ahead and listed all the “constraints” and challenges this would bring.

The text below is written by the GO & IMA team. More details are on the GoTransit website, here.

What are the constraints of WiFi on GO Trains, specifically?

Substantial Infrastructure Changes

WiFi on trains relies on cellular modems that use the same networks as smart phones. While coverage of the cellular network is fairly strong along our rail corridors, accommodating the volume of 2,000 passengers during rush hour requires an increased numbers of Wi-Fi access points, cellular modems, and other infrastructure on the train, which can be very complicated and expensive.

Low Quality Service

Even with a significant dedication of resources, it may not be the high-quality customer service experience GO wants to provide. The WiFi signal could be poor and slow with frequent disconnections, and it would be difficult for us to provide technical support.

Installation & Maintenance Challenges 

The logistics of installing and supporting WiFi could also prove challenging. GO currently operates 560 train coaches at a highly specialized facility, which is operated jointly by our partner Bombardier. Installing WiFi equipment on our rail coaches could interfere with the routine maintenance and repair of the train fleet. In order to meet our objective of minimizing impact on GO operations, an installation schedule for WiFi could take up to two years to fully implement across the fleet. It could also result in an inconsistent experience for customers.

Technological Evolution 

At the rate in which mobile internet technologies are developing, the equipment installed on trains could be out-of-date by the time they are fully phased in.

No Supporting Business Model 

GO consulted industry experts and examined media coverage on other transit agencies that have implemented Wi-Fi programs. From this research, it was difficult to identify any other transit agency in North America that has provided reliable and high-quality WiFi on trains with a sustainable, cost-recovery business model and at no cost to the customer. This has led to many other transit agencies to spend a significant amount of money on on-board WiFi networks that still often fail to meet customer expectations.

Awesome Podcasts on Business, Design and Entrepreneurship 1

Posted on September 15, 2013 by Daniel Francavilla

There are tons of Blogs and Books on the topics of Business, Entrepreneurship, and Design – but that’s a ton of reading for a busy entrepreneur or designer. Another decent source, YouTube videos, aren’t t exactly practical to be watching on the go (unless you’re ok bumping into people and tripping on things).

So to fill this in-between period where most people probably listen to music, I started listening to useful podcasts.

It seems that not everyone is familiar with podcasts, though they’ve been around since about 2004. (A podcast is a type of digital media consisting of an episodic series of audio radio or video files subscribed to and downloaded through web syndication or streamed online to a computer or mobile device, according to Wikipedia).

Here are the ones I recommend so far (some are professional, and some are more personal conversations).

Entrepreneur on Fire

EntrepreneurOnFire is a daily podcast, hosted by John Lee Dumas, interviewing today’s most successful and inspiring entrepreneurs. Since launching in September 2012, they have featured entrepreneurs like Seth Godin, Gary Vaynerchuk, Barbara Corcoran, Tim Ferriss and over 300 more. During the 30ish-minute interviews, the spotlighted entrepreneur tells us about their journey, sharing early failures, AHA moments, and providing insights about the techniques that are working for them right now. Each show wraps with a five-question “Lightning Round” that pulls priceless nuggets of information from these successful Entrepreneurs, encouraging listeners and fans to take action.

EntrepreneurOnFire on iTunes

The Deeply Graphic DesignCast

For designers of every kind, each episode of The Deeply Graphic DesignCast tackles a different graphic design related topic, from finding better clients to online portfolios to making sure you get paid. They offer tips in a “Do Yourself a Favor” segment and advice when by answering a listener question.

Hosted by three working designers with a wealth of real world experience to draw upon, there is something new in every episode.

The Deeply Graphic Design Cast on iTunes

The Human Business Way

The Human Business Way podcast is a mix of interviews and informative advice dedicated to entertaining you while also teaching you a thing or two about doing business in a much more relationship-minded way. Produced by Chris Brogan, founder of Human Business Works, this show is intended to be fun and educational. Topics and formats vary from week to week.

The Human Business Way on iTunes

HBR IdeaCast

The HBR IdeaCast features breakthrough ideas and commentary from the leading thinkers in business and management. Content is from the publishers of Harvard Business Review, Harvard Business Press, and hbr.org, (They also offer it in video as the Video IdeaCast, and through their iPhone App).

HBR IdeaCast on iTunes

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The Entrepreneurs

The Entrepreneurs puts the spotlight on those driving innovation in their industries, plus where to invest, business news and tips from those who have succeeded.

This is Monacle 24‘s business show aimed at people who run their own company – or want to.

Monocle 24: The Entrepreneurs on iTunes


And of course a week after writing this, the awesome Scott Stratten launched his first podcast (after 9 years of blogging and tweeting). I wrote about The UnPodcast here .

Building Real Relationships: What Facebook Can Do for People and Brands 0

Posted on May 15, 2013 by Daniel Francavilla

What would you expect from a presentation by Facebook? A product launch, a sales pitch, a feature tutorial? The Group Director of Global Marketing Solutions at Facebook Canada, Steve Irvine, gave an impressive keynote at digital media conference Canada 3.0, covering neither of those things.

Steve manages a team focused on building trusted advisory relationships with decision makers at some of the largest brands and agencies in Canada. Steve is an executive and successful entrepreneur with a track record of success in the digital and social media marketing industry. He was an entrepreneur for 10 years before taking a corporate job at Facebook – here’s his full bio.

After attending several conferences recently, Steve noticed the topics were all either Big Data, Mobile, or Social Media. What he took away is that they seem insanely complicated. Recently a Business Insider article shows just that in an “Insane Graphic”  to show How Complex Marketing Technology, below.

On Big Data

The “Noise” is growing. Yet, our memory hasn’t changed – our ability to take in and process info is the same as it was thousands of years ago. What is the implication of this?

To filter the sea of information, people are turning to their friends. Word of mouth matters: If a business says they’re the best, only 14% believe it, but if an individual says that business is the best themselves, 90% of people believe it. That’s huge for so many reasons.

“The trick to forgetting the big picture is to look at everything close up.” – Chuck Palahniuk

On Mobile

Moving from the green “online” icon to always on. This changes the expectations of organizations and brands, but most importantly the expectations that customers have of brands.

Steve says we’re going to mess this up for a bit longer, when it comes to mobile, by not taking advantage of the power available. For example when TV became available as a new platform, they mainly sat and read information to you just like they did on the Radio, the previous platform.

The printed flyer has been the number one thing that drives people into stores, forever. But people under 30 for example, don’t subscribe to or even pickup a newspaper. Really, the flyer concept is simply pictures of flyers on sale – so it can be made digital and social.

On Social Media

Engaging in the conversation and humanizing the brand is what social media is about. He references Bodyform’s video reply to a Facebook comment of someone complaining about them not honestly representing what women go through every month (watch the video here).

“Don’t focus on the sites, focus on the people.” It’s about delivering great experiences to your customers. The new technology and networks are tools ho help. Over time, identity has caught up with technology. You can now build and maintain relationships (business and personal) anywhere in the world, rather than what limited you by distance or cost.

So what do people really want?

  1. People want to feel unique.
  2. People want to feel connected.
  3. People communicate through many lightweight interactions.

There’s a ton of social media and marketing advice out there. But Steve shared a few of his guiding principles to simplify.

Guiding Principles for Social Media

  1. Focus on Business Impact
  2. Horizontal vs. Vertical
  3. Always on vs. Episodic
  4. People vs. Technology

When it comes to technology, the question is, what are the big problems we’re trying to solve for the people that matter to us? Then using technology and computing power to provide the best experience for users to solve these problems.

A Facebook Stories video was shown at the end – a pretty unique and powerful one. It was about an Indian man named Mayank Sharma, who, as Facebook describes, would “probably tell you that going through meningitis is hell — if he could remember any of it”. A great story:

It’s everyone’s responsibility to think about people, and how you provide them with what they’re looking for. Facebook’s mission is to make the world more open and connected. Steve is inspired by what Facebook and social media is able to do for people.

Digital Experiences Competing with the Real World 0

Posted on May 15, 2013 by Daniel Francavilla

Should digital experiences should stop competing with the “real world”? As part of Canada’s annual digital media conference, Canada 3.0, a workshop answered this question with “No”.

As digital distribution disrupts media everywhere, audiences seek out concepts like ‘authenticity’ and less commodified ‘experiences’. Trends are changing, people are concerned, and there are concepts that use digital technology to enable offline activities, instead of striving to just replace them.

People exist inside their smartphones today. We become deeply immersed in whatever it is that’s happening on our phone (a text messaging conversation, a game, commenting on social media posts, reading blogs or articles, or just plain nonsense.) I’ve done it (and almost always when I’m at a store or long event), and friends around me do it (to the point where they miss things, people can’t get their attention). So this whole concept of not having digital experiences compete with the real world, but just be better integrated into it, really makes sense.

“For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.”

Right now, you have one life and another life online. You can choose what to separate. You may have given away too much information, or that you know too much information. A cab company tracks your location automatically, you know someone’s phone number just by looking at them, you go to a new location of Starbucks and they know your order already. Of course these scenarios are odd and could be awkward, but the workshop facilitator is most interested in this these moments, and using them to our advantage.

One example was about the future of Google Glass: Visualizing beyond limitations. A company called Playground is trying to dissect the human-technology relationship, and they believe Glass represents information technology at its most intimate.

Everything is possible today: Workout Path tracking, Comparison Shopping, Advertising, Secure payment experiences (Wallet), Smart Shopping, Taxi using Location services, Sports Updates, Guitar Training, Emergency Services, Presentation Aids, Gaming: Device Awareness and Syncing, and Context-aware notifications for TV Alerts. You may think some are super helpful while some are excessive in the video below.

Beyond Google Glass, which I noted is constantly feeing you information, but not giving much of a social or sharing perspective, the presenter gave 2 examples:

Findery is an example of Making places come allive. Leaving invisible notes to eachother. In Toronto we have Murmur, where you can call a number to hear a recording at a specific location (a documentary oral history project that records stories and memories told about specific geographic locations).

The Conversation: Digital Experiences do not need to compete with real life

Who is working on this conversation about merging digital experiences with real world ones? Even Jones, Creative Director & Producer of Stitch Media, who I spoke with at Canada 3.0.

Instead of quick one-time sales or ads, Jones wants to create novel-sized, extra stories with more challenges – not simple, quick experiences that you see in an everyday online ad, for example. Clients approach Stitch Media to create interactive or entertaining ideas (TV production companies to compliment their shows, for example).

Evan Jones’ work at Stitch Media is about motivating people through great stories.

More About the Speaker: Even Jones
Stitch Media partner Evan Jones, is a two-time Emmy Award® winner whose innovative work on interactive content for primetime television, radio, web, mobile and games have established him as a pioneer in new genres of Alternate Reality Games, Locative Media and Interactive Documentary. His work was recognized as one of the ‘Top 10 New Media Groundbreakers’ according to the Bell Broadcast & New Media Fund. Evan’s international clients include Microsoft, Disney, FOX, CBC, Bell, Discovery and The Movie Network.

The World’s Cheapest Tablet to Kickstart Education in Emerging Markets 0

Posted on May 14, 2013 by Daniel Francavilla

DataWind is Disrupting Education in Emerging Markets with the World’s Cheapest Tablet

The CEO of Datawind Ltd., Suneet Singh Tuli, spoke about how his company is disrupting Education in emerging markets by creating the world’s least-expensive Tablet, at this year’s Canada 3.0 Digital Media Conference in Toronto.

DataWind is a great success story of a Canadian company identifying huge market opportunity in an international market, creating the disruptive technology capable of harvesting that potential and continuing to lever the diverse and talented labour market in Canada to make education in the third world a reality.

Scale of the Challenge: India

With India’s large population, the issue – and opportunity – is presented on a massive scale. There are 140 Million kids in the K-12 age group that are not in school. Nearly half of students in grades 5-8 drop out, and nearly 70% drop out in Grades 9-12.

We are living in the age of mediocre education. Suneet stated the average teacher is no longer relevant. What happens when you have a bad teacher in school? You learn on your own. The internet now gives students the opportunity to get a quality education anytime – at the very least, it is a valuable supplement to their traditional education.

There is a strong need for affordability. But how do we bring this technology to developing nations? Through research, DataWind determined that to reach One Billion people, the computers would need to be priced under $50. This is based on a price that is less than 20% of the Monthly Income of the most people in India.

The Perfect Storm

You can see a market worth billions emerging – you want to get in right before it takes off. The people that saw cell phone usage spreading outside of major cities in developing nations are now in the wealthiest portion of the population; it is believed we are at this stage for computers as well. The perfect storm for this needs frugal innovation.

Frugal Innovation Requirements:

  • Innovative Hardware Design
  • Unique Business Model
  • Technological Breakthrough
  • Disruptive Distribution Model

Solving the Hardware Puzzle

For the Aakash tablet, the Research, Product Design and Development is being done in Canada. The multicultural mosaic brings skills and experience that are not available anywhere else.

Instead of focusing on building the “iPad Killer” like everyone else, they looked at building the key, core, basic features needed. Designing for cost, optimizing your feature set for the target audience. This is the opposite of feature over-kill, “good enough” for the consumer. What about the physical components, the supply chain? Suneet advices you develop the high-value components yourself, instead of going to the existing major players (Samsung’s tablet touch-screens, for example).

Technological Breakthrough 

Home Internet access is only available to 50 Million people in India today – but 900 Million people have Mobile Phones. To allow more people to connect, they made the congested networks more efficient. Because of this improvement, they can add in an online Advertising system, that could lower the cost of Internet on these devices to $0.

The World’s Lowest Cost Computing/Internet Device: The Aakash tablet that DataWind developed has the same CPU as the original iPad, double the RAM of the original iPad, yet it costs 10 times less.

Opportunities for Canadian Digital/Media Companies

There are 3 billion people with mobile phones, but with no Internet access. This poses a huge opportunity. For Canadian companies, one opportunity is to discover what the killer apps will be for the devices of future users. The focus should be on making useful apps that work without even being able to read! A point of sale terminal has been created, for example, that works where users take photos of their products and inventory, and use a graphical user interface – no reading necessary. To create more apps like this, there is a global call for Socially Responsible Apps to Empower Women – AppsToEmpower.org.

Getting Tablets to the People

The Indian Federal Government has made it a strategic priority to provide a nationally subsidized mobile tablet – that’s 220 Million Tablets. Other countries, such as Thailand and Turkey, also plan on providing Free Tablet PCs to all students – kindergarten to post-secondary!

What the Future Holds

How will the world change when the next 1 Billion people get on the internet? We know today, the Internet will empower the next level of education and action.

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