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Monthly Archives: June 2017

Technologies We Need to Change the World

Technology 1: Organic Printing

We can use 3D printers for plastics, ceramics, metals and some blends, but our efforts even to print food have been more in line with automated icing machines for cakes than printing food.

If we could print food affordably using nonperishable components, it would mean not only that we would be better able to address the massive amount of global hunger that exists, but also that we potentially could cut the cost of food manufacturing and eliminate most food-borne illnesses.

There is an amazing amount of activity in this area, suggesting that by 2030 we actually might have something like the Star Trek replicator in our homes.

Given that this same technology likely could manufacture drugs and better prosthetics, this single step could have a massive impact on how we live — far beyond the way we eat.

Technology 2: Advanced Bio-engineering

A division of Google is releasing millions of bio-engineered mosquitoes to eliminate those that carry sicknesses. Granted, I do remember that many apocalyptic movies start this way.

The ability to manufacture insects that can address certain problems could have a massive impact, good and bad, on our environment. The bad would come from a mistake, or if someone decided to create militarized mosquitoes.

In the world of The Punch Escrow, there are mosquitoes that have been engineered to eat pollutants in the air and pee H20 — and characters have to dodge constant pee drenchings from the mosquitoes.

Still, bio-engineered life forms could offset much of the damage we’ve done to the world — addressing global warming as well as land, sea and air pollution — and go places that people currently are unable to go.

Technology 3: AI Salting

Artificial intelligence salting is another concept author Klein introduces as a major plot element in The Punch Escrow. AI salting isn’t meal preparation, for when we humans eat AIs (boy, talk about a concept that could start a Terminator event) it means a specialized technician teaches an AI to think more like a human.

Basically, it is individual AI deep learning of human behaviors. The underlying concept, making computers think more like humans, is critical to make them more effective at interacting with humans and interfacing with us more effectively.

If we really can’t tell the difference between an AI and a human, or if an AI handling a human-related task could be made to be empathetic, the improvement in the interaction and the effectiveness of the AI would be improved vastly.

However, few are focused on the human part, and the challenge to train AIs to be more human-like could change forever the way we interact with and use them. At the very least, it would be a huge step in creating robots indistinguishable from humans and making the Westworld experience real.

Technology 4: Ultracapacitor Batteries

As Elon Musk repeatedly has said, batteries suck. Ultracapacitors can be charged and discharged almost instantly. They don’t have the level of temperature problems that batteries currently exhibit. They are much lighter, which increases efficiency in things like cars, and their life cycle is vastly longer than current batteries.

The problem is, they don’t do a good job of storing energy for any length of time. Some recent promising news from the scientific community suggests we may be close to sorting this out.

Batteries that could charge instantly and produce far more energy without problems would be a huge step toward making off-grid home power and electric-powered cars far more convenient.

Technology 5: Wireless Power

Ever since Nikola Tesla started talking about being able to broadcast power, it has been a known game-changer. Granted, Tesla may have gotten his ideas from aliens, but if you don’t need batteries, then electric cars, planes, trains and personal electronics become smaller and far more reliable.

Qualcomm is working on a technology called “Halo”, initially to charge electric cars without having to plug them in. However, its vision includes putting this technology in roads so that you’d never have to charge your car again — it would charge while you were driving.

Rather than replacing a gas pump with a far slower charging station, you would just get rid of it. While not as good as true broadcast power, technology like this could work in cars, planes and offices, and we would never have to worry about charging our personal stuff or cars ever again.

A similar technology from WiTricity is being used to develop wireless charging for all our devices and currently being built into Dell’s laptop charging docks.

Mobile Gaming Growth Strategies

1. Quantitative approach before creative.
Games are a creative and recreational outlet for most players. Most people play for a chance to suspend reality and enjoy experiences they would not otherwise have time for. Many game companies start the development process with a creative approach in mind. If they want to create games that generate value, however, they would do better to start with a quantitative approach.

The challenge is assessing whether or not the investment in development will result in the expected financial outcomes. Nikolayev explains how to engage with this problem. “This is a quantity-driven business where each engine allows us to quickly release new titles while minimizing additional development work for each game,” he says. “The main challenge here is building an install base for each game that is sufficiently large so as to monetize the product via advertising.”

2. Create fast, iterate often.
Another way to accelerate growth is by developing games quickly and making constant improvements. Nikolayev says that Tapinator has worked to develop two key categories of games — full-features and rapid-launch. Full-feature games are titles that keep people engaged with longer form content, while rapid-launch games tend to entice users by capitalizing on current trends.

With the ability to make upgrades and additions over time, developers can deliver a simple gaming experience and improve it with time. This is not to say that you should develop a substandard game and improve it as you go. Everything has to start at a high quality. Otherwise, you risk upsetting users. Developing methods for creating games fast, however, helps maintain your competitive advantage.

3. Create an ecosystem of apps for marketing.
While some games start as singular successes, it is much more common for games to succeed as a part of a larger collection or franchise. Examples like PokemonGo are a rarity, and it is important to note that most one-off hits come from existing entertainment franchises. To ensure the success of a game, it is best to develop and release a series of similar titles under the same developer. In doing so, anytime a player enjoys one of your games, there is another waiting for them to try.

“For rapid-launch games, the calculation is much simpler,” Nikolayev says. “We do not utilize paid marketing here and rely exclusively on our own cross-promotion network.” Brands looking to expand offerings in 2017 would benefit from a similar strategy.

Whether you are a developer, marketer, gaming entrepreneur or something in between, these strategies will help you launch more successful brands in 2017. Focus on your audience, their unique needs and what kind of games will keep them engaged. Develop games with their revenue potential in mind, and you are more likely to create sustainable titles that deliver value in the long term. Always consider to how your existing users can inform the development process to ensure future games are just as successful.

Tips to Building Your First Mobile App

Step 1: Get an idea or a problem. If you already have an app idea, move onto step two. If not, read on. Want to build an app but don’t have an app idea? What you really need are problems, and they’re everywhere!

Successful entrepreneurs solve problems in a way that we could not have imagined. When you look around you, every product and service you use were all created to solve a problem. You wanted to get from one place to another faster, you got a car. You wanted to get from one country to another faster, you got planes.

So look for problems in your daily life and list each one of them. Once you have an exhaustive list, then start to think on how you can resolve them and shortlist the ones that make most sense.

Step 2: Identify the need. Validation will prove that a demand exists for your app. You can validate your idea by using the Google Keyword Planner tool to look for the number of people seeking out what you’re trying to do. You could also build a landing page that broadly highlights your app idea and seek user interest through an email signup.

Step 3: Lay out the flow and features. Validation of your app idea means that you’ve got something that people want to use. Now is the time to detail your product onto a document, or if you want to go the extra mile, use a wireframing tool.

When putting your idea down on paper, remember to be as detailed as possible. Include the flow of how the user will navigate the app as well as all the features envisioned. This will help your developer to clearly understand your expectations.

Step 4: Remove non-core features. From the flow and features document you prepared, start looking closely at features that you can remove. Offer only the core value of your app idea. Do not build features in the first version that are “nice to have” and can always be added later as an update. This will help keep the initial costs of development down and also help you get to market quicker.

Step 5: Put design first. I have heard many entrepreneurs saying they want a very basic design and want to focus on just developing an app. They are so wrong! Design is not just about how your app looks, but it’s about how a user will experience the app. Vinod Khosla of Khosla Ventures best explains it: “Design is a way of making technology useful.” So look for a developer who puts design (user experience and graphics) first.

Step 6: Hire a designer/developer. Seek a development company that has great design talent and a solid development team. While hiring a developer, go online to check on their credibility and the apps that they have created. If you really liked an app they created from their portfolio, chances are, they could be the right one for your product.

Step 7: Create developer accounts. You must register for a developer account with the respective app stores to be able to sell your app through their platform. Google’s Android charges $25 a year and Apple charges $99 annually. You have the option of registering as an individual or as a company, if you already have one formed.

Step 8: Integrate analytics. Analytics help you track downloads, user engagement and retention for your mobile app. Make sure you use tools such as Flurry, which is available for free, and Localytics, that has a free and paid version.

Step 9: Get feedback quickly and improvise. Once your app goes live on the app store, the first set of customers’ usage and behavior will give you insight into how to improve and enhance your app. Enhancements and changes are constant, so keep an eye on user feedback and keep building.

Step 10: Introduce features. You built version one with limited features and only the core offering. Now is the time to evaluate and introduce the remaining features that were left out in the initial version. You will know through analytics and feedback whether the features are relevant anymore.

These steps are not sacrosanct, but rather a guideline to building your app in the most effective manner based on my experience. Once you’re ready to start, you must also know that building a mobile app is the easiest part. Getting customers is where the challenge lies.