Bitwalking, earn money while you walk.
A digital crypto-currency has launched that is generated by human movement.
Bitwalking dollars will be earned by walking, unlike other digital currencies such as Bitcoins that are “mined” by computers.
A phone application counts and verifies users’ steps, with walkers earning approximately 1 BW$ for about 10,000 steps (about five miles).
Initially, users will be given the chance to spend what they earn in an online store, or trade them for cash.
The founders of the project, Nissan Bahar and Franky Imbesi have attracted more than $10m (£6.6m) of initial funding from mainly Japanese investors to help launch the currency and create the bank that verifies steps and any transfers.
Japanese electronics giant Murata is working on a wearable wristband that will provide an alternative to carrying a smartphone and show how many BW$ the wearer has earned.
Shoe manufacturers are poised to accept the currency, and a UK high street bank is in talks to partner with the project at one of the UK’s biggest music festivals next year.
The founders have a track record in disruptive technology that could help developing nations as much as richer ones.
Last year they launched Keepod, a $7 USB stick that acts like a computer in Nairobi, Kenya.
The idea of Bitwalking is to take advantage of the trend for fitness trackers by offering an additional incentive to keep fit.
The global scheme plans to partner with sportswear brands, health services, health insurance firms, environmental groups, and potentially advertisers who could be offered unique insights into the audiences they are targeting.
In the future, employers may be invited to take part in a scheme that would be offered to their employees to encourage them to stay fitter, with the currency they earn converted and then paid alongside their salaries.
In developed nations the average person would earn around 15 BW$ a month, but it is hoped that in poorer countries where people have to walk further for work, school, or simply to collect water, the Bitwalking scheme could help transform lives.
Salim Adam walks around six miles (10km) a day to work as an IT teacher at his local college in Mthuntama in northern Malawi.
He has worked out that he can earn 26 BW$ a month just by having the app running on his mobile phone. His current salary is the equivalent of $26 USD.
The impact Bitwalking could make in developing countries isn’t lost on the founders. It is one of the central reasons for creating the currency. In Malawi, one of the African nations to join at the launch of the project, the average rural wage is just US$1.5 (£1) a day.
Business advisor, Karen Chinkwita runs Jubilee Enterprises, giving business guidance to young people in Lilongwe. She said: “There may be a temptation for some to walk instead of work.
“But most people want to earn more money and will do both. With some education we can teach them how to use that money to create even more opportunities.”
The Bitwalking manager for Malawi, Carl Meyer, has set up the first two Bitwalking hubs in Lilongwe and Mthuntama where local people will be trained how to trade the BW$ online for US$ or the local currency, Malawi Kwacha.
Eventually an automatic online exchange is planned that will match up buyers with sellers and a rough exchange rate will begin to emerge.
The Go! app for iOS and Android devices will initially be offered to a handful of countries, including the UK, Japan, Malawi, and Kenya, to give the organisers a chance to iron out any difficulties before other countries come on board.
The idea isn’t completely new. Several start-ups have tried to connect keeping fit to earning rewards but most have failed to measure movement accurately enough to avoid scammers.
Bitwalking hasn’t officially released the algorithm used to verify steps but says it uses the handsets’ GPS position and wi-fi connections to calculate the distance travelled.
The team has created its own walking algorithm to verify users’ workouts after testing Google’s and finding that steps could be spoofed.
The phone reports the speed and type of movement as measured by the accelerometer.
At its launch the total amount someone can claim in one day will be capped at around 3 BW$ (roughly 30,000 steps) and running multiple accounts will be banned.
The success of the scheme is likely to depend on how much interest there is from established companies such as big sportswear brands, health insurance firms, or charity and environmental groups all of whom have an incentive to work with the fitness sector.
In Japan, it is not unusual for firms to offer employees rewards for fitness activities. Bitwalking’s founders hope their project could help extend this idea to other nations.
The country’s largest convenience chain store, Lawson, runs a successful scheme that pays its workers up to $50 a year to eat healthily and keep fit.
But the Lawson scheme is based on promises and trust, so unlike Bitwalking it is not verifiable. The vouchers earned cannot be traded for cash.
Despite the freedom to trade, it is likely that unless BW$ can be freely used to buy goods and services they are likely to drop in value from parity with the US$ – the point where the founders are launching it.
The online store will sell goods for the same price in BW$ as US$.
Keeping the virtual shelves of this online store fully stocked will be one of the first challenges.
The shop isn’t expected to be open all the time, but plans are in place for other retailers and service providers to accept the currency in their stores too.
It is still not clear how a currency that appears to be so easy for users to produce could maintain its value, nor if the initial funding for the scheme will be sufficient to sustain it in the initial period while confidence in its value is being built up.
The Bitwalking website will invite people to apply to join the scheme so the company has some control over user numbers.
Because the new scheme necessarily tracks its users there will be data available that could be particularly valuable to advertisers – and accompanying concerns over privacy.
“That won’t be for sale,” says co-founder Nissan Bahar.
“We may explore offering advertisers the opportunity to focus on different groups depending on how active they are, but we won’t pass on any information relating to individual’s movements.”
Transfers of the new currency will also be carefully monitored with transactions going through a central ‘bank’ which verifies each deal using the block chain method used to transfer other crypto-currencies such as Bitcoin.
Users will have access to their own wallet which stores the dollars they’ve earned and will be able to transfer them to others via the app.
“It’s a currency that can be earned by anyone regardless of who they are and where they live,” says Franky Imbesi.
“For some it will be a free cup of coffee a week perhaps offered by local businesses to encourage people to explore their local shops. For others it could be a game changer, transforming their lives by enabling them to earn and trade in the same way with the rest of the world.
“And all while encouraging us to protect the planet and stay healthy.”
Source: Dan Simmons BBC Technology
There will probably never be such a thing as “the perfect” lock, but a new Bluetooth padlock seems to come pretty close.
Noke (pronounced “no key”) is a padlock that, once paired with your iOS or Android device, automatically unlocks when it senses you’re near.
Although we know about devices like the August smart lock for doors, Fuz Designs, the makers of the Noke, claim that its device is the first Bluetooth padlock.
Housed in a tough, water-resistant casing, the 8-ounce device contains a replaceable battery that lasts a year and on its surface features an LED light to indicate when the lock is in operation.
But unlike some Bluetooth devices, there’s no need to pull out your smartphone and fumble with it in order to get the lock to operate. As long as you’re within 10 feet of the lock and your phone is enabled, the lock will automatically open (a feature that can be disabled if you want to more tightly control its unlocking mechanism).
Additionally, if you somehow forget to carry your smartphone with you, you can also program a unique series of long and short taps on the lock’s shank to get it to open.
But what takes the Noke into truly “smart” lock territory is that it allows you to give a “key” to a number of different users who can be given unlimited access to the lock, or time-limited access, all controllable via smartphone app.
The team behind the Noke are looking to raise $100,000 via Kickstarter and have already raised almost $60,000 with 30 days to go. Priced at $59 for early adopters (it will sell for $89 at retail), the Noke is scheduled to ship to buyers in February of 2015.
Welsh police have received an £837,000 grant to develop a smartphone app that will simplify taking witness statements from people in remote areas, ending the need for lengthy trips back to the station to file paperwork.
The Gwent and South Wales police forces have been given the money to develop a tool that will allow officers to record video or audio statements via a smartphone and upload them directly to servers at the station. The software will remove the need for officers to return to the station to file paperwork and therefore free them up to spend more time on patrol.
The app, which will be designed to work with smartphones and tablets, will also allow different police forces to share information much more quickly than is currently possible.
Ian Johnston, police and crime commissioner for Gwent, said in a statement: “This project will enhance the quality of information and evidence obtained at crime scenes, allow Forces to share cross-border data quickly and enable officers and key partners in the community to have rapid access to key information which will save both time and money.”
Earlier this year a study by O2 and the Centre for Economic and Business Research (CEBR) found that the average police officer loses 193 hours of productivity each year because of a lack of connectivity and access to technology.
A frontline officer has to leave incidents on the beat 61 times a year as they don’t have access to the technology they need to create reports or access records in real-time, it found. This wastes up to 65 hours per year in wasted trips to and from base alone.
Source: The Telegraph
French company Netatmo has developed a bracelet designed to protect you from the sun.
It is not sold in traditional jewellery shops – instead they are selling it through Apple Stores, and online.
The June device communicates via Bluetooth with your mobile device, to give alerts about how much sun you are being exposed to.
The BBC’s Dougal Shaw tried out the device during one of the hottest days in July (the 18th) in the UK – and kept a video diary.
He also met up with Raphaelle Raymond of Netatmo to quiz her about the device.
Mercedes-Benz will introduce a new package of services in Europe under the name “Mercedes connect me” with the new C-Class Estate.
Under the umbrella brand “Mercedes me” Mercedes-Benz bundles all existing and future service offers – easily accessible and available at all times on a digital internet platform. The line-up can be accessed via a personalised Mercedes ID on the www.mercedes.me website.
“Mercedes me,” launched at the Geneva Motor Show earlier this year, also includes the new “Mercedes connect me” services. The “Mercedes connect me” services can be used via a KOM module with its own SIM card integrated into the vehicle. The available services include accident, maintenance and breakdown management, among others. Likewise, customers can connect to their vehicle from anywhere and at any time via “Mercedes connect me“ and, among other things, retrieve the fill level of the tank or start, stop or programme the auxiliary heating system.
Mercedes-Benz emergency call system
In an accident this service automatically connects the occupants with the Mercedes-Benz Emergency Call Centre and sends the position and the condition of the vehicle to the rescue operations centre. It can then immediately dispatch a rescue vehicle. The system works automatically but can also be triggered manually.
The “Mercedes connect me” basic services comprise:
Accident management – after the Mercedes-Benz emergency call it connects to the Customer Assistance Center to make it possible to request additional optional aid in dealing with the accident, e.g. a tow truck.
Breakdown management – it provides technical assistance in the event of a breakdown. To this end it transmits the vehicle position and the condition of the vehicle to the Customer Assistance Center, which informs the Mercedes-Benz Service 24h. This allows the Mercedes-Benz Service 24h to provide fast and optimal help.
Maintenance management – the vehicle detects and reports pending maintenance need and sends the necessary data to the service outlet as the basis for preparing a service quote.
Telediagnosis – the vehicle detects the necessary replacement of diagnostics-capable wear parts and reports it to the dealer. The dealer contacts the customers to schedule a repair shop appointment. The previously transmitted data enables the repair shop to provide optimal assistance.
The “Live Traffic Information” service comprises:
Real-time traffic data from TomTom in conjunction with COMAND Online – three-year term, can be extended after the end of the term for a fee.
The optional Remote Online services (can also be used with a smartphone via www.connect.mercedes.me) comprise:
Vehicle position – allows determining the vehicle position, for example, if the vehicle was parked in an unfamiliar city. This makes it possible to conveniently find the vehicle with the help of a smartphone within a range of 1.5 kilometres.
Vehicle position finding – enables pinpointing the current position of a moving vehicle via GPS. The driver has a display in the vehicle and can deactivate the service at any time with a toll-free call to the Customer Assistance Center.
Geographic vehicle monitoring – displays where the vehicle is in an area previously defined on the map and informs the customer if the car leaves or enters this area. Just as in the case of vehicle position finding, the driver can deactivate the service at any time. (Expected availability from late 2014.)
Remote door locking and unlocking – allows locking or closing the vehicle doors remotely, for example, if the driver forgot to lock the vehicle. (Expected availability from late 2014.)
Remote access of vehicle status – vehicle data such as fuel gauge, state of charge, range and more can be accessed from home or while on the road.
Programming of the auxiliary heater – if the vehicle is equipped with auxiliary heating, all functions such as starting, switching off or programming of the timer can be controlled online via a smartphone.
For vehicles with electric drive – the Remote Online services are part of the standard specification and offer the additional functions “Programming of Charge Settings”, “Pre-Entry Climate Control” and “Route Planning”.
To view the Mercedes Me website for more information click here.
CE Outlook says MirrorLink should get a boost as Volkswagen will provide the feature next year, prompting phone suppliers to jump on the bandwagon and support the fledgling technology meant to simplify the use of smartphones with car radios.
Volkswagen will begin offering MirrorLink in all its mid and high-end radios during 2014, said the Car Connectivity Consortium (CCC), which developed the MirrorLink standard. The commitment by Volkswagen will help break the standoff between smartphone makers and auto makers that has held up the technology. Until now, smartphone makers have been waiting for the automakers to adopt MirrorLink, before including it in their phones, said Alan Ewing of the CCC.
MirrorLink mirrors what’s on your smartphone onto the car radio screen (and controls it from the radio).
“With that in place, the handset guys have recognized there is a real market here, so we should see lots of handsets starting in the first half of 2014 with apps available following along,” he said adding, “Someone’s got to go first in a chicken and egg situation.”
MirrorLink has also begun certifying smartphones and car radios for its new V1.1 upgrade.
MirrorLink has finalized an app approval process for phone and auto makers to determine which apps are safe to run in the car while driving. So now when a phone or car maker wants an app to work with MirrorLink, it doesn’t have to create a proprietary app, it can publish a general app in the popular app stores. By April 1 any third party developer will also be able to publish MirrorLink ready apps, said the CCC.
Source: CE Outlook
Vodafone Group appears to be planning an own-brand 4G smartphone, with the device having recently passed through the approvals process with the US Federal Communications Commission.
According to documents cited by Engadget, the device is a rebadged Coolpad 8860U from Chinese vendor Yulong – one of the top three smartphone vendors in its home market.
The Android device has triband LTE support (800, 1800, 2600MHz) alongside 2G and 3G connectivity.
What is not immediately clear is the target market for the device: Vodafone’s own-brand devices have traditionally been aimed at cost-conscious customers, while its 4G connectivity plans target higher-spending customers (its cheapest UK SIM-only offer is £26 per month).
With LTE still in its infancy in the UK, and Vodafone’s rivals continuing with their positioning of it as a premium service, there seems to be little incentive for the company to push 4G adoption further into the mass market.
Source: Steve Costello. Mobile World Live
The Opel/Vauxhall Monza Concept Car featuring the latest cutting edge technology has been unveiled at the Frankfurt Motor Show.
- Monza Concept previews future Opel/Vauxhall design strategy
- Efficient use of space, lightweight design and innovative powertrains
- Revolutionary infotainment with LED projection technology
Luton – Opel/Vauxhall’s ground-breaking Monza Concept, the first car to feature cutting-edge LED projection infotainment and an evolution of the Ampera’s revolutionary powertrain, is set for its world premiere at the Frankfurt Motor Show.
“The Monza Concept represents the Opel/Vauxhall car of tomorrow”, said Dr. Karl-Thomas Neumann, Opel/Vauxhall CEO. “On one hand, it embodies everything that already characterises Opel/Vauxhall – precision engineering combined with innovative technologies wrapped in captivating design. In addition, it addresses the themes that will be the development-focus of the next generation of Opel/Vauxhall cars: maximum connectivity and optimum efficiency.”
“Connectivity is demonstrated by a trailblazing LED projection technology for instrument and infotainment displays. Efficiency comes in many ways, with lightweight design, optimal use of interior space, and advanced powertrain technology. The Monza Concept is based on increasing electrification of the automobile in everyday driving, from range-extender to fuel cell. And as far as styling is concerned, we are expressing pure efficiency in a new, lean and athletic interpretation of our typical sculptural shapes. The Monza Concept is nothing less than our vision of the automotive future.”
Efficiency and connectivity are the main focus for development in the next generation of Vauxhall cars. The Monza Concept offers a fascinating preview of these developments. Once behind the wheel, the Monza Concept whisks you away into a completely new and unique world of instruments and infotainment.
The Monza Concept continues innovating with state-of-the-art LED projection technology. Drivers no longer find the conventional individual, separate monitors that display different information; instead, they face a wide, sculpted dashboard that sweeps from door to door, and is used as a single projection surface. Information and decorative elements are displayed on the surface, which the driver can customise according to his needs, taste or mood.
A total of 18 LED projectors create a continuous, adaptable multi-functional display – the first car in the world to feature this. Already established in the events arena, this technology has caused a sensation at major occasions such as the Queen’s Jubilee, and Opel/Vauxhall designers were first to think of implementing it in a passenger car. The 3D graphics are impressive, and reflect all important functions from precise vehicle and driver information to internet and communication options as well as decorative elements. Both the area displaying information and the background can be individually configured, and operation is via voice control and steering wheel controls.
Efficiency and clarity are also priorities here: when it came to how the displays present information, Opel/Vauxhall engineers focused on the best and most personal way to make relevant data available to the driver. The approach was “simplifying the multitude” and so details on the car, the navigation and the smartphone settings and connection only appear when necessary or desired. So drivers can use a wide range of information without being overwhelmed by text or images. This also makes the Monza Concept a model of future Human-Machine-Interface (HMI) systems, as its interior design is based on latest research findings in this field.
This also applies to the comprehensive smartphone connectivity in the Monza Concept. With three worlds of connectivity – called ME, US and ALL – drivers can focus solely on their driving experience, or get in touch with friends and family or even connect to the whole internet community. With ME the infotainment system virtually disconnects the drivers’ smartphone and prioritises the information relevant for the driving experience. US enables the passengers of the Monza Concept to connect with a group of selected people such as friends and family members: these can log-in to the car’s infotainment system with their own communication device and exchange information, music and images, chat and make appointments, etc. ALL goes beyond US. It allows the driver and virtually the whole outside world to connect. Drivers can for example spontaneously share their planned route online over a tablet or smartphone so that people can catch a ride with them along the way – enabling a new kind of instant car-sharing. With this trailblazing infotainment and connectivity technology, the Monza Concept shows how far ahead Opel/Vauxhall’s designers and engineers are thinking, so that the next generation of cars make their contribution to a harmonious, connected society.
The trendsetting sensor and connectivity technology in the Monza Concept has even more to offer: it gives a preview of the advancements in “Car-to-Car” and “Car-to-X” systems – prerequisites for future autonomous driving and areas in which the research department at Opel/Vauxhall is already intensively working. By comprehensively connecting road users, intercommunication can be enhanced, as can safety, because dangerous traffic situations are registered earlier and more accurately than before.
The Monza Concept is based on a modular design to allow highest-possible flexibility when selecting a propulsion system. A variety of sustainable powertrains based on increasing electrification of the automobile are available. For the Monza Concept set to be displayed at Frankfurt, engineers conceived an electric drive with a CNG (Compressed Natural Gas) range extender – a further development of the Ampera’s pioneering technology. The new-generation three-cylinder 1.0 SIDI turbo – which also makes its premiere at Frankfurt – takes over the task as range extender. But it does so with natural gas instead of petrol, further improving the car’s CO2 footprint. With its visionary approach, Opel/Vauxhall continues to combine the potential of electric propulsion with the benefits of the internal combustion engine.
“We have a clear vision of how Opel/Vauxhall cars will be in the future, and we have a clear strategy of how we will achieve this goal. The Monza Concept gives this strategy an unmistakable identity,” said Dr. Karl-Thomas Neumann. “It embodies what our customers can expect from us within the next years, not only in terms of design, but also in terms of efficiency and connectivity between drivers and the internet community. So it already anticipates future everyday automotive life, and serves as an important source of inspiration on the road to that destination.”