If you’re attending Google I/O this week, you will be a part of an experiment from the Google Cloud Platform Developer Relations team. On its blog today, the team outlined its plan to gather a bunch of environmental information happening around you as you meander around the Moscone Center.
In the blog post, Michael Manoochehri, Developer Programs Engineer, outlines his team’s plan to place hundreds of Arduino-based environmental sensors around the conference space to track things like temperature, noise levels, humidity and air quality in real-time. This was spawned due to a fascination with wanting to know which areas of the conference were the most popular, so it will be interesting to see what the information the team gathers actually tells us.
At first glance, this seems a little bit creepy, but it’s no different than a venue adjusting the cooling system based on the temperature inside at any given moment. As with anything that Google does, this could have implications for tracking indoor events or businesses in the future, as Manoochehri shared:
Networked sensor technology is in the early stages of revolutionizing business logistics, city planning, and consumer products. We are looking forward to sharing the Data Sensing Lab with Google I/O attendees, because we want to show how using open hardware together with the Google Cloud Platform can make this technology accessible to anyone.
Notice the wrap-up of wanting to show people how open hardware combined with Google’s Cloud Platform benefits everyone. Ok, sure. What could data like this mean for businesses, though? Well, a clothing store would be able to track how many people came in and browsed, which areas of the store were hot-spots for interest and then figure out how their displays converted. It’s like real-world ad-tracking. It makes sense, but still seems a long way off.
What will be interesting is not each dataset that is collected, but what all of them tied together tell us about our surroundings:
Our motes will be able to detect fluctuations in noise level, and some will be attached to footstep counters, to understand collective movement around the conference floor.
Of course, none of this information is personally identifiable, but the thought of our collective steps, movements and other ambient output being turned into something usable by Google is intriguing to say the least…and yes, kind of creepy.
If this particular team can share all of the data it collects in an easy to digest way, then businesses will be clamoring to toss sensors all over their stores and drop the data on whatever cloud platform that will host it the cheapest. Google would like to be that platform.
During the event, the team will hold a workshop on what it calls the “Data Sensing Lab,” so if you’re interested on learning more about what the team is gathering as you walk around, this would be the place to go. You’ll also be able to see some of the real-time visualizations on screens set up throughout the conference floor.
We’ll be covering all of the action as we’re being covered by Google.
Tweetwall, a Twitter display provider for events (you know, for “tweet walls”), which has been used by customers including CNN, PayPal, Yahoo, Intel, eBay, Microsoft, the Obama campaign, Sprint, and more, is today launching a revamped version of its service. The updated version of Tweetwall has been rebuilt from the ground up, and is also accompanied by a new iPad application offering AirPlay support, designed for smaller venues.
If you’ve ever been to a conference or other event where a big-screen TV or monitor was filled with live tweets, then you may have come across Tweetwall’s technology, without realizing it. However, prior to today, the service has only been available to larger organizations who have historically paid thousands of dollars for customized versions of Tweetwall, built to their own needs.
Founder and CEO Joel Strellner says that his business was almost like “a consulting company,” and attracted customers who wanted their own particular designs and configurations, as well as access to the Twitter firehose (which Tweetwall has via Gnip), so tweets wouldn’t get missed if their event began trending on Twitter.
He and his team would meet with the customers beforehand to determine their needs, then create a version of Tweetwall built to their exact customizations. Though the service offers analytics on the backend, it didn’t offer full moderation – and that led to some incidents in years past, when people figured out you could hijack an event’s Twitter stream and post disruptive messages.
The new product changes that, now adding full moderation capabilities.
“Over the last two years, we started getting the vibe that the way we were doing this isn’t the way we should be doing this,” explains Strellner. “We should be making it more of a self-service option – something people can sign up for, create a Tweetwall right away, and go with it,” he says.
The company inched in that direction starting last year, when it changed the pricing model, lowering the rate to a flat $500 per event in order to attract more of the smaller events. But even that price point was too high, given the competitive landscape containing a number of free options.
Now the new self-serve version of Tweetwall is just $49 per day, and offers a rebuilt backend with full moderation capabilities and detailed analytics. During the setup process, customers can choose from one of four layouts, all of which are highly customizable. Tweets load in faster, include images, and overall, the service runs smoother than before. Instead of the Twitter firehose, self-serve customers have access to Twitter’s direct streaming API, which Strellner says should be more than enough for smaller events.
Tweetwall is still an HTML5 application, meant to run on a computer connected to a big-screen monitor or TV. However, the company has also introduced an iPad app version of the service that works with Apple’s Digital AV Adapter or AirPlay, to display tweets on a TV or through a projector.
The new service was soft-launched into beta just last week, with 15 customers testing it, and today has around 40 sign-ups in advance of a formal announcement.
Since its debut back in 2008, Tweetwall has served hundreds of enterprise-sized customers, some like CNN, which would use the service year after year, paying each time for new customizations. The Providence-based startup, which raised just $165,000 in the early days some through Betaspring, has been profitable for some time. It also operates Twitter analytics service Socialping, which has around 1,000 customers and is self-sustaining, though now a revamp for it is also planned.
Going forward, the self-serve version of Tweetwall, including the iPad app, will be offered alongside the full service offering for those clients who need the advanced customizations. More info is available here, or you can download Tweetwall for iPad here on iTunes.
Desire2Learn is a 10-plus year old Canadian company that makes learning software — a learning management system to be precise — and here’s why, in spite of that description, it shouldn’t bore you to sleep. In a space that’s traditionally been controlled by bigs like Blackboard and Moodle, Desire2Learn has quietly managed to carve out its own growing share of the market.
Last September, the Waterloo-based company raised a sizable $80 million round from NEA and others, and today has over 700 clients and more than 10 million people across higher education, K-12, healthcare and beyond are using its learning software.
Although the company doesn’t disclose financial information, we’ve heard that its institutional contracts are now translating into millions in revenue, which along with its raise, has allowed it to expand its staff from 600 to over 750 over the last year. In turn, the company has been ramping up its focus on acquiring EdTech talent and is rumored to be planning an IPO in the U.S. at some point down the road.
While Desire2Learn has established a solid base, it’s strategic M&A that can help lead the way forward, fighting off a flattening growth curve and leading to better products. The company has been acquiring with more frequency of late, including two back-to-back in January and March.
Desire2Learn acquired course recommendation engine, Degree Compass in March and is already putting its tech to use to continue expanding its learning platform. This week, the company announced what it called “the biggest update to its Learning Suite to date” — an update in which Degree Compass’ tech plays a central role, not only by expanding its toolset but by potentially changing the way students navigate their academic career.
To do this, Desire2Learn wants to bring predictive analytics into play in education. But why? Well, first and foremost because, today, if students want to figure out whether a course is right for them — or how well they might perform in that course — they’re hard pressed to find a good answer. They can ask fellow students, check websites that rank faculty based on nebulous criteria or try to find surveys, but none of these options are ideal.
With its new analytics engine, Desire2Learn aims to change that by giving students the ability to predict their success in a particular course based on what they’ve studied in the past and how they performed in those classes. The new, so-called “Student Success System,” was built (in part) from the technology it acquired from Degree Compass; however, while Degree Compass used predictive analytics to help students optimize their course selection, the new product aims to help both sides of the learning equation: Students and teachers.
On the teacher side, Desire2Learn’s new analytics engine allows them to view predictive data visualizations that compare student performance against their peers so that they can identify at-risk students, for example, and monitor a student’s progress over time.
The idea is to give teachers access to important insight on stuff like class dynamics and learning trends, which they can then combine with assessment data, to improve their instruction or adapt to the way individual students learn. In theory, this leads not only to higher engagement, but also better outcomes.
For students, they use Desire2Learn as they normally would, using it to view course materials, take quizzes, submit homework and chat with their peers. The platform then collects and analyzes each student’s personal data and, by drawing from a wider set of inputs, the engine can more accurately predict which classes students will perform best in and what their grades will be.
The system is currently operating at about 90 percent accuracy when it comes to predicting performance by letter grades, CEO John Baker tells us — a number which should improve as the engine accumulates more data, he says.
In addition to its predictive analytics, Desire2Learn is also making some significant updates to its mobile app, including new integrations with Dropbox and SkyDrive to allow students to engage with learning resources in the same way they do outside the classroom. What’s more, Desire2Learn is moving into Patbrite’s territory through ePortfolio and its new tool which allows students to build portfolios based on their in-school projects, grades and achievements in a way that’s applicable to life after school and finding a job.
Essentially, the tool allows students to move their academic resume to the cloud so they can take it with them after they graduate, which the company is incentivizing by offering 2GB of free storage.
Basically, what we’ve come to realize, the Desire2Learn CEO tells me, is that the company’s initial approach to business (or academic) intelligence was off track. “Students and teachers don’t necessarily want more data, they want more insight and they want that data broken out in a way that they can understand and helps them more quickly visualize the learning map,” he says.
When I asked if building and adding more and more tools and features would dilute the experience and result in feature overload, Baker said that the company doesn’t want to build a million different tools. Instead, it wants to become a platform that supports a million tools and allows third-parties that specialize in particular areas of education to help develop better products.
Through open-sourcing its APIs, Desire2Learn along with Edmodo and an increasing number of education startups are beginning to tap into the potential inherent to the creation of a real ecosystem. Adding predictive analytics tools gives Desire2Learn another carrot with which they hope to be able to draw both teachers, students and development partners into its ecosystem.
Datahero, here at Disrupt NY, represents how the market is segmenting for data visualization and data-analytics tools based upon level of skill, complexity and overall richness and sophistication of the technology.
Datahero caters to a market that often has to rely on data analysts to do their work for them. Deal flows and other segmentations have traditionally required the help of someone who is familiar with a base understanding of statistics and software suites such as SPSS.
Chris Neuman, CEO and Co-Founder at Datahero, was the first engineer hired by Astra Data Systems, which was acquired by Teradata in 2011. He said to me in an email in late March that the main goal for Datahero is to enable anyone of any ability to be able to make sense of the data that matters to them – regardless of whether it’s in a data warehouse, on their laptop, or in a SaaS service.
Here’s a chart about meat consumption I created with a sample data set from Datahero. It was essentially a drag-and-drop exercise.
Datahero is in contrast to platforms such as Tableau Software, which require a deeper level of knowledge for how to use its platform. With more complexity comes more richness in what is possible to do. But for most of us, we just need to get the work done.
There are also a number of vendors that offer data visualization tools that are less complex than technologies like SPSS but not as simple as Datahero. Good Data, Birst and services such as Bime Analytics offer tools that have different levels of complexity. Chartio is simpler than most of these tools but does require integration with a customer’s data sources.
Good Data offers what it calls “Bashes,” which are pre-configured templates to analyze company data. A customer gets support from Good Data with integrating the company data. Companies then track, segment and target their data using the Good Data platform.
Datahero appeals to the novice user. But the platforms available in the market show the range of tools available for people with varying skill sets. That’s good for the market, especially as data becomes more plentiful and accessible to use.
Read more from the original source: Datahero Turns Data Into Rich Visuals Without The Need For A Data Analyst
Don’t write off Microsoft’s chances in mobile just yet. It may still be struggling to make itself count in the smartphone space but early signs are more promising for Windows plus tablets. Microsoft has gone from having no share of the global tablet OS market in Q1 last year to taking 7.4% one year later, with three million Windows 8 tablets shipped in Q1 2013, according to preliminary figures from Strategy Analytics‘ Global Tablet OS Market Share: Q1 2013 report.
The analyst notes record tablet shipments in the quarter, with global branded tablet shipments reaching an “all-time high” of 40.6 million units in Q1, driven on by year-on-year growth of 117% (vs 146% in Q1 2012).
Microsoft launched Windows 8, its touchscreen-friendly reboot of its desktop OS, last fall – so it’s swung from zero to a 7.4% share in just under half a year. Compare that to the Windows Phone OS, which launched more than two years ago, in fall 2010: Windows Phone took only a 4.1% share in the US smartphone OS market in the three months ending February, according to Kantar figures. Globally, its share is even smaller. Earlier this year ABI Research predicted Windows Phone will end 2013 with around 3% of the worldwide market.
Returning to tablets, compared to the dominant players in the tablet OS market — iOS and Android — Microsoft’s share is still very modest. Strategy Analytics dubs it a “niche” portion, noting that “very limited distribution, a shortage of top tier apps, and confusion in the market, are all holding back shipments”. Microsoft has followed its Windows Phone strategy of paying developers to create apps for Windows 8 but it’s still got work to do in the quality vs quantity stakes. While “confusion in the market” likely refers to Microsoft’s decision to offer two flavours of tablet OS (Windows RT/Windows 8).
According to Strategy Analytics’ figures, Apple retains its lead in the tablet OS space, with a 48.2% share in Q1 vs a “robust” 43.4% for Android on 19.5 million and 17.6 million unit shipments respectively. Apple’s tablet lead over Android is shrinking considerably, dropping to under half the market from 63.1% in the year ago quarter when Android took just over a third (34.2%).
The analyst described Apple’s performance as “solid”, helped by its first full quarter with the iPad mini in its tablet portfolio. But Android is growing fastest, with global branded Android tablet shipments increasing 177% annually in the quarter. Add in budget white box tablets and Android becomes the market leader, taking a 52% share of the total tablet market while iOS slips to 41%.