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The Future of Indoor GPS Part 4: Read the Room with RFID Tags

In the previous installment of our blog series on indoor positioning, we explored the future of Ultra Wideband technology. This week, we will examine RFID Tags.

The earliest applications of RFID tags date back to World War II when they were used to identify nearby planes as friends or foes. Since then, RFID technology has evolved to become one of the most cost-effective and easy to maintenance indoor positioning technologies on the market.

WHAT IS RFID?

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RFID refers to a wireless system with two components: tags and readers. The reader is a device with one or more antennae emitting radio waves and receiving signals back from the RFID tag.

RFID tags are attached to assets like product inventory. RFID Readers enable users to automatically track and identify inventory and assets without a direct line of sight with a read range between a few centimeters and over 20 meters. They can contain a wide range of information, from merely a serial number to several pages of data. Readers can be mobile and carried by hand, mounted or embedded into the architecture of a room.

RFID tags use radio waves to communicate with nearby readers and can be passive or active. Passive tags are powered by the reader, do not require a battery,  and have a read range of Near Contact – 25 Meters. Active tags require batteries and have an increased read range of 30 – 100+ Meters.

WHAT DOES RFID DO?

RFID is one of the most cost-effective and efficient location technologies. RFID chips are incredibly small—they can be placed underneath the skin without much discomfort to the host. For this reason, RFID tags are commonly used for pet identification.

Image via Hopeland

Image via Hopeland

One of the most widespread uses of RFID is in inventory management. When a unique tag is placed on each product, RFID tags offer instant updates on the total number of items within a warehouse or shop. In addition, it can offer a full database of information updated in real time.

RFID has also found several use cases in indoor positioning. For example, it can identify patients and medical equipment in hospitals using several readers spaced out in the building. The readers each identify their relative position to the tag to determine its location within the building. Supermarkets similarly use RFID to track products, shopping carts, and more.

RFID has found a wide variety of use cases, including:

WHAT ARE THE CONS OF USING RFID?

Perhaps the biggest obstacle facing businesses looking to adopt RFID for inventory tracking is pricing. RFID tags are significantly more expensive than bar codes, which can store some of the same data and offer similar functionality. At about $0.09, passive RFID tags are less expensive than active RFID tags, which can run from $25-$50. The cost of active RFID tags causes many businesses to only use them for high-inventory items.

RFID tags are also vulnerable to viruses, as is any technology that creates a broadcast signal. Encrypted data can help provide an extra level of security; however, security concerns still often prevents larger enterprises from utilizing them on the most high-end merchandise.

OVERALL

RFID tags are one of the elite technologies for offering inventory management with indoor positioning. Although UWB and Bluetooth BLE beacons offer more precise and battery-efficient location services, RFID is evolving to become more energy and cost efficient.

Stay tuned for the next entry in our Indoor Positioning blog series which will explore AR applications in indoor positioning!

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The Future of Indoor GPS Part 3: The Broadening Appeal of Ultra Wideband

In the previous installment of our blog series on indoor positioning, we explored all that Bluetooth 5.1 has to offer.  This week, we will examine what may be a major wireless technology of the future: Ultra Wideband.

In September 2019, the inclusion of a U1 chip was listed among the innovations announced with the  iPhone 11. The U1 chip provides Ultra Wideband (UWB) connectivity. Those knowledgable on UWB recognize that the inclusion of the U1 chip is a major step toward UWB becoming a household name technology like Bluetooth and WiFi.

HISTORY

UWB signifies a number of synonymous terms, including impulse, carrier-free, baseband, time domain, nonsinusoidal, orthogonal function and large-relative-bandwidth radio/radar signals.

Guglio Marcone, UWB innovator

Guglielmo Marconi, UWB innovator

UWB was first employed by Guglielmo Marconi in 1901 to transmit Morse code sequences across the Atlantic Ocean using spark gap radio transmitters. Development began in the late 1960s with pioneering contributions by Harmuth at Catholic University of America, Ross and Robbins at Sperry Rand Corporation, and Paul van Etten at USAF’s Rome Air Development Center in Russia. In the early 2000s, UWB was used in military radars, covert communication, and briefly in medical imaging applications such as remote heart monitoring systems. Its adoption lagged until commercial interests began exploring potential innovative uses.

MODERN USAGE

via Sewio

via Sewio

UWB is a short-range wireless communication protocol. It differs from WiFi and Bluetooth in that it uses radio waves operating at a very high frequency. Ultra Wideband alludes to the wide spectrum of GHz of the waves it utilizes, 5000 MHz or higher. Wi-Fi and LTE radio bands are about one-tenth as wide, typically ranging from 20 to 80 MHz. UWB is like a radar that can lock into objects to identify their location and transmit data.

Apple describes UWB technology as providing “spatial awareness”—it can continuously scan a room and precisely lock onto specific objects. One of the major applications for it in the iPhone 11 is the ability for the user to point their device at another device to target it for an Airdrop.

INDOOR POSITIONING

The primary usages of UWB are expected to be in indoor positioning, location discovery, and device ranging according to IDC research director Phil Solis. Compared to Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, UWB is extremely low power and the high bandwidth makes it perfect for relaying mass amounts of data from a host device to other devices around 30 feet away. Unlike Wi-Fi, UWB is not particularly good at transmitting through walls, but its robustness against interference and high data rate (110 kbit/s – 6.8 Mbit/s) enable ideal, ultra-precise indoor positioning.

The inclusion of the UWB U1 chip in the iPhone 11 paves the way for applications in indoor mapping and navigation, smart home and vehicle access and control, enhanced augmented reality, and mobile payments that are more secure than NFC.

MASS ADOPTION

As new applications continue to emerge and the demand for indoor positioning increases, the major hurdle UWB faces is a lack of existing infrastructure. Apple and Huawei, the two largest smartphone makers in the world, are developing UWB projects, including chip and antenna production. Apple’s decision to include it in the iPhone 11 is the first time a UWB chip will be deployed on a smartphone. As trendsetters, it stands to reason that UWB will only grow in popularity from here and mass adoption may be inevitable.

Stay tuned for the next entry in our Indoor Positioning blog series which will explore RFID Tags!

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The Future of Indoor GPS Part 2: Bluetooth 5.1′s Angle of Arrival Ups the Ante for BLE Beacons

In the last installment of our blog series on indoor positioning, we examined an overview of the top indoor positioning technologies. This week, we will examine the most precise and popular method: Bluetooth BLE Beacons and how Bluetooth 5.1 enables them to be the most popular indoor positioning tool on the market.

As the world transitions into a wireless society, Bluetooth technology has evolved and gained more and more popularity. Apple’s decision to remove 1/8th inch audio ports from their devices, while irksome to many consumers, was a definitive move in the direction of Bluetooth.

The growing market for indoor positioning has incentivized an evolution in the landscape of Bluetooth technology. The first consumer bluetooth device was launched in 1999. This year, the world is forecasted to ship more than 4.5 billion Bluetooth devices worldwide. Behind the scenes, manufacturers are using Bluetooth technology for asset tracking and warehouse management. Bluetooth 5.1 technology, in concert with Bluetooth BLE Beacons, is the most popular indoor positioning method.

Nordic nRF52840-Dongle

Nordic nRF52840-Dongle

BLUETOOTH 5.1

Announced in January 2019 by the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG), Bluetooth 5.1 is the latest and most powerful iteration of Bluetooth technology yet.

Bluetooth 5.1 can connect with other devices at a distance of 985 feet, quadruple Bluetooth 4.0. Bluetooth 5.1 improves upon Bluetooth 4.0′s indoor positioning capabilities with Angle of Arrival (AoA) and Angle of Departure (AoD) features. When used for indoor location, Bluetooth 5.1 can provide up to 1-10 centimeters of accuracy with very little lag. At 48MBps, Bluetooth 5.1 is twice as fast as Bluetooth 4.0.

In addition to being faster and more powerful, Bluetooth 5.1 is the continuation of Low Energy LE, consuming less power than previous iterations of Bluetooth.

INDOOR POSITIONING

Bluetooth BLE Beacons are attached to objects, vehicles, devices, etc. and used to track their location. Bluetooth BLE beacons enable Bluetooth devices to communicate with IoT products and other devices. The top suppliers in the  beacon space include Kontakt, Blukii, Minew, Gimbal, Estimote, and EM Microelectronic.

AoA and AoD features are at the core of what enhances positioning technologies in Bluetooth 5.1.

Angle of Arrival diagram via ScienceDirect.com

Angle of Arrival diagram via ScienceDirect.com

In AoA, the  device or tag transmits a specific direction-finding packet using one antenna. The receiving device receives the incoming signal with multiple antennas, each antenna receiving the signal at slightly different times relative to each other. An algorithm factors in the shifts in signal and yields precise coordinate information.

AoD flips the scenario. The device sending the signal has an array of antennas and transmits a packet via the antenna ray. The receiving device then makes an IQ sampling of its antenna to determine the coordinate calculation.

USE CASES

Enhanced indoor positioning enables a number of use cases. In sports stadiums and music venues,  a locating hub near the center of the arena can receive signals from devices using AoA technology and determine location coordinates. Keys, perhaps the most commonly lost object, can be embedded with a sensor and located using a locator hub equipped by a smart home.

Bluetooth BLE Beacons, harnessing Bluetooth 5.1, remain the most cost and energy-efficient method of attaining precise indoor positioning locations.

Stay tuned for the next entry in our Indoor Positioning blog series which will explore the wonders of Ultra-Wideband (UWB) technology!

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Maximize Profits with the Top Freemium Tactics of 2020

The global gaming market is estimated at $152 billion, with 45% derived from mobile games. The mobile game market is constantly evolving, new tactics and even platforms, like Apple Arcade, are being introduced. As a mobile game developer, being dynamic and staying up on the latest trends is of the utmost importance. Staying on top of these trends will help make a more engaging and profitable mobile game.

Keeping this in mind, below are the top freemium tactics of 2020:

RETENTION IS (STILL) KING

Mobile game developers must remember that freemium games begin and end with a good retention strategy that keeps users engaged.

Daily Tasks: Set-up daily tasks that pass the Starbucks Test. One of them can be opening the app on a daily basis. These should be fairly simple to complete and offer a reward, encouraging users to integrate gameplay into their daily lives.

Rewards Pack on User Birthdays: Give users some kind of bonus on their birthday to enrich their personal relationship with the game.

Challenge Dormant Users: After 3 days, give users a special, temporary challenge to reengage them with the app. Temporary promotions can be an effective way to instill a sense of urgency in the call-to-action and trigger users to open the app.

Promotion Before Subscription/Free Trial Ends: Tempt the user to sign-up or to extend their subscription by offering a temporary promotion 24-48 hours before their free trial/subscription ends.

When it comes to measuring retention, check out the model retention rates below from The Tool (Performance-Based Mobile ASO):

  • Day 1 Retention – 40%
  • Day 7 Retention – 20%
  • Day 28 Retention – 10%

Retention can also be tracked hourly instead of daily where Day 1 Retention will be the percentage of users who returned within 24-48 hours from the install. Here’s how it might look in analytics systems such as devtodev (via The Tool):

Retention-Analytics

OUTSTREAM VIDEO ADS

Outstream Video is a new type of video ad unit, referred to sometimes as “native video”, designed for targeting mobile users.

Outstream Video ads do not require placement within a Youtube video. They play with the sound off on mobile screens when more than 70% of the ad is visible. The user can tap the ad to turn the sound on and restart the video from the beginning, or they can continue scrolling. When less than 70% of the ad is visible, the video pauses.

Advertisers such as the Hong Kong tourism board have had great success using Outstream Video ads, delivering 30% incremental reach with a 40% lower cost per completed video and 85% lower CPM.

REWARDED ADS PAY OFF

When it comes to monetizing a mobile game through advertising, rewarded ads remain at the top of the food chain. A recent survey of app publishers asked what their most successful monetization method was. Rewarded Video Ads won with 75% of the vote.

By offering users some kind of in-game reward, such as an extra life, a bonus item, or a new avatar, app developers can improve UI and engagement while encouraging ad views without bothering the user. Rewarded ads remain the ad unit with the highest earning potential.

LOOT BOXES

A loot box is a randomized box of in-game prizes. Users pay for an in-app purchase, but there is no guarantee of whether it will contain gold or pennies, the user has to make the decision to purchase in exchange a random reward. While this tactic is somewhat controversial in Europe where Belgium and the Netherlands have cracked down and labeled it gambling, it remains a popular tactic. Loot boxes are particularly effective for  Whales, wealthy mobile game users who will readily pay to improve their performance in the game.

SELL YOUR DATA

The collection and sale of data is a massive industry. If your app offers the technical means to collect user-generated data such as geolocation, it may be worth it to acquire user consent to license that data.

Applications like Waze & Foursquare receive community-generated data from their users and effectively leverage it to monetize their applications. Waze licenses data to businesses placing location-based ads, whereas Foursquare licenses point of interest geolocation data to Google & Apple for their first party GPS apps Apple Maps & Google Maps.

CONCLUSION

It is important to keep in mind that monetization is the icing on the cake—without an engaging game that hooks users, there will be nothing to monetize. However, making key decisions in the development process with the monetization strategy in mind will *literally* pay off in the long run.

Check out our previous blogs on Mobile Game Monetization for an overview of the fundamentals.

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The Future of Indoor GPS Part 1: Top Indoor Positioning Technologies

GPS can help you get from A to B, but what can it do to enhance your indoor retail experience?  Over the next several entries, the Mystic Media Blog will endeavor on a five-part deep dive into the top indoor location technologies and how they will help form the retail experience of the future.

GPS has become ingrained in our everyday lives. Zoomers will never know of a world without GPS, the world of Mapquest and just plain old maps.

While Google Maps, Waze, and Apple Maps can take you from your home to your favorite retailer, finding your way around large stores remains difficult. As a business owner, you want to make the act of navigating the store as easy as possible so that your customers have a positive experience finding what they want. Indoor GPS can solve that problem.

In the past five years, indoor positioning has blown up. The global market for indoor location technology is projected to hit $40.99 billion by 2022, a significant increase from $5.22 billion in 2016. That’s a compound annual growth rate of 42%. With $2.4 billion anticipated in annual spending on beacons and asset tracking by the end of 2020, IPS or Indoor Positioning Systems are here to stay.

Here are the top IPS technologies in use today:

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BLE 5.1 BEACONS

Bluetooth Low Energy Beacons are tiny battery powered devices that can connect to bluetooth-enabled devices like smartphones.

When it comes to indoor positioning, the more precise the positioning, the larger the investment required to achieve it. Bluetooth Low Energy beacons have become a technology stack because they require relatively inexpensive hardware to achieve an accuracy of up to 1-3 meters. BLE 5.1 beacons have improved upon that, providing 1-10 centimeters of accuracy with minimal lag.

BLE is extremely power efficient and cost-effective, minimally draining a phone’s battery  when connected, and can be used within WiFi access points or lighting infrastructure. Since they infrequently require maintenance, they are often used in high-traffic venues.

Locatify-UWB-Ultrawideband-RTLS

ULTRA-WIDEBAND (UWB)

Ultra-wideband (UWB) is a radio technology utilizing low power consumption for a high-bandwidth connection. UWB has extremely precise locating abilities, dialing in to locate objects within one centimeter.

In September 2019, Apple announced the iPhone 11 includes a “U1” chip with UWB technology; however, UWB technology is currently not widely available. Many consider it to be the future of indoor positioning technology, but the lack of existing infrastructure will likely delay mass adoption. Regardless, for applications like warehouse tracking where ultra-precise positioning is required, UWB is an ideal solution.

RFID

RFID TAGS

RFID stands for Radio Frequency Identification. RFID is a simple technology with a tag and a reader. The reader extracts data from the tag using radio-frequency electromagnetic field and identifies the object the tag is attached to.

Although RFID is often used in combination with other technologies for more precise indoor location, the market for RFID is gradually increasing. It’s currently slated for growth in the apparel and shoes space, with great potential in other markets such as healthcare and automotive.

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AR-BASED NAVIGATION

Indoor navigation utilizing Augmented Reality technologies can do more than just help you navigate a store, it can totally revolutionize the retail experience.  AR can create virtual paths and arrows to help navigate the store. For businesses, AR can improve internal processes by making it easier for staff to navigate offices and warehouses.

This technology is enabled by placing visual markers which can be scanned by the users using their mobile device’s camera. The phone will then guide the user through the retail experience and can be customized to help them find what they need.

In May 2019, the number of AR-enabled devices around the world reached 1.05 billion. Apple and Google are actively working on improving ARKit and ARCore, their AR software development frameworks. Beyond simply helping customers and staff navigate stores, AR will pave the way for personalized shopping experiences unlike any we’ve seen before.

CONCLUSION

While BLE Beacons are currently the leader in the marketplace, many technologies are competing to pioneer the most advanced and accurate indoor location technologies. Given the countless applications, the future is looking bright for indoor location applications! Tune into our next indoor positioning blog when we take a deep dive into BLE 5.1 beacons.

Wireless communication network concept. IoT(Internet of Things). ICT(Information Communication Technology).

A Smarter World Part 4: Securing the Smart City and the Technology Within

In the last installment of our blog series on smart cities, we examined how smart transportation will make for a more efficient society. This week, we’ll examine how urban security stands to evolve with the implementation of smart technology.

Smart security in the modern era is a controversial issue for informed citizens. Many science fiction stories have dramatized the evolution of technology, and how every advance increases the danger of reaching a totalitarian state—particularly when it comes to surveillance. However, as a society, it would be foolish to refrain from using the technical power afforded to us to protect our cities.

Here are the top applications for smart security in the smart cities of the future:

Surveillance

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Surveillance has been a political point of contention and paranoia since the Watergate scandal in the early 1970s. Whistleblower Edward Snowden became a martyr or traitor depending on your point of view when he exposed vast surveillance powers used by the NSA. As technology has rapidly evolved, the potential for governments to abuse their technological power has evolved with it.

Camera technology has evolved to the point where everyone has a tiny camera on them at all time via their phones. While monitoring entire cities with surveillance feeds is feasible, the amount of manpower necessary to monitor the footage and act in a timely manner rendered this mass surveillance ineffective. However, deep learning-driven AI video analytics tools can analyze real-time footage and identify anomalies, such as foreboding indicators of violence, and notify nearby law enforcement instantly.

In China, police forces use smart devices allied to a private broadband network to discover crimes. Huawei’s eLTE system allows officers to swap incident details securely and coordinate responses between central command and local patrols. In Shanghai, sophisticated security systems have seen crime rates drop by 30% and the amount of time for police to arrive at crime scenes drop to 3 minutes.

In Boston, to curb gun violence, the Boston police force has deployed an IoT sensor-based gunfire detection system that notifies officers to crime scenes within seconds.

Disaster Prevention

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One of the major applications of IoT-based security system involves disaster prevention and effective use of smart communication and alert systems.

When disasters strike, governments require a streamlined method of coordinating strategy, accessing data, and managing a skilled workforce to enact the response. IoT devices and smart alert systems work together to sense impending disasters and give advance warning to the public about evacuations and security lockdown alerts.

Cybersecurity

The more smart applications present in city infrastructure, the more a city becomes susceptible to cyber attack. Unsecured devices, gateways, and networks each represent a potential vulnerability for a data breach. The average cost of a data breach according to IBM and the Poneman Institute is estimated at $3.86 million dollars. Thus, one of the major components of securing the smart city is the ramping up of cybersecurity to prevent hacking.

smart-city-1 graphic

The Industrial Internet Consortium are helping establish frameworks across technologies to safely accelerate the Industrial Internet of Things (IIot) for transformational outcomes. GlobalSign works to move secure IoT deployments forward on a world-wide basis.

One of the first and most important steps toward cybersecurity is adopting standards and recommended guidelines to help address the smart city challenges of today. The Cybersecurity Framework is a voluntary framework consisting of standards, guidelines, and best practices to manage cybersecurity-related risk published by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), a non-regulatory agency in the US Department of Commerce. Gartner projects that 50% of U.S. businesses, critical infrastructure operators, and countries around the globe will use the framework as they develop and deploy smart city technology.

Conclusion

The Smart City will yield a technological revolution, begetting a bevy of potential applications in different fields, and with every application comes potential for hacker exploitation. Deployment of new technologies will require not only data standardization, but new security standardizations to ensure that these vulnerabilities are protected from cybersecurity threats. However, don’t expect cybersecurity to slow the evolution of the smart city too much as it’s expected to grow into a $135 billion dollar industry by 2021 according to TechRepublic.

This concludes our blog series on Smart Cities, we hope you enjoyed and learned from it! In case you missed it, check out our past entries for a full picture of the future of smart cities:

A Smarter World Part 1: How the Future of Smart Cities Will Change the World

A Smarter World Part 2: How Smart Infrastructure Will Reshape Your City

A Smarter World Part 3: How Smart Transportation Will Accelerate Your Business

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A Smarter World Part 3: How Smart Transportation Will Accelerate Your Business

In the last installment of our blog series on smart cities, we examined how smart infrastructure will revolutionize smart cities. This week, we will examine the many applications which will soon revolutionize smart transportation.

A smarter world means a faster, more efficient and environmentally-friendly world. And perhaps the biggest increase in efficiency and productivity will be driven by the many ways in which AI can optimize the amount of time it takes to get where you’re going.

Here are the top applications in smart transportation coming to a city near you:

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AUTONOMOUS VEHICLES

Some say autonomous vehicles are headed to market by 2020. Others say it could take decades before they are on the road. One thing is for certain, they represent a major technological advancement for smart transportation. Autonomous cars will communicate with each other to avoid accidents and contain state-of-the-art sensors to help keep you and your vehicle safe from harm.

Although autonomous vehicles are arguably the largest technological advancement on the horizon, they will also benefit greatly from a variety of smart transportation applications that will accelerate navigating your local metropolis.

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SMART ROADS

What if we could turn roads into a true digital network, giving real-time traffic updates, supporting autonomous car technology, and providing true connectivity between vehicles and smart cities?

That’s the question tech start-up Integrated Roadways intends to answer. Integrated Roadways develops fiber-connected smart pavement outfitted with a vast amount of sensors, routers, and antennae that send information to data centers along the highway. They recently inked a 5 year deal to test out patented fiber-connected pavement in Colorado.

Smart Roads represent a major advancement in creating vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) connectivity. With 37,133 deaths from motor vehicles on American roads in 2017, the combination of AI applications in smart roads and autonomous cars could revolutionize vehicular transport and create a safer, faster world.

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SMART TRAFFIC LIGHTS

The vehicle-to-infrastructure connectivity spans beyond the roads and into the traffic light. Idling cars generate an estimated 30 million tons of carbon dioxide. Traffic jams can make it harder for first responders to reach emergencies. Rapid Flow proposes that the answer may be their AI-based adaptive traffic management system called Surtrac.

Surtrac uses a decentralized network of smart traffic lights equipped with cameras, radar, and other sensors to manage traffic flows. Surtrac’s sensors identify approaching vehicles, calculate their speed and trajectory, and adjust a traffic signal’s timing schedule as needed.

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SMART PUBLIC TRANSIT

There are a variety of smart applications which are revolutionizing public transportation.

In Singapore, hundreds of cameras and sensors citywide analyze traffic congestion and crowd density, enabling government officials to reroute buses at rush hour, reducing the risk of traffic jams. In Indianapolis, the electric Red Line bus service runs a 13 mile path that travels within a quarter of a mile of roughly 150,000 jobs.

One of the major disruptors which has seen rapid adoption in the smart public transport are electric scooter sharing services like Bird and Lime. Electric scooters fill in the public transportation gap for people looking to go 1-3 miles without having to walk or take a taxi. Electric scooters have seen adoption in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Salt Lake City, Brooklyn, and more cities around the globe.

CONCLUSION

Smart cities will have a host of revolutionary applications working in unison and communicating through smart infrastructure with municipalities to ensure maximum efficiency and safety when it comes to transportation. In our next installment of our series on smart cities, we’ll examine how smart security will help keep city-dwellers safe.

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How to Invest Wisely in an Application Development Project

All well-designed apps begin with an efficient app development process. An inefficient app development process will result in succumbing to pitfalls that will not only prove costly, but also lead to sub-par functionality. Here are our top tips on how to invest wisely in an application development project:

COME PREPARED

When developing your app, you need to know all of the ins and outs of what you want out of your product. During the course of the development process, you will be asked every applicable question and you will need to be able to answer them and to communicate your vision to the app development team so that they are inside your head and know it almost as well as you do.

Rather than waiting for the question to come up, get ahead of it with thorough preparation.

App development starts with the creation of a specifications document elucidating all aspects of the app to be built to ensure a thorough understanding of the idea. Create your own specifications in advance of reaching out to teams and make sure it’s comprehensive. Review the app specifications document thoroughly with prospective partners, make sure they have a comprehensive understanding and it accounts for everything you need your app to do.

Preparation is absolutely vital to staying on the same page with your application development team and avoiding costly hiccups and rebuilds down the line.

FIND THE RIGHT TEAM

Every client has different needs and every app development company has different strengths and weaknesses. Finding the right team is crucial for building the product that will get your business to the next level.

Some clients only need app development specialists, while others look for companies that can take a more holistic approach to their projects and provide input or services on marketing, web development, design and more. Ruminate on your unique needs, research and understand prospective companies strengths and weaknesses, and ensure it is a good match before committing to a long-term partnership with a company.

We recommend seeking a collaborative team with experts in app development as well as project management and the ability to expedite development by putting more programmers on projects. The best app development teams have experienced programmers that have built many apps before and can walk you through the process with ease.

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WIREFRAMES

The use of wireframes will save time and money in the app development process. A wireframe is a visual schematic or blueprint that outlines the design for an application without programming the core functions. Mobile app wireframes can take the form of downloadable apps or as websites. Wireframes replicate how the app will work and the flow of screens without incorporating core programming.

Wireframes save time and money because they help app developers get on the same page with their clients without requiring a hefty amount of programming. After reviewing the wireframes, clients can request modifications or approve the designs. The app development team then commences core programming.

The creation of wireframes before programming key functions and additions will save time, money, and headaches.

MAKE IT SCALABLE

Oftentimes when beginning the application development process, businesses elect to start by focusing on the Minimum Viable Product. While understanding what’s needed for the MVP and what’s extraneous to it, it’s vital to have an understanding of what features you may want to add in the future so that the application can be scalable to enable future iterations of the app.

While focusing on Phase 1 of the development process (building the MVP), keep a running wishlist of functions desired for Phase 2 of the development process so that as functions are added and modified, everyone remains cognizant of how current changes will support future functionality.

Mobile-app-testing

TEST, TEST, TEST

Testing doesn’t begin upon the completion of the application, it’s an ongoing process that occurs internally as new components of the app are built. It is vital not to underbudget for testing, a common mistake in the app development process.

Core functions need to be repeatedly tested, as does UI and usability. Employing dedicated testers to specialize in testing specific components like core functions, sound, design, and more will ensure a fully-functioning app.

Veteran developers use test-driven development (TDD) in which programmers create tests to define the function or improvements of a function, run tests to see if the test fails, write the code so that tests pass, run tests again, correct the code, and repeat until all tests are passed. Test-driven development guarantees code coverage with unit tests for all functions.

CONCLUSION

When hiring an app development company to build your application, hire for the long haul. An ongoing strategic relationship will help you grow and if you choose the right partner, efficiency will increase as your collaborative relationship develops. A mobile application is a major investment of time and money—invest wisely!

Contact us today to learn about how our team can efficiently build your next mobile app.

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A Smarter World Part 2: How Smart Infrastructure Will Reshape Your City

Imagine a city that monitors its own health, identifies potential fail points using AI algorithms, and autonomously takes action to prevent future disasters.

This is the smart-city of the future. In our first installment of our blog series on Smart Cities, we ran through an overview of how Smart Cities will change our world. In this second entry of our blog on smart cities, we’ll examine perhaps the biggest building block necessary to create a smart city: smart infrastructure.

The construction of a smart city begins with developing a vast, city-wide IoT system, embedding sensors and actuators into the infrastructure of the city to create a network of smart things. The sensors and actuators collect data and send it to field gateways which preprocess and filter data before transmitting it through a cloud gateway to a Data Lake. The Data Lake stores a vast amount of data in its raw state. Gradually, data is extracted for meaningful insights and sent to the Big Data warehouse where it’s structured. From here, monitoring and basic analytics will occur to determine potential fail points and preventative measures.

Check out the breakdown below:

Breakdown

As you can see, it all begins with the construction of smart infrastructure that can collect data. Here are some of the big applications in the smart infrastructure space:

STRUCTURAL HEALTH

One of the major applications of smart infrastructure will be monitoring key data points in major structures, such as the vibrations and material conditions of buildings, bridges, historical monuments, roads, etc.

Cultivating data will initiate basic analysis and preventative measures, but as we gather more and more data, AI and machine learning algorithms will learn from vast statistical analysis and be able to analyze historical sensor data to identify trends and create predictive models to prevent future disasters from happening with unprecedented accuracy.

Learn more about how Acellant is building the future of structure health monitoring.

ENVIRONMENTAL APPLICATIONS

There are a multitude of potentially environmental applications for smart infrastructure designed to optimize city activities for environmental health. For example, embedding street lights with intelligent and weather adaptive lighting will reduce the amount of energy necessary to keep roads alight.

Air pollution monitoring will help control CO2 emissions of factories and monitor the pollution emitted by cars. Ultimately, earthquake early detection can help monitor distributed control in specific places of tremors.

2017-05-08-151015.975562trashcity

WASTE MANAGEMENT

Boston is well-known as one of the top college cities in the United States. Every fall, over 160,000 college students from MIT, Harvard, Northeastern, BU, BC, Berklee School of Music, and more move in to their new living spaces, causing undue stress on the city’s waste management administration. ANALYZE BOSTON, the city’s open data portal, provided key data points such as housing rentals, trash volume and pick-up frequency, enabling a project called TRASH CITY to reroute waste management routes during this trying time.

CONCLUSION

Projects like Trash City show the many ways in which we can optimize city operations by analyzing data effectively. As smart infrastructure enables the collection of more and more data, projects like TRASH CITY will become more efficient and more effective.

Of course, the biggest application of Smart Infrastructure will be the many ways in which it will change how you get from A to B. Next week, we’ll focus in on smart transportation and how it will reshape metropolitan transportation.

Smart Cities

A Smarter World Part 1: How the Future of Smart Cities Will Change the World

Are you ready for smart cities of the future?  Over the next few weeks, we will be endeavoring on a series of blogs exploring what the big players are developing for smart cities and how they will shape our world.

When the world becomes smart, life will begin to look a lot more like THE JETSONS!

When the world becomes smart, life will begin to look a lot more like THE JETSONS!

Our cities will become smart when they are like living organisms: actively gathering data from various sources and processing it to generate intelligence to drive responsive action. IoT, 5G, and AI will all work together to enable the cities of the future. IoT devices with embedded sensors will gather vast amounts of data, transmit it via high-speed 5G networks, and process it in the cloud through AI-driven algorithms designed to come up with preventative action. From smart traffic to smart flooding control, the problems smart cities can potentially solve are endless.

Imagine a world where bridges are monitored by hundreds of tiny sensors that send information about the amount of pressure on different pressure points. The data from those sensors instantly transmits via high-speed internet networks to the cloud where an AI-driven algorithm calculates potential breaking points and dispatches a solution in seconds.

That is where we are headed—and we’re headed there sooner than you think. Two-thirds of cities globally are investing in smart city technology and spending is projected to reach $135 billion by 2021. Here are the three of the top applications leading the charge in the Smart Cities space.

Smart Infrastructure

SMART INFRASTRUCTURE

As our opening description of smart bridges implies, smart infrastructure will soon become a part of our daily lives. In New Zealand, installed sensors monitor water quality and issue real-time warnings to help swimmers know where it’s safe to swim.

In order to enable smart functionality, sensors will need to be embedded throughout the city to gather vital information in different forms. In order to process the abundance of data, high-volume data storage and high-speed communications powered by high-bandwidth technologies like 5G will all need to become the norm before smart infrastructure can receive mass adoption.

Stay tuned for our next blog where we’ll get more in-depth on the future of smart infrastructure.

Smart Cars

SMART TRANSPORTATION

From smart parking meters to smart traffic lights, from autonomous cars to scooters and electric car sharing services, transportation is in the midst of a technological revolution and many advanced applications are just on the cusp of realization.

Smart parking meters will soon make finding a parking space in the city and paying for it easy.  In the UK, local councils can now release parking data in the same format, solving one of the major obstacles facing smart cities: Data Standardization (more on that later).

Autonomous cars, powered by AI, IoT, and 5G, will interact with the smart roads on which they are driving, reducing traffic and accidents dramatically.

While there is a debate about the long-term effectiveness of electric motorized scooters as a mode of transportation, they’ve become very popular in major US cities like San Francisco, Oakland, Los Angeles, Salt Lake City and are soon to come in Brooklyn.

With the New York Subway system in shambles, it seems inevitable the biggest city in the world will receive a state-of-the-art smart technology to drastically improve public transit.

Surveillance State

SMART SECURITY

The more you look at potential applications for smart security, the more it feels like you are looking at the dystopian future of the novel 1984.

Potential applications include AI-enabled crowd monitoring to prevent potential threats. Digital cameras like Go-Pros have shrunk the size of surveillance equipment to smaller than an apple. Drones are available at a consumer level as well. While security cameras can be placed plentifully throughout a city, one major issue is cultivating the manpower required to analyze all of the footage being gathered for potential threats. AI-driven algorithms to analyze footage for threats will enable municipalities to analyze threats and respond accordingly.

However, policy has not caught up with technology. The unique ethical quandaries brought up by smart security and surveillance will play out litigiously and dictate to what degree smart security will become a part of the cities of the future.

CONCLUSION

We can see what the future may look like, but how we’ll get there remains a mystery. Before smart technologies can receive mass adoption, legislation will need to be passed by both local and national governments. In addition, as the UK Parking Meter issue shows, data standardization will be another major obstacle for smart technology manufacturers. When governments on both a local and a national level an get on the same page with regard to how to execute smart city technology and legislation, the possibilities for Smart Cities will be endless.

Stay tuned next week for our deep dive into the future applications of Smart Infrastructure!