California’s Swing towards Clean Technology

Not just organizations, but the average American now understands the importance of clean technology. A few years ago, clean technology constituted only a minor part of any pie chart on different forms of energy, but now it is quite prominent in investment-related statistical charts.

The 2014 U.S. Clean Tech Leadership Index shows the ranking of states and illustrates the extent to which they have embraced clean technology. Massachusetts has the top ranking in terms of venture capital dollars per capita invested in clean energy. However, in terms of the total investment, California is way ahead of the rest of the states.

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Using Sun as Fuel

What we are seeing is a paradigm shift towards finding new ways to produce clean energy. WaterFX, for instance, is building sustainable solar desalination systems to remove salt and other minerals from saline water. This allows the provision of affordable sources of water.

Producing Fresh Water from Solar Energy

Farmers in California’s central Valley face water shortages every year, and their water needs have been met by the federal irrigation program, a network of reservoirs, rivers and canals that gets its water supply from Sierra mountains’ melted ice.

However, this shortage is now being addressed by large desalination plants that run on solar energy. These plants desalinate salty agricultural drainage water from irrigated crops and supply the farmers with clean water.

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California Tops Clean Tech State Index

For the past five years, California has been on top in the Clean Tech State Index, and it referred to as the epicenter of clean technology market. San Francisco, the financial hub for California, has spearheaded the drive towards clean energy, and it was instrumental in giving California top rating in the index. Because of a startup-friendly business climate, a host of incubators have set up shop in the city which attracts the biggest percentage of the region’s venture capital.

Over the years, the State has seen heavy investments in the clean electricity sector. According to CleanTechnica , 12% of all electricity used in the sunny state in 2013 was produced by solar, wind and hydro plants.

One edge that California enjoys is that it has a green-minded population. Bay Area generally comes out on top when discussing clean technology. The people of the area are heavily vested in clean technology investments, production of clean energy, and carbon management. Moreover, the area is seeing a rapidly increasing number of electric/hybrid cars.

Blogger: Ayesha Zahid

© 2014 Market Analyst, LLC. All rights reserved.

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Charging Station – Fuel Station of the Future

The energy needs of the world continue to multiply, but are gradually replenishing our organic fuel reserves, such as oil and gas. The increased use of organic fuels has led to the emergence of serious environmental issues, making the need to use alternative sources of fuel imperative.

Along with higher usage of fuels such as gasoline for transportation, there has been a concomitant increase in prices. This has led to greater interest alternatives to such fuels; one such alternative being the electric mode of transportation.Electric vehicles or hybrids are transportation of the future. These vehicles run on electricity rather than by burning of organic fuels. What makes electricity particularly attractive is that it is generated through renewable sources of energy such as wind power and solar power.

Charging Station and Infrastructure

A charging station is like a common gas station, except that rather than gasoline it provides users with a charging point to charge their vehicles. A charging station is just like a gasoline pump, the only difference being that instead of gas,it provides electricity.

A charging infrastructure is an infrastructure that includes all elements related to Electric Vehicle charging. These elements include wind turbines and solar panels (input), power generation (process), and charging station (output). The infrastructure is laid out in such a way that enough energy is readily available for all the users.

The charging stations provide higher voltage than household power supply, enabling a faster charging process. Special parking lots are being built hat have special inductive mats, allowing wireless charging of vehicles. Moves are also afoot to provide roads with special lanes for charging vehicles without the need for them to stop.

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Global Momentum

All around the globe, the necessity of having an alternative fuel source for transportation needs has been widely recognized. An agreement has been signed among a number of countries through International Energy Agency for deployment of suitable charging infrastructures. These countries include Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, United Kingdom, and the United States.

The private sector is heavily investing in such projects that have become the trademark of development. As more and more models of plug-in vehicles are introduced, this business holds the prospect of becoming one of the most commercially viable in the not too distant a future.

 

Blogger: Taha Bin Mahmood

© 2014 Market Analyst, LLC. All rights reserved.

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Self-healing Lithium-Ion Battery – Creating Endless Possibilities for Manufacturers

The invention of the first self-healing battery electrode will lay the foundation for next-generation lithium-ion batteries.

A lithium-ion battery is a rechargeable battery containing lithium-ions that move from the negative electrode to the positive electrode during discharging and back when charging.  When the battery charges and discharges, silicon electrodes inflate and deflate, causing cracks which wear the battery down.

The self-healing lithium-ion battery has a stretchy polymer that coats the electrode, binds it together, and spontaneously heals the tiny cracks that develop during battery operation. The polymer was created in 2013 by a team from Stanford University and the Department of Energy’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory. It incorporates an elastic material that is electrically conductive due to carbon nano particles present in it.

By developing a self-healing battery, scientists have opened a whirlwind of new possibilities for electronics manufacturers, which in turn will help drive the sales of lithium-ion batteries.

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Use of lithium-ion battery

Lithium-ion batteries have diverse applications spanning various industries such as the consumer electronics, industrial, and automotive.  In the last few years, there has been a phenomenal increase in the use of these batteries because of the proliferation of laptops, cell phones, smartphones, tablet PCs, and e-books.

Continuous use of devices using lithium-ion battery requires frequent recharging of the battery. This has led to increase in demand for durable and efficient rechargeable batteries. The development of self-repairing capability for lithium-ion batteries will prolong the battery life of these devices.

Improvements to lithium-ion batteries could extend the range of applications of these devices. The automotive industry is expected to benefit greatly from improved lithium-Ion battery performance as more and more electric vehicle (EV) manufacturers are incorporating them.

Advantages of lithium-ion batteries

  • Variety of types available: Because each industry that uses lithium-ion batteries has different requirements, there are several types of lithium-ion cells and batteries.
  • Low maintenance: The lithium-ion batteries do not require any maintenance to retain their performance, and they keep their charge for a longer time as compared to other rechargeable batteries.
  • No requirement for priming: Some rechargeable cells need to be primed when they receive their first charge, but there is no such requirement for lithium-ion cells and batteries.
  • Self-discharge: Lithium-ion batteries’ rate of self- discharge is lower than that of other kinds of batteries. 
  • High energy density: Lithium-ion batteries and cells have a high energy density which makes them suitable for electronic equipment, electric vehicles, and power tools.

Disadvantages of lithium-ion batteries

  • Cost: Lithium-ion batteries are expensive which limits their use in mass-produced consumer items.
  • Ageing: Lithium-ion batteries suffer from ageing. Not only is the aging process time dependent, but it is also dependent upon the number of charge/discharge cycles that the battery has undergone.
  • Transportation: Certain restrictions can be placed on the transportation of lithium-ion batteries, especially by air. Although the batteries taken in aircraft carry-on luggage are unlikely to be affected, care should be taken not to carry more lithium-ion batteries than are needed. Batteries carried separately must be protected against short-circuit by protective covers.
  • Protection required:   Lithium-ion cells and batteries are not as robust as some other rechargeable technologies. For example, they require protection from being overcharged and from being discharged too much. In addition, they need to have the electric current maintained within safe limits. Accordingly, lithium-ion batteries require protection circuitry incorporated to ensure they are kept within their safe operating limits.

Blogger: Unum Shafiq

© 2014 Market Analyst, LLC. All rights reserved.

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Smartphones – Transforming the Retail Experience

Smartphones – Transforming the Retail Experience

Every organization selling consumer goods and services needs to evaluate the total retail experience and how it is impacted by new technologies. Retail experience is essentially the experience customers have when they visit a retail store.  Retailers need to understand why customers visit specific stores, to what extent is their decision affected by factors such as store location and the products and brands being sold.

Retailers need to skillfully raise awareness of their brand. They need to focus on visual merchandising which entails developing floor plans and three-dimensional displays in order to maximize sales.

Shifts in consumer behavior

Never before have there been such dramatic shifts in consumer shopping behavior, preferences, and expectations as at the present time. It is imperative for retailers and consumer-goods companies to optimize their channels part of a single, integrated strategy to drive compelling customer experiences while controlling and minimizing costs. Realizing this requires strategic investments across multiple areas of the business, and it requires IT solutions that are agile, dynamic, and integrated.

As the landscape of consumer technology is shifting rapidly, businesses must ask critical questions on how to connect directly with the digital consumer to offer tailored, relevant and engaging experiences that help drive conversion.

Smartphones – the new retail experience

Smartphones are taking over the retail experience, allowing customers to buy goods and services in stores. In addition, cellular technology allows customers to compare products by simply scanning a bar code with their devices.

Apple is leading the way in the utilization of smartphones and tablets to drive the retail experience. At all of Apple’s 412 stores located in 14 countries, customers can make payments through their iPhones and iPads using the company’s Easy Pay app.

Another technology that allows consumers to make purchases on the fly or receive background information on products and services is Quick Response (QR) codes. These are now being placed on retail packages, kiosks, billboards, at bus stops, train stations and many other locations.

AT&T is also getting in on the act. The telecommunications giant’s vision to is to see consumers reduce the items that they typically carry with them from three – wallet, keys and smart phones – to one – just a smartphone. AT&T is eliminating sales counters and cash registers from its 2,300 U.S. stores. It already has replaced its traditional registers with tablets and smartphones at its location on Chicago’s Magnificent Mile with plans to do the same at several additional locations in 2014.

How in-store shoppers use their smartphones

According to a research by Google’s Shopper Marketing Council, 84% of smartphone users use their smartphones while shopping in stores. This research also revealed that shoppers who use smartphone more, shop more. The in-store shoppers primarily use smartphones for:

  • Finding out store opening and closing hours
  • Finding locations of other stores
  • Finding promotions and offers
  • Price comparison
  • Product reviews

Implications for businesses

Shoppers not only use smartphones for buying high-end appliances or electronics but this behavior can be seen in every industry including apparels, household items, personal care, and pet care. For businesses, this change in consumer behavior not only affects their marketing strategy but influences the entire business. It changes the way products are stocked in a store as well as the way employees are trained.

The biggest implications of smartphone use in-stores include:

  • Mobile marketing is not an option anymore, it’s imperative

Smartphones and other mobile devices are one of the biggest influencing factors in purchasing decisions of retail customers’ today. Mobile marketing offers huge opportunities for marketers to directly connect with customers who are looking for their products.

  • Smartphones can be used to guide customers to the store

  1. Businesses should have websites that support mobile transactions.
  2. Businesses should enable the location of stores via Google Maps.
  • Smartphones can be used to keep customers in retail stores

Every business should own a digital shelf to make it easier for customers to find product details, pricing and promotions. Also, the location of the stores, time of the day and devices used in stores, allow businesses and marketers to reach customers with relevant marketing messages.

By understanding and embracing this new retail consumer behavior, brands can find new opportunities to connect with their existing and potential customers.

 Blogger: Unum Shafiq

© 2014 Market Analyst, LLC. All rights reserved.

www.marketanalyst.net

Big Data and Marketing: A Convergent Partnership

Big Data has the potential to transform marketing – but the trick is to channel it in a way that brings results

 The term “Big Data” not only represents the data itself but embodies accumulating and analyzing massive amounts of data for judicious decision making. According to the report, Global Big Data Market, Big Data will grow at a CAGR of over 55 percent by the year 2015. The use of Big Data is particularly crucial to the marketing of a business or a brand. In fact, Big Data is transforming the marketing industry.

The collecting and storing of Big Data is not enough to impact the marketing industry. What is more important is to use Big Data for results that are most relevant to the business and its marketing strategy. The challenges associated with successfully exploiting Big Data can be particularly overwhelming for marketing. This is primarily because most analytic systems are not lined up with the marketing data, processes and decisions of an organization.

CHALLENGES FOR MARKETING

Three biggest challenges to the use of big date in marketing are embedded in the following questions?

Which analytical tools to use?

With the growth in volume of Big Data, the time available for marketers for decision making and implementing them is decreasing. With the help of analytical tools, marketers can aggregate and analyze data. Well-planned analytical processes and people with the talent and skills are needed to leverage the technologies essential to carry out effective Big Data analytics initiatives.

What data to collect?

The key to Big Data is exploiting the number of data points so that deep conclusions can be drawn. Data points are like dots on a map that can be connected to draw conclusions about the meaning of different activities. The activities being measured can be, for example, searching, sharing, clicking, liking or commenting on certain online content.

A great example of this is Google collecting data from searches to predict flu outbreaks even before they occur. In this case, Google is connecting keywords like flu symptoms which are used in the searches with a geographic location based on the IP addresses of the people searching.

How to make the data meaningful?

Companies are now using Big Data to classify their most valuable customers. How? Big Data differs from narrow applications that look at just one source of data, yielding trivial answers. Big Data examines a broad range of sources that include structured information such as purchase histories, customer relationship management (CRM) data and intelligence from industry partners, as well as unstructured information such as social media. In the case of airlines, the partners could include credit card companies, hotels, and other travel industry sources.

WHY IS BIG DATA INEVITABLE FOR MARKETING?

Big Data does not necessarily lead a business towards success just on the basis of marketing. However, insights stemming from Big Data can bring customer engagement and marketing effectiveness to another level. In fact, integrating Big Data into marketing can have a substantial impact in the following key areas:

  • Customer engagement: Big Data can deliver insights into not just who the customers are, but where they are, what they want, how they want to be contacted and when.
  • Customer retention and loyalty: Big Data can help discover what influences customer loyalty and what keeps customers coming back again and again.
  • Marketing performance: Big Data can help determine the optimal marketing spend across multiple channels, as well as help continuously optimize marketing programs through testing, measurement and analysis.
  • Analysis for future predictions: Big Data tools allow in-depth analysis of historical data in order to make predictions about the future.

Netflix is one example of a company that uses Big Data analysis to predict future patterns. Currently, Netflix uses Big Data to improve quality and stability for video streams as well as to evaluate customer preferences by recommending shows or movies they might like to see. Those efforts have been of vital importance to the company, which is now the worldwide leader in Internet television, offering over one billion hours of TV shows and movies per month to over 37 million members in 40 countries.

Big Data can be the difference maker between a successful marketing campaign and one that goes virtually unnoticed.  The trick is to know how to use the data that your company collects and to channel it in a way that brings results.

Blogger: Unum Shafiq

© 2013 Market Analyst, LLC. All rights reserved.

http://www.marketanalyst.net

Mobile Payments are Here to Stay

English: An NFC (Near Field Communication) poi...Steve Jobs once said, “We must deliver technology that gets out of the way.” Starbucks seems to have taken this advice to heart in implementing its mobile payments app, attracting over 10 million active users in the U.S alone. Mobile payments now account for over 10 percent of Starbuck’s revenues in the U.S, and are a testimony to the fact that the era of mobile payments has arrived.

Starbucks’s strategy of offering $5 credit to those joining the My Starbucks Rewards program paid off, and generated 500,000 downloads of the mobile payments app within two weeks of its launch in January 2011. The app is extremely user-friendly, and comes with incentives to users for paying through their smart devices.

The app is particularly useful for those who don’t like paying for their purchases using cash. They can simply open the app on their phones which has a barcode; the barcode is scanned by the sales representative and the customer’s Starbucks prepaid account is automatically debited. Customers paying via the app earn points and can easily redeem these points on their Starbucks cards. They can also reload the balance in the Starbucks cards through this app

In contrast to Starbucks’ experience, Google Wallet has been facing an uphill climb. The concept is in tune with the times: allowing users to store credit/debit card information on their mobile devices, and using these devices to make purchases. Despite Google’s massive global presence, Google Wallet has garnered only 10 million downloads in the Google Play Store. Although offered across a number of countries around the world with over 200,000 merchant locations in the United States alone, Google Wallet is still far from a household name.

Jonathan Grudin, principal researcher at Microsoft, contends that right now, there are few incentives for consumers, retailers, and communication companies to create the necessary infrastructure to completely do away with credit card and cash transfer payments.

Mobile payments not only need to provide a great user experience, but users must have the confidence that their trust is protected. At the same time, mobile payments need to add value. Users may not see their smartphones as wallets if they are satisfied with their current payment methods.

In fact, a sound financial system can act as a deterrent to the growth of mobile payments. There is a strong likelihood that mobile payments would be more successful in the developing countries where the financial systems are not as stable as those in the U.S or other developed economies. For that to happen, however, users in these countries have to perceive mobile payments as a more reliable form of payment relative to the existing methods.

Heavily invested in the current payment practices, the credit card industry could potentially come in the way of the widespread adoption of mobile payments, particularly if it sees them as hurting their bottom line. The credit card giants need to be 100 percent assured that they stand to gain from transition to mobile transactions before they will put their weight behind the paradigm shift to mobility.

Notwithstanding the bumps in the way, we at Market Analyst believe that the convergence of physical and digital commerce is simply inevitable. Already, Google Wallet and PayPal are trying to own the space. Still small in number, more and more shoppers are opting to go cashless. Businesses are coming up with ways to accept digital and mobile payments. In the U.S., a number of retailers are looking for ways to optimize mobile payments at check out. With a life style that is changing so rapidly, it is natural for consumers to expect an evolved shopping and payments experience.

A study by at North Carolina’s Elon University predicts a radical change in the way we pay by 2020. In fact, Elon’s Imagining Internet Center believes that mobile money represents more than just a more convenient way to pay. According to the center’s director, Jenna Anderson, mobile payments represent “an opportunity to implement security measures that are lacking in our current financial systems, to offer consumers more control over their spending and to even reinvent the way we think about the concept of ‘money’.”

The number of mobile payment users is approaching 300 million, and in terms of value, mobile payments have surpassed $100 billion. Mobile payments are primarily being used in ticketing, with examples such as that of Starbucks being an exception. However, in the next couple of years, mobile payments will hit the mass market, their use becoming more dominant in the retail market.

To succeed in the mobile payments market, retailers need to be up to the task, making their solutions compelling enough to attract users. Nevertheless, replicating Starbucks’ success story would be challenging. After all, Starbucks has a massive loyal customer base, and its affluent customers are surely more tech-savvy than those of most retailers.

While the odds of predicting how long it will take to revolutionize the entire payment system are probably high, one thing is certain: In the near future, worrying about losing your wallet would be a thing of the distant past.

Blogger: Samar Kaunain

© 2013 Market Analyst, LLC. All rights reserved.

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Artificial Intelligence – Making Machines Smarter!

Simple reflex agent, based on Artificial Intel...

Simple reflex agent, based on Artificial Intelligence: A Modern Approach (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Mankind has long been fascinated by the idea of intelligent machines. The first manifestations of thinking machines and artificial beings can be seen in Greek mythology in the form of Talos of Crete, the bronze robot of Hephaestus, and Pygmalion‘s Galatea. By the 19th and 20th centuries, artificial beings had become a common feature in fiction. Science fiction further contributed to nurturing the concept of sentient machines, but the fact remains that fiction bears little resemblance to the real world.

The study and development of intelligent machines goes by the name of artificial intelligence. As a scientific discipline, this field was born out of deliberations at a conference on the campus of Dartmouth College in the summer of 1956. The basis of artificial intelligence is using computers to simulate the primary activities that create our intelligence. The real challenge has been to understand how natural intelligence works.

Artificial intelligence has been getting exponentially smarter for decades. It is true that machines cannot yet be programmed to form intuitions about the physical world without complex and extensive calculations. Scientists delving into artificial intelligence hypothesize on how and why we learn and think, and then they experiment with these hypothesizes.

Nevertheless, most people do not realize the extent to which artificial intelligence has been practically implemented, and the rapid advances technology is making. Over the past several years, artificial intelligence has been used to improve existing applications in a number of areas such as medicine and biotechnology, transportation guidance systems, and manufacturing automation.

Artificial intelligence is closely linked with robotics, the science that deals with man-made machines equipped with the intellectual abilities of humans. The goal is not only to give these machines the ability to communicate verbally and to perform various tasks, but to instill in them the ability to reason and to formulate ideas.

Artificial intelligence is being used to enhance the capabilities of smartphones, tablets, and other computing devices by giving them the ability to perform a host of functions on their own. One of the applications of artificial intelligence is intelligent search on the Internet. Google’s Knowledge Graph is the latest refinement to its search engine product that provides users with in-depth responses to search queries by connecting these queries to information-rich topics on people, places, or things.

Japanese electronics company, Sharp Corp., has started releasing products with artificial intelligence that activate on voice command or verbally offer common courtesies when they are used. One of the first such products is its vacuum cleaner, “Cocorobo” that has witnessed strong sales. Others include an air conditioner and a refrigerator that say “thank you” and give instructions on when to carry out maintenance. Upcoming products include intelligent microwave ovens and air cleaners.

Newer cars use artificial intelligence to take tire temperature and other measurements to make driving safer. Emerging developments allow cars to navigate on their own. Self-driving cars are now legal in at least three American states, including California, as well as in the U.K. These types of cars are Google’s pet project, but now other companies, such as Mercedes Benz, are jumping on the bandwagon, and the technology is evolving fast.

The medical field is one of the areas that are in the forefront of embracing artificial intelligence. Medical devices are being introduced that allow a computer to analyze data and make judgments on its own. Artificial intelligence has also been used in deep space exploration and high-complexity data mining and analysis.

Industry observers estimate that the artificial intelligence solutions market is approaching one billion dollars, and is poised to grow exponentially over the next few years. The United States currently represents the largest market for artificial intelligence, but the Asia-Pacific region offers the highest growth potential over the next few years.

Artificial intelligence gives humans tools not only to enhance the performance of machines, but to allow these machines accomplish tasks more efficiently, and without human intervention. However, as more and more intelligence is built into the machines, they will keep becoming smarter and more versatile. Some technologists contend that in not too distant a future, machine intelligence will overtake human intelligence.

Combined with the pervasiveness of mobile devices, artificial intelligence has the potential of impacting virtually facet of our lives. No wonder, IT and software vendors are pouring billions of dollars into commercial solutions based on artificial intelligence. However, unlike a human mind, a computer will never be capable of complex reasoning or able to process a complicated emotion.

Blogger: Unum Shafiq

© 2013 Market Analyst, LLC. All rights reserved.

Market analysis reports on Artificial Intelligence

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