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iSmile – The Tech Report: 13 – 17 January 2014

MONDAY – RERUN

There’s a battle that I am known to fight whenever the opportunity presents itself.

It is the unnecessary and ridiculously high prices we continue to pay for an SMS.

I have expressed my surprise at the fact that SMS’ even still exist, considering the fact that we have so many cheaper alternatives like Mxit, WhatsApp, BBM and so many more.

That having been said, with so much competition, how is it possible for SMS to still be so expensive. Up to 80cents a message in some cases. This is a capitalist sin, considering that an equivalent Mxit message costs less than 2 cents.

I can’t express to you how much this irritates me.

Well, I have found support for my battle, in the form of the well-respected internet guru Arthur Goldstuck – MD of World Wide Worx. He recently spoke to iSmile about the very interesting Mobility 2014 research conducted by them and which revealed the curious habits of local cell phone users.

But the two of us veered off into the future of text messaging, especially the antiquated SMS.

Arthur says the main reason is that mobile internet is mostly targeted at the very latest smart phones, leaving previous generations of phones out in the cold. So this means dirt cheap messaging such as MXit – theoretically meant for the indigent – often don’t’ work on their older feature phones.

This is really something the networks need to look at as a matter of urgency.

Yes people will continue to use it because they crave communications and don’t really have another choice. But it is morally reprehensible.

Arthur says society’s obsession with spending is the main culprit. But he is convinced that this state of affairs cannot continue for long. And in my opinion, THAT time couldn’t arrive any sooner.

This is a massive technological injustice being committed against the world’s poor, who are supposed to be the greatest beneficiaries of our high tech progress.

TUESDAY

I have had a few inquiries from people wanting to know more about a comment I made about a new possible treatment for diabetes, besides the traditional tablets or insulin injections.

I reiterate treatment, not cure.

I mentioned a promising plant that had been used by a community in Mpumalanga and could now be commercialised.

It all came to light at last week’s Intellectual Property conference that was held by our Companies and IP Commission, alongside the National IP Management Office in Durban.

The gathering was addressed by experts from America’s Patent and Trademark Office, the World Intellectual Property Organisation and the African Regional IP Organisation, with the aim being to move Africa and the BRICS countries forward through invention, innovation and entrepreneurship.

Yonah Seleti from the Department of Science and Technology made the announcement about the local discovery to the gathering. Diabetes is a growing chronic condition globally and SouthAfrica has one of the highest numbers.

So this treatment has particular significance for us.

Yonah says they are past the first initial phase, which is all about testing the veracity of the claims.

Not only does it have the potential to rival insulin’s efficacy, but also its cost. Yonah says this has the potential to benefit the entire world’s diabetic population.

And of course there’s the underlying revenue issue when it comes to this kind of discovery.

What I like most about this is how the Intellectual Property is being protected internationally.

WEDNESDAY

If you’ve ever wished that you could record a moment and share it with someone in such a way that they would feel like they were there too, then todays featured gadget is just the sort of toy for you.

It’s called Poppy and essentially turns your iPhone into a 3D camera.

Unlike many modern gadgets, the Poppy is conspicuously devoid of any electronics and looks almost too bulky to be taken seriously by geeks. But exactly the opposite is happening.

It’s got a curious mechanism that you flip over, once slotting your iPhone into a custom-made groove situated on the top.

Joe and Ethan are the designers behind the device.

Ethan explains how it works exactly. It’s very contrary to gadgets we have become use to these days.

And what I like most about this retro looking gadget is the fact that it doesn’t use batteries, so it will never become a useless deadweight in your luggage.

Despite its uncomfortable look, it is apparently very light due to the material used and also quite hardy.

It reminds one a little of the old ViewMaster toys we had as kids and the designers make no secret of the fact that they took inspiration from the old Kaleidoscope.

But of course this is 2014, not 1984, so Poppy already has built-in support from YouTube, which has a massive library of 3D videos.

Joe and Ethan’s idea has captured the imagination of the online venture capitalist group “kickstarter,” where they are now trying to raise funds to go into full production.

They are aiming for global distribution of Poppy’s in a variety of colours.

And you know you’re onto a good thing, when this is a sort of reaction you get when you show it around.

The future of Poppy also looks bright. The developers showed it to some internet and gaming gurus, who all believe that it has some interesting future applications.

Poppy works with series 4 and 5 iPhones.

You can go learn more about it on kickstarter and maybe even become an early investor and adopter of new retro technology.

THURSDAY

By now many a new year’s resolution has sadly been laid to rest.

But for those of us feeling like things are still at their beginning and that something new needs to be tackled, Business Partners Limited has some possible resolutions for your small business, and THEY know what they are talking about.

That’s executive director Gerrie van Biljon, who says that the beginning of the year is the perfect time to re-assess your business principles and operations.

Gerrie says you should be sitting down and having a good look at your day-to-day operations ranging from your controls to your product range

Gerrie says it doesn’t have to be a massive overhaul, but often just small little changes here and there to smoothen things out a bit.

But he says it has to be tackled with purpose.

Hy se jy moet dit oorweeg om iets niets oor jou besigheid to leer hierdie jaar. En dit hoef nie a kursus of formele studie te wees nie.

Gerrie says running your own business means you have to invest in your own training, but the daily grind often tends to shift this to the back-burner.

And of course many an entrepreneur has skilled themselves on the internet, so don’t discard this as a tool to enrich and inform your business.

More advice from Gerrie next week.

FRIDAY

There is much talk and speculation about what technology is going to surge ahead and capture our collective imagination in 2014.

Many believe it will be the commercialisation of the military drone.

There are already several flying machines on sale all over the world. They are a curious combination of toy and practical gadget that can be employed for professional aerial photography and even High Definition filming.

While flying machines for home use are becoming less and less of a novelty some very clever people are looking ahead to what the future holds for this field.

Marcus Fisher is from the German Future Flight Think Tank Festo.

While most people would guess that by “nature” he means birds.

Instead two years ago, he came up with what is being called the flying jelly fish.

And it is with this peristaltic motion that his device lifts off into the sky, giving him perfect remote control. It is still very rudimental and slow but you can clearly see the potential of such a device

Well not for long. Last month Professor Leif Ristroph from New York University unveiled a similar, albeit much smaller machine that flies using the same principles.

He says while he also took inspiration from the jellyfish. He also looked at insects and how they adjust their wing motions to compensate for strong wind.

In fact the wings push outwards and downwards 20 times a second, forcing out air through the bottom – meaning it hovers with great stability and without the need for constant, energy-draining correction.

It stabilises itself and changes direction by making one of the four wings work harder than the others.

Leif says the differences between his little flyer and jellyfish are obvious.

Known in the industry as an ornithopter, it could in fact lead to a new class of aircraft which Leif hopes will eventually be called AeroJelly!

I seriously NEVER would have thought.

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