Posts tagged technology
I am proud to announce that I’ve recently become a co-curator of the Toronto [Startup Digest], joining Will Lam in curating a weekly list of the highest quality tech/startup events in Toronto. [Startup Digest] has spread like wildfire from Silicon Valley to locations around the world and I’m excited to be joining the team.
As a long-standing recipient of the Silicon Valley [Startup Digest], I was always pleased with the quality of events that were mentioned in the curated list emailed once each week. The Toronto [Startup Digest] will maintain this quality and will include and highlight the top tech and entrepreneurship events in the Greater Toronto Area (and Waterloo). We won’t cover all of the events, only the best ones!
Here are 5 things that [Startup Digest] will accomplish:
1. We want to promote the entrepreneurial lifestyle and the culture of DOING, to help change the world into a better place.
2. We want to strengthen the pre-existing entrepreneurial communities no matter how small or large they currently are
3. We want to create stronger bonds between entrepreneurs through relevant events where the startup community physically meets each other.
4. We want to promote the cross-pollination of ideas and people that would not otherwise interact.
5. We want to empower the leaders in these startup communities and give them the tools and inspiration to create a huge difference.
If you would like to subscribe to the weekly [Startup Digest], please register online.
Otherwise, if you are running an event in Toronto (GTA) or Waterloo, please leave the details in a comment below, email me or contact me on twitter. If the event is targeting rock stars, it’ll get on the list!
All day long I am surrounded by BlackBerry and iPhone apps and business models. After listening to an intriguing talk by Nathan Eagle, a Professor at MIT, I started to think about how a single application can be developed to reach everyone in developing countries (a much larger proportion of mobile phone users than those in developed countries). Nathan mentioned that some applications in developing countries use USSD protocol as opposed to SMS or data-rich applications. I wanted to learn more.
Here are some of my findings:
USSD (“Unstructured Supplementary Services Data”) is a mature core mobile-network technology similar to Telnet; it is session-based. In fact, it is as old as GSM technology — and guess what — it works on EVERY GSM-based handset from a Nokia 1100 to a BlackBerry Bold.
Mobile software developers are constantly trying to find a way to write (code) once and reach many (different handset models). USSD can work for some application types, but not all. USSD will not offer feature-rich capabilities, but it can send and receive data through sessions (no data is saved on the device), allow for navigable menus, and it can interact with billing accounts on-file with wireless carriers.
After doing some research, it seems as though this technology is predominantly being exploited in developing countries, where there have been some very creative uses of USSD applications.
Here are some of the many uses this technology can provide (at a much cheaper cost than SMS messaging — a huge consideration for communication in developing countries):
- Mobile banking and payments
- Point-of-sale banking (using your mobile prepaid account as the source of payment)
- One-time password request notifications
- Weather services
- Menu-based navigation of corporate or city services
- Voice Chat
As it stands, USSD technology is being underused primarily due to a lack of available applications and content providers, a lack of understanding, and a lack of motivation at the operator level. Only recently, Bharti and Vodafone have productized this medium by launching USSD portals; largely however, this technology is under-developed and under-utilized.
Comments on a LinkedIN thread about USSD showed the following benefits of USSD technology (post from Gaurav Sarin):
1) Handset agnostic – 99% compatibility of active handsets
2) Easy Surfing – browser based experience for customers
3) Free content discovery for customers – since most operators do not generate CDRs of USSD sessions
4) Real Time session with the server – faster & more secure than SMS
5) Higher reliability as compared to SMS – SMS has a 70 -80% successful delivery rate
What are your thoughts on USSD?
Some news today highlights Biodiesel, solar and wind technologies in the era of cleantech and renewable energy.
The first article discusses a study that was just completed in Ontario, Canada that analyzed the use of biodiesel as an alternative fuel source for agricultural use. This study, which was co-sponsored by the NRC, Environment Canada, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, the Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association, UPI Energy, and the University of Guelph, is hoped to accelerate the adoption of biodiesel use in on-farm applications across Canada. More at Evaluating Biodiesel Fuel For Tractors In Canada.
Solar power seems to still be behind in the race for the most cheap, and efficient technologies despite being around for a number of years. There are a few problems that need sorting out (listen here scientists, and business-types), “the development of complimentary technologies, in particular low-cost storage of electricity, is critical,” says Erin Baker, who is a scientist at the University of Massachusetts that led a USDoE study in the area. Baker’s other finding notes that government dollars won’t bring this technology to fruition along, and that private investment is needed in the manufacturing sector specifically; tax breaks, and public-private collaborations will also help to push this technology forward. The article “Cheap, Efficient Solar Power: What’s Needed Now To Get There?“ gives a great analysis that discusses the order of investment to develop solar tech:
- Focus first on getting power from the new inorganic materials that show promise but are far from viable for large scale production
- Then focus on purely organic cells with organic semiconductors; these hold the promise of low costs but still haven’t achieved high levels of efficiency and face serious stability problems
- Last, investigate third-generation cells, which use entirely different technology but may ultimately yield much more power
Wind turbines are another fast-moving technology with much promise. So much so that Mitsubishi Ups Investment in Wind Turbines threefold to increase its wind turbine capacity to 1,200 megawatts / year by March 2009. As Paul Kedrosky points out, that is about two-thirds of what the city of Atlanta requires on a typical summer day.