WiLAN Focusses on Artificial Intelligence Technology with New Patent Acquisition

Many of us can likely still recall Clippit, that awkward Microsoft Office animated character first introduced in Outlook 95, and known for crowding a user’s desktop with a myriad of personal reminders and digital post-it notes. It is quite amazing how far we’ve come in the space of just a few years, even since the advent of the first modern intelligent personal assistant (IPA), Siri, now a famous trademark of any Apple device.

Siri was created after Siri Inc. sprung from Silicon Valley’s non-profit research lab SRI International in 2008, and was promptly acquired by Apple in 2010. The original Siri application then ceased to function on October 14, 2011.

Current SRI International patents have since made their way to the Canadian marketplace, recently acquired by Ottawa-based patent licensing firm, WiLAN (TSE:WIN)  WiLAN must appreciate the value of technology developed at SRI, as this is the second time that WiLAN has acquired patents from SRI International.

A key feature of the original API, Siri, Inc. is the artificial intelligence (AI) programming that allows adaptation to a user’s speech patterns, thereby generating individually customized searches with ongoing use, with a return of results tailored to that particular user.

Voice-activated personal assistants inside most smartphones integrate with existing applications or web services accessed on a user’s smart phone or tablet, and can help with anything from navigation while travelling, making recommendations for nearby restaurants, shopping, managing calendars, or even working together with an application to act as a user’s personal food diary, helping them manage caloric intake and diet choices. Voice-activated personal assistants get smarter with use and their task scope continually evolves.

Intelligent personal assistants are rapidly gaining momentum in the marketplace, integrating with technology used in an impressive list of large companies, such as HSBC, Virgin Media, ASDA, Verizon, and Renault.

While we are perhaps a long way from the sophistication of the intelligent personal assistant depicted in Hollywood flick Her, starring Joaquim Phoenix, with current technology advancements and new patents on the rise, these crafty AI wonders are getting more and more specialized and soon may even be capable of integration with appliances and devices inside our homes.

The recent Silicon Valley prodigy, Viv, is an IPA that’s one of the furthest along in changing the way artificially intelligent assistants affect our computing, and even digital commerce itself. Over the next five years, it’s possible that our smartphones will expand into “smart homes” and cars.  Aided by artificial intelligence and a tidal wave of data, APIs could be the gateway through which you could easily buy an airline ticket, order a taxi, buy movie tickets or even order take-out, all in one single conversation – without typing, searching, or even clicking.

Will there be a day one day soon when we can ask Siri to link up with our fridge, and serve up a glass of water with ice? Who knows what the future will hold.

Character forming stuff: longer Google text ads are coming

Have you noticed something different about Google Ads recently? They have been getting longer. That’s because Google has been testing expanded versions of its text-based ads in search results, right across all devices. On Tuesday 17th May, the company announced that these new Ads would be available for customers (which is to say advertisers) to use by the end of 2016.

Character forming stuff

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How is this possible?

Because Google no longer has to support right-side ads in desktop search results. With over half of the net now browsing on mobile devices, there’s simply no market for Google to continue the tiny little ads with short headings such as “Somerset Web Design” and little more. That means more space, and longer ads that can run across all devices and be optimised for smaller screens such as smartphones.

Will it make a difference?

In a recent blog post Senior Vice President for Ads and Commerce at Google, Sridhar Ramaswamy, said that the new ads would benefit advertisers. He claims that by allowing single ads to be viewed across all devices, each advertisement will be more effective and drive more traffic to advertisers’ websites.

What’s actually changing?

The new format will have three changes from the way that text ads work currently: longer headlines and descriptions and more relevant URLs.

– Longer headlines: instead of a single 25-character headline you will now be able to input two headlines of 30 characters each
– Longer descriptions: these are going from two lines of 35 characters to one single description of no more than 80 characters
– More relevant URLs: rather than manually inputting your display, landing-page and final URLs – and risking rejection of your ad if Google didn’t like those URLs, the system will now work all of the information out automatically from the final URL to ensure that it is accurate.

Help, I’m confused!

For AdWords, this is a big change from a format that has been constant throughout the service’s entire history. If you’re not sure how to best make use of the new text ads, or how to optimise them for your site, then contact a specialist web designer.

The end of 2016 might seem a long way off, but this change will happen sooner than you think and you don’t want to be caught out.

WP plug-ins: 6 of the latest for engaging design

If you want to give your website that extra design edge, here are six of the best WordPress plug-ins to make you stand out from the crowd.

WP plug-ins

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Cards

The card pattern offers a clean, simple way to break content into bitesize pieces. Furthermore, it’s a design that works well on both mobile and desktop. The Cards plug-in creates a Pinterest-style layout for your page, which works especially well with blogs, e-commerce sites or online magazines.

Duotone Graphics

Duotone is a hot design trend (think Spotify and Adidas campaigns). The intense hues can create a striking visual for your website. TwotoneFX converts your images into duotone via an intuitive interface, allowing you to easily choose colours and apply filters to thumbnails, images in blog posts or all of your multimedia all at once.

The Parallax Effect

When used with multiple backgrounds, this effect can help create a dynamic feel for your layouts and forge a smooth user journey. Parallax Scroll is a neat way to add this effect to your WordPress site and there are numerous ways to achieve this within the plug-in, so you can choose a way that best suits you. Web design companies, such as Cardiff web design agency http://ambercouch.co.uk/, can help you make the most of the parallax effect on your site.

Material Design

Material Design was created with the aim of becoming an international visual language, and is being adopted by an increasing number of companies. It fosters and encourages best practices within user experience design and produces aesthetically pleasing interface styles. The Materializer plug-in incorporates a huge library of material design components, including elements such as loading icons, cards and buttons.

Hamburger Menu Buttons

This trend, comprising three lines that hide a navigation menu, is fairly divisive. While opinions vary on its appeal, however, there’s no denying it’s a design element that’s very in demand. With over seventy design options to choose from, the Responsive Menu plug-in equips your page with a navigation panel that’s fully responsive and customisable.

Animations

Lazy animations, subtle page motion, smooth transition and more traditional animations help bring web pages to life. Animate It is a plug-in that animates any element of your blog post, page or widget, imbuing it with subtle dynamic behaviour. It includes more than fifty effect elements.

Let’s Understand The Main Advantages Of Open Source Software

Open source software is really useful for businesses and for various different industries. We are basically talking about software that has a special license. This license allows the user to use the source code and then use it however they want to since the software is basically developed by a community instead of just one company. With the closed source software only application creator is allowed to make modifications.Continue reading →

Three Tips for Testing Your App Like a Pro

Developing apps, from web apps to PC and mobile apps, is now easier than ever before, with great platforms and environments like this Xamarin development software to help you create your own custom apps even without years of programming expertise. Because of this, more and more individuals and small businesses are looking to create apps either to support their marketing or sales objectives, as products in their own right, or just for fun.

Three Tips for Testing Your App Like a Pro

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This is great, however what many small development teams or lone app developers starting out in creating these kinds of apps are missing is the professional level of testing established software development houses have. Learning all of the methodologies, practices and techniques involved in professional software QA is a career path in itself and not something most hands on developers want to get too involved with, however even if you are developing your apps on your own as a true amateur, it can pay to learn about testing.

Here are three things professional testers can teach you about doing better QA on your own apps:

Testing Begins at the Conception Stage

One important concept to learn is that testing is not just something you do on a finished app or module of code in order to verify it works and is ready to be released. In a commercial software dev environment, QA is carried out on everything, including designs and specifications, and even the idea of the software in its conception stage. This is because the earlier a problem is found, the cheaper and faster it is to fix. Spot a logical problem in your design and you can change your design – spot it in your half finished app and you have to rework a lot of stuff.

Create a Traceability Matrix

A traceability matrix shows which tests cover which requirements. In a professional test team, this might be generated using something like Quality Center, but you can create your own for your app in Excel. Just have your requirements listed along the top, your tests or test scripts listed down the side, and mark where a test covers a requirement. You’ll easily see where there are requirements you don’t have tests for, so you can design new tests to get better coverage. You can then use a copy of this spreadsheet each time you do your tests and mark them as passed or failed, giving you an easy record of your test cycle.

User Testing

Software companies give their products to people from the user community for a phase called ‘user acceptance testing’. You may also have seen software in ‘beta‘, meaning it is basically ready for use but still in a final testing phase using lots of users. You may not be able to organize proper UAT or beta testing, but you can get some people you know to test your software for you. Developers themselves have too much inherent knowledge of the underlying code to test in the same way users unfamiliar with the code do, so you really need that input.

These are three things professional testers will recommend to anyone developing apps without a tester or test team – try using them on your next project for better quality!

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Buy Better Real Estate Properties With This Advice

Real estate property buying is something that is much more complicated than you may think at first glance. Much research is needed and you have to be determined in order to make a very good choice. Mistakes do tend to appear because of the lack of experience or understanding about the process. Since you are here, you surely want to put your hands on the very best possible properties so do be sure that you follow the advice we will mention in the following paragraphs.Continue reading →

3 Simple Steps To Stay Safe On The Cloud

As an entrepreneur, you may be trying to decide whether or not to build your business on the cloud.

There are 5 primary reasons why it’s a great idea:

First, you’ll reduce your costs. It’s less expensive to deploy applications on the cloud than through on-site hosting. Your hardware costs are lower and your applications can make better use of system resources.

Second, you bypass constraints of time and space. If you are outsourcing many aspects of your business, people in other countries can access the applications they need to work with through the Internet. Neither location nor time zones slow your business down.

Third, IT experts take care of your technological needs. You will always be using the most up-to-date applications. The cloud provider takes care of all software updates, often improving performance over previous versions based on user feedback. You also don’t have to worry about problems in your hardware. The cloud providers take care of the manpower and costs of hardware replacement.

Fourth, you can select from a wider choice of applications. Software that you have decided to use may not have all the functionality that you had hoped to find. With legacy technology, you would be stuck with your purchase. With the cloud, you have the flexibility to try something else that might work better for you. What’s more, you don’t have to buy the software; you can just pay for what you use. Even better, implementation is faster.

Fifth, you are helping out the environment. Onsite deployment requires much higher energy usage than action on the cloud. Shared resources cut down on energy utilization. You’re not only growing your business, but contributing to the green movement.

Still, despite all these reasons for using the cloud, you may be hesitant, wondering how you can acquire cloud security. You can get security for a public cloud or for a data center with physical, virtual, and private clouds. Security software offers a wide range of security capabilities, including anti-malware, intrusion prevention, host firewall, integrity monitoring, and log inspection.

Although the cloud provider will secure all hardware and software for you, you are still at risk due to careless user behavior.

Phishing for Dollars

One of the biggest threats today is phishing. This is a highly profitable online racket.

Phishing is the criminal practice of tricking users into disclosing personal information. This information is then used to steal from your financial accounts.

Hackers may use the following tactics:

  • ·  Using fake login pages.
  • ·  Sending spammy email links.
  • ·  Providing deceitful online surveys.
  • ·  Making phone calls to users (often pretending to be from a service provider).

Cyber criminals may not always want to steal the money in your financial accounts.

They can also profit by stealing your identity and pretending to be you when hacking into banks and corporate financial accounts.

When trying to steal your identity, they may look for details like

  • ·  Your full name
  • ·  Your nicknames
  • ·  Your favorite colors, pets, cars, movies etc. (These are what you are most likely to use when choosing your security questions.)
  • ·  The last four digits of your credit card
  • ·  Your email addresses.
  • ·  Your phone numbers.

Armed with this information, they may either try to make some educated guesses about your login credentials or try to use it to get access from a service provider by pretending to be you.

Here is what the Federal Trade Commission says about Phishing: “When internet fraudsters impersonate a business to trick you into giving out your personal information, it’s called phishing. Don’t reply to email, text, or pop-up messages that ask for your personal or financial information. Don’t click on links within them either – even if the message seems to be from an organization you trust. It isn’t. Legitimate businesses don’t ask you to send sensitive information through insecure channels.”

3 Simple Steps to Stay Safe

Here are 3 steps you can take to stay safe on the cloud:

  1. Refresh your credentials periodically.Refresh your username, passwords and security questions and answers every few months.
  2. Use two-step authentication.Many cloud providers give users the option of using two-step authentication. This will prevent hackers from breaking into your account even after they have figured out your username and password. Users have to use a second pin code to log in and get permission to use the account with a new device. Without this piece of information, someone cannot get into your account. People either don’t know about two step authentication or they do know about it but, like wearing a car seat belt, they find it inconvenient to bother. As a result, their information is less secure. When you are setting up your security settings, be sure to enable the two step verification process.
  3. Store sensitive information in a safeDon’t store everything on the cloud. Personal information rarely takes up much space. This means that you can put it on a flash drive and store it in a safe deposit box.

Take Personal Responsibility

Data breaches on the cloud are rare. Often, when they do happen, cloud providers get the blame. But data breaches are frequently the result of employee carelessness rather than loopholes in the technology. Using the three simple steps, your business can enjoy a long, safe and happy life on the cloud.

Why Ecommerce CRM Is The Next Big Step for Software

ECommerce Development

It’s safe to say that living in the ecommerce world of the present day is akin to trying to survive in the Amazon jungle. At least in the sense that juggernauts like this marketplace continue to set standards that are copycatted by nearly every other ecommerce store that desires surefire success.

Of course, small business is the heartbeat of the internet, even in lieu of big corporate contenders. And just because there may be monsters like Amazon and eBay lurking in the thickness doesn’t mean that smaller online entities are deprived their true chance at success.

What it does mean, however, is that in order to compete, online stores need to assure that they sustain an omni-channel presence that attacks every possible angle for measurable success.

The drawback, up until recently, with harnessing this advantageous approach is that it’s very difficult to compare analytics, mine customer data, expand customer relationships and, ultimately, know customer behaviors and patterns across broad sales channels and demographics.

Therein enters the possible solution. It’s being procured by leading services providers, and it has many bells and whistles. This newfangled SaaS is a cloud hosted ecommerce CRM software that connects all the dots. But just how does it help you succeed with your online store?

Secure Cloud Hosting

For starters, no more software install requirements. This drawback has previously hindered many providers and end users. With cloud hosting, not only is the level of privacy and security greatly enhanced, but usability is also rewarded with simple onboarding.

Client servers host the data and the software while user nodes merely connect and look at it while the host manages the bandwidth and functions. This equates to effortless onboarding and across-the-board compatibility and usability.

Integrated, Seasonal Analytics

Perhaps the greatest benefit of ecommerce CRM is that it has the ability to instantly integrate with all of the sales channels a retailer is using. This integration – typically via API – enables the seamless gathering and repopulation of all the analytics, metrics and trends.

Retailers can then instantly organize this data into meaningful breakdowns and charts. Shoppers’ patterns and tendencies can be quickly identified and harnessed to procure more substantial relationships, outreaches, sales events, etc.; resulting in healthier conversions.

Shipping & Returns

For far too long have smaller retailers been forced to work amongst numerous software sets just to accomplish their daily tasks. But with built-in integrations like shipping and returns software, this worrisome headache becomes a thing of the past.

Instead, newer CRM for ecommerce merges all of this into one robust, central hub. This means that as orders come into any sales channels, they are instantly imported into the CRM. They can be sorted, edited and managed, with the ability to compare rates and generate shipping labels as well as update customers.

On the returns side, the software enables an automated system that lets customers process a return and generate a return shipping label from the retailer’s website; just like Amazon allows. Serial returners can be identified and avoided in future sales events while loyal customers can be remarketed to and rewarded.

Social CRM

Of course, social CRM is a backbone, too. The ability to import your analytics, tailor campaigns and directly connect with customers to expand the relationship is essential to success.

But ecommerce CRM takes it a step further by allowing users to cater messages, track trending hashtags and products, and even find comments that relate to their demographic, amongst many other useful social features and functions.

Newsletters & Emails

Naturally, CRM that’s designed for ecommerce will include the standard fit and fare of traditional marketing tools. Things like an email and newsletter designer can be expected.

But the main difference here is that you can take the analytics from your sales channels and market your products to customers who are the most likely to convert and the least likely to make a return, with aftermath analytics that you can use to improve your sales events even more in the future.

Live-Action Networking

Since it’s cloud based, newer CRM allows you to connect your entire team in real-time. You’ll likely have to purchase additional licenses once you reach a specific user threshold. But the connectivity is there and is powerful.

Imagine sharing a task list that’s complete with live chat with tagging and a team calendar that connects your entire back office. Now accountability is no longer in question. Being able to know that your entire team can access your operational data, and communicate in real-time with file sharing is a priceless addition to any ecommerce business.

These are but a few of the very many features that newer, groundbreaking ecommerce CMR solutions have to offer. Such usability can enable store operators to improve revenue, reduce returns and increase productivity exponentially. It’s truly must-have in today’s Amazon jungle.