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AppDate: My Muze brings music to the masses

In his latest roundup, SEAN BACHER highlights My Muze, Kauai, SANRAL’s Mobility, KWV augmented reality and iiDENTIFii

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Vodacom My Muze

Since launching its music gateway in April, Vodacom has made over 30-million songs available on My Muze, which has attracted 1,3 million visitors and almost a million app installations.

Vodacom says this is mainly due to its ease of use, the ability to catch up on music industry news and watch music videos on integrated apps like Video Play or YouTube Music, and to livestream radio and listen to podcasts from radio stations.

Designed to curate music experiences into a single destination, My Muze is aimed at empowering young or new artists and ensuring access to music.

Another differentiating feature is that My Muze gives aspiring musicians the opportunity to expose their talents, as they can upload their music with the prospect of being discovered and signed to a music record label. My Muze is a partner to the 2019 South African Music Awards and for the first time allowed consumers to cast their vote digitally for the Record of the Year.

Vodacom is offering free data for use on My Muze: It is available across all networks, but Vodacom subscribers can browse the platform without using any data.

Platform: Android

Expect to pay: A free download

Stockists: Visit www.mymuze.com for downloading instructions.

Kauai

Kauai, which operates under the multi-brand food group Real Foods, has launched an app with the aim of making it easier and more rewarding for customers to enjoy healthy eating.

The app allows customers to order ahead, skip the queue and collect their meals, smoothies and healthy snacks at a dedicated app order collection area in-store. Customers can order 10–20 minutes ahead, or can choose to collect at a pre-set time. Order ahead will be available at all Kauai stores nationwide. 

The app features a rewards programme that gives customers 2% cash back on all purchases. It also has 3 status levels, with accompanying perks that customers can unlock over time, as they use the app more frequently:

  • All customers starting on Green status qualify for a free coffee on their birthday
  • Customers moving up to the next status level (Gold) qualify for a free smoothie on their birthday and are rewarded with a free snack when they achieve Gold status.
  • Kauai customers who achieve Black status will receive a complimentary reusable smoothie cup when they reach this milestone, and also qualify for a free birthday coffee and breakfast

Platform: Android and iOS

Expect to pay: A free download

Stockists: Visit www.kauai.co.za for downloading instructions.

SANRAL’s Mobility Account

Another cashless parking app has popped into the marketplace, this time in the form of a partnership between SANRAL’s ETC (electronic toll collection) – yes, the e-toll guys that we all wish would disappear – and KaChing.

The app works much like any the other cashless parking app, except this one is reserved for registered e-tollers. A user sets up an account with a number plate, then loads some money into it and drives in and out of paid-for-parking places without having to put a hands in  pocket. At the moment, the parking feature is is an opt-in service on the app, and it enables users to park at 34 KaChing operated parking lots without the need for a paper ticket or cash. Through licence plate recognition technology, parking garage booms automatically open for people using the SANRAL Mobility app. More will be available as the service picks up.

The app also allows users to view e-tolls, settle them, arrange financing and share with friends and family. A variety of additional features are offered. Bear in mind that a variety of other cashless payment apps are available for both iOS and Android operating systems in case you are not yet ready or willing to register for e-tolls. 

Platform: Android and iOS

Expect to pay: A free download

Stockists: Visit the store linked to your device or download the app directly here.

KWV augmented reality app

KWV has launched a rather novel app that works with the Cathedral Cellar  wines label: it now allows wine enthusiasts to add to their dinner time conversation via augmented reality.

Cathedral Cellar is a premium wine portfolio by KWV and includes the Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Triptych (a red blend), Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. The new labels depict the Cathedral Cellar with copper line drawings. The labels also honour the cellar’s most impressive feature: its 32 “stukvats” (barrels), which measure approximately 3 metres in circumference, some of which tell the stories of the South African wine industry with intricate carvings.

Cathedral Cellar combines this art of storytelling with the use of augmented reality and modern marketing to share its most important element with consumers. The technology, developed by label print and augmented reality experts LABELinmotion by Vollherbst, enables consumers to scan Cathedral Cellar’s new labels using a dedicated app. By hovering their phones over the Cathedral Cellar labels, they can watch the winemaker appear on the façade of the bottle, from where he provides guided wine notes on each of the wines and shares the stories that inspired them.  

Platform: Android and iOS

Expect to pay: A free download

Stockists: Visit KWV here for more information

iiDENTIFii

Consumers want ease of access when opening and maintaining bank accounts, and banks want to provide this, but they do so at their own peril, as fraud syndicates are getting cleverer each day.

iiDENTIFii, an app that provides a remote biometric digital authentication and automated on-boarding technology platform, is designed to minimise many of these risks by offering various features to ensure one’s online identity is protected from start to finish. The application claims to prove the identity of a person within 30 seconds and with an accuracy of 1 error in 10 000. The current industry ratio is about 11 inaccuracies per 100 using standard biometrics.

Should a user decide to use a mobile phone and an ID document to sign up for a bank account, the app puts the following steps into process:

  • It checks to see that the person is  alive;
  • It then matches a selfie the user has taken with the image on their ID document;
  • The data is then extracted off the identity document – including the person’s name, surname and ID number;
  • Finally, all the data is matched with a facial biometric at an issuing authority or government department like Home Affairs.

Once all the steps have been satisfactorily met, iiDENTIFii will sign the customers onto its systems and hand them over to a bank of their choice where they can open up a new bank account.

In addition to setting up new bank accounts, iiDENTIFii allows one to set up accounts for online gambling, retail, property and travel.

Platform: A smartphone with a hi-res camera

Expect to pay: For costs relating to signing up with iiDENTIFii visit their site here.

Stockists: Visit iiDENTIFii here for more information.

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AWS gives SMEs R365m to build cloud companies in SA

Amazon Web Services works with Department of Trade and Industry on Equity Equivalent Investment Program to help more South African businesses innovate in the cloud

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Amazon Web Services (AWS), an Amazon.com company, has announced the launch of the AWS Equity Equivalent Investment Program (AWS EEIP). Designed by AWS South Africa and Amazon Data Services South Africa, the EEIP will see over R365-million invested in the development of black-owned South African small businesses within the Information Communications Technology (ICT) sector.

The intention is to support them to become cloud computing experts using the AWS Partner Network (APN). EEIP is a program of the Department of Trade and Industry (dti), aimed at providing multinational companies an opportunity to take part in the development of South African black-owned small businesses and to contribute towards the broad-based black economic empowerment of South Africa.

The AWS EEIP is a seven year program that will support the growth of new black-owned small businesses, helping them to develop their skills in advanced technologies such as cloud computing, Internet of Things (IoT), Machine Learning (ML), and mobile technologies. 

“The AWS EEIP will lead to the development of numerous highly skilled jobs in the local economy,” said Minister of Trade and Industry Ebrahim Patel. “The intention of the program is to give the black-owned small businesses the knowledge, resources, and skills to be successful.  This will enable them to provide professional services to organisations, in both the private and public sectors, supporting them with their ICT strategy and helping them to take advantage of cloud computing and other digital technologies in order to innovate and grow. We seek to develop local businesses and ensure net job creation in the South African economy.”

The AWS EEIP will support 100% black-owned small businesses through an 18-24-month enterprise development and incubation program. AWS will provide training and education and support the development of these businesses’ technical expertise in cloud computing – resulting in new AWS Certified Developers and Solutions Architects. These businesses will also receive business enablement support, such as exposure to industry leaders, coaching, mentorship, and funding, to help take their business to the next stage of growth. As these businesses complete their training, and gain AWS competencies, they will go up a tier in the APN, becoming Select or Advanced Partners. Upon completion of the program, the businesses will have access to AWS’s ecosystem of millions of active customers, of every size, across virtually every industry around the world. AWS says successful completion of the programme will also enable the businesses to have exposure to opportunities beyond that of AWS.

“We have been blown away with the high quality of technical talent we have already seen in South Africa and are excited to see the creativity and unique thinking that the AWS EEIP will now drive,” said Prabashni Naidoo, a director at AWS South Africa. “Through this new program, we are committed to producing a new generation of highly skilled and productive black-owned South African small businesses.These new APN Partners will help create limitless opportunities for our customers, helping them to innovate and further contribute to economic growth of South Africa.”  

About Amazon Web Services

For 13 years, Amazon Web Services has been the world’s most comprehensive and broadly adopted cloud platform. AWS offers over 165 fully featured services for compute, storage, databases, networking, analytics, robotics, machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT), mobile, security, hybrid, virtual and augmented reality (VR and AR), media, and application development, deployment, and management. The services are provided from 69 Availability Zones (AZs) within 22 geographic regions, with announced plans for 13 more Availability Zones and four more AWS Regions in Indonesia, Italy, South Africa, and Spain.

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Girls get 50,000 toy cars to combat stereotypes

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“That’s for boys, not for girls” – a social stigma Mercedes-Benz USA and Mattel are determined to change, and they are hoping that donating 50,000 toy cars can help. Kicking off today for National STEM/STEAM Day, 50,000 young girls across the nation will engage in programs to challenge gender stereotypes that research shows can impact decisions later in life. It’s all part of “No Limits,” an initiative created by Mercedes-Benz in partnership with Mattel and the National Girls Collaborative Project (NGCP), a network of organizations that encourages girls to pursue science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) careers.

The first “No Limits” programs launch today with special workshops in Atlanta, Los Angeles and New York City, where thousands of young children will be inspired to think outside of the box when it comes to career aspirations. Through February 2020, girls across the U.S., through more than 100 organizations, will engineer toy racetracks, design cars, engage with female role models and attend STEM workshops through programs designed to expand how they see their future.

As a tangible reminder that they can do anything they set their minds to, MBUSA and Mattel will gift 50,000 Matchbox die-cast toy replicas of a very special Mercedes-Benz 220SE to participating children. It was in this car that Ewy Rosqvist defied all odds to become the first woman to compete in and win one of the most grueling races, the Argentinian Grand Prix, shattering records and the notion that women could not compete.

“Whatever they aspire to be – an astronaut, engineer, judge, nurse, even the President, we want all children to dream big, dream bold and never give up on that dream,” said Mark Aikman, general manager of marketing services for MBUSA. “We’ve seen that stories like Ewy’s – championing women trailblazers and achievers – can have a big impact by calling into question the gender stereotypes that children may inadvertently adopt.”

In fact, according to the National Science Board, women only represent 29% of the current science and engineering workforce. When asked their reasons for not majoring in STEM, young women often cite a lack of encouragement and role models.

“The No Limits initiative is important to the future success of our young girls,” said Karen Peterson founder and CEO of the NGCP. “Demand for workers with STEM-based skills is rapidly growing, yet women are still significantly underrepresented in these fields. We know that gender associations are formed at a very young age. We applaud Mercedes-Benz and Mattel in their efforts to breakdown the gender stereotypes that keep young girls from engaging in STEM studies.”

Earlier this year, Mercedes-Benz released a video capturing young girls designating an assortment of traditionally gendered toys. After being shown the short film, Ewy Rosqvist: An Unexpected Champion, each girl has a visible attitude shift towards toys they previously identified as just “for boys.”

Last month, Digital Girl, Inc., a Brooklyn-based non-profit dedicated to empowering the underserved youth of New York City, especially young girls, to pursue studies and careers in STEM fields, tested this theory with similar results. A new video documents the results as the girls realize that they can be the next generation of female trailblazers and they themselves talk about the need to inspire more girls.

“Our goal is to inspire children to imagine all that they can become and break down gender stereotypes in the toy aisle with purpose-driven programs like this,” said Amanda Moldavon, Senior Director, Vehicles Brand Creative. “Most people don’t know that the creator of Matchbox made the first vehicle for his daughter who was only allowed to bring toys to school that fit inside a matchbox. So, from its origin, it has been an inclusive way for kids to explore the world around them.”

More than 100 organizations across the country will participate in No Limits including Atlanta Public Schools, Digital Girl, Inc., Beyond the Bell, among others. A list of all participating organizations can be found here. A discussion guide is available for those who have an opportunity to encourage and mentor young children and would like to help advance this conversation.

In addition to the toy cars that will be gifted by MBUSA and Mattel (also in support of closing the Dream Gap) through the National Girls Collaborative, the Ewy Matchbox toy replica will be sold in stores nationwide beginning in December. Follow the No Limits initiative on social using #GirlsHaveNoLimits.

Both “No Limits” videos were produced by R/GA, New York.

About Ewy Rosqvist

Ewy Rosqvist is a Swedish racing champion who in 1962 made history for being the first woman to enter and win one of the toughest rallies in the world. After watching her husband race for years, she decided to take it up herself and entered the Argentinian Grand Prix – a gruelling three-day journey across rough terrain. Ewy was ridiculed for entering the race and told she wouldn’t be able to complete the course. Not only did she finish, she went on to be the first person to win every stage of the race, set a speed record and beat the previous champion by over three hours.

About Mercedes-Benz USA

Mercedes-Benz USA (MBUSA), the sales and marketing arm for Mercedes-Benz in the United States and headquartered in Atlanta, is responsible for the distribution, marketing and customer service for all Mercedes-Benz products in the United States from the sporty A-Class sedan to the flagship S-Class and the Mercedes-AMG GT R.

MBUSA’s philanthropic focus is on educating and empowering youth. On a national level, the company supports Laureus Sport for Good which uses sports to help at-risk youth and the Johnny Mac Soldier’s Fund which provides scholarships to children of the fallen military.

In Atlanta, MBUSA is involved with over 50 organizations in its effort to educate and empower the next generation to achieve success and address local needs in its community, particularly Atlanta’s Westside, the area surrounding the Mercedes-Benz Stadium that includes under-resourced neighbourhoods. MBUSA has won numerous awards for its community efforts including, A Gold Stevie® Award for its Greatness Lives Here campaign, Corporate Champion Tree recognition from Trees Atlanta and a Community Impact Award from the Georgia Department of Economic Development.

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