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People, data and machines must come together

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With so many devices, systems and services connected via the cloud, data now surrounds us and businesses are getting wise to the insights. However it needs the right people, using the right tools to unlock its full value, writes NIRAL PATEL, MD Oracle SA.

Many of the companies now racing to unlock the value of their data are undoubtedly being spurred on by the meteoric rise of disruptive brands whose business models are based almost entirely on the smart use of data. The brilliant minds behind these disruptive brands identified the power of data to deliver differentiation and improved services and experiences, even in industries once thought to be commoditised.

The amount of data available is going up all the time, driven by everything from smart phones and energy meters to connected cars, kitchen appliances and wearable devices. The rise of cloud computing has not only exponentially increased the amount of data in circulation, it has also given that data a far great currency by making it easier to collect, share, analyse and interpret.

With so many devices, systems and services connected via the cloud, data now surrounds us and businesses are getting wise to the insights and value they can derive from it, if they know what they are looking for and what role they want the data to perform. That is an important point. Data on its own is just the raw material. It needs the right people, using the right tools to unlock its full value.

But used smartly, this wealth of information has changed how organisations operate at a fundamental level. Data is driving breakthroughs, solving problems and inspiring change in business, conservation, entertainment, medicine, politics, science, technology. There is no business or service that cannot gain an edge by understanding more about the data it creates and the data it can acquire.

Take Telefonica. The Spanish telecoms operator has implemented an analytics programme to better understand the usage patterns of its television customers and draws on this insight to offer personalised recommendations for additional content and services. Telefonica has also monetised this in-depth view of customers by opening new revenue streams with content providers and media producers who also want to tailor their own content to the operator’s audience. The returns have been significant and today Telefonica commands 30% of Spain’s lucrative digital media and advertising market.

Businesses have turned to analytics to not only make money, but to protect money, using data to help identify fraud. Augmenting traditional methods of identifying fraud, which could be time consuming and labour intensive, with data-driven detection that draws on internal sources such as pattern recognition within claims data, to external sources such as social media, businesses can quickly and robustly interrogate claims, reducing both fraud and false-positives that could offend honest customers.

But every success story about how data is transforming businesses and experiences is a triumph not only of data, but of the people and machines who turn it into valuable insights. Data is powering innovation at the point where human ingenuity meets modern technology. It is the balance of these three forces that will distinguish the data-driven organizations shaping our world.

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Low-cost wireless sport earphones get a kickstart

Wireless earphone brands are common, but not crowdfunded brands. BRYAN TURNER takes the K Sport Wireless for a run.

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As wireless technology becomes better, Bluetooth earphones have become popular in the consumer market. KuaiFit aspires to make them even more accessible to more people through a cheaper, quality product, by selling the K Sport Wireless Earphones directly from its Kickstarter page

KuaiFit has an app by the same name which offers voice-guided personal training services in almost every type of exercise, from cardio to weight-lifting. A vast range of connectivity to third-party sensors is available, like heart rate sensors and GPS devices, which work well with guided coaching. 

The app starts off with selecting a fitness level: beginner, intermediate and advanced. Thereafter, one has the ability to connect with real personal trainers via a subscription to its paid service. The subscription comes free for 6 months with the earphones, and R30 per month thereafter. 

The box includes a manual, a USB to two USB Type B connectors, different sized soft plastic eartips and the two earphone units. Each earphone is wireless and connects to the other independently of wires. This puts the K Sport Wireless in the realm of the Apple Earpods in terms of connection style. 

The earphones are just over 2cm wide and 2cm high. The set is black with a light blue KuaiFit logo on the earphone’s button. 

The button functions as an on/off switch when long-pressed and a play/pause button when quick-pressed. The dual-button set-up is convenient in everyday use, allowing for playback control depending on which hand is free. Two connectivity modes are available, single earphone mode or dual earphone mode. The dual earphone mode intelligently connects the second earphone and syncs stereo audio a few seconds after powering on. 

In terms of connectivity, the earphones are Bluetooth 4.1 with a massive 10-meter range, provided there are no obstacles between the device and the earphones. While it’s not Bluetooth 5, it still falls into the Bluetooth Low Energy connection category, meaning that the smartphone’s battery won’t be drastically affected by a consistent connection to the earphones. The batteries within the earphones aren’t specifically listed but last anywhere between 3 and 6 hours, depending on the mode. 

Audio quality is surprisingly good for earphones at this price point. The headset style is restricted to in-ear due to its small design and probable usage in movement-intensive activities. As a result, one has to be very careful how one puts these earphones, in because bass has the potential of getting reduced from an incorrect in-ear placement. In-ear earphones are usually notorious for ear discomfort and suction pain after extended usage. These earphones are one of the very few in this price range that are comfortable and don’t cause discomfort. The good quality of the soft plastic ear tip is definitely a factor in the high level of comfort of the in-ear earphone experience.

Overall, the K Sport Wireless earphones are great considering the sound quality and the low price: US$30 on Kickstarter.

Find them on Kickstarter here.

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Taxify enters Google Maps

A recent update to Taxify now uses Google Maps which allows users to identify their drivers, find public transport and search for billing options.

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People planning their travel routes using Google Maps will now see a Taxify icon in the app, in addition to the familiar car, public transport, walking and billing options.

Taxify started operating in South Africa in 2016 and as of October 2018 operates in seven South African cities – Johannesburg, Ekurhuleni, Tshwane, Cape Town, Durban, Port Elizabeth and Polokwane.

Once riders have searched for their destination and asked the app for directions, Google Maps shares the proximity of cars on the Taxify platform, as well as an estimated fare for the trip.

If users see that taking the Taxify option is their best bet, they can simply tap on the ‘Open app’ icon, to complete the process of booking the ride. Customers without the app on their device will be prompted to install Taxify first.

This integration makes it possible for users to evaluate which of the private, public or e-hailing modes of transport are most time-efficient and cost-effective.

“This integration with Google Maps makes it so much easier for users to choose the best way to move around their city,” says Gareth Taylor, Taxify’s country manager for South Africa. “They’ll have quick comparisons between estimated arrival times for the different modes of transport, as well as fares they can expect to pay, which will help save both time and money,” he added.

Taxify rides in Google Maps are rolling out globally today and will be available in more than 15 countries, with South Africa being one of the first countries to benefit from this convenient service.

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