Is Amazon Secretly Building A Home Robot?

It is no secret Amazon is trying to make its way into our homes, with the Amazon Echo as best example. What is a secret, is that Amazon is working on a home robot, according to Bloomberg.

Project Vesta

The top secret plan, codenamed “Vesta”, is run by Gregg Zehr – the guy who is responsible for Amazon’s hardware research lab.

Even though until this time it is unclear of what the Vesta robot will be able to do, there are a lot of job listings surrounding the project that indicate that Amazon is ramping up towards a working model. Rumours even say it’s due later this year.
Bloomberg reports that people who have seen the prototypes are reporting on a robot with advanced cameras and computer vision. Not a bad idea for a robot that would be running through your house, but a clear indication it will be a “classic” robot as we all think of.

An Amazon spokesman said they “do not comment on rumors and speculation”, when being asked about the robot-news.

Bloomberg also reports the project is not anything like the robots designed by Amazon Robotics, which were designed to move around goods in warehouses. These warehouse robots make Amazon No stranger to robotica, having invested more than $700 million in Kiva in 2012. They do a pretty good job:

Will the Vesta get company?

It seems likely Amazon is not the only party to jump the robot bandwagon, but there seems to be no indication Apple is working on a home robot. Even though Apple has a reputation of watching other companies make mistakes before making their own, an example like the Homepod shows the company feels a bit confused. It’s not anywhere near the Echo or Google Home but priced ridiculously high.

Product Trends: Noteworthy Kickstarter Products That Might Start A Trend

It is not a secret Kickstarter products have the ability to cause a worldwide trend. Fidget spinners really were not a thing until the “fidget cube” was launched on Kickstarter, raising a whopping $6,450,690 more than the initially needed $15,000.
The interesting thing here is that, even though the cube is pretty cool, other small not-so-cool-fidgety-devices were able to ride the same wave, making some good money for those who were able to get in at the perfect time. In this piece, I have hand-picked 4 items on Kickstarter that might just start a trend. Get that surfboard ready!

EverCam: The Wirefree Security Cam with 365-Day Battery Life

EverCam is something we have all dreamt of: A wirefree security cam with a 365-day battery life. According to EverCam, their partnership with Anker has made it possible to build a product that can run for a year without recharging (how ‘bout putting one of those in my iPhone, Anker?).
That’s not all – the EverCam specs are quite impressing. It uses facial recognition to determine whether it should send an alarm signal or not. This requires the registration of faces, which I am not a big fan of, but as privacy is important to EverCam, all data is encrypted 100%. Luckily birds and dogs are automatically filtered out of the system with A.I., because getting your dog to sit in front of a camera might be a hassle.
Besides being smart, the camera also provides high quality video with an angle of 140 degrees, at a cheaper price than Nest, and a lot more options – but you can just check out the product page for that.

Setting shop for wireless security cameras might be a good idea if you want to be ahead of the outbreak, given the trend data.

The EverCam will start shipping September 2018 after raising $890,986 instead of the asked for $50,000. This will disrupt the market.

ShieldX – The Coolest Way to Carry Your Keys

If you are a bit like me, you probably have a hard time fitting your keys in your pocket. And ShieldX should be able to fix this problem. The pretty bad-ass designed key holder fits up to 10 keys and makes you look like a superhero with its carbon fiber casing. That’s not all though, it’s also a can opener, screwdriver, staple remover and can be attached to your car key.
The only thing missing from this key holder is a chip that makes it possible to find it on your phone.

Even though key holders sound a bit boring, volume is steadily increasing when it comes to interest in such a device. The domain keyholdershop.com is still available, if you’re interested in exploiting this trend.

The ShieldX is still in funding period, but has already raised $52,070 instead of the $4,000 needed.

Mark One: A Minimal, Durable, Retractable Pen.

A pen? Yes, a pen. The Mark One is pretty much a pen like we all know – but better. With its ceramic coating and minimalistic design, it looks like an amazing product to own. I want one. And since it’s refillable, you don’t have to throw it out. And that’s exactly why it’s interesting.
The Mark One stands for something else than just being able to write on a piece of paper: there is a need of high quality products that are easily accessible. Millenials are done with low quality, mass produced items that are shipped in millions from China. Durability, quality and design are more important than ever, even for commodity products like pens. Imagine being able to provide every startup in the world with a welcome-package for new employees, with a Mark One pen in it. And maybe a high quality notebook that looks well next to a Macbook mini. There’s money to be made.

Not convinced? The Mark One raised €133,718 instead of the initial €24,226 and is already backed up by over 2300 people.

Kelvin Home Coffee Roaster

A similar product to a pen, although it being more advanced, is this Kelvin Home Coffee Roaster. It would seem that coffee roasters had their best time, with the rise of Nespresso and other automated coffee machines.
But people love authenticity, and it shows in the popularity of the coffee roaster. And it’s one hell of a coffee roaster. It lets you “.. custom roast fresh beans, explore new flavors, save money, and reduce waste”, but most of all – it looks really well designed. It is not just a hipster product, it’s a product that is gaining popularity again as Google trends shows:

Kelvin has already raised $356,541, with a goal of $40,000 and over 1500 backers and will start shipping in February 2019.

If you’re looking for more products to sell online, read the top 10 of trending products to sell on Amazon.

Pornhub and Verge cryptocurrency partner up to offer anonymous payments

Jep. It’s happening. Pornhub and Verge announced (NSFW) they will be working together to make sure people can make anonymous subscription payments on Pornhub:

The future has come. In our efforts to keep current with our community’s privacy and payment preferences, Pornhub will now be accepting Verge as a means of payment for services like Pornhub Premium and more, on our platforms. Building on Verge’s core values of security, anonymity and practicality, the introduction of this cryptocurrency as a means of payment Pornhub signifies an important foray into the future from the industry that is always on the cutting edge of technology.

Whereas other big players like Reddit pulled the plug on crypto-payments, Pornhub is ready to get in bed with cryptocurrency Verge (which traders probably better recognize as XVG).

Verge

Verge peaked before the announcement, especially due to rumours of partnerships with other parties like Ayden or Ebay. This would be a huge increase in value for Verge-hodlers. It quickly fell back down back to its original value after the announcement of a Pornhub partnership, making it seem expectations were a bit too high. A classical “Buy on the rumour, sell on the news”:

So will it work? It’s an interesting move from Pornhub, which seems a perfect partner for crypto-payments. As the adult-industry has always been op top new technology, this might be a good proof of concept for other parties.

Announcement video

“Wheelmageddon”: Will scooter-sharing be the next big thing?

Electric scooters are a trend, as we mentioned before. But now, scooters are a bit too much of a trend in San Francisco, where people are calling for regulation. Why? Because sharing-services like Bird are flooding the streets with their scooters, and people are getting scared of being overrun. Or, as Vanity Fair calls it: “WHEELMAGEDDON”. What caused this trend, how does it work and will it succeed?

Investment-rounds

There’s no denying vehicle sharing is a startup-wonderland. That’s probably why startups like Bird, Spin and Limebike have raised huge amounts of investment capital. There’s money to be made, and that’s probably why big guys like Uber are also getting on the wave with an electric bike sharing add-on.

What did Bird, Spin and Limebike raise on their investment rounds? Hope you are sitting tight, because here come the numbers:

  • Bird raised a total of $115 million dollar (from Crunchbase)
  • Spin raised a total of $8 million dollar (from Crunchbase)
  • Limebike raised a total of $132 million dollar (from Crunchbase)

Even though Uber and Lyft is everywhere, and last time I checked people can still walk, there is a huge need in terms of mobility. And this scootering-trend confirms this once and for all.

How does scooter-sharing work?

All the scooter-sharing services work in a quite similar way, and even though we’re not in San Francisco to test it, it seems pretty easy. There’s always a one-two-three, being:

Credit: Spin

It’s noticeable how flexible the services are. Parking can be done anywhere, which makes it that much easier for users to use them. Plus, the costs are really low, which make the scooters and bikes that much more interesting on campuses. Spin, for example, is really making its way into University-life. Plus plus: It’s green. And even though there seems to be no downside, there is.

Reactions

Because the services operate in a legal gray area – not being public transport and not being a road vehicle – people call for regulations. And the reason is simple: people are getting run over with scooters. Yes, it’s a thing. The electric scooter trend just hit the streets, and they hit a bit too hard:

Therefore, San Francisco is already going to regulate these services, as Techcrunch reports.

Judging from reactions on Twitter, it seems people wouldn’t mind a bit less scootering:

It’s not only negative though:

What’s next?

In my opinion, scooter-sharing is here to stay. But there is a downside to these huge venture capital startups that flood the streets with their product: they need to slow down. Literally flooding the streets with your service can do great harm to your reputation, as we’re already seeing from some reactions on Twitter. There’s some overlooked aspects that need attention: regulation, safety and space. Things that could’ve easily be tested in smaller groups of users.

Personally, I’m looking forward to sharing scooters in my hometown. Just not too many.

“Delete Facebook” searches hit highest since 2012

With Facebook under heavy fire, people are leaving the platform. According to Business Insider, nearly 1 in 10 Americans deleted their Facebook account after the Mark Zuckerberg hearings. Even Zuckerberg himself claimed there was “no dramatic drop-off in users” since the Cambridge Analytica data-breach.

Even though we cannot confirm the numbers from Business Insider, Google trend data shows an interesting graph line in Google search behaviour worldwide in a period of 5 years:

The data shows the huge spike in interest for deleting Facebook, after having a downward trend for the past five years. It is no surprise people are leaving the platform, with Cambridge Analytica being one of the most recent privacy-issues Facebook faced over the years.

Instagram stays untouched

With the interest in Facebook deletion, one might think Instagram and WhatsApp face the same issues. But, as CBS News reports, it seems many people are unaware of the fact that these networks are all owned by the same company. Techcrunch editor Josh Constine assumes this is on purpose: “Facebook purposefully tries to keep the Instagram brand as separate as possible; they even operate a separate office. There’s no Facebook branding in the Instagram app. You really have to be a savvy tech insider to get that,” Constine said.

And that shows in the trend data: there’s no peak in searches worldwide when it comes to the deletion of Instagram, for example. Even though the trend is at an all time high, this could be due to the fact that Instagram has many more users than it ever had. There’s no peak like we see in Facebook’s interest to delete the platform.

WhatsApp, a company aquired by Facebook in 2014 for 19 billion dollar, is also in the clear when it comes to being popular to delete.

Could this also be due to people being unaware of the fact Facebook owns these companies? It’s a guess, but nevertheless a smart marketing move from Zuckerberg.

Important and interesting extracts from the Internet Health Report (2018)

An important read: The Internet Health Report is a report about our experience with the internet from a human point of view. The main question: How healthy is the internet as we know it? Mozilla’s new initiative issues a report with an open source compilation of data, research and stories to show how and where the internet is evolving.
The five main points: privacy and security, openness, digital inclusion, web literacy and decentralization. I have extracted some of the findings, but really advice you to read the whole report. It is very well written, easily readable and covers important topics for now and the future.

Privacy and security

The report talks about the Internet of Things as a development that causes worry – because of its growth, but also because of the high risks involved once things go wrong.

They key problem is that IoT is growing faster and bigger than we could have imagined. Some of the risks posed are personal … while other risks are at the system or environmental level …. Either way, it’s going to be costly to fix when things go wrong.

It’s interesting to read how the “attack surface” of the internet is growing, mainly due to new devices that are connected around the world. From dolls to fridges; everything can and will be connected to the internet. This creates a huge responsibility for the manufacturers as well as owners, as everything connected to the internet can be exploited. When I say exploited, I’m not only pointing in the direction of possible hackers, stealing data or watching your home surveillance webcam, I’m pointing in the way of manufacturers as well. Not only transparency is needed, regulation is needed when it comes to collecting and interpreting data.

.. grapple with how we handle these issues as a society today: what we can leave up to industry, what we can leave up to consumer choice and what we need to regulate.

As much as I like data, I 100% understand and agree on regulating data-collection. And with a gigantic growth of connected devices, 30 billion by 2020, the sooner we regulate this, the better.

The report also makes an important notice that accountability is an important factor in terms of security. Poor software, hardware and governance can be exploited easily – but who would be responsible when that happens? “There will need to be more than one answer”, says the Mozilla Report.

Openness

That openness of the internet is not guaranteed, is something the report states clearly. Internet shutdowns are rising, and control seems to be the main (if not only) factor to do this:

Justifications for shutdowns vary, but there is mounting evidence that access to the Internet is used as a tool of control and oppression by the authorities of different countries

Especially on local and regional level, there’s a growth in communities being shut down from access to the internet or other forms of communications, as you can see in this comparison between 2016 and 2017, provided by KeepItOn:

Remember the WhatsApp shutdown in Brazil? It’s an example of government pressuring a way into getting what they want, disabling major communication channels. Feels like something that wouldn’t happen where you live? “Two-thirds of the world’s Internet users live in countries where Internet and media censorship are common”, according to the report.

Digital inclusion

Digital inclusion is “not just about how many people have access to the Internet, but whether that access is safe and meaningful for all of us.”

Even though more and more people have access to the internet, there’s still a bigger gap than you probably think. According to the report, 96% of young people in Europe have internet access, compared to 40% of young people in Africa. This is not only due to availability, but also due to affordability. Lowering the costs of internet access would have a great impact on the low accessibility numbers, says to the report.

Another part of digital inclusion is diversity in tech, which is non-existent at the moment:

Today, the people who develop software in the United States are overwhelmingly white and male.

What is interesting, is the effect of what we see, do and use on an everyday base:

Evidence shows that persistently low diversity leads to software, algorithms and products that reflect the biases of their creators.

Without diversity, there’s bias. And bias isn’t healthy – in contrary, it can be dangerous.

Web literacy

Learning to read and interpret the digital world in a fake news area is something that causes concern, states the report. With even Stanford students having trouble judging the validity of information they find online, there’s a responsibility for platforms to be more transparent in providing the sources of their news. Not only that, there’s need for education to develop these skills, which will be even more important for future generations.

Decentralization

Who controls what? Even though the internet belongs to all of us, the reality is that there are five companies who rule all, says the report.

This is where blockchain can really play a role in redefining the internet and the way the community contributes to the internet. In my opinion, the distribution of control has yet to come with Blockchain as upcoming technology, but we have yet to see what happens. Don’t underestimate the “companies that have more wealth than many nations”, they won’t go down without a fight.

Source: The Internet Health Report 2018

Is Spotify working on its first hardware device?

Is Spotify working on its first hardware device? Sources at The Verge claim they’ve seen ads for the device in February, showing the car device to some of Spotify’s users. With an upcoming Spotify-event and recent IPO, this could be an unexpected move by Spotify.

IPO = News coming?

Earlier, Spotify announced they would be sharing news at their upcoming event on the 24th of April. Spotify successfully launched their IPO, a “.. smooth debut that could pave the way for other companies”, according to Reuters.

Even though there was no reason to believe the news event had something to do with the introduction of a car device, evidence now suggests they will. Several Spotify-app users have seen different ads, announcing the device. It comes with a subscription, costing between $13 and $15 dollar a month.

The device

The music device can be attached anywhere in the car, showing what’s on your current playlist and what’s playing. It’s possible the device will have Alexa voice-control, as Spotify has already announced in-car support for the new Cadillacs, using Alexa as control center. Having Alexa in the new device would bring a simplified version of voice-control to many. A smart move for Spotify, introducing a new way to users to listen to their music, joining the internet of things product trend.

Subscription

A Reddit user took screenshots of the advertisement, showing the device and subscription plans: at $12.99 a month, users would get Spotify and the device included in the monthly fee.

Spotify has yet to comment, but for now claims it was nothing special, and that they’re “.. always testing things in order to improve Spotify”, when confronted with the ads.

We’re looking forward.

SEO in 2018: a content marketing universe?

“SEO is dead”. It’s an overused saying (and clickbait title on LinkedIn) to fire up a discussion. SEO has been dead for a while now, according to Forbes since 2013, Entrepreneur since 2016 and mostly every other tech blog that needed clicks since 2010. It’s a discussion that mostly leads to the conclusion that SEO isn’t dead, but the focus is on quality content now – instead of ‘tricks’. Now, if you would’ve asked an SEO-specialist 5 years ago, their focus would probably be on quality content too. So what’s changed?

Traditional SEO or Blackhat SEO?

No, this next paragraph will not deep-dive into the death of traditional SEO either, because it’s not. What’s changed is that tricks don’t work anymore. Cheating doesn’t work anymore. And with cheating, I mean oldschool cheating. Techniques that are not used anymore by any respectable SEO-specialist: keyword stuffing, cloaking, invisible text, Russian link-farms and I can probably go on for a while. It’s pretty simple, as Google states in their Quality Guidelines:

Avoid tricks intended to improve search engine rankings. A good rule of thumb is whether you’d feel comfortable explaining what you’ve done to a website that competes with you, or to a Google employee. Another useful test is to ask, “Does this help my users? Would I do this if search engines didn’t exist?

Did these tricks really work in the past? Yes, there have been lots of website in the past that took some really good organic positions by using tricks. And even nowadays, blackhat-techniques still tend to have effect. There are people making a lot of money using PBN’s for so called ‘money sites’: mostly review websites for Amazon products. But using PBN’s is an expert job, and not nearly as simple as the old school blackhat techniques. Plus, how safe is your investment when you rely on Blackhat? It’s not.

Yes. Old School Blackhat SEO-techniques are dead. Luckily. Traditional SEO is not – if traditional is still what traditional was 5 years ago: the three pillars. Technical SEO, content and authority (links):

These are examples of what should be considered ‘traditional’ SEO; a lot more factors come into play when it comes to having an allround SEO-strategy. Marketeers will see clear thing in this picture: content and authority have a major overlap with what we now call ‘content marketing’.

Content marketing as trend

Looking at the Google trend data for ‘content marketing’ over the past five years, we can conclude it’s been somewhat of a hype:

The Content Marketing institute defines content marketing as following:

Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.

Content marketing therefore has a huge overlap with SEO: it’s creating and distributing relevant content. Looking at the three pillars, content marketing has always been part of SEO:

This trend has caused confusion. For example, the Guardian wrote that “.. It looks like Google has tired of its old friend SEO and is instead cosying-up to the new kid on the block, content marketing.”

Is content marketing the SEO-killer we’ve all heard of?

No. There’s a HUGE overlap. The main problem is; they don’t work well together because they are considered two different things within many organizations. Let’s point out where content marketing and SEO overlap:

  • Content is king in SEO. Content marketing is literally content.
  • SEO is still authority driven (links), content marketing creates and exploits opportunity for links.
  • SEO needs positive user signals, content marketing relies heavily on UX.
  • SEO needs to be kept fresh and consistent. Content marketing doesn’t work when it’s not consistent.

Clash of two worlds? No. There’s no content marketing without SEO, as there is no SEO without content marketing. Content marketing came up in a period of time where Google started to rely more heavily on content.

How to deal with SEO and content marketing?

Is there a difference when it comes to content marketing and SEO?

Yes, SEO is more technical and content marketing relies more heavily on storytelling. Also, data driven content marketing is coming up due to marketing automation and Hubspot. The two worlds have caused a slight rise in spotting more and more technical SEO-vacancies in my overview on LinkedIN, as compared to allround SEO-specialists.

The risk lies in alignment (even though we hate the word): Content marketeers and SEO’s need to sit together. Campaigns should have SEO input and SEO should be aware of campaigns. Mixing these worlds is the best way to success, for every party involved.

Disagree? Let me know in the comments and we’ll talk 😉

Facebook plans to let users ‘unsend’ messages, just like Zuckerberg

Earlier this week, tech site Techcrunch reported that Facebook had retracted messages sent by Mark Zuckerberg from the recipients’ inboxes. The messages, sent with Messenger, were claimed to be a ‘security issue’, but there was some backslash from the community. Only Zuckerberg and other high executives had the privilege of having their messages deleted, whereas users don’t have this option.

This might change though, because it may soon be, user will have this option.

Facebook made a statement, saying the following:

We have discussed this feature several times. And people using our secret message feature in the encrypted version of Messenger have the ability to set a timer — and have their messages automatically deleted. We will now be making a broader delete message feature available. This may take some time. And until this feature is ready, we will no longer be deleting any executives’ messages. We should have done this sooner — and we’re sorry that we did not.

With the current system standing, every message you send is stored on Facebook servers (and scanned by Facebooks bots), and deleting them only deletes it from your chat and device. The feature Facebook is claiming to develop and launch, will make it possible to erase a message permanently, after sending it. Permanently means from every device and Facebooks’ servers.

Privacy

It’s no surprise Facebook is gearing up it’s privacy-policies. The recent Cambridge scandal has not put Facebook in the best light, and allowing users to unsend messages would be a step towards a bit more privacy for Facebook users.

WhatsApp recently launched the unsend feature, making it possible to delete messages an hour afer sending. We’re hoping the Facebook unsend option will not have a time-frame.

It’s a step towards a more private Facebook, but a reactionary step.

Twitter removed over 1.2 million accounts linked to terrorism

Twitter removed over 1.2 million accounts linked to terrorism, according to the Dutch newspaper NU.nl. The removed accounts were part of the propaganda machine used by terrorist organisations worldwide. 

The active war on terrorism at Twitter started in 2015, when Twitter decided to keep track of all deleted accounts linked to terrorism. In the second half of 2017, there were about 270.000 accounts removed. The total now ads up to over a million accounts. Twitter claims there are now less notifications of terrorism-accounts due to better monitoring, and better insights in data.

Data driven counter-terrorism

Twitter headoffice

At Nichehunt, we love data. So does Twitter. With their refined algorithm, they have managed to identify and remove over 93% of all accounts linked to terrorism. Predictive modelling even made it possible to delete 75% of all accounts before even posting.

Not only Twitter uses algo’s to determine content is terrorism-related. Facebook claimed (a while ago) they automatically remove 99% of all terrorism-related content.