Passwords: This Necessary Evil [infographics]

computer-large-newPasswords are ubiquitous. We all use them and despite the fact that we keep grumbling that they aren’t good enough, we still rely on them in order to protect our most precious information like bank account details, personal and electronic commerce details and such like. What I learned today while looking at Ken Peterson’s infographics is that passwords, as it were, aren’t a new invention. They were created with WWII for cyphers and were adapted in 1972 to become the classic passwords as we know them. Yet, however important, passwords are still misused by users who use the same passwords for multiple sites (73%), use the same passwords for all their sites (33%), or even use the word “passwords” and other niceties as a secret code. all sources for stats are quoted at the end of the picture.

crowdfunding: Sticknfind raises 1 million dollars via Indiegogo – #mwc13

This piece was originally written on behalf of the Orange Live Blog during a Press trip at Mobile World Congress 2013 last week

No, you aren’t dreaming! 1 million dollars were raised by Sticknfind by Jan 2013

No, you’re not deaming! The SticknFind startup raised closed to 1 million dollars on the Indiegogo crowdsourcing platform.

And The founders of SticknFind are no rookies either for they have been pioneers of Bluetooth products since 2003 and 2004 and they have been working for the automotive industry and have won many awards since then declared Jimmy Buchheim in his introduction yesterday. He and his teams have also developed the Blutracker project in the past can track various items within 2,500 ft range also funded through Indiegogo ($180,500 were raised for that project) as well as Meterplug, an intelligent plug which measures your real electricity consumption and displays the consumption in local currency (close to $128,000 on Indiegogo too). “This has been a very successful company” CEO and founder Jimmy Buchheim said. He started the new company in early December: “it wasn’t easy” he said, but he looked very pleased with the funding he got from the crowdfunding platform. Indeed, I know of few people who wouldn’t be happy with that!

Jimmy Buchheim, SticknFind CEO and founder shows the SticknFind tracker

why go through crowdfunding?

“The most obvious way, apparently, was to design our product, produce it and pitch it and then sell it to some industrialist, but this wasn’t easy for us to do. So we decided to go the crowdfunding way because the input from the users is sometimes more valuable than what you can get from a company” Buchheim said. He added “industrialists want to change the product to suit their needs and not that of their clients, and talking to VCs ends up with having too many cooks in the kitchen and this is how it starts to get bad!”

So, what is that innovation which users have found worth investing one million dollars into?

  • First and foremost, it’s about an “amazing tracking feature” to put it in the words of Buchheim’s: “a lot of Intellectual Property went into the tracking mechanism” he said. What it means is that it gives users the ability to measure very precisely where an object is located : “the resolution is amazing, the system is able to measure very short distances”,
  • Secondly, the find it feature which enables the sticker to send a notification if the paired object comes into range. Users get alerts on their phone if they leave the object behind them. You can place the sticker on a camera; on your car keys etc. and you can even measure the temperature of an object too (this would, for instance, tell you whether the object is outside or inside),
  • Thirdly, the easy zooming capability enables one to find keys in a 150ft (45 metres) range but SticknFind was able to extend that reach to 300ft (90 metres). Based on feedback from users, they produced prototypes with 3 different manufacturers. “It took us a lot of tuning” Buchheim added, “they are made of very small parts and it required extensive work but we eventually identified the right kind of plastic so as to find the right mix [i.e. neither too rigid or too rubbery] in order to increase the reach”.

SticknFind will start shipping next week. The company started production last month, that is to say early compared to their initial promise (end of March), and the device will be available from retailers in April. This is the first generation of trackers, Buchheim said, “we are creating a new market and it will trigger huge applications. People and companies are losing a lot of money with stuff they lose” he said. What of generation 2 then? “It will be even smaller”, Jimmy Buchheim promised,h “you could even have it on your toothbrush!” in said in jest.

“This is the true Internet of things” Buchheim declared. The price for 2 stickers is $49 and $89 for 4 and there will be packs of 10 available. The app will be free and available on Google Play and IOS and it will be working on the Blackberry Z10 too (April release). And the battery lasts for two years so won’t even need to change it that often. A free SDK will be released to developers. The SDK will also be made available for Mac OSx (by March) and Windows 8 (from April onwards).

There are many applications for SticknFind, including industrial applications such as the keeping of inventory (100 and even 1000 items can be working at the same time the SticknFind CEO said).

The system, because it uses Bluetooth 4.0, only works with newer phones (Iphone 4S or newer or Samsung Galaxy SIII etc.) but no additional accessory is required to make it work. “The only way to make the battery work for 2 years was to use the new generation of Bluetooth, otherwise it wouldn’t have lasted more than a few days” Buchheim declared. As for security, pairing is limited to devices when they are 1 m apart and “you have to tap it to activate it so that it’s safer”.

This technology is really innovation at its best, it fill in a requirement, is available right now, and is both simple and ground-breaking; no wonder they raised so much money from Indiegogo.

The true colour of brands and true nature of infographics (1)

today’s selection is…

Thanks to my favourite stumble upon gimmick for finding new content and subjects, I discovered this very interesting piece of infographics about the true nature of brands according to their colour. I do not know what these graphics, beautifully crafted by the way, “[tell] about your business” as the headline says, but I certainly know what it means about the way that we read, understand and are influenced by pictures. A long time ago (2003), I published a piece on my  visionarymarketing.com website by Giancarlo Livraghi, an Italian publicist and the author of a book in Italian entitled “the cultivation of the Internet“. Giancarlo, in that piece, was describing what he called PowerPointis, a concept he had come across while seeing Colin Powell use pictures to convince the UN that the war on Iraq was justified. His point was that most of Powel’s pictures were fabricated but weren’t questioned because it’s hard not to believe pictures. This theory was accredited later in a Hollywood film based on a true story (Green Zone – 2010). I will re-publish this very important piece in a forthcoming post.

Imago ergo sum …

Infographics, mostly those like this one which are beautiful and laid out with excellent taste, go straight to the point and are easy to grasp. They are emotional and aesthetic. They appeal to our feelings. Besides because they are so simple and didactic, they are taken at face value, so much so that no one dares point out that they could be wrong. All you need is a click of the mouse and hey presto! The picture is multiplied and shared throughout the world. It is no longer cogito but imago ergo sum (see this piece in French).

Yet, infographics are also simplistic and exaggerated. They save time but at the same time, pictures tend to deprive readers from their critical eye. Most of the time they are non representative and show surprising results. They often refer to “a study the world’s top 100…” (Brands in this particular case) but who selected the sample? What are those brands? Who commissioned the study? Where are the results to be found? What methodology?… Such questions are and will remain, most probably, unanswered.

ING-orange-account
ING Orange account doomed to failure? not so not so…

A close look at the details underneath is even more enlightening. I just focused on the orange colour for a reason (disclosure: I work for Orange). As this colour is used by the company I work for, I’m very happy to realise that it is popular for high-tech according to this infographics and that the colour code is consistent with the brand values which we all like. I also read that this colour is said to be unpopular for banking whereas ING has been using this colour-code very successfully not only in the Netherlands but throughout the world and especially in the US where it is well known and associated with this colour.

I do not need to go any further. Looking at a nice picture like this makes me think of looking at a horoscope: it’s fun, entertaining, slightly puzzling, but this is not knowledge. Knowledge requires sources. Knowledge, requires contradiction. Knowledge can use pictures; but it certainly can do away with infographics.
true-colors1

New Innovation Blog Launched

news-largeA few years ago, I used to be a regular contributor to bnet in the UK but the site pulled out of the European market in 2010. Fortunately, a new project has just been launched and I’m very happy to embark on it. It is named innovation generation and it is sponsored by our peers from Alcatel.You can find my first piece on that blog under the following title: Governments Ease Into Cyberspace. Below is the announcement for the new website; stay tuned for more info …

We are living in a truly connected world. That’s something most people might take for granted when they make a phone call or watch TV, but when you consider how a wireless network brings books to your e-reader, an Ethernet network keeps your savings account secure, and a cloud holds most of your online identity, it becomes a pretty powerful proposition.

It is the services that run on these networks that are the lifeblood of society, and the potential for innovation here is limited only by our own creativity.

Enter Innovation Generation. It’s a generation that’s not confined to baby boomers, Gen Xers, or smartphone-toting Millennials, but rather encompasses everyone living in today’s globally connected society. Our goal here is to explore the potential for personalized, interesting, and, of course, innovative new services that can increase the quality of life and work for end users while also increasing the value of the service provider in the process.

How are service providers delivering these new services to businesses and consumers? How can they get more from their infrastructures than they already do? What are the opportunities for business model innovation? How can service providers improve the customer experience?

These are just a few of the questions we’ll strive to answer on Innovation Generation. If you’re a global communications service provider or enterprise IT leader, Innovation Generation is your guide to navigating the challenges and opportunities in creating innovative business opportunities for your company and your customers. Here, we explore innovation at all levels of today’s connected businesses, from software to services to groundbreaking business models – with an eye on what’s practical, what’s clouded by hype, and what’s going to help the bottom line.

These are services that are transforming industries like utilities, transportation, the public sector, healthcare, oil and gas, manufacturing, defense, railways, and even the government. And service providers are at the heart of it.

via Innovation Generation – Named Documents – About Us

social media API war goes on unabated (reblogged from Gigaom)

eye-large_thumb.gifHere is an illustration for today’s talk at the French Association of Marketing on the future of social media and a sequel to our discussions with Dalton Caldwell in San Francisco last September.

What the Instagram fight says about Twitter as a media platform — Tech News and Analysis

Instagram says it is removing the ability for Twitter to embed photos because it wants users to go to its own website instead of Twitter’s to see that content. Other media companies should probably also be asking themselves similar questions about their relationship with Twitter.

Remember when Twitter was just a free and open conduit for whatever content its users wanted to distribute? Those days are long gone now, replaced by Twitter’s desire to control and monetize as much of its platform as possible, and as much of the content that flows through it. The latest skirmish in this ongoing battle came on Wednesday, when Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom confirmed that the service has removed support for Twitter’s “expanded tweets” feature, and therefore photos won’t be showing up in Twitter any more. While Instagram’s relationship with Twitter is complicated, its reasons for doing this should make other media companies stop and think about how they use (or are being used by) Twitter as well.

As noted by Nick Bilton in a New York Times piece and by my colleague Erica Ogg — and confirmed by a post at the official Twitter blog — what Instagram has done is to remove support for the expanded view of tweets that shows up on the Twitter website and in its official apps. These tweets have a special pane that displays excerpts from blog posts and news stories published by certain partners, or photos and videos from certain external services. Twitter originally launched this as something called “expanded tweets” but it has since become a much more ambitious platform called “Twitter Cards.”

via What the Instagram fight says about Twitter as a media platform — Tech News and Analysis.