Sunday, May 1, 2016

Wearable Technology in Baseball

         Major League Baseball has officially approved two devices to help pitchers manage coming back from injuries.  Motus baseball sleeve measures the stress on the pitchers elbow, while the Zephyr bioharness monitors breathing and heart rates.  This technology will not only help players to have better recovery from injury but also will help players avoid injury going forward.  This technology will allow coaches and trainers to further understand what techniques contribute to certain injuries and will help prevent these injuries.  This Motus technology works by examining how pitchers throw each pitch and gives them a percentage based upon how hard they throw.  Furthermore, this will help to have players not work as hard as they can when coming back from major injuries such as post Tommy John surgery.  The Zephyr technology will allow teams to see how hard their players are working and examine how each player plays the game.  This is specifically important because one big thing in baseball today is limiting stressful innings for pitchers.  A stressful inning can be defined as an inning where there are multiple players on base or multiple runs scored.  This technology will place a certain number on how stressful and how hard they work during each inning.  

         The rules that the Major League’s committee has set are that players must be the ones that choose to wear the sleeve.  This protects players from not getting put into a spot by their team that will harm their careers or contracts.  Currently, the teams are allowed to iPads without Bluetooth connectivity, so they cannot view the numbers during the game.  These teams are allowed to use the data for internal reasons and all the numbers will be shared with the players and the players will decide who is allowed to see the data. 

          Team doctors have already began using this technology while working with New York Mets pitcher Zach Wheeler while he has been recovering from tearing his UCL.  The team has said that by determining how hard he is working they can have him limit the percent he works and it will allow him to have a more effective recovery.  This technology marks the first wearable technology in Major League Baseball and will help to keep players on the field.  Motus and Zephyr are actively working to help players and teams decrease the increasing number of Tommy John surgeries that are occurring in the league.  By combining these technologies baseball players will continue to learn more about the game.


Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Pitney from Postage to Paperless

          Pitney Bowes Inc. dominates the postage meter industry, having over 1.5 million customers worldwide including 90% of Fortune 500 companies. Three out of every four postage meters in the U.S. are made by Pitney Bowes. So what are postage meters? These are the machines that weigh and stamp envelopes and other postage. A postage meter provides an organization with an easy way to pay for postage and track these costs across their business. Pitney Bowes is facing a problem however; the postage industry is declining rapidly, they must adapt before their ship sinks, but some innovative IT might just keep them afloat.
             In 2012, one of Pitney Bowes Chief Executives Marc Lautenbach said “Very few things are quite as profitable as a mail meter” this may have been true back then, but as time goes on this statement will sound more and more like historical fiction. Just in the past decade Pitney Bowes’ shares have declined by more than 40%. Physical postage is making a shift and so must Pitney Bowes, in this case to e-commerce. Businesses are straying from traditional postage, but do still need solutions to other aspects of mailing like processing orders and shipping packages. This exactly what the Borderfree Inc. specializes in.
            It was just last year that Pitney Bowes made the large acquisition of Borderfree for $381 million. Borderfree helps retailers like Macy’s and Harrods sell and ship their products to customers in other countries. Acquiring Borderfree has lead Pitney Bowes much deeper into the developing world of IT and is ultimately where their future lies. With Borderfree the focus is on companies shipping over borders. They are now providing solutions to these businesses logistics and transactions in a variety of ways. A company trying to ship internationally faces many obstacles that Pitney Brownes can now help with. From translation, calculating customs duties, currency conversions to finding the cheapest local delivery service for the last stretch to the customer.
            Just a few months ago, in January Pitney Bowes launched its first television ad in over twenty years, and as a provider of business services not postage meters.
            Pitney Bowes is midway through its five year turnaround plan. Postage machines still consume 50% of their revenue, but ecommerce rose 29% in 2015. This is a great example of a company changing its technologies and adapting to the changing times. Adaptability is increasingly more vital for technology companies. Pitney Bowes is “shedding its image as a mail-equipment vendor” successfully, but the one thing the article does not draw into question is where they a little late to the game? Only last year though did the company make this large investment, and not even three years ago did they begin their five year plan. I think Pitney Bowes will find success in e-commerce, but also that the demise of a strong postage industry was apparent more than three years ago.

Uber Bug Bounty Program

Recently the popular driving service Uber announced a bug bounty program that would award hackers to find exploits within the companies services. Hackers are paid by the amount of exploits they are able to find rather than by an normal pay basis. The amount that they receive varies based on how threatening the exploit is to the company. If the exploit reveals a users private information it will likely result in half the amount that would be awarded to one that could run malicious server code. The starting this program Uber is making the site more safe as its likely most bugs will be fixed before it gets in the hands of malicious hackers not interest in the monetary value.

I found this article to be very interesting with some points worth mentioning. The first detail that was surprising was the fact that a lot of companies offer the same bounty programs. Companies like Google, Facebook, and Microsoft offer very similar programs that award cash to hackers that can find bugs within their products. I feel that this is a great move for these tech giants as its a deterrent for hackers to sell exploits to each other. Most hackers sell exploits to those who might seek to gain monetary gain from using them. For example, most groups would pay money for an exploit that revealed users credit card numbers. 

The article also revealed that its not the first time the company has implemented a bug bounty program. In the early days of the Uber app this tactic was used to improve the security of the application before launch. More interestingly the degree to how harmful these exploits are is quite worrisome. When you unleash a ridiculous amount of hackers against your company they're sure to find some harmful bugs. Researches at the University of California found a way to control the breaks of cars and other functions of the vehicle like the windshield wipers with a dongle provided by the Uber company. Again, this is an extreme case but it certainly proves that having this program is also potentially a bad thing in some sense.

Some organizations like the Energy and Commerce Committee are a potential setback to these bounty programs as they feel that it should be illegal for this kind of research to be going on. This comes after a security threat that affected 1.4 million vehicles allowing unauthorized remote control access to critical functionality. This includes breaking, steering and the transmission. Uber proves that if well organized and maintained the bounty programs are very beneficial to the company and its users.

I feel that this article could do better in explaining the potential risks of having this program in place as it talks extensively about the benefits. Im also curious on the actual statistics of this program and how many exploits are found in a year. I wonder what happens when two users report the same exploit and who receives the reward?

HoloLens- first augmented reality goggles

 HoloLens is the first augmented reality device, which allows you to see, hear, and interact with holograms within an environment such as a living room or an office space.  Although similar to virtual reality devices, the HoloLens overlays interactive holograms over the real world, while virtual reality devices seal off the user to teleport them to other worlds.  USA Today’s article, “We test HoloLens, VRs Augmented Cousin,” capitalizes on the unique features of the groundbreaking device, which could potentially replace many of the objects we use to interact with our digital lives.
            HoloLens “sits on your head like a 1.2-pound crown. Inside the clear plastic visor are projectors for the holograms, while on the outside sits a camera as well as sensors that determine your spacial position in a given room”(Cava).  One of the biggest advantages of HoloLens is that it is not tethered through a computer.  This characteristic differentiates it from its competitors and makes it more appealing to customers because the device does not have a cable, therefore creating freedom of movement for the user.  In addition, HoloLens has a unique user interface, which include air-touch, glance, and voice.  The voice interface allows the user to connect to Microsoft's virtual assistant, Cortana who can tell the user anything from a weather update to accessing a webpage on a hologram browser. 
            HoloLens, which recently hit developers with shipments starting today (March 30, 2016), is “similar to when Steve Jobs unveiled the first app-lite iPhone: Impressive, but of limited use” as stated by writer, Marco della Cava.  In particular, the size and weight of the headset prove to be a potential negative that competitors will likely adapt and improve.  On the flip side, “Microsoft is banking on some of the 5,000 developers that have converged on Build to create applications that may one day cause AR goggles to be as ubiquitous as smartphones”(Cava). In fact, augmented reality devices are expected to take a 75% slice of 2020's $120 billion AR/VR pie, according to industry advisers Digi-Capital(Cava).  
The HoloLens’ unique ability to experience interactive holograms over the real world could have an extreme effect on the way we interact with and understand the world.  Hololens will help to educate people and broaden their horizons with respect to travel, geography and other virtual experiences.  The introduction of the HoloLens also marks the beginning of a new industry (Augmented Reality Devices), which will generate money, knowledge, and additional virtual devices and applications.
Overall, the HoloLens has an extremely positive effect on users and their connection with the digital world.  Although it is likely that there will be many more of its kind, the HoloLens augmented reality marks a great success and advancement for Microsoft and rest of the technology world.

By: Emma Falk

Smart Luggage Saves You Time and Money

The future of the way that we do travel might have just hit the market. Raden, a "smart luggage" producer has created a suitcase that revolutionizes the way that human beings transport their belongings. They are currently selling two suitcase models, one "carry" and one “check", for $295 and $395 on their website, respectively. 

The first thing that jumped out to me when examining Raden was the plethora of useful features that come with the purchase of the suitcase itself. For example, the suitcase can charge your phone in a port that is built in to the top of the model. Also, the next generation bag weighs itself upon being lifted off the ground, so that fees for overweight luggage officially become a thing of the past. Finally, the smart suitcase is equipped with a compact battery on the inside which is capable of being removed if someone is looking to further cut down on the weight of their baggage.

 Also, the Raden app, which you can download on your iPhone or Android mobile device, allows you to track your luggage in real time through Bluetooth technologies. This amazing innovation takes away the hassle of trying to miraculously locate your luggage at airports, or worse, trying to find luggage that has been lost by the airline. The Raden app also takes it a step further, sending you alert messages when your bag is coming out of the carousel in real time. Finally, the feature that provides users information on TSA wait lines can be particularly helpful when it comes to planning how much time a person must allocate to the screening process in advance of their flight. Features like these make the Raden app and suitcase a must have for frequent fliers who often find themselves victim of many or all of these common inconveniences.

An additional thing that I found interesting about Raden was the unique design of their product. The emphasis on efficiency and sleekness goes hand in hand with their cutting edge technology. This is evident in the specs of the bag which weighs a mere 7.5 pounds, and comes in a variety of attractive colors. Finally, something that really stood out to me was that through the Raden app, you have the ability to call an Uber to pick you up from the airport. It is this kind of exceptional attention to detail that really makes this particular bag the future of an individual's travel experience. 

Two specific things that I feel my article failed to address were how Raden is to market their product to consumers and also how they are going to increase profit margins. These two things could go hand in hand, for example if Raden is able to get their suitcase to large retailers, interested customers will be exposed to the product, driving up sales for the smart luggage brand.


Raden's Website:
Will iPad Pros Hit a Homerun in the MLB?

If you’ve ever seen the movie Moneyball with Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill, you know today’s baseball isn’t the same as it was 50 years ago. We’re using algorithms and computers to find out what can make a team better rather than relying only on scouts. It’s a widely known fact that the only technology allowed in the dugout is a telephone with a cord primarily used to call the GM watching the game from one of the boxes, but Major League Baseball is taking a major step in changing that. The newest addition to a game that’s become America’s pastime is iPad Pros in the dugouts. Is Apple trying to move in on the old-time binders full of pages with information about every player? That’s precisely right.
Everyone knows Apple is a high tech company that has their products used by businesses across the globe, but they’re entering a new field now: baseball. Major League Baseball once forbade the use of technology in the dugouts, but now is welcoming it. The days of using binders for stats on players and positions is gone. The days of having total access to information during a game are just beginning.
iPad Pros in dugouts will allow managers, coaches, and players to assess situations and games like they never have before. “Phil Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of worldwide marketing, said iPad Pros will give baseballs insiders what they need ‘right at the touch of their fingers and when it matters most, during the game’” (ESPN). This partnership is trying to allow coaches and managers to use data analytics to get the most out of their players. By using data analytics, mangers’ decision making processes will become more concise and useful for the team.
Here’s the catch: the iPads are not allowed to be connected to the internet during a game. All data that the coaches, managers, and players want must be downloaded and saved before the game starts. So for everyone screaming this introduction of smart technology is going to ruin baseball, that’s not it’s goal. Rob Manfred is quoted saying, “Our collaboration with Apple on the use of iPad Pro in dugouts and bullpens is part of our ongoing effort to introduce extraordinary technology into our game” (USAToday). The goal of introducing iPad Pros to the dugouts isn’t to take the game to a new level with unlimited technology involved, but to improve on what is being used now.

So after watching the National Football League step up their game and allow coaches to use Microsoft’s Surface 2s during games, Major League Baseball is attempting to keep up with the constantly advancing technological society we’re living in.