Monthly Archives: December 2021

No users – only “useds”

Reading Time: 2 minutes

by Lev Hladush

Richard Matthew Stallman, an American free software movement activist and programmer, has said that social media sites don’t have users – they have useds. The primary reasons for sites like Facebook to exist is to generate revenue for the company and they have two main ways of doing so. First way is by using their webpage as a terminal for advertisements. Second way is gathering as much data about their consumers or users as possible and then selling to any interested company.

In the first case, to maximize revenue, users are manipulated to stay online, giving as much eyeball time to the ads as possible. Algorithms that allow specific targeting in order to cause strong emotions to keep people engaged, dopamine-inducing things like count of your subscribers or likes on your posts. All of it has the sole purpose – consuming more of your time. Thus, converting your time into profit(don’t forget that 98% of Facebook’s revenue comes from advertisers)

In the second case, things get a bit trickier. Facebook doesn’t sell your data directly. Instead, what they do sell is access to a platform that makes it as easy as possible for advertisers to reach you based on your interests. And creation of Metaverse(which has already been discussed in numerous posts previously on technoblog, so I believe there is no need to explain what is it exactly) allows to gather even more data. And more data makes good business sense. But there are (in my opinion, well-founded) fears that the new data we create in the Metaverse could lead to a privacy nightmare. For example, Facebook made a big deal about the fact that it’s not going to be doing facial recognition on photos that you upload to Facebook anymore. But it hasn’t said it’s not going to do facial recognitions in Metaverse. For sure, generating more data is not necessarily harmful, but it could give companies like Facebook an unprecedented amount of control.

Knowing this all, the scenario shown in this video seems quite believable.

Sources used:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=daoCwHARvGo https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bolyiGMcjBs&t=263s

Gaming and fashion industries collabs

Reading Time: 3 minutes

The games industry is undoubtedly characterized by rapid and successive development and has a huge influence on our society. Video games are not only entertainment for children, but also for adults, among whom the popularity of various genres of games is growing. It is a huge business worth about $ 180 billion with Sony, Tencent and Apple in the lead, which generate billions of dollars each year.

Among others things, thanks to the popularity and diversity of  games, many fashion houses decide to collaborate with companies from this industry. A combination of luxury fashion brands and games, despite the controversy related to e.g. prices of the products, enjoys great admiration among customers.

Moshino&Nintendo

Jeremy Scott, Moschino’s creative director, designed products with themes such as Barbie, McDonalds or cartoons characters. In 2015, the Italian fashion house also collaborated with Nintendo, which resulted in the creation of collection called ‘Super Moschino’ , which celebrated the 30th anniversary of Super Mario Bros-the video game, for many of us associated with our childhood 😉

Collections included clothes and accessories, such as T-shirts, knit sweaters, and leather accessories and handbags, all in many vivid colors with Mario Cart Bros characters.

When it comes to cost, for example, the price of a T-shirt from this collection was around $ 350, which is the average price for this type of limited product at Moschino.

https://www.elle.pl/artykul/super-moschino-w-luisaviaroma

Balenciaga&PlayStation

If you’re a fan of PlayStation, but also want to experience some luxury, check out the collection created in cooperation n with Sony and Balenciaga-luxury fashion house founded by Spanish designer. These simple and inconspicuous products, released in June 2021, may surprise you with their price.

The price of the t-shirt, which is available in two color variants, is $ 675, while for the cotton hoodie we have to pay $875, which already significantly exceeds the price of the Play Station 5 itself.

https://www.gq-magazine.co.uk/fashion/article/balenciaga-playstation-collection

Gucci&Xbox

Xbox Series X od... Gucci. Za 7000 euro. Kupujecie?
https://www.tabletowo.pl/xbox-series-x-od-gucci/

On the occasion Xbox’s 20 anniversary, Microsoft cooperated with the Italian fashion house Gucci, creating a special edition of Xbox Series X , which was released on November 17, 2021. It doesn’t differ much from the standard Xbox, only with a few additions and an unique appearance. However, the difference that is not difficult to miss is special price of this product – such version of Xbox cost  around $ 10,000. Moreover, only 100 units were produced, which sold out rapidly after they were launched.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=osmXLS28_RA

Despite of the fact that Xbox Gucci sounds ridiculous to many of us, considering its price,  its buyers surely feel special being one of the 100 people in the world who owns this limited product

Sources:

Branża gier komputerowych w Polsce – rozrywka i edukacja – Good Games

Global Gaming Market | 2021 – 26 | Industry Share, Size, Growth – Mordor Intelligence

Moschino Collaborates with Nintendo – Super Mario Fashion Collection | Teen Vogue

Możesz być fanem PlayStation 5, ale tych gadżetów Balenciaga raczej sobie nie kupisz… (rootblog.pl)

Balenciaga x Sony PlayStation 5 Merch Collaboration (highsnobiety.com)

Tak, to nie żart. Gucci ma dla nas konsolę Xbox za 10 tys. dolarów – Portal Technologiczny

Gucci made an Xbox Series X for the one percent | Engadget

Hydrogen- naturally perfect fuel

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Would you ever think that electric cars designed to be the greenest vehicles in the world pose a great threat to our planet, due to the difficulties in disposing of their batteries? For this reason, a new way of powering cars was invented, based on the use of the most common element in the universe, hydrogen in combination with oxygen. It is a much more ecological alternative than the combustion of petroleum derivatives, which may contribute to the elimination of many disadvantages of electric motors, such as the difficulty of recycling and their long charging time. No toxic or polluted substance, including carbon dioxide, is released. As a result of this chemical reaction, energy is generated which supplies clean water as a side effect. The technology is based on the centuries- old process of reverse electrolysis of water. 

How does it work? 

  1. Oxygen enters the fuel cell from the outside 
  2. The hydrogen flows from tanks into the fuel cell
  3. Hydrogen combines with oxygen inside the fuel cell 
  4. The cell generates electricity 
  5. The fuel cell transfers energy directly to the engine 

NOW THE ONLY EMMISION IS WATER! 

How a Fuel Cell Vehicle / Hydrogen Car Works ?? - YouTube
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yY_M4RfdAl8

How is this possible? 

Fuel cells consist of electrodes and a membrane that allows only positively charged hydrogen molecules to pass through. After this stage, the hydrogen protons combine with the oxygen atoms and water is formed. As soon as the electrons are directed to the electric circuit, a current is created that starts the car in motion. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NfkfLRiYgac

How is the hydrogen sourced? 

Currently, the most popular methods of obtaining hydrogen are gas steam reforming and electrolysis of water. In addition, Toyota is now developing innovative new technology to extract hydrogen for cars, from the air. In contact with air this device produces hydrogen under the influence of sunlight at no additional cost. 

Advantages and disadvantages of hydrogen fuel cell cars:

+ refueling max 5min

+ max 650km

+ zero-emission form of transport

– low popularity of hydrogen

-high refueling costs

-fossil fuels are often used during the production of hydrogen

What hydrogen fuel cell cars are available on the market?  

Now there are few available models on the market: Toyota Mirai (2014- which is world’s first mass- produced dedicated fuel cell electric vehicle), Hyundai Nexo (2018), and Honda Clariy (which was produced from 2016 to 2021). By the end of 2020 there were already over 31 000 people driving hydrogen- powered cars. This number is growing all the time as more and more brands announce their production of hydrogen fuel cells cars as it us the future of automotive industry. 

Summary:

In conclusion, hydrogen- powered cars in my opinion will be the future of the automotive industry. I also think that they will be a big competition for electric cars due to the fact that they can be 100% zero emissions cars if the hydrogen will be obtained from the air. Then there would be no problem with the disposal of batteries from old electricians’ cars and charging during long journeys. 

Sources: 

https://moto.pl/MotoPL/7,88389,24473669,toyota-opracowuje-nowa-technologie-wodor-do-samochodow-bedzie.html

https://www.toyota.pl/hydrogen/wodor

https://www.komputerswiat.pl/artykuly/redakcyjne/auta-na-wodor-jak-dzialaja-dziela-sie-na-dwie-grupy-jakie-maja-wady-i-zalety/exy7g76

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hydrogen_vehicle

Online lessons, is it worth it?

Reading Time: < 1 minute

After the global pandemic started schools and universities were forced to switch to online learning. At that time it wasn’t certain if it would be better than lessons on campus, or even viable at all. However after 1.5 year seeing this in action, we can analyse if it was worth it.

Two female students study online together

While there are undoubtedly many advantages of this method of learning, such as easy access to all the materials from lessons, or availability to record them, so students can revisit them later if they missed something, or even the whole lesson. Nonetheless there are many more points against it. The interaction between students and lecturer is worse, there is nothing encouraging to learning, so without self-motivating it’s harder to take something from lessons. Furthermore, it makes cheating more appealing and easier.

There are also other aspects, other than efficiency of learning, that are damaged by online teaching. Students are forced to spend way more time in front of computer, and that may result in backache, bad eyesight and neck problems. Not only that, but without the need for going to campus, students go out less, and don’t socialize, as they would with learning in school.

In summary, online learning has some pros, mainly for availability and convenience, however in my opinion they don’t make up for cons, which affect students’ mental and physical health, and learning experience.

Article about online learning: https://www.educations.com/study-guides/study-online/#support
Sources: Personal experience

Mysterious Black Car

Reading Time: < 1 minute

Investments are not only about currencies, real estate, art or land, nowadays you can invest in practically everything, from limited clothing lines to special versions of cars or motorcycles.

There are more and more collectors of racing, luxury or classic cars, and as in every group of people, there are also various conspiracy theories and legends spoken out there.

One of the most interesting stories we can hear from petrol lovers is the story of “La Voiture Noire”, the eponymous Black Car.

This is how the Bugatti Type 57 SC Atlantic model was named with the chassis number 57 453. That is, a car produced in the number of four copies in the world. The second, one of a kind, was a car intended for Jean Bugatti himself, not only for driving, but mainly as a show car. Unfortunately, not long after its production, i.e. in 1938, rumors of it were lost. There are many theories that more or less clearly describe what could have happened to the car, but none has been confirmed, and the history of the car is so known and important in the automotive world that literally everyone has heard about the model.

Unfortunately, this delicacy worth much more than $120M will probably never be found. As long as it does not belong to someone’s truly private collection.

TABLETOP ORDERING SYSTEM

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Something not many people are aware of, but this is a tabletop ordering system that allows guests and customers in restaurants to order food and drinks from their table on a device given to them by the restaurant or a smartphone. This is sometimes called virtual ordering or contactless table ordering. It works almost like online food ordering from your home and then once receives the delivery, however this works in store as well. The reason behind this was because the traffic in restaurants was starting to increase.  If the in-store point of sale/POS system is slow and inefficient, an online ordering platform is a great alternative.

This system is widely implemented in Japan and the USA .

Why Tablets on Restaurant Tables Are Here to Stay - Eater
Example of the tablets used in restaurants.

Why tabletop ordering?

Tabletop ordering has many obvious benefits. As guests and customers, we spend less time waiting for waiters to take our orders. At the same time, the existing serving staff can provide the over-the-top assistance to customers and guest that require the services and maybe new guests as well that need guidance on what to order.

Tabletop ordering gives control to the guests, these systems allow guests to pick and choose what products they would like. It allows them to customise their orders and cancel certain things without the embarrassment of “bothering” any staff member.

Restaurant, bar, cafe owners on the other side gain better insight into their customers and their business, it shows a more precise number and statistical view of what customers are ordering and what they are neglecting on the menu. This allows owners to pick a different strategy all in the hopes of maintaining customer loyalty and revenue.

This method also focuses on increasing revenue. How you may say since it’s becoming less humanized? Well with these systems there is less being spent on paper menus, less wages to pay out since many restaurants then decrease the number of staff members and more focus on digital systems and sales. At the same time because these systems are new and handy, many guests will spread the word to friends and the recommendations result in more visits and sometimes just for the experience.

This also improves customer experience. There are less mistakes made when ordering, so 100% accuracy, it is very efficient as customers don’t need to wait for staff members to be free for them to be attended to. While adding new technology to a restaurant takes some getting used to, the learning curve with a table ordering system should be easy. A good manager will put measures in place to ensure a smooth transition for both the wait staff and kitchen staff. And chances are, the customers are already familiar with iPads (or other handheld devices) and smartphones. Simple and intuitive system result in easy navigation by customer.

Sources:

www.visionect.com

https://restauranttechnologyguys.com/

Lowering energy consumption of Ethereum network

Reading Time: < 1 minute
Source: https://blockchain.news/analysis/transition-to-pos-will-improve-ethereum-efficiency-2000-times-ethereum-foundation

Ethereum, one of the most well-known blockchains is up to big change. Currently, the network operates on a Proof-of-Work system. It is the most traditional system for blockchains. However, innovations are appearing quickly.

In a Proof-of-Work system, miners use their computational power to solve math puzzles in order to validate the block. This approach is however very energy consuming.

In the recent year we have come across new ways of validating blocks. The most prominent is Proof-of-Stake, currently used by such networks as Solana or Cardano.

This concept is mainly based on certain cryptocurrencies being collateral in the validating process. Due to this, the whole network consumes much less energy.

Ethereum 2.0 – is meant to be another Proof-of-Stake blockchain. The concept is being worked on since 2020 and the launch is planned for the second quarter of 2022. This may be the breakthrough for Ethereum as since then much more transactions will be possible to maintain in a short period while being low energy consuming and way cheaper.

Summing up, the years-long discussion about crypto being unecological may no longer exist in upcoming years, as we can see the trend of networks becoming more eco-friendly.  ETHEREUM 2.0 may be the most prominent example of this trend as also networks such as Solana and Cardano growing rapidly, being worth now tens of billions of dollars.

Sources:

https://blockchain.news/analysis/transition-to-pos-will-improve-ethereum-efficiency-2000-times-ethereum-foundation

https://twitter.com/ethereum?ref_src=twsrc%5Egoogle%7Ctwcamp%5Eserp%7Ctwgr%5Eauthor

Autonomous transport future is not arriving soon

Reading Time: 3 minutes

“Autonomy Day”, April 2019, the event hosted by Tesla. Tesla felt that everything has been so focused on the Model 3 and the rest of the company’s story has been lost. Elon Musk was confident about bringing forward fully – autonomous robotaxis by the end of 2020. However, we can see that the prediction was too optimistic as self – driving vehicles are still quite challenging to achieve.

What is a Robotaxi anyways?
We can define it as a fully – autonomous vehicle that can pick up and drop passengers at their destinations without any need of a human driver. Also, we can accept that drivers are the reason for the high costs of transportation services at some level. It is believed that autonomous cars can help bring down these costs and make transportation more affordable for every use case. However, unlike games and apps, launching an autonomous taxi has real risks that can cause injury or even death. Software – defined architecture and Nvidia’s chips optimized for deep neural networks are the heart of autonomous vehicles. On the other hand, it is not easy to just deploy this infrastructure and get it going hurled. Launching a robotaxi is still an idea for the far off future.

At the same event, Pete Bannon, the designer of the full self – driving chip, described the system, what timeline was for the system, and design requirements. The biggest takeaway, Tesla did look at the problem and work to solve specifically the issues they had for chips, which you can do only by designing a new chip, which is something most companies don’t have the luxury to do, as it is extremely expensive.

Tesla’s Robotaxi
It is became a real possibility talk after Musk claimed in 2019. Musk stated; Next year for sure, we will have over a million robotaxis on the road. The fleet wakes up with an over – the – air update. That’s all it takes.

It only created hype in the market. The reason is that Tesla already has thousands of models running on the road deployed with eight cameras each to collect video recordings from all angles. Industry experts still doubted any possibilities of such autonomous vehicles, as the Waymo’s CEO John Krafcik said; For us, Tesla is not a competitor at all. We manufacture a completely autonomous driving system. Tesla is an automaker that is developing a high quality driver assistance system.
He also pointed out, that a company can’t keep improving its driver assistance system and hope for it to become fully – autonomous one day. However, Musk responded to these comments saying; To my surprise, Tesla has better AI technology, hardware, and software than Waymo.
And Tesla’s robotaxi continues to be under the microscope of professionals thanks to the high expectations set by Elon. While he believes that Tesla is quite close to SAE Level 5 full autonomous, his promise keep backfiring at him.

What is the Market share of Robotaxi?
It is rising market, expected to be worth $1.03 billion in 2023 and rise to $38.61 billion in 2030. The pandemic showed a massive downfall in the transportation industry as drivers could not risk by taking random passengers. Customers also believe an infected driver is a high – risk carrier. The industry is highly reliant on drivers, and the need for robotaxis is real case. This triggered a rise of investors interested resulting in the increase of market value. The major shareholders of this market include:
Waymo, Lyft, Uber, Tasle itself, Ford and a few others.
The road safety and concerns for security control is the reason why autonomous vehicles are being prioritized. This gives robotaxis another market advantage as they are fueled by cameras and sensors, ensuring no risks are taken. These factors ensure the rise of share value for the robotaxi market.

Who is working on Robotaxis beside these giant players?
There are other competitors in the market working on the same venture for sure. Autonomous transportation service in the form of robotaxi has become a race between players in the industry. Hyundai, Cruise, Yandex, Didi, Baidu and others are some companies working on the idea. All companies are progressing quickly, with most of them heavily relying on the Nvidia chips. It is one side to develop an autonomous car capable of driving itself, however, it is totally different from being able to deploy it immediately. The complications involved in this matter are grave, and Tesla might be thinking way over its capabilities. Once they are ready, they most likely face regulatory challenges from authorities that will not allow an act of such high risk. Moreover, the are severe challenges in relevance to insurance regularities as who takes blame in the event of an accident.

“We are ten years out before we see fleets of robotaxis. They ain’t coming anytime soon, even with the most advanced sensing systems in the world”, said the Lucid’s CEO, Rawilson.

Resources:
Robotaxi fleets
Market size
SAE Level 5
Autonomy Day

The rise of Neobanks and Tinkoff

Reading Time: 3 minutes

We could say that the last few (2-3) years were the years of FinTech companies, right?

According to the CFTE data more than 200 FinTech companies globally are Unicorns… and many more to come. 

What makes some fintech companies successful and some of them even successful banks – called neobanks?

I will try to answer this question based on the story of the Tinkoff bank – a Russian neobank with more than 12mln customers!

Tinkoff Bank app | Behance
https://www.behance.net/gallery/94546357/Tinkoff-Bank-app/modules/546234563

The main driver for their success is the technology itself because of course, “technology first”. Speaking about the technology we have to mention – API usage, adoption of cloud, Big data, AI.  

The existing new technologies allowed the newcomers with fewer resources and experience to overcome the traditional players by renting (infrastructure) or/and outsourcing activities. This allows them to focus on brand building and maintenance of trusted relations with their customers.

But what exactly can customers expect? Let’s see the successful example of Tinkoff:

Apart from technology the successful player has to introduce something new to traditional banking. These are: fast online onboarding (including CA opening, debit card issue, and delivery, and mobile banking), E2E online lending process – without visiting physical branch and signing with Qualified electronic signature.

Tinkoff Bank | App Concept by Rodion Yurkov on Dribbble
https://dribbble.com/shots/10816716-Tinkoff-Bank-App-Concept

But something very up-to-date is the lifestyle banking that Tinkoff has pioneered – services like entertainment and travel bookings!

Tinkoff news

So, let’s see the history of Tinkoff :

2007 – first credit card

2011 – mobile banking introduction

2013 – goes public

2016 Investment banking launch

2017 The Russian Neobank introduced personalized services and lifestyle banking

Personalized services include:  Tinkoff Stories (user statistics and advertising), Voice assistant Oleg – AI enabled assistant/ personal finance adviser, Tinkoff messenger (chat) – possible by using data analytics and machine learning Tinkoff provides automated services to their customers.

Lifestyle banking with the following services – mobile network partnership with Tele2 Russia, entertainment – partnership with entertainment service providers, online travel agency – partnership with global distribution systems and travel aggregators and Super App – in 2020 introduction of Supper app ecosystem with all above features/services!

Users have more than million sessions monthly in the Supper app (mobile apps, Tinkoff stories, Tinkoff messenger…)!

Here is some data of Tinkoff:

  • established in 2007
  • 5.6 billion valuation on London stock Exchange as of December 2021
  • around 12 mln customers (0,5 mln out of them business customers) – half of them active monthly
  • profitable since the 3rd year of operation which is very difficult (rare) in this industry

The key of success? – not just banking but lifestyle as well (entertainment, travel) on a high technological level!

Sources and additional reading:

https://tinkoffgroup.com/company-info/summary/

https://www.whitesight.net/post/tinkoff-bank-deep-dive

https://www.tinkoff.ru/eng/media/news/09122019-tinkoff-launches-first-russian-super-app-eng/

https://www.linkedin.com/feed/update/urn:li:activity:6877488316346839040/

The return of folded phones – kitsch or an improved hit from years ago?

Reading Time: 3 minutes

What comes to your mind when you hear the name “Motorola“? If you immediately saw the iconic flip phone from this company in front of your eyes, you’ve come to the right place!

Some of us still remember or even used the iconic Razr series phones. In the early 2000s, everyone dreamed of the V3, from black to white through the entire range of colours on offer. The then celebrities only showed up with this phone model. Even the Dolce&Gabbana brand has established cooperation with Motorola by releasing a limited series of gold models with their engraving, which is now a dream of many collectors.  

Motorola owed its success to its innovative design for those times. Most of the phones on the market at that time were heavy, plastic, thick and not so attractive. Motorola, on the other hand, focused on the slimness of the model, lightness and the whole made of metal, which added to its elegance. Its thickness was only 13.9 mm! Maybe today it does not impress anyone looking at the slimness of today’s smartphones, but on average phones 20 years ago were twice as thick! For example, the most popular Nokia 2600 model at that time was 20.3 mm thick.

However, after Steve Jobs introduced the world the first generation of the iPhone in 2007, people stopped being delighted with Motorola as before. The Razr phones were still on sale, but Motorola did not generate as much revenue as before. And then for the next few years it “disappeared from the market” and could not boast of any hit device.

After many years, Motorola has recently hit their strength again. They tried to bring the flip phone to the market again in a new, modernized version. The first two models announced in 2019 turned out to be a flop, the quality did not meet the expectations of customers at a very high price. However, according to reports from the general manager of the Lenovo Mobile Business Group in China – Chen Jin, who currently deals with the Motorola smartphone department, we can expect a breakthrough model in 2022. Time will verify whether the model will turn out to be another flop, or finally, Motorola will show something innovative after so many years and return to the success of the early 2000s.

Back to November 14, 2019

Launched as the industry’s first foldable vertical screen smartphone, Motorola’s new Razr has once again led the industry in innovation.

The star orbit hinge technology independently developed by the Lenovo Research Institute was the world’s only smooth, wrinkle-free hinge technology in mass production at that time.

I think innovation is always the driving force of this industry.

I hope that instead of salivating, we will do more, including silently preparing for the third generation of foldable screen mobile phones Razr: more advanced chip computing power, better human-machine interface and, of course, a more attractive appearance.

This product, we will not give up the first list in the Chinese market!

Chen Jin

Sources:

https://www.theverge.com/2021/12/27/22855629/motorola-razr-folding-phone-third-generation-processor-interface-appearance

https://deluxe.trojmiasto.pl/Motorola-Razr-2020-opinie-cena-test-n142101.html

https://komorkomania.pl/38027,motorola-razr-v3-czyli-najpopularniejsza-klapka-nha-swiecie-podroz-w-czasie

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