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Google Maps Goes Indoors

How will you make your business location stand out as a leading brand? Google has launched yet again a new and interesting proposal: a pilot project allowing the public to look inside shops or offices from Google Map.

The new scheme is on a completely voluntary basis. This new implementation of Street View technology will help businesses to build their online presence. Initially, the roll-out is only for London, Paris and a number of cities in Japan, Australia, New Zealand and the U.S. Google states they have included restaurants, hotels, shops, gyms and vehicle repair workshops in the project.

Google, however, has excluded big-brand chains, hospitals and law firms from the programme. Business owners must warn their customers and employees before taking pictures, and the American firm will blur out or refuse to publish any images that include bystanders.

Many retailers are increasing their online presence, and this application is a development some businesses will no doubt consider with interest, regardless of the privacy concerns.

By | November 15th, 2011|Blog|0 Comments

The More Random, the Faster

Many may have noticed that various airlines have added new classes of seating to their cabins and new fees for priority boarding — to generate more revenues.

Planes are now fuller than before, and checked-baggage fees push travellers to bring more items in their hand luggage and block the aisles as they try to cram their belongings into any possible space.

Boarding time has doubled over the last decades, according to research by Boeing. It now takes 30 to 40 minutes to board approximately 140 passengers on a US domestic flight, up from around 15 minutes in the 1970s.

Spirit Airlines started charging $20 to $40 per carry-on bag. Since it is $2 cheaper to check a bag, more passengers check their bags, and Spirit claims its “stress-free boarding” saves six minutes on average. Another approach is used by Southwest, which says it can board its planes in around 15 minutes. It says the root of the delays is the practice of assigning seat numbers. Southwest’s passengers are instead assigned to one of three boarding groups and then given a number based on the time they checked in.

A few years ago, Jason H. Steffen, an astrophysicist at Fermilab in Chicago tried to solve this problem with a “Markov chain Monte Carlo optimisation algorithm.” In computing, a Monte Carlo algorithm is a randomised algorithm whose running time is deterministic but whose output may be incorrect with a certain (typically small) probability.

Much to Mr Steffen’s surprise, he found that the common back-to-front method of boarding was amongst the slowest methods: passengers must wait for those ahead of them to stow their bags and sit down. It is far better, it turns out, to let passengers board randomly.

By | November 15th, 2011|Blog|0 Comments

Nokia Makes its Smartphones Smarter

On 26 October, Mr. Elop, Nokia’s chief executive, unveiled the company’s first smartphone that uses a Microsoft Windows operating system: Lumia 800. This handset is due to go on sale in November and will have a cheaper sibling, the Lumia 710.

The company has made a huge bet when deciding to shift to a Windows operating system. Nokia has been working to develop the Lumia range of phones to help the company claw back their lost market-share and are expecting large financial gains from the endeavour.

Mr. Elop thinks these products are “blurring the line” between smartphones and feature phones. They even come with “Angry Birds,” an online game to which many smartphone users have become hopelessly addicted. “Angry Birds” is made by Rovio, another Finnish company.

Nokia is being selective about where it launches the new products. The company is promising both phones to only five markets before the end of the year: Hong Kong, India, Russia, Singapore and Taiwan. The high-end model will also become available in six European countries next month: France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and the United Kingdom.

The company plans to have the products in other markets, including the U.S., early next year, with mainland China targeted for some time in the first half of the year.

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By | November 10th, 2011|Blog|0 Comments
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