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Meitu Ventures Into e-Commerce World

Photo editing and sharing app developer Meitu announced on Wednesday the launch of two e-shopping platforms, marking its first foray into e-commerce space. The roll-out of the two e-commerce platforms called Meipu (美铺) and Meitudingzhi (美图定制) are the latest expansion efforts by the photo app owner, following its push into the smartphone sector with the debut of its first model in 2013.

Meipu is a fashion-focused social shopping community, featuring a “virtual boutique” concept. The shopping app follows a B2B2C (business-to-business-to-consumer) e-commerce model, where online celebrities, fashionistas or fashion bloggers can share their experiences on related fashion brands and community members can thus follow trends and shop trending items in the online boutiques of the community.

Positioning itself as a fashion platform offering customization services, Meitudingzhi allows users to dye and print their own photos on different items such as cellphone cases, T-shirts and cups. This new feature on trial can be accessed through Meitu’s Selfiecity app (潮自拍).

Meitu, which was founded in 2008, started out as a desktop photo editing tool and rose to fame for its flagship photo editing and sharing app Meitu Pic (美图秀秀) in the mobile era. Their Hong Kong IPO last December put the firm’s valuation at US$ 630 million, the largest technology listing in Hong Kong in a decade. Yet, the company suffered a net loss of US$ 78.5 million last year, according to its recently published annual results.

“In the future, we hope we can not only help users manage their image in the virtual world, but also help them become beautiful in the real world. Meipu and Meitudingzhi are precisely the two tools that can help attain the goal,” said Meitu founder and CEO Wu Xinhong.

Source: Technode

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IoT : Smart Environment

Smart environment consist different types of application like water monitoring, water pollution, air pollution, forest fire detection, smart homes, smart cities where each things can connect from anywhere to anyplace to make our life easier. It also promotes the ideas of a physical world that is richly and invisibly interwoven with sensors, actuators, displays, and computational elements, embedded seamlessly in the everyday objects of our lives, and connected through a continuous network. Smart environment consist different types of application like water monitoring, water pollution, air pollution, forest fire detection, smart homes, smart cities where each things can connect from anywhere to anyplace to make our life easier. With connection to internet of things enable these objects to collect and exchange data.

Environmental monitoring applications of the IoT usually use sensors to lend a hand in environmental protection by monitoring air or water quality, atmospheric or soil conditions, and can even include areas like monitoring the movements of wildlife and their habitats. Development of resource constrained devices connected to the Internet also means that other applications such as tsunami or earthquake early warning systems can also be used by emergency services to provide effective aid.

In devising controls for emission of pollutants and the environment, scientists and engineers have developed strategies for monitoring the environmental issues. Some of the examples as follow,

  • Forest Fire Detection: Monitoring of combustion gases and pre-emptive fire conditions to define alert zones.
  • Air Pollution: Control of CO2 emissions of factories, pollution emitted by cars
  • Earthquake Early Detection: Distributed control in specific places of tremors.
  • Water Quality: Study of water suitability in rivers and the sea
  • Water Leakages: Detection of liquid presence outside tanks and pressure variations
  • River Floods: Monitoring of water level variations in rivers, dams.

It is an excellent concept that will show a new dimension in the smart environment. Although the general and specific objective is very similar, the technological solutions employed are very different.

Source: Ijseas, Wikipedia

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Printing House ?

Apis Cor is the first company to develop a mobile construction 3D printer which is capable of printing whole buildings completely on site. Their engineers, managers, builders and inventors sharing one common idea – to change the construction industry so that millions of people will have an opportunity to improve their living conditions. It is a San Francisco company that uses 3D printing and build entire hour in 24 hours. Apart from it’s low cost of building a house, the company says that this technology is beneficial to quickly help to re-house those affected by natural disasters. Watch how it actually works of the first printed house in Russia.

There are 3 main steps in 3D printing, that is modelling, printing and finishing.

Modelling

The first step is to create a framework before printing. 3D models are normally created in the computer to reduce errors and correct them, allowing verification prior to printing. Other methods used is 3D scanning. The fundamental is to create a digital view of the model.

Printing

Printing process varies by technology, starting from desktop printers that melt a plastic material and lay it down onto a print platform to large industrial machines that use a laser to selectively melt metal powder at high temperatures. The printing can take hours to complete depending on the size, and the printed objects are often post-processed to reach the desired finish. Available materials also vary by printer type, ranging from plastics to rubber, sandstone, metals and alloys – with more and more materials appearing on the market every year.

Finishing

The process of sanding is exactly as it sounds. The ability to use each finishing technique depends largely on part geometry and the material. These two factors determine what type of aesthetics can be achieved, as well as a part’s function because different methods allow for different textures and appearances. Some methods are better for prototypes, display models, or end-use parts

It the revolution of 3D printing as it is expanding to many industries, even for the ecosystem. See the story of how Aki make it happen here.

Source: 3D hubs, Wikipedia

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Your Smart Assistant at Home

Giving a quick context of the concept of the Internet of Things. Internet of Things is to put a sensor and a modem on everything and connect it to the cloud. At its most complex, those things employ a sophisticated system of sensors, modems, processors, operating systems, cloud integration, apps, displays, voice platforms and machine learning. This concept is then place into various of field and industries.

Smart Home. The home automation is no longer an imagination or a scene in the movies. The consumer internet of thing device has added another competitor after Amazon Echo, the Google home. The device brings the Google Assistant to life in your home and allows you to control them likes Nest, Philips Hue, Samsung Smart Things. Google Home is a voice activated speaker powered by Google Assistant. Ask a question. Tell it to do things.

With deep learning, allows it to have Artificial Intelligence. Google home can remember context and let you have conversation with it. For example, you have asked the weather today and follow by “What about tomorrow”. The device would be able to answer your question without having to ask the full question again.

As the system are connected to Google cloud computing, it seems to know everything. You can ask Google home random question about people, place or idea. It then connects to google’s big data and provide you the answers.

The advantage of Internet of Thing device is that it connects to the internet and to your home. With a smart assistant with thermostat, you can control your home’s air-conditioning. And also, turning on your lights before you reach home.

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

Is easy to see that the Google has higher potential to leverage its services because of the huge database. The question would be, are you ready to put a device that listens to you each and every moment?

Source : Quartz

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Is AI The Future of E-Commerce?

Artificial Intelligence (AI) touches many facets of our daily lives. It is changing the way our world communicates as well as changing the way we shop. Many retailers are already adding AI into their e-commerce processes, from virtual assistants chatbots to customized shopping experiences. The possibilities for combining AI and e-commerce are almost endless. As we advance AI to higher levels, there is no telling what the future holds.

Today, retailers are utilising AI and helping to shape the future of e-commerce and you know what? It is already a winning combination. Read on to see how AI is changing e-commerce shopping as we know it.

It’s Changing the Search Glitch

Let’s face it, searching for items online is becoming obsolete. To find exactly what they want, consumers have to finesse a set of keywords describing what they are looking for. If accurately described, they are rewarded with an abundance of results tending to their needs.

On the contrast, the wrong set of keywords can pull up irrelevant searches and have your customers guessing their way to the right set of search words to find exactly what they are looking for. More often than not, that does not go over well with potential customers.

Fortunately, there is an answer. Artificial Intelligence can change one of e-commerce’s biggest hurdles: the search glitch. Today’s search queries lack the ability to understand expressions of natural language, something humans possess and often take for granted. By combining AI with natural language processing capabilities, it will put back the missing human element of contextual understanding. This process will shift the large numbers of failed transactions from not being able to find the right products, to successful transactions.

Everyone Will Have Their Own Personal Shopping Assistant

Online consumers will soon have the ability to be accompanied by their own AI personal shopping assistant. Currently, this is an area that falls short compared to the large online shopping community and the salespeople of brick-and-mortar shops.

What used to be a physical salesperson geared towards retail shoppers are now AI personal virtual shopping assistants. AI virtual shopping assistants can proactively assist shoppers instead of being vacant search queries that act as passive information retrievers.

For example, currently, consumers get a notification when an airfare price drops. These notifications are usually unpredictable and ever changing. AI virtual assistants will soon be able to take this process to the next step by receiving alerts of price drops, then checking to see if they fit into your scheduled dates. If it’s a fit, then the AI virtual assistant will be able to purchase the ticket on your behalf.

What initially started as getting a notification of a simple price drop, will soon be replaced by a confirmation of your booked flight. This process will eliminate the need for human interaction during an e-commerce transaction, making it entirely optional to talk to an agent during the process.

The personal virtual assistant shopping model can also be tailored to various other online purchasing circumstances, making it a viable vision for e-commerce in the not too distant future.

It’s Going To Personalise the Customer Experience

Technology is becoming so advanced in the arena of e-commerce that it can anticipate the needs of a consumer by analysing what a customer has already done. This advancement is resulting in machine learning systems and cognitive computing. With this kind of self-learning algorithms, AI can easily deconstruct big data and create highly targeted consumer experiences, more than what has been offered in previous years. Consumers will get their own personal shopping experience catering exactly to their preferences.

Another huge breakthrough of AI is website and content optimization, further personalizing the shopping experience. Originally retailers did this with A/B content testing, but now by utilizing AI, retailers will be able to generate a population of candidate solutions, such as configurations for online content.

By using Evolutionary Algorithms (EAs), retailers will be able to adjust content as users click and plough through their websites, essentially evolving the content live to find the best configuration for success. This process will eliminate costly testing for retailers. Furthermore, it will help marketers to find the best layout for their website, and to optimize messaging to accommodate the ever-changing needs of consumers. In turn, EAs can create the best experience for shoppers and aid in closing more sales.

Final Thoughts

The emergence of AI is continually changing the ways of e-commerce. It is creating a better buying experience for not only consumers but retailers, as well. Shopping is now becoming a more personal experience, mimicking somewhat the experience of traditional brick-and-mortar shops. Any marketer can now create a Facebook Messenger chatbot without coding. As AI grows, the world of e-commerce is sure to grow along with it.

Source: business2community.com

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Beer Delivery

Throwing a party on a Saturday and found that the beer is running low. How about getting the beer delivery? Miller Coors and IPG Mediabrands announced a new connected home service “Miller Lite On Demand” that allow consumer to stock their fridge using a voice-activated Amazon Alexa command, or by using a programmable button known as AWS IoT that is based on the Amazon Dash Button hardware. The delivery requests will be fulfilled within one hour by Drizly, an online alcohol ordering platform, according to the agency and brewer, which have partnered on an incubator program aimed at testing such technologies.

The service is currently at testing phase and only serves 500 Drizly selected customers. Ordering via Alexa is open to owners of Alexa devices including the Amazon Echo, Echo Dot and Tap.

This service is not new as Bud Light launched a Wi-Fi-connected refrigerator that promised to give drinkers real-time data on their fridge — like how much beer is on hand — via a mobile app.

We are seeing the upward trend of mobile ordering demands as they are convenient and time saving. Amazon Echo is the current most used home device in the United states. The coffee giant, Starbucks announced that they will be adding connected-ordering service in to Alexa in near future. With more and more company to release these connected-services, it will definitely add the numbers into the internet of things devices.

Source : Ad Age

 

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Korea’s Toss Gets US$47.5 million Injection From Paypal

SG Lee took a very unusual route to entrepreneurship – through dental school.

“When I was back in high school, my family’s financial circumstances got really worse as my parents’ business didn’t go well. I chose to study dentistry in university to pay my family’s debt because having a job as a dentist in Korea guarantees a high and stable income,” Lee, 35, tells Tech in Asia. “When I went to university, fortunately, my parents’ business did well again. As it turned around I could put down my burden and rethink about what I would want to do as my career.”

After completing South Korea’s military service, he started his own business. Now he runs Toss, a simple and sleek money transfer app that’s essentially Korea’s answer to Paypal’s Venmo.

Having already raised US$29 million from investors, Lee and the team are today celebrating their biggest boost yet – a US$47.5 million injection from Paypal, Bessemer Venture Partners, Altos Ventures, Partech Ventures, and lead investor GoodWater Capital.

Toss users – Tossers? – now number six million, and they’ve wired each other a grand total of US$3 billion since launching two years ago. The app supports cards issued by nearly all of Korea’s major banks.

Those are some strong numbers in a country of 50 million. Meanwhile, Venmo saw US$7.5 billion in transactions in 2015, and looks set to hit US$20 billion once it gets around to revealing 2016 stats. The mobile app stems from Lee’s own frustrations spending an hour fiddling with online forms and multiple downloads just to make an online purchase.

“Mobile banking was and still is a major problem in Korea,” he says. “Financial institution infrastructures are very outdated and cumbersome to use. For instance, if you want to transfer money using a bank app, you must go through at least seven screen changes, fill in seven to 10 fields, remember multiple passwords, have an OTP device with you” – that’s a dongle which gives you a one-time password – “and must have installed a personal authentication certificate onto your device.”

Toss reduces all that to three steps: type in the recipient’s bank account or phone number, set the amount, then input your password or scan your fingerprint on your phone. And yet it’s still a secure system.

Going global

In a bid to build a fintech empire, Lee has steered Toss beyond transfers, adding microloans, credit score management, and a handy personal finance dashboard. The loans function is being tested within a small sample – about six percent – of its user base.

Also on the road map is international expansion. “Likely 2018, 2019,” Lee states.

While Toss now has the blessing of Korea’s top banks, that wasn’t always the case. Indeed, the app was technically illegal when it launched.

“First, regulation is not the rock solid principle, but just an agreement among people. If you are able to make new consensus among entities like media, government, companies, customers about specific subject, regulation can be changed easier than you expected,” says the CEO.

Toss “took a year to legalize” after its launch – a scenario that Uber’s Travis Kalanick must dream about.

“And also, it is easier to do something new and hard than doing something derivative and easy, just like Y Combinator’s Sam Altman said. For doing something hard and new, especially when it’s really necessary for the community, people will voluntarily help you to make that vision come true,” said Lee.

Source: Tech In Asia

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IoT : Smart Traffic Management

The Internet of Things (IoT) is a recent communication paradigm that envisions a near future, in which the objects of everyday life will be equipped with microcontrollers, transceivers for digital communication, and suitable protocol stacks that will make them able to communicate with one another and with the users, becoming an integral part of the Internet. Though we have been referring to Smart Cities and communities for some time now, let us look at how use of Information and data available to us can be used to really create some smart services, which in a true sense provide us with better living.

In the IoT of smart city, smart traffic management would be the solution. The key element for Smart Traffic Management is sensor. One of the Internet of Things key advancement is smart city. When we talk about City, the first thing that comes into mind is traffic jams. The Smart Traffic Management is a system where it is centrally-controlled traffic signals and sensors regulate the flow of traffic through the city in response to demand.

Here are some of the benefits implementing the management,

City Benefits

  • More efficient traffic flow
  • Less pollution and other environmental impacts
  • More efficient use of budget
  • Better visibility into traffic conditions
  • Better infrastructure investments

Transportation Department Benefits

  • Automated incident detection and quicker responses
  • Better-informed operational decision making
  • Improved planning and resource allocation
  • Greater collaboration among response agencies
  • More effective operations

Citizen Benefits

  • Improved road safety
  • Less congestion, reducing frustration and fuel costs
  • Better driving and commuting experiences

The use of technology in Traffic management is a known thing and there are many cities around the globe implementing it. However, it is the use of data from different sources in real-time and processing information to take immediate decisions that is the key to a successful traffic management in our cities. It is the need of the hour to leverage enormous amount of data around us and create a more meaningful and smooth living for us.

Source: Cisco

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Neural Networks in Machine Learning

Neural networks, a beautiful biologically-inspired programming paradigm which enables a computer to learn from observational data. It is also one of the learning algorithms used within machine learning. They consist of different layers for analyzing and learning data. The neural networks are information processing paradigm that is inspired by the way biological nervous systems, such as the brain, process information.

Why do we use neural network?

A trained neural network can be thought of as an “expert” in the category of information it has been given to analyze. This expert can then be used to provide projections given new situations of interest and provide predictions of situation.

Other advantages include:

Adaptive learning: An ability to learn how to do tasks based on the data given for training or initial experience.

Self-Organization: Create its own organization or representation of the information it receives during learning time.

Real Time Operation: Computations may be carried out in parallel, and special hardware devices are being designed and manufactured which take advantage of this capability.The data created by neural network helps in machine learning.  Depending on the nature of learning system, machine learning can be divided into the below,

Supervised learning: The computer is presented with example inputs and their desired outputs, given by a “teacher”, and the goal is to learn a general rule that maps inputs to outputs.

Unsupervised learning: No labels are given to the learning algorithm, leaving it on its own to find structure in its input. Unsupervised learning can be a goal in itself (discovering hidden patterns in data) or a means towards an end (feature learning).

Reinforcement learning: A computer program interacts with a dynamic environment in which it must perform a certain goal (such as driving a vehicle or playing a game against an opponent. The program is provided feedback in terms of rewards and punishments as it navigates its problem space.

With the combination of neural networks, algorithm and machine learning , it helps in the Artificial intelligence(AI) field. It is not hard to see a robot with brains in the years to come.

Source: Wikipedia

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Malaysia’s Top 10 FinTech Start-ups

The significance of FinTech in Malaysia continues to increase. Currently, the transactional value is US$7.207 billion per annum. This value is predicted to grow at 21.4 percent per annum up to 2021 when the transactional value will stand at US$15.540 billion. Digital payments dominate the FinTech industry in Malaysia. Let’s take a look at Malaysia’s most prominent top 10 FinTech start-ups.

1) GHL

GHL operates in several Asian pacific countries including Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Australia. The company focuses on the provision of end-to–end payment services to consumers. Its services are available to clients in several industries such as oil and gas, banking and financial services, retail, transportation and telecommunication. GHL is accredited by both Visa and MasterCard.

 

2) Soft Space

Soft Space is a market leader in the provision of solutions in the payment and e-payment industries. Founded in 2012, the company operates in several East Asian countries providing services to leading banks in the region.

 

3) Trangulo

Tranglo was founded in 2008 and focuses on providing services in 3 distinct areas:

  • Prepaid reload
  • Money transfer
  • Digital gifts

Current clients include over 250 mobile operators and over 400 banks. The company operates offices in London, Kuala Lumpur, Dubai and Jakarta.

4) Mpay

Mpay focuses on the provision of end-to end electronic payment solutions and financial services to enterprises. The company offers both m-commerce and e-commerce solutions. The Company is currently listed on the ACE Market of Bursa Malaysia with market capitalization of over RM120 million.

5) Ethis Kapital

Ethis Kapital is a licensed Islamic peer-to-peer crowdfunding platform. The company is part of a group of companies that focuses on Islamic finance. Affiliate companies include Kapital Boost, Ethis Crowd and Muslim Women Tech.

6) Neuroware

Neuroware uses blockchain technology to develop protocols and tools for businesses. Additionally, the company provides training workshops and private training to both private and public financial institutions. Operating in Southeast Asia, the company’s focuses on projects that combine decentralized identity and authentication, on-chain data storage, and public key logistics.

 

7) Crowdo

Crowdo was established in 2013 and is currently regional leader in crowdfunding. It has over 17,000 members. The company focuses on the South East Asian market and has offices in Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia.

 

8) iMoney

iMoney was founded in 2012 and operates a network of financial comparison websites. The company operates in Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Indonesia and Thailand. iMoney serves over 10 million clients by enabling them to compare and apply for loans, insurance products, broadband and credit cards.

 

9) MyCash Online

MyCash online is an online market place targeting Malaysian and Singaporean migrants. The company has a platform that offers convenient and secure services to foreign workers who may not have access to credit cards or online banking.

 

10) MoneyMatch

MoneyMatch is a fully digital P2P currency exchange platform with eKYC functionality allowing users to conduct cross border remittances and exchange foreign currencies. MoneyMatch offers two main services:

  1. MoneyMatch Travel which is a simple and free website with travel information.
  2. MoneyMatch Exchange which uses an app to link those who want to exchange one currency with another. The two persons can then exchange their currencies without the use of an intermediary.

We will see more and more fintech start-ups to emerge locally. Perhaps, soon we will have even more start-ups to feature in an article. What are your thoughts, do you think Malaysia will rise to be a gateway for FinTech in Asia Pacific?

Source: Techbullion