Archive for April 14th, 2009

Google Maps 3.0 for Mobile with My Location (beta)

Tuesday, April 14th, 2009 by Gianni Fettarappa

The new “My Location” (beta) feature on Google Maps for mobile helps an individual to determine his location on the map, even if his phone doesn’t have GPS. He just need to press [0] to move the map to the approximate location… Cell ID (cell tower) location detection takes care of the rest. The detection algorithm has been improved and exploits the relative power of the radio signal received by two cell towers  in the vicinity to precisely determine the location.
This is another tile in the growing patch-work of our information based life, and, correspondingly, another type of information that can be associated to our life.


Mash ups for User Profiles

Tuesday, April 14th, 2009 by Roberto Saracco

A Telecom operator, which enables users to browse the web, may now have the possibility to create a new innovate service using mash up technologies. 

The starting point is that when users are online on the Internet the personalization of services, content and user interactions are seen as key to a superior customer experience.  Giving this superior users experience means the Telecom Operator must build and maintain accurate models of a customer’s preferences, interests, background, etc., i.e. a user profile.

But to obtain better insight into customers’ behavior we need to look further the normal interaction with our customer and its’ history navigation: we need to look at all the user’s interactions and preferences with other services distributed perhaps across multiple web sites or service touch-points.

It’s a sort of looking the “out-of band” profile information: it’s a more holistic user profiles.

Let’s take a look in what’s behind this concept: consider a merchant’s web site who would like to personalize offers for his customers (in US we could also say coupons): most factors affecting a customer’s purchase decisions occur outside the scope of the merchant website!   And the “out-of-band” information in this case has a significant impact on what, when and how customers buy and includes customers’ social/life events, data from online calendars, online shopping lists/wish lists, customers personal information management systems, social network recommendations etc; this information  rely on external user’s behavior!

Now, building this holistic view of a customer is extremely hard, because the sources of this out-of-band information are diverse, typically distributed though the web and with different schemas and semantics hindering aggregation and sometimes reuse.

What if merchants could have this information!!! Consider that today they only have past shopping history sometimes correlated with demographic identifiers.






Could telecom operators build thess users profiles? Yes, they can!

For now…it’s enough.  Stay connected….

3D printing is coming to your living room, with a twist

Tuesday, April 14th, 2009 by Roberto Saracco

Makerbot Industries,, is a new company offering you the possibility to buy, at an affordable 500$ price, a machine that can print 3D plastic objects.

Makerbot Home Page

Makerbot Home Page

Nothing new, but the price. It is now several years that industries are using 3D printers for prototyping complex parts, from automotive industries to Apple. These prototypes are basically created to let designer have a more realistic feeling on their design. In general they are not “working” pieces and the reason is not technology but economics. It is so much cheaper to use the standard production processes to create product (leveraging on economy of scale, that it really doesn’t make economic sense to use 3D processing. For prototypes that’s ok, actually is better. Prototypes do not enjoy economy of scale (they are unique) and quick production is what really matters. This is provided by 3D printing machines.
However, when we think about a “market of one” economy of scale crumble and 3D printing may become the way to go. Here is where Makerbot Industries come in.

At the University of Bath prof. Adrian Bowyer has founded RepRap (check it up on Wikipedia). The idea is to have a replicating machine that can produce things based on instructions provided by a computer. Replication is just one of the many products that the machine should be able to produce. So far it can produce products made of plastics but new models will be able to produce metal and ceramic parts as well. Replication? Well, last year the machine has been able to generate a “child” (but only in terms of the parts needed to assemble a child).

It is interesting to note that the whole project is based on an open lab concept. Thus it aims at creating an ecosystem. There are now over a hundred of RepRaps around the world and a growing community of independent designer adding functionalities, creating different products templates (coat hanger, door handle, fly swatter, cogs, martini glasses, sandals…) and expanding the concept.RepRap User map as of April 2009