Repurposing Loons aided by Drones

Following on from their drone experiments in Australia (Project Wing) Google are now explaining how they recover their balloons from their Project Loon.

You may recall that this is their “Internet for all” endeavour which they describe as follows:

“Project Loon balloons float in the stratosphere, twice as high as airplanes and the weather. In the stratosphere, there are many layers of wind, and each layer of wind varies in direction and speed. Loon balloons go where they’re needed by rising or descending into a layer of wind blowing in the desired direction of travel. People can connect to the balloon network using a special Internet antenna attached to their building. The signal bounces from this antenna up to the balloon network, and then down to the global Internet on Earth.”

The recovery process is aided by GPS and has they say come a long way from the early days when some poor Flight Operations Program Manager spending 2 days ooff the New Zealand coast fishing for a Loon.

We now have a concept of their drones collecting the loons on their return to earth!

We’ll leave you with their video:Images & video courtesy of Google.

Keep an I on our Week, Aussie Drones edition

Our most popular articles this week were:

We also had our regular feature on monthly retail sales for July.

Our Tech Rich List for 2014 continues to be popular, Peek’s Vision still attracts many eyes and 3 2 1 GoTenna  is being picked up by many.

Google this week gave some further info on its drone venture Project Wing in an exclusive in The Atlantic.

We’ll leave you with their video.

 

Watch all the prepping for the iPhone6

Apple have now confirmed their 9/9 media event sending out a large number of invitations yesterday.

Click to enlarge

The venue is the Flint Center for the Performing Arts in Cupertino which we reckon can accommodate over 2,500 which is a much larger capacity than has been catered for recently at such events. Incidentally this was the venue where Steve Jobs launched the original Macintosh back on 24 January 1984 at their Apple Shareholder Event (see the rather dated and partially redacted video below).

The Flint Center

There is quite a lot of prepping already going on at the location with a “structure” out the back which houses who knows what! Security is significant apparently. Picture from MacRumors.

"The Structure" as at August 20

To catch up with the possible features of the iPhone6 Macrumors has most of them!

Conjecture on the iWatch is also available

Other views exist on both the iPhone6 and iWatch front. We’rew not even 100% confident of the wearables name!

We’ll leave you with the 1984 video – if you go in about 39 minutes you’ll catch the 1984 famous ad and the Macintosh unveil from a bag. Vintage and a very well dressed Steve Jobs!

Ahead of the curve – Smart Samsung Gear S

They today announced a Gear with a sim which of course potentially divorces it from the smartphone.

The spec they give as:

  • Network  – 900/2100 or 850/1900 (3G), 900/1800 or 850/1900 (2G)
  • Display – 2.0” Super AMOLED (360 x 480)
  • AP – Dual core 1.0 GHz
  • OS – Tizen based wearable platform
  • Audio – Codec: MP3/AAC/AAC+/eAAC+, Format: MP3, M4A, AAC, OGG
  • Features – Communications: – 2G, 3G Call, Bluetooth Call, Contacts, Notifications, Messages, Emails, QWERTY Keyboard
  • Health & Fitness – S Health, Nike+ Running
  • Information – Schedule, News, Navigation, Weather
  • Media – Music Player, Gallery
  • Others – S Voice, Find My Device, Power Saving Mode IP67 Certified Dust and Water Resistant
  • Samsung Services – Samsung Gear Apps
  • Connectivity – WiFi: 802.11 b/g/n, A-GPS/Glonass, Bluetooth®: 4.1, USB: USB 2.0
  • Sensors – Accelerometer, Gyroscope, Compass, Heart Rate, Ambient Light, UV, Barometer
  • Memory – RAM: 512MB, Storage: 4GB Internal Memory
  • Dimensions (mm) – 39.8 x 58.3 x 12.5T
  • Battery – 300mAh Li-ion, Typical Usage 2 days

The Samsung Gear S will be available in global markets in phases through Samsung’s retail channels, e-commerce websites and via carriers beginning October when it is also expected that pricing will be announced.

We wonder if this is a preemptive move in advance of an Apple wearable announcement in the last quarter.

DbD News from GDS

That’s Digital by Default news from the Government Digital Service

The electoral registration process  went online in June and the results so far look pretty impressive.

From their data over at Gov.uk  since the second week in June we reckon over 1.1 million applications have been received of which a staggering 81% have been digital. Our graphic shows the daily comparisons with, in general, “no data” applying at weekends for the paper forms (which we have simply zeroed).

We’ve had a quick look and it appears to be a remarkably simple system from a user viewpoint

In other news you can now renew your patent online.

We’ll leave you with the video:

Internet Food Sales still increasing midst Supermarket Price wars

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) published  the monthly retail sales figures for July towards the end of last week (pdf) Full details  are available on the ONS site.

Overall figures showed an increase in sales volumes of  0.5% (excluding fuel) on last month which according to Bloomberg was marginally ahead of expectations. Food pricing and competition figured as the value of sales fell by 1.3% in the month compared with 2013 which was the first time such a decrease has ever been reported. Incidentally internet food sales in July rose 10.9% compared with 2013.

The ONS on their preferred quarterly view noted continuing significant growth ” The three-month on previous three-month movement in the quantity bought showed continued growth for the seventeenth consecutive period increasing by 0.3%. This has been the longest period of sustained growth since November 2007.”

All the figures we quote are now the new seasonally adjusted statistics issued by the ONS. January 2014 was the one year in six when an extra week occurs statistically and we have annotated our headline graph to show an approximately comparable level of sales.

Our Internet sales headlines:

  • Internet food sales equal their all time high of £109 million again and are over £100 million a week for the tenth  consecutive month
  • July internet sales down 1.9% on June
  • For every £1 spent in the online retail sector 48 pence was spent on non-store retailing 37 pence in non food stores and 15 pence in food stores!
  • We do think the ONS needs to do more analysis of internet sales as already half are effectively categorised as sales by online retailers virtually irrespective of the underlying goods or services! These average YoY growth figures of over 20%

July and year to date stats for internet sales:

  • Months sales 11.2% (11.4% last month 10.3 % a year ago) of all retail sales
  • Monthly year on year increase of 11.2% (14.5% last month 10.7 % a year ago)
  • Year to date increase on 2013 is 13% of all retail sales
  • Moving Annual total increases (1) on June 2014 annualised +8.3% (2) on July 2013 +16.7%
  • The UK’s *largest online retailer is included in the group Non-store retailing and this sector shows growth of 11% on 2013 and accounts for nearly 50% of all online retail sales. This is an area which SHOULD just grow & grow unless further analysis is undertaken of this channel!

The ONS words this month are:

“Key Points

The amount spent online increased by 11.2% in July 2014 compared with July 2013 but decreased by 1.9% compared with June 2014.

Internet Sales in Detail

Seasonally adjusted Internet sales data are provided within this release. These seasonally adjusted estimates are published in the RSI internet tables (196 Kb Excel sheet) and include:

  • A seasonally adjusted value index; and
  • Year-on-year and month-on-month growth rates.

Internet sales are estimates of how much was spent online through retailers across all store types in Great Britain. The reference year is 2010=100.

Key Points

  • Average weekly spending online in July 2014 was £716.0 million. This was an increase of 11.2% compared with July 2013.
  • The amount spent online accounted for 11.2% of all retail spending excluding automotive fuel, compared with 10.3% in July 2013.
  • The online spend in department stores increased by 16.0% year-on-year, but decreased by 5.3% in the other stores sector.

Table 5 shows the year-on-year growth rates for total Internet sales by sector and the proportion of sales made online in each retail sector.

 Table 5: Summary of Internet Statistics for July 2014 (seasonally adjusted)Figure 5: Value of internet sales as a proportion of all retailing (excluding automotive fuel, seasonally adjusted) We have added our annotations to the ONS table – The bold categories/ figures in the table are the primary constituents of the total (ie (a) + (b) + (c) = All retailing). Dept. stores, Textile etc, Household etc and Other stores are simply an analysis of (b) All non-food.

We have also added the weekly Internet sales figures by sector and the proportion they represent of all online sales. Historically it looks as if we may have transposed the weekly sales figures for Household goods and Textiles this year. If you have a particular interest in this split if you get in touch we will provide you with restated tables.

Sector summary

The non-store retailing sector comprises of stalls and markets, mail order and those retailers that sell mainly online.

+ Whilst the ONS will not confirm the names of specific retailers within categories they did say that retailers selling wholly online with no physical outlets would be included in the Non store retailing category along with eg online  mail order retailers.

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The moving annual total, which we report, moved up again (it has increased EVERY MONTH since January 2009  to an all time high of £36.5.billion an increase in the month  of  0.8% annualised 8.3%. The average this year is 14.4%. The long term compound average growth rate is around 23%.

Click to enlarge

The published weekly figure was £716 million which was well below our estimate but due to historic revisions the moving annual total came out just £0.1 billion below our estimate.

 

The average monthly increase this year is  now down to 0.7% but we’re looking for an uptick next month so we’re  going for £735-£740 million in August and a moving annual total of close to £36.8 billion

We have again included our experimental graph (e & o e!) showing the relative internet and non-internet, moving annual total, sales from late 2007 by month. As before it highlights that high street sales have been and continue to go nowhere! As, we have mentioned before, the Boston Consulting Group forecast  in their report (The $4.2 Trillion opportunity)  that this trend is likely to continue with the high streets market share contracting at around 2.75% a year from 2010 through 2016. Due to the exceptional 5 week month in Jan 2014 there is a 6 yearly jump to allow for the 53rd week!

Further details and explanations are either in the ONS release on the statistics or on their website. As previously mentioned a retail convention of a 4, 4, 5 week quarter is used by the ONS (March June September and December are 5 week months). To cater for the inconvenience of years not having 364 days every 6 years or so an extra week is included in the statistics. The ONS adds this in January which happened this year the previous one being in 2008.

Keep an I on our Week, Ice Bucket Challenge edition

We’re having an extended holiday weekend so will highlight our currently most visited articles which are:

Incidentally the Apple share price has just reached an all time high of just over $100, which goes to show that in spite of flatlining revenues the dividend introduction, share buy back and stock split have worked!

Mashable have come up with the 50 best videos of Ice Bucket Challenges and the ALS site has of course many other examples.

We’ll leave you with our favourite violinists contribution.

Shopwalk Your Virtual Mall

Another, sort of, save the high street initiative has been launched earlier this month for Wrexham by Shopwalk3D.

Again, unsurprisingly, concentrating on the independents a virtual mall is created for you to visit consisting of all the subscribing shops and businesses. You navigate around to find the shop product or service required  and then visit their individual website and make your purchase.

They’re off to a good start with over twenty businesses in the mall.

The entrepreneur who devised the system, Nick Allen, has been assisted by Glyndŵr University through their Strategic Insight Programme (SIP).

We rather like the added community element of the Phlok system we mentioned before together with their loyalty card  but with further development perhaps we may see numerous virtual malls for us to explore and we might even encounter a bluetoothed mannequin!

In-Car InControl InXE infotainment +

Jaguar in connection with their build up to the full launch of their new XE model in 2015 today have released the third of their four “technology previews”.

It is the “All-new InControl infotainment system with 8-inch touchscreen”.

Click to enlarge

In summary it includes;

  • Optional on screen (that’s the windscreen) displays of key info
  • Access via the touchscreen to iOS & Android apps on your smartphone
  • In-car wifi hotspot
  • Voice control
  • Remote access via your smartphone
  • Emergency call
  • Tracking

The full “reveal” of the new model is scheduled for September 8 on the Thames with contributions from Emili  Sandé, Stella McCartney and Idris Elba. You can be kept informed of events by registering here.

We’ll leave you with their quite clever video (apart from displaying a left-hand drive layout) introduced and narrated by Dr Mike Bell, Jaguar’s very own Global Connected Car Director!

 

Photoshopping Big data

A large proportion of big data is visual and it has been estimated that since photography’s invention back in the early 1800’s around 3.5 trillion photographs have been taken of which 10% were shot in the last year. Facebook reports 6 billion photo uploads per month on its site, and YouTube gets 72 hours of video uploaded every minute.

This is as quoted by Alexei Efros, associate professor of electrical engineering and computer sciences, at UC Berkeley who is the lead scientist of a group who have produced some software which, in our words, cleverly averages a huge number of images and which also incorporates editing facilities.

The research was presented and their software (the code for which they say will be available soon) was demonstrated at the International Conference and Exhibition on Computer Graphics and Interactive Techniques, or SIGGRAPH, in Vancouver, Canada. Last week.

Our header is taken from the zillions of images produced from a Google search of cats (our web search came up with 112 million) and on the left is the resultant average moggie!

Amongst the commercial applications they have so far identified are in online shopping, where a consumer may want to quickly home in on two-inch wedge heels in the perfect shade of red.

Much more in their fascinating video;

 

Funding from Google, Adobe and the Office of Naval Research has helped support their work.