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.

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.

Click to enlarge

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.

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!

 

Appy Bluetoothed Mannequins

Click to enlarge

Iconeme (pronounced as economy but with a wicked “I” instead of an over used “E”) are now employing their VM Beacon technology with 4 retailers around the UK:

  • Bentalls (Kingston upon Thames)
  • Hawes & Curtis (Jermyn Street London)
  • House of Fraser (Aberdeen)
  • Jaeger (Regent Street, London)

Mannequins are accessorised with a Bluetooth electronic beacon in addition to the appropriate apparell. The retailer, via their own programmed web portal will provide information on the specific wear to passing customers on their smartphones using the Iconeme app (both iOS & Android – see below).

The process goes something like the following:

  • Passing within range (eg the retailers shop window) your app alerts you to to a VMBeacon presence
  • Open the app & access the mannequin
  • Liking the look explore  the apparel further
  • You can then, get more detail, find where it is instore, purchase from the retailers website, share the info with friends or family or save the look for further investigation.

The app can also provide you with offers from time to time.

We rather liked the look of the Iconeme app graphic -  but we are of course biased.

You can download the app here

Certainly this is likely an area where iBeacon technology could certainly catch on.

We’ll leave you with a Beacons insight video from GDR which features the Iconeme VMBeacon system and app.

After 10 After Dark @ Tate Britain

From tomorrow night you can participate in the result of the Tate Britain’s new annual ik prize winner’s rather remarkable tour around the gallery conducted by robots. In their words you can, for a short period of time, “take control” of one of the robots and watch the results.

From August 13 through 17 after 10pm BST each night simply visit After Dark at Tate Britain

(Members of the public will be able to log onto afterdark.tate.org.uk on 13, 14, 16, 17 August from 22.00 until 03.00. On 15 August, there is an evening for children to operate the robots at a slightly earlier time of 19.30 until 00.30).

In their words” After Dark has been created by design studio The Workers  (Tommaso Lanza, Ross Cairns and David Di Duca) who were inspired to re-create the experience of being alone in the gallery after dark using digital technology. This online experience invites people all over the world to view Tate Britain’s galleries online at night through four camera-equipped robots roaming the gallery spaces, connecting audiences with art in the BP Walk Through British Art. Live online for five consecutive nights from 13 August, the project will allow the public to view the robots on their journey through the artworks and a number of visitors will be able to remotely control their movements. A first-person, real-time video feed and live commentary will be streamed to all visitors on the After Dark website. This is the first project of its kind in a museum or gallery setting.

The robots are equipped with lights, a camera, sensors and motors allowing them to sneak through the galleries in the dark. An onboard computer streams their vision through the internet in real-time and responds to commands. The Robots have been created in collaboration with RAL Space  (who work alongside the UK Space Agency – UKSA), a world-leading centre for the research and development of space exploration technologies.”

The ik Prize, (in its inauguaral year) named in memory of the philanthropist Irene Kreitman, celebrates creative talent in the digital industry. Supported by the Porter Foundation, the Prize is presented by Tate to a team, company or individual for an original idea that uses the power of digital technology to connect Tate’s collection of 500 years of British Art to a wider audience.

We’ll leave you with their video & don’t forget to visit after 10 after dark on 13-17 August @ Tate Britain:

Online shopping’s score

The first online sale (secure variety) was made 20 years ago today on (unsurprisingly) August 11 1994 and (again unsurprisingly) took place in the USA, but more surprisingly to us, was that the purchase  was of  the $12.48 CD Ten Summoner’s Tales by our very own Sting!

Here are:

Incidentally the album/CD now costs £4.96 over here (Amazon) which at current fx rates is about $8.33 and we’ re sure it can be added to your collection for much less elsewhere!

Shop Direct have carried out some research in the UK to celebrate this anniversary. The sort of, overview of the outcome is that 95% of us shop online now with 25% of us doing so at least once a week. We started off buying books online, way back when, and still do so but our most recent purchase is likely to be fashion.

Shop Direct’s research by Opinion Matters analyses the results by gender, age region and city, the latter of which we found particularly interesting and which we may may return to in more detail at a later date. In the meantime  here’s an analysis of the 25% who shop at least once a week online by city which we’ve compiled and added country info. Scotland scores but Northern Ireland doesn’t!

We’ll leave you with Shop Directs celebratory video of the last online shopping score which includes an insight into their “… new in-house user experience (UX) laboratory at its head office in Liverpool as a way to get closer to and interact with customers using their websites”. Shop Direct  includes Very.co.uk, Littlewoods.com and isme.com.

Research methodology

The research was carried out by Opinion Matters between 29/07/2014 and 01/08/2014 with a sample of 1,163 UK adults who shop online. All research conducted adheres to the MRS Codes of Conduct (2010) in the UK and ICC/ESOMAR World Research Guidelines.

Will you pass your DQ test?

Ofcom  in connection with the publication today of the eleventh edition of its Communications Market Report (CMR) has included both the results of its research into the Digital Quotient of our population as well as a somewhat shortened test so that you can quickly (3 minutes they claim) come up with your own level.

TAKE THE TEST

It consists of 18 questions with a maximum score of about 144 we reckon but to achieve that you will have to use a Smartwatch a 3D printer and glasses!

The overall average at 100 we reckon converts to a percentage of just under 70% and the “with it” 14-15 year olds just under 80%. Everybody passes with even the 75+’s scoring 55%.

We may return to the full UK report at a later stage to comment on some of its 429 pages and the consistently colourful charts

Report links:

Dotscot’s birth, its pioneers and legacy

Dotscot launched the availability of its .scot domain names in the middle of last month  starting for all from September 23rd. In the meantime it has enabled 50 or so “Pioneers” to get going already and also is offering a free domain name to any child born in Scotland on launch day 15 July 2014.

One of the Pioneers is, almost unsurprisingly, legacy2014.scot arrising as a result of the just finished successful Commonwealth Games.

As an added bonus the dotscot registry has also just announced that it will also give a free domain name to any Scottish athlete who won a medal in the Glasgow 2014 games.  We think that might be over 50 numerically. They do say though that Kylie doesn’t qualify – not sure about Lulu though!

The list of some of the Pioneers they provided ran to 38 and a quick analysis (see below) shows that already just over 70% are in use. In such a short period of time (3 weeks) it is understandable that many of them are redirects (49%) and one has a holding page, but a very commendable 20% already have fully operational sites.

We did notice that there is an se.scot which possibly falls foul of ICANN’s rules about country code usage as .se is in use as a country code domain for Sweden. It’s also a short domain of less than three letters / numerals which certainly the other new UK community/geographic / city top level domain registries are not currently releasing ie .cymru .wales and .london.

Applications for domains should be made through any registrar who offer them – you might try calico who are one of the pioneers!

Dotscot pioneers
Holding Site No site
page Redirect found
bettertogether.scot Better Together
Business.scot Scottish Enterprise
calico.scot Calico Ltd
CDS.scot Scottish Enterprise
dunedinlinks.scot Dunedin Links
electricscotland.scot Electric Scotland
Enterprise.scot Scottish Enterprise
getinvolved.scot SCVO
Global.scot Scottish Enterprise
goodmoves.scot SCVO
icipia.scot icipia Limited
Inverclyderadio.scot Inverclyde radio
Invest.scot Scottish Enterprise
Investment.scot Scottish Enterprise
legacy2014.scot Scottish Government
mygov.scot Scottish Government
nhsinform.scot Scottish Government
one.scot Scottish Government
referendum.scot Scottish Government
scouts.scot Scottish Scouts
scvo.scot SCVO
Sdi.scot Scottish Enterprise
Se.scot Scottish Enterprise
Sib.scot Scottish Enterprise
siliconglen.scot Silicon Glen
smartcompliance.scot Smart Compliance Ltd
smartsystems.scot Smart Systems Scotland
Smas.scot Scottish Enterprise
stl.scot Louisiana Scots
thirdforcenews.scot SCVO
today.scot Johnston Press
Trade.scot Scottish Enterprise
university.scot University of the Highlands and Islands
Webershandwick.scot Weber Shandwick
welcome.scot Scottish Government
wow.scot Johnston Press
wwf.scot World Wildlife Foundation Scotland
yes.scot Yes Scotland