Monthly Archives: June 2016

Tips to Use QR Codes Creatively

Tips to Use QR Codes Creatively

unduhan-5Creative QR codes were first noticed in Japan, where companies thought of using these mini bar codes to get closer to their customers. It wasn’t long before the ‘mobile tagging’ craze took over, and today, we can spot some really innovative uses of QR codes that definitely help you to expand your customer base. To some, it may seem like a passing whim, but statistics proving the caliber of the QR codes as an effective marketing tool, tell a different story. QR codes have been around for more than 15 years now; long enough to tell you that they’ve been tried and tested.

How could you work them to your company’s advantage, then? There are several ways to do that, and a few of them are listed right here.

Creative Uses of QR Codes in Marketing

Offer Goodies

Yes; it is the oldest trick of the trade. Rewarding your customers with freebies is a fabulous marketing tool. It could be a promotional offer that includes slashed rates of the product or a membership or even future discounts. Run these codes as a part of your print medium advertisements and/or plaster it across your store and watch your fan base multiply.

Choose your Spot

The most obvious spot for advertising is a purchased product. You’re assured that it stays with your consumer, so why not make use of the product’s part to make your company visible? QR codes can be printed on product labels, price tags or product bags. It is a clever spot to put a QR code on, and you don’t even have to buy advertising space. Embed information about your company, special online offers or priority deals.

Store Displays
Your company may have an online presence, but aren’t you overlooking a very obvious spot to market it 24×7? Display windows in your store are sure to be arresting, but why exclude customers who happen to view them beyond your working hours? A QR code displayed here, lets you get in touch with someone who is interested in your product, but may not necessarily return.

Outdoor Displays

Be brazen at public places, conventions, fairs or seminars and put forth your company’s profile in a “subtle” QR code. Even better, embed your company’s logo into the code (shouldn’t be too difficult, but ensure its functionality), so that you arouse enough curiosity without revealing too much information. Put up QR codes on banners, employee t-shirts, visiting cards, etc., which will ensure visibility.

URL Access
QR codes that direct the user to the shopping page’s URL will be a sure-fire hit. Do make sure that the page is mobile-friendly, or else the entire purpose of the QR code would be wasted. Likewise, you could use QR codes to connect with Facebook or Twitter, and be liked or followed instantaneously. However, pulling this off might be slightly tricky as people who are looking for more information may consider it misleading.

Creative Glimpse

Restaurant menus can include QR codes next to popular dishes, which lets the user connect to a URL that allows them to view the preparation. QR codes are also used in art galleries where they are strategically placed next to the exhibit. Scanning them gives you inputs about the artist and the exhibit as well. In fact, each business can have their own list of things that they want their customers to know about.

Treasure Hunts
Although it won’t suit all products, organizing a treasure hunt through QR codes is an excellent way to engage potential customers. And what could be better than to have a prize at the end of it? As mentioned before, it can be bothersome to organize, but well worth a try for a new product from a recognizable brand.

Create a Buzz
QR codes can be so designed that they make phone calls and send messages to your company. Just be sure that your customer service department is capable of handling inquiries and feedback, or at times, brickbats too. While this does not really qualify as a marketing tool, you can spread some exclusive offers so that the customer does not think of it as a meaningless gimmick.

QR Codes Gone Waste
An innovative marketing tool it certainly is, but overenthusiastic usage of the QR code really kills its very purpose. This is how QR codes can be completely mismanaged. (Hint: Location, location, location)
✘ A subway is the worst place to place a QR hoarding. Unless the underground has Wi-Fi, placing a QR advertisement makes no sense at all, as the idea is to engage people with information on the go. We can’t expect people to save our QR image and scan it sometime later.

✘ QR codes in in-flight reading material is a dubious one indeed. Seriously, a QR code is not something that is cherished; it is just a ticket to more information. And unless the viewer gets immediate access to it, (impossible when he’s flying) you’d rather not print it at all.
✘ QR codes on billboards that are high up there, completely miss the point. People are not interested in craning their necks to take a picture of something they may not even want to know about. The key is easy accessibility.

✘ When QR codes appear on buses or trains, one does wonder who put them there and why; unless they really wanted those buses and trains to break down, so that the frustrated commuters and random pedestrians could then scan it.
✘ It would be a sin to let your QR code get entangled in the Android/Apple face-off. Create a code that is flexible for both, so you make sure that it does not leave out either smartphone user.
QR coding is a contemporary communication tool and you can think of several ways to integrate it into your marketing plan. It definitely is cost-effective, and according to many, it is the ultimate marketing medium of the future.

Negative Impact of Technology

Negative Impact of Technology

Albert Einstein

When I was a kid, we had a social life, and it was called ‘outside’. And look at today’s kids – Facebook, PlayStations, iPhones, Blackberries, and not to forget, television sets with 300 channels. My grandmother used to say, one day when technology would hover, humans would stop thinking before acting. This statement makes much of a sense, and why not? Technology has sidelined ‘patience’ from our lives. Every second that passes by is making us all the more dependent on technology. Some may call it a bliss, but some differ. They may agree to the fact that technology has eased up life, but they also believe that it has cast differences between us and our close ones. Think of it, with the help of Internet technology, we no longer meet our loved ones in person, who may be living in the same town as we are. Instead, we call, chat, or e-mail them.

What’s more, we become anxious when the coffee machine takes a millisecond more in dispensing the coffee. We become fretful when a song takes a minute extra to get downloaded. Impatient as we’ve become, we humans might have eradicated this thing called ‘waste of time’, but many of us are still unaware of the stupefying negative consequences of technology’s ubiquity in our life. Agriculture, business, media, etc. are some fields where technology has proved its mettle, but at the same time, the dreadfully negative consequences that it has led us to are worth a concern. So, why always talk about the positive impacts of technology on our society? It’s time to get real, and face the negatives too. The following bunch of words is an attempt towards understanding it all.

Impact on Communication

Hi-tech gadgets, fast pace, computer games, microwaved food, and not to ignore, instant communication – this is what technology has bestowed upon us. However, have we paid attention to our lifestyles? Do you know you have your wife and kids waiting for you to come back from the office after a long day, and spend time with you? But what do you do? The moment you step into the house, you switch on your laptop, and start checking mails, Facebook, and other latest updates. And if that’s over, you have the television waiting earnestly for you to switch it on. When do you talk to your family? This is how we define ‘relaxation’ today. The ultimate bliss! You might be friends with a thousand people on a social-networking site, but ask yourself, how many of them actually have a face-to-face interaction with you?

I do agree that technology and Internet access have rendered ease to communication methods, and it allows us to stay connected 24×7. However, till when? It’s ironic that even though we have lunch with our family, we’re busy browsing our Blackberry! And of course, that means that we’re a close-knit family, doesn’t it?

Impact on Education

Funny as it may sound, Google is God for students. Many of you might have stumbled upon this page hunting on what to write as an essay on ‘Negative Impact of Technology on Education and Society’. Well, there you have it all, a full-fledged essay. Yes, I do agree that there isn’t a source of information better than the Internet, and perhaps, can never be. However, don’t you think it has made students extremely lethargic? Consider college assignments. Today, in most of the schools and colleges, students are supposed to submit college assignments online. As a result, students spend a good hour searching for the best stuff on this platform that has virtually every information in this world. Ctrl+C, Ctrl+V, Ctrl+S… assignment done.

The negative impact of technology on students is known universally. Kids today know more than anyone about the latest gadgets, gizmos, etc. Well, even I would like to confess that I know more about the latest cell phones than my dad does! Kids know how to operate them, play games in it, and get used to them. Gone are those days when leisure time was about creative recreational activities. Video games, PlayStations, iPhones, and Androids are the new thing! And then we blame ourselves for not being creative enough.

I totally support the fact that information technology has made our life unbelievably easy. Yes, it has. However, every revolution has its adversities associated. We cannot savor technology optimally if we close our eyes to the negatives, and they are extremely difficult to express here in a single write-up. Nevertheless, I would just like to conclude by saying that, an accomplishment is savored only when there are no strings of pain or stress attached to it. We might have the latest technology serving us big time, but unknowingly, we might be missing out on those teeny-weeny moments of happiness that life bestows on us. Correct me if you must.

Technology Addiction are Scarier Than You Think

Technology Addiction are Scarier Than You Think

The subject of technology addiction is relatively new as compared to drug or gambling addictions. This leads to a heated dispute over whether we need to consider the fervent need for technology and the monotony that the lack of technology causes, as an addiction. There are several qualifications that a craving needs to be termed as an addiction.
What Makes an Addiction?
The human state survival works on a simple reward system. Every time you attain a biological requirement like food, sex or lactation, the body releases a neurotransmitter called ‘dopamine’ (in this case, into the brain) that helps us decide the approach to something to be rewarded. This means the phase of wanting something and getting it, and the eventual liking of it is controlled by dopamine. It is this that fuels an addiction. Once you start using a piece of technology (like video games) and eventually start to like it, release of dopamine in the brain creates a reward system for it, which creates an addiction for it. The same example works for cigarettes – nicotine induces a dopamine release, creating the craving for more. An important point here is that people who seek more satisfaction from things, actually are seeking more in terms of dopamine release, and therefore require a larger release of the neurotransmitter, which in turn requires you to pursue that thing even more.

Apart from dopamine, there’s also ‘serotonin’, the neurotransmitter that’s involved with mood control and sensory perception. Serotonin imbalance is a major cause of depression, suicidal tendencies and aggression. Norepinephrine is another mood control neurotransmitter that also can work as a hormone. It is directly related to stress.

Traditionally, all this was considered to apply to sectors that involve more physical activity (like sex) or actual substance consumption (food and drugs), which later translated to gambling too. We are now at the verge of seriously considering the very gadgets that help in making life easier as the gadgets that mark the very difference between success and failure. There have been many arguments over this issue – one side stating that technology addiction satisfies the scientific qualifications (dopamine release), while others say that overusing technology is only a phase that is a let go of the moment we set on something more challenging. But there lies the downside of calling something an addiction. When you’re ‘addicted’ to something, you forget all other needs and wants, concentrating solely on satisfying your now first priority, craving.

Students of the International Center for Media & the Public Affairs (ICMPA), along with the Salzburg Academy on Media & Global Change, conducted an online study, asking over a thousand students in ten countries across five continents to refrain from using any form of media for 24 hours. A majority of students considered this an impossibility in this modern age. Most kids today have grown with console and a cell phone in their hands, making them take technology for granted and completely shirk the idea of living without it. Most students failed to complete 24 hours, some described signs of withdrawal and early stages of depression, shocked by their total dependence on cell phones, computers and the TV. Only a small minority actually pulled it off successfully. It may thus be said that even if technology addiction cannot be called a medical condition, the cravings and the anxiety related to an addiction still exists.
Types of Technology Addiction and its Symptoms
An addiction to a piece of technology can be different, depending on the technology. But most of the symptoms remain the same.

Internet Addiction is the largest among them all. This includes online gambling, multiplayer gaming, social networking and cyber-sex (porn sites and adult chat rooms). You can tell if you can’t live off the grid if:
You lie about the time you spend online. Spending 4 hours online and telling your friends that it was only for 4 minutes means you know what you’re doing is wrong in some way. This is the major cause of depression due to excessive times spent online.
You feel that the Internet provides what real life can fail to. In a way it’s true, the fictional characters of ‘World of Warcraft’ are much more alluring than your school professors, because they are designed to attract. This can start off as something you use to take your mind out of a muddle. You slowly start drifting further away from all contacts to reality without you even realizing it.
The time you need to spend online keeps increasing. This means what satisfaction you used to get from 1 hour of online free poker now needs 4 hours. You start to develop a tolerance to the virtual treats and start to think you can spend an eternity online. The effect is strikingly similar to smoking cigarettes, the process that converts a cigarette a day to one every half hour.
Performances degrade in real life (whatever is left of it anyway). This applies to education and work alike. The effect is more pronounced in kids and students than an adult employee. The ratio leans towards the former because of the amount of responsibilities on both sides. This is one reason why technology addiction (or gaming addiction, rather) can be thought to be ‘cured’ as a person grows older.
It leads to intense withdrawal symptoms resulting in a feeling of a loss-of-self, depression and aggression. There have been reports of subjects who said they felt suicidal simply because their computer would crash at times. You may also keep getting frustrated because of lack of good bandwidth.
Internet addiction is now starting to gain acceptance as a disorder (maybe even calling it a compulsion than an addiction), with reSTART, an Internet addicts clinic outside Seattle, USA (2009).

Video Games has always been a cause of concern for most parents whose kids may spend hours in front of the TV, holding the console in their hands and concentrating on nothing else but infiltrating the enemy headquarters. You’re a video game addict if:
You are too preoccupied with the game to notice anything else around you. The difference between Internet and video game addiction is that video games give you almost no contact with time in real life. You can spend five or six hours at a stretch on the console, thinking only an hour has gone by.
You show a general lack of control whenever you see your PlayStation lying there, unable to handle it and eventually starting to play. The addiction has a large negative impact on your life as you remain completely unaware of anything that goes outside. You won’t even be connected by the daily news or even your family.
A similarity between Internet and video gaming addictions is that both are designed to attract you in any circumstance and once you’re hooked, give you a constant sense of being undermined, eventually making you run around the place trying to find the hidden sword that helps you kill the final boss, or spending hours on making social profiles and making yourself look better in your online avatar. It is designed to make you euphoric at the beginning, making you constantly turning towards it for more and more.
You start to become more and more apprehensive towards anyone passing judgment on your habits. This works the same way as lying, you feel defensive and in denial of spending excessive hours on the console because you’re made to feel that it’s wrong.
The Smith and Jones Addiction Consultants opening a video game addicts treatment in Amsterdam, Europe (2006) signifies the public acknowledgment of this addiction.

Social Networking Addiction is another form of technology addiction, which includes overuse of networking sites leading to Twitter and Facebook addiction. This means you are hooked to your cell phone texting and incessantly updating your Facebook status. You’re a social networking addict if:
You think social interactions are much better than real life interactions. Abusing the fact that you can rephrase anything you said before you hit enter, or the fact that who you’re talking to can’t see you, can put you in this category.
There’s a constant feeling of inferiority, forcing you to stay on top of everything. You feel the uncontrolled urge to update your profile image and status all the time. You need to keep checking what your friends are thinking about on the networking site, rather than having to meet them in person.
You start feeling anxious when you’re not with your cell phone or the computer.
When your modem breaks down in the middle of a conversation on Facebook, you switch to your cell phone at the speed of light. If for some reason you can’t, a strong sense of loss takes over, making you wallow in emptiness and increasing your aggression.
One reason why this is not rampant is the actual need of technology in the modern age. This is why people don’t realize they are in too deep until they realize they can’t pull out. It is much harder to hide drug addiction than social networking addiction. The ultimate dependence on technology that we are steadily moving into creates the need to redefine technology addictions constantly.
It is evident that compulsive technology overuse is not defined as an addiction because of the need for it. It falls into such a unique category – it does not directly have an impact on health conditions like drinking, smoking and drugs do, it is also not possible to let go of it completely because we always need it. It is this cyclic relation of man and technology that makes it so hard to not get used to it or refrain from using it.

Technologies Inspired By Nature

Technologies Inspired By Nature

We have seen incredible inventions and discoveries that have changed our lives for the good. These technological advancements have always found their inspiration in nature. Be it the invention of an airplane or that of the solar cell, we have depended on nature to provide the right path that we can follow. By paying attention to the minutest details of nature, engineers and scientists around the world have developed some pathbreaking devices and technologies.

Wright Brothers were inspired to build the airplane after observing the pigeon in its flight. Many mobile manufacturers have tried to mimic the human eye to create the camera lens. The 2008 Summer Olympics showcased an excellent example of biomimicry. Shark-inspired swimsuits were used in the Olympics that reduced the surface resistance by three percent and enabled the swimmer to use less energy while swimming. These are just a few glimpses of the technologies that were created by biomimicry. This Buzzle write-up brings to you a collection of such technologies that are nature-inspired.

* The technologies are listed in no particular order of ranks.

Bionic Car
Inspired by: Boxfish
Manufacturer: Mercedes-Benz
Created By: DaimlerChrysler AG
Year: 2005
The ace car manufacturer’s new design, the Bionic car is inspired from a fish! Yes, you read it correctly. The car is inspired by boxfish (Ostracion cubicus), a fish that lives in coral reefs, lagoons, and seaweeds. The reason behind using the boxfish as an inspiration is that it uses least amount of energy to move, it is swift in its movement, and its rigid outer skin can sustain collisions. The body of the fish has a networked structure where the bones form plates that are interlinked with each other. These plates protect the fish from injuries, and this structure is identical to that of a car.

The Benefit: This concept car, with its Selective Catalytic Reduction technology converts NOx (nitrogen oxides) into diatomic nitrogen and water, thus lowering the nitrogen oxide emissions by 80%.

Mirasol Display
Inspired by: Butterfly
Manufacturer: Qualcomm
Created By: Mark W. Miles
The biggest problem that one faces while using mobile technology in broad daylight is the device’s insufficient backlit display. Qualcomm engineers tried to counter this problem by creating the Interferometric modulator display (trademarked as Mirasol), and their inspiration in doing so was a butterfly. The wings of a butterfly reflect light from a small air gap, and thus, the specific wavelengths interfere with each other to form new colors, or a single color. In the Mirasol display, the MEMS technique (microscopic machines) is used to fix the size of the air gap, so that a bright single hue is created, thus brightening the display even in sunlight.

The Benefit: The content that is displayed on the mobile devices is visible in broad daylight. Also, due to no backlight in the display, the battery power can be saved.

ZigTech Shoes
Inspired by: Shark Teeth
Manufacturer: Reebok
Created By: Bill McInnis
Year: 2012 (Launched)
The ZigTech shoes that Reebok launched recently is inspired by the shark’s teeth. The sole technology used in these shoes is a modified version of the shark teeth that have a 20-degree backward angle. This angle gives an increased cushioning to the foot and also provides vertical and horizontal impact alongside providing road grip. The shoes also provide increased traction and thus, the user experiences complete comfort while running, walking, or jumping.

The Benefit: The backward angle of the sole provides cushioning and increased traction while running, thus reducing the possibility of injuries.

Self-cleaning Surfaces
Inspired by: Lotus Leaf
Discovered by: Wilhelm Barthlott
Year: 1998 (Launched)
The Lotus plant has a special quality of self-cleaning itself. Thus, even if it is in muddy water, the leaf stands meters above the water, keeping the leaves dirt-free. This self-cleaning nature of the Lotus leaf has been applied in the field of nanotechnology. Taking inspiration, Barthlott developed self-cleaning surfaces that had the ability to permanently retain air under water. These nano materials are used in making mirrors, windows, and tiles. The skyscrapers in many countries use this “Lotus effect” so that there is no human cleaning intervention. Also, paints and coatings can shrug off dust and keep themselves clean.

The Benefit: Apart from using the Lotus effect in nanotechnology, a new range of self-cleaning cotton fabric is being created that will cleanse itself when exposed to sunlight, thus eliminating the usage of water.

Velcro Technology
Inspired by: Burrs
Manufacturer: Velcro
Created By: George de Mestral
Year: 1948
The hook-and-loop fasteners, Velcro is inspired by none other than the burrs (seeds of burdock). Yes, these are the same burrs that stick to clothes and animal fur. This biomimicry is achieved by using two strips of material where one of the strips has hooks and the other has loops. When the hooks get locked in the loops, the two strips stick together. A two-inch square piece of Velcro can support a person weighing 79 kg. The material’s effectiveness doesn’t reduce even after many fastenings and unfastenings. This technology has also been used in tapes, as shoe fasteners, and by the NASA for making astronaut suits, etc.

The Benefit: The Velcro material can be reused several times without any change in its efficiency. It is also safe and very easy to use.

Distribution Network
Inspired by: Leaf Veins
Research by: Rockefeller University
Paper Submitted By: Marcelo O. Magnasco (lead researcher) & Eleni Katifori
Year: 2010
The veins of the leaves have inspired a whole new model of distribution network, and this study was published as a white paper by researchers from Rockefeller University. According to their research, the leaves have a central stalk from where branches arise; these branches give rise to more branches and so on. In spite of the netlike structure, they are able to transport water, thus serving as the perfect distribution network for supplying fluctuating loads to varying parts of the leaf. This principle can be mimicked to form a robust cargo distribution network, so that the material reaches the destination in the least possible time. These networks can also work for fluctuating demand situations. Thus, the transportation of water in the leaf has inspired the formation of a robust and load-bearing structure.

The Benefit: Such networks reduce the time taken to deliver any cargo to its destination, even under varying (demanding) conditions.

Bulletproof Vest
Inspired by: Spider silk
Research by: Jalila Essaïdi
The bulletproof vests that are used currently are made from artificial fiber known as Kevlar. However, nature has a stronger replacement for this fiber, which is none other than spider silk. The spider web silk is four times stronger than Kevlar and can bear an impact force five times greater than its own strength. The silk is also highly elastic and can stretch 40% longer than its original length. The currently used material is less elastic and flexible and also produces byproducts that can harm the environment. After several trial and errors on the spider web-based material, scientists intend to use the same for making artificial ligaments, suspension bridges, parachutes, etc.

The Benefit: Spider silk thread is highly elastic in nature and has four times more strength (stronger than steel) than the currently used artificial fiber.

FastRunner Robot
Inspired by: Ostrich
Research by: MIT, DARPA, IHMC
The latest robotic project to take off is the FastRunner robot, a collaboration project between DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Authority), MIT, and the Institute for Human and Machine Cognition (IHMC). This robot is expected to run at a speed of 27 mph, and the initial tests have recorded a speed of 22 mph. This robot is inspired from an ostrich, as the latter can achieve a steady speed of 31 mph with least energy conservation. Ostriches move their legs back and forth without lifting them and are thus, able to maintain their speed.

The Benefit: This two-legged robot, due to its high speed, is expected to be used at war zones as land drones and also to provide relief supplies during disaster situations.

Fog Harvesting
Inspired by: Namib Beetle
Research by: Shreerang Chhatre
Created By: Meteorological Service of Canada
Year: mid-1980s
The scientists at MIT are closely studying the fog collection pattern of the Stenocara beetle, also known as the Namib beetle, which is a native of Namib Desert in Africa. The beetle collects the morning fog and lets it to roll into its mouth. Thus, it uses the fog as a source of drinking water. On similar lines, scientists are trying to build devices that can attract fog and then collect the water droplets to get clean drinking water. A prototype model of the device is developed that consists of a mesh-like panel that can collect water droplets, and this mesh is connected to storage containers.

The Benefit: This technology will prove useful in areas that are water-deficient by only collecting the morning fog. It aims to solve the water problems by providing clean water.

Micro Air Vehicles
Inspired by: Swift
Research by: Biomimetics Innovation Center
Created By: Mr. William Thielicke
Year: 2011
Researchers at the Biomimetics Innovation Center in Germany have designed a micro aircraft that can flap its wings and glide like a bird. These micro air vehicles (MAVs) are to be used in rescue operations in dangerous areas as they are unmanned. The design is inspired by the highly maneuverable bird, Swift. Swift can glide very efficiently without wasting a lot of energy in flapping. These MAVs will have flexible wings and high maneuverability. The prototypes are still in the development stage.

The Benefit: The high maneuverability vehicle is expected to be employed in rescue operations where human intervention is not possible.

These are just a few examples from the hundreds of nature-inspired technologies. Though a few of these technologies are yet to see the light of the day, they have proved to be successful in the prototyping stages. With improvisations done to the initial design, these devices can serve mankind in more ways than one. So, if there are some problems that are yet to be resolved, all we have to do is to take a close look at nature, and we will definitely find a solution.