Google’s Pixel Buds, Bragi, and the power of incumbents

Google introduced a range of new products during its hardware event including a set of wireless headphones called the Pixel Buds. Google Hardware event; presentation of Pixel Buds start at 1:23 Amongst other features, Pixel Buds support real-time voice translation through Google Translate. The earphones, however, do not do the actual translation work: Google told us that the earbuds are connected via Bluetooth to the smartphone, and that the smartphone microphone picks up the spoken words. It sends them over the cloud to Google’s data centers, where Google Translate produces a translation. It sends back the translated words in the form of speech to the phone, which transfers them back to the earbuds. — VentureBeat Thus, they are more about seamless user experience than technology (click the Bud and start talking vs. talking out your phone, opening the app and then talking). The announcement of wireless headphones should not come as a surprise. A Google patent from earlier this year showed that they might be working on something like that. Also, Samsung, Sony, Motorola, and Apple have similar products as well. Speaking of Apple, Apple’s AirPods are what comes immediately to mind when hearing about the Pixel Buds. And the

revolut, N26, and the future of banking

revolut, the app-based bank from Britain, started their operations in Germany and Austria on September 27. From their profile on SEEDRS Revolut is targeting consumers and businesses that are dissatisfied with their banks and other financial services for three main reasons: (i) lack of product innovation (ii) the expense of spending money abroad and (iii) fees to transfer money overseas. — SEEDRS The narrative is clear (this is important as I will show later on) and is well summarized in revolut’s claim: “ Revolut — The only account for your global lifestyle”. Concretely this means that you get fee-free purchase and withdrawals for 120 currencies, free money transfers of up to £5,000 per month and you can keep up to 26 currencies in the app which you can exchange without fees. Furthermore, they focus on user-friendliness through insightful spending overview (financial forecasting is planned), immediate balance update, splitting-bills between revolut-users, P2P credits, in-app credit card (un)blocking, instant money transfers and an in-app customer support chat bot. In terms of products you can either use a real or virtual credit card and they also offer an insurance for smartphones. In addition to free services, they have a premium version (6,99€/month) though which you

ZEIº on DHDL

The Austrian-based start-up Timeular went on Die Höhle der Löwen (DHDL) with their hardware-based time tracking tool ZEIº. The ZEIº is an eight-sided polygon where each side represents a task you are working on. You switch between these tasks by switching the polygon, and the upwards-facing side is the tasks being tracked right now. Three Z by Timeular (Source) I wrote about ZEIº a while back (post in German) and concluded that the product creates „pain“ for users: because they have to (re-)design each side multiple times due to ZEIº’s limited flexibility: it has only eight sites, and you cannot add spontaneous tasks people can steal it it is only useful for stationary work The jury from DHDL additionally mentioned that people simply won’t use ZEIº because finding the right side for the corresponding task is difficult, they will simply forget to track and that using a time tracking device is simply annoying. Furthermore, they criticized that a hardware-based solution is not future-proof and that an (AI-)software is the way to go. ZEIº only better significantly better for a few people The first part of the criticism shows that customer education is needed. There are a lot of people who do not

volders, a Berlin-based contract management startup, raised two million euros

 volders, a Berlin-based contract management startup raised two million euros. The company describes itself as a personal contract assistant. You feed the application with your contracts and it manages them for you. You are alerted about contract expiration, you can cancel or prolong contracts and in combination with a built-in price comparison tool you can compare and sign up for new contracts. Overview of your contracts in volders (Source) In essence, volders wants you to do the following things in a repetitive circle: Upload all your contracts Receive notifications about contract expiration Cancel contracts Compare and switch contracts volders started as vertragslotse.com in 2014 and received a six-figure investment in 2015. Also in 2015, Vertragslotse.com was renamed into volders. (It seems to me that the major reason for the name change was internalization.) Finally, In 2016 they launched an iOS-App (pretty late) (volders’ history) With their latest investment they want to position themselves as your „personal digital contract assistant“. Furthermore, they want to make “their customer service more proactive and tailor the comparison and prolongation offers more towards their customers“. This year they increased their user base by 50 percent to 550.000 (from Gründerszene). Their plan (more proactive customer service and

goUrban, an Austrian e-scooter sharing startup, received a six figure investment

Recently, the Austrian startup scooter sharing startup goUrban received a six-figure investment. The startup wants to deploy 50 NIU e-scooters in certain parts of Vienna focusing on local recreation areas and inner-city travel. The scooters are free-floating and goUrban will swap the empty batteries. The scooters have space for two people and come with two helmets and a net to put over your head for hygienic reasons. With car sharing, public transportation and bike sharing, the most pressing question is which — if any — role can scooter sharing play. There are two general aspects. Scooters are either a tool for getting from A to B (like public transportation) or they are recreational vehicles (like sports cars). As goUrban positions their scooters as a low priced way to avoid parking issues while driving through the city, let’s look at scooter sharing as a tool for getting from A to B. Based on scooter sharing’s vague relative advantage goUrban should offer lifestyle instead of practicality In this context the success of scooter sharing depends on whether it is better than the other means of transportation it competes against. It competes against car sharing and public transportation. In comparison to public transportation

Tech stuff I found interesting in CW35

One-click-knowledge-providers, the decentralization of the smartphone and coaching for X as “killer applications” for smartwatches “One-click-knowledge-providers” Despite — or especially due to — the vast availability of knowledge on the Internet, people are looking for a “source of authority” in the online world, similar to a person of authority or expert in the offline world. Wikipedia, wikiHow, and Quora are only a few examples for that. For many these sites and the first and only places they go to look for information. They are “one-click-information-providers”. The Buzzard and BadAbout go into the direction of “one-click-opinion-providers” and aggregate opinions about a certain topic. (The Buzzard curates pro and contra arguments about political topics and BadAbout criticism). In essence, they tell you what to think. Whereas I am unsure whether such niche companies like The Buzzard or BadAbout will prevail in the long-run I do think that “one-click-knowledge-providers” (information and opinion providers) will be important in the future. However, their appearance is likely to change as they get increasingly integrated into whatever platform you use as your virtual assistant (Alexa, Siri, Google…). In this development your virtual assistant will be your one and only “source of authority” telling you what to know

ZENJOB, a German tech company matching companies with temporary employee shortages and students, raises five million euros

ZENJOB is German startup which matches companies with temporary employee shortages with students.The company hires the students, trains them, pays them minimum wage (on average above minimum wage) and lends them to companies either for side jobs or on an hourly-basis for one-time jobs. The positions they fill are typical job students jobs such as being a waitress, doorman or handing out flyers. Job matching is usually spontaneous and they promise to find a match for companies within within 1,5 hours on average [3]. When a company needs help they contact ZENJOB who then sends out the job offer to all their students through the app. Students can then accept or decline the job through the app. ZENJOB was founded in 2015, employs 1.500 students , works with 450 companies [2] and is active in Berlin and Munich. In March they received their first investment in the amount of three million euros and a second one in September in the size of five million. With the raised money they want to expand further, amongst others, into Munich, Cologne, and Hamburg. I find it fascinating that they not only enable hourly jobs for the mainstream but also that their lead time is

Stuff I found interesting in CW34

News and topics I found interesting in calendar week 34. Topics Augmented sound Novel Effect is a bedtime app that overlays sound effects to bedtime stories you read. I am a big fan of augmented audio (see my “The future of headphones report”) and find it great to see development in that direction. However, I am unsure if such applications could be used somewhere else, although education (adding animal sounds, for example) could make sense. Knops — The volume button for your ears: These over-the-counter (OTC) hearing aids are earphone-shaped and allow you to adjust outside noises (increased/decrease volume). Interesting to see non-medical products in the form of earphones which do not aim at playing music and are OTC. Expecting to see more of these OTC hearing aids. Smart rings second… there’s many “smart ring” projects out there focusing on different value props: fitness, security, identity, payments, etc. pic.twitter.com/qaauGImu2e — Luke Wroblewski (@lukew) August 21, 2017 I also recently came across the ORII ring which uses bone conduction technology for sending and receiving text messages. Besides that, there are several other things you can do with rings: use it as a panic button record audio receive notifications through light or

Augmented Reality in automotive — OEMs vs. aftermarket Head-Up Displays

Here I concluded that Head-Up Displays (HUDs) in the automotive sector are currently the only commercially available consumer application of Augmented Reality (besides smartphones, tablets, and similar non-AR specific devices). Based on this, I have explored here the state of HUDs in the OEM and aftermarket. Conclusion The available HUDs are not as reality augmenting as they could be HUDs’ product value is limited OEMs will dominate the market in the long-run through AR windshields Current competitive landscape looks advantageous for aftermarket, but investment is not recommended There are two manufacturing categories. OEMs and the aftermarket. These segments are split into two technologies (Augmented Reality HUDs and Holographic HUDs) and two feature categories (Dashboard HUDs and Smart HUDs). Augmented Reality (AR) HUDs project information on the car’s windshield or onto a separate device in front of the windshield. Dashboard HUDs display only basic driving-related information such as speed or navigation and Smart HUDs integrate functions familiar from our smartphones such as notifications or gesture control. This market is as follows. We have several AR Dashboard HUDs (lower left quadrant) in the aftermarket and from OEMs. There are no Smart AR HUDs from OEMs but several in the aftermarket (lower right quadrant).

Need-based product substitution

We use products to satisfy a need. But we can choose from a range of products to satisfy that need. For instance, we use a car instead of a bike to satisfy the need of getting faster to a location. Or we use a train instead of a bike for the same purpose. This substitution is even more evidence in the case of fundamental human needs. For example, we can satisfy the need for leisure through going to the movies, riding a bike or reading a book. It is fascinating that when substituting one product for another, secondary outcomes do not seem to weight that much. A study (in German) argues that there might be a correlation between the amount of time spend with PCs and smartphones and sports. In this case, the smartphone replaced biking as the satisfier for the leisure need. Lately, I have come across three need satisfiers that might not exist in the future anymore. The smartphone, cars, and the cinema. Smartphones We use the smartphone for dozens of things. Besides, the “application” level such as texting, online banking or dating, we also use it on the “need level”. The smartphone is a void killer when