Eq: Tech

(Boston)

For the first time in history a scent has been transmitted transatlantically by a group of Harvard scientists. The scientists sent a passion fruit macaroon-scented message from Paris to New York via proprietary technology. Evidently, the technology, called an “oPhone”, works by tagging scents on one end and using small pipes within the device to transmit it out of the receiving device. The technology has three thousand scents stored and can blend them to create the scent the sender desires to share. The Harvard group plans to turn the technology into a business, and has an Indiegogo page trying to raise $150,000. At first the technology will need hotspots, or installed central devices which house the full range of smells, but the company hopes that in the next few years all devices will be able to hold the full capacity of scents.


 

FINSUM: This is a crazy idea, but obviously it works. Very interesting to see what the future applications of such a technology could be.

(Mumbai)

Despite a handful of globally recognised brands being the major players across the world mobile market, in India the rapid expansion of the mobile space has seen the growth of low cost domestic manufacturers. Such makers, like Micromax, Karbonn, and Lava, have taken significant market share from companies like Apple and Samsung by focusing on the third tier and fourth tier markets. The phones gained a foothold by offering phones with similar functionality to top brands, but at 30% or more discounts.  India has the world’s fastest growing mobile markets, with total unit sales up 20% last year, and domestic companies now hold a significant market share at 30% combined. The companies have also found success in offering Indian language-first phones as only 10% of Indians speak English and many are uncomfortable using the language to type on handsets.


 

FINSUM: Looks like successful local competitors are starting to challenge global players in India. This trend may not be limited to the mobile sector and watching such developments could yield good investments in the long run.

(San Francisco)

Twelve million Americans live without bank accounts and often to resort to payday lenders, who can charge upwards of 400% interest, in order to finance their lives. Now, using big data, a group of Silicon Valley tech companies is beginning to enter the space. Employing proprietary algorithms which analyse thousands of data points on people’s behaviour in order to create a more informed credit picture, such companies, like Zest Finance, sell their analysis to lenders. Others, like Wonga, LendUp, and Think Finance, actually lend themselves based on the use of their big data technology. The companies believe their data provides a better and more accurate risk profile for borrowers than do traditional credit ratings because of their analysis of personality traits, e-commerce history, and social data. However, others are more skeptical, saying that one will always find some correlation within thousands of data points, but that these are not necessarily fruitful, nor are they testable, because of their proprietary nature.


 

FINSUM:  Beyond the debate over the validity of the data and analysis, these kind of companies will not help the “1%” image that Silicon Valley has fostered over the past couple of years. Expect public opinion to turn more divisive.

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