New award helps Australia boost youth innovation

We all know that the role of innovation in Australia is becoming more and more important as traditional industries slow down. Part of helping foster the digital ecosystem is to encourage our bright young minds and provide opportunities for them to get innovative ideas off the ground.

Unfortunately, however, there is very little available to actually support young innovators bring life to these ideas. Not just in terms of funding, but most importantly, mentorship.

Melbourne seems to be one city, though, which is focusing on growing its support for the start-up scene, particularly for young people. The investment is seeing new incubator programs, mentor groups as well as a new award which is providing young people with the chance to access funding and mentorship from leading entrepreneurs.

Part of the iAwards, the inaugural Hills Young Innovator of the Year Award is providing under 25 years olds with up to $15k in funding and support from entrepreneurs Danielle Fletcher (co-founder of online mentoring service PropellHer), Priyanka Rao (Head of Luxmy Furniture) and Antony Gaddie (CEO of Green Ant Marketing). Most importantly, the award program gives finalists the opportunity to get in front of sought after employers and investors during the pitch contest.

Opportunities like this award and other support programs not only encourage innovation amongst young people wanting to start their own business, but it’s also fostering innovation amongst youth within established companies.

We need better ways of working and learning to help our economy grow and to do that we must encourage our youth to look at how to do things smarter, but also identify and recognise this next generation of innovators. By fostering Australian creativity, talent and ingenuity for our best, brightest and youngest ICT innovators, we can help grow the technology sector and drive Australia’s digital future.

Submissions for the Hills Young Innovator of the Year Award close on Friday, 1 August 2014. To enter click here

On 18th March 2014, I was invited to facilitate a panel at the Australian Ad:Tech conference held at the Hilton in the Sydney CBD. The topic discussed was real time marketing – with the panel of experts including Michael McKeon, Director of Vivant, Derek Laney, Director of Product Marketing at Salesforce for the ExactTarget Marketing Cloud, Dan Ferguson Director of Social Ally and Chris Ernst, National Performance Director from Reprise Media.

For this panel we moved away from the creative side of real-time marketing (we all remember the infamous Oreo superbowl tweet) and really focused in on the analytics, data tools and metrics.

Some of the key take-aways were:

Amber Q: Should real-time marketing be creative led, or tech led?  Michael McKeon response: Technology is an enabler, but real time marketing should put creative/message at its heart. Overall Response: It should be a combination of the both.

Amber Q: Is real-time marketing only able to be done well by bigger brands? Chris Ernst response: Small companies can do great real time marketing, the SaaS tools are there, and they can be more nimble and take more risks. Overall response: Not at all. Smaller brands have much more to gain and a lot less to lose re real-time marketing efforts.

Amber Q: Where does big data sit for real-time and how can we leverage it? Dan Ferguson response:  If you’re running real time interactions with the consumer, you can grab that data, collate and then represent it in real-time. For example – using real time social content data to create visual content for your online display ads.

Amber Q: Where does mobile fit the mix for the future of real-time marketing? Michael McKeon response: In the real word, mobile is your best chance to track, model and interact with the consumer.

For more interesting insights into geolocation and mobile you can check out Michael McKeon’s recent op-ed in B&T .

Last week, Tech Crunch broke the story about the release of a new social media scheduling app called Postcard. Working “in the industry” I’ve had a lot of experience with these types of tools, and I have to say Postcard is one of the first in a long time to get me excited about what could be possible for social media automation in the future.

In fact, I was so intrigued, I decided to invite with the app’s developer, Kyle Newsome, for a chat about Postcard, and how it came to be.

Q1: Lets get straight into it – what is Postcard?

Postcard is a social sharing multi-tool built around the idea of standardizing social media communications and letting users achieving better content control. I kind of like to think of it as a Swiss Army knife for sharing social content.

Q2: Give me some background; what made you decide to build this app?

I have a personal website and enjoy blogging, but I rarely have time to post in long form. Meanwhile I’m posting a mixture of personal and professional content on social networks every single day. It started to feel like a shame there wasn’t a good way to do it all at once.

I also felt that too many companies are trying to be the next Facebook, or providing tools for managing popular networks. But too few are trying to solve the issue of content ownership. It seems to me like social networking needs to be a more open and standardized form of communication. We started doing it with email over 40 years ago!

Q3: What are some of the key features for the app?

There are two really key features that spawn a wide variety of uses:

  1. You can post content to your own website. I’ve created an open source protocol for social communications, so that anyone can turn their website into a personal/private social network. Better yet, there’s already a WordPress plugin that makes it easy for users to start directly storing and displaying their social content! (http://wordpress.org/plugins/postcard-social/)
  2. Postcard includes a ‘Host’ feature that let’s you set one network as the content’s home and all remaining networks link to that original content. If you’re posting to your own website and want to draw traffic, this is a great way to do so.

Q4: You only launched last week, but what’s the response been like so far?

So far response has been really positive. I’ve heard from a number of people and none of them have identical stories for how Postcard is helping them. I’ve really enjoyed talking with users. I’m also getting a lot of requests for Android support, which is definitely in the game plan.

Q5: So who should download this app right now? – like ten minutes ago?

Here’s the top three reasons to download Postcard:

  1. If you’re someone who likes to cross-post sometimes but not other times. That’s a really straightforward reason Postcard is great for almost anybody.
  2. If you have multiple twitter accounts, some of which frequently retweet the other, you should get this app and try using the ‘Host’ feature. You can tweet and get retweets from your other accounts all in one post.
  3. If you’ve got a WordPress website and want direct control of your social content, that’s another great reason.

Q6: What are the plans for the future? Can you divulge?

Better cross platform support and integration with more web frameworks is one direction I want to go. I think that the custom network feature will have increasing relevance in the coming years. While I can’t divulge all the angles I see it from quite yet, I do think it’s possible that in the future people might send a message to their personal website, a private family social network and a friend’s network all in one go. That would be a big shift in the way we think about social networking from today.

I would like to extend a big thanks to Kyle for lending me his time. For more info and to download the app head to http://www.postcardsocial.net/.

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Memtell is a social media tool designed to capitalise on the explosive growth in social networking as a means of capturing and sharing information. I sat down with Memtell CEO Pushpinder Bagga to find out a little bit more:

Q1: Lets get right into it. Give me your best elevator pitch?

Memories are priceless, yet they are ofter lost forgotten and go untold. Memtell has developed an easy to use mobile application which you can capture, share and preserve your memories for the people you care about most. We plan to make money by offering extended premium features and selling merchandise online.

Q2: So what made you decide to launch Memtell? ie, what problem are you solving?

It was a tough time for co-founder Jono Birkett seeing his grandfather at the nursing home while also working on his time management startup in Melbourne. While researching for a way to add voice content to his calendar mixed with thoughts to save his grandfather’s legacy – Memtell was born. The Memtell team made a rough product to record voice over pictures and the narrative slideshow created quite an emotional bonding with the pictures.

Memories are lost forgotten and go untold. Storing photos has shifted from the attic to in the cloud but narrating and sharing the memories behind those precious moments still remains troublesome and disconnected. We have a solution – Memtell, an online memory telling network.

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Q3: Who is the target audience for Memtell?

Memtell is primarily focused on the people with Alzheimer’s and is also looking to target mothers as secondary audience to start with. While the product would help improve the mood of the people with dementia, it would tremendously help mothers establish a culture while preserving the memories of the whole family.

Q4: How long did it take you to get your product to market?

The first version of the product took us 2 months to build and was released as a website in September 2013. The mobile applications released in January 2014 for Android and iOS took us 3-4 months to design, develop and test.

Q5: Did you have investors or was it self funded with help from FFF (friend’s family & fools)?

We were able to raise an investment of $95,000 with the help of ANZ Innovyz START which helped to base us in Adelaide, build the product and most importantly form a company on top of it.

Q6: What makes your product unique?

Using voice and how we use it to connect people with memories is what makes our product unique. The fundamental idea of capturing the memory of the moment frozen in time as a photograph using voice makes the whole experience far more engaging and personal. Also, after analysing the voice and image content generated from the apps, we have built algorithms to suggest connections and memories to the users. We can search in voices and find keywords which help us tag, filter and sort content in the way we want it to be.

MemtellQ7: What is the future plans for the product?

We intend to make the product easier to use for all age groups and introduce merchandise in the near future. We are developing the product as a desktop software for Windows and Apple Computers which is planned to launch in a couple of months.

Q8: What’s the biggest business lesson you have learnt so far in your journey? 

The biggest lesson we have learnt is to focus on a target market. While the product has a diverse application in a variety of markets, its very important to identify the right market fit and develop the product suited for that audience. Being focused on a target market helped us in goal setting, planning and recruiting new team members at Memtell.

Q9: Finally, can you tell our readers where they can go grab the app?

Everyone can download and use the app from the iTunes App Store and Google Play. Search “memtell” in the app stores or visit http://www.memtell.com and get linked to directly download the app for your iOS 6+ and Android 3+ devices.

Early last week, app developer stanwood launched ‘ON AIR’ a new, free television guide app for iOS and Android devices designed especially for smartphone and tablet users who LOVE TV.

Originally developed by a joint Australian-German team, the ON AIR app first hit users screens in Germany in 2010 and in two short years has already enjoyed European success to the chime of 1.5 million downloads.

It has been a number one app in the overall free app charts in three countries, been selected by Apple and Amazon as an ‘App of the Week’ and holds a steady 4.5 star user rating in the Apple App Store and on Google Play.

Research conducted for stanwood in February 2013 showed that while 74% of Australian TV viewers are reliant on TV guides to help them choose what programs to watch – only 17% of smartphone users use a TV guide app.

ONAIR

ON AIR Managing Director Andreas Riedel said: “While there are a lot of different mobile options already on the market in Australia, we saw a big gap for an app that gives television viewers the information they want, when and how they want it. This app isn’t about bombarding viewers with information; instead we have spent a lot of time perfecting an interface that is simple, fast and easy to use.

“However, below this clear and simple interface, we have tied in a huge trove of information from a variety of sources – so you can jump to Wikipedia or IMDB, see what people are tweeting about the program, or even check if you can buy the entire series on iTunes. We hope that the eight out of ten smartphone users who aren’t yet using an app will consider ON AIR as the best choice for them.”

ON AIR’ Functionality:

  • Clean and intuitive interface that makes browsing and finding simple
  • Super fast loading times
  • Listings for all Free-To-Air television channels in Australia
  • Comprehensive details, descriptions, images and links to trailers are available for all programs
  • Customised recommendations for the best TV highlights of each day, based on your personal taste and the picks of expert editors
  • Optional push reminders for your favourite TV shows
  • Built-in social functionality – allowing you to post or browse favourite shows on Facebook and Twitter
  • Free and paid (ad-free) versions available
  • The app seamlessly integrates with IceTV digital recording, so IceTV subscribers can record shows with one touch.

ON AIR is available for free download for Apple iPhone and iPad, and Android devices from:

Apple store: myONAIR.com.au/download/ios

Google play: myONAIR.com.au/download/android

ON AIR Australia is currently running a Facebook competition giving their fans a chance to win a Humax HD TV Recorder along with a lifetime ICE TV subscription. Visit http://www.facebook.com/ONAIR.au for more details on how to WIN. 

http://youtu.be/43nQwJBayHA
Digital cameras with video shooting capabilities and smartphones with high megapixel video recording have made shooting movies as simple as pointing and pressing ‘record’. And from the editing standpoint you have programs like Sony Vegas and Movie Maker, which provide you editing capabilities that allow you to alter everything – except that is – the raw feed itself.

Today however, the power of technology brings anyone who may be interested in working on a film to new heights.

Introducing CollabraCam – a video app for iOS gadgets. CollabraCam offers a completely new experience to video enthusiasts, giving users arguably the most convenient and interactive way to hone their shooting and editing skills as well as a feel for managing and working with their very own film crew.

The CollabraCam app is unique because it lets a group of people link up to four iOS gadgets – as long as those gadgets are equipped with cameras. The devices are linked up through a common wi-fi network originating from the wireless signal of a laptop, a mobile Hotspot or even an iPhone hotspot. Once linked up to wi-fi, the film crew can record videos as a unit and even edit the clips while the cameras are rolling.

Making things even more interesting, the CollabraCam app assigns one camera out of the four as the director, leaving the other three to play operator roles. The director has special options available only to them: they can connect to all four cameras, edit streaming video as it comes in, send camera cues to the camera operators, pick which camera feed to record etc.

Though it may seem that only the director gets to have all the fun, that picture isn’t entirely as it seems. It may be that the camera operators are restricted to shooting footage – but that’s exactly the point. By restricting the features of the camera operators, CollabraCam provides them with the opportunity to experience how real camera operators work during a film shoot – taking constant camera cues from the director as all cameras roll simultaneously.

Once the shooting session wraps up, CollabraCam saves the recorded footage on each of the camera operators’ local drives before sending the automatically assembled clips to the director. The director for the session can then choose to view the movie on Collabracam or export it to the Camera Roll to be edited on another app or on the computer. For computer edits, Collabracam will save the clips through File Sharing in iTunes so they can be accessed by anyone.

Equipped with versatile features, CollabraCam would be an especially useful app for those constantly filming with other people on-the-go or in crowded spaces. The app claims to be perfect for sporting events and group projects – both of which require the minimal setup that CollabraCam provides.

In conclusion, Walt Disney once said, “if you can dream it, you can do it” and it might just be possible that with this new app, we can expect individuals with the slimmest budgets and rawest natural talents, but the biggest dreams,  becoming the next big thing in the industry.

Ever tried your hand at building your own website from scratch, only to later give up citing “irreconcilable differences” or changing this particular project status to “it’s complicated”? Even with advancements like WordPress and pre-formulated templates, sometimes it’s still not enough to give you the edge and control that you really crave for your website – and heck, you don’t have the time for a lengthy course or degree on the matter.

It’s for this reason that the people of Treehouse are really making a difference. After all, their mission statement is “to teach web design, web development and iOS to everyone in the world who wants to learn.”

What is Treehouse?

Treehouse is a group of experts who have collaborated and pooled together their knowledge in each area of web technology in order to offer the best possible resources for beginners in iOS, web design and web development. Formerly known as Think Vitamin, Treehouse was originally introduced to the web in 2006 as a site where web professionals could look up references written with quality and expertise. The startup venture was reworked into the current Treehouse back in the summer of 2010. At that time, founder and CEO Ryan Carson realised that the site had the potential to attract web desin beginners and help them launch their own online businesses by clearing up the confusion.

Treehouse teaches web design and development through a series of high-quality videos that cover specific areas. With a library of over 700 videos, the site’s subscribers are free to decide what to start on and continue based on their preferences. Aside from being high-quality, the videos are also close-captioned – a neat feature for those with hearing disabilities or a preference to learn in silence.

As a motivational factor, Treehouse also awards the users badges for each area of expertise they have completed. For example, watching all videos in Photoshop Foundations under web design earns them 4 badges (similar to those in Foursquare). And just like at uni, there are quizzes and code challenges or problems which users must solve to show that they know their material.  To make the experience even more user-friendly, all videos can be downloaded for offline viewing – a valuable option for those who don’t have constant high-speed internet.

In a perfect world, everything good is free. Although potential users need to pay to access the training videos, the knowledge they get in exchange is well worth it. At the most basic subscription level (silver membership), Treehouse guarantees the user unlimited access to the startup’s massive video collection as well as closed captioning for the videos. If a customer is still not satisfied with the Silver Membership which is priced at $25 per month, they can opt for an upgrade to Gold Membership.

With Gold Membership (valued at $49 per month), users can access even more extra features geared towards maximising their knowledge of web design and development. By offering knowledge for a fraction of the cost of a technology degree, Treehouse occupies a comfortable spot between self-study and university study. And at a time when time is invaluable, this type of easily-accessed interactive education is perhaps the most practical of them all.

Smooth glass has an incredibly sleek appearance. It’s enough to make most techies drool and hand over wads of cash in exchange for a suave piece of equipment like a smartphone. But in the race for the sleekest looks, manufacturers have left behind something important that fingers and thumbs everywhere yearn for in the present touch screen technology environment which was there in the days of flip and bar phones: tactile feedback.

Enter Tactile Layer technology – an innovation Tactus Technology is developing as they seek to provide an answer to the lost sense of touch in smartphones and other touchscreen devices.

Tactus Technology, a California-based startup company, was created in 2008 with the goal of developing a completely new type of touch interface. The founders of Tactus Technology realised that the market for touchscreen feedback was severely lacking. Current haptic solutions – or solutions for the lack of tactile response in touch screens –  offer feedback in the form of vibrations, but only after the screen has been touched. Since sight is still the primary sense needed for these solutions, it is useless for customers wanting to touch-type or navigate their screens.

So what sets Tactile Layer technology apart from other haptic solutions? First of all, it temporarily replicates the raised buttons of keyboards and other tactile tools in touchscreen devices. Note the keyword “temporarily”: Tactile Layer works by raising hard bumps – similar to actual buttons – on the surface of a touch screen, depending on the application. It raises these tactile buttons by varying the fluid pressure in specific micro channels, which in turn, create hard, bubble-wrap like buttons. Once the application closes, the buttons disappear into the smooth glass surface of the device.

The Tactile Layer developed by Tactus Technology can be installed on top of a touch screen’s normal surface. A big advantage for the interface is that it doesn’t interfere with the original thickness of the device. Instead, the technology replaces the original cover glass of any touchscreen device without the need to install or reconfigure any sensors. Furthermore, the buttons raised by the interface are transparent and dynamic. Different applications can model their own unique buttons – either oddly shaped or oddly spaced – giving application developers more creative freedom than before.

Besides reinjecting the tactile feel back into smartphones, this new touch interface has the potential to completely revolutionise touchscreen technology. One of the most practical and significant applications of this would be Braille e-books. And who knows, one day users might be able to run their fingers nonchalantly across a TV or laptop screen to feel the texture of tree bark or animal fur in the near future. With technology advancing at the pace it is, this reality is not as far-fetched as you might think.

What are your thoughts on the raised touchscreen? Do you think this type of innovative technology has the potential to go mainstream in the future?

Take a minute to think about the usual grocery shopping ritual: the drive to the store, the time it takes to shop and – most of all – the effort of comparing brands to get the best deals and fit a set budget. What if this process could be shortened, if not altogether eliminated?

With Grocery Run and other online grocery shopping sites, the answer is that it is perfectly possible. In fact, it is a growing reality. A few keystrokes and mouse clicks here and there, and in a few days the postman will ring the doorbell with groceries in hand. Shopping for food has never been so energy and time-efficient.

Grocery Run is the brainchild of the biggest Australian online shopping website CatchOfTheDay.com.au. It is a daily deals site offering huge savings for non-perishable food items and other household goods. Launched in 2011, the site was introduced to the online consumer market as an alternative buying experience to the one offered by brick-and-mortar supermarkets. With regular consumer savings of around 50% (and savings of up to 80% on a good day), it’s a welcome discovery for the average shopper – who often has no choice in being subjected to the prices in run-of-the-mill supermarkets.

So how exactly does Grocery Run afford to keep its deals priced low enough to entice customers to make the change? Easily – by relying on its huge member base and high turnover rates to attract suppliers.

Grocery Run currently has a strong membership of 1.4 million. Within a two-day period, it can reportedly sell an impressive 2,837 facial moisturisers, 5200 toothbrushes and 10,000 deodorants. As an added bonus for its suppliers, the site buys stock from them that supermarkets will not take and even acts as a second buyer in the event of supermarkets cancelling their orders due to excess stock or nearing use-by dates. For customers, this business setup means more selection and a higher chance of getting all the right deals to suit their needs.

Though its success is evident, there are some minor details to consider when committing to Grocery Run. It is only open to shoppers every week from Wednesday to Friday and it sells only 200 to 300 different products within this time period. There’s also a shipping fee to add to the total expense, but it’s only a reasonable $11 (since Australia Post is one of Grocery Run’s distribution partners). Furthermore, Grocery Run cannot function as a one-stop shop for consumers because the deals vary depending on what suppliers need to clear from their warehouses. As a safety measure and to avoid logistical nightmares, Grocery Run cannot sell eggs, milk and meat.

Given all these details, Grocery Run isn’t exactly the future of fresh food shopping – at least for now. It does, however, offer an alternative to the usual grocery experience and is innovative in its approach. There’s certainly room for improvement but GR still caters to a huge market has success firmly locked in its sights.

It’s always a good feeling when you know people pay attention to things you post online. When your friends on Facebook are liking, commenting on and sharing your various memes and anecdotes. And let’s face it, who doesn’t like to get a retweet on Twitter spanned by your unassuming wit?

Sometimes it’s nice to feel that your opinion matters and people listen to you – but does a couple of likes on Facebook mean you have any actual influence?

In today’s article, I would like to discuss the importance and measurability of your social influence using an analytics tools called Klout.

So what is Klout?

Klout is a social media analytics platform. In a nutshell, social media analytics is a research method that the computer and math people use to crunch some numbers out of what people talk about on Twitter or Facebook. Of course, it gets way more complicated than that. But what you need to know about social media analytics is that it systematically measures trends and changes that happen within the social network’s sphere of activity. These trends usually pertain to the most popular issues, people or moods. The information gathered from social media analytics like Klout is used for a huge range of valuable things.

Klout in particular measures your influence in the social media network by letting you know how popular you are within your network on Facebook, Twitter and others like Google Plus. Feels like high school all over again? Not quite. Klout’s definition of influence is your clout within your interests. The way it works basically is that you sign up for free and you identify your areas of interest, whether it’s entertainment, gaming, cooking and so on. Once that’s done, Klout tracks the activity in your network to see how influential you are in those respects.

You will then be issued with a Klout Score, which is determined by three main factors: True Reach, Amplification, and Network.

Your True Reach is our circle of influence. These are your true friends on your Facebook or Twitter profile who read, respond to and/or share what you say or post about. Klout is smart enough to weed out your “generic” friends or those whom you added on Facebook never to talk to again. On the other hand, your Amplification is how big of an impact you make within your True Reach. Do people respond to your posts and share them? Lastly, your Network is how big your circle of influence gets beyond your True Reach. It basically measures how influential the people you influence are.

If any of these factors increase over time, your Klout Score increases proportionally as well. Of course, the actual algorithm gets way more nerdy, but that’s basically how it works.

So in essence, the Klout Score is not just there to boost or shrink your ego – at least that’s not the point of founders, Joe Fernandez and Binh Tran designed it to be.

Different brands and businesses use the Klout Score to keep track of the most influential people – and this is where it gets interesting.

Klout Perks are products or services offered free to the most influential people in any or all the social media networks. These businesses want to use your influence to get insight on how their target market responds to their products. The higher your Klout Score is, the more perks you’re eligible to redeem. These perks can range from discounts on food to getting the latest iPhone for free. If you like the product, you can choose to post about it. If you don’t like it, you can post about it, too. If you don’t feel like saying anything about it, you can keep silent. Regardless of what you do, the brands get insight – without any strings attached. For these businesses, using the social media for growth is the name of the game – it just happens that your influence can be part of it.

Best of all, Klout doesn’t post or publish anything to the advertisers. What all the brands will know is your Klout Score and the nature of your influence. Klout takes privacy very seriously – which makes sense as their business depends on it. There really isn’t anything to lose. Just when you thought being influential was just a bit of fun, , Klout has changes the game entirely.

What experiences have you had using Klout? Care to share your Klout Score with us?