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January 23 2014


Denmark targets iPhone generation to keep edge in hearing aids

Tiny Denmark, with fewer than 6 million people, supplies half the world's hearing aids, and local makers aim to advance that commanding position as baby boomers and the iPhone generation age.

GN Store Nord, headquartered in Ballerup, near Copenhagen, has a product it hopes will reach that demographic - famously averse to accepting the depredations of age - by taking the stigma out of wearing an aid.

The world's fourth-largest maker has collaborated with Apple Inc to develop a device packed with bluetooth-like technology that installed in the ear allows users to stream voice and music from their iPhones without the need for an intermediary device.
Denmark's expertise in sound technology can be traced back to 1904, when William Demant Holding Group was founded by Hans Demant, whose wife had a hearing disability. Nearly 110 years later, William Demant is the world's second-largest maker of hearing aids, behind Switzerland's Sonova, and its Oticon Foundation continues to fund research and support engineering students.

Strong public and private cooperation has driven development in audio products from microphones to amplifiers in Denmark, which is also home to luxury stereo maker Bang & Olufsen and sound measurement firm Br���d Kjaer.
Denmark's technical university offers an engineering acoustics masters program that attracts students from around the world and hosts a sound technology innovation network funded by the Danish Agency for Science, Technology and Innovation.

There is huge potential in an industry worth $15 billion.
The World Health Organization estimates there are 360 million people - over 5 percent of the world's population - with a disabling loss of hearing, yet current hearing aid production meets less than 10 percent of global twowaycommunication.co.uk (click the next website page) need.
Berenberg Bank estimates only one in four who suffer from hearing loss in the United States use them. That might in part be down to stigma, part to cost.

Premium products in the United States sell for about $3,000, including GN's Verso range, and GN has said it will probably launch LiNX at a 5 to 10 percent premium to that.
But there are hopes that the new technology can overcome some of the stigma by making the devices more attractive, accelerating single-digit volume growth in a market that will benefit from an ageing population and rising wealth in emerging markets.

United Nations figures project that one in five people in a world population of between 8.3 and 10.9 billion will be over 60 by 2050, up from just under one in 10 of the current 7 billion.
It was a technical challenge to get the 2.4 GHz technology used in the LiNX into a tiny, discreet hearing aid that could run for several days without frequent and fiddly battery changes.

It had a headstart on bluetooth technology for hearing aids as one of the world's biggest wireless headset makers, but conventional bluetooth devices tend to be notoriously profligate users of energy and require sizeable antennas. Overcoming those limitations gives LiNX users a cosmetic advantage by eliminating the need for a separate transmitter, typically worn round the neck.

Morgan Stanley calls the LiNX, which will be officially launched in the first quarter next year, the "first attempt to turn a hearing aid into more of a lifestyle product".
Lars Viksmoen, CEO for GN's ReSound hearing aid business, described the 2010 launch of its first 2.4 GHz product - with a third device for streaming - as a "live or die" moment.
"Had that launch failed, we perhaps wouldn't have been here today," he said.

Luckily, the 2.4 GHz frequency was picked last year by trend-setter Apple for its iPhones.
Apple went to all manufacturers and said it wanted to have a direct link from hearing aids to its phones using 2.4 GHz and, because GN was already on its second generation of such products, an instant pairing was made.
Frequent visits followed between California and Copenhagen to build up the protocol and improve power-efficiency.

The buzz surrounding the made-for-iPhone device and a major cost-cutting program have helped send GN's share price up 60 percent this year, beating the 27 percent rise in Sonova and the 6 percent rise in William Demant.
Some remain skeptical that the main user base - the over 65s - will feel the need for the connectivity offered.
"I think it will provide new avenues for innovation ... but I am less convinced it will structurally change the industry," said Tom Jones, a Berenberg analyst.

Still, GN's bigger rivals are taking stock.
William Demant, which has a 23 percent market share, will not go into details but says there is greater engagement with the mobile phone industry.
"We will have great stuff with connectivity for all types of mobile phones," Finn Mohring, Vice President of Research and Development at William Demant, who previously worked at Nokia for nearly two decades, told Reuters.

Asked if it might also collaborate with mobile makers, he said: "Probably. We will not be seen trailing in the dust on this area."
William Demant, Sonova, Germany's Siemens and privately owned Widex in Denmark all use lower frequency bands which some argue provide better sound quality. They also have 2.4 GHz in third devices, but not in their hearing aids.

Starkey Technologies in the United States uses an 800-900 MHz platform. It is working on a made-for-iPhone hearing aid but will not provide details about what technology it will use.
But most agree GN is a step ahead, and ReSound's Viksmoen said it would look to work with other mobile phone makers - the bigger Android market, for instance - after the iPhone device.

"It's a no brainer that we will not stop here," he said.
Morgan Stanley recently bumped up its organic sales growth forecast for GN's hearing aids business for 2014 to 8-9 percent from 5.8 percent, with possible further upside thanks to LiNX.
Currently the penetration rate among iPhone users in GN's target group is only 5 to 10 percent.
"We'll see if connectivity can change that," Viksmoen said.

(Editing by Will Waterman)

January 01 2014


What are the Practical Applications of the Emotiv Headset?

The Emotiv headset is a pioneering device that allows a user to interact with a virtual environment by reading his/her ‘thoughts’. Essentially, the device records the brain’s electrical signals and translates your thought-commands into virtual actions.

The Emotiv headset works by employing a device known as an EEG, or electroencephalograph, to monitor the brain waves (and emotional responses) of each gamer, almost instantaneously translating those readings into virtual reactions, movements and responses.

The practical applications could be enormously good, but also potentially hideous. On the plus side, disabled users could have their lives completely turned around, regaining an enormous amount of independence by thought-controlling various household appliances. To develop the idea, paraplegic and quadriplegic users could create thought-controlled virtual avatars and interact with other people in real time.

The potential to revolutionize the world of gaming is also very evident, as Jane McGrath, of How StuffWorks.com, explains,

“If the EEG gaming technology eventually catches on, it could revolutionize the way people think about video games in much the same way the Nintendo Wii did (or perhaps more). On the one hand, with its facial expression interpretations, the Emotiv EPOC attempts to close the gap further between the real world and the virtual world to create a more realistic experience, much like the Wii does. On the other hand, the Emotiv EPOC also tries to bridge the gap between human thought and the outside world to create an experience that's less like reality and more fantastical and dreamlike. The technology behind EPOC eliminates the middleman of motion altogether -- a staggering thought to consider”.

Of the possible downside, which is potentially chasmic, McGrath states.

“Should researchers continue making more breakthroughs to advance EEG technology, it could plausibly lead to computers that can, in essence, read someone's mind. Those with the technology could be privy to the private thoughts, opinions and emotions of others. Granted, this could be very far off, considering where the technology (and our understanding of the human brain) is now. Nevertheless, we can't rule out the possibility entirely. Perhaps we shouldn't dismiss the prospect of Thought Police (like that in George Orwell's "1984") as mere alarmism”.

Frankly, this thing creeps me out. I just don’t like the idea of a thought-activated computer, it makes my skin crawl. But hey, that’s just me. Also, if you’re a male of the species, you’d likely be dredging up porn sites every 7 seconds.

It has also been suggested in some quarters that you’ll be able to simply think of a person and that said computer system will automatically place a call to them. The last thing I want to do is be thinking about some old girlfriend of whatever and suddenly end up phoning her. No, just no. That’s a can of worms that simply doesn’t need opening up, thank you very much.

However, whatever my thoughts on it happen to be (and, for now at least, I have the option to keep them private), the Emotiv Epoc headset will soon be available to the average consumer, priced around $299 (that’s just under £200 to us Brits).

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December 22 2013


Secured Investments Secured Potential

A latest investigation by Barclays Wealth has uncovered that 100% of Qatari higher net well worth men and women have Qatar true estate investments in their portfolios. Qatari respondents expressed a optimistic viewpoint for the actual estate sector with yet another 100% stating that actual estate would be a protected investment over the next 12 months. That report, Chance and Policies: The Position of Control in Fiscal Selection Producing, is dependent on a worldwide survey of more than 2,000 HNWIs, and provides a profound assessment of wealthy investors to invest in Doha residences and Doha rentals. Beside thinking about the distinct economic persona qualities that current amongst wealthy buyers, the report displays their sights on some of the core asset group kinds like Real estate money equities from each designed and emerging markets bonds from developed governments, substantial yield/emerging marketplaces and commodities etc. Qatari HNWIs expressed uncertain sentiments in direction of investment decision in alternative techniques.nnNearly half consider they are neither dangerous nor risk-free, some perceive them to be risky whilst other folks take the total reverse check out and think they are safe. motorola radios atx 2500 car Equities more attract focus to varied investment views between Qatari traders considerable amount of respondents find investments in growing market place equities risky, however more or significantly less intently the very same proportion locate them not harmful. There is, nevertheless, a bigger variation when it comes to produced market equities, as an clear greater part of respondents considers them a secured expense opportunity for their portfolio.nnInvestments in produced authorities bonds are deemed risk-free by in excess of 50 percent of the traders whilst Corporate and expenditure grade bonds are also regarded as protected by a large % of those surveyed, whilst only minority sights them as dangerous. Substantial produce and emerging market place bonds are deemed protected by a a lot reduce proportion of investors.nnWith no respondents viewing commodities as very dangerous and really couple of looking at this asset class as really risky, Qatari traders demonstrate more self-assurance in commodities than any other marketplaces in the world. As the report evidently illustrates, there are substantial variations among traders in Qatar so this is a well timed token that the prosperity administration market demands to tailor its companies at the specific stage and that one particular for all approaches will not work.nnThe upcoming World Cup has lead to a boost in residence transactions and so landlords have reduced or eliminated phrases in incentive take-up. There are a variety of new developments at the moment in progress. These ideas are adding area to a market that is previously in excess of supplied. Qatar real estate developers keeping credit card debt have also witnessed descent in their capability to reimburse financial loans on the back again of declining rents in the nation. No matter of regional unsteadiness, Qatar true estate itself is an extremely settled condition and the economic projections like rapid growth, sustained enlargement of the vital power sector and appreciable current account surpluses.nnSome of the potential clients presently in property for sale in Qatar marketplace are the intensification of residence related to the 2022 FIFA Entire world Cup, and a increase in demand shared with hard accessibility to finance by builders that will most probably aid lower the comparatively large emptiness rates. A couple of important pitfalls to the Qatar true estate marketplace are that demand is predicted to be fairly much less than the enormous sum of new provide coming on to the market. zambia health education and communication trust Hitherto, Qatar has escaped any political turbulence of its personal but the neighborhood is disturbed and, particularly if Iran is concerned, Qatar could see trouble attain its shores.

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December 12 2013


Samsung's marketing splurge doesn't always bring bang-for-buck

Samsung Electronics Co is expected to spend around $14 billion - more than Iceland's GDP - on advertising and marketing this year, but it doesn't always get value for money.

The outlay buys the South Korean technology giant publicity in TV and cinema ads, on billboards, and at sports and arts events from the Sydney Opera House to New York's Radio City Music Hall. Google Inc spent less on buying Motorola's handset business.

And Samsung, which has a market value of $227 billion, has made no secret of keeping up its aggressive marketing and promotion splurge as it seeks to make its brand as aspirational as Apple Inc's. But the money it's spending doesn't always bring the desired result.

Last month, a Samsung-sponsored short-film contest finale at the Sydney Opera House received poor reviews for blatant product placement in a series of 'behind the scenes' videos. In Britain, viewers panned a product placement deal with ITV's popular X-Factor talent show.

"Is this a singing competition or an extended Samsung advert?" asked Twitter user Ryan Browne.
Earlier this year, Samsung's New York launch of its latest top-of-the-range Galaxy smartphone came under fire for being sexist, portraying giggling women chatting about jewelry and nail polish while the men discussed the new phone, and the company's new fridge and washing machine launch in South Africa drew similar complaints as it featured swim-suit dancers.

"Samsung's marketing is too much focused on projecting an image they aspire to: being innovative and ahead of the pack," said Oh Jung-suk, associate professor at the business school of Seoul National University. "They are failing to efficiently bridge the gap between the aspiration and how consumers actually respond to the campaign. It's got to be more aligned."

Samsung spends a bigger chunk of its annual revenue on advertising and promotion than any other of the world's top-20 companies by sales - 5.4 percent, according to Thomson Reuters data. Apple spends just 0.6 percent, and General Motors 3.5 percent.
"When your brand doesn't have a clear identity, as is the case with Samsung, to keep spending is probably the best strategy," said Moon Ji-hun, head of brand consultant Interbrand's Korean operation. "But maintaining marketing spend at that level in the longer term wouldn't bring much more benefit. No one can beat Samsung in terms of (ad) presence, and I doubt whether keeping investing at this level is effective."

In a statement to Reuters, Samsung said it will "continue to leverage our brand power to maintain growth momentum, while focusing on optimizing the efficiency of our marketing activities," reiterating recent comments by its co-CEO.
"Our product innovation and marketing strategy have made Samsung the world's most preferred smartphone brand," J.K. Shin, who also heads the group's mobile business, told investors recently. "Now we'll move from the most preferred brand to become one of the world's leading aspirational brands."

Samsung's 'Next Big Thing,' and 'It's Time to Change' marketing campaigns stress that its products are cutting-edge, and even trumpet its technology 'world firsts' before they're ready for prime time, such as curved smartphones, available only in South Korea, and curved TVs that cost nearly $10,000.

For a company long seen as a follower, this is now a big sell on it being an innovator.
But, while Samsung has become the world's biggest advertiser, spending $4.3 billion on ads alone last year, its global brand value of $39.6 billion is less than half that of Apple, which spent only $1 billion on advertising, according to Interbrand and ad researcher Ad Age.

To be sure, Samsung has a more diverse range of mobile products, which along with its chips and household appliance businesses need more marketing across different target audiences. But the heavy marketing spend suggests a need to convince consumers that it belongs at the top.

Apple can afford to spend less as it already has that brand recognition, and cachet.

"The stronger, more differentiated the product, the less it needs to be propped up by advertising," said Horace Dediu, founder of independent research firm Asymco and a former Nokia business development manager, referring to Apple's ad spend.
Defending its marketing budget, Samsung can point to its lead in the global smartphone market - it sells one in every three smartphones and has more than double Apple's market share. The Korean group's savvy adverts mocking Apple devotees, and heavy investment in distribution channels have strengthened its Galaxy mobile brand.

"The Galaxy brand has established itself, and the Samsung brand is now much stronger than Android or any of the other OEM brands, except Apple," said Benedict Evans, an independent technology and media consultant in London. "The underlying problem is that Samsung has established itself as a dependable quality brand, not a differentiated or premium quality product, so it does best where it's not competing directly with Apple."

Samsung works with a number of advertising agencies, including Publicis Groupe, Interpublic Group, and MDC Partners.
Samsung's latest marketing splash has been on its Galaxy Gear smartwatch, which has been almost universally panned by reviewers. The device has been aggressively marketed through adverts and collaboration with fashion shows - yet only 800,000 Gears have been shipped since its launch two months ago.

Compare that to the more than 5 million Note 3 smartphones that have been shipped since its late-September launch, and it suggests fewer than a fifth of the Note buyers are also buying the accessory device.
Undeterred, Samsung has vowed more Gear promotions for the crucial year-end holiday season as it seeks to lead the wearable computer market and prove its innovation credentials.

"Probably Samsung knows better than anyone that Gear will not become a mainstream product. Still, they are trying to convey the message that 'we are first with such technology,' which they hope will help build their brand as an advanced technology firm," said Interbrand's Moon.

A deep-pocketed Samsung - it earned operating profit of $9.6 billion in the third quarter alone - is still pushing the envelope to win over consumers.

This month, the big-spending official sponsor of the past eight Winter and Summer Olympics launched a fantasy-inspired soccer marketing campaign ahead of the mid-2014 World Cup in Brazil - selecting 11 of the world's top players, including Argentine striker Lionel Messi, for a virtual match to save Earth from aliens - with the help of Galaxy devices.

(Additional reporting by Patturaja Murugaboopathy in BANGALORE; Editing by Ian Geoghegan)

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