Mobile technology could help police predict future locations of crime

July 17, 2012 by  
Filed under Every thing you Need to Know

Police may be able to predict the future locations of crime – echoing science fiction film Minority Report – according to computer scientists at the University of Birmingham.

A smart phone may soon be able to predict, down to 20 metres, where its user might be going, according to researchers who have devised an algorithm which can capture a users movement patterns.

The researchers now hope to use the algorithm to support the development of mobile apps for personalised information retrieval and marketing.

This new data could be also by used by the police, advertisers and retailers, the university said.

Dr Mirco Musolesi, from the university’s School of Computer Science, who led the study, said: “Information extracted from the usage of a mobile phone is an intriguing source of data about people behaviour.

“we have shown that the accuracy of the prediction of an individual’s future locations could be improved if his or her previous movement and the mobility information of his or her social group are taken into account.”

Dr Manlio de Domenico, who took part in the research, said: “in a world dominated by social networks and always-connected mobile devices, the potential applications of our study are many, in particular for marketing, advertising, and personalised services.

“If a system is able to predict with reasonable accuracy where the user is directed, it could provide geo-localised and personalised recommendations based on his or her future movement.

“for example, a user might receive meal offers related to restaurants in the area they are moving towards.”

Antonio Lima, a PhD student of the School of Computer Science, added: “in order to predict movements of people accurately, this study leverages their synchronicity and correlation.

“for example, friends John and Emily usually have lunch together either at a Chinese restaurant close to John’s office.

“sometimes, though, they like to go a little farther to an Italian restaurant.

“when Emily is heading to the Italian place, this algorithm uses this information to predict that John is very likely to go there soon as well.”

The research has won the Nokia Mobile Data Open Challenge, in the area of ‘big data mining’, where participants analysed a large dataset containing various information about 200 mobile users over more than a year.

The authors of the study will continue to work on the underlying questions related to the modelling and understanding of human behaviour, such as ‘why do we move in the geographic space in the way we do?’

Windows Phone 8 May Be The Most Developer Friendly Phone On The Market

July 5, 2012 by  
Filed under Every thing you Need to Know

Apps are where it’s at in today’s economy. if you can make a great app, you are guaranteed a steady income and the benefit of working for yourself. Having an easy-to-use development ecosystem makes all the difference in attracting people to your device, hence why Apple is able to get so many exclusive apps on iOS. Microsoft is hoping to emulate that success with Windows Phone 8.

Microsoft is obviously proud of the work they’ve done with Windows Phone 8 and they want to let developers know that they have not left them out. In a recent blog post, the Windows Phone 8 team details all the features that they feel should make developers want to make apps for Windows Phone.

The biggest and best part about Windows Phone 8 is the shared core. That means that the OS running on Windows Phone 8 and Windows 8 is nearly identical. It makes it super easy to develop an app for one platform and then port it to the others. Granted, Windows Phone 8 apps are meant to be ported to tablets and vice versa. I don’t know if there’s much of a market for mobile apps on desktops unless it’s gaming related.

Going hand in hand with the shared core is the native code support. to enable the ease of development across platforms, Microsoft has made it so that developers can code their apps in C++ and C. another benefit of this is that developers can mix and match code to match their needs. The team uses the example of a game for Windows Phone 8 that was built in DirectX but uses XAML for the main menu.

On another note, Microsoft made their fortune and name in Enterprise. It’s what the company is best at and it seems kind of insane that they haven’t adopted more Enterprise support into Windows Phone yet. That’s all going to change with Windows Phone 8, however, as the company will be adding two new features for enterprise developers: Company Hub and LOB app deployment.

The Company Hub is a custom app framework that can be built as “one-stop shop for enterprise-specific apps and information.” LOB app deployment will help companies control how their business-related apps get deployed to devices, either through installing from a Web site, SharePoint or email.

As for the other features that developers can look forward to in Windows Phone 8, here’s the breakdown:

Improved multitasking – In Windows Phone 7.5, we introduced multitasking. In Windows Phone 8, we’re expanding it to cover two critical new scenarios – VoIP and background location services. now you can continue tracking your progress on a run while keeping up on the latest sports scores or quickly check a text message while taking a VoIP call.

Talk to your apps – Speech has always been an integral part of Windows Phone experience. In Windows Phone 8, we’re taking it to the next level by delivering a comprehensive speech platform for developers. you can now enable your apps to be launched with commands to perform (“Start Netflix, play Princess Bride”), or allow users to issue speech commands that work within the app itself.

In-app purchase – We’re committed to help provide new ways for our developer community to make money on the Windows Phone platform. In Windows Phone 8, we’ll deliver an in-app purchase service that lets developers sell additional content and experiences within the app itself or via the Windows Phone Marketplace and the new built-in Wallet feature.

Marketplace expansion – with Windows Phone 8, apps will be available for download from Marketplace in more than 180 countries and regions—roughly three times what we serve today. Developers in these markets can also submit apps via AppHub, up from 38 markets today.

It’s obvious that Microsoft is definitely catering to developers, but will it be enough to sway people away from the already entrenched iOS and Android? Those who have already been developing for Windows Phone 7 will obviously make the jump, but I just can’t shake the feeling that it may be too little, too late for Microsoft at this point. I really hope not, however, as Windows Phone 8 is looking great.

#116;

How Face(.com) Recognition Could Fit Into Facebook Mobile

June 2, 2012 by  
Filed under Every thing you Need to Know

Face.com’s CEO has shrugged off rumors that it is being acquired by Facebook for up to $100 million when we asked. But the addition of its facial recognition tech to Facebook’s mobile apps could make sure friend tagging continues as the social network’s user base shifts away from desktops.

In fact, about 45% of users of Face.com’s app KLIK end up sharing their photos on Facebook, which shows how popular mobile facial recognition could be.

For the record, Face.com people are keeping their cards close to their chest. Face.com’s CEO Gil Hirsch flatly tells TechCrunch: “we have nothing new to announce or share at this time.”

But even while Facebook has been pushing a lot of fancy new enhancements to its mobile offerings (its Camera mobile app being the most recent) there are still a surprising number of features that have yet to be covered by the company.

So, perhaps because nature abhors a vacuum, we’re now getting a full whack of reports of what the company might buy or launch to make up for that, including today’s Face.com news that Facebook is looking to buy mobile/PC browser company Opera and hiring ex-Apple hardware engineers to work on its own phone. (Btw Opera is also giving a similarly no-news line: “Everything I’ve read has been news to me,” one Opera person told me.)

We may just, quite possibly, be in the middle of a Facebook news bubble and that half of what we are reading about Facebook and mobile may never come to pass — or could take ages to come to fruition: Buffy the Android slayer is reportedly still six to 12 months away going by the timing in the AllThingsD post from November. and this is not the first time we’ve heard that Face.com is in the Facebook acquisition line.

But, if you swallow that large grain of salt, there is a huge amount of sense in the social network looking at beefing up its mobile arsenal with companies like these, which offer features that Facebook currently does not, and therefore offer the promise of getting mobile users to spend more time on the social network — something that is a concern for the company.

At the moment, Facebook’s popular photo tag suggestion feature does not work from mobile, only on web uploads on PCs; on mobile, users can tag by starting to type a name for tagging options to appear, a spokesperson notes to us.

Face.com meanwhile offers facial-recognition software both for PC-based and mobile usage, with the key being that it covers mobile.

Face.com has its own iPhone mobile app, KLIK, beta-launched in January, and then rolled out as a 1.0 version in the app store earlier this month, which shows off the full range of its features.

These include facial recognition, facial-friendly photo filters and a location-based photo network — all services you could see sitting naturally in Facebook’s existing services.

Face.com tells us that Klik had over 100,000 downloads of the app in the first three days — signs of stickiness and popularity.

Equally interesting, Face.com also offers an API to integrate its technology into other apps. (One company suggested for an integration: Path.)

The API functionality could come in handy as Facebook looks at more ways of extending its functionality and touchpoints outside of its walled garden, especially since an Android version is likely to come soon from Face.com.

Opera, last week’s acquisition rumor, offers a similar promise of covering new ground for Facebook.

In its case it’s about a web browser — which, as others have reported, would be an essential feature if Facebook were to launch its own mobile platform.

That would be to compete against the likes of Android from Google and iOS from Apple in smartphones. But having web browsing capabilities could also help Facebook make more of a push in the lower-end feature phone space — an area where it has already made advances with services like Facebook zero and its acquisition of Snaptu to improve the feature phone experience to target users in developing markets.

Coincidentally, Opera pushed itself as a “social mobile” company in February, when it launched the Opera Mini next browser, offering “Smart Page” social media sharing features specifically for feature phone users.

Opera says it has some 200 million users of its browsers today, but if its social functionality that Facebook is after, there may be others worth watching, too. For example, the social mobile browser company Rockmelt, which has raised nearly $40 million from Andreessen-Horowitz, Accel, Khosla Ventures and others, currently offers an iOS app.

In the meantime, Opera has seen a little lift in its fortunes since the rumors broke last week: today its share price appears to have been its highest in a year, rising by 24.4 percent and closing at €5.70 a share.

[Additional reporting by Josh Constine]