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Weekend Technology Roundup

Hey Zaarly community. For those of you who didn’t have a chance to catch recent headlines, here’s a roundup of some of the more exciting technology stories of the week:

According to the Los Angeles Times, Barnes and Noble will be announcing their new eReader on May 24, although the makers didn’t include what the new device would be called, cost, or look like. This will be an update to the two eReaders Barnes & Noble have already released, the Nook and the Nook color, which are competing with Amazon’s Kindle and the Sony Reader.

Next, for all you car aficionados, Jaguar announced it is working with F1 Williams to develop C-X75, a $1.1 million dollar hybrid SUPERCAR. Imagine blowing passed a Prius in one of those babies.

According to Wired, Adrian Hallmark, Jaguar’s brand director said:

“The C-X75 received an incredible reception as a concept car. We’ve been building on that momentum and there is a clear business case for this exclusive halo model. No other vehicle will better signify Jaguar’s renewed confidence and excellence in technological innovation than this.”

Worried about the side effects of old age and the those endless days you spent tanning by the pool? Well, a new technology developed by the Fraunhofer Institute may help take some of the edge off. According to CNET, researchers in Germany have developed a sleek, flat microscope capable of imaging suspicious areas of skin for skin cancer.

The design uses multiple tiny optical sensors to scan and stitch together a bigger, clearer image of affected areas. According to Fraunhofer’s website:

Each slice is roughly 300 x 300 µm² in size and fits seamlessly alongside the neighboring slice; a computer program then assembles these to generate the overall picture. The difference between this technology and a scanner microscope: all of the image slices are recorded simultaneously.

The imaging system consists of three glass plates with the tiny lenses applied to them, both on top and beneath. These three glass plates are then stacked on top of one another. Each channel also contains two achromatic lenses, so the light passes through a total of eight lenses.

The company says it will take another couple of years before it reaches the market, and eventually, will be mass produced and available to everyone for relatively cheap.

Ever played Angry Birds? Think you’re pretty good? Well guess what, you actually suck at it compared to the robot OptoFidelity developed that can nail 3 stars on every level, no problem. Check out the video above to have your mind blown.

Lastly, Groupon and Live Nation announced that they will be partnering together to launch a new online ticketing deals channel, called GrouponLive.

GrouponLive, which will launch “in time for the summer concert season,” the companies said in a statement, will utilize Groupon’s local reach to market event tickets sold through Live Nation. This sounds like a match made in heaven for these two companies. To get details, those interested can sign up for the service at grouponlive.com.

With the Zaarly launch just around the corner, it looks like 2011 is already shaping up to be a very exciting year in tech.


Go “Green” With Your Smartphone

photo: Waseem Sayegh

Gas premiums are at a high, the price and use of energy is consistently rising, food costs have been on an upward climb, all with no end in sight. The result of all these rising costs have pushed many out of their comfort zones, increased their stress levels, and have them asking, “how can I live a sustainable life and save money?” There is no one-way of doing it and a lot of it consists of disconnecting from many things you take for granted. But something that many people do not realize is that they have a major advantage on how to save money and energy, their smartphones.

With the ever growing use of technology and advancement, people who have a smartphone can easily access applications and information on the go to help them efficiently control their expenses and monitor energy usage to save money. Tracking bank statements and making to-do lists have never been more effortless, but another way many people have been cutting costs is by “going green”. Going green generally means consuming less, buying and using sustainable products while being actively conscious about the environment. For example, the use of smart cars or more compact cars that get better gas milage have saved drivers tons of money and release less emissions into the atmosphere. If you are like myself, a broke college student, and can’t afford one of those bad boys here are several apps that you can download on your phone that will actively help save you money, the environment, and energy.

How to Make Your Car An Eco-Friendly Vehicle:

Saving money on gas is on top of many commuters and travelers priority lists. With the nation’s average reaching nearly $4 per gallon, the cost of a weeks trip to work and back has become very troublesome. That is why it is very important to keep your car in the best running shape. Efficient cars equal great gas mileage, but who has time to cover every detail that goes into keeping a car in good shape? I would like to introduce the Gas Cubby app. It is the ultimate tool for tracking gas mileage and vehicle maintenance. Very easy to use interface that tracks multiple cars, syncs online, displays graphs, and gives you service reminders. Gas Cubby can easily become your favorite passenger seat partner.

Buying the Right Products:

photo: Royce Bair

Finding the right product that is not costly, but also eco-friendly is a struggle in itself. It can take up to hours for someone to find out what products are “green” and which aren’t. So why not go out and get the FREE app called GoodGuide. This app helps you find safe, healthy, and sustainable products while out shopping. GoodGuide allows you to browse, search or simply scan a barcode to see detailed ratings of environment, and social responsibilities for more that 70,000 products and companies. A smart pick up for those who are shoppers and need “green” info on the go.

Saving Green While Being Green:

Now how can you save money while simultaneously living a sustainable and environmentally friendly life? The best possible app for that would be Green Genie! The Green Genie is “your complete guide to a sustainable lifestyle”. The application, which is only $.99, features “over 100 projects and tips, each on telling you the environmental benefits and how much money it will save you”. There is lots of informative news in this app, as well as activities that are curbed to your lifestyle. I recently purchased this app.

Using Zaarly to Conserve:

photo: Sreenisreedharan (Flickr)

The anticipation is killing me. The Zaarly application can have an amazing impact on living a “green” life. With Zaarly you can browse through tons of listings and find ways to earn money, but also save a person from driving themselves somewhere to purchase a bagel, or a cup of coffee. You can call it “Social Network Carpooling;” it puts money in your pocket and you’re compressing the energy consumption of two individuals into one. Check out a previous Zaarly blog post on how Zaarly can end the use of taxis.

Clean Technology & Research News:

Greentech Media’s application “allows you to take news and research from the fast-paced green and clean technology world with you”. Get the latest in sustainable news and breakthroughs. There are tons of informative articles in this news application for you to eat up.

You do not have to make huge changes to your lifestyle in order to conserve; all it takes are small adjustments and that is the most important thing I learned while researching these superb green applications.

Joseph Aslam

Could the Emergence of Zaarly Signal the End of the Taxi?

If you’re a young club-goer living in Santa Monica, California and you take a roundtrip taxi to Hollywood (about 12 miles each way) twice a month, you’ll end up paying over $1,600 per year making that trip. That represents 50% of the total amount the average American household spends on healthcare each year.

Why so expensive? Well, cabbies have bills to pay. Their cars exist for the sole purpose of transporting people in exchange for money. If they don’t bring enough in, all the cash goes towards car payments, the cab company, and, depending on the city in which they operate, expensive licensing fees. After that, they may be left with nothing to take home for themselves. Taxis are so pricey because drivers are being crushed under the weight of their operating costs.

Compare that to a hypothetical world where an individual needing a ride would simply get on their smartphone and name their desired location and the amount they are willing to pay. Then, car-owners (literally anyone who owns a car) within the same geographic area could make the decision as to whether or not to accept the offer. If you’re heading to Hollywood anyways, why not let someone occupy your passenger seat for $10? In this scenario, there is literally no marginal cost for adding a passenger. The taxi cab business model simply can’t compete with that.

In this same hypothetical world, if you own a car and are bored with nothing to do on a Friday night, why not check your smartphone to see if anyone nearby needs a ride? You already own your car, so the only marginal cost for you is gas. If it takes a gallon of gas for the round trip from Santa Monica to Hollywood, your marginal cost is $4.60. Anything you receive in excess of that is pure profit.

Think about it. As a poor college student, would you have accepted $20 to drive someone across town? I know I would have.  Give five rides in an evening and pay for your biology textbook or a week’s worth of bar tabs.

Within the next few weeks this hypothetical world could become a reality. Zaarly’s proximity based, real-time platform will allow anyone to put a price on anything (my focus in this post is on transportation, but the possibilities are truly endless).

Could Zaarly Kill the Taxi Industry?

Zaarly can match drivers to riders in mere seconds. No yellow cars with a partition and a meter needed. Peer-to-peer rideshare is not a brand new concept, but the only programs that seem to achieve success are those that involve routes that are known well in advance and are recurring, like work commutes. What sets Zaarly apart is the “real-time” aspect of the platform. Currently, I can go on Craigslist and click the “rideshare” section and request a ride from Santa Monica to Long Beach, but I’d have to create a post and description, click “publish,” and wait for the confirmation email to come through before responses came pouring in (which would come over a three day period from seemingly anonymous users). Zaarly can take a three day process and shorten it to a matter of seconds. I choose where I want to go, when I want to go, and how much I’m willing to pay, and someone nearby will accept, provided the offer was reasonable.

With a taxi or Craigslist, there’s an uneasy feeling of anonymity that riders feel: they have no clue how good or bad previous customers’ experiences were with a given car/driver. With Zaarly, the user-feedback system will provide comfort and allow you to choose a driver who is experienced and trustworthy. Don’t want to accept a ride from someone new to the service? Then don’t. User feedback will make drivers accountable for the experiences they provide.

Zaarly will be faster, closer, and more personal than Craigslist when it comes to the exchange of any good or service (not just rides). Until now, craigslist has provided a nice moat around the space that Zaarly intends to fill, not allowing would-be challengers an opportunity to gain any traction in this realm.

Zaarly has the platform and the firepower necessary to disrupt the taxi cab industry in a way that Craigslist never could. Providing a ride across town is practically unskilled labor requiring only a driver’s license and a car, assets that over 90% of households already have at their disposal. With that kind of supply currently sitting idle, it’s about time that a trip across town became a whole lot cheaper.