My Thoughts on Technology and Jamaica: October 2014

Friday, October 31, 2014

US$235 Bluesmart Connected Carry-On Suitcase - How a Proximity and GPS Suitcase makes securing your Luggage Easier

Happy Halloween to my American readers, this is the Halloween article for my blog! No, I DON’T celebrate Halloween but still, I’m wishing everyone to be safe and sound at the end of the ghoulish night, as per the song Safe and Sound by Capital Cities!

Ever travel on an airline and when you’re checking out you can’t locate your luggage?

With so many tracking systems to locate lost items, such as the Nokia Treasure Tag for locating lost or stolen items as described in my blog article entitled “Nokia Treasure Tag to launch in April 2014 - Pirates on the Caribbean on Stranger Tides will find locating lost keys that much easier”, it seems that the time has come for a tracking device for Suitcases as well!

Introducing the latest Indiegogo campaign to raise funds for a GPS Trackable suitcase called the Bluesmart, billed as the world’s first Cary-on suitcase as reported in the article “Bluesmart carry-on suitcase can't get lost”, published October 23, 2014 10:51 AM PDT by Amanda Kooser, CNET News.

The US$235 Bluesmart Connected Carry-On Suitcase is basically a smartphone connected suitcase that a use Bluetooth to create proximity alert if it strays too far from your side. It's built strong so that the TSA can’t just bust into your suitcase with asking you nicely first.

Made of three (3) layers of polycarbonate, it's got a 34-liter capacity weigh 8.5 pounds albeit the team designing the suitcase promises something lighter is in the pipeline. Nice set of wheel on this baby, four (4) to be exact, with a waterproof zipper and an anodized aluminum handle for that nice solid grip.

And that's just the aesthetics.

Its internal gadgetry has gotten them US$$678,766 in funding, totally surpassing their precious goal of US$50,000 with some 24 days to go as of October 31st 2014. Once they’re completed their funding round, they expect to ship by July 2015 for US$235, so this won't make a great Christmas gift, but something worth considering for Summer vacation in 2015.

Ok, so it's got a proximity alert via Bluetooth and trackable via GPS. Still, why the huge interest in the world's first connected suitcase? One word really: convenience of Travel.

US$235 Bluesmart Connected Carry-On Suitcase - How a Proximity and GPS suitcase makes securing your luggage easier

Yes convenience, as this baby does it all and is well thought out by the Bluesmart Team as noted in the article “This suitcase knows how much it weighs, where it is, and charges your gadgets”, published October 20, 2014 By Andy Boxall, DigitalTrends.

It has a digitally controlled lock that's opened using your Apple iPhone or Google Android smartphone. Should you drift out of range of the Bluetooth Proximity Sensors, it's programmed to go into lockdown and only open in your presence or with a special key which you alone possess. Even so, it’s TSA friendly, allowing them access should they want to inspect your luggage for no apparent reason.

It's go a built in scale that allows you to weight your suitcase to see if you’re over-packed. Best of all for the Tech obsessed, it's got a built in Battery that allows you to charge your gadgets, should in case you get stranded at an airport under attack by Russian Rebel separatists and decided to cut off the power and storm the building.

For the social media say, the GPS Tracker means not only can you track it out of range of your proximity alert, but if it gets misplaced, you can actually locate it in all that mess of Suitcases on the airport. All that trackable data can be uploaded to a social Network, so your enemies can follow where you’ve been and how much stuff you’re packed into your suitcase.

Plus it's got neon blue accents, which'll make it stand out real easy in a crowd of look-alike suitcases.

I hardly travel, but I like this idea of NOT losing my suitcase and being able to locate it. Bluesmart is an idea that is necessary and it behooves me as to why no one thought of putting a GPS tracker in a suitcase or even making a secure suitcase that can be opened ONLY by your smartphone.

Still, it's not too late as Indigogo supporters have heard the clarion call and have pitched in to get your US$235 Bluesmart Connected Carry-On Suitcase delivered to you….safe and sound!

Noni Wine from Journey's End Wine Company by November 2014 - Panacea among the Flavours of the Past an @ackeewine success this Christmas 2014

“When you smell a ripe noni it is very offensive but when it being processed for fermentation it smells almost like perfume, and so it has a very fruity after-taste almost like an apple flavour, plus it's great for cooking”

CEO of Journeys End, Howard Coxe commenting on Journey's End Wine Company Noni Wine product to be launched in November 2014

I know that almost any fruit, once it has Fructose or Sucrose sugar can make Alcoholic Beverages, be it Wine or even Rum as explained in my blog article entitled “How to make Jamaican Sorrel Wine – JA$2500 for 5 1 Liter Bottles of Sorrel Wine goes well with Chocolate Christmas Cake”.

That's new to me but that's exactly what Journey's End Wine Company is currently doing; making Wine from the bad smelling Noni (Morinda citrifolia) fruit that's slated to make its full appearance in Megamart by November 2014 as declared in the article “Local manufacturer launches noni Wine”, published Wednesday, October 15, 2014 BY KARENA BENNETT Business reporter, The Jamaica Observer.

The two year old (2) company has quite an interesting history as regaled in the article “The Journey's satisfying for Howard Coxe”, published Sunday, June 15, 2014 By AINSWORTH MORRIS Career & Education writer, The Jamaica Observer. Most interestingly, they make other brewed products as well as part of their Flavours of the Past line of Wines:

1.      Ackee
2.      Coffee
3.      Ginger
4.      Pimento berry
5.      Sorrel

Yes, you read that right!

Ginger Wine has been made by the Journey's End Wine Company for the past two (2) years, which is the exact same VAP (Value Added Products) as suggested in my blog article entitled “Ministry of Agriculture say Ginger can achieve 5% of Global demand by 2019 - Boost to Ginger Farming Coming as it’s easy to Grow”.

Their Noni Wine, however has me fascinated, albeit Ackee Wine would also make another great blog post based on the article “Ackee Wine - Meet the makers, Journey's End Wines Jamaica” viewed October 31 2014 by Lindsworth Deer by Wellesley, My Island Jamaica.

Their product is sweetened with honey and is sold in 150 ml bottles that'll start popping up in Megamart in November 2014, just in time for the Holiday shopping, if Wine is on your list of must-have items.

According to CEO of Journeys End, Howard Coxe, they're awaiting the go-ahead from Megamart to start tempting you to take Noni Wine seriously, quote: “Right now we are seeking permission to get shelf space”.

Journey's End Wine Company Noni Wine - 750ml Treatment for Norman Manley International Airport

Plans are already afoot for 750 ml bottles, rough the same size as the 1 Litre Red Stripe along with its companion, the 1 Litre Guinness that Red Stripe introduced during their Inaugural Red Stripe Beer Festival as noted in my blog article entitled “Red Stripe Beer Festival in the Middle of May 2014 a success – Beer Festival an Annual Event to stave off Sweet Palcohol”.

Noni (Morinda citrifolia) in its natural form is good for a variety of ailments due to the enzyme Proxeronase which liberates xeronine, an alkaloid that stimulates the re-growth of cells and the absorption of nutrients in the small intestine. So says Scientific Officer, Dr. Sylvia Mitchell at the Biotechnology Centre, University of the West Indies, Mona campus in the article “Noni retards tumour growth”, published Wednesday October 23, 2002, The Jamaica Gleaner.

The range of ailments that Noni (Morinda citrifolia) can treat is amazing but is confined to ailments that result in a lack of xeronine as listed below:

1.      Arthritis
2.      Asthma
3.      Bursitis
4.      Cancers
5.      Chronic fatigue syndrome
6.      Depression,
7.      Eczema
8.      Gastric ulcers
9.      Gum disease
10.  Headaches
11.  Heart disease
12.  High blood pressure
13.  Indigestion
14.  Muscle aches and pains
15.  Psoriasis
16.  Sprains
17.  Tendonitis
18.  Urinary tract ailments

It'll be interesting to see if it'll be as popular as their Ackee Wine, which is interesting enough in itself for me to do a decent one-page article. 

For now, Noni Wine is gonna be a hit this Christmas, not because of its taste, but because of its curative properties. 

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Ministry of Agriculture say Ginger can achieve 5% of Global demand by 2019

“Once the farmers continue to embrace the best practices, and there is sufficient buy-in from the market, the country could meet that demand "in five years"”

Ministry of Agriculture Export Division General Manager Byron Henry commenting on Jamaica intention to meet 5% of global Ginger demand by 2019

This might come as a surprise to many Jamaicans, but despite the negative things being said about Jamaican Agriculture, we are really on the cusp of Greatness!

We’re already in the process of exporting Mangoes to the United States of America, once we have a Processing Plant will be needed to meet the requirements of the US Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service as explained in my blog article entitled “Jamaica to Export Mangoes to America - Why US$20 Million Processing Plant for Radiation Therapy and Hot Water Baptism needed to Tap US$500 Million US Market”.

The Ministry of Agriculture recently revealed that Jamaica can produce up to 5% of global demand of Ginger (Zingiber Officinale) by 2019 as stated in the article “Jamaica could meet global demand for its Ginger by 2019”, published Sunday, October 19, 2014, The Jamaica Observer.

According to Ministry of Agriculture Export Division General Manager Byron Henry, it's economically feasible as when our powdered Ginger (Zingiber Officinale) is compared to the imported variety, mainly from China, ours is cheaper:

1.      US$1000 per Kilogram for Imported Ginger (Zingiber Officinale)
2.      US$813 per Kilogram for Jamaican Ginger (Zingiber Officinale)

Production is looking quite positive in 2014:

1.      320 hectares (790 acres) under production
2.      3,000 metric tons (tonnes) expected yield

To put that into perspective, when compared to figures for Ginger (Zingiber Officinale) yield from 2009:

1.      5 times the 409 tonnes
2.      20 tonnes more exported than what we import

To achieve the 5% of global Demand of Ginger would require:

1.      1,460 hectares (3607.7 acres) under production
2.      21,000 metric tons (tonnes) expected yield

So after Mangoes and possibly Sorrel, which can potentially be made into Sorrel Wine for export as a unique Jamaican Product as explained in my blog article entitled “How to make Jamaican Sorrel Wine – JA$2500 for 5 1 Liter Bottles of Sorrel Wine goes well with Chocolate Christmas Cake”, Ginger (Zingiber Officinale) is the next crop that Jamaica has the potential to export competitively to the USA and even Europe.

Ministry of Agriculture and Ginger - Boost to Ginger Farming as it’s easy to Grow

The Ministry of Agriculture isn't sitting by idly.

Especially as growing Ginger (Zingiber Officinale) is relatively easy as it start sprouting within 5-10 days after planting, requires no fertilizer, albeit that increases yield and the ratoons that remain in the ground produce Ginger (Zingiber Officinale) year after year as noted in RADA (Rural Agricultural Development Authority) Growing Ginger Brochure.

When the leaves start to die off, usually after eight to ten months (8 to 10 months), the Ginger (Zingiber Officinale) is ready for harvesting as noted in the article “Growing Ginger Root”, viewed by Lindsworth Deer on October 30 2014, Tropical Permaculture.

Its extract from its powdered form has known medicinal uses should also be of interest to the Ministry of Health according to Dr. Tony Vendryes in his article “GINGER Is A GREAT MEDICINE”, Published Tuesday July 12, 2011, The Jamaica Gleaner:

1.      Cancer
2.      Inflammation
3.      Motion Sickness/morning sickness
4.      Side effects of Chemotherapy
5.      Sore throats from Cold
6.      Upset stomach

Despite missed opportunities, including a JA$500 million (US$6 million) dollar opportunity reported back in December 2011 to export Ginger (Zingiber Officinale) to an American company named REED that produces Ginger Beer and was seeking supplies of Ginger (Zingiber Officinale) from Jamaica in the article “Jamaica Squanders $500m Ginger Export Prospect”, published Friday December 2, 2011, The Jamaica Gleaner, the Ministry of Agriculture has still pushed ahead with incentives to increase production overall.

They’re been proactively promoting the Ginger Industry since February 2012, when the Ministry of Agriculture put in place measures to encourage Jamaicans to grow Ginger (Zingiber Officinale) as noted in the article “510 Acres To Be Planted With Ginger, Turmeric”, published Sunday February 26, 2012, by Avia Collinder, Business Writer, The Jamaica Gleaner.

This should be especially welcome News to the Farmers in Hanover and Westmoreland, the current leader in Ginger (Zingiber Officinale) production in Jamaica as declared in the article “St James, Hanover Lead Ginger Production”, published Saturday April 26, 2014 by Claudia Gardner, Assignment Coordinator, The Jamaica Gleaner.

During 2013, the Ministry of Agriculture took a deeper interest in the Ginger Industry:

1.      JA$31 million in 2012
2.      JA$114 million in 2013
3.      JA$40 million of the 2013 figure was interest-free loans to 502 farmers to cultivate 445 hectares (1099.61 acres)

Jamaica's is still in a recovery mode from the Rhizome rot and bacterial wilt diseases which devastated Jamaica's Ginger Industry during the 90's. 5% of Global Demand for Ginger (Zingiber Officinale) is now in our grasp with even more for VAP (Value added Products) such as Wines and Powdered Essence that can fetch a great deal more on the Global Export Market.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

How Microblink's PhotoMath App Solves Algebraic Math Equations and makes Online Banking Safer

“Children can use it as a tool which helps them to learn Math, while parents can use it to check the homework to their children. With PhotoMath, you can have a Math teacher in your pocket”

Excerpt from the description of PhotoMath updated Saturday October 25th 2014 on the Apple iTunes Store

Math Teachers at the MICO University College, you just got replaced by PhotoMath, the World's First Camera Calculator. High School students; now would be a good time to cancel those Math Extra Lessons classes or get a Windows Phone or Apple iPhone smartphone, whichever you can do first!

Remember Season 4, Episode 12 of The Big Bang Theory entitled the Bus Pants Utilization when the Gang wanted to make an App suggested by Leonard Hofstadter that could solve any mathematics equation? Here’s the video to jog your memory!

Well, for the math-challenged, rejoice, as your Christmas and relief from the drudgery of solving complex algebraic mathematical problems is over!

Microblink, the London-based company behind the PhotoPay Technology used for automated Bill Payment in European Banks, has decided to use its technology for evil by developing an App that solves mathematical equations as reported in the article “PhotoMath Is A Free App That Can Solve Equations Through Smartphone Cameras”, published 10/22/2014 7:58PM, by Amit Chowdhry, Forbes.

The free App, billed as the world's first Camera Calculator, is currently only available for Apple iPhones and not Google Android smartphones, can be seen as either a Student's little helper or a Math Teacher's Nightmare as described in the article “Use your phone's camera to solve equations with PhotoMath”, published October 28, 2014 11:01 AM PDT by Matt Elliott, CNET News.

It can solve arrange of mathematical problems:

1.      Basic arithmetic
2.      Fractions
3.      Decimal numbers
4.      Linear equations
5.      Logarithms

The website for PhotoMath pitches the product and the accompanying video explains in greater detail how PhotoMath Works:

Basically it uses OCR (Optical Character Recognition) from another App that they developed called PDF417 Barcode Scanner that reads 1D barcodes, 2D barcodes and QR codes to read the algebraic Math Equation on printed pages recognize it and solve the equation for the unknown.

How to use PhotoMath – Algebraic Equations a Step at a time with a Math App Teacher

There are four (4) buttons on the screen:

1.      History
2.      Light
3.      Steps
4.      Help

History is just like the one in your computer Browser; it keeps track of the previous mathematics equations you’ve solved. The light just turns on your smartphone Camera light so as to allow you to solve equations in the dark. 

Steps to me is the best part; it can show you in steps how to solve the equation. And of course Help assists you with the App, albeit in my book, if you need help using this simple App, then no Math teacher, real or AI (Artificial intelligent) can help you with your math problems!

The instructions for use are quite straightforward:

1.      Place the equation with the red square frame, dragging the frame to enclose the entire equation while holding your hand steady
2.      PhotoMath will then solve the equation and display the answer onscreen
3.      Tap the Steps button, swiping up or down to view the Steps to solve the equation

First off the bat, I'd like to say it would be great if it I had a Social Media element where math-minded peeps could also hold conversation about Math equations and explore different aspects of Mathematics. A Developer Platform would also be good, as this has uses beyond just solving mathematical equations but also applications in 3D Geometry as well.

More updates are coming, so it’s early days yet as to what the developers of PhotoMath  have in store for the mathematically-challenged. That being said, PhotoMath does have limitations though:

1.      It can only read printed text, not written text or test on a printed screen, unlike the App proposed in the show the Big Bang Theory
2.      It needs refinement, as it often mistakes the “x” unknown in the equation for the multiplication sign
3.      Has difficulty identifying the unknown in the equation, albeit it solves for the value of the unknown
4.      The  red coloured Frame may not be large enough the capture all of the equation.

Microblink PhotoMath - How OCR can make Online Banking Simpler and Safer

Microblink PhotoMath, as simple as it looks, is harnessing the full power of all those cores in your smartphone.

Their technology is a lot like MadBits, a company that Twitter purchased as they specialize in the emergent field of Artificial Vision that involves the development of AI (Artificial Intelligence) Systems that can extract data from images as explained in my blog article entitled “Twitter buys Madbits – How Torch7 powered Artificial Vision will make Twitter more like Facebook

Microblink knows this; they plan to use their PhotoMath App and its technology to build Apps to enable online banking using Credit Cards.

Instead of having to enter your Credit Cards, possibly such an App would automatically scan your Credit Cards details and utilize them on online shopping websites such as Amazon or even Facebook and Twitter's soon-to-come Buy Button as described in my blog article entitled “Twitter’s one-click Buy Button – How One-Click E-Commerce is Twitter’s Great Smurfberry Scam Confessions of a Shopaholic”.

But in the meantime, you can try out this App that Microblink built which the Gang on the Big Bang Theory never got around to making that’s available on the Apple iTunes Store and the Windows Phone Store, with a Google Android App set to be released in 2015.

MicroBlink YouTube Channel