WhatsApp is one of the worlds largest online texting applications which is used almost in every country. It is a light and easy to use texting application which also offers a lot of other important utilities other than texting. These include video calling, group video calling, digital payments, document and media sharing and location sharing. What began as a simple texting application is now an indispensable part of our lives because WhatsApp has made information flow faster and safer. WhatsApp kept scaling new heights time and again and this was possible only because of the constant innovation by the developer team.
In light of the COVID-19 pandemic which forced entire countries to go into lockdown and shut down businesses, WhatsApp is doing its part to help people during these times by rolling out some nifty and important features.
Group video call limit increased
WhatsApp had the facility for group video calls which could only accommodate 4 people in a single call. However, with a new update WhatsApp increased the limit of group video calls to 8 users. The update is not just limited to increase in participants but also to the audio and video quality. There has been a noticeable increase in the quality of the video and audio in group video calls.
‘Together At Home’ sticker pack
WhatsApp has launched a new sticker pack called ‘Together at Home’ in collaboration with the World Health Organisation (WHO.) The sticker pack aims to help people stay connected throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
Restrictions on frequently forwarded messages
This is probably one of the most important features to be released during the COVID-19 lockdown. In a country like India, a lot of misinformation is shared on a daily basis on WhatsApp messages and most of these messages are forwards. The amount of misinformation on WhatsApp is so high that WhatsApp is often referred to as ‘Whatsapp University.’ During the coronavirus pandemic, WhatsApp restricted ‘frequently forwarded messages’ to be sent to not more than one chat at a time.
WhatsApp has launched chatbots by partnering with WHO and the Indian government and launched a chatbot to provide authentic information related to the COVID-19 virus. The chatbot developed by the Indian government is known as MyGov Corona Help Desk and can be accessed by adding +91-9013-151515 to your contacts and sending a message.
Sharing correct information, avoiding incorrect panic.
Here is an effort by WhatsApp and @mygovindia to ensure you receive accurate and verified information on Coronavirus.
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) March 21, 2020
We believe that these features are definitely the need of the hour and will go a long way in creating a positive impact. Let us know if you used any of these features on your mobile device!
Star Wars And Coca Cola Singapore Launch Limited Edition World’s First Electronic Coke Bottles
Star Wars over the years has managed to gather a cult following which stretches across generations. Star Wars is one of the biggest and the most famous film franchises to have ever been created. The latest trilogy in the Star Wars is referred to as the Skywalker Saga and the final movie of the trilogy, The Rise Of Skywalker released last year. Movie franchises have been known to rely on merchandising as part of their promotional strategies and the Star Wars franchise partnered up with Coca Cola to create a unique and one of its kind merchandise. The output of this partnership is very unique and the world’s first electronic coke bottle.
Coca-Cola Singapore harnessed the flexibility of Organic Light Emitting Diode (OLED) displays to wrap special-edition sugar-free Coke bottles with light-up, glowing lightsabers wielded by the Star Wars characters, Rey and Kylo Ren.
These bottles are part of a limited edition batch and the only way to obtain one of them is by answering a riddle which is revealed on Facebook and Instagram. Answering these riddles will reveal locations near the 7-Eleven stores around Singapore where one can obtain a special pass. This special pass can be redeemed to purchase the limited edition bottle. These bottles have a touch sensor and squeezing the bottle will light up the lightsabers of Kylo Ren and Rey. Each OLED on the bottle can light up to 500 times.
There are only 8000 of these bottles available making these collectibles very rare. Some of these bottles are sold on ebay for as much as $ 800 which is a high premium.
It will be interesting to see how this OLED technology will be incorporated and it is safe to say that we would be seeing more products which use OLEDs on their packaging in the future. Coca Cola is always at the forefront of innovation and these electronic coke bottles are a perfect example.
‘May the force be with you’ should you set out to find one of these rare collectibles!
Is AI The Future Of Retail?
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is slowly becoming a key element in the modern, technologically driven world. Along with other industries, AI is also making its presence known in the retail industry.
Artificial intelligence is used to define the intelligence demonstrated by machines. Through AI, machines can store data from previous experiences, adjust to new inputs and can also perform human like tasks. By combining large sets of data, iterative processing and detailed algorithms, AI is able to learn quickly from patterned data. AI can become a crucial part of retail business, if integrated properly.
AI can be beneficial when it comes to daily task management and gaining insights about customers. Using AI in retail stores can also contribute to time management for business owners as well. This could also help in customizing the shopping experience of customers all the while creating a better business due to customer interaction. This, inturn, helps the business gain more customer insights.
Moreover, using such technology in the retail industry will leave less room for errors. It will also help owners keep tabs on shoplifting as every item will have a record in the store database. AI operated retails would be able to work 24*7 without any manpower, resulting in more profits for retail businesses.
Even though AI supported retail stores are still far away, two of the world’s biggest retailers, Amazon and Walmart, already introduced stores which are entirely AI dependent.
In 2018, Amazon announced a chain of convenience stores named Amazon Go, which are partly automated. The stores use several different technologies like computer vision, deep learning algorithms and sensor fusion. The ceilings of the stores are equipped with multiple cameras and the store shelves have weight sensors attached to them. These weight sensors help in the detection of the items taken by a customer and the item is automatically added to the customer’s virtual cart. Introduced on January 22nd 2018, Amazon Go has 18 outlets in the United States.
Meanwhile, Walmart, in April 2019, introduced its Intelligent Retail Lab (IRL.) Based in New York, this store comes equipped with artificial intelligence cameras, interactive displays and massive data centers. This store is also used by Walmart as a lab to explore the future use of AI in the retail industry.
While AI operated stores are beneficial to everyone, the cost behind such a project can be a real nightmare. Implementing high tech devices can be expensive, especially for small businesses and also increases dependency on machines. However, the benefits of this technology are much higher, to be ignored completely.
Incorporating artificial intelligence into the retail sector may sound like science fiction. However, the efforts put in by these giant retailers and the advancement of technology mean AI operated retail shops will be a part of our future.
Modern Technological Innovations To Combat Increasing Food Demands And Climate Change
Climate change has become a serious concern for the world in recent times. With various human activities worsening the world’s climate even more, scientists are working hard to find different solutions to combat the situation.
At the 2016 Paris Climate Change conference, where various political parties and activists gathered to discuss climate change, an agreement was passed with an aim to prevent global temperatures from rising. However, Microsoft founder and philanthropist Bill Gates argued there should be more effort put in than just a cut in global emissions to combat climate change. As a solution, Bill Gates, along with many other billionaires, launched a fund to invest in innovative technologies which will help combat this issue.
Global warming due to food and agricultural practices is a major concern for researchers and activists right now as it is estimated the global population will increase by 3 million people by 2050. This increase in population will require us to convert more forests and other ecosystems into agricultural fields to accommodate the need of the world population, resulting in the emission of 15 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide.
According to a report issued by the World Bank and the United Nations, there will be 50 % expansion of global food needs by 2050, with an increased need for meat based food products. It will require the conversion of nearly 600 million hectares of land for agricultural use and to meet the food requirements of the global population.
With a focus on finding solutions to the food related climate change issues, scientists are working on innovations for the reduction of food loss and waste and for the conservation of peatlands which release huge amounts of carbon dioxide after being converted to farmlands. They are also working on projects to help in decreasing the use of fertilizers in the agricultural field, which causes 20 % of the agricultural emissions in the environment.
Scientists are working on modern technologies like CRISPR Cas9, plant based meat replacements and compounds which stop fertilizers from being converted to nitrous oxide by soil microbes.
CRISPR Cas9 is a modern genome editing tool used in the manipulation of DNA and can be used to create or delete an entire genetic trait in a species. Scientists are working on using the technology to improve plant breeding by altering the genetic traits of various crop plants to improve their quality and increase their resistance from biotic and abiotic stresses.
World’s dependance on meat based food products is also a major concern in terms of climate change as there is no way to meet the meat requirements of 9 billion people worldwide. The solution to this problem is to develop lab grown meat and meat alternatives, undertaken by companies like Beyond Meat. Beyond Meat, which acquired an investment from Bill Gates, produces plant based meat burgers. These meat burgers are made entirely from vegetable protein obtained from peas and can be used as a replacement to meat.
Methane is a potent greenhouse gas which plays a major role in global warming. Majority of the methane in our ecosystem comes from our livestock, with a single cow releasing 3 tonnes of methane into the atmosphere every year by burping. Scientists at DSM Company developed a methane reducing feed additive which can make cows give out less methane.
There are other innovations done by researchers such as the use of solar power to produce hydrogen in nitrogen based fertilizers, using nontoxic spray on films to increase the shelf life of food items and developing crops which can absorb nitrogen, a major contributor to global warming.
It is a major challenge to feed an increasing world population without increasing the global temperatures, but with scientists working on technologies like CRISPR Cas9 and plant based meat food, there is still hope to achieve the impossible goal of combating climate change.
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