Posts Tagged ‘Startup’
One of the early pioneers in the Quantified Self movement has quietly gone out of business. Zeo, a leading maker of hardware and software used by consumers to track sleep and improve their health, has not been operating since the end of last year. A trustee has nearly completed the sale of all company assets. Zeo has been very quiet about the news up until now. In fact, Zeo’s website is still up and doesn’t mention the news.
Zeo was founded by three students at Brown University who had a passion for using the science of sleep and technology to improve people’s lives. The company introduced its first product, the Zeo Personal Sleep Coach in June 2009.
The following week, the first article mentioning the term “Quantified Self” was published in Wired magazine. While the article didn’t mention Zeo, it did claim “a new culture of personal data was taking shape.” And that every facet of life from sleep to mood to pain was becoming trackable. “Even sleep – a challenge to self-track, obviously, since you’re unconscious – is yielding to the skill of the widget maker.”
In 2011, the widget maker Zeo introduced a mobile version to its Sleep Manager product line. By wearing a special headband, with sensors to measure electrical current, the Zeo could track different phases of sleep, such as Light, Deep and REM sleep, in addition to awake time. This data was then sent to an iPhone, iPod, or Android phone, and could be automatically uploaded to a personal and private online sleep database. This data along with some analytical tools could then be used to help improve your sleep and health.
What Went Wrong
Former CEO, Dave Dickinson, who lead the company for the past 5 years, tells TechCrunch the problem was not the brand or the product. In fact, the company was growing before it shut down.
Dickinson says the problem was the business model. “The business model is more important than the brand. Consumer health devices are a very capital intensive business. You have to find enough money to address the consumer, funds to address the physicians, and also the retailers, and that’s up and above the device business having to fund inventory.”
Zeo had two business model options on the revenue side. Become a SAAS-like business with subscriptions and recurring revenue or make enough money from a customer who bought just one unit. But that was very difficult when the company started pricing its mobile product at $ 99, with ‘sub-optimal’ profit margins.
The Newton, Massachusetts-based company had raised more than $ 30 million over eight years. Dickinson says raising capital was not the problem either.
Sleep Tracking As A Commodity
Another problem for Zeo was that sleep tracking became a commodity. Devices like the FitBit, lark, and Jawbone Up use an accelerometer to determine sleep and awake cycles, using wrist actigraphy. These products brand their products as sleep trackers just like Zeo.
Dickinson says Zeo had peer reviewed scientific studies, including one published in the Journal of Sleep Research, showing his technology was 7/8th as accurate as data from the a sleep lab, considered to be the gold standard for measuring sleep. The study also says data from wrist actigraphy to measure tiny motions in devices are much less accurate. But that didn’t seem to matter for enough consumers.
Dickinson says he admires what the Fitbit and others like it have done. Those devices are not limited to one health issue like sleep, which was another problem for Zeo. Those other products work for different health and wellness areas, such as the well established desire to lose weight and become physically fit. Consumers already spend billions of dollars to achieve those goals. And they are already educated and motivated to improve their weight and fitness.
Part of Zeo’s business model required it to educate the consumer on the importance of sleep and how sleep awareness and data can improve your health. Arianna Huffington, Editor-in-Chief of the Huffington Post, our AOL sister site, has been a crusader on the importance of sleep to your health. But according to Dickinson, “sleep is still lagging behind as important to your wellness. So in that respect, Zeo was early in terms of its mission.”
I used the device for several months last year and thought it was amazing. While wearing the headband took some getting used to, for me and my wife, the data it revealed was eye-popping. In addition to learning that I wasn’t getting enough sleep, which I knew already, I learned about the different types of sleep I was getting.
Most nights, I would get a half hour to an hour of “Deep Sleep” (dark green in the chart below) after going to bed. This is the phase of sleep the helps you feel restored and refreshed.
I would also see several periods of REM sleep, important for overall mental health, mood, and the ability to retain knowledge. The bulk of my time asleep, like most people, was spent in “Light Sleep,” which is better than not sleeping but doesn’t do as much for my health as Deep or REM sleep.
I was able to see graphics like this on my iPhone in the morning.
Here’s a good night with a sleep score of 90 out of 100 and more than 8 hours of sleep.
And here’s a bad night, with a score of 47 with just 4 and a half hours of total sleep.
If I woke up in the morning during REM sleep, it was hard to get out of bed. If I didn’t get enough Deep Sleep, I didn’t feel I had a good night sleep.
Zeo claimed the real value of the program was I could get personalized online sleep coaching. But this required logging in to the website and entering more information about my sleep and other variables I wanted to track. If I could have entered the data right on my iPhone, I would have likely used it more. Since it required logging in on the website, it proved too much friction for me.
I also stopped wearing the headband after awhile because it does feel a bit awkward. The former CEO says the company was aware the device was too invasive for some customers.
But if a less invasive sensor was made and it was easier to enter custom data and get actionable information, I would have used it every night.
Dickinson can’t comment on exactly what’s next for Zeo, after all the assets are sold. But he is hopeful that there may be an opportunity for the company to re-emerge in the future.
An article appeared in the MobiHealthNews in March, that reported the Better Business Bureau had listed Zeo as being “out of business” but with no official announcement by the company, the news hasn’t been widely known.
It is still possible to log-in to Zeo’s “My Sleep” site that contains your sleep data. An article on the Quantified Self website today tells users how they can download their data in case the site goes offline.
As word about Zeo’s status has spread, Dickinson says they have received tremendous support and inquires from all over the world from disappointed customers and sleep researchers who had planned to use the units for the research.
He wrote a post on the MobiHealthNews site last week that included some additional lessons learned. He concluded by writing “motivating behavioral change through data visualization can be very powerful, but it is more of an art than a science. We will need far more artists, user interface experts and psychologists to help make our data work harder to motivate better health.”
Back in October of last year, The Verge wrote about the app MindMeld, a sort of Siri on steroids that could listen to an eight-person conversation and suggest information the speakers involved might want to see. Today Samsung, Intel, and Telefónica announced a strategic investment in Expect Labs, the company behind the technology, which the creators have dubbed “anticipatory computing.”
“We’re focused on building software that listens to what’s happening in a room and delivers information to people before they know they need it,” says Expect Labs CEO Tim Tuttle. “We’re fortunate that some of the biggest companies in the world agree this is the future and have decided to partner with us.”
But why are three very different kinds of…
European M-Payments Startup SumUp Partners With Revel Systems, An iPad POS Provider, For Its Push Into Europe
SumUp, one of the many European mobile card reader startups targeting small businesses — and taking advantage of Square’s continued absence to acquire users and build out a business — has taken another step designed to expand its reach by announcing a partnership with Revel Systems, a maker of iPad POS software.
Revel Systems provides iPad-based tills to more than 1,000 chain stores and restaurants throughout the U.S., Canada, Australia and Saudi Arabia but it’s aiming to expand into Europe, hence the tie-up with SumUp. After launching last August, SumUp has now rolled out to 10 European markets.
Revel Systems will be using SumUp’s API, which it made available in fall last year, to process debit and credit card and cash payments in Europe. In other markets the company uses payment gateway USAePay, and says it can also integrate directly into Mercury Payment Systems.
In Europe the SumUp mobile payments app will come pre-loaded on Revel Systems tills and users will also get SumUp’s black card reader — which plugs into the iPad to take card payments. The partnership won’t bear instant fruit for SumUp on the customer acquisition front but as and when Revel Systems builds up its customer base in the region, SumUp will also make gains.
Commenting on the tie-up in a statement, Lisa Falzone, CEO of Revel Systems, said it chose to partner with SumUp to offer flexibility to its retail customers — but did not specify what it offered over and above other European mobile payments startups such as iZettle and Rocket Internet’s Payleven.
“SumUp’s technology is aligned with ours because it’s lightweight, secure, and speedy. SumUp is a natural partner for us,” she said. “We’re always looking to forge new partnerships with those businesses that aim to enhance the overall customer experience. Our users are also certain to appreciate the easy SumUp sign-up process and pay-as-you-go billing. We’re looking forward to working with SumUp as we expand to new markets.”
As with the myriad mobile payments players targeting small businesses, SumUp does not charge a monthly fee to businesses using its system but rather takes a 2.75% per card reader transaction charge. SumUp accepts Visa, Mastercard and recently added support for Amex in the majority of its markets.
The Revel Systems tie-up is not SumUp’s first b2b partnership aimed at building out its business. The company has previously announced partnerships with German taxi hailing app Taxi.de and an odd job software platform provider.
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Google has actually included yet an additional skilled team to its team
ever before growing list of acquisitions. Start-up Behavio revealed it is signing up with the Mountain Take staff and closing down its closed alpha. The business constructed its short-term item on top of Funf, a framework for gathering information from mobile phone sensors. Its goal was to assess things like physical place, contacts and other information about your activities and environment to keep track of trends, then make predictions about behavior. The targets just weren’t just people though, but whole areas, and it was even suggested that Behavio might anticipate the eruption of mass protests. Huge G has actually acknowledged that the individuals from Behavio are signing up with Google, however isn’t exposing any plans for the business just yet. The internet giant’s ventures into preemptive and curated search provide an evident application, nonetheless. We imagine using a few of the IP to Google Now is just one of many prospective uses, and its ad-serving algorithm might likewise plainly take advantage of an injection of this technology.
Update: We’ve been notified that Behavio was not acquired, instead its team is signing up with the business.
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Look out, Google Maps for Android, it looks like Apple’s iOS Maps might soon be entering the structure– when it concerns indoor GPS monitoring anyway. The Commercial Diary’s Digits blog is reporting that Apple has actually confirmed it bought WiFiSlam, a startup that focuses on WiFi-assisted indoor-GPS functionality for phone apps. Remarkably, Digits notes that the company was founded by a few ex-Googlers a couple of years back and that one of its investors has included a Google worker. Further, a fast Google search verifies that any WiFiSlam-related apps that may have been on Google Play are all and dead links now. The word on the street is that Apple handed over $ 20 million to claim the company, although it would not verify any numbers– or a particular reason for the purchase– with the blog. While there’s no real telling whether this indicates we’ll see indoor mapping on iOS maps at any point, it’s tough not to envision it now that Apple’s made the acquisition. We’re finding remark from Apple on our end, and will be sure to let you know exactly what we hear back. In the meantime, inspect out an old trial of WiFiSlam in activity after the break.
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Most folks are familiar with the International Space Station (ISS). However, what you may not know is that the national lab on board the ISS is available to anyone to conduct research, provided that research is deemed worthy enough to make the trip into orbit. The Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) is a non-profit tasked by NASA to find and promote those worthy proposals, and it’s teamed up with the MassChallenge startup accelerator to find the next great entrepreneurial space research project — and they want YOU, dear readers to hit them with your ideas. Want to know more? Join us after the break to find out what it takes to get your research in orbit.
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I such as to use my SLR, but there are lots of times when I leave it behind since I ’ m not sure whether it ’ ll have the ability to handle the conditions I plan to be using it in. LA-based hardware start-up Outex is attempting to make sure that photographers can use their cameras anywhere, without needing to fork over north of $ 1,000 for environmental management gear, and it ’ s taking to Kickstater to money the current piece in its item puzzle.
The Outex is a flexible casing for DSLR and various other interchangeable lens cameras (it works with mirrorless systems, too) developed by creator JR deSouza and his relative Roberto Miglioli based upon their shared love of photography, a hand-me-down from their grandfather, and a lack of great budget friendly options on the marketplace for securing cameras during use in extreme conditions. DeSouza informed me in an interview that he and his cousin needed something that would work for surfing, kayaking, shooting around the pool, military applications and even more, but that didn ’ t mean compromising mobility or spending a mint to purchase.
In a little over a year, the business has actually already handled to acquire some impressive customers, consisting of photographers working for Red Bull, National Geographic, Outside Journal and Style. The Outex is being made use of by a great deal of videographers now, too, and the company wished to construct an option into its product that much better serves that market, while likewise opening up brand-new possibilities for still photography. That ’ s exactly what this Kickstarter task has to do with: moneying the creation of the “ Huge O, ” an LCD viewfinder window for the Outex.
DeSouza says they created the window after first toying with the idea of including some kind of external LCD monitor to the Outex, and then realizing that the easier, better and more extensively compatible option would be to merely include a glass window to the case (which itself looks like a kind of camera wetsuit) that would enable the built-in monitors on cameras to be utilized in any scenarios. Being able to see the viewfinder while the camera was in the Outex was among the most typical customer requests, nevertheless, according to deSouza, so creating some kind of solution was required.
Seeking Kickstarter support is a first for Outex, and deSouza described that the reason it went the crowdfunding route this time around was actually the result of a combination of elements.
“ I felt that Kickstarter would be an excellent chance to increase our development, ” deSouza explained. “ The secret is to be genuine and to do Kickstarter for exactly what it is, and it becomes a fantastic chance to get the word out and uncover other things [...] I truly do think there ’ s worth to the area and the discovery process that likewise goes along with Kickstarter. ”
Outex isn ’ t suggested to be hardcore scuba gear like the Ikelite protectors preferred by professional photographers, but where those expense around $ 1,500, a $ 375 pledge gets you everything you have to equip your SLR with defense for up to 10 meters of submersion, along with a host of other environmental dangers. With the cost of top notch photo gear boiling down, it ’ s only fitting that a hardware start-up emerges to so challenge the price on a few of the more costly accessories, too.
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Google is working out with stylish eyeglass start-up Warby Parker to make its Google Glass frames more stylish, reports The New York Times. Neither company has commented openly on the talks, but it & rsquo; s understood that Google is trying hard to push Glass into the fashion globe, with a considerable presence at New york city Fashion Week in September. Warby Parker arised in 2010 as an online-only, lower-priced alternative to costly eyewear boutiques.
During the Glass & rsquo; s advancement, Google has actually regularly concentrated on changing the image of the product from a large, head-mounted computer system into a streamlined, linked accessory. The Times mentions that 18 months back, the prototype product weighed more than 8 pounds, while today, it weighs …
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Can a government be run like a Silicon Valley tech company? An interview with Gavin Newsom.
Image by David Paul Morris / Getty Images
Like every politician, Gavin Newsom likes to talk about his plan to reinvent the government. But his plan looks more like a blueprint for a Silicon Valley tech firm than a sprawling government bureaucracy.
The California lieutenant governor’s new book, Citizenville: How to Take the Town Square Digital and Reinvent Government, offers a roadmap that's loaded with concepts like gamification, social networking, and open source platforms — which, he argues, are necessary to engage a generation of digital natives.
BuzzFeed spoke with Newsom about his plans.
BuzzFeed: Citizenville calls for governments to release open data so that private citizens can develop digital tools to improve the government. Is San Francisco’s DataSF App Showcase — an app store for the city — an example of what you are proposing?
Newsom: Yes. That was so exciting. We put data sets online on a platform to have third party developer make apps. What would have cost tens if not hundreds of thousands of dollars and taken us months if not years to do, they did in days and weeks, for no money. We couldn't do that from a government perspective. It has taken off. There are government app stores across the country.
Why do you recommend governments ask private citizens for help instead of just hiring their own internal tech teams?
The biggest complaint I get from tech leaders is that they can't hire enough talent. The consequence is that they are very competitive with one another. Imagine, in that kind of environment, how difficult it is to make a case for a civil service position. That is by no means to suggest that there aren't outstanding leaders in government. It is just more of an exception.
What do you think of President Obama's digital efforts?
He raised the bar. What president did in his first day in office with open government. That executive order reads as so idealistic. It is just like Mark Zuckerberg's IPO letter, in terms of what can be. Obama did incredible things in the first few years with openness, data sets, and transparency. Unfortunately we didn't see follow through. The momentum waned. That is some of the frustration with the drone issue of secrecy and memos that were not made public and the lack congressional oversight. It is not an indictment, but I'm hoping we can resuscitate and revitalize it.
Is it possible to bring that back?
The revitalization is starting with cities. A lot of mayors took up the baton because of the external pressure. Organizations and groups educated us. People like Tim O'Reilly [the open source advocate] are saying we have to pick it up at the local level and people like [Code for America's] Jennifer Pahlka are placing talent in departments all across the country.
You open your book with the 2011 election in Los Angeles when only 12 percent of registered voters went to the polls. How can you expect digital tools change that level of citizen apathy?
It is not just e-government and online efficiency. It is a new distribution of decision making, collaboration, active participation, and citizen engagement. A whole generation of folks who have grown up as digital natives are also the generation of choice, the participation generation. Their expectations of service are different than digital immigrants like myself, who are used to a professor student model, the broadcast model. You have to be customized not standardized. Half a billion people are spending time on online games. The typical young person spends more time each year on online games than in the classroom. How can we harness that energy, not just for Angry Birds but for a Citizenville app for democracy?
Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has actually dismissed Dropbox as a “fine little startup” in an interview with Bloomberg this week. Going over the recent launch of Workplace 2013 and Microsoft’s late entry into the cloud with its SkyDrive service, Ballmer states that 100 million Dropbox users is a “very small number” in comparison to the number of Workplace individuals. “We & rsquo; ve got a whole lot even more Workplace users,” he says, while talking about Hotmail and SkyDrive individuals too.
Ballmer positive Workplace could expand, despite competitors from Google
On the topic of Workplace users, Ballmer appears positive that Microsoft can push previous 1 billion Workplace individuals and remain to attract consumers in spite of enhanced competitors from Google Apps and others. “That number is going to expand,” he …
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