Saturday, June 27, 2015

Blackberry Leap is now available in Nigeria and Some Country

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blackberry leap
BlackBerry Limited, a global leader in mobile communications, has announced the availability of BlackBerry Leap in Nigeria. The device which has been made available to the Nigerian market from the 10th of June, 2015, runs on the latest BlackBerry 10.3.1. Some of the consumer attractive features include:
Security to Maintain Privacy
BlackBerry Leap was designed with the highest standards of security to protect your privacy. It is equipped with support for encryption, plus built-in malware protection that helps secure your data against the next embarrassing and potentially costly cyber-attack.
Battery That Powers Through a Full Day
With an impressive 2800mAh battery, Blackberry Leap allows you up to 25 hours of heavy use which gives you more than a full day of productive usage.
Best-in-Class BlackBerry Keyboard
With superior error correction, multi-language support, customized adaption and flow, BlackBerry’s touchscreen keyboard helps to reduce your typing errors.
Other features include the BlackBerry Blend, BlackBerry Assistant, Blackberry World, Dual app storefronts preloaded for access to a huge selection of apps for work and play and the Amazon app store.
For more information on the BlackBerry Leap, please visit BlackBerry.com/Leap

BBM chats for Android gets updated with Emerging Tools

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The latest update for the BBM for Android has a whole new design, a material design update which changes the overall look and user interface. The design is flat, colourful and it also comes with additional features like private chat.
According to the Blackberry Blog post“We’ve redesigned BBM for Android from the ground up, using material design principles as inspiration. This means a more colorful, more eye-popping, and easier-to-use BBM experience that’s brand-new, yet very familiar….”
Here are the noticeable new features that comes along:
Private Chats:
In a private chat, your contact’s name is hidden, and new message notifications are turned off. Your chat is automatically deleted after a short time, or when you end the private chat.
Edit Message
The perfect complement to message retraction, Replace provides you with the power to edit a sent message.
Publish in Feed:
Share status updates faster, right from your BBM feed.
If you are still using the old BBM for Android version, head to the Google Play store to get the update and enjoy a whole new BBM experience.

Cloud-Based App Launcher Frame Run Your App at Cloud Lands $10 Million In Series A Funding

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Frame, a cloud-based service that allows users to run desktop programs like Adobe Photoshop or Microsoft Excel directly and all the software can able to run at cloud with low cost and it an emerging trend and it support from their browser, just announced that it has closed a $10 million Series A funding round.
Columbus Nova Technology Partners, Bain Capital Ventures and SQN Venture Partners participated in the round. The three-year-old Frame, formerly Mainframe2, had just recently landed $2.5 million in seed funding this past November.
In a statement announcing the funding, Dr. Nikola Bozinovic, Frame’s founder and CEO, said:
“In 2012, we set out to change the way people think about personal computing. Today we are taking a significant step toward realizing that goal by letting anyone with the Internet connection access his own cloud computer. We are thrilled to have the strategic support from our investors to help us in our mission.”
Bozinovic said that the newly raised funds will help the company scale quickly, as it prepares for the launch of a new public beta of its app, which delivers “graphics apps from the cloud directly into any browser with no plug-ins required.” Bozinovic believes the service, with plans starting at $10 per month, is an “ideal fit” for users with devices like the new MacBook, which pack less computing power than previous models but sport unmatched mobility.
Just as cloud-technologies like Dropbox have allowed users to store their files without needing large hard discs, Frame hopes to further enable mobile users by allowing them to essentially outsource their computing power and run graphics-intensive applications inside a browser.
“Frame’s potential to change the landscape of end-user computing is immense,” said Mohsen Moazami, managing director of Columbus Nova Technology Partners. “Our investment will help the company continue to grow toward its goal of fundamentally transforming the way applications are managed and delivered from the cloud.”
Frame plans to drop a new public beta on its site, fra.me, on July 8.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Invoca’s Inbound Sales Call Analytics Plots IPO With New CEO

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In anticipation of a likely 2017 IPO, Invoca, a call marketing automation company based in Santa Barbara, Calif., announced Thursday that it has hired Mark Woodward to lead the company as CEO.
Woodward
Incoming CEO Mark Woodward
Woodward, an entrepreneur who has served as CEO for two other public companies, E2open and Serena Software, was appointed by the founder and current Chief Executive, Jason Spievak, to “drive the explosive growth” and scale of the business, as it moves towards “what it expects will be a 2017 IPO,” according to a press release.
“I was the right guy to start Invoca and lead it to a sustainable business doing tens of millions of dollars in revenue,” said Spievak, who will remain full-time with Invoca as the Executive Vice President and Chairman, in a press release. “But at our current growth rate, I want a partner to help Invoca maximize growth and to provide experience building for massive scale. When I met Mark, I knew we had found the right leader for this next chapter of our rapid growth and global expansion.”
Invoca, a nearly eight-year-old company which gives marketers call analytics for mobile devices, has been in a period of pretty explosive growth over the past several years. The company, which has raised over $30 million in from funds like Accel, Upfront Ventures and Rincon Venture Partners, has seen SaaS revenue grow 100 percent year-over-year (and is on track to see it double again in 2016), all while driving “over $5 billion in revenue for its customers.”
Investors are confident that the leadership change is the right move for the company at this time, especially as it looks towards a 2017 IPO. Mark Suster, a Managing Partner at Upfront Ventures who led the first institutional investment in Invoca, told TechCrunch in an email that he believes Woodward’s past experiences as CEO, particularly his time leading E2open through its IPO, make him particularly apt to help lead Invoca at this time.
“We need somebody who understands large, institutional investor needs and who has built trust and confidence with them,” Suster said. “It takes at least a year of [IPO] filing, getting reporting in order, getting to know institutional investors and preparing SEC materials. So it was important that Mark join well before this effort and as we expect to double staff and expand offices.”
For his part, Woodward seems excited for the opportunity to join Invoca at this particular stage of growth.
“With mobile phones now such a significant part of how we all live our lives, it’s no wonder that Invoca has grown at the rate that it has,” Woodward said in a press release. “It’s so rare to have the opportunity to join a company as CEO that not only has such a big vision, but that also retains the full support of its founders and possesses such a great roster of management, investors, and board members. I’m excited to help lead the next phase of this great SaaS company.”

Jumptuit Makes Sure All Your Content Are Belong To You

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Do you ever find yourself searching for a specific photo or song, only to realize it’s either stuck on a different device or hidden away in one of your many cloud storage services like Dropbox or Google Drive?
Launching today, Jumptuit is an app that will give users a single access point for accessing content across all of their devices and storage services. The app, which is available on desktop, mobile, and TV platforms, will be able to connect to more than 15 different cloud services ranging from Amazon Cloud Drive and Box to Spotify and Vimeo.
Here’s how Jumptuit works: First, you install the app on each of your devices and give it permission to access your favorite cloud services. After this initial setup, content from each device or service is accessible on all other connected devices.
For example, you could use Jumptuit’s smart TV app to view photos stored on both your iPhone and your Dropbox photo gallery. Even though these images are coming from different locations, the software will allow you to seamlessly scroll through the photos as if they were stored locally on your TV. This same concept applies to songs, videos, and documents.
Jumpsuit can also act as a file manager by providing an easy way for users to copy or transfer media between cloud services. For example, if you are running low on space in your Dropbox you can use the app to transfer photos to Flickr or another photo service.
Additionally, the service has a built-in search feature, which allows you to search by file name and get results across all devices and could services.
The company was started by Don Leka, who was responsible for creating Glide OS, one of the first online operating systems and a precursor to the Jumptuit service.

Ex-Amazon Team Launches Mona, An App That Puts A Personal Shopper In Your Pocket

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Mona, a new app from former Amazon.com employees launching now, wants to put a personal shopper on your phone. While many mobile shopping apps today work to provide users with recommendations on new products or highlight popular trends, Mona takes things a step further with a feature it calls “Missions.” This has it scouring online stores for products that meet a specific set of criteria, based on product type, style, price and more.
For example, you could ask Mona to tell you when a particular pair of shoes goes on sale, or when handbags from your favorite designer are available for under $200.
The Seattle-based, bootstrapped startup was founded last year by Orkun Atik, previously a senior Product Manager at Amazon; along with Nurettin Dag, also of Amazon, who worked as a Senior Software Development Engineer; and a third co-founder who prefers to stay anonymous. Atik in particular has experience with personalization technologies, having worked on various recommendation systems while at Amazon, including its Similarities system (e.g. “Customer Who Bought X Also Bought Y,” and “Frequently Bought Together”), among other things. Dag, meanwhile, worked on the logistics platform that powers Amazon’s same-day delivery services, as well as Amazon Fresh.
The idea for the app was largely prompted by Atik’s interest in working on data products. “I really like shopping, and thinking about all the dynamics in the marketplace and how consumer behavior is changing,” he says.
The founder explains there’s a lot of potential in developing a better product that’s more personalized to its end users, who have unique interests when it comes to their style, in addition to variances in the sizes of clothes they wear or different brand preferences. Plus, shopping search and discovery hasn’t changed much over the past 15 years, Atik says. “Everything is organized around products today, not people,” he adds. “Shopping should be organized around people and their existing missions.”
While Mona’s best feature is its ability to hunt down specific products and track your favorite items, the app will also surface the latest trends and deals, making it more of a general-purpose shopping app, rather than one you only use when you have a task in mind. Each day, the app suggests a “top 20″ list of products, but these personalized suggestions will improve over time the more you use the product, the founder says.
To improve its suggestions, Mona mines your email. That is, it connects with your email account in order to look for marketing newsletters, order confirmations, and receipts – similar to the shopping app Slice, for example. This purchase data is the best data to power Mona’s personalizations, which is why it’s not an opt-out experience – consumers have to be comfortable trusting the company to analyze their data in exchange for better product suggestions.
At launch, Mona is tracking 100 of the top 300 retailers in the U.S., but plans to expand its selection. The company is working with these stores’ data feeds for now, as opposed to doing direct integrations. That means there could be some latency as related to the freshness of the data, at times.
The startup is also currently monetizing through affiliate links, but eventually wants to transition to the marketplace model.
“We have strong intent for purchase in the form of missions from consumers,” says Atik. “We can connect that purchase intent from the buyers with the sellers in a more efficient way than other marketplaces,” he states.
The app, which has been in private beta for the past 5 months, is now available as a public beta on the iTunes App Store. Users can request an invite to join from the Monahq.com homepage, and the company says they initially plan to allow around 500 to 1,000 new users per day as they prepare to scale the service.

Office For Android Phones Now Available For Everyone

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Office For Android Phones Now Available For Everyone
ter launching the Office for Android phone preview five weeks ago, Microsoft has now released Word, Excel, and Powerpoint on the Google Play Store for anyone to download. Following up their Office for Android tablets and Office for iOS releases, Microsoft has furthered their reach on non-Microsoft OS devices.
With Android phones being the most popular devices in the worldwide market by a fairly wide margin, Microsoft is definitely tapping into a huge user base, a large portion which may already be using Microsoft Office on their work or home computers. The preview program, which saw the Office apps tested on over 1,900 different Android phone models in 83 countries, gave Microsoft important feedback – including the ability to connect to Google Drive and Box – which they’ve incorporated into the release versions.
Some of Kirk Koenigsbauer’s (corporate VP for the Office Client Applications and Services team) favourite features include:
  • On the go reviews and edits—I often need to squeeze in quick reviews in between appointments during the day. I can review documents in full fidelity, read comments and then easily add my own.
  • Presenting from my phone—I love just bringing my phone to a meeting to present wirelessly.  PowerPoint for Android phone gives me the same transitions, animations and design that I would have from my desktop, and I can even use inking to highlight important points while presenting.
  • Quick access to my documents—I can quickly find the document I was working on in the office from my phone.  It even shows me where I was last working. Additionally, while I am a faithful OneDrive user, I can also access documents stored in Dropbox, Google Drive or Box with our support for third-party cloud storage providers.
  • Easy to get—We’ve partnered with over 30 global, regional and local OEMs such as Samsung, Sony, LG and many more, to pre-load these apps on Android devices. Many of these devices will be landing in retail stores later this year.
Microsoft’s Word for AndroidExcel for Android and PowerPoint for Android apps are available now on the Google Play Store.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

How to remove the ‘Get Windows 10′ app from your PC and cancel your upgrade reservation

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Starting on June 1st, 2015, millions of PCs and tablets around the world will begin to see the Windows 10 upgrade notification icon in the system tray, on all qualifying devices. That’s because Microsoft has announced that the next version of its operating system will be arriving on July 29.
Now there is a slight chance that some Windows users won’t want to move quickly to the new version of the operating system. Some users might feel they want to stay a little longer with Windows 7 or Windows 8.1, or they feel that Windows 10 isn’t quite ready. For those people, I will show you how you can remove the icon from the system tray and how to cancel your reservation.
The Windows logo icon in the system tray didn’t magically appear on your PC. It was the update KB3035583 that handled the notification preparing your computer for Windows 10.
KB3035583 was originally an update released back in April, Microsoft offered it as an optional update for Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 machines. Today, the software maker is changing the priority of the update to “Recommended”, which will force the update to download and install automatically via Windows Update.

Cancel reservation

If you reserved your copy of Windows 10, but you just realized that you don’t want to upgrade, you can easily:
1- Right-click the system tray icon and select Check your upgrade status.
2- Click the Cancel reservation link. If you don’t see the link, click the hamburger button in the top-left, click View information, and then click the Cancel reservation.
That’s it.

Removing the “Get Windows 10″ app

If you’re prompted to reserve your free copy of Windows 10, it means that your device is ready to receive the new version of the operating system. You’ll be asked to enter your email address to confirm your reservation, but if you don’t want to upgrade or get reminded, you can easily:
1- Go to Control Panel > Programs and Features > Installed Updates.
2- Do a search for KB3035583, double-click it, and then click Yes, to uninstall the update.
3- Reboot your computer, and you’ll be good to go.
If you can’t remember whether you reserved your copy, you can check your upgrade status. To do so go to the Control Panel > Windows Update, and you’ll notice the “Windows 10 Upgrade reserved” message.
It’s worth noting that Windows 10 is a major update to the operating system, and this is the first time in history that Microsoft will be offering users a chance to upgrade free of charge. However, Windows 10 will not be free forever, there is a limited time to get the update. While the company is opening the doors to reserve a copy of the operating system on June 1st (some users even received the notification on May 31st), the company will only offer the free upgrade until July 29, 2016 (one year to be exact).
After this time, those who didn’t take advantage of the upgrade will have to pay full price.

Reserving your upgrade again

Now, if you change your mind, you can always download and install the update KB3035583, and reserve your copy of Windows 10.

Windows 10 build 10136 screenshots posted by Windows Insider chief

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Windows 10 10136
We are used to seeing leaked screenshots of unreleased Windows 10 builds coming from third parties. However, it’s rare when a member of the Windows team does it himself. Today, Gabriel Aul, the head of the Windows Insider program, did just that on his Twitter account with two screenshots showing Windows 10 build 10136. Currently, Microsoft has build 10130 available for the over 4 million Windows Insider members to check out.
There’s not a lot that’s new in these two new images, although the system tray arrow and File Explorer icons have both been updated. One of the images also shows that Word 95 can indeed run inside Windows 10.
Windows 10 Word 95
Microsoft has already announced that Windows 10 will officially launch, or more accurately come out of its preview stage, on July 29. Earlier today at Computex 2015, the company announced there will be about 300 products running the operating system by the time it debuts.

Google Is Looking For Testers For Its Jump VR Video Cameras

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Google wants YOU to test their Jump virtual reality video capture platform. Or, well, some of you. Maybe like two, given how I imagine the percentages will work on this. The company is opening up invitations to anyone interested in trying it out, with a form where you can specifywhat you’d like to do with it, and provide a little bit about your background.
Google says it will be providing “select creators” a chance to use the Jump rig (a multi-camera array developed in conjunction with GoPro) beginning this summer. The two-page form simply asks for some basic biographical information, as well as an explanation of what it is exactly you’d like to do with your Jump rig. Let’s call that the essay portion of the quiz.
In order to actually get hardware, the key here is probably the essay portion. Google even says that “awesome” answers will be ranked higher, so getting into detail about your planned project probably helps. Think of it like an arts grant, if you’ve ever gone through that process, but probably more competitive given how many YouTubers are likely eager to be a pioneer in the VR video space.
Here’s the Jump array that Google showed off at I/O earlier this year, just in case you weren’t already salivating enough.

Consumers Spend 85% Of Time On Smartphones In Apps, But Only 5 Apps See Heavy Use

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New research on mobile behavior released today points to the growing struggle that app businesses face in establishing themselves as a must-have download on users’ smartphones. Today’s consumers are spending over 85 percent of their time on their smartphones using native applications, but the majority of their time – 84 percent – is spent using just five non-native apps they’ve installed from the App Store.
Those five apps will vary from person to person. For some, their top five could include social media or gaming, while others may spend more time in instant messaging.
This data further supports a study Nielsen released earlier this month which also reiterated that there does appear to be an upper limit to how many apps consumers use on a monthly basis. While this new study from Forrester Research examines where consumers spent the majority of their time, Nielsen’s report noted that users would only use 26 to 27 apps per month in total.
The new data on app usage comes from a Forrester Research study that analyzed 2,000 U.S. smartphone owners to better determine how users engage with the apps they have on their phones. According to the findings, communication and social apps account for the most usage – with a combined 21 percent of all smartphone minutes. Text messaging and voice calls were not counted, but would add to this total if they had been.
This trend also means that a small handful of companies are now dominating app usage. Facebook, for example, accounts for 13 percent of U.S. minutes spent on apps, followed closely by Google at 12 percent. Other big-name tech companies also see heavy usage, including Amazon (3 percent), Apple (3 percent), Yahoo (2 percent), Microsoft (1 percent) and eBay (1 percent.)
As a category, social networks claim 14 percent of all smartphone usage – or more than 25 minutes per day. Facebook is the leader here, with 1.25 billion mobile monthly active users.
Screen Shot 2015-06-22 at 12.06.29 PM

[Note on the above chart: the large grouping referred to as “major category leader” includes the other leading apps that do not fall within the 6 companies evaluated for the research, such as Twitter, Firefox, The Weather Channel, etc.]
Meanwhile, U.S. users spend 4.8 percent of their smartphone minutes in instant messaging apps like WhatsApp, but globally, this figure is even higher. Worldwide, apps like WeChat, KakaoTalk, Line and others are seeing users spending 50 to 200 minutes with them per week. In the U.S., however, the phone’s native messaging application sees higher usage than IM’ing apps, accounting for 8 percent of minutes spent on smartphones.
Media is another popular category of apps with weather, news and sports accounting for 3 percent of all usage minutes. News leads here with a median of 11 minutes, 51 seconds per day. Mobile users’ interest and heavy use of news apps is likely why Apple decided to enter the space itself with the launch of the forthcoming “News” app which will be installed by default with iOS 9.
Screen Shot 2015-06-22 at 12.06.13 PM
Games and Music account for 6 percent of smartphone usage minutes, while streaming video represents 9 percent of minutes. Here, YouTube leads with 43 percent adoption, but Netflix has the highest median use at 31 minutes, 33 seconds. Books and magazines represent 2 percent of smartphone usage minutes, which is actually fairly high given their long-form nature. Other categories like Shopping (5 percent), Maps/Navigation (6 percent), Email (non-native, 4 percent), Productivity (3 percent) are also popular.
Based on this data and other findings in the new report, Forrester advises businesses to design their apps only for their best and most loyal or frequent customers – because those are the only one who will bother to download, configure and use the application regularly. For instance, most retailers say their mobile web sales outweigh their app sales, the report says. Meanwhile, outside of these larger players, many customers will use mobile websites instead of a business’ native app

Monday, June 22, 2015

SoftBank Lands $236M From Alibaba And Foxconn To Bring Its Pepper Robot To The World

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Remember Pepper, the intelligent robot that SoftBank unveiled last year? Pepper goes on sale in Japan this coming weekend, but in advance of that launch SoftBank has revealed that Alibaba and manufacturer Foxconn have invested $118 million each in its robotics division.
That deal will give Alibaba and Foxconn 20 percent shares in SoftBank Robotics Holdings (known as SBRH), with SoftBank retaining a dominant 60 percent stake.
“SoftBank, Alibaba and Foxconn will build a structure to bring Pepper and other robotics businesses to global markets, and cooperate with the aim of spreading and developing the robotics industry on a worldwide scale,” SoftBank said in its announcement.
SoftBank isn’t short on money, of course — it is building up quite a portfolio of e-commerce investments across Asia — but its two partners bring know-how, strategy and global networks to the table. So, it looks like Pepper has eventual world domination plans. Or, at least, plans to be helpful on an international scale.
Pepper, which is manufactured by Foxconn, is initially a household robot. SoftBank has made 1,000 models available for early adopting consumers who want to be the first to plonk down 198,000 JPY (approximately $1,600) to put the humanoid in their home. Customers are, however, subject to monthly service fees of up to 24,600 JPY ($200) over the course of a three-year contract.
This is just the start, and SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son revealed that a business version of the bot will come later this year. In addition, canned comments from Alibaba founder Jack Ma and Foxconn CEO Terry Gou make it very clear that this investment is about robotics in general, not just cute little Pepper.
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“Robotics will become a critical field that catalyzes technological breakthroughs in numerous sectors such as healthcare, public services, research and at home. Our partnership with SoftBank and Foxconn combines the best hardware and software talent in the industry to pave the way for robotics research and development,” Ma said.
Gou, who has already invested heavily in robotics to automate large parts of Foxconn’s production processes and has a partnership with Google, added: “Foxconn is committed to investing in innovation that enables us to deliver cutting-edge solutions to our customers and that supports our goal of leveraging technology to bring greater convenience to the lives of consumers around the world.”
Initially we may see Pepper put to work in households, assisting Japan’s elderly, or helping businesses — Nestlé used the robot to sell coffee in Tokyo — but the future of SBRH — which includes France-based Aldebaran, acquired by SoftBank for $100 million in 2013 — is likely to be a lot more varied and wide-ranging given these new investors and the scope of the plans that they are hatching.

Google Trends Gets Redesign With A Focus On Real-Time Data

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Google launched a redesigned version of Google Trends today that brings real-time data to the service. So if you feel the need to get up-to-the-minute data on how Donald Trump’s hair is holding up during his so-called presidential campaign, you can now do that on Google’s service.
Unsurprisingly, the new design follows most of Google’s own Material Design guidelines, the design language the company announced about a year ago and that’s now finding its way into most of its mobile and web products.
The new homepage is now available in 28 countries, and Google says it will add more locations in the next few months.
realtimedata
For topics that rank very highly and major events like the Oscars, Google will now also provide a real-time list of trending stories and additional information on the improved Trends search page. The company says that it has also increased “the breadth and coverage” of Google Trends data, so you should be able to find information about more niche topics on the service now. To do this, the service now also pulls in data from YouTube and Google News searches.
Google says many of the changes in this new version are based on feedback the company got from “journalists and others” around the world. These journalists, marketers and others who are interested in trending topics, can now also download datasets with more information about key trends for their own analysis and visualizations.
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Bringing Eye Exams To The Palm Of A Doctor’s Hand, Smart Vision Raises $6.1 Million

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Commercializing a new tool to bring the basic eye exam into the palm of a doctor’s hand could save the eyesight of nearly 1 billion people worldwide.
That’s the goal that Zhou Yaopeng and Marc Albanese, two former photonics researchers who met at Boston University nearly a decade ago, have set for themselves and for their two-year-old startup, Smart Vision Labs.
The company has just raised $6.1 million in its first major round of institutional funding from a group of investors led by Techstars Ventures. Other investors in the round includedHeritage Group, Connectivity Capital, and Red Sea Ventures.
Smart Vision’s device, the SVOne, is based on initial research that Zhou and Albanese conducted while at BU. It’s a piece of hardware that attaches to an iPhone to provide mobile vision exams. Traditional devices, which measure what’s called wavefront aberrometry, can cost anywhere from $20,000 t00 $40,000. Smart Vision Labs’ co-founders say they’ve managed to drive the cost down to $3,950.
Beyond the fact that Smart Vision is working to solve a problem that can improve the quality of life for millions of people around the world, the technology is impressive in that it opens up yet more avenues for mobile devices.
Everyone talks about the phenomenal computing power available in mobile devices, but Smart Vision’s tech is one of the few that harnesses mobile computing in a novel way that make the device a new technology platform for healthcare.
Office2
It’s been two years since Albanese and Zhou first concocted the idea that would become Smart Vision Labs. The two former colleagues reconnected at NYU where Zhou was studying business at Albanese’s alma mater. The idea won NYU’s Entrepreneur Challenge , and would go on to receive a $1 million Powerful Answers Award, from Verizon (the new owner of Aol, which is the parent company of TechCrunch. Hi bosses!).
“This is a product that is solving a lot of problems for everyone,” says Zhou. “That really had a lot of appeal to us.”
Indeed, in the US alone less than half of the 200 million people who wear corrective eyewear visit the eye doctor as often as they should. Smart Vision Labs wants to make the process of the eye exam as easy as possible. National Vision Inc., one of the largest eyecare chains in the country is a seed investor and a partner with the company, and Smart Vision is already generating revenue selling its devices.
“The money is really going to be used to scale out our operating team and engineering team and getting ready to figure out how to really use this technology,” says Zhou.
While applications in emerging markets are enormous, and the company has already tested the device in Mexico, Guatemala, and Haiti, the initial focus for Smart Vision will be entirely on the US market.
The potential size of the market was enough for Techstars to lead the investment round in Smart Vision — a first for the firm’s latest $!50 million early stage investment fund.
“This is the first one where we are the sole lead,” says Ari Newman, a partner at Techstars Ventures and a director on the Smart Vision board. “We have a very strong conviction about this one.”
For Newman, the team, the tech, and the target market all aligned to make the deal persuasive. “ODs [doctors of optometry], and doctors get to put something in the palm of their hand that used to be a 40 pound machine,” says Newman. “Down the road, the number of applications for this technology is much bigger.”
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