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Airbnb addresses issues in accessibility by adding new filters and photos

(TECHNOLOGY) Finding accessibility-friendly Airbnbs lodging has not been the easiest process, but the company just unveiled new features to help.

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airbnb accessibility features unveiled

In a commendable step forward for the platform, Airbnb has updated its filtering features and added additional location photo screening to make its platform more user-friendly for those with disabilities. This is the first big overhaul since 2019. Studies have demonstrated that guests with disabilities are more likely to face discrimination on the platform and the platform is making moves to address this issue. In a tweet on November 9th, the CEO of Airbnb, Brian Chesky, posted: “We’re reviewing every accessibility feature on Airbnb for accuracy. To date, our agents have double-checked photos of features in more than 25,000 homes.” The tweet features an 18-second video showcasing the accessibility features interface, which looks promising at a first glance.

In a curious decision, the number of accessibility filters has been lowered from 21 to 13, in what is described as an attempt to streamline searches.  While there is room for skepticism on that notion, better screening and search optimization for the remaining accessibility features is a welcome improvement. Perhaps we’ll see some of the nixed search filters, such as handheld showerheads, make a return in future updates.

The standards and burden of evidence for listing accessibility options have become more stringent.  Each feature now must be clearly documented with photo or video evidence, which are reviewed by designated trained staff. With standards now clearly defined for hosts to use to determine accessibility compliance of their spaces, the process should be smoother for all parties involved.  Examples of clarified guidelines include defining a ‘wide entrance to bedroom’ to be at least a 32-inch doorway, with photos of the measurement to confirm, as well as similar additional documentation being required for accessible parking spaces.  Where previously hosts just had to show a space clearly marked as accessible, images or video now need to also show how far from the primary entrance the space is, as well as prove that the space is clearly labeled with official signage or has a private driveway a minimum of 11 feet wide.

As a disabled person myself, and with a partner who has two defective knees– I can say there are a few filters I will miss. However, the more reliable accuracy of the labels for postings is a large step forward. I look forward to not getting any more third-story apartments showing up in searches for wheelchair-accessible properties. Planning my next vacation will likely be much less frustrating, if only we could agree on somewhere to go.

Update (December 07, 2021 at 12:58pmCST): Liz DeBold Fusco, Communications Lead for North America at Airbnb tells us, “To better serve our guests, and with input from our community and partners, we have updated the filters to make it easier for guests to find homes which suit their needs. One of those updates is simplifying to focus on essential and most used filters.”

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. DPW

    December 6, 2021 at 12:27 pm

    I wouldn’t mind a more stringent/comprehensive pet declaration policy.

    Don’t get me wrong. I love cats. But a few too many times has “we don’t have pets” ended up being “we have pets but we take them elsewhere while you’re here.”

    Which is fine, if you’re just the curmudgeonly sort that doesn’t like cats/dogs.

    But if you turn into a giant raspberry and your face swells shut, and you’re not entirely sure why it’s happening, it’s a bit of a different story.

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Robotics businesses have profit potential, but you must avoid these pitfalls

(TECHNOLOGY) Regardless of what happens in the world, tech keeps moving forward, including robotics businesses. To ensure success, avoid these…

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robocalling robotics business

There’s never been a better time to start a robotics business. Robots have been around long enough that you can find parts and support easily, but not so long that the market’s saturated. If you have an idea for a robotics company, now’s an excellent time to follow through on it.

Before you rush into creating your startup, though, you should consider a few things. No matter how desirable a market’s climate is, starting a business is a complicated and challenging venture. Of the millions of small businesses that start every year, only half will survive beyond five years.

It can help to see what other robotics businesses did right. It’s even more helpful to understand where failed ones went wrong. If you’re going to start a robotics business, avoid these seven common pitfalls.

1. Moving Too Quickly

Setting deadlines for yourself is an excellent way to stay motivated and productive. Just make sure your deadlines are reasonable. Too many robotics startups rush to push out their product without spending the necessary time refining all the small details.

Robots are tricky machines, so it’s worth spending the time getting them right. Starting a robotics business involves more than just making robots too. It’s a mistake to try to handle product development, financial management and legal paperwork all at once.

Even after launch, understand that it will take time to start earning any significant amount of money. Don’t be lazy, but don’t overwork yourself, either. Moving too quickly will result in bigger losses than anything you have to gain from it.

2. Having Too Broad a Vision

The robot market may not be saturated, but it’s still considerable. You need your robots to stand out in the crowd, and that requires a specific vision. What problem does your robot solve, and how does it do it better than any other option?

It’s not realistic to make a robot that everyone will buy. You need to identify a specific niche audience and create something that suits their needs. Even then, you need to specify what sets your robots apart from the competition.

Are you making a robot for factory work? What separates yours from the abundance of robotic arms in the manufacturing industry? Identify a need within your target audience and work to address it.

3. Rushing Into Hardware

If you’re starting a robotics company, then you probably want to start making robots immediately. Believe it or not, this is a mistake. Save your resources and save the hardware building for later.

Why shouldn’t you start working with hardware as soon as possible? It’s expensive, and robots are complicated. You need to work out all the kinks in your design before you start spending on materials.

You’ll most likely go through several models before you have your final product. If you build physical versions of each one, you’ll quickly burn through cash. Don’t mess with the hardware of your robots until you’re confident of your design and have more capital.

4. Waiting to Make Connections

You may want to wait to connect with consumers and investors until you have a finished product. It may seem like jumping the gun, but making connections early is crucial to your startup. If you don’t, your robotics business is almost sure to fail.

Talking with potential customers helps you see what their needs are. This information will help you create a more marketable robot. These conversations also help you establish your name in the industry before you bring your product to market.

It’s also essential to connect with investors early on. To build your company, you need capital, and capital comes from investors.

5. Turning to Too Many Investors

While you’re talking to these investors, make sure you don’t turn to too many of them. You need investment, but you also need to have control of your company. You need to walk a fine line between getting capital and remaining in power.

Accredited investors typically have a net worth of more than $1 million, but they’re still putting their own money in your business. Because they’re dealing with their personal bank accounts, they’ll likely want their investment fits their desires. This can lead to investors trying to push your company in a direction you don’t want.

Your robotics company is your dream. Bringing on too many investors can take that dream away from you. Turn to investors, but not so many that you lose control of your own company.

6. Focusing on Advances Over Profitability

When you do secure investors, don’t let the money go to your head. After investors give you an advance, it can be tempting to start spending more rapidly. Don’t let a few commas in the bank account distract you from making a profitable company.

Robots are expensive machines. You can burn through an advance quickly in this business, so don’t think a big check makes you invincible. Focus on profitability, no matter how much money is coming in.

Large sums of cash are nice, but they’re not what keeps your business alive. Keeping costs low and maximizing profit is how you’ll survive.

7. Not Documenting Everything

When you first start, you may think you can keep track of everything in your head. You’ll quickly find that this isn’t true. You need to document everything that goes on in your business, from profits to losses to failed ventures.

Details that seem small now may matter more later on. You have too much on your plate to be able to remember everything. It also helps to get used to keeping records, so you’re prepared when your company takes off.

As your robotics business grows in size and worth, you’ll need to start documenting everything. Why wait? Start bookkeeping now, even if it means hiring staff to do it.

Start Carefully and Build Slowly

Robotics is a multi-billion dollar industry, so you have a lot of potential for profit. To survive in this business, though, you’ll need to start carefully. Don’t fall for the same mistakes that failed startups in the past have.

If there’s one common thread through all this advice, it’s that building a company takes time. You won’t achieve success overnight, so why shoot for that? If you tread carefully and slowly build your company, your robotics business could be the next big thing.

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Tech News

Zoom acquires Liminal, the company that makes broadcast tools for…Zoom

(TECHNOLOGY) Zoom had its peak heyday when companies were all rushing to go remote, but they aren’t relaxing. They have plans up their sleeve…

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Zoom app showing on IOS App store with Apple Airpods.

After 2020, most people are very familiar with Zoom, as it became a way to still be able to participate in work, school, and events even as the stay at home in order were in full swing. The video conferencing software became an invaluable part of many people’s daily lives.

They recently acquired a startup, Liminal, which creates tools for Zoom-based broadcasts. Sounds like a twofer deal.

Spiderman pointing at Spiderman representing Zoom acquisition of a partner.

Liminal created Zoom OSC, a software that is designed to amplify professional meetings and events with Open Sound Protocol, enabling the integration of the platform with third-party software, hardware controllers, and media servers.

Liminal also created ZoomISO allows users to export each participants’ video feed as separate output to professional production software, five of which can be chosen to have output in HD.

These tools will help seamlessly create large-scale events while keeping the ease of use interface users have come to expect from Zoom. They first announced its events features in May and added the ability to create hubs, sell tickets and create multiple live streams all within the platform. The goal is to acquire apps that increase user experience and productivity and bridge the gap between “emerging” and “traditional” broadcast tools.

As Zoom improves, businesses like theatres, broadcast studios, and other organizations can benefit from their newly enhanced features. Going forward, the company predicts a large demand for hybrid opportunities in the workplace, and these new features can help achieve that.

Currently, Liminal’s add on’s remain a third-party feature, accessible only through the Liminal website, however, integration of Liminal’s features into Zoom software is inevitable.

They have acquired other companies, such as VMWare which enables more secure and improved collaboration for hybrid work experiences. Another notable company is German-based startup, Kites. Acquired in June 2021, Kites focuses on developing real-time machine translation solutions and will provide multi-language translation capabilities via Zoom. They acquired these companies to bolster its offerings and make a seamless experience for a multitude of businesses.

All in all, Zoom is constantly growing and shifting to fit customers’ needs and changing the way business is done in the 21st century. Let’s just hope they don’t have too much mission creep, as part of their appeal is the simplicity.

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Meta bypasses Apple’s app store fees by launching their own Stars Store

(TECHNOLOGY) We don’t want to admit it, but Zuckerburg’s got tricks up his sleeve. Meta launches Stars Store to serve Apple’s outrageous app store fees.

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Woman scrolling through Meta's stars store on phone.

In a recent blog post, Meta, formerly Facebook, announced the launch of the Stars Store. Stars are purchased as a digital form of money to give support to creators.

Previously, stars could only be purchased through the app store where they were subject to a revenue share with the app store platform provider, e.g., Apple or Google. Now users can purchase through the new website using Facebook Pay instead of Apple or Google’s payment tools.

This change comes on the cusp of a lawsuit between Epic Games & Apple regarding their app store policies. Facebook and others back Epic Games who contend that Apple should allow other payment options and not take such a large cut from in-app purchases. According to Techcrunch,

“Though Apple largely won that lawsuit when the judge declared that Apple was not acting as a monopolist as Epic Games had alleged, the court sided with the Fortnite maker on the matter of Apple’s anti-steering policies regarding restrictions on in-app purchases.”

You can find out more about that lawsuit ruling here.

Facebook is offering extended features including anytime purchase and they provide ideas for how Stars can be used to promote your favorite creators. Another feature is a Star badge that top fans can earn as recognition of their support.

Because Meta has circumvented the app store fees, they are able to provide more Stars at a lower cost to the consumer. Other freebies include bonus Stars when purchased through the website. Check the website for current promotional offers:  This is great news for creators who can continue creating and earning money via live streams and videos but, once the promotional offers are removed the rates match what already appears in the app store.

What can we learn from this?

As entrepreneurs, there is always a lesson lurking in product and service launches.

What fees are you currently paying that you can eliminate?

This is a biggie. Whether it’s payment processing fees, in-app purchases, or usage fees, the new year is a great time to reexamine finances and determine what works best for your business. Are there services or fees that you can avoid by moving it in-house? It’s worth checking into.

How can you implement Stars for your business?

Do you create live streaming content that others can support with Stars? Per Techcrunch, Facebook will be testing out other formats for Stars, such as posts and reels making this service more promising for the future of small businesses and creators. Check out this website to find out if enabling Stars for your account is right for your business.

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