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Wake up and enjoy a virtual “Cappuccino” with family and friends

(TECH NEWS) A new app, Cappuccino, is a “daily personal audio show featuring your friends”, and it sounds delightful, refreshing, and easy to use.

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friends talking

A lot has shifted for us since earlier in 2020 that sometimes feels like we have lived multiple years within a few months. We’ve had to learn and adjust to a new way of working and living; current times have had us rely heavily on technology and we cannot see friends in person or attend live events.

Zoom, for example, saw an increase in users from 10 million to over 200 million, seemingly overnight, this past spring. MS Teams was also quickly utilized or accelerated in many workplaces for virtual meetings and presentations, going from 31 million to 75 million daily active users in a month. Microsoft commented that this was like everyone learning about 2 years’ worth of technology in less than a quarter of that time.

Our heads might be spinning, but as humans, we adapt; there are many people looking to make the best out of these tough times and focus on what really matters in life. We also may be grieving the old routines and we all know that things will not “go back to normal” as we move forward in 2020. With the endless uncertainty (especially with new school years starting), it’s definitely a time of high curiosity as to how COVID-19 will change our habits and practices in the long run – What will school and work look like, and will there be more flexibility after this? When can we hang out in-person with our loved ones again?

The one thing that cannot be ignored during all the uncertainty is that we still need human connection; we need to feel a sense of belonging and to share experiences. Some of us may be feeling this need a lot more if we haven’t been able to visit family nor invite friends over for a fun and relaxing weekend dinner to escape our normal daily routines.

While there’s no replacement to in-person hangouts, a new app, Cappuccino, offers a fun and unique way to keep in touch with loved ones.

Cappuccino is a “daily personal audio show featuring your friends”; it’s a new way to connect with people, unlike other social media platforms that may require more effort. You can create a group and listening to daily podcasts, featuring the voices of your friends. You can listen in while drinking your cup of joe, get quick updates, and hopefully a few laughs to start your day. Because they are audio, users don’t have to worry about being “video ready”, creating the perfectly angled selfie, or taking the time to type anything out (no fat thumbs or pointer fingers on the wee little keyboard).

While being able to download and create groups is currently only available on iOS, you can join a group on Android.  The directions seem really simple and sound very appealing via ProductHunt:

  • RECORD A BEAN: Tap the microphone and start recording. Talk about your day, tell a joke or share a thought and send it to your close friends and family.
  • LISTEN TO YOUR CAPPUCCINO: (mix of your friends’ beans) every morning at 8 am.
  • SMILE.

Here’s a stellar review:

“I’m fortunate to have been using this product since day 1 and found it to be such a breakthrough for keeping in touch with my closest friends (all from outside the tech world!), especially as we all live in different cities around the world. It quickly becomes part of your daily routine (and low key therapeutic) to take 2 mins out of your day to reflect on what you’ve been up to/how you’re feeling/any challenges you’re facing/or just to summarize the news in your life, and frictionlessly record those thoughts to share with your friends. The following morning, it became such a joy to play my cappuccino as I’m getting ready for the day ahead, and have my morning filled with the voices and stories of my closest friends.”

This might be a great way to start the day and a chance for some of us to finally be one of those morning DJs. Somehow, this also sounds more appealing than going down a rabbit hole on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.

App name: Cappuccino – closer to friends

App Store Link

If this sounds interesting to you, and you’ve been looking for non-typical ways to connect, you may also like Marco Polo, which allows you to video “chat” with friends without have to be available at the same time (like you would with FaceTime). Instead, you record your video message and your friend can watch/respond when they have time. This has been a great way to stay connected with friends when we cannot get together in person. It has also been nice because while a text is quick, sometimes it’s hard to relay context and emotion when you’re trying to be short and sweet.

These are just a few examples of good ways that technology is keeping us connected and lifting our spirits in tough times.

Erin Wike is a Career Coach & Lecturer at The University of Texas at Austin and owner of Cafe Con Resume. Erin is fueled by dark roast coffee with cream AND sugar, her loving husband, daughter, and two rescue dogs. She is the Co-Founder of Small Business Friends ATX to help fellow entrepreneurs + hosts events for people to live a Life of Yes with Mac & Cheese Productions.

Tech News

3 cool ways bug-sized robots are changing the world

(TECH NEWS) Robots are at the forefront of tech advancements. But why should we care? Here are some noticeable ways robots are changing the world.

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Bits of robots and microchips changing the world.

When we envision the robots that will (and already are) transforming our world, we’re most likely thinking of something human- or dog-sized. So why are scientists hyper-focusing on developing bug-sized (or even smaller!) robots?

Medical advances

Tiny robots could assist in better drug delivery, as well as conduct minor internal surgeries that wouldn’t otherwise require incisions.

Rescue operations

We’ve all heard about the robot dogs that can rescue people who’ve been buried beneath rubble or sheets of snow. However, in some circumstances these machines are too bulky to do the job safely. Bug-sized robots are a less invasive savior in high-intensity environments, such as mine fields, that larger robots would not be able to navigate without causing disruption.

Exploration

Much like the insects after which these robots were designed, they can be programmed to work together (think: ants building a bridge using their own bodies). This could be key in exploring surfaces like Mars, which are not safe for humans to explore freely. Additionally, tiny robots that can be set to construct and then deconstruct themselves could help astronauts in landings and other endeavors in space.

Why insects?

Well, perhaps the most important reason is that insects have “nature’s optimized design”. They can jump vast distances (fleas), hold items ten times the weight of their own bodies (ants) and perform tasks with the highest efficiency (bees) – all qualities that, if utilized correctly, would be extremely beneficial to humans. Furthermore, a bug-sized bot is economical. If one short-circuits or gets lost, it won’t totally break the bank.

What’s next?

Something scientists have yet to replicate in robotics is the material elements that make insects so unique and powerful, such as tiny claws or sticky pads. What if a robot could produce excrement that could build something, the way bees do in their hives, or spiders do with their webs? While replicating these materials is often difficult and costly, it is undoubtedly the next frontier in bug-inspired robotics – and it will likely open doors for humans that we never imaged possible.

This is all to say that in the pursuit of creating strong, powerful robots, they need not always be big in stature – sometimes, the tiniest robots are just the best for the task.

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Tech News

4 ways startups prove their investment in upcoming technology trends

(TECH NEWS) Want to see into the future? Just take a look at what technology the tech field is exploring and investing in today — that’s the stuff that will make up the world of tomorrow.

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Woman testing VR technology

Big companies scout like for small ones that have proven ideas and prototypes, rather than take the initial risk on themselves. So startups have to stay ahead of technology by their very nature, in order to be stand-out candidates when selling their ideas to investors.

Innovation Leader, in partnership with KPMG LLP, recently conducted a study that sheds light onto the bleeding edge of tech: The technologies that the biggest companies are most interested in building right now.

The study asked its respondents to group 16 technologies into four categorical buckets, which Innovation Leader CEO Scott Kirsner refers to as “commitment level.”

The highest commitment level, “in-market or accelerating investment,” basically means that technology is already mainstream. For optimum tech-clairvoyance, keep your eyes on the technologies which land in the middle of the ranking.

“Investing or piloting” represents the second-highest commitment level – that means they have offerings that are approaching market-readiness.

The standout in this category is Advanced Analytics. That’s a pretty vague title, but it generally refers to the automated interpretation and prediction on data sets, and has overlap with Machine learning.

Wearables, on the other hand, are self explanatory. From smart watches to location trackers for children, these devices often pick up on input from the body, such heart rate.

The “Internet of Things” is finding new and improved ways to embed sensor and network capabilities into objects within the home, the workplace, and the world at large. (Hopefully that doesn’t mean anyone’s out there trying to reinvent Juicero, though.)

Collaboration tools and cloud computing also land on this list. That’s no shock, given the continuous pandemic.

The next tier is “learning and exploring”— that represents lower commitment, but a high level of curiosity. These technologies will take a longer time to become common, but only because they have an abundance of unexplored potential.

Blockchain was the highest ranked under this category. Not surprising, considering it’s the OG of making people go “wait, what?”

Augmented & virtual reality has been hyped up particularly hard recently and is in high demand (again, due to the pandemic forcing us to seek new ways to interact without human contact.)

And notably, AI & machine learning appears on rankings for both second and third commitment levels, indicating it’s possibly in transition between these categories.

The lowest level is “not exploring or investing,” which represents little to no interest.

Quantum computing is the standout selection for this category of technology. But there’s reason to believe that it, too, is just waiting for the right breakthroughs to happen.

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Tech News

Will AI take over copywriting roles? This tool hopes to make that a reality

(TECH NEWS) CopyAI hopes to give copywriters a run for their… well, WPM. But how much can AI fully replace copywriting skills?

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Hands typing on a laptop, working on copywriting piece.

Copywriting is an important trade. Writers are often able to breathe life into otherwise formulaic websites peddling products which, sans the copy from those writers, might very well suffer a fate of relative obscurity. However, copywriters are also expensive, and their duties—indispensable as they may be—can be replicated fairly easily by little more than basic machine learning.

The question is this: Can AI replace copywriters? That’s a question that CopyAI hopes to answer with a resounding “yes”.

CopyAI is an “AI powered [sic] assistant for writing and brainstorming marketing copy.” This makes it a powerful tool to complement human writing, at the very least; is it enough to put people like me out of a job?

From my experience with the tool, no—at least, not yet. CopyAI can’t create an engagement strategy, respond to customers, spin testimonials to evoke heart-felt reactions, or analyze its own trends.

But that doesn’t detract from how freaking cool it is in practice.

CopyAI asks for very little from its user. Upon selecting a style of copy—Facebook Market, website carousel, or even page header, for example–you are prompted to enter the title of your product and a couple of short sentences describing it in the context of your ad. CopyAI does the rest, and while the results can be hilariously out of touch, you’re able to pick the ones that sound the most like your desired copy and then generate more options that sound similar.

The service has a huge number of different options for advertisement types, and you can use multiple different copy projects in one specific campaign.

Naturally, CopyAI has a few flaws, most of which replicate the problems we’ve seen with machine learning-based writing in the past: It doesn’t sound quite human enough to be comfortable. However, that’s a problem for a skilled copywriter to solve—and quickly, thus making something like CopyAI a potentially preferable choice for mass copywriting.

So, again, we ask: Is there a way for CopyAI to replace copywriters entirely in the future? Probably not. The copy it produces is intriguing, and often close enough that underfunded campaigns might find some value in using it short-term, but it doesn’t have the punch that a real person can pack into an advertisement.

That said, combining CopyAI with a small team of copywriters to reduce burnout—and repetition—could make for some very efficient work on the back end.

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