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We are living through a new era of space activity, and the evidence is all around us. From striking images of private sector rocket launches to new satellite and data capabilities to the innovative tools that will permit lunar exploration, the space industry is more vibrant and ripe with opportunity than ever before — and this is true not just for “space companies,” whose primary business is space activity, services and tools, but for every company.

This may at first seem counterintuitive. The current space economy is valued at $469 billion, according to The Space Report, and is expected to top $639 billion by 2026. This growing economy is fueled by thousands of businesses large and small worldwide, and many of these companies are not space-specific. Instead, they are “space adjacent,” which means their products and services have applications in the space industry, as well as in other sectors, like high-precision manufacturing, data science and artificial intelligence, and life sciences and biology.

In this era of dynamic growth in the space market, the challenge for entrepreneurs is to answer:

  1. Is their enterprise space adjacent or could it be changed to become space adjacent?
  2. What is the space market demanding and what could the company offer?
  3. How does the business leader or entrepreneur identify and access opportunities that require fundamentally innovative applications for space?

There is not one route or strategy that will lead a space-adjacent company into the space economy. The approach that best fits the existing business model isn’t necessarily defined by the entrepreneur or business leader. Yet, there are best practices and signposts along the way that can facilitate entrance. With that in mind, here are four steps to consider when seeking opportunities in the global space economy.

Related: Entrepreneurs in Space: Musk Shouldn’t Have Mars All to Himself

1. Start local

As with any business endeavor, opportunity requires connections and collaboration. Wherever the business is located geographically (potential in more than one location), survey the area for organizations or businesses that are already engaged in the space economy.

This does not necessarily mean seeking out a rocket launch provider. Instead, consult with large manufacturers who may be selling technology components to civil or commercial space organizations. Engage with regional military installations, where there are sure to be space-engaged professionals who can help elucidate market opportunities and facilitate introductions. Look for local chamber of commerce events related to space and explore industry groups and academic institutions that may offer space-focused seminars and forums. Ultimately, only the entrepreneur or business leader will be able to precisely identify local space stakeholders. Step one is to find them and grow from there.

2. Seek new applications for existing IP

When we think of space products and activities, some might imagine breakthrough technologies invented in government-run labs whose applications begin and end in space. This is incorrect. In fact, while some space technologies are entirely novel (e.g. scientific instruments for biological experiments in microgravity), many are simply the reapplication of space tools and services devised for use on Earth.

To wit, entrepreneurs and businesses may already have intellectual property that, with some adjustments, could be sold to companies engaged in space activities. If you are engaged in textiles, do you hold a patent on an innovative material whose properties may be useful in space operations? If your business is in the food and beverage industry, could you cater to the local space operations on Earth or even adapt your product for consumption in space? In industrial construction, artificial intelligence, raw materials sourcing, supply chain optimization, the list of industries where existing products could be used in space is unending. When seeking space economy access, entrepreneurs should look to existing IP and consult with their growing network of space industry contacts.

Related: Space Stories: A Startup Made of Artists, Scientists, and Ex-Government Officials

3. Convert data to opportunity

The space-to-Earth market accounts for most of the space economy. Put another way, the enormous data flows pouring in from satellites and other space-based assets are the currently dominant area for financial return. Entrepreneurs and businesses in the data science fields can find eager customers seeking insights and services derived from this data. This can include markets for Earth observation, climate monitoring, logistics and transportation, agriculture, water management, public health and many other industries. In this, space adjacency is defined by the capacity to process and compute data streamed from space and sell the resulting insights to markets here on Earth.

For example, an incisive understanding of water levels and drought in a geographic region could be highly valuable to water utilities, local governments and agricultural businesses. The task for entrepreneurs and businesses is to consider how to access space-derived datasets, consider their data science capabilities and look to the marketplace for the intersection between space adjacency, data insights and on-Earth demand.

4. Check for patents in the public domain

Space activity is valuable in part because the tools and technology needed to operate in space often have important applications on Earth. In the United States, NASA offers a Technology Transfer Program and a database of thousands of its expired patents that are available for unrestricted commercial use. The European Space Agency also offers a technology transfer process. These and other space agencies already did costly, innovative work to create something new. Dig through these databases, consider your capabilities and identify patents you can use to bring new products to market.

We are still only at the beginning of a new era of space access and exploration, and analysts expect the global space economy will reach $1 trillion in the coming years. Entrepreneurs and business leaders who begin probing the space domain for opportunity today will not only open new revenue streams and invigorate innovation. They will also capitalize on first-mover advantages and position their organizations to lead as the space market grows.

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You’re reading Entrepreneur Middle East, an international franchise of Entrepreneur Media.

If you’re keen on keeping up with all things tech, then it is highly likely that the Saudi Arabia-located global annual technology conference LEAP has been on your radar.

LEAP’s newest edition is set to run from February 6-9, 2023, at the Riyadh Front Expo Centre, and this year, the event will have a special focus on artificial intelligence (AI) with the inaugural installment of DeepFest, powered by SDAIA, which is expected to bring together leading AI companies from all over the world.

Besides throwing the spotlight on AI-driven initiatives by governments as well as the latest innovations within this space, DeepFest has been designed as a thought leadership conference that also includes a series of sector-dedicated tracks, trainings, live-demos, and innovation sessions.

And among the many experts set to participate in DeepFest is Ricky Ray Butler, CEO of California-based influencer marketing and product placement agency BENlabs. Butler will be one of three speakers on a panel set to happen on February 8, 2023.

Ricky Ray Butler, CEO, BENlabs. Source: BENlabs

With over 18 years of experience in digital entertainment, Butler is known to have pioneered the use of AI technology within the entertainment and media landscape. Having unlocked how to better create digital brands and content by making use of AI, BENLabs is today empowering 13 million influencers, creators, and brands to leverage data driven systems and processes to grow their audiences and revenues.

“A close mentor taught me early in my career to think around the corner to the problems of tomorrow,” Butler said, in an interview with Entrepreneur Middle East. “If you are solving the problems of today, you are already way behind. BENlabs is laser-focused on applying AI to solve the problems of tomorrow.”

According to Butler, up to this point, the advancements in AI have been used and viewed as a productivity tool in fields like manufacturing, supply chain, and automotive- AI has, so far, been used as a way to eliminate time spent doing manual tasks, and BENlabs wishes to expand that application of AI technology into the realm of creativity.

Related: Straight From The Source: Entrepreneurs, Here’s How Investors At LEAP 2023 Suggest You Should Pitch To Them

“We believe that in many cases -like with ChatGPT- AI can be just as creative as the human mind, which is a cultural mindset shift,” Butler noted. “Digital creators of all types will use AI technology to expand their ability to help create more and better content, which will in turn help creators scale their content in this decentralized world of content and platforms. Brands and creators will be able to be more focused on what they do best- developing creative strategy (and translating that creative into a reality much faster), rather than spending time on tedious tasks.”

It’s no secret that there are multiple sectors across the globe that have benefitted from the undeniable impact of AI technology. In fact, as per a January 2023 analysis by ReportLinker, the global AI market is expected to grow by US$125.3 billion by 2027. Closer to home, Saudi Arabia has been continually supporting AI-driven business ideas to drive forth its economy, with Mordor Intelligence reporting that the country’s big data and AI market is expected to reach $891.74 million by 2026.

“We are huge supporters of the investment the Saudi Arabian region is making into AI and its transformational power,” Butler said. “I am looking forward to hearing from the AI thought leaders in the region, who we view as the best in the world. We want to bring our expertise in applying AI to media and entertainment into this region, and contribute to the ecosystem of likeminded AI enthusiasts.”

As Butler now gets set for his appearance at DeepFest in Riyadh, he urges AI enthusiasts to keep in mind that while AI offers unlimited opportunities, there is still a lot of work that needs to be done to optimize the technology.

“My advice with AI applications is to crawl first, walk second and then run,” Butler said. “AI should be thought of as an extension of a human brain- where AI and human experts can collaboratively work together to drive scale and efficiency. There are still large barriers to entry and resource constraints around adopting AI, however I would recommend that business leaders find low hanging fruit where AI can prove successful and then look how they can apply to more and more complex issues.”

Ricky Ray Butler is one of the many speakers making an appearance at DeepFest, the premier meeting place for the global artificial intelligence ecosystem of thought leaders, changemakers, big tech, data scientists, innovators, enterprises, academia, startups, and entrepreneurs leading innovation across businesses. The event will be co-located with this year’s edition of LEAP happening in Riyadh from February 7-9, 2023- visit deepfest.com to register, and follow the event on Instagram @deepfestai.

Related: Talking Shop With LEAP 2023 Speakers Baroness Karren Brady, Gitanjali Rao, And Steven Bartlett

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How best to handle payment disputes that arise between cardholders and merchants is a point of some controversy.

The problem is framed as a zero-sum contest where the needs of merchants must be weighed against the rights of cardholders. Conventional wisdom says that anything benefitting merchants must do so at the expense of cardholders and vice versa.

Regulatory pressures from agencies like the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) have, therefore, largely ignored the merchant perspective in favor of expanding cardholder protections. Unfortunately, this focus has consequences that continue to drive increased costs for merchants and the financial institutions caught in the middle.

Fortunately, technology presents us with the opportunity to build a collaborative solution that benefits all parties in the transaction process without prioritizing the needs of one over another.

Related: The 5 Most Common Fraud Scenarios for Small Businesses

The need for cardholder protections

Obviously, there’s a strong case to be made for prioritizing consumer protection.

When the CFPB was established in 2011, their express purpose was to safeguard consumers against abusive and predatory financial practices. This was seen as a necessary precaution in a post-2008 environment.

Protecting consumers against fraud and abuse is the right thing to do. It also helps to provide a solid bedrock for the market at large. If consumers have confidence in their protection, they’ll be more willing to transact online.

Cardholders have the right to ask their issuing bank to intervene in disputes by filing a chargeback; essentially a forced refund. This fundamental guarantee underpins much of the growth in the online market over the last two decades. Without it, one could argue that far fewer people would confidently shop online.

For instances of true fraud, payment disputes should be easy to resolve and require minimal effort by cardholders. Adding excessive friction or burdensome obstacles would have downstream consequences for the entire ecommerce industry.

The problem is that, as cardholders have gotten more comfortable with the dispute process, they’ve learned ways to abuse the system. This activity is largely accidental and done out of convenience, with the misconception that going to their bank is simply a faster option than contacting the merchant directly.

Related: 9 Crucial Tips to Protect Your Small Business From Credit Card Fraud

The problem of chargeback abuse

Many of the chargebacks filed by cardholders this year will be based on invalid claims.

Consumers increasingly see chargebacks as the first course of action when trying to resolve any issue with an online merchant. Card issuers have made it very easy to dispute a charge; this was seen as a “necessary evil” required to cope with the surge of e-commerce sales. To that point, it’s often faster for consumers to contact their bank than to contact the merchant when they are unhappy. It’s so easy, in fact, that many chargebacks are unintentionally initiated by cardholders simply seeking information about a transaction.

This has led to a boom in chargeback abuse (or “friendly” fraud), costing the industry billions of dollars annually. Historically, this problem was thought to primarily impact merchants, but recent reports prove the consequences and costs are far-reaching and widespread. One recent study found that this type of first-party fraud was the most prevalent fraud attack method confronting the payment industry in 2021, rising from fifth place in 2019. The cost of a chargeback is not just borne by merchants; it is also disbursed among financial institutions.

Related: Think You Can’t Win Against Chargebacks? Think Again.

The current system encourages merchants to provide feedback, but the lack of standardization and the compression of operational timelines often result in forfeiture. In the absence of dispute response data, this growing vacuum contributes a new obstacle in the quest to offset the consequence of fueling a “frictionless” utopia.

The LexisNexis True Cost of Fraud study estimates that merchants ultimately lose $3.60 for every dollar in direct fraud costs. This multiplier is partially due to the resources required for merchants to effectively manage chargebacks.

The need for merchant rights

The current chargeback system was codified long before ecommerce or online banking were a concern. While there have been several updates to the chargeback process in recent years, the underlying logic has remained largely unchanged.

Under the present system, the burden of disputes falls overwhelmingly on merchants, with acquirers and issuers in close second. The process of a dispute is costly for everyone involved, though.

Digitization is a good thing, but it requires a balanced application. Consumers, for example, can click a button to raise a chargeback, but most banks still require merchants to submit lengthy documents and provide varying guidance on the format and timelines.

When a merchant provides compelling evidence that the transaction was legitimate, that case must be reviewed and processed by both banks independently. If the case is decided in the merchant’s favor, the cardholder is given a copy of the merchant’s response, and is then presented with the option to escalate the dispute. For the merchant and many banks, this is a manual, time-consuming process that can prevent merchants and their acquirers from doing anything more than accepting the liability, regardless of whether it’s right or wrong to do so.

Related: How This New Accounting Feature Can Save Businesses From Fraud and Financial Mishap

If a claim is proven invalid in any other area of business, the negative statistic is redacted. Consider credit reports; it would not be fair for a negative entry to be a permanent blemish, even though a consumer could prove that a reported item was incorrect and the powers that be agree on his judgment, would it?

Industry incentives must be aligned to drive the kind of behavior that will deliver the best results. To achieve balance and genuinely improve the customer experience for both consumers and merchants alike, a more efficient and effective exchange of data must be advocated.

The “merchant vs. cardholder” fallacy

There’s a misconception that cardholders and merchants are at two opposing ends of this matter. However, the truth is that the negative effects on one ultimately impact the other.

Common wisdom states that by placing too much emphasis on consumer protection, we are asking merchants to accept the status quo of increasing invalid chargebacks as a cost of doing business. This places a financial burden on the industry. However, this burden is ultimately passed onto customers.

In contrast, trying to empower merchants without reexamining the foundations of the dispute process could put consumers at risk.

The path forward isn’t to try and protect one party at the expense of another. Instead, it’s to develop strategies that serve the needs of merchants, cardholders and banks. By advancing the old way of thinking about how to solve a legacy problem with a historically flawed mindset, we can open the door to fairer policies and easier data exchange processes, far better positioned to drive improvement and bolster cardholder protection.

Under the present system, a significant number of chargebacks are filed by mistake. Cardholders call their bank to inquire about a charge, and with little to no information about the transaction, the bank’s only option is to initiate a chargeback.

Currently, two networks — Verifi Order Insight and Ethoca Consumer Clarity — allow merchants to share data with banks in case of a cardholder inquiry. They have proven the benefits of data, but the programs are costly and difficult for merchants to implement. Instead of this more patchwork approach, the goal should be increased data sharing as the default.

A technological roadmap

Modern banks are behaving more and more like software companies, but payment disputes are still largely handled on rails built in the twentieth century. Collaborative solutions and end-to-end data sharing can better inform chargeback decisioning, streamline operational bottlenecks, reduce friendly fraud, and protect cardholders.

Here’s an example: as artificial intelligence and machine learning play a larger role in fraud prevention, accurate data to train these systems becomes increasingly valuable. But, with processes that may discourage merchants from responding to disputes, institutions are forfeiting critical data that could be used for preventing fraud.

Consider what would happen if a substantial campaign was launched, aimed at merchants, encouraging them to respond to every case? A campaign educating merchants about the need to respond, either by affirming that a chargeback claim was valid, or that it is invalid, and the transaction should be re-presented?

The resulting data fed into the industry by merchants would provide institutions with substantially more accurate data, and allow for much more accurate fraud detection. They could create more intelligent and self-sufficient models for detection and decisioning.

If merchants responded to more payment disputes, banks would be much better at identifying and preventing fraudulent transactions. Ultimately, we would see far fewer instances of criminal fraud and fewer false declines, which would benefit everyone.

The added caseload could be streamlined through modernization. Instead of relying on disparate, non-standard, paper-based documents, technology could allow merchants to transmit raw data in a globally standardized format. This would empower all parties to use automation, minimize mistakes, and reallocate staff for more efficient operations.

Out with the old, in with the new

Striking a balance through technology is a “win-win” that benefits cardholders, banks, and merchants alike. It should be the objective of all parties, including regulators like those at the CFPB, to advocate for technological solutions to our present-day problems.

Change will not be easy, and we won’t see results overnight. However, the value of building a better, more viable system outweighs any costs. The more focus we put towards solutions that align with the needs of merchants, banks and consumers, the easier it will be to solve the few real remaining conflicts. The current system is not sustainable. It’s time to try new ideas.

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You’re reading Entrepreneur Middle East, an international franchise of Entrepreneur Media.

The next time you strap an Apple Watch or a FitBit onto your wrist, consider this for a second: every statistic saved onto this tiny device -including your heart rate, your blood sugar levels, and even your sleep schedule- could be used to create a database of real-time information on your overall health. (And, by the way, this includes your mental health- as you will find out later in this piece!)

Spike
Povilas Gudzius, co-founder and CEO, Spike

As digital health tools continue to progress, one avenue that has opened an array of opportunities for medical providers is that of digital biomarkers, which are basically all the quantifiable, physiological, and behavioral data collected and measured by digital wearable devices. And capitalizing on all of it is Spike, a California-headquartered B2B, software-as-a-service, data-architecture-as-a-service startup. Founded in 2022, Spike has been built as an application program interface (API) that can access all major wearable and internet of things (IoT) providers.

“Wearable sensors are becoming much smaller, more accurate, and accessible to a broader user base,” Povilas Gudzius, co-founder and CEO of Spike, says. “Our solution helps digital health companies easily integrate biosensor data, process it, and apply artificial intelligence (AI) models. Developing this tech in-house is complicated, expensive, and resource-heavy. Spike therefore aims to make this data management journey effortless, and open opportunities to the next-generation of healthcare and disease prevention. We work with companies in professional fitness, corporate wellness, chronic disease care, female health, telehealth, clinical research, and other digital health verticals in the Middle East, USA, and Europe.”

Here is how the Spike model operates: the startup enables its medical business clients to integrate digital biomarkers -such as heart rate variability (HRV), glucose and cortisol levels, calories, sleep depth, and blood pressure, among others- from commercially used optical, electrical, electrochemical, and electromechanical biosensors onto a cloud. This is done via a data pipeline management service, and once the data has been processed, Spike’s AI tools offer health-related predictions, recommendations, and prevention.

“There is a lot of value in gathering and analyzing biomarkers data,” Gudzius explains. “For example, fitness or weight management apps might want to track their users’ activity, sleep, and nutrition to suggest personalized and optimal fitness plans. On the other side, with a couple of clicks, users can connect wearable devices they already own and allow apps to leverage data from their smartwatches, continuous glucose monitors, or fitness equipment. Garmin, Fitbit, Whoop, Apple Watch are just a few examples from our wide network of sensors.”

But access to an exhaustive user information database isn’t all that Spike aims to offer. There is also, Gudzius assures, an opportunity for digital health providers to save on time and money. “Instead of firms having to spend six months and thousands of dollars to implement 5-10 wearable provider connections, Spike helps health related companies to get access to 200+ sensors -fitness trackers, gym equipment, medical devices, IoT, etc.- via one simple connection,” Gudzius points out. “We provide a technology that reduces implementation time from six months to six hours, and it does that ten times cheaper as compared to building it in-house. This is extremely valuable for firms that don’t have large engineering and data science teams, yet want to get access to innovative health technology. We level the playing field, so that more end users could benefit from it.”

Spike’s solution helps digital health companies easily integrate biosensor and werables data, process it, and apply AI models to offer offer health-related predictions, recommendation, and prevention. Source: Spike

Now, Gudzius and Spike’s claims are backed by hard facts, of course. A 2021 report by Emergen Research has shown that the global digital biomarkers market is expected to grow to $10.38 billion by 2027, at a compound annual growth rate of 39.2%. On the other hand, a Deloitte Insights report highlights that, by 2024, 440 million consumer health and wellness wearable devices will be shipped worldwide. The same report highlights that much of this increased interest in wearables was seen over the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic- a phase during which many used smartwatches to measure blood oxygen saturation.

Related: Weaving Sustainability Into Healthcare: Naam Jamshed, Head of Government Affairs and Policy EMEA – Emerging Markets, Johnson and Johnson

The situation is not very different in the UAE- a May 2022 report by AppDynamics showed that 88% of respondents in the country intend to use medical wearables in 2023. “In fact, adoption of wearable devices in the UAE is significantly above the average of 40% in the developed countries,” Gudzius adds. “Additionally, consumers in the UAE have sufficient disposable income to be able to afford high quality wearable and IoT devices from [companies like] Garmin, Whoop, Apple Watch, or even IoT devices from the likes of Peloton, Lumen, or EightSleep. Therefore, sensors and data quality is better. Perhaps the only bottleneck is that the healthcare sector should be more aware of the wearables adoption and preventative health.”

Now, while Gudzius laments how the medical providers themselves must be more proactive, there is a major stakeholder group that hasn’t yet been discussed: the users of wearable devices themselves. A 2023 study by Insider Intelligence highlights that ease of access to healthcare and personalized care are among the top five factors -selected by 89% and 88% of respondents respectively- when it comes to the public use of wearables’ data.

But raking up equal numbers (and concern), in the same study, are the topics of data security and confidentiality of private health information. The latter is where Gudzius assures Spike is completely trustworthy. “Data security and privacy is one of the most important aspects to our clients and to Spike Technologies too,” he explains. “Spike is a General Data Protection Regulation and California Consumer Privacy Act-compliant data technology firm. We do not redistribute customers data. In fact we have our customers to ensure that the API protocols that are used to secure data privacy are at the forefront of our technology.”

With such assurance offered, this is perhaps the right place to introduce how Spike aims to use private health information to also improve mental health resources. Having made its way to the UAE, the startup has already started working with other startups in the mental health and corporate wellness space in Abu Dhabi and Dubai. “Mental health use cases are relatively new when it comes to leveraging wearables data,” Gudzius explains. “With cardiovascular biomarkers (like HRV and resting heart rate) becoming more accurate, meditation, corporate wellness and stress management apps can now quantitatively measure status of distress and help prevent the triggers long term or personalize the suggestions for ways to mitigate that. Above all, it allows users themselves to self-realize the drivers and how their own body and mind reacts to certain external factors.”

Gudzius believes that with the level of already existing innovation in the UAE’s healthcare ecosystem, the country could very well fare better than the location of Spike’s headquarters, i.e. the US. “The US healthcare system is extremely complex and will be much slower to evolve, whereas the UAE has an opportunity to be the leader in healthcare innovation in the region, if not the world,” Gudzius states. “I believe Spike will be the catalyst of this innovation, and removes one of the largest bottlenecks in the adoption of valuable health data and enables the applications of it in healthcare. Using solutions like Spike and other digital health innovations driven by AI technology, the UAE could set an example for others.”

Povilas Gudzius, co-founder and CEO, Spike. Source: Spike

To ensure smooth operations in the US as well as the UAE, the startup raised $700,000 in a pre-seed round in December 2022. The round was led by New York-based venture capital (VC) firm Geek Ventures, with participation from Florida-based VC firms CEAS Investments and APX. An early-stage investor based in Berlin and backed by European media publishing firm Axel Springer and German automobile enterprise Porsche, as well as angel investors from Dubai, Austin, and Silicon Valley also participated in the round. This fresh influx of capital holds the startup in good stead to achieve its UAE-oriented objectives, believes Gudzius. “Remote care, preventive health, digital health are the three areas that we would love to engage in with the UAE institutions,” he adds. “We believe our knowledge in how to apply data science and data engineering in improving patients’ health could be extremely valuable to some of the UAE public institutions. At the moment, we do not yet have an engagement in this area yet, but would be open to explore the partnership.”

It must be highlighted that Gudzius’ comments come during a time when the UAE government continually seeks for a more synergetic public-private partnership within the healthcare domain. While how Spike can play its part in that collaboration is yet to be seen, Gudzius remains confident that his startup will be able to rise to the occasion. “In general, the quantity of data patients/users generate from various sensors will only increase, and businesses need to leverage it accordingly,” he says. “Spike is built to gather and analyze this type of data effectively. We are excited to help healthcare and healthtech players in the UAE to drive innovation forward and will be happy to share our know-how from across the globe.”

And so, while Gudzius and his team have plenty of goals to work towards in the short-term, the co-founder believes they’ve only scratched the surface in terms of what Spike can offer. “90% of the world’s data was created in the last two years,” Gudzius says. “It’s predicted that there will be 38.6 billion IoT-connected devices around the world by 2025 and 50 billion by 2030. We at Spike truly believe that we are just at the very beginning of the data revolution, and we want to be the enabler of innovation on the back of this neo data across multiple industries. We want to be the connector between multiple sensors on the earth (or the human body) and the internet to be able to leverage this data for applications beyond healthcare to industries such as climate-tech/carbon reduction, energy optimization, logistics, automation insurance and others!”

Related: Healing Clouds, A Metaverse-Enabled Concept For Enhancing Employee Mental Health, Wins The UAE Ministry Of Health And Prevention’s BE BOLD 2022 Program

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Machine learning-driven apps are a leading category among funded startups, and the reasons why are clear. Machine learning (ML) offers mobile app developers new tools for personalization, predicting user behavior, improving security and delivering better targeted ads. Adopting this technology provides startups and their development teams with the means to include compelling features able to attract and retain an audience.

The inclusion of machine learning makes it easier to add functionality like personalization or even predicting user behavior. Additionally, the targeting of in-app advertising becomes more effective and potentially useful to an app’s audience. Finally, leveraging ML models aimed at detecting nefarious online behavior improves an app’s cybersecurity footprint.

So if machine learning makes sense for your next mobile app development project, what are some of the best use cases for its inclusion? Here are a few insights on adding machine learning to a mobile app, applicable to both the iOS and Android platforms. Leverage these insights to give your next venture the best chance of making a true impact in the modern business world.

Related: 3 Ways Machine Learning Can Help Entrepreneurs

Machine learning for reasoning functionality

Artificial intelligence (AI) routines currently lurk within some of the most popular apps in the mobile market. Simply look at map software like Google Maps. Machine learning models take into account current traffic volume, road construction, real-time accidents and other considerations to plot a pathway that ultimately saves time.

Any mobile app using mapping features benefits from the application of reasoning functionality powered by machine learning and crowdsourcing data from user actions and inputs. In addition to both Google and Apple Maps, Uber’s own app provides a similar feature for determining the most opportune path between two locations. Simply put, machine learning analyzes all this information in real time and calculates the optimal route much more quickly — and safely — than a human driver or passenger.

Similar reasoning functionality remains a great rationale for incorporating machine learning into a mobile app. For example, this ML-powered route-finding logic also benefits the logistics and supply chain world, helping companies save money while shipping materials faster.

However, these benefits go beyond apps using mapping. Google’s virtual keyboard app, Gboard, uses AI in the form of predictive behavior to make word suggestions when typing. Even virtual chatbots used to optimize the customer service function in multiple business sectors benefit from AI reasoning. These use cases provide an obvious reason to include machine learning in any modern mobile app hoping to make an impact.

Related: What Is Artificial Intelligence (AI)? Here Are Its Benefits, Uses and More

Machine learning for personalization

One of the biggest capabilities of machine learning involves its ability to analyze massive amounts of data as quickly as possible. This functionality comes into play in a variety of streaming apps providing users with recommendations based on their viewing or listening history. Additionally, in a more controversial approach when considering data privacy, web browsing history also provides insights used for generating online advertising based on a specific user.

Over-the-top television services and streaming providers leverage ML-powered recommendation engines on the web and in mobile apps. The apps used in streaming devices, such as Roku and Apple TV, also leverage this approach. This functionality adds a level of personalization to engage users, making them more likely to retain their service subscriptions over time.

Like AI-based reasoning, recommendation functionality also makes sense for apps in a variety of use cases beyond entertainment. Shopping apps especially benefit from this approach, including grocery stores or most other retailers. A customer’s previous shopping history — combined with online data and similar customer data profiles — provides fruitful data for machine learning models, with Amazon providing one obvious example on their website and mobile app.

Related: Why Learn Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence?

Machine learning for behavioral analysis

Machine learning also provides the ability to analyze how a user interacts with a mobile app. This level of analysis powers a myriad of useful features that at a glance might seem unrelated.

One example involves a user of a financial company’s mobile app. The app analyzes their transaction history and their methodology for saving and spending money. In a similar manner to a recommendation engine mentioned earlier, it uses this data to offer personalized savings or account recommendations to help optimize the customer’s financial outlook. Thanks to behavior analysis, new users can even benefit from insights into how they might practice better spending habits based on their onboarding inputs and similar customer experiences.

An even more critical use case reveals how behavioral analysis helps detect suspicious activity in the cybersecurity world. In fact, companies in the security operations space increasingly rely on AI and machine learning to fight the scourge of cybercrime. Using the financial app example, machine learning also provides the ability to detect abnormal behavior and block any potential fraudulent transaction as a result.

This high-level overview hopefully provides some food for thought on the many possibilities for implementing machine learning in your next mobile app. Providing features like personalization, a recommendation engine and behavioral predictive analysis benefits any modern mobile app hoping to stand out from a growing pack. Expect your competition to consider adopting a similar machine learning-powered approach, as it’s rapidly becoming a new standard.

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BMW is making costly car wraps a thing of the past and turning your vehicle into a giant mood ring.

Courtesy of BMW

On Thursday at the 2023 Consumer Electronics Show, the luxury car brand unveiled its new i Vision Dee concept car, a first-of-its-kind vehicle that can change color, display graphics, and even respond to human emotions, through what the company says is “emotionally intelligent” technology and a unique material called E Ink, commonly found in e-readers.

According to a press release from BMW, the i Vision Dee, which stands for “Digital Emotional Experience,” can display 32 colors inside and outside of the vehicle through 240 individual E Ink panels spanning the body of the entire vessel, including the wheels.

The car’s design allows for the graphics and multimedia to be displayed seamlessly throughout the body’s E Ink panels. It also features graphics of nine different facial expressions that can appear on the car’s grille and depict various emotions like amazement and joy.

The car uses sensors to interact with its environment, like opening the door for someone as they approach the car, and the built-in interactive technology reacts to human emotions in order to anticipate the driver’s needs with navigation and music suggestions.

“We are showcasing what is possible when hardware and software merge,” said BMW Group chairman of the Board of Management, Oliver Zipse, in a keynote speech per a press release from the brand. “In this way, we are able to exploit the full potential of digitalization to transform the car into an intelligent companion.”

Although the i Vision Dee is the first of its kind to offer consumers a rainbow of color options, BMW first debuted its color-changing technology with BMW iX Flow featuring E Ink at CES 2022, however, the model could only change to various shades of gray.

Image credit: Courtesy of BMW

The design also includes a Head-Up-Display, which shows information to the driver in their line of sight, and uses a “Mix Reality Slider” that forgoes a traditional permanent dashboard and instead displays a projection interactable through surface sensors you control with a swipe of your finger.

While BMW has yet to share when these color-changing cars will be on the market, they do plan to put the windshield and dashboard features into production by 2025.

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When people say, “Well, everyone has to start somewhere,” they’re usually not referring to drop-outs like me. I was a pretty rebellious kid, to be honest, and at age 16, I’d managed to flunk most of my classes — all but art and technology — so, I dropped out. You could say I wasn’t exactly setting myself up for success, but what 16-year-old doesn’t like a good challenge?

One thing I knew was that I wanted to use my art skills, so I set my sights on becoming a designer and applied to graphic design school. But my low grades and lack of detectable academic skills did me no favors, and my application was rejected. Irritated, I got a job working at a creative production agency as a tea boy (yes, it’s exactly what it sounds like). It didn’t take me long to realize that if I made the tea badly enough, my colleagues wouldn’t request it as often. I’d then have more time to figure out how to make myself actually useful at the company.

But the biggest challenge I faced at the agency was not the tea kettle; it was my family. I was the son of one of the agency’s three owners, which meant I had to do twice as much work to gain acceptance from my fellow employees. But it soon became clear that it wasn’t working. Two weeks into my tenure, my older brother, who’d been at the agency for a few years, pulled me aside. “Everybody hates you,” he said.

That stung. I couldn’t believe it. I was hurt, angry and more than a little embarrassed. But that harsh slap of reality motivated me to prove myself over the next 20 years by consistently searching for ways to make myself valuable to the organization. By the time I was named CEO some two decades later, I’d worked in nearly every position. Along the way, I learned lessons that would end up being incredibly useful to me as CEO. And I only could have learned them by slowly moving up the ranks and working in all corners of the business.

Here are three lessons I’d like to pass along to any inspiring entrepreneur:

1. Don’t believe what you see in the movies

Entrepreneurship is not for the faint of heart: New problems, scary unknowns and intriguing (but distracting) opportunities will challenge you every day. And you’ll second-guess yourself every step of the way while others rely on you to make decisions. People will rely on you to make the right decisions — and they expect you to do it with a degree of confidence, whether you have any or not!

Movies love to depict entrepreneurs with automatic access to lavish parties, luxury cars and a golden ticket to Silicon Valley. In this case, life doesn’t imitate art. Entrepreneurship includes many struggles. And if you’re lucky, and your company begins to grow, your struggles grow as well.

In fact, you can compare entrepreneurship to parenting. Some of the most difficult, challenging and stressful moments in life involve raising a child. The bigger the child, the bigger the mess, right? It often feels like an uphill battle trying to keep the house clean. But parenting is also magic. It includes some of the most moving and memorable moments of your life. Parents and entrepreneurs often find themselves in high-pressure situations, managing unique personalities and getting zero credit. But these facts hold true for both:

Despite the difficulties, you can achieve success with persistence. As Benjamin Franklin once said, “Energy and persistence conquer all things.”

Related: 4 Success Secrets for Creative Entrepreneurs

2. Passion supports persistence

As an entrepreneur, you need passion to succeed. It inspires your business plans and sets you apart from the competition. Your passion attracts the right customers and employees, and perhaps most importantly, gives you the motivation to deliver on your mission.

If you want to give everything to something, you have to do what you love. Otherwise, you’ll burn out, get frustrated and be tempted to throw in the towel. To identify your purpose, ask yourself:

  • What was I put on this earth to do?

  • What motivates me to get out of bed every morning instead of languishing under the covers and pondering life?

  • What makes me tick?

Once you identify your purpose, take a step back and examine your career. Ask yourself: Does my career feed my purpose? Stepping into the business world means choosing a venture you believe in and feel passionate about. Find a way to tap into that purpose and drive yourself forward to achieve the best possible outcome.

That somewhere starting point requires a vision and goals to achieve success. Where do you want to see your business in one, five and 10 years? Every day, check the alignment of your goals and your passions with your plan for the future.

My purpose is creativity. It makes me tick, and it drives me forward in my career. In my world, it’s essential for me to understand the creative process, how people think and work. By thinking creatively, I find more solutions to problems and even challenge my own assumptions.

Related: Remember, Persistence Pays Off. Stay Motivated With These 5 Tips.

3. Defend, cherish and promote creativity

Creativity is born from adversity and constraint. Growing up, I was very familiar with both. My parents played infidelity tennis through much of my childhood, fighting and tormenting each other while my brother and I could only look on. My constraint was the academic system, which crushed my spirit. It wasn’t the right fit for me, and it didn’t give me what I needed at that time.

Adversity pushed me towards creativity to ease my anxiety and escape from my parents’ tortuous relationship. I channeled my passion for the creative process into drawing, building and creating, which also served as a rebellion against the constraints of the academic system. My creative spirit protected me and helped me thrive, despite the upheavals happening at home.

To an extent, the creative spirit represents a higher power in humans. And while creativity doesn’t come naturally to everyone, it lives in us all. Entrepreneurs need to use the creative process to solve problems, escape troubled times and leverage that creativity in good times to develop products and innovate. I launched my company in 2011 with the mission to unlock creativity through liberating technology. That purpose hasn’t changed, and it still gets me out of bed in the morning.

The struggles I faced in my career and personal life, along with my passion and creativity, shaped me into the leader and entrepreneur I am today. If you have the next great idea, give yourself permission to explore it, and see where it goes. Use your experiences, your purpose and your creativity, of course, to unlock your potential.

Related: 7 Tips for Emerging Creative Entrepreneurs

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As I walk the CES show floor each year, I’m awed by the world-changing innovations put on display by our country’s top entrepreneurs, inventors and businesses. While innovation can happen anywhere and exhibitors join us from around the globe, it’s not just our Las Vegas location that brings thousands of American businesses to our halls. But this year, beyond the spectacle and lights, I’m concerned about a quiet but potentially disastrous threat to American innovation and entrepreneurial spirit.

The International Trade Commission (ITC) is a little-known but powerful executive agency tasked with protecting U.S. industries — including small businesses and entrepreneurs — from unfair trading practices deployed by foreign companies. That’s a laudable goal. However, in recent years, patent trolls — in other words, companies that don’t make anything, but manipulate patent laws to extort legitimate businesses — have transformed the ITC into a legal weapon targeting successful companies of every size. These cases have serious consequences, as the ITC often relies on exclusion orders and sweeping bans blocking American businesses from distributing products and using technology as a primary tool to resolve disputes. These extreme bans pose a real danger to American innovation. Just one errant exclusion order could shut down a small business, shutter a growing company or hamstring a successful entrepreneur.

Related: 4 Potential Lawsuits to Watch Out for in Small Business

American entrepreneurs and small business owners spend years creating and investing in innovative products and services to build successful companies. Patent trolls simply prey on others’ success. Unfortunately, these bad actors often see small and medium-sized businesses as easy targets, and the ITC’s legal forums do nothing to discourage baseless lawsuits. Even the ITC’s own data shows that the problem has gotten out of control, with lawsuits filed by patent trolls skyrocketing in the past decade. Now, it’s commonplace for business owners to receive threatening letters, which cite absurdly broad or vague patents and offer business owners the choice between huge payments or costly, drawn-out legal action.

Even small business owners who avoid direct confrontations with patent trolls can be caught in the crossfire of disputes between bad actors and larger companies. Take, for example, a recent ITC case filed by one patent troll against leading U.S. tech companies over their use of semiconductors. If that case is successful, it would exclude a large swath of tech products. Overnight, smaller businesses could lose access to key components used in their products.

While Congress has been slow to address the patent troll problems plaguing the ITC, the issue is starting to gain momentum. Groups like the National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB) and the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council (SBEC) have led the charge on ITC reform, pushing leaders in Congress to introduce meaningful legislation. The bipartisan Advancing America’s Interests Act, for example, would fix some of the most glaring legal loopholes patent trolls exploit for profit – but Congress still needs to pass it.

Related: How to Stop a Frivolous Lawsuit From Sinking Your Business

Small business owners and entrepreneurs have a critical role to play in pushing ITC reforms over the finish line. Lawmakers in Washington pay special attention to concerns raised by members of their home state’s small business community, which means that calling and writing members of Congress in support of the Advancing America’s Interests Act and similar legislation can have a real impact.

American entrepreneurs and small business owners are spending too much precious time and money fending off bogus lawsuits from patent trolls. ITC reform is needed urgently to stop patent trolls from hijacking American innovation.

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Having spent many years in the sports world, I often find that sports ideas and business ideas are not that different. During a time when I was serving as a coach in a girls’ lacrosse program, I was asked to help a team that had just had a series of tough games.

Morale was low. My coaching friend and I knew we had to inject energy into them, so we came up with a cheer called the Heart and Hustle chant. It goes like this:

Coaches: H-squared!

Players: Heart and Hustle!

And repeat until everyone’s pumped up.

Simple, right? We instituted this little cheer and suddenly these young girls — about 12 years old — got fired up. The team was playing as I had never seen them play before. The chant invigorated them and they powered through.

They won in more ways than one.

Fast forward to today, and that chant is still shared by every team that comes through that lacrosse program — which has expanded to over 400 girls playing in any given year. There’s a Heart and Hustle tournament, Heart and Hustle T-shirts and in my last year in the program, I received a necklace from a group of players with an H2, which represents — you guessed it — Heart and Hustle. It never ceases to amaze me that a simple cheer grew from one team and spread across the entire organization.

What does this have to do with business? Everything.

Great ideas run the world. But what makes an idea great? When I think back on that cheer and then on my current career, I think there are three key elements: authentic desire, channeled energy and receptive people.

Related: Authentic Leadership: What Is It and Why is it Important?

You can’t fake authenticity

There are fake intentions everywhere — and believe me, they don’t stick. We can intuitively feel whether an idea is coming from an authentic place.

Getting an idea to stick starts with not focusing on sticking but on fueling an intrinsic desire to be of service. I’m convinced that’s why so many successful businesses describe themselves as people-focused or human-centric and then follow up those words with action. A team that truly wants to make a positive change in the world or really values its company mission will inherently be more impactful than one backed only by flimsy, half-hearted slogans.

Focus on your best

We all know (and love) those happy-go-lucky people who always seem cheerful and optimistic. Maybe you’re one of them. But while that kind of positivity can be extremely helpful in creating a welcoming work environment, it won’t make or break a company.

You create force and movement when you channel your positive energy into the best projects with the highest priority. Scattering your motivation into too many projects leaves every project without the momentum needed to deliver true impact. This responsibility often falls on management. Your team may have 10 fantastic projects they’d like to ideate on, but if you only have time for three realistically, you’re doing all 10 projects a disservice by not channeling your energy. Choose your best projects and put everything into them.

Related: How to Employ a Team That Shapes Your Company Culture

Build the best team

It’s often difficult to know when a team member simply isn’t the right fit. Sometimes it’s a matter of skills, but often it’s something beyond a list on a resume.

A team member with average skills who shares your vision will work far more effectively than one who has exemplary skills but doesn’t care. When you’re building your team, seek prospects who lean in when discussing your company’s mission. These employees will pick themselves up after an unsuccessful campaign, get back to work and try even harder to reach shared goals next time. These kinds of people are often the ones who come up with the ideas that stick.

Related: How to Craft the Perfect Recipe for Persuasive Storytelling in Your Presentations

There’s no recipe

Part of what makes ideas stick is having the perfect blend of circumstances that allows all of those three components to come together — along with other far more nebulous elements like timing, community attitudes and trends — which is part of the reason why not all ideas stick. Even good ideas. So what can you do to make sure you get ideas that stick? Focus on the elements you can control and bring them together as frequently as possible.

There’s no perfect roadmap and certainly no instruction manual. But getting the best people together to share their authentic desires toward a shared goal, with targeted focus, puts your team and your business in the best possible place to stir up those world-changing ideas. As a leader, that’s the most important part of my job: to create the best atmosphere I can and encourage creativity, spark and a free flow of ideas. That, to me, is heart and hustle.

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Over the last two decades, the real estate industry has experienced significant changes. These changes are due to the influx of new technologies and advancements that benefit many stakeholders, including agents, brokers, developers, property managers, investors, homeowners and entrepreneurs. The name that we give collectively to the synergy between technology and real estate is proptech.

Below are the four most significant ways in which this innovative technology has disrupted the real estate industry.

Related: Property Tech Is Creating An Incredible Real Estate Opportunity for Entrepreneurs

Enhancing transparency

The lack of transparency and sometimes accountability has been a long-standing problem in the real estate market, with no easy solution. At the same time, solving this challenge is of utmost importance as real estate concerns everyone. All of us need places to live in, work at and so on.

However, the root of this problem lies in the very nature of real estate. As such a large market (currently valued at $3.69 trillion), real estate has sizable capital requirements that few can traditionally afford. In addition, although it may not look this way from the outside, the real estate space is rather limited and only accessible to a relatively small number of professionals. For the average person, real estate processes and deals have always been notoriously convoluted and obscure.

Thanks to the changes it’s been bringing to the residential and commercial real estate market, proptech has made major advancements in this regard. The accelerated access to data, widespread use of technology tools and enhanced feasibility of fractional property ownership have largely contributed to growing transparency and accountability in the industry. Real estate trends, analyses, deals and operations are now much more transparent than just a few short years ago.

Related: New Real Estate Technology: Disruptive Ideas Transforming the Industry

Providing real estate access to just about anyone

Proptech’s contribution resulted in another major disruption in real estate. By enabling data, analysis and investment access to the average person, proptech has opened the door for just about anyone to enter and participate in the industry.

With the help of tech-based tools, even those with limited knowledge and experience can take part in real estate transactions. For example, the advancement of CRM, analysis, virtual reality and deal-closing online platforms has lowered the barriers to entry for real estate agents and brokers. As a result, the number of licensed realtors in the U.S. alone increased from 1 million in 2011 to 1.56 million in 2021. This is a growth of more than 50% over the course of only ten years.

Similarly, while investing in real estate has always been a tempting idea for millions of Americans, many were left out of this profitable strategy due to a lack of sufficient financial resources, market knowledge, data access or even time. In the last decade, we have seen a surge in the number of technology tools that address each of these challenges and more. Therefore, we can expect the number of small-scale, beginner real estate investors to grow exponentially in the coming years.

Related: This Tech is Disrupting Real Estate. Don’t Miss Out

Breaking the monopoly of big players

On the flip side, another way that this innovative technology is changing the face of real estate is by putting an end to the monopoly of big players. Traditionally, real estate has been dominated by a few large corporations and moguls that control each aspect of the industry such as development, brokerage, investing, market analysis or property management. The reason is simple — very large barriers to entry that only some could cross.

As smaller players are now able to participate across the different segments of real estate, this is inevitably challenging the dominance of the traditional major stakeholders. While they might understandably feel threatened by this flipping reality, it will be beneficial for everyone if the industry becomes more accessible, transparent and democratic. The entry of new players will inevitably lead to accelerated growth within the industry, thus opening more opportunities for everyone involved.

Boosting productivity and profitability

Last but not least, proptech has forever transformed the way of doing business in real estate by raising productivity and profitability. This is arguably the most significant advantage that disruptive technology has brought to real estate professionals.

Investors, for instance, formerly needed months of research, data collection and analysis in order to find a single profitable deal. Now with the help of certain real estate tech tools based on big data and AI, they can locate good deals within a few minutes — whether they are interested in residential or commercial properties, the ownership of entire buildings or parts of properties.

Similarly, being a landlord and short-term rental property host used to resemble a full-time job between writing contracts, dealing with tenants, setting up rental rates, collecting rent, managing finances and all of the other tasks. Now, there are dozens of platforms that help automate and streamline the rental property management process.

The day-to-day work of agents, brokers, property managers, lenders and others has also been expedited and facilitated in a similar manner. The end result is that real estate professionals — as well as amateurs — can complete their duties much faster and more efficiently, all while making more profitable decisions about how to operate their businesses.

Final words

As a firm believer in the importance of technology across the board (but especially in real estate), I am confident that we are far from reaching the full potential of disruption in this industry. I expect these four proptech trends to continue developing in the coming years. , And, new disruptions will continue to emerge as so many entrepreneurs are eager to carry on with the democratization of real estate.

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