AusTech

Business and Technology Articles Contributed by UWA Students

Month: November 2018 (page 2 of 2)

Making home a comfy hub – Google’s growing home tech range

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Home is a place where we have complete and utter control. Everything that goes on, or in, the home is (in most cases) there because the homeowner wants it to be. For some homeowners, their pride is the gorgeous stone freestanding bath that is the timeless centrepiece in their main bathroom. For others, it is the movie room that houses an at-home cinema-style space. There are areas and pieces within all homes that bring them together and make them truly feel like home for the homeowner. It could be the kitchen, the gym, the bedroom, or it could be the couch, the dining table, or the books that adorn the little library room.

These days, the most common innovations in the home are becoming, more and more often, minimalistic touches that elevate the home and give it a subtle hint of the ‘wow’ factor. One such minimalistic touch that continues to find its way into more and more homes as time goes on, is the smart home product. While technology has given way to many thought-provoking concepts and ideologies, the evolution of the smart home – and all its products – is undeniably the most full-circle of them all. Leading the charge in home technology and the evolution of the smart home is industry giant Google.

Technology is designed to make life easier, and home technology is the epitome of everyday life being made easy. The best part? There really is a home technology device for every kind of home – whether you want the completely interactive experience, or just a convenient connectivity device for media. Google really does have it all worked out.

Chromecast

Realistically, not everyone wants (or is ready) to embrace the idea of bringing technology into the home, and that is okay. For those who do not see the point or the merit in having a fully-immersive, entirely interconnected smart home technology system, but rather a device that syncs their media seamlessly, there is Google Chromecast. The Chromecast takes a few minutes to set up, and then creates a network from which you can sync your media – whether it be music from your smartphone, Netflix from your laptop, or even photos from your tablet – to your television screen, all with the click of a single button.

Home Mini

For some people, there is some comfort in knowing that organisation is taking care of automatically. It makes people feel more comfortable and relaxed. The Google Home Mini is the epitome of organisation, and it comes in a neat little package as well. The Home Mini is a smaller version of Google’s Home device (and is even smaller again in comparison with Home Max), and answers questions, sets timers and alarms for you, plays music, and can control a set number of smart home devices (like Hue lights), effectively semi-linking the home’s smart technology to create a virtual network of connectivity that carries across seamlessly throughout the home.

The Home Hub

For the really tech-savvy people, Google Home Hub is the king of home technology, and what is more is that it is aesthetically minimalistic and sleek, taking on the appearance of a digital photo frame/thin screen. This is Google’s first own-brand smart tech display device – it comes Google Assistant, a digital photo frame, and the most advanced smart home control, creating a perfectly packaged smart home assistance model. The Home Hub can control lights, media, broadcast, thermostats, and cameras, as well as being used to read or watch media and set timers and reminders.

Oil, Gas, Energy and the Human Society: Hydraulics Technology as the New Frontier in Energy Investments

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In the new age of technology, energy means power and authority, while the means of accessing or producing it make all the difference for societies. Hydraulic technologies are at a centralized position in the current energy paradigm, enabling oil and gas companies to carry out huge operations worldwide, drilling, fracking and extracting oil and gas from remote areas.  Hydraulics as a business is also quite the world in itself with companies such as RYCO Hydraulics providing services in sales and installment of products, repair & maintenance as well as consultancy, seeking to improve efficiency in the market and expand its capabilities on a global scale. As energy policies begin to change, new technologies provide further insight into the issue of energy and the public pays more attention to alternatives, the future of hydraulics technology and business is obscured. Those seeking enlightenment and insight need to focus on the political, legal, technological and economic changes taking place currently to attain success.

Fracking seems to be a hot subject for discussion lately in America, while the method does not seem to resonate too well with the rest of the world, leading one to question the reasons why. The price factor is determinant in this reality because as more drillers find gas and oil in foreign fields, they also bring down the prices per barrel or million BTUS, making it an unattractive business to invest into for foreign partners. The North American legal system is also quite different than the rest of the world, where issues such as hydraulic fracking are almost always met with legal complications. Similarly, it is quite easy for American oil and gas giants to negotiate with property owners to have access to the reservoirs in their land, whereas such a capability does not exist in many other countries in the world where national interests and governmental intervention are significant problems. The US infrastructure is also a widespread, technically advanced and easily accessible one whereas most other countries lack such an infrastructure, making it impossible to do business there.

One of the primary issues associated with fracking is the possibility that the by-products produced by the method can contaminate water reservoirs and air in surrounding areas. A recent study by the Environmental Protection Agency revealed that five aspects of the process have been found to affect drinking water supplies, whereas “the number of such instances … was small compared to the number of hydraulically fractured wells.” The agency hopes to preserve America’s drinking water reservoirs while also providing a guideline for oil companies to utilize in their safe search for oil in the country. The opponents of fracking, namely The Sierra Club, stated that the study confirmed “dirty oil and gas fracking contaminates drinking water,” while the supporters of the practice pointed towards adherence to industry standards as the optimal protection for drinking water. Videos of tap water burning as well as studies regarding air pollution exist to this day, which have contributed to the creation of a legal movement that is backed by political initiatives that seeks to limit corporate capabilities in the name of protecting the environment and human beings.

Regardless of countless debates and studies, Halliburton, Chevron and Exxon are currently investing into hydraulic fracturing projects in Poland. The current state of economic crisis in Europe has pursued European energy companies to “secure licenses to roll out extraction projects this side of the Atlantic,” as Halliburton carried out its first hydraulic fracturing operation in Poland last August. The company is hoping to capitalize on Poland’s massive 1.4 trillion cubic meters of oil and gas. Similarly, Exxon and Chevron are also seeking licenses to drill for wells in Poland, using the country’s current dependency on coal as a political card, emphasizing the fact that coal based energy production produces significant CO2 emissions into the atmosphere. The country, however, needs to construct a new network of roads and highways for this purpose, which will have significant economic and environmental costs. The Polish government on the other hand is ecstatic about the possibilities of a future as an oil-producing nation, claiming that the US-based environmentalist propaganda is only a political tool directed at Polish national foreign policy.

 

Convenience for all – Home technology for the disabled

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The whole concept of home technology is to create seamless accessibility and convenience for all members of the home. What a lot of home technology devices and products lack, however, is the kind of technological input that truly makes them accessible for all members of the home. For example, a fridge that tells you when your eggs are about to expire is not necessarily the best use of home technology for an individual with a disability, but a fridge with automatic features is.

There are various life-changing innovations of home technology on the market, all of them designed to make life for the disabled easier. From automated door and window openers to centralised control and home lifts,  there are finally some insightful, exciting home technology advancements and developments that will truly make a positive impact on the lives of disabled individuals everywhere. Virtual assistants are handy as well, as voice recognition can be used to control aspects of the home including light and security.

Home technology has been available on the market for many years, but it has just recently kicked into high gear, fast becoming a weapon of modernisation and ease. The three big players in the home technology field thus far are Apple, Amazon, and Google. There are various other home technology companies that are making positive impact on the disabled community’s quality of life, but all in all the biggest challenge to date is cost.

The cost of kitting a home with home technology (especially if that technology must be intricate and widespread to be effective) is quite high, and for this reason the widespread embracement of it for the disabled community has proven to be, in most cases, too financially taxing. Quite often, disabled individuals have exceedingly high costs to consider before the technology in their homes, including medical bills, medicines, and other life-changing treatments.

Fortunately, however, technology is evolving at such a rapid pace that we are already seeing costs begin to decrease, opening an entirely new demographic to the world of convenience and possibilities that become reality when these kinds of home technology improvements are brought into the home of an individual with a disability. The hope is that, over the coming years, home technology that specialises in disability-focused care becomes affordable enough that all those with disabilities can have equal and fair access.

It might sound like an impossibility, as history has taught us that this kind of technology is expensive by nature, but over time what is developing and shiny and new will become the norm – not unlike smartphones that have the capacity to run our entire lives, a workplace that is entirely remote, and even vehicles that run solely off electricity. Introducing technology into a home that a disabled individual lives in can be a trial and error process, but once the correct devices and products have been found, not only does it make life easier, but it instils a sense of independence that many disabled individuals want to have.

Celebrity endorsements – a win-win for business

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The entertainment industry has been flourishing exponentially for the past few decades. One may say this is owed to the age of the internet. The internet increases the reach of a fact/information so widely, that it has the capacity of going viral and trending in a matter of a few hours. This has led to advancements in a lot of things that were earlier perceived in an entirely different manner. Many factors, especially in the field of entertainment that were individually existent, have now become interdependent and co-related. Just like how celebrity endorsement and promotions now go hand-in-hand to ensure a steady business run.

Celebrity endorsements are one wherein a brand/business entity associates itself with a celebrity figure to advertise and promote their brand. It involves shooting an advertisement, social media promotions, creating flux through the media – print, television, digital, outdoor, and also word-of-mouth promotion by the said celebrity in his/her interviews and media interactions. Mega brands since years have been following the idea of celebrity endorsements that has enabled them to both retain and expand their customer base.

Celebrities can be categorized into quite a few types based on their affiliation with an industry/field. Sportsmen, TV/Film stars, pop stars and DJs. Depending on the type of brand, one may then choose to associate with a celebrity from the field it is best represented by and whose personality or lifestyle best suits to which the brand would like to associate itself with. A major section of celebrity endorsements is pitched for Disc Jockeys due to the colourful lifestyles they lead, in terms of dressing makeup and their individual style in music. Owing to their extreme popularity on social media which cumulatively reaches millions, DJs are a winning bet when it comes to engagement with the followers and thus, the customer base.

There are agencies such as the dj agency that assist and streamline the process of affiliation with a celebrity. Catering to inquiries and requirements worldwide, the dj agency ensures all aspects of an association are optimized to the fullest.  Shooting an advertisement, production of the publicity material, press meets, digital promotion are all aspects of a celebrity endorsing a brand/business. It is an added positive factor when a brand retains the same celebrity face as its endorser for a long period of time. It makes the brand appear more stable, credible and ensures sustainability. These factors all work in the favour of the product endorsed simply because people like to see a familiar face using the product or brand of product that they intend to use or are still deciding whether or not to use. This technique also works because consumers idolize celebrities and aspire to be like them. Thus, using the same products as them makes them feel one step closer to it. Celebrity endorsements add a better recall value to a brand/business and the celebrity enables the brand to reach to a wider audience by introducing it to its fan base.

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