Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Technology & Medicine

The most significant announcement that Apple made in 2014 wasn’t a larger-sized iPhone. It was that Apple is entering the health-care industry. With HealthKit, it is building an iTunes-like platform for health; Apple Watch is its first medical device. Apple is, however, two steps behind Google, IBM, and hundreds of startups. They realized much earlier that medicine is becoming an information technology and that the trillion-dollar health-care market is ripe for disruption.

2015 will be the year in which tech takes baby steps in transforming medicine. The technologies that make this possible are advancing at exponential rates; their power and performance are increasing dramatically even as their prices fall and footprints shrink. The big leaps will start to happen at around the end of this decade.

The health devices that companies such as Apple, Microsoft, and Samsung are developing are based on MEMS sensors, which are one of the exponential technologies. These enable the measurement of things such as heart rate, temperature, blood pressure, and activity levels and can feed data into cloud-based platforms such as HealthKit. They will be packaged in watches, Band-Aids, clothing—and contact lenses. Yes, Google announced in January that it is developing a contact lens that can measure glucose levels in a person’s tears and transmit these data via an antenna thinner than a human hair. In July, it said that it was licensing the technology to Novartis, enabling it to market it to people with diabetes. We will soon have sensors that monitor almost every aspect of our body’s functioning, inside and out.

Advances in Microfluidics are making possible the types of comprehensive, inexpensive diagnostics that in a single drop of blood, it can test for things such as cancer, cholesterol, and cocaine. Newer technologies coming from Nano biophysics like Gene-Radar, a portable nanotechnology platform that uses biological nanomachines to rapidly and accurately detect the genetic fingerprints of organisms. It will enable the detection of diseases such as HIV and Ebola and deliver the results to a mobile device within minutes—for a hundredth of the cost of conventional tests. By combining these data with EMR (Electronic Medical Records) and the activity and lifestyle information that our smartphones observe, Artificial Intelligence-based systems will monitor us on a 24 x 7 basis. They will warn us when we are about to get sick and advise us on what medications we should take and how we should improve our lifestyle and habits. 

With the added sensors and the apps that tech companies will build, our smartphone will become a medical device akin to the Star Trek tricorder. With health data from millions of patients, technology companies will be able to take on and transform the pharmaceutical industry—which works on limited clinical-trial data and sometimes chooses to ignore information that does not suit it. These data can be used to accurately analyze what medications patients have taken, to determine which of them truly had a positive effect; which simply created adverse reactions and new ailments; and which did both.

And then there is the genomics revolution. The cost of sequencing a human genome has fallen from $100 million in 2001 to about $1000 today and will likely cost as much as a blood test by the end of this decade. What this means is that the bits and bytes that make up a human being have been deciphered; for all intents and purposes, we have become software.

2014 marked an inflection point in the technology curve for medicine. It isn’t yet clear which technology advances will indeed affect humanity and which will be nothing more than cool science experiments. What is clear is that we have entered an era of acceleration and that there is much promise and peril ahead.

Friday, 15 August 2014

Google: Few Interesting Facts

India Independence Day 2014
  • Google takes over 200 factors into account before delivering you the best results to any query in a fraction of a second.
  • The company owns a bunch of domains that are common misspellings of Google, like,, and more. Google also owns too.
  • There are more than 2 million Google searches per second.
  • Google takes on moonshots projects that could change the world for millions of people. However, it also takes on important projects that only matter to a small number of people: In 2012, Google introduced the Cherokee language in Gmail.
  • Larry Page and Sergey Brin made the first Google Doodle in August 1998. They were heading to Burning Man in the Nevada desert, and wanted people to know where the Google crew would be for a few days, so they added the festival's logo.
  • Google's search index is more than 100 million gigabytes in size. It would take 100,000 one-terabyte personal drives to contain the same amount of data.
  • Google might be the only company with the explicit goal to reduce the amount of time people spend on its site.
  • Google has photographed more than 5 million miles of road for its Street View maps.
  • Google has acquired 24 companies this year alone — that's about three companies a month.
  • Over 6 billion hours of video are watched each month on YouTube — that's almost an hour for every person on Earth.

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Monday, 14 April 2014

SMAC technologies in 2014 and beyond

The increasing pace of change is rapidly driving customer, businesses and technology firms in a tight embrace, with the convergence of disruptive technologies eroding the boundaries separating them. Businesses are becoming more and more agile, and technologies such as social media, mobility, analytics and cloud computing are coming together to unleash unlimited opportunities for everyone involved. This convergence – also known as SMAC – will be the leading disruptor to the business-technology ecosystem over the next few years. 

Social media
A social media strategy has become a must for all enterprises, be it banks, retailers or the government. With over one billion individuals logged on to various social networks, people are now using social media for advice on what products to buy, where to shop and even regarding what firms they want to work with. While most enterprises use social media for their customer service function only, many firms have now started using social media in tandem with their sales and marketing functions. This in turn enables firms to use data generated by the customers effectively to service their larger pools of customers.

Mobile devices have changed the way people access digital content. Smartphones and tablets have brought rich, digital content to the fingertips of consumers. Mobile banking has emerged as one of the most innovative products in the financial services industry. Shoppers are increasingly using their mobile devices for everything from browsing to comparing to buying products. Governments are also reaching out to their citizens, using mobile devices as an efficient channel. Enterprises must also jump on to the mobility bandwagon, and ensure that their applications are mobile ready.

Every year, companies and individuals generate billions of gigabytes of data. Data, which properly analyzed and used in time, can emerge as an unbeatable competitive advantage. Enterprises need to recognize the prospect analytics represents and should adapt their IT strategy to capture such opportunities’. Analytics can help retailers predict buying decisions of shoppers; it can help banks weed out fraudulent transactions; while governments can use analytics to provide services directly to their citizens. Predictive analytics has also been adopted across industries in various scenario building activities.

Cloud computing

The undeniable power of cloud computing to foster innovations and imprve productivity is now accepted by both IT vendors and their customers. While the financial services and government sectors are mostly moving to a private cloud model due to information security concerns, other industries like healthcare and retail have adopted public cloud. Moreover, their existing infrastructure has helped telecom players to emerge as providers of cloud computing, leading to erosion in boundaries between IT and telecom vendors.

Kevin Parikh Jan 14 Fig 1

Experts predict that the confluence of SMAC -- social media, mobility, analytics, and cloud computing -- will be a potent and leading business-technology enabler of the next decade. They agree that the SMAC ecosystem will have a huge rub-off on IT services. Gartner estimates that India-centric IT services vendors will witness an 8-10% annual revenue growth from SMAC. 

SMAC may provide the much-needed boost for India’s $108-billion IT sector, which has had a jagged growth in the last couple of years on account of global economic challenges, falling consumer spending, and a Eurozone crisis in their main markets. Industry body Nasscom foresees a 12-14% revenue growth in the ongoing fiscal year. The adoption of disruptive technologies could further impel client spending. 

Typical SMAC Stack

Saturday, 12 April 2014

Finally Microsoft is catching up to the Future: Big Thanks to Satya Nadella

"We started out as a company that was focused on developers…we’re again in that era now," proclaimed Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella. Take free Windows on small devices, for example. Ten years ago, the concept of giving away the crown jewel of Microsoft’s product portfolio would have been unthinkable, but the rules have changed: Android and iOS are in charge. Exciting new hardware like Pebble, Nest, and various fitness wearables are emerging, leaving Windows behind. Microsoft will now compete directly with Android’s model, a move that will result in cheaper devices for consumers, and — as Nadella undoubtedly hopes, anyway — more devices for developers to target.

While Microsoft has been promising "three screens and a cloud" for years now, it’s finally starting to align Windows, Windows Phone, and Xbox to pull that promise off. The so-called universal Windows apps shown at Build can run across PCs, phones, and televisions alike, significantly reducing the amount of work developers need to do. You could buy an app on Windows and not have to buy it again on Windows Phone, all while running it on your TV with an Xbox One — and the developer would’ve only had to make a single app to do it.

Microsoft will make Windows free of charge for phones and tablets with screens smaller than 9 inches, a move designed to help boost the company's market share. The announcement comes alongside plans to let developers make universal applications that work on all devices running Microsoft's software — both Windows Phone and Windows. That feature is headed to Windows 8.1 as well as Windows Phone 8.1, which was also detailed on stage and is arriving on mobile devices in the next few months.

Microsoft has been experimenting with a free, or low-cost version of "Windows 8.1 with Bing," which includes a handful of Microsoft apps and services aimed at Windows 7 users. It's unclear if this is the result of that effort. Microsoft simply referred to the new, free version as "Windows for Internet of Things," and is including a free year of Office 365.

Microsoft recently cut the price of Windows 8.1 licenses by 70 percent for some PC makers, reductions aimed at taking on low-cost tablets and Google Chromebooks that sell for less than $250. Previously Microsoft charged $50 per Windows 8.1 license.

The next complete version of Windows is being referred to as Windows 9, though this may change. And a new codename has appeared - Threshold, possibly in refrence to moving across from our reliance on the desktop to a new world where the Start screen is at the heart of how we use Windows.

We don't know if Windows 9 will be available as an upgrade from Windows 7 that you can buy as a standalone product or if you'll have to have Windows 8 to get the upgrade. But it may not be with us for a while yet - Windows business chief Tami Reller has talked about "multiple selling seasons" for Windows 8, meaning that we'll likely have several versions of it.
Some rumours have suggested late 2014 or early 2015 for a Windows 9 release, though the former seems wide of the mark.
In January 2014, well-known Microsoft blogger Paul Thurrott said he believes the company plans to release Windows 9 (codenamed Threshold) in April 2015, less than three years after Windows 8.

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Beyond Cloud Computing & Mobile Apps: Big Tech Trends

Forget cloud computing and mobile applications — they're so 2010.

So what are the next “wow factor” tech trends, ideas and products that will rock the world of financial advisers and their clients in the not-so-distant future?

Chances are, they will en-compass the wizardry of “big data” algorithms, wearable tech for go-anywhere advisers, video-game-inspired business applications, deep content analysis by supercomputers such as IBM's Watson, and software that has an uncanny ability to read facial expressions and emotions.

In financial services, which was once a leader in technological change, the wow factor is now more likely to come from the consumer market, according to Neesha Hathi, senior vice president of Advisor Technology Solutions at The Charles Schwab Corp.

“Technology used to come through defense and the government to business, and then make its way down to consumers as the cost became more effective,” Ms. Hathi said. “But since the early 2000s, more often the new innovation is coming from the consumer side of the world. As soon as someone marketed the iPad to consumers, they said to themselves, "Wait, I can use this in my business.'”

In an effort to identify emerging technology that will likely have a profound affect on the delivery of financial advice in not-so-distinct future, InvestmentNews talked to some of the best and brightest minds in adviser technology. We compiled a list of five important technological trends that financial advisers cannot afford to ignore.

Ram Nagappan, chief information officer at Pershing, looked at our list and concluded that many of the technologies presented here will change advisers' lives sooner rather than later.

“We feel that the future is already here,” he said.

“We're looking at all these technologies to apply to advisers so we [can] deliver the best experience to them and the end investor.”


Jeff Bezos, founder and chief executive of Inc., has made no secret of his ambition to collect as much data as possible on affluent consumers so that he can sell them not just books and other media but electronics, household appliances and even groceries.

Amazon's success serves as inspiration to tech teams in the financial services industry, which are studying how to use big-data analytics and statistical probability to better know their customers, including advisers and their clients.

Big data is so big that even the smartest of technophiles have a hard time managing it. This is because it encompasses a huge flow of information about customers, products and services that companies have been gathering for years.

Much of this information, whether collected from traditional or digital databases, has moved into the cloud and continues to grow exponentially.

“With the explosion of big data and analytics, how do you digest all that information?” said Victor Fetter, chief information officer at LPL Financial.

“We believe it's a gold mine — the challenge is that it's moving fast. You have to adapt and create new models,” Mr. Fetter said.

Patrick Yip, director of Advisory Technology Strategy at Pershing, said that one of the first times he truly appreciated how big data works was when he received a Google Now alert on his Android smartphone telling him that commuter traffic was getting heavy where he lived, so if he wanted to beat the rush, he should leave home right away.

“Context is something that knows you and your preferences and location, and then responds to it,” he said.

Pointing to Amazon, which uses big-data algorithms to recommend products based on something that a consumer has previously purchased, Mr. Yip said that Pershing is looking for similar apps that it can recommend to advisers.


The integrated smart office may be more of a designer's dream than a reality.

But in just a few years, advisers can expect to work with wearable devices, office products and even furniture that use cloud technology and integrated software platforms to help facilitate conversations with clients, said Ed O'Brien, senior vice president of Fidelity Institutional's platform technology.

Technology will be less visible as computers disappear into user-friendly hardware, he said, noting that Fidelity has designed an “office of the future” prototype on its Smithfield, R.I., campus that shows registered investment advisers how they will use all that new technology to better engage with their clients.

“You won't see a lot of physical servers and technology infrastructure,” Mr. O'Brien said. “You'll instead see more-collaborative workspaces with lots of mobile technology and integrated technologies.”

Fidelity's office of the future includes a smart coffee table that lets clients sit in a casual office setting with advisers while browsing the web, sharing reports and benchmarking themselves against investment goals.

Tablet presentation-sharing technology, meanwhile, allows for collaborative review of quarterly reports and can be accessed remotely. And a cloud-based virtual desktop for RIAs lets advisers work from anywhere they have access to a web browser.

Improved video conferencing and better gadget management also will catch on in the smart office. For example, the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in January offered a glimpse of where video is headed, with a Sony projector that can turn an entire wall into a TV screen, and an Intel smart bowl that someday will charge gadgets simply thrown into it.

Wearable technology, too, is headed advisers' way, Ms. Hathi said.

She pointed to Google Glass, the Pebble smartwatch and the Fitbit activity tracker, saying that what seems like a fun gadget will become a valuable business tool.

“We are just now exploring how wearables will be used in wealth management,” Ms. Hathi said.

Fidelity was the first major brokerage firm to make a public foray into wearable technology six months ago when the Fidelity Labs research and development unit was granted early access to Google Glass and created a Glassware app that lets wearers focus their vision on a logo of a publicly traded company to generate a real-time market quote, according to analysts at online and mobile research firm Corporate Insight.


Advisers take their work seriously, so the idea of bringing game dynamics into their practices to encourage desired client behavior can make them nervous. But consumer websites and online communities have been using game mechanics to motivate participation and loyalty for years.

Gail Graham, chief marketing officer at advisory firm United Capital Private Wealth Counseling, has used its Money Mind Analyzer to work with 45,000 clients and prospects since 2010.

Money Mind's web app is played as a question-and-answer game by couples to determine whether each partner is most driven by fear, happiness or a need to commit.

The game leads couples to United Capital's Honest Conversation advice program, which comprises about 10,000 retail households, Ms. Graham said.

More participants in the financial services industry are starting to venture into the new frontier of “gamification.”

Investing platform Kapitall Generation, for example, lures investors onto its platform by letting them play with a “fun and easy” $100,000 practice portfolio before trading for real.

In addition, game mechanics are being used by banks to draw in new digitally connected customers, according to Forrester Research Inc.

For example, PNC Bank's “Punch the Pig” game prompts customers to transfer money from their spending accounts to growth accounts.

Closer to the advisory world, custodians are leading the charge into gamification. For example, Pershing, at its annual Insite conference in June, used online game design to educate conference-goers about its NetX360 platform for advisers.

Also, Fidelity Labs has introduced a “Beat the Benchmark” experiment with online gaming in its office of the future's smart coffee table.


International Business Machines Corp.'s supercomputer, Watson, won “Jeopardy” in 2011 because it could sort and analyze vast amounts of data faster than its human competitors.

IBM is actively seeking to use Watson for industrial applications, and the supercomputer is moving into the realm of financial planning.

On a “Watson in finance” web page on its website, IBM states that Watson is being designed as “the ultimate financial services assistant,” capable of performing deep content analysis and evidence-based reasoning to help advisers make informed decisions about investments, trading patterns and risk management.

Jon Patullo, TD Ameritrade Institutional's managing director for technology product management, is positive about this development, saying that he can see the value in supercomputers sifting through massive amounts of data, such as prospectuses, to help drive efficiencies in advisers' practices.

As a further sign of the supercomputer's growth, IBM said Feb. 26 that its Watson Group had launched a global competition to encourage developers to create mobile consumer and business apps powered by Watson.


Mind reading used to be an illusion invented by magicians and tricksters, but in the future, advisers will be able to do some conjuring of their own with voice, mood and facial analytics.

Although mood and facial analytics haven't yet entered the financial services arena, Pershing is using voice analysis, a technology that is catching on at call centers. Customer calls to Pershing are analyzed for empathy expressed by company representatives, silent time on calls and behavioral cues when customers use phrases such as “I'm so frustrated” and “I can't believe this takes so long.”

Beyond voice, cloud-based emotion capture technology now under development uses computer vision to recognize viewers' emotional responses to products and services.

Is the client happy, sad or confused? The software reads pixellated facial features, assessing shapes to infer how a person is feeling.

Already, products such as Affectiva Inc.'s Affdex,,, Noldus Information Technology's FaceReader and Sightcorp, have arrived on the market to provide companies with consumer analytics based on age, gender, eye tracking, facial expressions, mood and attention level. For example, Sightcorp's webcam eye-tracking software lets companies detect where product users' attention is focused in a controlled lab setting.

Expect to see mood and facial analytics enter the advisory industry in the next five to 10 years, said Oleg Tishkevich, chief executive of financial planning platform Finance Logix.

He predicts that advisers will be able to scan emotional feedback and metrics on how clients are responding to investment proposals or opportunities.

“As the adviser speaks to clients either in real time or on video, the software will read facial expression as they talk about their financial plan, and see if they're happy or sad, and recognize what is and isn't interesting,” Mr. Tishkevich said. “Anything that has a camera, including Google Glass, can be used to read emotion.”