The Blockchain Killer App

At yesterday’s Blockshow Europe , a one day blockchain conference by Cointelegraph, I’ve seen the blockchain killer app. At least, these were the words on the first slide of a startup pitch. Oh Lord, won’t you build me a blockchain killer app? My friends all build features, I must make amends. Really?

Man wants to populate Mars, to live forever and to create unicorned products. That’s true especially in the field of blockchain: a modern wild west scenario enabling anyone with either a computer becoming a blockchain node or using some change money to participate in the latest ICO to make a fortune. Some do and bet on the right horse, most don’t. And that’s perfectly fine – no new foundational technolgy ever came without some supersized creativity at the beginning.

Investing in crypto currencies seems to be a relatively sure bet these days, since the crypto market has been steadily growing in its entirety. Just check the numbers from time to time and you will see an amazing growth of the crypto market capitalization of $10bn in the last 6 months alone.. Still: you easily lose all your money due to a very high volatility even of the Top 10 currencies adding or losing billions of value from one week to another.

However, the currency aspect of digital tokens is just one perspective of the field of blockchain, and a quite non-technological one. Another aspect is the use of the blockchain as a foundational technology layer on top of the internet. Most experts agree that blockchain will significantly change conventional transactions. And nearly everybody is looking for the holy blockchain grail – the killer app, or – as we should say – the killer Dapp – since it would be a distributed app. Quibbling aside, my feeling is that there won’t be a killer dapp. I’m totally with Benedict Evans of A16Z, who stated:

Looking at a strategy doc I worked on in 2006. All the ’next big things‘ weren’t. Then they came back as check-box features in every app

Having worked in the blockchain space with industrial, financial services and media clients for two years now, I’d suggest not to look for or believe someone telling you that she had built a killer app. What the market really needs isn’t the fancy disruption but rather the boring evolutionary approach: hundreds, thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of incremental optimizations. Sure, these little improvements are based on a completely different technology, that means you do have a certain disruptive aspect here: the „getting rid of the middleman“ stories could be sold as some kind of disruption – but middlemen have been an endangered species for a long time already – that’s not to be credited to blockchain.

Most people don’t like changes. Most managers don’t like changes. So, why not throwing away the sword of Damocles like disruption talk and start collaborating, inventing and creating useful products and services that are relevant to many more people than to founding team of a startup only? The old world, the not-yet-familiar-with-blockchain world, is ready for blockchain. Most companies are more open and willing to embrace this new technology than the typical crypto nerd might imagine. The thing is – nobody wants to be laughed at, because he isn’t familiar with the game theory assumptions of PoW. There is plenty of room for collaboration between the crypto blockchain nerds and the old world.

In 2017, corporations are ready to embrace blockchain. And that’s why, in my opinion, clever startups analyze the needs of the market, come up with blockchain solutions for the real world and will then be rewared with great collaboration opportunities. We see that already happening and i hope we’ll see even more startups jumping on that train.

That’s it.

Wearable Data Hack 2015 – Official Announcement

Wearable Data Hack 2015 – Official Announcement

Munich, 19 June 2015 – On the weekend of June, 19-21, Stylight, Datarella and Macromedia University proudly present the first hack day on wearable tech applications, data and design – the Wearable Data Hack 2015. the Wearable Data Hack 2015 will be the first occasion for most of the participants to share their views and ideas and jointly gather experience with the new data realm.

Apple calls the Apple Watch “Our most personal device ever”. And with good cause: The data from wearable tech, smartphones and smartwatches are really the most personal data ever. Our mobile devices accompany every step we take, every move we make. A plentitude of sensors on the devices draw multidimensional pictures of our daily lives. Applications of wearable data range from fitness to retail, from automotive to health. There is hardly an industry that cannot make direct use of it. And yet, wearable apps are still in their childhood.

Telling the stories of people’s lives

Wearable data is not an end in itself. Data is the raw material of our behavior. After data has been collected it has to be analyzed. There are algorithms which define the semi-finished results – these have to be enriched with other, contextual data. Analyzed and enriched data result in stories describing our lives.

Data & Design

For decades, designers have been seeking to design products to meet the seemingly never-ending rise of consumption. Since then, we appear to have evolved from an industrial economy to a knowledge- and data-driven economy. New models of thinking and new patterns of behavior and social values appear. Design thinking seems to provide some answers – it focuses on a human-centered approach, which combines design activities with research on human needs, and technological and business aspects, in order to create knowledge and solutions for highly complex problems.

The tracks

Hackers, designers and thinkers can choose from these tracks:

– Data-driven business models for wearables
– Data-driven wearables
– Smartphone app (Stand alone / comb with smartphone)
– User Experience
– Design
– API
– Open Data / Shared Data
– Medical data / mHealth

We invite hackers, designers and thinkers to meet each other, to discuss and find ways of using data in order to tell the people’s lives and create examples of socially relevant technology.

The date

Friday, 19 June – Sunday, 21 June

The location

Stylight, Nymphenburger Str. 86, München.

Stylight’s lofty office is well established as one of Munich’s coolest venues for Hackathons and perfectly suited to accommodate up to 100 participants.

The organizers

STYLIGHT is the first ‘shoppable’ fashion magazine in Germany. The STYLIGHT editorial team creates the best inspirational content every day, satisfying all the lifestyle news their users crave. No matter whether it’s fashion, beauty or stars – STYLIGHT is the number one website for inspirational excellence linked with innovative online shopping technology. With STYLIGHT you will never miss out on a trend again and can shop featured products instantly from all your favorite online stores.

Datarella is the mobile data technology company. The Munich-based startup taps into smartphones and wearable devices to harvest the data. Datarella supports data-driven analytics and product development for connected cars, smart home, mHealth, and retail.

Macromedia University follows these developments in its capacity as a university, and conceives itself as a place for reflecting on all aspects of media society. Our courses of study cover the broad spectrum of modern media careers, from management, and content jobs such as journalism, to the creative fields of design, gaming, and film and television. With over 80 professorships and over 2000 students in all five media centers of Munich, Stuttgart, Cologne, Hamburg, Berlin and Milan, the University trains the next generation of media talent for an international media society.

Telling the story of people’s lives – Strata+Hadoop, Feb 15, San Jose

We can draw a colorful picture of people’s everyday lives from the data we collect via smartphones. To tell the data-story, we need to translate the raw measurements into meaningful events, like “driving a car”, “strolling in a mall”, or even more intimate, like “being nervous”. We will show how to access the phone’s data, how to derive complex events from the phone’s raw data, and how to bring it into a meaningful story, and how to make it work for businesses.

Cases we’ll show: an app for the automotive industry to support ecological driving, learning about preferences of Chinese passengers at an international airport, and supporting people suffering from osteoporosis to stabelize their condition and maintain mobility.

More on Strata+Hadoop

 

The social relevance of the explore app guides – The Datarella Interview

Today, we speak with Michael Reuter (KMR), Co-founder of Datarella, about the social relevance of the explore app guides.

Q
At Datarella, you offer different programs your users can participate in. Can you elaborate on the meaning behind these programs?

KMR
With our explore app, we provide a useful free tool for smartphone users to optimize their lives. There is a broad range of specific life situations in which the explore programs provide valuable and sustainable benefits. From lifestyle oriented programs as SMILE!, our guide to learn how to smile in 5 days, to specific health programs as our OsteoGuide which supports users suffering from Osteoporosis – we provide a broad range of programs. The most important aspect for Datarella is to always provide real benefits to our users: it’s not about technology, it’s about the social relevance of technology, its immediate impact on the user.

Q
Could you describe one of those programs and its impacts on your users in more detail?

KMR
Sure! Let’s take the OsteoGuide: in countries with populations with median ages of 45 and older, Osteoporosis has become a widespread disease. People suffer from Vitamin D shortage, move less and less during the day and, as a result, their bone structure becomes more fragile. If Osteoporosis is analyzed at an early stage it’s curable in most cases. To cure a patient from Osteoporosis you have to help her to regulate her Vitamin D level and to move more; i.e. to change her behavior: the patient should use the staircase instead of the escalator, or walk or go by bike instead of using the car or a taxi.

A change of human behavior is one of the toughest challenges you can think of. Ask yourself: how easy is it for you to quit smoking, stop taking the extra bar of chocolate, etc. The best method to support people in changing their behaviors is to provide them with instant feedback of their behavior and to give regular counsel in terms of notifications and recommendations. With the explore app and our programs, we cover these aspects perfectly. We accompany our users during a certain period of time and help them to change their behavior to the better, step by step, day by day. In case of the OsteoGuide, we cooperate with Prof. Dr. med. Reiner Bartl of the Bayerisches Osteoporosezentrum, an acknowleged expert in the field of Osteoporosis.

Q
That sounds fascinating: you say that people in need of medical care can get rid of their diseases by using the explore app?

KMR
To be very clear: the explore app cannot fully compensate a medical treatment. And Datarella is not a team of health professionals. We have to join forces with experts like Prof. Bartl to provide our share of a solution for a patient. But, in many cases, medication can only applied successfully if the patient herself contributes to her well-being. And, in most cases, this means that she has to change her behavior. We have string evidence that the explore app programs are perfect tools to achieve this goal.

Q
You mentioned that the explore programs are free. Where is your business model?

KMR
Yes, every smartphone user can download the explore app and apply for any of the explore programs. It’s free to participate on the basic program level which includes, tasks, notifications and recommendations during the complete program. If a user wants more, e.g. if she is looking for a personalized individual coaching, she would have to subscribe to the premium version of the corresponding program. With the premium version she would also get tasks, notifications and recommendations, but on an personalized level, customized to her individual needs. This coaching approach is mostly sought-after by users who must change their behavior in order to achieve a satisfying level of personal well-being. And if behavior change is a must, then you’ll look for the easiest way to reach your goal. The explore app programs fit very well into that requirement since the user will be coached in a soft, but equally demanding and rewarding way.

Q
Thank you very much for these insights!

Want to be happy? SMILE!

What unites poets, philosophers, psychologists, neurologists and economists? They all are interested in what makes us happy. Sure, they have their distinct perspectives: one is interested in people’s feelings, the other wants to know what people value and the latter is interested in how people’s brains respond to rewards. Even governments try to measure and increase the happiness of their citizens.

Measuring happiness is easier than you might think. First, we can ask people how they feel and have them rate that feeling on a scale. That’s what we do with our explore app day by day. Second, we can use MRI to measure blood flow in the brain, or EMG to evaluate and record the electrical activity produced by our skeletal „smile“ muscles in the face. Very often, the results of the easy survey and those of the biomechanic treatments are highly correlated – that’s why we’re pretty content with our explore interaction results.

Then, there is this difference between synthetic happiness and real, or natural, happiness. We produce synthetic happiness when we don’t get what we want. The reason: things have less impact on happiness than we expect them to have. It seems that most experiences – bad and good ones – affect us for no longer than three months. Still, even synthetic happiness deserves to be regarded of equal value as the real happiness: people producing synthetic happiness don’t necessarily delude themselves but they find things that are even better than those they had before. Just think of those of us having chosen not to stick to their careers (they wouldn’t have become CEO, anyway), but to spend more time with their families.

If you had to summarize all the scientific literature on the causes for happiness in one word, it would be ’social‘. To tell something about a person’s happiness, we should know about her social graph, her family, her friends, and the strength of the network’s connections: the more people feel welcomed, accepted and loved, the happier they are.

So – what about the weakest links of your social network? What about the people you see, meet or with who you have social encounters in  one way or the other, day by day? Didn’t that woman stare at you? Why do these guys laugh after having looked at you? Why does the young man frown and shake his head constantly? We all ask ourselves questions like these. And the answers influence our own behavior and wellbeing, to a greater extent if our wellbeing mainly depends on our outside world, less if  we have learned to  build a strong foundation of our own wellbeing. The good thing about external effects on our happiness is that we aren’t exposed to them without active input from ourselves: we can influence these effects, we can even trigger them. Take some minutes and watch this video by Christine Rabette:

What do we see? Passengers in a Belgian metro are infected by the laughter of a single man. Watching this short film, one thing seems to be pretty evident: laughter is contagious. Not only – everyone will be laughing after a few minutes, but each individual seems to feel relieved. Each person seems to laugh about his or her own rather gloomy attitude before this funny guy started laughing. And don’t we know that feeling? Using public transport, on our daily way to work – the looks of many of us range from earnest to  gloomy. So – what about a smile, what about the effect of laughter on happiness? Does smiling at people make them happier? Does smiling make yourself happier?

Ron Gutman, Founder and CEO of HealthTap, certainly thinks so – you can persuade yourself watching the video below – whereas others like John M. Grohol, Founder and CEO of PsychCentral, are more skeptical – especially regarding the mixing up of correlations and causations.

There is one very interesting finding in the work of Ed Diener who shows that the frequency of our positive experiences is a much better predictor than the intensity of our positive experiences. In other words: the more often you can produce positive experiences the happier you will feel. And since most of our daily social contacts take place in our extended social network, using rather weak links, such as „I have seen this person“ or „she asked me for directions“, it might make a lot of sense if we focus on exactly these ‚weak‘ experiences of communication and try to transform them into positive experiences.  Keep in mind: the more often you have positive experiences, the happier you become.

As regarding happiness, a lot of scientific work has been done exploring the effects of a smile and I’ll show some of the results in one of my next posts. In a nice co-incidence, it now seems scientifically proven that a sense of humor can improve our health!

But for the moment I’d like to invite you to our experiment SMILE! – a 5-day-program based on the explore App helping you to start and keep smiling (at others) – and therefore creating several additional positive experiences a day. We invite you to participate and to check whether you will have become happier after 5 days. If you want to participate, just answer „Yes“ in the interaction „Happiness“ which will be published on June, 4, in explore. The first 25 volunteers are in!

Why Quantified Self Is The Next Big Thing

During the weekend of May 10-12, 250 students, scientists, artists, venture capitalists and entrepreneurs gathered at the Quantified Self Conference #qseu14 in Amsterdam, the fifth conference of its kind and the second one taking place in Europe. First timers, not being familiar with the concept of QS, got used to it pretty quickly and absorbed the essential aspects easily, as some of them told me during the breaks.

For me, it was a great experience and I learned even more than during #qseu13: the program was even more dense with most session descriptions reading so promising that selecting the „best ones“ became quite tough. A nice location (the Casa 400) and a oerfect organisation (you won’t find a that kind of catering at other conferences) by Marcia and her team made the #qseu14 a real treat.

The Next Big Thing
And yet, this great experience is not the reason for this post. I think that the Quantified Self marks the beginning of the biggest societal shift since the Industrial Revolution. Or, to tone it a little bit down and to limit the claim to the more mundane area of economics: QS is the Next Big Thing. QS is the redistribution of power from experts and organizations to the individual. QS gives autonomy to the individual who, assessing herself through tracking tools and therefore knowing herself quantitavely and – based on data analysis – qualitatively, becomes independent from the opinion leadership of experts like medical doctors regarding the aspects of her health.

Redistribtion Of Power
In this sense, QS stands in a line with technologies and tools enabling billions of individuals of doing things formerly reserved to organizations: the internet itself, providing people with access to information, social media, enabling people to publish their own ideas, or 3D printers, enabling individuals to manufacture real products in their homes: all those redistribute power to the individual.

An Inbound Perspective
What is so special about the Quantified Self? Compared with the above mentioned technologies, QS isn’t about external tools to be used in order to do something you couldn’t before. It’s rather the inbound aspect of QS: by tracking themselves people start knowing themselves for the first time in history. It’s not about learning a new technique, it’s about learning about yourself. You use tools like wearable devices, smart clothes and apps to know yourself better and to optimize your lifestyle subsequently.

The Self
Trying to understand themselves better has kept people busy for centuries. Descartes, Locke, Hume, Nietzsche, Sartre and others pondered on the self, this agent responsible for the thoughts and actions of an individual. And still, the more complex the world has become, the less known the self seemed to be to their „owners“.

For instance, most aspects of health, being private affairs in earlier times, have been delegated to specialists in this field, medical doctors, psychologists and scientists. Even lifestyle health aspects as losing weight have been occupied by nutritional experts – may it even be the ubiquitous yellow press diet recommendation.

Health Care
And although we’re living longer than ever – the global life expectancy has improved to 68 years for men and 73 years for women – many health problems seem to be unsolvable. Obesity alone costs the U.S. health system more than $150 billion per year. So-called diseases of civilization have occurred or risen within the last decades, such as diabetes, cardiac diseases, specific types of cancer. And the proposed solutions of the health industry and its proponents is to cure the symptoms of these sicknesses, to produce more effective drugs and to develop the best therapies for so-called chronic diseases. As a diabetes patient, you get the diabetes treatment. No matter, if you are a 45-year-old mother, a 22-year-old obese student or a 72-year-old sporty pensioner, you get more or less the same diabetes treatment.

The Quantified Self In Health
What if it were possible to get the treatment which exactly matches your individual personal physique? What if the treatment took your complete lifestyle into account and would be adapted to your daily behavior? Or – even better: what, if a treatment would start with the prevention of diabetes by providing you with helpful advice regarding necessary behavior change based on the analysis on your realtime body data? Any health system in developed countries is based on fighting the symptoms of diseases, and on nurturing healthcare industries which need to retain their patients by providing them with drugs keeping them loyal customers. As long as the individual depends on the healthcare industry alone, he won’t get cured of diseases of civilization. There is an opportunity to leave this system, and this is the Quantified Self. As soon as the individual is provided with unbiased realtime data about his body, he can realize impending health risks and act accordingly by changing his behavior to prevent a disease. Or, he gets qualified recommendations regarding his lifestyle in order to reduce the negative effects of his chronic disease, or to even recover completely.

For sure, not everybody wants to know everything about himself, perhaps because he feels that the data would show that he’s in a very bad condition. Or, some people might just be quite insensitive towards their own health as some behaviors, such as smoking, seem to imply. And, as always, people will have to get used to track and analyze their body data consistently, as well as to learn to change their behavior based on recommendations. This latter aspect – how to motivate people to change their behavior – will be discussed in one of the next posts.

A Movement
The Quantified Self is not a technology, and it neither is an industry. It’s rather a movement, a lifestyle enabled by technologies such as apps, wearable device’s sensors and algorithms which translate body data into meaningful stories about human behavior. The Quantified Self is not powered by inventions, it isn’t owned by companies and it isn’t ‚protected‘ from innovation by patents. The Quantified Self is powerd by the people, by individuals who realize that they have the ability to know and to make sense from all their data. By quantifying herself, the individual is the one who knows herself, who can change herself and therefore who can change the world. As soon as the individual becomes aware of her newly gained power, her re-gained autonomy, she will use it. And with her, billions of people.

In this post, I have pointed out the impacts of the Quantified Self on health care. There are other areas of life where we will see similar disruptive effects, e.g. education. Knowing your data makes the difference. And that’s why I think that the Quantified Self is the Next Big Thing.

What are your thoughts? Would love to read them!

Datarella – Lessons Learned: Hire Slow – Fire Fast

A lot of entrepreneurs hire fast and fire slow. In particular when new coders are required to develop a software. A bias towards speed and quick growth drives many leaders to be quick to hire new personnel and strategic cooperation partners. Hiring fast is absolutely fine as long as everything works out well. The problem is, many people do not react quick enough when they figure out problems and significant quality issues with the people they cooperate with.

Datarella decided to hire a German-based software development team for the programming of the prototype app including a backend system. The team had good references and offered us their service at an attractive price. The introductory meeting was very promising. It was clear to hire them quickly.

Over the course of time, we figured out that the development team lost one of their key persons, who supported us on our project. As a result, they stopped hitting the pre-defined milestones and started to deliver poor quality. Firstly, we asked them to take care of the problems they obviously had within their team. Secondly, we put them under pressure to deliver in time. However, our development partner was not able to improve his performance. As a consequence, we decided to quit our agreement and to hire a new development team. Probably we should have done so much earlier…

If you figure out any problems with your staff or partners, react quickly and if worst comes to worst you need to fire fast.