Parent and Child-friendly Trial Events Combines WebRTC platform ‘SkyWay’ and Experiential Educational Robot ‘Romo’

March 24, 2015

The embedded graphic may be in Japanese but you should easily get the picture.  In a unique showcase at the Science Museum in Japan, NTT Communications has combined its WebRTC Skyway platform with the Romotive participatory educational robots, “Romo,” for a parent and child-friendly trial event starting April 2, 2015. 

Source:  SankeiBiz

This trial is the event taking place at Japan’s National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation (Miraikan) which is located in Daiba, Tokyo.  It is the first time WebRTC will be demonstrated at the museum and is free to the public.  It is part of NTT Communications investigation of the possibilities of the Web of Things (WoT). It is designed to showcase the value of WebRTC-enabled telepresence that enable smart devices to interact with the child-friendly robot. The possibilities for instruction are only limited by the imagination. 

The nice thing about the demonstration is showing the ease-of-use and quality of communications that WebRTC can provide along with what is a cute robot. In fact, despite how it looks, this is not really a toy.

Source: Romotive 

With WebRTC enabling parents to put video interactions on a friendly face it is a true learning tool.  Romo is versatile. It can control various emotions and movements from an iPhone app, such as learning programming and online video calling hands-on along with several other functions.

NTT Communications will provide services and a variety of available scenes concerning WoT. It is also planning to build a new Skyway use case based on findings on parent-child communication obtained in this event. Plus, it is committed to supplying information about any technical problems resulting in this event to the international standards bodies such as W3C4.

And you thought WebRTC was just for the enterprise or multimedia interaction with contact centers!  Take another look. Thanks to WebRTC the browser really is becoming the portal and joy stick to the world. 

Edited by Dominick Sorrentino

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AsiaPay Partners with Semafone for Secure Telephone-based Payments

AsiaPay Partners with Semafone for Secure Telephone-based Payments

March 24, 2015

Asia-Pacific electronic payment service provider AsiaPay recently announced that it has partnered with Semafone, a secure payment technology developer, to allow AsiaPay customers to complete telephone-based payments in its operating regions.

The cooperation here will build upon a base that the AsiaPay Payment Gateway (News - Alert) has already established. The payment gateway already provides customers with multiple channels for payments, and it has taken hold in many area banks and corporations which trust its ability to process payments in multiple languages and find use in its flexibility. Now, that product will find further strength with Semafone that will add advanced telephone payment features as well as reporting and fraud detection capabilities.

Joseph Chan, the CEO and founder of AsiaPay, commented in his company's announcement about AsiaPay's standing in the community.

“AsiaPay has more than 14 years’ experience in international business service and credit card payment processing, holding a consolidated position as the major ePayment player in Asia,” Chan said.

Tim Critchley, the CEO of Semafone, echoed that sentiment and added that his company's own product will add to the AsiaPay presence by shoring up contact centers in the Asia-Pacific region. Semafone works first by offering customers a payment gateway through any touch-tone phone. It then goes to work by first making sure that there is a direct link between customers and their banks; no financial information is stored on contact center's servers during such transactions. Customers are also awarded protection within the payment system by having their keypad tones disguised by DTMF masking technology so no distinct key presses may be identified from their tones alone.

Perhaps the largest benefit to this partnership is that Semafone allows call centers to sidestep Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI (News - Alert) DDS) regulations. Those regulations make sure that any sensitive customer information stored on company servers is protected through encryption and the like. However, because data transferred with Semafone is wired directly to financial institutions, there is no data for call centers to protect. This allows call center agents to concentrate more on customer service and make sure that customers get the attention they need.

The announcement suggested that the partnership described above will continue beyond the initial terms of cooperation regarding the processing of payments. AsiaPay suggested that it intends to offer the Semafone payment gateway to area merchants that accept credit and debit. Likewise, it said Semafone can, in turn, recommend AsiaPay services to new and existing customers with which it may do business.

Edited by Maurice Nagle

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AT&T Certifies 4G Wireless Router for M2M Deployment

The advantages of 4G cellular service over 3G are well understood, and until the possible projected date of 2017 for 5G arrives, it’s the best there is. Getting M2M devices to handle the superior strength of signal without too much battery drain is a hotly chased goal in the IoT developer world.

On March 24, NetComm Wireless, an Australian broadband technology firm, announced that its 4G wifi router has been approved by AT&T for deployment in the U.S. for M2M applications. This industrial-grade router brings uses AT&T's 4G LTE network to bear on data heavy applications like digital displays, smart buildings, remote healthcare, emergency response, business back-up and other bandwidth-intensive M2M applications. The NTC-140W-01 router supports high data rates and provides a significant speed and reliability advantage to devices, machines and other assets and has two Gigabit Ethernet ports, high-speed Wi-Fi, vehicle voltage support, GPS and ignition input.

The device is designed to ensure reliable connectivity, especially for time critical systems, health services and disaster recovery applications, and incorporates automatic rollover to 3G if outside of 4G coverage areas. It instantly falls back to 4G when the Gigabit Ethernet ports are used as an alternate Internet connection. The built-in VPN clients also ensure a secure connection over public mobile networks. 

Edited by Maurice Nagle

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Tolt Touts New Release

Tolt Touts New Release

March 24, 2015

By Maurice Nagle, Virtual PBX Web Editor

The benefits to a virtual PBX are clear: lower cost, greater flexibility and simple implementation. For these reasons any business, enterprise or SMB, must remember the viability in a hosted telephony solution. As adoption of this no longer unknown and very much growing technology swells, providers are keeping tabs and molding offerings based on demand.

On that note, Tolt Solutions, a leading provider of managed services and solutions to retailers, announced the release of its new Cloud Hosted PBX VoIP service.

“We are very excited about adding VoIP and Unified Communications to our product portfolio. We’ve had numerous requests for these services from our customers and prospects and are now well positioned to meet these demands with the release of this solution,” said Corey Fischer, Vice President of Tolt Solutions’ Network Services.

The Tolt Cloud PBX platform provides cost savings by removing the need for maintenance fees or Capital expenditures and comes loaded with standard business features of a legacy solution—not to mention also includes support of Unified Communications (UC).

Tolt is differentiating its offering by offering monitoring services to its end users that include real time and historical network as well as voice performance monitoring and support.

Fischer noted, “I’m particularly excited about our inclusion of performance monitoring services with this offering which greatly differentiates us from the competition, enabling Tolt to troubleshoot not only the voice but also the network elements of the solution. Our advanced monitoring provides real-time and historical visibility into packet delivery, latency, jitter, bandwidth utilization and MOS scores to enable us to support these services in a better fashion than our competition.”

Due to the improved monitoring services offered, a company can instantly improve the customer experience by offering one point of contact for security, data and voice. Fischer proclaimed, “We are now able to provide customers with a complete solution for all their communication needs, eliminating the finger-pointing that can occur by having disparate voice and data providers.”

The South Carolina-based provider is certainly on to something here, but only time can truly tell. Stay tuned, providers are realizing not only the value in the Virtual PBX model but the importance in reporting as well.

Edited by Dominick Sorrentino

New M2M Solution to Help Merchants Protect from Fraud

The Mobile Risk Council conference is in Las Vegas this week, and while the event focuses on all areas of mobile device security, one vendor is offering online merchants a new way to protect themselves from fraudulent credit card purchases.

Credit card payment processors can verify if a payment is authorized, but they do not and, up until now, could not protect merchants from later charge-backs if the card was stolen. Fraudulent purchases get charged back from the vendor, but the merchandise is almost never recovered, so retailers lose on both ends of the spectrum.

Or that’s how it always has been. On March 24, Zumigo Corporation unveiled its solution that uses communication between the customer’s mobile device, the card reader and the Zumigo Assure Payments solution to ascertain that the transaction information supplied by a consumer:  name, address and mobile number, is accurate.

This solution verifies the purchaser’s identity against mobile billing records delivered through Zumigo’s partnership with mobile operators and Equifax, including matching the credit card ownership details against the owner of the mobile device identified to the shopping cart. In addition, Zumigo can identify the real-time location of the mobile phone and compare it to the customer’s IP address and shipping and billing address. If all of the data points match, merchants can be assured of a lower-risk transaction.

The whole process works via a cloud-based service, enabled with simple API integrations into existing shopping cart systems on traditional websites, mobile web and mobile app.

Seller no longer beware. 

Edited by Dominick Sorrentino

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Australia’s Financial Sectors Tout the Benefits of Videoconferencing

March 23, 2015

By Dominick Sorrentino

Two things that seem to have left no corner of the world untouched are Cisco (News - Alert) and videoconferencing. Australia, which was just in the news when Cisco announced plans to extend its IoT services to the Outback, has been making headlines on both fronts. Today, the land Down Under is once again in the spotlight, this time for its use of videoconferencing in financial sectors. 

According to an article from, senior managers from Westpac—one of the continent’s premier banks and financial providers—and from IAG, or Insurance Australia Group, are voicing approval for Cisco’s videoconferencing solutions, which help them streamline communication with business clients.

Westpac, for example, has struggled in years past to serve small business customers with specialist staff in face-to-face interactions. But thanks to videoconferencing, businesses across the state of Victoria can communicate with specialists at Westpac’s central Melbourne location—or even Perth or Sydney if needed—without the wait, sometimes cutting out weeks of waiting between specialist visits. High quality video communications provides Westpac effective management over its relationships with remote clients, sans wasted travel time.

Meanwhile, IAG is making the most of videoconferencing solutions by touching base with customers on a regular basis. Kath Young, digital workspace senior manager, in the iTWirearticle, stressed the importance of an active liaison between clients. Simple and effective back and forth correspondences opens doors to new discussions that can improve client relationships. In conjunction with Unified Communications (News - Alert) (UC), employees can also accomplish more with less travel, and work from home if they so choose.

Young also noted that videoconferencing and UC can put demands on employees to be available more often, which can cause more distractions during the day. Nevertheless, she explained, as teams develop their own UC conduct codes the benefits will ultimately outweigh any downsides. Once upon a time telephones were a new feature in the workplace, and we did a decent job establishing etiquette in the workplace for those—for the most part, at least.   

Based on feedback from Westpac and IAG, it’s safe to say that videoconferencing is finding practical use in Australian workplaces; the once novel concept of video communications continues coming into its own.

Edited by Maurice Nagle

Gartner Research Says Smart Cities Set Top 1 Billion M2M Things This Year

With every moment that passes, another device is being connected to something else for the automatic exchange of data. And, according to a report released by Gartner on March 18, it’s accelerating to such a degree that by the end of the year, 1.1 billion things will be connected, worldwide.

Leading the pack will be smart homes, with 294 million devices hooked up. Other areas with major growth are public utilities with 252 million, smart commercial buildings at 206 million and transportation, which will be at 237 million connected devices by the end of the year.

Some of the data is staggering. For instance, combined, smart homes and commercial spaces will host 45 percent of total M2M things by the end of the year, but by 2020, this could be at more than 80 percent.

“Smart cities represent a great revenue opportunity for technology and services providers, but providers need to start to plan, engage and position their offerings now,” said Bettina Tratz-Ryan, VP-Research at Gartner. “The majority of Internet of Things spending for smart cities will come from the private sector.”

Gartner predicts that smart LED lighting will grow the most in M2M consumer applications, from 6 million units in 2015 to 570 million units by 2020. “Electric mobility, charging stations and embedded IoT will generate additional opportunities in smart cities,” Tratz-Ryan said. “This could be IoT in vehicles, or vehicle batteries sensing and communicating with the driver.”

Gartner also estimates that smart-home security and safety will represent the second-largest service market by revenue in 2017, and that by 2020, the smart healthcare and fitness market will have grown to nearly $38 billion.

Those are big numbers, and projections always have to be taken as such, but if investment follows Gartner’s numbers, we’re still waiting for the M2M explosion. And it’s likely to be a big one. 

Edited by Maurice Nagle

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First Hack-a-Thons for Apple Watch to be Held in Prague and San Francisco

One of the best ways to spark innovation is by inciting friendly competition among the ranks of innovators. This is exactly what STRV, full service mobile and digital agency, will do during its first and second public Apple (News - Alert) Watch Hack-a-Thons this May.

Welcome contestants include all and any interested iOS developers and designers who have a brainchild in the form of an application for the Apple Watch, the newest addition to Apple’s fleet of trendy hardware, using the Apple WatchKit. The timepiece—the value of which has been hotly debated—is slated for release April, 24 of this year.

The first Hack-a-Thon will be held in Prague, Czech Republic on May, 9, followed by a second in San Francisco, California May, 23. Both locations were chosen for their reputations as key markets for early adapters of new and intriguing consumer technology.

"Hack-a-Thons are about ideas," says STRV CEO, David Semerad, "and we're looking for innovative app concepts and cool designs that will inspire the app community. It's always exciting to see and discover new talent. We're looking forward to learning what local developers and designers in two of the main markets where we operate can bring to the table."

Contestants can enter as a single-person or two-person team, and admission is free. The only requirement is that teams register prior to the event. Snacks and lunch will be provided.

 "The winning team must not only present a great app idea but also have an eye-catching design. In my opinion, the perfect team combo will include an experienced developer and designer," says Lubo Smid, COO at STRV who will act as the hack-a-thon's mentor.

The winners will receive a free Apple Watch of their own, which pales in comparison to the munificent cash prizes of certain other competitions, but is still a nifty trinket to crown the bragging rights.

Whoever wins also leaves with the knowledge that they’ve contributed value to a wearable device that, however cool, has yet to achieve mainstay-status among early tech adapters. If in the coming years the Apple Watch does in fact crack the mold commercially, the bragging rights, and the revenue, for the winner will be exponentially compounded.

In other words, there could be a lot more than a shiny new Apple Watch on the table here. Sign up today if you to join the fray. 

Edited by Maurice Nagle