5 Things In Tech You Missed This Week – 3/19/16


(This post originally appeared on Forbes)

Here are five things in technology that happened this past week and how they affect your business. Did you miss them?

1 – Alibaba is working to bring virtual reality into its e-commerce services.

Per TechCrunchAlibaba, which claims 400 million users across its services, said that GnomeMagic Lab will work with its shopping businesses with a view to integrating VR into the shopping experience while exploring other applications, such as video with Youku Tudou and entertainment via Alibaba Pictures.

Why this is important for your business:

3D printing, driverless cars and drones are coming. But Virtual Reality will truly be a game changer. Big companies, from Microsoft MSFT -2.21% to Facebook FB +0.41% and now Alibaba are investing heavily in the technology. VR will change the way you and your employees work (imagine “virtually” having a phone or tablet in your hand, without having to carry one with you) and the way your customers will shop.

2 – A new projector from Sony can turn regular surfaces into touch-sensitive displays

From The VergeSony programmed its prototype to recognize a copy of Lewis Carroll classic Alice in Wonderland. When the company’s representative opens the book, it springs to life with animations that can be dragged off the page and then used to interact with a nearby physical objects like a teacup or deck of playing cards. The tabletop also responds to any finger press by tracking the direction of your hand, while hovering your fingers over any portion of the surface highlights the grid of light the projector uses to monitor your movements.

Why this is important for your business:

See #1 above about Virtual Reality. Convinced yet?

3 – Google will start ranking “mobile-friendly” sites even higher in May.

Per Venture BeatGoogle announced this week it is rolling out an update to mobile search results in May that “increases the effect” of its mobile-friendly ranking signal. The goal is to “help our users find even more pages that are relevant and mobile-friendly,” though the company didn’t share exactly how much of an impact it expects the change to have.

Why this is important for your business:

Many of my clients and readers still do not have mobile friendly websites and it’s costing them business. And now those companies will suffer even more as Google “increases the effects” of search results for mobile friendly sites starting in May. Talk to your web designer or internet service provider and make sure you have a mobile-friendly website up and running soon or your customers and prospects will be finding your competitors much easier.

4 – Apple Watch is finding some pretty interesting uses.

Sure, the device isn’t as hot as the iPhone or the iPad. And I haven’t bought one yet. But more and more stories are appearing that show how innovative developers are creating unique solutions that only a wearable can do. For example, one report from Mac Rumors shows how an Apple Watch can be used to provide a medical grade EKG analysis, and this report tells the story of how one man potentially survived a fatal heart attack thanks to the device.

Why this is important for your business:

Don’t ignore the capabilities of the Apple Watch…or of the entire wearables industry. You may not own one now. But within a few years you and your employees will be using these devices to track attendance, manage machines and monitor fitness and this will affect your company’s productivity, health costs and communications.

5 – Skype for Web can now call landlines and play embedded YouTube videos.

Per The Next WebYou can now call cellphones and landlines right from the Web app. As expected, you’ll have to pay, but it’s a good and fairly affordable option (prices start at 2.3¢/min for domestic calls) if you need to make a call from your computer for some reason. Second, you can now watch YouTube videos right from your conversation. Video links are now embedded into your IMs along with the URL, so you no longer have to open a new tab to watch the latest viral cat video. Finally, Microsoft’s adding notifications to the Web version of Skype, so that it behaves more like a desktop app; you’ll be notified of new messages ever if you’re in another tab or using another program.

Why this is important for your business:

Yes, my company is a Microsoft partner so sometimes I feel like I have to wave the flag. But this is not just flag-waving. It’s a reality check. Most of my clients own Microsoft Office. And they seem to all use 20% or less of its capabilities – like fully utilizing the calling and sharing features of Skype. This is yet another feature that will enhance the productivity of your employees. Take another look at your office application this year. Upgrade or get some training.


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