Carnival Cruises Does Something Really Creepy And Other Small Business Tech News This Week

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(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 – Carnival Corporation plans to make guests wear “smart medallions” to record their every whim.

The medallions can be carried in your pocket or worn as jewelry and will track your movement all around the ship, automating the purchase of food, drinks and merchandise. The smart disks can also tell Carnival employees of your preferences and whims by letting them see your prior purchases, preferences and social media activity and will power a new “shipwide gambling platform.” (Source: New York Times)

Why this is important for your business:

Creepy? Absolutely! But Carnival is investing hundreds of millions of dollars to be able to better serve their customers and make their experience on a cruise ship as enjoyable as possible. As big companies continue to invest in Internet of Things devices such as these, costs will ultimately decline and even small merchants and other businesses will be able to better track their customers’ activities, too.

2 – BMW and Gap are experimenting with augmented reality.

Under a new partnership with Google’s Tango technology, BMW wants to allow its buyers to walk around a car, place it to look life-sized in their driveways or garages and choose different colors, wheels and trims – all from their mobile device. Gap wants its customers to create avatars that will virtually try on clothes. (Source: Bloomberg)
Why this is important for your business:

What, you don’t have an avatar yet? You better, because by 2020 augmented reality could be a $162 billion business, and apps like these will help your customers better envision how they can use your products – and hopefully augment your sales.

3 – A new type of contact lens may help fight digital screen fatigue.

Engineered by CooperVision for “digital lifestyles,” the new product aims to “rid wearers of eye fatigue and dryness.” In this era where many of us stare for long hours at digital devices, these lenses (which are currently available) may provide relief. (Source: VentureBeat)

Why this is important for your business:

Michele Andrews, senior director of professional and academic affairs in North America for CooperVision, said, “there’s no reason for eye tiredness and dryness to be the ‘new normal’ for the millions of contact lens wearers who are looking at screens throughout the day.” And there’s no reason why your employees (and their productivity) should suffer through all those long hours of watching Netflix – oops, sorry, I mean doing their work – when there’s a potential solution.

4 – The smart Post-it Note has arrived.

Post-it Notes are a great way to remind yourself of future tasks and annoy your co-workers with your silly and useless comments. A startup called Mangoslab has figured out how to take this annoyance to a new level. Their product, called Nemonic, is a tiny printer that lets you add anything from your computer or device to a Post-it Note that’s printed without ink on thermal paper. The product will ship in April. (Source: TechCrunch)
Why this is important for your business:

If, like many offices, your employees are addicted to leaving pithy, insightful and thought-provoking notes for each other, this application will make it easier, faster and more readable. Thank goodness.

5 – A new form of ransomware is targeting HR departments.

It’s known as GoldenEye, and it targets human resources departments by sending them fake job applications. Only German speakers have been affected so far, but I imagine we’re not far behind. HR reps get a PDF cover letter with no malicious content and an Excel file with all the bad macros. Make the mistake of opening the Excel file, and you’ll be asked to pay 1.3 bitcoins (about $750-$1000) to unlock your files. (Source: TechRepublic)

Why this is important for your business:

I know that this column will be reporting on lots of ransomware this year as it’s predicted by many security experts to be the most popular form of malware affecting small businesses. I’ll repeat this message frequently: train your people, update your security software and subscribe to an online backup service.

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