Bits + Bytes: A Miscellany of Technology

This article first appeared in Digital Edge, The Edge Malaysia Weekly, on July 11, 2022 - July 17, 2022.
Bits + Bytes: A Miscellany of Technology
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NEWS

HappyFresh Supermarket launches ‘Cheapest in Town’ campaign for three months

HappyFresh Supermarket is offering discounts ranging from 60% to 90% for a myriad of items under its newly launched “Cheapest in Town” campaign from July to September.

HappyFresh is an online grocery platform in Southeast Asia, operating primarily in Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand.

The platform had set up its own supermarket earlier this year and is now one of the leading supermarkets under the HappyFresh umbrella, alongside other renowned supermarket chains.

After operating in Malaysia for six years, HappyFresh came to realise that the marketplace model, though great, still had its limitations in providing the best experience for customers.

The company’s chief growth officer, Johan Antlov, told Digital Edge that the launch of its supermarket using the dark store concept has reduced wastage and increased value for customers. Despite setting up its own supermarket, HappyFresh continues to collaborate with its long-term supermarket partners as the latter offer a variety of products favoured by certain groups of customers in the grocery vertical. This also allows customers to shop wherever they prefer from the comfort of their homes.

Human agents preferred over automated self-service

Automated support and self-service options are revolutionising the customer service industry, but consumers in the Asia Pacific still interact with human agents for support requests.

According to Infobip, a global cloud communications platform, which commissioned a study by Forrester Consulting to understand the evolution of human and automated engagement, 23% of respondents have spoken with a human agent via live chat on its website/mobile app while 36% of respondents have spoken with a human agent over the phone.

The study was based on a survey involving 1,210 respondents across mainland China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, Taiwan and Vietnam.

“Narrowing to Malaysia, the level of customer experience (CX) by brands has been rated as moderate, with a score of 3.8, below the APAC average of 3.9. Neighbouring countries like Indonesia (4.1) and Thailand (4.2) registered a higher score in CX experience, while Singapore lags slightly at 3.7,” notes the study.

“There is still a habitual reliance on live human support and Malaysians prefer to communicate with a live human agent either through online live chat (45%), social media (45%) or over the phone (43%),” it states.

Meta shuts down Novi crypto wallet

Meta’s “troubled cryptocurrency project” is coming to an end as the “small pilot” for its crypto wallet, Novi, will be terminated in September.

As Novi users will lose access to their accounts, the crypto wallet operator has requested for all users to withdraw their funds “as soon as possible” and they will no longer be able to add money to Novi starting July 21. 

If someone forgets to withdraw their remaining balance, Meta says it will “attempt to transfer” their funds to the bank account or debit card added to the service.

Rolled out in October last year as a pilot to users in the US and Guatemala City, Novi was initially built to support fast and free transactions using the Meta-backed cryptocurrency, Diem. However, regulators forced the company to partner with CoinBase to use the Paxos stablecoins (USDT) instead. 

The Novi project had come under heavy regulatory scrutiny since its inception and received backlash from members of the US Senate, who felt that Meta “cannot be trusted” to manage cryptocurrency. The sentiment had snowballed, causing everything to go downhill for the company since.

Despite Diem’s downfall, Meta remains keen to develop its own digital assets and accompanying wallet. There have been reports that the company is building its own digital currency, Zuck Bucks, which is not backed by the blockchain. 

Additionally, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg has also hinted at creating a digital wallet that enables users to manage and store their digital assets. The wallet will be interoperable across different metaverse experiences, reflecting the Metaverse Standards Forum which calls for industry-wide standards across virtual reality and augmented reality experiences.

 

COMPETITIONS

Forward-thinkers encouraged to register for the Bayu Hackathon

Bayu Hackathon, a nation-building programme set up by Forest Interactive Foundation, is calling for Malaysians aged 20 to 30 to develop an application, mobile game, website, bot, software or IoT based on sustainable development goals (SDGs).

The foundation, which is the non-profit arm of telecommunications platform provider Forest Interactive, focuses on education enrichment in the field of technology to empower future innovators capable of developing tech-forward ideas and solutions for Sabah.

Supported by Jawala Plantation Industries and the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MOSTI) Sabah, the programme will take place from July 29 to 31 at the Le Méridien Hotel in Kota Kinabalu. Final-year undergraduates, fresh graduates or those currently seeking job opportunities are encouraged to apply. Additionally, participants who have previously received a formal or informal education in tech-related skills, with an eye for design, or have business-related knowledge and experience are also welcome to participate.

Register at forestcares.org/sekodlah-bayu-hackathon/en/registration or scan the QR code.

 

Touch ’n Go on a quest for fresh minds to join Young Entrepreneurship Challenge 2022

Touch ’n Go is in search of fresh young minds for the Touch ’n Go eWallet Young Entrepreneurship Challenge 2022, which provides students with a platform to experience, innovate and foster their entrepreneurial skills within the e-wallet industry. 

The challenge, which ends on July 23, is for them to submit a pitch deck of their most innovative ideas on how Touch ’n Go eWallet can continue to increase enjoyment while encouraging continuous usage of the digital wallet among Malaysians. 

Open for individual and team participation to full-time students under the age of 25, the pitch decks with the most innovative ideas will be selected to present in a professional setting and stand a chance to win prizes worth up to RM10,000 Touch ’n Go eWallet credit and vouchers worth up to RM1,000. 

Submit the six-page pitch deck to [email protected] by July 23 to participate. For more information and updates about the Young Entrepreneurship Challenge 2022, visit www.touchngo.com.my

 

PEOPLE MOVEMENTS

StanChart appoints Samuel Ding

Samuel Ding rejoins Standard Chartered as head of transaction banking. Ding, who has been in the financial services industry for more than 20 years, will be leading and supporting clients’ transaction banking needs across the world by providing access to digital-enabled solutions, and data to power decisions and drive profitability.

Before his appointment, Ding had served in various senior positions in investment banking and transaction banking with CIMB and BNP Paribas Malaysia. He started his banking career at StanChart. His last position at the company was as head of international corporate. 

Freshworks appoints director and regional manager of sales for Asean 

Simon Ma, who has had a 12-year history of helping businesses grow their regional go-to-market teams, has been appointed as the new director and regional manager of sales for Asean at Freshworks Inc. 

Freshworks, a software company empowering the people who power business, currently has active hiring and expansion plans in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam under Ma. 

 

DIGITIONARY

Internet of Medical Things (IoMT)

The Internet of Medical Things (IoMT) refers to an ecosystem of medical devices and applications that are interconnected through online computer networks. IoMT devices are linked to cloud platforms such as Amazon Web Services where patients’ data can be stored and analysed. 

In the article “Medtech and the Internet of Medical Things: How Connected Medical Devices Are Transforming Health Care”, Deloitte highlighted that the implementation of IoMT can improve patient outcomes in many aspects, such as improved drug management, improved diagnosis and treatment, decreased cost, remote monitoring of chronic diseases and enhanced patient treatment. 

An example of the implementation of IoMT is a heart rate monitor that sends the patient’s data to the cloud software for the assigned medical practitioner to review right away. The patient’s existing data in the cloud software can also be accessed by multiple doctors and departments, which allows a smooth cross-examination instead of passing hard copy reports and prevents misdiagnosis. 

 

TECH BOOKS

Blueprint: How DNA Makes Us Who We Are 

By Robert Plomin

In Blueprint, behavioural geneticist Robert Plomin describes how the DNA revolution has made DNA personal by giving us the power to predict our psychological strengths and weaknesses from birth.

A century of genetic research shows that DNA differences inherited from our parents are the consistent lifelong sources of our psychological individuality — the blueprint that makes us who we are. This, says Plomin, is a game changer.

Plomin has been working on these issues for almost 50 years, conducting longitudinal studies of twins and adoptees. He reports that genetics explain more of the psychological differences among people than all other factors combined.

Genetics accounts for 50% of psychological differences — not just mental health and school achievement, but also all psychological traits, from personality to intellectual abilities. Nature, not nurture, is what makes us who we are.

Plomin explores the implications of this, drawing some provocative conclusions — among them that parenting styles don’t really affect children’s outcomes once genetics is taken into effect. Neither tiger mothers nor attachment parenting affects children’s ability to get into Harvard. After describing why DNA matters, Plomin explains what DNA does, offering readers a unique insider’s view of the exciting synergies that came from combining genetics and psychology. — Amazon

 

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

“TikTok is not just another video app. That’s the sheep’s clothing. It harvests swaths of sensitive data that new reports show are being accessed in Beijing. 

I’ve called on Apple and Google to remove TikTok from their app stores for its pattern of surreptitious data practices.”

— Brendan Carr, a US-Republican member of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC)

Carr has urged the chief executives of Apple and Alphabet’s Google to kick Chinese-owned TikTok out of their app stores, insisting that the app operates “as a sophisticated surveillance tool”. 

On June 24, the FCC commissioner said in a letter to the CEOs that video-sharing app TikTok has collected vast troves of sensitive data about US users that could be accessed by ByteDance staff in Beijing. ByteDance is TikTok’s Chinese parent company.

Responding to the backlash, ByteDance in a letter dated June 30 said that certain China-based employees can access information from US users, but denied information goes to the Chinese Communist Party.

“For two years, we’ve talked openly about our work to limit access to user data across regions, and in our letter to senators last week, we were clear about our progress in limiting access even further through our work with Oracle,” a TikTok spokesman said in a statement. “As we’ve said repeatedly, TikTok has never shared US user data with the Chinese government, nor would we if asked.”

 

PICTURE OF THE WEEK

Tokyo-based start-up Motion Lib, which develops  haptic technology to enable humans to feel what their robots are touching, will be partnering with India’s Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) to develop a system that can be utilised across various industries. 

Contrary to conventional haptics that fail to replicate small differences in tactile resistance, the Real-Haptics technology by Motion Lib is able to detect and produce the right pressure for robots to grip each object, just like a human will. 

Motion Lib has already tested the technology with Japanese companies and research institutions such as plastering walls for contractors and conducting Covid-19 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests remotely for healthcare professionals.

 

EDITOR’S MUST-HAVES

Cat poo woes be gone with Whisker’s latest self-cleaning litter box

Cat owners are well aware of the struggles of raising their fur babies, especially in keeping the litter box clean and sanitary.

Self-cleaning litter boxes are not unheard of — yet, as cats are notorious for being finicky creatures, familiarising them with the litter box is a must. As with most things in life, technological evolution might just be the answer fur parents are looking for. 

Whisker’s Litter-Robot 4 is the fourth generation of its self-cleaning litter box, designed by more than 35 engineers with over 22 years of feedback as well as four years of development, with many impressive features that come along with it. 

With advanced litter-sifting technology, real-time monitoring, health insights and odour neutralisation, the durable Litter-Robot 4 offers a host of benefits, even coming with a Whisker mobile app that allows remote monitoring of cat weight and litter-box activities. 

The Whisker Litter-Robot 4, which is available in black and white weighing at 24lbs, is currently retailing at US$649 (RM2,870), with shipping starting in July.