All posts by Mitchell Goss

Advancements in Digital Automation in 2020

Digital automation has been around for a while now and it’s benefits are being seen more and more across virtually all industries. In the digital marketing space for example, it’s used for things like scheduling social media, sending out email marketing campaigns, and data collection and analysis. Airlines are using collaborative apps for employees to log tasks and streamline information. Factories can now be controlled from anywhere in the world using an automated command app. The list goes on and on.

The fact is, digital automation is helping all kinds of businesses to streamline their mundane processes and improve overall efficiency in the workplace. According to thinkautomation, between 2017 and 2019, companies using automation for mission-critical processes rose from 16% to 50%.

So what does digital automation have in store so far for 2020? And what improvements and advances can we expect to see?

Hyperautomation

Hyperautomation focuses on the combination of existing technology such as Robotic Process Automation, Artificial Intelligence, and low-code app development to further develop and improve digital automation processes alongside human interaction.

We’ve seen examples like Robo-Advisor investment services pop up everywhere in recent years. Plum, Wealthify, and Moneybox are other examples where newbie investors can save for their future without the need of a financial advisor.

The portfolios on these platforms are put together using a series of algorithms and artificial intelligence with some human input to determine the best possible outcome for investors.

Blockchain

As we head towards a world where our digital automation will see us working with third-parties to grow and improve services, blockchain becomes an important trend to consider. The concept of blockchain first became popular with cryptocurrencies – offering a secure and transparent way to make transactions. However, the capabilities of blockchain extend far beyond currency.

Blockchain can be used when signing contracts, which can eliminate the need for a middleman, or, can free up the middleman’s time to do something more valuable within the company. With Blockchain, documents can be verified, signed and even include background checks in no time at all. Although this has been around for a while, expect it to become more of a staple looking forward.

Industrial Automation

The industrial sector is going to continue to transform in 2020. Weforum has predicted that in the next ten years, the amount of time manufacturing facility workers spend on doing manual or physical labor in their jobs will drop from 48% of their working hours to 35%. Additionally, PWC believes that by 2025 around 10-15% of manufacturing, wholesale, and transportation type roles will have a lot of room for automation. They predict that it will increase to between 35% and 50% by 2035.

Does All This Mean There’s a Decreasing Need For Human Workers?

No, not necessarily. Digital automation has been designed to complement the skills of humans and encourage them to take up the more “important” roles in the workplace.

The Foundation for Economic Education published an article at the end of last year stating that “Technology Creates More Jobs Than It Destroys”, and they’re not alone in their assessment.

Take the Robo-investor example we used earlier. These types of platforms have allowed developers on the back end to create a whole new world of investing and banking services for a new demographic. These startups will always require support staff though, such as customer service and marketing experts who can help ensure that the service runs smoothly.

Summer BBQing with Zero-In

Memorial Day is the unofficial start of summer and while this years celebrations are a little different than previously, the Zero-In team still got out and enjoyed sun, fun, and grilling!

We’re sharing some of our favorite summer foods below.

Linda enjoys BBQ Spare Ribs with a Mesquite Sauce – Grilled Corn with a Garlic, lemon Sage butter, and some home made Coleslaw.

Brady suggests making teriyaki chicken pineapple skewers. Add red onions, cherry tomatoes, or bell peppers as you like.

Mitch likes ceviche with fresh fish, but you have to catch the fish yourself, of course!

Deb goes classic with burgers with bacon, onions, cheddar cheese and bbq sauce.

Lisa shared her no-cook summer sauce recipe that we think sounds great on almost anything!
1/2 cup Olive Oil or the oil from Artichoke hearts
Large Bunch of Basil or Arugula
1 can Stewed Tomatoes
2 Cloves of Garlic Chopped 
Let Stand for 1 Hour

Qi makes stuffed mushrooms for his bbq parties.
Around 15-20 button mushroom
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/2 cup of breadcrumb
2 tbsp unsalted butter(melted)
5 garlic cloves(mince)
1/8 cup fresh diced cilantro or fresh parsley

We’d love to hear what others are cooking up to start off the summer season!

NASA & SpaceX Team Up for Historic Launch

Nasa and SpaceX have teamed up to launch the first astronauts into space from the US since 2011. What makes this mission different from previous ones? The two astronauts leaving earth will be the first to do so aboard a commercial spacecraft, called the Dragon.


SpaceX was founded 18 years ago by Elon Musk and since its inception it has made some notable achievements. Including being the first privately funded liquid-propellant rocket to reach orbit in 2008, to launching an object (a Tesla, of course) into orbit around the sun in 2018. Under their partnership with NASA, SpaceX has also flown 20 resupply missions to the ISS, leading to their development contract on the Dragon for human transport. It has taken six years of development, research and testing to prepare for this historic mission.

According to NASA, Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken were among the first astronauts to begin working and training on this next-generation space vehicle. Both men have several missions on the space shuttle under their belt and are prepared for their journey into orbit. Hurley and Behnken each have their specific set of responsibilities for the mission which include docking and undocking, launch, landing and recovery. Once aboard the ISS, they will be welcomes as part of the Expedition 63 crew, joining the space station team and conducting further research. Hurley and Behnken have the ability to stay in orbit for at least 210 days, depending on readiness of the next commercial crew launch.


The launch was scheduled for the afternoon of May 27th ,but grey clouds and less-than-ideal conditions have delayed the mission to Saturday, May 30th at 3:22pm EST. The rocket will take off from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida from Launch Complex 39A, rented by SpaceX. You can watch this historic mission take off on several news channels or on NASA’s own site https://www.nasa.gov/.

Tools for Keeping Your Tech Skills Sharp

As quarantine continues you may be finding yourself with more time on your hands. While team members tackle puzzles, planting, and playing online games with friends, they’re also working on professional development. We’ve compiled a list of some of our picks for online courses to help you sharpen your skills, or maybe learn something new!

Robots Help in the Corona Virus Battle

Boston Dynamics, the engineering and robotics design firm based in Massachusetts, has shared progress and videos of its most well-known creation, Spot, for years. Sometimes funny or even frightening, these videos highlight the feats spot can perform, including opening doors and running up stairs. Now, Spot is taking on a different challenge, COVID-19.

Telemedicine isn’t a new concept. Telemedicine is generally the practice of using modern technology and HIPAA compliant video-conferencing tools to consult with and diagnose patients. The use of telemedicine has become more prominent, especially now with social distancing protocols and travel restrictions in place. 

While hospital workers continue to be on the frontlines of the Covid-19 battle, Boston Robotics has announced that it has already deployed Spot in one Boston hospital with plans to expand its use. Spot has been roaming the halls of Brigham and Women’s hospital fitted with an iPad and communication device, doctors are able to check in with patients without the risk of contamination. There are future plans for Spot to have its own capabilities for checking temperature, pulse rate, and other vital signs, continuing to evolve the robot as a medical device.

As we all adjust to a very different world with the emergence of COVID-19, we continue to see companies adapt and help in meaningful ways. From a robot used for simple tasks and entertainment, to a meaningful instrument used to help in the care of people, we’re looking forward to future evolutions of Spot and other technology.

What’s Keeping Us Busy

Daily life has taken on a new, unexpected look for employees around the world. The Zero-In team in NY and NJ is still hard at work on projects and initiatives, but doing so in their homes and apartments. While everyones workday may look the same with video calls and outgoing emails, we’re sharing ways in which everyone is staying busy and socially distanced from others outside of work hours. From home workouts to learning new skills and completing crafts.

Check out our gallery of snapshots from Zero-In

Tips for Sanitizing & Disinfecting Tech Devices

We’re sure by now you’ve seen the many tips circulating about washing your hands and disinfecting surfaces, including the popular infographic generator that turns your favorite songs into a hand washing poster. With our increased usage of mobile devices and laptops we wanted to share these helpful tips from our friends at Elo for ensuring you use the proper cleaning methods for your tech devices.


Cleaning your Touch Screen Device
Cleaning and disinfecting are two steps. Cleaning removes dirt, grease, dust and other contaminants. Disinfecting is a separate process that uses a chemical designed to destroy bacteria.

  1. To prepare for cleaning the touchscreen, power down the device (if possible), or ensure your on-screen software can tolerate false touches while you clean.
  2. Do not get liquids inside the unit. Do not spray the device directly. Instead, use wet wipes, a sprayed cloth or a dampened cloth with the excess moisture squeezed off.
  3. Select only non-abrasive cleaning wipes or cloths to avoid scratching touchscreens.
  4. Avoid highly concentrated alcohol (> 70%), non-diluted bleach or ammonia solutions, as these may cause discoloration.
  5. Wipe the surfaces with the appropriate wipes or cloths and approved cleaning products, and allow them to dry.

Disinfecting your Device

  1. To prepare for disinfecting the touchscreen, power down the device (if possible) or ensure your on-screen software can tolerate false touches while you clean.
  2. Dampen a new clean, non-abrasive cloth with a disinfectant chosen from the list below. Ensure excess liquid is squeezed from the cloth. You may also use recommended pre-dampened wipes.
  3. Read the manufacturer’s instructions carefully. Many manufacturers require the surface to remain wet for a few minutes, so continuous wiping might be required.
  4. Disinfect the surfaces by wiping them with the cloth or wipe, and allow the surface to dry.

US CDC-recommended disinfectant solutions safe for electronics

  • Household bleach solution (1/3 cup of bleach per gal. of water)
  • Isopropyl alcohol (≤ 70% alcohol)

More information from the CDC on disinfecting procedures for Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) can be found here: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/home/cleaning-disinfection.html

Clorox Disinfecting Wipes Reg. No. 5813-79
Clorox Healthcare Bleach Germicidal Wipes Reg. No. 67619-12
Clorox Commercial Solutions Hydrogen Peroxide Cleaner Disinfectant Wipes Reg. No. 67619-25
Lonza Disinfectant Wipes Reg. No. 6836-313
Lysol Brand Clean & Fresh Multi Surface Cleaner (20% cleaner solution to water ratio) Reg. No. 777-89
Purell Professional Surface Disinfectant Wipes Reg. No. 84150-1
Sani-Cloth Prime Germicidal Disposable Wipes Reg. No. 9480-12

More information from the EPA on recommended disinfectants for Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) can be found here: https://www.epa.gov/pesticide-registration/list-n-disinfectants-use-against-sars-cov-2

Do NOT use the following materials when cleaning/disinfecting your device

  • Isopropyl Alcohol at concentration > 70%
  • Methyl Alcohol or Ethyl Alcohol at concentration > 35%
  • Thinner or benzine
  • Strong alkali lyes
  • Strong solvents
  • Acids
  • Detergents with fluoride
  • Detergents with ammonia at concentration > 1.6%
  • Abrasive cleaners
  • Detergents with abrasives
  • Formula 409
  • Steel wool
  • Sponges with abrasives
  • Steel blades
  • Cloth with steel threads

Specific cleaning tips for Apple Devices

Apple products are made with a variety of materials, and each material might have specific cleaning requirements. To get started, here are some tips that apply to all products:

  • Use only a soft, lint-free cloth. Avoid abrasive cloths, towels, paper towels, or similar items. 
  • Avoid excessive wiping, which might cause damage. 
  • Unplug all external power sources, devices, and cables.
  • Keep liquids away from the product, unless otherwise noted for specific products.
  • Don’t get moisture into any openings.
  • Don’t use aerosol sprays, bleaches, or abrasives.
  • Don’t spray cleaners directly onto the item.

Is it OK to use a disinfectant on my Apple product? 
Using a 70 percent isopropyl alcohol wipe or Clorox Disinfecting Wipes, you may gently wipe the hard, nonporous surfaces of your Apple product, such as the display, keyboard, or other exterior surfaces. Don’t use bleach. Avoid getting moisture in any opening, and don’t submerge your Apple product in any cleaning agents. Don’t use on fabric or leather surfaces.

Boosting Customer Experience Within Retail Banking

Customer service and customer experience (CX) are as important in the banking industry as anywhere else. Even with automation and digitization taking over so many services, local branches are still an important aspect of that.

And with the increasing presence of online-only banking services there’s even more pressure for bank and credit unions to ensure that their customer experience is top-notch.

One of the tools that banks and credit unions who see the writing on the wall use is digital signage. At this point, their convenience and ease of use is becoming an all-out necessity. But how exactly can they be used to boost overall customer experience? Here are some great examples.   

Providing Important Information to Customers

Large signage in retail banking showing useful information like foreign exchange rates and stock market indices alongside the branch’s specialist products can lead to a much more fulfilling customer experience. Take this example from Mountain America Credit Union, featured by Samsung Insights, who use the power of a video wall to grab customer’s attention and tell them about their services.

Managing Lines and Wait Times

In days gone by, we would stand in long queues at banks and credit unions waiting what feels like a lifetime. However, thanks to digital signage, locations can combat the frustration that customers face when this happens. It’s also been found that by using a queue management system, customers get seen more quickly.

Rather than standing around waiting, they are free to focus on other things until it’s their time to head to the cashier. This in turn reduces perceived wait times. And, by showing estimated wait times, the customer feels like their time is being valued.

Many American banks and credit unions in larger cities have communal areas where you can grab a coffee and even catch up on some work. There are couches and even desks with charging ports. A visit to the bank no longer has to be so time-consuming and tiresome since customers are now able to multi-task while they’re waiting to be seen.   

Building Brand Awareness and a Stronger Sense of Community

Thanks to digital signage, banks and credit unions can tell stories in an easy to digest manner and they can be updated quickly and easily, even by tellers who don’t have much tech experience. Let’s say that a bank offers small business loans; a great way to advertise this would be to tell the story of a member of the local community who took advantage of that.

Localization like this will resonate much better with customers enhancing their overall experience. It may also bring in new customers too.

Building Trust with Clients

Want your customers to get to know your staff more? Digital signs can help with that. Digital signage is said to promote trust between banks and clients in 87% of experiences. It also provides a sense of credibility.

By having digital signage in prominent areas showing information on some of the staff members working in the branch on that particular day, you’re already personally introducing your customers to staff members and developing an initial rapport. Teaming this up with snapshots of their credentials means customers are at ease knowing their finances are in qualified and experienced hands.

As we head into the future, digital signage will only develop further and be integrated more seamlessly with our own technology. Adoption of this technology signifies a willingness to provide the best and most advanced services to your clients. 

High Tempo Music Shown to Result in Better Workout

Working out and listening to music go hand in hand, but until recently it wasn’t fully understood just how much of a role music plays in motivating people during their workout. When you’re listening to Eye of the Tiger in the homeward stretch of your jog, you might wonder is this actually helping?

According to researchers in Italy and Croatia, the answer is yes. A recently published study reveals that high tempo music with harmonious melodies improves the rate of perceived exertion that people put into their workout at the gym. 

The study assessed the performance of 19 women in their mid-20’s to measure their rate of perceived exertion (RPE) when exposed to popular music with a wide range of tempos;

•       low-tempo with approximately 100 beats per minute

•       mid-tempo music with 140 beats per minute

•       high-tempo music with 180 beats per minute 

•       and no music

To assess the RPE parameters, participants were asked their opinions about how much effort they felt they were putting into the exercise. Physical measurements such as heart rate, breath and perspiration levels were also recorded.

As the tempo in the music they were listening to increased, researchers found the RPE levels decreased. This means participants perceived they were working harder than they actually were when listening to music with a low tempo and less hard to music with a higher tempo.

The best results were achieved during “endurance activities” performed to music with a high tempo of between 170 and 190 beats per minute with an 11 percent increase.

Exercise Music

In the past, studies assessing the effects music had on workout performance discovered that music can distract exercisers from fatigue, enable them to breakthrough pain barriers, improve motivation, and helps prolong high-intensity exercise

Numerous studies show that music has a positive influence on workout performance. However, to gain the maximum benefits, the tempo of the music has to correlate with the intensity of the exercise routine.

Basically, when the tempo matches the intensity of a particular exercise motion, a sort of zen effect can take place.  

High tempo music feels like less effort when performing endurance exercises such as running, swimming and biking. What’s more, RPE dropped when performing high-intensity exercises, therefore enhancing the benefits of workouts.

Ultimately, this makes it easier for people to work harder for longer without feeling the strain as quickly. 

Balancing Music with Exercise

In the future, Luca Ardigò, one of the physiologists involved in the recent study at the University of Verona hopes to conduct further investigations into how music influences how exercisers perceive their rate of effort.

Future studies will include different genres because people respond differently to certain types of music. It also hasn’t been determined how much a role familiarity plays, i.e. whether you know the artist’s songs you’re listening to or not—and, how much you like the song.

But the fact remains, exercising with the tempo of a song gets you in the zone.

Conclusion

Now we know that finding music that has the right balance of properties and tempo does indeed have physical and psychological benefits—at least based on the data observed in this new study.

With that said, having an overhead music system at your gym couldn’t be more important. Zero-In provides a licensed overhead music solution to ensure your members and guests have the tunes they need to complete an optimal workout!  

Everything You Need to Know About Foldable Phones

Rumors of foldable phones had been circling the web for years, but in 2019 we finally got to see first-hand what they’re like. One of the companies that got everyone talking was Royole, a small China-based company that beat the likes of Samsung and Huawei with their launch of the world’s first foldable phone; the Royole Flex Pai.

The Samsung Galaxy Fold launched a little while after and was a much more viable product for consumers. It was followed by Huawei’s Mate X less than one week later. They both came with an especially high price tag though. The Samsung launched at a starting price of $1,980 and the Huawei at a whopping $2,600.

So here we are a year later. Samsung just released their Galaxy Z Flip this Valentine’s Day along with the S20, and the prices are a lot cheaper than they were just 12 months ago, with the Z Flip’s price starting at $1,380. So what kind of tech can we expect to see for this price? Let’s take a look.

Foldable Glass Screen

There is some controversy around Samsung’s foldable “glass” screen. The new Z Flip does have glass, but really, it’s a super-thin layer which is then coated with plastic. In these early days of foldable phones, manufacturers are struggling to find a way to create a fully glass foldable screen which has some critics questioning their durability – especially when you’re forking over $1,300 for a piece of tech. Nevertheless, they have still made improvements compared to their predecessor.

Camera Quality

As you’re paying top dollar for a foldable phone, you’d expect to be getting some solid features from it beyond the fact that you can fold it in half. One of the most important features has to be the camera quality.

The Huawei Mate X boasts an impressive Leica quad-camera system featuring a 40MP wide-angle lens, a 16MP ultra-wide-angle lens, and an 8MP telephoto option. It provides similar camera quality to that offered by the likes of the OnePlus 7 Pro.

The Z Flip on the other hand is good but does have room for improvement in the camera department. It features 2x 12MP cameras (one ultra-wide and one wide-angle lens with a high aperture of f1.8 to f2.2). Compare these, however, to the specs on the S20 which will have 8k video shooting capabilities, space zoom, and a 108MP wide-angle camera, and you’re probably going to feel a tad disappointed with your Z Flip camera.

Motorola’s Razr option just doesn’t quite seem to compare with the Huawei either, though it has a more than adequate 16MP f1.7 offering with CCT and dual pixel autofocus.

Other Tech Specs

Both the Z flip and the Huawei Mate X have 8GB of RAM, 256GB of internal storage, are 5G enabled, and have a full HD display. The Motorola Razr 2019, however, is a little less powerful in terms of both performance and storage. 

Final Thoughts

We’re still in the infancy of foldable phone technology and there is a lot to learn if phone companies want to make this concept work. Currently, they do seem to be presented with a lot of obstacles post-release, including screen peeling and lack of durability. We can expect more durable options to come out in the near future.

And what about Apple? There’s been no official statement about an Apple foldable phone just yet but the rumor mill is pointing to a launch in 2021. With Apple’s ‘late but great’ approach, the only thing that’s certain is that we’ll have to wait a while.