Monthly tech roundup - January

The first month of 2019 has brought so many exciting innovations we struggled to narrow down our choices. Rather than picking the big news announcements from the CES 2019 you've likely already seen. We've picked a few that have a story behind them and hint at what good or bad things are to come.

So here's our roundup of the most intriguing tech we found in January.

The software that can see around corners

Using just an ordinary digital camera, a research team at Boston University have demonstrated the concept of “computational periscopy”, a theory that scientists have tried to solve for over a decade.

The technology analyses the shadows created by objects that are hidden from the camera’s view and reconstructs an image of the object that you can’t see. At the moment the software uses nearby walls and turns the wall into a mirror, reflecting the hidden object. Our view is it won’t be long before further advancements are made.

The fact that the technology is in the software itself and not the digital camera brings the possibility of the software integrating itself into the digital camera applications we use now every day. The moral question is which ones? An immediate benefit would be equipping vehicles with the ability to spot objects out of view and alerting the driver before a potential accident happens. The downside would be the potential surveillance applications and another slightly creepy step of being watched. The full write up of the project was published in the science journal Nature, have a read and feel proper smart.

Asus AiMesh WiFi System

Probably our most techy find yet, the AiMesh is the worlds first WiFi 6 (802.11ax) wifi mesh system and likely the most powerful wifi you’ll ever get for your home or small office. Based on two separate modems rather than one that pair together to create a powerful mesh wifi network. How powerful you ask? Up to 4,800 Mbps, that’s a 10 Gb Dropbox file in under 20 seconds or a 4k movie in less than 3 minutes. Yikes!

Put on your seatbelt and have a look at the specs here

195 Gigapixel camera

Sorry folks, this one won’t be available in Currys PC World anytime soon!

Tourists love to take photos, particularly from high buildings and landmarks. In Shanghai, the 468 meters tall Oriental Pearl Tower has created a holiday snap to shame any 40-megapixel smartphone wielding tourist.  The image is, in fact, an optical illusion made up of lots and lots of images stitched together to create a complete 360-degree view from the top of the tower. Thanks to the super high definition of the images you can zoom the far into distance spotting cruise ships in the harbour or spotting construction workers beavering away on the 52nd floor of Shanghai’s next skyscraper.

Shanghai really is a big place, so have fun exploring

The wireless phone is here, but are we ready?

For decades we’ve been using portable technology to connect with each other and work in a more mobile way. From the first mobile phones or laptops to the very latest iPhone or tablet our tech has made huge leaps in power and capability. But one thing hasn’t changed (for now) and that’s plugs.

Steadily manufacturers have been releasing devices with fewer and fewer ports and sockets. But it hasn’t always been received with praise; iPhone fans objected to the removal of the headphone jack, and I’m still missing the DVD drive out of MacBook, plus a few more USB ports would be a nice touch Apple!?

That’s why with the news that Chinese phone manufacturer Meizu has released the Zero, a completely wireless and sealed waterproof smartphone, with no ports and not even an external speaker; despite delivering us incredible tech features we doubt it would be widely used or even liked.

The main reason in our view is us. The technology has progressed so fast we now need to change to keep up. Let me explain: The Zero features no speakers, emitting sound by vibrating the screen instead, like the iPhone there’s no headphone jack. And to charge, it ditches the cable for an 18-watt wireless charger. To fit with this tech we need Bluetooth headphones, get used to the wobbly feeling screen, and accept when its time to charge you’ll have to put the phone down or continue in a very fixed position. By pursuing wireless perfection are our manufacturers actually heading towards a point that actually ties us all down?

The 1TB flash drive, for your phone 

This one made us take stock at the frankly incredible rate of progression we still witness in the technology game today. Samsung has now made it possible to have as much storage as a premium level laptop, all within a chip that measures 11.5mm x 13mm.

The fact all of this happens at 1GB a second isn’t to us the most incredible thing about this latest release. Its the rate of progression we’re seeing that impresses us the most. You only need to look back to 2015 and an 8th of the space was the breakthrough. Look back to only 10 years ago and SanDisk was making waves with their 64GB 4 bits per cell NAND flash tech. At the time offered twice as much as what came previously, yet compare it with Samsung’s innovation today and its 4 times the physical size, and reads data 128 times slower!

With all progress, there is obsolescence. And in the context of flash drives bigger (space) and faster may not always be better. For many applications, we see that the tech of 2009 is still relevant and usable today; 64GB is still a lot of photos on a digital camera, or songs on your phone. And we must ask wouldn’t you get lost in 1TB of storage on your mobile? We should all get better at managing our files then.

Ai creates its own music, but is it any good? 

We spotted two articles in January that got us thinking about Ai from a less scaremongering approach. Much has been said about Ai replacing peoples jobs in various industries particularly roles which include remedial and repetitive tasks, but what about the arts such as design, music or fashion?

Looking behind the shock stories of job-stealing robots you actually realise in most cases the machine is taught, instructed and managed by a human. The arts are a little different, requiring the individual thought to create something entirely new. So can a machine not only learn but think like an artist?

Interestingly there are a number of musicians and producers out there that are looking to answer that question. The Berlin-based electronic musician Holly Herndon has collaborated with artist and theorist Matt Dryhurst to create an ‘Ai baby’ named Spawn. Spawn has successfully created its own ‘unique’ music by listening to the voices of its parents, just like a young child listening to the environment around it.

What it does next differentiates it from an ordinary machine to something else; rather than directly copying its parents it takes inspiration from what it hears and creates its own voice through an algorithm devised by its parents. The results are often unexpected and on the avant-garde music spectrum, ultimately the artist duo remains in charge of Spawn’s thinking by choosing what Spawn listens to and the parameters within the algorithm.

Elsewhere the London based digital composer Ash Koosha has created the Ai signer Yona, Described by Koosha as an auxiliary human. Just like Spawn, Yona has grown up listening to music before creating its own voice. The difference here is Koosha has been feeding Yona lyrics and musical melodies via generative software that takes references from pop music and mainstream media. Unsurprisingly, thanks to growing up listening to pop music inspired lyrics Yona sounds a little more mainstream than Spawn.

What both projects show is how creatives are being bold enough to explore the possibilities that Ai can bring, and by understanding it as early adopters us human parents can remain in control of the technology as it develops.

Thanks to Pitchfork and DazedDigital for the inspiration.

Contact us

Ready to start a conversation? Get in touch today! [post_title] => Cloud services [post_excerpt] => We're experts in the cloud, from WordPress site hosting to enterprise-level cloud storage. Our cloud solutions can suit businesses of all shapes and sizes - Our approach is to offer complete flexibility around the needs of your business, delivered on a fully scalable server supported and maintained here in Exeter by our team of experts. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => cloud-services [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-12-18 16:09:45 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-12-18 16:09:45 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 114 [guid] => https://www2.web-engineer.co.uk/?page_id=43 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => page [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [related3] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 363 [post_author] => 2 [post_date] => 2018-08-22 15:20:00 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-08-22 14:20:00 [post_content] =>

Growing your website presence with SEO

For those that are not familiar with the term - let’s answer the question, “What is SEO?" It's not another business jargon acronym, but "Search Engine Optimisation" (SEO) is one of the most important tasks you'll need to consider if you want your site to be easy for new customers to find. Search engine optimisation is essentially trying to improve a website's position in search engine rankings. Content optimisation goes a step further, since there is no point optimising content solely for a computer to index. One should not compromise on the quality of the content. Optimisation is also about providing relevant and meaningful content to your users. In search results, Google displays links to pages it considers relevant and authoritative. These are measured by the search engines which crawl the internet to gather information about all the content they can find in relation to the search query. The search engine then runs the results through algorithms that try to match all that data with your query. There are many theories and factors that go into these algorithms: too many to list here in fact, but in simple terms, your web pages have the potential to rank in search engines such as Google as long as the  content satisfies the requirements of these algorithms. The algorithms are written to identify content that the search engine considers useful and valuable to the reader's needs - understanding this principle and optimising your site in a way that makes it easy for the search engine to do its job is the process of optimising your site.

Optimising your site

There are two key areas where search engine optimisation can help get your site get the visitors it deserves - on and off-page. Read on to see our recommended techniques you'll need to consider if you want to bring in more site visitors and potential business leads.

On-page optimisation

Create relevant content for your site

Content creation, be it blog articles, news updates about your company, infographics and product brochure downloads are an essential step you should take to achieve a good SEO strategy. However, some content creators fail to check and understand how relevant their content is to their target audience. Take this example; I have a website promoting the web agency I work for. I start writing blog posts about my favourite part, a cycling holiday I took in spring or the best local shops in my area. These posts don’t relate to web development or any services we offer as a business. Content like this confuses Google and other search engines as they try to figure out where to index your site. As a result, the sites search ranking drops, making it harder for potential customers to find the site. The solution is to find out what your customers are searching for online, in our case it could be 'web agency Exeter'. Then your content should include these keywords and others closely related to them.

Stay relevant overtime

Rather than always focusing on latest news posts or short-lived promotions, which will fade in relevance and interests. You create content which remains as relevant next year as the day you published it. Content which stays 'evergreen' over many months could be descriptions of your products and services your business offers. Or maybe frequently answered questions that you'll know people will continue to ask in the future. This invaluable strategy brings you visitors both now and later.

Off-page optimisation

As you might expect, this is the opposite of on-page SEO. Off-page SEO is, in short, building brand awareness that will drive traffic back to your website. The main thing to focus on is ensuring that traffic is relevant and containing information to visitors that could be your next customer. Common methods include guest-posts on other relevant websites, social media promotion, and paid advertising. There are many different approaches to off-page SEO. The following are techniques we find to be effective, but keep in mind, every site is different.

Direct / Referring links

The process of back-linking is easy in concept, but challenging in execution. Backlinks are links on other websites that direct back to your sites. How this helps your website ranking is that search engines refer to back-links to map the web. For example, if someone starts a new website about plumbing, they want links from other established plumbing and trade websites. That way search engines will associate your new website with other more established sites. That’s why it is important to have backlinks which are relevant to your business.

Social Media

Promoting your brand on social media is one of the best ways to grow your audience. It's an easy way to connect and find followers and acts as a platform to promote your content or products at the same time. One key to using social media is to optimise your posts for each specific platform. Twitter loves hashtags, so have a look for popular hashtags related to your business; they will likely match your search keywords! Instagram favours high-quality photos, and Facebook users love to see events and promotions. Our advice is to do your research first before you start firing out posts.

Guest Posting

Guest posting is a great way to grow your business and your network! The concept is simple. You invite a guest to write a blog post on your website, and in trade, you put their info in the post on your website. By reaching out to a guest writer you get more content for your website and they get more exposure. Great news! Here are a few things to consider:

Paid Advertising

Although it’s probably the most expensive on this list, that’s not to say it’s not worth it. Most search engines and social media platforms rely on revenue from paid advertising. It’s in their own best interest to make your content appealing and clickable. A good platform to work with is Google Ads – they offer free training and you can get your ads up in no time, but prepare to have a budget available each month and consider if the results are worth the investment.

Reviews of Your Company On Other Websites

There are many websites where customers can leave a review of your company, such as Google, Facebook, or Yelp. It might also be worth searching for review sites specific to your industry and make sure you appear on each one. Again, an association is very good for your brand!

And remember...

Always Keep Things Up To Date

Janitorial work is not fun, but it is 100% necessary. Keep your website and content updated! Not only will you rank higher, but your site will appear more pleasant for visitors. Things can change fast, and your customers want the most accurate, updated information. In addition, updating often can protect you from the latest bugs, hacks, and glitches. Tip: Routinely check and update your content to make sure it’s still relevant. Google likes websites that keep their content fresh!

Make sure your site is healthy

After all that hard work writing blog posts, building a social profile, sorting out backlinks you would be pretty frustrated if your site is running slow. It's not just a visitor's experience that is affected here but also that all-important site ranking in search results. As part of the site crawling activity, Google and the other search engines conduct, slow loading sites are downgraded over a faster loading alternative. So check your site is loading quickly, and reduce any large sized images and media shown on the site. Plus ensure any plugins are up to date too.

Patience

Growing any business takes patience, and growing a business online is no different. In fact, Google can take months to even start indexing your website, so don’t get discouraged. The best thing you can do is persevere and keep checking the results of your activity through analytics tools such as Google Analytics.

Honesty

We've been building websites for over 20 years now and have seen many trends come and go. When it comes to optimising a site for search, there's one trait that stands above all others and that's honesty. Search engines are designed to offer the user the closest search match to what they're looking for, so applying tricks and shortcut tactics like duplicate pages, descriptions and tags will get found out. The search engines spend a lot of time and investment in ensuring the web is safe and spam free for its users, so any deceptive activity could result in a downgrading of your site. In our experience, the best approach is to build a site that offers your visitors something they can engage with, be genuine, and be honest. The hard work pays off in the long run!

Speak to the experts

At Web Engineer, we include all of the above SEO services as part of our monthly digital marketing support service. As part of this package, we not only host and maintain the security and functionality of your site. We make sure it's performing the best it can be for building your brand online through engaging content, social media and of course optimising it for search to get you more visitors and leads. To find out more, go to our marketing services page, or give us a call on 01392 253304 Thanks for reading For content ideas, why not check our codex article on content strategy beyond SEO.
[post_title] => How SEO can help your Website in 2019 [post_excerpt] => Your business journey has begun and your new website is up and running, but there's nobody visiting it and it doesn't appear in Google Search. What can I do? Fortunately growing site traffic today and getting more relevant visitors to your site count is definitely possible. But, like anything else worth doing, it takes work, knowledge, and consistency. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => how-seo-can-help-your-website-in-2019 [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2019-01-04 10:55:21 [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-01-04 10:55:21 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www2.web-engineer.co.uk/?p=363 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) ) -->

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