Mahindra Forays Into E-Commerce With Launch of M2ALL Marketplace

The Mahindra group on Monday announced its debut into the e-commerce space with the launch of M2ALL.com, an e-marketplace for Mahindra products and services.

The online marketplace has begun taking bookings for the new compact SUV — Mahindra TUV300. “The new digital platform will offer customers an enhanced buying experience that combines speed and convenience of e-commerce transactions with the trust and reliability associated with the Mahindra group,” said VS Parthasarathy, Chief Financial Officer of the Mahindra group.

While Parthasarathy did not reveal the capital that has gone into the venture, he said the operations began with “frugal investments”, and will incrementally go up as the business scales up.

M2ALL will enable all the Mahindra businesses to sell products at the marketplace, and going forward, also offer other manufacturers and sellers of complementary products a platform, he added.

Currently, five of Mahindra Group’s 31 brands will have virtual stores at the marketplace, and all the brands will be available within the next two years, “as and when their technical back-end is sound”, Vijay Mahajan, head of E Market Place, Corporate IT, said.

E Market Place is a 100 per cent subsidiary set up by Mahindra in June this year to look after the e-commerce business, Parthasarathy said. “We want to bring the brick-and-click together. E-commerce is not being seen as a separate channel, but as one of the other channels along with dealers and distributors, to work as a complementary network,” he added.

He further said E Market Place has 10 employees and is in the process of expanding its team. M2ALL also offers the group companies and external sellers e-commerce technology, including online catalogue management services, integration with payment gateways, back-end integration, and support services such as digital marketing, data analytics, logistics and call centre services, the company said.

Google’s new invention to make wearing specs easier

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Wearing spectacles and keeping them in place, especially while doing physical work such as running, would be much easier now — thanks to Google’s latest patent.

The patent outlines a system built into a wearable device like Google Glass, that uses motors and motion detectors to automatically tighten or loosen the spectacles’ arms depending on what the wearer is doing, Quartz reported. In Google’s idea, the new spectacles would have an actuator — a little motor for controlling movement — in each arm that could bend the arms in or out as needed, rather like the way a bendy straw works.

ALSO READ: Google Glass ‘Entreprise Edition’ to be durable, foldable and waterproof

When the spectacles detect that their wearer is bobbing up and down at an increased rate — while running, for example — the arms contract to grip the wearer’s head. The actuators could also help solve the one-size-fits-all approach that many spectacles have to fitting — if the specs are too wide for someone’s face, the actuators could automatically resize them so that they fit snugly.

Researchers Enable Internet Protocol Connectivity for Light Bulb Networks

Disney researchers have created a novel networking technology that makes it possible for LED lights not only to communicate with each other but to do so in a way that is compatible with internet and its technical protocols.

Transmitting signals via light is nothing new. Scottish innovator Alexander Graham Bell showed that speech could be conveyed with light in the 1880s, years before speech was first transmitted via radio.

“Communication with light enables a true ‘Internet of Things’ as consumer devices that are equipped with LEDs but not radio links could be transformed into interactive communication nodes,” said Stefan Mangold who heads Disney Research’s wireless research group.

The new technology is called Visible Light Communication (VLC) which promotes the idea that objects can communicate with each other and share information to create smart environments.

“We are not just talking about sensors, smartphones and appliances. This easily could include toys that have LEDs, creating an ‘Internet of Toys’ in which toys can be accessed, monitored and acted on remotely,” Mangold said.

“The ubiquitous presence of LED-based light bulbs that can be enhanced with VLC functionality, and the availability of LED-equipped devices, unleashes a wide range of opportunities and applications,” the author said.

Mangold and his colleagues presented their findings at VLCS 2015, the ACM workshop on visible light communication systems in Paris, France, last week.

Lizard Squad cyber-attackers disrupt National Crime Agency website

National Crime Agency said attacks on its website were ‘a fact of life’.

Cyber-attackers have taken down the website of the National Crime Agency (NCA) in apparent revenge for arrests made last week.

The NCA website was temporarily down on Tuesday morning, four days after six teenagers were released on bail on suspicion of using hacking group Lizard Squad’s cyberattack tool to target websites and services.

The six suspects are accused of using Lizard Stresser, a tool that bombards websites and services with bogus traffic, to attack a national newspaper, a school, gaming companies and a number of online retailers.

The NCA is the latest body to fall foul of what is called a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack, stopping real visitors from reaching the site. The law enforcement agency appeared to take the embarrassment in its stride, saying attacks on its site were “a fact of life”.

An NCA spokesman said: “The NCA website is an attractive target. Attacks on it are a fact of life.

“DDoS is a blunt form of attack which takes volume and not skill. It isn’t a security breach, and it doesn’t affect our operational capability.

“At worst it is a temporary inconvenience to users of our website. We have a duty to balance the value of keeping our website accessible with the cost of doing so, especially in the face of a threat which can scale up endlessly.

“The measures we have in place at present mean that our site is generally up and running again within 30 minutes, though occasionally it can take longer. We think that’s proportionate.”

At about 9am, Twitter account Lizard Squad posted a message:

The “Stressed Out?” was an allusion to the name of the code used to launch the high-profile cyber-attacks.

Last week’s arrests were made as part of an operation codenamed Vivarium, coordinated by the NCA and involving officers from several police forces.

An 18-year-old from Huddersfield; an 18-year-old from Manchester; a 16-year-old from Northampton; and a 15-year-old from Stockport, were arrested last week, while two other suspects, both 17, were arrested earlier this year, one from Cardiff and another from Northolt, north-west London.

All six have been bailed, while a further two 18-year-olds – one from Manchester and one from Milton Keynes – were interviewed under caution.

Cats get their own Street View tour of this Japanese city

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Feel like a virtual visit to Japan? You can try Google Street View, or you can get on all fours with Cat’s Street View.

The city of Onomichi in southwestern Hiroshima Prefecture now has a website through which users can explore its shopping arcades and backstreets as — you guessed it — a cat.

Hiroshima Cat’s Street View features 360-degree imagery with a point of view that’s low to the ground and a cursor in the shape of a paw print. The site has ambient street noise punctuated by meows.

Cat’s Street View is another example of how consumer-grade 360-degree cameras, such as the Ricoh Theta m15, are opening up interactive possibilities such as panoramic augmented and virtual reality apps.

Virtual visitors can navigate through a long covered arcade, clicking on signs that appear above shops, which have descriptive blurbs and hyperlinks to their websites. When other felines appear, they also have clickable icons that open up windows with information about them.

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Cat’s Street View is a feline spin on Street View and designed to promote tourism in the city of Onomichi, Japan.

The website, only available in Japanese for now, is part of a tourism promotion push for Onomichi, which is famous for its many cats.

The site also features a local “cat trail” where pusses hang out and the Maneki-neko Art Museum, dedicated to the “beckoning cat” figurines often displayed in Japanese restaurants and shops for good luck.

“Onomichi used to be a prominent fishing port, which is probably why it attracted many cats,” a tourism official said.

Celebrated in everything from medieval “ukiyoe” woodblock prints to hit video games such as Neko Atsume, cat adoration is practically a national pastime in Japan.

A calico known as Tama-chan that was appointed stationmaster of a rural train station had thousands of fans and drew international headlines when she died earlier this year. At her funeral, it was announced that Tama-chan would be honored as a goddess.

LinkedIn Messaging Revamped With Support for Emoji, Stickers, and Gifs

LinkedIn has been made fun of for its stale design and limited functionalities. The business-oriented social network, which has borrowed several features from Facebook and Twitter over the past few months, continues to play catch up with social juggernauts. On Tuesday, LinkedIn announced that it is introducing a major graphical revamp to its messaging service that will make it look less like an email service and more like an instant messaging service.

In an attempt to entice users to log into the website and foster user engagement, LinkedIn has rolled out an entirely new messaging and inbox section on both its mobile (Android and iOS) apps and Web interface. The revamped messaging system on the desktop interface looks similar to WhatsApp Web, and brings support for emoji characters, stickers, and even gif images. Users can now also attach documents to their chats. On the apps, the chat style interface is apparent.

“We’ve rebuilt everything from the ground up so you can expect a cleaner and more streamlined look and feel to help you start or keep a conversation going. We’ve also introduced a chat-style interface to allow for easy back and forth messaging,” wrote Mark Hull, Director of Product Management at LinkedIn in a blog post.

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“We’ve also organised all the messages around the people that matter to you, which means you’ll be able to easily reference the last conversation you had right within the thread. We’ve also improved our push and email notifications to make it easier to stay on top of the conversations that are most relevant and important to you.”

As part of the revamp, users will now find invitations from others in the People you may know section instead of the message folder. Moving on, the company noted that it is interested in digital assistants that could be designed to help users find the people to message to, as well as help with relevant information about a person to quickly get a brief about them. As of now, this feature is just an idea, though it seems LinkedIn is working on it. The new graphical revamp has started to roll out to English-speaking users, and will be made available in other languages in the near future.

US Law Firm Targets Google Foes for Private Damages Claims

US law firm and class action specialist Hausfeld launched a platform on Tuesday to help pursue claims against Google, posing a potential headache for the world’s No. 1 Internet search engine amid its regulatory troubles in Europe.

Hausfeld has coordinated various high-profile class action cases, including for companies affected by an air cargo pricing cartel, investors impacted by currency-rigging by banks and firms fighting fees levied by MasterCard and Visa Europe.

The law firm said the Google Redress & Integrity Platform (GRIP) is aimed at those affected by alleged anti-competitive behaviour by Google in Europe.

It said the platform would build on the European Commission’s April charge sheet, which accusesGoogle of unfairly promoting its own shopping service to the disadvantage of rivals.

“GRIP offers corporations, consumers and other entities harmed by Google’s anti-competitive business practices in Europe a mechanism to evaluate their potential claims,” Michael Hausfeld, chairman of Hausfeld, said in a statement.

Google, which has criticised the EU accusations as unfounded and incorrect, declined to comment on GRIP.

Public affairs consultancy Avisa Partners, which is helping French Internet search firm 1plusV in its EU complaint against Google, will jointly manage the platform.

Smartphone Data Usage Tripled Over 2 Years in the US: Report

Data usage has almost tripled over the past two years, new analysis by Strategy Analytics’ Telemetry Intelligence Platform shows.

The study found that average cellular and Wi-Fi data usage has gone up from 1.6GB per month to 9.7GB per month among US smartphone users, wirelessweek.com reported.

Between the two types of data usage, Wi-Fi traffic has exploded, growing at more than double the rate of cellular traffic and accounting for nearly 83 percent of the total data generated, it found.

Just 17 percent of total data used was generated on cellular networks.

“Our data indicates consumers are increasingly relying on Wi-Fi for data traffic, and this trend is well echoed in some of the recent plans from Google’s Project Fi and Republic Wireless, where Wi-Fi is set as the default service,a Strategy Analytics vice president Barry Gilbert was quoted as saying.

Based on more than one million individual application sessions from over 3000 panel members, the new data also revealed differences in usage among various racial groups.

According to the study, black individuals generate the highest amount of overall traffic on both cellular and Wi-Fi networks, using 2,220MB of cellular data and 8,945MB of Wi-Fi data for an average of 11.2GB each month.

Hispanics are the second highest traffic generators, using a total of 10.3GB each month between 1,643MB of cellular data and 8,608MB of Wi-Fi data.

Whites and Asians are nearly tied for third highest usage, with 9.4GB and 9.3GB monthly.

Competition Commission of India Accuses Google of Abusing Search Dominance

The Competition Commission of India (CCI) has accused Google Inc of abusing its dominant position in online search, people with knowledge of the matter said, which if proven could force the US company to alter its practices in a key market or even pay a big fine.

A preliminary report from the quasi-judicial regulatory body found fault with Google’s handling of its online advertising services and search results, said the people.

Google, which just last month appointed India-born Sundar Pichai as its new CEO, is already facing a billion-euro fine from the European Union after accusations the company cheated competitors by distorting Internet search results in favour of its shopping service. Google has rejected those charges.

The regulator first began investigating Google in 2012, and a preliminary report was submitted to the top CCI officials about six months ago. The findings of that report have been mentioned in the local media in the last few days.

The CCI is expected to make a final ruling after a hearing on Sept. 17, where Google will present itself before a seven-person CCI panel, the people said.

CCI Chairperson Ashok Chawla was not immediately reachable over the phone for comments.

“We’re currently reviewing this report from the CCI’s ongoing investigation,” a Google spokesman said in a statement. “We continue to work closely with the CCI and remain confident that we comply fully with India’s competition laws.”

The initial complaints of Google abusing its position in online search in India were filed by matchmaking website Bharat Matrimony and a not-for-profit organisation, Consumer Unity and Trust Society (CUTS).

Udai Mehta, assistant director at CUTS, said if the final ruling too finds Google guilty, the CCI can either order the company to halt what it deems unfair practices or fine it even as much as 10 percent of its revenues. If found guilty, Google could challenge the decision in court, he said.

Google posted annual revenues of $66 billion (roughly Rs. 4,37,647 crores) for 2014.

A guilty verdict could impact Google’s growth in India, where it dominates Internet searches among the country’s 300 million online users and is increasingly launching its Android phones and other initiatives to get more people on its operating system.

Dineout Acquires inResto, Adds Restaurant Management Features

Online table reservation website Dineout announced that it has acquired Bangalore-based inResto Service Pvt Ltd on Monday. Post this acquisition, the entire team of inResto will join the Dineout team in Bengaluru.

inResto’s cloud-based plug-and-play restaurant management solution will be marketed as inResto by Dineout, and will be used to provide restaurants an end-to-end restaurant management solution, from managing table reservations, to home delivery, takeaways, customer feedback, mobile payments, and loyalty programs.

Ankit Mehrotra, Co-Founder, Dineout said that the acquisition of the cloud-based CRM platform would provide restaurants a one-stop solution for restaurants, easing the process of table management, feedback, and marketing.

Vijayan Parthasarathy, Founder & CEO, inResto said that his application had seated over 1 million restaurant diners in Bengaluru, Mumbai, and Delhi in just six months post launch.

Dineout has apps for Android and iOS, and currently operates in eight cities in India, and lists over 1,500 restaurants.

Founded in 2012 by Vivek Kapoor, Ankit Mehrotra, Sahil Jain and Nikhil Bakshi, it was acquired by Times Internet, a subsidiary of Bennett Coleman & Company Limited in April 2014 in a deal valued at $10 million (roughly Rs. 66 crores).