All posts in: New Tech
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As a company, we are excited about all new technologies, but we feel specially enthusiastic about technologies that can impact the moving industry. And there is yet another one on the horizon, Hyperloop. For those of you who haven’t heard of it, Hyperloop is Elon Musk’s crazy idea about a high-speed, 700 mph, ground transportation. His vision is to use it both for travel and commercial purposes. The concept is simple, a capsule that can travel at more than 700 mph inside a low-pressure tube. When finished, Hyperloop will essentially be the fastest commercial transportation on earth.

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Photo: Hyperloop One

First, let me give you some background on Hyperloop. A while ago Elon Musk, the man behind Tesla Motors and SpaceX came up with the idea of Hyperloop. In August 2013, he published a very detailed and technical article on SpaceX’s blog explaining his proposal. He open sourced that design encouraging anyone to use it and modify it. Several people responded to his call and different companies were created to the sole purpose of making Hyperloop a reality. Even though neither SpaceX nor Elon Musk is affiliated with any of these Hyperloop companies, as stated in SpaceX’s website, they wanted to boost the development of a functional Hyperloop prototype. With that goal in mind, they launched an open competition to design and build the Hyperloop capsule, or pod, as they call it. As an incentive to the participants, SpaceX agreed to build a 1 mile test track for the winning teams to test their pods, by the way, the big winner was the MIT Hyperloop team.

Fast forward to May 2016, this monumental project shows signs of advancing faster than expected. Two companies are currently competing to build the first Hyperloop, Hyperloop Transportation Technologies (HTT), and Hyperloop One. Both companies are at the testing face, Hyperloop One already completed a successful test on May 11 2016, and HTTC has announced the construction of their 5 miles test track will take place later this year. Selected Pods from SpaceX’s open competition are expected to be tested this summer at SpaceX’s test track.

 

This project certainly has many challenges, most of them technology related, but some of them from a different nature like buying the land to build the tracks, funding, transportation industry disruption, and even political obstacles. Overcoming those obstacles will take time, but the fact that countries like Slovakia have already agreed to host the first Hyperloop tracks, probes that this will happen sooner rather than later.

So many questions rise when you look at the Hyperloop through the moving industry eyes. Will it be profitable to use it in household goods moves? Will it affect the truck drivers community? With a travel as smooth as promised, will it have a positive impact on the number of claims filed? Will insurance costs be affected? It is too soon to answer those questions, but in theory getting from point A to point B faster and safer is always a plus in the moving business.

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PHOTO: Hyperloop One

The Hyperloop is a fascinating project top to bottom. From the way Elon Musk open sourced his idea for the greater good, to the way it will impact our society and the way we travel.

 

 

Main photo: Hyperloop One

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It seems like Virtual Reality can finally be real. The recent CES 2016 (Consumer Electronics Show) is a proof of that. That is the place where tech companies showcase their latest gadgets or work-in-progress projects. As expected, this year, as in the past few years, Virtual Reality had some exhibitors showcasing the technology. The difference was that this year, big contenders like Oculus Rift, HTC’s VIVE and Playstation VR had actual products ready for consumers. That’s right, no beta versions, no work-in-progress projects, but actual products that can be pre-ordered and delivered this year. Wow!

These three products are not mobile Virtual Reality systems, meaning that they have to be attached to a computer or console. This is different from the current VR-kind-of  products out there, for example Google Cardboard (I know cardboard and virtual reality are not words you would expect to use in the same sentence) and Samsung’s Gear VR (powered by Oculus) can be taken everywhere since these are products that you attach to your mobile phone. Those Virtual Reality mobile products deliver  sort of Virtual Reality experience but very limited. On the other hand, the Oculus Rift, HTC’s VIVE and Playstation VR , with the processing capabilities of a powerful computing system attached to them offer a far better Virtual Reality experience.

What these companies are showing looks amazing. We  still haven’t been able to play with one of these babies, but the content released by the manufacturers looks amazing. With gaming as the main target of these devices, virtual reality promises to be fun. To be fully submerged in a game and control the digital world that surrounds you, is a dream every kid thinks about at least twice a day, or is it just me? If you look at the gaming industry’s history, you realize they are always searching for ways to engage the player more and more with their games. With that in mind, to place you “inside” a game sounds like the ultimate goal.

There is only one downside of these Virtual Reality products: they are not cheap. For example the Oculus Rift comes at a price of $600.00 for the headset, sensor, remote control, Xbox game controller (I know, it’s confusing) and two games. But wait, don’t close your wallet yet, that’s just half the gear you’ll need. Like we said, these products need to be attached to a powerful machine capable of producing all the juice these systems require. For the Oculus Rift that means computers that have a particular video card. If you don’t have such a computer, you’ll have to spend at least an extra $900.00 and that’s after the Oculus Rift discount provided by some computer manufacturers. HTC hasn’t released their system requirements yet, but you can expect a similar price for the VIVE and for the computer powering it. Sony hasn’t released the price of their Playstation VR either, but you can expect it to be lower than the other contenders, as the Playstation system is less advanced. What we do know is that the spark igniting it will be the Playstation 4. If you already own one of these, you will save some money; otherwise prepare the initial $350.00 investment.

Virtual Reality goes beyond games. Virtual Reality could be extremely useful in multiples areas. Schools could include Virtual Reality lessons about almost any topic, companies could use Virtual Reality to achieve even more effective trainings, police could use it in crime investigations, and people who enjoy  traveling could go to places they haven’t even imagined.

We hope you are as excited as we are about how Virtual Reality is moving forward. In this world of  “alternate” realities there are other interesting technologies like VR’s cousin Augmented Reality (AR), and one that in our humble opinion is more exciting than Virtual Reality, Holographic Reality (for lack of a better term). We will discuss “Holographic Reality” in a future post, in the meantime take a look at what Microsoft is doing in this front.

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Google who? It’s very likely this is the first time you hear about Google Keep. As many of Google’s apps and services, unless you go deep in Google’s portfolio page (which is hidden beneath a few layers itself), it can easily go unnoticed. The purpose of the app is to “Keep” notes, as simple as that. Even though there are dozens of apps out there built for that same purpose, personally, I believe that Google Keep does it like no other. Let me explain myself.

Many of these apps designed for taking notes at some point evolve into something more complex. They become a kind of text editor app, with so many options and features that makes taking notes a task far more complicated than it should be.

Google “Keep”, on the other hand, is a light, simple, and easy to use “notes” app. It does the job without all the gimmicks.

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Google keep sample screen.

 

The following is my Google Keep review:

WHO IS IT FOR?
Google Keep, in my opinion, is intended for someone who needs to take quick notes on the go. Small pieces of information that you’ll use later. It could be an address, a short shopping list, some instructions, etc. I often find myself using it also to create checklists for recurrent tasks. For example a checklist of things to include on a blog post, a checklist of things that I can’t forget before going on a trip, or a checklist of things to do at work, etc.

WHY THIS APP
Like I said, there are several options for note taking apps out there, but one of the things that separates this one from the pack is its simplicity. When you want to write down a quick note, you really don’t care about the font type, color, size, or any of those type of features. You just want to write it down as fast as possible and have it a few swipes away when you need that info again. That’s where Google Keep shines over other apps.

Also the way this app displays the notes makes them very accessible to you. Instead of going through several steps of navigation, all of your notes are on the main screen at the very moment you open the app. If you want to find one note you just need to scroll/swipe down to locate it.

One of the few but powerful and extremely useful features the app has is the ability to assign a color to each note. That makes it  easy to spot categories for your notes.

Another great feature is the fact that your notes synchronize between your phone, tablet and desktop. That means your notes are always at your fingertips no matter what device you are using, and since the app is super light you can access them in no time.

The rest of the few features the app has are those you would expect from a “notes” app: attachments, tags, drawings, reminders and sharing capabilities, all packed in a simple light interface.

KEY POINTS
Simple, efficient, synchronizes through all of your devices, fast and easy to use.

Google Keep has become one of my most used apps. If you give it a try, it might surprise you.

You can download Google Keep here: Android | Apple

 

Campaign is a new startup out of California that is trying to change the way we buy, build, and move furniture.  Its founder points to the high cost of furniture shipping as an issue for the average consumer.  If you ordered a sofa online, for example, you can expect to pay on average between $100 and $250 on shipping costs.  Campaign includes the cost of shipping in every piece it sells, which they believe makes their modern furniture a good deal.

The furniture’s construction and packability set it apart from the average low-cost furniture suppliers.  Every mover is familiar with flat-pack IKEA furniture.  Campaign’s furniture comes in a similar packaging through Fed-Ex.  However, no screwdrivers are required for this one.  All of the pieces have a modular quality allowing the consumer to pop the pieces together quickly.  Fast Company has a cool time-lapse video that shows an arm chair being put together in under 3 minutes:

How does this impact moving?  From all reports the materials are sturdier than the average IKEA product.  Rather than particle board, Campaign has used steel to construct their frames.  And they are just as easy to put together as they are to take apart.  Meaning that consumers (and movers) will be able to deconstruct the couch before moving it down a 5-story walk-up.

Couches, love seats, and arm chairs can be pre-ordered now.

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21st of October 2015, the date in which Marty McFly and Doc Brown travel into the future in Back to the Future 2. That day we probably thought of all the cool stuff we expected from the future back in 1989, when that movie blew us away with hover boards, self-lacing shoes, cool TVs (now called smart TVs), drones, flying cars… it was simply fascinating.

Let us pull a “Back to the Future” on the Moving industry. Can you imagine what the Moving Industry will be like in 10,15 or 20 years? Do you imagine the type of technology we will have access to at that point? Maybe surveys will be made by small drones that will quickly explore the house and create an estimate for the customer, while uploading data and video instantly. Maybe trucks will be filled with some sort of foam (eco friendly, of course) to prevent damages and then will evaporate once you reach your destination. Maybe you will be able to magnetically tag every box which then will guide the crew unloading truck directly to the correct room. Maybe crews will have Exo-suits that will allow them to carry heavy items easily. Fully electric trucks, autonomous trucks, exotic packing materials… OK, I think I got carried away.

The truth is that we are not that far from some of those “predictions” to become real. For example, a while ago we did a post on the first autonomous truck, amazing stuff. Self-driving technology is only getting better and better. Companies like, Google, FreightLiner and Tesla are doing huge improvements on this front.

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GOgistiX Mobile applications for movers

Ever since the military deployed their Defense Personal Property System, we’ve been developing software for military carriers and agents.  After several years of working with moving and storage companies, we realized a need for one software system that let movers work their military, commercial, local, and GSA moves in one place.

That’s why we launched EDC-MoveStar in December 2013.  It was designed to be a comprehensive move management software, with the goal of helping our customers do everything they needed within the same platform: job booking, customer service, dispatch, warehouse, billing, HR, etc., etc.

After talking with our customers and our team, we’ve realized there is one more piece of the puzzle that has been missing.  There is one more item that needs to be checked off the list in our quest to be a one-stop shop for moving and storage software: mobile applications.

That’s why we’re launching GOgistiX Mobile, a collection of native mobile applications for the moving industry.  This is a project we’ve been working on for over a year.  It hasn’t been a secret, but we are really excited to finally be able to share our work (and the work of our beta testers) with everyone over the next few months.

The first application to launch will be our mobile app for moving estimators.  We’re putting the finishing touches on it now, and it will be ready for release soon.  Before it goes live we’ll have a webinar to show all our customers (and future customers) what to expect.  We’d love to have you join us online on Thursday, July 30 at 2:00 PM EDT.  We’ll be walking through the application and taking your questions and feedback.

Click here to register.  If you can’t join us for the webinar but are still interested, let us know at sales@edcus.com.   We’re scheduling private, online demonstrations for mid-August.

On Monday, Apple hosted the first day of their Worldwide Developers Conference.  It gives developers and consumers alike a sneak peak at many of the updates and services Apple will be releasing over the next few months.  Since you were probably busy moving household goods, we’ve got the rundown of what is coming soon from Apple (and EDC’s mobile developers):

iOS9: Multitasking comes to Apple devices

Apple will be releasing the newest version of their mobile operating system in beta sometime in July.  The full upgrade will be available to everyone in the fall.  This version will have some cool features for iPad Air and iPad Air 2:

  • Slide over: You’ll be able to select one application that will always be just one swipe away from use
  • Split view: Two applications can share the screen with either a 50/50 or 70/30 screen split
  • Picture-in-picture: Videos will play in a smaller rectangle that does not obscure the rest of the screen, so you can watch videos while using other applications

Many of these things are already available for Android devices, but with these changes we’re seeing Apple target business users who may have a need for some of these multitasking features.

Here’s a couple other cool things we can expect with this update:

  • Improved battery life
  • Better notes and task capabilities
  • Enhanced security and two-factor authentication (learn how important this is here)
  • A “lighter” iOS that requires less space and makes updates easier

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  • Freightliner Inpsiration self-driving truck

The first time I ever thought about self-driving trucks in the moving and storage industry was at the 2014 AMSA conference.  A representative from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) was asked for his take on what impact autonomous trucks may have on the industry.  The general vibe of the attendees was “I’ll believe it when I see it.”  An attitude which, at the time, seemed completely appropriate given that the concept of self-driving vehicles has existed for almost a century, and yet still seems like little more than a figment of futuristic book and movie plots.

Apparently no one passed that attitude on to Daimler Trucks, who this week revealed their new autonomous commercial truck at a spectacular event at the Hoover Dam.  Their Freightliner Inspiration truck is the first fully licensed and registered autonomous truck in Nevada.  And the technology has both geeks and gear heads excited.

As far as we can tell (without actually “driving” the truck), the features offered for safety and efficiency are pretty impressive.  Its Highway Pilot System detects road markings using radar and cameras to ensure the truck stays in the center of the lane.  It also scans the environment, including surrounding speed and road signs, to adjust cruise speed and brake suddenly to prevent accidents.  One other feature that caught my eye was “platooning” which can make your fleet act as one, cohesive unit while out on the road.  This feature lets multiple trucks sync with each other, closing gaps to improve aerodynamics while still ensuring optimal braking distance.  Daimler reports this not only makes the trucks more fuel efficient but also considerably safer due to superior reaction times.

The NHTSA has created different levels of automation for vehicles ranging from 0 to 4.  Vehicles at Level 0 are always under the control of the driver, and Level 4 vehicles complete all driving and safety operations without driver input, from start to park.  The Inspiration truck is a Level 3 vehicle, meaning that as long as the truck is on the highway it can be completely self-driving.  Level 3 vehicles require the driver to control the truck while exiting the highway and for local road driving. Read More