Enterprise

PeopleCount by Bosch is made for social distancing

Another smart solution to the challenges of the pandemic

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Tech has played a key role in the battle against the Coronavirus pandemic. While we wait with bated breath for a vaccine, tech companies have given us ways to detect the virus, properly contact trace, and limit its spread. Now, Bosch, in partnership with Globaltronics and Philips, launches PeopleCount for social distancing.

PeopleCount is a customizable security system. It lets facility managers track, control, and manage the number of people entering a particular area. This lets them operate efficiently while guiding people to follow and maintain social distancing measures.

What is it exactly?

It uses Bosch’s intelligent camera solution and Philips’ Android System on Chip (SoC) display that allows real-time monitoring  and analysis of people flow with minimal human intervention.

The system can be used for single entrance or multiple entrances simultaneously and displays the data through a simple traffic light system. PeopleCount also keeps customers informed and engaged through both promotional and safety messaging displayed on its system.

Bosch and Philips believe this system can be an effective tool for enforcing social distancing protocols. They see it as a solution that requires minimum investment, is quick and easy to deploy, can be operated remotely, is customer-friendly, and has the ability to record data and statistics.

How does it work?

It functions with three main components: a standalone application as the main control, a camera to track and analyze movements, and a monitor that displays communication for customers.

Bosch’s intelligent camera counts the number of people entering and exiting the facility using its video analytics features. Meanwwhile, the Philips Android SoC display keeps the customers informed with visual alerts prior to entering a facility.

Users can install single or multiple cameras and monitors across different entries or individual stores. The cameras can process information and able to generate the status of occupancy real-time.

This, then will be displayed in any browser-enabled display such as tablet or an android TV. This gives users the advantage of controlling access to various points of a building.

When using multiple cameras, the system can also aggregate the counts from different cameras to monitor the occupancy of individual shops, floors, and even areas covered by multiple entries and exits.

Comes with an alert system

When the occupancy has reached its maximum number, the system can alert or trigger the facility’s building access control system to secure the entrance until the occupancy is reduced.

The system also delivers real time information to the display for customer queue communications, alerting visitors whether they must wait or if they can enter.

The screen display can be used in three formats:

  • The entire screen can be used to signal individuals to wait or enter.
  • It can also be divided 50/50, where one part is used for entry instructions and the other may include promotional or instructional videos and even special products on discount.
  • The third option is the use of a traffic light display for entry management while having a large area of the monitor to display other content.

Bosch and Philips are actively marketing this to private companies. During the launch, they also said they have projects lined up with the Philippine government to rollout this tech.

Enterprise

iPhone sales surge like never before despite raging pandemic

Apple’s daily revenue was $1 billion in Q2

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Apple reported record revenues of US$ 89.6 billion for Q2 2021, an increase of 54 percent year over year. The company’s iPhone, iPad, and Mac lineups are producing strong growth.

The iPhone range, headlined by the iPhone 12 quartet, brought in US$ 48 billion in revenue alone between January and the end of March. iPhone revenue in the previous quarter was roughly US$ 29 billion, marking a rise of 66 percent. iPad sales came in at US$ 7.8 billion while Mac sales were US$ 9.1 billion.

Apple said it would increase its dividend by 7 percent to US$ 0.22 per share and authorized $90 billion in share buyback, which is significantly higher than last year’s US$ 50 billion.

The subscription services, which include the Apple One bundles, also hit an all-time high with US$ 16.9 billion in sales. These services include Apple Music, Apple TV+, Apple Arcade, and more. Wearables like AirPods and the Apple Watch had a record-setting quarter, too, drawing in US$ 7.8bn.

Apple CEO, Tim Cook, said on a conference call with analysts that all five of the best-selling smartphones in the U.S. during the quarter were iPhones. Though, Apple did not disclose official guidance for what it presumes in the quarter ending in June.

Apple sales grew at least 35 percent in every region, and while the majority was still in the Americas, China played a pivotal role too. The company did say that future growth could be hampered due to the acute shortage of semiconductors. Its new M1 chipset is class-leading and designed on the latest ARM-based architecture. This adds a layer of complexity that could slow down shipments.

Apple said it didn’t know how long the chip shortage would keep supply from meeting demand, but it’s sure that the demand far outweighs the supply.

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Enterprise

Jeff Bezos says Amazon should treat its workers in a better way

His final letter to shareholders before stepping down as CEO

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Amazon

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos used his final letter to Amazon shareholders to focus on employee well-being and its significant carbon footprint. The transition is closely watched by everyone as the legendary co-founder hands over the reigns to Andy Jassy.

The e-commerce giant has always been customer-centric, which was the prime reason it was able to garner trust and support. Now, Bezos thinks it time to put the company’s workforce on priority.

Jassy, the former head of Amazon Web Services, is taking over the top job so that Bezos can step back from day-to-day responsibilities. It’ll now be his responsibility to ensure Amazon continues its growth trajectory and sustains the pandemic-induced boom.

It’s currently hounded by regulators, labor unions, and activists around the world. There are multiple allegations — unfair treatment of warehouse workers, stifling competition, discouraging unionization, and shortchanged partners. It’s a long list, and the pressure keeps mounting as the company’s stock increases in value.

Bezos also talked about creating wealth for shareholders, the fact that climate change is real, the recent warehouse union vote in Bessemer, Alabama, US. Among his proposals are new staffing rotations to reduce physical stress at warehouses. He said that 40 percent of Amazon’s work-related injuries are musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs), such as strains and sprains from repetitive motions. These injuries tend to occur in the first six months of an employee’s tenure.

The founder also touted the company’s decision to increase Amazon’s minimum wage to US$ 15 per hour, a rate that labor groups have been advocating for the longest of time.

When it comes to workers who can’t consistently meet the company’s expectations, he says Amazon provides coaching to them, with 82 percent of it being “positive.” He also added that less than 2.6 percent of the staff was fired for not meeting the job expectations.

Amazon is also trying to cut down its carbon emissions and has pledged to have 100,000 electric delivery vans by 2030. Bezos has personally committed US$ 10 billion in grants for climate-oriented companies and organizations.

Read Also: Everything you need to know about the congressional big tech hearing

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Enterprise

Why is Amazon starting a $250 million venture fund in India?

Aims to bring 1 million offline stores online by 2025

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Amazon has announced a US$ 250 million venture fund called Amazon Smbhav Venture Fund that’ll invest in small and medium-sized businesses. The goal is to boost India’s export by using technology and the marketplace’s reach.

Amazon Smbhav will be focusing on the digitization of small businesses, agri-tech innovations to raise farmer productivity, and health tech for quality universal healthcare. The fund was announced at Amazon India’s annual Smbhav Summit.

It intends to tap offline sellers and professionals via the fund and on onboarding a million shops by 2025. Another initiative is “Spotlight NorthEast,” which will bring 50,000 artisans, weavers, and small businesses online from India’s North-Eastern states. The region is known for its local produce like honey, tea, and spices.

The announcement came at a fireside chat at the summit between Andy Jassy, incoming CEO of Amazon and Amit Agarwal, Global Senior VP and Country Head, Amazon India. They also revealed the first bet Amazon was making through the new fund — invoice discounting platform M1xchange, in which it has led a $10 million investment.

Amazon said it created close to 300,000 jobs since January 2020 and one million in total. It also boasted of having almost 70,000 sellers, exporting Indian goods to other markets totaling US$ 3 billion in sales.

The timing of Amazon India’s announcement is key because the e-commerce companies have been barred from delivering in the state of Maharashtra amid a Coronavirus-led curfew. While the restrictions are regional, businesses are unable to get necessary and basic supplies. In a work-from-home world, getting an emergency mice/keyboard or mattress should be easy via digitization, but there are antitrust concerns.

Due to a lockdown, offline sellers cannot operate and thus, don’t want online businesses to eat their share. The Narendra Modi-led government has historically sided with the offline traders since they constitute a majority of India’s market. The offline market is still the king, and the gap between the two is very substantial.

If online players operate exclusively for too long, they’ll start gobbling up market share gradually, killing the smaller businesses. While the aim is to maintain a level-playing field, the current rules aren’t helping anybody at the end of the day. The region also fails to collect indirect taxes over the possible transactions, leading to a cash crunch while the pandemic rages.

The FDI (Foreign Direct Investment) rules for the retail market were changed in 2019, meaning Amazon India could no longer directly sell its products. It had to act like a marketplace to maintain healthy competition since 100 percent FDI is allowed in e-commerce as a tech platform, but not as a retailer.

Thanks to the fund, Amazon can show its commitment to India and its initiatives to encourage online trade. India’s new farm laws also make it easier for private companies to invest in agriculture or partner with farmers for contracts.

Amazon had announced an investment of US$1 billion in January 2020 and its purpose was also the same — digitizing India’s small and medium businesses. Founder Jeff Bezos had said back then, “We are doing this now because it is working. And when something works you should double down on it.”

For now, the concerns of a monopoly are diminished because Amazon is going up against India’s homegrown Flipkart, which Walmart now backs. Reliance is also eyeing this segment and has already kicked off a hyperlocal service called JioMart. Lastly, many other retailers like Dmart, Tata CliQ + Bigbasket, and Grofers are available.

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