Biology’s next mega-project: Cell Atlas

In 1665, Robert Hooke peered down his microscope at a piece of cork and discovered little boxes that reminded him of rooms in a monastery. Being the first scientist to describe cells, Hooke would be amazed by biology’s next mega-project: a scheme to individually capture and scrutinize millions of cells using the most powerful tools in modern genomics and cell biology.   

The objective is to construct the first comprehensive “cell atlas,” or map of human cells, a technological marvel that should comprehensively reveal, for the first time, what human bodies are actually made of and provide scientists a sophisticated new model of biology that could speed the search for drugs.

To perform the task of cataloguing the 37.2 trillion cells of the human body, an international consortium of scientists from the U.S., U.K., Sweden, Israel, the Netherlands, and Japan is being assembled to assign each a molecular signature and also give each type a zip code in the three-dimensional space of our bodies.

“We will see some things that we expect, things we know to exist, but I’m sure there will be completely novel things,” says Mike Stubbington, head of the cell atlas team at the Sanger Institute in the U.K. “I think there will be surprises.”

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Previous attempts at describing cells, from the hairy neurons that populate the brain and spinal cord to the glutinous fat cells of the skin, suggest there are about 300 variations in total. But the true figure is undoubtedly larger. Analyzing molecular differences between cells has already revealed, for example, two new types of retinal cells that escaped decades of investigation of the eye; a cell that forms the first line of defense against pathogens and makes up four in every 10,000 blood cells; and a newly spotted immune cell that uniquely produces a steroid that appears to suppress the immune response.

Three technologies are coming together to make this new type of mapping possible. The first is known as “cellular microfluidics.” Individual cells are separated, tagged with tiny beads, and manipulated in droplets of oil that are shunted like cars down the narrow, one-way streets of artificial capillaries etched into a tiny chip, so they can be corralled, cracked open, and studied one by one.

The second is the ability to identify the genes active in single cells by decoding them in superfast and efficient sequencing machines at a cost of just a few cents per cell. One scientist can now process 10,000 cells in a single day.

The third technology uses novel labeling and staining techniques that can locate each type of cell—on the basis of its gene activity—at a specific zip code in a human organ or tissue.

Behind the cell atlas are big-science powerhouses including Britain’s Sanger Institute, the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, and a new “Biohub” in California funded by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. In September Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, made the cell atlas the inaugural target of a $3 billion donation to medical research. 


Paying with Your Face

Shortly after walking through the door at Face++, a Chinese startup valued at roughly a billion dollars, I see my face, unshaven and looking a bit jet-lagged, flash up on a large screen near the entrance.

Having been added to a database, my face now provides automatic access to the building. It can also be used to monitor my movements through each room inside. As I tour the offices of Face++ (pronounced “face plus plus”), located in a suburb of Beijing, I see it appear on several more screens, automatically captured from countless angles by the company’s software. On one screen a video shows the software tracking 83 different points on my face simultaneously. It’s a little creepy, but undeniably impressive.

Over the past few years, computers have become incredibly good at recognizing faces, and the technology is expanding quickly in China in the interest of both surveillance and convenience. Face recognition might transform everything from policing to the way people interact every day with banks, stores, and transportation services.

Technology from Face++ is already being used in several popular apps. It is possible to transfer money through Alipay, a mobile payment app used by more than 120 million people in China, using only your face as credentials. Meanwhile, Didi, China’s dominant ride-hailing company, uses the Face++ software to let passengers confirm that the person behind the wheel is a legitimate driver. (A “liveness” test, designed to prevent anyone from duping the system with a photo, requires people being scanned to move their head or speak while the app scans them.)

Pay with face

The technology figures to take off in China first because of the country’s attitudes toward surveillance and privacy. Unlike, say, the United States, China has a large centralized database of ID card photos. During my time at Face++, I saw how local governments are using its software to identify suspected criminals in video from surveillance cameras, which are omnipresent in the country. This is especially impressive—albeit somewhat dystopian—because the footage analyzed is far from perfect, and because mug shots or other images on file may be several years old.

Facial recognition has existed for decades, but only now is it accurate enough to be used in secure financial transactions. The new versions use deep learning, an artificial-intelligence technique that is especially effective for image recognition because it makes a computer zero in on the facial features that will most reliably identify a person (see “10 Breakthrough Technologies 2013: Deep Learning”).

“The face recognition market is huge,” says Shiliang Zhang, an assistant professor at Peking University who specializes in machine learning and image processing. Zhang heads a lab not far from the offices of Face++. When I arrived, his students were working away furiously in a dozen or so cubicles. “In China security is very important, and we also have lots of people,” he says. “Lots of companies are working on it.”

One such company is Baidu, which operates China’s most popular search engine, along with other services. Baidu researchers have published papers showing that their software rivals most humans in its ability to recognize a face. In January, the company proved this by taking part in a TV show featuring people who are remarkably good at identifying adults from their baby photos. Baidu’s system outshined them.

Face++ pinpoints 83 points on a face. The distance between them provides a means of identification.

Now Baidu is developing a system that lets people pick up rail tickets by showing their face. The company is already working with the government of Wuzhen, a historic tourist destination, to provide access to many of its attractions without a ticket. This involves scanning tens of thousands of faces in a database to find a match, which Baidu says it can do with 99 percent accuracy.

Jie Tang, an associate professor at Tsinghua University who advised the founders of Face++ as students, says the convenience of the technology is what appeals most to people in China. Some apartment complexes use facial recognition to provide access, and shops and restaurants are looking to the technology to make the customer experience smoother. Not only can he pay for things this way, he says, but the staff in some coffee shops are now alerted by a facial recognition system when he walks in: “They say, ‘Hello, Mr. Tang.’”

Essential Phone from Father of Android

The Essential Phone, brought to us by the person who created Android, is finally ready for the spotlight. It’s an incredibly audacious and ambitious project, with an outlandish screen and the beginnings of a modular ecosystem.

Essential Phone

First, the Android phone basics: the Essential Phone costs $699 with top-of-the-line specs and features. As you can see, it prominently features an edge-to-edge display that one-ups even the Samsung Galaxy S8 by bringing it all the way to the the top of the phone, wrapping around the front-facing selfie camera.

It’s a unique take on a big screen that makes the phone stand out — and it’s smart, too. Often, the status bar at the top of an Android phone doesn’t fill that middle space with icons, so it’s efficient. The screen does leave some bezel at the bottom of the phone, but nevertheless it’s as close to the whole front of a phone being display.

Essential is launching the phone in the US to start, and it’s filled the phone with radios that should make it work on all major carriers, alongside usual Android flagship internals like a Qualcomm 835 processor, 4GB of RAM, and 128GB of storage.

Essential is clearly planning on releasing a very well-made phone: the screen looks promising, it has no annoying logos, and it is built with a combination of titanium and ceramic so it can survive a drop test “without blemish, unlike the aluminum competitor devices.” Andy Rubin claims that the Essential phone’s titanium and ceramic build is better able to withstand a drop test.

Speaking of ports, there is no traditional 3.5mm headphone jack — which is a bummer. We’re told that it will ship with a headphone dongle in the box. It’s possible that other audio accessories could be made that could clip on to the magnetic accessory port.

The Essential Phone also has a good take on the dual-camera systems we’ve seen on other phones. Rather than use the second lens for telephoto or bokeh, it’s using it for a monochrome sensor, just like Huawei has been doing with the P9 and P10. That second sensor will be able to take in more light than a traditional color camera, meaning it can be combined with the regular 13-megapixel for better low-light shots. The front-facing camera is in line with current expectations, too: an 8-megapixel sensor that can also capture 4K video.


Device that uses sunlight to purify polluted air and produces hydrogen

A small innovation could have a big impact on air pollution. In Belgium, researchers have engineered a device that uses sunlight to purify polluted air and produce hydrogen gas that can be stored and used for power.

“We couple both processes together in one device,” Sammy Verbruggen, a professor of bioscience engineering at the University of Antwerp, told Live Science. “Hydrogen production on one side and air purification on the other side.”

Verbruggen is working with two teams of researchers who had been separately investigating both processes for years. At the University of Antwerp, the scientists had been testing different ways of combing light energy with nanomaterials to purify air. At the University of Leuven, another team had been working on a tiny fuel cell with a membrane that could produce hydrogen gas from water.

Now, the two teams have merged their expertise to create this newest device, which could purify fouled air and produce energy at the same time.

Verbruggen said the researchers are focusing on air polluted with volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which are small molecules produced by chemicals in adhesives, upholstery, carpeting, copy machines, cleaning fluids and more. In sufficient concentrations, VOCs can cause severe headaches, eye irritation, dizziness, nauseaand asthma attacks.

The small molecules can be found in the air of enclosed buildings that are not well-ventilated, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, which may include newly built high-rises to factories that manufacture goods like paint and carpeting.

“They can lead to a disease called the sick building syndrome,” Verbruggen said.


The prototype cell is a square with an active area that measures about 0.4 inches by 0.4 inches (1 centimeter by 1 cm). At one side of the device, a tube delivers polluted air into the cell. Light enters naturally through a transparent window that covers a membrane treated with a light-activated catalyst. Once polluted air and light meet at the membrane, the catalyst tears apart the small organic molecules.

In the process, protons are set free and seep through the membrane, collecting on the other side. There, a platinum catalyst converts them to hydrogen gas, according to the researchers. Meanwhile, the purified air exits through a second tube.

Verbruggen and his colleagues were able to purify air and create gas from a variety of organic compounds, including methanol, ethanol and acetic acid. The scientists are also conducting new experiments with acetaldehyde, a liquid used in the make acetic acid and perfumes. Verbruggen said the most obvious applications are in industries that produce a waste stream, such as manufacturers of paint or textiles.

“You can purify the waste streams so that they meet their environmental quota and at the same time recover the energy that was stored in those molecules,” Verbruggen said. The gas produced could be used to power the lights or other machines in the factory, he added.

At the moment, the team has not come up with an engineering solution to collect and store the gas. That’s another step in the engineering process, and one that will need to be solved by further research and development, Verbruggen said.

“I’m more motivated to improve the cell’s performance, right now,” he said.

Currently, the membrane responds to ultraviolet rays in sunlight, which is only about 4 to 5 percent of the spectrum. But, if the researchers could modify the materials to make them respond to 40 or 50 percent of the solar spectrum, that would increase the efficiency of the cell as a whole, they said.

“Improving the environment is a driving force for us,” Verbruggensaid. “If we can catch two flies at the same time — clean up the environment on one side and also provide a cleaner energy source — that’s a net benefit, because there’s no extra energy input to drive these reactions, just pure sunlight.”

Original article on Live Science.

Google Launching a Job Search Service Called “Google Hire”

Google Hire

The company has not officially announced the launch of the service yet, but as you can see the home page is live for everyone to see.

Everything beyond the home page appears to be locked at the moment. I tried signing in with my Google account, only to be told that my email address is not associated with a Google account. I guess that’s Google’s way of locking people out until the service officially launches.

Multiple sources claim Google Hire will be a recruitment tool which allows employers to manage job applications. Employers will be able to place ads for job listings, which jobseekers will then be able to apply for.

The fact that the service requires individuals to sign in using their Google account has led to concerns that recruiters will be able to see an applicant’s entire search history.

While that could technically be a possibility, it also feels like people are jumping to the worst case scenario in an attempt to create clickbait headlines.

No one knows for sure the extent of the permissions that will have to be granted in order to use the service. I have reached out to Google for more information and will update this story if and when I receive a response.

A Google spokesperson responded with the following details:

Google Hire is a product under development that will help G Suite customers manage their hiring process more effectively. The product will allow employers to collect candidate applications online. Only information that a candidate voluntarily provides would be passed to a prospective employer as part of their online application. Private information will not be shared


Mastercard Unveils Next Generation Biometric Card

Mastercard yesterday unveiled the next generation biometric card, combining chip technology with fingerprints to conveniently and safely verify the cardholder’s identity for in-store purchases.

The new card builds on fingerprint scanning technology used for mobile payments today and can be used at EMV terminals worldwide.

“Consumers are increasingly experiencing the convenience and security of biometrics,” said Ajay Bhalla, president, enterprise risk and security, Mastercard. “Whether unlocking a smartphone or shopping online, the fingerprint is helping to deliver additional convenience and security. It’s not something that can be taken or replicated and will help our cardholders get on with their lives knowing their payments are protected.”

How It Works

A cardholder enrolls their card by simply registering with their financial institution. Upon registration, their fingerprint is converted into an encrypted digital template that is stored on the card. The card is now ready to be used at any EMV card terminal globally.

When shopping and paying in-store, the biometric card works like any other chip card. The cardholder simply dips the card into a retailer’s terminal while placing their finger on the embedded sensor. The fingerprint is verified against the template and – if the biometrics match – the cardholder is successfully authenticated and the transaction can then be approved with the card never leaving the consumer’s hand.


Authenticating a payment transaction biometrically – in this instance via a fingerprint – confirms in a very unique way that the person using the card is the genuine cardholder.

Merchants can easily maximize the shopping experience delivered to their customers, as the card works with existing EMV card terminal infrastructure and does not require any new hardware or software upgrades.

For issuers, the technology helps detect and prevent fraud, increase approval rates, reduce operational costs and foster customer loyalty. Additionally, a future version of the card will feature contactless technology, adding to the simplicity and convenience at checkout.


Xiaomi Mi 6: Snapdragon 835 and dual cameras

Xiaomi has announced its latest flagship phone, the Mi 6, at an event in Beijing.

The Mi 6 has a Snapdragon 835 processor, the top-end Qualcomm chip only previously seen in the Samsung Galaxy S8 and announced in the Sony XZ Premium. There’s 6GB of RAM, a 5.15-inch display as seen on the Mi 5, and a 3350mAh battery. Xiaomi is also including a 12-megapixel dual-camera array that takes Apple’s approach of pairing the regular wide-angle lens with one of double the focal length.

Mi 6 6



Like the iPhone, the Mi 6 includes a bokeh-style photography option, alongside 10x digital zoom, 2x lossless zoom, and optical image stabilization (OIS) technology. Also on board is an under-glass fingerprint sensor on the front.

The most obvious iPhone comparison is that there is no headphone jack on the Mi 6.

The design is similar to the Mi 5 with its curved glass back and metal frame, though Xiaomi is highlighting a distinctive blue and gold colorway and the rear glass panel that curves along all four edges.

Mi 6 3

Other notable features include dual speakers for stereo audio, improved 2.2 dual Wi-Fi technology, and new screen options that include a new night display and reduce blue ray output.

Xiaomi Mi 6 Full specifications

  • 5.15-inch (1920×1080 pixels) Full HD display with 600 nits brightness, 94.4% NTSC color gamut, 1500:1 contrast ratio
  • 2.45GHz Octa-Core Snapdragon 835 64-bit 10nm processor with Adreno 540 GPU
  • 6GB LPDDR4x RAM with 64GB / 128GB (UFS) internal storage
  • Android 7.1.1 (Nougat) with MIUI 8
  • Dual SIM (nano + nano)
  • Splash resistant
  • 12MP rear camera with 1.25μm pixel size, f/1.8 aperture, dual-tone LED flash, 4-axis OIS, 4K video recording, secondary 12MP camera with 1.0 μm pixel size, 52mm portrait lens, f/2.6 aperture
  • 8MP front-facing camera
  • Ultrasonic  Fingerprint sensor, Infrared sensor
  • Stereo speakers
  • Dimensions: 145.17x 70.49×7.45 mm; Weight: 168g / 182g (ceramic)
  • 4G LTE, WiFi 802.11ac dual-band (2×2 MU-MIMO ), Bluetooth 5.0, GPS/GLONASS/Beidou, NFC, USB Type-C
  • 3350mAh (typical) / 3250mAh (minimum) battery with Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0, 18W fast charging

The entry model — featuring 64 GB of storage — comes in at 2499 RMB, that’s around $360, with a 128 GB option (2899 RMB, $420) and ceramic edition (2999 RMB, $435) completing the range.

The device will be available for sale from April 28 in China. International launch will be intimated later.



Smartphone Camera: Aperture & F Number are more important than Megapixels

The smartphone camera aperture – not the sensor size or the thing called MP – controls much of your photo’s sharpness, exposure, brightness and focus. Here is why. The f-value is the ratio of the camera’s focal length to the diameter of aperture opening. So the focal length of a camera is another factor to consider when weighing in on the image quality of your smartphone camera. 

Read also Forget about megapixels, your smartphone’s sensor quality is what matters

For comparison, I listed below some high-end smartphones along with their corresponding focal length and aperture:

  • Samsung Galaxy S7/S7 Edge: 26mm, f/1.7 (INR 41000 +)
  • Apple iPhone 7/7+: 28mm, f/1.8 (INR 50000+)
  • Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge: 28mm, f/1.9 (INR 35000+)
  • Apple iPhone 6S: 29mm, f/2.2 (INR 37000)

The recently launched Oppo F3 Plus (INR 31000) and Moto G5 Plus (INR 17000) also have f/1.7 aperture which may be a competitive value add to these mid range devices. 

From this comparison, we can see that the Samsung Galaxy S7 gathers more light than the rest of the competitors. The size of the aperture opening is also responsible for the depth of field, which results in more or less bokeh: the isolation of the subject from the background. 

The f-number of an optical system such as a camera lens is the ratio of the system’s focal length to the diameter of the entrance pupil. It is a dimensionless number that is a quantitative measure of lens speed, and an important concept in photography. It is also known as the focal ratiof-ratiof-stop, or relative aperture. The f-number is commonly indicated using a hooked f with the format f/N, where N is the f-number.

A lens with a greater f-number projects darker images. The brightness of the projected image (illuminance) relative to the brightness of the scene in the lens’s field of view (luminance) decreases with the square of the f-number. 

Depth of field increases with f-number, as illustrated in the image here. This means that photographs taken with a low f-number (large aperture) will tend to have subjects at one distance in focus, with the rest of the image (nearer and farther elements) out of focus. This is frequently used for nature photography and portraiture because background blur (the aesthetic quality of which is known as ‘bokeh‘) can be aesthetically pleasing and puts the viewer’s focus on the main subject in the foreground.

Comparison of f/32 (top-left corner) and f/5 (bottom-right corner)

Shallow focus with a wide open lens

Image sharpness is related to f/number through two different optical effects: aberration, due to imperfect lens design, and diffraction which is due to the wave nature of light.The f-number of the human eye varies from about f/8.3 in a very brightly lit place to about f/2.1 in the dark. 

In optics, an aperture is a hole or an opening through which light travels. More specifically, the aperture and focal length of an optical system determine the cone angle of a bundle of rays that come to a focus in the image plane.If an aperture is narrow, then highly collimated rays are admitted, resulting in a sharp focus at the image plane. 

A device called a diaphragm usually serves as the aperture stop, and controls the aperture. The diaphragm functions much like the iris of the eye – it controls the effective diameter of the lens opening. Reducing the aperture size increases the depth of field.

When it comes to photography, aperture and f number are more important than the mega pixels the companies advertise. Whatever the no. of pixels a camera boasts, image clarity depends mainly on aperture and f number completely.So the next time you choose which smartphone best suits your taste when it comes to photography, look at the full specs of the device and head directly to the f-value.

Samsung Galaxy S8 Rumors

When was the last time the smartphone market saw a real game-changer as far as features and functionality are concerned? The bad news is that we shouldn’t expect very much from smartphone makers in 2017 either but, we might see some cool new augmented reality features from Apple’s iPhone 8 and other flagships later this year.

We might see big changes in the smartphone market as far as handset design is concerned. LG’s G6, Apple’s iPhone 8, and the upcoming Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+ flagship phones from Samsung will inch closer to making the all-screen smartphones of the future a reality, and new a new series of leaks show us just how impressive Samsung’s new Galaxy S8 really is.

 photo from Instagram user “minu_home” that shows glass faces from the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+ in between a new LG G6 and last year’s Galaxy S7 edge.

miu home

Samsung has ditched the oblong home button from beneath the screen and reworked all of the components inside the phones. As a result, Samsung was able to cram incredibly large Super AMOLED displays into remarkably compact devices.

The latest leaks point to a 4K screen, a mini projector, 6GB of RAM, a 30MP camera, an enormous battery and a supercharged processor. There’s even a chance that the Samsung Galaxy S8 will have an iris scanner or a foldable screen, though the latter is somewhat less likely.

QHD, as we have on the Samsung Galaxy S7, is more than sharp enough for using it as a phone, but it’s not quite up to scratch for VR, so it’s likely Samsung will push the resolution up for the Samsung Galaxy S8, perhaps as high as 4K.

n fact, the company has already shown off a 5.5-inch 2160 x 3840 screen, which comes in at a pin sharp 806 pixels per inch. There’s no guarantee the Samsung Galaxy S8 will get this screen, but it’s clearly been designed for premium mobile devices and phones don’t get much more premium than the S8. We’ve also heard rumors from Weibo that the Samsung Galaxy S8 could have a 5.2-inch 2160 x 4096 screen.

Samsung is said to be working on a new camera , which will be between 18 and 24MP and have a wide f/1.4 aperture, where the Samsung Galaxy S7 has a narrower f/1.7 one. That extra width could allow more light in and the jump in megapixel count could allow for more detailed images, though while Samsung is apparently working on this camera it hasn’t been specifically linked to the Galaxy S8 yet.

A rumor has popped up again , with a Weibo poster claiming that one lens will be 12MP, while the other is 13MP and that lens-crafting duties will be split between Samsung and Sony. The front facing camera could also be in for a change, with the same Weibo source claiming that the Galaxy S8 will have an 8MP camera on the front, up from 5MP on the Galaxy S7.

On the other hand, another Weibo poster claims the S8 will have a 30MP rear camera with optical image stabilization and a 9MP front-facing one, but we’d be surprised if Samsung pushed the rear camera’s megapixel count up that high.

The only battery rumor so far suggests the Galaxy S8 will have a huge 4200mAh juice pack with support for both wireless and fast charging. We’re not convinced Samsung will squeeze a battery that big in, but hopefully the company won’t reverse the good work it’s done on the S7, which has better life than the S6 before it.

Galaxy S8 could have a 3.2GHz octa-core Snapdragon processor, which certainly sounds fast. That said, Samsung also makes its own Exynos chips and with the Galaxy S7 some regions got those and others got the Snapdragon 820, so the same is likely to happen with the Galaxy S8. More specifically, the US will probably get a Snapdragon chip, while most of the rest of the world will likely get an Exynos one.

Samsung’s polished the Galaxy S7 to within an inch of its life, so for the Galaxy S8 to stand out it needs a feature to shout about. Perhaps an iris scanner, or a projector, or maybe something so new it’s not even been thought up yet.












Looking for a Strategic Buyer interested in Wine app

Global wine market is unique in many respects.

A. While it is a USD 200 billion dollar plus market annually, there is no dominant brand or brands leading to ‘long tail’ brand-wise sales with some small spikes.

B. Wine is one of the only growing sectors in the alcoholic beverages market, with over 50 countries producing wines. Women consumers are a growing segment of the market with the USA having 55% wine drinkers as women.

C. There are about a million different variants of wine – based on varietal (grape/blend), country, region and vintage. This creates confusion in the minds of consumers as to what to buy.

D. Merchants are also unsure about what to stock, given the number of wines on offer, leading to many wines being on sale due to inventory buildup.

E. Most wine producers are small establishments with wine making know-how but low funds, marketing reach and consumer knowledge for selling into different markets and demographics.

F. Globally most wine is purchased in a store rather than online or in restaurants/bars. Even the biggest wine market USA has 85% wine purchase in stores while its even higher in other countries.

G. Wine drinkers are also the most social of the alcoholic beverage consumers and exchange opinions and experiences with fellow drinkers.

The wine market is ripe for social and data driven technology solutions for greater efficiencies in the system – right from wine producers to wine consumers.

We have attempted to bring some order to this business via a social commerce wine platform with a roadmap for a bigger play in the global wine market. Over the past 3+ years, we have developed software – in the form of a Consumer app running on Google Play and Apple App stores and on HTML5 web browsers as well as in-store Merchant Kiosk app running on dedicated tablets in wine stores.

The USA is still the world’s biggest wine market but the fastest growing markets are China and other parts of the world. Our database has top selling wines in the leading USA wine consumption regions, Singapore, Australia, India etc.

The promoters of this app owing to changed priorities are looking to sell the software on an as-is where-is basis along with a product and market roadmap to entrepreneurs who can storm the markets in China and elsewhere. A handover period of up to 3 months with specific feature addition and task completion are additionally available as part of this acquisition to enable to enable easier transition for the acquiring company.

The key features of the app suite are below and more details are available on interest.

If you are interested, please write to us at to take this further.

Key Features

The consumer product suite is a social wine app and website with commerce features meant for casual wine drinkers everywhere.

It helps users to find most popular wines meeting their preferences and budget in a store or online, using the unique text chat searches feature or the GUI version of this. The chat and GUI search are designed to help lay users search for wines the way they think viz. “USA, California, Chardonnay, Fruity, 20” so they get a set of most popular matching wines rather than only one wine to choose from. This is unlike other search options which show only one wine at a time using name or label. Matching wines are ordered in descending order of peer votes across the system. Nearby merchant stores with their offers are automatically shown during wine results, if required permissions are set by the user. It also allows a user to search by its name or part of it as well. The label image search logic and GUI are ready and tested with an image search engine so can be quickly implemented.

User’s wine actions are: Vote Up or Down, add to Wish list, Cellar and Shopping List, Recommend to followers, Share with social network. Using camera action, user can share a wine label image with vote and review to his own app profile, social networks in FB, Twitter etc as well as by email and messenger. The cumulative number of Votes and other counts help users make purchase decisions. The user can see little or more detail on wine from Wine Summary and Detail respectively. He can also see offers/deals from registered wine merchants and to find suitable merchants, both offline and online, and see their wine catalogs.

Its social features include people search, follow, and invite friends to the app from social, email and messenger networks. *Groups and events can be implemented quickly as there is existing software for an earlier version and latest GUI’s for them. Wine results can be seen across the entire system or only within My Network. Notifications show My Network’s wine and other actions since last login. User Profile shows all past wine and people actions. Permissions can be set at a granular level for each activity as Share or Private viz. Votes, Wishlist, Purchases, and Cellar etc. The IdeaXchange Q&A forum allows users ask to wine related queries to the entire network of app users and has suggested topics like Wine Buying, Storage and Handling; Food and Wine, etc which can be added or changed by administrator.

Currently the database has top selling wines in California, New York, Florida, New Jersey; Singapore, India, Australia with more wines being added daily.

The in-store merchant app is a new initiative which allows walk-in customers to use a tablet available in the store (currently provided by us) with a dedicated version of the wine app to allow them to search for wines only within merchant’s catalog based on GUI criteria (as above) to easily find wines to buy. This app module is globally unique and has an exciting feature roadmap to make it a worldwide success.