Social Network and Blockchain. Control in User’s hands.

blockchain

The Blockchain is a technology in continuous evolution, which never ceases to amaze for its endless applications.

What made it known to the general public was the birth and global spread of cryptocurrencies. Unfortunately, due to the lack of confidence in the reliability of this economic system, the Blockchain has not had an easy life in its affirmation process as a technology of the future.

But things are slowly changing.

Not long ago, Carrefour supermarkets implemented a Blockchain structure in its production chain to guarantee the quality of its products. A simple and intelligent way to bring the Blockchain closer to people's daily lives, stimulating their interest and increasing confidence in the system.

Today, another trend is taking shape, aiming to involve people more and more in this technology: the use of the Blockchain within social networks. The distributed database is used both to guarantee the security of users' data and to enable secure in-app virtual payments without banking intermediaries.

The most emblematic case of this trend, which caused a stir in public opinion, was the announcement by Mark Zuckerberg of the creation of a Facebook cryptocurrency, called Libra, to allow users to pay and exchange money.

The announcement immediately created fibrillation between the institutions, banking, and state, concerned about the stability of the international financial system and the protection of user privacy.

The risk of seeing the traditional banking system collapse from the ground up, or the danger of a reduction in tax revenues to which governments could meet, has immediately undermined the "legality" of Libra. Moreover, Facebook and its partners, having the opportunity to learn about users' purchasing behavior for profiling purposes, risk to endanger freedom and individual privacy.

The path to get to the launch of the cryptocurrency, announced for mid-2020, was therefore more difficult than expected, partly because some of the sponsors of the initiative, such as Paypal, Mastercard, and Visa (which had to guarantee the reliability of the project) had left the association, motivating the decision with a lack of certainty about its real application possibilities.

Yet it is not so much the idea of a "cryptoclaimed" social network that is badly viewed, but the size of the operation itself.

In fact, there are already tools that work in the same way.

An excellent example of this is All.me: an application based on the meToken cryptocurrency, launched in 2016 and counting more than 500 thousand users today.

How does a social network with blockchain solution work?

All.me is a single platform that includes some of the most interesting features of the Digital, namely, the creation of social networks, the possibility to earn from its own content, the sale and purchase of peer-to-peer and the exchange of digital currency. All these features are integrated into a single app.

Each component is linked to the others and integrated within the system to make everything safe and reliable. All.me is divided into five modules:

  • Social network (meNetwork) - Platform for sharing information between users.
  • Marketplace (meMarket) - C2C and B2C sales platform.
  • Payment Service (mePay) - The native cryptocurrency-based payment system.
  • Wallet Service (meWallet) - Area for the control of transactions and their balance.
  • Cryptocurrency (meToken) - The native cryptocurrency of the system.

One of the most important features of the platform is the full control of data by customers. They are encouraged to create quality content, receiving in exchange meToken that can be used to buy products on the Market.

The Blockchain for the decentralization of responsibility and ownership of tools, as happens in All.me, is the future of many fields, especially social media.

With these premises, a central organization will no longer be necessary to play the role of a controller who, with the users' data, ends up earning by profiling members.

This transformation offers a huge advantage to the people who decide to participate, as they end up actively contributing to the development of the product and controlling its value.

On social media, where many users feel exploited by organizations, this is a strength that can make a difference today and in the future.

Image by Gordon Johnson from Pixabay

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2019 was a year full of satisfactions for Neosperience

Quotazione 2019

In this article, we will try to synthesize 12 intense but rewarding months.

2019 was a year full of satisfactions for NeosperienceOur best expectations have finally taken shape, transporting us into a new universe of growth and infinite possibilities. 

First and foremost, we also want to remember our journey towards listing on Aim Italia, which, once achieved, has allowed us to give visibility and prestige to what this company represents, also from a human point of view; "Empathy in Technology" is the claim that guides us every day, reminding us that our mission is unique in the market.

Obviously, this substantial development has changed the way we do business.

If before we were responsible only to ourselves, today we must give value to all the shareholders who support us and believe in our project. It’s not a simple task, and we face it with high awareness and confidence in what we do.

After the listing, we decided it was time to grow.

For this reason, we have opened our first office outside the country, in Seattle, USA, and we have decided to join forces with Somos, Mikamai, Jack Magma, LinkMe, and Value China, to build together a promising future based on collaboration among all our expertise.

From the working point of view, satisfactions were not lacking.

We found new companions of adventures, such as Borgo Egnazia, with whom and for which we gave shape to our cutting-edge Solutions. With great joy, we have also continued to work with our historic clients, who every day demonstrate their confidence in our quality level.

About our Solutions, how can we forget the launch of the two most innovative ones: Image Memorability, to give scientific validity to the memorability of images, and People Analytics, for in-store flows control. They have revolutionized the current panorama of technological proposals for business.

We would also like to mention the awards we have earned during the year, such as the victory in the international competition for the regeneration of the Villa Reale di Monza, and to be counted by Gartner as one of the six best software vendors for 2020 in the Customer Analytics market.

Finally, we would like to thank all of our employees, those who stayed with us and those who decided to join our project. Without your support and commitment, this would have been impossible.

What will the Neosperience 2020 reserve for us?

Many things are already planned and we will soon update you on the next news. What we already know and can communicate to you, is our confidence in the future that awaits us. During the upcoming year, we will continue to believe in our abilities and possibilities to grow in an empathic way, respecting people.

 

Neosperience Tourism Cloud, China and digital tourism in Italy

Chinese Tourists

Tourism is a decisive voice for the health of Italian Economy. According to the estimates, expenditure for the year 2019 will be approximately 112.4 billion euros, up between 6% and 13% compared to 2018.

The greatest increase was in the Asian market, especially the Chinese one, with more than 20% attendance and one and a half billion euros spending. 

The creation of the Silk Road (OBOR) and the visit of President Xi Jinping's in Italy have certainly helped the Bel Paese to improve its reputation in the Far East.

What are the average Chinese tourist characteristics?

Tourists from China have some well-defined characteristics. First of all, they are very demanding, both in terms of services and contents. They are high-spending, young (60% between 20 and 45 years), with a male majority (60%), love the cities of art and willingly buy luxury products, especially clothing.

However, what unites every Chinese visitor is the tendency to use digital tools during the booking phase and when purchasing on the Italian territory.

The use of cash in China, in fact, is rapidly decreasing, while the use of mobile payment instruments such as Alipay and WeChat Pay is on the rise. Just to make a comparison, these two instruments have a billion and four hundred thousand monthly active users in total, while Apple Pay, globally, counts 127 million.

It seems clear that, if you want to attract Chinese visitors and stimulate their spending, the implementation of payment methods with these tools must become essential.

As for reservations, the subject is very similar; being strictly mobile people, Chinese users proceed to search for information through online platforms or applications, such as the above-mentioned WeChat.

In the future, a double-digit growth in visitors from China is expected. Today the Italian hospitality facilities must adapt to a market that is profoundly different from the Italian one.

To support this process, Neosperience has decided to develop the Neosperience Tourism Cloud, a platform for customizing and digitizing the tourist experience.

How does the Neosperience Tourism Cloud work?

It is divided in three distinct but complementary components. The first one, specific for customer acquisition, consists of a psychographics traits construction of the audience, through personal data recovery. The goal? To understand their deepest desires and suggest an ideal journey.

How are these data recovered?

Through the other two components: the NeosVoc platform (a tool for the Voice of Customer that uses intelligent, real-time questionnaires to manage, assist and advise tourists throughout their journey), and the Customer Data Platform Unbreakable Community, always enhanced by AI tools, to integrate all the data coming from different softwares and reconstruct the client's history, in order to predict his future behavior.

What does the tourist gain?

A unique and personalized experience designed on his needs and desires. Today, the customer needs to feel "central", and no longer just a guest, but a citizen of the world; from this point of view, it is important to offer real experiences.

And the tour operator?

Greater customer satisfaction automatically leads to better economic results. Online loyalty and word of mouth are the keys to succeed in the digital market. The possibility, thanks to digital tools, to reach market segments that are very distant both in terms of interest and geographic positioning should not be underestimated.

Neosperience for the Chinese market.

To meet the Chinese audience, we decided to welcome Value China in our family: an innovative startup and entrepreneurial reality, which has set itself the goal of facilitating the entry of Italian companies into the Chinese market and vice versa.

At the moment, the focus of its activities is on tourism. An example of what Value China can make with the right tools was the presentation, occurred during the 2nd edition of the International Congress for Cooperation between Chinese Local Governments and Italian Local Governments in the Chinese city of Chengdu, of a new mini-app that allows Chinese tourists in Italy to book and pay taxis via Alipay and WeChat Pay, thanks to the collaboration with the AppTaxy service.

The news was presented by Dr. Carlo Capria, President of the Council of Ministers - Department for the Promotion and Coordination of Economic Policy - and by Dr. Maria Moreni, President of the Italy China Link association.

Today, the growth of tourism in Italy passes through the digital and the Chinese market.

Neosperience has secured, through the Neosperience Tourism Cloud and Value China, a predominant role in the future of this field, to stimulate demand and services offer, beside products that are consistent with the latest technological innovations.

Photo by Amanda Dalbjörn on Unsplash

 

AI and Photography; beauty lies in the programmers’ eyes

Can AI and Photography work together?

A few weeks ago, in our article “Music and Artificial Intelligence”, we talked about how technology is modifying the music industry.

We stressed the non-dangerousness of this phenomenon, provided that the application of Artificial Intelligence is carried out with responsibility of all the actors involved.

This speech can also be translated into the relationship between AI and Photography, with the required differences.

There are two cases, opposite in terms of aesthetic and ethical quality, to be taken as an example of the role played by technology in the photography field: the "Dreams of New York" project and the development, in the Machine Learning world, of the GANs technique.

The first one is an artistic project created by Tanner Woodbury and Nikolos Killian, two American designers. While wandering in the streets of New York at the slow pace of Google Street View, they noticed the beauty of some sights of the city.

And that’s why they decided to carry out a photographic project, taking up and turning those “amateur” shots into black and white. They made an exhibition, with an artbook that quickly went sold-out.

The technological tool suddenly became an involuntary art photographer. The role of the American copyright legislation was crucial for the success of the project because, if it is a machine that takes the picture, then the intellectual property belongs to everyone.

On the other hand, GANs’ case was a whole other story.

The acronym stands for Generative Adversarial Networks and indicates a Machine Learning technology invented only in 2014.

Its processes are very simple; there are two neural networks, a generative one and a discriminative opponent. The first one has the task to take data and modify them.

The latter analyzes the results produced by its twin to check if the are within the truthfulness parameters set by the programmer are respected. 

Let's take a practical example: GANs has to analyze a database of thousands of people's faces. The generative neural network has the task to create the image of a completely new face, while the opposing neural network has to find out whether the image created by its companion is real or not. Each image is a battle between the two networks; one wins and the other one loses. The system obviously learns from the outcome of the process.

After a few years of testing, today there are GANs that are able to "imagine" and create faces that are so credible as to be unrecognizable both to the opposing network and to the human eye.

As for Deep Fake, the risk is to see these tools falling into the wrong hands, and perhaps damaging the community by creating non-existent people. Moreover, Copyright allows everyone to use the images of the GANs for their own purposes, precisely because they are created by machines, not by people.

A more philosophical question persists.

Photography is the instrument, maybe the most centered, to tell the story of humanity and reality. If you use it to generate something that does not exist, then a contradiction is created.

Broadly speaking, it is the same critical issue that emerged with the spread of Photoshop, but made more acute by the central role of the machine in the falsification process.

In this case, as well as in similar situations, the problem is not due to technology, but to those who hide behind it. In fact, the GANs had originally been conceived by its creator, Ian Goodfellow, to make large amounts of data available to small researchers and specialized centers, to make AI training more sustainable.

For example, the GANs can create, using a limited database of images, new original elements with which artificial intelligence can be trained, eliminating the cost of retrieving photographs.

Ergo: a tool for the democratization of technology and creativity.

GANs was then used in an extremely creative way, conceptually overcoming its natural purpose. For example, in unique artistic projects such as the "artificial" design of a painting that was sold at an auction for 432 thousand euros.

At the same time, some artists such as the English Anna Ridler, have used GANs in their works and performances; to be mentioned, the short film Fall of the House of Usher, in which design becomes plastic art conceived and composed by the machine.

If we wanted to define the different uses of the GANs, we should distinguish between two intents: creative and "astute". The mentality and objectives of those behind the computer, rather than behind the camera, decide the truthfulness and the ethics of the results. Photography is a science, and today, in the era of numbers, it is more evident than ever.

Photo by Rayan Almuslem on Unsplash

RealDreams: how technology meets art

villa reale di monza

An Idea.

In September, we got back to our desks. The screensaver, usually showing beautiful landscapes, had become a sad memory of the Summer that was over. We got back to reality, but our eyes were still dreamy. 

With this spirit, in the middle of our tasks and deadlines, we came across the announcement of an ideas contest to revive the Villa Reale di Monza. Why not proofing the Neosperience technology’s intrinsic value to some of the most important institutional subjects, but above all, to ourselves? 

Therefore, we created a young and dynamic team with heterogeneous expertise, able to extract a rare gem from a turbulent creative storm.

During one of those fast meetings, we shaped a question, as simple as it is important: why would anyone visit the Villa if there is a public park where to go?

A Project.

Our answer to this question was a 360° project, able to redesign the map of interest of the Villa Reale, placing it at the center of an ambitious enhancement scenario: RealDreams, where history and innovation coexist in the Villa of tomorrow.

The application in Augmented Reality +Reale has been designed to allow an organic visit of every space of the complex, with a strong focus on personalized itineraries, based on the preferences and attitudes of the visitor.

The Gamification dynamics and the virtual Ciceroni were designed to better engage the visitor through customized quizzes and games based on the age and profile of the user. To be specific, we made a mashup of Reality Plus, Nudging Gamification, Skinnable App, and Unbreakable Community Solutions.

After this first step, everything fell into place, and new features became part of the organic plan of the project. 

For example, the idea of ​​creating the FAAR (Future Artist in Augmented Rooms), a permanent art exhibition that investigates the relationship between art and new technologies, to create an innovative cultural offer, useful to convince visitors to enter the Villa.

At the same time, every aspect of the proposal has been developed in line with the principles of economic sustainability and integration with the pre-existing socio-cultural fabric.

In fact, the core of the success of this idea was to transform the "Nanni Valentini" state art high school into a center of excellence for the application of new technologies to art and design.

Finally, we thought of two additional tools to engage the community: the creation of the Collaboratori Reali(CoRe) network, which will help the managers in the operational management of the Villa, and the establishment of the Amici Reale, who will financially support the complex in exchange for advantages and rewards, thus creating a virtuous circle.

Download the complete project!

RealDreams. How technology meets art.

Stefano Boeri, president of Triennale Milano, during the awards ceremony told the audience about how the Digital, with its innovative technologies, can add value not only to the world of architecture, but also, and above all, to arts and culture.

A further demonstration of the fact that Neosperience, besides being an innovative software vendor, is also the home of many creative minds, today more than ever essential to stand out in a world where data are fundamental, but they are not enough anymore.

RealDreams video on Vimeo. Enjoy it!

 

Neosperience Reality Plus - Realdreams

This is "Neosperience Reality Plus - Realdreams" by Neosperience on Vimeo, the home for high quality videos and the people who love them.

What is Psychographics? An overview and the User Insight practical case

What is Psychographics?

It is the study of the individual based on his interests, personality, and habits. It is the natural evolution of profiling through socio-demographic, geographical and behavioral data.

Psychographics is not a recent field of study: as a branch of psychology, it was developed and applied to marketing and traditional research (focus groups, market research, etc.).

However, it was through digital technology that it developed its full potential.

By analyzing user behaviors on social media, E-Commerces and any "virtual" environment, Psychographics is now able to profile users in a way that was unthinkable just a few years ago.

Its goal is to understand individual characteristics such as emotions, values​​, and attitudes, as well as a whole other set of psychological factors.

All these data provide precious insights about the motivations behind people's behavior, for example, why they buy a specific product, or support a certain cause, or vote for a particular political candidate.

We all heard about the sadly known Cambridge Analytica accident. The researchers and marketers involved were able to boost numerous political campaigns thanks to illegally retrieved psychographic data from people's social profiles.

The method they used was to divide the subjects into five macro-clusters, based on whether they showed presented or not one of the following psychological traits, namely:

Openness: this trait indicates how open-minded a person is. A person with a high level of openness is curious, creative and open to change.

Consciousness: a person who shows a high level of consciousness is responsible, sets long-term goals and does not act impulsively.

Extroversion: the subjects characterized by this trait love to have fun with people and live in social environments. They are also enthusiastic, but often let themselves be guided by others. They also love being in the center of attention.

Agreeableness: a person with high levels of agreeableness is usually friendly, kind and diplomatic. He also shows optimism and tend to trust the others. 

Emotional stability (or its negative counterpart, Neuroticism): a person with a high level of emotional stability who tends to easily experience positive emotions.

This model, which you can find outlined below, is known as OCEAN (the first letters of the psychographic categories), or BigFive.

How does this model apply to marketing?

Through Psychographics, it is possible to understand the fundamental individual characteristics of your customers, in order to collect useful guidelines on how to communicate and create one-to-one messages. 

Let's make an example. A company that works in the energy market needs to communicate a promotional offer to its public, but first it decides to cluster it with the OCEAN psychographic model.

How would individual communication change?

If the customer shows a strong affinity to the Openness cluster, he will receive a graphically creative banner that offers the possibility to customize the energy contract according to his needs.

Elseways, if the customer belongs to the Extroversion cluster, he will be told that the offer has been appreciated by many people, giving him the possibility to receive a discount if the customer brings a friend.

Given the power that this method makes available to companies, the market has been subject to strict regulations. What Cambridge Analytica did just a few years ago would be impossible to accomplish today. In recent years, alternative tools have been developed, fully compliant with GDPR, which allows companies to acquire the same type of information and to use them - this time - for the benefit of people.

This is why Neosperience has created User Insight, a tool that uses the latest Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning and Advanced Analytics technologies to allow companies to learn about the psychographic traits of customers, thanks to the analysis of their browsing behaviors.

In a market where the personalization of the offer has become the key of success of commercial proposals, understanding the needs and desires of each customer in full respect of its privacy becomes an essential factor.

The future belongs to those who will be able to use new technologies to constantly improve customer experience, progressively reducing the "gaps" between physical and digital worlds. At Neosperience, we believe that this can be possible, and we work to give substance to a technology that allows companies to be more and more empathic and closer to their customers.

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

 

Music and Artificial Intelligence. Please don’t shoot the piano player

 

Artificial Intelligence is becoming increasingly widespread, even in unexpected areas. Until a few years ago it was thought that its use would be limited to industrial production, repetitive tasks and, in general, jobs that do not enrich the human spirit. Today this assumption is no longer valid. Now AI is also an artist.

Painting, sculpture, poetry, photography, cinema; there is no artistic field in which Artificial Intelligence has not been applied at least once, often with surprising results.

The musical field is most involved in this revolution of creativity, probably because music, after all, is an art that lives on mathematics and physics, therefore predisposed to the influence of algorithms, codes, and data.

The latest album publications, soundtracks and songs by artists or companies that have used some tools based on Artificial Intelligence have terrorized the music market. According to the experts, today the sector risks a profound revolution (if not destruction). But is it so? In other words, is it right or not to shoot the..."artificial" piano player? 

 

How does the application of artificial intelligence to music work?

We can simply say that, in order to learn, AI is fed thousands and thousands of songs through neural networks (mathematical models that imitate biological neural networks) that work through machine learning, and in particular through deep learning (a sub-category of ML that is also able to infer meanings without human supervision). These pieces are fragmented and studied, and the machine manages to extract the basic information and can recognize the patterns it can use to create original works, similar to those that any artist could compose.

 

Everything depends on the use made of it, and how it sounds…

If the learning process is similar for any system based on machine learning, there are however two different applications of AI for music: Flow Machines by Sony and Magenta by Google, for example, are placed at two extremes.

The first is not a creative Artificial Intelligence, or at least not in the sense in which we assume the term; it merely facilitates the artist's work, allowing the person to free their creativity, stimulating it with suggestions and ideas based on their preferences and attitudes.

Magenta, on the other hand, is a true artificial composer that, depending on the inputs provided to it, independently manages to create an original track. The quality of the composition is still not pleasing from many points of view, but technological innovation is growing exponentially and so are its results.

These are not the only two tools available at the moment; among others, we can mention AIVA, MuseNet of OpenAI, Amper and Jukedeck. Everyone is specialized in some features and functionalities. What they have in common is the fact that they have attracted the attention of media and investors.

If we also consider the recommendation algorithms of streaming platforms like Spotify or Apple Music, or all the applications of AI in the field of editing tools, it is clear that the penetration of this technology in the musical field is more advanced than we might believe.

 

But what are the possible consequences of a macro-spread?

At least in the short term, there should be no substantial change in the way we listen to or choose our music.

Some "artificial" songs and albums, like "I AM AI" by Taryn Southern, sung by the performer but composed, played and produced by the open-source software Amper, will continue to come out and will surely get a good commercial success, but they will be exceptions, and probably they will be appreciated for their innovativeness and not for their intrinsic quality.

Over time, however, things will change. A sign of this evolution is Jukedeck's acquisition, which we mentioned earlier as one of the best intelligent music composition tools, by TikTok, one of the most successful social networks of the last period and especially loved by the new generations.

Imagine what could come of this marriage. Maybe we will have the opportunity, once registered on that social network, to create our song, helped by an evolved AI, and to sing it and share it with friends. 

This way, it would be possible to break down the barrier, impassable for most of people, of learning a musical instrument.

 

Every subscriber could become a singer, a musician, and maybe a music influencer.

This story is the fruit of our imagination, no matter how beautiful or frightening it may be. Things are undoubtedly changing, and music is facing many transformations stimulated by technological innovation (augmented reality concerts, artists who are no longer alive returning to sing in the form of holograms, bitcoins to buy songs and albums directly from singers...and so on).

Ultimately, to answer the question that we asked ourselves in the beginning: is it right or not to shoot the "artificial" piano player? 

Well, there is one thing that is always true: blocking innovation is counterproductive. The goal is to be able to guide it on the right path, to allow a gentle transformation for artists and experts and not damage anyone.

Artificial intelligence is born as a tool to enable or facilitate human activities. In this case, if we know how to use it properly, it could stimulate people's creativity, finally giving shape to art for everyone.

Photo by bady qb on Unsplash