- Developers Seek N500m for Blind People’s App
App developers at the Co-creation Hub in Yaba, Lagos, are seeking funding of about N500m to recreate Aipoly in Nigeria, a smartphone app that helps visually impaired persons identify people and things in their environment.
Should the recreation come through, they told our correspondent that they would be able to download and administer it on smartphones of interested Nigerians from a central system.
Those behind the project, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said plans had been concluded to meet the two entrepreneurs and Australian engineers who created the app – Alberto Rizzoli and Simon Edwardsson.
“We decided to do this because we realised that more Nigerians are getting blind by the day and except MTN, through its blind foundation project, no other telecommunications firm or smartphone manufacturer has come up with innovations that could help blind Nigerians, other than just making profits. The Nigerian Communications Commission is completely out of it,” said one of the app developers.
He said, “The whole idea is to give blind Nigerians a sense of belonging in the world of global communication that is fast evolving. For the fact that they are blind doesn’t mean they should be excluded from leveraging modern technology with ease and not bothering anyone for assistance.”
According to him, four Nigerians are investing in the project, saying, “We are still seeking more funding because we will need about N500m to make this reality.”
He added, “Two of us would be off to Australia anytime soon to meet with Rizzoli and Simon (Edwardsson) and conclude discussions with them. We drew inspiration from Cobhams Asuquo, the Nigerian musician and producer, who despite being blind for many years, has written and produced many songs for Nigerian artistes. He has led a normal life like every other person, unnoticed.”
Another app developer, who simply called himself Smart, said, “Aipoly was originally created in 2015, and it uses Artificial Intelligence to scan an item’s shape and patterns – after which it relays the information to the user.”
Smart said, “It recognises 1,000 everyday things without an Internet connection, including objects, animals and colours.
“Aipoly Vision is an object and colour recogniser that helps the blind, visually impaired, and colour blind understand their surroundings. Simply point your phone at the object of interest and press any of the recognition buttons at the bottom of the screen to turn on the artificial intelligence.”
He added, “Now that Artificial Intelligence and robotics is gaining so much grounds here, we are definitely going to maximise the opportunities. Aipoly speaks out loud what it sees; and recognises thousands of things in real time.”
Meanwhile, MTN recently said it was building “a robust distribution platform to enable the vast majority of Nigerians to access locally-relevant mobile software applications at a zero data cost.”
A former Chief Marketing Officer at MTN, Mr. Adebayo Adekanmbi, had said the rationale behind the initiative was to get more apps in the hands of Nigerians.
“We have organised all Nigerian-centric apps in a portal and through our special gateway Nigerians can access digital content at no cost. We are making it open for all developers in the country to join MTN by bringing the APK for their apps so that we can put it in the hands of Nigerians,” he said.
Market observers said that Nigerians had indeed succeeded in building problem-solving and life-enhancing mobile apps.
Some of the prevailing concerns being addressed by these apps are traffic, healthcare, education, transportation, e-commerce, tourism and hospitality related issues.
According to them, the huge strides being recorded in mobile applications development is going unnoticed because Nigerians are unable to quickly find relevant apps, without the distractions of applications that are only useful to people in North America and Europe.
“Every Nigerian can now download any app relevant to them free of charge for the next month,” Adekanmbi added.
Flutterwave Introduces Flutterwave Market, A New E-Commerce Service To Scale SMEs Growth
Africa’s leading payment company, Flutterwave recently announced the launch of its new e-commerce service, Flutterwave Market. The newly launched e-commerce service is “an extension of its Flutterwave Store service – that will bring together a collection of merchant stores in one place”.
Flutterwave market was launched with the goal of helping merchants increase their sales and revenue, and also onboard new customers. This new development will enable customers to have a seamless shopping experience from a wide range of different products and services offered by merchants on the Flutterwave store.
According to the payment company, “the Flutterwave Market will display Flutterwave stores across various product categories and countries. It will include features such as product search, category display and country filter to help enhance the shopping experience.
“The solution will display product categories such as men and women’s fashion, beauty, and food—in line with the preferences of most shoppers on Flutterwave Store. Shoppers will be able to order products and have the products delivered at their preferred locations”.
Flutterwave store was launched at the peak of COVID-19 in April 2020, to help small businesses set up online shops following the nationwide lockdown. Since its launch, the online store has seen over 30,000 businesses registered on its portal and also added features like discount codes and multiple product uploads.
Olugbenga ‘GB’ Agboola, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Flutterwave said, “This is an exciting next chapter for the Flutterwave brand, and we’re excited to introduce this new marketplace experience to our merchants worldwide, Flutterwave Market is a fully functional e-commerce service that serves as a megastore where buyers can purchase a variety of goods from multiple sellers under one roof.”
GB continued: “Since the successful launch of Flutterwave Store, we have listened to our customers and acted on what they need to scale their businesses. Launching the new marketplace will transform their business, taking it to the next stage of growth. Flutterwave Market is for us a way to create endless possibilities for our Flutterwave Store users. We’re not merely aggregating existing stores, we’re positioning them to make more sales.”
Recent data from Statista shows that as of 2020, the number of digital buyers in Africa experienced an increase to 281 million. The number of e-commerce users in the continent is also estimated to grow significantly, reaching over 334 million in 2021. By 2025, they could be roughly 520 million, almost doubling the number in 2019.
Nissan to Invest Over $17 Billion in Electric Vehicle Development
Japanese automobile company Nissan will be investing 2 trillion Yen (about $17.6 billion) while developing new electric vehicles as well as battery technology. This investment will take place over the space of five years, and is part of a huge plan referred to as “Ambition 2030.”
The company plans to release a total of 15 electric vehicles by 2030, having electrified vehicles make up half of the company’s entire automobile lineup. The automobile company has stated that it will be producing 23 electrified vehicles over the next eight years, with 20 of those 23 coming in the next five years.
The company has its sights set on a market mix of 75 percent electrified vehicles in Europe, 55 percent in Japan and 40 percent in China and the United States by 2030.
The other part of that market mix would supposedly be Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) vehicles. It should be emphasized that Nissan had stated earlier in 2021 that the company planned to electrify every new vehicle that is launched in the early 2030s. In the plan, any Internal Combustion Engine vehicles available by the time would be classified as legacy models.
By 2028, Nissan will release electrified vehicles with all-solid-state batteries (ASSB) and will have had a pilot plant established in Yokohama by 2024. That particular technology boasts of advancements such as reduced periods of charging, but has not hit the market as it has been expected to.
It is also in the company’s plans to reduce the cost of battery packs to $75 per kWh (kilowatt-hour) by 2028, while also planning to reduce the cost to $68 per kWh further down the road. According to Bloomberg, that would be about half of what batteries for electrified vehicles cost as at last year. The company also hopes to be producing batteries of 130 gWh (gigawatt hours).
Nissan has also revealed four concept cars: Chill-Out, Surf-Out, Hang-Out and Max-Out. These four concepts are to give a glimpse of Nissan’s future tech with self-driving features.
WhatsApp to Introduce New Features
WhatsApp may soon be introducing new features and the features are rumoured to be launching next year, Sky News has said.
According to the news platform, the first of the new features include Instagram Reels. Although, weeks back, WhatsApp watchers, WABetaInfo, had said that WhatsApp could one day feature Instagram Reels.
“It is thought that Reels would have a dedicated space on the WhatsApp app. This could be part of Meta’s plan to merge all the big social networking apps that it owns.” The WhatsApp watcher once said.
It is also believed that no time limit on the ‘delete for everyone’ button is one of the features that is expected to be added.
One common complaint about WhatsApp is that you only get a certain amount of time to delete a message in a chat for everyone. After 68 minutes and 16 seconds, your message will be there forever and you can only delete it for yourself. This is set to change very soon.
On the other hand, there are claims that WhatsApp is working on a logout feature. The feature would be in keeping with the multi-device update as you could log out on one device but remain logged in on another. This feature has been spotted and being tested in the beta version of WhatsApp, Sky News added.
The other feature is hiding from specific contacts. You can currently hide the time you were last on WhatsApp but you can not hide it from specific contacts.
The company is said to be changing this so when you go to change your “Last Seen” settings you will see an option for “My Contacts Except”.
We are still, however, waiting for an official statement from WhatsApp.
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