All posts by mvb07


Choose your deals

I’m sure you must know the feeling: you’re in your shopping mall and you’ve just spotted the perfect vase/dress/vacuum cleaner/shaver/gaming mouse. However, the price is just above your budget. To top it off, sales have just ended, so guess you’ll just have to settle for less.
That feeling now belongs to the past: we happily introduce Tag-a-deal! Just scan the price tag of the item that you want, but that is just outside of your financial reach, and offer what you would be willing to pay for that vase/dress/gaming mouse. Before you know it you own that shaver for a very nice price. Or if the company refuses, well, at least you tried. Maybe you’ll have more luck with the dress. Tag-a-deal is the new app everybody should download. It allows its users to negotiate with companies to receive deals on items consumers want deals on. Continue reading Tag-a-deal

AHHHA moment? Share it!

We can all be Bell, or Marconi, to name just some of the world’s greatest inventors. Why? Because we all have those great ideas. Naa, you’ll think, I don’t have great ideas, my ideas are whacky and not suited for the outside world. Think again. What do you think they said to Marconi when he told his government that he could transmit wireless signals and pick them up again? They told him they weren’t interested.  And can you imagine what the world would have looked like without radio? Neither can I. So, those whacky ideas are the ones you need. You might not even be the only one having them. Now what’s keeping you back? Developmental costs? Not anymore. Meet AHHHA!Screen-Shot-2012-03-13-at-9.22.13-AM

AHHHA is a platform where your whacky ideas can come into existence. You submit your idea, claim it, and then share it. Now, others comment on it, you improve it and before you know it, your idea is propelled to life and you get a prototype on your doormat (see the example of the SleeperSleeve). AHHHA’s managed to turn the long and time consuming process of developing an idea into a product into a crowdsourced process, while at the same time shielding you of the risk and costs related to the development. They call themselves a crowd ideation platform: it’s all about putting your whacky ideas out there, see who shares them and who likes them, and putting some of that into action. Continue reading AHHHA moment? Share it!

Like a Thousand Ants Working as One

As more and more scientific research in, for example, astronomy and biology uses computers more and more intensely, computer calculating time has become scarce. Of course, the calculating power has come a long way from when mental calculating still outran the best computer, but running thousands of simulations of how a certain drug molecule docks with HIV proteases  within a limited timeframe is still outside the realm of even the best supercomputers. And this is where the consumer steps in.

Millions of people have computers connected to the internet nowadays. You start yours up in the morning (at least I do), check your email, maybe work a few hours on Word, check out some websites, etc. Then, after dinner, you might really get into it and play a MMORPG  for some hours, before shutting down the computer. Computer use? Like what they say about your brain: about 10%. The only time your computer is actually working hard is when playing that demanding online game. Now how about using the remaining 90% for the good of humanity? And this is where the World Community Grid (WCG) by IBM steps in.


The WCG offered volunteers the possibility to (in)directly aid in scientific research by ‘lending’ some of their computer’s calculating space to research projects. All you do is download a programme that will run in the background, uses processor cycles that are currently not being used. It runs a simulation, packs up the data afterwards and sends it back. Next simulation. Since its start, the WCG has used thousands of years of calculating space, saying that they’ve done “the equivalent of hundreds of thousands of years of research in less than a decade” (1). The projects the WCG runs range from looking for HIV medicines to improving the efficiency of solar cells to the search for low-costs water filtering systems.

WCG2 Continue reading Like a Thousand Ants Working as One

Power to the People

Thunderclap (1): A crowdspeaking platform that enables individuals with ideas to gather support from the public and shout out their message to the world, ready to be picked up by governments or companies (but it’s also just a good marketing tool!). The #1 example? Phonebloks. As a message from Dave Hakkens, his Phonebloks Thunderclap gathered almost one million supporters before its due date. The result? At the same day the Thunderclap was sent out, Project Phonebloks was picked up by Motorola and is now being developed (under the name Project Ara) by the infamous Google X. Talk about success. Sometimes all you need to do is gather enough supporters so your idea can get the attention it deserves. Thunderclap enables this and makes sure that good ideas, innovative ideas, crowdsupported ideas, get to those that can develop it.

Turn this idea upside down and we’re talking about Google’s Play Store (2). Bring those that can develop applications an open source platform and within no time you will have a monster load of applications on any subject and of any quality. Regulation is minimized and this ensures an almost instantaneous time-to-market when the app is submitted for publishing. The crowd is used for app rating and as a back-up check to make sure the app isn’t malicious. Only when a certain amount of complaints is reached will Google step in.

Continue reading Power to the People

Students-to-Students: Making Free Study Spots Visible

As any consumer that switches from one company to the other, I’m prone to compare the one to the other. With universities, this is no different. When I switched from Utrecht University (UU) to Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR), I saw a lot of points that both universities did differently and where they could learn from each other. But the one thing that the EUR needs most, I know exactly what that is.

As any good student, I regularly spend a lot of time on the university, working on projects, reading articles, doing research for my thesis, you name it. In between classes, before or after, I spend this time behind university computers (as I didn’t own a laptop) in the library, in computer rooms, etcetera. However, space is scarce in Utrecht’s university library. Whole generations of students have already been complaining that there are never enough study spots. Discussed measures have gone from a time limit on any computer use to banning HBO students from the library, but these were all rendered impossible to implement for the university. Of course there already existed a rule (and the on-screen timer that goes with it) that you are not allowed to spend more than 30 minutes away from your computer, or you’ll  be logged out and lose your current files, but this solves little as students usually don’t take other peoples stuff away if they want to sit somewhere.

Continue reading Students-to-Students: Making Free Study Spots Visible