May 17, 2020

Top apps to help you during isolation

Kayleigh Shooter
3 min
During this period of isolation, staying connected with friends and family is of utmost importance. We take a look at some apps that will help you comba...

During this period of isolation, staying connected with friends and family is of utmost importance. We take a look at some apps that will help you combat this loneliness and keep in touch with the outside world. 

All of the below applications are free of charge, so you can download them hassle-free and get straight to entertaining yourself.

  • Zoom - The video conferencing app has given its competitors Skype and Google Hangouts a run for their money, downloads of the application have increased by around 1,270% in the last month. The platform contains features such as muting certain users, toggle the video view to on and off and even change your background. The only concern that people have is that many rumours about its security levels have been circulating around.

  • Netflix Party - This application allows friends to synchronize their Netflix accounts so they can all watch the same show together, at the same exact time. There is also a sidebar where friends can talk to each other and a feature which allows for every screen to be paused and started at the same time to avoid lagging. The only downside is that all users need their own Netflix account, in addition, the platform is still quite slow at the minute, however, hopefully, this will be eradicated in due course. 

  • Twitch - Twitch is a streaming application for video games and eSports. However there are some issues with the platform, there isn't an option to see who the people that you're following are following, so you mostly have to either know what you're looking for, follow a link or just see what's already live and tune in so it may be hard for you to find something to watch if you do not know how to navigate through its technology. 

  • Houseparty - The video communications application is owned by Epic Games, you can sign up with either your phone number, Facebook account or your Snapchat account, this allows you to invite your friends to join you in your virtual room. When in the “room” with your friends, you can play games such as Heads Up and Pictionary. The downsides to the application are that it notifies you whenever your contacts open the app and also unless you lock the “room”, strangers can join with no warning. 

  • Duolingo - The brand dobbs itself as “The world’s best way to learn a language”. Rather than sitting indoors and spending all day on social media, why not try and learn a new language? The platform tailors the learning to your specific needs, allows you to stay motivated through rewards and gives you immediate grading and feedback, so you know where you need to improve. It has been seen that 34 hours of Duolingo learning is the equivalent to one university semester. 

How you can slow the spread of coronavirus:

  • Wash your hands with soap and water often – do this for at least 20 seconds

  • Use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available

  • Wash your hands as soon as you get home

  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze

  • Put used tissues in the bin immediately and wash your hands afterwards

Find out the key information about COVID-19 here.

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Jun 16, 2021

Amazon Deploys Cashierless Checkout Tech

Elise Leise
3 min
Amazon integrates cashierless technology into its first full-size grocery store. Is this the future of retail?

On June 17th, the first Amazon Fresh store without cashiers will open its doors to the public. Instead of queueing up to scan their products, customers will be able to grab items off the shelves and head out the door without worrying about checkout. The store will also have Amazon package pickups, kiosks, and Amazon One payment systems, which withdraw money at the scan of a palm. 


Most importantly, this will be the first time that Amazon has launched its “Just Walk Out” system in a full-size grocery store. ‘Do customers like standing in lines?’ asked Amazon Vice President Dilip Kumar. ‘This fundamentally tackles a problem of how you get convenience in physical locations, especially when people are hard-pressed for time’. 


How Do Customers Pay? 

When you walk into the store, you can scan a QR code from your phone’s home screen, a credit or debit card linked to your Amazon account, or Amazon One. As you stroll through the aisles and select goods from the shelves, weight sensors and vision cameras will track what you take. Finally, once you’re finished, Amazon will bill your account sans cashier. 


Does It Have Any Competitors? 

Startups like Standard Cognition, Grabango, and Trigo have received venture capital investments to pilot similar cashierless technology, but they can’t match the sheer scale of Amazon. Instead, their pitch to retail stores is that they won’t try to outcompete them in the marketplace. For the most part, they pose no threat. 


How Did Bezos Get Here? 


  • 1994: Invests US$10,000 of his own money
  • 1997: Takes Amazon public 
  • 1998: Expands into music 
  • 1999: Patents “1-Click” checkout system 
  • 2005: Launches Amazon Prime 
  • 2012: Acquires robotics company Kiva Systems
  • 2017: Acquires Whole Foods 
  • 2020: Amasses massive profits during the pandemic


Over the past twelve months, Amazon Prime has grown from 50 million to 200 million subscribers. At this point, the company can launch whatever its heart desires. 


Where Does Amazon Go From Here? 

Instead of keeping its cashierless technology to itself, Amazon intends to sell it to other retailers. An Amazon subsidiary, Whole Foods may also integrate it into its checkout lines. At the Newark Liberty and LaGuardia airports, several CIBO Express stores will install cashierless systems. And the company’s plans extend far beyond the United States. In South Korea, Amazon partnered with Hyundai to launch the world’s first cashierless department store; in India, Bezos announced that he aims to remake the nation’s retail economy


But Amazon will soon pass hands. On July 5th, 2021—27 years after Amazon was first incorporated—Andy Jassy will take over as CEO and Bezos will move on to other projects. Therefore, it remains to be seen what the remainder of 2021 will hold. But if the company continues on its current path, cashierless tech may soon conquer the retail market. 


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