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watching nanoparticles grow

I have spent a lot of time over the past decade-and-a-half talking about nanotech and nanoparticles. The often unexpected properties of these tiny specks of matter are give them applications in everything from synthetic antibodies to fuel cells to water filters and far beyond.
Recently, for the first time ever, scientists were able to watch the particles grow from their earliest stage of development. Given that the performance of nanoparticles is based on their structure, composition, and size, being able to see how they grow could lead to the development of better growing conditions, and thus better nanotechnology.
The research was carried out by a team of scientists from the Center for Nanoscale Materials, the Advanced Photon Source (both run by US Government's Argonne National Laboratory) and the High Pressure Synergetic Consortium (HPSynC).
The team used highly focused high-energy X-ray diffraction to observe the nanoparticles. Amongst other things, it was noted that the initial chemical reaction often occurred quite quickly, then continued to evolve over time.
“It’s been very difficult to watch these tiny particles be born and grow in the past because traditional techniques require that the sample be in a vacuum and many nanoparticles are grown in a metal-conducting liquid,” said study coauthor Wenge Yang. “We have not been able to see how different conditions affect the particles, much less understand how we can tweak the conditions to get a desired effect.”
HPSynC’s Russell Hemley added, “This study shows the promise of new techniques for probing crystal growth in real time. Our ultimate goal is to use these new methods to track chemical reactions as they occur under a variety of conditions, including variable pressures and temperatures, and to use that knowledge to design and make new materials for energy applications.”
The research was recently published in the journal NANOLetters.


I will be speaking on a panel at the OMMA Social conference Thursday, June 17th in NYC with some folks from Foursquare, Nielsen, SCVNGR and Microsoft about "How Mobile Social will Change Commerce"  

The most magical marketing environment for anyone with something to sell would be one that marries the right person, with the right place, with the right product with the right time. But this is no longer a dream. Suddenly, we’re at a point where all of those things can be brought together, with social as the glue connects them. With more and more social activity taking place on mobile, and companies such as Facebook and Google now embracing QR codes, which create a shorthand in which profile data could be read by merchants at the point of sale, the era of in-store customized marketing is almost upon us. What will it look like? And is the early success of companies such as Foursquare indication that portable social profiles are the wave of the future?   

The panel will be moderated by Erik Sass from MediaPost.

Other panelists joining me will be:

Eric Friedman, Director of Client Services, Foursquare
Paul Kultgen, Director Mobile Media and Advertising, Nielsen
Chris Mahl, SVP, Chief Brand Alchemist, SCVNGR
Erin Wilson, Mobile Sales Specialist, Microsoft Advertising - #OMMASocial

Augmented Reality Via RFID For Shoppers

A retail tracking solutions provider named Paxar has been thinking outside the box and came up with its consumer-facing item-level RFID solution, called "magicmirror." If you are a retailer, magicmirror provides the ability to engage customers and PaxarMagicMirror.jpgpositively influence their purchasing decisions. Here's how it works: when a customer or sales associate brings an RFID-tagged item of clothing in front of the magicmirror, it automatically displays rich contextual information including brand messaging, garment description, size and color availability, as well as mix-and-match guides that suggest other items for accessorizing a wardrobe. When installed in the fitting room, customers can request immediate assistance from a salesperson by simply touching the magicmirror, without ever having to leave the room.

“Teaming up with industry-leading experience design partner thebigspace, and technology partners, Motorola and Infosys, has enabled Paxar to develop a turnkey consumer-facing RFID solution for the apparel and retail markets,” said Chris Robins, vice president of trade marketing and member of the global RFID team at Paxar. “The integration of Paxar’s custom-designed RFID labels and tags with thebigspace’s rich media and content, Motorola’s RFID readers and handheld devices, and Infosys’ Smart Visual Merchandising applications for store operations and eCommerce, allows magicmirror to fully deliver the power of RFID technology and create a unique and innovative customer experience.”

“With the RFID magicmirror, retailers now have a unique opportunity to connect personally with their customers who have become more perceptive about the products and services they buy,” added Robins. “Consumers are becoming increasingly savvy – they’re accustomed to using technology in their daily lives, especially when shopping for items. To communicate with them in their digital language and engage them, the industry must find relevant, innovative technology that helps tell a brand story better. The magicmirror solution does that and is poised to become a huge driver of item-level RFID adoption as consumers are encouraged to interact with the positive features and experience the significant benefits RFID brings.”

RFID solutions like the magicmirror hold the ability to significantly enhance customer experience, service and when employed in the fitting room environment, transforming this forgotten back-space into a key decision and service area. Combined with in-store operations and eCommerce processes, magicmirror can ensure a seamless shopping experience in-store and online. Personally, I would love a community feature where I could ask people, in other stores, in real-time, what they thought of my new outfit. Maybe someday soon.

Cash Ban On The iPhone

Apple has announced that it will not accept cash or Apple gift cards as payment for an iPhone. If you, like me, have questioned the legality of Apple stores banning cash for iPhone purchases then this posting is for you. The reason Apple has given for the non-cash and gift card policy is that it wants to discourage unauthorized resellers from modifying the devices so they work on networks other than the intended carrier, AT&T.

As you can see in the below video from station KMBC in Kansas, the reporter talked with employees at an Apple store at where one worker admitted that "it's crazy" not to accept an Apple gift card.

Apparently, the pertinent portion of law that addresses this issue is the Coinage Act of 1965, specifically Section 31 U.S.C. 5103, entitled "Legal tender." This happens to be the section many are citing as proof that Apple's no-cash policy is illegal. It reads, "United States coins and currency (including Federal reserve notes and circulating notes of Federal reserve banks and national banks), are legal tender for all debts, public charges, taxes, and dues."

What that means, however, is that all U.S. money (be it bank notes or coins), "are a valid and legal offer of payment for debts when tendered to a creditor." In fact, there is no federal law that prohibits a private business, a person or an organization from dictating what currency or coins they do accept for payment for goods and/or services. Indeed, businesses like Apple are free to develop whatever nutty cash policies it likes unless there is a state law which says otherwise.

You can see the posting from the U.S. Department of Treasury here.