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Online Dating Technology and How It Affects Our Society

Online Dating TechnologyTinder, Lulu, Grouper. Unless you’re a part of the online dating scene, you might not even recognize that these are the names of websites. However, even if you are not currently looking for that perfect mate, it’s worth paying attention to these sites: Online dating is a revolutionary industry that can provide insight into your own customers.

As a small-business owner who’s operating a website, creating an app or selling an online service, digital dating sites may be one place to look for inspiration. Scott Steinberg, a technology and innovation consultant, believes that online dating platforms can be a “goldmine” for research: “The beauty of these platforms is they show us in a more human and personable way how we can deliver content, deliver messages, and ultimately let [users] interact with it.”

Depending on their ages or interests, people gravitate toward different dating services. For example, Match.com’s audience is different than the millennial audience of Tinder, whose members are looking for quick, mobile introductions and brief interactions via photos and messaging on their smartphones.

Analyzing these digital trends may help you gain a better grasp of your customers’ online expectations and preferences. Incorporate that research into your own products, and you may find the missing piece to your consumer research puzzle.

“People forget there’s the human element of technology, and people are expecting things to be very usable and to be very intuitive,” said Steinberg. “They want to jump right in and enjoy them.”

If you’re targeting younger generations, Steinberg believes there is quite a bit an outside company can learn from the online dating scene–not to mention potential partnership opportunities for customized services or ads and specialized promotions. Depending on their privacy policies, these online dating platforms may have massive amounts of user data available for those who partner with them.

“It’s about understanding better where [potential customers] live online and their behaviors, and how to better speak to them and target them,” he said. “What makes them tick?”

 

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The Truth About Online Gifting and Greeting Over the Holidays

Christmas Gift CardsFrom digital gift cards to electronic greeting cards to online invitations, how far can you go when it comes to a digitizing your holidays? Based on research conducted this year, the answer is “far.”

Digital cards and e-cards–once viewed as impersonal, lazy and thoughtless–are now being touted as convenient, customizable and efficient–not to mention eco-friendly and affordable.

Indeed, JibJab Media CEO Gregg Spiridellis sees e-cards as more than just an alternative to paper. “In today’s culture, e-cards are not only accepted but often preferred,” he said. “Much as most people use paperless billing, cards and invites have made a similar shift to reflect the lifestyle of the 21st century.”

JibJab is known for its popular animated electronic cards that feature users’ uploaded photos.

“[They] allow for a much higher entertainment value, complete with singing, dancing, and really fun humor,” he said.

That interactivity is something you just can’t find on paper.

James Hirschfeld, founder of Paperless Post, agrees that the acceptance and use of online cards and invitations is only trending upward.

“Even in a market where retail-based holiday card sales are declining, we’re seeing a 65% increase in online holiday card sending this year,” he said. “Online cards reach recipients where they spend most of their time: the Internet.”

When it comes to digital gift cards, the numbers are also climbing: It’s estimated that $29.8 billion will be sent on the cards this year. According to the National Retail Federation, 81% of holiday shoppers will buy gift cards this season. They’ll spend an average of $163, which is the highest amount recorded in the survey’s history.

Of this year’s holiday online shoppers, an online InComm survey found that 77% will buy digital gift cards as opposed to the plastic counterparts. Forty percent of those surveyed said they’d prefer an emailed gift card as opposed to a paper printout.

Sites like Gift Card Mall, Gift Rocket, and PayPal’s new Digital Gifts make electronic gift card purchases easier than ever. Many digital gift card retailers give purchasers convenient options, including flexible dollar increments plus the ability to immediately print a certificate and present it in person, or schedule it in an email for later–complete with an online redemption code.

If these trends continue, “Cyber Monday” may become “Cyber holiday season.”

“We live in a digital age,” Spiridellis said. “It’s clear that the cultural acceptance is there for electronic cards to be perceived as containing the same thoughtfulness and care as a paper card–just adapted for today’s generation.”

 

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How Digital Is Affecting Your Local Coffee Shop

With digital currency on the rise–hello, Bitcoin!– it’s not crazy to think that one day loose change and wallets will go the way of CDs, film and landlines. But how do these digital currency trends translate to everyday life? Following, we take a look at a few that might someday be used (if they aren’t already) at your local coffee shop.

Coffee Shop

Coffee shop frequenters who pay with plastic don’t often throw a bit extra toward their favorite barista. They have no cash on hand. In fact, only 27% of point-of-sale purchases were made with cash in 2011, according to a report by Javelin Strategy & Research, and that number is dropping every year. That’s why the tip jar is getting a makeover with the advent of DipJar.

DipJar lets customers tip with the convenience of plastic. A fixed amount–usually $1–is listed on the front of the DipJar. With each “dip” of a credit card, a tip is sent to the retailer.

It doesn’t get much easier than that–unless you didn’t even have to pull out your wallet: If some companies have their way, the future of the wallet will be no wallet at all. Your smartphone will be your wallet. LevelUp is an app that lets consumers pay with their smartphones after they have securely linked their debit or credit cards to an account. Filter, a coffee shop in Chicago’s Wicker Park neighborhood, is one of the 5,000-plus locations that currently accept LevelUp.

Filter doesn’t accept plastic because of the high fees associated with it. Customers who want to purchase a coffee can choose to pay with cash or they can open the LevelUp app and place the generated barcode in front of the LevelUp scanner on the counter. Phones vibrate when payment has been accepted. There’s even an option to add a tip before scanning.

The PayPal app works in a similar way. It’s now accepted at retailers large and small, from Dunkin Donuts shops to Home Depot to the local Chinese restaurant down the street.

When it comes to digital currency, what is your threshold? Are you on board with paying with your smartphone? Or tipping with plastic? Or would you rather pay cash? It’s a whole new world of currency.

 

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The Perils of Locking and Losing Devices

Locked Smart PhoneIf you’re the proud owner of a new iPhone 5S, you’ve likely said goodbye to the traditional four-digit passcode and hello to Touch ID. Apple’s upgraded security feature lets users unlock their phones quickly and easily with their unique fingerprint.

But what about those techies who have yet to splurge on the latest iPhone? And what about the people who have iPhones but don’t use the passcode option? Apple claims that more than 50% of users don’t lock their phones with a passcode. After all, it can be a pain to punch in four digits every time you check your phone–which is an average of 150 times per day, according to Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers’ annual Internet Trends report.

Although a misplaced or stolen iPhone can be relocated with the free Find My iPhone app, that doesn’t prevent the device–or the data it stores–from being compromised. The best way to protect your device and the data on it is to not lose it in the first place. Luckily, a technology trend called “wireless leashes”–a concept similar to the invisible fences that keep your dog in the yard–can help prevent loss and, in turn, theft.

ZOMM is a poker-chip-sized device that wirelessly tethers to your Bluetooth-enabled mobile phone. ZOMM alerts you if you and your phone should ever separate by more than 30 feet. Clip ZOMM to your keychain or throw it in your purse. An alarm will sound the next time you’ve left your phone behind at the restaurant, in the taxi or at a friend’s house.

ZOMM is just one of the recent developments in cell phone safety, like the Bluetooth-enabled Tile system, that we’ve recently blogged about. But ZOMM takes safety to another level–and even doubles as a Bluetooth speaker. Say your phone rings while you’re driving but it’s buried at the bottom of your purse. Just click the ZOMM device that’s now hanging from your keychain and start chatting away.)

You’ve got to love a device that pulls double duty.

ZOMM is available for $40 on Amazon.com.

 

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