Tag Archives: amazon

Thousands Of Cameras Capture The Thriving Wildlife In World’s Protected Forests

The worlds tropical forests are thick with trees, rich in life, and dense with humidity. However, high-quality information and expansive data about the biodiversity within these understudiedwildlife hospots is scarce. This makes conservation initiatives all the more difficult to create.

So, to find out how effective protected forests are at helping wildlife, a recent study by the Tropical Ecology Assessment and Monitoring Network (TEAM) has captured an unbelievable amount of images documenting the intense biodiversity of protected sites in 15 tropical forests aroundthe world.

TEAM -a coalition led byConservation International, the Wildlife Conservation Society and the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute – recently published theirfindings online in PLOS Biology.

For the study, TEAM set up a network of over 1,000 camera traps across forests in Latin America, Africa, and Asia. Each site was surveyed for at least three years, creating a total of over 500,000 images per year of 244 ground-dwelling vertebratespecies from African forest elephants (Loxodonta cyclotis) in the Republic of Congo to giant anteaters (Myrmecophaga tridactyla) in Ecuador.

The images were captured using motion-triggered cameras thatsnapaway if they detectan animal walking through their path. Each site had between 60 to 90 cameras set up, placed around every 1 to 2 kilometers squared (0.38 to 0.77 miles squared).

African bush elephants (Loxodonta africana) in Nouabale Ndoki National Park, Republic of Congo.TEAM Network and Wildlife Conservation Society.

Male Drill (Mandrillus leucophaeus) close-up in Cameroon, with a female and juvenile in the background. Image credit:TEAM Network and Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute

The jaguar (Panthera onca) is the largest cat in the western hemisphere and a near threatened species. This individual was photographed at Volcn Barva, Costa Rica. Image credit:Courtesy of TEAM Network and Conservation International

Using the images as data, the researchers created occupancy models of each species over a threeto eightyear period. Overall, the results were remarkably positive: 17 percent of the monitored populations were found to be increasing, 22 percent were remaining stable, and 22 percent showed some decline. The remaining 39 were animals not detected often enough for their population statistics. According to the authors, these results paint a more optmistic pictureabout the success of protected areas, contrasting earlier reports of widespread decline.

It’s hoped that the study will therefore verifythat protected areas are highly effective at preserving and indeed increasing numbers of endangeredwildlife.

“At a time when environmental concerns are taking center stage, these results show that protected areas play an important role in maintaining biodiversity,” said Jorge Ahumada, executive director of the TEAM Network and a coauthor of the study said in a press release.

“Our study reflects a more optimistic outlook about the effectiveness of protected areas. For the first time we are not relying on disparate data sources, but rather using primary data collected in a standardized way across a range of protected areas throughout the world.

With this data we have created a public resource that can be used by governments or others in the conservation community to inform decisions.”

Make sure you check outthe officialTEAM galleryfor more of their incredible photographs.

Two rarely-seen bush dogs (Speothos venaticus) are captured for the first time in YanachagaChemilln National Park, Peru. TEAM Network and Wildlife Conservation Society

Photo Gallery

Read more: http://www.iflscience.com/plants-and-animals/thousands-cameras-capture-thriving-wildlife-worlds-protected-forests

Why an Amazon Phone Makes Sense

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Image: Mashable composite. iStock, webphotography

Amazon is holding an event in Seattle in a couple of weeks, and everyone’s invited. Really — anyone in the world can theoretically sign up, although the company says space is limited.

Democratizing a tech launch event — typically a very insider-y affair — is an uncommon, if gimmicky move, although it suggests that what Amazon has up its sleeve is pretty big. Whatever Amazon will unveil, teased in a comically vague video, will certainly be aimed squarely at a mainstream audience, and the most credible report so far says it’ll be an Amazon-branded smartphone.

Rumors about an Amazon smartphone have circulated since the company unveiled its first Kindle Fire tablets back in 2011. For almost any hardware manufacturer, it makes sense to offer both a tablet and a phone — usually several.

After all, the technologies are virtually identical, so why only make one or the other when you could have a hand in both markets?

Not your father’s Amazon

But Amazon isn’t a typical hardware manufacturer. The company doesn’t make the Kindle Fire tablets because it excels at building devices — it makes them solely for the purpose of putting the company’s digital services, such as Amazon Instant Video and the Kindle bookstore, front and center in a customer’s tablet experience.

“With their tablet product, [Amazon] undercut the competition and did very well,” says Tuong Nguyen, a research analyst at Gartner. “But I don’t know what they can possibly offer me … that would be compelling enough that would make me want to have an Amazon phone.”

For a company that’s all about selling content, building a device that consumers want to use to consume that content (i.e. a tablet) is a logical move, and the strategy has worked pretty well so far. Apple’s iPad is the clear leader in the tablet space, but Amazon’s Kindle Fire devices have done very well by all accounts.

Smartphone owners use their devices differently from tablets, though, so the content-consumption logic doesn’t translate so well to that device. Add to that a market that’s already extremely crowded, and the headaches of dealing with wireless carriers and technologies, and you can see why Amazon has ignored the smartphone space so far.

But there are two major market forces that could be factoring into Amazon’s decision that now is a good time to enter the smartphone market. The first is that tablet sales have flatlined: People aren’t buying them at the same clip as they used to, even though prices are at an all-time low.

“If Amazon is trying to gain a bigger footprint, then tablets have limits,” says Harry Wang, director of mobile product research at Parks Associates. “The next frontier is the shift to smartphones, because that’s a bigger market.”

Second is the rise of the phablet. Smartphones with big screens have been popular for a while, with the average size of a flagship Android phone now a little over 5 inches. Some are over 6, and there are rumors of even 7-inch phones on the way. With larger screens and ever-faster processing power, today’s phablets are almost as good as tablets at “consumption.”

If Amazon is feeling the squeeze on tablet sales, it would likely see the smartphone market next door — an order of magnitude larger — and decide it couldn’t ignore that opportunity any longer. Building the hardware would be relatively easy, given its Kindle legacy.

Standing out from the crowd

Of course, in today’s smartphone market, hardware’s the easy part. What’s hard is differentiation — giving customers a reason to pick your phone over competitors. Amazon’s teaser video appeared to imply that some kind of visual feature (3D holograms, perhaps?) would make its new smartphone stand out.

Whatever the novelty is, it’s almost definitely not what people will buy an Amazon phone for. Innovative hardware might generate headlines, but it doesn’t sell phones, where people mainly care about design, user experience and app availability.

A hologram that moves with your head will get pretty old by the second day, and competitors would soon replicate the feature anyway. “We’re not about hardware anymore,” says Nguyen. “It’s all about eyeballs.”

Amazon has other ways to differentiate its smartphone, however. It could offer an new kind of app or service that’s exclusive to owners. An Amazon phone could offer a custom-designed mobile shopping experience, which would be attractive to many users. Parks Associates says 39% of all smartphone owners use retail apps — and that they’re used, on average, only slightly less than video apps such as Netflix and YouTube.

More likely, Amazon will launch its phone with a new pricing model. The company has always been aggressive in pricing its Kindle tablets, and it’ll no doubt do the same with a theoretical smartphone.

What would really take things to the next level, however, would be if Amazon offered its smartphone with a free (or nearly free) data plan. The company already sells LTE versions of its Kindle Fire tablets with free limited data. What if it convinced just one carrier to extend that model to a phone?

Whatever the pricing model ends up being, you can bet Amazon Prime membership will factor in. Chances are high that any owner of Amazon hardware is also a Prime member (Kindle e-readers excepted). The service will likely come bundled with the smartphone in some way; perhaps Prime members will get discounts on wireless services.

“They already have about 22 million prime members,” says Wang. To those members, he adds, “Amazon could offer a great value in a smartphone.”

Will creative pricing be enough to convince people to buy Amazon’s smartphone? If the hardware is good enough — and there’s no reason to believe it won’t be — there’s a good chance. In any case, Amazon is feeling enough desperation and hubris (if those delivery drones are any indication) to make a go of it.

Amazon launching a smartphone would be unusual, risky and probably gimmicky, but there are ways it could work. And if Jeff Bezos has that market in his sights, a year from now it may be hard to imagine a world without a Kindle phone.

Read more: http://mashable.com/2014/06/05/amazon-phone-sense/

Amazon Woos Advertisers With What It Knows About Consumers

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Google built its $38 billion business selling ads based on how people search and browse the web. Facebook, too, uses what it knows about its one billion users to sell targeted ads. But when it comes to what many advertisers value most — what people actually buy, or what they may want to buy soon — there may be no better data than the information in Amazon’s 152 million customer accounts.

Since last year, the world’s largest online retailer has been packaging information on what it knows about consumers so that some marketers can use it to make split-second decisions about where to buy ads online and how much to pay for them. This automated process occurs on real-time ad exchanges that sell ad impressions as a person loads a web page.

When this process began, Amazon used third-party technology, and its experiments were limited. Now it has developed an in-house platform for targeting ads to people who have visited and then left Amazon’s sites, making it likely that the company will open up these advertising services more widely over the next year.

“Today, if you’re browsing the web, you might see an Amazon advertisement based on Amazon’s data. Tomorrow, you may see an ad from Coca-Cola based on Amazon data, and it’ll run through the Amazon platform,” says Jeff Green, CEO of the Trade Desk, which helps guide spending decisions by ad agencies.

Amazon did not respond to a request for comment about its advertising business, and the company does not break out its advertising revenue. But it’s clear that compared to Google and Facebook, advertising has been a relatively small and low-key business for Amazon. It brought in about $500 million of Amazon’s $48 billion in revenue in 2011, Baird & Co. senior research analyst Colin Sebastian estimates. Mostly this came from selling ads on its own websites.

But Amazon could soon generate much more than that with an advertising network that reaches onto many other sites.

For years, Amazon has put algorithms to work in order to recommend products to people who are on its sites. Now other companies are eager to find out exactly how Amazon’s knowledge about consumers can help them find the best audiences for their ads, says Kip Voytek, digital innovation director at the advertising firm MDC Partners.

Amazon would be unlikely to directly give advertisers access to its trove of information about individuals’ browsing, purchasing, and product review histories, both because of its privacy policies and a desire to keep its valuable data proprietary. Instead, Amazon would create target audiences, such as people who recently purchased digital cameras. A marketer selling digital camera accessories could then use Amazon’s technology to bid for the ability to show ads to a person in that category.

Green points out that while Google might have more overall data about consumers, Amazon’s data could be more valuable for advertisers. Amazon has “a pretty clear understanding of the things I buy. They’ve learned a lot about me. Every time I’m convinced I have another medical ailment, I go to Google. But Amazon, what they have is really about my purchase intent,” he says.

Using its data to expand its advertising business could open up new fronts of competition with Google, which also owns a real-time bidding exchange and an ad-delivery network. But Amazon might be mainly interested in using its ad technology to help the retailers that sell products on its sites and through its Kindle tablets and e-readers. Voytek put it this way: “The question that is open: is this Amazon competing with Google or is this Amazon competing with Walmart?”

Image courtesy of Flickr, kodomut

This article originally published at MIT Technology Review
here

Read more: http://mashable.com/2013/01/21/amazon-woos-advertisers-with-what-it-knows-about-consumers/

Amazon’s New Delivery Drones Unveiled In Video With Jeremy Clarkson

The age of drones is well and truly upon us. Their uses in art, war, and discovery have been moving fast, but their commercialuse as delivery-bots has long been hovering around. However, things appear to be on the move again:Amazon has just released a video revealing the closest and freshest look at their drone delivery plans yet Amazon Prime Air. Oh, and Jeremy Clarksons in there, too.

Amazon Prime Air canfly for distances of 24 kilometers (15 miles) at heights of less than 122meters (400 feet). According to the video, it willbe able to deliver orders within 30 minutes or less, provided you’re in the right area.In the future, they plan for there to be a family of Amazon drones different designs for different environments.

Thisdesign is much different to earlier proposed prototypes. These newermodels appear to be a hybrid of the hovering helicopter-like drones that can rise vertically and the more conventionalairplane-style drones. Although be prepared for this to change, as Amazon said they have 12 different prototype styles beingdeveloped attesting sites in America, the United Kingdom and Israel.

Amazon received approval for its drone delivery plans in the United States by the Federal Aviation Association (FAA) in March 2015.However, as WIRED pointed out, flight regulations in the U.K. will make it harder for Amazon Prime Air to roll out in the United Kingdom.

The FAA have estimatedthere will be 7,500 small commercial drones in the skies above the United States by2018.

Read more: http://www.iflscience.com/technology/amazons-new-delivery-drones-unveiled-video-jeremy-clarkson

Amazon Tosses More Treats at Kindle Fire Developers

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Amazon launched Appstore Developer Select on Tuesday, a new program for developers that makes apps and games on the company’s Fire OS more discoverable in Amazon’s Appstore.

“Mobile app developers have told us that getting their apps discovered across the numerous devices customers are using is one of their biggest challenges,” Mike George, vice president of Amazon Appstore, games and Cloud Drive, said in a statement.

“With the Appstore Developer Select program, we’re addressing these discoverability concerns by providing developers with enhanced merchandising opportunities.”

In order to qualify for Appstore Developer Select, apps must be optimized specifically for Amazon’s Appstore and Fire OS, including any relevant APIs for GameCircle, mobile ads and in-app purchasing on the platform.

If a developer meets all the criteria, they can apply to be included in the Developer Select program. Developer Select apps will receive premium placement in Amazon’s Appstore, 500,000 ad impressions on the Amazon Mobile Ad Network, and automatic inclusion in the Amazon Appstore Coins Rewards category.

Inclusion in the Coin Rewards category is designed as an easy way for developers to drive sales. Amazon Appstore customers receive 250 bonus coins for their first purchase of a qualified app or in-app item, and up to 30% back in Coins on other purchases they make. Those coins can then be exchanged for items in the Appstore.

Developers will also get credits equaling a 25% discount on their first $2,000 in Amazon Web Services charges each year.

What do you think of Amazon’s Appstore Developer Select program? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

Image: Mashable, Christina Ascani

Destruction of Amazon Rainforest Visible From Space

The Amazon rainforest stretches over 5.5 million square kilometers, 60% of which is in Brazil. It is home to millions of species that make up 10% of all of Earth’s biodiversity, including 40,000 different plant species, 3,000 freshwater fish species, and over 370 reptile species. There are nearly 400 billion trees across 16,000 species in the rainforest, but sadly, Brazil has a deforestation problem so large, it can be seen from space. 

In August, NASA released a picture of the Amazon rainforest burning as seen from the ISS. Not only does this decimate the habitat of millions of species in the region, but it is also aggravating climate change.

Over the last 40 years, 20% of the rainforest has been cleared for timber and to make room for farm land. While those seeking timber need to cut the trees down manually, farmers who seek to expand their crop fields will often just burn the trees down. Deforestation is always a problem because it removes trees capable of taking carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere. Though the Amazon takes up only 5% of the planet’s land area, it takes up and stores 10% of atmospheric carbon. When trees die or are cleared, it releases that carbon. 

It has been estimated that deforestation represents 15% of all CO2 emissions in the world, which is more than all automobiles combined. If deforestation is permitted to continue unchecked, it will severely exacerbate the levels of greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere, bolstering the effects of climate change. Over the next several years, deforestation could pump 200 billion tons of carbon into the atmosphere.

Today (September 23) the UN Climate Summit is meeting in New York, and deforestation is on the table. Brazil has not endorsed the document, however, as they have stated that they were not consulted with when the anti-deforestation initiative was drafted. Brazilian law does permit legal deforestation for private land owners and to meet basic public needs, but Brazilian Environment Minister Izabella Teixeira told The Associated Press that her country seeks to focus on ending deforestation that is done illegally.

Though deforestation has been declining in recent years, 2013 saw a 28% increase compared to 2012. It is hard to determine how much of that has been done illegally, as a key tactic among those committing environmental crime is to forge the documents and permits.

Toward the end of August, Brazilian officials announced the arrest of eight key members of a group responsible for the majority of illegal logging in the Amazon, and another six were still at large. Since the arrests, the rate of deforestation in the area has fallen from 13.1 square miles per week to zero in the first week of September. This was welcomed news, given that Brazil has previously been plagued with controversy involving corruption where the environment is involved.

In an effort to stop deforestation elsewhere in the world, Norway announced they will pay Liberia US$150 million to stop cutting down trees. BBC reports that the Ebola outbreak may increase in illegal logging in Liberia as many are desperate and strapped for cash. A portion of the money from Norway will be used for surveillance crews and equipment, with communities getting paid to protect the forest. 

[Hat tip: Discovery News]

Read more: http://www.iflscience.com/environment/destruction-amazon-rainforest-visible-space

6 Ways to Get Free Shipping Every Time

Amazon-box-cat

If you’ve been procrastinating on your holiday shopping, you’re in luck: Today is the fifth annual Free Shipping Day, when more than 1,300 merchants will provide free shipping, discounts and delivery by Christmas Eve.

This event is a great way to save, but there are a lot of other things you can do to minimize your shipping charges, both this holiday season and all year long. (Why pay that extra $7.95 if you don’t have to, right?) Here’s your complete guide.

1. Chat it Up

Shipping charges are the No. 1 reason online shopping carts are abandoned. Retailers know this, and if you get all the way to checkout and hesitate before clicking “Buy,” they’re sometimes willing to throw in a discount in order to make to the sale.

So, try keeping those live chat help windows open for once, and ask to get free shipping with your order. Even if they say no, they may have other coupon codes you can use for an extra discount.

2. Apply a Coupon

When you don’t have any luck asking customer service for a better deal, take matters into your own hands with one of the numerous coupon sites out there. As the name implies, FreeShipping.org is one of the best places to track down free delivery—it features coupon codes and other deals for more than 4,000 stores.

3. Buy in Bulk

As with most good things, there’s often a catch for free shipping: Many merchants want you to place a minimum order before you receive the service. While it doesn’t make sense to spend more than you planned just to meet the threshold, you can plan your shopping strategy accordingly to meet minimums. If you can find gifts for everyone at one or two retailers, for example, you’ll likely save in shipping costs by ordering everything all at once.

4. Get a Subscription

If you’re a frequent online shopper, it might be worth paying a small fee to receive free shipping with every order. Services such as ShopRunner partner with most major merchants to provide free two-day shipping. While there’s a yearly fee of $79, you can sign up for a free 30-day trial to take advantage of the service through the holidays. (Just remember to cancel before the trial is up or you’ll be automatically enrolled and charged the annual fee.)

Similarly, check out Amazon Prime. In addition to free two-day shipping on Amazon orders, the service also includes access to streaming videos and e-books.

5. Pick Up in Person

In recent years, site-to-store shipping has become increasingly common. Major retailers such as Best Buy and Walmart provide the option to have an online order delivered to a local store at no additional cost. All you have to do is stop in and pick it up at your convenience. Amazon is even getting on board with the recent introduction of locker delivery in Staples stores.

6. Dare to Compare

Free shipping with every order is ideal, but sometimes it’s actually a better deal to pay for shipping. Since merchants know free shipping is so desirable, they’ll sometimes increase product prices to make the offer available. So, before you buy anything, take the time to compare a few different sites. Low-cost flat rate shipping combined with a lower total price can end up saving you more than free shipping alone.

Photo courtesy of Flickr, formatc1

This article originally published at The Muse
here

Read more: http://mashable.com/2012/12/17/get-free-shipping/

Amazon Expands Grocery Service to L.A.

Groceries

Amazon announced Monday that it is expanding its AmazonFresh grocery service to Los Angeles, confirming last week’s reports.

Residents of Los Angeles can now place orders for same-day and early morning delivery on a selection of fresh produce and items from local restaurants. Amazon’s other products, like toys and electronics, can also be included in same-day delivery orders.

Amazon pledges to deliver orders placed by 10 a.m. in time for dinner, and orders placed by 10 p.m. in time for breakfast in “select” L.A. zip codes. See if your address qualifies by logging in to AmazonFresh.

But delivery isn’t cheap. To secure early same-day and early morning delivery, L.A. residents must sign up for a AmazonFresh Prime Amazon Prime Fresh membership at the cost of $299 per year. This membership includes all the benefits of a standard $79-per-year Amazon Prime subscription, such as access to Amazon’s Prime Instant Video catalog and its Kindle lending library. Amazon is offering existing Prime subscribers a free 90-day trial of the new delivery service, which will automatically upgrade to an AmazonFresh Prime membership unless cancelled.

AmazonFresh has already been operating in Amazon’s hometown of Seattle for the past six years. According to Reuters, Amazon is looking to open AmazonFresh in San Francisco later this year, and locations in up to 20 other urban markets in 2014.

AmazonFresh poses a threat primarily to FreshDirect, another online grocery. It also could disrupt the $600 billion supermarket industry.

Image courtesy of Flickr, qmnonic

Read more: http://mashable.com/2013/06/10/amazonfresh-los-angeles/

Amazon Prime Air Delivers Packages With Drones Commercial

Amazon Prime Air Delivers Packages With Drones

Amazon has just unveiled this commercial for their much anticipated drone deliver program, Amazon Prime Air. Soon, the skies will be full of small, unmanned drones delivering packages with no human required.

The goal is to have packages delivered to customers in as long it would take to go to the store and back, about 30 minutes. 

But don’t expect to use the system just yet, as there are many technological and regulatory hurdles to jump.

  

Read more: http://www.viralviralvideos.com/2013/12/02/amazon-prime-air-delivers-packages-with-drones/