Harness the Power of Your Imagination

Business is an image in the mind of the entrepreneur. To start or expand a business we must imagine what it will become. We will begin to see the image of the journey ahead — inside our minds. Without being about to harness the power of your imagination, you wouldn’t be an entrepreneur.

We see the future in our mind’s eye.

The mind’s eye is a powerful thing. It is entirely separate from the physical eye, in that it sees things that the real eye cannot. Take this Shakespeare quote :

HAMLET:

My father! – methinks I see my father.

HORATIO:
Where, my lord?

HAMLET:
In my mind’s eye, Horatio.

Hamlet is imagining that he sees his father — which we find may encourage or discourage his subsequent actions. Indeed, our experiences in early (and later) life will influence the way we see the world.

The strong influences in the decisions we make.

People often quote things they’ve heard influential people say to them throughout their journeys. These influencers can be parents, teachers, famous business leaders, iconic entrepreneurs — or other relevant people being encountered. Negative experiences can prevent the imagination from running free and act as filters to free thinking.

The famous philosopher Hannah Arendt said that we should “train the imagination to go visiting” and learn to “think without banisters.”

Your power to imagine opportunity in things you see and how they can be developed could well be the key to your future success. I believe fear is a powerful deterrent to imagination and to succeed I think we must think and imagine without fear. How often have you heard it said that “that will never catch on?”

Successful entrepreneurs are optimists — what they imagine, they believe will happen. Then, they make it happen.

Walt Disney had such a creative mind that he employed Imagineers in the making of DisneyWorld in Florida. The current Disney jobs site says that “Imagineering” combines imagination with engineering. Building upon the legacy of Walt Disney, Imagineers bring art and science together to turn fantasy into reality and dreams into magic.

What image of your business do you have in your mind’s eye? What Imagineering are you doing?

When you think of your market, what image springs to mind? What does it look like? Where is it? This is crucial to the subsequent actions you will take. Many people only have an image of the town or city they live in.

What do your customers look like? Can you imagine what it is like to be one of your customers? Are they old, young, middle aged, American, European, Asian, African? These choices are only limited by what your imagination is bringing to you from what your mind has become. Of course, your choice images are not static. Your image and your business will change with discovery. These concepts may be difficult to grasp, upon first viewing — but they are crucial to the path you will undertake. It is your imagination that rules the direction you will follow.

The proof of the pudding is in the eating.

Your image will change with experience and become more connected to the real world. One of the greatest satisfactions I get from business is the successful realizations that my imaginings have brought out and made viable for me. When you are correct, the connection between what you  imagine, and what you make real makes all the difference (after a few false starts, it is important to say). The customers buy the product. My business model worked.

Are you making a movie?

Piero Morosini, the author of “Seven Keys to Imagination: Creating the future by imagining the unthinkable and delivering it” (Marshall Cavendish, April 2011) says that changing the future of a small business is like making a movie. You just have to imagine or embrace a great story and write a fantastic script. Everything else — the actors, set, editing, distribution, and production, and even the direction — can and should be done by other people. Your job is to find, inspire and orchestrate all these extra people (your employees).

What is the future you imagine?

Morosino also says that the future is what you imagine, not what others tell you. Avoid blindly following other people’s analysis of the future. Recent history shows that the likelihood they are right is less than two percent. Look around and trust your observations. Use your imagination to build the future rather than studying other people’s unlikely predictions.

Go out and find out whether your imagination is valid.

Sarvathy et al in Effectual Entrepreneurship (2012) details the process of discovery and confirmation through action. In other words, your imaginings can be tested in the real world and refined through experience. You are going to get things wrong, but the testing is the important part.  Find out whether your imagination had the correct picture of the market, marketplace and the customer. Is this image valid and real at this time?

Be a dreamer and a doer. For example, this advice holds true throughout the entire business process. Being a dreamer and a doer, and testing the market even holds true in areas such as product development and advertising.

Large corporations often struggle to keep imagination alive as they mature.

These larger businesses have players who get immersed in the practical “now” at the expense of the future. Imagination can be crushed. Indeed directors of disruption are now being hired to stop companies falling into the trap of “this is always the way we do things around here.”

The Red Queen in Alice in Wonderland famously said that “sometimes I believe in six impossible things before breakfast.”

What impossible things do you believe today?

Owen O’Brien

Owen is an entrepreneur, teacher, songwriter, and general ideas man and has run several businesses over the past 30 years. Working as a barman, and then a sales representative, he decided to go out on my own when he found that he has no difficulty selling and making deals for other companies.

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4 Email Personalization Tactics That Are Sure to Get Clicks

Email is a notoriously fickle channel. Something as simple as tweaking the subject line can be the difference between an 8 percent or an 80 percent open rate.

Companies that get it right earn an average of $38 per dollar spent, the most of any marketing channel. But for every success story, there are half a dozen marketers wondering why their campaigns fell flat.

Although email campaigns fail for all sorts of reasons, most boil down to a single sin: irrelevance. In the attention economy, one-size-fits-all messaging simply doesn’t work. According to a study conducted by personalization provider Monetate last year, four out of five marketers who met their revenue goals had a documented personalization strategy; just 8 percent of those who missed their revenue targets had one.

Make Them Feel Heard

With email volumes rising by double digits each year, however, crafting effective campaigns is no longer as simple as slapping on a personalized greeting. Consumers want brands to make them feel individually appreciated and understood.

How can you do that for thousands of email subscribers? Try the following tactics:

1. Ask their opinion.

What better way to get personal with recipients than to give them a voice? After its subscribers tuned out one sales email after another, Ticketmaster tried something new. Three days prior to the Video Music Awards, it sent out a live poll asking readers to vote for winners in each of the event’s main categories. The results were unlike anything Ticketmaster had ever seen: an open rate 182 percent above its average, a 0 percent unsubscribe rate, and 80 percent of readers returning to the email to cast a second vote.

Although tools like SurveyMonkey let marketers create their own polls, these methods require readers to click through to a third-party website to cast their vote, reducing engagement. Email customization services like Mixmax enable brands to embed polls and call-to-action buttons, including multiple-choice questions and Q&A surveys, within the body of their emails. This makes it easier for recipients to respond and also helps start a relationship with prospects. Personalized matchmaking service Three Day Rule discovered that sequences including in-body calls to action freed up staff time, allowing their matchmakers to work with 50 percent more clients.

2. Tell them a story about themselves.
Brands are all too happy to tell customers their story, but they tend to leave out the most important character: the customer himself. Consider how EasyJet wrapped its “How 20 Years Have Flown Campaign,” sent for the brand’s 20th anniversary, around the customer’s own experience. The storyboard email includes each customer’s first EasyJet flight, total distance traveled, number of countries visited, frequency of window seating, a trip suggestion, and more. According to EasyJet, the campaign’s open rate was twice that of its typical newsletters.

Customer data is key for this type of campaign. Begin by augmenting your CRM with a customer data platform, which is a marketer-managed system that unifies customer data across multiple sources. Unlike most CRMs, CDPs update profiles in real time, ingest all kinds of data, and offer cross-company access.

3. Recognize their loyalty.
“Happy birthday” emails are fun, but they’re a dime a dozen. Take event emails a step further by rewarding longtime readers for their loyalty. To celebrate one user’s two-year subscription anniversary, news service TheSkimm asked her if she’d like to become a brand ambassador. To receive the title, she had to share a link with 10 friends — an easy, brand-building task that gave her the sense she’d earned it.

Not only do anniversary emails work for all subscribers, but they also work for all brands. Recipients don’t have to input any additional data, and companies can adjust the timeline according to their product cycle. All this tactic takes is creative copy and planning around the award.

4. Warn them about the weather.
When it comes down to it, the weather is just about the only report that’s relevant to everyone. Fortunately, it’s also relevant for plenty of companies. Poncho, the now-defunct weather cat, built an entire business model on customized weather emails.

Although daily weather updates wouldn’t make sense from most brands, companies ranging from REI to John Deere can deliver personalized value by warning subscribers when severe weather might threaten their outdoor adventures or harvests. Best of all, marketers can use Zapier to integrate weather and email marketing tools without writing a single line of code.

Dozens of factors influence an email campaign’s effectiveness, but most trace back to a single question: Do they make the reader feel valued? From the subject line to the greeting, effective campaigns are built around that principle. Those that don’t won’t convert — assuming they’re even opened — and no amount of clever copy or mobile optimization can change that.

Brad Anderson

Brad Anderson

Editor In Chief at ReadWrite

Brad is the editor overseeing contributed content at ReadWrite.com. He previously worked as an editor at PayPal and Crunchbase. You can reach him at brad at readwrite.com.

How Personalization 4.0 Can Boost Your Event Experience

Defined personas and established communication styles are the hallmarks of old-school marketing personalization techniques. Today, organizations of all kinds target specific groups of their audiences with segmented content. But where engagement is concerned, the most effective communication is enabled by letting audience members identify their own groups.

If you want to put a label on the strategy, try this: personalization 4.0.

As former Urban Outfitters marketing executive Dmitri Siegel put it, personalization helps us “stop marketing dresses to men.” Sure, that statement might have originally been aimed at brands selling products — but it’s applicable to employees as well. With the growing amount of information online, event marketers need to get on the personalization bandwagon and use that data to personalize the event experience, not just the customer experience.

Updating Your Personalization Strategy

So what’s the best way to spark this new personalization strategy? First off, marketers should let their users lead the way. Content users select can be used to generate an individualized profile that includes a score or rating for given areas of interest. In other words, users should be able to define what they’re interested in by visiting pages and interacting with content.

Typically, however, users have to actively identify content they deem relevant. Twenty-seven percent of content marketers have been relying on manual processes for content creation and personalization while just 5 percent rely on full automation. Using AI and IoT sensors can help marketing teams recognize users as they search the web or walk the floor of a conference, then make content recommendations based on past behavior. That’s the next step toward better personalization.

Cues from these sensors can help AI programs construct a user profile based on attention-based metrics, offering subtle, immersive content suggestions. And as a bonus? More accurate user profiles help marketers spend their time more wisely. Think back to that 27 percent versus 5 percent. Imagine the time marketers save when processes are automated!

How Can AI Help?

Fun fact: There’s more than one way to effectively apply AI in this context. The best solution for you depends on what you’re looking for. But defining categories — and some parameters within those categories — can help identify the kinds of content interest your users most.

When you group communities by interest, you can send group members recommended content based on the ways they’ve engaged with content. Let’s say 50 of your event attendees have watched one of your videos, read your e-book, and downloaded a whitepaper all on the same general topic. Our AI tool can help identify and group those users together and send them more related content or encourage those 50 users to network or interact on the basis of their shared interest.

Then, at the event itself, you can give participants smart badges that collect information about which sessions, booths, and experiences they visit. If there’s a correlation between those actions and the content they consumed before the conference, your AI tool can help you build models for the communities to which attendees belong. Think forums for like-minded people to talk about best practices in their fields, all based on the interests they shared online and in person.

AI-enhanced personalization techniques such as these smart badges ensure that customization doesn’t come with Big Brother-level strings; they primarily benefit the attendees receiving those tailored touchpoints rather than exclusively existing to serve event-owner metrics. Anticipating what people want at an event can be a gray area riddled with offhand opinions. By understanding exactly what they want according to their past choices, you can analyze the input that users are giving in real time. As AI and machine learning continue to mature, you’ll be able to dig up more granular information that will, in turn, become more meaningful for users.

Launching Personalization 4.0

Events have a shelf life, sure, but there’s at least three to four months of communication leading up to that event. Then there’s the week on-site and follow-up communication. The way your attendees engage with — or, let’s face it, don’t engage with — that pre-event content can inform the content you should serve them week-of and in the following weeks.

Collecting this information and driving interactions with AI ensure that you’ll be better able to pivot and talk to audience groups you might not have noticed before. The major benefit of the bottom-up approach instead of top-down persona categories is that you’ll be able to stay agile with communications on the basis of new information and to not work with false assumptions that, over the course of a live event, you have no way to confirm until well after the fact.

Personalization is a data-heavy topic, but it doesn’t have to be with AI. Plus, it’s as much of an emotional connection as a statistical one. For events, incorporating personal elements of recognition such as user-submitted photos into the experience is paramount. Tailoring communications to be efficient is one thing, but it’s just as important to emotionally connect with your users to keep everyone engaged.

The strategy of increasing personalization has been the norm for marketers for several years now, but it’s really only getting started. As AI and machine learning become more powerful, you will be able to harness their potential to create an immersive experience that will last long after your events — and that follow-up communication — have ended.

Alex Nuttall

Alex Nuttall

Associate Partner and Digital Strategist at Kindle Communications

Alex Nuttall is an associate partner and digital strategist at Kindle Communications. Kindle creates strategic and innovative events, communications campaigns, digital solutions, and development programs.

These 3 Technologies Will Save Your Business Money

Let’s face it — it’s difficult to keep up with the pace (and price) of new technologies. Business owners face a barrage of new technologies, all promising revolutionary results. Wading through the hype can be time-consuming, but the right investments will reap dividends that more than make up for their cost.

Technological advancements offer the ability to make processes more effective and efficient, from cloud computing for scaling processing power to green technologies that decrease energy consumption and save on electricity bills. And with the advent of artificial intelligence, many time-consuming processes can be outsourced to software. Not only will this work be accomplished with a higher degree of accuracy, but valuable human resources will be freed up to pursue more pressing objectives.

Thoughtful, intelligent investment in innovations like these can help almost every kind of business succeed. To save both time and resources, the following three technologies, in particular, are worth pursuing.

1. Reduce waste with inventory management technology.

According to Wasp Barcode, an astounding 43 percent of small businesses either don’t track their inventory or are stuck using outdated manual methods to do so. Ultimately, these businesses are missing out on data that’s essential to making informed decisions. Leading retailers, which have long leaned on big data to optimize their inventory, are starting to take their efforts to the next level. Target, Walmart, and Lowe’s are now testing the use of robots to scan store shelves and further automate their inventory management processes.

Information technology consultants such as Pariveda Solutions, a strategic services and IT consulting company, can build multichannel inventory management systems that function in real time. In one case, Pariveda helped a global packaging company with five separate inventory-tracking systems save several million dollars annually by creating an integrated inventory solution. Through effective inventory management, businesses can boost their resource efficiency in order to maximize profit and minimize the amount of capital tied up in warehouses.

2. Ensure safety and savings with cybersecurity investments.

Protecting a business against cybercrime is a costly endeavor, and Ponemon Institute research suggests that the average enterprise falls victim to around 130 successful cyberattacks in a year. Not surprisingly, repairing the damage from these attacks is costly — almost $12 million, on average — even as these organizations must also spend huge amounts protecting themselves from many other unsuccessful attacks.

Because businesses have a limited budget for cyberdefense, they must focus their efforts on the most efficient means of protection — namely, deploying security intelligence systems. These systems will protect valuable data while producing an average cost savings of more than $2 million compared to other defenses such as perimeter controls or automated policy management.

3. Scale customer service efforts with AI bots.

Millennials are leading the charge toward automated customer service, and IBM reports that 65 percent of them favor this form of interaction over talking to live agents. That’s good news for businesses, as conversational bots can scale to accommodate any demand.

Customized bot creation can be accomplished with AI agency partners. IV.AI, for example, uses AI to help businesses such as Netflix and Sony increase their revenue while decreasing costs. IV.AI also worked with Aeromexico to automate an astounding 96 percent of its customer service demands. According to CEO Vince Lynch, “conversational AI is a ‘customer whisperer’ that’s capable of navigating buyers’ needs and emotions with minimal human input.” In other words, it can lower the demand on business resources while improving customer experience and satisfaction.

Technology is rarely a set-it-and-forget-it method of solving business dilemmas — more often, it comes with a significant learning curve. But when users overcome this obstacle and familiarize themselves with new tech, it generally makes their lives easier and more efficient. Especially when businesses have well-defined processes, it can be hard to go out on a limb and make investments that don’t appear essential. In many cases, however, the benefits will greatly outweigh the costs — it’s only a matter of time.

Brad Anderson

Brad Anderson

Editor In Chief at ReadWrite

Brad is the editor overseeing contributed content at ReadWrite.com. He previously worked as an editor at PayPal and Crunchbase. You can reach him at brad at readwrite.com.

What to Consider When Leveraging File Sharing

File sharing with your team, partners, vendors, and customers has raised productivity and efficiency levels to new heights. However, it’s also led to some challenges that must be addressed in order to continue leveraging the benefits of this process.

In the early days of this file and folder management technique, teams were happy to collaborate on a level that didn’t involve sending endless email attachments after every document revision. Instead, they now had access to one master document and one gallery for visuals that could be accessed from any device.

Now, with security issues, greater use of temporary freelance talent, and more available sensitive data or proprietary information, file sharing has become a more complex process that involves many decisions. Before you share a file or folder, ask yourself these questions:

What is the individual’s role?

First, are they internal staff or external like a freelancer, customer, or vendor? Knowing what they do for the company will dictate what level of files and folders they should access. Not only does this protect critical information, but it also ensures nothing is inadvertently deleted or changed.

For example, if the individual’s role is to produce content, then they would only be provided access to one folder where they could share their work. However, they might be provided access to a photo or graphics folder to enhance their content.  

How will they be using the files or folders you share?

The purpose of accessing files is also important. Think about who will need to review, comment, edit, and approve what is in a particular file before sharing it.

The answer will guide the type of access you give. You may set a file to view-only when that individual only needs to read a file versus editing anything in it. Even in view-only mode, you can still allow them to make comments; they just can’t edit anything.

Then, there may be other situations where view-only means online access only. You can disable their download capability. This ensures none of the information is copied or taken for some other purpose.

Or, if the individual needs to use a folder that is full of photos, memes, or video footage, then you can create a subfolder with only those files relevant to their project rather than access to the entire gallery. Alternatively, you can choose to just share one or more image files.

What length of time will the individual work with your company?

Since many projects involve a freelancer, it’s important to limit the amount of time each person has access to certain files and folders. One of the latest features available that addresses access time is a tool that lets you set an expiration date for file sharing.

Once you set the expiration date, you won’t have to remind yourself to change access and passwords when the project is finished and the freelancer is no longer involved. Or, if you determine that a freelancer will remain onboard, you can remove the expiration date, giving them ongoing access as a regular employee.

Does the individual have a specific clearance level?

With growing security concerns faced by many companies, it’s also critical to consider clearance level as a parameter for file sharing decisions.

For example, government organizations or companies that are contracted to do work for governments must undergo security checks for each person involved. From there, individuals on the team are provided with a clearance level that dictates what they can read or work on.

Therefore, align file sharing accessibility with your company’s security framework. This helps to ensure no information is left vulnerable within a subfolder or stray file.

What information about the project do you need to track?

When projects involve numerous team members all of whom may be adding comments or edits, it’s critical to determine how many “chefs” you want in the file “kitchen” and how you can track what they do while there.

For example, you may want to see who has looked at the file to ensure everyone is staying current on their responsibilities. Or, if there is an issue related to the changes, it helps to see a version history so you know who made what changes and when in order to resolve those disputes.

Also, think about who should receive notification for a particular project. For example, not everyone assigned to a project needs to get alerts about edits or document changes. Therefore, this will guide how you set the notification filters.  

Overall Process

File sharing delivers convenience, collaboration, and productivity. However, to get the most out of it while maintaining data security, you need a thoughtful approach for file and folder management. That means considering each person’s role, project involvement, security level, and length of time to determine filters and access levels for everyone on your team. By formalizing the file sharing process, a standard can be established for consistent actions and results. Therefore, everyone from the existing team to new hires and future freelancers know how your file sharing process works.

This is a sponsored post for Dropbox. All opinions are my own. Dropbox is not affiliated with nor endorses any other products or services mentioned.

 

Brad Anderson

Brad Anderson

Editor In Chief at ReadWrite

Brad is the editor overseeing contributed content at ReadWrite.com. He previously worked as an editor at PayPal and Crunchbase. You can reach him at brad at readwrite.com.

Top 27 Tech Gadgets and Cool Products for Your 2018 Holiday Wish List

With Black Friday — well, on Friday — we have the holidays fast approaching. It’s time to create your own holiday, tech gadgets and cool product gift list. Be sure to check it twice.

To help you wrap up all those great holiday gift ideas for friends, family, and especially for yourself, we’ve selected 27 of our favorite items:

1. FlexiSpot Bike Desk

The FlexiSpot Bike Desk makes a great gift for anyone who feels they are trapped at their desk with no time to exercise. The bike allows you to put the pedal to the metal and just keep working without any noise or distraction. The FlexiSpot bike desk is available on Amazon for around $400, the bike desk is easy to assemble and doesn’t take up a lot of space. This makes it ideal for a home office space.

2. Energix Charger

This cool mobile phone charger helps sustain those older phones, which can be helpful for those who are not always upgrading to the next phone model as soon as it’s out. The Engergix charger is thin and lightweight. It’s extremely powerful, filling your smartphone with a charge that keeps it going longer than an ordinary charger.

The company offers home and car charger versions ($50 each) to ensure your phone stays charged. Also offers a USBC, Android, or iOS adapter ($16 each). So, you don’t have to worry if your recipient doesn’t have a compatible phone. The chargers and adapters are available through the company’s website.

3. Xtra PC

Your thrifty friend or family member will appreciate Xtra PC because it will save them from shelling out a lot of cash to get new computer equipment because their current one is so painfully slow. This device is a flash drive stick that you put into an available USB port.

There is no need for any installation; it simply goes to work to reignite the performance on the PC its plugged into. Available through the company’s website as well as Amazon. There are three versions to choose from that offer increasingly more storage, power, and speed that are priced from $35 to $80.

4. UHoo Indoor Air Quality Sensor

Help provide healthy air to loved ones with the uHoo Indoor Air Quality Sensor. Beyond just one factor about air quality, this device gives you a total of nine factors that impact what you breathe in your home or office. It works with your WiFi as well as connects to numerous smart home devices. The uHoo indoor air sensor is priced at $329 with free shipping direct from uHoo or Amazon.

5. PhoneSoap Phone Sanitizer

While we all know our phones have become germ factories, we don’t often do much about it. PhoneSoap plans on changing all of that during the holiday season with its phone sanitizer. Any germaphobe in your life will love to receive this innovative product. It uses UV light to safely and non-toxically sterilize your cell phone, destroying 99.9% of bacteria in just a few minutes.

There are even charging ports that let you charge your device while it’s cleaning. The phone sanitizer is available in many colors through the company’s website, as well as other online retailers like Amazon. Prices start at $60 for a standard size while larger sizes and packages with two or more sanitizers vary.

6. SkyLink TV Antenna

Get more people to cut the cord with their cable providers thanks to the SkyLink TV Antenna. It’s a small, indoor digital TV antenna that doesn’t require any complicated set-up, software installation, or WiFi to work. Although the reception varies across areas due to terrain and surroundings, it is possible to view live broadcasted TV in 1080p HD for free. You can purchase it from SkyLink for as little as $31.

7. Neato Botvac D7 Connected Robot Vacuum

The Neato Botvac D7 Connected Robot Vacuum elevates the features and performance compared to other robot vacuum models. It’s lightweight, easy to use, and gets the job done thanks to artificial intelligence and advanced room mapping technology. This means it can navigate around furniture better and cover more area. The Neato robot Vacuum retails for $799 and is available from Neato’s website or retailers like Amazon, Wellbots, Best Buy, and others.  

8. Eight Sleep Tracker

Give the gift of great sleep with the Eight Sleep Tracker, a smart mattress cover and app system that tracks sleep patterns and provides personalized recommendations and a conducive environment for better sleep. It features sensors that send data directly to the AI-enabled app to record all types of information about your sleep patterns.

The app will recommend changes for a more restful night. Prices range from $399 to $419, depending on the cover size. You can buy it directly from the company’s website and the app is also available in the Apple app store or Google Play.

9. GoSun Solar Cooker

For the person in your life who prefers to live off the grid or anyone looking to shrink their carbon footprint, the GoSun Solar Cooker is a unique way to cook meals. Using the power of the sun and an evacuated glass tube that absorbs and converts sunlight to heat. You’ll be able to cook meals at home or on the go, such as at your tailgating party or going on a hike.

The company has an online shop to buy the various solar cookers, including the portable cooker for $139, the GoSun sport cooker for $249, and the grill for $699. Other options for solar cooking are also available.

10. MindInsole Foot-Massaging Insoles

Some items on this year’s list provide technology that actually helps the body – versus all those other tech gadgets you use. This one leverages magnetic technology to create an innovative massaging insole that goes to work with every step you take.

The MindInsole uses the magnets and acupressure to locate energy zones in the body. The result is increased blood flow and oxygen, alleviating soreness and stress on your feet. The $39 insole can be purchased from the company’s website and fits most shoe styles, such as boots, heels, and running shoes.

11. NightGuide HD Driving Glasses

NightGuide HD has a unique way to improve how well you see when you are driving at night. These high-quality glasses have German resin polarized lenses, which helps them resist scratches and dirt. The technology filters harsh light and defuses the glare that comes from reflective surfaces both of which adversely impact driving at night.

The glasses also work in the daytime, blocking 100% of the UVA and UVB radiation. You can buy them directly from NightGuide with one pair priced at $50 or you can get two for $70 or three for $90.

12. Vizr Vehicle Display

Vizr is a vehicle display app that works with your smartphone and is designed to keep you safe on the road. It’s a thoughtful gift this holidays for teens, seniors, and drivers of all ages. To stop distracted driving, Vizr does all the work, including checking maps, traffic, and your speed. You’ll easily keep your eyes on the road.

The sensor plugs into your vehicle and connects to the free app that works with iOS and Android devices. You can buy it through the company’s website. One sensor costs $59, or you can choose to buy more and get two for $88 or three for $118.

13. FlyGrip Phone Holder

Since our phones never leave our hands, we often are trying to balance it, use the keys and so much more, and that’s when we inevitably drop our phones. Instead of cracking another screen, gift the FlyGrip phone holder, which lets you hold your phone easily in one hand.

This one-handed phone grip secures to your phone or phone case and then doubles as a portrait and landscape stand. It works with all types of phones. Buy it from various online retailers or directly from the company for $30.

14. FlexSafe Travel Safe

FlexSafe is the perfect gift for the traveler in your life because it helps keeps valuables safe on-the-go. The founders of this company were winners on Shark Tank and have gone on to win other awards for their innovative product. It offers a portable safe that is easy to carry.

The water-resistant travel safe features an internal zipper pouch and mesh pockets plus a universal-fit locking flap and a programmable lock. This product is available through the company’s website for $40.

15. UBTECH Alpha 1S Robot

Kids, teens, and even adults will enjoy interacting with the UBTECH Alpha 1S Robot, which is designed to provide hours of entertainment, exercise, and learning. It can be programmed with Blockly coding within the app to customize the robot’s movements and actions. The robot and app are compatible with PC, iOS, and Android. You can buy the robot through Amazon for $450.

16. Victorinox Lexicon Hardside Frequent Flyer Smart Carry-On Suitcase

This smart suitcase is a business traveler and a tech lover’s dream. Besides all the room you get inside to bring as much on as a carry on instead of check your bags, this luggage offers superior product design, including polycarbonate shell, molding technology, and super-recessed wheels.

The hidden ID tags include a toolkit that has a USB port for connection to a power pack (separate purchase). The suitcase also has puncture-resistant double racquet coil YKK® zippers and an integrated Travel Sentry® Approved combination lock. Made by the Swiss Army brand, the suitcase is available on their website for $460.

17. Canon Ivy Mini Photo Printer

Printed photos are still a treasured memento. To make it easier in the digital age to add some nostalgia to our lives, Canon offers the Ivy Mini Photo Printer. This device allows you to print peel-and-stick 2″ x 3″ photos from your smartphone and some social media platforms.

Before printing them, add your fun custom features like frames, emojis and stickers, and filters and text. Other options include tile or collage printing. The photos are water and tear resistant as well as smudge-free. It’s quick and easy to set-up with a printer so you can print photos within minutes. Buy it through Canon for $130.

18. CrashSafe Survival Tool

CrashSafe offers a six-in-one survival tool that will help your loved one should they ever be trapped in a vehicle crash. It plugs into your vehicle’s cigarette lighter or 12V port so it’s always ready and within reach. It features a seat belt cutter and window breaker, a LED light and flashing beacon, and a phone charger with a USB port and built-in power bank.

The company’s website features one tool for $49, three for $98, five for $147, or ten for $245. This way you can give out as many of these practical tools as possible.

19. LEGO Boost Creative Toolbox

This LEGO kit combines building, coding, and imaginative play for kids, ages 7 to 12, and their parents who want to help out. It comes with a free app that helps kids build and code five different models. There are 840 LEGO pieces, a LEGO Move Hub, Interactive Motor, and a Color and Distance Sensor. The Move Hub has Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) connectivity, two encoded motors, and more. It’s available on LEGO’s site as well as through other retailers for $160.

20. The PhotoStick Plus

The PhotoStick Plus gives you more control over your personal data versus entrusting it to a third-party cloud platform. This latest version of the PhotoStick gives you 1 Terabyte capacity so it can store thousands of photos, videos, documents and music files. It’s one click of the included software and all this precious data is securely stored.  The storage device is available on the company’s website. Usually, the price is $300, but it is available on sale for the holidays for $190.

21. Magicup Anti-Spill Coffee Cup

UK-based Magicup has developed anti-spill technology and an innovative coffee travel cup that’s perfect for your favorite coffee lover. The unique lid ensures that no bumps or movement will create a spill. That’s because the lid snaps shut if the cup tilts on a table – yet it has “360-degree drinkability” so you can drink anywhere around the lid. Priced at $29, you can order it on sites like The Grommet.

22. Adidas MiCoach Smart Soccer Ball

Technology and data are spreading to the world of sports equipment thanks to Adidas and their MiCoach Smart Soccer Ball. It’s a training tool for placing kicks that include an integrated sensor. The sensor collects data on strike points, speed, and trajectory when kicking the ball.

It works with mobile devices that use iOS (version 7 or later), Android (version 4.3 or later) or Windows 10. The battery life lasts for about 2,000 kicks or one week and takes about an hour to charge. It’s available on Amazon, it costs approximately $150 plus shipping.

23. Mevo Plus Live Action Camera

Mevo offers a portable live action camera that makes live streaming so much easier. It gives you multi-camera production capability so you can easily zoom, pan, and edit with its suite of video tools. The camera also leverages artificial intelligence for the editing functionality.

You can choose to go live to every major platform via Wi-Fi or LTE. It’s possible to record HD videos 
directly to your SD card or also stream them to sites like Vimeo, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter
, or a custom RTMP destination. The Mevo Plus is $500 or the Mevo Plus Bundle with extra accessories is $800. These are available on Mevo’s website and on other retailers site’s, like Amazon.

24. Dango Tactical EDC Wallet

Dango offers the tactical EDC wallet, which not only uses RFID blocking technology to keep your information secure, but it also features all types of tools and gadgets in a lightweight wallet (only two ounces before adding cards and money); made of aerospace grade CNC’d aluminum.

The wallet comes with the Dango Multi-Tool made of high carbon stainless steel and features ten functions like a saw, knife, smartphone stand, ruler and more. This is for the outdoor enthusiast who also happens to be a tech lover. You can buy it from Dango’s website or get the Dango for $89 from Amazon. 

25. Polaroid OneStep 2 VF Viewfinder Instant Camera

Polaroid’s iconic Viewfinder camera is back with a vintage look but with the latest technology and relevant features so you can still take those selfies. The OneStep 2 allows you to take authentic pictures without all the filters and print out snaps to share with friends.

It combines the digital with the traditional for around $120 in white or black. Or, for $140, you can get the limited edition mint color. Polaroid’s online store and a wide array of offline and online retailers have it ready for the holidays.

26. Coway Airmega 400S HEPA Air Purifier-Wifi Model

The Coway Airmega 400S HEPA Air Purifier is an ultra high-tech air purifier, offering WiFi capability and a mobile app. It also covers an expansive area of close to 1,600 square feet, making it ideal for offices, garages, and other large spaces. Using multiple filters, it cleans the air of dander, fur, dust, odor, and more.

The app allows you to get reports about indoor and outdoor air quality. With the app or Alexa, you can also control the air purifier from anywhere, personalizing it for your needs and setting a schedule for when it is in use. Priced around $650, the air purifier is available through Coway’s website and some retailers.

27. Santa Claus Dollar Bill

Finally, whether you know a child or “a kid at heart,” the Santa Claus Dollar Bill is a pretty cool gift that also makes for a great collectible. That’s because it’s real currency that could be spent (but you definitely want to keep this one!). Priced at $3.49 for each one-dollar bill, the special Santa money arrives with a card that focuses on the spirit of Christmas, adding extra cheer. It’s a definite item to add to the stocking stuffer list!

Brad Anderson

Brad Anderson

Editor In Chief at ReadWrite

Brad is the editor overseeing contributed content at ReadWrite.com. He previously worked as an editor at PayPal and Crunchbase. You can reach him at brad at readwrite.com.

Bitcoin Price Claws Back to $4,500 But Further Losses May Lie Ahead


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The bitcoin price on Tuesday nursed extensive losses of over 12 percent against the US dollar, stabbing through $5,000 as it did.

BTC/USD Intraday Analysis

The BTC/USD index is currently trading at the 4513-fiat price level after a minor jump from its intraday low at 4035-fiat. The knee-jerk reaction after a massive sell-off does not confirm a substantial bias shift. It looks more like a bear pennant formation that is likely to extend the bearish action as it overreaches its downside targets.

BTC/USD 1H CHART | SOURCE: COINBASE, TRADINGVIEW.COM

The little rise we are looking at could just be traders closing their short positions. It doesn’t guarantee any substantial accumulation. The BTC/USD rate, therefore, could consolidate for a while before forming another bearish flag, this time targeting new supports for a potential reversal.

Indeed, the world’s leading digital currency is behaving like a reckless altcoin after weeks of stability. It doesn’t leave retail investors with any choice but to wait for things to settle down. Analysts are calling the bottom like they always do, but real accumulation could only appear when big-pocket bulls buy the dip. The events taking place in the bitcoin cash market are leaving investors no choice but to wait.

Our intraday analysis, therefore, can only provide for day traders willing to catch the falling knife. Approach with caution.

As BTC/USD forms a bearish pennant, we are testing its levels as a sign for out breakout/breakdown targets. That said, a jump above the upper trendline could have us enter a long position towards 4797-fiat. Similarly, slipping below the lower trendline could allow us to watch 4313-fiat as our short target. In both places, we are maintaining our stop losses tightly — just 2-pips opposite the direction of the price action would be enough to define our risk management perspective. Period.

Bitcoin Price Weekly Outlook

BTC/USD 1W CHART | SOURCE: COINBASE, TRADINGVIEW.COM

A weekly chart provides us with a better outlook of how bitcoin could behave in the future. With Bakkt delaying its launch, the market has every reason to test the lower trendline of the falling wedge pattern. That somewhat coincides with levels around $3,500, a prophesied bottom. Breaking below it would put pressure of calling bulls on 2982-fiat, a level that had a decent historical significance during the August-September 2017 session.

Meanwhile, the RSI is already oversold, and the Stochastic Oscillator could join the club if BTC/USD dips any further. The RSI, in particular, has never been inside the oversold area, barring the initial days of trading. Traders can be hopeful of a recovery — but not sure.

The technical definition of a falling wedge pattern also indicates a breakout session to the upside. Therefore, the BTC/USD pair should consolidate inside the range and ultimately attempt a breakout to as high as 7500-fiat.

Until then, we are speculating highly on the events from the mainstream space. Weak dollar, interest rate hike, bitcoin ETF, Bakkt, and even a financial meltdown — the holders have enough reason to speculate on the market that is just maturing.

Featured Image from Shutterstock. Charts from TradingView.

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