Batteries and business in Brazil

Jessica Orwig – Physics Today, 7/18/2014

When Italian physicist Alessandro Volta was electrocuting frog legs in the 19th century, he was unaware of how vast and significant his subsequent discoveries would be for science and industry. In 1800 Volta designed the world’s first battery, which is not too different from the one that powers your smartphone today. Amy Prieto wants to change that.

Prieto is an associate professor at Colorado State University’s chemistry department. In 2008 she cofounded Prieto Battery. Today’s batteries are too expensive to produce, and they display “low battery” too soon after charging for Prieto’s liking. That is why she and her company are working toward a novel design that is 10 times more powerful, 5 times longer lasting, and less expensive than any battery on the current market.

“We’re trying to build this dream battery with these pretty amazing attributes. But the way that we make it is also pretty unusual,” says Prieto, who is one of many speakers presenting at this year’s Industrial Physics Forum (IPF) Conference on Industrial Physics in Emerging Economies II at the University of Campinas in São Paulo, Brazil.

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More than half of Brazilian households lack internet access

Angelica Mari – ZD Net, 3/24/2014

New research on telecommunications services in Brazil revealed that only 40.8 percent of households have internet access, the main barrier being the price of computing devices and access services.

The numbers of the research System of Indicators of Social Perception (SIPS), undertaken by the Brazilian Institute of Applied Economic Research (Ipea) show that the remaining digitally excluded households do not have internet access due to not owning a computer (59.6 percent), not being able to afford access services (14.1 percent), not having the need for internet (8.7 percent) and not knowing how to use it (4.3 percent).

Regarding the price of the devices, 34 percent of the households that do not own a computer said they would pay between R$300 ($129) and R$800 ($344) for a computer. Most Brazilian large retailers sell basic desktops for at least R$1000 ($430), which partly explains the recent rise in popularity of low-cost tablets as entry-level computing devices.

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Brazil upgrades Air Traffic Technology for World Cub and Olympics

Global Travel Industry News, 4/4/2014

In the run up to the FIFA World Cup™ this year, and the Olympics in 2016, SITA is working with the Comissão de Implantação do Sistema de Controle do Espaço Aéreo (CISCEA) in its drive to upgrade Brazil’s air traffic management technology. CISCEA is the body responsible for developing and implementing new technologies for DECEA, the Brazilian Air Navigation Service Provider.

SITA, the world’s leading provider of air traffic management communications and IT solutions, already provides Departure Clearance (DCL) and Digital-Automatic Terminal Information Service (D-ATIS) datalink services at both Antonio Carlos Jobim International Airport in Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo’s GRU Airport. These solutions will now be extended to 23 airports across Brazil.

Major Brigadier Carlos Vuyk de Aquino, President of CISCEA, said: “Brazil has the busiest airspace in South America and we are very proud to be hosting two of the world’s biggest sporting events. We want everyone flying to, from and within Brazil to have smooth and uneventful journeys. It is therefore essential that our air traffic managers have access to the very best technology available.

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What’s holding back Brazil?

Otaviano Canuto – Project Syndicate, 2/21/2014

One often hears that Brazil’s economy is stuck in the “middle-income trap.” Since the debt crisis of the 1980’s, Brazil has failed to revive the structural transformation and per capita income growth that had characterized the previous three decades. But, with the right mix of policies, it could finally change its fortunes.

The prevailing explanation for Brazil’s failure to achieve high-income status lumps the country together with other middle-income economies, all of which transferred unskilled workers from labor-intensive occupations to more modern manufacturing or service industries. While these new jobs did not require significant upgrading of skills, they employed higher levels of embedded technology, imported from wealthier countries and adapted to local conditions. Together with urbanization, this boosted total factor productivity (TFP), leading to GDP growth far beyond what could be explained by the expansion of labor, capital, and other physical factors of production, thereby lifting the economy to the middle-income bracket.

Progressing to the next stage of economic development is more difficult, reflected in the fact that only 13 of 101 middle-income economies in 1960 reached high-income status by 2008. According to the dominant view, success hinges on an economy’s ability to continue raising TFP by moving up the manufacturing, service, or agriculture value chain toward higher-value-added activities that require more sophisticated technologies, higher-quality human capital, and intangible assets like design and organizational capabilities.

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Rio: Brazil’s silicon beach

Jonathan Watts – The Guardian, 2/8/2014

Anyone doubting Rio de Janeiro’s techward shift need only look at the famous pavement mosaics that mark the promenade along Copacabana beach. The black and white patterns have traditionally resembled the waves across which early settlers and modern tourists travelled. Last year, however, that antique, analogue design has been partly reconfigured to reflect a digital future with the addition of tiled QR codes for smartphones.

The pavement symbols link to online maps and tourist websites. That should be useful to the throngs of visitors expected in this resort during this year’sWorld Cup and the 2016 Olympics, but the significance goes far beyond the mega sporting events.

The tiled codes are a small part of an attempted makeover of party-town Rio into a Latin-American technology hub. Driven by multinational tech companies, local startups and city universities, the mayor, Eduardo Paes, is trying to shape a future for this resort that is as much about being smart as having fun. This is partly an attempt to ride a nationwide trend. Brazil – which is vying with France and Britain to be the world’s fifth biggest economy – is belatedly embracing wireless technology and social networks. Thanks to a surge in recent years, there are now more mobile phones (268.4m) in this country than people. Tablet sales have jumped from 220,000 at the beginning of 2012 to more than 5m today. And Facebook use has increased to the point where Brazil is now second only to the US in terms of the number of users.

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Biggest Brazilian tech fest kicks off

Angelica Mari – Brazil Tech, 1/28/2014

The largest technology event in Brazil has opened its doors for the general public today and will focus heavily on entrepreneurship and new business development.

Tickets for the seventh edition of Campus Party are sold out. Some 8,000 young techies will be camping in a space within the convention center in São Paulo where the week-long festival is taking place. In addition, about 160,000 visitors are expected to attend the event until Sunday (2).

When announcing this year’s agenda for the festival and the departure from the previous focus on “nerd” subjects towards start-ups, Campus Party founder Paco Ragageles said this year’s event would be a “Disneyland for entrepreneurs”

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Big Data in Brazil: 2013 is the year of adoption

Angelica Mari – ZD Net, 11/25/2013

This is the year of adoption for Big Data in Brazil. A new report issued by the industry analyst Gartner that surveyed 720 global organizations has found that most companies they talked to are planning a Big Data implementation though few can say they have projects that have already been implemented.

Finance, services, media and communications are the industries where Big Data is being used first. The Gartner survey reveals that 39 percent of media and communications companies have already invested in Big Data followed by 34 percent in the banking sector then 32 percent of other service companies.

The industry segments showing the greatest planned spending on Big Data are transport with 50 percent of companies planning budget for projects in the next two years, followed by health at 41 percent and insurance at 40 percent.

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Local hero

The Economist, 11/09/2013

IN THE late 1970s Bill Gates predicted “a computer on every desk and in every home”. Laércio Cosentino, an engineer at SIGA, a Brazilian maker of software for mainframes, concluded that therefore every small firm in his country, even the ubiquitous street-corner padari a (bakery), would eventually have one too.

In 1983 Mr Cosentino, then just 22, convinced his boss to set up a separate business to concentrate on serving small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Thirty years on, the company, nowadays called Totvs (pronounced “totus”), dominates Brazil’s $1.9-billion-a-year market for enterprise software. Investors have piled in. On October 22nd Totvs disclosed that the world’s biggest fund manager, BlackRock, had increased its stake to 5%.

Brazil has the world’s seventh-largest economy and is ninth in terms of the number of PCs installed. Totvs supplies roughly half of all business software and services on its home turf, either directly or through franchises, reckons Gartner, a research firm. The share exceeds 60% among SMEs. This makes Totvs the world’s sixth-biggest business-software firm.

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Why apple’s first retail store in Brazil is actually a really big deal

Roberto A. Ferdman – Quartz, 10/29/2013

Apple is about to take its much-awaited leap into Latin America.

According to Apple news site 9to5Mac, Apple is aiming to launch its first retail store in Brazil by March 2014. The store, which has been under construction since last year, will be located in Rio de Janeiro.

The move into Brazil is a big deal. Smartphone sales, for one, have been booming in the region — sales jumped by 53% in the first quarter of 2013 alone, and grew more than in any other region in the second quarter — and Brazil, Latin America’s largest economy, has a lot to do with it. Customers in the country are so enamored with iPhones that many are willing to pay upward of $1,000 for Apple’s new 5c, which retails for about $550 in the U.S. Furthermore, Latin America is quickly becoming a digital-age goldmine. Internet penetration currently hovers around 45% in the region, and more than 250 million people are now connected to the Internet. Very soon, Latin America will have more Internet users than the U.S. and Canada. Sales of laptops and tablets in particular are set to skyrocket as more and more people move away from desktop computers in the region.

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At U.N., Brazil’s Rousseff blasts U.S. spying as “meddling”

Daniel Trotta – Reuters, 09/24/2013

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff on Tuesday criticized the United States for spying, using the opening speech at the U.N. General Assembly to announce Brazil would adopt legislation and technology to protect it from illegal interception of communications.

Rousseff last week called off a high-profile state visit to the United States scheduled for October over reports that the U.S. National Security Agency had been spying on Brazil and Rousseff’s email.

After opening with diplomatic pleasantries and a condemnation of the shopping mall attack in Kenya, Rousseff launched into a blistering attack on U.S. spying, calling espionage among friendly nations “totally unacceptable.”

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