Everything and the Kitchen Sink and Water Heater

Several years ago, people hardly paid attention to their air conditioners until they stopped working. And then came NEST, the thermostat technology that got people talking about indoor climate control. Now, people will probably talk about everything and the kitchen sink and water heater, because ICT has also found its way to them.

Rheem, which is among the top American water heater brands, has already released a Wi-Fi module for gas and electric water heaters. The module allows you to remotely monitor water heaters, control their energy use, and be notified about malfunctions or other possibly pricey problems. The module will control all Rheem water heaters and HVAC devices, and is heralded as a great illustration of how home automation and green technology can come together.

Water heaters used to be overlooked by green technology, because those wanting to save on energy usually turn to tankless water heaters (like those at Anything Water). However, tankless water heaters have limitations when used in big homes. For example, most brands and models often struggle to supply hot water to a dishwasher and two showers at the same time.

Traditional tank water heaters can more easily handle such load, but they are a major power hog. They can account for as much as 18% of a household’s energy consumption, because they run 24/7 even when they don’t have to. But with the Wi-Fi module installed, they can now be remotely controlled via Rheem’s free EcoNet app for smartphones. Using the app, you can program schedules according to your usage and lifestyle, while also being able to make changes on the fly. For example, you can set it on vacation mode and then have it running just a little before your return.

We may not had the joy of having fine control over a water heater before, but now we want to have it from all our appliances. And as more people become energy savers and technology savvy, the future home will be a connected one with the help of ICT.

New Meets Old: How ICT Boosts Vinyl Record Sales

Recent research suggests that the sales of vinyl records are being driven by apps or sites such as Spotify and YouTube. This is but another example of how new information and communication technology — music streaming, in this case — can help revitalize an old industry.

In a poll conducted by market research firm ICM Unlimited, 50% of vinyl buyers say that they streamed an album before making their purchases. Such practice was observed to be common among people who use ad-supported apps and sites like Spotify and YouTube, thus implying that free music may indeed drive the sales of other music products.

Interestingly, the same research revealed that also almost half of those who purchased records last month are yet to play what they bought. Furthermore, 7% of those who joined the survey stated that they are yet to own a record player too.

The reasons for such observations vary, with some survey respondents saying that they buy vinyl records to use them as decors because of their old-school vibe. Others, meanwhile, say that they purchase vinyl copies to financially support their favorite musicians. The rest, on the other hand, just want to have music they can hold and physically own just like in the past.

The comeback of vinyl records is among the music industry’s most unexpected success stories, specially in a time where the sales of music are dwindling continuously. Two years ago, 2.1 million vinyl records were sold to music aficionados as demand surged for 8 consecutive years.

Data from the Official Charts Company (which compiles the UK Albums Chart, among others) imply that the surge has spilled into this year, with 3 percent of UK’s music market already accounted for by vinyls in the first quarter of 2016 alone. Also, only 3% of women bought records 3 years ago, compared to the 5% that do so nowadays.

That said, vinyl records are still a small slice of the music pie. Around 73% of music is bought online, while only 1 in 10 people purchase vinyl records. Nonetheless, the case of vinyl records has shown that new ICT can actually both disrupt or resurrect old industries.

ICT Roundup: Art, Business and Both

This is a roundup about how ICT can improve our lives. In this edition, we take a look at how it can enhance art and entrepreneurship and the mixture of both. Subscribe to The ICT Bulletin to stay up to date with the latest ICT features around the world.

How ICT can invigorate entrepreneurship through the youth

The YSSE or Youth School for Social Entrepreneurship recently organized the “ICT-based Entrepreneurship for Youths,” a whole day workshop held at the Rajshahi University in Bangladesh. Md Shah Azam, the Rajshahi University Teachers Association general secretary, says that the workshop was in support of their vision to create a young, but capable manpower for the ICT industry.

According to him, the Bangladesh government has taken strides in providing training and education to around 55,000 ICT students to supply skilled manpower to ICT companies in the coming 2 years. He adds that ever since 2013, around 34,000 youngsters have undergone training in information and communication technology and that a huge number of those are female.

Artists encouraged to use information and communication technologies

Terrence Musiyiwa, director of Avac Arts, says that local artists should utilize the internet and other ICTs to hone their craft and to grow their business. Avac Arts is a contemporary visual art group in Zimbabwe that is an advocate of African art and which helps artists in selling their work via ICTs. They also help artists in joining traditional promotional activities, like exhibitions from the local to the international level.

Since launching their website in 2015, Musiyiwa says that they have helped sell artworks of around 50 artists already. Avac Arts aspires to be the hub of Zimbabwean art, and is currently looking for artists, bloggers and IT volunteers among others to realize such aspiration. You may visit AvacArts.com for more details and information, and to see a gallery of Zimbabwean art.