- Created on 16 April 2013
(CNN) -- Smartphones are powerful tools, and with the right apps and accessories, they can become even more so. A California-based tech company has launched a tool that turns a regular iPhone 4 or 4S into a powerful biometrics scanning tool. AOptix has unveiled its app and a wrap-around device for turning the smartphone into a portable iris, face, fingerprint and voice scanner.
The hardware and software system, the first of its kind for the iPhone, is called AOptix Stratus, which comprises both the iOS app --- which will cost $199 --- and a wrap around device for an iPhone 4 or 4S. The app uses the iPhone camera to snap pictures of faces and record voices, while there's an extra camera that does iris scanning and a small sensor to scan fingerprints. AOptix will also release a software development kit to its customers so they can customize the app to their own needs.
In February, the Department of Defense paid AOptix $3 million to develop an enhanced solution using the tool that's being launched today.
The idea behind this system is to make biometrics recognition easier and mobile. Think of a border protection agency that could use iris recognition at an airport's customs checkpoint, or a police or law enforcement agency that needs to verify identities on the go and can't afford large, cumbersome hardware to do so. That's where Stratus comes in.
Making the system work on an iPhone makes everything easier. "If you used an iPhone before, you can use this," said AOptix's Director of Product Marketing Joey Pritikin.
In a teleconference demonstration, Pritikin showed how the system works. The user inserts the iPhone in the device, plugging it in using the 30-pin connector, and then launches the app. The app interface is user-friendly and simple, and lets the user register the biometrics of the person in front of him with relative ease. Using an iPhone also lets the app register GPS coordinates and transmit all the data through the phone's mobile Internet connection.
The app is designed to help the user determine the distance at which to stand in front of the other person and automatically takes a picture when the subject is in the right range. This automatic capture works both with the iPhone camera and with the built-in iris scanner. All pictures taken are stored and easily accessible within the app. The app allows the user to create a person's profile including his or her iris, face, voice, fingerprints and biographical information. This trove of data is then accessible with the tap of a finger.
Pritikin explained that when they started working on the project, they had to decide whether they wanted to use an off-the-shelf product like the iPhone, or develop their own, perhaps using a platform like Android. But they eventually settled on the iPhone for various reasons.
"It is very secure as a platform, which is, naturally, important to our customers," he said. "[It is] very stable, you can buy the same device globally. They have a very strong ecosystem for supporting accessories like the one we created."
Pritikin declined to say how much the device costs, stressing the fact that it is not a consumer product but, rather, it is intended for companies or government agencies. Stratus could be used at border crossings, during disaster relief operations (when regular infrastructure for identity verification isn't present), for remote mobile banking or even remote healthcare.
Countries like India, which is deploying national ID programs to give every citizen a unique number linked to biometric data (PDF), could also be target customers.
Asked if there's any country AOptix would refuse to sell their products to, given that they could be used for surveillance and profiling, Pritikin answered that his company follows the guidelines of the U.S. Department of Commerce and won't export their products to countries like Iran or North Korea.
Pritikin declined to identify specific customers who have already bought Stratus, but said that the first shipments will be at the end of April.
- Created on 16 April 2013
The old saying, “The check is in the mail,” is often a ruse not worth heeding. But beginning April 12, checks will begin going into the mail for 4.2 million mortgage borrowers who were in the foreclosure process in 2009 or 2010 and who likely experienced robo-signing or other deficiencies by their mortgage servicer.
Initially, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) and the Federal Reserve required servicers to hire consultants to do detailed reviews of borrower case files and determine specific harms that borrowers received to qualify for monetary rewards. This process ultimately became unwieldy, slow and expensive without producing timely benefits to borrowers.
Earlier this year, the OCC and the Federal Reserve negotiated a settlement with 13 mortgage servicers. They agreed to pay a total of $3.6 billion in cash payments ranging from $300 to $125,000 to all affected borrowers. More than 90 percent of the payments due borrowers are expected to be paid by the end of April. Remaining borrowers are expected to be paid no later than mid-July.
Borrower payments will be based upon the stage of foreclosure and in some cases, gravity of servicer errors. The largest payments will go to borrowers with completed and wrongful foreclosures. The vast majority of checks payable to borrowers will be for less than $1,000.
The spring 2013 payments will include all but two of the servicers – Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley – agreeing to the settlement. A second and separate announcement in the near future will address payments for the two holdouts
In the meantime, for the other 11 servicers, a payment schedule includes eligible borrowers in any stage of foreclosure in 2009 or 2010 with one of the following servicers, affiliates or subsidiaries: Aurora, Bank of America, Citibank, HSBC, JPMorgan Chase, MetLife Bank, PNC, Sovereign, SunTrust, U.S. Bank and Wells Fargo.
The largest payment of $125,000 is reserved for one of two types of completed foreclosures: military families covered by the Servicemembers Civil Rights Act (SCRA) and loans that servicers foreclosed when borrowers were not in default.
In cases where borrowers were completely foreclosed despite fulfilling all requirements during a trial loan modification plan, or if a servicer failed to convert borrowers to a permanent modification after successfully completing the trial period, a $25,000 payment will be issued.
According to the schedule, additional payments will be made to borrowers experiencing one of the following errors:
- Modification request denied;
- Modification request received; but no underwriting decision reached
- Interest rates charged in excess of SCRA limits;
- Foreclosures begun while borrowers were protected by federal bankruptcy laws;
- Servicer failure to engage borrowers in loan modification or other loss mitigation.
Eligible borrowers were recently notified of their eligibility for payments under the settlement. Any borrower who believes he/she may be covered by the agreement should call toll free at 1-888-952-9105 to verify their inclusion and also update their contact information.
Payment acceptance does not remove any borrower’s right to private legal actions. The agreement explicitly denies servicers permission to ask borrowers to sign a waiver of any legal claims in exchange for payment.
Any borrower needing foreclosure prevention assistance is encouraged to contact the Homeowner’s HOPE Hotline at 888-995-HOPE (4673), or visit www.makinghomeaffordable.gov.
- Created on 16 April 2013
Jan-Pro, a leader in the commercial cleaning industry, has announced that Charity Stephens, of the company's Atlanta office, has been selected as the recipient of the 2013 Unit Franchisee of the Year award from over 10,000 franchisees around the world.
Brad Rush, president and CEO of Jan-Pro of Atlanta, nominated Charity Stephens for this national award.
"Charity epitomizes what an ideal business owner is all about. She develops and nurtures tremendous relationships with her clients," says Rush. "The confidence and trust she is able to establish with her clients through her interactions is the model we try to get other franchise owners to emulate."
In 2006 Stephens and her family moved to Atlanta from Philadelphia. "I always wanted to pursue business ownership, but I knew I needed the backing, support and brand of an established company," she said. She joined the Jan-Pro Atlanta office in 2007. She discovered that the Atlanta market was much different than her Northern roots and the opportunity for growth was tremendous.
Six years later, from a small part-time beginning, Stephens now has a thriving full-time business and has increased monthly billing by 166 percent. "My business has not only been a blessing to my household, but also to the families I am able to employ and the customers I serve," she said.
With more than 90 offices worldwide, Jan-Pro was ranked by Entrepreneur Magazine 2013 as the #1 Commercial Cleaning Franchise and the Fastest-Growing in the world today.
- Created on 16 April 2013
After starting her first business at the age of 14, an Atlanta high school student is about to be recognized for her business acumen under the bright lights of New York City.
Youth Entrepreneurs® Georgia student JuShawn Carter, a senior at Benjamin E. Mays High School, began her business, CakesbyFourteen, in 2009. It has grown over the years and in 2012 generated gross annual sales of more than $6,000 – no small feat for a teenager.
Carter offers decorated cakes from her home and provides a wide variety of tastes and styles. "Growing up, I tuned in constantly to the cake shows, and then my cake decorating hobby became my passion," says the young pastry chef.
"Working with pastries takes a lot of time and creativity. I plan to attend La Cordon Blue and extend my knowledge in the culinary field."
On April 23, 2013, Carter and Franchesca L. Thompson, a Youth Entrepreneurs® Georgia teacher at North Atlanta High School, will be honored at the 25th Anniversary Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) Gala at The Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York.
Youth Entrepreneurs® Georgia is a high school business education program that helps create productive members of society and improve communities by cultivating an entrepreneurial way of thinking.
For more information on Cakesbyfourteen visit cakesbyfourteen.webs.com.
- Created on 15 April 2013
The online magazine AfricanDiasporaTourism.com (ADT) in association with the AD King Foundation will present the African Diaspora World Tourism Awards & Travel Show Expo in Atlanta on Friday and Saturday, April 26-27.
The two-day event will also include an Africana Culture Performances Extravaganza and a Hall of Fame Luncheon. The awards ceremony will take place at the Atlanta Airport Marriott.
The official gala awards ceremony, recognizing people who have made unique and significant contributions in the fields of Black culture and heritage tourism, will take place on Saturday, April 27 beginning with a reception at 6 pm. Noted broadcast journalist Monica Kaufman Pearson is the host for the awards gala.
The African Diaspora World Tourism Awards ceremony will recognize tour operators, travel planners, culture and heritage scholars, tourism ministers and CEO'S, and other professionals in travel. Tribute will be paid to politicians, government officials, and people of all races who have contributed to the development and promotion of culture and heritage tourism in the African Diaspora.
In addition to giving out awards at the ceremony, AfricanDiasporaTourism.com will honor 100 leaders in the Hall of Fame who have made legendary contributions to the field of Black culture and heritage in such a way as to significantly influence tourism.
These include notables like Congressman John Lewis, Mr. And Ms. Muhammad Ali, Ms. Coretta King, Danny Glover, Dr. Julius Garvey, Dr. Asa Hilliard, Bob and Rita Marley, former Senegalese president Abdoulaye Wade, former Ambassador Andy Young, Tavis Smiley, Dr. Maulana Karenga, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, Dr. Jean Ping, and many others. The Hall of Fame luncheon honoring these legends will be Saturday at noon.
The Africana Extravaganza, consisting of cultural performances, artistic exhibits and Diasporic cuisines will happen on Friday at 7 p.m. The Travel Show Expo, which will take place on both Friday and Saturday, will allow tourism destinations, corporations and vendors of the hospitality industry to showcase and promote their products.
For registration and more information, visit www.ADWT-Awards.com. Discounted tables are available for special seating at the Awards Ceremony for organizations, associations and corporations. Travel Show Expo booths are available for businesses and vendors. Call 404-549-7215 or 404-784-4095 for further details.