The Story of the Barcode: Past, Present, and Future

(NewsUSA) – Same-day delivery. Self-checkout. Buy online, pick-up in store. Countless modern shopping conveniences that are currently available can be traced back to the debut of a seemingly simple technology with a powerful impact on global commerce – the barcode.Today, the barcode is used by millions of people everywhere, every day. However, its creation required decades of collaboration with grocery industry leaders to establish its design, use, and ultimately cement its place in retail. This year, we celebrate the definitive moment in history when 45 years ago, the first Universal Product Code (UPC) was scanned – a milestone that led to unprecedented economic opportunities and the variety of shopping options we enjoy today. The Barcode’s Origins Few shoppers today remember a time when product prices were manually entered at a cash register. Before checkouts featured barcodes and scanners, long lines snaked throughout the supermarket and shoppers waited impatiently. Grocery stores were desperately searching for a way to improve efficiency and profits.Inventor Norman Joseph Woodland and his research partner, Bernard Silver, began work on a solution to the grocers’ problem in the late 1940s. Woodland’s inspiration for the first barcode occurred when he drew a circular, bullseye-shaped design with a bar and space pattern in the sand while living in Miami Beach. However, it took more than 20 years for the idea to be fully realized. Advances in laser scanning technology created renewed interest in barcode development in the early 1970s. Woodland was working at IBM, when his colleague, George Laurer, created the linear UPC barcode – that version was ultimately selected by the grocery industry in 1973 and continues to be printed on products. The Uniform Product Code Council (later rebranded GS1) was named the barcode administrator in 1974 to issue product identification numbers to be encoded into barcodes, known today as the Global Trade Item Number (GTIN). The organization set guidelines for its use and began testing it.On June 26, 1974, the UPC barcode made its debut at the checkout counter of the Troy, Ohio Marsh Supermarket. The first item scanned was a ten-pack of Wrigley’s Juicy Fruit gum, priced at 67 cents. The local newspaper headline read: "Local Marsh Store Features Computerized Checkout System." Today’s Impact and Opportunity Today, the barcode is scanned more than six billion times a day globally. Multiple versions and uses of the barcode have emerged over the past few decades. QR codes, for example, provide consumers with detailed product information with the scan of a smartphone. Barcodes and their associated numbers have also become an important part of e-commerce by helping to make products easier to find online and that the right product arrives at the consumer’s doorstep.While barcodes have improved the consumer experience, they have also transformed businesses. For example, barcodes help manufacturers and retailers track products in the supply chain and play a major role in inventory management. Advanced barcodes can help manufacturers and retailers pinpoint products during a recall, or identify counterfeit goods so that they can be removed from stock. What’s Next? Looking to the future, business leaders are evaluating how the barcode can evolve to meet the changing needs of consumers and industries. Future barcode uses will focus on empowering consumers with more information, as the smartphone continues to be an essential shopping assistant. For example, web-enabled barcodes will expand on what’s already been made possible through QR code or barcode scanning to connect the shopper to more trustworthy information, such as how-to videos, discount offers, and shopper reviews.Also, future shopping experiences are likely to include many more internet-connected devices – for example, a dressing room mirror that can automatically suggest another style or size. As these innovations become mainstream, the identification standards that power the barcode are critical to ensuring that the products offered match the personalized needs of the shopper.GS1 US is continuing the same pioneering spirit established 45 years ago by helping businesses all over the world continue to grow. More than 300,000 businesses large and small turn to GS1 US for their barcoding and identification needs, and recognize the value of launching products with identification that is universally-accepted by leading retailers, distributors, and other business partners. To learn how GS1 US enables business success, please visit www.gs1us.org/45thanniversary.

39 Million Hugs and Counting – Amma Visits US, Toronto

(NewsUSA) – Mata Amritanandamayi, or Amma, as she is called, is a world-renowned humanitarian and spiritual leader whose life of service has inspired millions of people to help others.Saddened by the poverty she saw around her in rural India as a young girl, she resolved to improve the lives of the needy, sharing whatever she had with them and consoling them with a motherly hug. Since then Amma has embraced more than 39 million people across the globe, inspiring a global network of charities known as Embracing the World along the way.Inspired by Amma’s dedication and tireless service, Embracing the World volunteers throughout North America serve more than 150,000 meals to the homeless and hungry each year and conduct other charitable projects.Amma is one of the most accessible humanitarian and spiritual leaders in history. She has visited the U.S. yearly for more than 32 years, and while here, she spends a remarkable 12 to 15 hours with the public every day. In each city, Amma gives talks, leads prayers for world peace, gives one-on-one advice, and embraces the people who come to see her. People of all faiths and walks of life attend Amma’s programs, viewing Amma as a source of inspiration and solace as well as a model of hope, love, and selfless service in these difficult times. Whenever she is asked about her religion, Amma replies, "My religion is love."Amma has been honored with several international awards, including the prestigious Gandhi-King Award for Non-Violence, the James Parks Morton Interfaith Award, and the Cinema Verité Award for humanitarian and human rights work.In December of 2014, Amma joined Pope Francis and 10 other global spiritual leaders from a range of faiths to sign the Declaration of Religious Leaders Against Modern Slavery.Upon presenting Amma with the Gandhi-King Award for Non-Violence at the United Nations in 2002, renowned primatologist Dr. Jane Goodall said, "I believe (Amma) stands here before us, God’s love in a human body."Amma is touring North America this summer from June 6, 2019, through July 18, 2019, with free public programs in 11 cities, including Seattle, San Ramon, Los Angeles, Santa Fe, Dallas, Atlanta, Boston, New York City, DC, Chicago, and Toronto. For dates, locations and any additional information, visit www.amma.org. Each city has programs that are free of charge and open to all. 

Hazards That Are Most Likely To Hurt Your Tires

Consider this: getting a spoon stuck in your tires is more of a likelihood than you may have thought.

According to a new national survey of auto service professionals, this common kitchen utensil is a potential hazard – albeit one of the more unusual ones – likely to damage your tires if you’re not careful about where you’re driving. The four tires on your car are the only thing connecting your vehicle to the road, and they also affect everything from handling to braking, playing a critical role in your safety. Given their part in keeping you safe, it’s worth taking the time to take care of your tires – especially when there are so many (potential) hazards to look out for.

Retailers Embrace AI Tech for Improved Customer Experience

(NewsUSA) – Artificial Intelligence is becoming commonplace across major industries and retail is no exception.The retail industry is looking for ways to keep up with the times and many companies have started implementing AI technology across the entire product and service cycle – from assembly to post-sale customer service interactions.Major retailers such as Walmart, Sephora, Walgreens, North Face, Uniqlo, West Elm, and Macy’s are using AI to enhance customers’ experiences at their stores while also improving security. AI Applications in Retail While hardware giant Lowe’s uses small robots to give directions and help customers navigate a large hardware store, Walgreens is using technology to track the spread of flu, based on the locations of customers picking up prescriptions so they can alert customers to the flu activity in their area and stock more flu-related products.Another example is makeup company Sephora, which now uses AI technology in many of its stores to scan customers’ faces and help them choose the perfect shade of blush, lipstick, or eyeliner without having to test multiple products.Meanwhile, a Walmart store in New York is becoming the "store of the future" by incorporating the latest AI technology. The store’s smart cameras will have the capability to alert workers when items are out of stock and even let them know when a bunch of bananas has gone bad. Providing a Customizable Retail Experience Artificial intelligence is being used for everything from preparing packages in warehouses to enhancing security to creating a customized experience for consumers.One company that is delivering solutions to retail and security is VSBLTY Groupe Technologies Corp. (CSE:VSBY) (OTC:VSBGF). VSBLTY is at the forefront of making AI work in the retail space, developing innovative facial recognition software and interactive digital screens that will provide retailers with a multitude of AI features.VSBLTY’s VisionCaptor content management system brings interactive messages to any digital screen and provides insights on customer demographics and emotional states, allowing engagement with consumers in real time.By commanding guests’ attention with dynamic digital displays, custom content can be provided based on what the display camera "sees," while gaining valuable insights in real time. Through engaging digital assets such as animations, photos, videos, and multimedia content, VSBLTY software creates a complete customer experience through digital displays, which can be utilized in transit hubs, entertainment and sports venues, grocery stores, drug stores and, really, any retail environments.What’s more, VSBLTY’s VisionCaptor can be integrated with other technologies, including RSS feeds, QR codes, and Bluetooth."Using Edge- and/or Cloud-enabled digital display solutions, retailers can now enhance guest experience with proximity-aware, interactive brand messaging triggered by demographic, identity or even sentiment, while simultaneously gaining groundbreaking levels of measurement and actionable insights," according to the company’s website. Offering Enhanced Security Features VSBLTY has also developed AI solutions that enhance security.VSBLTY Vector is focused on security solutions that combine video screens with facial recognition software and criminal databases in order to identify "persons of interest" or individuals carrying weapons. Cameras are embedded in screens and can identify individuals alone or in crowds more effectively than overhead cameras, and can allow for demographic and emotional recognition as well as facial and object recognition.By teaching computers how to skillfully interpret their surroundings, VSBLTY software can contextualize all of the information about those surroundings and deliver it to the end-user vetted and streamlined for the particular security application.VSBLTY is publicly traded on the Canadian Securities Exchange, OTC, and Frankfurt, with the symbols CSE:VSBY, OTC:VSBGF, and Frankfurt: 5VS. 

The Best Kept Secret: 529 College Savings Plans

When paying for your child’s college education, what you don’t know really can hurt you.

We’re talking 529 plans. The’ve been in existence since 1996, but a new survey from Edward Jones found that 67 percent of Americans don’t have a clue that they provide a tax-advantaged way to save money for tuition, books and other qualified education-related expenses at most accredited two- and four-year colleges, universities, and vocational-technical schools. Worse still, that 67 percent figure is 5 percent higher than it was the first time the survey was done in 2012.

Canadian CBD Company Is on Explosive Track for Growth

(NewsUSA) – As the CBD industry continues its growth spurt in the United States, new research suggests that it is poised to take off in Europe as well.Data from the Brightfield Group, a market intelligence firm for the cannabis and CBD industry, estimates that the European CBD market will grow by more than 400 percent over the next four years, through 2023. CBD is just gaining traction in much of Europe, which means opportunities for companies to expand there.StillCanna, a publicly traded Canadian-based CBD company trading on the Canadian Securities Exchange and the OTC Markets in the U.S. under the symbols CSE:STIL and OTC:SCNNF, is taking advantage of this opportunity.StillCanna recently acquired Olimax as part of a two-stage plan that involves building an additional extraction facility in Poland. This partnership positions Stillcanna to take advantage of the fact that Poland had no legal restrictions on CBD use. The acquisition provides Stillcanna with a vertically integrated licensed cultivator, extractor and formulator of CBD. In addition, StillCanna has partnered with Bioscience Enterprises of California to provide up to $36 million (Canadian) worth of CBD isolate."One of the many benefits in our acquisition of Olimax in Poland is its infrastructure, including buildings and existing licenses to extract CBD. By having these licenses in place, Olimax alleviates what could be a lengthy bureaucratic process to obtain such licenses," explains StillCanna CEO Jason Dussault.StillCanna is committed to improving CBD extraction processes and lowering costs while using organic, clean methods with no CO2 in its extraction methods or carcinogens in the production process."At the core of the company’s competitive advantage is its Extraction system and related project management skills, as well as functional expertise in the key areas of genetics, cultivation, extraction and post-processing," according to the company website.By being a first mover for CBD isolate production in Europe and controlling costs, StillCanna could potentially hit profit margins as high as 718 percent, given the increased demand for hemp products for distribution in retail outlets such as Walgreens and CVS.Another recent coup for StillCanna is a contract to be the sole extractor of hemp-based products for one of Europe’s largest hemp retailers, U.K-based DragonFly Biosciences; the deal is estimated to be worth approximately $48 million over the next three years. 

Deception Road Takes Viewers On A Thrill of A Ride

Five words or less(NewsUSA) – When you combine the acting talent of Thomas Haden Church (Sideways, Spiderman 3, Divorce), Alice Eve (Before We Go, She’s Out of My League), and Finn Wittrock (La La Land,The Big Short, Unbroken, American Horror Story) with a twisted tale of deceit, passion, and dark humor, what do you get?
Deception Road, an upcoming film set for production in the summer of 2019.
The story gets rolling when the character of Oscar (Wittrock) is traveling through the American Southwest. He hitches a ride with haunted war veteran Hal (Church), but all is not as it seems, and a simple car ride is only the beginning of a complex and mysterious journey. Instead, Oscar finds himself in the middle of a game of cat and mouse with Hal, his lovely, young wife, Jessie, and the situation goes from bizarre to dangerous, but with a dose of dark comedy. The cast is rounded out by newcomer Jack Tynan.
The film is being produced by Wild Invention Pictures along with George Parra and Michael Goodin. It will be shot on location in Utah, where the stark, stunning landscape serves as an ideal background for the mystery and danger that unfold. The screenplay was written by Dallas Mitchell Brennan and will be directed by Max Mayer, whose credits include Adam and As Cool as I Am.
“I look forward with great joy to working with such a dynamically gifted team to tell a story I find so darkly funny, compelling, and emotionally truthful,” says Mayer.
The film will be distributed domestically by Smith Global Media, headed by CEO Harry Smith.
“The Smith Global team is excited to have acquired the domestic distribution rights to Deception Road. This quirky thriller will entertain diverse audiences and the wonderful cast is bound to deliver exceptional performances,” says Smith.
The film is financed by executive producer Neil Shroff and has an excellent shot at artistic and commercial success based on its combination of stellar acting and tight plot. Early analytics suggest that it will be popular with a large range of audiences, which makes the film a great opportunity for investors.
Investment opportunities are available at deceptionroadmovie.com.
“We are excited to bring this film from script to screen as it has the potential to become an enduring classic working with Max Mayer and this talented production team and cast,” says Brennan.
Visit deceptionroadmovie.com for more information about the movie, the production team, and investment opportunities.

The Rise of Digital Wallets and Mobile Payments

(NewsUSA) – More businesses and countries worldwide are embracing digital payments as a way to make e-commerce more efficient and create a smoother transaction experience for consumers.Digital wallets, such as uBUCK, offer a dollar-backed stable token built on Waves blockchain technology, one of the fastest blockchains available. uBUCK’s technology allows for the management of both digital and traditional currency, and both online and offline purchasing power."Piloted by an all-star management team, uBUCK is looking beyond carving out a niche to become a disruptive player in this ever-changing payments industry," according to the company’s website.The uBUCK digital wallet allows for instant transfers of funds, and unlike some digital wallets, uBUCK is not limited to the United States. Transfers can occur globally, with no transfer fees and no cost to the end user.The elimination of transfer fees is one of uBUCK’s strongest selling points, as it is an option for those who don’t have traditional bank accounts, such as migrant workers looking to send money home, or for anyone else, such as parents sending money to kids at college who want to avoid the additional fees associated with some financial transfers.Users of uBUCK can transfer funds, make online purchases, or withdraw cash at an ATM, although reports on digital wallet use suggest that the expanded technology may ultimately replace the need for bank branches and ATMs.Sending money with uBUCK is a simple, four-step process:* Buy the voucher. Users download the uBUCK app and purchase a voucher.* Buy uBUCK cash. Users redeem a PIN to purchase uBUCK cash.* Select recipient. Users without a uBUCK account will be invited to the app via email.* Send payment. Users can then enter the payment amount, send, and confirm."Our mission is to put honesty, transparency, and trust back into software," according to Ashik Karim, CEO of LiteLink Technologies, the parent company of uBUCK Technologies. LiteLink was recently featured in a Forbes magazine article, "10 Blockchain Companies to Watch in 2019."LiteLink is publicly traded on the Canadian Securities Exchange and OTC Markets. Their symbols are CSE:LLT and OTC:LLNKF.

Esports Popularity Piques Investor Interest

(NewsUSA) – The Esports and global gaming industry has exploded in recent years as people of all ages turn to video games for entertainment over movies and music. In fact, the annual revenue from the gaming industry was higher than music and movies combined in 2018 and is expected to more than double in the next two years.Esports involve multiplayer video games that are played competitively by both professional and amateur gamers for spectators. These can be first-person shooter games (FPS), multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) games, real-time strategy (RTS) games, sports games, fighting games – the list goes on.As with other professional sports leagues, Esports has its own universe with a full range of opportunities for smart investors looking for the next wave. Esports Industry Fanbase on the Rise First, there are the players themselves, many of whom have earned worldwide fame, recognition, and income from victories in Esports competitions. One example is the 2018 International DOTA 2 tournament in Vancouver, which featured an impressive $25 million USD prize pool.The Esports audience is also increasing, as more fans tune in to watch amateur and professional gamers compete. The fanbase has already grown exponentially, with roughly 25.7 million Esports viewers in the US alone last year. That number is also expected to skyrocket in coming years, up to 300 million frequent viewers worldwide by 2022.Companies are seeing the huge potential of Esports, with big names like Activision Blizzard (NASDAQ: ATVI) signing on to distribute tournaments, while online advertising and corporate sponsors provide most of the revenue for gaming companies. Investing in the Esports Industry There are a number of ways for investors to get in on the action, from investing in Esports game developers and publishers to digital media platforms and Esports tournaments.Although the video gaming industry is dominated by massive game publishers such as Sony, Tencent Holdings Ltd., and Apple, there are a number of smaller companies that are gaining attention.One of which is Axion Ventures (TSX.V:AXV) (OTC:AXNVF), which just received a vote of confidence from Apple for its recent joint-venture-released mobile video game, INVICTUS: Lost Soul, the first AAA-quality, Esports-focused mobile game created in Thailand.Axion Ventures is a video gaming company that holds majority ownership in Axion Games, an independent AAA-game development studio and game publisher headquartered in Shanghai. Axion also co-founded True Axion Interactive Ltd. (TAI), a video-game development company in Bangkok, Thailand, with True Corporation.TAI released INVICTUS in April and quickly garnered serious support when Apple decided to include the game in a press event it hosted in Singapore last week.The company also sealed a huge deal with Tencent for its game, Rising Fire, which saw the industry giant feature the game as its flagship product in 2017."Axion Ventures has an incredibly diverse range of companies in its portfolio: everything from AAA online video games, to companies utilizing location-based services to offer marketing automation solutions," says Axion Ventures CEO and chairman John Todd Bonner in a statement on the company’s website."The common thread which ties all of us together is our tolerance for taking calculated risks, our passion for building world-class industry-leading businesses and our singular focus on creating huge enterprise value for our shareholders," he adds.Axion Ventures is also getting in on the Esports tournament action. The company announced that it will be hosting an inaugural Esports tournament showcasing INVICTUS, which will be played by up to 5,000 players in Thailand starting in July 2019. The tournament will feature prize pools starting at 110,000 THB ($3,502 USD) for the pre-season round all the way up to 1,000,000 THB ($31,838 USD) for the finals.Axion Ventures is publicly traded on the Toronto Venture Exchange and OTC Markets under the symbols TSXV:AXV and OTC:AXNVF. 

Deception Road Takes Viewers on a Thrill Ride

(NewsUSA) – When you combine the acting talent of Thomas Haden Church (Sideways, Spiderman 3, Divorce), Alice Eve (Before We Go, She’s Out of My League), and Finn Wittrock (La La Land,The Big Short, Unbroken, American Horror Story) with a twisted tale of deceit, passion, and dark humor, what do you get?Deception Road, an upcoming film set for production in the summer of 2019.The story gets rolling when the character of Oscar (Wittrock) is traveling through the American Southwest. He hitches a ride with haunted war veteran Hal (Church), but all is not as it seems, and a simple car ride is only the beginning of a complex and mysterious journey. Instead, Oscar finds himself in the middle of a game of cat and mouse with Hal, his lovely, young wife, Jessie, and the situation goes from bizarre to dangerous, but with a dose of dark comedy. The cast is rounded out by newcomer Jack Tynan.The film is being produced by Wild Invention Pictures along with George Parra and Michael Goodin. It will be shot on location in Utah, where the stark, stunning landscape serves as an ideal background for the mystery and danger that unfold. The screenplay was written by Dallas Mitchell Brennan and will be directed by Max Mayer, whose credits include Adam and As Cool as I Am."I look forward with great joy to working with such a dynamically gifted team to tell a story I find so darkly funny, compelling, and emotionally truthful," says Mayer.The film will be distributed domestically by Smith Global Media, headed by CEO Harry Smith."The Smith Global team is excited to have acquired the domestic distribution rights to Deception Road. This quirky thriller will entertain diverse audiences and the wonderful cast is bound to deliver exceptional performances," says Smith.The film is financed by executive producer Neil Shroff and has an excellent shot at artistic and commercial success based on its combination of stellar acting and tight plot. Early analytics suggest that it will be popular with a large range of audiences, which makes the film a great opportunity for investors.Investment opportunities are available at deceptionroadmovie.com."We are excited to bring this film from script to screen as it has the potential to become an enduring classic working with Max Mayer and this talented production team and cast," says Brennan.Visit deceptionroadmovie.com for more information about the movie, the production team, and investment opportunities.