Several teams from agencies spent Tuesday and Wednesday participating in a “change for good” hackathon. The competition—organized by Huge, Amazon and the international advocacy group Global Citizen—aimed to raise awareness for international issues while also creating a platform for teams to develop ideas on the ground to become real products and services benefiting people around the world.
While ideas submitted included a way to assist Alzheimer’s patients in remembering daily routines, a “smart buoy” to test water quality and an interactive podcast, the winning submission focused on helping women arrive home safely at night. The concept, titled “Walk With Me,” uses Amazon Alexa to create the “first female AI bodyguard.” (The team cites the root word for Alexa, Alexandros, which means “defender of man.”)
Why It’s Hot
This is a platform that can be used to end poverty and hunger, improve health, promote gender equality and gain access to clean water.
Instagram announced Wednesday its plans to increase the time limit for video posts in an effort to pull users from its competitor, YouTube.
Currently, Instagram’s time limit for video posts is one minute, but the plans are to bump that up to 10 minutes. For accounts that get a larger following, like Kim Kardashian, videos will be able to go for a full hour. These could be viewed either through Instagram or the IGTV app.
YouTube is currently the top video app. According to Pew Research Center, 72% of US teens age 13-17 use Instagram vs the 85% that use YouTube.
Why it’s hot:
Facebook, Instagram’s parent company, will have more opportunity to sell ADVERTISING!
Facebook is lacking on the younger age demographic and this might help them out.
Hotel service is getting a major upgrade. With Alexa for Hospitality, Amazon will help hotels manage and customize how their Echo speakers can work harder for their guests.
With an Echo speaker in each room, guests will feel right at home with the commands they use every day like turning the lights on and off, setting alarms, playing music and making phone calls. But even more importantly, Alexa will supplement hotel staff by taking on the functions of ordering room service, requesting room cleanings, providing information like pool hours, and helping guests check out. Amazon is also providing a digital platform to help hotels manage hundreds of Echo devices in one centralized view.
Along with the announcement, Amazon notes they are already working on enhancements. In the near future, guests will be able to temporarily connect their own Amazon account to the device in their hotel room, meaning preferences like favorite music and personalized details like contacts will be accessible. Upon checkout, the speaker will reset for the next guest.
Why It’s Hot:
Alexa for Hospitality can help hotels truly deliver the level of comfort and convenience their guests expect. As it continues to evolve, hotels should see significant operational efficiencies while guests enjoy all the benefits of a virtual concierge.
Facebook announced they are piloting a program to allow group administrators to start charging $4.99 to $29.99 a month for exclusive membership to their groups. The types of groups that will be involved in the initial testing are parenting, cooking, and home cleaning groups. Facebook will select a few of them to take part in the program.
Group admins have been looking for a way to earn money to deepen engagement with their members. Last year, Facebook helped set up a program to support video creators on their platform, and they believe supporting group administrators will lead to higher quality content overall. Participating consumers will enjoy the exclusivity of membership, but it may drive existing members away. At the moment, Facebook will not receive a cut of the subscription revenue, but that may change as the program advances.
Why it’s Hot:
Facebook will try to replicate the success of platforms like YouTube and Twitch who pay their creators to create good content. But it will be interesting to see if existing members will welcome a fee if their administrators decide to go forward with it.
Some are saying Facebook’s latest interactive video polling features look familiar…
Rather than build its own HQ trivia competitor, Facebook is launching a gameshow platform. Today the company announced a new set of interactive live and on-demand video features that let creators add quizzes, polls, challenges and gamification so players can be eliminated from a game for a wrong answer.
“Video is evolving away from just passive consumption to more interactive two-way formats,” Facebook’s VP of video product Fidji Simo tells TechCrunch. “We think creators will want to reward people. If this is something that works with Insider and Confetti, we may consider rolling out payments tools.”
Why it’s hot
Facebook claims this latest move is an attempt to make videos more interactive for the sake of its users’ mental health, it seems more likely that the company is banking on the popularity of games like HQ to avoid a repeat of recent video failures. Allowing any creator to make an interactive video, Facebook seems to be hoping that partners like BuzzFeed will bring large audiences to the new feature.
It’s not news that telltale nonverbal signs can reveal when someone’s being deceptive, especially when you see several of the signs together.
Body language experts analyzed White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders’s behaviors and identified times when she lied.
Behavior 1: Emotional Fluctuation
Lying about whether Trump has thought about stepping down in light of the turmoil of the Russia investigation.
In this video, “Sanders shows “substantial emotional fluctuation,” from contempt to high anxiety-fear-regret, back to contempt, and then back to anxiety, said Brown. This is a textbook example of emotional dissonance, or having trouble aligning one’s true thoughts and feelings with one’s words.” (The question begins at 9:28 in this video.)
Behavior 2: Talking Out Of The Side Of Her Mouth
Lying about about Stormy Daniels
In this video at 12:15, “she talks out of the side of her mouth, a sign of either “bravado and hubris, or insincerity and deception” that Sanders displays often.” Facial asymmetry also showed she was lying. According to body language experts, when someone “habitually feels one thing and says another, or keeps their true feelings in.” There is a disconnect between your limbic brain, where emotions are, and the neocortex, or the thinking brain — “where you can consciously control thoughts and words and create lies.”
Behavior 3: Misspeaking
In the same video above, at around 12:26, Sanders pronounces “outside” — as in “outside counsel” — as “out-cod.” While almost every public speaker makes small mistakes like this, the fact that she hardly ever corrects herself is “a sign of a lack of objectivity and sincerity,”
Behavior 4: Smiling Out Of Context
Around 5:20, Sarah starts to show a partially suppressed smile, showing her “subconscious mind is taking pleasure in fooling people, a behavior frequently exhibited by children.”
Behavior 5: Touching Her Face
Around 10:06 in this video, Sarah lifts her hand to cover her mouth and brush the underside of her nose. This kind of facial touching means there’s a high likelihood someone is lying.
Behavior 6: Avoiding Eye Contact
“When people lie, their eye contact either goes into a stare — to overcompensate — or they look away,” Brown said. “One thing Sarah does a lot is look at her notes and pretend she’s reading them, so she doesn’t have to look at the journalist.”
Behavior 7: Unnatural Pacing
Sometimes she delivers rehearsed quips, revealed by “her speed, her ultra-quick, unnaturally paced delivery.”
Why it’s hot: Body language could be something researches pay attention to while conducting in-person audience research.
Batten down the hatches, because “immersive storytelling” has hit your television screen like a tornado.
This week, The Weather Channel debuted a “mixed reality” broadcast, covering a theoretical tornado, using the additional layer of reality to show what can happen during one, in order to offer tips on how to react if you find yourself in the middle of one.
Why It’s Hot
While it would certainly be more magical if the mixed reality effects were happening in your actual living room, it’s indicative of the changing face of video, including TV. As technology is allowing for it, the way we experience video content is poised to transform, adding a new layer to things we’ve never seen before. Indeed, Weather Channel alone claims it will “use this method in 80% of all its programs by 2020”.
The Embrace sensor-laden wearable was designed to help epileptics monitor seizures. Modeled like a smartwatch, the FDA-approved device analyzes physiological signals to detect seizures. The CDC estimates that 1.2% of the population suffer from epilepsy. Empatica attempts to make living with the condition more manageable, while at the same time, using the study of epilepsy as a stepping stone toward an even bigger, more widespread issue: stress and how to deal with it.
Stress elicits responses in the sympathetic nervous system that can activate sweat glands, often turning your palms clammy. But even if you are not noticeably sweating, the current that runs through activated sweat still changes the surface of the skin, called skin conductance. “And that’s one of the signals we measure that changes with stress,” says Picard (co-founder and chief scientist of Empatica Inc.)
The Embrace by Empatica also monitors other physiological data—pulse, blood physical activity, sleep, and temperature. The device, which pairs via Bluetooth to a smartphone, alerts epileptics (or caregivers) when an attack occurs—or is on the horizon. Additionally, Picard began to use Empatica’s early sensor technology to better understand kids with autism, who, she says, are often misunderstood. “People with autism are often very stressed, and people surrounding them don’t notice it. By reading the skin conductance signal, people could see if the person was inwardly very agitated or inwardly very calm–even if outwardly they looked the same
Finally, one of the Embrace’s top selling points is customization. Empatica relies on machine learning to accumulate data on users’ habits and cycles, thereby improving its forecasting ability. The more data you have from each patient, the better the algorithm gets over time.
“A lot of these disorders are related to managing [daily] complexities in life,” Picard explains, adding, “so what we want to do with the monitoring technology is help people navigate better choices for their behavior . . . The idea is that you can sort of intervene and learn and change things over time.” Solutions can be achieved with sleep and breathing changes, counseling, or by adjusting diet, workload, physical activity, or “some complex mix of some or all these”.
Ultimately, the goal of Empatica is to further data analytics, specifically predictive analytics. The idea is that with enough information, the devices can suggest what people should do next to prevent panic attacks and other stress reactions. The company has launched another smartwatch sensor, called E4, just for scientific research (and not for sale).
Why it’s hot: Monitoring stress and its effect on mental health will only become more important int he future and I think this wearable tech is taking a step in the right direction at helping consumers understand their own mental states and help them be more mindful.
The American Girl doll’s wide range of accessories has gotten another great addition: a mini Xbox One S console, controller, headset, chair, and a few faux games. The console box doubles as an actual projector – you can drop the “games” (viewfinder-like discs) in and the console projects a handful of static images. The chair also has built-in speakers and a 3.5mm plug so you can play music or audio from it.
American Girl has done a good job of representation with their range of dolls and accessories, and this is no different. When the company launched back in 1986, the three original dolls represented different eras in American history (shout out Molly Samantha and Kirsten), but the dolls were all white.
In the next 15 years, the company added an African-American doll (Addy), a Mexican-American doll (Josefina), and a Native American doll (Kaya’aton’my, a First American Girl), and since then they’ve continued to release an ethnically diverse range of dolls along with a wide range of accessories that help to normalize everything from wheelchairs and diabetes kits and hearing aids to a Mars habitat, a terrarium, and a science fair kit.
American Girl’s quest for diversity and inclusion isn’t ideal – they don’t have any dolls with physical disabilities, and the ratio of white to non-white dolls is still high. And, from a cost point of view, the dolls and accessories are stupid expensive, which limits the audience to girls with well-off adults in their life.
Why It’s Hot: This gamer kit is another addition to the brand that smartly reinforces their image as a progressive, empowering company. And who wouldn’t want to buy something progressive and empowering for a young girl?!
“A new paper published in Nature suggests that feeding electronic health record data to a deep learning model could substantially improve the accuracy of projected outcomes. In trials using data from two U.S. hospitals, researchers were able to show that these algorithms could predict a patient’s length of stay and time of discharge, but also the time of death.
The neural network described in the study uses an immense amount of data, such as a patient’s vitals and medical history, to make its predictions. A new algorithm lines up previous events of each patient’s records into a timeline, which allowed the deep learning model to pinpoint future outcomes, including time of death. The neural network even includes handwritten notes, comments, and scribbles on old charts to make its predictions. And all of these calculations in record time, of course.”
Why It’s Hot
What if we could use this technology to help drive patient identification (a key goal across GSK respiratory)? By syncing with EHR’s, HCPs would be able to identify the frequent exacerbators, pinpoint when their next exerbation may be and take preventative steps to avoid potentially deadly COPD or Severe Asthma exacerbations.
L’Oreal, as a beauty/makeup conglomerate will launch a new digital makeup experience. With live streaming and augmented reality, makeup lovers will be able to communicate with makeup gurus in help with their final look. Viewers will see with augmented reality what beauty products are right for their skin. From your home, you will be able to test new beauty products and form digital relationships with L’Oreal representatives.
With a partnership with “YourCam Makeup”, makeup lovers nearby will be able to test out new products such as various shades of colored lipstick and mascara on their skin. Instead of going to the physical L’Oreal store, individuals will be able to have a digitized experience from their own home. Individuals with augmented reality will additionally be able to learn about the benefits of L’Oreal products and shop through the online store. L’Oreal hopes to achieve a “seamless” makeup experience” for individuals globally. With augmented reality and the advancement of digital technology, makeup lovers will have an innovative and fun digital makeup experience.
Why its Hot
The digital experience with augmented reality remains to be a hot topic in both the cosmetic and the technology industry. More and more beauty/cosmetic companies are choosing a digital route to give their customers a fun and easy to use experience. Augmented reality is increasingly becoming a hotter tool for use, and is beginning to be utilized across many industries, like L’Oreal to give users a easy and simpler experience.
Amazon is introducing an alternative method of getting packages to your door. As pictured above, these Hubs are large metal locker units in a common area of an apartment complex in which people can pick up their packages 24 hours a day. Amazon Hub also notifies you when a package has arrived, and they access their package with their own code at their convenience, and can grant permission to property staff to handle common delivery tasks such as signing for packages (not just from Amazon).
Amazon Hub is being targeting at real estate companies- they already have signed major property manager such as AvalonBay, J.P. Morgan Asset Management and Equity Residential.
Why It’s Hot:
A cnbc article about Hub says: “It’s another hint that Amazon is eyeing a broader logistics play and the first time the company has ventured beyond its own transactions and shipments.” This is significant, specifically for MRM because it’s in direct competition to our USPS account, seeking to be a last-step delivery option for FedEx, UPS, and private mail.
AMC, the largest theater chain in America, has announced it will now offer a subscription service that lets moviegoers watch up to 3 movies a week for a monthly charge of $19.95.
Called AMC Stubs A-List, the subscription will function as a branch of AMC’s loyalty program, starting June 26. According to the AMC press release, the online and smartphone-based subscription will allow members to watch multiple movies a day and let you see movies more than once. Plus, you get discounts at the concession stand, there are no online ticketing fees, and you can make reservations in advance.
AMC temporarily blocked MoviePass access to big city theaters earlier this year. On Wednesday, MoviePass responded on Twitter.
Why It’s Hot
…it’s not looking good for MoviePass. Even at a higher price, AMC has the largest market share of all theaters. Unless MoviePass has large enough following, loyalty AND capital to open their own theaters; it’s going to be challenging to scale up to AMC.
Recently launched in the UK and announced at Cannes Lions, the NewsIQ tool by News Corp can target readers based on their emotions and opinions. It expands beyond simple click metrics and seeks to drive engagement metrics such as time spent engaging with an ad. The tool lets advertisers use first-party reader data, such as consumption habits and favorite news topics, to plan, optimize, and measure campaigns.
Why It’s Hot:
Research shows that readers who are emotionally stimulated by news stories are 45% more likely to subsequently watch a video ad and 32% more likely to watch the entire video than users who completed a non-emotional story. It also has become increasingly crucial for publishers to rely on advertisers and brands to monetize content. Personalization may be the solution to getting readers more engaged with brands and reviving the publishing business.
The Hub, Amazon’s new delivery locker for apartments, is now being offered to building management companies around the country. Last July, Amazon launched the program, which places a large metal locker unit in a common area of an apartment complex where people can pick up their packages 24 hours a day. Now (as of this past Tuesday) Amazon officially announced that over 500,000 residents across the country who live in buildings managed or owned by AvalonBay, Fairfield Residential, Pinnacle, J.P. Morgan Asset Management, WinnResidential and Equity Residential, already have access to the Hub, and thousands more are getting access each month.
How it works:
A delivery is sent to shoppers’ usual address.
Upon delivery to the Hub, the intended recipient gets a code sent via email or text.
They then enter the code into the machine, and a door pops open to reveal the package.
While this might sound similar to the Amazon Lockers delivery storage that was launched back in 2011 at public pickup stations including grocery stores, gyms and convenience stores, the Hub, unlike the Amazon lockers, hold packages from any sender.
Why it’s hot:
Some of the biggest complaints that companies like USPS face, is that customers will stay home from work all day waiting for a package and in some cases, they still do not even get it. This issue is also a pain point for the sender, as they often have to resend a package that has been lost or stolen. Amazon is tapping into a massive market by offering the Hub as a solution for both the online shopper and the sender. Further, building owners also benefit, as the device could be useful for keeping hallways and package rooms relatively clear – in other words, who wouldn’t want this?
The brand, Everybody.World, has a staple product called the “Trash Tee,” a 100 percent recycled cotton T-shirt, made from meticulously processed waste fibers.
They shot new footage on vintage Kodak film, so it would match with 14-year-old stock footage. And for the voiceover, they spliced together snippets of PSAs from the 1950s.
“So, we invented a new fabric for our T-shirts that’s made from 100 percent recycled cotton, which means that we can use the waste that other companies disregard,” it continues. “We can use what others find useless to create something useful for us and less stressful for the environment. Because if we don’t care enough to change the way it’s done, who will?”
Why it’s Hot
This company is taking the old adage – the medium is the message – to a new level. The idea of the, not just the product being recycled, but the ad itself provides a whole new ad trend and, of course, reinforces a worthwhile message.
Developer Diana A Smith has been working on using only code and style sheets to create digital artwork. Each element is coded separately to make up the composite image.
Smith created this with the Chrome browser in mind. When opened in older browsers however, the image can become distorted. Examples below:
Why It’s Hot: Users are frequently reminded to update the browsers, but it is often unclear why it matters and what the difference will be. On the other hand, it’s helpful to think about how we are designing experience for users who may be using different browsers, older computers, etc rather than designing for the newest, crispest, and fastest devices.
Plastic is one of the most abundant man-made materials found on earth. With over 8.3 billion metric tons of plastic recorded in 2017, it’s safe to say that it’s a massive problem. Bottles and bags are spearheading this problem. When purchasing a water bottle it’s evident that there are some ridiculously priced products in the market but a common misconception is “because of the brand name”, though that plays a part in the price, the cost pertains mostly to the plastic, not the actual water (how shocking).
Evian, noticing this issue, is taking the first step forward and has pledged that by 2025 all of their bottles will be made from 100% recycled plastic. Eliminating the use of plastic overall would be best case scenario but this is still a righteous move. National Geographic states, “every year another 350 million tons of new plastic is created but only a tiny percentage is ever recycled.” A breakthrough came from Loop Industries’ founder Daniel Solomita who wanted “to find a way to take all of the world’s PET plastic – the most common kind of plastic”. Loop has found “a unique catalyst that breaks down PET plastic with zero heat and zero pressure” this monumental discovery is incremental to the future of recycling plastic due to the fact that the only two methods of recycling plastic at the moment utilize high heat and intense pressure.
Additionally, “This zero energy depolymerization is what allows Loop Industries to do what nobody else can do—recycle any size, shape and color of PET plastic waste into virgin-quality PET plastic resin on an industrial scale.”
Why it’s hot:
It’s so hot that it’s super cool. It really takes the pressure off of traditional methods and because the main focus is to keep the technology as simple as possible for simpler implementation and distribution no one has to take the heat. This is super exciting because this is an absolutely smashing step towards sustainability and guilt-free plastic. Now when you see a plastic bag drifting through the wind, you know it’s on its way to start again.
We all know that in the near future humanity will come to a crossroads. With 99% of the world’s population currently tasked with creating memes and/or dank memes, what will happen when computers get better at it than humans? Researchers may have just found out.
Using machine learning, a pair of Stanford researchers, Abel L. Peirson V and E. Meltem Tolunay, have created a system that automatically generates memes including the ones visible above. Their system, they’ve discovered “produces original memes that cannot on the whole be differentiated from real ones.”
The system uses a pre-trained Inception-v3 network using the long short-term memory model to produce captions that are applicable to a particular picture. Humans then assess the humor of the meme, rewarding the system for true LOLs.
The researchers trained the network with “400.000 image, label and caption triplets with 2600 unique image-label pairs” including funny memes generated by actual humans. The system then recreates memes in a similar vein.
Why it’s hot:
The headline uses the word “dank.” And the application of machine learning is taking a turn into culture town.
Uber has applied for a patent to use AI to determine a passenger’s “user state” before they’re picked up by their driver. While this may trigger alarm for those who rely on Uber to get them home safely after a night of drinking, it seems as though the company has the passenger’s safety top of mind.
If implemented, the technology would scan for patterns in behaviors like interaction speed, typing, device angle and even walking speed to understand when a customer seems to be acting out of the ordinary. It will also measure how far from normal the behavior appears.
The company hasn’t clarified exactly what this will mean for users, but the patent application mentions that passengers may be paired with drivers “with experience or training with users having an unusual state.” It may also encourage drivers to use pickup and drop off locations that are well-lit and easy to find.
Why It’s Hot:
This unique application of AI can potentially make for a smoother ride for both Uber drivers and passengers. It may also inspire other apps to push the boundaries of how to improve customer experience based on user behavior data.
The experiment is the latest sign of China’s desire to innovate in, and dominate, the increasingly lucrative and strategically important market for renewable energy. The country already produces three-quarters of the solar panels sold globally, and its wind-turbine manufacturing industry is also among the world’s largest.
The potential appeal of solar roads — modified solar panels that are installed in place of asphalt — is clear. Generating electricity from highways and streets, rather than in fields and deserts packed with solar panels, could conserve a lot of land. Those advantages are particularly important in a place like China, a heavily populated country where demand for energy has risen rapidly.
Because roads run through and around cities, the electricity could be used practically next door to where it is generated. That means virtually no power would be lost in transmission, as can happen with projects in outlying locations. And the land is essentially free, because roads are needed anyway. Roads must be resurfaced every few years at great cost, so the installation of durable solar panels could reduce the price of maintenance.
Solar roads could also change the driving experience. Electric heating strips can melt snow that falls on them. Light-emitting diodes embedded in the surface can provide illuminated signage to direct drivers to exits and alert them to construction and other traffic hazards.
One of the great things about Uber Pool is that it offers people who have had a few too many drinks on a Saturday night a safe and cheap alternative to driving home drunk. On the other hand, a sober ride sharer has to deal with a belligerent passenger who can create an uncomfortable situation for everyone.
Enter Uber’s plan to detect drunken behavior before users get into a Pool. They have applied for a patent for a keystroke system that tracks how a user normally uses the Uber app through AI; how often they make typos, how precisely they click on buttons, how often they drop their phone, their normal walking speed, etc. The algorithm will track changes in these factors along with where and when the ride was requested which then may result in notifying the driver that the passenger may have been drinking. Depending on their level of intoxication, they may be prevented from joining a Pool or could match with drivers trained to handle people in this state.
Why it’s Hot: There’s two obvious issues that could result. 1.) This technology will motivate drivers who don’t want their car ruined to decline drunk passengers, possibly resulting in people driving home drunk instead. 2.) Another, more disturbing possibility, are drivers who would use this information as a draw rather than a deterrent. A common theme in many of Uber driver’s past assault cases have been the passengers level of inebriation. This feature could essentially allow drivers to scan neighborhoods for passengers in a drunken state for this exact purpose.
Uber has drawn up a plan for AI that detects a user’s drunken behavior to accommodate them before they get into the backseat. The system, described by members of Uber’s Trust & Safety team in 2016 and published yesterday, tracks how someone typically uses Uber’s app: how quickly they type (and with how many typos), how precisely they click on buttons, their walking speed, and the way their phone is typically held or dropped on any given day.
Someone who hails a car to get home after hitting the bars probably won’t be the best at typing out their home address or walking too quickly (if at all). Factors like these are plugged into Uber’s planned algorithm, along with details about when and where the ride was requested. A late-night Uber call or one that’s from an area loaded with bars, would tip the system off about a rider’s sobriety differently than a daytime call from the suburbs.
Why It’s Hot
Although this could enhance the rider experience for those who carpool, and arm the drivers with information on the rider’s state before they get in the car, there are also some clear issues. It could deter drivers from picking up passengers, perhaps forcing them to drive, or could act as a draw for assault. It will be interesting to see how this unravels; it appears it could cause more issues than it could mitigate..
So what’s different now? Well, probably not much. But Twitter would certainly love a quick win given how often they’ve been hammered in the press for how they handle banning abusive users, cleaning out phony bot accounts, and handing out verification check marks.
Maybe an edit button will be some easy positive press.
There’s also the power of Kim K. If she doesn’t get the edit button she wants, maybe she just tweets something negative about Twitter, delete her account, and tank their stock. Kim’s sister Kendall Jenner did it to Snapchat already!
Why it’s hot
Personally, I don’t want an edit button, but I think I am in the minority and people would rather have it than not. Threading tweets makes it possible to add context to amend previous tweets, but to be able to go back and change things you’ve tweeted could cause a lot of problems trying to hold powerful people responsible for their posts (ahem, Donald Trump). Perhaps the edit ability expires after 5 minutes or something like that. Could be a good compromise.
To promote its live stream of the recent NBA Finals, ESPN pulled an interesting stunt in Manhattan – Airdropping images with text connecting what people were doing with watching the finals.
Why It’s Hot
I’m not sure it is either real, or hot, but what’s seemingly interesting and clever is the fact that they utilized an overlooked iOS feature and used it to personalized their message on a one-to-one basis.
Snap Kit lets developers like you integrate some of Snapchat’s best features across your platform — and lets your community share their favorite moments from your app with their friends, and Snapchatters across the world!
Why it’s hot
Snap understands that other apps are copying its core functionality. Rather than sprawling out and trying to make its own product even bigger, the company is attempting to keep itself in the center by disseminating the functionality and making it something anyone can add to their product.
You’re a chess enthusiast, but let’s face it: your chess board is probably collecting dust in your closet. Since no one in your household wants to play, you’re forced to play a game online or, even worse, not at all. Don’t worry—InfiVention Technologies will solve your issue with artificial intelligence.
InfiVention Technologies is redefining board games with the help of AI. Their product Square Off lets you play a game of chess on a real board with real chess pieces against opponents online or the artificial intelligence of the board. You will see your opponent’s every move in real-time, right in front of your eyes. The board uses magnets to move the pieces, while careful to not dislodge the adjacent pieces from their positions.
Why it’s Hot:
No one expected AI to take over board games—it’s often associated with computers. Since board games are rarely single player, many games have transitioned online to allow you to play at your own convenience. This brings back the charm in playing chess.
VR has been used on patients in medical settings before, from distracting nervous patients at the dentist to helping patients combat phantom pains. But now graduate students in France are working on bringing VR into a new territory: the emergency room.
Students at St. Joseph’s Hospital have designed an immersive VR program that has two goals: 1) to help patients calm down in the stressful setting, and 2) to help increase the patients’ pain tolerance without any drugs. It’s a simple implementation – basically the patient simply straps on a VR headset, and is transported via auditory and visual stimuli to a Zen garden or a tranquil forest setting.
The VR experiences help calm patients down just by nature of being calming settings, but the really interesting part is relating to the pain tolerance response. Patients exhibit increased pain tolerance because of several affects of the VR experience. Distraction is important, because the patient is less aware of what’s happening to their body when their focus is successfully held elsewhere. But also significant is the way the VR actually helps trigger changes in the patient’s brain and nervous system, which can slowly be reprogrammed to give the patient a lesser response to the pain. This neural reprogramming has already been studied and implemented for treatment of chronic pain and illnesses, and now the work of these French grad students is exploring the potential for VR as a tool in acute, immediate situations as well.
Why It’s Hot: An innovative new approach to pain management that has zero side effects -especially promising given the increasing dangers of addiction with many pain medications currently being used (and overused) in hospitals today.
A new study at the University of Maryland shows that people remembered information better when in VR versus on a desktop.
Participants were first handed a print out of faces. They they had 5 minutes to a explore a scene and remember where all the faces were located.
“Half the faces were positioned in different locations within the interior setting–Oprah Winfrey appeared at the top of a grand staircase; Stephen Hawking was a few steps down, followed by Shrek. On the ground floor, Napoleon Bonaparte’s face sat above majestic wooden table, while The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was positioned in the center of the room.”
After 5 minutes, the scene went dark for two minutes and then reappears. This time though, the faces were replaced with numbered boxes. The participants were then asked to recall what face was in each box.
After they finished answering, they were asked to remember new faces and explore another scene, but this time on a different platform. The 40 participants were split into two groups. One went that went through the study in VR first and then desktop, and another group that explored it on desktop first and then in VR. All but 2 participants said they were confident with their answers on both platforms, but preferred VR.
The results? There was an 8.8% improvement in recall accuracy when the participants used VR over desktop.
“Many of the participants said the immersive “presence” while using VR allowed them to focus better. This was reflected in the research results: 40 percent of the participants scored at least 10 percent higher in recall ability using VR over the desktop display.”
“By showing that virtual reality can help improve recall, it opens the door to further studies that look at the impact of VR-based training modules at all levels–from elementary school children learning astronomy to trauma residents acquiring the latest knowledge in lifesaving procedures. We believe the future of education and innovation will benefit greatly from the use of these new visual technologies.”
Why It’s Hot:
Shows more potential for VR as a platform for educating users
It’s no news that newspapers have been on the downtick for years. But despite the uptick in news consumption in America, largely thanks to the Trump bump, the newspaper industry’s survival remains in jeopardy, according to the Pew Research Center’s newly-released newspaper fact sheet for 2017. (SOURCE: Axiom)
“The big picture: The future for newspapers remains bleak. Though web traffic has grown for many news outlets, the industry’s subscriber-based audience has steadily declined since the 2000s, per the report. Meanwhile newspapers, which have failed at finding fresh ways to compete with digital products, are using antiquated business models that show no signs of improving their readership.”
Although newspaper advertising revenue was $16.5 billion in 2017, down 10% from 2016, newspaper ads for digital are on the rise, and accounted for almost a third of ad revenue in 2017. That’s only up 3% from 2016, but it’s a number that stayed out of the red.”
WHY IT’S HOT:
As major papers with the budget to innovate to combat these headwinds, they (read: NYTimes) are creating new digital products and services to expand the role of the publication in the lives of their readership. We have begun to see publishers treating their paper more like a service offering, and less like a traditional journalistic outlet.