Starface flips the script on acne care

What was once a source of embarrassment can perhaps now be a form of style points. D2C startup Starface is offering a new way to think about mild acne: Instead of hiding in shame, embrace your “uniqueness” by “owning” your acne, while helping it heal.

With star-shaped medicated stickers that users place over pimples, Starface helps acne heal while making a bold fashion and beauty statement. With the power of social media to shape perceptions of “cool” and “beautiful”, this reframe of acne could turn an embarrassment into empowerment.

Starface’s branding is very … Gen Z, post-postmodern, self-conscious retro-loving remix culture with all of human history as your source material. (Their “About Me” section parodies the opening text from Star Wars). And rightly so. This isn’t your older sister’s acne care. This is a new world.

Why it’s hot:

Another example of the ongoing and unprecedented revolution in social values, fueled by social media. The meaning of luxury, wealth, success, attractiveness, etc. is being scrutinized, tweaked, torn down, and reconstructed. Brands that have relied on the old standbys would be wise to re-calibrate their message and offerings to attract consumers in this new reality.

Source: Fast Company

What does food sound like?


Indian food ordering and delivery platform Swiggy challenged people to use Instagram voice notes to create waveforms in the shape of different food items.

They promised a year’s worth of food vouchers to Instagram users who could best replicate various foods from kebab skewers to pancakes in their voice notes. All in all, Swiggy set five daily challenges and handed out 50 food vouchers to competition entrants each day.

To help users with the Voice of Hunger challenge, the brand handed out hints about which sounds created which shapes with all Swiggy food deliveries.

In addition to direct messaging their competition entry on Instagram, Swiggy also encouraged people to upload videos of themselves recreating a food shape and tag Swiggy.

Why its hot? (aside from the clever use of voice notes)
Millions of people are on the Internet wasting their time creating random content. Swiggy’s simply channeled this behavior to create viral content.

 

Source: Contagious

 

 

Bring Your Own Buns to Popeye’s

Come to Popeye’s BBBQ…the extra B stands for BYOBB. What’s that extra B for? Bun

The fried chicken chain, which temporarily discontinued its wildly popular sandwich last month after running out of ingredients, suggested in a tweet on Thursday that customers simply buy a three-piece chicken tender, bring their own pickles and bun, and assemble the sandwich themselves. 

The tweet, which is both a joke and no laughing matter, reads: “Try our new BYOB! It’s basically The Sandwich! Only no mayo. Or pickles. And you bring your own bun… Really it’s just three tenders…” In the video included in the tweet, people put slipshod sandwiches together with hamburger buns and, disturbingly, a hot dog bun.

https://twitter.com/AktionAce/status/1172149020275425280

Why its hot

Popeye’s chicken sandwich is so popular they’ve run out, and now they’re trying to fill the gap before, I guess, they get more chicken sandwiches. How about turn in another brand’s chicken sandwich for a coupon for a free Popeye’s item? Just a thought

Victoria’s Secret Too Slow to Change

Victoria’s Secret, founded with the idea men should feel more comfortable shopping for the women in their lives, is trying to reframe itself as a brand that’s actually made with female customers in mind. But that’s a tough message to deliver when most of your management is male

Victoria’s Secret has been trying to reconnect with customers who’ve increasingly turned to rivals that embrace female empowerment and diverse body types, like Aerie and ThirdLove, rather than Victoria’s Secret’s traditionally sexy and skinny aesthetic. That has hit comparable sales, a key retail metric, which have dropped for five straight quarters at the underwear chain.

Subs: Victoria's Secret Fashion Show finale Paris 2016

To be sure, it has made some steps toward an overhaul: The company said in May it would pull its fashion show from network television after 23 years. Ed Razek, who crafted the chain’s annual event with the defining image of lingerie-clad models with angel wings, left over the summer. Earlier this year, activist investor Barington Capital Group LP pushed for changes and successfully nominated two new women to the board, bringing the share of female directors to more than 40 percent

 

Russell James And Ed Razek Host U.S. Book Launch Of "Backstage Secrets By Russell James"

Why it’s hot?

It’s hard to change. It’s especially hard when you as brand have done a good job of culturally defining a persona that everyone wanted to become or be with. In world where differentiation is key was it a bad decision for VS to remain their sexy image? How could they’ve remained loyal to their roots while also becoming the change agent for defining what “sexy” means? How does a company make the decision to throw away the incumbent leadership (predominantly male) for a fresh perspective (female leadership)?

 

the chicken wars still rage…

The chicken wars. If you thought they were over, think again. Refresher – Popeyes introduced a new chicken sandwich, it sold out nationwide in just two weeks, and left people craving its fried goodness. Realizing it clearly had grabbed a share of the attention economy, Popeyes didn’t just simply let things be. Instead, it is now urging people to “bring your own bun” and make a chicken sandwich out of three chicken tenders, if you can’t wait for it to reload its sandwich supply.

Why it’s hot:

When you have momentum, ride the wave. Popeyes itself even acknowledges this isn’t ideal, but at least it gives people an idea and a reason to still come into Popeyes, even if the item they wanted isn’t currently available.

[Source]

Blockchain-based smart city

Singapore-based startup Limestone Network is piloting a blockchain-based smart city in Cambodia. Scheduled for completion by 2022, the initial trial will involve 10,000 business tenants and 190,000 citizens. Every resident will be issued with a Limestone Card, which will grant them access to buildings and enable them to make cashless payments within the smart city. Every activity will be recorded on the blockchain, though residents will retain a degree of control over the data they share. The aggregated data will be used to plan future city developments, solve issues such as crowding, congestion and pollution, and act as each individual’s credit rating.

Why it’s hot: A smart city that’s more secure and efficient.

Source + Source

 

‘People who will change the world’: why Vice Media is investing in the future of influencers

ARTICLE LINK
THE WORLD IS CHANGING – MEDIA IS CHANGING.
With so much content available in the today, it’s hard to be a publisher.  The models that financed these massive organizations are (no more) changing.

Needless to say you can’t sell print advertising like you used to and you can’t really even sell enough of O&O digital traffic compared to social media giants.

Ex. In an new initiative between Vox Media and NBC called ‘Concert’, 40 sites bundled together offer advertisers 122 million unique users each month – Facebook, a single entity – 2.2 billion in April.

Branded content sales/production have provided a new revenue source, but oftentimes, much of the large media budgets meant to push the content, goes to driving engagement on social.  That’s where kids get their news/content these days anyway. 

So can publishers sell their clout/influence even? Not really – many brands aren’t cool/known by Gen-Z even. 

Why it’s hot?
Soo Julian … what’s your point? My point is that it’s all about the platform and personalities – not the publisher’s brand/voice.  Which is why this move is smart by VICE. By leveraging their global network, production expertise, and still large audience, VICE can begin to be a seen as/develop a platform for really cool personalities (influencers) and their perspectives.

Let’s see if they can build this past one Singapore tourism board activation.

Amazon will start letting random people provide Alexa answers

Amazon is rolling out a new program to let anybody provide answers to questions that Alexa is unable to answer.

Alexa Answers is meant to expand the smart digital assistant’s knowledge base to keep it competitive with the Google Assistant and Apple’s Siri. For two years in a row, Google’s assistant has easily won an 800-question test conducted by Loup Ventures, with Alexa coming in third place. It’s particularly hard for Amazon to compete against Google, which can leverage years of information collected and organized for its search engine.

The system will use game mechanics to engage users — people will be able to earn “points” each time the assistant shares one of their answers.

But as other platforms such as FacebookGoogle and Reddit have discovered, user-generated content is open to mischief and propaganda. It’s easy to imagine the kinds of answers somebody might submit for questions about Donald Trump or measles vaccines, for instance.

Amazon told Fast Company that it’s relying on a combination of algorithms and human editors to help vet responses and hoping that a system of user up and down votes will weed out mischief-makers. But previous experiments with user-generated answers, such as Yahoo Answers and Quora, have never really taken off, so Amazon has a hard task ahead.

Why It’s Hot: This should increase the number or users interacting with Alexa, legitimizing it as a platform for brands to invest in.

Magic Leap transitions into healthcare AR

Augmented reality company Magic Leap, famous for putting elephant in the palm of your hand, has just signed an exclusive deal with Brain Lab, which supplies visualization and training software to surgeons. Through the partnership, Magic Leap will be able to render brain scans into 3D objects, which surgeons can interact with through its signature goggles. This can help surgeons physically simulate a surgery in order to ‘rehearse’ prior.

Health and wellness is one of five key areas that Magic Leap is targeting for its technology, along with mobility, entertainment, energy and water, and communications. 

Their goal is to integrate with a variety of health tech companies, so it can combine a spectrum of health data and render a full picture of a patient’s health based on bodily factors as well as social determinants. Using its AR technology, it could provide doctors with a dashboard-like experience that shows a record of a patient’s physical health as well as related social and environmental factors.

Currently, health companies are leveraging Magic Leap as a way of visualizing data, running simulations, and training professionals. One of their products, for example, measures brain health using a wearable device that tracks eye movement. Doctors using SyncThink can already review the results remotely, but the company uses Magic Leap’s platform to visualize findings, effectively allowing a faraway patient to appear right in front of a doctor.

At Stanford’s Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital, teachers are already using the Magic Leap platform to simulate medical training. The company is also developing digital humans, avatars that look and behave like us. One day, these characters could be built into the platform to serve as educators or even medical cadavers.

Why it’s hot: For a company that was initially focused on utilizing AR and spatial computing to transform entertainment, it’s fascinating (and refreshing) to see companies like this applying their technology to the healthcare industry.

Source: https://www.fastcompany.com/90398573/magic-leap-sees-a-bright-future-in-ar-health-care?partner=feedburner&utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+fastcocreate%2Ffeed+%28Co.Create%29

Blurring the media lines, in a world where content is king

Dream Team, the fantasy football offshoot from U.K. tabloid The Sun, has had a retention problem. From one year to the next, the free-to-play game would have to reacquire two-thirds of its audience who signed up to play the previous year, which is typically around 1 million subscribers. As well as wasted effort, re-acquiring audiences costs more than retaining them.

To address this churn, Dream Team built a new content vertical including a newsletter and YouTube series around fantasy football last summer. Now it has begun to bear fruits: Dream Team retained 68% of last year’s customers this season, increasing annual audience retention rate 21% year-on-year, and won new branded content clients; however, the publisher was unwilling to share exactly how many people subscribed for the 2019 season.

“We are building a more franchise approach to content,” he said. “As many brands in the digital space find, bringing in audiences with content is easy, but digital content brands can struggle with loyalty and retention.”

After hearing that audiences wanted more fantasy football content — rather than generic football news content — at the start of the football season in August 2018, Dream Team also launched an email newsletter, Dream Team “Coach,” devised in part by Jimmy Lloyd, content development editor. The newsletter, written by football expert Nick Elliott, to add a more personal feel, goes out every Thursday and features tips and hints on which players are likely to play well that weekend for subscribers to switch around their fantasy football teams.

The newsletter now has over 1 million subscribers and an open rate of between 15% and 20%, according to Bearryman. The content is mostly self-contained content, so it doesn’t track click-through rates via links to external stories.

“That was the big shift and was a battle in many ways; people are used to using email a certain way,” said Bearryman. “We looked at Red Box [political newsletter from News UK’s subscription title, The Times of London] and what audiences want from email. Like other off-platform distribution, audiences don’t want to be thrown around.”

As an extension to the newsletter, in February, Dream Team launched “Coach TV” on YouTube, a weekly 20-minute chat show focused on football news. Videos typically get up to 20,000 YouTube views, last season had over 500,000 unique viewers. Over the course of 12 months, viewer retention rate doubled retention rate from 20% to 40%, according to Bearryman. Watch time on season two is over six minutes compared with three minutes last season.

Publishers like BuzzFeed are increasingly making series over one-off episodes in order to bring people back more regularly. It’s this regular viewing that attracts brand budgets too. The success of “Coach TV” was instrumental in signing bookmaker Betway to a season-long branded content campaign. As well as Betway badging alongside the Dream Team logo, the bookmaker gives exclusive betting odds and offers for the “Coach TV” audience. It’s a natural fit as 50% of Dream Team managers have an active betting account. The season-long campaign, exclusive to Dream Team rather than The Sun, cost £1.04 million ($1.27 million). According to Bearryman, the conversion rate of traffic referred to Betway is 2.5%, which compares favorably with Dream Team’s internal content conversion rates.

Over the last year, Dream Team itself has run between 10 and 12 other branded content campaigns across other sub-brands or franchises. One such sub-brand is “Hometown Glory,” a weekly show where former England football player Alex Scott takes other football players back to their hometown. Dream Team is currently in talks with two consumer goods brands for sponsorship for the season.

More franchises are in the works, according to Bearryman.

“We want to build other online sub-brands and franchises to become famous for and reach new audiences,” he said.

Why It’s Hot

A good example of the power Relationships built around common interests – authentically activated across channels, platforms and formats, and orchestrated over time.

McDonald’s plans to bring AI voice technology to its drive-thrus

Fast food is about to get even faster. McDonald’s announced that it is buying the voice tech startup Apprente so it can automate its drive-thru menu. The Mountain View-based company specializes in building voice-based agents that can take orders in multiple languages and accents. The fast food giant has been testing Apprente’s technology in several locations and expects it will allow for “faster, simpler and more accurate order taking” at its drive-thrus.

Apprente will form a pivotal part of McD Tech Labs, a new restaurant technology group based in Silicon Valley. The Apprente team will become the group’s founding members and co-founder Itamar Arel will serve as vice-president. “McDonald’s commitment to innovation has long inspired our team. It was quite clear from our various engagements that McDonald’s is leading the industry with technology” said Itamar Arel, Ph.D., co-founder of Apprente and Vice President of McD Tech Labs. “Apprente was borne out of an opportunity to use technology to solve challenging real world problems and we’re thrilled to now apply this to creating personalized experiences for customers and crew.” The company is planning on hiring more engineers, data scientists and other advanced technology experts to build its presence in Silicon Valley.

The fast food giant say there’s potential to expand Apprente’s technology into other areas, like mobile and kiosk ordering. But while the new technology may make life easier for customers, may come at the cost of human jobs. McDonald’s self-service kiosks will be implemented across all US restaurant locations by 2020, which could reduce the need to hire as many human cashiers.

The food chain’s acquisition of Apprente is its third tech deal this year. In April it acquired Dynamic Yield, a personalized data startup, in order to customize its drive-thru menus by the weather, time of day, current restaurant traffic and trending menu items. It also bought a minority stake in Plexure, a New Zealand-based mobile app technology company.

Source: Engadget

Why It’s Hot

Paves the way for probable improvements to CX that have a long time coming for fast food. I also suspect McD is not yet in the smartest place with their customer data and these acquisitions may help keep it relevant and on top of its game.

Meet AGNES: A suit that helps you feel old.

AGNES (Age Gain Now Empathy System)

AGNES is a suit worn by students, product developers, designers, engineers, marketing, planners, architects, packaging engineers, and others to better understand the physical challenges associated with aging. Developed by AgeLab researchers and students, AGNES has been calibrated to approximate the motor, visual, flexibility, dexterity and strength of a person in their mid-70s. AGNES has been used in retail, public transportation, home, community, automobile, workplace and other environments.

The MIT AgeLab has homed in on one such paradox in particular: the profound mismatch between products built for older people and the products they actually want.

Only 20% of people who could benefit from hearing aids seek them out. Just 2% of those over 65 seek out personal emergency response technologies—the sorts of wearable devices that can call 911 with the push of a button—and many (perhaps even most) of those who do have them refuse to press the call button even after suffering a serious fall.

In every example, product designers thought they understood the demands of the older market, but underestimated how older consumers would flee any product giving off a whiff of “oldness.” After all, there can be no doubt that personal emergency response pendants are for “old people,” and as Pew has reported, only 35% of people 75 or older consider themselves “old.”

Why it’s hot: Tools like AGNES help us truly think differently about the needs of different people.

Soap lathering up social good

BECỌ, a social enterprise that makes environmentally-friendly toiletries, is asking businesses to hire more job applicants with disabilities.

Around 80% of BECỌ employees are either visually impaired or physically disadvantaged. However, according to the brand, 1.1 million disabled people are still struggling to find work in the UK.

To address this problem and incite change, BECỌ created the campaign #StealOurStaff that launched earlier this month. The brand turned the packaging of its soap products into resumes. Each soap box and label showcases the name, job role, skills and headshot of one of its employees accompanied with the hashtag #StealOurStaff. The products are currently available for purchase in Boots, Sainsbury’s and Waitrose – three major UK retailers.

BECỌ also also wrote an open letter that challenged employers to take a stand and change attitudes about hiring people with disabilities.

To promote the campaign, BECỌ created a video featuring its employees talking about their jobs. The video humorously lampooned traditional TV audio descriptions in ads.

Why it’s Hot:

This campaign is a win for the brand on all fronts: they’re able to sell product while touting their company’s core belief (plus, customers get to feel good by supporting them and buying). At a time when brands are trying to show customers they care, BECO is doing more than just talking about social good – social good is build into the fiber of their company.

Source

ChewIt: AR Becoming Truly Mobile

ChewIt is a lozenge-size, wireless, mouth-operated remote controlled by head and facial gestures; a truly hands-free AR experience.

(Basic hardware is integrated with flexible custom-made PCB, placed inside the 3D-printed casing, developed from a polylactic acid filament)

Pablo Gallego Cascón, a graduate student in the University of Auckland’s Augmented Human Lab, wanted to prototype a piece of assistive technology that “doesn’t draw the attention of others and doesn’t make [the user] feel weird.”

As of now, a paralyzed person might control a wheelchair by blowing or sipping air through a straw, but this tech would allow them to operate their wheelchair using gestures or movement of the device in their mouth, unseen or known by anyone but themselves.

The tech wouldn’t only be for impaired people but is also being developed to be used as a VR controller (because what would new tech be without adding a VR component). Other uses could include changing music while driving or riding a bike, etc. Basically a remote for when you need to be hands-free and eyes-free.

Why It’s Hot:

More than medical tech and more than another revolutionary VR experiment. The tech seems to be pretty universal in terms of who can use it and it’s wide range of capabilities. Two questions: 1. how would it tell the different between someone turning their head and giving it a command and 2. what if you swallow it?

Source

More on The Claw: How it’s Production Is Key to It’s Success (and Regulation Avoidance)

The Hot Sauce fascination with the success of White Claw can’t be ignored! To debate more of whether the claw is a fad or a new staple, we need to take a look into how its “brewed” (which it is!, brewed, that is) and how it’s formulation allows it to be subject to less regulation.

Rather than a spiked/vodka soda, a Claw does not originate as a spirit, and is instead brewed, like a beer (it also has a similar alcohol content to beer) which allows it to be sold with less regulation, especially in NY and other states with tougher spirit regulations and strong alcohol lobbying groups (MA, I’m looking at you!) But since it is not brewed with grain – the Claw uses sugar, which gets fermented fully into alcohol – the taste is milder and the output less caloric.

Why It’s Hot? 

Think of this as innovation, not a fad. Per our regulatory system, we can’t add small amounts of spirits to soda and sell it like beer, even if its alcohol content is 5% or less. This work around allows a preferred bar drink, especially to those who count calories, to be served up at our corner bodegas and local CVS’. The Claw’s the law and it’s here to stay.

Amazon crowdsourcing answers to questions posed to Alexa

Crowdsourcing strikes again. Incentivized by the lure of social-capital, users can submit answers to questions posed to Alexa to receive points and status within the network of answer-ers. The public, using the up-and-down vote system will presumably let the best answer float to the top.

Though, “In some cases, human editors as well as algorithms will be involved in quality-control measures,” says Fast Company.

From Fast Company: “Starting today, Amazon is publicly launching a program called Alexa Answers, which lets anyone field questions asked by users for which Alexa doesn’t already have a response—ones such as:

  • What states surround Illinois?
  • What’s the proper amount of sleep?
  • How many instruments does Stevie Wonder play?
  • How much is in a handle of alcohol?

From then on, when people ask a question, Alexa will speak an answer generated through Alexa Answers, noting that the information is ‘according to an Amazon customer.'”

Why it’s hot:

Will value-based questions be answerable? If so, owning the answer to ‘what’s the best burger in Brooklyn?’ would be very lucrative.

Can brands leverage this tech to their advantage? Either by somehow “hacking” this system in playful way, or by replicating such an answer system with their own user base, to plug into an Alexa skill?

On a broader level:

How much do we trust the crowd? Recent history has left many questioning the validity of “the wisdom of the people”.

Civil society runs on a foundation of shared understandings about the world. If we trust answers about our reality to come from the crowd, how will bad actors use such a system to undermine our shared understanding or subtly sway public knowledge to support their agenda? Alexa, does life start at conception?

An Insurance Company that Pre-Pays?

Australian insurer, National Roads and Motorists’ Association (NRMA), is refunding customers that spend money to protect their homes from disaster by using claims data to identify homes at risk of flooding, storm damage and other disasters.

It invited people to download Safety Hub, a custom-built app, and rewarded them for carrying out home maintenance tasks that reduced the risk of catastrophic damage.

The app combined geographical data with risk profiles to tell people about personalized tasks that they could complete to lower the risk of damage to their homes.

Each time a task was completed, money was paid straight into the customer’s bank account. If the task required the services of a professional, NRMA would pay for that, too.

By giving customers authority over the safety of their home and rewarding them for completing checks, NRMA can not only reduce how much it must pay, it creates transparency. And giving people partial control over their safety can work to empower those in high-risk communities where they are more likely to suffer disasters.

Source: Contagious

Why it’s hot:

NRMA has the chance to create a new standard in insurance with this new initiative. While it saves the company money, it also demonstrates its commitment to its customers, to help them avoid disasters.

This is a good example of how a company leveraged its first-party data with geographical data to create a predictive model and help incentivize customers to avoid costly disasters.

A New Google Maps Feature Has Potential to Save Lives

In recognition of National Recovery Month, Google has released two new map-related tools aimed at both aiding those in recovery from drug addition and helping to make the life-saving drug Naloxone more accessible.

The centerpiece of the company’s effort is a new website, Recover Together, which seeks to centralize resources for those looking to overcome addiction.

A screenshot of the Naloxone Locator Tool.

The Recovery Locator Tool, as the name would suggest, is a Google Maps page specifically designed to help individuals find recovery resources near them. And the Naloxone Locator Tool is a Google Maps page that aims to assist those looking to acquire Naloxone — a drug that can reverse overdoses.

According to the press release, the initiative was launched based on the insight that people use Google on a daily basis to seek out information on addiction and recovery:

“[In] fact, just last month, we saw an all-time high in search interest for ‘rehab near me,’ ‘addiction treatment near me,’ and ‘how to help an addict.'”

While the aim is to help those searching for this info, Google has taken privacy into account and is assuring that visits to this website would not be associated with any specific users. Page views will be measured, but anonymized and only in the aggregate. What’s more, the company claims it will not use Naloxone-related searches to target ads.

Why It’s Hot

It’s great to see Google using their search data for good, not for profit. Providing these tools for those who are struggling to ask for help and turning to Google for anonymous advice is filling a critical need.

Source

Lebron James and the Case of the Taco Tuesdays

ESPN reported that on Wednesday, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office denied Lebron James’s application to trademark the phrase “Taco Tuesday,” explaining that it is “a commonplace term.” According to James’s spokesman, the denial was the desired result of the filing. The reason? “To ensure LeBron cannot be sued for any use of ‘Taco Tuesday.'”

During the NBA off-season, James began promoting Taco Tuesdays. In a video from his Instagram feed, he shows genuine enthusiasm for the event while he and his family wear Lebron-branded Taco Tuesday shirts, which can be purchased for upwards of $20 online.

The result of the U.S. Patent office’s denial is that anyone can profit from the phrase ‘Taco Tuesday’ without fear of copyright infringement.

Why it’s hot: 

1. MRM now has legal cover to shamelessly capitalize on “Taco Tuesdays”. Cigna Taco Tuesdays. USPS Taco Tuesdays. Honeywell Taco Tuesdays.

2. We live in an age where celebrity sway is so powerful that their passion alone can revitalize dead marketing tropes. Cardi B loves free stuff? Bring on Cardi B BOGO Day.

Polaroid goes super hi-tech. Just kidding.

Over the years the Polaroid company has gone bankrupt, been resurrected and is now being brought kicking and screaming into the digital age. Enter the Polaroid Lab: “a $129 tower that uses the light from your phone’s screen, bounced off a series of mirrors, to make a proper Polaroid from the photos you’ve already taken.”

It doesn’t just spit out single pics, either. There’s a collage setting which can be fun for boomers and Z’s alike.

Why It’s Hot

Polaroid has a chance to be in rare brand: an analogue holdout that can say they survived in the digital age. But only if they make smart moves and they haven’t shown that they can do that in the past 20 years.

IPhone 11: The Device of Nightmares

Apple unveiled its new iPhone models on Tuesday — but while some tech fans applauded the new phones’ design and specifications and others weighed in on their pricing, another feature has caught the eye of trypophobia sufferers everywhere.

The Pro and Pro Max phones feature three camera lenses. And while the design is likely to appeal to photography fans, some social media users say it is triggering their trypophobia — an intense, irrational fear of small holes and clusters of circles and bumps, such as those in a honeycomb, lotus flower or bubble bath.

https://twitter.com/donbosconovitch/status/1171420789880446976?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E1171420789880446976&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.cnn.com%2F2019%2F09%2F11%2Fhealth%2Ftrypophobia-iphone-wellness-intl-scli%2Findex.html

https://twitter.com/HappyBday_RM/status/1171372600062332928?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E1171372600062332928&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.cnn.com%2F2019%2F09%2F11%2Fhealth%2Ftrypophobia-iphone-wellness-intl-scli%2Findex.html

Research into trypophobia is limited. Geoff Cole, a visual scientist at the University of Essex in the UK, told CNN that while it might seem “a little bit odd” for people to feel uncomfortable at the sight of holes clustered together, for people with trypophobia, the images can cause a range of reactions, with varying levels of severity.

According to research from the University of Essex, “the phobia arises in part because the inducing stimuli share basic visual characteristics with those of dangerous organisms.”

Trypophobic images generally display “high (color) contrast at mid-range spatial frequencies” — cycling from bright to dark three or four times per centimeter, seen at arm’s length — and have a “very unique spectral composition (brightness and contrast), something you don’t see in the natural world — except in poisonous animals,” Cole told CNN.

Cole said his research had shown that 16% of the UK’s adult population found the image of a lotus seed pod — considered a typical trypophobic image — “uncomfortable or repulsive to look at.”

Why it’s Hot:
Will the new phobia inducing camera stop Apple’s devout followers from taking advantage of all the movie quality options now at their disposal? Probably not

Is White Claw Really the Best Hard Seltzer?

Bon & Viv Spiked Seltzer launched a campaign to promote a taste test challenge of competitors’ beverages. The Anheuser-Busch brand asked consumers to take a polygraph about which hard seltzer they prefer, with the chance to win $1,000.

Fifty people aged 25-39 took the polygraph test, and 46 participants said they prefer Bon & Viv’s Classic beverage over rival White Claw Pure, or said they like White Claw better and failed the polygraph. Just four people that said they prefer White Claw Pure passed the polygraph.

Why It’s Hot

White Claw might be driving market sales, but Bon & Viv is taking them on in a playful way to get hard seltzer drinkers to reconsider.

Source

Amble, a crowd-funded start-up, organizes monthlong retreats that pair creative professionals with budget-strapped national park conservancies.

Two-thirds of all full-time employees in the United States are currently experiencing job burnout, according to a recent Gallup study. While we aren’t great at taking advantage of earned time off — a whopping 768 million vacation days go to waste every year — a survey by the American Psychological Association last year found that even a two-week getaway is merely a stopgap as work-related stress returns before our tans have faded.

Yet a growing number of people are finding new ways to cultivate stability and avoid or overcome burnout. Three years ago, after nearly a decade at design agencies, Ilyssa Kyu, 30, quit her job to catch her breath and spend more time with her newborn daughter.

“I took a leap of faith and did my own sabbatical,” said Mrs. Kyu, who went on to not only bond with her daughter but also explore the trails and tribulations of national parks over five months. The results? A book, “Campfire Stories: Tales from America’s National Parks,” and the creation of a crowd-funded start-up, Amble. The company’s monthlong retreats pair creative professionals with budget-strapped park conservancies that support National Park Service projects, such as wildlife protection and trail rehabilitation.

For $1,400, which includes lodging, program benefits and some meals, these “Amble Creatives” devote 18 hours per week working on small yet transformative projects, be it redesigning a website or increasing audience engagement. The nonprofits return the favor with guided national park hikes, exclusive conservancy engagements and an America the Beautiful annual park pass.

Following sold-out retreats in Yosemite and the Sierra Foothills, Amble will host its third program from Oct. 7 to Nov. 10 in Glacier National Park, in partnership with the Glacier National Park Conservancy and Parks Project. Ten to 12 people are invited to join each program, and family-friendly accommodations have ranged from a 340-acre ranch in Mariposa, Calif., to a contemporary house on the Flathead River in Hungry Horse, Mont.

The participants range widely from web developers to marketing experts and craft makers; the latest Glacier National Park retreat accepted an artifact photographer from a science museum in San Francisco, as well as a Second City comedian-turned-social media strategist.

Source: NYTimes

Why It’s Hot

I’ve been re-targeted for this and other services like it all over the place. Is it a sign? Probably. A trend to watch? yep

IKEA and National Geographic take on “Bedroom Habits”

National Geographic and IKEA® come together to capture and document the human species in one of the most challenging habitats the world has ever seen — the bedroom. 
Ikea isn’t just about meatballs and couches. With its latest campaign, the Swedish retailer wants to be known as sleep experts, so it partnered with National Geographic on a series of films called ‘Bedroom Habitats.’

The faux-nature series looks to capture and document the human species in one of the most challenging habitats — the bedroom. The films cover everything from a comically small mattress to the unrelenting threat of clutter.

 Created by National Geographic with Wavemaker, the four videos in the series will highlight different consumers with varying sleep challenges. The first, ‘Small Bed Battle,’ shows a couple fighting for space in their tiny bed as a narrator gives a documentary style blow-by-blow of the epic struggle. A positive outcome surfaces after the couple goes to Ikea and gets a reasonably-sized bed.

The series will be hosted on a dedicated National Geographic Bedroom Habitats microsite, along with sleep challenges and shoppable solutions, and on National Geographic Instagram stories and its Facebook page. The series will also be supported with paid social and display units.

A complimentary campaign titled ‘Save Our Sleep,’ features the same nature documentary style, highlighting the issue that one-in-three Americans doesn’t get enough sleep, with Ikea offered up as the sleep hero.

Produced by Ogilvy, the ‘Planet Sleep’ television spot showcases how a comfortable bedroom sanctuary can help save endangered sleep through the implementation of simple and affordable sleep solutions, like new lower priced mattresses and ergonomic pillows. It starts by showing tired people in stressed out urban lifestyles. They only become happy as they realize that Ikea is the solution to their sleep problems.

“Trends show that a good night’s sleep might very well be going extinct. Globally, the average number of hours slept has fallen significantly in the past 50 years from eight hours to just a little over six,” said Joy Kelly, US media manager at Ikea. “Having conducted years of extensive research into how people live (and sleep) at home – and implementing those learnings to create a better everyday life – we know Ikea has the complete quality bedroom solutions that can help everyone achieve a good night’s sleep, so we wanted to be sure to showcase that.”

These quirky films mark the start of a larger, year-long campaign by Ikea to combat decreasing sleep levels in today’s society, positioning the retailer as one that is creating hope for the future of sleep.

“With the year-long ‘Save Our Sleep’ campaign, we hope to inspire consumers with simple, affordable bedroom solutions that will go a long way towards a better night sleep,” added Kelly. “Sleep-deprived consumers can be rest assured that Ikea is committed to saving our sleep in 2019 and beyond.”

ICYMI: Facebook has a dating app now

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(Sex) Dating apps are a big business – take Tinder for example:
– 5.2 million average subscribers in the Q2 2019, 1.5 million more than last year.
– Revenue for the three months ended June 30 rose about 18% to $498 million, above expectations of $489 million.

So what does one need for a successful dating app?
A unique take on dating (JSwipe, Hinge, Happn, Feeld), decent user experience and above all – liquidity (like any social network).

Initial twitter reaction is roasting Facebook, but that’s typical.

Why it’s hot: 
Similar to AirBnB expanding into experiences (for example) – this feels like a great example of a company making really smart use of it’s existing infrastructure and making a really smart service expansion.

Google search is getting personalized TV and movie recommendations

Google is adding personalized TV and movie recommendations to search, in hopes of solving the age old question: what do you actually want to watch?

Now, when you search Google for things like “good shows to watch” or “what to watch,” there’ll be a new carousel-style menu with TV shows and movies that you can swipe left and right on, similar to a dating app. Google says that it’ll be able to curate those suggestions based on what you search: ask for “horror movies from the ‘80s,” for example, and you’ll get recommendations specifically for that.

Why it’s hot: As more and more streaming services become available and more content is developed, there’ll be more of a need to sort through the shows and films.

Walmart and Nordstrom are opening stores that don’t sell anything

Both Walmart and Nordstrom are building physical stores where you can’t actually buy anything. These new types of stores are being built purely for shoppers to collect their online orders.

Walmart opened Walmart Pickup Point, a 40,000 square-foot prototype store outside of Chicago in Lincolnwood, Illinois, to cater to customers’ online pickups and deliveries. Customers drive up to the site to designated parking spots, and a Walmart worker will load up their trunk with their order. Customers are not allowed to go inside.

Nordstrom has been operating similar stores longer than Walmart. Nordstrom Local gives customers a place to make pickups and returns and take advantage of Nordstrom’s alteration and tailoring services. Nordstrom has three Local stores in Los Angeles and is slated to open its first two in New York City in September.

Nordstrom Local in Melrose doesn't carry inventory. Nordstrom has three Local stores in Los Angeles and is slated to open its first two in New York City in September.

Walmart's online grocery pickup location in Bentonville, Arkansas.

Why it’s hot: Even though, Nordstrom offers pickup at all its more than 100 full-priced locations around the United States, while Walmart is on track to offer pickup at more than 3,000 of its stores by the end of 2019, these stores are designed for shoppers who want to grab their stuff and go without waiting in checkout lines or interacting with sales workers on the floor. Picking up orders from stores can also be faster than home delivery.

SOURCE

 

Facebook’s New Facial Recognition Update + Facial Recognition Blocking Tech

Facebook’s is updating how users can opt in and out of facial recognition. This has been a hot topic online for a few years and Facebook facing a multi million dollar lawsuit about its facial recognition practices is the reason for the change.

Mashable notes “The lawsuit dates back to 2015, but has been slowly progressing — and so far not in Facebook’s favor. The company recently lost an appeal in which it attempted to have the suit dismissed.”

Consumers were allowed to opt in and out of “tagging suggestions” in 2017 but were not told that that came with facial recognition. Facial recognition is being used to target protesters in Hong Kong (and protesters have been attacking facial recognition cameras).

So what do you do in a world where facial recognition is no longer opt-in?

THESE SUPER COOL SHADES

The “phantom” shades reflect light back from infrared cameras but not normal visible light. Fom Mashable: “The frames are specifically designed to defeat 3D dot matrix face-mapping systems, which is basically what makes Apple’s Face ID work. They bounce infrared light back at its source, with the goal of preventing IR video cameras from getting a good image of your face — or potentially even registering your face as a face at all.”

Why It’s Hot?

We are living in a facial recognition world and you are automatically opted into being a facial recognition girl… We’re seeing how facial recognition can be used maliciously in other countries and we are, as a matter of course of being online and on the streets, opted into a system that we did not agree to. The glasses tech is cool but does not speak to the greater issue of what is going on around us and how AI technology might affect us in the coming years.

Skyscrapers Are Solving All Of Our Problems

Vertical landfills and DNA storage towers: 6 wild concepts for tomorrow’s skyscrapers

Design journal eVolo has a yearly competition on skyscrapers for the most insane, innovative concepts that are aimed at solving today’s most pressing issues (climate change, refugees, data storage, trash etc.) However unrealistic, they are ambitious visions for how skyscrapers could be redesigned to do more and be better for the communities/world around them.

Methanescraper: A vertical landfill systems

Creature Ark: Biosphere Skyscraper: A home for endangered species that simulated their natural habitat

Borderland Skyscraper: A space for refugees to live and work, hoping to change their roles from guest to host, without feeling under the responsibility of any state authority or having to live under the daily-life rules imposed by any formal organisation.

2100 Singapore: Gene Storage Skyscraper: a skyscraper that stores data, formed from intertwined fiber optic cables that form a twisting, leaf-like building, the structure changes color based on how much data is being uploaded.