Pictionary ups its game

The makers of Pictionary have updated their classic game by adding a digital element. “Pictionary Air … takes your competitive sketching off the paper and puts it onto your phone, tablet or TV screen instead.”

“Instead of a regular pen or pencil, players use a jumbo-sized light up pen to doodle their word in thin air, and their drawing is simultaneously cast to a mobile or TV screen using Chromecast or AirPlay ”

It’ll hit the Target shelves first, in June, and only set you back $20.

Why It’s Hot

Not only has it been made relevant again to a young generation, it actually sounds like they nailed the experience and sounds like it could be more fun than the original.

The Internet is Addicted to the Droste Effect

“My mom painted this and said no one would like it. It’s her 2nd painting.” It’s the line that launched a thousand paintings….

Leave it to reddit to take this mom: 

Source: https://imgur.com/Y0Dg3lx

and meme her. Hard.

Let’s start at the top, this first came to my attention via this great Twitter thread:

And of course someone tracked it:

Source: http://nubleh.github.io/i_painted/old.html

And in breaking news, the egret has arrived!!!

Source: https://imgur.com/8bNoFs5

It turns out this is called the Droste Effect, coined after Droste Cocoa, which featured a nun holding a box of Cocoa with her own face on it.

But this is what the internet LIKES. Here is a video of Kyle MacLachlan, doing an impression of Anne Frances, doing an impression of Catherine O’Hara playing Moira Rose on Schitt’s Creek. You’re welcome.

<<Features some NSFW language>>

https://twitter.com/Kyle_MacLachlan/status/1093626361762275328

https://twitter.com/AM2DM/status/1087356642591719427

Why it’s hot?

They pay me to keep on top of the internet memes so you don’t have to

 

get travel tips directly from (holograms of) locals…

When you’re waiting for a flight at the airport, you’ve usually got some time to kill. Some people watch Netflix on their phones, some have a drink at the bar, but KLM has come up with another constructive way to capitalize on these moments.

They’ve developed a “bar” currently at airports in Amsterdam, Oslo, and Rio de Janeiro where people can connect with others in the country they’re off to visit to gather tips on local customs, culture, and sights.

Dubbed “Take Off Tips”, here’s how it works:

“KLM is matching travelers up with people at the destination they’re flying to. For example, someone at Schiphol Airport who is about to fly to Norway will be connected with someone at Oslo’s Gardermoen airport who is waiting to board a plane to Amsterdam. To connect the people on opposite sites of the world, the bar is equipped with hologram technology so it can project a real-time virtual image of the traveler at the other airport.”

Why It’s Hot:

From a brand perspective, it’s a great new example of KLM “social airline” experience – connecting people to enhance their otherwise impersonal flying experience (see “Layover with a Local” and “Meet&Seat”.

From an experience perspective, it’s a brilliant solution to a common problem – our current main recourse to get the same tips would be Googling, dredging Trip Advisor, etc. – secondary resources to gain a first-person perspective. Plus, it removes quite a bit of work involved in that process.

From a cultural perspective, it’s getting us off our screens and in touch with each other. Increasingly, the promise of technology is not going to be “there’s an app for that”. As digital infiltrates the physical world, technology is facilitating more human-friendly interactions, such as sitting down at a booth and being projected holographically so that it’s just a face-to-face meeting, no devices needed.

[Source]

‘Tinder for Cows’ Helps Farmers Find Perfect Matches

From the makers of the UK’s SellMyLivestock website comes a new Tinder-style app for cattle farmers. Tudder provides an easy way for farmers to locate breeding matches by viewing profiles of cattle and their age, location, and owner. A swipe right to show interest directs farmers to the SellMyLivestock platform, which 1/3 of the UK’s farmers are already using.

While the marketing of the app includes playful language such as “seeks to unite sheepish farm animals with their soulmates,” the purpose is quite functional. Bringing a bull to a physical market is tedious and takes time away from other farm responsibilities. On the app, farmers can quickly search for organic or pedigree cattle, find out the cow’s health information, and get in touch with owners to make an offer.

Why It’s Hot

The app is a playful, easy way to facilitate cattle transactions — bringing real digital innovation to a timeless practice.

Source: http://time.com/5526883/tinder-cows/ 

Is There Nothing An Influencer Won’t Promote?

Okay. It’s one thing to look to social media influencers for inspiration on a new handbag, sneakers, foundation, hotel stay… What about medication? Surgery? Having advanced in the highly regulated world of medical advertising and come to terms with how to remain compliant with guidelines, pharma is solidly in a new phase of advanced advertising. Yes, many other industries have been using influencers on social for years but pharma is often hesitant. No longer (for some).

Pharma influencers are paid an ~$1,000 per 100,000 followers. There’s deep pockets in this industry so they’re not just using one or two, they’re using a fleet of influencers to sell a lifestyle. That’s not a stretch either. If you think about the TV ads, they’re not selling psoriasis treatment, they’re selling the freedom to walk with naked legs and arms holding hands with your love interest before you take a dip in the pool. So instead of print, a 60 sec spot, or radio ad, pharma gets the pseudo storytelling candor benefits of influencers’ social feeds.

Oh, can’t end without an obligatory mention that the Karshians are, at least, partially to blame.

Kim Kardashian made the news for (mis)promoting morning sickness pills.

Should the Super Bowl be a National Holiday?

An estimated 100m face paint-wearing, chest-pounding football fans chowed down on chicken wings and chugged beers yesterday as they watched the Super Bowl.

But today, 17.2m of those same fanatics are taking sick days from work, according to research reported by The Washington Post.

The Rams aren’t the only losers this morning: The total amount of lost productivity on ‘Super Sick Monday’ is expected to exceed $4B.

Most managers get it: 62% of execs “think it’s funny” when their employees call out sick the day after the big game, according to a recent survey.

But the hangovers also seem to be getting worse: Research shows that the number of workers who surrender to sleeping in on the day after the Bowl has been rising since 2005.

The amount of productivity lost in the aftermath of the Super Bowl is so consistent year after year that some managers want to throw in the towel and make the Monday after the Super Bowl a national holiday and, according to research, 72% of HR managers agree.

Why It’s Hot:

A National Hangover Day sounds like a nice idea especially if your team lost the big game. The chances of this happening are slim to none: the last new holiday that was created was MLK day in 1983.

Putting the audience into the scene

New technologies are transforming the ways video content can be captured and experienced, making it possible to experience a scene from multiple angles, and feel as if the viewer is walking through the action. There have been a few recent developments on this front, along with some related activity in the AR space, but here are a couple of quick examples:

Future of video? Watch our first interview shot with volumetric tech, with help from a Seattle startup

Intel teams up with Premier League giants to offer soccer fans ‘immersive experiences’

Why it’s hot:

A great emerging opportunity to create more engaging content for marketing programs, generally. Also a potential way of enabling audiences to have a more visceral experience of a product or service in (simulated) action.

Everyday items in reusable packages

Recycling company TerraCycle has partnered with global FMCG brands to create Loop: a platform that offers customers everyday items in reusable packages.

Loop provides customers with branded FMCG goods, such as Häagen-Dazs ice-cream, Crest mouthwash and Tide detergent, in sturdy containers. When the customer is finished with the product, they return the packaging to the company, which then sterilises and re-uses it, creating a zero-waste cycle.

Loop aims to replace single-use plastics in the home by giving households the option to reduce the amount they have to recycle. In an interview with Bloomberg, founder Tom Szaky said, of the risk to the planet caused by pollution: ‘We can’t recycle or clean our way out of this. We have to stop the waste from entering the system to begin with.’

Loop was announced at the World Economic Forum in Davos in January 2019. So far, 24 global FMCG brands have signed up to support the program, including Procter & Gamble, Nestle, PepsiCo, Unilever, The Body Shop, Coca-Cola and Danone.

Loop will begin a pilot in Spring 2019 in Paris, where customers will be able to purchase its products online through supermarket Carrefour’s website. and in New York.

TerraCycle will also distribute products through Tesco in the UK later in the year and is looking to reach Tokyo by 2020.

Around 300 products will be available through Loop, ranging from shampoo to washing powder. Each brand has worked with packaging designers to develop the re-usable containers. Häagen-Dazs ice cream, for example, has designed a double-walled stainless-steel container that keeps the contents cold throughout an entire evening, while Oral-B’s new click toothbrush design allows a user to detach the head from the handle, reducing waste by 60%.

Why its hot?
Research has also shown that one of the most common barriers to recycling is consumers feeling uncertain about which plastics can be recycled. With Loop, consumers wouldn’t need to worry about which products are or are not recyclable. The initiative unloads any supposed hassle that comes with the current recycling model in a simplistic way.

 

 

Calm: the mindfulness unicorn

Calm announced it raised $88m in a Series B funding round at a $1B valuation. The sleep, meditation, and relaxation app has grown rapidly to over 40m downloads worldwide, which equates to a new user joining every second.

US meditation has more than tripled from 2012 to 2017, according to the CDC. Companies like Calm and Headspace have become major players in the $4T health and wellness industry. When Calm was created 7 years ago, the company struggled to see adoption until about 18 months ago as people were finally becoming more open about mental health. By the end of 2017, Calm relaxed into a comfortable lead, increasing revenue 4x in 2018 and becoming the largest mindfulness app on the market.

What sets Calm apart from the deluge of mindfulness apps is primarily their beautiful design as well as their variety of bonus features in addition to meditation. They offer Sleep Stories, Music for focus, relaxation and sleep plus the options to meditate with just nature sounds for a set time period. They also have lectures by experts in the areas of emotions and meditations etc.

Why it’s hot: the company has its sights set on becoming the “Nike of the health and wellness industry” which will without doubt introduce a huge influx of similar apps and services to address health and wellness.

 

AI Inspired Flavoring

After years of research, McCormick & Company and IBM have announced the creation of a new AI system that will help spice up the dinner experience. The platform uses machine learning to predict winning flavor combinations and will aid McCormick in developing new recipes faster.

This spring, McCormick will debut the first AI-developed flavors in a new product line named “One.” The new recipe mixes intended for easy one-dish protein and vegetable dinners will include Tuscan Chicken, Bourbon Pork Tenderloin, Farmers Market Chicken, Glazed Salmon and New Orleans Sausage.

The data that led to these flavors involved 40 years of McCormick’s proprietary collection of past product recipes and consumer flavor preference studies.

Why It’s Hot

While the brand partnership seems unexpected, it’s smart of McCormick to take all the data they’ve collected over the years as the leader in their space and put it to good use in product innovation.

Source: https://www.cnet.com/news/ai-gets-spicy-with-new-mccormick-flavors/ 

How To Lose $140 Million In An Instant

QuadrigaCX, a Canadian cryptocurrency exchange, is home to more than $140 million in cryptocurrencies. Lately it found itself in the news and in the Canadian courts due to the death of its founder, Gerald Cotten, who passed away in December and took with him the only passwords to their crypto vaults. More than 115,000 hapless investors are left without access to their crypto wealth and little recourse to recover their assets.

The death of a key person who had access to passwords with no redundancy is an extraordinarily rare event, especially if it is going to lock 115,000 people out of their crypto fortunes. In this case, sadly, that fact that encryption is working and works very well against its own investors.

Why it’s hot: when security becomes vulnerability.

Source

Woebot – Highly Praised App for Mental Health

AI counseling is the wave of the future. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy administered by a smart chatbot via an app relying on SMS has become highly popular and well reviewed. Woebot isn’t just the face of a trend, it’s a notable player in technology transforming healthcare.

Why It’s Hot

It’s not new. It’s better. The first counseling software was called Eliza. It was about 1966. Part of the difficulty was required human intervention. Ironically, in 2019 when many believe a lack of human contact to be part of the problem, it actually addresses a barrier in therapy. Lack of anonymity. Sure therapist visits are confidential blah blah but people naturally have difficulty opening up in person. With an app, studies have shown that people get to the heart of their problem quicker.

Why it Matters

There’s a ton of demand for this and human counselors can’t keep up. People are made to wait weeks and months for appointments. In this On Demand age, that’s seen as unacceptable. Woebot, and others, address the market need for immediate gratification care. Another issue is cost. Therapy is expensive. Apps are obviously a solve here. No co-pay.

Obligatory Statement

All the apps remind users they’re no substitute for human counselors but they are helpful in reflecting behavior patterns and emotional red flags back to their users. That’s helpful.

Facebook is about to launch a tool in the US that pings you to donate blood when there are shortages

Facebook is finally is using the strength of it’s network for a good cause! They’re getting ready to launch a tool that will notify users to donate blood when there is a shortage. T

The blood donation feature is the first tool built by Facebook’s four-year-old Social Good team, which also created the company’s disaster response tool — the feature that lets you mark yourself “safe” during a crisis.

facebook blood appThe initiative began in Bangladesh and has spread to Brazil and Pakistan before launching in the US.

In India, the problem was so dire that every week, thousands of users would flock to Facebook to ask their friends and family to give blood, according to Hema Budaraju, the company’s product director of health.

Inspired by those pleas, Budaraju and her team created an official Facebook blood donations tool that individuals and organizations in the country could turn to for help giving and receiving blood, introducing it in 2017. Since then, the tool has launched in Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Brazil. More than 35 million Facebook users have signed up, Budaraju told Business Insider.

Why it’s hot? 

It”s a perfect example of a brand playing a meaningful role in the world they live in and also shows how much power brands actually have to make the world a better place.

Chatting about your tighty whities? There’s an emoji for that.

“More than 50 new emojis will become standard in 2019, based on the final list approved by the Unicode Consortium.”

“Many of the new icons are tied together by the theme of inclusivity, introducing emojis for deaf people, blind people, people in wheelchairs, and those with prosthetic limbs. This year’s update will allow users to choose the race and gender of both people when choosing an emoji that features a couple.”

Full story on Business Insider.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This one might become the most useful for Twitter users.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Not sure what to say about this one.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why it’s Hot
Good to see the continuing trend of inclusiveness in emojis.

Michael Buble…or Bubly?

When you combine the Super Bowl with pure charm, you get a commercial starring Michael Buble. Personally, I’m a big fan of this spot. What do you think?

Why It’s Hot: It’s funny, it’s charming, and it’s Michael Buble.

 

For the love of Krang!

ALERT ALERT! Krang down!

@KrangTNelson, a joke on Craig T Nelson’s name and brainy villian from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and king of weird Twitter has had his account suspended — as have some of Twitter’s most popular Weird Twitter accounts.

If your at this hot sauce post to find out why… well we don’t have the answers for you but we do have 1000 Twitter users guesses.

Many assume that he was “bot spammed”, meaning many troll bots repeatedly reported the account as a spam account.

The internet is VERY unhappy with this, especially with how lax Twitter has been with hate speech, other weird tweeter Julius Goat:

https://twitter.com/JuliusGoat/status/1091293393928536070

But the person who is probably the saddest about this…

Well not the dog, this is our own James Stewart Meudt’s Twitter profile pic.

Why it’s hot?

Weird Twitter probably had a hot sauce debut, it’s what so many brands base their voice/tone TW presence on. Bot’s taking down many of the internet’s fave Weird TW accounts is troubling at best. Even our chaos is being ruined by chaos.

AI and Implicit Bias

Last weekend, AOC sounded the alarm about new research that found the facial recognition software Amazon is selling to law enforcement falls short on tests for accuracy and bias. According to the Washington Post’s reporting, researchers said Amazon’s algorithms misidentified the gender of darker-skinned women in about 30 percent of their tests. (Of course, Amazon promises that the facial recognition software in use is not the one tested by researchers.)

The problem stems from the sets of photos the algorithms were trained on — which skew heavily toward white men, the researchers said. And that caused AOC to sound the alarm on Twitter.

And if you’re really behind on implicit bias, please visit Harvard’s Project Implicit to learn more.

Why It’s Hot:

  1. For possibly the first time, Congress has a credible authority on technology and she’s on the House Oversight Committee so tech companies might want to take notice.
  2. As AI becomes real, we need to make sure we’re designing for each.

Source: Washington Post

Living Drones…or Bionic Bees

Scientists outfit bees with tiny tech backpacks, creating swarms of tiny, agile drones that aren’t limited by battery life or no-fly zones.

Potential applications for what the researchers call “living Internet of Things platforms” might include smart farming to measure plant health. For example, moisture and humidity sensors could assist with precision irrigation, and temperature sensors can detect whether growing conditions are optimal for specific crops. Whereas “drones can’t really fly between plants, bees can fly pretty much wherever they want to get more fine-grained information than drones,” Gollakota says.

Why it’s hot:

Potential for a global IoT platform capable of generating massive amounts of data about anything…anytime, anywhere.

Data = the fuel of AI and Machine Learning

More data = more accurate modeling and predictions

Boundless buzzing terabytes of real-time data = a truly “smarter planet”

(Plus, I just think it’s kinda cool)

Source: World Economic Forum

Fitness Brands that Leverage Data to Deliver Personalized Experiences

Health and fitness brands are enabling customized experiences and tailored lifestyle plans using customer information like DNA or gym habits to help them reach their personal goals. Here are examples of 4 brands taking a unique approach to the fitness space:

FitnessGenes
U.K. genetic testing service FitnessGenes analyzes customers’ DNA and provides a genetically tailored workout and nutrition plan, with the optimal number of calories and macronutrient content for their unique genetic makeup. Consumers have easy access to their DNA results as well as workout and nutrition plans through the Member’s Area in the company’s website or app.

AthGene
Danish startup AthGene helps people improve their lifestyles and optimize their diets and fitness routines based on their DNA test results. Users collect their DNA with a mouth swab, and then receive easy-to-understand, actionable insights about their unique genetic makeup, such as their muscle fiber composition and sensitivity to carbohydrates, allowing them to tailor their nutrition and workout plans to their body’s needs.

Equinox

Equinox trialed a bot embedded into its mobile app that learns from a user’s activities, goals and preferences to recommend personalized workouts. The “Digital Coach” uses data from in-gym beacons to detect where gym-goers prefer to spend their time and subsequently nudge them towards specific activities. The service has successfully motivated members to check in 40% more than non-users during a six-month pilot program.

Thorne

Health startup Thorne sells at-home health tests that let users analyze various aspects of their health, such as cortisol levels, thyroid function and heavy metal levels, to help them address specific concerns, such as fatigue or fertility. Users provide a saliva or blood sample and receive a personalized health plan along with their test results.

Why it’s hot: These are hyper-targeted consumer experiences that are almost expected across many industries now – especially health and wellness.

Source 

Who’s Your Dadi?

As the D2C space continues to grow into an infinite amount of categories and brands, we can add men’s fertility to that list. Dadi, a new men’s health startup dedicated to fertility and sperm storage, believes the time is ripe for men to bypass the stuffy doctor’s office and deposit sperm into an FDA-licensed, yet patent pending, fertility and sperm storage kit from the comforts of their home.

According to a study in health journal Andrology, one in six couples has fertility issues, with little research or emphasis on how men factor into the equation. The CEO asserts that the industry hasn’t evolved in 30 to 40 years and neither has the way men approach reproductive health. They want to change that.

The founders at Dadi believe that infertility isn’t a women’s issue; it’s both a men’s and women’s issue. And they are hoping that this kit will encourage men to contribute to family planning conversations and become more aware of their reproductive health.

A typical men’s fertility program, which can include a reproductive kit, storage and lab fees, can cost hundreds to thousands of dollars. Dadi offers significantly lower pricing options at either $9.99 a month or $99 a year to store the sperm at the New England Cryogenic Center (NECC).

The entire process is fairly innocuous, as it includes no branding. Men can deposit their sperm into it, tap a button to mix in a preservative located in the cap to keep it stable and then use a FedEx prepaid label to ship back to Dadi’s lab facility at NECC. In 24 hours, consumers can expect results about their fertility as well as a video of their sperm. During the whole process, consumers can chat with the Dadi team either through email or text.

Why it’s hot: With the introduction of D2C brands like Hims and Roman, many companies are tackling sensitive male issues with tech-enabled solutions to age-old issues in an almost anonymous setting. Regardless of the benefits, there are many challenging regulations that come with sperm storage, not to mention getting men to care about fertility which will be the toughest challenge to overcome. These startups will need to go beyond education and brand building and really find a way to change the way we think about fertility as a society. 

Source: https://www.adweek.com/digital/direct-to-consumer-brand-aims-to-make-mens-fertility-more-affordable-and-attainable/

 

Stories by the route

Volkswagen Highway Fairytales

Volkswagen Highway Fairytales
Volkswagen Highway Fairytales
Volkswagen Highway Fairytales

To make children’s car journeys more entertaining, Volkswagen has created a location-based app that tells personalised stories based on what kids can see out of the back window.

The Snelweg Sprookjes (Road Tales) app detects ordinary objects such as tunnels, windmills, pass overs, gas stations, and electricity poles and transforms them in real-time into story elements. For example, a tunnel turns into a rocket launcher.

Why its hot?
Other than stories that adapt to your surroundings in real time, Road Tales gives children a reason to put their tablets way and look outside the window instead.

Drone delivers

JD.com, China’s second largest e-commerce site, delivered books and backpacks over 150 miles to students at a school in a village in Indonesia that’s hard to reach by road. Indonesia houses a population of more than 260 million people across some 17,000 islands making it one of the nations that could really use revolutionized delivery and logistics systems.

Why it’s hot: Technology is not taking over a human’s job in this case, it’s doing what they can’t do.

jd.id drone

Source

Domino’s rewards customers for disloyalty

Domino’s is promoting a limited-time addition to its rewards program that kicks off the day before Super Bowl Sunday, one of the top five days of the year in the ever-competitive pizza industry. The leading pizza chain is giving points for any brand of pizza. Someone could even heat up frozen pizza and earn points.

The offer gives anyone who signs up the chance to get free pizza without having to buy from Domino’s.After Domino’s cooked up the idea, its internal analytics and digital team worked on an artificial intelligence system that recognizes photos of pizza.

Thousands of photos were tested. Some trickery is actually allowed. If a dog has a pizza-shaped toy, a photo would get points for the owner, as the ad explains. While the 12-week offer may sound like a gimmick or act of desperation, it comes as Domino’s is playing from a position of strength and could extend its dominance over competitors including Pizza Hut, Little Caesars, Papa John’s and numerous smaller chains.

To get the rewards, people need to sign up for Domino’s loyalty program and share a photo of pizza, up to once a week. Each photo counts as 10 points. After six photos are approved by the company’s “Piedentifier” artificial intelligence system, the person has 60 points that can be redeemed for a free pizza.

Domino’s traditionally doesn’t advertise in the Super Bowl and this year is no exception. The main push will be TV ads, with a heavy rotation on Saturday and on Sunday in the hours before kickoff.

Why It’s Hot

Domino’s owns the pizza delivery space and rewarding customers for eating the competition is a snarky way of reminding them who is the best.

Casper’s Connected Nightlight

Casper’s new nightlight, the Glow, is far more than the nightlight you may have had in your bedroom as a child. While the product was inspired by the less harsh feeling of candlelight or lamplight, the Glow is future-forward. It’s a customizable connected device that can help improve sleep.

The light is meant to ease you into sleep by syncing with your body’s circadian rhythm, and slowly dimming as you prepare to fall asleep.

The Glow is connected to an app so that users can easily program the length of time the light takes to dim–from fifteen minutes to an hour and a half. Once the settings are saved once, the light will activate the same way each time someone picks it up to get it started. The light can also be twisted to dim or brighten manually.

The light, which retails for $89 or $169 for two, primarily sits on a charging base, but is also portable. The idea is that if you are getting up in the middle of the night, you can pick up the Glow and bring it with you, illuminating your way without disturbing a partner or having to flip on bright overhead lights that can single your body to wake up.

Why It’s Hot

As wellness and self-care continues to be such a pervasive topic, consumers are very aware of the importance of getting a full night’s sleep, and willing to try new strategies and products to help them break the habit of staring at their phones in bed. With competition increasing from other mattress companies, Casper is pushing ahead into becoming more of a lifestyle brand with a holistic approach to sleep.

Source: https://www.fastcompany.com/90293556/the-future-of-jeans-inside-the-levis-innovation-lab-bringing-denim-into-2019 

ny times has the [alexa] skills…

The inimitable New York Times has created not one, but five new Alexa skills.

Now, people can use their smart speaker to access:

> A daily flash briefing read by journalist Michael Barbaro
> Hear about the travels of Sebastian Modak with “52 places to go”
> Get a weekly music roundup from music editor Caryn Ganz
> Get book recommendations from Times book critics
> Play a weekly “New York Times Quiz” testing their knowledge of recent news

Why it’s hot:

It may not feel a massive innovation, but it’s a savvy move for the Times in a world where people are increasingly eschewing websites. No longer is it enough to build destinations, we have to think about how our brands can be present where people need them, when they need them.

[Source]

Making Ketchup Classy

Leading up to Valentine’s Day, Heinz is attempting to recreate the joys of ketchup and give it a social equity boost with its Ketchup Caviar.

The extremely limited batch of Heinz Ketchup Caviar will be available for Valentine’s. If you want to get your hands on one of the 150 jars available you’ll have to enter the brand’s sweepstakes (see link above).

But what is Ketchup Caviar? First off, it’s not literal caviar. No fish roe were harmed in the making of this sweepstakes. Instead, Heinz Ketchup Caviar is a molecular gastronomic spin on the classic condiment that attempts to recreate the joys of ketchup in pearl form.

Sweepstake winners will be contacted to receive their 1.8 oz jar hopefully before Valentine’s.

Why it’s hot: It’s a fun way for Heinz to celebrate their 150 years in business, it could also be a way to test new delivery methods for their products, molecular gastronomy is cool. 

It can cut your grass, but can it yell “get off my lawn!” at passersby?

iRobot, the makers of the Roomba robot indoor vacuum have invented its outdoor counterpart: the Terra robotic lawn mower.

“Terra will automatically return to its base to recharge when the battery runs low, and then it will resume cutting where it left off.”

Currently, this robo grass cutter is in beta testing and probably won’t be available in the U.S. until next year.

Story on MakeUseOf

Why it’s Hot

Tedious chores being done by robots means more time to do things that matter more, like playing on your phone.

 

Healthy and Informed? That’s Hot.

There’s a million ways to use social media, like finding material for self-righteous indignation. It can also be used to improve public health. Aside from all the Twitter text alerts, patient reviews of medications on YouTube, and questionable use of Instagram by branded treatments, there are legitimate ways using social media can actually improve public health.

HOW DOES IT WORK? A notable method of providing a service to society is the use of podcasts. People can learn about public policy, like the Affordable Care Act debate, in a way that’s easy to comprehend with The Healthcare Policy Podcast. Interested in the future of your Healthcare beyond video therapy sessions and chatbots to diagnose common ailments? Think robotic assistants for surgeons, lasers replacing the scalpel in new ways, and enhanced apps to improve med compliance. The weekly MedTech Talk Podcast has that and more.

WHY’S IT HOT?

Recognizing the seismic shift social media is bringing to healthcare, we’re constantly looking at our proposals to ensure our recommendations place brands at the forefront. Though Healthcare is right to be cautious, there’s actually a plethora of use cases that can be applied.

AT&T customers exit in droves as teleco looks to upend TV

Evolving consumer behavior continues to challenge traditional media giants.

Two key measures, U.S. wireless and pay-TV subscribers, came in well below predictions in the fourth quarter. AT&T added a net 13,000 U.S. monthly wireless subscribers in the period, way under projections of about 252,000. A loss of 410,000 users of non-phone devices like smartwatches and tablets drove the disappointment.

AT&T fell victim in part to the same phenomenon that’s bedeviling Apple and other phone makers: People are hanging onto their smartphones longer. The Dallas-based company’s phone sales fell $500 million in the recent quarter due to sluggish upgrades, Chief Financial Officer John Stephens said on an earnings conference call.

AT&T also lost 658,000 U.S. pay-TV subscribers, compared with the loss of about 191,000 anticipated by analysts.

The figures look even worse in contrast with AT&T’s biggest rivals in mobile services. Although Verizon Communications reported downbeat fourth-quarter sales on Tuesday, that company and T-Mobile US Inc. each gained 1.2 million new wireless subscribers in the quarter. AT&T’s monthly defection rate, or churn, rose to 1.2 percent from 1.1 percent a year ago.

Why it’s hot?

Brands need to operate their businesses nimbly. They have to evolve into light weight operations, such as RPA, that will allow them to adopt new business models more fluidly.

Rent Your Apartment Out By The Minute

Recharge, a San Francisco startup that made headlines a few years ago for offering hotel stays by the minute (for a nap, shower or phone call, the company says), is expanding to offer the same service in people’s homes.

The big picture: Technology has enabled the creation of online marketplaces that segment the use of physical space in new ways — from Airbnb’s home-sharing service to companies like Breather that let you book office space for a meeting or call. Even Airbnb recently acquired Gaest, a marketplace for renting out office space.

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How it works: Guests in the Bay Area, Los Angeles and New York can book a stay in an available home via the Recharge app just as they would book a visit in one of its hotels.

For hosts, Recharge offers two options: a self-managed option, which means the host takes care of the cleaning and gets to keep most of the revenue, and an “autonomous” option, for which Recharge provides the cleaning, but takes a much bigger cut of the fee.
Hosts have to apply and be vetted, including providing a copy of their lease if they don’t own the home to ensure the service won’t violate its terms.
Recharge co-founder and CEO Emmanuel Bamfo says that the company’s service is legal, even in cities like San Francisco and New York with strict home-sharing laws, because there are no overnight stays.
But ultimately, it remains to be seen whether landlords react negatively to Recharge, he admits.
By the numbers: To date, Recharge has had 50,000 bookings, with an average stay of two hours, says Bamfo. It works with 50 hotels and has approved 1,100 homes. Eventually, says Bamfo, Recharge wants to purchase and manage its own hotels to have more flexibility.

Funding: Since raising $2.3 million in seed funding in 2016, Recharge has brought on strategic investors like JetBlue Ventures and Fifth Wall (which has ties to the real estate industry), bringing its total funding to $10 million.

Why It’s Hot:

Cities like San Francisco and New York are notoriously strict with home-sharing laws. By not allowing overnight stays Recharge found a way to bypass these laws one minute at a time.