College, was it really worth the amount you paid?

65% of jobs require some type of college degree. As tuition skyrockets, how much is it really worth when you can basically learn all the things you actually are interested online.

Trends like the Gig economy, smaller boot camps and more directed programs that don’t take as long are gaining momentum not to mention huge interest in educational classes from places like Lynda, Pluralsight, LinkedIn and Youtube are recognizing the need for knowledge in the market.

This is all happening while tuition’s skyrocket. So is it even worth it?

Georgetown set out to find out. They considered 4500 Schools for non-profit, profit and private schools in the country.

Georgetown Study

Best long-term plan: Four-year private, nonprofit colleges. These pricey degrees take a while to bear their fruits. For example, Babson College, a private college in Massachusetts, ranks 304th in value at 10 years, but 7th after 40 years, with a payoff of $1.98 million—edging out Harvard University at $1.96 million.

Best short-term plan: A two-year certificate or associate’s degree can have a high return on investment after 10 years, particularly in nursing. Veeb Nassau County School of Practical Nursing and Putnam Westchester BOCES-Practical Nursing Program rock 40-year payoffs of $1.4 million, which are in line with the payoffs of four-year degrees from Northwestern University or the University of Chicago. #gonursing

Chart to look it up your school

Was your college worth it?

Why it’s hot:

Because of all the questions it arises!

Is it worth it for some people to go to certain schools? Shines a bit of more light not only on the institution but a bit on the actual attendees.

average age of entry for CUNY schools is higher than private schools. Why is that?

And some of them average 33. So the idea of the typical college grad is different than the norm.

What are the stats for you school?

Our Platform Isn’t Secure, So Give Us Your Credit Card Number

Facebook is launch[ed] a new payments system, appropriately named Facebook Pay. It will be available across Facebook, Messenger, Instagram, and WhatsApp, and it’s designed to facilitate payments across Facebook’s popular social networks and apps. You’ll be able to use Facebook Pay to send money to friends, shop for goods, or even donate to fundraisers. The service will be separate from Facebook’s new Calibra wallet and the Libra network, and it’s “built on existing financial infrastructure and partnerships,” according to the company.

Facebook is planning to start rolling out Facebook Pay on Messenger and Facebook in the US this week. It will initially be available for fundraisers, person-to-person payments, event tickets, in-game purchases, and some purchases from pages and businesses that operate on Facebook’s Marketplace. “Over time, we plan to bring Facebook Pay to more people and places, including for use across Instagram and WhatsApp,” explains Deborah Liu, Facebook’s vice president of marketplace and commerce.

Facebook Pay will be available in the settings section of the Facebook or Messenger apps, and it will support most debit and credit cards and PayPal. Facebook is using Stripe, PayPal, and others to process these payments.

Facebook isn’t revealing exactly when this payment system will be available across all of its apps, nor when it will launch internationally. Facebook Pay comes just weeks after a large number of payment companies dropped out of Facebook’s Libra project. PayPal, which is supporting Facebook Pay, was one of the first companies to distance itself from the Libra Association, the nonprofit organization that oversees the creation of the cryptocurrency and its rollout.

Every major US payment processor has now exited the association, and it’s left Facebook with the daunting task of convincing governments that Libra is an option, just when trust in Facebook is at an all-time low. That’s not stopping Facebook from launching a more traditional payment system today, though.

“Facebook Pay is part of our ongoing work to make commerce more convenient, accessible and secure for people on our apps,” says Liu. “We’ll continue to develop Facebook Pay and look for ways to make it even more valuable for people on our apps.”

Why it’s hot: With the massive lack of trust about its data privacy practices and approach to how its platform is used and can be manipulated, it’s a strange time to ask for people to trust you with their credit card information. Not to mention the plethora of ways to execute digital payments (Apple pay, Samsung pay, Venmo, Paypal, etc.) that exist.

Would you trust Facebook pay with your credit card info?

Will Facebook pay go the way of Snapcash?

Source: The Verge

Bigger Waves = Bigger Discounts on Flights for Surfers

Alaska Airlines teamed up with surf forecasting site Surfline to create a sales promotion that uses data from waves to determine prices for flights to Hawaii.

For the “Swell Deals” promotion,​ Surfline will source data from sites that monitor wave conditions by the minute around the Hawaiian Islands to determine the offer. A reading of 0-10 ft. will generate a 10% discount, 11-15 ft. swells translate to 15% off, 16-20 ft. leads to 20% off and 21+ ft. swells will bring a 30% discount.

Digital and social ads supporting the promotion will be dynamically updated and Alaska Airline’s landing page will feature the live Surfline forecast along with the corresponding discount.

Why It’s Hot

The use of real-time data creates a sense of urgency to book flights, while personally appealing to surfers’ motivation for traveling to Hawaii.

Source

Whatsapp and the future of CX

The story of the internet has mostly run west to east, San Francisco to Shanghai. Whatsapp has proven an exception. In China, it has become the dominant platform for everything from social media, bill pay, and messaging.

In the last 2 years, it has added digital storefronts to it’s roster. Businesses like HeyTea are primarily using it–instead of their own app or website– to reduce wait times through mobile ordering.

Image result for heytea whatsapp

Why it’s hot: 

With Facebook looking to integrate Facebook, Instagram, and Wechat with each other and with business payments, it’s worth asking whether a unified online experience with one app for all purchases, messages, and media is the customer experience that we will ultimately demand, or whether a series of apps and websites–each with their own usernames, passwords, and interfaces has benefits that will stand the test of time.

 

‘Headed South’ by Google Demos Their New UI

Google has made the Pixel 4’s Soli (radar that lives just above the phone’s screen to see shapes and gestures) technology into a game.

On the Pixel 4, Soli allows you to do things like air swipe to skip forward and backward on Spotify, or wave to Pokemon in the phone’s live wallpapers. Google has partnered with creative studio UsTwo to launch a free game called Headed South to showcase the technology in a fully realized app to help introduce Soli to Pixel 4 users.

“Overall, the project goal in itself was a mix between an onboarding experience and play experience,” says Anders Oscarsson, the design lead at UsTwo who headed the project. “It wasn’t specifically about creating a game… It’s still early days [for the technology].”

Headed South turns you into a bird flying from a storm. As you go, you encounter other birds. Using your right finger on the screen, you draft in their wake until you catch up and they join your flock. Then, to perform special tricks—like a turbo boost to catch up with the bird in front of you—you can air swipe with your left hand, activating the superpower without touching the screen.

“How often you’re gesturing, that’s something we played around with a lot,” says Oscarsson. “The first thing we tried was, you were controlling the bird and you’d push the wind all the time. The more you gestured, the faster you’d go. It created a repetitive interaction that got old soon. With a touchscreen, you wouldn’t be tapping on the bird all the time to fly fast!”

Why It’s Hot:

At the moment, Soli is still just a very polished tech demo. It’s an interesting play on how to get users to interact with new UI experiences in a way that users may be more open to. The tech is a pretty cool idea, but what will it do that’s better than using touch, besides gaming? I’ll be curious to see how they make it an essential to the cell phone experience, not just another cool additive that we probably will use once.

Source

Patagonia’s new line is made from old clothes damaged beyond repair

Wondering what to do with your damaged and worn Patagonia clothing? Those are the clothes Patagonia is focusing on with the launch of a new line called ReCrafted.

The line takes worn-out, damaged goods and transforms them into entirely new, one-of-a-kind products at a workshop in Los Angeles. Each item in the ReCrafted collection is made up of between three and six pieces of used clothing.

The first series of items consists of down jackets and vests, a sweater, a T-shirt, a toolkit, and four bags, all available on Patagonia’s Worn Wear website for prices that range from $27 to $327. The aesthetic, unsurprisingly, feels different from the traditional Patagonia line, with fabrics of different colors and textures stitched together.

This is just the latest part of Patagonia’s broader strategy of keeping garments in circulation for longer. When it comes to the fashion industry, the bulk of carbon emissions happens early in the supply chain, in the production of raw materials and manufacturing in factories. The longer an item is used, the lower its environmental footprint.

The ReCrafted products are available starting today on the Worn Wear website, along with Patagonia’s first dedicated Worn Wear pop-up, which opens tomorrow in Boulder, Colorado—along with a repair workshop on-site.

Why its hot

Will such projects inspire other brands to launch similar programs? It’s hard to say. It takes a relatively large company, with plenty of resources, to redirect worn-out clothes and bring on designers to create new pieces. This may prove too much of a hurdle for many brands.

Road Tales

Looking out of the car window used to be what kids did on road trips–but now, screens mean that they barely glance outside sometimes. Volkswagen has decided to counteract this with an interactive solution which, while it still relies on an app, means that kids are more connected with their journey.

“Road Tales” is an app featuring interactive audiobooks that creates unique tales based on the location of the user and transform ordinary road objects into  characters in a story. To make this happen, the Amsterdam based agency scanned all major Dutch highways (over 5000 km of road) to identify objects like bridges, windmills, trees, petrol stations and turn them into story elements. It collaborated with children’s book writers to write the story chapters, which are triggered by objects along the road.

The whole family can use the books, explains creative director Kika Douglas: “Parents can play the story through the sound system of the car and then put the phone away.  The characters of the story also ask the passengers to play family games, like guessing a color of the next car or doing a countdown to launch a rocket before entering the tunnel, or warning them to put their head down before going under a bridge.”

Developed for Dutch children between 4-11 years old, the app can be downloaded for free. It’s being promoted to parents via a social campaign, influencer strategy and online video.

Source: https://adage.com/creativity/work/volkswagen-road-tales/969896
Why it’s hot
The Screen-less era is coming with voice-first solutions. Surprises like Road Tales can live in both digital and physical worlds. According to Gartner, web browsing will be screen-less by 2020. It’s about time we start thinking about voice-only experiences that can transform how we interact digitally.

The Wall Street Journal Wants You to ‘Read Yourself Better’

WSJ dropped its first widespread brand campaign on Nov. 4 in an effort to attract new subscribers by encouraging them to “read yourself better.” As part of that effort, WSJ’s paywall will be lifted, and readers can view an unlimited number of articles on the site for three days, from Nov. 9-11.

WSJ focused on encouraging readers to turn to quality and trustworthy news for their information. A narrator encourages you to read past the hashtags, misinformation, angry comments, “troll armies” and overall noise in the 90-second spot. “Because no one ever did anything big by reading small. Read yourself better,” the narrator says.

Out-of-home ads will also appear throughout the country in L.A., Denver, Philadelphia and New York encouraging readers to “Read yourself past the hashtags,” “Read yourself to your own opinion,” and “Read yourself out of your comfort zone.”

Why it’s hot: This campaign plays very well into the cultural zeitgeist and challenges viewers to spend their time doing more quality reading and less mindless scrolling.

Source: AdWeek

Planned parenthood launches tool to help navigate state abortion laws

Planned Parenthood recently launched an Abortion Care Finder tool, which provides those seeking abortions with location-specific information relating to laws and regulations, nearby health centers and different medical options. It was designed in-house by Planned Parenthood’s Digital Products Lab after the team noticed an increase in searches on its website that were variants of “abortions near me.”

When a user inputs their age, location, and length of their pregnancy, the digital portal will allow them to locate the nearest Planned Parenthood clinic, and tell them whether in-clinic procedures or abortions via medication are available. The Care Finder will also update its information when states pass new laws.

If the nearest Planned Parenthood is more than 60 miles away, the tool refers users to a map created by the National Abortion Federation that includes independent providers. Though it offers more expansive results and describes abortion laws by state in greater detail, that organization’s map does not give customized results based on personal details or exact location.

The biggest barrier to creation was, and still is navigating the ever-changing state laws, which can be hard to parse. For example, in the first half of 2019 alone, states enacted 58 restrictive laws governing abortions.

Why it’s hot:
Alongside the Abortion Care Finder, Planned Parenthood also offers several other digital tools, aimed at changing the way people access sexual and reproductive health services. It seems as if digital health has taken root and patient adoption is expanding. With more than thirty billion dollars invested in digital health since 2011, it’ll be interesting to see how this continues to grow.

Apple Card investigated for gender bias

Apple’s tech-oriented credit card is at the heart of a new investigation into alleged gender discrimination.

New York state regulators have announced an investigation into Goldman Sachs, the bank that issues the Apple Card, after a series of viral tweets from a consumer who shared the vastly different credit limits that were issued to him and his wife when they both applied for the card.

The NYSDFS was first tipped off by a viral Twitter thread from tech entrepreneur David Heinemeier Hansson, begun on Nov. 7. He detailed how his card’s credit limit was 20 times higher than his wife’s, even though she has a higher credit score and they file joint tax returns. Hansson referred to the Apple Card as a “sexist program” and said that its over-reliance on a “biased” algorithm did not excuse discriminatory treatment.

After his complaints on Twitter, Hansson found his wife’s Apple Card’s credit limit was increased to match his. However, Hansson’s frustration was not only with the credit line issue, but also how customer support is trained to handle the accusation of gender bias: blame the algorithm.

Hansson’s complaints were even echoed by Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple, who responded to Hansson’s tweet, saying “the same thing happened to us.” Wozniak said that his credit limit was 10 times higher than what his wife had, even though they did not have any separate assets or accounts. In his view, Apple should “share responsibility” for the problem.

Others shared similar stories…

The CEO of Goldman Sachs denied wrongdoing on Monday, stating unequivocally that “we have not and will not make decisions based on factors like gender.” He added that the company would be open to re-evaluating credit limits for those who believe their credit line is lower than their credit history would suggest it should be.

Superintendent of the NYSDFS Linda Lacewell said Sunday in a statement that state law bans discrimination against protected classes of individuals, “which means an algorithm, as with any other method of determining creditworthiness, cannot result in disparate treatment for individuals based on age, creed, race, color, sex, sexual orientation, national origin or other protected characteristics.” She added that this “is not just about looking into one algorithm” but also about working with the tech community more broadly to “make sure consumers nationwide can have confidence that the algorithms that increasingly impact their ability to access financial services do not discriminate.”

Why it’s Hot:

Apple and Goldman Sachs may blame “the algorithm,” but ultimately that algorithm was created by humans – and that excuse doesn’t cut it with customers. As we increasingly rely on algorithms and AI, how do we ensure they’re built without our innate biases?

Sources: Time, Mashable

Firefox founder launches privacy-first browser that rewards users for allowing brands access to them

The beta version has been out for a while, but “Today marks the official launch of Brave 1.0, a free open-source browser. The beta version has already drawn 8 million monthly users, but now, the full stable release is available for Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, and iOS.

Brave promises to prioritize security by blocking third-party ads, trackers, and autoplay videos automatically. So you don’t need to go into your settings to ensure greater privacy, though you can adjust those settings if you want to.” (The Verge)

Internet heavy hitter Brendan Eich (creator of JavaScript/co-founder of Firefox/Mozilla) just launched the stable version of new privacy-focused Brave browser, employing the idea of a Basic Attention Token (BAT), which allows users to be paid in crypto-currency tokens for allowing brands access to their eyeballs. Eich calls it “a new system for properly valuing user attention.”

He explains it best:

Why it’s hot:

1. As tech giants increasingly impinge on privacy and gobble up every imaginable byte of data about everyone in exchange for “a better user experience,” Brave is claiming to have found a non-zero-sum game that everyone (users, advertisers, and publishers) can benefit from:

  • Users get lots more control over the ads they see and get rewarded with tokens for allowing ads.
  • Advertisers get more precise and engaged audiences, so in theory, better ROAS.
  • Content creators get more control over their publishing and their income. And users can tip content creators on a subscription-style basis not unlike Patreon.

That’s the idea, at least.

2. Its look and feel is very similar to Chrome, so migrating to Brave may be smooth enough to encourage more people to abandon the surveillance-state-as-a-service (SSaaS) that Google is verging on.

Source: The Verge

Google’s ‘Project Nightingale’ Triggers Federal Inquiry

The news: Google has signed a deal with Ascension, the second-largest hospital system in the US, to collect and analyze millions of Americans’ personal health data, according to the Wall Street Journal. Ascension operates in 150 hospitals in 21 states.

“Project Nightingale”: Eventually, data from all of the company’s patients (birth dates, lab results, diagnoses, and hospitalization records, for example) could be uploaded to Google’s cloud computing systems, with a view to using artificial intelligence to scan electronic records, or diagnose or identify medical conditions. The project, code-named Project Nightingale, began in secret last year, the WSJ reports. Neither patients nor doctors have been notified.

A touchy topic: Inevitably, there are worries. The company took control of the health division of its AI unit, DeepMind, back in November 2018, and people at the time warned it could pave the way for Google to access people’s private, identifiable health data. Ascension employees have raised concerns about how the data will be collected and shared, both technologically and ethically, the WSJ reports.

Eduardo Conrado, EVP of Strategy and Innovations at Ascension, released a statement challenging news reporting. He claims the work has been anything but secret:

Ascension’s work with Google has been anything but secret. In fact, Google first announced its work with us in July, on its Q2 earnings call. Acute care administrative and clinical leaders across Ascension have been informed of the work, enterprise-wide webinars have been held, and the clinical leaders of our employed physician group have been informed in detail about the project. In our deployment sites, front-line nurses and clinicians have not only been informed but have actively participated in the project.

 

Source: The Wall Street Journal


Why it’s hot: It’s hot because it’s not the first time that Google is in hot water, back in 2017, Google DeepMind received 1.6 million identifiable personal medical records on an “inappropriate legal basis”, according to a letter written by Fiona Caldicott at the UK’s National Data Guardian.

As brands like Google, Amazon Apple (and even Uber) move into healthcare, raises new questions around data and confidentiality, but also forces us to re-think:
“Who do we have an actual relationship with—my doctor, my insurance company or a cloud service provider?”

The future is voice-first, but not for everyone

The tech industry is banking on artificial intelligence like Siri, Alexa and OK Google becoming ubiquitous. Voice assistants are notorious for misinterpreting local accents, but many overlook that this extends to people with disabilities.

Voice recognition algorithms are built from libraries of standard pronunciations and speech patterns, so people who have difficulties with speech or enunciation also have trouble accessing these technologies. And because they may have physical disabilities as well, these are often the very people voice assistants could help the most.

Because of their unique speech patterns, voice technology doesn’t understand people with Down syndrome. Out of the box, Google’s voice assistant misunderstands about every third word from an average speaker with Down syndrome. This is due to a large lack of training data.

Project Understood aims to improve Google’s algorithms by building out the database of voices. The Canadian Down Syndrome Society is working with Google to collect voice samples from the adult Down syndrome community to create a database that can help train Google’s technology to better understand people with Down syndrome. The more voice samples we have, the more likely Google will be able to eventually improve speech recognition for everyone.

Spots from FCB Canada follow Matt MacNeil, a Canadian with Down syndrome who works with CDSS, as he travels to Google headquarters in Mountain View, California, to work with Google engineers and product managers to refine the voice recognition tools.

Why it’s hot: We’ve seen the repercussions of a lack of diversity in advertising and tech, from alienating workplaces to tone deaf creative. But there remains much to explore and address. As artificial intelligence becomes more ubiquitous, the design of relationships between humans and machines carries exciting opportunity to help people in meaningful ways, and more serious implications to getting it wrong. Overlooking people with disabilities is a glaring misstep that is part of a larger problem – we can’t design inclusive experiences from a single perspective. We need to develop new design frameworks, blended skillsets, diversity of thought and ethical systems of governance for building empathy into technology.

Facebook and Twitter don’t agree on political advertising

After Facebook said it would not fact-check political advertising, Twitter’s CEO announced that they would ban all forms of political advertising on their platform, taking a completely different stance on the issue, than Facebook’s stance.

The announcement immediately became partisan with the Trump campaign blasting Twitter and Democratic candidates for President applauding the decision.

Twitter only has a small piece of the pie when it comes to political ad spending. A majority of the digital ad spending from political campaigns goes to Facebook, with its sophisticated demographic and psycho-graphic targeting.

Although Facebook runs a live-video service, it is not considered a broadcaster as defined by the F.C.C. Neither is YouTube. Social media was exempt from Federal Election Commission disclosure laws, which require political advertisements to state who is paying for them, until December, 2017. The Honest Ads Act, first introduced in Congress, in 2017 aimed to require social media platforms to meet disclosure laws. It was blocked by Senate Republicans in October 2019.

Which is why it has been so much easier for political campaigns to run exaggerated or factually ambiguous ads on social media as opposed to on television or radio.

Why it’s hot: Political advertising on social media is not as regulated (financial disclosure laws, fact-checking) by the government as it is on TV or radio, making it much easier to run disinformation campaigns on such platforms (precise demographic targeting makes it even more appealing).

Sources: The New Yorker, The New York Times, Jack Dorsey Twitter

 

 

This Dog Can Talk!

Meet Stella, the talking dog. Stella’s mom Christina Hunger is a speech language pathologist. Per Bustle, Christina “uses her skills to teach Stella how to communicate. According to Hunger, Stella already knows 29 words and can even form five-word phrases or sentences.”

https://www.instagram.com/p/B4AcoDPnNkO/

https://www.instagram.com/p/B4QAxF1ht3K/

https://www.instagram.com/p/B4VfYtFhJLV/

This seems pretty legit. We’ve seen science in non-verbal communication advance a lot over the years

Why it’s hot?

Here at MRM we’re OBSESSED with linguistics. And rightfully so! There is so much amazing data about how we communicate and what guides language. Think about what else we don’t know.

 

If you were on a Desert Island, what 5 apps would you use?

Google came out with Desert Island App. An experimental app, where you choose your top 5 essentials and see how well you were at sticking to just those. The next day, you bring it down to 4. Simple enough, there are a ton of apps like this that strip down your home screen to have less UX influence.

I can’t help but wonder what data they could possibly be getting out of this. Could this be a way to fuel the next Pixl phone, by seeing your top apps and then going into that space and creating them to be even more addictive? This could also be a way to segment a certain type of person, with their whole host of information on you (if you have gmail).

Also, PS, if you change the interface on your phone to black and white it helps phone usage too. Just not specific addictions like twitter.

Source

A Drone-Planted Tree For You, You, and You

A startup called Now is making it easy for people to support the goal of globally planting a trillion more trees to help fight climate change through subscribing to support an army of drones that’s planting millions of trees around the world.

If a trillion trees are planted on all of the land on the planet that’s available for reforestation, scientists have calculated that it could capture two-thirds of the carbon that humans have emitted since the industrial revolution.

This is where Now comes in. They are trying to reach this goal by planting the majority of these trees… using drones.

“We said, ‘Well, 1 trillion trees is a really massive goal—is this possible?’” says Jessica Jones, one of the Now’s co founders. “It’s clear that with hand planting, that just won’t happen in the time that it needs to happen.”

Drones, however, could potentially plant 20 billion trees a year over 50 years to reach the goal. The drones fly over land to map the topography and soil conditions and identify the best area to plant, and then shoot biodegradable pods filled with a seed and nutrients into the ground. On the platform, customers subscribe to plant trees by donating $10-$100 monthly.

A major study released in July mapped where trees could feasibly be planted, avoiding cities, farms, and landscapes that weren’t previously forests. On those 1.7 billion hectares—an area bigger than the U.S. and China combined—restored forests could collectively store more than 200 billion metric tons of CO2.

“We’re committed to closing the gap between the people and reforestation projects, while creating community in the process,” Jones says.

Why It’s Hot:

So many people (it seems) are interested in climate change and helping when they can, but maybe don’t know where to start. This is making an obvious and easy way to help, without even leaving your house and by giving such a small commitment.

Source

 

Sustainable Baby Clothes

UpChoose, a year-old startup, aims ‘to reimagine and redesign consumption in a way that’s less wasteful and more sustainable and efficient’ with its organic babywear rental service.

Body image for Always in fashion

New parents are confronted with endless choices of baby clothes, toys and accessories. Whether they feel pressure to buy the latest products or are given them by well-meaning family and friends, what we think of as an exciting time in our lives, entrepreneur and sustainability advocate Ali El Idrissi, the founder of UpChoose, views the occasion as a source of enormous waste, with many of the products outgrown in a matter of weeks.

But instead of lecturing people to buy less, he’s providing a sustainable and somewhat affordable alternative.

Body image for Always in fashion

Why it’s hot: With UpChoose, El Idrissi is democratizing sustainability. While sustainable subscription services aren’t new, one targeted to new parents seems to be. UpChoose is a way for individuals to help tackle over-consumption in their lives, while governments and companies attempt to tackle it on the larger world stage. Also, depending on where your live, the option to have temporary baby clothes, and eventually even furniture (his plan to expand at some point in the future), could be a real time and space saver for urban families in cities with itty-bitty living spaces (NYC).

Source: Contagious.io

A Re-imagined Post Office in Finland

On November 1st, Finnish state-owned postal service provider Posti opened a new facility called Box in Helsinki featuring giant package lockers and a fitting room for online shoppers. The location will also serve as a physical store for online retailers and a testing space for Posti’s new digital services.

Posti conducted a study showing that almost a fifth of Finns expect to be doing most, if not all, of their shopping online by 2025. So they want to make it easier for customers to have their order delivered to Box and pick it up when they’re on the go, and be able to finish their experience in-store.

For example, if a customer has ordered clothes online, they can try on the clothes at Box. If they fit, they can take their package home, but if not, they can return the package right away. Posti will also allow customers to open packages and leave the packing materials behind to be recycled. While customers are there, they can take care of other postal activities or shop pop-up displays from various online retailers that will be featured.

In addition, Box has been designed to be carbon neutral. The convenient location in the city-center is easily reachable by public transportation and along many of their customers’ everyday routes.

Why It’s Hot

Returns are often the biggest pain point in e-commerce. This model has turned an annoying task into a pleasant experience.

How the Internet Laughs

It’s getting harder and harder to negotiate the spectrum of humor online.

The editors at The Pudding, a digital publication that explains ideas debated in culture with visual essays, noticed this problem and set out to explore how the limited visual cues we have access to online make it harder to decipher genuine laughter from the passive acknowledgment that something is “funny.”

The result is a three-part visual essay full of funky data visualizations which, as The Pudding describes it, take “a closer look at the usage, evolution, and perception of the digital laugh” to help us decode the intricacies of tech-based communication.

The first installment looks at our “laughter vocabulary” and ranks different sorts of responses, from “bahaha” to “heh” to “rofl” in order of usage. Unsurprisingly, “LOL” accounts for a whopping 55.8% of the world’s laugh language, and “ded” is the least used, at 0.2%.

The team’s second go at data collection tracks the evolution of everyone’s favorite shorthand, “LOL.” Over the past decade, it has only risen in popularity, in part because of its myriad applications. It can connote nervousness, be an attempt to soften the blow of a harsh text, or actually mean someone is laughing out loud (albeit rarely). “Lol’s transformation is less like a shift and more like an evolution,” the team at The Pudding notes.

Most recently, The Pudding has explored degrees of funny. The website offers users the opportunity to match each laugh style with the level of laughter that it represents to them. (After all, intention, and reception, are different for everyone!) So, when you type “rofl,” does that actually mean you’re rolling on the floor with laughter, unable to speak? Does using “lulz” indicate a passive chuckle? You be the judge.

Netflix Experimenting with new viewing formats

When streaming services introduced the ‘Skip Intro’ button, it was a wonderful way to streamline binging, but seemingly, recently they asked – “Why stop there?”

Streaming services are now experimenting with playback speeds and skipping different types of content all together…

Skipping content: 
“Seth Meyers’ first-ever comedy special Lobby Baby hits Netflix Nov. 5, and it’s a gamechanger. The revolution is not in the Late Night host’s jokes or performance, but courtesy of stand-up comedy’s ongoing disruptor: Netflix.

A little over halfway through Lobby Baby, Meyers addresses the elephant in the room and prepares the audience for a set of jokes about Donald Trump. But for the first time ever, he offers at-home viewers a chance to skip the political jokes entirely.”
Article – Mashable

Speeding up content:
Netflix is letting some people speed up or slow down their shows as part of a new test.

The company says that some users will be given the option to speed up films or TV to 1.5 times their normal speed, as well as slowing them down 0.5 times.”
Article – Independent 

Why it’s hot? 
The streaming wars are heating up and beside best in class content, services are doing what they can to stand out.

Ex. Hulu has the ‘Random episode generator’ Article – Mashable

Interesting to see how people are changing the viewing experience itself to differentiate themselves.

HEFTY’S HOLIDAY PARTY CUPS ARE DESIGNED TO KILL ANNOYING FAMILY CONVERSATIONS

There are a variety of strategies for avoiding uncomfortable family conversations during the holidays—silently nodding, changing the topic, chugging the champagne, heading to the loo or skipping dinners altogether. But now, Hefty has swooped in with a solution that requires you to do practically nothing at all.

The brand has created special “Party Cups” inscribed with messages designed to prevent those awkward discussions from happening at all.

Printed on the festive vessels are lines like “Don’t ask my who I’m voting for,” “Yes, I’m single and happy,” “Diet starts Monday,” “Ask about my furbaby” and “I’m funemployed.” So if Aunt Mary asks you about your love life or Uncle Joe irks you with a fake news headline, all you need to do is just take a sip of your drink.

The Hefty Holiday Party Cups are on sale for a limited time at $2.99 for 20 at HeftyPartyCupsSaveTheHolidays.com.

Source: Ad Age

Why It’s Hot

In a rather basic category with little differentiation (red solo cups are what brand? didn’t know…) this is a nice way to drive brand choice and a good example of people getting a kick out of product “personalization.”

Cars are fundamentally changing. Do we want them to?

The Ford Mustang sold so well after its 1964 release that it is credited with creating the ‘pony car’–an affordable coupe with a long hood and muscular motor that was widely imitated.

Now, after 5 decades of continuous production, Ford has developed an electric prototype, revealed at the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) trade show in Las Vegas last Tuesday.

Though electric vehicles have no need for an elongated hood to house a gas-powered motor or a transmission to moderate combustion power, Ford’s release includes a the stylized hood and six-speed manual transmission to make it feel like a traditional Mustang.

Why it’s hot: 

Cars have been marketed as symbols of power, freedom, control, and sex. But with the underlying nature of vehicles changing–from roaring to silent, from people-driven to autonomous, from private to shared–will our societal vision of what a car is change, or will we hold on to our dated car dreams as long as automakers continue to satisfy them?

What’s the deal with space?

Under Armour. Samsung. And now Adidas. It’s the latest brand to jump on the intergalactic space wagon. The brand recently signed a multi-year partnership with the International Space Station US National Laboratory. Adidas says the focus of the partnership will be to focus on innovation and product testing in microgravity.

Earlier this year, Adidas delivered soccer balls to the ISS during a cargo mission. The balls were then tested, seeing how they reacted with gravity or air resistance distorting the shape. While those tests are still being processed, the brand said it could lead to alterations into the design of the ball such as what materials or textures are used. But is this truly research for product improvement or just another stunt? Probably, a bit of both.

The commercialization of space over the years. 

It started in 1962. Omega’s Speedmaster watch was worn by US astronaut Walter Schirra during the country’s fifth manned space mission, Mercury-Atlas 8. Aboard the Sigma 7, Schirra orbited the Earth seven times.

Coca-Cola was next in 1985 when they started designing a “space can” for astronauts to drink during missions. Pepsi got wind of the experiment and developed its own. The marketing battle became ugly, with US Senators began lobbying for one brand or the other.

Then there was Kit-Kat (2012), Red Bull (2012), Hyundai (2015), and a slew of others as of late. There’s even a new media brand, Supercluster that was built specifically to get people excited about space again.

And while technically, NASA and it’s astronauts aren’t allowed to accept endorsements while working at the space agency that may soon change. NASA is currently working with two major aerospace companies, SpaceX and Boeing, to send astronauts to and from the International Space Station. And the logos of these companies will be emblazoned on the vehicles and rockets that launch crews into space, which was taboo in the early days of NASA.

On top of that, NASA’s new committee chair is focused on figuring out how NASA can explore commercial opportunities. “Capitalism works really well here on Earth. There’s no reason we shouldn’t be embracing it in [space].”

Why it’s hot:
“Space” just might be a mandatory in the next brief while product placement in space could be the next frontier. Brand logos on the sides of rockets? Astronauts as influencers? We’ll have to wait and see.

AI vs AI

Idea

The media landscape of Russia is monopolized by the government. Russia-1 channel – the key figure in this monopoly – uses propaganda techniques to influence the worldviews of Russians. TV Rain on the contrary is the only independent liberal media that gives its audience many different perspectives on life in Russia and abroad.

To demonstrate a subtle difference between the news on both channels and how they affect people worldviews we created two pristine AIs. They were like twin kids who didn’t know anything about this world and had no life experience. Their minds were pure, so we brought them up on the news programs of Russia-1 and TV Rain channels respectively. In six month each AI had its own worldview formed through the lens of the media it was watching. The differences in their worldviews and vocabularies proved one thing. We really are what we watch.

What it’s hot

AI can surface the world’s problems to see the world differently and help us get together to change the world in a meaningful way. But we also know that when AI is built with biased data, it will generate biased information. AI is a machine, trained by data… It’s time for us to think about how information carries values and beliefs and how AI can play a role in shaping a better society together with us.

 

 

 

Adobe debuts latest effort in the misinformation arms race

Adobe has previewed an AI tool that analyzes the pixels of a image to determine the probability that it’s been manipulated and the areas in which it thinks the manipulation has taken place, shown as a heat map.

It’s fitting that the company that made sophisticated photo manipulation possible would also create a tool to help combat its nefarious use. While it’s not live in Adobe applications yet, it could be integrated into them, such that users can quickly know whether what their looking at is “real” or not.

Up next: The inevitable headline of someone creating a tool that can trick the Adobe AI tool into thinking photo is real.

Why it’s hot:

Fake news is a big problem, and this might help us get to the truth of some matters of consequence.

But … not everything can be solved with AI. This might help people convince others that something they saw is in fact fake, but it doesn’t overcome the deeper problem of people’s basic gullibility, lack of critical thinking, and strong desire to justify their already entrenched beliefs.

Source: The Verge

Back to the Basics

  • The average smartphone user checks their device 47 times a day / 17,155 a year.
  • Conversation killer! 85% of smartphone users will check their device while speaking with friends and family.
  • 80% of smartphone users check their phone within 1 hour of waking or going to sleep35% of which will do within 5 minutes.
  • 47% of smartphone users have attempted to limit their usage in the past – only 30% of which feel they were successful.
    Source: https://www.bankmycell.com/blog/smartphone-addiction/

Experiments with Google is trying to help people break their cellphone addiction with a printable paper phone which will help you rest from your digital world.

An app lets you choose what to include such as favourite contacts, maps and meetings and then prints them directly to a sheet of paper. Customisable “paper apps” like recipes, phrasebooks and notepads let you get things done or unwind in a more focussed way.

Source: https://experiments.withgoogle.com/paper-phone

Paper Phone is an experimental open source Android app which is available to try and the code is available on Github for people to adapt and evolve.

Why It’s Hot:

Cellphone addiction is real, more than half (58%) of smartphone users have attempted to limit their usage. Great technology should help improve life, not distract from it.

Bonus

Google to Buy Fitbit for $2.1 Billion

Google is acquiring Fitbit, the maker of fitness-tracking devices, for $2.1 billion as the world’s largest tech companies expand further into health in pursuit of growth.

The deal represents an aggressive attempt by Google to bolster its lineup of hardware products, which already includes smartphones, tablets, laptops and smart speakers. Fitbit makes a lineup of fitness-tracking devices, but has faced stiff competition from Apple after the introduction of the Apple Watch.

The deal is likely to face scrutiny from government regulators. Google has been the subject of antitrust investigations in Europe and the United States.

In recent years, the biggest tech companies have been expanding into health products and services. With the introduction of Apple Watch in 2014, the company has been adding new services for people to track their health. Amazon has also expanded its offerings in this field, including acquiring the online pharmacy company PillPack.

Source: NY Times

Why It’s Hot:

Seems like a strong data play!

Budweiser Launches Campaign To Find New NWSL Sponsors

“Last summer, Budweiser encouraged fans to support the National Women’s Soccer League with the #WontStopWatching movement, which encouraged attention all season and not only during high-profile events like the World Cup. Following the success of that campaign, Budweiser is now calling on sponsors to step up and support NWSL.”

The campaign which I first came across on Instagram is interesting because one brand egging on other brands feels like a new trend.

That said, I’ve never seen it this direct, in that Budweiser is boosting the NWSL sponsorship contact information and directing calling upon brands to sponsor the league.

It all feels a bit on the nose but is such a unique format that I personally give it a pass.

Why’s it hot? 
1. It’s funny to see another manifestation of Budweiser aligning itself with ‘progressive movements’ and communities

Ex. Budweiser x Brooklyn & Immigrant Superbowl Spot
“Budweiser has the potential to create a strong brand association with female sports fans and broader women’s rights movements. (Marketing Dive) 

2. It’s also just another (clever) manifestation of cause marketing and virtue signaling

eko and Buzzfeed create the evolution of toy unboxing with KidHQ

At KidHQ, kids are given the chance to become “toy testers” and help find out which of this season’s hottest toys are the most fun to play with. Using eko’s patented, live-action video technology, they use the “Funtroller” to explore and play. Kids can also embark on a magical adventure using the “Funovator” to explore “floors,” meet Santa, interact with live-action and animated characters, help to build a vlog with Barbie and more.

 

Accessible from a phone, tablet or computer, viewers click or tap prompts that appear on the screen to choose what happens and where to go next. eko’s technology provides uninterrupted interactive video the entire time, so choices are seamless and feel like a wish come true to kids and adults alike. Designed as a safe, open and COPPA-compliant experience for kids, KidHQ proves why eko’s technology is the new way for brands to connect with audiences online.

At the end of the experience, kids can share their “Toy Report,” a wish list that helps parents discover what their kids want for the holidays. In a special “Grown Up Only” floor in KidHQ, the Toy Report becomes a seamless click-to-shop experience for parents powered by eko’s relationship with Walmart.

About eko
eko is an interactive entertainment company that lets audiences affect, control, and influence interactive entertainment. The company provides a platform for interactive stories and partners with media companies, independent creators and top brands to create engaging experiences for audiences. Stories are distributed through Helloeko.com, affiliate partners, and social networks; available on desktop, mobile, and connected devices. The company has over 15 patents for its technology, including its proprietary player and authoring tools. eko Studio, the company’s suite of authoring tools, is also offered for free to a community of creators who craft their own interactive experiences using eko’s platform.

Sources eko, KidHQ