New perspective on “voting with your wallet”

Progressive Shopper is a browser plug-in that reveals the political leanings of the brands and businesses you browse and shop. By aggregating political contributions made to the two parties, Progressive Shopper makes it easier for people who don’t generally consider themselves “activists” to follow the money and understand the impact of their purchase decisions.

Why It’s Hot

It begins with political contributions, but data related to every conceivable activity could eventually be similarly aggregated and used to reveal so much more about companies. Where do other charitable contributions go? How is a company’s operations contributing to climate change? What connections exist with organizations and nations in the global economy? With information like this essentially waiting for customers “at the cash register”, it will become increasingly important for companies to pay careful attention to the decisions they make – taking a more active and nuanced approach to defining what their brand stands for.

Closed for tourists. Open for Voluntourists

The Faroe Islands will be closed to visitors for one weekend in April ‘for maintenance’. From 26 to 28 April, locals on the 18-island archipelago will be working on conservation projects and, as the local tourism board Visit Faroe Islands explained on the campaign website, ‘delivering a touch of TLC to the Faroese countryside to ready it for visitors in 2019.’

The islands have invited 100 tourist volunteers to help with this project. Volunteers will maintain and create walking paths, construct viewpoints and put up signage to help with wayfinding. All participants will be given accommodation and food over the four-day, three-night period and, on the final night, there will be a celebratory meal.

The project was announced with an online video, which explained the rationale behind it, what volunteers would be doing and also included an official statement from the Faroes’ prime minister Aksel Johannesen. To register to participate, volunteers had to sign up via the campaign’s website and buy flights through 62N, the official travel agency partner of the Faroe Islands.

Why its hot?
There’s more to tourism than just numbers

Source: Contagious

Making a Spelling Error was Never Cuter

How do you get people who are interested in getting a purebred dog to adopt a mut instead? Güd the online dog food brand has found a way, by exploiting our spelling issues.

Güd sought out the most common canine spelling errors – like dashund (dachshund), rotweiller (rottweiler), shitsu (shih tzu) – on Google. It then gave the dogs at rescue centre Clube dos Vira-Latas that most needed a home one of those mispelled pure-breed names.

 

Güd then created a paid search ad that led to people being offered a free dog whenever they misspelled a pure dog breed on Google.

Why it’s hot: It’s a creative way to capitalize on human error for customer acquisition.

3-D print a house

Icon, a construction-tech company, unveiled a 3-D printer that can build houses of up to 2,000 square feet. The technology can print a custom home more quickly, with less waste, and at a lower cost than traditional home-building methods.

ICON.png

The technology is designed to produce resilient single-story buildings faster, more affordably, and with more design freedom. It has expanded the footprint of printing capability to approximately 2,000 square feet. It has an adjustable width (to accommodate different slab sizes) and is transported in custom trailer with no assembly required.

It features intuitive tablet-based controls, remote monitoring and support, on-board LED lighting for printing at night or during low-light conditions, and a custom software suite ensuring set-up, operations, and maintenance are as simple and straightforward as possible.

Why it’s hot: Potential solve to shortage of affordable housing and housing shortage in general.

Source

Taking the ‘His’ Out of History

His Story

You probably remember your elementary, middle and high school history books. There were stories of conflict, resolution, triumph and innovation. These are the stories of how the United States became the country it is today.

And the main characters in most of these stories? Dudes. Studies show that 89% of the history textbook references reference men as the main characters. Stories about men, written by men for men. Some academics accuse history as literally being his story.

HerStory

But a new augmented reality app aims to bring the other half of the population into the picture, literally. “Lessons in Herstory” shows students that there are women to remember as well. If students scan an image of a male historical figure in A History of US, Book 5: Liberty for All? 1820­–1860 (California’s most popular U.S. History text), the app unlocks a story of an important female historical figure from that same period. For example, if you scan President Zachary Taylor, and you’ll see an illustration and story of Cathay Williams, the first African-American woman to enlist in the army during the Civil War, when women were prohibited from entering the military.

[The app was created by the ad agency, Goodby Silverstein & Partners and currently features stories of 75 women from the 19th century. The project was born from a panel at Cannes Lions last year.]

Why It’s Hot

The novelty of AR has led to many frivolous uses of it as the industry struggled and grappled with how to make it useful. This application shows off AR in the best way possible – literally allowing it to augment our history lessons to tell a full story. Plus, this quickly allows us to recognize more to our history without having to rewrite history books.

Monitoring Your Posts with Facebook Messenger

Comment guard is a bot that can be applied to organic Facebook posts. When someone comments on a post, they automatically receive a private Facebook message.

It’s a Facebook post-auto-responder that can be used to build relationships between brands and consumers based on the content in the comment. The consumer will only become a “lead” after they respond to the private message.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Business A creates a post about designer sneakers.
  2. User A responds to the post saying, “I really want these sneakers, I haven’t found them anywhere.”
  3. The bot scans the message for words like “want” or a phrase like “I want” and automatically sends the user information about the business and how they can acquire these hard to find sneakers.
  4. User A engages with the bot and a community manager can then take over the conversation and guide the user toward conversion.

Messenger Guard in action

Read more here.

Why it’s HOT

  1. It takes less stress off of the community manager to scan messages for potential leads
  2. Businesses can develop more 1:1 communication with users which leads to better brand recognition
  3. Adds more ROI to social media as a marketing channel
  4. Adds a new KPI for social media such as intent to purchase which can be measured by messages sent by the bot and clicks to the URL sent by the bot

Going Paperless in a Brick and Mortar

Lush is known for its colorful soaps and bath bombs, but the brand has consistently prioritized going green above all else—and its very first SXSW activation was no exception.

The brand set up its bath bomb pop-up to showcase its 54 new bath bomb creations using absolutely no signage. Instead, attendees could download the Lush Labs app, which uses AI and machine learning to determine what each bath bomb is with just a quick snapshot. “At Lush, we care about sustainability, and we wanted to take that same lens … and apply it to the way we are using technology,” Charlotte Nisbet, global concept lead at Lush, told Adweek.

Nisbet explained that three decades ago, Lush co-founder Mo Constantine invented the bath bomb when brainstorming a packaging-free alternative to bubble bath. (The new bath bombs are being released globally on March 29 in celebration of 30 years since Constantine created the first bath bomb in her garden shed in England.)

“But we were still facing the barrier to being even more environmentally friendly with packaging and signage in our shops,” Nisbet said.

Enter the Lush Lens feature on the Lush Labs app, which lets consumers scan a product with their phone to see all the key information they’d need before making a purchase: price, ingredients and even videos of what the bath bomb looks like when submerged in water. “This means that not only can we avoid printing signage that will eventually need to be replaced, but also that customers can get information on their products anytime while at home,” Nisbet said.

Why It’s Hot

The application sounds cool but is this a sustainable direction for more stores to take? As brick and mortar stores continue to struggle, we could see many start to experiment with ways to bring digital experiences to consumers already plugged into their smartphones in retail spaces.

Source: Adweek

Online therapy gaining traction

From Bustle:

In recent years, websites and apps that offer remote access to trained therapists have risen in popularity. The convenience of communicating with a therapist via smartphone and the relatively low cost are some of the drivers behind why people use these services; even the American Psychological Association recognizes online therapy as a resource on its site. Well-known platforms include BetterHelp, which matches users with an online counselor they can communicate with live via text, phone, or video starting at $40 a week, and Talkspace, which allows the exchange of text, audio, and video messages with a therapist beginning at $49 a week. Other platforms include MyTherapist and telehealth services available through employee assistance programs (EAPs). While these apps and services aren’t replacements for traditional face-to-face therapy, as the respective FAQs for BetterHelpTalkspace, and MyTherapist note, these platforms can help users get more familiar with their mental health.

Ashley Batz/Bustle

See this additional article in The Guardian for more. 

Why it’s hot: Patients say that therapy apps have been a cost effective way for them to gain judgement-free access to mental health care that they otherwise may not have even pursued, lowering the barrier to entry to address extremely common but often ignored issues. The convenience factor also plays a big role, as patients don’t have to worry about scheduling or getting to appointments, and can receive on-demand therapy when they need it – to cope with a loss, for example – or ongoing therapy for chronic mental health disorders like anxiety.

Twitter Places Focus on Media Over Text

Twitter is rolling out updates to it’s camera feature in an effort to increase media-sharing on the social platform. Up until now, the camera feature was buried in the tweet composer. Now it is available with one swipe left from the timeline.

This update doesn’t mean Twitter is launching stories, instead, the platform is making it easier for users to share real-time content that adds another layer to their conversations. Users can add their own text to videos and images, and Twitter will also recommend popular hashtags based on geographic location.

Why it’s hot: With Twitter’s reputation as a text-heavy platform, this update could change the types of content users are drawn to on this site. Users on each social platform typically engage with specific photography styles and imagery, but this precedent has not yet been set for Twitter. More media use will also make it easier for advertisers to place visual content on the feed.

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 ~1966. Part of the difficulty was it required human intervention. Ironically, in 2019 when many believe a lack of human contact to be part of the problem, that void actually addresses a barrier in therapy. Perceived lack of anonymity and privacy. Sure therapist visits are confidential blah blah but people naturally have difficulty opening up in person. Plus there’s the waiting room anxiety. 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 “talk therapy” and others. Human counselors can’t keep up. People wait weeks and months for appointments. That’s in the U.S. where they’re compensated well. 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. At the very least, it’ll help you make the most of your next therapy visit.

Influencer caught in college admissions investigation

News broke this week of a vast college admissions cheating scheme in which wealthy parents paid hundreds of thousands to get their kids into elite universities by falsifying documents and test scores with the help and cooperation of coaches, and college and test administrators. Olivia Jade, daughter of actress Lori Loughlin (Full House), beauty and lifestyle influencer to 3 million followers across Instagram and YouTube was one of the beneficiaries, and now her Instagram account is under fire.

https://jezebel.com/heres-everything-i-learned-about-lori-loughlins-influen-1833237961

Why it’s hot: Reminds us that a potential brand crisis can come from the most unexpected places. Brands that have worked with Olivia Jade include Sephora, Amazon and Tres Semme, though it’s likely they’ll be blameless here. Sheds light on the tangled web of personal + private that comes with the mainstream macro influencer.

The list of Short-form video content producers just got longer

Last month, former Dreamworks film exec Jeff Katzenberg and former CEO of HP Meg Whitman finally announced a name for their stealthy new startup – Quibi (for “quick-bites”). Quibi is the latest addition to the increasingly crowded streaming video space, offering short-form video content designed specifically for mobile. While streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, and Cable Networks continue to battle-it-out for our 2 hours of attention on their long-form video content, Quibi believes they have identified a new niche of consumers in the rapidly emerging short-form video content space. Short term video content now consumes an average 70 minutes of our attention a day and growing, and now Quibi is betting that 20 minutes of that time will be spent on its platform.
While platforms like YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook were built with and continue to thrive on original user-generated content, Quibi is promising users the quality they’d get from a big Hollywood production in the form of the short, bite-sized content you’d find on Tik Tok, Snapchat, etc. Traditionally, short-term video content is less than 60 seconds, but Quibi wants to take what would be, for example, a 2-hour feature film and unfold it over several multi-minute chapters. Imagine sitting down to watch a movie and only being able to watch eight minutes of it at a time. The platform promises to publish more than 100 pieces of this type of content every week, including both scripted and unscripted original content, exclusives from Quibi’s partner, and other daily news and sports programming.
With existing platforms like Netflix and even Amazon are adapting to this desire for short-form video content, success may seem like a long shot, but Quibi has already managed to recruit a long list of high-profile partners, including filmmakers Sam Raimi, Guillermo del Toro, mega-pop musicians Justin Bieber and Justin Timberlake, and even basketball legend Kobe Bryant. The streaming service isn’t set to launch until April 2020, however, the platform is stirring up conversations of the future of TV and how we digest content.

Why it’s hot: As our daily lives become increasingly more busy, and with more platforms than ever competing for our attention, Quibi is taking a huge gamble on the future of TV and the future of wholly-owned short-form video content. With our limited attention spans and on-the-go lifestyles, there’s a growing need for platforms to adapt and change to how we digest content throughout the day. 

Smart cat shelter uses AI to let stray cats in during winter

For stray cats, winter is almost fatal. Using AI, a Baidu engineer has devised an AI Smart Cattery to shelter stray cats and help them survive Beijing’s cold winter.

It can accurately identify 174 different cat breeds, as to let them enter and exit as they please. A door will slide open if the camera spots a cat, but it won’t work on dogs. Multiple cats can fit inside the space.A fresh air system monitors the oxygen and carbon dioxide levels to ensure the small space is well-ventilated.

Another neat camera feature is that it can be also used to detect if the cat is sick — it can identify four common cat diseases, such as inflammation, skin problems, and physical trauma. Once a cat is identified as needing care, associated volunteers can be informed to come and collect it.

Why it’s Hot: A neat implementation of AI for good – it pushes us to think beyond using AI for just marketing purposes and lets us imagine it’s role in helping solve human (and animal) problems. 

 

Modernizing Beer Ads for Women

Just in time for International Women’s Day, Budweiser is releasing reimagined ads from the 50’s and 60’s for today’s audience. Understanding that sexist ads that objectify women no longer fly with consumers who expect brands to be more progressive, Budweiser is re-releasing the ads to nod to their past heritage, but make a point about its future.

The campaign, released today in conjunction with International Women’s Day, features full-page color ads in The New York Times, Chicago Tribune and Los Angeles Times that juxtapose sexist Bud print ads from the 1950s and 60s with updated versions portraying women in empowered roles.

Source: https://adage.com/article/cmo-strategy/budweiser-modernized-sexist-ads/316915/

Budweiser International Women's Day NYTimes ad

Women now comprise more than 80% of the brand’s marketing team, so it’s refreshing to see that for them it’s about using their past to serve as a launching pad to show women in a more balanced way.

Budweiser International Women's Day LATimes ad

Why it’s hot:

Rather than hide their sexist past, the brand is showing how they can evolve in their thinking, especially in these times of extreme divisiveness.

would you free climb for a free film?

To promote its documentary about rock climbing, National Geographic has built a website urging people who want to watch it to do so. For every meter they ascend, Nat Geo unlocks a portion of the film “Free Solo” they can watch for free.

Why it’s hot:

Theoretically, this sounds like a great idea. People who climb, might be interested enough in a movie about people who climb, to go climb as a result. But, REI urging us to “Opt Outside” is one thing, asking us to climb a rock to unlock free content seems a bit another. This reminds us we should really think about the value exchange we’re providing in our marketing today. Is what we want worth what we’re asking people to give for it?

[Source]

Death of a spokesman

New Zealand life insurance comparison website LifeDirect killed off its mascot in a TV ad to persuade viewers to plan for their own deaths. The TV ad showed LifeDirect’s mascot of almost 10 years, Simon the sloth, on a hike to celebrate buying life insurance before tumbling off a cliff to his death.

The spot was shown simultaneously across 25 different channels during prime time but aired only once. The following day, LifeDirect continued the story by placing a print ad in New Zealand newspapers. The ad was in the style of an obituary and described how Simon had failed to identify the beneficiaries of his policy, inviting readers to stake their claim to a portion of the NZ$10,000.

Participants could enter the competition by inventing stories about how they knew Simon and why he would want them to have his money. Entries could be made by completing a template form on a dedicated website, or by submitting their own entries and adding photoshopped images, etc.

Why it’s hot?
Gamification of death

 

 

Source: Contagious

Mood-forecasting tech could help stop bad moods, and even suicides, before they occur

Wearable devices that could identify when an at-risk individual that might experience suicidal thoughts a day in advance and alert the person and their trusted contacts, might soon be a reality.

Fitness trackers and other electronic devices already monitor our physical activity, and scientists say similar technology can be used to track our psychological health in ways never before possible. New apps and wearables could soon help preserve our mental well-being by spotting early signs of emotional distress.

Psychiatrists rely on patients to tell doctors how they feel as the main input for their decisions. Mood forecasting technology could give doctors more reliable information.

Research shows that changes in our mental state, including sadness or anxiety, affects our bodies in discernible ways. Mood forecasting exploits the connection between the mind and the body. Heart rate, pulse, perspiration and skin temperature are all affected by emotional arousal. Additionally, the pace at which we text, call and post on social media all change with our moods.

Academic researchers and private companies are working to develop devices and programs that not only detect and interpret our biomarkers but also respond with helpful advice. For example, a mood-forecasting device or app might urge someone to call a friend when they have cut back on texting, or take a walk when the device hasn’t registered motion for several hours. Alternatively, shifting biomarkers or digital behavior could be communicated directly to an individual’s doctor, who could then intervene as necessary.

Why it’s hot: Mood forecasting could prevent bad moods, emotional suffering and potentially dangerous situations before they occur. Although there is some apprehension around the idea of collecting and transmitting such intimate personal data, the positive effects of such technology could be monumental.

 

Technology to give shoppers a closer look

Toyota is making it easier for car shoppers to learn about the features, specs and inner workings of the cars on the showroom floor. This augmented reality experience gives people an x-ray vision superpower, so they can see through the exterior of the cars they’re looking at, and see the inner workings – without having to thumb through a catalog, or chat with a pushy salesperson. The app can also deliver information on the components, and show the technologies in action – a cool way for people to understand complex tech, like Toyota’s hybrid drivetrain.

Why it’s Hot:  “A picture is worth a thousand words.”

The ubiquity of smart phones and digitally agile consumers provide marketers with highly engaging ways of not only delivering product information, but also demonstrating benefits and performance.

Why it’s Saucy:  Show me the money.

A tool with the potential to accelerate the customer decision journey.

https://www.techradar.com/news/toyota-showrooms-use-augmented-reality-to-let-customers-see-inside-cars

“Post-breakup concierge” service handles all your moving-out needs

Onward, the newly launched “post-breakup concierge service” that handles all your packing, housing, and self-care needs. A one-stop shop for moving out and moving on.

Not everyone has a nearby network of family or friends to assist on short notice. In fact, the company’s early research found that many people stay in relationships longer than necessary because they’re intimidated by the undertaking.

Company founders, childhood friends the since fourth grade, founded Onward after both suffered breakups within a six-month span. They struggled to pack up their belongings, quickly find a new apartment, and then furnish the space. “We realized that if we were going through this, that means other people are going through this, and there was no service that helps people deal with this nightmare amidst major emotional turmoil.”

Clients can easily book the remote services via the company website, and if they prefer, request a representative to meet them onsite for emotional support. Onward’s customized packages start at $99 for 10-day assistance, which includes housing placement, moving/packing, storage, as well as “strategies and discounts for self-care.” The latter constitutes matching clients with therapists, counselors, or mediators. Onward discovered that the newly single view finding and scheduling a therapist–one who takes their insurance–to be equally as daunting.

Pricier packages involve weekly scheduled check-ins and personalized neighborhood guides with recommendations on restaurants, bars, gyms, health studios, even meet-ups. As for housing, the service brokered strategic partnerships with various residence options, including a number of coliving spaces and furnished short-term rentals–and all the utilities and paperwork are taken care of. “You simply show up, like you would an Airbnb,” says Meck. “It’s an option for someone who needs something fast and furious.”

The company’s name reinforces the idea that a breakup can actually serve as an amazing opportunity to “really assert a new phase of your life,” Meck says, adding that many people start companies after a breakup. “It really can be a huge moment for professional and personal development.”

The company launched on Valentine’s Day with a social media campaign. To get the word out, Onward partnered with female organizations, yoga and meditation studios, as well women-focused spaces such as The Wing. The company already received “a lot” of referrals by people who recommend it to friends who need extra support. (Onward helps both men and women, but so far, marketing materials seem to skew more female.)

Why it’s hot: While it might sound silly at first, this new business is filling an unmet need – (an admirable one) – amongst NYC singles.

Source: FastCo

 

Are you ready for some robots?

MLB announced a partnership with the independent Atlantic League to test out “the use of technology to call balls and strikes,” which already exists on television broadcasts of baseball games on networks such as ESPN and FOX.

The experiment lets MLB use an independent league as a testing ground to see what happens over a full season of baseball. If results are good, it could become a future recommendation to enhance the MLB game to improve accuracy of balls and strikes calls.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is NOT what the new robo umpires will look like.

Story at the Sporting News

Why it’s Hot

Baseball is the most traditional, time-honoured and stodgy of all American sports. In addition to instant replay instituted a few years ago, tech has a lot to add to a deeply flawed and outdated rule book.

Digital License Plates

What’s the Story? 

First off, did you know that state legislatures have been in the process of proposing and voting on bills to allow electronic displays on cars? In fact, at the end of 2018, Michigan became the first state to approve the use of electronic license plates.

But Silicon Valley startup, Reviver Auto, had already seen the market for digital license plates. You might be wondering why you would need a digital license plate, but Reviver points out these plates could serve more functionality other than an electronic display of the numbers and letters that make up a license plate.

For example, states could tie a fully frictionless digital experience to renewing registrations through the plates, saving time at the DMV. The plates could also double as an EZ-Pass, or other RFID toll paying system. Or they could be used to send out messages like Amber alerts or a notification to alert authorities if the car is stolen.

Why It’s Hot

We’re increasingly seeing digital experiences that are useful and provide value (rather than being a shiny object). Sometimes these take the shape of transforming a physical entity and enhancing it to offer more features and less friction for consumers. And that is precisely the case here.

Source: Wired

Stealing Your Attention

Last week, while perusing my LinkedIn feed at breakfast, this post from NYC ad agency DeVito/Verdi caught my attention:

“Last night, it seems that 3 carts full of advertising awards were stolen from our NYC office. We have it on security cam. Dozens of trophies — One Show pencils, Cannes, 4A’s Best Creative Agency (6 of them), Andy’s, Addys, Art Directors. Many clients (#CarMax, #Macys, #Sony, #herbchambers, #greygoose, #Gildan, #meijer, #mountsinai, #duanereade, #legalseafoods, #OfficeDepot, #steinmart, #solgar). We can only imagine which agency stole them. Who else would want these? Help us find #DVCulprits”

It was posted by their president, Ellis Verdi, and accompanied by this video:
https://dms.licdn.com/playback/C4D05AQGbOh-2vzfGYA/c2fe783cb20d4654ad43acb1af50aa3c/feedshare-mp4_3300-captions-thumbnails/1507940147251-drlcss?e=1551286800&v=beta&t=Ev1JWamZhJoznhR5ECFe9dW2k5aFjCCdeUlCBVPnZko

Why It’s Hot
Unlike lots of other self-promotional content, this approach really caught my attention, and I was not alone. There were plenty of comments (some of whom obviously missed the point and were organizing vigilante squads) and the underlying message, that this agency has won 3 shopping carts full of awards, is now inescapably branded into my awareness.

This illustrates how activating emotion can be done in a variety of ways, some very unorthodox and highly effective.

dorito’s solves its age old problem…

Who doesn’t love Dorito’s? Nacho, Cool Ranch, Flamin’ Hot, whatever you fancy, they’re a classic and delicious snack. But for as long as they have existed, eating them has come at a price – Dorito’s fingers, the unshakeable film of Dorito’s dust that ends up all over everything you touch unless you clean your hands after each chip. 

But your clothes, furniture, pets, and gaming controllers no longer have to live in fear, for the Dorito’s Towel Bag is here, giving Dorito’s lovers a way to clean their hands while eating their favorite snack.

Why it’s hot

It’s a beautiful example of a brand embracing its essence, while improving its experience. Dorito’s dust is part of what makes Dorito’s the chip they are. But instead of eliminating it and changing the product, they created a new one to embrace their product’s dark side.

Medical Tech Wants to Help You When Doctors Can’t

Although you pay for health care every month, there are gaps in the system that are not always covered. A wave of medical start-ups want to fill in those gaps. According to Forbes, more than $2.8 billion worth of venture capital was invested in health care start-ups in September 2018 alone. An increase of 70 percent over the previous year. It’s not hard to understand why. Especially in the United States, the health care you get from your insurance provider is hardly as comprehensive as it could be. Especially when it comes to day-to-day health problems.

For example, in the United States, hearing aids are rarely covered by health insurance. While 48 million people in the country suffer from some form of hearing loss, insurance providers do not consider it a vital issue unless it occurs at a young age. If you do decide to get one, you also have to go through a lengthy process of seeing your general practitioner, a specialist, etc. Then, once prescribed, the average cost for a pair of hearing aids is $4,700, or about $2,350 per ear.

Eargo, a new company that walks the line between medical firm and tech start-up, wants to make the process easier. Eargo sells a pair of hearing aids for $1,450. You can buy them directly from the company’s website and they offer a 45-day trial period to see if Eargo works for you. Unlike other over-the-counter personal sound amplifiers — which legally can’t be labeled hearing aids — the Eargo models are certified as Class 1 medical devices by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for treatment of light to moderate hearing loss.

Modern Fertility is another company aiming to fill in a crack in our modern health care system. For $159, the company offers a fertility test that can help women who are trying to get pregnant, or may want to in the future, find out more about their fertility and plan ahead. After your test is analyzed, Modern Fertility will pair you with an infertility nurse for a one-on-one consultation that the company employs, as part of its package so you can get a breakdown of what your test means.

Why it’s hot: the gaps in the American healthcare system has provided ample opportunity for medical technology entrepreneurs to address and solve. Although not ideal, these tech companies aim to fill the gaps between you, your doctor and your health insurance.

Source: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/20/smarter-living/-medical-tech-startups-insurance.html

Virtual Dragon Rides at Walmart

Spatial& is bringing a VR experience to Walmart parking lots across the country to celebrate the premiere of How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World. This is the first activation from the v-commerce startup, incubated by Walmart’s Store No. 8. They’ve partnered with DreamWorks Animation to give customers a way to enter the world of the movie and experience a ride on the back of a dragon.

The experience starts with an onboarding, takes customers on a five minute virtual journey in VR motion chairs, and ends with an immersive gift shop featuring How to Train Your Dragon merchandise.

Why It’s Hot

Collaborating with Dreamworks Animations has set the bar high for Walmart’s foray into VR retail experiences.

Source: https://www.retaildive.com/news/walmart-startup-spatialand-launches-first-vr-experience/548501/

The future of digital will be…digit-based

Google is working on a new type of sensor using radar technology that “can track sub- millimeter motions at high speed and accuracy. It fits onto a chip, can be produced at scale and built into small devices and everyday objects.”

Project Soli, as they call it, has the potential to be a profound sea change in how we interact with digital. Imagine scrolling, clicking, swiping…without putting your hands on a digital interface or yelling at Alexa to take an action.

Hopefully this won’t turn the volume on the tv all the way up if you swat at a fly, but I’m sure they’ll work out the kinks.

Why it’s Hot

The potential to integrate this into every digital device and process is immense.

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/