Wearables & Augmented Reality: Your New Workstation

By Brian Lee

Unless you’ve been living under a rock at the bottom of the ocean, you probably remember Google Glass, the sleek, futuristic looking smart glasses that Google released back in 2013. While it wasn’t the first piece of wearable smart technology, it was the most significant product announcement in the space for multiple reasons. At the time wearable tech was not as ubiquitous as it is today. Google was a $250 billion company and by far the biggest name to release a product of this type. And yet, with all the hype, fanfare, and the Google branding, the product failed to catch on with the world as hoped.

While Google Glass did a great job in stimulating the imagination with all of its potential applications, there was no stated purpose. Finding the demand or a problem in the world should be a prerequisite to developing the product that solves that problem, not the other way around. It was unclear whether this product would be best served for enterprise users, or if this was a consumer product, aimed at making the day-to-day of users’ lives easier. Rather, it was a hotbed of ideas without proper execution.. Or maybe it was the $1,500 price tag. Maybe it was too futuristic. Looking back, they were simply a pair of glasses that lacked vision.

Why it’s Hot

Google Glass was discontinued in 2015, reborn in 2017 as an enterprise solution, and earlier this week, the latest version was announced as Glass Enterprise Edition 2. With a price tag of $999, it becomes the latest product in an increasingly digital world where businesses are adopting smart technology and AR solutions to market to their customers, as well as to enhance their workplace efficiency, innovation, and collaboration.

Currently, the benefits of augmented reality and smart technology in the workplace are most evident in industries where manufacturing, production, and design are key functions. Healthcare is also a field where AR technology is being applied. Companies in these fields are well in the process of adopting and implementing this technology. However, the benefits and the incremental efficiencies of using such tools are not as clear for the corporate desk warriors that many of us here at MRM are. With more companies adopting tools like Google Glass or Microsoft HoloLens (Microsoft’s AR headset), it’ll be interesting to see all the applications that become preferred solutions and how we could apply those to the work that we do as a digital creative agency.

Imagine being able to use an AR headset for analyzing and visualizing massive data sets, being able to see more rows of a spreadsheet than what a screen limits you to, or projecting charts in front of you and walking around it like the guys below (as an analyst, I chose to use spreadsheets and charts as examples, but you can think of your own applications.. journey maps, creative concepts, Gantt charts, etc).

And yes, the guys above are looking at a city not a chart, but if you think about it, city skylines and bar charts are basically the same thing.

These tools already exist. They’re not mainstream yet, because laptops are still the preferred work machines of choice, but when the eventual shift happens, it’ll fundamentally change how we do things. From collaboration to efficiency, to how we present to our clients, it opens up a whole new set of tools for the world to learn and become experts at. Before you know it, working on laptops and monitors will be as antiquated as pen and paper. This will be the new normal, so prepare yourselves accordingly.

Sources/further reading:

https://9to5google.com/2019/05/20/glass-enterprise-edition-2-launch/

https://mytechdecisions.com/unified-communications/augmented-reality-in-the-workplace/

https://venturebeat.com/2019/05/20/google-glass-enterprise-edition-2-levels-up-with-qualcomms-xr1-and-smith-frames/

Can you own your data?

The question is interesting and one that carries a number of issues and questions. In the U.S. marketers are hungry for the best data – the mantra of delivering the best message to the right target at the right time is contingent on what data we can leverage at the individual level. Today we have very good access to data for targeting and messaging, and it’s getting better every day. Companies like Facebook, Google and Amazon are at the forefront (or rather the store front) of that data revolution and are commanding robust ad revenue as a result.

Everything from what you…

  • Like on Instagram
  • Search on Google
  • Check in on Facebook
  • Post on Twitter
  • Tell Alexa
  • Buy on Amazon
  • And more!

…can be used to ascertain your tastes and interest in products and services.

But with the privacy and trust concerns from recent snafus (i.e. Facebook), consumers are wondering how best to protect their data. Some are even pondering if there’s value in “owning” their personal data. But how? We don’t own the databases. We’ve already checked off on the privacy policy and kissing our data away…right?

At least one company is tackling the issue: https://hu-manity.co/

Hu-manity is hoping for a critical mass of users to claim data and set choices. If willing to share data, the app would allow users to reap monetary rewards.

“With the #My31 App consumers can claim a property interest on inherent human data, consent for privacy, authorize for permitted use, and elect for compensation if desired.”

Why it’s hot

If this catches on, it will undoubtedly do two main things: 1. Make data less accessible (and less timely), and 2. Make data more expensive. Marketers may end up depending more on statistical models based on limited data to reach the target audiences.

In an era where marketers have great access to data are becoming even more data-driven, we need to account for a future where greater restrictions and limitations may be put in place.

 

Other Companies:

https://datum.org/https://wibson.org/

Further Reading:

https://bryanjohnson.co/your-data-is-your-property/

https://medium.com/hub-of-all-things/can-you-own-your-data-8a185976ea7d

https://www.technologyreview.com/s/612588/its-time-for-a-bill-of-data-rights/

http://www.bbc.com/capital/story/20180921-can-you-make-money-selling-your-data

Pharma Budgets Soaring, but Marketers Closely Watching Washington

According to the 2019 MM&M Deloitte Consulting Healthcare Marketers Trend Report, marketing budgets increased 26% when compared to the previous fiscal year. The mean budget jumped from $8.3 million to $10.5 million, and 92% of respondents reported a year-over-year increase! This growth has been fueled by a record number of approvals of new treatments, as well as the Trump Administration’s Laissez-faire approach to the industry. This recent growth, however, faces numerous challenges in the near-future. The political climate present when such issues are addressed will strongly influence their outcome, and experts have agreed political action is inevitable.

Joe Plevelich, a commercial operations executive for a pharmaceutical company commented:

“If you look at some of the leading potential contenders for the presidency and some of the platforms they are trying to establish, [many] are talking about better controls and transparencies around pharma pricing and profits. I think there are definitely changes afoot. Whoever is going to be in power is going to have an impact on pharma pricing and our recent ability to continue to raise pricing on a whim.”

As we embark upon an active and critical time in healthcare regulation, development, and modernization, both democrats and republicans agree pharma is an industry worthy of attention.

The following have been identified as key discussions to watch as we approach 2020:

  • A reduction or elimination of tax deductions for marketing expenses (expected this year)
  • Requiring list prices of drugs to be included on TV advertisements
  • Price caps on drugs (Congress has already opened hearing on rising drug prices)
  • Investigations into sales and marketing practices

Why It’s Hot

The outcomes of these and similar healthcare regulatory topics will strongly impact pharma marketing budgets, and will determine if they will remain as fruitful as they are today. Many are concerned an unfavorable decision in any of these issues, could lead to significant change. Pharma marketers should remained tuned into the latest developments in these and other healthcare related issues, as well as the 2020 presidential election.

Source

How will Netflix react to the new Disney stream service?

For nearly two years the world has been waiting for Disney to officially announce the release of their new streaming service. Well Disney+ has officially been announced and will be launched Nov. 12, and will cost $6.99 a month — or $69.99 annually (which works out to $5.83 a month). Disney will rely heavily on their deep catalog of Disney classics, Star Wars, Marvel, and Pixar franchises to bring in the initial audience. Disney+ will launch with plenty of originals as well: 25 new episodic series and 10 movies in its first year. By its fifth year, the former number will hit 50, executives said, but the number of films will remain constant.

It will be interesting to see how Disney+ will disrupt the streaming business. Netflix remains the giant, with over 140MM subscribers’ worldwide, with a number of new (Apple/Disney) and old (Hulu) players beneath them.

Netflix recently raised the cost of their service to $13 per month for a standard subscription. The company is looking to boost top-line revenue to offset its ballooning content costs, which were projected to hit $13 billion on a gross basis in 2018. To fund its content-spending binge, Netflix has raised billions in new debt: It reported $8.34 billion in long-term debt as of Sept. 30, up from $6.50 billion at the end of 2017. It’s also continuing to burn cash, and most recently projected negative cash flow of more than $3 billion for 2018 (versus negative free cash flow of $2 billion a year prior).

If Disney is able to “steal” subscribers or stunt the growth of Netflix globally, Netflix may look at additional lines of revenue, including the long rumored advertising model (similar to Hulu). With Hulu’s ad revenues predicted to surpass $500 million by 2020 it is an option that many expect will be necessary for Netflix’s long term profitability and content expansion.

Source: Variety, Washington Post, eMarketer

Podcasts: The New Wild West

The IAB expects podcast advertising to exceed $500 million in 2019, which represents growth of about 65% in just two years. It’s a fast growing medium with limited standardization where only a small handful of categories have had ongoing success.

Part of podcasts’ allure (to brands) is the quality of its core demographics, which skew ages 25 to 40 with higher income levels and education. This is often an audience that’s tough to reach and they’re not typically watching a lot of TV.

The other allure is credibility. Most listeners are highly engaged when tuned into a podcast and usually don’t mind hearing ads. Ads tend to be kept to a minimum and are relevant to the program’s content, often via host-read ads. Trust and brand recall for podcast ads is also high when compared with other ad formats.

Based on data from nearly 50 custom studies Nielsen has conducted over the last 18 months, podcast advertising has demonstrated that it can move the needle on many important key metrics like awareness, ad recall, affinity, recommendation and purchase intent.

US Podcast Penetration

Podcast Ad Effectiveness

Why Its Hot?

The podcast advertising market in the US is poised for strong continued growth in listenership and ad dollars, but without meaningfully addressing current friction points, it might remain a niche advertising vehicle primarily suited to direct-response advertisers in the near term.

The ability for sellers and buyers to talk the same language is holding back the value proposition for brands more than anything else. There is a question of scale and fragmentation still – with only a few programs reaching the masses and many more reaching only smaller, niche audiences at far less frequent intervals than other media.

Newspapers existed before the Audit Bureau of Circulation, Radio existed before Arbitron, TV existed before Nielsen and the internet existed well before the IAB and comScore.  Podcasts are still living in this dawn of pre-standardization and governance, and how downloads and audience size is measured from one show or network to another is varied, making it harder for larger brands to execute – and measure – any meaningful effort.  Anyone want to start up an independent 3rd-party measurement company?

sources:

https://www.nielsen.com/us/en/insights/news/2019/how-podcast-advertising-measures-up.html

https://content-na1.emarketer.com/podcast-advertising-2018?li=1

Microsoft’s New Surface Hub 2 Will Revolutionize Agency Work

Image result for microsoft surface hub 2 gifLast week Microsoft announced their latest attempt to change agency teamwork forever, and they call this attempt the Surface Hub 2.

They’re branding it as an “interactive whiteboard for business.”

Imagine you’re about to present in a meeting, and in the room with you is ten people and a 50-inch easel with a touchscreen. You scan your fingerprint on the side of the Hub, it recognizes you, and logs you in. Suddenly, everything you just saw at your desk pops up right there on the Hub. You go through your presentation, and someone from the Creative team walks in with their Hub and pushes it next to yours. Now you have an even bigger screen, where you can collaborate seamlessly. Something like this…

Image result for microsoft surface hub 2 gif

This is Microsoft’s dream. They want collaboration in environments like ours to be seamless. The Hub 2S (which launches in June) is aimed at business, not end consumers like you and me. This thing is meant to be bought in bulk by agencies like MRM to help the disparate departments come together and collaborate easier than ever before.

Why It’s Hot

This is hot because it innovates on something we all take for granted. This proves hardware like the Hub 2 can disrupt the agency status quo and bring a sense of experimentation and exploration into the agency’s culture. And that’s something we at MRM can’t get enough of.

Image result for microsoft surface hub 2 gif

If done correctly, Microsoft could be onto something. These devices could do wonders for the work we do. Or, if Microsoft half-asses the experience, or agencies can’t justify owning ten of these at $9,000 per unit, this could flop. Hard.

But their intention, to upgrade and streamline how we all do what we all do, is a damn good one.

Source: https://www.windowscentral.com/microsoft-surface-hub-2

#PRN

A safe space to practice sexting


Juicebox has launched Slutbot to teach people how to do sexting properly. Slutbot is a chatbot experience that shows you how to talk dirty in real life. In response to users’ most common request, the “relationship and intimacy” startup Juicebox has developed its chatbot experience to show you how to send sexy SMS messages in real life.

Not to be confused with artificial intelligence, Slutbot is a chatbot that allows users to practice sexting and dirty talk. The SMS experience can be erotic and tackles important issues like consent and communicating desires as it normalizes conversations about sex. The team had to create a human-like chatbot that didn’t kill the mood.

Juicebox makes the Juicebox app, which provides direct access to personalized sex and relationship advice and coaching. The same team has also made Slutbot, which is available to anyone on iOS or Android as an SMS-based chatbot.

Why its hot?
They not only acted on an obvious user need but created a safe space for users to improve 
Roughly half of adults sext, but there’s still a lot of anxiety around doing it. Slutbot was born out of the most common request the Juicebox team received from users of their iOS app: How do you dirty talk?
And they acted on a human truth to stay true to their brand mission
‘If you can’t share your desires, you’re really holding yourself back’

 

Source: Mashable

McDonald’s Personalizes the Drive-Thru Menu

Next time you pull up to a McDonald’s drive-thru, you might see exactly what you’re craving front and center. Menus will be personalized based on factors like weather, local events, restaurant traffic, and trending items.

This new technology will be powered by their acquisition of personalization company Dynamic Yield. The menu can be programmed against triggers with scenarios such as offering ice cream and iced coffee when the temperature rises above 80 degrees, or pushing hot chocolate when it starts to rain.

Once a person starts ordering, the menu will offer add-ons based on the previous selections made. For example, a person ordering a salad may be offered a smoothie instead of fries.

Why It’s Hot

McDonald’s already builds off of customer’s cravings. Now that these cravings can be predicted, personalized, and optimized over time, there’s a high likelihood that customers will be ordering more at the drive-thru window.

DeepMind? Pffft! More like “dumb as a bag of rocks.”

Google’s DeepMind AI project, self-described as “the world leader in artificial intelligence research” was recently tested against the type of math test that 16 year olds take in the UK. The result? It only scored a 14 out of 40 correct. Womp womp!

“The researchers tested several types of AI and found that algorithms struggle to translate a question as it appears on a test, full of words and symbols and functions, into the actual operations needed to solve it.” (Medium)

Image result for home d'oh

Why It’s Hot

There is no shortage of angst by humans worried about losing their jobs to AI. Instead of feeling a reprieve, humans should take this as a sign that AI might just be best designed to complement human judgements and not to replace them.

AI Voice Assistant

Such tasks, historically performed by a personal assistant or secretary, include taking dictation, reading text or email messages aloud, looking up phone numbers, scheduling, placing phone calls and reminding the end user about appointments. Popular virtual assistants currently include Amazon Alexa, Apple’s SiriGoogle Now and Microsoft’s Cortana — the digital assistant built into Windows Phone 8.1 and Windows 10.

Why it’s hot:

  • Intelligent Personal Assistant: This is software that can assist people with basic tasks, usually using natural language. Intelligent personal assistants can go online and search for an answer to a user’s question. Either text or voice can trigger an action.

  • Smart Assistant: This term usually refers to the types of physical items that can provide various services by using smart speakers that listen for a wake word to become active and perform certain tasks. Amazon’s Echo, Google’s Home, and Apple’s HomePod are types of smart assistants.

  • Virtual Digital Assistants: These are automated software applications or platforms that assist the user by understanding natural language in either written or spoken form.

  • Voice Assistant: The key here is voice. A voice assistant is a digital assistant that uses voice recognition, speech synthesis, and natural language processing (NLP) to provide a service through a particular application.

Tractica is a market intelligence firm that focuses on human interaction with technology. Their reports say unique consumer users for virtual digital assistants will grow from more than 390 million worldwide users in 2015 to 1.8 billion by the end of 2021. The growth in the business world is expected to increase from 155 million users in 2015 to 843 million by 2021. With that kind of projected growth, revenue is forecasted to grow from $1.6 billion in 2015 to $15.8 billion in 2021.

At Unilever, Resumes are Out – Algorithms are In

The traditional hiring process for companies, especially large organizations, can be exhaustive and often ineffective, with 83% of candidates rating their experience as “poor” and 30-50% of candidates chosen by the company end up failing.

Unilever recruits more than 30,000 people a year and processes around 1.8 million job applications. As you can imagine, this takes a tremendous amount of time and resources and too often talented candidates are overlooked just because they’re buried at the bottom of a pile of CVs. To tackle this problem, Unilever partnered with Pymetrics, an online platform on a mission to make the recruiting process more predictive and less biased than traditional methods.

Candidates start the interview process by accessing the platform at home from a computer or mobile-screen, and playing a selection of games that test their aptitude, logic and reasoning, and appetite for risk. Machine learning algorithms are then used to assess their suitability for whatever role they have applied for, by matching their profiles against those of previously successful employees.

The second stage of the process involves submitting a video interview that is reviewed not by a human, but a machine learning algorithm. The algorithm examines the videos of candidates who answer various questions, and through a mixture of natural language processing and body language analysis, determines who is likely to be a good fit.

One of the most nerve-wracking aspects of the job interview process can be anticipation of the feedback loop, or lack thereof – around 45% of job candidates claim they never hear back from a prospective employer. But with the AI-powered platform, all applicants get a couple of pages of feedback, including how they did in the game, how they did in the video interviews, what characteristics they have that fit, and if they don’t fit, the reason why they didn’t, and what they believe they should do to be successful in a future application.


Why it’s hot:
  Making experiences, even hiring experiences, feel more human with AI – The existing hiring process can leave candidates feeling confused, abandoned, and disadvantaged. Using AI and deep analysis helps hiring managers see candidates for who they are, outside of their age, gender, race, education, and socioeconomic status. Companies like Unilever aren’t just reducing their recruiting costs and time to hire- they’re setting an industry precedent that a candidate’s potential to succeed in the future doesn’t lie in who they know, where they came from or how they appear on paper.[Source: Pymetrics]

An actually engaging banner ad? I’m all ears.

Last week I was Googling some movies to watch. I clicked on a search result that led me to IMDB. To my surprise, I was greeted by Dumbo, who flew around my screen overtop of the content I was trying to view. After falling out of frame, he reappeared in what seemed to be a static banner on the side.

What did I just witness? Did I just see an elephant fly? It was unexpected. It was irrelevant. But it was kinda cool. I then proceeded to engage with the banner, wondering if Dumbo knew any more tricks. After clicking on the “watch video” button, Dumbo came back to life, flew out of the ad and back across my screen, leaving behind a pop-up of the trailer.

Sorry, no video—I took one on my phone but it was too large to upload. Hoping to share live.

Why it’s hot:

Upon closer inspection, this AR-like experience was nothing more than a cleverly placed pop-up that interacted with another cleverly placed banner ad. And although this technology is nothing new, it got my attention. In fact, this is probably the first time I intentionally clicked on a banner…ever? Let alone the first time I engaged with a banner that had nothing to do with the content I was viewing, or even anything I was remotely interested in. It was a smart idea with smart execution, which led to a click. What more could you ask for?

I’ve been returning to IMDB to see if there were any other cool ads like this. So far there haven’t been, although there was a somewhat similar pop-up for the Lion King, but it wasn’t nearly as innovative.

Ultimately, I believe this experience can best be summarized by the words of a particularly talented murder of musical crows:

But I be done seen ’bout ev’rything
When I see a elephant fly

When the rest of the world zigs, Burger King zags

On April 1st, 2019, Burger King introduced a meatless burger to the menu: the Impossible Whopper. They duped several BK customers and filmed their reactions to eating a fake Whopper.

April Fools, right? Wrong.

Burger King really is beta testing the plant-based Impossible Whopper at several locations around St. Louis.

Why It’s Hot

It’s hot because BK picked a day when they knew everyone would be on the lookout for April Fool’s stunts. They knew they were going to get attention on April 1st and took advantage of it to introduce a new product.

Is Google Predicting March Madness

If you follow sports, you’re fairly familiar with how analyzed data drives many front office decision. Case in point the movie and book it was based on, Moneyball. Franchises have realized that past performance can be a predictor and we now have the technology that allows us to see that. 

Google Cloud is bringing this data analysis to college basketball in a new, fresh way, through something they’ve called the March Madness Insights Hub. Throughout the NCAA tournament, they have invited college developers (see what they did there?) to write code to analyze and predict games. And so far, it’s been impressively accurate. For example, in last night’s Texas Tech vs. Michigan game, the students used the defensive efficiency metric to predict that the game would not only be a defensive battle, but that there would be only 126 combined possessions by each team. And the actual game saw that there were only 121 combined possessions. And for tonight’s Virginia Tech vs. Duke game, they’re calling for 48 combined three point attempts based on both team’s explosiveness from behind the arc, combined with two strong defensive teams.

Why It’s Hot

Google’s using a moment in time to drive awareness to a topic that seems remote, far off and intangible — data analysis. By bringing the data analysis to a present something so many people experience, they’re raising the understanding of the industry as well as getting kids excited to study this as a discipline.

a new magic leap for the nba, or vice versa…


This week, notorious mixed reality company Magic Leap announced a new NBA “app” built on its platform.

Per Magic Leap, “Using Magic Leap’s Screens framework, fans can pull up multiple virtual screens to watch live games, full game replays, and highlights playing all at the same time. Only on Magic Leap’s spatial computing platform can these screens be independently scaled to any size and placed in any location. But the really cool stuff? The NBA App on Magic Leap introduces team -vs- team and player -vs- player season-long table top stats comparisons. And while live games are exclusively available for NBA League Pass and NBA Single-Game subscribers, a massive catalog of on-demand content is free for anyone using Magic Leap One.”

Why it’s hot:

Any new platform’s success ultimately depends on people using it. And in order to be useful, it must offer utility. It seems Magic Leap is starting to get into the first of what it believes to be many applications of adding mixed reality layers to our physical world. For several years, they had talked about the device which would enable this. Now, they’ve finally turned to the platform on which to develop experiences. Could this be what the app store was to smart phones? Only time will tell, but it will be exciting to see how Magic Leap and its brand partners develop new ways to experience content and the world with an added immersive layer.

[Source]

Keurig of Cocktails or Juicero of Cocktails?

Drinkworks Keurig for Cocktails 6

Drinkworks, a joint venture between Keurig and Anheuser-Busch transforms pods of distilled cocktails into single-serve drinks such as gin and tonics, Mai Tais and Old Fashioned. It’s price point, $399, reminds us of the now infamous Jiucero’s price, not cheap.

Cocktail culture is thriving in the US as more and more Americans ditch beer and the industry giants are ready to play in the field. Each capsule will spout out a single-serve drink and act as an automated bartender for cocktail lovers and home entertainers alike.

“You can get a cocktail in a can, but it’s not the same experience,” Drinkworks CMO Val Toothman told Business Insider. “Cocktails … are a culture. It’s an experience. You want something crafted, freshly made.”

 

 

Why it’s hot: Pod machines are under more scrutiny since the Juicero scandal and companies have to bring a real products that really innovate to solve real needs to market.

Source: https://www.businessinsider.com/keurig-cocktails-drinkworks-makes-cocktails-from-pods-2019-3#each-sleeve-contains-four-pods-each-cocktail-pod-costs-399-with-beer-which-we-didnt-test-costing-225-per-pod-3

There’s a new location for ad placements and ad targeting

 

A startup named Cooler Screens is piloting a new door for commercial freezers and refrigerators that’s equipped with a

  • camera
  • motion sensors
  • eye tracking

in six Walgreens pharmacies around the country, including the one by Union Square in NYC.

The doors can discern a couple of things:

  • you gender
  • general age range
  • what products you’re looking at
  • how long you’re standing there
  • and even what your emotional response is to a particular product

The company’s research has shown that 75% of shoppers make decisions about what they’re going to buy from coolers on impulse.

For instance, if a man is standing in front of a cooler where Coke is displaying ads, the cooler might show a Coke Zero ad since that particular product skews more male, while a woman might see a Diet Coke ad.

Similarly, the doors also use contextual information like the time of day to convince you to buy more. You could pass by the beer door, and [the door] may notice that you’re picking up a six-pack of Miller Coors. It’s 4 p.m., so it’s near dinner time. [It might] offer to you, buy a DiGiorno pizza for a special price if you’re buying a six-pack of Miller Coors.

Cooler Screens already has advertising deals with more than 15 of the 20 top consumer packaged goods companies, including Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Nestle, and MillerCoors.

Why it’s hot: It’s real time consumer profiling and ad targeting in a physical store location.

Source

Robots at the 2020 Olympics

Tokyo Olympics 2020 robot

Robots made by Japanese automaker Toyota will be deployed across the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic sites to provide assistance to workers and attendees at the Games next year. Toyota will provide 16 support robots across the Olympic and Paralympic Games to assist sports fans with tasks such as carrying food and drink, guiding people to their seats and providing event information.

Both human support robots and delivery support robots will be part of the Games. Toyota’s human support robot features an in-built arm for picking up trays and baskets and a digital screen for displaying information.

Tokyo Olympics 2020 robot

The delivery support robot, which resembles a mobile waste bin, is designed especially to assist wheelchair-users to carry their items.

Tokyo Olympics 2020 robot

Why it’s hot: Making the Olympics Games safer and smoother for everyone.

Source

Instagram Brings Interactive Elements to Stories Ads

Coming off the tail-end of the in-app shopping launch, Instagram is bringing the poll sticker functionality to its Stories ads, delivering its 500 million users who use Stories daily a new way to interact with brands and ads.

Instagram Stories ads are a way for brands to share photos and videos with their key customer audiences to generate awareness or drive action. The poll functionality allows companies to build connections with their audience by asking questions within the ad itself.

Brands are already seeing the positive impact of using the poll stickers in their ads. Nine out of 10 beta campaigns testing the poll sticker saw an increase in the number of three-second video views. Specifically, Dunkin’ experienced a 20 percent lower cost per video, while Next Games saw a 40 percent increase in app installations.

Asos tested the polling feature in an effort to promote its new unisex fashion brand, Collusion. For the brand’s first ad poll they asked their customers if they thought clothes should be gendered, making customers feel like they’re part of the brand story while providing Asos with insight into their customer sentiment.

Why it’s hot?

For companies, not only does this interactive feature encourage ad consumption and engagement, but it allows them to collect real-time data about their audience.

Users now have an additional touchpoint for interacting with brands, and have an enhanced opportunity to provide feedback and collaborate with their favorite brands. No longer are ads speaking to consumers, but instead, they’re pulling them in by including them in the ad experience.

(Source: Adweek)

First of it’s kind medical gym to debut in London

Leading medical spa operators Lanserhof Group has partnered with The Arts Club, a private members club in central London, to develop a state-of-the-art medical gym.Expected to open in May 2019, the new facility is billed as the ‘ultimate medical and gym facility’, and will be the first of its kind to open in the UK.

Designed by Dusseldorf-based firm Ingenhoven Architects, the six-storey gym will be the first facility of its kind to offer club members an MRI scan as part of its tailored training programme. Members will also have access to additional personalised services and offerings such as cardiovascular screening, body metabolism analysis, and two physical therapy labs.

The facility will also feature a world-class gym, class studios, consulting and treatment rooms, cryotherapy treatment chambers and high-end diagnostic and medical facilities, as well as a carefully crafted menu of healthy food options.

Why it’s hot:

Two reasons:

  1. Experiences today define brands and categories – is it time for a luxury experience for healthcare testing and treatments? By mixing the experience of a gym, spa and a diagnostic center, it redefines what treatment and diagnostic centers should look like and may alleviate some anxiety.
  2. On the other hand, it offers advanced testing to highly health conscious consumers who want to quantify their progress and are hyper aware of their health metrics without having to leave the gym.

 

 

The AI Judge holds a digital gavel: can you trust them?

So, you have a small claims court 8K law suit against a neighbor. The verdict? In Estonia, it could be “guilty” from an A.I. judge.

AI and Justice is a subject discussed from the most recent WIRED magazine: In Estonia, the 28-year-old chief of data sciences for Finland’s government, believes AI can make all aspects of government run more efficiently – to the benefit of saving money and serving citizens better. But while we hear about all sorts of efficiency applications of algorithms and AI, Mr. Verberg has a new challenge: he was asked to create a “robot judge” to handle small claims court backlog.

Why is this hot? Well, first, according to the U.N., a formal system of Law is the backbone of a democratic society (along with a free press and open education to all people in a society). But does using AI instead of a human to make a monetary judgement undermine the belief in the fairness of the law?

WIRED note other examples already exist, but nothing that goes this far: “Estonia’s effort isn’t the first to mix AI and the law, though it may be the first to give an algorithm decision-making authority. In the US, algorithms help recommend criminal sentences in some states. The UK-based DoNotPay AI-driven chatbot overturned 160,000 parking tickets in London and New York a few years ago. A Tallinn-based law firm, Eesti Oigusbüroo, provides free legal aid through a chatbot and generates simple legal documents to send to collection agencies.”

But as we all know, no matter what the backlog is, I do not see anyone trusting an AI judge with their 6k to 8K lawsuit — unless they turn Judge Judy into a robot.

Burn, Baby, Burn!

Burger King wants to burn the competition. Literally. So much so that, in Brazil, anyone who opens their app and points their camera at a competitor’s ad will see that ad engulfed in flames and replaced with a coupon for a free Whopper.

It’s cheeky, engaging, and hot.  You can read more about it here.

Why It’s Hot
Well, it’s on fire. But that’s not all. The use of augmented reality is engaging, but it also creates an implicit hierarchy which puts BK at the top, conquering it’s competition.

But what really makes this a hot idea is how it can be a springboard. Thinking about how this idea could take shape in healthcare marketing elicits some big ideas.

Living healthy is often about making choices; choosing healthy foods, making time for fitness, avoiding bad habits. If a healthcare brand creates an app like this that treats a fast food restaurant, the comfortable couch, or a pack of smokes as the competition, it can drive people to healthy behavior by helping them to make better choices and rewarding them in an engaging way.

Take a DNA test. Get a discount

Aeroméxico is offering discounted flight tickets to Americans who could prove their Mexican heritage by taking a DNA test.

The airline questioned local residents of a Texas town about their interest in going to Mexico. As you may have guessed, the general response was negative. After taking a DNA test, however, and hearing about the discount they were eligible to receive, their attitudes shifted.
Aeromexico, is one of Mexico’s major airlines and gets a lot of its income from flights from Mexico to US, but not so much the other way around. Planes were leaving full from Mexico, and returning with [empty seats]. Flights to the USA from Mexico account for 58.1% of Aeromexico’s income per year, while flights from the USA to Mexico account for only 27.7% of annual income.

Why its hot?
The truth well told: ‘You can’t reject what you’ve got inside’ 

Historically there has always been xenophobic conversation within the United States, [but now] hatred is at its highest level. And the intention to build a wall that separated both countries – Mexico and the US – is stronger and more radical over the Southern border

Source: Contagious

Advantage: Walmart?

What’s Going On

Not a day passes when we are not more acutely aware of Amazon impacting and possibly winning the business of retail. Let us not forget the first competitor in the mega sales business, Wal-Mart. As Fast Company puts it, “[Wal-Mart is] currently locked in a battle for consumers’ dollars with Amazon that dominates online shopping.”

We’ve known Wal-Mart to change the game of business and it appears they’re thinking that way still/again. Using this one key fact, Wal-Mart hopes to leverage that to their advantage to beat Amazon.

  • Ninety percent of Americans live within 10 miles of a Walmart store

What They’re Doing

Walmart has realized the importance of this fact, the increasing consumer empowerment and are leveraging it into many different ways to help consumers get what they want, when they want it and how they want it.

1. Fast, customized deliveries: In order to do this, Walmart plans to have their stores double as warehouses. So users create shopping baskets online and schedule them for delivery whenever they want, adding items up until the night before the scheduled time.

  • Plus: Walmart plans to use a machine learning algorithm to predict which items frequent shoppers will want every week. Apparently our habits make customization easy as a Walmart executive says that shoppers order the same items they ordered the previous week 85% of the time.
  • Bonus: Given that most of the cost in e-tail is shipping, the proximity of a Walmart to most homes in the U.S. really helps solve that cost of the last mile that plagues many retailers.

2. Convenient pick up: If you’re the type of customer who would rather click and collect, Wal-Mart can support that control and expediency that you want. Walmart stores now feature large vending machine-like towers where you can pick up an online order, and lockers for even bigger delivery items.

  • Bonus: Sure this sounds a lot like the Amazon lockers placed in convenient locations like 7-11. The problem for Amazon is that they have to rent that space the lockers are located on. Walmart owns their land, so there’s another area of profit advantage for them in the convenience game.

3. The stock problem: By making their stores double as warehouses, Walmart runs the risk of running out of a particular item faster than if it were just a store. But of course, they’ve thought of this. Walmart is rolling out a robot that is designed to look at inventory on shelves. Equipped with cameras and a map of what’s supposed to be on the shelf, the robots stroll around hunting for missing items. If it finds one, it alerts a store employee to restock the item or alerts logistics to bring more items in.

https://images.fastcompany.net/image/upload/w_596,c_limit,q_auto:best,f_webm/wp-cms/uploads/2019/03/i-2g-90319615-the-clever-way-walmart-is-trying-to-beat-amazon.gif

Why It’s Hot

While the increasing demands from consumers usually means more expense to businesses, Walmart realized that something true about their brand (their presence) could be an advantage. And their profits are trending upwards. In 2018, Walmart’s online sales grew 40%.

Fast Company sums it up perfectly, “By using technology to put the company’s colossal retail footprint to work for online deliveries and orders, Walmart is showing how tech can transform traditional retail into something of a hybrid.” [Heads up USPS team.]

[Source: Fast Company]

Instagram Launches ‘Checkout on Instagram’ to Facilitate In-App Shopping

After edging towards eCommerce for some time, and evolving its various tools to better facilitate on-platform shopping, Instagram is now taking the next step with the introduction of a new checkout option in the app.

https://twitter.com/instagram/status/1107975296265924610

The new process takes Instagram’s ‘Shopping Tags’ to the next level – now, instead of a ‘View on Website’ button when you tap through, users will see a ‘Checkout on Instagram’ option, which will enable them to make a purchase right there and then, before returning straight back to their Insta feed.

Right now, the process is being launched in closed beta, which means that it’s not available to all brands. In fact, only 23 businesses are participating in the initial trial, and the process will only be available to users in the US. Moving into in-stream payments is a big step, so it makes sense for Instagram to take it slow.

And on payments, Instagram will store your payment data after your first in-app purchase, and use that for future shopping, so you only need to enter your details once. Instagram is also charging businesses a fee for each transaction facilitated, giving it another revenue stream. And as the program expands, that stream could become significant.

Breaking the Bias One Translation at a Time

The words we use daily can directly affect our perception and the way we think. For example, the effect of gender bias on language can influence how both women and men see certain professions. The terms cameraman, fireman and policeman, for example, are perceived as more masculine, while words like midwife are more stereotypically feminine.

Source: https://www.contagious.io/articles/what-do-you-mean

Released on International Women’s Day 2019, ElaN Languages has created The Unbias Button, to translate biased words, such as job titles, into gender-neutral ones.

Why it’s hot: This is a subtle way to change our awareness of the words we use on a daily basis.

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