ClassPass wants a piece of the wellness tourism boom with “Getaways”

ClassPass announced today that members can soon book mini-vacations and “experiential events” on its wildly popular platform. Called “Getaways,” the new feature relies on ClassPass credits to book day-long wellness experiences that will range from workouts to self-care services, in collaboration with boutique gyms and well-known spas.

Wellness travel, defined as vacationing while enhancing or maintaining one’s physical, mental, or spiritual well-being, is now a $563 billion global industry. The Global Wellness Institute reports that while overall tourism is growing at 6.9%, the wellness tourism sector grew 14% in the last two years and is now one of the fastest-growing tourism markets.

“There is no end to work. You’re constantly stressed,” Beth McGroarty, research director at the Global Wellness Institute, previously told Fast Company. “It’s pushing people to want vacations that are restorative and actually make them feel better. They desperately need it.”

While female travelers increasingly use their time off to reignite their health pursuits, many millennials seem to prefer the fitness retreat model. In a survey of nearly 5,000 Well+Good readers: 40% of respondents reported they’d rather go on a fitness retreat with their favorite instructor than attend a five-star resort like the esteemed Miraval in Arizona. (The findings were on par with a recent study conducted by SpaFinder).

The first ClassPass Getaway location will be revealed on August 29, with members able to book the vacation seven days prior to the event. The latest feature comes just weeks after the company announced it raised $85 million in series D financing, totaling $255 million raised.

“At ClassPass we aim to provide stepping stones toward an active and inspired lifestyle, and ClassPass Getaways will do just that,” said ClassPass founder Payal Kadakia in a statement. “We’re thrilled to give members the opportunity to take a mini-escape from their day-to-day to try new things and explore unfamiliar places. It’s our hope that attendees will leave feeling energized and empowered to continue living life to their absolute fullest.”

Why it’s hot: This is a step in the right direction for Classpass, but I wonder if this is the right approach for the typical Classpass user/demographic vs. the Soul Cycle and Rumble Boxing crowd — will they be willing to splurge on retreats vs. saving on spin classes? Time will tell!

Source: Fast Company

BarkPark, the ‘Outdoor Clubhouse’ for Dogs

Bark, the company behind subscription service BarkBox, is opening a dog park in Nashville. It will provide a place where dogs can roam free off their leashes, while serving as a social gathering spot for their human friends.

BarkPark

Of course, there will be Bark branded toys and treats for dogs to try, with a selection available for purchase. There will also be free WiFi, a coffee shop, and weekly programming including live music and beer tastings.

To access BarkPark, dog owners will have to purchase day passes for $19 or select a membership package, with options for four-week ($49) or seasonal passes ($78). The members, however, are the dogs – which means any two humans can accompany the dog on any given visit. The pass can conveniently be shared by different family members and with dog sitters.

The Nashville location will open on September 8th for three months until its closed for the winter, giving Bark the chance to test and learn before considering opening up additional locations.

Why It’s Hot: 

BarkPark seems like a natural brand extension with high potential. They already do a great job of fostering loyalty among passionate dog lovers, and providing a place that owners and dogs can enjoy together will only cultivate that loyalty further.

Source: TechCrunch

stanford AI generates sound with zero training…

According to computer scientists at Stanford, they have “developed the first system for automatically synthesizing sounds to accompany physics-based computer animations” that “simulates sound from first physical principles” and most impressively, unlike other AI “no training data is required”.

Why it’s hot:

While most AI to date requires overt training in order to be able to properly synthesize an output, this requires none. It’s not the first AI to require no human-assistance, but the future that might have seemed years off for AI is rapidly advancing. If AI can construct sound from visuals based on physical principles, you have to wonder how hard it might be to construct physical objects based on sound.

[Source]

Super Smart A-Eye

Researchers at Moorfields Eye Hospital have teamed with UCL, a subsidiary of Google’s DeepMind, to show off an AI system capable of identifying more than 50 eye diseases with incredible accuracy and then refer patients to a specialist.

The system uses deep learning to create algorithm-driven software that can identify common patterns in data culled from dozens of common eye diseases from 3D scans. The AI can even explain why a diagnosis was made.

A study published in Nature Medicine says the AI system made the right referral recommendation in more than 94 percent of cases based on a review of historic patient scans. It performed as good, or better than, top eye specialists who examined the same scan.

“Doctors and patients don’t want just a black box answer, they want to know why,” Ramesh Raskar, an associate professor at MIT, told Stat. “There is a standard of care, and if the AI technique doesn’t follow that standard of care, people are going to be uncomfortable with it.”

Why its hot

Would people be as comfortable going to an AI for medical diagnosis as they are with human doctors? Many people don’t see doctors because they’re uncomfortable, but perhaps they’d be more willing to get a diagnosis from an AI that they can then take as a referral to a specialist. Systems like this that give people more access to personal health information can only help increase access to healthcare, especially in countries where a lack of specialists is an issue.

 

Digital Startups Are Taking NYC Storefronts

Rising rents for brick-and-mortar locations and competition from online retailers have left many storefronts in New York City unoccupied for months at a time. One digital startup is looking to take advantage of that real estate for advertising.

Burrow – think Casper for couches – will advertise in five storefronts in New York City this month, promoting its modular sofas that are supposedly easy to assemble and are delivered in compact boxes to cut down on shipping time and costs.

Burrow, which worked with branding firm Red Antler on the concept, has set up an animatronic fortune teller, so-called the Lord of Leisure, in these store windows. The Zoltar-like figure sits reclined on a Burrow sofa and tells passersby their fortune through text messaging. The fortune teller will respond to the text with a fortune tied to leisure and relaxation, a core message of Burrow. Those who participate are eligible to win a free Burrow couch.

Why It’s Hot 

As foot traffic to stores decline, real estate developers will need to think of new applications for these spaces. Digitally native startups have an appetite for this, and are finding innovative ways to use OOH advertising – especially to make a big splash in a new market.

Source: http://adage.com/article/advertising/vacant-nyc-storefronts-prime-ad-space-digital-startup/314487/

Message of Love

Kellogg’s Rice Krispie Treats has partnered with the National Federation of the Blind to create packaging that encourages parents to create loving notes for their visually impaired children.

The campaign, called Love Notes, originally started in 2017 when Kellogg’s put a blank white space in the shape of a heart on its packets. The space was for parents to write notes to their children.

To make this activation idea inclusive for visually impaired children, Love Notes has now added heart-shaped stickers with braille messages.

The idea came after research from Kapable, (Kellogg’s resource group for those with disabilities) showed that in the United States, 62,000 school children identify as blind or visually impaired.

Why it’s Hot

Showing inclusive values can be a boon for brands. According to Cone Communications, 87% of American consumers surveyed said they would purchase a product based on its values.

 

 

Amazon may be getting into the movie theater business

Amazon is putting itself in the running to acquire Landmark Theatres, which claims to be the United States’ largest chain of movie theaters focused on art house movies.

With its expansion into the brick-and-mortar grocery business and bookstores, it’s another interesting move. The company hasn’t made any public comments about the possible sale, so it isn’t clear what their strategy would be in leveraging the theaters. That said, there’s speculation that it could be added as another of the many benefits for their Prime membership program.

With MoviePass reeling, there’s a lot of opportunity to innovate the traditional movie theater space, and it seems Amazon is getting primed to do it.

Why it’s hot:

Amazon already has one of the biggest digital subscription businesses in the world, with more than 100 million Prime members, as of April 2018. Tacking a subscription to cinemas on to that, which either made going free or discounted, is a no-brainer.

New York Times Co. Reports $24 Million Profit, Thanks to Digital Subscribers

The New York Times continued its digital growth in the second quarter of 2018, adding 109,000 digital-only subscribers. With that rise came an increase in revenue that counteracted a decline in print advertising.

The company said on Wednesday that revenue from digital subscriptions rose to $99 million in the second quarter, a jump of nearly 20 percent compared with the same period a year ago. Over all for the second quarter, total revenue increased 2 percent, to $415 million, and the company reported a profit of almost $24 million.

The Times now has 2.9 million digital-only subscribers, out of 3.8 million total.

“Subscription revenues accounted for nearly two-thirds of the company’s revenues, a trend we expect to continue,” Mark Thompson, the company’s chief executive, said in a news release. “We continue to believe that there is significant runway to expand that base substantially.”

More here.

Why it’s HOT:

As a “newspaper” media company, the New York Times now has significantly more digital-only subscribers than print subscribers. 76% of its subscribers are digital-only.

Also, subscription revenues are now two-thirds of the company’s revenues which means the company doesn’t rely on advertising for revenues as much as it did in the decades past.

Anti-Open-Concept Rooms

Today, about 70% of all US offices are “open concept” meaning no cubicles, no partitions, no private offices. This type of work environment is meant to encourage interaction, collaboration, and equality. But a recent study by Harvard Business School found that face-to-face interaction actually decreased by 72% in open offices, and workers become far less productive. Other results of open-concept offices:

  • An average 15% decline in productivity
  • A 50% increase in the likelihood of getting sick
  • An increase in the number of distractions per hour
  • 60% of employees who work in open floor plan spaces report being dissatisfied with them.

A startup called ROOM is joining the ant-open-office movement by creating easy to assemble rooms within your open concept office. The ROOM One is a $3.5k soundproof booth, scientifically constructed with power outlets and ventilation. Other companies like Wall Box, TalkBox and Zenbooth have announced their similar products. ROOM has already locked in close to 200 clients, including Salesforce, Nike, NASA, and JP Morgan, and a $10m revenue run rate.

Why It’s Hot:

The concept could actually save businesses a ton of money on lost productivity, and be flexible enough for fast-growing companies. BUT open office spaces are reportedly cheaper than traditional office spaces which is partly why they’ve been implemented in the first place. So who is going to pay for your $4,000 phone booth?

Soundtrack of Your Life

Royal Caribbean is partnering with Berklee College of music to set your vacation photos to music using AI.

 Source: https://www.adweek.com/creativity/royal-caribbean-now-sets-your-vacation-photos-to-music-using-ai/amp/

Launching this week, Royal Caribbean is launching an online tool that turns user images into mini-videos with original music assembled by AI and inspired by the images themselves.

A picture from a botanical garden, of red flowers and green leaves, generates two bars of smooth jazz. An elaborate piece of graffiti on a brick wall renders into a crunching hip-hop beat.

The machine-learning process entailed more than 600 hours in which Royal Caribbean and a team of musicians and technologists reviewed hundreds of music tracks along with 10,000 photos, matching each of the 2.5 million combinations to one of 11 moods.

The A.I. in SoundSeeker uses Google Cloud Vision to identify objects, facial expressions and colors in a user’s photo by referencing the roadmap developed by the leaders in music theory at Berklee.

Why it’s hot

Tourism industry is always at the forefront of individualization beyond personalization by making something so personal and making it truly unique.

The death of Don Draper

The advertising industry is currently enthralled by a prophet of its imminent demise. Scott Galloway is a professor at New York University’s Stern School of Business, and founder of a marketing consultancy. In a much-shared YouTube video, he delivers a talk entitled “The Death of the Advertising-Industrial Complex” to an audience of young marketers. In it, he argues that businesses can no longer rely on advertising to compensate for mediocre products.

Until the 1990s, says Galloway, the path to success lay in taking “an average beer, average car, or average suit” and wrapping it in appealing associations – this one makes you feel more elegant, this one makes you feel younger. Now, we live in an age in which the intangible haze of soft-sell is no longer necessary, and the battle for market share comes down to the raw strength of your product. “The sun has passed midday on brand,” he says.

The ad industry, run by people who pride themselves on creativity, is being displaced by the ad business, which prides itself on efficiency. Clients are spending less on the kind of entertaining, seductive, fame-generating campaigns in which ad agencies specialize, and more on the ads that flash and wink on your smartphone screen.

More here.

Why it’s HOT:

Modern media technology, more educated consumers, and the democratization of information have transformed the advertising business like no other. Today’s advertising agencies may not be able to help clients market mediocre products like they could have in a much simpler time.

Magic Leap One launch a mixed bag after years of promises

Magic Leap calls itself a “spatial computing” company, but it produces what most people call augmented or mixed reality experiences: hologram-like objects projected into three-dimensional space. Modern smartphones offer a primitive version of mixed reality, and headsets like Microsoft HoloLens offer a more advanced version for industrial and professional use.

CEO Rony Abovitz claimed that Magic Leap’s hardware will “transcend what can be contained in a physical product.” He announced the company with a 2012 TedX talk in which he donned a full space suit and spoke for 30 seconds. Today, he won’t even confirm it was him in the suit.

The Magic Leap One Creator Edition is aimed at artists and developers, but Abovitz stresses that it’s a “full-blown, working consumer-grade product,” not a prototype. AT&T will even offer demos to customers in some of its stores later this year. “We think it’s at the border of being practical for everybody,” says Abovitz. “Our whole thing with Magic Leap One is, we want people to realize this is what computing should look like — not [laptops], not TVs, not phones.”

The Magic Leap One is a three-piece system that includes a headset called Lightwear, a small wearable computer called the Lightpack, and a handheld controller.

Like every mixed reality company, Magic Leap eventually wants to make a normal-looking pair of glasses that can be worn everywhere. For now, the headset is only guaranteed to work indoors, and it includes Bluetooth and Wi-Fi antennas, but no mobile data options. AT&T has already committed to selling a future version with wireless data plans, though, and Abovitz says you can use the current version “at your own risk” outside.

Still, Magic Leap is one of the best (if not the best) pieces of mixed reality hardware on the market today. But after all of Magic Leap’s descriptions of its unique hyper-advanced light field technology, it didn’t feel categorically different from something like HoloLens — which was released two years ago, and has a second generation on the horizon. I’m not convinced Magic Leap’s photonics chip is practically that different from other mixed reality waveguides, or that Magic Leap is doing something other companies couldn’t replicate.

But instead of showcasing the strength of its possibilities, my Magic Leap One app demos kept highlighting the weaknesses of its technology. I could imagine replacing my television with a virtual screen, but not one that clips in half when I’m not staring straight at it. I kept forgetting where I’d placed small virtual objects in a room. Full-room experiences, like the beautiful underwater seascape of Tonandi, always felt clearly artificial. The issue wasn’t just technical limits, it was apps that didn’t seem designed to work well within those limits.

So unless Magic Leap is deliberately holding any big projects for a consumer release, I’m not sure what its internal studios and partners have been doing with several years and virtually unlimited funding, and why it wouldn’t showcase more of their work during the Magic Leap One’s big debut.

Why it’s hot

With nearly every big tech company making a play for mixed reality, it’s an area ready for disruption. Early adopters are ready for a big step forward, but at over $2.2k, it’s not clear that Magic Leap One will really meet that need for everyone. With the failure of Google Glass, what will it take for a mixed reality hardware to be widely adopted?

Read more at The Verge: https://www.theverge.com/2018/8/8/17662040/magic-leap-one-creator-edition-preview-mixed-reality-glasses-launch

Do you even lift?

“Across the board, across all industries, you see about $96 billion in worker compensation costs,” says Benjamin Kanner, CEO and founder of Worklete. “About 64% of those are related to musculoskeletal injuries–your back injuries, your shoulder injuries, your knee injuries.

“If we can teach these folks basic rules for human movement, and say, ‘Yes, there is a better and a worse way to move,’ that’s really how we win. That’s how we help blue-collar, underserved populations stay injury-free so they can work hard all day long and then go home and enjoy their lives outside of work, too.”

Worklete trains workforces to move in better, smarter, and safer ways, whether that’s teaching the proper driving posture when operating a forklift or the best technique for lifting a five-gallon water jug. Today, 20,000 frontline workers use the smartphone app, which runs each employee through 10 two-week training modules. The first week of each module is centered around movement “basics,” with photo- and video-based lessons followed by short quizzes. The total time commitment is about five minutes per week.

The second part of each module involves in-person practice sessions with partners or teams. These trainings are led by “champions,” unofficial leaders on the ground. Champions, typically shift managers, are selected during new client onboarding. For Worklete subscribers, an admin dashboard allows managers to monitor employee progress on training modules on an individual basis, evaluate performance at the city or regional level, and review team rosters, including new hires (marked with red), who might benefit from extra attention.

Why its hot

This is great on multiple levels. Not only does it solve a problem (workforce injuries from heavy lifting/general stress), but it also creates brand evangelists within the companies themselves, keeping employees engaged and using the service. Throw in the cost savings from keeping your employees healthy and it’s a no brainer for any company with a lot of physical labor. I would love to see companies with even less physical stress, where people mainly sit all day, use something like Worklete as well.

defend your home with two guys talking about ketchup…

The “modern home insurance” brand Hippo recently created “Away Mode”, an Alexa skill that activates one of seven “awkward” conversations when enabled, ostensibly to trick would-be burglars ala Kevin McAllister.

But while it is a real skill, it’s actually designed as advertising to generate awareness for the three-year-old brand.

According to Hippo, “Hippo was looking for a way to engage a broad audience in a conversation about home security and home insurance. We figured it was easier to drive awareness and education through humour.

Why It’s Hot:

First, it’s another example of  “innovation” as advertising. And while stunts are nothing new in advertising, this is the first time a brand has used Alexa as the chosen platform on which to execute one.

But more importantly, it’s a beautiful way to emphasize its point of differentiation. Hippo bills itself generally as an insurance company with a different outlook, as a “tech company” that “leverages Smart Home technology to prevent disasters instead of simply responding to them”, and its insurance “protects smart home appliances and electronics”.

[Source]

Chase ATMs go cardless

Chase recently expanded its cardless access to 16,000 ATMs nationwide. Customers will no longer need to carry their debit cards and use them to retrieve cash at ATMs. They can now simply tap their smartphone on the ATM to get cash.

Step 1 Access your mobile wallet on your phone and select your virtual Chase Debit Card.

Step 2 Look for the Cardless symbol on the ATM, and tap it with your phone.

Step 3 Enter your PIN as usual.

Why it’s hot: Cardless no longer means cashless.

Source 

New CVS smartphone app offers medical attention 24/7

MinuteClinic, the company’s retail medical clinic, will now allow patients to use telehealth for minor illnesses (such as coughs or colds), injuries, skin conditions, and “other wellness needs,” reads a press release. The service is a collaboration between CVS and Teladoc, which specializes in virtual care technology.

The service will be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, via the CVS mobile app. Patients ages two years and up are eligible to dial in and be matched with a board-certified Teladoc health care provider licensed in their state. Each video session costs $59 and requires a patient to fill out a health questionnaire that includes their medical history.

MinuteClinic Video Visit is currently available in nine states–Arizona, California, Florida, Idaho, Maine, Maryland, Mississippi, New Hampshire and Virginia–and in Washington, D.C., with nationwide expansion expected by the end of the year. It is not currently covered by insurance, but CVS says it will be added in the coming months. During initial testing of MinuteClinic, CVS found that 95 percent of telehealth patients were highly satisfied with their quality of care, with most appreciating the convenience of checking in from the comfort of their homes.

Physicians and nurses are steadily adopting telehealth, which has been popularized by younger consumers looking for efficient, cost-effective solutions. For patients in remote areas or for people suffering from chronic ailments or issues that prevent them from moving easily–such as arthritis–telehealth can be a crucial option.

Why it’s hot: This is a smart move for CVS to get somewhat ahead of the trend and planning to adopt nationwide. “According to a recent medical survey by Kantar Media2 out of 5 physicians participate in telemedicine or plan to within the next year. For those who don’t, 80% feel that a percentage of their patients could be successfully diagnosed or treated via telemedicine.”

Source: FastCo

Beyond Entertainment

Ubisoft Entertainment SA, a French video game maker, has created an educational add-on to the latest installment of the Assassin’s Creed video game franchise.

It is called Assassin’s Creed: Origins Discovery Tour and it allows users to freely explore the reproduction of ancient Egypt without actually taking part in standard gameplay. Purely educational, this add-on acts as a virtual museum and features 75 guided tours of historical sites voiced by real historians and Egyptologists on subjects such as mummification, the writing of hieroglyphs, the daily life of Egyptians and the ancient city of Alexandria.

This add-on is aimed for the educational market and was even used as a learning tool for high school students.

Why it’s hot

Apparently, there was 44% improvement of the high school student’s knowledge of the historical topic. Reading, talking and watching video presentations is incredibly enriching when a student can tour and interact with the world they’re learning about.

McDonald’s is giving away 6 million Big Macs– here’s how to get one

Craving free food? If you bought a Big Mac early enough on Thursday, chances are you’ll be able to get a free Big Mac.

McDonald’s is celebrating the 50th anniversary of its Big Mac with the creation of a new currency — the “MacCoin.” The MacCoin will come in five versions, one for each decade the burger has been around. More than six million of these coins will be distributed amongst 14,000 locations around the US and many more abroad. The MacCoin can be exchanged for a Big Mac until the end of 2018.

https://twitter.com/McDonalds/status/1023674450838007808

Why it’s hot:

There’s a huge craze around bitcoin, which many still visualize as a physical coin. McDonald’s is trying to ride this craze, and I’m sure it’ll help their business.

Source: http://time.com/money/5353850/mcdonalds-maccoin-free-big-macs/

Facial recognition cash withdrawal

Residents in Tibet can now use the facial recognition technology to withdraw cash at ATMs from the Agricultural Bank of China, no debit cards needed.

Also powered by the facial recognition technology, the Agricultural Bank of China is testing card-less and device-less payments at a pilot supermarket in Chongqing, China. Shoppers can pay for items by looking into the camera in the supermarket after putting the item in shopping basket. Transactions will automatically be conducted for registered Agricultural Bank of China customers.

Why it’s hot: There might be a day that our face truly becomes our identify and is all we need to conduct transactions and other businesses in the future.

Source

Snapchat Voice Recognition Lenses

snap-word-filter-speech-recognition

Starting August 1st, Snapchat has launched different lenses that animate when users speak simple words such as “love,” “yes,” “no,” wow.” Previously, lenses only worked with facial motions detected such as rising eyebrows or opening your mouth.

When these simple words are spoken it adds AR elements to the screen and is able to draw user engagement.

Why It’s Hot: This new technology in Snapchat, will allow users to be more engaged and be open to advertisers further down the road, similar to how lenses are currently used. This has the potential for users to use buzzwords related to a particular company, but ultimately proves to get user engagement with a brand.

What does $1tn really look like?

On Thursday, Aug 2 2018, Apple became the first publicly traded American company with a $1,000,000,000,000 market cap.

Here’s a neat interactive data visualization from the NYTimes to play with after the jump; it gives you a reference point for just how big $1tn is compared to the rest of the publicly traded companies on the S&P.

SOURCE: https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2018/08/02/technology/apple-trillion-market-cap.html

Here’s another nifty graphic that shows us the history of Apple’s valuation:

SOURCE: https://www.ft.com/content/aebad290-9644-11e8-b67b-b8205561c3fe

WHY IT’S HOT:

So, how big is $1tn? When you hear a big number out of context, it’s not always easy to quantify. These data visualizations help define how BIG $1tn really is in the context of American business, adding more meaning to this landmark event.

Shop local with Nike

Nike is using hyperlocal data to determine what products it stocks in its new west LA shop, Nike by Melrose.

Nike is using its digital commerce data with a machine learning algorithm to display local buying patterns. For example, Nike knows that its LA customers buy a lot of its Cortez trainers, so it’ll stock more of that shoe in more colors and display it prominently. It gets even better when customers use the Nike retail app to scan the QR code on any product in the store to find out more information about it.

During the research process, LA-based customers told Nike: ‘We want it fast.’ So, they created a time-saving feature called SwooshText, which allows customers to buy whatever they want via SMS, then have it delivered to your car when you arrive at the store.

Why it’s hot

This shop launch is part of Nike’s new city-focused business strategy. Last year, the brand announced that it would be ‘moving even closer to the consumers through key cities’ and, in doing so, start ‘deepening one-to-one connections’.

A Tale You Can Only Uncover With Dirt

To get kids off their screens and playing outside again, the Unilever-owned laundry-detergent brand, Omo, also known as Persil in some markets, created a children’s book, which kids can only read when its pages are smeared with dirt. It is part of Omo’s ongoing ‘Dirt is Good’ campaign.

The dirt-activated book, called The Tale of Spots and Stripes, is the result of a collaboration between Ogilvy South Africa in Cape Town, Karabo Poppy, the tales artist, and Colourtone Aries, the printing specialists that created the ink formula. The ink formula does not fill the blank book with beautiful illustrations until it is touched by dirty hands.

‘The book was also designed to exercise a child’s key development skills, including tactile and fine motor skills, visual perception, language development and education.’

Since being launched in a number of schools nationwide, the project has received the support of Educanda, South Africa’s leading supplier of child development tools and school learning equipment and the Centre for Early Childhood Development. Omo is currently talking to the country’s Department of Education in hopes that South Africa’s government makes the book part of the curriculum.

Why it’s hot: 

Today, children are surrounded by and glued to their screens and monitoring this screen time has become a modern-day issue for parents. The impact of an unhealthy amount of exposure to digital products and services has become a growing concern as it can lead to emotional, health and social problems. This is why The Book of Dirt is so great – it entices children outside, demonstrating that dirt is good and time away from the screen is beneficial.

Source: https://www.contagious.io/articles/playing-field

A programmable Harry Potter wand is coming this fall

Kano, a company that makes kid-friendly coding products, is releasing a programmable Harry Potter wand in the fall.

Children (and I’m sure many adults) will be able to build code-able wands with their own spells. They will be able to customize puzzle bits of code. They customizations range from changing the color of the spell, length, or even what the spell does. You can even share your spell afterwards. Unfortunately, you can’t have your spells interact with real-life objects. Instead, you interact with an app on a tablet.

Why it’s hot:

People love Harry Potter, especially kids. They can get lost in the magical world while learning the foundational elements of coding.

Source: https://www.fastcompany.com/90204670/kanos-releasing-a-programmable-harry-potter-wand-this-fall

count cash with AR…

One of the brilliant minds at Google recently shared the AR application above that lets users quickly and easily count money of any currency, in any currency.

Why It’s Hot:

These types of new uses for AR might seem novel and even a bit magical now, but it won’t stay that way for long. This is just another signal that our future will be in 4D, with a new digital layer that will add information and functionality to the physical world.

[Source]

Barkeep, the Mixologist Chatbot

The next time you’re searching for a recipe on Allrecipes.com, you might see a cocktail pairing sponsored by Tito’s Handmade Vodka. The two brands have teamed up on a mixologist chatbot, Barkeep, to recommend drinks and walk people through preparation.Tito Allrecipes bot

Barkeep is powered by natural language processing and a mixology database to suggest cocktails based on seasonality, popularity, and users’ preferences. The chatbot will be accessible by Facebook Messenger, as well as integrated within the Allrecipes search database.

Beyond recipes, the chatbot also features a catalog of on-demand alcohol delivery powered by Drizly.

The partnership is a natural fit — Allrecipes users are 20% more likely than the average U.S. adult to be frequent entertainers, and are more likely to have prepared a mixed drink in the past week. They are also 21% more likely than the general U.S. population to have consumed Tito’s Handmade Vodka in the last six months, according to comScore Fusion.

Why It’s Hot

39 million people use Allrecipes.com every month. This is a natural way to introduce cocktail pairings and alcohol delivery to a large, engaged audience.

Source: PR Newswire

london urges against hollywood showers…

If you thought Americans were the only ones enjoying the heat the dark heart of summer brings, it’s also been particularly warm across the Atlantic in London. So, the London charity Water Aid created this Spotify playlist – “Four Minute Shower Hits” to help the water companies urge Londoners to conserve water during this time. It’s not just a clever name, and all songs are four minutes or slightly less, to help people do their part during the heat wave.

Why it’s hot: 

To accomplish their goal, the UK water companies could have created a much more straightforward and forgettable PSA type ad. Instead, they made something useful, functional, and fun.

[Source]

Beijing’s smart bakery

Beijing welcomed its first unmanned smart bakery, a collaboration between Alibaba and domestic baker brand Wedomé. The bakery uses technologies including AI image recognition, mobile payment and QR code to enable unmanned services.

 

Why it’s hot: Mobile payment is so prominent in China and sets the nation on its way to be (maybe) a cashless economy one day.

Source

It’s an illusion, but you can already see that

D.O.N.G. These are things you can do online now, guys. In the latest DONG on the DONG channel (ok I’ll stop saying dong now) you can learn about impossible objects, create your own metamorphosis, create your own line illusions, and just have fun with some cool things you can do online now, guys. Oh, and there are some great puns which really was the selling point of this video.

Why it’s hot:
I recently re-discovered this page and I forgot about all the things you can actually do on the internet that aren’t tied to lowering one’s self-esteem by scrolling endlessly on social media and being envious of what everyone else is doing. Long story short, have fun, play games on the internet, find more dong’s!

One-Click Divorce

WeChat.png
Source: http://info.trendwatching.com/wechat-rolls-out-divorce-feature

Book an appointment with your local divorce registration office with the click of one button. Chinese messaging platform WeChat launched a new service that allows couples to file for divorce straight from the app. Only available to users in the Guangdong province for now, the feature is planned for a nationwide roll out.

Why it’s hot:

Messaging apps have become end-to-end lifestyle ecosystems and with 1.8 Billion messenger app users demanding new products and services, they offer immense opportunities for brands.

Winning trend-driven innovators understand – and then stay laser-focused on – the needs and wants of their customers. And then use those needs and wants to guide to which platforms, devices and technologies to innovate around.  – Trend Watching