Freshman Dropout Predictions

Have you ever wondered if spending more time in the library actually equates to better academic performance? The University of Arizona is tracking freshman students’ ID card swipes to anticipate which students are more likely to drop out.

The new ID card tracking system keeps a record of how often students interact in social settings on campus (like use the campus rec center), what they buy to eat, and their academic performance. According to the University, the data allows them to predict within a freshman’s first 4 weeks if they will return as a sophomore and eventually graduate.

Based on the data, the university identifies a list of freshman in danger of dropping out and shares it with the students’ advisors every quarter, who do their best to intervene. According to the article, students with shrinking social circles and a lack of a routine might be more likely to drop out.

The efforts have been pretty successful so far. After three years of collecting freshman data, their predictions have been 73% accurate. Last year, the school’s retention rate rose to 86.5% (almost 10% above the national average).

“We think by doing these interventions by the 12th week, which is when students make up their mind, you’re sort of doing what Amazon does—delivering items you didn’t order but will be ordering in the future,” says Sudha Ram, a professor of management information systems who directs the initiative.

Like any predictive technology, some major ethical concerns about privacy arose. It could be argued that this level of analyzing students’ social interaction data, which includes timestamps and locations, potentially violates students’ privacy. Still, algorithms can sometimes be wrong and biased. Ram admits, “We live in an era where you shouldn’t be generalizing about ‘groups of people. You should be personalizing solutions at the individual level.” She calls the data she’s analyzed “just a signal.”

Why It’s Hot: This initiative is using predictive technology in a much more meaningful way than say, suggesting what products you might also like to buy on Amazon. If this machine learning tool can identify behaviors that may lead a student to drop out, who’s to say it couldn’t be developed further to signify behaviors that lead students to attempt suicide or fall into depression? If possible, many students could receive help from advisors or family members who were prompted by the system.

Source: https://www.theverge.com/2018/3/12/17109224/university-of-arizona-tracking-smartchips-student-ids-privacy-drop-out

Currency for women only

For the launch of its first womenswear collection, fashion brand Paisley has created a currency that addresses the gender pay gap.

The new FEM notes are worth 21% more than any other currency – a nod to the 21% gender pay gap in Germany. This means that whenever customers use FEM currency, they get 21% more for their money.

The notes have been designed with special security features to avoid misuse and highlight a number of iconic female figures who have helped pave the way for equal gender rights.

Customers can exchange their money for FEM notes by visiting the Paisley flagship store in Hamburg. Paisley is also looking to partner with other companies which want to make FEM currency part of their brand.

Why its hot?
Using a cultural insight they dressed up a run of the mill coupon / discount as a movement

Read more: https://www.femcurrency.com/

 

Facebook’s Implementing Disclosure on “Issues Ads”

The changes keep coming at Facebook.

Neuroscience and the thoughts and minds of dogs

A scientist looking at how dogs think and relate to humans has trained about a dozen dogs to lie inside of fMRI machines and receive different stimuli. The result is a look inside the minds of dogs that indicates that their mental processes might mirror our own in more ways than previously imagined.

 

A dog undergoes training, learning how to rest its head on a pad without moving, so that scientists can scan his brain

A dog undergoes training, learning how to rest its head on a pad without moving, so that scientists can scan his brain. Photo by Helen Berns

As part of their first paper published on the work in 2012, they trained dogs to recognize two different hand signals: one that meant the animal would be given a piece of hot dog imminently, and one that meant no hot dog. As they hypothesized, the first signal triggered elevated activity in an area called the caudate nucleus, which is rich in receptors for dopamine (a neurotransmitter involved in the sensation of pleasure). In humans—and in dogs, the research indicated—caudate activity is related to the desire to have something that causes pleasure, and the satisfaction involved in obtaining it.

Subsequent tests showed that sensing familiar humans through sight and scent triggered similar reward receptors in dogs’ brains, possibly indicating the feeling of emotion similar to human emotion.

A dog in an fMRI, receiving one of the hand signals

A dog in an fMRI, receiving one of the hand signals

Why it’s hot

Pet owners already think of their animal friends as more than simply property, and are more likely to consider them members of the family than in previous generations. If studies like these can show that dogs truly feel emotions similar to humans, it might have implications for public policy and cultural sentiment.

Read more at smithsonianmag.com

adidas makes 30,000 highlight reels…


In advance of this year’s Boston Marathon, Adidas says it’s planning to capture and create personal highlight videos for all 30,000 runners of this year’s race.

According to the plan: “Adidas will deliver videos to the 30,000 runners taking part in the marathon within a few hours of them completing the race. Along with the runner’s personal highlights, the Here to Create Legend videos will also feature general race day footage and music.”

How it works: “RFID tags in the runners’ race bibs and street mats that emit ultra-high frequency radio waves will provide Adidas with data on each runners’ performance. Using this technology, the sportswear brand is able to capture all the footage for the videos with just seven cameras and a team of 20 people spread across the 26.2-mile course.

Why It’s Hot:

We often talk about the trend of ultra-personalized product or service experiences, but marketing hasn’t necessarily been a major part of that conversation. As this becomes peoples’ overall expectation of brands, it will have to adapt.

Plus, in another time, Adidas would’ve just made a nice commercial touting its 30 years of race sponsorship. But instead, it decided to devote time, money, and effort to adding something memorable to the experience of the athletes running the race it’s sponsoring.

[Source]

Millennial English

https://twitter.com/DeannaHoak/status/970129313415749632/photo/1

Millennials, or maybe just the Internet, is changing the way that we communicate, at least according to these people on Tumblr and this Mashable article.*

You may be thinking “teh /\/\i113|\||\|14l5 haven’t done anything that hasn’t been done before LOL ROFLCOPTER” and maybe you’d be right? It’s still interesting to think about the way that communication is changing in today’s Text Heavy and increasingly image based society.

From the article:

[Dr. Lauren] Fonteyn [of the University of Manchester]  says millennials are “breaking the constraints” of written English to “be as expressive as you can be in spoken language.” This new variant of written English strives to convey what body language, and tone and volume of voice can achieve in spoken English.

Fonteyn specifies a few ways Millennials are twisting English:

  • Atypical capitalization. Capitalization isn’t necessarily used traditionally: at the beginning of a sentence, for people or proper nouns. The letter “I” may not be capitalized, in order to “play down the person’s sense of self”. However, capitals are being used for emphasis, irony or mockery. This tweet from the article sums it up well:

  • Changes to expressive punctuation. For example, leaving the period off of a sentence may be neutral, using “..” means “continue” and “…” can indicate an “‘awkward or annoyed silence’ or ‘are you serious?'”.
  • Use of imagery or glyphs unavailable in spoken conversation, such as:

https://twitter.com/_lbaillie/status/979232946761605120

There are other examples of this:

Why it’s hot:

The way we communicate is changing. It’s neat to see the new ways people take language and twist it to new ends and meanings using the tools they’ve got.

 

Unmanned bank

China opened its first “unmanned” bank in Shanghai this week that claims to be able to handle over 90% of a traditional bank’s services, whether it’s cash or cashless. Customers will be greeted by a robot as they enter the lobby who’s supposed to communicate with them and help with their needs.

The bank also claims to offer services including:

  • Video teller machines
  • Currency exchange machines
  • Augmented Reality
  • Virtual Reality

Why it’s hot: Deferring low-value work to machines is inevitable to increase efficiency and profit margin. Brainpower should be reserved for cognitive work.

Source

Art Palette

Google’s Art and Culture Experiments Art Palette is a web app tool that allows you to choose color combinations and see art with associated color ways. Alternatively, you can upload an image and see works of art w similar color schemes.

As described on their site:

“Art Palette works as a search engine that finds artworks based on your chosen color palette. Using this tool, you can explore how the same five colors from Van Gogh’s Irises can be related to a 16th century Iranian folio or Monet’s water lilies.

Art Palette can help creative experts in art, design and beyond to make informed choices regarding color palettes, understanding the context and history behind each one.”
Why It’s Hot: Other than being really fun to play around with, this could be a useful tool for designers as well as for art history. While color is only an aspect of art, this tool allows people to draw connections about art from different time periods and cultures.

FDA Approves Non-Supervised Diagnostic AI

We’ve talked a lot about AI in healthcare recently, with a big focus on AI being used as a diagnostic tool to process scans/images and find potential issues. All of this technology thus far has been created with the understanding that the AI’s results will be reviewed and evaluated by a trained, specialized medical professional. That is, the doctor is still the final decision-maker, and the AI is her assistant.

All that changed this week, when the FDA announced its approval of the first AI tool that is meant to operate and issue a diagnosis completely independently, without any supervision from a specialized doctor. The software program, named IDx-DR, can detect diabetic retinopathy, a form of eye disease, by looking at photos of the retina that a nurse or doctor uploads to the program. After checking the image to make sure it’s high-resolution enough, the program evaluates the photo and then gives a diagnosis.

This is great on one level – it means that any nurse or doctor can upload a photo, and patients don’t need to wait to see a medical specialist in order to review the AI results and get a diagnosis. So theoretically, medical care will be more accessible and sooner. But, the flip side is a tricky ethical situation… Who is responsible when the diagnosis is wrong?

Why It’s Hot: Wait, are robots actually coming for our jobs after all? And who do we blame when they screw it up?

 

Learn More: The Verge | FDA release

Aloha Safely

Hawaiian airlines is gifting their passengers with samples of toxic-free sunscreen in efforts to educate travelers of the harm that other sunscreens have on the coral reefs. A recent study found that oxybenzone and octinoxate, typical elements found in the average sunscreen, result in damaging effects on the reefs. Through the end of April, Hawaiian Airlines flight attendants will be offering passengers free samples of an American-made sunscreen that doesn't harm marine life.

So lather up in Hawaiian Airlines’ eco-formula sunscreen if you’re flying from North American destinations to the islands through the month of April! 

Can you bereef it’s taken this long for something like this to happen? The airline partnered with Raw Elements to produce the sunscreen. To serve even more raw truth, Hawaiian Airlines decided to screen Reefs at Risk, an educational documentary, on all their flights. 

Why it’s hot:

This way people who can’t tan won’t burn. And they’ll hopefully make wiser choices in sunscreen purchases! Happy Hawaii-iing ~~

Source: https://www.goodnewsnetwork.org/airline-is-protecting-hawaiian-coral-reefs-by-giving-free-non-toxic-sunscreen-to-tourists/

Remaking the internet

This intriguing TED talk from Jaron Lanier paints an optimistic and entirely plausible vision for a “new internet” in the wake of the Facebook debacle and other concerns about privacy, regulation and data.

Lanier reflects on a “globally tragic, astoundingly ridiculous mistake” companies like Google and Facebook made at the foundation of digital culture — and how we can undo it. “We cannot have a society in which, if two people wish to communicate, the only way that can happen is if it’s financed by a third person who wishes to manipulate them,” he says.

 

Why it’s hot: About 10 minutes into the talk, Lanier gets into the concept of subscription-based social media platforms, which many have dismissed – because they say “I’d never pay for Facebook”. But Lanier’s analogy is apt – he likens paying for social media and journalism to the golden era of TV we’re all currently enjoying. Pay for Netflix, get great content. The answer won’t exactly be “pay for Facebook”, but the thinking paves the way for an optimistic view of the future of personal data, privacy and subscription-based services that also benefit advertisers.

Bonus: Inside the Jordan refugee camp that runs on blockchain

 

White Castle now has Impossible Sliders!

So, I got home yesterday and my vegan girlfriend excitedly told me that White Castle now offers Impossible Foods’ plant-based burger at some locations. I’m not a huge fan of White Castle, but we trekked the 10 blocks to get some vegan fast-food.

Besides the horrendous customer service and having to explain that adding cheese to a vegan burger makes it not vegan to the cashier, it was great! If you haven’t tried an impossible burger yet, definitely find one close by. We couldn’t tell if we were given meat-based burgers or the impossible ones.

 

Why it’s Hot:

  • Adding vegan high-quality vegan options is opening up a whole new audience for White Castle.
  • Impossible Foods is making a huge jump from higher-end, fast-casual restaurants to a mass consumer, fast-food chain.

 

Impossible Foods goes to White Castle

Source of chronic pain for millions of Americans soon to ease

A YouTube channel called The Brick Wall, which is a “place of Lego Technic changes and modifications” has created a “Roomba” for Legos. The machine itself is made out of Legos.

With tongue firmly in cheek, this machine is absolutely not hitting store shelves anytime soon.

Story on Sploid

Why it’s Hot:

It’s an idea whose time has come. Just ask any parent of toddlers.

Brick & Mortar & Airbnb

It a surprisingly organic turn of events, SF-based fashion brand Marine Layer pulled off the smartest brand activation I’ve seen in ages.

The retailer started renting out branded apartments on Airbnb, in residential spaces above their stores in touristy cities (Chicago, Portland, New Orleans, with Nashville on deck).

Following the brand’s retro design aesthetic, ML opened its first Aribnb location on a whim in 2014, after renovating the store’s upstairs apartment so out-of-town employees would have a place to stay. Soon, it was booked for 300 days a year on Airbnb. In addition to the trendy interior, each apartment is stocked with snacks, bespoke city guides compiled by the ML team, and a 15% discount on anything from the store downstairs.

WHY IT’S HOT: 

They say necessity is the mother of invention. Marine Layer didn’t open the apartments to be a revenue stream, but a bet that their brand could extend into hospitality and broaden the brand experience. As more and more retailers shutter their storefronts, (2017 set the record for store closures in the US according to CNN and Quartz, with more than 8,000 shops shutting down, see chart above) I see this as a brand extension beyond the traditional retail experience that feels natural, not forced. It’s the continuation of a trend that Michael Brown of A.T. Kearney calls “retail anywhere” – the idea that shoppers want to engage with a brand beyond a store and a purchase – and maybe even IRL (!)

SOURCE: https://www.contagious.io/articles/what-s-going-on-upstairs

Young Americans are going back home

Parents in the US cannot get rid of their kids. The share of young adults in their late 20s living with their parents is the highest it’s been in 75 years.

According to a recent study by the Pew Research Center, 33% of 25-29-year-olds lived with their parents or grandparents in 2016. This is almost three times as many as in 1970.

The share of young adults who don’t leave the nest has steadily increased in recent decades, and accelerated after the 2008 financial crisis. Across education levels, race, gender, and region, no group has been immune from the trend.

Pew’s researchers think late twenty-somethings are boomeranging back home because, in contrast to previous generations at this stage of their lives, they are less likely to have a well-paying job and less likely to be married. It turns out that no job and no partner makes living with your parents a lot more appealing.”

From: Quartz

American Express Targets With Taxi Cabs

American Express plans to run ads on top of 125 taxis in New York City that will change messaging depending on the location of the cabs.

Whenever a cab passes the location of an American Express merchant in the city, the technology will tap into the cab’s GPS system and serve the correct ad for that company on top of the cab. This provides another line of revenue for American Express, which can charge these AmEx-accepting stores for these highly targeted ads. American Express is currently starting up negotiations with selected partners so there are no examples of companies onboard yet, said Joe Bihlmier, vp of global media at American Express. The ads are meant to send the message that American Express is connected with those businesses, he added. American Express doesn’t break down how many partners it has in New York, but the company has 18 million worldwide.

Geotargeting allows American Express to reach its target consumers where they are and serve an ad that is relevant in the moment. If there is no business partner nearby, the cab will show an ad that relates to the neighborhood the taxi cab is driving through. For instance, if a cab is passing through Columbus Circle, the ad would read: “Don’t Columbus Circle without it,” alongside the American Express logo.

Bihlmier said American Express is still learning from and testing this kind of location targeting. While Bihlmier said American Express does not intend on tracking whether consumers’ foot traffic to its merchants increases, it plans on measuring whether use of American Express cards increased in the taxis.

The effort is part of a wider campaign, created by McGarryBowen, and new positioning for American Express that aims to connect with what Bihlmier calls the “hybrid consumer,” people who blend their personal lives with work. American Express commissioned research firm Morning Consult to conduct a survey of 2,000 people to see how many people were living hybrid lives, finding that half of the people surveyed were doing so.

That’s why the cab ads, other out-of-home digital ads and TV spots for the new campaign feature business products alongside consumer products with the messages: “Don’t Live Life Without It” or “Don’t Do Business Without It.” The ads feature people multitasking as well. The company is also serving ads in digital channels that connect life and business like WeTransfer, across mobile, in 20 different podcasts and on Hulu.

Bihlmier said the campaign will be the company’s widest use of geographical targeting to date. American Express has previously used the technology around large-scale events such as Coachella, the U.S. Open golf tournament and the U.S. Open tennis event, mostly through Snapchat geofilters to target Generation Z and millennial attendees with relevant offers.

Overall, out-of-home advertising is becoming a larger piece of American Express’ ad spend, according to Bihlmier, although he wouldn’t reveal specific numbers. This recent push comes as out-of-home advertising, especially digital, has returned to the forefront of the media-buying conversation, thanks to the news last week that Netflix is verging on acquiring Regency Outdoor Advertising for $300 million. The acquisition would guarantee the streaming service premium real estate on billboards in the Los Angeles and Orange County area.

Bihlmier believes digital out-of-home ads that change their messages, like the American Express cab ads, will help the company stand out to the affluent, cosmopolitan audience that the majority of marketers are trying to reach, said Bihlmier.

“We have a complex challenge of trying to reach these very busy and well-targeted people,” said Bihlmier. “So anything we can do to be contextual to the moment will help us break through.”

Source: Digiday
Why it’s hot: Out-of-home advertising is not known to be as efficient as its digital counterpart. Companies taking steps to bring traditional advertising to the digital age are pushing the concept of normal and showing that out-of-home can be successful.

Balls

Adidas Soccer revealed the Telstar 18, a reimagining of the original Telstar ball used at the tournament back in 1970 to be featured in the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

It will be the most tech-savvy ball in history with an NFC microchip embedded inside. The chip will allow consumers to interact directly with the ball using their smartphones. Each ball generates a unique identifier, unlocking exclusive content and information for the user about the details of each ball and providing access to challenges that users can enter before the World Cup.

In short, passionate soccer fans can tap their phone on the ball to unlock a consumer experience – technically this could be anything from player exclusive content, to games, to Adidas’s discounts, to brand co-partnership

Why It’s Hot:

  1. Harnesses a red-hot passion point (aka soccer) at a global scale
  2. Enables increased product sales (the balls)
  3. Delivers on a unique and exclusive consumer experience
  4. Sky is the limit when it comes to content

NYT FAQ’s the Royal Wedding

Complete with cutesy gifs that harken back to the Geocities and Angelfire era of web design, the NYT Style section has crafted a comprehensive FAQ to answer all the questions you never had about the upcoming royal nuptials.

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2018/04/06/style/meghan-markle-prince-harry-royal-wedding.html

Why it’s hot: Is it good? Maybe not. Is it fun? Yes.

 

Meme Alert

There’s a meme and this is a post about it. The meme is the American Chopper meme. Here is the thing about the meme: it takes a format unsuitable for Twitter (vertical image), four frames of two volatile motorcycle reality stars with facial hair, and crams in surprisingly dense arguments.

Like:

https://twitter.com/PaulMMCooper/status/981460668846104576

People also used it in strange ways.

https://twitter.com/JDunnah/status/981928011342675968

People used it for other Twitter memes. Wow!

https://twitter.com/apostlebrawl/status/981952219468595202

It also got meta:

Krang T Nelson, a very smart person, sums up this meme:

There is another meme, though, but it’s a bad meme. This is the meme:

https://twitter.com/SrtSlender/status/982235032570937344

What does it mean? Who cares. It is bad.

Say no to this meme, unless it is Fleetwood Mac adjacent:

This guy is good though. Look at that chomping:

https://twitter.com/HoneyWizard_/status/981430999870558208

This has been a meme alert. Thanks.

Fribo, the robot that tells all your friends you came home at 4am

Fribo is a robot developed in Korea for young singles living alone. It seems to set up a virtual communal living space built by communication at home activities with a small group of friends.

Fribo listens to household activity sends messages to the group about. If you arrive home Fribo might message Your friends: “Your friend opened the front door. Did someone just come home?” Friends can respomd with a clap to their own Friebo which would send a message to the group chat.

Users in Korea responded positively “I usually wake up late in the morning,” said one, “but when I began to notice my friends getting ready early, I started thinking about starting the day earlier with my friends.”

Why it’s hot?

Although this is not for me its interesting how we’re mixing text with voice and smart home technology. It’s an out of the box way to think about human interaction.

AI helps deliver JFK’s words from beyond the grave…

On a fateful day in November of 1963, JFK never got to make his “Trade Mart” speech in Dallas. But thanks to the UK’s The Times and friends, we now have a glimpse at what that speech would’ve sounded like that day. Using the speech’s text and AI, The Times:

“Collected 831 analog recordings of the president’s previous speeches and interviews, removing noise and crosstalk through audio processing as well as using spectrum analysis tools to enhance the acoustic environment. Each audio file was then transferred into the AI system, where they used methods such as deep learning to understand the president’s unique tone and quirks expressed in his speech. In the end, the sound engineers took 116,777 sound units from the 831 clips to create the final audio.”

Why It’s Hot:

It seems we’re creating a world where anyone could be imitated scientifically. While in an instance like this, it’s great – to hear JFK’s words spoken, especially the sentiment in the clip above, was a joy for someone who cares about history and this country, especially given its current climate. But what if the likeness wasn’t recreated to deliver a speech written by him during his time, but rather something he never actually said or intended to say? Brings a whole new meaning to “fake news”.

[Listen to the full 22 minute version straight from the Source]

Speak and thou shalt receive


Google has issued its first voice-activated coupon, a $15 offer for Target orders placed via Google Assistant.

Using a Google Home, a phone with Google Assistant built in, or the Google Assistant app (on either Android or iOS), simply say or type, ‘Spring into Target.’ If everything goes as planned, you’ll get a small paragraph informing you about the credit you’ve just received,”

The paragraph reads: “Three cheers for Spring! You’ve unlocked the Spring promo. Save up to $15 on your next order from Target on Google Express. You can order essentials like paper towels, laundry detergent, and trash bags. To try it out, ask me to order something you need from Target.”

Of course, it would be weird if this happened without any hitch. ‘Android Police’ reported potential confusion between “in to” and “into,” requiring a manual edit of the voice entry in some cases.

Why its hot?
Voice enabled things starting to hit adolescence. This coming of age means they are ready to go beyond basic stuff like weather to playing music to finally enabling hardcore retail sales. The possibilities are endless.

Source: MarketingWeek

Norman? More like No, Man.

This is Norman.

Norman isn’t your typical AI who’s here for you to just ask random questions when you’re bored. Oh no, Norman here was created by researchers at MIT as an April Fools prank. At the beginning of its creation, it was exposed to “the darkest corners of Reddit” which resulted in the development of its psychopathic data processing tendencies. The MIT researchers define norman as;

“A psychotic AI suffering from chronic hallucinatory disorder; donated to science by the MIT Media Laboratory for the study of the dangers of Artificial Intelligence gone wrong when biased data is used in machine learning algorithms”

Because of the neural network’s dark tendencies, the project’s website states that Norman is being “kept in an isolated server room, on a computer that has no access to the internet or communication channels to other devices.” As an additional security measure, the room also has weapons such as hammers, saws, and blow-torches in case there happens to be any kind of emergency or malfunction of the AI that would require it to be destroyed immediately.

Norman’s neural network is so far gone that researchers believe that ” “some of the encodings of the hallucinatory disorders reside in its hardware and there’s something fundamentally evil in Norman’s architecture that makes his re-training impossible.” Even after being exposed to neutral holograms of cute kittens and other fun and magical stuff, Norman essentially is so far gone that it’s just evil. While being presented with Rorschach inkblot images, Norman just went … well, let’s say in the comic universe, it’d be the ideal villain.

Why it’s hot:
We all know that AI is going to take over the world and that technology seems to be controlling us more than we’re controlling it but this almost perfectly depicts the dangers that could result in AI being developed using violence-fueled datasets.

Source: norman-ai.mit.edu & LiveScience

How tech companies design for trans users (or don’t)

You’ve set up your Airbnb host account, spent years getting your name out there, and received stellar review after stellar review. Then you transition.

For Sophie Alpert, the transition posed a challenge for her Airbnb business. While her profile displayed a new picture, her reviews still used male pronouns and referenced her old name. At best, it was inconvenient to explain to potential guests. At worst, guests might suspect some kind of scheme. On the verge of deleting five years of reviews to start from scratch, Sophie called Airbnb in the hopes that there was a better fix. It turns out Airbnb will not only update your profile, but go through each and every post and review, updating names and pronouns to align with your gender identity. A low-tech solution for a high-tech company, but one that made all the difference. The interesting question is how emerging tech companies and services will design for inclusion in the future, or how they plan for users to update their presence beyond (at the very least) a gender toggle.

In case you were wondering, here’s an overview of how different tech companies design for updating a user’s gender:

  • Facebook – updating your gender updates all pronouns automatically (ex. “Mark updated [his/her] profile image”) as far back as your page has existed.
  • Google – can update your name and gender in your profile.
  • LinkedIn – can change your name, and all updates about users are gender-neutral. Previous comments by other users are not updated.
  • Twitter – the UI does not require people to select gender and the profile can be updated easily. Twitter also uses usernames in most contexts, which don’t usually include real life names to begin with.

Snapchat next effort is a TV commercial… for our parents.

We all know how Snapchat is fighting to compete with Instagram and Facebook. Now, the most recent thing is their first TV commercial, in order to get new users.

The TVC that was released last weekend takes a minute to explain how Snapchat works and what functionalities it has, especially the ones related to AR. It’s clear by the tone of voice, the informative content and the people who appear on the commercial that they are looking for new users, older users.

 

One other interesting thing to mention is the way the position Snapchat – not as pure fun and refreshing platform, but “a camera, where how you feel is more important than how you look”.

Why it’s hot: 
We are witnessing numerous attempts from Snapchat to stay relevant and this shows a more ” desperate” one. If people are living the app, if usage is decreasing, the only way to survive is to get new users.

Source: Brainstorm9 

Apple Watch Data Could Solve a Murder

A woman in Australia has been charged with the murder of her mother-in-law after data collected from the victim’s Apple Watch proved her depiction of the events wrong. The watch outlined a timeline of the victim’s demise, giving prosecutors a look into the woman’s last moments.

Caroline Nilsson told authorities that a group of men invaded her home, tied her up, and killed her mother-in-law. She claimed the act took a total of 20 minutes. The watch’s heart rate data showed a spike in activity followed by an abrupt slowdown on the day of the murder, limiting the timing of the events to a 7-minute window, meaning Caroline is either lying, or terrible at telling time.

The trial is set to continue in June, when it will be decided if the Apple Watch data will be accepted as evidence. Caroline has continued to deny the allegations.

Why It’s Hot:

This is actually the second instance this year where Apple Health data was used as evidence in a murder trial. In Germany, a third-party company examined the data to re-create the murderous activities the accused man had participated in through his movements. As more situations like these occur, the debate over ethical surveillance data is bound to heat up. The creators and distributors of software will face a complex question of when and where they should have to hand over their data.

Source: https://www.digitaltrends.com/wearables/apple-watch-health-data-murder-trial/

You’re Going to ‘Dig’ This App

I recently took a trip to Santa Fe, New Mexico and along the way I read “The Great Quake” by Henry Fountain. The book details the 1964 Good Friday earthquake that struck southern Alaska and how its subsequent study helped confirm the long-debated theory of plate tectonics.

The book made me think a lot about geology and while flying over New Mexico, I found myself looking down at the geography of the land and wishing I knew more about it.

Well, like all things, there’s an app for that.

Flyover Country was developed by geologist Shane Loeffler and it provides information about the ground below as you fly over it. Following the information in the app’s UI, you can learn about everything from extinct volcanoes, fault trails, and even where dinosaur bones have been discovered. It even works in airplane mode!

Flyover Country is part of an initiative called EarthCube. Created by the National Science Foundation in 2011, it’s a loosely defined coalition to fund “community-created cyberinfrastructure” that makes huge stores of data about the natural world more accessible to everyone–through technology like Flyover Country. “Creating content for the entire world of potential flight paths would be impossible, but right now is an amazing time for open access to geoscience data thanks to initiatives like NSF’s EarthCube,” Loeffler says.

Loeffler hopes to add AR to the app so you can simply hold up your phone to look at the data overlaid on the world below.

Why Its Hot

I love apps that seamlessly integrate with the world around us to teach us things. Night sky apps are another example. This could also be great for kids in search of things to entertain themselves on flights…or adults who hate flying and need a distraction.

Microsoft AI Knows When to Interrupt You

In an interesting social/behavioral development, Microsoft’s latest Xiaolce chatbot AI upgrade includes learnings for when to interrupt human conversation.

The functionality is called “full duplex voice sense” and what it does, on a basic level, is that it allows the chatbot to talk and listen simultaneously. (The old, walkie-talkie way of AI conversation is called “half duplex”.) It can predict what you’re likely to say next, and knows when to interrupt you with relevant information.

There are two goals for this functionality:

  1. Provide a more natural flow to your conversation
  2. Users don’t need to use a wake word every time they respond during conversations

Microsoft plans on spreading this technology to Microsoft’s chatbots in the US and Japan, though it could quickly catch on in other conversational AI tools as well.

Why It’s Hot: What makes a computer feel more human? I’d venture to say that human speech patterns have a lot to do with it. How will having a more human-like AI assistant change how we speak to our computers, how we interact with them, and on a bigger level, how we start to view them within the context of our lives? Will this change how we feel about our computers, how we rely on them in our daily lives? Will our brains begin to process AI like how we process other humans? (Basically, will we all be like Joaquin?)

Learn More: Engadget | Microsoft

Blurring the line between CGI and reality

“She’s a digital personality created using a new real-time motion-capture technology.”

“Epic Games has been obsessed with real-time motion capture for years, but the company is now trying to take its experiments with the technology one step further. Enter “Siren,” a digital personality that it created alongside a few prominent firms in the gaming industry: Vicon, Cubic Motion, 3Lateral and Tencent (which just became a major investor in Ubisoft). The crazy thing about Siren is that she comes to life using live mocap tech, powered by software from Vicon, that can make her body and finger movements be captured and live-streamed into an Unreal Engine project.”

Watch the video here: https://www.engadget.com/2018/03/22/siren-epic-games-unreal-engine-vicon/

Why it’s hot:

  • Breakthrough mocap tech
  • Going to save gaming company’s a ton of time on animations
  • Could easily be used to create some fake news
  • Robots taking some more jobs