Rent the Runway Can Now Stock Your W Hotel Room Closet

Rent the Runway is taking their clothing rentals to W Hotels with a new “Closet Concierge” service. Upon booking a room, guests will be able to choose four styles to rent for $69 and have those items waiting for them in their hotel rooms. Guests can then drop off items at their location’s welcome desk when checking out.

The RTR Closet Concierge service is launching at W Aspen, W South Beach, W Washington, D.C. and W Hollywood.

According to a press release, the goal of the Closet Concierge launch is a means of extending services so clients can “pack light, really light.” While guests will have access to Rent the Runway’s Unlimited Closet, selections also will be personalized to each hotel location based on silhouettes, trending colors and the area’s climate.

Why It’s Hot

Quick getaways or “micro-cations” are the most popular trips Americans are taking. So having four styles waiting in your hotel room might really mean you can leave your clothes at home when traveling. It also taps into a market of travel influencers who always want new outfits to feature on their social feeds. For those who have never used Rent the Runway before, it seems like a great way to try the service and get a sense of what clothing is available.

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Can you see this now?

In Ukraine, a lack of people taking eye examinations combined with increasing mobile device usage has led to a national eyesight problem, so Luxoptica, a Ukranian optician, decided to leverage the problem device to get people to take eye exams, all on their own accord.

Luxoptica ophthalmologists created an eye test that sat within Instagram Stories. All users had to do to take the test was tap on the brand’s Instagram story and hold their smartphone at a distance, then text appeared on the screen. If they could see the letters clearly, they would be instructed to tap to the right, which took them to the next text – in smaller type.

As soon as users could no longer see the writing, they were instructed to swipe up. The result of the test then appeared on the screen with a prediction of their visual ability and a recommendation about what to do next.

Body image for Instoptica

If the vision score was below normal, Luxoptica recommended a visit to an ophthalmologist to prevent further reduction in vision and provided a direct link to book an appointment at any Luxoptica store.

Why it’s hot: Luxoptica was smart in its “show don’t tell” strategy by providing consumers with a free experience of an eye exam instead of lots of medical claims and reasons to go to your optometrist to get an exam. Its creative use of Instagram stories made their message easily accessible to their target audience, mobile phone users, giving them the freedom to experience the exam on their own time, ultimately driving 1 in 7 people to an optician for an eye exam, over 6,800 visits.

Source: Contagious

Black Friday to traditional calendars: Drop Dead!

 

Link

Link

Reports ranging from Bloomberg News to the New York Times published articles this week analyzing a recent shift in the traditional buying patterns of American holiday shoppers. In short: the marketers keep moving the goalposts.

Black Friday, of course, has traditionally been a huge shopping day on the Friday after Thanksgiving at brick-n-mortar stores, and Cyber Monday being the analogous day for e-commerce the following Monday. But what happens when marketers start bombarding their customers with online Black Friday sales beginning shortly after Halloween? According to Bloomberg, shoppers have reversed the tradition of procrastinating until December 20-something and have begun to shop earlier.

Some evidence:

Why It’s Hot

This has huge implications for marketers, consumers and shipping logistics. Shoppers are probably feeling less stress by doing their holiday shopping earlier, but at some point consumers will be annoyed at getting Black Friday emails months in advance (not as annoying as Christmas Music in October, but still…) On the other hand, earlier shopping means that shipping carriers and warehouse managers can spread out the annual pain of delivering millions of boxes and actually get the stuff to the destination on time!

American Eagle uses fashion staples to encourage charitable giving

In a clever move melding consumerism and charitable giving, American Eagle Outfitters (AE) has achieved WokeAF status by developing a clothing line with a multicultural council of GenZ activists, which both donates 100% of its sales to the clothing charity Delivering Good, and contains a conversation-starting QR code that allows others to donate as well by scanning said clothes.

This line was developed by the AExMeCouncil, a gaggle of GenZ movers and shakers, including Delaney Tarr, cofounder of March For Our Lives, who are being given some say in how AE operates. “We are treating these council members like board members,” says Chad Kessler, global brand president of American Eagle.

Other council members include Gabby Frost, who founded the Buddy Project to promote mental health and prevent suicide, and Joseph Touma, who created Bridge the Divide, which wants to create bridges across political lines.

Why it’s hot:

1. GenZ folks are cause-oriented shoppers, so this gimmick makes perfect sense from a brand and PR perspective (they were featured in Fast Company after all) and costs AE basically nothing.

2. Smart use of highly personal products to instigate conversations about social causes and create a real-time pathway to digital donations.

3. It’s probably a good thing when business interests and social good align, and it seems like that’s the case here. Better than when fast-fashion brands laughably try to align themselves with sustainability.

 

Source: Fast Company

Slack just taunted Microsoft with ‘OK boomer’ for running an ad campaign that looks almost exactly like one of Slack’s

Slack is leaning into its status as the young, hip startup by calling out its older, more established competition: Microsoft.

Slack tweeted a video on Thursday comparing a Slack ad and a Microsoft ad, showing the similarities between them and implying the Microsoft copied Slack’s concept. The video was captioned “ok boomer,” a phrase that has turned into a meme for millennials and Gen Z to voice their gripes with the baby boomer generation.

Watch the video here

Valued at $12 billion, Slack is as essential as an internet connection in some circles, and has even become a verb. Despite its ubiquity, however, the workplace chat app might be falling behind competitor Microsoft Teams.

On Tuesday, Microsoft announced that Teams hit 20 million daily users, while Slack most recently announced just 12 million users. Slack’s stock took a dive after the announcement.

At the same time, NY Times announced that at least five trademark applications are pending for the retort, according to a database for the federal patent office, including one by Fox Media, which hopes to use it for a possible television series.

Source: Business Insider

First came the “OK Boomer” memes on social media. Then came the T-shirts, phone cases and other merchandise emblazoned with the viral retort. Now, get ready for an all-out war at the United States Patent and Trademark Office and a possible television series using the phrase.

On Nov. 11, Fox Media filed a trademark application for a TV show called “OK Boomer,” one among a handful of applicants hoping to secure rights to the phrase hurled by Generation Z and millennials to older people who don’t understand their positions on various issues and anyone issuing condescending remarks. (This month, Chloe Swarbrick, a 25-year-old New Zealand lawmaker, even used it in Parliament to respond to a heckler during a debate on a zero carbon bill.)

Separate applications filed on Oct. 31 (by a man named Kevin Yen) and Nov. 14 (by the jewelry company Rust Belt Creations) described intentions to use the phrase on clothing items. Another application, filed on Nov. 12 (also by Rust Belt Creations), mentioned plans to sell decals and stickers. And an application filed on Nov. 13 (by William Grundfest, a TV producer known for “Mad About You”) referred to plans to use “OK Boomer” for live stage performances and lectures.

NYTimes

Why it’s Hot

Odd trend taking more odd turns.

Amazon’s New Smart Shelf for Small Businesses

Amazon has announced the Dash Smart Shelf, a Wi-Fi-connected smart scale that connects to Amazon’s shopping services and can automatically reorder supplies when they run low.

It’s designed for small businesses to put in their supply rooms, and it can sense the weight of things like pens or printer paper that are placed on top of it. When those items run out, customers can either set the scale to automatically reorder the item in question or simply send a notification to whoever manages the company’s supplies to manually place an order instead. (Although Amazon also says that the Dash Smart Shelf is designed to avoid accidental automatic reorders if items are just temporarily removed.)

To sweeten the deal, Amazon is offering businesses using the Dash Smart Shelf discounts of “up to 15 percent” on certain items, like Keurig and Folgers coffee, Nestle Coffee-Mate, Kind snack bars, Bic pens, 3M Post-it Notes and Scotch tape, and more.

Setting up the scale is fairly simple: either plug the scale into the wall or add four AAA batteries, connect it to Wi-Fi through the Amazon, and then use either your Amazon Business account or the Amazon app to specify which item you’ll be using with the shelf. The Dash Smart Shelf is roughly one inch tall, and it comes in three sizes: small (7 x 7 inches), medium (12 x 10 inches), and large (18 x 13 inches).

Why It’s Hot

After discontinuing the Dash buttons for homes earlier this year, it’s interesting to see Amazon shifting the focus to small businesses who may find this service more useful. There is also a big potential for partner brands to drive preference among small businesses with the 15% discount.

Source

Mozilla’s holiday shopping guide rates creepiness of connected products with animated emoji

Be Smart. Shop Safe.” That’s the tag line for Mozilla’s initiative to spread awareness about the privacy status and risks of new connected products — and promote their brand as a privacy leader.

The privacy of physical connected products is new for many people, so getting people to consider privacy before impulsively slamming the BUY button is a big deal for an organization focused on privacy. Mozilla needed to make their report interesting to grab people’s attention.

Smart but simple UX and strong copy makes this happen.

A privacy focused shopping guide allows you to see which products meet Mozilla’s minimum privacy standards.

An animated emoji shows how “creepy” users have said various products are, regardless of their privacy rating.

Why it’s hot:

Is this the beginning of, if not a backlash, at least a recalibration of the excitement about smart IoT products?

Mozilla frames itself as the authority on the growing concern of privacy and getting into the product-rating game drives a new kind of awareness regarding physical products which many people have heretofore not had to consider.

Gathering data on creepiness sentiment is an interesting (and fun) approach to consumer metrics. Users can vote on the creepiness scale, but you have to give your email to see the results.

Source: Mozilla

Sony teaches new dog old tricks

Sony’s Aibo robot dog has been around in various iterations for around 20 years (it was actually discontinued in 2006 and revived with a next-gen look in 2018) and has garnered a lot of attention in tech circles. In fact, the re-boot of the Aibo got a lot of buzz at CES 2018 due primarily to Sony’s commitment to make it as cute as possible.

Nevertheless, the toy costs almost $3000 and the company has always failed to plan for what happens when the novelty wears off. Consumers think ahead and $3k is really steep for a toy that’s bound to wind up in a box down in the basement in a couple of months.

Sony is starting to realize that they have to add an element of interactivity and gamification to the experience if this thing is ever going to succeed. Enter the Aibo Food AR app.

Story on Gizmodo

Why it’s Hot

While it’s not yet trained to kill on command, it’s a step in the right direction. Aibo’s  survival depends on Sony expanding the imaginations of its customers beyond simple product redesigns.

And Other Stories collaboration with information designer Giorgia Lupi finds the human element in data-driven narratives

And Other Stories teamed up with New York based information designer Giorgia Lupi to launch it’s newest co-lab that turns data visualizations into wearable stories.

 

Lupi is known around the world for her singular, artful approach to data: Instead of relying on hollow charts and graphs, she creates beautiful hand-drawn prints that lend a “human” touch to sterile numbers and statistics.

“As human beings, we have no use for seeing raw data in an Excel sheet, because we can’t detect the patterns. It’s only through design and visualization that we can access that knowledge.”

Through her unexpected take on storytelling, a visually compelling collection of hand-drawn prints reveals the achievements of three female science trailblazers. Ada Lovelace, who wrote the first computer program in the mid-1800s; Rachel Carson, who started the environmentalist movement with her 1962 book Silent Spring; and Mae Jemison, the first African American woman to travel to space in 1992.

“They were pioneers in fields that were historically male-dominated,” Lupi says. “But I wanted to focus on their significant accomplishments, not necessarily just on their lives as women. Sometimes it’s easier to focus on the obstacles they overcame, but to be really aspirational, I think it’s important to look at the contributions they brought to the world.”

Ada Lovelace

the mathematician

Recognized as a pioneer for the discipline of computer science, Ada Lovelace used her gift for mathematics to translate and write instructions, imagining how to program a machine to do complex calculations”

“For Ada’s design, we created a colourful geometric pattern that analysed the mathematical structure of the algorithm she wrote.”

Mae Jemison

the astronaut

A true polymath and NASA astronaut, Mae Jemison’s accomplishments include participating in the STS-47 lower orbit mission, an achievement that established her as the first woman of colour in space.

“The pattern is based on her orbits and experiments that she conducted in space. As a memory of her mission, the visual represents the days she was in space and how she might have viewed her surroundings as well as the many experiments she performed.”

 

THE CONSERVATIONIST

Rachel Carson

The author, environmentalist, and activist is best known for her book, Silent Spring, which is considered the first contribution to literature from a conservationist perspective and helped to launch the environmental movement.

“Through different techniques on the garment, such as embroidery and colour codes, we visualise the structural and semantical analysis of her work, Silent Spring.”

Why it’s hot

I posted this because I design surface prints and data visualization and I think it’s sick.

It’s hot because as inauthentic and disconnected influencer partnerships have flooded the market, it’s exceedingly rare to see a truly innovative and unique collab. This was a smart partnership with a resulting collection that feels thoughtful and authentic the brand and artist.

Sources: Vogue

Amazon’s Heavy Recruitment of Chinese Sellers Puts Consumers at Risk

WSJ ARTICLE

WASHPO ARTICLE

‘In fact, Amazon’s China business is bigger than ever. That is because it has aggressively recruited Chinese manufacturers and merchants to sell to consumers outside the country. And these sellers, in turn, represent a high proportion of problem listings found on the site, according to a Wall Street Journal investigation.”

The paradox of choice is an interesting phenomenon in which the number of given choices, in any scenario eventually passes a certain threshold and leads to dissatisfaction. Personally, lately, I’ve felt this way about Amazon.com scrolling through pages of low-quality crap with 1,000s of reviews claiming something deserves 5 stars…

Why it’s hot: 
Amazon often seems completely invincible, but this story feels like a good illustration of what I perceive to be an interesting weakness – too much junk.

I’ve personally become a bit jaded on purchasing things off Amazon and wonder how they hope to combat some of the shopping ‘spam’ (?)

So you think you can Freddie?

Image result for Freddiemeter

In honor of the first live performance of Bohemian Rhapsody 44 years ago this month, Google partnered with Queen to create “FreddieMeter”. This web experience available for Android, iOS, and desktop rates how closely you sound like Freddie Mercury.

Behind the scenes, FreddieMeter leverages on-device machine learning so no audio is being sent out to servers for the rating. Google trained the models using Mercury’s isolated vocals from original studio tapes and sample covers.

With FreddieMeter people can record a video and audio clip of their performance to share on social media. This minute-long clip features YouTube Music branding and can be downloaded after a performance, with Google deleting it afterwards.

Why its hot?
Other than the fact you’ll know how close you are to sounding like a super rockstar, it’s a great use of AI – analyzing your pitch (how well you hit the notes), melody (how well you hit the notes in relation to each other), and timbre (how much your vocal style matches Freddie’s).

And BTW no data is being stored on the Google servers.

 

Source: 9to5google.com

 

Inside Amazon’s plan for Alexa to run your entire life

The creator of the famous voice assistant dreams of a world where Alexa is everywhere, anticipating your every need.

Speaking with MIT Technology Review, Rohit Prasad, Alexa’s head scientist, revealed further details about where Alexa is headed next. The crux of the plan is for the voice assistant to move from passive to proactive interactions. Rather than wait for and respond to requests, Alexa will anticipate what the user might want. The idea is to turn Alexa into an omnipresent companion that actively shapes and orchestrates your life. This will require Alexa to get to know you better than ever before.

In June at the re:Mars conference, he demoed [view from 53:54] a feature called Alexa Conversations, showing how it might be used to help you plan a night out. Instead of manually initiating a new request for every part of the evening, you would need only to begin the conversation—for example, by asking to book movie tickets. Alexa would then follow up to ask whether you also wanted to make a restaurant reservation or call an Uber.

A more intelligent Alexa

Here’s how Alexa’s software updates will come together to execute the night-out planning scenario. In order to follow up on a movie ticket request with prompts for dinner and an Uber, a neural network learns—through billions of user interactions a week—to recognize which skills are commonly used with one another. This is how intelligent prediction comes into play. When enough users book a dinner after a movie, Alexa will package the skills together and recommend them in conjunction.

But reasoning is required to know what time to book the Uber. Taking into account your and the theater’s location, the start time of your movie, and the expected traffic, Alexa figures out when the car should pick you up to get you there on time.

Prasad imagines many other scenarios that might require more complex reasoning. You could imagine a skill, for example, that would allow you to ask your Echo Buds where the tomatoes are while you’re standing in Whole Foods. The Buds will need to register that you’re in the Whole Foods, access a map of its floor plan, and then tell you the tomatoes are in aisle seven.

In another scenario, you might ask Alexa through your communal home Echo to send you a notification if your flight is delayed. When it’s time to do so, perhaps you are already driving. Alexa needs to realize (by identifying your voice in your initial request) that you, not a roommate or family member, need the notification—and, based on the last Echo-enabled device you interacted with, that you are now in your car. Therefore, the notification should go to your car rather than your home.

This level of prediction and reasoning will also need to account for video data as more and more Alexa-compatible products include cameras. Let’s say you’re not home, Prasad muses, and a Girl Scout knocks on your door selling cookies. The Alexa on your Amazon Ring, a camera-equipped doorbell, should register (through video and audio input) who is at your door and why, know that you are not home, send you a note on a nearby Alexa device asking how many cookies you want, and order them on your behalf.

To make this possible, Prasad’s team is now testing a new software architecture for processing user commands. It involves filtering audio and visual information through many more layers. First Alexa needs to register which skill the user is trying to access among the roughly 100,000 available. Next it will have to understand the command in the context of who the user is, what device that person is using, and where. Finally it will need to refine the response on the basis of the user’s previously expressed preferences.

Why It’s Hot:  “This is what I believe the next few years will be about: reasoning and making it more personal, with more context,” says Prasad. “It’s like bringing everything together to make these massive decisions.”

College, was it really worth the amount you paid?

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

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

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

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

Georgetown Study

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

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

Chart to look it up your school

Was your college worth it?

Why it’s hot:

Because of all the questions it arises!

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

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

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

What are the stats for you school?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Would you trust Facebook pay with your credit card info?

Will Facebook pay go the way of Snapcash?

Source: The Verge

Bigger Waves = Bigger Discounts on Flights for Surfers

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

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

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

Why It’s Hot

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

Source

WeChat and the future of CX

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

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

Image result for heytea whatsapp

Why it’s hot: 

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

 

‘Headed South’ by Google Demos Their New UI

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

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

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

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

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

Why It’s Hot:

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

Source

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why its hot

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

Road Tales

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Source: AdWeek

Planned parenthood launches tool to help navigate state abortion laws

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

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

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

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

Why it’s hot:
It’s simple. They built something based on need, not just because they wanted to ‘building something cool.’

Apple Card investigated for gender bias

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

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

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

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

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

Others shared similar stories…

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

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

Why it’s Hot:

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

Sources: Time, Mashable

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

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

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

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

He explains it best:

Why it’s hot:

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

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

That’s the idea, at least.

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

Source: The Verge

Google’s ‘Project Nightingale’ Triggers Federal Inquiry

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

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

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

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

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

Compare that to the whistleblower’s open letter on why he decided to speak up:

After a while I reached a point that I suspect is familiar to most whistleblowers, where what I was witnessing was too important for me to remain silent. Two simple questions kept hounding me: did patients know about the transfer of their data to the tech giant? Should they be informed and given a chance to opt in or out?

The answer to the first question quickly became apparent: no. The answer to the second I became increasingly convinced about: yes. Put the two together, and how could I say nothing?

Source: The Wall Street Journal


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

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

The future is voice-first, but not for everyone

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

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

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

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

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

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

Facebook and Twitter don’t agree on political advertising

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

This Dog Can Talk!

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

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

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

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

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

Why it’s hot?

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

 

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

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

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

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

Source

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why It’s Hot:

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

Source

 

Sustainable Baby Clothes

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

Body image for Always in fashion

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

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

Body image for Always in fashion

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

Source: Contagious.io