Meet Graham: A PSA for Driving Safety

Graham, the human redesigned to survive car crashes, wins best of show at some NY festivals.  Project Graham was launched as a PSA to show how vulnerable the human body is in even low impact car crashes.  Graham was created as the only human designed to withstand the impact of a car crash, with an extra fat head (as head trauma is significant) and other bodily adjustments to help absorb shock.  Crash test engineers and trauma doctors were brought in to direct what parts of the body were most affected, and an artist sculpted Graham based on their feedback.

Why It’s Hot

I thought it was an interesting take on a PSA, however the campaign seemed incomplete to me…there could have been more done to bring the full message to light.  Sure, it showed what the human body would ideally evolve to, but what is the end goal here?  They never connected the dots- do they want people to drive safer?  Are there new safety features that are being instated in cars?  Graham is attention grabbing but they could have built so much more on top of him to add more impact.

Make Them Hate Your Pre-Roll Less

It is time to tackle another polarizing topic: the digital video pre-roll ad. We have all tried to watch a 90-second clip on YouTube, only to be confronted by a frustrating, 30-second ad.
What is absolutely remarkable is that even though 94% of pre-roll ads are skipped, per a study from eConsultancy, new studies show pre-roll ads are also among the most effective forms of digital advertising. For example, a study in April by IPG Media Lab and YuMe showed pre-roll is the most informative and engaging video ad format, compared to mid-roll and outstream.
Research findings like that are behind moves by companies like Twitter, which in March announced it would begin running pre-roll ads on Periscope videos.
Given how effective pre-roll ads have become, board rooms around the world are trying to figuring out how to overcome the “Skip This Ad” button to achieve even more engagement. I bet many executives wish they could call their counterpart from 1950 to commiserate about Zenith launching the first television remote control.
If the pre-roll is here to stay, here are four ways to make consumers hate them less:

1. Own the elephant in the room. Advertisers that have owned the fact that users do not want to deal with their pre-roll ads have had the most success. Consider that Ad Age’s 2016 Campaign of the Year was Geico’s “Unskippable,” which directly addressed the issue of viewers wanting to skip ads by making ads so short, users didn’t have time to move past them. Check out Ad Age’s (short) video about them:

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2. If you can’t beat them, join them. No matter how clever or engaging your ad is, some people will skip the second they get the chance. Many Fortune 500 companies are using new interactive branded “Skip This Ad” solutions, such as TruEngage, which lets users skip with one click, but not before engaging with the product in a fun, interactive and memorable way. Our work on Honda’s holiday ad found success by telling users, “TO SKIP AD: HELP THE HOLIDAY POOCH TO THE HONDA!” With one click, users could drag the dog to the Honda and thereby skip the ad. Engagement for this campaign was up nearly 20%.

3. Stop showing the same video. If a visitor views an ad several times and does not take the intended action, it is critical that you stop showing that ad. Put a frequency cap on three of four views — across any device — and then begin to show a different ad.

4. Take targeting and retargeting to the next level. Ad platforms can determine the temperature in a city, and advertise hot or ice coffee. If pollen counts are high in Chicago, a brand can run an ad for antihistamines to people in the Windy City. It is also critical to master retargeting. Once a customer shows “intent” — such as putting a pair of jeans in a shopping cart but then not completing the purchase — advertisements of those jeans can be targeted to that user.

Why It’s Hot:
It is no secret that pre-roll ads are divisive. Most consumers can’t stand them, yet studies show they are effective. By combining creativity with cutting-edge advertising technology, advertisers can achieve great ROI while letting consumers enjoy their online experience.

Brands Taking a Stand

It doesn’t take a political science degree to know that civic discourse in the U.S. is strained. As tensions wear on, brands are entering conversations they might’ve shunned in the past. But how do they ensure their statements and actions ring true?

Ben Jones, creative director at Google, recently spoke with agency and content leaders in a panel conversation at a SXSW conference to unpack how socially conscious brands can take a stand—and remain standing—through a fraught period.

Why It’s Hot: More and more consumers expect brands to be socially conscious and to have a perspective that causes the safe space to disappear. Taking a stand requires genuine and authentic brand actions. Owning the actions is more important than making the statement.


holograms, benjamin…

Some genius developer has boldly chosen to experiment with perhaps the world’s most forgotten voice assistant, Microsoft Cortana, and imagined what interacting with her could be like if you added another dimension to it.

In his words – “It’s basically what I imagined Microsoft’s version of Alexa or Google Home would be like if they were to use the holographic AI sidekick from the Halo franchise.”

As seen in the video above, in his prototype, it’s as if you’re speaking to an actual artificial person, making the experience feel more human.

Why it’s hot:
Amazon recently released the Echo Show, which allows skillmakers to add a “face” to their interactions, but this makes that look like a kids toy. This shows how what started not long ago as primitive voice technology on a phone, could quickly turn into actual virtual assistants that look and act like humans, powered by the underlying technology. Plus, apparently 145 million people may not ignore they have access to Cortana in the future.

Chess, Go, StarCraft

Photo from MIT Technology Review – Professional StarCraft player Byun Hyun Woo playing in the 2016 StarCraft II World Championship Series, which he won.

Scientists continue to train AI to compete professionally in classical strategic games like Chess and Go as a sort of basic Turing Test. Now that AI have shown their ability to out-maneuver humans in the latter examples, some consider StarCraft – a strategic multi-player game where players can compete to dominate the map as an alien race – to be AI’s next challenge.

“When you play StarCraft, you have to respond very quickly to lots of uncertainties and variables, but I’ve noticed that AI like AlphaGo isn’t that good at reacting to unexpected scenarios,” Byun says.


A StarCraft victory for an AI trained via reinforcement-learning would be proof that its intelligence is capable of executing both long and short-term decisions on the fly – and would bring AI one step closer to human-like decision making.

Full article on MIT Technology Review

Turn the Radio Up for that Sweet Sound

Nasa has detected an artificial bubble around the Earth that forms when ground radio communications from the ground interact with high-energy radiation particles in space. This unintended benefit of technology protects us from potentially dangerous space weather, like solar flares.

Earth already has its own protective bubble, a magnetosphere stretched by powerful solar winds. The artificial bubble that NASA found is an accident, an unintended result of the interplay between human technology and nature. When humans want to communicate with submarines near the surface of the ocean, they use a type of radio communication known as very low frequency waves, or VLF, transmitted from stations on the ground. Some of the waves can stretch all the way out into Earth’s atmosphere and beyond, where they affect the movement of the radiation particles bouncing around in the region. Sometimes, the interaction between VLF and these particles creates a barrier that can be seen by spacecraft orbiting the planet.

Read more from NASA

Why it’s Hot:

  • Who knew? And, who knows what other unintended consequences technology is having, both good and bad.


The RoboBees are here!

Japanese scientist Eijiro Miyako, a researcher at Japan’s National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, has designed what could be a partial solution to bee colony collapse disorder: a tiny pollinating drone. Coated with a patch of horse hair bristles and an ionic liquid gel, these pint-sized robots can collect and transfer pollen from one plant to another.

Miyako had previously experimented with using a specialized gel for electrochemical applications. When the gel performed poorly, he tucked the bottles away in a drawer and forgot about them — until he moved out of his lab two years ago. As soon as he rediscovered the gel, he thought about the pollination crisis and honeybee decline.

Artist’s rendering.

Conventional gels, Miyako explains, are mainly made of water and lose their stickiness over time. But his ionic liquid gel, by contrast, is a substance with a long-lasting “lift-and-stick-again” adhesive quality – ideal for moving pollen from one plant to the next.

“The continued adhesiveness and non-volatility of the ionic liquid gel was exciting,” says Miyako.

Story on Popular Mechanics

Why It’s Hot:

This is super hot because it could ensure the survival of the human race…until we can eradicate the root cause of the bee colony collapse (*cough* Monsanto *cough*).

Finding Empathy In Healthcare

As a student and believer in human centered design, empathy is at the core. Without “walking a mile” in someone’s shoes, truly understanding their journey is nearly impossible. Especially in Pharma, it seems that empathy from providers and partners is hard to find.  A recent Harvard study showed that 53% of physicians reported declining levels of empathy after several years of practice.

As science reveals more and more about disease, how can people truly feel empathy for some conditions they may have little understanding of? Klick labs has taken a shot at a real world “translation” by using bio-engineering and technology to “transfer” the uncontrollable movements associated with parkinson’s disease – they call it  “tele-empathy.


Why Its Hot

 As you can see in the video, even the twin brother is overcome as he, for the first time, can truly relate to his brother – imagine the impact on a doctor or care provider. This level of experience can truly give others empathy that could never be imagined before. With this type of experience do you think that HCPs may try different treatments or options? Leave your thoughts in the comments!

Alexa, tell Seamless I’m hungry

You can now reorder Seamless with Alexa.

From Reorder meals for delivery or takeout in seconds from all your favorite Seamless restaurants.

This is a hands-free time saver for Seamless customers — and getting started is easy! Just enable the skill, link your Seamless account, and say “Alexa, open Seamless,” or “Alexa, tell Seamless I’m hungry.”

If you’re a first-time user, Alexa will ask for your preferred delivery address and payment type. Just select your preferences to complete setup. You’ll be able to enjoy the convenience of re-ordering your favorite dishes and meals with Alexa anytime.

The skill’s easiest to use — and the most beneficial for you — if you’ve ordered more than three meals with your account and have one or more current credit/debit cards linked to your account. As long as you have an order history, you can use the skill. Of course, it may be more fun for you if you have many past orders.


Why It’s Hot

We’re on the lookout for real utility this smart home and voice assistant technology. This is pretty lazy — but pretty cool.

Name That Tune

We’re so used to the apps we use every day just working. When Twitter or Facebook or Google go down, everybody panics! But what happens if our favorite apps simply forgot what they were supposed to be doing.

Alzheimer’s Research U.K., agency Innocean Worldwide U.K. brought a horribly human attribute to Shazam—the ability to forget.

“The Day Shazam Forgot” was a collaboration in which Shazam appeared to have trouble remembering the songs people asked it to identify. When the app finally “remembered” the track, users were driven to a call to action about Alzheimer’s disease and invited to donate to the cause.

The campaign also used Shazam’s existing Shazam Again feature to promote its message.

The effort ran through the month of April in the U.K. In mere hours, the agency says, “The Day Shazam Forgot” yielded 2,018,206 impressions, with 5,096 visitors visiting the Alzheimer’s Research U.K. donation page. (Hopefully they remembered their credit card information.)

Why Its Hot

It can be difficult for nonprofits with a singular focus to find marketing opportunities within existing apps. Finding the right audience is one challenge, but so is fitting your message in a way that actually makes sense.

This is a great example of cause marketing and the types of engagements you can create when the right partnership presents itself.

From Goggles to Lenses

Google just released Google Lens, and while we are mandated to go into frenzy mode, a closer look makes the unveiling a bit lackluster after all is said and done.
According to Google’s CEO,  “Google Lens is a set of vision-based computing capabilities that can understand what you’re looking at and help you take action based on what you are looking at.”

Sound familiar? It should…

The tech and use cases are not new. Yelp has long been using Monocle, Amazon has already introduced Flow, and Pinterest Lens has been around for a while. Also, this looks more like a Google Goggles 2.0 release. Since people were not ready for that, seems they have modified it to better fit existing behaviors vs. developing new ones.

What sets this apart from the rest is that, with Google being a search-driven platforms, the capabilities of the product are extended. But this may not be a good thing. While Amazon, Yelp, and Pinterest uses are more narrow and specific, resulting in the likelihood of desired results, the vastness of Google increases the chances of the results missing the mark. For example, I point it to a flower expecting to know where to buy it, and instead, it tells me whether it’s poisonous or not.

Now, what makes this unique is how it can integrate with Google Assistant, allowing users to use voice, images, or a combination of both to conduct searches. This also allows it to live across multiple Google platforms, which makes the adoption of the tech more likely.

This is where it gets interesting for advertisers. If this takes off, this gives us an entire new way to connect with consumers across all of Google’s products, and will probably force us to rethink the customer journey. While unknown, it’s exciting given new uncharted “media frontiers” don’t come about that often. From a data collection standpoint, it can also give us new (and hopefully) better way determine use intent.

Why It’s Hot

  • It’s surprising to see a tech giant unveil something so “meh”.
  • On the bright side it’s an opportunity for our brands to begin testing a new tech with a solid potential of adoption.
  • It’s a good example of a tech company pivoting to better suit existing behaviors vs. developing new ones.


Video Pre-Roll- 4 Ways to Make Users Engage

 94% of pre-roll ads are skipped, per a study from eConsultancy, new studies show pre-roll ads are also among the most effective forms of digital advertising. For example, a study in April by IPG Media Lab and YuMe showed pre-roll is the most informative and engaging video ad format, compared to mid-roll and outstream.

  1. Address the “skip” issue: Advertisers that have owned the fact that users do not want to deal with their pre-roll ads have had the most success. Consider that Ad Age’s 2016 Campaign of the Year was Geico’s “Unskippable,” which directly addressed the issue of viewers wanting to skip ads by making ads so short, users didn’t have time to move past them.
  2. Many Fortune 500 companies are using new interactive branded “Skip This Ad” solutions, such as TruEngage, which lets users skip with one click, but not before engaging with the product in a fun, interactive and memorable way.
  3. Don’t show the same video: Use frequency capping to limit views across device and then move on to another ad.
  4. Use targeting and retargeting to the best of your ability

Why its Hot:

Pre-roll is difficult to optimize and the above techniques help video pre-roll strategies to be more effective.

Shazam Suddenly Started Forgetting Song Titles to Highlight a Little-known Fact about Alzheimer’s

Alzheimer’s Research U.K., and agency Innocean Worldwide U.K. brought a horribly human attribute to Shazam—the ability to forget. “The Day Shazam Forgot” was a collaboration in which Shazam appeared to have trouble remembering the songs people asked it to identify. When the app finally “remembered” the track, users were driven to a call to action about Alzheimer’s disease and invited to donate to the cause.

The purpose of the campaign was to tell a younger audience that Alzheimer’s disease doesn’t just concern seniors – it can affect people as young as 40 years old. Over 40,000 people under 65 are living with dementia in the U.K alone.

The campaign ran through the month of April in the U.K and in a mere few hours, the agency reported that The Day Shazam Forgot” yielded 2,018,206 impressions, with 5,096 visitors visiting the Alzheimer’s Research U.K. donation page – and hopefully donated!

Video – can start at :45

Why it’s hot:

  • A partnership with an unexpected application conveys a simple and straightforward message and puts the user in the shoes of someone with Alzheimer’s

Why it’s maybe not hot:

  • I would be interested to see the donation increase, because this could frustrate the user and be the wrong place and time for a donation (if someone is in an environment they are looking for a song… they might not be so willing to whip out their credit card for a donation)


Google Assistant: Context is everything


This week at Google I/O 2017, their annual developer conference, Google Assistant stole the show with its huge push in conversational interfaces and focus on context. Here are some of the cooler takeaways from the announcement:

  • Google Assistant focuses on a continued conversation with the assistant, picking up the context along the way from verbal conversation, typed, and image spicked up on the camera.
  • Google Assistant will pass off to branded chat bots to complete transactions seamlessly within the app. You can tell GA what you want for lunch, then be greeted by the Panera chat bot which then completes your order. This presents a really cool way to help build brand personality through its chat bot.

  • Google Assistant leverages Google Lens (and a lot of their AR learnings) to incorporate the phone’s camera. Users can point at text in languages they do not understand in the real world, and get an overlay on their phones translating it. Pointing the camera at a router’s information takes the data and makes it actionable.
  • Also uses Google Lens to allow users to point their cameras at a venue and immediately get information such as overall reviews, expense, and which friends have visited.

Relive The Drama of AIM In “Emily Is Away Too”

In 2015, game designer Kyle Seeley released the freeware title Emily is Away, a romantic epic divided into five virtual acts told through the nostalgia of an AOL Instant Messenger chat with the titular Emily. Emily is Away Too takes place in 2006, the protagonist’s senior year of college.

The game not only captures the social and dating experiences of its creator from that time, but also a year of transformation and expansion for digital culture.

This game is all about how we first portrayed ourselves online – the AIM platform was such a pivotal part of self expression growing up. Opening up and reliving those past relationships and conversations developed through outdated technology helps evaluate who we are and who we choose to be in the future.



Millennials are more nostalgic towards old tech because we’re the first generation to uniquely experience these complete shifts in communication at the same time together. Past generations shared the passive, much more gradual rise of film or television. Meanwhile, the internet, its interactivity and social applications, fundamentally changed how we created memories with childhood friends.


How Coca-Cola targeted ads based on people’s Facebook, Instagram photos

When Coca-Cola wanted to push iced-tea drinkers to consider its Gold Peak brand this summer, it didn’t target people like most brands do by using their search history. Instead, it combed through consumers’ photos on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and served them ads based on images they shared on those platforms.

Gold Peak tapped into an image recognition engine that identified people who posted images that featured glasses or jugs of iced tea, displayed emotions such as happiness and excitement as well as contained cans or bottles of its competitors, including Snapple, Honest Tea, Lipton and others. Those people were then served Gold Peak ads on 40 mobile sites and apps after leaving Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

For example, if you posted a picnic table spread with a jug of iced tea somewhere in the mix on Instagram, Gold Peak could have targeted you with ads while you read an article on Business Insider or checked the weather on the AccuWeather app in the past month, thanks to your photo.

“We’ve been using social listening for targeting for years, but people hardly use these social platforms to share text anymore,” said Benjamin Bring, vp of media at IPG’s Ansible. “Unlike text-based targeting, which can often be ambiguous, pictures provide more nuanced and subtle context.”

While image recognition itself isn’t new, Karan Walia, Cluep CEO and co-founder, said Cluep was a step ahead of the platforms themselves. While platforms like Facebook have their own image recognition engines in place, they are not leveraging the technology to allow brands to target based on pictures consumers post. Furthermore, Cluep uses its own ad server and real-time bidder to serve ads outside the social media platforms and in premium mobile apps and mobile websites through its partnerships with SSPs. Cluep has partnerships that give it access to all public data on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram as well as partnerships with SSPs that can then result in automated ads for its clients.

“We have bridged the gap between image recognition and advertising at scale,” said Walia. “No ad tech platform is doing image-based targeting like we are.”

What’s more, people don’t seem to be creeped out. Brands that have run beta tests are seeing conversions and click-through rates of five to 10 times the industry benchmark on premium publishers, according to Walia. Coca-Cola itself has seen a click-through rate of over 2 percent, which is three to four times its usual benchmark for the Gold Peak creative.

Twitter Follows the Rules — And Makes You Feel Creeped Out

In an act of compassion in this data driven world, Twitter announced new data controls, allowing users to customize what data they share with the company and how they are tracked. In their press release yesterday they emphasize:

“Privacy is built into our DNA as a company.”

This is all well and good, but how do you keep a populace from freaking out (let alone opting out) when presented with this pop up upon login.

Additionally Twitter is allowing you to edit your interests in order to serve you better ads… as marketers we search a lot of stuff we’re not interested in.

Take a quick peek at your preferences as Twitter sees them.

I’m apparently interested in:

  • Daycare
  • The NFL
  • Indy cars
  • Wresting

Why it’s hot:

It’s important that Twitter is taking privacy seriously, its possible they’re committing harder to “don’t be evil” than Google is. But, it’s hard to make this pill go down, maybe they need better marketers, not better data policy.

Twitter Is Giving Its Users More Control Over Personalization, Data Usage

Google wants to make you look funny


Google wants to make you look funny with fun bitmojis!

Instead of analyzing a photo of you pixel by pixel, Google’s algorithms recognize “qualitative features” of your face such as eye color, and then turn them over to another algorithm which picks from more than 563 quadrillion combinations to make a funny image that sort of looks like you.

As you might imagine, all of this was quite a challenge for Google’s team of artists and scientists. One issue in particular was avoiding the so called “uncanny valley,” a psychological phenomenon which makes an illustration of a human that’s very similar, but not quite identical to the real thing, creepy to humans.

Why its hot?

  • I feel like bitmoji is getting its mojo back by partnering with Snapchat but this is a fun twist
  • This makes me want to download the app, and i dont care about bitmoji at allllll.
  • The video speaks for itself, its a very interactive app and you can save the emojis to share outside of the platform

Changing the Paradigm for Presidential Libraries

Obama recently revealed the concept designs for his presidential center in Chicago’s Jackson Park. This design differs greatly from previous presidential libraries in that it focuses less on a physical library as a storehouse to tell the story of his presidency, but rather as a community center that will feature green space in the city and as a hub for events.

Why It’s Hot: 

This center has reimagined what presidential libraries are and what they could be. As we dive into a more digital world, our needs will continue to evolve.

Futurology: from mobile silos to open ecosystems

In the May 3rd “What It Means” podcast, Forrester VP and Principal Analyst Michael Facemire describes a technology future that seems obvious, but also fundamentally disruptive. He posits that we have the technology (AI, connected devices) to automate much of what we do in our daily lives but are not leveraging properly. An executive that travels to the same client location and uses his Delta, Hotels Tonight and Lyft apps (he calls these mobile silos) to plan the exact same trip is a poor use of time, even for travel professionals. This future, open ecosystem not only choreographs repeated actions but can detect issues we may miss. For example, if your morning flight to your client meeting in Atlanta is late, the system will signal the hotel and driver that the flight is shifting. If this morning flight is repeatedly late, the system will book an afternoon flight with a higher success rate of arriving on time. Once this automated process works for you and you declare it a success, the open ecosystem should create similar experiences for people who look a lot like you.

Why It’s Hot

  1. Using data available to us we should imagine how our client’s brands can play in these new “pattern magic” open ecosystems. The outcome should create solutions that feel truly made for individuals in the context that they are currently in.
  2. These Forrester podcasts are gold. Educational, conversational and a pleasure to listen to while working. If you haven’t already, please add “What It Means” wherever you listen to podcasts.

Adherence Rates for Mental Illness Drugs

I found this interesting infographic about mentally ill patients and drug adherence that I found interesting.  Among all of the stats, which you can find at the link below, I thought this one was particularly interesting.  The more drugs one takes reduces the overall adherence (by a small amount- but still… staying adherent means the person has a more level life).

Why It’s Hot

With one of our client’s patents expiring in the near future, keeping people on drug is going to be ever more important to keep revenue coming in for the client.  This partner, Medisafe can keep people significantly more adherent by using their app.  They’ve found that the average adherence for non- Medisafe users was about 50%, and with use of the app increased to 75%-79%.


googler creates AI that creates video using one image…

One of the brilliant minds at Google has developed an algorithm that can (and has) create video from a single image. The AI does this by predicting what each of the next frames would be based on the previous one, and in this instance did it 100,000 times to produce the 56 minute long video you see above. Per its creator:

“I used videos recorded from trains windows, with landscapes that moves from right to left and trained a Machine Learning (ML) algorithm with it. What you see at the beginning is what the algorithm produced after very little learnings. It learns more and more during the video, that’s why there are more and more realistic details. Learnings is updated every 20s. The results are low resolution, blurry, and not realistic most of the time. But it resonates with the feeling I have when I travel in a train. It means that the algorithm learned the patterns needed to create this feeling. Unlike classical computer generated content, these patterns are not chosen or written by a software engineer.

Why it’s hot:

Creativity and imagination have been among the most inimitable human qualities since forever. And anyone who’s ever created anything remotely artistic will tell you inspiration isn’t as easy as hitting ‘go’. While this demonstration looks more like something you’d see presented as an art school video project than a timeless social commentary regaled in a museum, it made me wonder – what if bots created art? Would artists compete with them? Would they give up their pursuit because bots can create at the touch of a button? Would this spawn a whole new area of human creativity out of the emotion of having your work held up next to programmatic art? Could artificial intelligence ever create something held up against real human creativity?

Learning to fly by crashing



One way to think of flying (or driving or walking or any other form of motion) is that success is simply a continual failure to crash. From this perspective, the most effective way of learning how to fly is by getting a lot of experience crashing so that you know exactly what to avoid, and once you can reliably avoid crashing, you by definition know how to fly. Simple, right? We tend not to learn this way, however, because crashing has consequences that are usually quite bad for both robots and people.

The CMU roboticists wanted to see if there are any benefits to using the crash approach instead of the not crash approach, so they sucked it up and let an AR Drone 2.0 loose in 20 different indoor environments, racking up 11,500 collisions over the course of 40 hours of flying time. As the researchers point out, “since the hulls of the drone are cheap and easy to replace, the cost of catastrophic failure is negligible.” Each collision is random, with the drone starting at a random location in the space and then flying slowly forward until it runs into something. After it does, it goes back to its starting point, and chooses a new direction. Assuming it survives, of course.


Why it’s hot:

  • Watch the video. The drone navigating its way through the hallway is uncanny.
  • Novel approaches. Maybe instead of avoiding the problem, you embrace the problem and see where it gets you.

Via putting customers first

Via asked riders to share their ideas and insights to improve the experience. The fist thing they’re implementing is to make all rides to the airport ViaExpress, which means once someone hops on board, the driver will never make more than one additional pickup. He’ll also take the fastest route he can find.


Let Me Hear Your Tat

Warning: This is either really cool or just a glorified QR code.

We’ve seen tattoos that light up, others that monitor your health and even some that unlock your smartphone. Now we can hear tattoos!

The designs can be made up of any recorded sounds – whether noises, spoken words, music or a combination of these elements – which can they be tattooed onto your skin. They have already received thousands of messages, the majority of inquiries have been about preserving the memory of people who have passed on.

How it works:

  1. Person uploads or records audio (up to 1 min) they want linked to their tattoo onto the Soundwave app or website.
  2. Soundwave creates a unique soundwave template for your tune
  3. Person goes to (licensed) tattoo artist who knows the limitations of altering the design, gets the tat.
  4. A photo of the tattoo is uploaded to the platform
  5. The platform processes the audio and tattoo and adds it to the app.
  6. Any time the user opens the app and points the camera at the tattoo, it will recognize the shape and play back the audio.


Why it’s hot: 

  1. Incorporates augmented reality with the human body.
  2. Offers an additional level of personalization to tattoos.

Why it may not be hot: 

  1. No real ground-breaking technology involved, may be more of a gimmick.
  2. How does it deal with copyright?

The Juicero of salt is here. Hooray?

Some mis-guided soul has created a bluetooth-enabled “smart salt shaker” that does a whole bunch of things:

  • It can play music
  • It has a color-changing mood light (!)
  • It can dispensed salt via Alexa (though you still presumably have to hold the thing over your food with your hand; no getting around that one)

Story on Lifehacker

You’ll have to wait for this quality item, though, because it is not up on Indiegogo yet.

From Smalt’s About Us page:

Herb & Body is a California-based lifestyle company committed to using smart technology to enhance our lives….Our first innovation, “SMALT”, is the first of it’s kind to market and will transform an ordinary kitchen tools that people have been using for centuries into an experience for the senses.

Why It’s Hot

Well, just look at it.

Well this is definitely a different approach…

German supermarket giant, Aldi entered into the very competitive China market after seeing the potential that this market has. In order to appeal to this new audience, the brand reinvented itself to sell online-only, through the Alibaba e-commerce site.

Nowadays, tons of western supermarkets are trying to tap into China’s rising interest in imported foods, in addition to the rise of the middle class, their travels abroad and their concerns about the safety of local products. “Since China’s retail environment is challenging, particularly for big-box stores, most recent supermarket entrants are going into China online-only, as Costco did in 2014. That limits investment and risk, but it doesn’t necessarily guarantee big sales.”

To generate buzz for its launch, the brand created a live event that was streamed online in real-time. Given that live streaming in very popular in China, it was a tactical move to use this format to reach the online target audience. So what did this brand stream? Well, a stunt was created using their products. The brand live streamed a fashion show of couture made solely out of food that the brand sells. Yes, that’s right, models strutted their stuff down the runway in outfits like a bustier covered in popcorn, a kilt embellished with cookies, etc. The runway even was designed to as a long white dinner table, with guests seated as diners along its edges. They were eating meals and sipping wine while viewing the show. Guests were also given a connected electronic refrigerator magnet that they can use to order Aldi’s products.

The brand needed to pull a stunt this grand because China is the worl’s largest e-commerce market and consumers are constantly bombarded with options Brands have to make big efforts to get shoppers to pay attention to them.

Why It’s Hot

Olgilvy, Aldi’s current agency, knew that it was going to be a challenge to differentiate this brand from other supermarkets using a relatively low budget. Everyday, we are all tasked with budget restraints but this out of the box idea on a smaller budget led to a lot of success! Yes, this type of live stream was certainly a different approach but it captured their online audience’s attention. Who wouldn’t be entertained by a runway show with clothes made out of food?

This launch was very well thought out to the idea to use live streaming to capture buzz considering their main competitors do this and how live streaming has grown to be so popular in this market. Also to how guests of the show received a connected electronic refrigerator magnet that they could use to place orders through Aldi.

Who programs the AI? (Not women or people of color)

You might assume that technology and AI are neutral forces in this world. The truth is, our technology is biased and created in the image of its creators – as Melinda Gates and Fei-Fei Li argue in this interview, these are “guys with hoodies.”

Have you ever?

  • Tried on an Oculus Rift to find that the hardware does not fit your facial profile?
  • Had face tracking software totally fail because it wasn’t programmed to register your traits (standard human features such as eyes, a nose, a mouth)?
  • Had voice assistants / voice recognition not understand you due to your accent or dialect? Perhaps the voice assistant straight up doesn’t speak your native language.

Consider: Her and Ex Machina, two recent and popular representations of AI in cinema, both of which represent AI, and its characters’ interactions with AI, from the point of view of male psychology and desire.

As Gates points out:
“If we don’t get women and people of color at the table — real technologists doing the real work — we will bias systems. Trying to reverse that a decade or two from now will be so much more difficult, if not close to impossible.”

The entire interview is worth a read

Together, Gates and Li are launching a national non-profit called AI4ALL, aimed at increasing the diversity of voices behind AI, and getting people of color and women educated in a field where they are highly underrepresented.

Why it’s hot:
AI has the potential to redefine our future. Where is the diversity of minds necessary to make it a future for ALL?

Design Iteration to Reality

Design sprint, iteration, rapid prototyping – all wonderful things in a world of iterative design, but when you boil it down do any of these actually create something new? Too often prototypes are sent to the wayside due to production needs, cost or feasibility. We can’t forget that the bottom line is business – at the heart of it all is the question “will this product benefit the company.?”

So when AutoDesk engineers realized their prototype could save airlines $200 million a year suddenly people started to listen.

The prototype was for a new airline seat. In an industry where literally every pound matters replacing seat bases with a stronger and lighter version translates into thousands of gallons of jet fuel saved.

…one journalist calculated that just carrying one fewer bags of peanuts on flights for a year would save an airline $2,000 in fuel costs.

What makes this interesting however is the execution. The design, a “hive like” construction can very easily be 3D printed, but tend to be extremely difficult to mass produce. AutoDesk found a way to keep the design, but allow the part to be cast in magnesium.

The AutoDesk team worked and developed an entirely new way to combine 3D printing and the casting process to create the seats

The new seats could save airlines $100K per year, per aircraft. In addition to a massive reduction in fuel burn and emissions.


Why It’s Hot

 Too often good ideas get put in the drawer, this shows that good ideas not only can make it through but create new innovations in order to make that a reality. Moral of the story: Keep Pushing!