your face is your ticket…

Jet Blue is now piloting airport technology that would replace your boarding pass with a scan of your face.

Here’s how it works:

“The process is fairly simple: Passengers step up to a camera to have their picture taken. The picture is then compared with passport photos in the CBP database and to verify flight details. If successful, the passenger is notified that they are cleared to board by an on-screen message at the camera terminal.”

Why it’s hot:

I’m not sure how smooth the experience sounds at the moment, but the idea of never needing to have a boarding pass either physically or on your phone, and just being able to walk on to your flight sounds pretty no non-sense  (except you still have to remember what seat you’re in). It makes you think – there are probably many such things that “outerweb” technology could replace that we currently do with our phones. What happens to our phones when biometrics and other technologies can enable us to do what we’re now doing with our smartphones?


Are algorithms dumbing down culture?

Link: The Rise of Auto-Complete Culture, And Why We Should Resist

Upfront I will say this: I really dislike this article, but I can’t quite put into words why, so I wanted to share it with you all and talk about it.

The premise of the article is that algorithms are sanding down the edges of our language and our individuality through things like auto complete messages, suggested responses, and Google’s AI drawing project.

There’s also a bit of Jaron Lanier angst about selling our data and becoming the product.

The core of the argument seems to be this:

Well, future generations of thinking humans care. Consider how scientists found that the average literate person’s vocabulary has shrunk over the last two centuries, after analyzing unique words used in books since 1800. In exchange for awesome technologies like television, text messaging, and an app called “Yo” that let you type a single word (and raised $1.5 million for it), we slowly handed over the ways we can express how we feel and what we think.

And what he is scared of is this:

What really scares me about the rise of aggregated, averaged, auto-completed culture isn’t just that I feel it chipping away at my own vocabulary, but I fear it will will teach young people how to speak via an anonymous algorithm before they can develop their own splendid, flawed voices, before they can invent new words, and new forms of self-expression, that will enrich our culture and progress as a society.


It sounds dramatic, doesn’t it? Google is coming for our artists! But I want you to think of your favorite author or artist who bucked social norms to herald a new era of human expression and meaning. Now imagine that, instead of creating the most impactful work of their career, they phoned it in that afternoon with an auto-completed sentiment.

This strikes me as a pretty poorly argued and thinly supported argument. He’s picked three examples and cited one random statistic. Also, he appears to only be addressing the Western, English speaking world. Also, famous convention-bucking-artists are famous convention bucking artists because they buck convention!

However, I’m interested in what you guys think: is the rise of algorithms smoothing out the world around us? Do you think that snapchat, instagram, twitter, texting, facebook, email and all of the other new ways we communicate are shrinking the way we express ourselves, or expanding it?

I apologize for yet another dry sauce hot sauce. To make up for it, here’s a Vine classic (RIP Vine).

Warby Parker Just Made Getting A Prescription A Lot Easier

Usually, completing a vision test for new glasses requires a trip to the optometrist and the glasses store.  Warby Parker, which started out as a try-before-you-buy mail-order eyeglasses company, is currently looking to use devices you already have in your home to help you get a new pair of glasses without having to drive to a doctor. If you have an expired vision prescription, you can use an iPhone, a computer and about 12 feet of space to find out if your vision has changed since your last exam.


Why It’s Hot:

Warby Parker has been working on this technology since 2015, while other companies, like Smart Vision Labs, have found ways to use mobile phones for in-store eye exams in 2016. It is not a substitute for a comprehensive eye exam if your vision has changed since your last one, but those of us who just want to grab a new pair of frames based on a still-valid expired prescription can do so from the comfort of our own home.

Google Chrome to Auto-Block Ads

Google’s Chrome browser will soon come with preinstalled technology that will block the most annoying ads currently marring the web experience, the company confirmed on Thursday.

Publishers will be able to understand how they will be affected through a tool Google is dubbing “The Ad Experience Report.” It will basically score a publisher’s site and inform them which of their ads are “annoying experiences.”

Google isn’t calling its technology an ad blocker, instead classifying it as a “filter” that removes the ads that consumers hate most. These include popups, ads that flash quickly, change colors or force people to wait 10 seconds before accessing content on a publisher’s page.

Google said it expects to roll out the features in early 2018.

Why it’s Hot: This will impact the entire advertising ecosystem because Chrome is the most popular web browser for both desktop and mobile.


A better way to fly?

Air New Zealand has partnered with Microsoft to begin beta testing HoloLens augmented reality headsets on flights to help their crews better serve their passengers.

Flight attendants using headsets on their faces might look really strange and scare little children, but the practical applications are pretty cool. Being able to know, for example, which passengers have dietary restrictions or are in a certain mood can enhance the customer experience.

Story on The Verge

Why It’s Hot

It’s hot because while this might not be a solution that gets mass adoption with every airline, it is nice to know that there is an airline out there that is trying to improve the travel experience (*cough* unlike United *cough*).


Would You Mind?

In an attempt to close their gap with Amazon, Walmart is offering employees the opportunity to deliver online customer purchases on their way home for pay.

Currently running at two stores, one in New Jersey, and one in Arkansas, the program aims at using one of Walmart’s biggest assets – more than a million U.S. store employees. Walmart spokesman Ravi Jariwala said the program is entirely voluntary. He declined to specify the pay, but said finding the right compensation is part of the test. And he said the retailer will comply with all applicable state and federal labor laws, such as those covering overtime.

Walmart says they also considered having other customers deliver packages, but said having employees do it allowed for greater control.

Why It’s Hot

Often under fire from labor groups, Walmart is betting they can compete with online giant Amazon by giving their employees more work (for more pay). Why not just have employees deliver packages during the work day? The employees will be paid extra, but how far out of the way are they expected to go? Seems like a program that has more questions than answers if Walmart wants to dominate the e-commerce scene.

Framer adds design suite and tackles responsive design

Framer, a prototyping software that started out as a web app, finally adds a design suite of its own. Framer carved out its niche in the battle for the best prototyping solution by allowing designers to get deeper into animations, transitions, and interactivity. The cost was that designers needed to get down and dirty with Coffeescript, a tall order for designers who may or may not be familiar with HTML or CSS. This also invariably sparked a conversation about whether designers (UX or otherwise) should learn to code. Framer finally started to bridge that gap by offering first Sketch/Photoshop integration to handle design, and tons of tutorial videos to get designers started. Now it provides its heavily Sketch-inspired design workspace to let designers handle the visuals before flipping to Code to define interactivity.

Framer also teased options for designing responsiveness, allowing designers to set rules for how elements on a page change as the screen size changes. Framer has defined itself by focusing on really in-depth mobile (especially native) prototyping. It’ll be really interesting to see it evolve further along with competitors such as Axure, Craft, and the impending release of Adobe XD.

Pinterest Finds Recipes Based On Your Extensive Collection Of Food Pics

Pinterest updated its image recognition software for users to take a picture of a meal and receive a list of similar recipes to make at home.

In February this year, Pinterest announced the release of an image recognition tool named Lens, which allows users to take a picture of anything they like and then find similar pictures on the applications others had posted.

This feature was recently given an update to allow users to take a picture of food they’re eating and receive a list of recipes based on the food in the image. The update also includes a new food filter allowing a user to narrow down the search results of new recipes based on how long they want to cook their meal, the ingredients they want to use and any dietary restrictions they may have. Additionally, Pinterest created a comments section through which a user can browse reviews from those who attempted to recreate the meals.

why it’s hot:

  • While not groundbreaking, this is an example of Pinterest becoming a more relevant social media player. They are encouraging higher engagement on their platform and capitalizing on already-popular Pinterest behaviors (I personally only use it to look for recipes – so this is exciting for me!)

Bringing Vellum to E-ink

How many times have you heard people say they don’t read e-books because they “like the feel of a real book.” Is it the weight, act of flipping through pages, or the type layout? Vellum is a new company selling software to make prettier e-books (with an option for paperback layouts as well). Users can easily build, style, preview, generate, and update their e-books.

Why it’s hot: There is something about e-books that feels like it is missing to physical book lovers. An attempt to bring well designed text layout seems like as good a place as any to improve.

Why it’s cold: Even with better layouts and visuals there is still no e-book solution that quite matches the feeling and smell of flipping through the pages of a worn book.

School Subjects Could Be A Thing Of The Past in Finland

Finland is rethinking how it teaches in the digital age – seeking to place skills, as much as subjects, at the heart of what it does in a framework called Project Based Learning (PBL)



Traditionally, learning has been defined as a list of subject matters and facts you need to acquire – such as arithmetic and grammar – with some decoration, like citizenship, built in around it.

When it comes to real life, our brain is not sliced into disciplines in that way; we are thinking in a very holistic way. And when you think about the problems in the world – global crises, migration, the economy, the post-truth era – we really haven’t given our children the tools to deal with this inter-cultural world.

It’s a major mistake if we lead children to believe the world is simple and that if they learn certain facts they are ready to go. So learning to think, learning to understand, these are important skills – and it also makes learning fun, which we think promotes wellbeing.

A new platform for organizers crowdsources texting

Since the election, newly minted activists and community groups across the country have been looking for ways to quickly and effectively rally mass as well as local groups of citizens. Enter new platforms – such as Hustle – which are taking advantage of peer-to-peer texting using volunteer texters to reach the largest possible group of people directly, without messages getting lost on myriad social media feeds.


Former White House staffer Yoni Landau, the co-founder of Rapid Resist, an organization that uses the Hustle platform, observes “Text is intimate… It lets people know something is really happening if someone has taken the effort to text them individually and have a conversation with them.”

Plus, it’s fast and highly localized, creating an immune system of local movements. These peer-to-peer text platforms prove that solutions do not necessarily have to be highly technical to be effective, and sometimes the simplest solutions are the most successful.

*Correction 8/16/17: Rapid Resist and Indivisible are organizations that use the Hustle platform.