Data: Why CNN gets it wrong and Twitter gets it right

We’re all aware of the Doug Jones recent win against Roy Moore in this week’s Alabama senate race. But how soon you knew  of this victory depended on where you got your information.

Those who turned into CNN and cable news sorely lagged behind those following the race on Twitter, the NY Times ticker and Times statistician and journalist Nate Cohen.

None of this is new, but statisticians have been modeling against turnout and percentage vote count goals per district and this technology has been getting better and better. By 9:30 on the eve of the election most pundits were still noting that Moore was up 8% in the raw votes coming in. But the Times ticker and online voices were noting how low the turnout was in these red districts and how Jones districts were late in coming in.

Why it’s hot:

There’s always a love for the horse race, but sometimes data is what trumps.

The Robots Are Here

An animal shelter in San Francisco has been criticized for using a robot security guard to scare off homeless people.

The San Francisco branch of the SPCA (the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) hired a K5 robot built by Knightscope to patrol the sidewalks outside its facilities as a “way to try dealing with the growing number of needles, car break-ins and crime that seemed to emanate from nearby tent encampments of homeless people.”

Jennifer Scarlett, president of the SF SPCA told the Business Times last week: “We weren’t able to use the sidewalks at all when there’s needles and tents and bikes, so from a walking standpoint I find the robot much easier to navigate than an encampment.”

The robot in question is equipped with four cameras, moves at a pace of three miles per hour, and is cheaper than a human security guard — costing around $6 an hour to rent. The same model of robot previously knocked over a toddler in a mall and fell into a fountain in DC. Knightscope says its robots are intended as deterrents, and for providing mobile surveillance.

Reaction to the news on social media has been overwhelming negative, with people shaming the SPCA for deploying the machine, and encouraging others to vandalize or destroy it. Within a week of the robot starting its duties, some people “put a tarp over it, knocked it over and put barbecue sauce on all the sensors.” One Twitter user reported seeing the robot with feces smeared on it.

“Contrary to sensationalized reports, Knightscope was not brought in to clear the area around the SF SPCA of homeless individuals,” a spokesperson told The Verge. “Knightscope was deployed, however, to serve and protect the SPCA. The SCPA has the right to protect its property, employees and visitors, and Knightscope is dedicated to helping them achieve this goal. The SPCA has reported fewer car break-ins and overall improved safety and quality of the surrounding area.”

In any case, the SPCA K5 might have a limited shelf life in San Francisco. The city recently passed new legislation limiting the use of robots in city streets. Although the rules were aimed primarily at delivery bots, the SPCA has been ordered to keep the K5 off sidewalks or face a $1,000 daily fine. Knightscope is currently negotiating with the city over future deployments.

Why It’s Hot:

  • Knightscope’s response raises questions about how society will respond to robots like these in the future.
  • Seems that because these robots are semi-autonomous, Knightscope, and those who hire them, can shift the blame for its actions.
  • While most people are getting nervous about the physical takeover of robots, no one is worried about the more imminent threat of AI, which is what the majority of industry leaders, such as Elon Musk, are warning us about.

Source: The Verge

New Tech Recycles Carbon Dioxide Faster Than Plants

Everyone knows the role of photosynthesis in absorbing carbon dioxide (CO2). While there isn’t any doubt that plants are doing their job, there’s simply just too much CO2 for the plants to absorb and “fix.” Plus a main enzyme involved in the process doesn’t work that fast.

But researchers have managed to make a synthetic pathway that converts CO2 into organic compounds faster than plants. With more than 20% of our rainforests depleted and urban pollution at an all-time high, relying on our planet’s resources has taken a backseat to technological innovation.

Synthetic Photosynthesis

Once the technology is successfully transplanted into living plants, we could be in for faster, less energy-intensive CO2 fixation. Its applications include developing systems to create carbon-based feed for cattle, and perhaps even designing more desirable chemical products.

More information:

Why It’s Hot
While I’m still not a believer in “don’t worry about global warming – we’ll innovate our way out of it”, I still hold hope that advances like this can be combined with more sustainable living to help us deal with this massive problem.

FDA Reviewing 3D Printing of Medication

The FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER) announced this week it is continuing to look into the feasibility manufacturing medications with 3D printing technology.

3D printing of pharmaceuticals allows for a unique approach for the manufacture of solid drug products in various shapes, strengths and spatial distributions of the active and inactive ingredients. Designs ranging from a single compartment to designs with multiple drug compartments can allow the release profile of the active ingredients to be tailored to meet the needs of specific patients.

Some of the advantages this manufacturing approach could include producing unique dosage forms such as the instantaneous disintegration of an active ingredient, and other complex drug release profiles. To date, one FDA-approved drug—Spritam®–is manufactured using 3D printing technology. Spritam® tablets, for the treatment of epilepsy, are designed so that a large dose of active ingredient (1000 mg of levetiracetam) disintegrates within seconds after taking a sip of water.

The Office of Testing & Research is examining questions such as

  • What are the critical process and component material parameters that affect printability of drugs?
  • What are the critical process parameters for each 3D printing technology?
  • How can a determination be made regarding when and how a given 3D geometric design is underperforming?
  • What are the critical characteristics of the component products for 3D printing including printers, filaments, substrate, and cartridges?
  • What are the critical factors in this method of manufacture that affect the drug release rates and MOA?

Of course, with any new pharmaceutical manufacturing process, there are also regulatory hurdles to be managed as well. CEDR is examining to what extent the process can be managed to ensure quality control across the multiple components associated with 3D printing processes, namely printers, substrate, and intermediate products and processes.

Why It’s Hot

In a word where we are expecting increasing levels of personalized service in almost every area of our life, pharmaceuticals as a produce lag due to legacy constraints in manufacturing.

3D printing offers the ability to manufacture drugs on demand for a unique individual’s physiological demands and can have a significant impact on quality of life.



Embrace Melancholy

Brands are always trying to find positionings that would essentially make our lives better:

Chocolate brands make you feel happier.
Car brands make you feel powerful or aggressive.
Technology brands make you feel connected.
Beauty brands make you feel better about yourself.
Spirit brands make you feel inspired.
But how does a raincoat brand should make you feel?
Stutterheim is a Swedish brand that makes rubbery and –  like almost every Scandinavian brand – super stylish raincoats. Their products are beautiful, they have genderless collections, their stores are minimalistic and on top of that, their positioning is about embracing melancholy.
Why Melancholy? Because that’s the state of mind that we find our selves during a rainy day and since they come from Sweden, rain is part of their culture.
They could have created a singing-in-the-rain kind of positioning ( I bet It crossed everybody’s mind to go that way). But they decided to face melancholy and explore this mood across their communications, including their blog, where they interview artists from all over the world and explore the how melancholy is an important part of their creative process.
Image result for stutterheim melancholy
Why it’s hot?
In a world that celebrates and dictates that we should all be happy, all the time – It’s bold to find a brand that feels comfortable about discussing a ” negative” emotion.
Sometimes as marketers we tend to refute bad things, make fun of our weakness and avoid discussing them with clients – but maybe this can be a good source of inspiration.

The world of Assassin’s Creed Origins included an archeological discovery before it was discovered…

Catch up on the exploratory mode in Assassin’s Creed Origins in this post from Betsy

In early October of this year, a new discovery was announced in the Pyramid of Giza. “Scientists had discovered a previously undetected open space in Egypt’s 4,500-year-old Great Pyramid of Giza.” [Kotaku]

The discovery was made possible through the unlikely intersection of archaeology and particle physics. By making meticulous measurements of muons—elementary particles that rain down on Earth from deep space and are capable of traveling through solid objects—researchers were able to characterize the densities within the pyramid, revealing the presence of an empty space that measures at least 100 feet (30 meters) in length. [Gizmodo]

The void in the Pyramid of Giza as featured in Assassin's Creed Origins

The void in the Pyramid of Giza as featured in Assassin’s Creed Origins

But before November, this space–which researchers specifically avoid referring to as a “chamber” or other architectural-sounding term, preferring instead to call it a “void”–was merely a “disputed theory by French architect Jean-Pierre Houdin about how the entire pyramid was built.” [Kotaku]

So how did it get into a video game that released the same month? Assassin’s Creed developers worked closely with historian Maxime Durand to create the latest iteration of the popular franchise. According to Durand:

“We have long believed that Jean-Pierre Houdin’s theories about the inner ramps and royal circuit with two antechambers inside the Great Pyramid are probably the most credible, which is why we decided to use them in the game, […] We were betting on the fact that these secret locations inside of the Great Pyramid would probably be discovered in the near future, so we wanted to allow players the chance to visit them in advance.”

Origins’ depiction of a room that would have been used for turning the heavy blocks as they were dragged up long straight internal ramps and stacked to continue building the pyramid from the inside out.

“Origins’ depiction of a room that would have been used for turning the heavy blocks as they were dragged up long straight internal ramps and stacked to continue building the pyramid from the inside out.” – Kotaku

Why it’s hot

Including the void in the game experience allows users to explore speculative history. While the entering the pyramid is optional, the developers put an tempting side challenge inside, encouraging players to explore and learn more about what the interior might have looked like. Most importantly, perhaps, this fortunate inclusion has given the news of the discovery a second audience in players eager to explore the latest discovery in a way that would otherwise be impossible.

Learn more about the feature in Assassin’s Creed Origins at, and read more about the discovery of the void at

Part of this years Cards Against Humanity event: wealth redistribution

Cards Against Humanity has a history of satirical Black Friday promotions. In 2013 they held an “anti-sale” and raised the price by $5. In 2014 they held a “bullshit” sale where their products were removed from their website and replaced by boxes of sterilized bull feces. In 2015 they replaced their online site with a message urging viewers to give Cards Against Humanity $5 and receive nothing in return. The money was divided among Cards Against Humanity team members, and then a site was put up showing what they purchased with the money. In 2016, they asked for money to dig a big hole for no reason, and raised $100,000.They dug a big hole and then they filled it back in again.

This year, the creators announced a campaign called Cards Against Humanity Saves America, in protest of the Trump Administrations. The creators purchased a plot of land along the US-Mexican border to block the creation of a border wall. A $15 donation to the campaign would receive “six surprises” through December.

The first surprise is radical wealth redistribution.

When customers signed up for Cards Against Humanity Saves America they filled out a questionnaire with “with a mix of demographic questions and red herrings”. The team then ranked the respondents. Out of roughly 150,000 people that signed up, 140,000 got nothing, 10,000 got a full refund, and 100 received a check for $1,000.

You can read about the recipients, and more information, here:

Why it’s hot

While Cards Against Humanity has found it’s share of detractors since blowing up (including the New York Times), it’s clear that they are masters of off beat self promotion.

Google’s Moving Year in Search Video Shows How We Got Through the Hell of 2017

The search giant’s recap of 2017 includes footage of wildfires, hurricanes, gun violence, threats of nuclear war, protests and so much more—pretty much 2017 in a nutshell. Yet, Google managed to make all this uplifting.

Using Harry Styles’ “Sign of the Times,” Google’s video shows the perseverance of the human spirit and may even inspire you to make a difference for the people still reeling from the various tragedies we’ve seen this year. It also manages to provide comfort with a “you’re not alone” vibe, reminding you that others are feeling that sense of powerlessness and existential dread, too—and that if we come together, we can let those feelings drive us to change the world.

Google also gathered some of the year’s top searches, and some of them are a real punch to the gut. see more here

Source: AdWeek

Why It’s Hot

Search data provides deep insight into how we operate as a culture.


Mastercard Demystified Millennials

Millennials seem to be the toughest demographic to crack, as they’re viewed as narcissistic, entitled, superficial, and several more descriptive adjectives. So Mastercard Australia made it their mission to understand what millennials really wanted from their new debit rewards program. The “Millennials Demystified” experiment was conducted by researchers at the University of South Wales and the purpose was simple, to find out what millennials really desire. Participants of the study were given 2 choices in which they had to choose which one they desired the most, the catch was that their neurological impulses let the researchers know exactly what they truly desired out of the two choices. The results? Simple. Millennials are human after all and they want to do more good than harm the world, contrary to what seems to be common belief.

Why it’s hot:
Turns out millennials aren’t soulless zombies that want to watch the world burn.

Mastercard AU

become a jedi master with AR…

Fortuitously timed, a genius developer has created an app that lets you appear to wield a Star Wars styled Light Saber using Augmented Reality. Per its creator:

“It’s an iPhone app that turns a rolled up piece of paper into a virtual lightsaber. I think the best thing about it is that it brings a special effect that has typically been reserved for advanced video editors to a mass audience.”

Why It’s Hot:
Augmented Reality has of course seen many new uses since becoming a widely available capability on iOS. Some are useful, and some just let you live out childhood fantasies like this. In either case, it’s amazing the digital layer of the world we are building on top of the physical one we have known for our entire lives.


create connected 3D printed objects…

3D printers helped us make a great leap into autonomous making with the ability to create our own physical “products”. But in a world where increasingly physical objects and products are connected, it’s frustrating not to be able to create 3D things that can be connected to digital devices. Enter researchers from University of Washington, who have “developed a way to 3D print plastic objects and sensors capable of communicating wirelessly with other smart devices, without the need for batteries or other electronics”.

As they say:

“The key idea behind our design is to communicate by reflections. The way that we do this is by reflecting Wi-Fi signals in the environment, similar to how you can use a mirror to reflect light. We 3D print antennas and switches that allow us to reflect radio signals. Using these components, we can build sensors that can detect mechanical motion, like water flow sensors and wind speed sensors. These sensors can then translate mechanical motion into reflections of Wi-Fi signals. As a result, we can create printable objects that can communicate wirelessly with Wi-Fi- enabled devices.”

Why It’s Hot:
It’s a primitive solution, but at least it’s an attempt to start enabling us to create our own “smart” products. In a world where soon almost all products will be connected, this is a promising step towards a true maker economy.


Making cereal cool again

Kellogg’s cereal cafe recently re-opened at Union Square in a space five times larger than its original location in Times Square. This is Kellogg’s attempt to stem sales decline by making millennials eat cereal as all-day snacks.

The cafe is operated by two famous restauranteurs, Sandra Di Capua from Eleven Madison Park and Anthony Rudolf from Per Se.

Why it’s hot: Leveraging food’s social status to make everyday mundane cool.

Source: Eater

Breakthrough Bacterial “Live Ink” Developed For 3D Printing

ETH Zurich, a science & tech university, has announced the development of a new kind of ink that contains live bacteria. This ink has fantastic implications for several areas of science, including cleaning up environmental pollution and creating medical supplies.

For environmental pollution, the ink is key because it suspends bacteria in a polymer hydrogel, which keeps the bacteria alive and fed for a time. Once the bacteria eat all of the hydrogel, it can begin to process other materials – for example, toxins in water. ETH Zurich researchers printed a live ink grid embedded with bacteria that eat the hazardous chemical phenol, and then put the lattice in phenol-contaminated water. The water was completely purified in just a few days.

For medical supplies, this ink is important not because of the bacteria itself, but because of the strands of material that the bacteria create when they move: bacterial cellulose. Bacterial cellulose is pure, holds a lot of water, and is soothing to wounds on human flesh. And it’s a natural material, so human bodies generally don’t reject the cellulose. As a result, this material is perfect for materials like skin transplants and wound dressings. Until now, bacterial cellulose could only be grown in flat sheets, which isn’t conducive to the contours of bodies – but now with this 3D ink, researchers can print cellulose in the shape of someone’s elbow, or face, or ankle, etc.

Why It’s Hot: There are SO many possible applications of this technology. 3D printing is relatively easy to access, and there are a million kinds of bacteria (unscientific estimation) that could be used and modified to achieve a multitude of goals. For example, researchers are already eyeing bacteria that could be genetically modified to secrete medicine to speed wound healing, and before you know it we’ll all be buying bacterially enhanced Band-Aids!

Read more: The Verge | Science News

Snapchat and Coach Debuted Snapcodes Embedded Into Holiday Pins

Forget about camera-equipped sunglasses—Snapchat and Coach are hoping to make Snapcodes en vogue.

Today, the companies announced they’ve partnered to create a limited-edition set of Coach pins equipped with Snapcodes. The pins mark the first time a brand has created a product with the technology embedded in it.

The pins, which will be available online and at 20 Coach locations across the U.S. throughout the holiday season, feature Coach’s holiday mascots—a unicorn, a dinosaur and a shark—inside an outline of Snapchat’s iconic ghost. To win a pin, Coach customers just have to take a free online or in-store quiz about their favorite mascot. According to Snap, users can scan the pins to play an arcade game based on Coach’s holiday video campaign.

“The pins are all about creativity and individuality,” Marni Schapiro, Snap’s director of retail, said in a statement. “They’re fun, playful and allow our community a way to Snap the virtual onto reality.”

The quiz will also be featured in some Snap ads from Coach running throughout the season and can unlock campaign-themed Snapchat filters.

While it’s the first time Snapchat has created a customized accessory with Snapcodes, Snap has experimented with fashion products before. Last year, the company unveiled Spectacles, and while they garnered a lot of hype, they failed to catch on with everyday consumers. While the company reported $5.4 million in “other” revenue (primarily from Spectacles), it also reported a $40 million write-down in the third quarter from unsold specs.

However, the pins could help Coach in another area that Snap’s been touting lately—in-store visits. According to a Nielsen Buyer Insights study commissioned by Snap, Snapchatting households spend 39 percent more at retail stores than the national average. The results, which analyzed a year of debit and credit transactions with retailers, found that Snapchat users are more likely than others to try new products. The study also reported that more than two in five remember using the app before, during or after shopping, and a quarter of users said they’ve looked for Snapchat filters while shopping.

Luxury brands have traditionally been slower to adopt emerging technologies than other industries; Coach has been gradually experimenting. For 2016’s New York Fashion Week, the brand offered up its runway show in VR. Earlier this year, the company partnered with IMG, Simon Malls and Facebook to create a virtual reality experience at 20 Coach locations within Simon Malls.

Why it’s hot: Taking something so digital as a Snapcode into the physical world of retail is a risk on all accounts. However, this campaign will allow the digital persona and the real-life experience to meet and sing together in perfect harmony. I believe this is only the beginning of brands utilizing Snapcodes in the real world (as long as Snapchat continues to stay strong in its user base).

ESPN Goes All-In On Fantasy

ESPN Fantasy sports app is driving a massive chunk of the network’s digital traffic, and Disney executives are looking to replicate that success for other networks.

  • ESPN Fantasy produces more log-in events than any other application in the Walt Disney company.
  • On NFL Sundays, ESPN Fantasy accounts for 53% of all minutes consumed across ESPN Digital platforms.
  • To date, Fantasy has engaged more 20 million unique users in 2017. The network gets roughly 90-100 million combined monthly uniques on average, per comScore.

The success of ESPN Fantasy has the attention of ABC executives. Last year, Disney launched a fantasy league game for ABC’s “Bachelorette” to help broaden the Fantasy reach to women and found enormous success. The two Bachelorette Fantasy League games were played by more than 700,000 users, 75% of whom were women.








Why It’s Hot:

ESPN and its parent company, Disney, are experimenting with online offerings that go beyond traditional TV content. They are beginning to see the value in providing additional services that pair well with their owned televised content and their partners content (ABC, NFL, NBA, MLB, etc), both of which will drive people online capturing attention on TV, mobile, and possibly future subscription products.

Your Ad on the Moon




A Japanese spaceflight company called Ispace plans to fund future missions to the moon by selling ad space to brands looking to literally leave their mark in space.

Ispace hopes to finance a manned mission to the moon by 2020 and it will be branded like crazy, according to Bloomberg. The company was started through Google’s Lunar Xprize, a competition that will award $20 million to whoever can land and drive a spacecraft on the moon’s surface. It’s worth noting that the target date for the program’s first mission was 2012.

Why its hot

Which brands could you see being first to jump at a chance to put their name on the moon?

Private space flight has become the big thing in tech thanks to companies like SpaceX. Funding will be crucial to keeping missions going, so perhaps there is a “space” for brands to get in on the fun.

Everywhere is a Touch Screen

Future Lab, an innovation division of Sony released Xperia Touch, has developed an interactive projector that takes on motions familiar to mobile touchscreen devices. It uses infrared lights and cameras to detect interaction. As described by the company, they are positioning the Xperia Touch as “a consumer device that can be used for gaming, education, online video streaming and communication.”

Why It’s Hot: This is another example of bringing digital interfaces into physical space. The applications of this device are very broad and captures the natural ways people have learned to interact on touch screens, and adapt them to the surrounding environment. There will certainly be new interaction patterns that develop from this type of experience.


Why Design Systems Fail

More and more brands are looking to design systems to unify their products. Designers love them because they make prototyping fast and easy, and devs love them because they make starting a new project a synch. But without the proper support, design systems can fall apart. Some considerations for keeping a design system going:

  • Successful design systems need investment of resources. Neglect the system and it quickly becomes out of date (and who wants to use dated code?). Small incremental updates over time keep the system working.
  • A team should own the system, and be responsible for supporting, developing, evangelizing, and managing the whole thing. This makes it more likely that the system stays relevant.
  • Continuous communication with designers and developers is crucial. Both should feel heard, although a final decision must be made about what to include and exclude.
  • People need to want to use the design system. Make it the path of least resistance and show value by recording wins and evangelizing.
  • Good design systems should scale, so plan the architecture in advance.
  • Most importantly, if it’s harder for people to use than their current system, people just won’t use it. Just because it might be an internal tool, don’t treat it as an afterthought – simplify until it’s easier than the ad-hoc systems designers and devs are using.

Hims is the Goop dudes have been waiting for

At the convergence of the years’ many trends– Wellness, Millennial Pink, and Living Your Best Life, lies a new company– Hims– that has garnered outsize attention for being “basically, Glossier for men.” The company, whose mission states: “Create an open and empowered male culture that results in more proactivity around health and preventative self-care” is peddling beautifully packaged and wittily marketed generics of Rogaine and Cialis to educated men who live in urban areas and earn an average of $90k.

The brand’s founder seeks to “break the ice” surrounding typically uncomfortable health and wellness issues for men– hair-loss and ED being the first– in a progression emblematic of Silicon Valley’s preoccupation with science-based lifestyle decisions (see: exercise trackers, DNA-based meal plans and anti-aging nutraceuticals). Hims simply outlines its product offering into Hair, Skin, Sex, and Merch.



The Ringer’s profile of Hims notes that: “As the mind-and-body market has grown over the past decade, entrepreneurs have found a way to repackage classic dieting, beauty, and health products for a generation of laptop-toting millennials. More specifically, they have frequently borrowed from the world of female-focused commodities and rebranded them to be geared towards men… The outsized attention surrounding Hims’s debut may be related to the fact that it co-opted the marketing strategy of female-focused health startups, rather than a product.”

Seeing the launch of millennial-empowerment brands for women (read: the (frequently problematic) Thinx) it feels significant that Hims is using a similar marketing strategy and applying it to the male audience. Millennial pink and all.

The FCC Repeals Net Neutrality

As you know from recent Hot Sauce posts, the debate of Net Neutrality “going away” has been a big topic of conversation.  As of yesterday, the FCC repealed Obama-Era net neutrality rules that guaranteed equal access to the internet.

What does this mean?

Basically, there’s a chance that internet providers can limit the websites that subscribers have access to.  Instead of being able to visit any site ever put into existence, they could in theory sell packages that allow customers to be able to visit certain sites only.  An example would be Package A allows access to top 100 sites, then Package B allows Package A plus some long tail sites, like the gazillions of blogs out there.  Additionally, they can control the speed at which websites load… preferred sites could load quickly while others are loaded at an intentionally slow rate… unless they pay more to get loaded quicker.

Why It’s Hot

Not only can this lead to a limitation of freedom of speech (if internet providers don’t have to provide ALL of the sites, there’s more room for propaganda and stifling voices that corporations don’t side with), but the online economy could change. Think about all of the little blogs that get traction through pinterest or other means.  Internet providers could make access to those sites nearly impossible if they wanted, cutting off income streams to thousands of people.  Only time will tell if internet providers do the “right” thing and let us continue to have our whole internet, the way it was meant to be.


NY Times


Wendy’s Hosts an AMA.. And It’s EPIC!

Wendy’s peeled back the curtains and gave the social media world a peek inside of their brains. They hosted an AMA (Ask Me Anything) on December 14th, the night before, they sent out a message on Twitter that mentioned that they would be hosting an open Q&A on Reddit.

They received a groundswell of positive feedback from their fans. They were asked tons of questions ranging from serious to humorous, and everything else in-between. The company gave a peak into what goes on behind-the-scenes with the people who run their Twitter account.

Fans were curious about everything from what Tweets were the teams’ favorites, to asking if they’ve ever gotten in trouble by their management for something that they’ve Tweeted out. This personalized approach to interacting with their fans gave a humanistic perspective to a huge, widely recognized social media brand.

Link To Reddit: Here

Why It’s Hot: While the social voice of Wendy’s is extremely distinct, and even snarky in nature, this provides a good example that human works. Fans have taken well to this informal, real interaction with one of the most popular social media accounts.

Ready Player Leg

A new poster for Ready Player One was released:

Notice anything weird? Well, you’re not alone.. The internet had some fun with that extra long leg. Here are some of my fav posts from it:

Why it’s Hot:

  • Make sure check there’s no obvious photoshopping in posters unless you’re looking for internet troll attention

More posts about the poster:




Parker the stuffed bear

Say Hi to Parker, your augmented reality bear. He’s filled with nothing but love and stuffing but he’s so much more than that. When you purchase Parker for $60 you can get the whole Parker kit that’s compatible with your iOS devices! It comes with Parker, a wooden stethoscope, wooden thermometer and a few other miscellaneous items. The idea is to promote STEAM from a young age.

It’s a great way to integrate AR with a classic toy for kids. The greatest part is that you can also purchase the $40 extension bedtime kit for more fun! Purchases aside, at least the app itself is free.

Why it’s hot:

STEAM integration is becoming more and more important and it’s an amazing way to let kids explore from the get go. But is Parker worth $100?


Car Search Site Offers REAL People As Concierge

For those of you in search of a new car, like I recently was, you’ll know how much of a pain it can be.  First you have to know what features you want, figure out your budget, etc.  Then, you have to actually go to the dealership and test drive, spend hours haggling, etc.

There’s a new website out there called Copilot Search.  It will help you along the entire car buying process, offering a discovery engine (if you don’t know what car you want, but know what FEATURES you want, it will scape everything available and provide you with recommendations).  Next to that, they have the same tools as dealerships do, so you can truly identify what you should be paying.  What’s most amazing about this site though, is the one on one free concierge service.  When you sign up, there is a real person that can help you through the car buying experience and make your most educated choice.  In a world where chat bots are everywhere, this is taking a step back to truly servicing a customer and their needs, when they’re preparing to spend tens of thousands of dollars.

Why It’s Hot

Sometimes I think businesses get too focused on technology and forget about how to truly service a customer.  This site has strong service (I actually didn’t think my “copilot” was real… that’s how rampant chat bots are- but then I had an actual conversation with him on the phone!) and offers something that has been lacking in the car buying space.  Before I discovered it, I had a spreadsheet (yes, I know I’m anal retentive!) of the features I wanted and the vehicles I was thinking of.  I actually didn’t even know the car I ended up buying existed until I found Copilot and used their Discovery Engine (you don’t know what you don’t know).  As people servicing brands, we always have to keep in mind that service has to be #1- if the technology that exists now creates a lackluster experience, it may not be worth it in the long run.

Note: I’m not getting paid to support this site!

Chobani rebrands in an attempt to outpace the competition

In an attempt to stay ahead of the curve, distance itself from similar products, and shake the potentially negative implications of association with it’s manufacturer, multinational food-production corporation Danone, yogurt and snack brand Chobani announced a rebrand late last month. The new look is more abstract, colorful, and painterly, eschewing photos of fruit and perfectly white packaging in favor of colorful illustrations and bone packaging.



Why it’s hot

The new packaging and illustration style is already visible on the website, but many key elements retain the old branding and typography. This pastiche creates a jarring view of a company transitioning, attempting to find its place in a market where some consumers are wary of big food brands. A redesign this big could prove a challenge, “eliminating a shelf appearance that shoppers are already accustomed to.” Whether shoppers will be swayed by a bright color palette and playful abstractions is yet to be determined.

Stop Everyday Killers – Pain Management and the opioid crisis

One-third of people taking prescription pills like oxycodone don’t even know they’re on opioids. Crazy!

A new campaign from the nonprofit health organization National Safety Council, Energy BBDO and m ss ng p eces seeks to raise awareness about, and take action to stop, the drug epidemic sweeping the U.S., by focusing on the 22,000 people who died last year due to prescription opioid overdose.

Titled “Stop Everyday Killers,” it features a memorial wall covered in that same number of little pills—22,000 of them—all with tiny faces mechanically carved into them to represent the dead. As part of the roving exhibit, which launched in Chicago last month and is set to travel to places like Pittsburgh, Atlanta, and Washington D.C., a routing machine carves a new face into a pill every 24 minutes, the rate at which prescription opioid overdoses happen.

The memorial, called “Prescribed to Death,” includes three rooms sharing such individual stories through videos and personal belongings of the deceased—one focused on Avi and Michael; one on a woman named Felicia and her son Louie, who also died from an overdose; and a third on Rigo, a recovering addict.

The campaign also includes efforts to reduce the number of prescription opioids in circulation by offering free “Warn Me” labels that consumers can stick to their insurance and prescription cards asking healthcare providers to discuss the risks of taking opioids and possible alternatives. The NSC is also offering free pre-paid “Seal&Send” envelopes for returning unwanted medications. Both are available via the organization’s website, which also includes many more short video memorials for individuals killed by opioids.

Why its hot?

  • Opioid addiction is a huge issue, 1/3 of people on pain medication not knowing their on opioids is crazy!
  • How will the opioid crisis effect healthcare providers? What will this do to the doctors/patient relationship?
  • I think we’ll see a lot of campaigns that focus on securing the doctor/patient relationship. People need to feel they can trust their doctors, campaigns like this are important but could have a negative effect on care and treatment

22,000 Faces Are Carved Into Pills on This Opioid Overdose Memorial


Delivering the most good looking pizzas

Domino’s is using artificial intelligence cameras to ensure that every pizza made in-store is up to scratch. The Pizza Checker cameras take pictures of pizzas from above the kitchen cutting board, and an AI program assesses the pizza type, temperature, crust type, toppings, and distribution of ingredients.

The results are then sent to the store manager. A picture of the pizza is also sent to the customer (through Domino’s order-tracking website) along with a notification that tells them if it failed its assessment and must be remade.

At present, the AI camera is being trialled at one Domino’s restaurant in Australia, with plans to implement the system across the rest of the country in 2018. The Computer Vision Quality Management System was developed by Dragontail Systems and incorporates Google’s AI software.

Why it’s hot?
We’re getting closer to the live delivery movie we’ve always been curious about

Source: Thrillist

Drone, curbing overtime employees

In some Asian countries including Japan and China, there’s a culture that encourages employees to work overtime. Sadly, overtime has led to deaths.

A Japanese company named Taisei wants to solve this problem in an unconventional way. They designed a drone that surveils around the office with camera and blasts Auld Lang Syne to nag people into going home. In Japan this song is usually used to indicate closing time. Their plan is to make it hard for people to concentrate and continue to work.

Why it’s hot: a very functional and useful application of cutting-edge technologies.


Messaging apps: et tu, IG?

Instagram is testing a standalone app for private messages called Direct, a first step toward possibly toward removing messaging features from the core app.

Instagram Direct

Although it is officially only a test, Instagram’s rationale for building Direct app is that private messaging can never be a best-in-class experience when it lives inside an app meant for broadcasting publicly.

When Facebook split Messenger from the main app in 2014, it drew an outcry from users, who pelted it with one-star reviews. Today, the app has 1.3 billion monthly users — up from 500 million the year that it split.

Why It’s Hot
How many more messaging apps can there be? I guess time will tell but for now focused experiences continues to win even when it requires multiple apps.

This video game is also an ADHD prescription medicine

Akili Interactive just announced incredible results from a pivotal study of their investigational digital medicine, AKL-T01, aka a VIDEO GAME, in treating pediatric ADHD. This sounds bonkers but it’s true, I swear.

In a randomized, controlled trial of 348 kids and teenagers with ADHD, AKL-T01 showed a statistically significant improvement compared to an active control on the primary goal of changing the subjects’ Attention Performance Index, a measure of ADHD symptoms. With these study results in hand, Akili plans to file AKL-T01 with the FDA for clearance as a novel treatment for pediatric ADHD.

AKL-T01 is built on Akili’s proprietary Project: EVO tech platform that “enables selective targeting and activation of specific cognitive neural systems in the brain that exhibit deficiencies from various medical conditions” (BusinessWire). Basically, the game uses algorithms to deliver stimuli that engage targeted neural systems in the brain, and the algorithms automatically adjust the level, aka dose, of stimuli depending on the particular patient. The treatment looks and feels like a video game, with art, music, storytelling, and rewards to keep kids engaged for maximum compliance.

Why It’s Hot: IT’S A VIDEO GAME THAT IS ALSO A PRESCRIPTION FOR CHANGING NEURAL PATHWAYS IN PEOPLE. That is bonkers. If the FDA approves this as a medication, and the platform is expanded to treat other brain/neurological disorders, the possibilities are endless.

Learn More: BusinessWire | Reuters