Stick a straw in it

Strawbees, created by a Swedish start-up, is spreading STEAM one straw at a time. Pushing aside the standardization of the classroom, Strawbees emphasizes play and curiousity, encourages learning by making, and promotes experimenting and asking questions. They believe that learning is best when we have fun together!

Why it’s hot:
Their digital programming is an open-ended system that’s built on C language making it easy for beginners to learn but also allows advanced users to have fun as well. By using straws and strawbees (connectors). Their system is fully web-based instead of on an app making it work almost everywhere!


This Post Will Self Destruct in ….

The race is on to develop electronics that explode, melt, liquify, evaporate, or otherwise self-destruct on command.

“… gadgets that self-destruct so completely you can’t even tell they were ever there? And what if those gadgets weren’t Peter Graves’s reel-to-reel tape recorders or Tom Cruise’s exploding sunglasses, but all manner of wearables, smartphones, laptops, and even drones?

The Pentagon is working on devices for soldiers and spies that can explode, melt, liquify, evaporate, or otherwise self-destruct on command, on a schedule, or under specific environmental conditions. Tech companies and research universities are working on such technologies, too.


Why have self destructing gadgets:

  1. Leave – behind
  2.  environmentalism
  3. public safety
  4. stealth
  5. personal privacy
  6. crime prevention
  7. and even medicine.

Check out the article to see devices that self-crush, melt, dissolve, and vaporize.

Why it’s hot:

The concerns that drive the military to want self-destructive technology make it a wish for consumers also. Although we will need to wait, some of these gadgets may become mainstream.

Good Posts On The Internet

It’s easy to think of the Internet as a bad, ugly place. Dissertations are being written about how the Internet of the late Teens got to be such a horrible place.

However, there are still good posts on the Internet! They are hidden away in fusty servers and often employ strange hex codes, such as #eeff99.

Strange hex codes are employed on the Internet

“Where are these good posts located?!” you might ask scornfully, while refreshing your Instagram feed in the hopes of seeing that red circle in the top right; someone messaged me!

Well, Hacker News user jsomers noticed that many of the best posts on Hacker News were old posts. He threw together a site that scraped everything that contained a year in parenthesis, which is the common convention for identifying old posts.

The result can be found here, and contains some outright bangers such as E.M. Forrester’s “The Machine Stops“, George Kennans “The Long Telegram” and many more. I highly recommend scrolling through it.

Why it’s hot

Knowledge is always hot. Knowledge, on the Internet, is Hot Sauce hot.

Voice AORs are here

“We want to get organized around having voice as a core part of our marketing efforts and marketing campaigns,” says JPMorgan ChaseChief Marketing Officer Kristin Lemkau. “Voice is not only coming; it’s here, and in a multitasking world, it’s really significant,” she adds.

JPMorgan Chase has brought on VaynerMedia as their Voice agency of record. They’ve seen how other brands have invested heavily into Facebook and Snap, but they see Voice as a whitespace where they can be one of the first brands to really be ahead of the curve.

So what will the work look like (or sound like)?

An example could be someone asking JPMorgan a quick question via Alexa, like “What’s my balance?” A skill could be someone asking: “If I keep saving the way I am now, how long would it take for me to buy this house?” or “What can I spend on vacation next week?”

When it comes to the more personalized questions, like checking an account balance, JPMorgan’s internal team will work to figure out all of the data security and cyber protection issues, with counsel from VaynerMedia, says Lemkau. The company is looking at all voice platforms right now – not just Alexa – and is looking to release its first voice activations later this year.

Why it’s hot: This legitimizes Voice as a real channel that brands (outside of the parent companies like Amazon for Alexa) can leverage to connect with their customers. I expect this to be the first of many brands putting a much larger focus on Voice.

Read more:

“Snap” Up Those Jordans

Maybe “I need to snap those sneakers” will become a new thing people say. Young people anyway.

Snapchat launched its first brand collaboration, enabling users to purchase the latest paid of Jordan brand sneakers without leaving the app. The collaboration with Shopify and Jordan Brand launched during the NBA All-Star game. With Shopify facilitating the in-app check out process, the shoes sold out in 23 minutes. To take part, users scanned in a Snapcode, which linked them to the purchase process.

Of course, Snapchat is not the first to do this—Facebook Messenger and Instagram have similar partnerships with Shopify.

Why its hot

While this may have been a self-contained event during a prime moment for the intended audience (Jordans at the NBA All-Star Game!), this could be the way Snapchat grabs back some attention from Instagram Stories, giving brands a way in to that elusive millennial demographic. We could start seeing limited edition QR codes out in the world to discover through Snapchat.

google AI predicts heart attacks by scanning your eye…

This week, the geniuses at Google and its “health-tech subsidiary” Verily announced AI that can predict your risk of a major cardiac event with roughly the same accuracy as the currently-accepted method using just a scan of your eye.

They have created an algorithm that analyzes the back of your eye for important predictors of cardiovascular health “including age, blood pressure, and whether or not [you] smoke” to assess your risk.

As explained via The Verge:

“To train the algorithm, Google and Verily’s scientists used machine learning to analyze a medical dataset of nearly 300,000 patients. This information included eye scans as well as general medical data. As with all deep learning analysis, neural networks were then used to mine this information for patterns, learning to associate telltale signs in the eye scans with the metrics needed to predict cardiovascular risk (e.g., age and blood pressure).

When presented with retinal images of two patients, one of whom suffered a cardiovascular event in the following five years, and one of whom did not, Google’s algorithm was able to tell which was which 70 percent of the time. This is only slightly worse than the commonly used SCORE method of predicting cardiovascular risk, which requires a blood test and makes correct predictions in the same test 72 percent of the time.

Why It’s Hot:

This type of application of AI can help doctors quickly know what to look into, and shows how AI could help them spend less time diagnosing, and more time treating. It’s a long way from being completely flawless right now, but in the future, we might see an AI-powered robot instead of a nurse before we see the doctor.


Improved AI-powered photo stylization

A team of students and researchers has developed an improved algorithm for stylizing the content of one photo using another photo as a style reference. According to the research paper, “experimental results show that the stylized photos generated by our algorithm are twice more preferred by human subjects in average. Moreover, our method runs 60 times faster than the state-of-the-art approach.”

Previous methods at automated photo stylization have focused on matching color statistics and while they “[show] impressive performance for artistic style transfer (converting images to paintings), [they] often [introduce] structural artifacts and distortions (e.g., extremely bright colors) when applied to the photorealistic image style transfer task.” The new method, diagrammed in the image below, involves two discrete steps, stylizing and smoothing. The styling step (F1) maps the content photograph (Ic) to an intermediate image (middle) with the style of the style photograph (Is). The second smoothing step (F2) then removes artifacts and anomalies introduced by the first step, producing a more photorealistic result (right).

Why it’s hot

While there are certainly some Black Mirror-ish implications that come along with the ability to manipulate images to create fake photorealistic photos, this development is also an exciting move in our understanding of neural networks and accommodating for their limitations. It’s exciting to think of the creative possibilities of bringing new life to old photographs and possibly, eventually, movies?

Read the full report and see more amazing examples

World’s first baby marathon

Babies can cover a distance of more than 3 kilometers per day, according to research by New York University. Taking this data, babycare brand Huggies decided to host a Baby Marathon to raise awareness of its products in South Africa.

Four babies, nicknamed Thunder Pants, Hurricane Thando, Racin’ Grays and Danger Boy, were tasked with roaming 21km around their homes. Their progress was recorded over seven days using custom-made fitness trackers.

Huggies covered the race in four online episodes. With a fake sports commentator narrating the action, the videos highlight the effectiveness of Huggies diapers as if they were sports gear. Viewers could find out more about the products, as well as the babies and their training regimes, on a dedicated microsite

The Baby Marathon resulted in a 28.9% increase in Huggies’ diaper sales. The campaign trended within 10 mins of launch for 9 hours and attracted 8.4 million views.

Why it’s hot?
Brings the sportswear performance psychology to baby products.
By showing babies as athletes, it breaks away from the usual diaper efficacy claims.

Source: Huggies, South Africa

Bond: the machine that writes cards for you

We’ve seen a lot of innovations and technologies that are used to turn mail into a digital experience: QR code, AR, VR.

Bond is a company that is doing pretty much the opposite. They created a robot that has the ability to learn a person’s handwriting and replicate it, in order to help people and companies send a more “personal” mail.

How it works: they have an app where you pick from different types of cards and handwriting styles and where you can type your message. Then you just give the receiver address and they send the mail piece to you.

Although they offer a preselected range of handwriting types, they say you can also add your own –  but it seems like a not very simple process.

Here’s an interview with the founder.

Why it’s hot:
It’s a different use of technology – instead of increasing digital experiences, it aims to bring a human touch.
It can be an opportunity for a campaign for mail – for people and brands.

Source: Fast Company


A History of Olympic Pictograms

With many cultures and languages coming together in one place for the Olympics, pictograms have been important iconography to clearly indicate different events on signage, tickets, etc.

Here is a quote from the Pyeongchang Organizing Committee about designing the 2018 Winter olympic pictograms:

“They have been designed based on the Korean alphabet known as Hangeul. This is a system of letters that is unique to Korea and it was also used in the design of the official Games emblems. From the 16 vowels and 14 consonants of Hangeul that exist, four consonants and three vowels were selected and have been reflected in the pictograms.” — POCOG Press Office


The Evolution of Olympic Pictograms

“Aicher’s pictograms marked the debut of the circular head, the 45- and 90-degree angled lines, and the simplified body shapes that would become standard stick figure iconography not just in the Olympics but throughout the world–even the design schema developed by the U.S. Department of Transportation was based on it.”

The original Olympic Pictograms by Otl Aicher and team for the 1972 Munich Summer Olympics

Pictograms of the 1984 Sarajevo Winter Olympics

“Notice the painterly, imperfect, almost calligraphic lines. Some of the designs even veer into the abstract. ”

Barcelona Summer and Albertville Winter Olympics Pictograms (1992)

“This design awakening took on the task of introducing cultural history into the pictographs. In 1994, Lillehammer gave us some Norwegian rock carvings.”

“In 2000, Sydney threw some boomerangs into the effort. And in 2004, Athens found inspiration in the artwork of ancient Greek vases.”

“The 2000s saw a rapid advancement in design software and the pictograms of the Turin Olympic Games in 2006 and London in 2012 feel likewise touched by a more advanced set of tools. Witness a whole new level of craftsmanship in the presentation of volume, transparency, form, and color.”

Why It’s Hot: The original Olympic pictograms created by Otl Aicher have influenced other pictograms, like the US Department of Transportation. As time has gone on the pictograms represent more and more of the host city’s culture and language, which makes each set a unique expression of the time and place of that event. This year’s pictograms have a return to simplicity, while still being able to convey and represent South Korea’s rich language and culture.


HBO will host an interactive ‘Westworld’ park at this year’s SXSW

HBO has quite the plan to celebrate Westworld at the South by Southwest Conference and Festivals in Austin, Texas, in March. The network announced February 21 that it is building an actual park based on the show that will be open to visitors from March 9 to March 11. The park is more than two acres in size, and it will feature locations like the Coronado hotel and the Mariposa Saloon. There will even be actors playing “hosts” that visitors can interact with throughout their visit.

Perhaps the most exciting part of the entire experience is the fact that it offers season 2 clues. Visitors will be able to look for them as they go through the different parts of the park, and they will be able to try to uncover others in their conversations with hosts. Let’s hope they share whatever they discover.

The experience lasts about two hours, and keeping with the theme, visitors will be taken to and from the site in a Delos shuttle. There is, unfortunately, a limited number of slots available. HBO made half of them available online at the website, and they filled up quickly. However, more will open up during SXSW.
Why It’s HotAwesome show, tired tradeshow. What is big time experiential is the next way in?


Augmented news

The New York Times app started to incorporate AR into its digital content that makes flat images three-dimensional.

In an article reporting on the Winter Olympics, NYT uses the technology to allow readers to engage with the content, the athletes. Readers can look closer on some parts of the content, look at it from a different angle and walk around it. This functionality extends the time a reader spends on the article by letting them engage with the content.

Why it’s hot: using technology to add value to content and improve customer experience.

Scientists develop a 3D-printed smartphone microscope

Australian researchers at the Centre of Excellence for Nanoscale BioPhotonics, a transdisciplinary government network, have created a 3D-printed device that clips onto smartphones, transforming them into fully functional microscopes. The device was developed with the goal of helping researchers and scientists have access to this crucial tool in remote regions and developing countries.

The microscope works by clipping an additional lens to the phone’s camera lens, and then holding slides up to it. Users can use the phone’s existing flash to do bright field or dark field imaging, which means the microscope can visualize both plant and mammalian cells. It’s powerful enough to view specimens as small as 1/200th of a millimeter. All of this means that the microscope can be used for things like analyzing water cleanliness, testing blood samples for parasites, and diagnosing diseases including malaria.

There are other portable microscopes on the market, but they require external LEDs and power sources, and get bulky surprisingly fast. This microscope makes full use of the smartphone as a power and light source, requiring nothing other than the clip itself.

Best of all? The researchers have made the 3D printing files free to the public. Good job, team.

Why It’s Hot: The 3D printer is again an innovation powerhouse, creating lifesaving technology with an incredibly low barrier to entry. And in making the printing files free to the public, these researchers are making a fantastic statement on putting the common good above individual profit. Would this have happened if a corporation, not a government program, made this innovation?

Learn More: Engadget | Newsweek

IndieCade East Recap

This past weekend there was a festival for indie games at the Museum of Moving Images in Queens. There were a ton of amazing talks and indie games doing all sorts of interesting and unique things, but here are a few I saw that stood out to me:


During the festival there was a 10 hour game jam going on where game designers had to create a new alt-ware game using an unreleased platform, Blinks, inspired by the work of the indie game designers, Jason Rohrer.

Blinks is a new alt-ware gaming platform where there are multiple hexagon tiles that can “talk” to each other. Games can be programmed on one tile and then transfer data about the game to others.The designers of the platform needed more games for the platform so they made it extremely easy to code new games on it and sponsored this game jam. A few teams were able to finish making games in a couple of hours so they decided to make more. Here’s a video and instructions for a game on the platform:

  1. The players take turns.
  2. On your turn, you break the array of tiles into two chunks and put them back together in another formation. 
  3. When a tile has at least two neighbors but none match its color, it blinks with happiness.
  4. The first player whose tiles are all happy at once wins.

Getting Over It:

The creator of the popular frustrating game QWOP and GIRP is back with a new ridiculously challenging game called Getting Over It.  The user plays as a man stuck in a pot trying to get over a trash mountain using a giant hammer. Just like Foddy’s other games, this one involves very unintuitive controls making the interaction of controlling the avatar the challenge of the game. The best part about seeing it at the expo is that the creator was there giving encouraging commentary to users as they failed miserably at playing his game. It was hilarious.

You can buy it on Steam here for Windows and MacOS.

You can buy it on the iOS App Store here.


Beyond the screen:

Oh man, this talk was so good! Here’s the description from the schedule:

Ubiquitous computing, Internet of Things, Immersive Theater, Physical Computing, Augmented Reality – the stunning growth of technological and artistic possibility for interaction design is driving games, play, and interaction out of our flat screens and into the truly interactable space of the real world. IndieCade co-founder Celia Pearce explores this brand new world of play in a talk for designer and players alike.

One of the cofounders of indieCade, Celia Pearce, went through a presentation that highlighted dozens of the great games that broke away from using a screen as the interface. I’ll try to hunt down the full deck and see if she’s maybe able to come in to demo a few of them to us if that’s something we think is useful, but here’s the one I thought was most unique.

Fear Sphere is a horror game played in a pitch black inflatable sphere. One person crawls inside an inflatable dome with a projector with a gyroscope inside of it, to help them find their way out of a virtual maze. Other players stay outside with a map to guide them. The projector is used like a flashlight to give a sense of being in a pitch black world.


Thoughts and Prayers the Game:

This game wasn’t at the expo but I was told about it while there. It’s a great example of how games can include political opinions and have messages within them. The idea of the game is that you send thoughts and prayers after mass shootings and your score is how many lives you’ve saved. Spoiler: it’s always zero.


More info about IndieCade here

Technology and Monopolies

There’s an interesting article this week from the NYTimes Magazine on the history of antitrust laws in big technology firms, and the implications for companies like Google, Facebook, and Microsoft. Titled, “The Case Against Google,” it tracks back to some of the promising contenders that threatened Google with better technology in the past, and how Google systematically shut them down by ostensibly eliminating them from search results (and other similar tactics) – because by today’s standards, if you don’t appear in a Google search, do you even exist? Google maintains that all of its functionality is in service of the users, and that antitrust cases against it are ultimately hindering it from providing the best possible experience for users and advertisers. And while that has been a compelling argument for decades, the author contends that that is not necessarily what antitrust is all about.

It’s also an interesting historic take on how antitrust laws have been applied to firms on the verge of monopolizing their market, and the fallout of those suits. Speaking of the antitrust cases against IBM in the 60s-70s, and against Microsoft in the 90s:

“If Microsoft hadn’t been sued, all of technology would be different today,” Reback told me. We’ve known since Standard Oil that advances in technology make it easier for monopolies to emerge. But what’s less recognized is the importance of antitrust in making sure those new technologies spread to everyone else. In 1969 the Justice Department started a lawsuit against IBM for antitrust violations that lasted 13 years. The government eventually surrendered, but in an earlier attempt to mollify prosecutors, IBM eliminated its practice of bundling hardware and software, a shift that essentially created the software industry. Suddenly, new start-ups could get a foothold simply by writing programs rather than building machines. Microsoft was founded a few years later and soon outpaced IBM.”


The way the FTC responds to recent European suits against Google, and other tech giants, will be telling in the next few years to come, and will set the precedent that won’t only affect the way we use the internet, but the entire global economy.

You can’t buy me love…but you can buy loyalty

Spending on loyalty programs is through the roof – experiencing an annual compounded growth rate of nearly 21 percent. And no wonder – returning customers spend up to 67 percent more than first-time customers.

But most loyalty programs don’t generate loyalty. One recent study found that customers of retailers that offer a loyalty program were not more loyal than customers of those that don’t. Another recent study found that only 42 percent of loyalty program members are active or engaged. While it pays to have loyal customers, you can’t simply pay customers to be loyal.


What if instead of paying customers to be loyal, those same customers actually paid the companies they want to be loyal to?

It’s a concept Amazon understands well. In the latest quarter, Prime membership grew by 47 percent. Prime members spend 250 percent more a year than non-members. And while standard loyalty programs tend to bleed engagement over time, Prime members actually become more engaged.

What companies like Amazon, GameStop, Sephora and Restoration Hardware understand is that there’s a difference between loyalty and love. Loyalty simply means you’ve managed to put a card in the customer’s wallet. Paid membership means you’ve secured a place in the customer’s heart. At the same time, charging a membership fee creates an onus on the part of the company to deliver value against the heightened expectations the fee creates.

Read more: Business of Fashion

Why It’s Hot
Expanded notions of loyalty in CRM can benefit both the company and consumer – a mutual value exchange that can breed longer-lasting brand love.

Robots make presence known at Winter Olympics

Robots have made their presence known at this year’s Winter Olympics in PyeongChang. Luckily, none of them have killed anyone…yet.

We knew that South Korea was going to feature tech very prominently…and that robotic fish tank did not disappoint.

Story on The Verge

Story on Futurism

Why It’s Hot

It’s interesting to see the robotic presence against an event that defines the human spirit at times.


Snark, sick burns, and memes? That’s so 140 characters ago

To everyone’s surprise, a few days after Valentine’s Day, snack cake brand Little Debbie posted a tweet about the holiday, which quickly went viral.

Why it’s hot: While brands seem to be falling over themselves to try to figure out how to bottle and imitate that Wendy’s sass or Steak-Umms/Moon Pie je ne sais quoi, Little Debbie seems to have hit on something that people are really craving right now: unabashed positivity. The account’s content doesn’t shy away from earnest and endearing, which seems perfectly aligned with the nostalgic brand’s personality without being over the top. By sticking to and being confident in their brand heritage, they’ve managed to stand out from the pack by simply letting Little Debbie be herself.



YouTube’s Algorithm Helps Spread Lies

Time to re-litigate our favorite Hot Sauce topic! Are social media platforms media platforms or not? Do they have a journalistic responsibility to the public?

Last week YouTube’s quickly algorithm spread a rumor that Parkland HS shooting survivor David Hogg was an actor hired by democrats. It had 200K views shortly after it’s posting, but has since been taken down.

Mashable, the source for this post had a very apt understanding of the problem at hand:

YouTube’s job, as it sees it, is to get as many eyeballs on as many videos as possible. It’s as if a media tycoon founded a newspaper, invited every conspiracy theorist to contribute, and blithely waved away the notion that there should be any ethical responsibility to put forth the verifiable truth — because selling ads was all that mattered.

In a recent Guardian study this recent Guardian study out of 643 of partisan videos  recommended to people watching politics content in 2016, 551 were conspiracy-based content that favored Trump while 92 favored Clinton. This study also notes that “More than 80% of the YouTube-recommended videos about the pope detected by his program described the Catholic leader as “evil”, “satanic”, or “the anti-Christ”.”

The Guardian tells the story of french programmer Guillaume Chaslot founder of who was looking to make changes internally at YouTube in 2013 before he was fired (reportedly for performance reasons, but I’ll leave that up to you.) He believes that the YouTube Algorithm was biased towards Trump because it is biased towards divisiveness and conspiracy (things that shock and awe audiences can get more clicks). You can read his full blog post on the subject here.

Why Its Hot?

Let’s continue the conversation about how AI and algorithms shape the way we live, is there a way we can make them more human instead of human pandering.

Sound Me In

Ticketmaster has partnered with audio startup Lisnr to develop an app that checks in event goers using sound technology.The app uses unique signals sent and received by mobile devices to identify who is entering the venue. When a person is in close proximity, they can simply open the app to check in.

Microphones installed at the event listen for audio signals emitted from devices at frequencies usually inaudible to people and checks them against the venue’s database. Once a person is identified and verified, their app lights up in green, signaling that they have been checked in successfully. This means that attendees can walk through without having to queue to get a ticket scanned or checked.


At some places, people can also use their Presence app to check in by simply tapping their phones on specially installed sensors and scanners. The digital passes can be used to view, transfer and sell tickets within the app, as well as through text messages and email.

Ticketmaster and Lisnr have hinted that, in addition to reducing ticket fraud and queues, the partnership can enable brands and event venues to personalize the experience for users.

Why It’s Hot:

  • It was a very obvious, yet innovative way to bring the ticket into the 21st century
  • Not only does this digital dog whistle allows you to waltz right in hassle free, it also recognizes you as an individual fan, allowing brands to serve you customized content, offers, and experiences.
  • Requires no additional hardware, no need for wifi, mobile service or Bluetooth connectivity allowing brands to scale this solution quickly and easily.

Source: Contagious



The Next-Gen Clothing Brand: Everlane

Since launching the company in 2011 as a direct-to-consumer clothing brand committed to “radical transparency,” Preysman and his team have been strategically expanding its scope. Defying the reign of fast-fashion heavyweights like Zara and H&M, Everlane has used its website and social media handles to offer customers a glimpse into its factories around the world, give voice to the workers making its garments, and share a price breakdown of each product it sells. Shoppers can see that Everlane’s original $15 American-made tee costs $6.50 to produce—and that the company’s markup is significantly less than the $45 that traditional designer brands tack on.

Everlane’s forthright messaging, coupled with its spare, fashion-forward aesthetic, has turned customers into emissaries—and inspired a slew of upstart fashion brands, such as shoemaker M.Gemi and technical clothier Aday. “Everlane provided a model for how to communicate that our quality is what we say it is,” says Scott Gabrielson, founder of accessories startup Oliver Cabell. Preysman is also pioneering new approaches to retailing, making use of steady product launches, waiting lists, and limited inventory to both predict and drive demand. “Everlane created a sense of urgency and exclusivity [around its products],” says Marshal Cohen, an analyst with market research firm NPD.

Everlane uses its waiting lists, along with real-time data and customer feedback, to make inventory decisions. When in doubt, it stocks less. And when items sell out—which happens a lot—Everlane can restock quickly, thanks to its close relationships with its more than two dozen factories worldwide. All of this generates the specter of scarcity, which Preysman leverages: Customers sign up for early access to new clothes and to be notified when popular ones are back. Last year, when Everlane’s new ballet-inspired heels sold out within three days, 28,000 people added their names to the waiting list. This steady communication with customers is so important to Preysman that, until a few weeks ago, he was involved in drafting every single email.

To avoid the appearance of discounting, Preysman developed a Choose What You Pay model for overstocked items, where customers can pick up, say, a dress shirt for one of three different prices. The website explains that the lowest one lets Everlane recoup its costs, while paying more allows it to invest in future product development. Twelve percent of shoppers opt to pay more.

Why it’s hot?

(1) Transparency, transparency, transparency!

Everlane is the definition of championing transparency – and it pays off! They clearly articulate their brand values of ethics, price and design that differentiate them from other competitors. They market their brand values first, products second.

(2) Agile inventory management  

Everlane is also smart about how to leverage inventory data. They strategically stock less and use wait lists, early access data and customer feedback to determine if/when they should stock more resulting in a strong pricing model and reduction of wasted inventory.



Evan Spiegel: Snap Update Is ‘Here To Stay’

As you may have noticed, Snapchat has recently redesigned their app, moving stories and personal Snaps to the same section, while creating a separate category for influencer’s and celebrities (or those with large followings).

The redesign has many users confused, frustrated and even forfeiting their Snapchats altogether. CEO Evan Spiegel says that the redesign is here to stay, regardless of the numerous complaints and gripes. Since the update, over 83% of users have reviewed the redesign negatively. They’ve left 1 or 2 star reviews on Apple’s App Store review feature. Yikes.

However, Spiegel wants users to rethink the way that they’re using the platform. He firmly believes that with time, and a new adoption process, users will come to love the new layout. He says, “Even the frustrations we’re seeing really validate those changes. It’ll take time for people to adjust, but for me using it for a couple months I feel way more attached to the service.”

Source: Tech Crunch

Why It’s Hot: Many people have written off Snapchat, hypothesizing that the platform will be dead within the near future. However, Snap and Spiegel refuse to let that become reality. With this redesign, they’re hoping that it changes not only the way that users interact with each other but how they interact with their cameras as well. This new update could either make or break the platform, only time will tell.

Valentine’s Story in NYC Warns Shoppers About Darker Side of Love

One Love Foundation created a pop-up shop in New York City, that was open for one week only. At first glace, the pink walls and line of teddy bears makes this store seem like a normal Valentine’s Day store. However, when shoppers take a closer look they will see that each gift has a hidden message.

Cards that seem to say “You’re mine”, actually say “you’re mine, so do what I say” and “I miss you” actually says “I miss when you were hotter” in fine print. The display of teddy bears prompt shoppers to press his tummy, making him say things like “your pathetic” followed by “I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean that.” The messages are taken directly from stories of members of the foundation in order to seem authentic and relatable.

The store is part of the foundation’s outreach campaign to raise awareness of abusive and unhealthy relationships. The organization wanted to use the holiday to shine light on how Valentine’s Day is a time where couples cover up unhealthy relationships with materialistic gifts.



NBA Players’ Union launches new marketing group Think450

This weekend at NBA All-Star Weekend in LA, the National Basketball Player’s Association is unveiling their new marketing business, a branch of the union that will control the rights of the player’s collective likeness when partnering with brands– rights that are worth tens of millions of dollars.

To understand where this group came from, (from FastCo): “For the past 20 years, the NBPA has essentially rented players licensing rights to the league, who in turn would sell them to corporate sponsors, then share the revenue with the union. That share hit about $41 million last year, but during the last collective bargaining agreement, the union decided it wanted control over the players’ likenesses and images. The new deal kicked in last summer.”


It’s not hard to imagine the myriad opportunities for brands and partnerships that the union will attract thanks to the popularity of the players collectively (though obviously individual players still own the rights to their own sponsorships, some with their own business teams and agencies working on their behalf). And while the league does a great job to market the players on-court, as players have become more business savvy and realize their value, this new deal allows the union to consider marketing the collective players off-court. And the opportunities for creative and branding agencies are also evolving– FastCo reported that earlier this week the union announced it has partnered with Japan-based advertising agency network Dentsu Inc. to develop content and create and stage global events that feature the union and its members.



Alibaba gives the elderly some luvin’

Last month, Chinese e-tail giant Alibaba launched an easier-to-use version of its Taobao e-commerce app built with senior citizens in mind. Although the app has a simpler interface, elders can access the same features – such as personalized shopping suggestions and live-streamed content – as those with the original app. It also makes it easier for seniors to register an account and browse products, delivering an improved user experience, from personalized recommendations to after-sales service.

It also includes a new peer-to-peer chat function, allowing family members to share products and consult or help one another in one click, as well as a new “pay-for-me” option to pay for another’s purchases.

Taobao also added a feature that lets seniors get in touch with their families with the touch of a button. Over 30 million Taobao users are 50 or older.

We often hear about tech-driven companies clamoring to cater to millennials and Gen Z-ers. The stereotypes dictate that younger consumers are ‘digital natives’, radically different to older ‘digital immigrant’ counterparts. But that’s not really the case. Consider one recent telling sign of the times: the number of senior Airbnb hosts in Asia is rising faster than all other age groups. Older consumers are increasingly exhibiting the same behaviors (digital and otherwise) and have the same expectations.

  • Alibaba made a simple tweak to an existing service and in doing so gained access to a huge aging population – one we often alienate
  • This also opens up the market for sellers that cater to a very large subset people that would otherwise be hard to reach via brick and mortar
  • Modifying digital commerce services for the elderly makes a ton of sense considering their limited access to transportation and less opportunity for mobility
  • The feed is curated for this demographic and it seems the Asian community dabbles in sexy underwear and flame retardant pants

Source: Alibaba

Cuisine that can communicate

Graphene is the world’s only man-made 2D material. It is much stronger than steel and 100 times more conductive than copper, but so far there has been no breakout application for graphene.

But maybe we can just eat it!

Researchers at Rice University have created a commercial laser that can transform the carbon on the surface of foods into graphene. This can create an edible circuit, including fuel cells to store power, radio hardware to transmit data, all sorts of censors, etc.

“Very often, we don’t see the advantage of something until we make it available,” said the lab’s lead James Tour in a press release. “Perhaps all food will have a tiny RFID tag that gives you information about where it’s been, how long it’s been stored, its country and city of origin, and the path it took to get to your table.” via Fast Co Design.

Why its hot

The possibilities could be endless. An actual apple with 1,000 songs on it? Any bit of clothing is potentially a wearable.

World’s Biggest Pong Game

The Moment Factory, a production company that focuses on immersive environments, has created a giant game of Pong. It is played by two people per side and the players are the paddles, which are controlled by running back and forth.

Why It’s Hot: This is another example of life size interactive AR experiences. While not innovative in any huge way, it is a good example of how we are bridging digital and physical spaces, especially in the realm of gaming.


No more “View Image” on Google Image Search :(

Google has removed the “View image” button, along with the “Search by Image” function. This follows a lawsuit by Getty Images in Europe.

As slashgear says:

Getty’s complaint stems from how Google has made it too easy to lift material without attribution. That is factually true since View Image doesn’t exactly inform users of any copyright or licensing requirements. But there is another aspect to its beef with Google. By delivering the image instantly, users no longer have to go to the source website, which deprives them of page hits and ad revenue from visits.

Search by image is also being removed, as it makes it easier to find the same image without watermarks.

Why it’s hot:

  1. Life is gonna be harder for designers
  2. I think this is interesting because it shows the difference in regulation and enforcement between Europe and the US. There’s a growing divide between the two, particularly in regards to the “right to be forgotten”. Obviously, the Internet is a worldwide entity, and it will be interesting to see how this plays out.


What your smart devices are telling companies about you

A Gizmodo reporter set up a smart house using countless gadgets to connect as many appliances to the internet as possible. Her mission was to find out what it was like living in a house where everything was only a voice command away.

At the same time, her colleague set up access to her home’s router, receiving all of the information each device was sending to her internet service provider.

What they discovered is two-fold. The first is that a shocking amount of information is sent, unencrypted, from smart devices. This includes shows watched on Hulu, the images of suggested Netflix content, whether your motion-activated camera has been triggered recently, and whether your smart lightbulbs have come on or been adjusted.

The second is that setting up this type of house on one’s own is a burdensome task. The author buys two separate coffee makers before realizing that a third would have been better suited to her setup. Countless notifications from robot vacuums, coffee makers, security cameras, and more made her anxiety skyrocket, and that was before she even realized how much that data was being shared.

Why it’s hot

It’s exciting to imagine a world where everything in your home works in perfect harmony and effortlessly takes care of your domestic needs, but the reality is that most people only have a couple of smart devices in their homes and don’t take full advantage of the suite of possibilities. When we design smart interactions, we should be mindful of the mental and emotional toll that things like notifications, alerts, alarms, and pings will have on users.

I thought the house would take care of me but instead everything in it now had the power to ask me to do things. Ultimately, I’m not going to warn you against making everything in your home smart because of the privacy risks, although there are quite a few. I’m going to warn you against a smart home because living in it is annoying as hell.