Michael Buble…or Bubly?

When you combine the Super Bowl with pure charm, you get a commercial starring Michael Buble. Personally, I’m a big fan of this spot. What do you think?

Why It’s Hot: It’s funny, it’s charming, and it’s Michael Buble.

 

For the love of Krang!

ALERT ALERT! Krang down!

@KrangTNelson, a joke on Craig T Nelson’s name and brainy villian from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and king of weird Twitter has had his account suspended — as have some of Twitter’s most popular Weird Twitter accounts.

If your at this hot sauce post to find out why… well we don’t have the answers for you but we do have 1000 Twitter users guesses.

Many assume that he was “bot spammed”, meaning many troll bots repeatedly reported the account as a spam account.

The internet is VERY unhappy with this, especially with how lax Twitter has been with hate speech, other weird tweeter Julius Goat:

https://twitter.com/JuliusGoat/status/1091293393928536070

But the person who is probably the saddest about this…

Well not the dog, this is our own James Stewart Meudt’s Twitter profile pic.

Why it’s hot?

Weird Twitter probably had a hot sauce debut, it’s what so many brands base their voice/tone TW presence on. Bot’s taking down many of the internet’s fave Weird TW accounts is troubling at best. Even our chaos is being ruined by chaos.

AI and Implicit Bias

Last weekend, AOC sounded the alarm about new research that found the facial recognition software Amazon is selling to law enforcement falls short on tests for accuracy and bias. According to the Washington Post’s reporting, researchers said Amazon’s algorithms misidentified the gender of darker-skinned women in about 30 percent of their tests. (Of course, Amazon promises that the facial recognition software in use is not the one tested by researchers.)

The problem stems from the sets of photos the algorithms were trained on — which skew heavily toward white men, the researchers said. And that caused AOC to sound the alarm on Twitter.

And if you’re really behind on implicit bias, please visit Harvard’s Project Implicit to learn more.

Why It’s Hot:

  1. For possibly the first time, Congress has a credible authority on technology and she’s on the House Oversight Committee so tech companies might want to take notice.
  2. As AI becomes real, we need to make sure we’re designing for each.

Source: Washington Post

Living Drones…or Bionic Bees

Scientists outfit bees with tiny tech backpacks, creating swarms of tiny, agile drones that aren’t limited by battery life or no-fly zones.

Potential applications for what the researchers call “living Internet of Things platforms” might include smart farming to measure plant health. For example, moisture and humidity sensors could assist with precision irrigation, and temperature sensors can detect whether growing conditions are optimal for specific crops. Whereas “drones can’t really fly between plants, bees can fly pretty much wherever they want to get more fine-grained information than drones,” Gollakota says.

Why it’s hot:

Potential for a global IoT platform capable of generating massive amounts of data about anything…anytime, anywhere.

Data = the fuel of AI and Machine Learning

More data = more accurate modeling and predictions

Boundless buzzing terabytes of real-time data = a truly “smarter planet”

(Plus, I just think it’s kinda cool)

Source: World Economic Forum

Fitness Brands that Leverage Data to Deliver Personalized Experiences

Health and fitness brands are enabling customized experiences and tailored lifestyle plans using customer information like DNA or gym habits to help them reach their personal goals. Here are examples of 4 brands taking a unique approach to the fitness space:

FitnessGenes
U.K. genetic testing service FitnessGenes analyzes customers’ DNA and provides a genetically tailored workout and nutrition plan, with the optimal number of calories and macronutrient content for their unique genetic makeup. Consumers have easy access to their DNA results as well as workout and nutrition plans through the Member’s Area in the company’s website or app.

AthGene
Danish startup AthGene helps people improve their lifestyles and optimize their diets and fitness routines based on their DNA test results. Users collect their DNA with a mouth swab, and then receive easy-to-understand, actionable insights about their unique genetic makeup, such as their muscle fiber composition and sensitivity to carbohydrates, allowing them to tailor their nutrition and workout plans to their body’s needs.

Equinox

Equinox trialed a bot embedded into its mobile app that learns from a user’s activities, goals and preferences to recommend personalized workouts. The “Digital Coach” uses data from in-gym beacons to detect where gym-goers prefer to spend their time and subsequently nudge them towards specific activities. The service has successfully motivated members to check in 40% more than non-users during a six-month pilot program.

Thorne

Health startup Thorne sells at-home health tests that let users analyze various aspects of their health, such as cortisol levels, thyroid function and heavy metal levels, to help them address specific concerns, such as fatigue or fertility. Users provide a saliva or blood sample and receive a personalized health plan along with their test results.

Why it’s hot: These are hyper-targeted consumer experiences that are almost expected across many industries now – especially health and wellness.

Source 

Who’s Your Dadi?

As the D2C space continues to grow into an infinite amount of categories and brands, we can add men’s fertility to that list. Dadi, a new men’s health startup dedicated to fertility and sperm storage, believes the time is ripe for men to bypass the stuffy doctor’s office and deposit sperm into an FDA-licensed, yet patent pending, fertility and sperm storage kit from the comforts of their home.

According to a study in health journal Andrology, one in six couples has fertility issues, with little research or emphasis on how men factor into the equation. The CEO asserts that the industry hasn’t evolved in 30 to 40 years and neither has the way men approach reproductive health. They want to change that.

The founders at Dadi believe that infertility isn’t a women’s issue; it’s both a men’s and women’s issue. And they are hoping that this kit will encourage men to contribute to family planning conversations and become more aware of their reproductive health.

A typical men’s fertility program, which can include a reproductive kit, storage and lab fees, can cost hundreds to thousands of dollars. Dadi offers significantly lower pricing options at either $9.99 a month or $99 a year to store the sperm at the New England Cryogenic Center (NECC).

The entire process is fairly innocuous, as it includes no branding. Men can deposit their sperm into it, tap a button to mix in a preservative located in the cap to keep it stable and then use a FedEx prepaid label to ship back to Dadi’s lab facility at NECC. In 24 hours, consumers can expect results about their fertility as well as a video of their sperm. During the whole process, consumers can chat with the Dadi team either through email or text.

Why it’s hot: With the introduction of D2C brands like Hims and Roman, many companies are tackling sensitive male issues with tech-enabled solutions to age-old issues in an almost anonymous setting. Regardless of the benefits, there are many challenging regulations that come with sperm storage, not to mention getting men to care about fertility which will be the toughest challenge to overcome. These startups will need to go beyond education and brand building and really find a way to change the way we think about fertility as a society. 

Source: https://www.adweek.com/digital/direct-to-consumer-brand-aims-to-make-mens-fertility-more-affordable-and-attainable/

 

Stories by the route

Volkswagen Highway Fairytales

Volkswagen Highway Fairytales
Volkswagen Highway Fairytales
Volkswagen Highway Fairytales

To make children’s car journeys more entertaining, Volkswagen has created a location-based app that tells personalised stories based on what kids can see out of the back window.

The Snelweg Sprookjes (Road Tales) app detects ordinary objects such as tunnels, windmills, pass overs, gas stations, and electricity poles and transforms them in real-time into story elements. For example, a tunnel turns into a rocket launcher.

Why its hot?
Other than stories that adapt to your surroundings in real time, Road Tales gives children a reason to put their tablets way and look outside the window instead.

Drone delivers

JD.com, China’s second largest e-commerce site, delivered books and backpacks over 150 miles to students at a school in a village in Indonesia that’s hard to reach by road. Indonesia houses a population of more than 260 million people across some 17,000 islands making it one of the nations that could really use revolutionized delivery and logistics systems.

Why it’s hot: Technology is not taking over a human’s job in this case, it’s doing what they can’t do.

jd.id drone

Source

Domino’s rewards customers for disloyalty

Domino’s is promoting a limited-time addition to its rewards program that kicks off the day before Super Bowl Sunday, one of the top five days of the year in the ever-competitive pizza industry. The leading pizza chain is giving points for any brand of pizza. Someone could even heat up frozen pizza and earn points.

The offer gives anyone who signs up the chance to get free pizza without having to buy from Domino’s.After Domino’s cooked up the idea, its internal analytics and digital team worked on an artificial intelligence system that recognizes photos of pizza.

Thousands of photos were tested. Some trickery is actually allowed. If a dog has a pizza-shaped toy, a photo would get points for the owner, as the ad explains. While the 12-week offer may sound like a gimmick or act of desperation, it comes as Domino’s is playing from a position of strength and could extend its dominance over competitors including Pizza Hut, Little Caesars, Papa John’s and numerous smaller chains.

To get the rewards, people need to sign up for Domino’s loyalty program and share a photo of pizza, up to once a week. Each photo counts as 10 points. After six photos are approved by the company’s “Piedentifier” artificial intelligence system, the person has 60 points that can be redeemed for a free pizza.

Domino’s traditionally doesn’t advertise in the Super Bowl and this year is no exception. The main push will be TV ads, with a heavy rotation on Saturday and on Sunday in the hours before kickoff.

Why It’s Hot

Domino’s owns the pizza delivery space and rewarding customers for eating the competition is a snarky way of reminding them who is the best.

Casper’s Connected Nightlight

Casper’s new nightlight, the Glow, is far more than the nightlight you may have had in your bedroom as a child. While the product was inspired by the less harsh feeling of candlelight or lamplight, the Glow is future-forward. It’s a customizable connected device that can help improve sleep.

The light is meant to ease you into sleep by syncing with your body’s circadian rhythm, and slowly dimming as you prepare to fall asleep.

The Glow is connected to an app so that users can easily program the length of time the light takes to dim–from fifteen minutes to an hour and a half. Once the settings are saved once, the light will activate the same way each time someone picks it up to get it started. The light can also be twisted to dim or brighten manually.

The light, which retails for $89 or $169 for two, primarily sits on a charging base, but is also portable. The idea is that if you are getting up in the middle of the night, you can pick up the Glow and bring it with you, illuminating your way without disturbing a partner or having to flip on bright overhead lights that can single your body to wake up.

Why It’s Hot

As wellness and self-care continues to be such a pervasive topic, consumers are very aware of the importance of getting a full night’s sleep, and willing to try new strategies and products to help them break the habit of staring at their phones in bed. With competition increasing from other mattress companies, Casper is pushing ahead into becoming more of a lifestyle brand with a holistic approach to sleep.

Source: https://www.fastcompany.com/90293556/the-future-of-jeans-inside-the-levis-innovation-lab-bringing-denim-into-2019 

ny times has the [alexa] skills…

The inimitable New York Times has created not one, but five new Alexa skills.

Now, people can use their smart speaker to access:

> A daily flash briefing read by journalist Michael Barbaro
> Hear about the travels of Sebastian Modak with “52 places to go”
> Get a weekly music roundup from music editor Caryn Ganz
> Get book recommendations from Times book critics
> Play a weekly “New York Times Quiz” testing their knowledge of recent news

Why it’s hot:

It may not feel a massive innovation, but it’s a savvy move for the Times in a world where people are increasingly eschewing websites. No longer is it enough to build destinations, we have to think about how our brands can be present where people need them, when they need them.

[Source]

Making Ketchup Classy

Leading up to Valentine’s Day, Heinz is attempting to recreate the joys of ketchup and give it a social equity boost with its Ketchup Caviar.

The extremely limited batch of Heinz Ketchup Caviar will be available for Valentine’s. If you want to get your hands on one of the 150 jars available you’ll have to enter the brand’s sweepstakes (see link above).

But what is Ketchup Caviar? First off, it’s not literal caviar. No fish roe were harmed in the making of this sweepstakes. Instead, Heinz Ketchup Caviar is a molecular gastronomic spin on the classic condiment that attempts to recreate the joys of ketchup in pearl form.

Sweepstake winners will be contacted to receive their 1.8 oz jar hopefully before Valentine’s.

Why it’s hot: It’s a fun way for Heinz to celebrate their 150 years in business, it could also be a way to test new delivery methods for their products, molecular gastronomy is cool. 

It can cut your grass, but can it yell “get off my lawn!” at passersby?

iRobot, the makers of the Roomba robot indoor vacuum have invented its outdoor counterpart: the Terra robotic lawn mower.

“Terra will automatically return to its base to recharge when the battery runs low, and then it will resume cutting where it left off.”

Currently, this robo grass cutter is in beta testing and probably won’t be available in the U.S. until next year.

Story on MakeUseOf

Why it’s Hot

Tedious chores being done by robots means more time to do things that matter more, like playing on your phone.

 

Healthy and Informed? That’s Hot.

There’s a million ways to use social media, like finding material for self-righteous indignation. It can also be used to improve public health. Aside from all the Twitter text alerts, patient reviews of medications on YouTube, and questionable use of Instagram by branded treatments, there are legitimate ways using social media can actually improve public health.

HOW DOES IT WORK? A notable method of providing a service to society is the use of podcasts. People can learn about public policy, like the Affordable Care Act debate, in a way that’s easy to comprehend with The Healthcare Policy Podcast. Interested in the future of your Healthcare beyond video therapy sessions and chatbots to diagnose common ailments? Think robotic assistants for surgeons, lasers replacing the scalpel in new ways, and enhanced apps to improve med compliance. The weekly MedTech Talk Podcast has that and more.

WHY’S IT HOT?

Recognizing the seismic shift social media is bringing to healthcare, we’re constantly looking at our proposals to ensure our recommendations place brands at the forefront. Though Healthcare is right to be cautious, there’s actually a plethora of use cases that can be applied.

AT&T customers exit in droves as teleco looks to upend TV

Evolving consumer behavior continues to challenge traditional media giants.

Two key measures, U.S. wireless and pay-TV subscribers, came in well below predictions in the fourth quarter. AT&T added a net 13,000 U.S. monthly wireless subscribers in the period, way under projections of about 252,000. A loss of 410,000 users of non-phone devices like smartwatches and tablets drove the disappointment.

AT&T fell victim in part to the same phenomenon that’s bedeviling Apple and other phone makers: People are hanging onto their smartphones longer. The Dallas-based company’s phone sales fell $500 million in the recent quarter due to sluggish upgrades, Chief Financial Officer John Stephens said on an earnings conference call.

AT&T also lost 658,000 U.S. pay-TV subscribers, compared with the loss of about 191,000 anticipated by analysts.

The figures look even worse in contrast with AT&T’s biggest rivals in mobile services. Although Verizon Communications reported downbeat fourth-quarter sales on Tuesday, that company and T-Mobile US Inc. each gained 1.2 million new wireless subscribers in the quarter. AT&T’s monthly defection rate, or churn, rose to 1.2 percent from 1.1 percent a year ago.

Why it’s hot?

Brands need to operate their businesses nimbly. They have to evolve into light weight operations, such as RPA, that will allow them to adopt new business models more fluidly.

Rent Your Apartment Out By The Minute

Recharge, a San Francisco startup that made headlines a few years ago for offering hotel stays by the minute (for a nap, shower or phone call, the company says), is expanding to offer the same service in people’s homes.

The big picture: Technology has enabled the creation of online marketplaces that segment the use of physical space in new ways — from Airbnb’s home-sharing service to companies like Breather that let you book office space for a meeting or call. Even Airbnb recently acquired Gaest, a marketplace for renting out office space.

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How it works: Guests in the Bay Area, Los Angeles and New York can book a stay in an available home via the Recharge app just as they would book a visit in one of its hotels.

For hosts, Recharge offers two options: a self-managed option, which means the host takes care of the cleaning and gets to keep most of the revenue, and an “autonomous” option, for which Recharge provides the cleaning, but takes a much bigger cut of the fee.
Hosts have to apply and be vetted, including providing a copy of their lease if they don’t own the home to ensure the service won’t violate its terms.
Recharge co-founder and CEO Emmanuel Bamfo says that the company’s service is legal, even in cities like San Francisco and New York with strict home-sharing laws, because there are no overnight stays.
But ultimately, it remains to be seen whether landlords react negatively to Recharge, he admits.
By the numbers: To date, Recharge has had 50,000 bookings, with an average stay of two hours, says Bamfo. It works with 50 hotels and has approved 1,100 homes. Eventually, says Bamfo, Recharge wants to purchase and manage its own hotels to have more flexibility.

Funding: Since raising $2.3 million in seed funding in 2016, Recharge has brought on strategic investors like JetBlue Ventures and Fifth Wall (which has ties to the real estate industry), bringing its total funding to $10 million.

Why It’s Hot:

Cities like San Francisco and New York are notoriously strict with home-sharing laws. By not allowing overnight stays Recharge found a way to bypass these laws one minute at a time.

B2B Marketers Trying New (old) Tactics

OK, so it’s not exactly a new tactic (a classic of the genre is the ‘jilted lover’ billboards that have been used to promote a variety of TV shows), but it is interesting to see when B2B marketers step outside of their comfort zone.

This example from SAP appeared in the Wall Street Journal yesterday and got quite a lot of traction online. There were some naysayers (“another dumb advertiser trying to be funny”), but I thought it was well executed. It was both dull enough and odd enough to work, and the idea that business constantly seeks feedback yet never actually wants to listen to it is surely a universal truth.

Why its hot…

SAP are having a tough time – just this week they took a big restructuring charge and are laying off 4,000 workers. In tough times you’d expect them to be conservative and play it safe. It’s refreshing to see them taking a leaf out of the playbook of some other categories and doing something unexpected.