Update: YouTube Adds Features to Make it Less Terrifying for Children

As a follow up to an often mentioned topic on Hot Sauce, YouTube is trying desperately to court brands that are finding the networks AI to be unsafe and promoting fringe ideas or are dangerous to children. 

YouTube’s original answer to it’s child algorithm problem was an app whitelisting sources so that parents could put children in front of YouTube without fear of what they might find (not a great parenting technique but that’s neither here nor there… ). Originally YouTube incentivized views at all costs, and content makers turned to AI to auto-generate films that were hurting children’s cognition.

They’ve hired a whole team to support this initiative, and they finally have actual humans watching the video. YouTube was losing a lot of revenue because of brand safety.

Why it’s hot?

AI can be dangerous. Keeping humans involved and not letting AI run wild is key to success even if it means slower revenue. If you don’t make brand safety and human safety a concern you might lose out on LOTS of revenue down the line. Is money the only way to keep big tech and AI accountable?

The more you recycle, the more you can save on your train rides

Rome started a program where commuters can get a 5-cent credit for every bottle they put into the newly installed recycling machines.

Every 30 bottles gives you a free ride.

The credit is received into your account by scanning your phone on the machines once you’ve deposited by bottles into the machines.

Why it’s hot: This is a great way to get people to recycle more by offering a cost saving incentive and helps with corporate social responsibility. Not just cities, but supermarkets, restaurants, and certain types of brands could offer similar discounts for recycling or similar environmentally friendly activities.

Source: FastCompany

Timberland Pro campaign seeks more trade workers to help communities rebuild and thrive

Over the past few years, some workwear brands have quietly found themselves in the midst of streetwear / high fashion. One could attribute this to their roots as go-to blue-collar brands with an authentic, organic story, but the challenge has been keeping that original spirit/authenticity alive.

Separately, brands are more than ever being pressured into standing for something.

So in this campaign, I feel Timberland has found an initiative that does both.

“By 2028, more than three million skilled trade jobs will go unfilled, according to Deloitte and The Manufacturing Institute — the social impact arm of the National Association of Manufacturers. Timberland Pro wants to help close the skills gap by championing the trades and providing support for the next generation of skilled workers through two new spots as part of the campaign with The Martin Agency, along with new partnerships.”

Why it’s hot: 
I believe this campaign does a great job of taking on a social cause truly authentic to a brand – an opportunity we should always be on the lookout for.

No-Code / Low Code Software Revolution


The No-Code Revolution

More and more software applications like Salesforce, Pipedrive, Trello, Airtable, and others have built platforms based on no-code principals. Some of these apps focus on specific functions like sales teams. Others deliver more general collaboration. Whatever the application, no-code software strategies include four areas of focus:

  1. Provide drag and drop “widgets” or other elements that can be visually organized to build apps or configure business processes
  2. Create simple “filters” and data queries to empower instant customization
  3. Use APIs to easily integrate data from various web services or other applications
  4. Broaden appeal to non-technical users versus targeting traditional developers

Why It’s Hot:

Low code or no code is becoming the trend more and more as the dominant channel is a small screen smartphone and performance and familiarity outweighs being unique for mass market audiences.

Products like Squarespace, Wix, Mailchimp, etc used to be considered great for the small business that can choose a canned template, but using them in the enterprise could democratize digital experience development outside of IT and speed up that time to market exponentially.

Look for more products that could scale to the enterprise where the big $$$ are and potentially a competitive advantage to get a landing page, emails, etc. designed and produced all within the same platform.

New York state’s first self-driving vehicle program

Optimus Ride, a leading self-driving vehicle technology company, announced the launch of New York state’s first self-driving vehicle program, located at the Brooklyn Navy Yard (Yard), a 300-acre industrial park with more than 400 manufacturing businesses and 10,000 employees onsite. Beginning tomorrow, six autonomous vehicles will transport passengers between the NYC Ferry stop at Dock 72 and the Yards’ Cumberland Gate at Flushing Avenue, a vital connection point in a truly multi-modal commute for thousands of passengers and a first-of-its-kind commercial autonomous driving system.

Beginning August, a total of six Optimus Ride autonomous vehicles will transport an expected 500 passengers per day and more than 16,000 passengers per month. Initially, there will be a safety driver and software operator in the vehicle while in operation. The system will run on a continuous loop between 7:00 a.m. and 10:30 p.m. on weekdays between the dock and the Cumberland Gate. On weekends the system will run between the dock and Building 77 during those same time periods.

Why it’s hot: To test drive and validate self-driving vehicle technology, Optimus Ride found a way that seamlessly fits into people’s everyday life and adds value to it.

Source + Source

From WeChat to WeBreathe

Around 100 million adults in China are affected by chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), an umbrella term for lung ailments characterised by breathlessness. However, less than 7% of those afflicted are diagnosed because shortness of breath is commonly mistaken as part of the aging process. To address this problem and encourage check-ups, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) created a WeChat tool that enabled self testing for COPD through smartphones.

GSK collaborated with a popular Chinese artist, Wang Ke Wei, and a leading pulmonologist, professor Yang Hu, to design digital images of trees inspired by traditional Chinese blow ink painting. The trees were designed to grow when a user breathes heavily into their smartphone.

The tool’s algorithm uses the sound wave to create a figure of a tree. The healthier the lungs, the larger the tree and number of flowers. Each piece of art is then given a percentage. If the result is lower than 70% the user receives a message saying, ‘Your result is low. We recommend a hospital visit for a COPD check-up’. The art created can be shared across social media channels with a link to encourage others to take the COPD test.

Why it’s hot?
Science meets Art: Combines ancient Chinese art, creative data visualization, and mobile technology into one really engaging diagnostic tool.

And it’s not just what GSK did, but where they did it. WeChat has over 1.08 billion monthly active users and is China’s leading social media platform. By placing the Breath of Life app within WeChat, GSK taps into a space where people are already sharing content relating to health and wellness. Fitness has been a rising focus on social media platforms in China.

Amazon Prime Video will stream Rihanna’s Savage X Fenty fashion show

After the Fall/Winter 2019 collection of Rihanna’s Savage X Fenty show debuts during New York Fashion Week, the show will be available to stream exclusively for Amazon Prime Video subscribers on Sept. 20 in more than 200 countries.

The Amazon Prime Video special will also include an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at the making of the show, which will consist of “performances from some of the hottest acts in music” as well as feature models, actors and dancers wearing styles from the collection, per Amazon’s press release.

Why it’s Hot:

Potential Retail Tie-In: There is a huge opportunity for the brand to follow up fashion show viewership with product communications through Amazon Prime, directly tying hand raisers to product purchasing.

Inclusivity is IN: Victoria’s Secret cancelled its annual televised fashion show in May, after the broadcast hit a new ratings low on ABC (likely due in part to their CMO’s very unpopular comments in November – he also recently resigned). The growing popularity of Savage X Fenty is indicative of a larger trend – in the wake of the body positivity and inclusivity movements, brands who embrace diversity are poised to take the lead.

Source: RetailDive, The Hollywood Reporter

FitBit Premium wants you to take control of your body and mind

The newly launched Fitbit Premium is a paid subscription service that builds on the existing app by offering more holistic, personalized guidance and coaching. The AI-enabled program analyzes a number of different activities to provide more action-oriented recommendations, like exercise, meditation, even better eating.

“You all know Fitbit primarily as tracking what you do,” said Liz Abbett, Fitbit director of product marketing, during a press event Tuesday. “Fitbit Premium tells you what to do next.” If you’ve been too sedentary, for example, Fitbit might suggest a walk. Essentially, it wants to paint a fuller picture of one’s health by taking into account all fitness, nutrition, and sleep. The goal is to understand how they all connect.

Fitbit now has 27 million users worldwide. In the company’s quest to become more of a health and wellness company, it’s moving more toward recurring services and programming versus episodic device sales. The app includes thousands of audio workouts, spanning biking, running, stretching, rowing, and more.

At launch, Premium will offer nine new guided health and fitness programs. These range from restful sleep tips to how to kick one’s sugar habit, as well as structured workout programs and even recipe suggestions. In addition, audio relaxation tools target higher quality sleep, while Fitbit’s popular challenges can be adapted to individual levels and goals.

Fitbit even wants to get in on your next doctor’s visit: Premium will provide routine “wellness reports” meant to be shared with one’s general practitioner, nutritionist or personal trainer. The company’s vision will evolve to help people prevent and manage more serious chronic diseases, such as heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, and sleep disorders.

A member’s Fitbit data is now reportedly better positioned for cross-correlated insights. For example, a sample notification might read: “When you walk more than your average 8,502 steps, you get 7 more minutes of deep sleep, helping you feel more rested. Keep stepping to improve your chances of better sleep tonight.”

Why it’s hot: FitBit is harnessing the immense amount of data to better nudge their audience to healthy decisions, and further integrate into their lives.

Source: FastCo



Pinterest Pops the Anti-Vaxx Balloon

While Facebook and Twitter haven’t been able to figure out the spread of fake news, Pinterest is simply going to say, “Hey you, your content is banned.”

Earlier this year, Pinterest began serving a straightforward message to users searching for anti-vaccination content on its platform:

 “Pins about this topic often violate our Community Guidelines, which prohibit harmful medical information.” With this change, Pinterest made two things clear: Anti-vaxxer content was harmful, anti-science stuff. And Pinterest would have no part in its propagation.

Now Pinterest has updated its anti-vaccination landing page with an improved design. Rather than being a dead end, the company has, as a spokesperson puts it, “built relationships” with groups like the Centers for Disease Control, the World Health Organization, and the American Academy of Pediatrics to provide pins that offer simple science and facts, like the number of lives saved yearly from vaccinations. The information is sourced directly from these agencies.

This decision comes as the United States is at risk of losing its measles elimination status this October amid ongoing outbreaks, according to the director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases.

 Why its hot
Naturally, people aren’t going to Pinterest necessarily to read up about anti-vaxx theories. But it is heavily visual and so easy to spread information, or misinformation, quickly in little infographic, bite-sized images. You don’t even really need to click through to anything to get the story. Pinterest is taking a much stricter stance than our social media platforms and considering its user demographics, time will tell if there is any blow back.

AI Is Curing Your Road Rage

As the auto landscape continues to shift into self-driving cars and AI assistants, the next step (apparently for auto and every other product and service-based company) is to move into the world of wellness.

Kia and Mercedes are setting out to change the consumer experience using AI to detect passengers’ emotions and make environmental to relax the driver en route. Kia debuted an experimental concept car that detects the emotional state of the passengers that will then deploy mood-lifting features such as lights and scents based on what mood the passenger is in. This tech was developed with Affectiva, a tech startup developing emotion and object detecting AI for monitoring vehicle passengers based on facial expressions.

The Mercedes prototypes also include the scent feature, but also include a music feature to combat people falling asleep at the wheel. The driver can also connect a fitness tracker to the car, receiving automatic adjustments to in-car environments according to their stress levels and other physiological metrics.

Why It’s Hot:

In theory, it’s a great concept as cars are a very personal, a 1 on 1 (most of the time) experience and quite possibly the one time of the day when the driver is “stuck” in one place until they’ve reached their destination. It is also pretty low risk (unless someone is allergic to a scent) with a potentially high reward. This also raised a few questions. Is it customization in anyway? Can users put their own scents in? Will the AI even work? Can users edit the feature if the car gets the mood wrong? Although there are a few questions that need to be answered, it seems quite feasible compared to other concepts and initiatives auto manufactures are pushing towards.

Source Source

Cadbury Chocolate Feeds the Malnourished

In the Philippines, where almost one third of children under five are malnourished, the Cadbury has created a chocolate bar without milk, the Generosity Bar, and is donating the glass and a half to children in need.

The Generosity Bar launched at a pop-up store in a popular Manila mall and for every candy bar purchased, Cadbury redirects the forgone milk to malnourished children through its partnership with NGO Reach Out Feed Philippines.

So far 200,000 glasses of milk have been donated to Filipino children.

Other chocolate brands might struggle to form a meaningful partnership with a malnutrition charity, but Cadbury found a way to make this initiative feel natural and relevant. Rather than use its packaging and platform to just draw attention to the Philippines’ child malnutrition problem or encouraging consumers to make donations, Cadbury enabled its customers to donate simply by buying the product: a win-win for Cadbury, the children and the consumers.

Why it’s hot:

CSR has become a hot topic in the advertising world, but doing it right isn’t always easy as many times brands sometimes lack the ability to put others first. This is a great example of a brand wholly dedicating itself to a cause and providing an easy way for its customers to participate and give back by doing something they already do, eat chocolate.

Source: Glass half full – Contagious I/O

Drink beer + shoot virtual deer = help protect wildlife

A great deal of funding for wildlife conservation in the US comes from fishing and hunting permits, but the number of people buying them is declining. It seems fewer members of the younger generations are interested in actually packing out into the woods and sitting in a tree in silence for hours in order to bag an elk for the winter. But what Busch understood was what those younger generations are still interested in is drinking beer at bars and pretending to hunt elk on an arcade screen.

So Busch (Anheuser-Busch) teamed up with the Big Buck Hunter arcade game to sell $5 virtual hunting permits that give buyers access to a secret (branded) level within the barroom game. The funds from the permits (matched by Busch) will go to wildlife conservation. Busch has positioned itself as a beer brand for those close to, and interested in protecting nature, so this campaign is an on-brand extension of that premise.

Alongside the permit sales, Busch is selling limited edition cans through December, with QR codes that give access to a similar AR hunting game on one’s phone.

The campaign just began, so it remains to be seen if it will actually generate a noteworthy amount of conservation funding. At the very least it should raise some awareness and brand recognition for Busch with the younger set.

Why it’s hot:

Sometimes the best way to get people to act for an important cause is to tap into their habits, desires, and interests, and make it fun, rather than appealing to an abstract sense of duty, which many people can easily dismiss as: “Not my problem”.

Also, everybody wins:

  1. Busch probably sells more beer with the curiosity created by the can design and offer of an AR game + gets a CSR halo.
  2. Big Buck Hunter gets more players and press, framing itself as more than just a late-night afterthought.
  3. Awareness and money gets raised for wildlife conservation at a time when it’s desperately needed.

Source: Fast Company

“Alexa, Open Reebok Sneaker Drop”

Reebok is giving away limited-edition “Club C” sneakers as part of their campaign with Cardi B, and the only way to enter to win is via smart speaker. All you have to do is ask Alexa or Google Assistant to “Open Reebok Sneaker Drop” to participate in the giveaway of the Swarovski-crystal encrusted shoes.

Entrants will have to check in with their voice assistants on September 7th between 10 a.m. and 12 p.m. to see if they’ve won. The command “Ask Reebok Sneaker Drop if I won” and saying the passcode “Get my Club C’s” is the final step of the process to find out if they are one of the 50 winners or 150 runners-up.

Why It’s Hot

Limited-quantity product drops are key in sneaker culture. Adding voice assistant technology even further appeals to the exclusivity and excitement of trying to secure a coveted pair of shoes.


New Netflix feature finds ways to keep viewers engaged

Hoping to keep viewers engaged with its content, Netflix today announced the launch of a new section called “Latest” in its TV app, designed to highlight the streaming service’s recent and upcoming releases. The addition isn’t just another row or two within the main Netflix homepage. Instead, the “Latest” section gets its own dedicated area in the Netflix TV app, which is accessible from the left-hand sidebar navigation.

It’s found beneath the “Home” button and above the links to the dedicated “Movies” and “TV Shows” pages. The section will be personalized to the end user, based on their viewing history. Users can also click on these future releases and set alerts to remind them when the TV show or movie they’re interested in watching has arrived. Netflix director of product innovation Cameron Johnson told the outlet the experience was similar, in a way, to movie trailers, as it’s also designed to get people interested in upcoming releases.

The launch comes at a time when people will soon be considering the value they receive from their Netflix subscription. The company recently posted a disappointing quarter where it announced it lost U.S. subscribers for the first time since 2011 and broadly missed estimates of 5 million subscriber additions, by adding just 2.7 million new subscribers globally.

Now Netflix is facing competition from Disney+, which will undercut Netflix’s pricing at $6.99 per month and be offered in a $12.99 per month bundle that also includes Hulu and ESPN+. That’s the same price as Netflix’s standard U.S. plan.

Why it’s hot: Now more than ever, Netflix needs to improve engagement and demonstrate value-add for their consumers. This is a good effort at keeping viewers engaged by reminding them of the new movies and shows in the pipeline.

Source: TechCrunch

Chicken Sandwiches Are Having Their Viral Moment, But Are We Over Brands Fake Fighting on Twitter

Popeyes has a new chicken sandwich (which I’ve head is delicious). And it seems that Chick-fil-a is getting defensive with the new Tweet they’ve posted.

Popeyes responded as a matter of course…

And TYPICAL WENDYS, clapped back with this tweet.

At the end of the day this started a branded chicken sandwich themed posting frenzy.

But the real question is, how do consumers feel about this.

Why it’s hot?

Do these brand rivalries entertain customers or piss them off. A few customers have responded with takes about larger issues.

But we can’t expect Wendy’s to act like anything but Wendys. Guess brand consistency is key…


MGM Resorts acquires 50% stake in group operating boutique NoMad hotels


Millennials are killing everythingor maybe it’s the DTC brands … or just eCommerce.
Either way, another industry feeling the heat of late is hotels. There are many reasons, but one noteworthy reason is AirBnB (and their competitors).

One report from Morgan Stanley found that 42% of Airbnb customers had replaced a traditional hotel visit with the digital service.”

But why?  Besides VRBO and AirBnB often offering better price points, they often offer more social, authentic and unique experiences/spaces.

In response, many popular hotel organizations have been striking partnerships and acquisitions of boutique hotel lines – and often taking on the initiative themselves.

In addition to the article above, here are three other recent movements … 

Why is it hot? 
Boutique hotels are much closer to providing authentic and unique travel experience vs. standard hotels – making them a strategic choice for attempting to recapture or keep millennial travelers.

This is hot because it’s interesting to think about how different industries are maneuvering their offerings in a world full of disruptors and changing behaviors.

Apple re-positions itself as a down-to-earth brand. Just kidding.

Apple rolled out the much-anticipated Apple Card this week. Though most will use the version that integrates with Apple Pay, users will also get a physical card made from titanium.

This card is not like the other cheap pieces of plastic (pffft) in your wallet. Apple Card will require some serious maintenance. So Apple posted this on their support pages to help you out.

Story on Gizmodo

The product video doesn’t help to dispel the “misconception” of elitism.

Why it’s Hot

Very few tech giants can get away with seeming this elite. Good for them (?)

hinge bears a new kpi…

Dating app Hinge recently released its first brand campaign, based upon a simple premise that’s simply delightful. It’s pitching itself as “the dating app designed to be deleted”…since, you know, the whole point is to find someone you like enough to not spend any more time on dating apps.

Why It’s Hot:

While it’s somewhat shocking that no other dating app has ever taken this tack, it’s a smart move for a relatively new brand on the scene. Leveraging its novelty, breaking from category convention is no doubt one way to stand out.


Hungry for more?

Recently the W Hotel in Washington, D.C. began offering Sip & Slurp: a room service package letting guests partake in the mukbang live-streaming phenomenon. Mukbang, originating in South Korea, involves influencers streaming themselves as they gorge on massive quantities of food. For USD 285, guests receive a feast – consisting of lobster tails, filet mignon, cherry pie, and the hotel’s Big Belly burger – as well as a lapel mic and cell phone stand. The W Hotels filmed its first mukbang delivery with Queer Eye’s Antoni Porowski.

Why it’s hot: A smart and relevant way to be a part of trendy conversations, and by leveraging the mukbang trend W Hotel could reach and appeal to new audiences.

Source + Source

It’s ok if you forgot my order. I understand

The restaurant of mistaken orders is not your regular flashy pop-up. Its goal is to create a place where dementia patients can work, and be needed while making society at large better understand the condition. A lofty goal.

The creator, Shiro Oguni had his prejudices about dementia crushed at a group home where dementia patients lived together, and that’s when he came up with the idea.

“Like everybody else, my awareness of dementia at first tended towards negative images of people who were ‘radically forgetful’ and ‘aimlessly wandering about.’ But actually, they can cook, clean, do laundry, go shopping and do other ‘normal’ things for themselves. They might go a little off course now and then….”

The restaurant has been designed to avoid mistakes, but since each server has dementia, some mistakes will happen. As diners are prepared for this, they are easily forgiven and sometimes quite funny. As when an older lady shows her guests to the table, and then sits down with them, momentarily forgetting that she’s on the job. The first pop-up had 37% mistaken orders served, but a full 90% satisfied customers because the interaction here is key. It’s not about the mistakes, Oguni says.

“The restaurant is not about whether orders are executed incorrectly or not. The important thing is the interaction with people who have dementia.”

It’s important to Oguni that the staff share the laughter with their customers. That they are not laughed at. For Oguni to hear that the servers say such things as “I’m still capable.” is the goal, and cultivating tolerance.

“Calling someone ‘The demented Mrs. Whozit’ is completely different from ‘Mrs. Whozit with dementia.’ Dementia is not what a person is, but just part of who they are. People are people. The change will not come from them, it must come from society.”


Why its hot?
A truly meaning idea that re-integrates people into the society that labels them as outcasts because of their medical condition.

More brands should be doing that now. Given how recently there was an announcement by the top CEOs about changing the role of organization – from making money for shareholders  to Investing in employees, delivering value to customers, dealing ethically with suppliers and supporting outside communities.

The future of voting is…Microsoft?

In the U.S., the legitimacy of elections is a culturally recognized threat for both the political right and the left. Current voting machines are both old and hackable. Enter Microsoft, which is developing ElectionGuard, an open source, plug-and-play voting machine with new encryption technology that allows for votes to be both private (you can’t tell who voted for who) and public (voters could instantly see results in real time and use a private key to insure that their vote was properly tallied).

Why it’s hot: 

Increased security is often equated with increased privacy. Microsoft has solved the problem another way. Analogous to the security provided by the blockchain, it is the public and open nature of the code and data that insures legitimacy.



Facebook Is About To Read Your Mind

Facebook and UCSF are working on technology that turns brainwaves into speech as part of a new AR project. Facebook is funding a UCSF study aimed at giving people with serious brain injuries the chance to type words with only their minds.It seems to be going well, as UCSF recently published a paper saying that they were able to decode a small set of words from brain activity in real time from epilepsy patients who have electrodes implanted in their brains as a part of their treatment.

While Facebook is funding that research, they are also hoping to use the underlying tech as a basis for a new brain-computer input mode for augmented-reality glasses. Facebook’s Reality Labs Group is working on its own head-worn BCI device that detects the wearer’s linguistic thoughts and converts them into machine-readable text.

At the moment, Facebook’s approach is a system that detects small changes in oxygen levels in the brain using near-infrared light. Apparently, when specific neurons fire, they intake a bit of oxygen, leading to a pattern of oxygen level shifts.

If Facebook’s researchers can get their headset to accurately detect which neutrons are firing, they may be able to use algorithms based on the USCF research to map neurons to specific letters and words the user is thinking of.

Why It’s Hot:

So why Facebook? What will these glasses do for us (beside the obvious)? How will it play into the existing software and outside of the Facebook world? What will privacy and data protection look like?


OK, Focus!

  • Concentration with the world at your fingertips is hard.
    • Its harder when you have pinging of texts, emails.
  • Cambridge researchers say they have a solution!
      • A GAME that helps you stay focused!(What an oxymoron right?)

      (Also a fun fact, anytime you get sidetracked, it takes an average of 28 minutes to get back on task.)

      The game is called Decoder.

    • You detect a series of numbers (3,5,7) (2,4,6) (4,6,8).
    • These numbers are the codes that direct them to clues to solve missions.
  • This works the frontal parietal lobe (involves concentration). The idea is that the more you work this, the stronger it gets.
  • Plasticity of the brain, learning or strengthening new things.


  • After users played decoder for 8 hours (within the month) they showed significantly better attention than people who didn’t play the game.
  • SOME say it is comparable to the effects of Ritalin (ADHD drug) Some researchers are skeptical

Why is this hot?

  1. This feels like a big trend. With timers on YouTube, and Apple reminding us screen time to get away from our phones. This game helps us focus.
  2. Attention is a serious thing to think about especially, that kids who are younger and younger are using tech. What is it doing to their attention spans?

Ending Q’s:

  • Is there a way for a brand to either use these techniques to harness attention, or get behind this and help push this trend of put your phone down?
  • Which brands do you think should help you put your phone down?
  • Should this be something that companies can use for their employees? 20 minute decoder break.
  • Would you use this?

Brain Training App

How We are AI – by NY Times

Would be hard to summarize this in-depth article/expose from NYT, but…

A.I. Is Learning From Humans. Many Humans.

Artificial intelligence is being taught by thousands of office workers around the world. It is not exactly futuristic work.

  • A.I., most people in the tech industry would tell you, is the future of their industry, and it is improving fast thanks to something called machine learning. But tech executives rarely discuss the labor-intensive process that goes into its creation. A.I. is learning from humans. Lots and lots of humans.
  • Before an A.I. system can learn, someone has to label the data supplied to it. Humans, for example, must pinpoint the polyps. The work is vital to the creation of artificial intelligence like self-driving carssurveillance systems and automated health care.

  • Tech companies keep quiet about this work. And they face growing concerns from privacy activists over the large amounts of personal data they are storing and sharing with outside businesses.

  • Tens of thousands more workers, independent contractors usually working in their homes, also annotate data through crowdsourcing services like Amazon Mechanical Turk, which lets anyone distribute digital tasks to independent workers in the United States and other countries. The workers earn a few pennies for each label.

    Based in India, iMerit labels data for many of the biggest names in the technology and automobile industries. It declined to name these clients publicly, citing confidentiality agreements. But it recently revealed that its more than 2,000 workers in nine offices around the world are contributing to an online data-labeling service from Amazon called SageMaker Ground Truth. Previously, it listed Microsoft as a client.

    One day, who knows when, artificial intelligence could hollow out the job market. But for now, it is generating relatively low-paying jobs. The market for data labeling passed $500 million in 2018 and it will reach $1.2 billion by 2023, according to the research firm Cognilytica. This kind of work, the study showed, accounted for 80 percent of the time spent building A.I. technology.

    This work can be so upsetting to workers, iMerit tries to limit how much of it they see. Pornography and violence are mixed with more innocuous images, and those labeling the grisly images are sequestered in separate rooms to shield other workers, said Liz O’Sullivan, who oversaw data annotation at an A.I. start-up called Clarifai and has worked closely with iMerit on such projects.“I would not be surprised if this causes post-traumatic stress disorder — or worse. It is hard to find a company that is not ethically deplorable that will take this on,” she said. “You have to pad the porn and violence with other work, so the workers don’t have to look at porn, porn, porn, beheading, beheading, beheading

     Source: NYT

Why It’s Hot: All this tech-first talk of AI, this was FASCINATING to me. I did not know this was the reality of “training AI.”

Via now drives your kids home.

Via, a leading provider and developer of on-demand public mobility, was selected by the New York City Department of Education to provide a school bus management system for the nation’s largest school district.

As the largest school district in the nation, the NYC Department of Education (DOE) transports approximately 150,000 students on 9,000 bus routes each and every day to get students safely to and from school across the City.

“Via for Schools” will be the first integrated, automated school bus routing, tracking, and communication platform in the world.

Via for Schools will utilize a flexible algorithm, which allows for both stop-to-school and home-to-school pickups, accommodating students regardless of their learning style, mobility constraints, or where they live.



Parents and students will have the ability to track, in real-time, their bus’ whereabouts and receive frequent and reliable communications in the event of service changes, improving safety and bringing important peace of mind to all users of the system. By utilizing Via’s best-in-class algorithms to optimize school bus routing, the Department of Education will be able to achieve operational efficiencies and reduce transportation costs.


Why it’s hot:

NYC has been a testing ground for partnering with brands to improve life in one of the most densely-populated cities in the world. This partnership is a slight variation on the same model, but rather than leasing out Via cars to the city, they’re giving away the technology behind Via.

Source: Fast Company


Phone a Friend: a mobile app for predicting teen suicide attempts

Rising suicide rates in the US are disproportionately affecting 10-24 year-olds, with suicide as the second leading cause of death after unintentional injuries. It’s a complex and multifaceted topic, and one that leaves those whose lives are impacted wondering what they could have done differently, to recognize the signs and intervene.

Researchers are fast at work figuring out whether a machine learning algorithm might be able to use data from an individual’s mobile device to assess risk and predict an imminent suicide attempt – before there may even be any outward signs. This work is part of the Mobile Assessment for the Prediction of Suicide (MAPS) study, involving 50 teenagers in New York and Pennsylvania. If successful, the effort could lead to a viable solution to an increasingly troubling societal problem.

Why It’s Hot

We’re just scratching the surface of the treasure trove of insights that might be buried in the mountains of data we’re all generating every day. Our ability to understand people more deeply, without relying on “new” sources of data, will have implications for the experiences brands and marketers deliver.

Selfies Get Serious: Introducing the 30-second selfie full-fitness checkup

Keeping an eye on subtle changes in common health risks is not an easy task for the average person. Yet, by the time real symptoms are obvious, it’s often too late to take the kind of action that would prevent a problem from snow-balling.

Researchers at the University of Toronto have developed an app that appears capable of turning a 30-second selfie into a diagnostic tool for quantifying a range of health risks.

“Anura promises an impressively thorough physical examination for just half a minute of your time. Simply based on a person’s facial features, captured through the latest deep learning technology, it can assess heart rate, breathing, stress, skin age, vascular age, body mass index (yes, from your face!), Cardiovascular disease, heart attack and stroke risk, cardiac workload, vascular capacity, blood pressure, and more.”

It’s easy to be skeptical about the accuracy of results possible from simply looking at a face for 30 seconds, but the researchers have demonstrated accuracy of measuring blood pressure up to 96% – and when the objective is to give people a way of realizing when it might be time to take action, that level of accuracy may actually be more than enough.

Why It’s Hot

For marketers looking to better identify the times, places and people for whom their products and services are likely to be most relevant, the convergence of biometrics with advanced algorithms and AI – all in a device most people carry around with them every day – could be a game-changer.

(This also brings up perennial issues of privacy & personal information, and trade-offs we need to make for the benefits emerging tech provides.)

The AI Drone Crocodile Hunter

Last summer, Australia began testing drones at their beaches to help spot distressed swimmers – acting as overhead lifeguards. Now the same company that created that technology, Ripper Group, is creating an algorithm for their drones to spot crocodiles.

While not frequent, crocodile attacks have gone up in recent years. And crocodiles are not easily identified when they spend up to 45 minutes under murky water. So the Ripper Group is using machine learning to train drones to distinguish crocodiles from 16 other marine animals, boats, and humans through a large database of images.

The drones also include warning sirens and flotation devices for up to four people, to assist in emergency rescue when danger is spotted.

Why It’s Hot

Lifeguards are limited in what they can see and how quickly they can act. With the assistance of drones, beach goers can stay carefree.


Glade Makes Their Way Into Your Home

Glade has partnered with Walmart to create a brand new marketing medium, the Packing Pillow!

Source: https://www.contagious.io/articles/the-smell-of-success

When consumers unpacked their Walmart deliveries and popped the pillows, they got a whiff of Glade’s spring fragrance before being offered the opportunity to purchase the scent via a QR code.

Why It’s Hot

  1. it solves the problem of getting online consumers to test out a smell based product
  2. It uses something that gets into consumers homes and hands every time

Turning the camera on Big Brother

NYTimes is analyzing the music used by candidates at their rallies. Music is a powerful emotional signal, transmitting a message deep into the emotional brain where we feel connection. So, it is helpful to know how candidates are using this psychological messaging tool to reach voters.

Extrapolating meaning from data sets, such as song tracks used in political campaigns, can bring to light information that would otherwise not emerge. The growing trend of using big data to help us understand and manipulate the world may be coming more into the hands of the public.

Why it’s hot: Knowledge is power. Whoever has the data and the processing power, has the knowledge and can learn things about the world that no one would have discovered otherwise. Primarily this power has been with brands and governments. But what if more of that power came into the hands of the people? This article points to a possible future where open-source data mining could help us learn things about governments and companies that could level the playing field in the war over territory in our collective consciousness.

If big data was in the hands of the people, what would we do with it? How would it effect our relationship with brands and products.

Source: NYTimes