“Last summer, Budweiser encouraged fans to support the National Women’s Soccer League with the #WontStopWatching movement, which encouraged attention all season and not only during high-profile events like the World Cup. Following the success of that campaign, Budweiser is now calling on sponsors to step up and support NWSL.”
The campaign which I first came across on Instagram is interesting because one brand egging on other brands feels like a new trend.
That said, I’ve never seen it this direct, in that Budweiser is boosting the NWSL sponsorship contact information and directing calling upon brands to sponsor the league.
It all feels a bit on the nose but is such a unique format that I personally give it a pass.
Why’s it hot?
1. It’s funny to see another manifestation of Budweiser aligning itself with ‘progressive movements’ and communities
At KidHQ, kids are given the chance to become “toy testers” and help find out which of this season’s hottest toys are the most fun to play with. Using eko’s patented, live-action video technology, they use the “Funtroller” to explore and play. Kids can also embark on a magical adventure using the “Funovator” to explore “floors,” meet Santa, interact with live-action and animated characters, help to build a vlog with Barbie and more.
Accessible from a phone, tablet or computer, viewers click or tap prompts that appear on the screen to choose what happens and where to go next. eko’s technology provides uninterrupted interactive video the entire time, so choices are seamless and feel like a wish come true to kids and adults alike. Designed as a safe, open and COPPA-compliant experience for kids, KidHQ proves why eko’s technology is the new way for brands to connect with audiences online.
At the end of the experience, kids can share their “Toy Report,” a wish list that helps parents discover what their kids want for the holidays. In a special “Grown Up Only” floor in KidHQ, the Toy Report becomes a seamless click-to-shop experience for parents powered by eko’s relationship with Walmart.
About eko eko is an interactive entertainment company that lets audiences affect, control, and influence interactive entertainment. The company provides a platform for interactive stories and partners with media companies, independent creators and top brands to create engaging experiences for audiences. Stories are distributed through Helloeko.com, affiliate partners, and social networks; available on desktop, mobile, and connected devices. The company has over 15 patents for its technology, including its proprietary player and authoring tools. eko Studio, the company’s suite of authoring tools, is also offered for free to a community of creators who craft their own interactive experiences using eko’s platform.
Apparently big music venues in Stockholm have had a rough past few years, with many closing. So, Clear Channel created “Stockholm Underground”, using this trend as an opportunity to direct focus back to Stockholm’s local scene. Basically, it turned 300 digital OOH units in Stockholm’s metro (underground) into real-time guides on where local, “underground” acts were playing each day.
“Instead of displaying ads on Clear Channel’s 300 digital screens, the ‘Stockholm Underground’ music guide, will run as a real-time guide to encourage commuters to take advantage of local shows and up-and-coming artists performing at smaller venues.
Drawn from a database of upcoming live shows aggregated from online sources such as websites, blogs and Facebook events, with up-and-coming bands and artists also able to add their shows to the database, the initiative will give even the smallest acts a chance to reach up to one million people.
The data will then be used to direct commuters to their nearest local music show in the hours before it is supposed to begin.”
Why it’s hot:
Ads that aren’t ads are my favorite kind of ads. It’s a bold move for Clear Channel to reallocate all of its ad space to help promote local artists. It’s a good example of what can happen when a brand asks how it’s contributing to the community around it – whether local, regional, national, or global. As summed up by head of Clear Channel Scandanavia, “We are a natural part of the urban space and have both the will, and the responsibility, to contribute to making cities dynamic. Stockholm Underground is another example of how we are committed to doing so.”
A UK-based company that produces promotional items (think branded industry swag) called Adler conducted a fun experiment in brand recall. They asked 100 participants to draw the logos of 10 of Europe’s biggest brands:
Then Adler plotted each of the drawings on a graph from least accurate to most accurate. Then they pulled out key insights.
Introducing Timeshifter: an easy-to-use, straightforward app that helps people fight jet lag. Users simply enter in their full flight details (including multi-leg flights, stopovers), chronotype (morning person or a night owl), along with their individual sleep patterns. The latter is composed of your preferred bedtime/wake-up times as well as any other favorite aids, like melatonin or coffee intake.
Timeshifter then instantly delivers a personalized sleep schedule. It’s a full plan accompanied by push notification alerts like “avoid caffeine for the next 6 hours,” “expose yourself to light starting in 30 minutes,” or “take melatonin.” One can start it three days in advance of one’s flight or up until a minute before take-off, though the plan changes depending on advance lead time. The service costs $10 per jet lag plan or $24.99 for an annual subscription.
“Our plans have a practicality filter, where the advice fits with what you can really achieve in the real world,” says Dr. Steve Lockley, a neuroscientist and associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. The renowned expert in circadian rhythms and former NASA consultant developed the Timeshifter app algorithm after a decade of devising custom jet lag plans for Formula 1 drivers and astronauts.
The app is unique in that it’s entirely based on sleep neuroscience and focused on shifting one’s internal clock forward. As Timeshifter cofounder and CEO Mickey Beyer-Clausen, explains, beating jet lag involves moving one’s circadian cycle to the new time zone as soon as (feasibly) possible. But it’s not one-size-fits-all. Based on the information provided by each user, Timeshifter could have hundreds of different versions of the same trip, depending on sleep patterns or even when they started using the app.
The app also strives to make actions attainable based on your schedule. “So if you’re asked to avoid light, it doesn’t mean being in complete darkness or closing your eyes. It means being exposed to less light than [usual],” explains Lockley. “There’s no point in advising you go to bed at 7:00 PM because the chances are you’re not really gonna do that.”
While several other jet lag apps exist, such as Jet Lag Rooster, they do not base circadian rhythm on personalized details. Others, like Uplift, recommend timed acupressure to prevent jet lag.
Why it’s Hot:
This is an awesome use of technology and human knowledge. It would have been an amazing piece of technology for a modern travel brand to create to build a more holistic user experience. I could also see travel brands like Away including a trial for this app with a purchase of their suitcases.
In a viral audio clip on TikTok, a white-haired man in a baseball cap and polo shirt declares, “The millennials and Generation Z have the Peter Pan syndrome, they don’t ever want to grow up.”
Thousands of teens have responded through remixed reaction videos and art projects with a simple phrase: “ok boomer.”
“Ok boomer” has become Generation Z’s endlessly repeated retort to the problem of older people who just don’t get it, a rallying cry for millions of fed up kids. Teenagers use it to reply to cringey YouTube videos, and basically any person over 30 who says something condescending about young people — and the issues that matter to them. Teenagers have scrawled the message in their notebooks and carved it into at least one pumpkin.
Nina Kasman, an 18-year-old college student selling “ok boomer” stickers, socks, shirts, leggings, posters, water bottles, notebooks and greeting cards, said that while older generations have always looked down on younger kids or talked about things “back in their day,” she and other teens believe older people are actively hurting young people. “Everybody in Gen Z is affected by the choices of the boomers, that they made and are still making,” she said. “Those choices are hurting us and our future. Everyone in my generation can relate to that experience and we’re all really frustrated by it.”
Why its hot: Rising inequality, unaffordable college tuition, political polarization exacerbated by the internet, and the climate crisis all fuel anti-boomer sentiment. It’s Gen Z and millennials fighting back against the “snowflake” tag that boomers often use to describe them. Overall, its indicative of something unique in culture that puts the generational and power divide right at the center of the conversation – almost a boomer backlash anthem.
For years, sports at the Olympic, professional, and collegiate levels has become very data-driven as decisions ranging from recruitment and training to strategy and in-game tactics rely upon statistics and a dynamic set of variables including personnel, game conditions, and scenarios.
For teams, AI brings the promise of big operational improvements:
AI can improve the value of cross-training by team role/position between 9% and 32%.
Up to 65% of long-term cognitive dysfunction due to concussions is preventable through the use of AI.
AI in sports can improve individual and team performance by an average of 17% and 28% respectively.
Amazon and The Cloud Wars The enterprise cloud is without question the foundation for digital business; companies in every industry and in every region of the world are betting their futures on the ability of cloud providers to help them remake themselves as digital powerhouses that can move at the speed of their customers, innovate on the fly, and deliver world-class customer experiences.
AI and real-time insights are key battlegrounds for winning for what journalists have called “The Cloud Wars” (Spoiler: Microsoft is winning).
The Fan Experience As competition heats up, Cloud providers like IBM, Microsoft and AWS are stepping up their game in another area: The Fan Experience—pursuing deals with major sports and entertainment institutions like the NFL, Wimbledon, and The Grammys to give fans an insider perspective into their favourite events.
“Insights Powered by AWS” Platform
Arguably, AWS is doing a better job at positioning itself as the standard in AI. While Microsoft and IBM provide inessential applications like Surface tablets for the NFL, or Watson-analyzed footage highlights to Wimbledon, AWS is doing a better job in communicating how teams are using AWS and machine learning to transform how sports are analyzed, played, coached, and experienced.
Why it’s hot: As the drama between Microsoft and Amazon continues to unfold, tangible, relevant and well told use cases are a key to cementing top of mind in the public view, drive relevance, and ultimately, consideration.
Samsung has sent one of its Galaxy S10 5G smartphones into space inside a balloon to allow its users to take selfies with the Earth in the background.
It launched a balloon equipped with a specially designed rig to take the S10 up to 65,000 feet into the stratosphere to receive selfies transmitted from the Earth and send them back to the ground using a 5G network.
The first person to undertake the “SpaceSelfie” mission was Cara Delevingne, an English actress and model, who shared her photo on social media. South Korean football star Son Heung-min will also join the campaign.
Not every social media company makes the same average revenue per user. There are many factors in how much money a company makes per user. To name a few:
types of ad units
pricing of ad units
Why it’s hot: Certain social media channels (Facebook and YouTube) need scale (number of active users) to generate meaningful revenue, while some (Twitter and LinkedIn) are able to generate substantial revenue from a much smaller number of active users compared to their rivals.
Sprite in Argentina is tackling young peoples’ anxieties in a new campaign that interestingly leapt from digital to TV. Sprite looked at top searches among Gen Z to determine the subjects causing them the most mental anguish. Then, it tapped influencers who had experienced those “issues” to lead conversations in sub-Reddits related to them.
Not only that, but it also created compelementary content for each “issue”, showing how many people also experience the same thing:
In their words, “the effort relies largely on a series of forums on Reddit, where young people who feel they are alone for a variety of reasons, such as they’re still virgins, they’re flat-chested, they feel like in the wrong body, can express their feelings. Each forum is led by an influencer who has experienced the respective topics. The idea stems from the insight that those in Generation Z feel there are certain subjects they can’t talk to others about.
To determine forum topics, Sprite worked with Google to pinpoint subjects young people frequently searched for. Sprite created an anthem film as well as digital banners to introduce the campaign.”
Why It’s Hot:
We can certainly debate whether this is the role a soft drink brand should play, but it’s nice to see that type of brand using its platform to not just sell sugar water.
Most interesting is their approach – tapping into search data, to inform a social campaign, led by micro-influencers, and introduced on TV. Great cross-channel integration not just for a campaign, but as a program or platform.
It’s also important to note they weren’t just looking at bubbled up/watered down search data. They sought out the real questions people were asking, even if it wasn’t 200 million searches per month. Showing that sometimes you need to find the hidden meaning lurking in your data.
Home-related publications like Real Simple, Hunker and Domino are using model houses to create experiential retail experiences that can drive affiliate revenue.
Domino magazine has created staged homes for years. But this year’s house, located in Sag Harbor, NY was the first to include shoppable technology into the space. In partnership with Stage&Shop, a real estate agency and an app developer, Domino created an app that integrate codes into all of the house’s furniture and design elements that people touring the home could scan to purchase them.
Domino’s winter issue will have a feature on the home, which will also include QR codes for those products that readers use their smartphone to scan.
Brands were included in the home through product placement, and affiliate links were used in the shoppable content as well as in the house itself. But the primary revenue driver for the project still comes from the content created surrounding the home, including its print spread and digital elements. And while it’s an ongoing franchise for the brand, Cho said that Domino isn’t leaning on that revenue, but is looking for constant iterations of how to make the project better and a bigger piece of the puzzle.
Why It’s Hot: An interesting convergence of digital and physical, potentially symbiotically solving parallel/complementary problems of retail and ecommerce experiences:
Online purchase is convenient, but I don’t get to see, touch, try physical goods before buying.
Retail purchase is experiential, but I don’t want all of the friction of purchase and transport home.
Google said on Wednesday that it had achieved a long-sought breakthrough called “quantum supremacy,” which could allow new kinds of computers to do calculations at speeds that are inconceivable with today’s technology.
The Silicon Valley giant’s research lab in Santa Barbara, Calif., reached a milestone that scientists had been working toward since the 1980s: Its quantum computer performed a task that isn’t possible with traditional computers, according to a paper published in the science journal Nature.
A quantum machine could one day drive big advances in areas like artificial intelligence and make even the most powerful supercomputers look like toys. The Google device did in 3 minutes 20 seconds a mathematical calculation that supercomputers could not complete in under 10,000 years, the company said in its paper.
Scientists likened Google’s announcement to the Wright brothers’ first plane flight in 1903 — proof that something is really possible even though it may be years before it can fulfill its potential.
Still, some researchers cautioned against getting too excited about Google’s achievement since so much more work needs to be done before quantum computers can migrate out of the research lab. Right now, a single quantum machine costs millions of dollars to build.
Many of the tech industry’s biggest names, including Microsoft, Intel and IBM as well as Google, are jockeying for a position in quantum computing. And venture capitalists have invested more than $450 million into start-ups exploring the technology, according to a recent study.
China is spending $400 million on a national quantum lab and has filed almost twice as many quantum patents as the United States in recent years. The Trump administration followed suit this year with its own National Quantum Initiative, promising to spend $1.2 billion on quantum research, including computers.
A quantum machine, the result of more than a century’s worth of research into a type of physics called quantum mechanics, operates in a completely different manner from regular computers. It relies on the mind-bending ways some objects act at the subatomic level or when exposed to extreme cold, like the metal chilled to nearly 460 degrees below zero inside Google’s machine.
“We have built a new kind of computer based on some of the unusual capabilities of quantum mechanics,” said John Martinis, who oversaw the team that managed the hardware for Google’s quantum supremacy experiment. Noting the computational power, he added, “We are now at the stage of trying to make use of that power.”
On Monday, IBM fired a pre-emptive shot with a blog post disputing Google’s claim that its quantum calculation could not be performed by a traditional computer. The calculation, IBM argued, could theoretically be run on a current computer in less than two and a half days — not 10,000 years.
“This is not about final and absolute dominance over classical computers,” said Dario Gil, who heads the IBM research lab in Yorktown Heights, N.Y., where the company is building its own quantum computers.
Other researchers dismissed the milestone because the calculation was notably esoteric. It generated random numbers using a quantum experiment that can’t necessarily be applied to other things.
As its paper was published, Google responded to IBM’s claims that its quantum calculation could be performed on a classical computer. “We’ve already peeled away from classical computers, onto a totally different trajectory,” a Google spokesman said in a statement. “We welcome proposals to advance simulation techniques, though it’s crucial to test them on an actual supercomputer, as we have.”
Put simply, 5G is a next-generation wireless network that will give you much faster internet connections. But, because of the way it works, it’s about to change the way lots of other things connect to the internet, too, like cars and TVs, and even things like connected lights on city streets.
Here’s what you need to know:
Faster connections, and more of them
5G promises much faster network speeds, which means heavy-duty content like video should travel much more quickly to connected devices.
Verizon’s 5G network, which is live in Minneapolis and Chicago, is already providing speeds in excess of 1Gbps, or about 10 times the speeds you might get on a good day with 4G LTE, the current standard offered by wireless carriers in most places. That means you should be able to download an hourlong high-definition video in seconds instead of minutes.
WHY ITS HOT:
Theres a lot of hype about 5G, will the boom come for consumers or businesses? In the video and other experts I have heard, its going to be more about IoT and just having everything connected to the internet and what we can learn from the data and having it communicate with each other.
Will it accelerate autonomous driving? Mobile Content? Real time personalization? Augmented Reality?
Will be interesting to watch how it all plays out.
Businesses across almost every industry deploy artificial intelligence to make jobs simpler for staff and tasks easier for consumers. For example, computer software teaches customer service agents how to be more compassionate, schools use machine learning to scan for weapons and mass shooters on campus, and doctors use AI to map the root cause of diseases. Though these applications may seem harmless, AI is only as good as the data it is fed.
One of the greatest obstacles facing the proliferation and acceptance of AI, is bias. As AI systems spread further and have influence over our lives, it’s getting more important to make sure they’re properly trained. Whether it’s intentional or not, humans make judgments that can spill over into the code created for AI to follow. That means AI can contain implicit racial, gender and ideological biases, which in some cases can lead to flawed results and dangerous conclusions.
In its more controversial applications, AI is now being used to predict how likely a person is to commit a crime, how a person might behave on the job, and whether they’re worthy of borrowing money from a bank. Though these applications are helpful, they can disadvantage underrepresented groups if deployed incorrectly. While bias can creep-in easily in AI, it can also help to reduce disparities caused by poor human judgement.
When you break down classic Disney movies, they usually have very problematic undertones. But in recent years Disney has become more progressive, moving away from the largely “Prince Charming”-type story lines. Now Disney has taken it a step further to improve its representation by turning to AI, using “GD-IQ” — a tool that reviews scripts to spellcheck gender bias. The tool, is being used to evaluate how many characters are part of the LGBTQ+ community, how many characters are people of color, how many have disabilities, as well as characters that are part of other minority groups that aren’t frequently represented in film and television.
Why it’s hot: AI is no longer the stuff of science fiction, and as such we need to become more conscious of AI’s underlying biases. Organizations can make tweaks to their algorithms and data sources, but at the end of the day, the final output is ultimately judged by a human. Only by adding more women, people of color and other underrepresented groups to the team to help implement these technologies can we create more equitable systems that address AI bias.
Facebook wants to make sure your crazy uncle has new information about vaccines, chemtrails, and local pizzerias for you this Thanksgiving.
House Financial Services Committee chairwoman Maxine Waters, a Democratic Congresswoman from California, drilled down about the social media platform’s stance on political ads—and their truthfulness. That line of tough questioning led the Facebook CEO to defend letting politicians lie on Facebook.
“Are you telling me . . . you plan on doing no fact-checking on political ads?” Waters asked.
“Our policy is that we do not fact-check politicians’ speech . . . We believe that in a democracy, it is important that people can see for themselves what politicians are saying,” he replied.
In addition, AOC stuffed Zuckerberg in a locker with her line of questioning.
In 2014, the company acquired a startup called Ear Machine, which at the time was working with the National Institute of Health to test technology that allowed users to control the settings on their hearing aids through a mobile app (rather than having an audiologist set them). The study tested Ear Machine’s technology on 75 people with hearing loss and showed that it was an effective way for patients to adjust their own hearing aids without needing a doctor. Bose incorporated that technology into its Hearphones, a $499 consumer-level conversation-enhancing hearing amplifier, which it revealed in 2016. Bose’s hearing aid has not yet launched commercially, but it has already garnered important federal approval.
At the same time Bose applied for the FDA application, it lobbied for the Over the Counter Hearing Aid Act, a bipartisan effort that paves the way for the existence of regulated over-the-counter hearing aids and enables people to purchase them without seeing an audiologist.
Amid its big hearing aid push, Bose also started making headway into sleep tech by acquiring a few other startups. In 2017, it bought Hush, a company that embeds white noise inside of ear buds. It incorporated the Hush technology into its $250 Sleepbuds, which play white noise to drown out nagging sounds.
Bose initially had big ambitions to address more than just sleep and hearing, Roselli said. “Then we realized it was too much, too big to bite off, because healthcare is very difficult to navigate as I’m finding out”
Why it’s hot: It’s no surprise to see another technology company try to make its way into healthcare – but it’s reassuring to see them making strides (lobbying for Hearing Aid Act) beyond just product development.
On a cold, sunny October day on the outskirts of Copenhagen, Denmark, a group of men dressed in black gathers outside Brondby Stadium to shoot off a couple of rockets, raise their fists and shout about how the home team will soon beat — and beat up — the visiting archnemesis, FC Copenhagen.
Police are out in force, riot helmets at the ready. Brondby-Copenhagen matches have a history of leading to vandalism, arrests and general mayhem.
Once the men’s chant is over, the group moves toward the stadium’s entrance, where the men — along with 21,000 other fans — are asked to remove masks, hats and glasses so a computer can scan their faces. The scans will be compared against a list of roughly 50 banned troublemakers and will be used to determine whether the spectators will be allowed in.
No one is stopped on this day. But since the system’s launch in July, it has caught four people on the blacklist, who were then turned over to police.
GDPR and Facial Recognition
The use of facial recognition is best known in China, but it is also used in countries including Israel, the U.S. and the United Arab Emirates. In Europe, biometric data is protected under the General Data Protection Regulation, arguably the world’s most comprehensive privacy law, which went into full effect in mid-2018. Several institutions that had been using facial recognition technology prior to that — including a school in Sweden and a police force in Wales — have since been challenged, with differing results.
What’s unique about the use of facial recognition in Brondby is that experts agree that it appears to be one of Europe’s first large-scale, private systems created and vetted in the era of GDPR.
Implementation and oversight
According to the Brondby soccer club’s security chief, Mickel Lauritsen, getting this system approved was a long process. It started almost five years ago, when the team kept getting fined for lax stadium security but felt hamstrung in its attempt to make improvements.
At first, stadium stewards were allowed to see only descriptions of the troublemakers they were expected to pick out of the crowd. Then they won approval to use photos. With that approval in place, the team launched its request for a facial recognition system and began nearly three years of negotiation involving the Danish Data Protection Agency, team lawyers, fan input and system developer Panasonic.
With the system in use now, Lauritsen says, he’s very careful to stay within its prescribed boundaries. That means pictures of those on the watchlist are entered into the system on game day and are deleted again at the end of the day. The system is not connected to the Internet. There’s a cross-check to avoid false positives.
Lauritsen says that at one point, the police asked him to enter a suspect’s picture into the system to help with an investigation. He said no.
“I know if I misuse the system, I’m not allowed to do anything with it going forward, and then we’ll be restricted in what we can do even further than we are now,” he explains.
Why it’s hot:
As Facial Recognition technology starts to improve and scale across private and public sectors, it is important to start having conversations about what these systems can and can’t do. Where is the line between protecting citizens’ privacy and using large-scale systems to improve the way we live?
In the U.S., no federal laws explicitly regulate facial recognition technology — yet — so discussion has been happening primarily at the state and local levels and usually focuses on the public sector. San Francisco, for example, recently banned the use of automated facial recognition by the police and city agencies. Some advocacy groups are looking to fashion to reclaim their privacy.
“If you’re over 30, you’ve probably never heard of Klarna. It’s a new form of digital payment pitched at people who “wanna cop some new gear but can’t wait until payday”, as JD Sports puts it.
At Asos, when buyers reach the checkout, they are asked to pay with a debit or credit card, PayPal, or “pay later with Klarna”. It says Klarna lets you “sit back and relax. Klarna will notify you when payment is due.”
Essentially Klarna has taken the access provided by layaway and credit cards and made it more user-friendly and accessible.
It looks like a chunk of flesh, lopped out of someone’s arm and placed on a table. And it’s pretty much just that. You can touch it, tickle it, pinch it, etc. and it will know. But this skin isn’t human skin. It’s skin for our tech.
Skin-On is modeled after the layers of real human skin, it’s made of silicone, molded with the human skin patterns. Under the “epidermis” aka the top layer is the “dermis” or a grid of electrode wires. These are the same electrodes as the inside of a smartphone touchscreen, and they sense touch using electromagnetism, just like in phones. But embedded with silicone, they have the ability to measure not just contact, but squeezes and twists.
“The trick is it’s insulated and slightly stretchable,” says lead researcher Marc Teyssier, a PhD student at Telecom ParisTech, of the electrode layer. Then under this electrode layer is a microprocessor and a layer of silicone that has a different consistency and thickness than the epidermis to really simulate that human feel.
“I think the weirdest thing is to hold the phone.” says Teyssier. “Because when you hold the phone, it’s like holding someone’s arm . . . [though] once you interact, it feels quite natural.” Spooky.
Why It’s Hot:
Even though the project would be easy to scale (according to the founders), it’s not something they actually want to do. The hope of the project is that it helps us question the philosophical relationship of people and machinery. Think of Skin-On Interfaces as functional art that asks whether we should be so quick to add technology onto our human bodies, rather than reshaping technology to be more human.
“For the last 50 years, the end goal in sci-fi has been the humans are mixed with the machine. That drove research in human-computer interaction. We’ve added devices onto humans,” Teyssier explains, no doubt referencing phones, smartwatches, and augmented reality headsets. “So my point of view is that I’m trying to do the opposite.”
By now, the privacy threats posed by Amazon Alexa and Google Home are common knowledge. Workers for both companies routinely listen to audio of users—recordings of which can be kept forever—and the sounds the devices capture can be used in criminal trials.
Now, there’s a new concern: malicious apps developed by third parties and hosted by Amazon or Google. The threat isn’t just theoretical. Whitehat hackers at Germany’s Security Research Labs developed eight apps—four Alexa “skills” and four Google Home “actions”—that all passed Amazon or Google security-vetting processes. The skills or actions posed as simple apps for checking horoscopes, with the exception of one, which masqueraded as a random-number generator. Behind the scenes, these “smart spies,” as the researchers call them, surreptitiously eavesdropped on users and phished for their passwords.
The malicious apps had different names and slightly different ways of working, but they all followed similar flows. A user would say a phrase such as: “Hey Alexa, ask My Lucky Horoscope to give me the horoscope for Taurus” or “OK Google, ask My Lucky Horoscope to give me the horoscope for Taurus.” The eavesdropping apps responded with the requested information while the phishing apps gave a fake error message. Then the apps gave the impression they were no longer running when they, in fact, silently waited for the next phase of the attack.
SRLabs eventually took down all four apps demoed. As with most skills and actions, users didn’t need to download anything. Simply saying the proper phrases into a device was enough for the apps to run.
There’s little or no evidence third-party apps are actively threatening Alexa and Google Home users now, but the SRLabs research suggests that possibility is by no means far-fetched.
Why it’s Hot:
This is potentially very, very scary. With all of the backlash around Facebook, it seems inevitable that voice devices will soon face similar scrutiny. What safety measures will they take to ensure this never happens in real life?
In an effort to launch in one of the biggest and most saturated markets in the world, Mars’ Puppo, a subscription-based and personalized service for dogs, took personalization to a new level, creating 100,729 bespoke ads for each dog licensed in Manhattan.
Puppo created an algorithm that extracted data from the NYC Dog Licensing Dataset to find out the name, age, breed, borough and zip code of each dog. A modular copy and art direction system then generated an individual print ad for each dog that linked to a health benefit from using Puppo’s services.
Owners were targeted by zip code and print posters were placed within dog-walking distance from their homes. The Every Dog Has its Ad campaign was also promoted by digital OOH and display ads.
The campaign saw a 68% increase in new site users within one week, 28% of which came directly from the posters. There was also a 144% increase in organic searches for Puppo.
Why it’s hot: Clients are always looking for ways to personalize their communications in unique and attention grabbing ways — here, Puppo used a variety of data (licensing information, zip code, dog breed, etc.) to create personalized geo-targeted ads to dogs and their owners. succeeding in grabbing attention and driving awareness of their product in a personalized and relevant way.
Target has introduced 4 new inclusive Halloween costumes to their Hyde and Eek! Boutique for children with disabilities. While previously it was up to crafty parents to transform wheelchairs and accommodate special needs in creative ways, Target is making it significantly easier for these families to celebrate Halloween without the extra effort.
The princess and pirate costumes are designed to be easy for wheelchair users to take on and off, and have detachable hook-and-loop attachments that can transform kids’ wheelchairs into a carriage or pirate ship.
The unicorn and shark costumes cater to kids with sensory sensitivities. They are super soft, with flat seams and no tags. There are also pieces that are easily detachable to further customize kids’ comfort levels.
Traveling without traveling may be the wave of the future. All Nippon Airways (ANA), Japan’s biggest airline, is working on telepresence robots to do the traveling for you. Gone would be the days of flight delays, long layovers, physical and financial stress. The robot, Newme was unveiled at Tokyo’s Combined Exhibition of Advanced Technologies.
Newme, a stand-in robot gives users the ability to enjoy their vacations without leaving the comfort of their home – potentially redefining stacations for ever.
The telepresence robot is a boxy adjustable 10.1-inch touchscreen with 1080p resolution on support that connects it to wheels. The bot has the ability to travel at speeds of 1.8 mph with about three hours of battery life. The user can use a VR headset to experience the environment through the robot’s perspective.
ANA envisions the robot to serve as an ‘AVATAR’ for humans in all types of environments, from the deap sea to the surface of the moon. The company also recognizes the robots can be used in industries outside of tourism.
“By placing the world at your fingertips, Avatars will open up new possibilities and help reshape everything from business and education to healthcare and entertainment.”
We are increasingly seeing technological advancements born from one industry that have applications and implications across verticals. When well executed and developed, the technology will have the potential not only change the way people travel (ex. opening up new worlds to people with disabilites), but how they work, learn and live.
On the flip side, are we facing a future where people live virtual only lives with less and less interactions? Ready Player One?
The New York Times reported that Virgin Galactic, Richard Branson’s company promising to take passengers to the edge of space on a rocket-powered plane, has released the space outfits its customers will wear on their trip.
In line with the Virgin brand, the marketing focus is on the look and style, rather than the substance of the experience itself.
“I think every single person who goes to space will be delighted with it,” Mr. Branson said in an interview. “I think the whole experience of going to space should be sexy. Our spaceships are sexy. Our mother ships are sexy. Our spaceport is sexy. And for younger people than myself, this suit is also sexy.”
Why it’s hot:
Is selling a $250,000, once-in-a-lifetime experience on style idiotic or smart? I’m not sure whether to laugh or nod. Let’s discuss.
With this entertaining noir-esque advert, three friends escape hoards of nameless, unthinking look-alike “followers” to find refuge with each other in a side-street bar.
Miller’s research found that 50% of 21-to-27 year olds only meet up with their close friends a few times a month.
The ad suggests social media is to blame and that Miller is the needed champion of authentic, in-person experiences versus the ubiquitous sameness of social media image-curation.
In a clever play on words, the ad ends with a toast to the “original social media”. (beer)
Fast Company: “The new campaign ad, “Followers,” by agency DDB Chicago, is using the age-old idea of Miller Time and positioning it as an antidote to our collective social feed fatigue. The brand is complementing this notion with a promotion that will reward drinkers who unfollow Miller Lite on Facebook and Instagram with free beer. Miller Lite is also taking two weeks off from any social media of its own.”
They’re no doubt banking on the press coverage to make up for it.
Like any good rebel, Miller is bucking the trend … of social media accumulation, but its execution of this reward could maybe be better. In order to get a free beer, you have to take a screenshot of your unfollow, text it to a coded address, receive a link, follow the link and upload a photo of your receipt, to then receive a reimbursement on Paypal.
They also did a pretty badass can redesign to go along with the campaign.
Americans love a rebel, and as digital continues to devour our lives, Miller is exploiting the growing disdain for social media to frame itself as a conduit of authentic connection. Miller Time is back from the good ol’ days before social media, to remind us that friends are people you see in person.
People will still use social media, obviously, but maybe next time they gripe about how it’s eroding our ability to form meaningful real human connections, they’ll remember the brand that agrees with them, and reach for a Miller Lite.
Why it’s not as good as it could be: Rewarding unfollows is clunky UX, requiring multiple steps on one’s phone, which undermines the clarity of the “offline” message.
Facebook Watch hasn’t quite become the essential TV alternative that Facebook is hoping to build just yet, but its viewer numbers are rising, and its slowly working out ways to maximize attention, and lure more viewers across to its dedicated video content platform.
Its latest focus in this respect is European audiences, with new programs and ad options designed to attract publishers and advertisers, and further promote the option in the region. This week, Facebook has announced a new push, which will see it partner publishers and celebrities to create new Watch programs.
Among these new Watch programs will be:
Date Fails’ with Conor Maynard. A dating-meets-cooking format, which sees Conor Maynard help individuals find love through food. Weekly 4-6 minute episodes.
Ek is back’ with Eko Fresh. With twenty years in the rap business, Eko Fresh sits down with old industry companions and reminisce over old times. Weekly 4 minute episodes.
‘Kim‘s Famous 5’ with Kim Gloss. Kim Gloss hosts a weekly top 5 ranking of celebrity posts that amazed the community, joined by on-the-sofa guests. Weekly 4 minute episodes.
‘Menú a 20’ with La Pelo. Influencers and celebrities participate in kitchen-based challenges with limited time, limited budget and limited ingredients, hosted by La Pelo. Weekly 4 minute episodes.
The new partnerships with these local celebrities will help to spark interest in Watch, which, in combination with the aforementioned new news programming, and other content, Facebook will be hoping will keep viewers engaged, and help it build momentum for the option.
Facebook Watch still has a way to go to establish itself, but it is growing. According to most recent reports, 720 million people tune into Watch programs monthly, and 140 million people spend at least one minute on Watch daily. On average, daily Watch visitors spend more than 26 minutes on the platform.
Why its hot
At Facebook’s scale, serving 2.4 billion users per month, those are still relatively small numbers, but Facebook can still make Watch a bigger consideration, and take a larger chunk of the video advertising pie. If it can provide relevant content and revenue models, and if it can give people more reason to switch to Watch instead of, say, Netflix or Disney’s coming streaming service.
Pearson published its inaugural Global Learner Survey, capturing the opinions of learners worldwide. The group conducted the study so learners in 19 countries could have their say on subjects such as the quality of their nation’s education system; careers and the future of work; and technology.
It’s the first time the world has heard the collective voice of this many learners on such a wide range of education topics. More than 11,000 people, ranging in age from 16 to 70 participated in the study.
The survey uncovered eight key trends that learners across the globe tell us to characterize the way they seek education in 2019:
A DIY mindset is reshaping education.
The 40-year career is gone, replaced by life-long learning and diverse career paths.
People expect digital and virtual learning to be the new normal in the next decade.
Confidence in educational institutions is wavering.
Some young workers think you can do OK in life without a college degree.
Markets like China and India are leading the world in upskilling while the US and UK lag behind.
Learners believe soft skills will give them an advantage over automation.
People now cite social media and bullying as contributing factors to school safety concerns
The study also brings to light a new way of categorizing teaching into three various categories: continuous learning; distributed lifetime investment and that it be outcomes-based to deliver the skills and learning that learners and employers seek.
Why it’s hot:
Around the world, learners still place a great deal of faith in education to help them achieve success, but the way they are obtaining an education is changing. People are layering on to their traditional education by mixing and matching what works and what they can afford to get trained up for in a fast-changing economy.
“When you take a digital photo, you’re not actually shooting a photo anymore.
‘Most photos you take these days are not a photo where you click the photo and get one shot,’ said Ren Ng, a computer science professor at the University of California, Berkeley. ‘These days it takes a burst of images and computes all of that data into a final photograph.’
Computational photography has been around for years. One of the earliest forms was HDR, for high dynamic range, which involved taking a burst of photos at different exposures and blending the best parts of them into one optimal image.
Over the last few years, more sophisticated computational photography has rapidly improved the photos taken on our phones.”
This technology is evident in Google’s Night Sight, which is capable of capturing low-light photos without a flash.
Why it’s hot:
In a world where the veracity of photographs and videos is coming into question because of digital manipulation, it’s interesting that alteration is now baked in.
Stadia, Google’s video gaming platform that was announced earlier this year, will be taking pre-orders starting November 19th.
What is Stadia?
A ‘streaming platform’, but for video games. The processing of the game is entirely in the cloud, removing the need for bulky hardware consoles – and needless to say, the video games themselves.
Just like you would stream Netflix across TV, Desktop, Laptop or Mobile, stadia will allow you to play the same video game across and device with Google Chrome Browser functionality.
The full capabilities won’t be available at launch, but it’s still big news.
Why is it hot?
Because running a streaming platform for something that requires precision and minimal lag (video gaming) is a prime example of Google flexing its server network. Additionally, while it’s not breaking news, it’s still a very scary/threatening prospect to any organization that profits from selling anything physical gaming-wise.
Lastly, it’s a system that will greatly benefit from the low latency of 5G. And anything 5G related should be paid attention to.