Choose-Your-Own-Adventure with Puss in Boots

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Netflix announced an experiment in interactive storytelling earlier this week with the children’s programs Puss in Book: Trapped in an Epic Tale, and Buddy Thunderstruck: The Maybe Pile. The shows, which offer thousands of permutations, bring the “choose your own adventure” format to internet TV and give the chance for the viewer to be the director. Netflix has proven an ideal platform to test this out on for a variety of reasons: its large user base, its original programming and the fact that a show does not need to start or end at a certain time.

It works like this: at certain, predetermined points in the story, Netflix pauses the tale and offers you a choice. Should Puss (from Shrek) befriend the bears he just encountered, or fight them? Your choice dictates his next move, and changes the arc of the story. Puss in Book offers viewers 13 opportunities to shape the story, which features two possible endings. It can be as little 18 minutes, or as long as 39. There are three thousand possible variations of how the story could go. Buddy Thunderstruck will provide eight opportunities to make a decision, an average length of 12 minutes.

Netflix explains that they started with children’s shows because “Kids’ content is essentially cheap to make, it also is more resistant to changing tastes and trends than other genres. All of which is to say, it’s the perfect laboratory for experimentation.”

Why it’s hot:

  • Increases engagement: this challenges the conventional way of watching TV or movies by forcing the audience to interact with the content in an exciting way
  • Increases data points: this could create a large amount of data for Netflix regarding: how many people are making active choices, what choices, are they re-watching the show at a later point in time?
  • While this likely won’t catch on with mainstream audience, this could create a new niche of Netflix viewers

Source: Wired

 

This App Has Moved Over 333 Million Pounds of Food

Americans toss out, on average, 72 billion pounds of safe, edible food each year. Around 52 billion of those pounds flow from manufacturers, restaurants, and grocery stores into landfill. Feeding America is a nonprofit that reaches the 42 million people in the U.S. who struggle to afford food through managing 60,000 partner organizations and efforts. They have developed a new tech platform called MealConnect to streamline food donations from stores and restaurants to those in need. They have facilitated 737,000 pickups and moved over 333 million pounds of food–enough for 278 million meals.

MealConnect officially launched in early June after a 3-year pilot period. It is a platform that acts as a dashboard to manage the flow of excess food in the communities around Feeding America’s food banks. Accessible in both website and app form, MealConnect allows business donors—whether it’s a retail chain like Chipotle, a local shop, or a farmers market—to create a free account, where they can upload information about excess food they have to donate, and select a date and time they’d like it to be picked up. On the Feeding America side, an algorithm sorts through the available donations and matches them with a partner organization, like a soup kitchen, based on need and timing. Once a donation is matched with a partner, someone from the partner agency will drive to collect the excess food from the source.

Before MealConnect, if a restaurant offered leftover food, they’d have to call the food bank, and the entire process might take a long time through a series of phone calls. On the app, donors snap a picture of the food, and fill out the reason for donation, ingredients, and sell-by data, if possible (for retailers who tend to consistently have the same type of food to donate; they can also include instructions for pickup logistics. For each donor account, their donations live on a dashboard they can access to view past transactions.

So far, the platform has facilitated 737,000 pickups and moved over 333 million pounds of food–enough for 278 million meals.

The platform was developed with a $1.5 million grant from Google’s philanthropic arm, Google.org; another $1 million grant from General Mills will help it scale out to more communities and organizations. Feeding America is hoping to make significant progress in solving hunger – its goal is to save around 2.8 billion pounds of food each year and end “food insecurity” by 2025.

Why it’s hot: This is an awesome example of using technology to simplify a dated process, and works towards getting wasted food into the hands of people that need it. Hopefully this platform is able to work towards solving a fundamental problem in the U.S.

Source: Fast Company

Walmart is turning its employees into delivery drivers to compete with Amazon

Walmart is investing in e-commerce to better compete with Amazon, is unveiling a new strategy: turning its army of 1.5 million US employees into delivery drivers. This is being tested at three stores in New Jersey and Arkansas, and designed to shave costs out of the “last mile” of distribution, the most expensive part of getting goods to customers.

Under the initiative, store employees will be given the option to deliver packages on their way home after work, in exchange for extra pay. They’ll be given an app that allows them to input their routes, and an algorithm will plot the most efficient path. In the pilot, most merchandise was delivered the day after the order was placed, beating Walmart’s pledge of second-day delivery.

The company has 4,700 US stores and 6,100 trucks, and it hopes to be able to use those assets to narrow the gap with Amazon. Walmart is also rolling out a grocery pick up service where online orders are delivered to customers’ cars, and is testing other ways of combining online shopping with its physical stores.

Why it’s hot:

  • This is enhancing the traditional brick-and-mortar structure and giving customers more on-demand goods, competing further with Amazon Prime.

Pinterest Finds Recipes Based On Your Extensive Collection Of Food Pics

Pinterest updated its image recognition software for users to take a picture of a meal and receive a list of similar recipes to make at home.

In February this year, Pinterest announced the release of an image recognition tool named Lens, which allows users to take a picture of anything they like and then find similar pictures on the applications others had posted.

This feature was recently given an update to allow users to take a picture of food they’re eating and receive a list of recipes based on the food in the image. The update also includes a new food filter allowing a user to narrow down the search results of new recipes based on how long they want to cook their meal, the ingredients they want to use and any dietary restrictions they may have. Additionally, Pinterest created a comments section through which a user can browse reviews from those who attempted to recreate the meals.

why it’s hot:

  • While not groundbreaking, this is an example of Pinterest becoming a more relevant social media player. They are encouraging higher engagement on their platform and capitalizing on already-popular Pinterest behaviors (I personally only use it to look for recipes – so this is exciting for me!)

Shazam Suddenly Started Forgetting Song Titles to Highlight a Little-known Fact about Alzheimer’s

Alzheimer’s Research U.K., and agency Innocean Worldwide U.K. brought a horribly human attribute to Shazam—the ability to forget. “The Day Shazam Forgot” was a collaboration in which Shazam appeared to have trouble remembering the songs people asked it to identify. When the app finally “remembered” the track, users were driven to a call to action about Alzheimer’s disease and invited to donate to the cause.

The purpose of the campaign was to tell a younger audience that Alzheimer’s disease doesn’t just concern seniors – it can affect people as young as 40 years old. Over 40,000 people under 65 are living with dementia in the U.K alone.

The campaign ran through the month of April in the U.K and in a mere few hours, the agency reported that The Day Shazam Forgot” yielded 2,018,206 impressions, with 5,096 visitors visiting the Alzheimer’s Research U.K. donation page – and hopefully donated!

Video – can start at :45

Why it’s hot:

  • A partnership with an unexpected application conveys a simple and straightforward message and puts the user in the shoes of someone with Alzheimer’s

Why it’s maybe not hot:

  • I would be interested to see the donation increase, because this could frustrate the user and be the wrong place and time for a donation (if someone is in an environment they are looking for a song… they might not be so willing to whip out their credit card for a donation)

http://www.adweek.com/creativity/shazam-suddenly-started-forgetting-song-titles-to-highlight-a-little-known-fact-about-alzheimers/

 

Snapchat Spectables on… Babies?

In a new Mother Day’s commercial for Brawny was shot from the point of view of toddlers wearing snapchat spectacles (attached with a sunglasses strap to make sure they stayed on)

Cutwater (a SF agency), enlisted four real families and shot in their homes over two days. The glasses have no playback function, so the creative team had to capture as many “happy accidents” as they could all in 10-second bursts.

The CCO of Cutwater says, “Motherhood in particular can be a challenging time, and we wanted to highlight the strength and resilience that women have during this period through the perspective of their children. ‘Once a mother, always a giant’ seemed like a simple way to articulate this point of view, while celebrating women for the strong and resilient people they are.”

Why it’s hot: This is an awesome execution that uses (otherwise, kind of useless) snapchat spectacle technology to capture simple human truths from an unexpected perspective.

Source: Adweek

The Fyre Festival: A Fiasco Fueled by Instragram

By now you have heard about the fiasco that was Fyre Festival. The social media-fueled project, co-founded by rapper Ja Rule and his tech entrepreneur partner Billy McFarland, promised people “two transformative weekends” on a private island in the Bahamas, with “the best in food, art, music, and adventure,” and, if the model-filled promo videos were any indication, this would be a tropical Coachella. This festival emerged seemingly out of nowhere but soon went viral after the festival organizers hired some 400 Instagram influencers to post about the event. The campaign promised luxury, beauty, and exclusivity.

This festival never happened, and the lead up to it was a fiasco. People remained stranded in Miami and the Bahamas on their way to the festival, which organizers announced at eight A.M. last Friday morning had been “postponed.”

The first warning sign came from Blink-182’s cancellation – the band backed out on Thursday afternoon, just 24 hours before the festival was set to begin, saying “We’re not confident that we would have what we need to give you the quality of performances we always give our fans.“ Then came reports of flight issues, with many attendees stuck on tarmacs in Miami. Those who actually got to the island found half-built tents (which end were actually storm relief tents), mattresses stacked around the tents, luggage dropped from shipping containers, a Sandals resort around the corner, less-than-ideal weather, and these sad sandwiches.

Festival goers now demand refunds, there is even a $100 million dollar lawsuit facing Ja Rule and Billy McFarland.

Why it’s NOT Hot:

What does this say about authenticity of influence marketing? Sure, many people blame “rich millennials” for falling for this mess of a festival, but is that fair? An editor at Wired writes “Fyre Festival was, in essence, the physical manifestation of the false narrative that social media creates. It’s the wide-shot on the smoothie bowl.” In my opinion, Fyre Festival and its rise and fall lessens the credibility of celebrity influencers – who have taken no accountability for promoting this, and collected their paycheck mindlessly.

Source: WIRED, Bloomberg

IBM Watson’s New Job as Art Museum Guide

For the launch of IBM Watson in Brazil, Ogilvy Brazil created an interactive guide that lets people have conversations with work housed at the Pinacoteca de São Paulo Museum. “The Voice of Art” replaces pre-recorded audio guides with a Watson-powered program that gleans data from books, old newspapers, recent articles, biographies, interviews and the internet.

It took IBM six months to teach Watson how to make sense of all that content. Hosted on cloud platform IBM Bluemix, its AI capabilities were put to work answering spontaneous questions about art by renowned Brazilian creators like Cândido Portinari, Tarsila do Amaral and José Ferraz de Almeida Júnior.

Conversational scope can range from historical and technical facts (like “What technique was used to create this painting?”) to the piece’s relation to contemporary events.

The video below does a nice job of showing how Watson fields natural questions whose answers feel especially relevant to the person asking, creating a unique connection between viewer and piece. In one cool moment, a boy approaches Portinari’s O Mestiço, a 1934 painting of a shirtless mixed-race man against the backdrop of a coffee farm.

When Oglivy found out 72 percent of Brazilians had never been to a museum, they saw an opportunity to make use of Watson’s cognitive intelligence to make their visit very interactive. At the museum’s entrance, visitors receive headphones and a smartphone equipped with the mobile app. As they walk, the app tells them when they’re approaching an art piece they can ask questions about. A separate feature, for hearing-impaired visitors, lets them interact through a built-in written chat tool.

Source: AdWeek

Why it’s hot:

  • This could have a lot of implications for our brands in the future – IBM Watson acting as a tour guide or concierge in different environments could help bridge knowledge gaps for things that need extra explaining, or for consumers that prefer more hands-on experiences.

Ada: Your Virtual… Doctor?

Ada, a London and Berlin-based health tech startup, sees its official U.K. push this week, and in doing so joins a number of other European startups attempting to market something similar to an AI-powered ‘doctor’. This app has been six years in the making, and originally started out start off as a tool to help doctors avoid misdiagnosis, but now it is a “personal health companion and telemedicine app”. Via a conversational interface, Ada is designed to help you work out what symptoms you have and offer you information on what might be the cause. If needed, it then offers you a follow up remote consultation with a real doctor over text.

The app works by plugging in the symptoms of something, going through quite an extensive set of questions, many of which relate to the answers you have previously given. The Ada app provides various possible conditions, and advises on next steps (treat at home vs. seek further guidance from a professional).

The app aims to empower patients to make more informed decisions about their health. Or, to out it more bluntly, to ensure we only visit a doctor when we need to and, more generally, can be proactive in our healthcare without adding the need for greater human doctor resources.

“Ada has been trained over several years using real world cases, and the platform is powered by a sophisticated artificial intelligence (AI) engine combined with an extensive medical knowledge base covering many thousands of conditions, symptoms and findings,” explains the company. “In every assessment, Ada takes all of a patient’s information into consideration, including past medical history, symptoms, risk factors and more. Through machine learning and multiple closed feedback loops, Ada continues to grow more intelligent, putting Ada ahead of anyone else in the market”.

Ada isn’t claiming to replace your doctor anytime soon. Like a lot of AI being applied to various verticals, not just healthcare, the app is designed to augment the role of humans, not replace it altogether. This can happen in two ways:

  1. Helping to act as a prescreen consultation before, if needed, being handed off to a real doctor for further advice, or simply helping to create a digital paper trail before a consultation takes place.
  2. By getting some of the most obvious symptom-related questions out of the way and captured and analysed by the app, it saves significant time during any follow up consultation.

App feedback has already shown it to successfully diagnose both common and quite rare conditions. Ada’s AI, since it has and continues to be trained by real doctors, pools a lot of shared expertise.

Video on how it works

WHY IT’S HOT:

Ada is another example of how AI is continually evolving, especially in the healthcare landscape. It’s certainly a good thing that this app in particular is not promising to replace doctors, but crowdsource information to make doctor’s appointments more efficient.

On the other side of this, I am sure doctors are not thrilled about patients coming in with a self-diagnosis – which can undermine the doctor’s job and derail and appointment all together.

Source: TechCrunch

Ford Made a Crib That Simulates a Car Ride, So Babies Everywhere Can Finally Drift Off

Ford Spain has made a mind-blowing futuristic baby crib that lets you record your baby’s favorite sleepytime car ride and simulate it, complete with engine noise, at home—so your baby can fall asleep without having to take a drive every night.

The Max Motor Dreams baby crib is a unique way to advertise the Ford Max family car range. The bed comes with wood panel accents (recalling the Woodie station wagons that were the preferred family vehicle of the past), “restrained” engine noise machine, a LED streetlight simulator, and soft movement.

Although Ford has made only one prototype so far, it’s willing to put it into production if demand is high enough. If parents head over to the website and put their number in under ¿Quieres una para tu familia? (Do you want one for your family?). They claim you can resister for a test drive.

See video! 

Why it’s hot:

The fact that Ford decided to take on this project shows how much they care about their customers. They’re willing to invent beyond cars to make our lives better wherever we are. Also – with all of the car commercials of babies falling asleep in cars – I am surprised it took someone this long to come up with this!

Source: ADWEEK

Alexa And Siri Are In A Fight To Become Your Hotel Concierge

Alexa and Siri have been fighting it out for a spot in our living rooms, our cars—and our hearts. Following Amazon’s footsteps and actually improving on it, Apple released its ‘Home’ application last year. Like Alexa it’s a home assistant, but with a wider selection of automation equipment.

Now tech giants and competitors Apple and Amazon are battling for a spot as the go-to hotel concierge. Currently being tested by Marriott, the international hotel chain will determine which one, Siri or Alexa, is best for their guests to use for simple tasks such as turning lights on or drawing the curtains.

For those who like the efficiency of a voice controlled assistant in their lives, this race is good news. Just like Apple improved upon Amazon’s Alexa last year, we can expect to see automation taken to the next level as these two try to outdo each other.

Amazon has already been stepping up its game hitting the food industry with Alexa features in a new LG Fridge and hospitals with a Boston Children’s Hospital app that allows the device to give medical advice.

According to Bloomberg, Marriott could be making a decision this summer.

Why it’s hot:

  • AI competitors will be constantly improving from trying to out-do one another
  • This is just one step in the direction of home automation / voice control taking over everyday life
  • Although – in this case, will guests miss human contact / authenticity?

Adidas In-Store Machine Knits A Custom Sweater

Two challenges currently facing any fast-fashion manufacturer include: making clothes that people want to buy and cutting the time it takes for new designs. With its new pop-up, Adidas might have just solved them both. Opened in Berlin, the ‘Knit For You’ concept store lets shoppers design a sweater and get it knitted by the high-tech machines within four hours – substantially cutting the typical manufacturing time of 12 to 18 months.

This tech-infused shopping experience is innovative and slightly resembles a video game. First, shoppers enter a darkened room where different designs are projected onto them with an option to switch between pattern using hand gestures. After choosing, customers move to a computer where they pick the color combination. To ensure the perfect fit, the shoppers can get a laser body scan. The custom-designed merino wool sweater cost 200 euros.

Adidas has been exploring localized production and customization in efforts to sell more products at full price and to bring its operating profit margins closet to its biggest rival, Nike, by 2020. Supported by the German government, the Knit for You pop-up will be used by Adidas to evaluate the profitability, before potentially introducing it in other locations.

If you’re interested in reading more – check out: their website

Why it’s hot:

  • Interesting activation for Adidas to better understand their customers, their behaviors and preferences, and offer them on-demand fashion
  • Plays upon the trend of 3D printing and customization

Source: PSFK

Patagonia Launches Its First TV Ad To Protect A Region

CLICK FOR VIDEO

Patagonia has had a long history of advocating for the environment. Beyond ‘greening’ their supply chain, the company also gets involved in external affairs, hoping to help save significant natural habitats from human destruction. Believing it is part of their moral obligation, Patagonia has partnered with Google to create an immersive VR series that advocates for the protection of Utah’s Bears Ears region.

The region is home to five Native American tribes and also is known for its rugged terrain that is perfect for climbing. Additionally, there are archaeological treasures that span back thousands of years. The significance of the area led President Barack Obama to declare it a national monument, protecting it from fossil fuel companies. Unfortunately, the Utah legislature requested that the ruling be rescinded in order to transfer this public land to private land so there can be more fossil fuel development.

As a response, Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard wrote an open letter to Utah Governor Gary Herbert, stating that, “Politicians in the state don’t seem to get that the outdoor industry—and their own state economy—depend on access to public lands for recreation.” Instead of pulling just a typical PR move, the company has also moved forward to create an amazing VR experience. These short films take anyone to the region to see the landscape for themselves, while telling the stories of tribes and athletes who value the space.

This Is Bears Ears National Monument is available for anyone to see and take action. The site encourages viewers to contact the Utah government to defend the Monument, providing an easy link to do so.

VR technology allows anyone to get a realistic glimpse of how the Bears Ears National Monument looks like and what it means for the people who occupy and visit the land. The brand has partnered with local communities, engaged in phone calls with the governor, and boycotted events to try to protect the territory. This VR film series is directed to galvanize the public to join the fight for the environment because even this large brand cannot change legislation alone.

WHY IT’S HOT:

  • Great use of Virtual Reality and storytelling to urge the public to take action to protect the environment. This type of technology puts the audience in the shoes of Bears Ear’s regions locals to understand the beauty and history of the region, compelling them to want to protect it!
  • Clear CTA for viewers to take action and contact the Utah government
  • Further reinforces Patagonia’s socially responsible brand positioning

Source: PSFK

OLAY Uses AI And Selfies To Give People Facial Analyses

As many of us know, shopping for make-up and cosmetics can be a game of trial and error. With an extremely saturated market, it’s hard to know which products are best for you and your skin type. The beauty brand, OLAY, is hoping to make this process easier.

OLAY is integrating AI technology into their smartphone app, and can help you find the right products for you and your skin type with just one simple selfie. Their new platform, called OLAY Skin Advisor, can give you the “age of your skin” and identify problem areas. Once identified, it will give you suggestions on how to best care for specific areas of your face, including a full face routine. As AI comes into contact with more faces and skin types, the faster it will learn and become better at identifying issues.

Some potential challenge areas might include how the system will distinguish between blemishes and uneven skin tone from birthmarks and scars. It will be also be interesting how accurate the selfie analysis will be, given that lighting and background can change the color and appearance of skin.

“Our AI technology is central to how well OLAY Skin Advisor is able to analyze women’s skin, but for women, it’s not about the artificial intelligence itself—it’s about what they get out of it,” Dr. Frauke Neuser, Principal Scientist at OLAY tells Mashable.

You can access the AI online, but you need to do so on a smartphone or tablet, and will give you a full analysis for free with problem areas highlighted, but it will only recommend OLAY products to fix them.

Why it’s hot:

This activation not only helps position OLAY as the trusted consultant of the cosmetics space, but it utilizes AI technology to build a database of different skin types. Although I am certain that this application exaggerates the severity of skin problem areas (it said my “skin age” was 35! Come on…), it showcases the importance of experiential and personalized marketing – all through a simple selfie.

 

Source: PSFK