Amplify the power transportation infrastructure

ViaPass – Designed for their most loyal commuters and to make Via more affordable than ever.

Customers can take unlimited Via rides for a week or a month at any time of day, anywhere below 125th Street in Manhattan and within their service zones in Brooklyn/Queens.

Members can choose between two unlimited-ride options:

  • 7-day unlimited ViaPass for $63+tax
  • 30-day unlimited ViaPass for $234+tax

Other incentives:

  • 20% off the base price on all airport trips
  • 50% off the base price on all trips between Manhattan and Brooklyn/Queens. Rides within Brooklyn/Queens are covered by the ViaPass
  • 50% off the base price on all ViaExpress trips

Why It’s Hot: Disrupting the transportation category including MTA with technology and innovation. Watch out for their IPO.

Ear Buds That Translate In Real-Time

The gadget straight out of science fiction has come to life, and all you need are WaverlyLab’s Pilot earpieces and a smartphone app. Designed as a pair of linked earpieces, Pilot connects to an app that uses speech recognition and machine translation to convert spoken language. It removes the awkwardness of phrase books or smartphone apps by playing a translated version directly to the listener. Strong dialects or local accents, however, could pose difficulties, but Waverly Labs claims the machine translation will improve with use.

Why It’s Hot:

To start with, it will be able to translate English, Spanish, French, Italian and Portuguese, and the company plans to add more languages later on. Even if it lags and stutters, Waverly Labs’s Pilot is a remarkable invention that could change what it means to be a student, tourist, immigrant, and refugee. It could allow for more substantive engagement with the world.

 

 

Food Computers Use AI To Make ‘Climate Recipes’ For The Best-Tasting Crops

It’s no surprise that climate change is inciting detrimental effects on our planet, but one of the most troubling is its effect on agriculture. The MIT Media Lab is hoping to remedy this by using special “food computers” to create the perfect climates for growing food, no matter the location or time of year. That means that not only could countries farm their local crops all year round, but they could also grow crops that are not native to their region of the world, meaning they could have fresh produce on-demand. Say goodbye to having to wait for shipments!

The Open Agriculture Initiative Personal Food Computer was first created in 2015, and can study and replicate the best growing conditions for specific plants with the use of sensors, actuators and machine vision. The Personal Food Computer can alter the light, nutrients and salinity of water. As the computer watches a plant, like basil, grow, it picks up data that can be used on the next set of crops. The research team is also trying to make the food itself tastier by maximizing the number of volatile molecules inside the crop, which is made possible by leaving the computer on constantly.

Babak Hodjat, CEO of Sentient says it’s all about engineering food in a totally different way: “Ultimately, this is non-GMO GMO. You’re not messing with the plant’s DNA. You’re just allowing it to exhibit the behavior it would in nature should that kind of environment exist.”

Source: PSFK

Why it’s Hot

Rolling with the punches, so to speak. In the case of environmental change, we can adapt. Looking at something like this at scale — could be an innovation that shifts how we approach agriculture and could also inspire additional environmental innovation.

When will AI outperform humans at work?

352 AI experts forecast a 50% chance AI will outperform humans in all tasks within 45 years, and take all jobs from humans within 120 years. Many of the world’s leading experts on machine learning were among those they contacted, including Yann LeCun, director of AI research at Facebook, Mustafa Suleyman from Google’s DeepMind and Zoubin Ghahramani, director of Uber’s AI labs.


Get the full research document HERE. Go to page 14 to get details on predictions

I Should Have Taken the Blue Pill

Is Digital Medicine the future of medication adherence?

Until recent technological advancements, it’s been almost impossible to ensure that patients are complying with their prescription protocols. Other than self-reporting there have been few tools to assure patients are adherent.

What is medication adherence?

  1. The right drug
  2. At the right dose
  3. At the right time
  4. On the right schedule
  5. Under the right conditions
  6. With the right precautions

Advancements such as electronic pill bottles that send data to providers every time they are opened help a bit. While this is a step in the right direction, it still doesn’t prove whether the patient actually swallowed the pill.

Along comes Proteus Discover developed by Proteus Digital Health

What it includes:

  • An ingestible sensor the size of a grain of sand
  • A small, wearable sensor patch
  • The patient’s mobile device/application
  • A provider portal

How it Works.

The patient swallows the pill that contains the sensor. Once it hits the stomach it transmits a signal to the wearable patch which then sends a record to the user’s mobile device and finally, to the doctor portal, therefore closing the loop in the adherence monitoring cycle.

Additionally. The patch tracks steps, activity, rest, and heart rate and sends the data to the patient’s mobile device in a way that is familiar to apps they are already accustomed to.

Why it’s hot.

Medication non-adherence leads to uncontrolled health conditions, excess hospitalizations, emergency room visits and office visits, resulting in additional cost to the U.S. healthcare system of $290 billion annually.

By leveraging technology, both emerging and existing, not only can patients be more empowered in managing their own treatment regimens, providers will have a direct link to data that will help inform treatment decisions and strengthen the doctor-patient relationship.

 

The Incredible Weed Whacking Robot

Tertill Cutting a Weed

The ‘Tertill’ by Franklin Robotics is an autonomous robot that takes care of those pesky weeds growing in your garden. It’s solar-powered and waterproof, so you can leave it outside without worry.

Created by roboticist Joe Jones – inventor of the Roomba – Franklin Robotics’ Tertill is designed to live in your garden and take care of the weeding, come rain or shine.

Tertill patrols the garden daily, avoiding plants and obstacles while looking for weeds to eliminate. Tertill has a very simple method: weeds are short, plants are tall. A plant tall enough to touch the front of Tertill’s shell activates a sensor that makes the robot turn away. A plant short enough to pass under Tertill’s shell, though, activates a different sensor that turns on the weed cutter. A guard placed around smaller plants keeps them safe from Tertill.

Tertill has raised over $78,000 of its $150,000 goal on Kickstarter.

Why Its Hot

Just another way robots are changing the way we work. With AI and robots already replacing humans in everything from factories to bars and restaurants, soon we won’t even be doing our own gardening at home.

 

Amazon is rolling out a Dash Wand with Alexa to make you buy everything

ake Amazon wants its Prime subscribers ordering from its online store all the time, so it just cooked up a new device to help them do exactly that — and it’s essentially giving it away for free.

The company just launched a new instant-ordering gadget, the Dash Wand, that lets you fill up your Amazon shopping cart by using voice commands or scanning barcodes on the packages you have sitting in your kitchen cupboards.

The Dash Wand is essentially an updated version of the OG Amazon Dash wand that debuted in 2015, but this newer version crucially adds Amazon’s artificially intelligent assistant, Alexa, to help out. The digital assistant can sync your shopping list across Amazon devices, convert units of measurement, and search for recipes.

This is a huge upgrade for Amazon’s instant-ordering devices. The original Dash was significantly bigger, cost more than twice as much as this new one, and only worked with AmazonFresh orders.

Amazon’s really pushing the Wand, offering a similar deal to previous promotions for its instant ordering Dash buttons. If you buy a Dash Wand for $20,  you’ll qualify immediately for $20 credit for your next purchase after registering the device. It literally pays for itself — and you can opt-in for a free 90-day AmazonFresh trial, which typically costs $15 per month. It’s actually a pretty great deal for anyone with a Prime subscription.

The Wand is also magnetic, so it can live on your fridge close to all of your most frequently ordered foods, and its Alexa access makes it more useful than the Dash buttons, which are restricted to one item instant ordering.

You don’t get the full Alexa experience here, though. The Wand can’t play music, and its press-button functionality means it won’t automatically respond to the genial “Hey, Alexa” wake command.

It might sound ridiculous that the company is essentially giving the Wands away with all the discounts and incentives, but it’s a savvy business move. Making the shopping experience easier and offering a new Alexa toy to play with will only drive up orders, as if Amazon needs any help to keep its business afloat.

Source: Mashable

Why It’s Hot

Connected AI experiences make the virtual assistant craze more useful. Amazon is pushing forward on many different ways to connect Alexa with other platforms, and this is a great example of a type of utility that in a few years we will wonder how we lived without.

 

Snickers Puts the “Video” in Video Games

 

Knowing that videos tend to run the risk of being skipped, Snickers developed a way to keep viewers engaged by developing video game videos.

In line with their “You’re not you when you are hungry” campaign platform, the first features a school-bus driver whose hunger has turned him into a WWE wrestler with incessant road rage. In the second, a hungry tennis umpire has transformed into a whining rockstar.

In both scenarios, a series of Snickers bars float across the screen towards the character’s outstretched hand, but the viewers must click the pause button at the correct moment to help the characters grab them.

If they’re successful, the WWE wrestler calms down into a bus driver, and the musician morphs back into an umpire. If not, they’ve got nine more tries to get it right.

Why It’s Hot:

  • Smart and entertaining way to engage viewers when consuming video
  • It’s another example of how platforms, such as YouTube, are flexing to service creative ideas led by agencies
  • Shows the growing trend of choosing to develop platform-digital-specific work rather than “copy and paste” TV commercials, which generally don’t perform as well

 

Facebook is Connecting You To Your Local Representative

For anyone who knows me, this information truly hits the sweet spot in my wheelhouse. Now, not everyone is Facebook friends with their state rep like me, fortunately, there’s an app for that… Facebook!

Facebook is looking to dive deeper to connect communities locally.

“Our goal is to help people build the communities they want by making it easier for them to engage and have a voice in government – on a daily basis, not just Election Day”

New features include, constituent badges, so representatives can see that they are a constituent when they interact online, as well as a community tab, so you can see what news stories affect your community and hear about local legislation.

To find your reps online go to: https://www.facebook.com/townhall

Turns out I need to update who I follow too!

Why it’s hot:

As Russian’s hack our newsfeeds and we all watch the Comey testimony, some of our most important legislation happens right in our backyards. It’s great that for all the global connections that we make, we are starting to see that social media can do a great job connecting communities. Isn’t that what it was originally built for?

Apple and Google to Implement Ad Blocker in Web Browsers

On Monday, Apple at its developer conference that it will start blocking autoplay videos on its Safari web browser and will add a feature that stops ad tracking technology from using a user’s web behavior to target ads to them.

Google also reportedly will officially move ahead with its Chrome ad blocker sometime next year and will block any site which hosts ad units that don’t adhere to a set of third-party standards — basically, most sites on the Internet. The Financial Times also reported that Google is creating a feature that will allow publishers to charge users who use ad-blockers on a page-per-view basis.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why It’s Hot:

Safari (10%) and Chrome (51%) make up most of the desktop search market in the U.S., according to comScore, and over 68% of mobile traffic in the U.S., which means that their efforts to curb ads that damage user experience will have a significant impact on the marketplace. These changes will force publishers to develop new advertising techniques.

Immediately following the announcement by Apple, ad retargeting firm Criteo’s stocks tumbled. Earlier this year, Terry Kawaja, Founder and CEO of media and technology firm LUMA Partners, said consolidation in the ad tech space (mostly driven by policy changes and user demands) will cause 90% of the companies to go out of business.

Can these 5 Brain Hacking companies give us immortality?

Brain-hacking? Kind of a Frankenstein term.

The human brain has 100 billion neurons firing away all day and night. Can they be channeled, stimulated or directed in some way that benefits society? No surprise, here comes Elon Musk and Neuralink. His and four other companies are all approaching the idea that human-machine interface can change everything — especially for those suffering neurological disorders, like Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s Disease, these could be life transforming.

Here is Elon’s mission statement (and this site is a one-pager!): Neuralink is developing ultra high bandwidth brain-machine interfaces to connect humans and computers. Initially, the Brain Computer Interface (BCIs) will be used for medical research, but the ultimate goal is to prevent humans from becoming obsolete, by enabling people to merge with artificial intelligence — perhaps even avoiding death.

Sounds amazing…but what does it really mean? Basically, why is this hot?

First, because they all seem to be heading towards an even more grandiose vision; avoiding death. No joke.

Second, the four companies means the competition is real:

FACEBOOK: a few weeks after Neuralink was launched, they announced an initiative to “let people type their thoughts”. Imagine a child with autism, someone with a mental disorder, so many sufferers, being able to “speak” this way. The news reports say it will take two years for a prototype medical implant and is being developed in their top secret Building 8 facility.

KERNEL: Kernel plans to build a flexible platform for recording and stimulating neurons, with the goal of treating diseases such as depression and Alzheimer’s. 

EMOTIV: (Their home page says it all):

EMOTIV Mental Commands and SDKs makes our technology an highly effective Brain-Computer-Interface and can put EMOTIV at the center of the Internet of Things and the ability to control the world around you.

DARPA: Ok, the government, but still, they are investing in several companies to develop a device that will record 1 million neurons and stimulate 100,000 in the brain. DARPA wants it the size of a nickel. Since they ‘invented’ the Internet, I’d say they have a good chance of pulling it off.

I encourage you all to visit their web sites and learn more. After all, can brain hacking help us live forever? Or is it hype?

 

Condoms or IUD? Ask Tia…

Ask Tia is an iOS app designed to assist and inform women about reproductive and sexual health. Through personal, private text-based conversations, users can find the best birth control, get answers to sexual health questions, find doctors, and track periods and symptoms. It’s the first product from Tia, a company “for millennials by millennials” that aims to help women make informed healthcare decisions.

Tia

Building a trusting relationship with an app isn’t easy. Tia has prioritized personalizing the information for each user. Even a simple question about missing a birth control pill has several factors (type of pill, where in your cycle, etc.), which is why Tia’s guiding questions and personalized assessments so much more valuable than, say, a Google search.

“Our goal is to expand Tia to be your comprehensive go-to women’s health assistant for all of your health care information needs,” says Witte, Tia’s co-founder and CEO.

https://magenta.as/simplifying-the-search-for-birth-control-with-a-conversational-interface-e98d0b2a5af1

Why It’s Hot
Sexual health support made accessible through behavioral insight? Yes please.

your face is your ticket…


Jet Blue is now piloting airport technology that would replace your boarding pass with a scan of your face.

Here’s how it works:

“The process is fairly simple: Passengers step up to a camera to have their picture taken. The picture is then compared with passport photos in the CBP database and to verify flight details. If successful, the passenger is notified that they are cleared to board by an on-screen message at the camera terminal.”

Why it’s hot:

I’m not sure how smooth the experience sounds at the moment, but the idea of never needing to have a boarding pass either physically or on your phone, and just being able to walk on to your flight sounds pretty no non-sense  (except you still have to remember what seat you’re in). It makes you think – there are probably many such things that “outerweb” technology could replace that we currently do with our phones. What happens to our phones when biometrics and other technologies can enable us to do what we’re now doing with our smartphones?

 

Warby Parker Just Made Getting A Prescription A Lot Easier

Usually, completing a vision test for new glasses requires a trip to the optometrist and the glasses store.  Warby Parker, which started out as a try-before-you-buy mail-order eyeglasses company, is currently looking to use devices you already have in your home to help you get a new pair of glasses without having to drive to a doctor. If you have an expired vision prescription, you can use an iPhone, a computer and about 12 feet of space to find out if your vision has changed since your last exam.

VIDEO HERE!

Why It’s Hot:

Warby Parker has been working on this technology since 2015, while other companies, like Smart Vision Labs, have found ways to use mobile phones for in-store eye exams in 2016. It is not a substitute for a comprehensive eye exam if your vision has changed since your last one, but those of us who just want to grab a new pair of frames based on a still-valid expired prescription can do so from the comfort of our own home.

A better way to fly?

Air New Zealand has partnered with Microsoft to begin beta testing HoloLens augmented reality headsets on flights to help their crews better serve their passengers.

Flight attendants using headsets on their faces might look really strange and scare little children, but the practical applications are pretty cool. Being able to know, for example, which passengers have dietary restrictions or are in a certain mood can enhance the customer experience.

Story on The Verge

Why It’s Hot

It’s hot because while this might not be a solution that gets mass adoption with every airline, it is nice to know that there is an airline out there that is trying to improve the travel experience (*cough* unlike United *cough*).

 

A new platform for organizers crowdsources texting

Since the election, newly minted activists and community groups across the country have been looking for ways to quickly and effectively rally mass as well as local groups of citizens. Enter new platforms – Rapid Resist, Hustle, and Indivisible to name a few – which are taking advantage of peer-to-peer texting using volunteer texters to reach the largest possible group of people directly, without messages getting lost on myriad social media feeds.

WHY IT’S HOT:

Former White House staffer Yoni Landau, the co-founder of Rapid Resist, observes “Text is intimate… It lets people know something is really happening if someone has taken the effort to text them individually and have a conversation with them.”

Plus, it’s fast and highly localized, creating an immune system of local movements. These peer-to-peer text platforms prove that solutions do not necessarily have to be highly technical to be effective, and sometimes the simplest solutions are the most successful.

Start brushing off your resume…

The Mirai is Toyota’s car of the future. It runs on hydrogen fuel cells, gets 312 miles on a full tank and only emits water vapor. So, to target tech and science enthusiasts, the brand is running thousands of ads with messaging crafted based on their interests.

The catch? The campaign was written by IBM’s supercomputer, Watson. After spending two to three months training the AI to piece together coherent sentences and phrases, Saatchi LA began rolling out a campaign last week on Facebook called “Thousands of Ways to Say Yes” that pitches the car through short video clips.

Saatchi LA wrote 50 scripts based on location, behavioral insights and occupation data that explained the car’s features to set up a structure for the campaign. The scripts were then used to train Watson so it could whip up thousands of pieces of copy that sounded like they were written by humans.

http://www.adweek.com/digital/saatchi-la-trained-ibm-watson-to-write-thousands-of-ads-for-toyota/

Why It’s Hot
May let us focus more on the design; less on the production.

holograms, benjamin…

Some genius developer has boldly chosen to experiment with perhaps the world’s most forgotten voice assistant, Microsoft Cortana, and imagined what interacting with her could be like if you added another dimension to it.

In his words – “It’s basically what I imagined Microsoft’s version of Alexa or Google Home would be like if they were to use the holographic AI sidekick from the Halo franchise.”

As seen in the video above, in his prototype, it’s as if you’re speaking to an actual artificial person, making the experience feel more human.

Why it’s hot:
Amazon recently released the Echo Show, which allows skillmakers to add a “face” to their interactions, but this makes that look like a kids toy. This shows how what started not long ago as primitive voice technology on a phone, could quickly turn into actual virtual assistants that look and act like humans, powered by the underlying technology. Plus, apparently 145 million people may not ignore they have access to Cortana in the future.

Turn the Radio Up for that Sweet Sound

Nasa has detected an artificial bubble around the Earth that forms when ground radio communications from the ground interact with high-energy radiation particles in space. This unintended benefit of technology protects us from potentially dangerous space weather, like solar flares.

Earth already has its own protective bubble, a magnetosphere stretched by powerful solar winds. The artificial bubble that NASA found is an accident, an unintended result of the interplay between human technology and nature. When humans want to communicate with submarines near the surface of the ocean, they use a type of radio communication known as very low frequency waves, or VLF, transmitted from stations on the ground. Some of the waves can stretch all the way out into Earth’s atmosphere and beyond, where they affect the movement of the radiation particles bouncing around in the region. Sometimes, the interaction between VLF and these particles creates a barrier that can be seen by spacecraft orbiting the planet.

Read more from NASA

Why it’s Hot:

  • Who knew? And, who knows what other unintended consequences technology is having, both good and bad.

Bonus: 

The RoboBees are here!

Japanese scientist Eijiro Miyako, a researcher at Japan’s National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, has designed what could be a partial solution to bee colony collapse disorder: a tiny pollinating drone. Coated with a patch of horse hair bristles and an ionic liquid gel, these pint-sized robots can collect and transfer pollen from one plant to another.

Miyako had previously experimented with using a specialized gel for electrochemical applications. When the gel performed poorly, he tucked the bottles away in a drawer and forgot about them — until he moved out of his lab two years ago. As soon as he rediscovered the gel, he thought about the pollination crisis and honeybee decline.


Artist’s rendering.

Conventional gels, Miyako explains, are mainly made of water and lose their stickiness over time. But his ionic liquid gel, by contrast, is a substance with a long-lasting “lift-and-stick-again” adhesive quality – ideal for moving pollen from one plant to the next.

“The continued adhesiveness and non-volatility of the ionic liquid gel was exciting,” says Miyako.

Story on Popular Mechanics

Why It’s Hot:

This is super hot because it could ensure the survival of the human race…until we can eradicate the root cause of the bee colony collapse (*cough* Monsanto *cough*).

Finding Empathy In Healthcare

As a student and believer in human centered design, empathy is at the core. Without “walking a mile” in someone’s shoes, truly understanding their journey is nearly impossible. Especially in Pharma, it seems that empathy from providers and partners is hard to find.  A recent Harvard study showed that 53% of physicians reported declining levels of empathy after several years of practice.

As science reveals more and more about disease, how can people truly feel empathy for some conditions they may have little understanding of? Klick labs has taken a shot at a real world “translation” by using bio-engineering and technology to “transfer” the uncontrollable movements associated with parkinson’s disease – they call it  “tele-empathy.

 

Why Its Hot

 As you can see in the video, even the twin brother is overcome as he, for the first time, can truly relate to his brother – imagine the impact on a doctor or care provider. This level of experience can truly give others empathy that could never be imagined before. With this type of experience do you think that HCPs may try different treatments or options? Leave your thoughts in the comments!

Alexa, tell Seamless I’m hungry

You can now reorder Seamless with Alexa.

From Amazon.com: Reorder meals for delivery or takeout in seconds from all your favorite Seamless restaurants.

This is a hands-free time saver for Seamless customers — and getting started is easy! Just enable the skill, link your Seamless account, and say “Alexa, open Seamless,” or “Alexa, tell Seamless I’m hungry.”

If you’re a first-time user, Alexa will ask for your preferred delivery address and payment type. Just select your preferences to complete setup. You’ll be able to enjoy the convenience of re-ordering your favorite dishes and meals with Alexa anytime.

The skill’s easiest to use — and the most beneficial for you — if you’ve ordered more than three meals with your Seamless.com account and have one or more current credit/debit cards linked to your account. As long as you have an order history, you can use the skill. Of course, it may be more fun for you if you have many past orders.

Source: Seamless.com

Why It’s Hot

We’re on the lookout for real utility this smart home and voice assistant technology. This is pretty lazy — but pretty cool.

From Goggles to Lenses

Google just released Google Lens, and while we are mandated to go into frenzy mode, a closer look makes the unveiling a bit lackluster after all is said and done.
According to Google’s CEO,  “Google Lens is a set of vision-based computing capabilities that can understand what you’re looking at and help you take action based on what you are looking at.”

Sound familiar? It should…

The tech and use cases are not new. Yelp has long been using Monocle, Amazon has already introduced Flow, and Pinterest Lens has been around for a while. Also, this looks more like a Google Goggles 2.0 release. Since people were not ready for that, seems they have modified it to better fit existing behaviors vs. developing new ones.

What sets this apart from the rest is that, with Google being a search-driven platforms, the capabilities of the product are extended. But this may not be a good thing. While Amazon, Yelp, and Pinterest uses are more narrow and specific, resulting in the likelihood of desired results, the vastness of Google increases the chances of the results missing the mark. For example, I point it to a flower expecting to know where to buy it, and instead, it tells me whether it’s poisonous or not.

Now, what makes this unique is how it can integrate with Google Assistant, allowing users to use voice, images, or a combination of both to conduct searches. This also allows it to live across multiple Google platforms, which makes the adoption of the tech more likely.

This is where it gets interesting for advertisers. If this takes off, this gives us an entire new way to connect with consumers across all of Google’s products, and will probably force us to rethink the customer journey. While unknown, it’s exciting given new uncharted “media frontiers” don’t come about that often. From a data collection standpoint, it can also give us new (and hopefully) better way determine use intent.

Why It’s Hot

  • It’s surprising to see a tech giant unveil something so “meh”.
  • On the bright side it’s an opportunity for our brands to begin testing a new tech with a solid potential of adoption.
  • It’s a good example of a tech company pivoting to better suit existing behaviors vs. developing new ones.

Source.

googler creates AI that creates video using one image…

One of the brilliant minds at Google has developed an algorithm that can (and has) create video from a single image. The AI does this by predicting what each of the next frames would be based on the previous one, and in this instance did it 100,000 times to produce the 56 minute long video you see above. Per its creator:

“I used videos recorded from trains windows, with landscapes that moves from right to left and trained a Machine Learning (ML) algorithm with it. What you see at the beginning is what the algorithm produced after very little learnings. It learns more and more during the video, that’s why there are more and more realistic details. Learnings is updated every 20s. The results are low resolution, blurry, and not realistic most of the time. But it resonates with the feeling I have when I travel in a train. It means that the algorithm learned the patterns needed to create this feeling. Unlike classical computer generated content, these patterns are not chosen or written by a software engineer.

Why it’s hot:

Creativity and imagination have been among the most inimitable human qualities since forever. And anyone who’s ever created anything remotely artistic will tell you inspiration isn’t as easy as hitting ‘go’. While this demonstration looks more like something you’d see presented as an art school video project than a timeless social commentary regaled in a museum, it made me wonder – what if bots created art? Would artists compete with them? Would they give up their pursuit because bots can create at the touch of a button? Would this spawn a whole new area of human creativity out of the emotion of having your work held up next to programmatic art? Could artificial intelligence ever create something held up against real human creativity?

Let Me Hear Your Tat

Warning: This is either really cool or just a glorified QR code.

We’ve seen tattoos that light up, others that monitor your health and even some that unlock your smartphone. Now we can hear tattoos!

The designs can be made up of any recorded sounds – whether noises, spoken words, music or a combination of these elements – which can they be tattooed onto your skin. They have already received thousands of messages, the majority of inquiries have been about preserving the memory of people who have passed on.

How it works:

  1. Person uploads or records audio (up to 1 min) they want linked to their tattoo onto the Soundwave app or website.
  2. Soundwave creates a unique soundwave template for your tune
  3. Person goes to (licensed) tattoo artist who knows the limitations of altering the design, gets the tat.
  4. A photo of the tattoo is uploaded to the platform
  5. The platform processes the audio and tattoo and adds it to the app.
  6. Any time the user opens the app and points the camera at the tattoo, it will recognize the shape and play back the audio.

 

Why it’s hot: 

  1. Incorporates augmented reality with the human body.
  2. Offers an additional level of personalization to tattoos.

Why it may not be hot: 

  1. No real ground-breaking technology involved, may be more of a gimmick.
  2. How does it deal with copyright?

The Juicero of salt is here. Hooray?

Some mis-guided soul has created a bluetooth-enabled “smart salt shaker” that does a whole bunch of things:

  • It can play music
  • It has a color-changing mood light (!)
  • It can dispensed salt via Alexa (though you still presumably have to hold the thing over your food with your hand; no getting around that one)

Story on Lifehacker

You’ll have to wait for this quality item, though, because it is not up on Indiegogo yet.

From Smalt’s About Us page:

Herb & Body is a California-based lifestyle company committed to using smart technology to enhance our lives….Our first innovation, “SMALT”, is the first of it’s kind to market and will transform an ordinary kitchen tools that people have been using for centuries into an experience for the senses.

Why It’s Hot

Well, just look at it.

Design Iteration to Reality

Design sprint, iteration, rapid prototyping – all wonderful things in a world of iterative design, but when you boil it down do any of these actually create something new? Too often prototypes are sent to the wayside due to production needs, cost or feasibility. We cant forget that the bottom line is business – at the heart of ti all is the question “will this product benefit the company.?”

So when AutoDesk engineers realized their prototype could save airlines $200 million a year suddenly people started to listen.

The prototype was for a new airline seat. In an industry where literally every pound matters replacing seat bases with a stronger and lighter version translates into thousands of gallons of jet fuel saved.

…one journalist calculated that just carrying one fewer bags of peanuts on flights for a year would save an airline $2,000 in fuel costs.

What makes this interesting however is the execution. The design, a “hive like” construction can very easily be 3D printed, but tend to be extremely difficult to mass produce. AutoDesk found a way to keep the design, but allow the part to be cast in magnesium.

The AutoDesk team worked and developed an entirely new way to combine 3D printing and the casting process to create the seats

The new seats could save airlines $100K per year, per aircraft. In addition to a massive reduction in fuel burn and emissions.

 

Why Its Hot

 Too often good ideas get put in the drawer, this shows that a good ideas not only can make it through, but create new innovations in order to make that a reality. Moral of the story: Keep Pushing!

Google’s New AI Tool is a Pandora’s Box of Possibilities

It’s a simple idea: turn a selfie into cartoon character stickers (emojis) of yourself. Google’s new Allo app, touted by the company as a “smart messaging app” that lets you “express yourself better” includes this new AI feature that uses your smartphone camera and facial recognition technology to generate detailed facial expressions to suit every emotion. According to Fast Co, Google thinks there are 563 quadrillion faces that the tool could generate.

“Illustrations let you bring emotional states in a way that selfies can’t.” Selfies are, by definition, idealizations of yourself. Emoji, by contrast, are distillations and exaggerations of how you feel. To that end, the emoji themselves are often hilarious: You can pick one of yourself as a slice of pizza, or a drooling zombie. “The goal isn’t accuracy,” explains Cornwell. “It’s to let someone create something that feels like themselves, to themselves.” 

Full article here

Why it’s hot:

  • It’s another layer on personalization in social media and messaging apps that Snapchat and Instagram will look to integrate. It could also mean the end of Bitmoji as we know it.
  • On a deeper level, there could be many applications outside of entertainment for this type of technology. If you can use AI to better express how you feel to a doctor or nurse, for example, a whole new world of communication could be opened up.
  • And going broader, there’s a big question: as messaging apps get smarter and smarter, do our interactions through them become more or less valuable? When AI is the go-between, are we better expressing ourselves, or is it a substitute for real interaction?

Beyond The Pill is moving to Game On!

Can conservative Pharma companies becomes Gamers? Although a large investment by Merck and AMGEN was announced several months ago, the repercussions are now being felt. This could help open up the long pent-up demand for innovation by Pharma manufacturers.

The investment news came last summer, as quoted in FierceBiotech: “Akili Interactive Labs, the Boston-based startup developing nonpharmacological therapeutics for various cognitive disorders like autism and Alzheimer’s disease, got an $11.9 million boost in funding, raising its total Series B proceeds to $42.4 million.” Basically, they use gamification to improve cognitive function.

Recently, the new Pharma and gamer partners announced their first accomplishment, EVO, the game:

The first game application for children with a cognitive disorder has proven highly effective. This gives the marketers a differentiating aspect to their Rx. Being a fact-based industry, this is big news.

Why is this hot?

  • The terms “Beyond The Pill” has become the industries code for “innovation” — trying to offer some technology or service to make their drug stand-out in the minds of doctors and consumers. “Innovation” is a word that is intensely frightening to most Pharma marketers. For several years, as more and more blockbusters (drugs with sales over $1 billion) become generics (70% of ALL drugs are now generics), Pharma has been haphazardly explored partnerships and technologies, but has often failed due to cultural entropy and conservatism in the C-suite. This is a first.
  • Change needs to come from the C-suite: $11 million is a lot of money, especially for an industry so conservative and ROI-obsessed.  Every company, even MRM-McCann clients, are looking for ways to engage patients from clinical trials through drug adherence — the entire product lifecycle.
  • I have been “selling” into one of our Pharma clients an Artificial Intelligence platform from a company that did Sgt Star on the U.S. Army site; we have had several meetings to try and issue AI as their Beyond The Pill strategy for launch of a new ADHD drug; this success with Akili may make that path easier.

Amazon Echo Gains Sponsored Messages Ad Platform

Voice analytics firm VoiceLabs on Thursday rolled out the advertising platform, Sponsored Messages, for Amazon Echo, giving brands a way to engage with consumers using the voice-activated device. The platform launches with ad partners ESPN, Progressive Insurance, and Wendy’s, each signing “long-term” agreements, said Adam Marchick, CEO at VoiceLabs. Sponsored Messages are clearly noted as advertising. They are 6-15 seconds long, and inserted at the start and end of conversations, where they can naturally lead a consumer into an experience or converse with the consumer as they exit. They can tell a brand story over the course of multiple user sessions. Here’s how it works: someone listening to a podcast might not hear a sponsored 6-second advertisement such as “Thank you for supporting us by listening, and thank you to our sponsor, Progressive, until the fifth time. Five podcasts later, the listener might hear a 15-second message by the spokesperson Flo from Progressive.
The advertising platform runs on top of the company’s analytics platform for Alexa. VoiceLabs created a myriad of tuning capabilities to make sure the right ad is inserted at the right time, and the consumer does not get too many Sponsored Messages. In addition, high-quality Alexa developers Federated Media, XAPPmedia, TWiT.tv, Appbly and many independent Alexa skill developers are participating in the launch of Sponsored Messages. The sponsored messages thank consumers for supporting Alexa developers.
One key piece of data that will become crucial for search marketers is not yet available — the ability to identify when Echo owners searched for a product or a service on the device or on their smartphone after hearing the sponsored message.

Why It’s Hot

VoiceLabs is ushering a new era of interactive audio messages, where the consumer has the power to ask for more information, add products to their Amazon cart and provide feedback to the advertiser. The Amazon Echo consumer is interested in trying new things, and Echo devices are placed in the kitchen, living room and other important places in the home. With Sponsored Messages, brands can deliver a message about a new cuisine right as a consumer is planning their shopping list, or announce that a new show is premiering that night on their TV. Each Sponsored Message is delivered to a relevant user demographic and related to the application’s content.