Smartphones make you spend more frivolously

https://management.ok.ubc.ca/faculty/yingzhu.html

An assistant professor at the University of British Columbia with a specialty in consumer behavior found that people shop differently on touchscreen devices than they do on their desktop PCs.

On phones, people are more likely to spend money on indulgent, hedonistic things, like movie tickets and dining out. And on PCs, people prioritize more practical, utilitarian things, like furniture and haircuts.

“The touchscreen has an easy-to-use interface that puts you into an experiential thinking style. When you’re in an experiential thinking mode, you crave excitement, a different experience,” says the professor. “When you’re on the desktop, with all the work emails, that interface puts you into a rational thinking style. While you’re in a rational thinking style, when you assess a product, you’ll look for something with functionality and specific uses.”

Why it’s hot: Should brands or retailers place products differently according to the screen?

Swipe Up for a Burger at Your Doorstep

Ever wish you could have that beautiful burger you see on Instagram… brought to you immediately? An agency out based out of Brazil (named Africa) is deploying a new social campaign for Heinz: ‘Irresistible Posts’ where they seek to make this possible.

In Sao Paulo, Instagram users who are searching the Stories section in the early afternoon receive a targeted video of a delicious burger prepared by a local restaurant chef. At the end of the video, the chef appears onscreen and tells the user to swipe up to have this exact meal sent to them. Once the user fills out their location details, the burger is brought to their doorstep. Where does Heinz come in? It is delivered in a personalized box created by Heinz – which conveniently includes several of their condiment products.

Heinz has not announced if they plan to expand the campaign outside of Sao Paulo.

See video!

Why it’s sizzln’ hot: Not only does this activation play upon the extremely relevant #foodporn Instagram trend, but this is a strategic play for Heinz. By being the behind-the-scenes partner that helps users fulfill their cravings (and add to them with their condiments), they are becoming a more relevant and reliable brand that provide more than just the add-ons. Additionally, next time these users think back to the best burger they’ve had – they will associate Heinz with that positive, memorable, and tasty experience.

Source: PSFK

Oscar and the design of healthcare apps

The design team behind Oscar started and ended their process fixated on the user experience. Many healthcare providers still send new customers stacks of paperwork for onboarding, and Oscar jumped wholly into online questionnaires, tutorials, and app. Over the iterative lifecycle, here are a few key learnings they found:

  • Like enterprise app design, healthcare apps should be seen as a consumer product (people don’t shed their skin and become mindless patients).
  • 87.8% of people who avoid early care do so because of bureaucracy, insurance issues, and price. Telemedicine is a glimmer of hope – connecting doctors directly with patients.
  • With healthcare apps, less is truly more. People tend to use healthcare apps rarely and often forget about them in between uses. The app needs to be more intuitive than innovative. Make it SIMPLE.
  • Test early and often using prototypes to course correct along the way.
  • The team was successful in limiting navigation buttons to give users a more guiding approach (forcing function).
  • They added CTAs for calling their doctor throughout the app at key touchpoints. This way, users understood WHEN they should be seeking help.
  • Getting users to spend LESS time on the app (meaning, they got what they needed and got off) became the goal. They needed to define success differently than other kinds of apps.

 

Money Can’t Buy (All) The Happiness

People who say “money can’t buy happiness” have obviously never lived under a bridge. Money can buy happiness, certainly in the form of one’s safety, shelter, and food. So logically you could think

“…if a little money buys some happiness…a lot of money buys a lot of happiness…I need more money to be happy!

But unfortunately,  we as humans aren’t wired that way.  Research has shown that people have a base level of happiness built into their lives. As good things happen, and bad things happen we tend to slide back to that base level.

I’m sure we have all gone through the phase of having to have the latest “thing”. We see it, we desire it, we literally crave it….then we finally obtain it. It feels great; then…we forget why we wanted it in the first place. Welcome to the Hedonic Treadmill

Studies show that the difference in happiness from earning $5,000 a year to $50,000 a year is dramatic. This type of change allows one to purchase shelter, food, and security. But the level of happiness from $50,000 a year to $50,000,000 is nearly identical.

 

Why It’s Hot

So if it’s not stuff that makes us happy, what will? Experience. The time we spend with friends and family, the adventures we take, the people we help – these are the keys to moving your overall base level of happiness. Experience acts as a differentiator not only in life but also in the market. Brands and products who go beyond the physical good and offer experience will achieve more customer loyalty and find brand fans quicker.

 

 

Tesla 3: Look ma – no dashboard!

The Tesla Model 3 has been billed as a groundbreaking car. And in one respect, it is: It doesn’t have an instrument cluster.

Tesla

Although it is unusual to have the most important displays and controls on the left side of the screen instead of the center or right, keep in mind the screen’s location in the center of the car, to the driver’s right. A large speedometer is located at the top left of the screen, which turns red if you are speeding. Below that is a graphic of the car. When parked you can open the hood, trunk, and charging door. The navigation and music selection screens work much the same way you would expect in any other infotainment system, tablet, or smartphone.

One fan has put together a prototype that those in the know say is pretty true-to-form.

Voice controls are basic for now – e.g. “navigate to…” – but are rumored to be a big part of the next software upgrade.

Business Insider: The Tesla Model 3’s interior is a study in automotive minimalism

Why It’s Hot
It’s one of the more significant updates to car dashboard U.I. in a long time – it will be interesting to hear the usability feedback now that the cars are being delivered. It also marks a more aggressive step towards autonomous cars.

Humanscale’s Design Tool for Ergonomic Data

Humanscale is an analog tool used by industrial designers in the 70’s and 80’s as a reference tool to quick human focused data points. It was originally created by Henry Dreyfuss & Associates (HDA), the creators of iconic designs such as the Honeywell thermostat and Bell’s tabletop telephone. Henry Dreyfuss was an advocate for ergonomics and compiled Humanscale because there was no central place for ergonomic data. For example, if you wanted to know the dimensions of the average North American man’s leg, you could reference military records. Another example is that they learned that the average height of a fedora was 2 inches, which would be important when considering door measurements.

MIT stopped producing them in the mid 1980’s and they became a collectors item. Now, IA Collaborative, a global design consultancy created a Kickstarter to reprint Humanscale. Their long-term plans are to also create an interactive interface for this data.

Overview of the 9 selectors:

You can slide the selector to adjust data points for different demographics:

So these selectors can be used to design for a multitude of products.

Why it’s hot: The ability to reference key ergonomic data points is crucial to the design of industrial and digital products. These can be useful tools to many types of designers. In addition, the graphic design of the selectors are really cool! The slider seems very intuitive and fun to interact with. It optimizes how the information is displayed.

Figma adds collaboration to the product design process

While some digital product designers are still using Illustrator or Photoshop to design interfaces for screens, a battle has begun to design the next generation of product design tools. Sketch has captured a large portion of the market as a tool that is easy to adopt and master, but other vendors have their sights set on bigger and brighter futures.

Figma is an interface design tool that combines product design functionality with feedback, collaboration, and prototyping. It is built especially for digital product designers, taking into consideration device constraints, accessibility, and even production needs.

Why it’s hot…

Rather than switching file types and relying on email, Slack, or annotations, imagine being able to work side-by-side with other members of your team – designers and non-designers alike – in one file to get a project production-ready. Additionally, Figma works across devices and operating systems, meaning that everyone can use the device they want and still have access to the same files. Think Office 365 or Google Docs, but for product design.

Showing code from designed screens [via figma.com]

Adobe and other large vendors are trying to implement similar collaborative capabilities in XD and other programs, but Figma has the added benefit of starting from scratch, without legacy product dependencies. It will be exciting to see how they use this momentum to carry them forward.

Learn more at https://www.figma.com

It’s Late and You’ve Got the Munchies. Lyft and Taco Bell Have an Idea.

Taco Bell has, quite literally, found a new marketing vehicle, and its name is Lyft.

The fast-food chain is beginning a venture with the ride-sharing company this week that will allow Lyft passengers to request rides that incorporate a stop at a Taco Bell drive-through between 9 p.m. and 2 a.m.

The companies will test the option, which will appear as “Taco Mode” in the Lyft app, during the next two weeks around a Newport Beach, Calif., location, with plans to expand the program nationally next year.

It’s an attempt to tap into the trend of young people increasingly car-pooling through apps like Lyft and its larger rival Uber, particularly on nights out with friends. While Taco Bell offers delivery to customers and advertises the locations of its restaurants through the navigation app Waze, partnering with a ride-sharing company represents a new type of “experience innovation,” said Marisa Thalberg, Taco Bell’s chief marketing officer.

“I kind of think of this like inverse delivery — like we’re delivering you to Taco Bell,” she said in an interview. “You’re being delivered to the food as opposed to having to get in your own car and drive.”

As it stands, Lyft and Uber do not have stated policies about how drivers should handle passenger requests to swing by fast-food drive-throughs, though the question regularly pops up in online discussion forums for drivers.

“Several times I said no to food and they ask why and I explained what the last idiot did of making a mess and each time the present idiot would promise to not make a mess, spill, waste, etc. then they do it anyway!” one Uber driver wrote in an online forum.

Ms. Thalberg said her company had seen “a bunch of funny tweets” and other social media posts from hungry passengers on the topic, which got them thinking about a potential partnership with Lyft.

Taco Bell is not paying Lyft for the deal, which has been in the works for almost a year, Ms. Waters said. The companies are looking at the venture as “cocreating an experience together,” which cannot be evaluated the way one might look at traditional marketing efforts like television commercials and billboards, she said.

“Marketing today is so much about customer experience, not branding and advertising,” she said. “We’re really evaluating it from a surprise and delight for our consumer bases with a program like this and both meeting in the middle and developing it on both sides.”

Source: NY Times

Why It’s Hot

  • Uber used to be the partnership king, but perhaps their recent debacles have had brands thinking twice about their ride partnerships
  • Audience understanding  — experiences, not products — is the way to go.
  • It’s interesting to see how ride share, ride hire industry expands through partnerships and innovations to “own more of the user.”

Adobe’s Hybrid Color Mixer

Adobe Research and the University of Toronto have created a design and research study to create a new UI element for how digital artists can use color palettes. This new method, called the Playful Palette, provides a digital approach for mixing colors as an artist would with paint. A digital artist would move “blobs” around and be able to mix and change colors with similar principles as with paint. There is also an easy function to adjust colors globally in a document for easy adjustments. This research was A/B tested with the traditional Adobe color picker and the Playful Palette was found to work more seamlessly into artist’s creative flow. Here is the study from this project.

Why It’s Hot: While this element may or may not be integrated into the Adobe suite, this study shows the research and brainstorming that is going into furthering improve digital artist and illustrators’ user flows. Again, like with the introduction of many interfaces, we see that a skeuomorphic interpretation holds value to the ways in which users are used to working with digital interfaces.

Apple Takes a Bite out of the AR Pie

Apple released ARKit, a mobile AR platform that uses Visual Inertial Odometry (VIO) to accurately track the world around it. VIO fuses camera sensor data with CoreMotion data, allowing the device to sense how it moves within a room with a high degree of accuracy, and without any additional calibration. It’s open to all developers who want to come create and play…and it’s also probably luring them away from FB/Snapchat/Googs.

By having the experience live in an app on millions of iOS devices, it’s giving creators (developers) a much wider audience (and incentive) to test and socialize.

Already, ARKit’s sharing platform is seeing some really awesome crowdsourced examples of the tech in action.

See more examples of what developers have already been toying with, go here.

Why It’s Hot:

Apple Is….

  • Democratizing AR to both users and developers (HoloLens who?)
  • Positioning it’s self the Go-To AR platform
  • Low-Overhead cutting edge technology for brands to explore and own

Merck And Alexa challenge to solve diabetes care crisis

Diabetes is a scourge. And Merck through the gauntlet down. (Though only for $25K).

Reviewing the snippet of the infographic in the hero photo only teases the immensity of the diabetes  problem. It is without a doubt THE health issue in our country, and sadly, for most of the world. The complexity of the condition is endless — it touches nearly every organ — eyes, feet, heart, kidney — and part of our body’s system in a negative way.

One truth is well known: patients need help with this complex condition. Frankly, many diabetics “game” the system with their medications so they can maintain at least a portion of the unhealthy lifestyle that got them. For others, despite good effort, many patients do a terrible job staying on their medication, or following their exercise and diet regimen, and thus, the codition progresses where the costs to their body and society are overwhelming. But while some of these issues are ingrained, there are many people who would welcome a helping hand — however it is packaged.

So, Merck, makers of several effective diabetes medications, decided to differentiate itself by thinking like a consumer company:

The Alexa Challenge. The Challenge calls on innovators to create Alexa voice-enabled solutions to improve the lives of those with type 2 diabetes

They just announced their finalists.

Why is this hot?

  • Each finalist cover a wide range of potential applications and technology platforms.
  • While several of the large pharma companies have done something similar, the maturation of Merck’s approach teamed the leap of ease and sophistication of technology has Merck doing it the right way.
  • This needs to be watched; from a marketing perspective, diabetes drug manufacturers have often been quite innovative. But they often did so internally and with their PR group. This smells of a change in direction towards the ascendance of consumer technology and consumer thinking.

Brandless is the new brand

This past week the internet was abuzz with news of CPG startup Brandless. Headed by serial entrepreneurs Tina Sharkey and Ido Leffler, Brandless is selling consumer staples like food and healthcare direct to consumers all priced at $3.

“It felt like modern consumption was really broken,” says cofounder and CEO Tina Sharkey. Millennial consumers don’t want to buy their parents’ brands, she argues, and all brands are too expensive, marked up to cover the costs of distribution, warehousing and retail space. By eliminating what she refers to as this “brand tax,” she figured that Brandless could slash the costs of basic packaged consumer goods that people buy regularly, and potentially become a significant player in a $2 trillion market dominated by the likes of P&G and General Mills.

But the biggest difference between Brandless and all the major CPG players is its business model: Rather than sell through traditional retail stores, the company is only offering its goods online. By doing so, the company will have what few of the CPG giants have – a direct relationship with the consumers of its products. It plans to exploit this relationship through a heavy investment in data and by building a sense of community through memberships and philanthropy (with every purchase, the company will donate to Feeding America).

https://techcrunch.com/2017/07/11/brandless/

https://www.forbes.com/sites/amyfeldman/2017/07/11/brandless-hopes-to-shake-up-consumer-products-with-direct-to-consumer-basics-for-3/#694a312e3906

Why It’s Hot

Move over Warby Parker, Casper and the rest. You’re not the only ones willing to take on the big boys.

And rather than relying on product brands, there’s just one brand in this game to promote – and it’s Brandless.

Smart luggage tag to get around in Amsterdam

KLM’s latest creative way to provide something extra for its passengers is a smart luggage tag that helps visitors to Amsterdam to get around the city. The airline’s agency, DDB & Tribal Worldwide Amsterdam, has developed a limited edition audio luggage “Care Tag” consisting of an offline GPS module and a speaker.

KLM aims to share not just the standard tourist tips, but helpful information like pointing out busy intersections with a lot of cyclists, where and how to lock your bike and when you have to watch out for pickpockets. There are also more lighthearted tips such as where to taste local food for free, where to see great street art or where to rent a bike or boat. The Care Tag comes with a USB charger so you can easily recharge it, and the audio works at two different volumes and was tested at many busy and noisy locations.

Why it’s hot
Whether you’re walking or cycling through the city, it offers the right tip at the right location at the right time.

Nightlight to notify retweets and emails

Aumi Mini is a new project on Kickstarter. It’s a USB-powered nightlight that connects to your Wi-Fi, and includes IFTTT support for getting into all sorts of automated shenanigans.

The exact sort internet events you’d like a nightlight to inform you of is, of course, entirely up to you. A few examples offered by Aumi include weather alerts, Wi-Fi-is-down notifications, and and smart home integration.

Why it’s hot?

 

The future of shared public space will be super annoying

A developer named Abhishek Singh recreated the first level of Super Mario Bros. as an augmented reality game on Microsoft HoloLens, giving himself a first-person perspective into a unique 3D look inside the classic setting.

This demo was done in NYC’s own Central Park.

Why It’s Hot
Seeing the game as Mario sees it is totally hot. Watching a guy in Central Park acting like he’s slowly losing his mind: not so hot.

Google Has Developed an Ad for VR

In a new post from the company’s Area 120 creative lab, Google shared plans for how it might design ads that live directly in your field of view. What is Google’s solution for ads that are obtrusive, not but too obtrusive, but definitely still obtrusive?

 

 

From Google: “Developers and users have told us they want to avoid disruptive, hard-to-implement ad experiences in VR. So our first idea for a potential format presents a cube to users, with the option to engage with it and then see a video ad. By tapping on the cube or gazing at it for a few seconds, the cube opens a video player where the user can watch, and then easily close, the video.”

WHY ITS HOT:

Google makes $26 billion a quarter off of the advertisements on products like Search, so it makes sense that it–and its competitors–want to experiment with ways to extend that business into the virtual world.

WHY ITS NOT HOT:

From Fast Company: HOLY MOTHER, WHERE DID THIS GIANT SCREEN COME FROM?? MY EYES, MY EYYYEEEESSS!! I KNOW IT’S A GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY 3TEASER, BUT RESIST. CLOSE ALL OF THE TAAAABBBBBSSSSS. ALLLGUHHBCLISHLgffbbbbkkpft…

We’re going to see a whole lot more of this sort of thing in VR, and probably never, ever less.

 

Also, La Var Burton Reads just launched : )

Augmented Reality Sells Sneakers For Nike

Nike built an augmented reality application called SNKRS for users to gain access to limited-edition sneakers available for purchase. The first sneaker to debut through the app was the Nike SB Dunk High Pro Momofuku, a collaboration with David Chang, creator and owner of the Momofuku restaurant group.

For a user to gain access to the shoe, they have to open the app and point their camera at the menu at Fuki East Village Momofuku in New York. People can still gain access to the shoes elsewhere, as an online menu works as well. Users need to look for a special ‘SNKRS’ label for the app to work properly. Once scanned, the shoes are unlocked and users have an opportunity to purchase a pair, as long as they’re in stock.

Right now, the SNRKS application only works on iOS phones, but Nike plans to release a version for Android soon.

Source: PSFK

Why It’s Hot

How do brands use augmented reality in a way that engages their core audience? What’s interesting about this is (1) the audience understanding — sneaker freaks DO care about insider, unique, unlocking-type tasks and (2) the localization factor + partnership factor. However, I have to wonder what the reach is on something like this — is it a lot of effort for a little engagement?

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.

 

 

Choose-Your-Own-Adventure with Puss in Boots

Dreamworks GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

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

 

Amazon Goes Offline with a Physical Bookstore

After helping drive many U.S. bookstore chains out of business, Amazon has been opening its own retail stores recently.

Its first Amazon Books location in New York City opened in Manhattan’s Shops at Columbus Circle, which was previously home to a pretty large — and now closed — Borders Books and Music.

A customer review, the number of total Amazon.com reviews and a star rating are displayed under each book on the shelf. All the books in the store either received four-star ratings and above on Amazon.com, or come from lists of best sellers or a hand-curated selection of new, yet-to-be reviewed titles.

The brick-and-mortar locations aim to provide a “mecca of discovery” for book lovers, according to Jennifer Cast, vice president of Amazon Books. The books all have the covers, not the spines, facing out, to encourage browsing —even though the store could have fit as many as 5,000 more titles if books were displayed the conventional way, Cast said.

Why It’s Hot:

Though it’s possible to check out like a regular bookstore, Amazon Books offers significant discounts to Amazon Prime members. This provides a strong incentive for customers to join Amazon Prime — a program that analysts say prompts more spending on Amazon.com.

Experts say that by converting just two or three dozen customers a day to Prime would result in a tremendous growth in revenue. Customer lifetime value for most Amazon customers is in the low thousands of dollars.

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.

 

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.

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.

Framer adds design suite and tackles responsive design

Framer, a prototyping software that started out as a web app, finally adds a design suite of its own. Framer carved out its niche in the battle for the best prototyping solution by allowing designers to get deeper into animations, transitions, and interactivity. The cost was that designers needed to get down and dirty with Coffeescript, a tall order for designers who may or may not be familiar with HTML or CSS. This also invariably sparked a conversation about whether designers (UX or otherwise) should learn to code. Framer finally started to bridge that gap by offering first Sketch/Photoshop integration to handle design, and tons of tutorial videos to get designers started. Now it provides its heavily Sketch-inspired design workspace to let designers handle the visuals before flipping to Code to define interactivity.

Framer also teased options for designing responsiveness, allowing designers to set rules for how elements on a page change as the screen size changes. Framer has defined itself by focusing on really in-depth mobile (especially native) prototyping. It’ll be really interesting to see it evolve further along with competitors such as Axure, Craft, and the impending release of Adobe XD.

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.

Via putting customers first

Via asked riders to share their ideas and insights to improve the experience. The fist thing they’re implementing is to make all rides to the airport ViaExpress, which means once someone hops on board, the driver will never make more than one additional pickup. He’ll also take the fastest route he can find.

http://mailchi.mp/ridewithvia/happy-earth-day-see-how-youve-helped-the-planet-by-riding-via-n5vj8s3jiw-711557?e=9c87c0722a

 

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.

Zuckerberg Announces 3,000 New Moderator Hires Post-Heartbreaking Videos

Over the past few weeks, there have been too many FB posts of people posting content of them hurting themselves or others.  Mark Zuckerburg stated:

“If we’re going to build a safe community, we need to respond quickly. We’re working to make these videos easier to report so we can take the right action sooner — whether that’s responding quickly when someone needs help or taking a post down. Over the next year, we’ll be adding 3,000 people to our community operations team around the world — on top of the 4,500 we have today — to review the millions of reports we get every week, and improve the process for doing it quickly.”

Why It’s Hot:

Facebook has a tremendous amount of clout, and I’m glad that they’re taking a stance and moving quickly on improving brand safety.  People’s abilities to post anything on social media is great for the most part, but also should not be a venue for people to act violently and be rewarded by free press.  Facebook taking a stance for keeping their site safe is important- especially in this time where brand safety is so important.

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