Produce is War: How Driscoll’s Reinvented the Strawberry

“Produce is war, and it is won by having something beautiful-looking to sell at Costco when the competition has only cat-faced uglies.” This lengthy New Yorker article recently dove into how Driscoll’s uses market insight and crop science to build their monopoly on the berry market.

Strawberry from New Yorker

“Driscoll’s focus groups have shown that millennials, adventurous and open-minded in their eating habits, and easily seduced by novelty, may embrace pale berries. With these consumers, unburdened by preconceived notions of what a white berry should look or taste like, Driscoll’s has a priceless opportunity: the definitional power that comes with first contact.”

“According to Frances Dillard, Driscoll’s global brand strategist and a veteran of Disney’s consumer-products division, berries are the produce category most associated with happiness. (Kale, in contrast, has a health-control, “me” focus.) On a slide that Dillard prepared, mapping psychographic associations with various fruits, strawberries floated between Freedom and Harmony, in a zone marked Extrovert, above a word cloud that read “Social, pleasure, joy, balance, conviviality, friendship, warmth, soft, natural, sharing.” (Blueberries vibed as status-oriented, demanding, and high-tech.) As I studied the slide over Dillard’s shoulder in her office, she smiled tightly and said, “This is proprietary.”

Why it’s hot: It’s pretty cool to learn how our favorite fruits came to be. I thought this was a cool case study in now market demand and consumer behavior drive product innovation and brand stories.

 

 

 

 

 

Smog Eating Bikes to Alleviate Beijing Smog

Beijing’s smog condition is out of control, but design firm Studio Roosegaarde is up for the challenge of reducing or eliminating it.

The anti-smog bicycles are expected to hit the Chinese city’s streets by the end of the year.

Here’s how the bikes work: A device installed near the handlebars of the bike sucks in smoggy air and filters out particulates like soot or dust, clearing the way for what will essentially be a bubble of clean air right in front of the rider.

The bikes are still in the planning stage, so their effectiveness has yet to be put to the test, but it’s possible that this air-filtration system could benefit more than just the cyclist who rides it. With Roosegaarde’s partner bike-sharing service Ofo providing access to over 6.5 million bikes in Asia and the U.K., a lot of air could end up running through those filters.

(Source:https://www.good.is/articles/beijing-bicycles-remove-smog-directly-from-the-air)

The design firm is known for creating other anti-smog tech. In 2016, they created a Smog Free tower, a 22 foot tall construction that can filter a million cubic feet an hour, with much of the particulate matter collected made into fashion accessories.

Why it’s Hot: 

  • Outside the box thinking of enabling everyday items to help reduce pollution and help the environment is another way of tackling our environmental concerns that is accessible and feasible.

Augmented reality without glasses

Diagram of artificial lense

Artificial lens diagram via techcrunch.com

Six months ago, Omega Ophthalmics did a small trial of seven patients outside of the US. Their goal was to test for adverse effects of a surgery similar to lens replacements that often accompany cataract removals. The difference? Rather than replacing the cloudy lens with a normal artificial lens, surgeons instead implanted a lens that could be used for augmented reality, interactive sensors, or drug delivery.

Why it’s hot

Although widespread adoption of this technology is unlikely in the near future, scientists, entrepreneurs, and venture capitalists hope that there is a market for such implants in an aging population that wants to be independent for longer. Whether this small trial is successful may pave the way for larger trials to test additional possibilities and risk.

Learn more at TechCrunch.com

Elon Musk says he has ‘verbal’ okay to build multi-state underground Hyperloop

Elon Musk said on Twitter that he received “verbal government approval” to build an underground Hyperloop transit network connecting New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington DC, with stops connecting each city center, and a dozen more entry or exit elevators located within each city. The project would be run through The Boring Company, Musk’s tunneling venture, which has already begun test digging near SpaceX HQ in California.

In the original tweet, Musk noted that the trip time from New York to DC would be just under half-an-hour. Currently, by train, that trip is roughly three hours and 20 minutes, or over four hours by bus. Musk also said that an LA to San Francisco loop is likely on the horizon, as well as a loop to connect Texas to the network.

Musk also originally came up with the concept for Hyperloop, though he opened up the idea to development by outside interests because he said at the time that he would not have enough time to devote to making it a business in its own right, in addition to his other duties. It’s not clear whether the Hyperloop component of this project would be developed by The Boring Co. itself, or by an outside partner focused on the tech, like Hyperloop One, for instance.

It’s also unclear what exactly Musk means by “verbal government approval,” [Update 11:41 AM PT: Bloomberg reports it was approval from within the White House] and whether that means he has the ‘okay’ to proceed with a proposal, or to actually start digging. Plus, it’ll likely require many more formal written approvals before anything can proceed.

Hyperloop One CEO Rob Lloyd has discussed how use of its tech could transform communities, and have a similar physical transportation globalizing effect to the impact made by broadband on digital communications. Connecting these communities via transit that cuts commute and cargo times to below what you would expect for getting place-to-place within any one of these communities would undoubtedly have a tremendous economic and social impact.

During an interview at the International Space Station R&D conference on Wednesday, Musk talked briefly about The Boring Company, noting that “oddly enough it’s kind of like a little low stress activity, because everyone expects us to fail.”

Musk later tweeted that there is “still a lot of work needed to receive formal approval,” which is likely an understatement to say the least with a project of this scope.

Source: TechCrunch

Why it’s Hot

Love the prospect of a major, futuristic innovation that could tangibly change my life!

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.

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.

In Two Shakes of a Lamb’s Tail We’ll be Growing Humans in Fluid Filled Bags

So we’re able to let Lambs develop outside the womb.

Physicians at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia worked with 23 week-old lambs to in order test a synthetic device that imitates a woman’s uterus, hoping to limit mortality and disease in premature children that are born before 37 weeks.

Premature birth is the leading cause of death for newborns. So it makes sense that we try to find a solution, albeit a creepy looking one. In this successful breakthrough, lambs were placed in transparent biobags just 105 days after they started development, which is equivalent to about 22 weeks of human development.

The lambs were kept in the biobags for four weeks. During this time, they grew hair; their lungs developed; and they reached the point where they could survive on their own.

Remarkably, the eight lambs in the trial developed normally in the artificial womb and each survived, proving that the biobag successfully mimicked the natural conditions found in the uterus—and paving the way for a new life-saving device for humans.

Although the fluid-filled plastic enclosure can’t develop a child for an entire nine-month term, it can allow us to incubate them remarkably soon after conception. The team of physicians is already in talks with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and clinical trials are slated to begin in the next 3 to 5 years.

Image result for the matrix image coming out of the goo

Read more here.

Why it’s hot:

  1. ‘Cause this new device could allow premature babies to develop in natural conditions and maybe avoid a host of chronic health conditions.

Tarzan, Robot of the Jungle

Designed after a sloth, Tarzan the automated robot was built to monitor food production.

 

Tasked with finding a way to automate crop monitoring, a Georgia institute of technology team has engineered a robot that can do so with minimal human assistance. Tarzan, the robot, is built keeping in mind the difficulties robots have while navigating uneven terrain. Although drones seem like a good solution, stringing Tarzan across the top of fields allows it to be monitoring while not being in the air consistently.

Swinging in soon to destroy us: Robot apes

You hear something rustling in the trees above you. You keep running, unsure of how to escape, just trying to outrun whatever is coming for you. You look over your shoulder and you catch a glimpse of it swinging from branch to branch. You shouldn’t have looked back, it’s now all over. The beast swings down, descending on you, and humanity’s hopes fade as the life drains from your eyes.

When the robot uprising begins, we’ll now have to worry about ape-like bots that can swing through trees with the ease of a gibbon raining down upon us. Much like the robot cheetahs, bats, hornets, ostriches, and myriad other robot animals scientists are already working on, we may one day be doomed by our desire to mimic what occurs naturally in the world.

Why it’s Hot:

  • By analyzing the problem without the constraints of what is possible, you can find solutions that are not necessarily obvious.

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

No Sleep ‘Til Ford

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 novel way to advertise the Ford Max family car range. The bed comes with slick wood panel accents (recalling the Woodie station wagons that were the preferred family vehicle of yesteryear), “restrained” engine noise machine, a brilliant LED streetlight simulator, and soft movement.

Source

Why It’s Hot

  • Great way for Ford to show thought leadership outside of their category.
  • Provides a shareable idea, which resonates with not just car customers but with all parents.
  • Draws alignment between a car manufacturer and families.
  • Drives web traffic, as they claim the prototype will be manufactured if enough interest is shown. Users can sign up on microsite, which also houses Ford’s other products: the cars.
  • I wish I had one of these two years ago!

New Zealand brewery turns bottles into sand

“Two thirds of the world’s beaches are retreating as people across the world use non-renewable beach sand for construction, roading and other uses,” Simon Smith, brand PR and digital manager for DB Breweries, told Digital Trends. “We had some [conversations] over beers, and came up with an idea to crush glass bottles into a sand substitute that can be used in things such as construction, roading, even golf bunkers; meaning that we can keep our beautiful beach sand where it belongs: on our beaches.”
DB Breweries has built several machines able to take empty bottles and turn them into substitute sand. All a drinker needs to do is deposit his or her bottle in the machine, which then uses miniature steel hammers to crush it into 200 grams of sand in only five seconds — after extracting the plastic labels with a vacuum system.

The ultimate goal is to provide a way of prompting people to recycle by giving them an image of what exactly it means to do so, rather than leaving it as an abstraction. “Our ambition for the campaign is for people to have something tangible to think about, such as the love of our beautiful beaches, as a reminder to recycle”

Source: Digital Trends

Why it’s Hot

Back to beer coverage, hooray! Also, I posed recently about a grocery brand using its own waste to power its trucks, and I think this is another example of brand innovating to reduce their footprint.

Merck aims to put Amazon’s Alexa to work on voice-enabled diabetes tools

Link

Alexa? Help pharma find patient solutions.

That’s what Merck & Co. is aiming for in its new partnership with Amazon Web Services to develop digital voice-enabled solutions for people living with chronic diseases.

Using the tech behind the Amazon Echo, Merck plans to initially work on diabetes. Its first initiative will be a call to entrepreneurs, techies and industry types for an innovation challenge expected to begin within the next month.

The yet-to-be-named challenge will be run by strategy and innovation consultancy Luminary Labs. While specifics haven’t been released, the call to action will “be open to solutions broadly enough that innovators of all stripes can come up with really novel ideas but being narrow enough to provide guidance and carefully evaluate submissions,” said Sara Holoubek, founder and CEO of Luminary Labs.

An independent jury will evaluate the submissions based on their use of voice-enabled technology that addresses Type 2 diabetes patient issues.

Merck’s long-term plan is to create tools for other chronic diseases using the same Amazon Lex platform and the voice-enabled Alexa home system.

Analysts estimate Amazon will sell more than 110 million Amazon Echo devices over the next four years, and many are already pointing to healthcare as an important item on Alexa’s eventual to-do list.

“Users will soon go far beyond turning on lights or calling an Uber, and will venture deeper into healthcare, helping people better manage treatments and communicate with caregivers,” Luminary notes on its website. “From reminding people of their nutrition plans to scheduling their insulin dosages, the Merck-sponsored Alexa challenge will call on developers to push the boundaries of voice technology for people with diabetes.”

Why It’s Hot

Through recent discussions about how we’ll use Alexa or any voice-enabled assistants, this is extremely smart.  Leveraging technology to assist those that have a lot to manage with their health can potentially keep people more compliant, and therefore keeping themselves healthier.  Taking annoying tasks to remember off people’s plates so they can enjoy more of their life is a great direction to take this technology.  Expect to see more of this in the near future.

Source

Ready to Choose Your Own Adventure?

Netflix is working on technology that will allow viewers to choose their own adventure. They are considering implementing a new interactive storytelling technology for their shows and will have actors film alternative plot segments so that viewers at home can decide the shows unfolding.

Image result for Journey Under the Sea

Much like the Choose Your Own Adventure books of our youth, viewers will be able to decide how their show develops. Some storylines will have simple and linear choices while others will be more complex. All will be handled through your remote control.

Netflix will be running a trial with children’s shows later this year. If they are successful, they will use the model for adult programs.

Image result for alternate ending meme

 

Why it’s hot: 

  1. As attention spans get shorter and shorter, we’ll see a rise in interactive content in order to keep consumers engaged and on platform.
  2. Data, data, data… by allowing consumers to interact with the content, Netflix will be gaining valuable information from consumers which will help improve their customer experience.

Moscow Billboard Targets Ads Based on the Car You’re Driving

The rise of digital billboards spawns the idea of targeted highway ads, with tests in the U.S. planned for this summer.

Last November if you were driving a BMW x5 or a Volvo XC60 on the highway ringing Moscow, you might have noticed a digital billboard on the side of the road flash an ad just as you approached, one for a new SUV from Jaguar.

If it was evening, you saw an ad with a dark background, helping the car stand out. In bad weather, you saw it maneuvering in the snow.

A startup called Synaps Labs has brought targeted advertising to the physical world by combining high-speed cameras set up a distance ahead of the billboard (about 180 meters) to capture images of cars. Its machine-learning system can recognize in those images the make and model of the cars an advertiser wants to target. A bidding system then selects the appropriate advertising to put on the billboard as that car passes.

Marketing a car on a roadside billboard might seem a logical fit. But how broad could this kind of advertising be? There is a lot an advertiser can tell about you from the car you drive. Indeed, recent research from a group of university researchers and led by Stanford found that—using machine vision and deep learning—analyzing the make, model, and year of vehicles visible in Google Street View could accurately estimate income, race, and education level of a neighborhood’s residents, and even whether a city is likely to vote Democrat or Republican.

As the camera spots a BMW X5 in the third lane, and later a BMW X6 and a Volvo XC60 in the far left lane, the billboard changes to show Jaguar’s new SUV, an ad that’s targeted to those drivers.

Synaps’s business model is to sell its services to the owners of digital billboards. The Jaguar campaign paid the billboard operator based on the number of impressions, as Web advertisers do. The traditional billboard-advertising model is priced instead on airtime, similar to TV ads.

The company is planning a test in the U.S. this summer, where there are roughly 7,000 digital billboards, a number growing at 15% a year. (By contrast, there are 370,000 conventional billboards.) With a row of digital billboards along a road, they could roll the ads as the cars move along, making billboard advertising more like the storytelling style of television and the Internet.

Why it’s hot: Truly innovative step in combining targeting technologies, recognition software and advertising.

 

 

Netflix is at it Again — Different Endings for Different Viewers

Talk about custom content!

The Daily Mail is reporting that  “a source close to the company said Netflix is working on a technology that allows branch narratives to be controlled from your remote control.”

It’s a choose your own adventure… for your favorite TV shows.

Imagine:

Killgrave has change of heart

Titus Andromidon goes viral 

Frank Underwood steps down and donates all his worldly goods to charity. 

Why it’s hot:

This is not only a great way to give your audience exactly what it wants, but gives Netflix a greater understanding about its consumers in terms of data. It’s also an out of the box way to do TV that none of its competitors can try.

Netflix has been on the cusp of innovation, allowing downloads outside of wifi, expanding the range of what a streaming content provider is expected to produce. By always adapting to the new media landscape they are almost determining how it rolls out. They don’t let history effect their business, they change the scope of the expectations among their competitive set.

Source: https://www.aol.com/article/entertainment/2017/03/07/netflix-reportedly-wants-you-to-choose-the-endings-to-your-favor/21875597/

What is better? Doctor as authority or shared decision-making?

The Wall street Journal ran a piece this week about the power of shared decision-making and the impact it has on patient satisfaction, cost savings and healthier outcomes. While it was a simple and positive report, the findings are radical in that it is another herald of the transforming healthcare system.

Why is this important? Take Mass General, rated the #1 Hospital in the entire U.S. last year. They are not just doing one thing right to make the healthcare system work better for all, but they are doing neatly everything right. The hospital — and many others — have come to realize that the old model of “Doctor-as-authority-figure” does not really work any more — patients don’t feel in control, they often regret decisions, and last, they often end up NOT following the doctor’s orders and stop taking their medication, the impact of which is said to be over $200 billion in lost productivity every year.

Enter shared decision-making, which has had a radical impact on patient satisfaction. This visual aid is used to help patients make cancer treatment decisions:

Why is this hot? Because this heralds a major shift in a decades-old communication model, one that the entire U.S. society incorporated into their medical relationship with their doctor and thus, their health. This shared decision-making is not a mandate, but common sense; but even common sense in this case is a disruptor of the doctor-as-authority, which is how doctors are trained and inculcated into their own mindset. Radical that the doctor cedes this control; radical that the patient engages in complex decisions and comes away satisfied.

So, for Mass General, the results have been dramatic:

 

 

 

 

Using Tech to Get Away From Tech

 

Consumers are looking for the right balance when it comes to technology. Smart brands are tapping into people’s desires to disconnect.

Dolmio, a pasta sauce company created the ‘pepper hacker’ – a device that automatically disables surrounding Wi-Fi – to help families reclaim dinner time.

 

Why it’s hot….

  1. Using tech to get people away from tech
  2. Keeping consumers top of mind outside of the category

Mind control your Netflix

MindFlix is an experimental headband that lets wearers scroll through and select titles on the service with only their thoughts.

Wouldn’t it be great if Netflix could just read your mind and pick out the exact thing you were in the mood for? The technology’s not there yet, but if MindFlix is any indication, that future is not far off. During a 24-hour hack day, Netflix employees were tasked to come up with projects centered around the service. MindFlix is one such project, using a special brainwave-reading headband made by Muse, allows users to scroll through and select items the interface through simple head movements and thoughts. For example, once the wearer decides on what they want to watch, they simply think ‘play’ and the selection starts on screen. It does this by sensing back activity and linking it to pre-selected actions, making finding something to watch easier and faster than ever.

Source: PSFK

Why It’s Hot

We’ve been talking about Voice Recognition as a trend, but what about mind recognition? The execution here may be a little silly, but what about implications for health, emergency situations? Will there be a time where we have to recall that we used to have to touch things?

 

 

 

Explainable AI

We teach machines to think like humans. We ask them to solve complex tasks that increase in difficulty and the machine iterates and learns to handle new obstacles thrown its way. But how can humans understand how machines come up with specific solutions? What can we learn from the machines and their rationale process?

Explainable AI, an emerging field in AI research will help answer those questions. Through explainable AI, we will be able to understand a machine’s rationale, characterize their strengths and weaknesses in the decision-making process and have a better understanding of how they will behave in the future.

“Consider the use of AI-powered machines to help Wall Street firms trade stocks and other financial instruments. What if automated trading systems start building a massive position in a stock, against everything that the market appears to be predicting? If you were the head of the equity trading team, you’d expect those machines to be able to explain how they came to that decision. Maybe they discovered a market inefficiency that nobody has noticed yet, or maybe they are getting better at anticipating the moves of other rival Wall Street firms. But when millions of dollars are potentially at stake, you want to make sure that a bunch of machines are trading your money wisely.”

Why it’s hot:

  • Understanding how a machine “thinks” helps research teams check and debug machines over time so that they can anticipate how it will act in the future
  • XAI (explainable AI) brings us one step closer to making machines accountable for their actions, just like humans are (self-driving cars)
  • XAI could potentially help humans identify inefficiencies or understand complexities that were once a mystery

Bridging the CX Understanding Gap

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As customer experience (CX) continues to drive business transformation, we are met with a general lack of understanding around what and how to move forward. Forrester research revealed more than 60% of decision makers are still holding on innovation related to the Internet of Things. The Internet of Things is CX. People expect connectivity; people expect effortless data integration that improves the way they move through the world. This is nothing to delay and “assess.” The CX winners lean in hard early. They experiment. They fail. They pick themselves back up and try again.  People more than welcome that now, they expect it.

AR glasses from Facebook

Earlier this week, Facebook’s Oculus Rift, the clunky VR headset, shipped to the market. But Facebook has hopes for the tech and form factor to be reduced to the size of a normal pair of glasses.

During a recent developer conference, CEO Mark Zuckerberg demonstrated a concept pair of smart glasses that he envisions being able to view both virtual reality AND augmented reality. It would be similar to what Google Glass has tried to establish.

To distinguish, AR provides you overlays of data and information while you view the real world through the glasses vs VR, which is a virtual rendering of worlds.

There may be a race to market heating up as Microsoft just shipped its HoloLens headset to developers and Snapchat is apparently working on its own augmented reality glasses.

facebook-augmented-reality-virtual-reality-glasses

Why It’s Hot

AR and VR show true integration of the real world with information and data that can enrich our experiences. Particularly with augmented reality, overlaying information into your field of vision that is contextually relevant to what you are experiencing, can augment and enrich the experience.

VR to manage pain

With the overreliance on opioids to manage pain in the news today, one solution may be just a joystick away. Research has shown that psychology plays a critical role in how we experience both acute and chronic pain. The research also shows that pain sensations can be altered by what we think and feel.

Virtual reality games and rapid advances in technology have shown promise in tackling pain presumably by helping the person focus on other things. For example, virtual reality systems are starting to be used during painful procedures, such as dental procedures or changing burns dressings.
A new study published in the Royal Society Open Science let a group of healthy volunteers immerse their hands in cold water to the point where they could no longer tolerate it, while simultaneously playing a VR game. The study found that the highest pain tolerance levels occurred when both visual and sound sensory inputs were combined versus alone.

Why It’s Hot
With addition to prescription pain killers deemed an epidemic in the United States, alternative ways to manage acute and chronic pain are a necessity. Technology, specifically the use of virtual reality immerse technologies, may help provide one way to manage pain.

Cameras in the body. (Get my good side!)

Body Sensors Daso 3.9.16

There have been several Sci-fi movies over time that tell the story of people being shrunken down to then ride the blood stream and fix some horrific problem someone is suffering from. Well, forget shrinking people, the healthcare industry device manufacturers and many small start-ups have started an upward swing in using micro-cameras and sensors to help play the first line of defense in detecting diseases.

Examples? Sensors that are either ingested or inserted under the skin that can detect breast cancer, COPD, sight degeneration: that is just a sample of the Gold Rush to get a sensor or camera in your body.

One camera, created in Scotland, is using infrared to detect cancer growths in certain parts of the body. Said research associate Dr. Mohammed Al-Rawhani, in a university news release:  “The system could also be used to help track antibodies used to label cancer in the human body, creating a new way to detect of cancer.”

As of today, the FDA approved PillCam COLON2 (you really have to wonder who picks these names) which will be used for hi-risk colorectal cancer patients, a disease which is the 2nd biggest killer in the U.S.

HS Medtronic pill 4.1.16

Why is this hot? For two reasons: first, it is a sign that the reliance on technology is changing the observational role of the doctor — they are trained to watch your every gesture, emotions, words, all weighed against experience and intuition to lead a doctor down the detective path to a diagnosis. Sensors and cameras start to make them health technologists. Second, this will also enable to get ahead of many diseases, not behind. Don’t we all secretly, in some dark moment, wonder if a tumor is growing somewhere in your body, unknown and lurking?  That fear and the thousand shadows of uncertainty will be gone in a decade or less.

3D Doodler for Kids

3Doodler has launched a kid-friendly version of its popular Kickstarter device, called Start, that extrudes eco-plastic material to make 3D designs. The device is available now for pre-order on the company’s website for $39.

In addition to Start, the company has introduced a line of stencils called DoodleBlocks that allow young builders to create complex 3-D prints.

Why It’s Hot

It’s not hot to the touch, which is a good thing. But it is hot in that it brings the momentum of 3D printing to kids, enabling them to funnel their creativity and passion into a nearly limitless range of 3D designs.

Fully implantable bionic eye

A team of scientists from Australia’s University of New South Wales are ready to begin human trials of the Phoenix99–a fully implantable bionic eye. It is expected that the bionic will not only improve vision of the patient but will also be better than any current vision restoration devices. It has already been tested successfully in pre-clinical studies.

Not only is the Phoenix99 the first fully implantable device for restoring some vision, it is also the first implantable eye with neural stimulation technology.

A big goal for the research is to help restore sight in those affected by Retinitis Pigmentosa. There are 2 million people around the world that are affected by RP, a degenerative condition that can be found in patients in their 30s. Gradually, it can lead to complete blindness. The degeneration can only be slowed down with medicines, it cannot be reversed. In 2012, a team that included the same scientists from the University of South Wales, tried to restore some site in patients with RP through a partially implanted prototype device. The device was made up of an electrode array with some external devices that allowed the patients to see spots of light. The special cameras on the device helped the users to get a sense of distance. The Phosphenes appeared brighter when still objects came closer.

Unlike that device, the Phoenix99 is fully implantable and is expected to provide better vision to the user. The device consists of a small disc that goes behind the ear, which transmits data and powers the device. The user also wears glasses equipped with a special camera. The camera captures the images that then stimulate the nerve cells in the patient’s retina.

Why It’s Hot

If the human trials go well, the team says the bionic eye could be available to the mainstream public within 5 years. If so, this could help improve the lives of 200 million people around the World that have some form of progressive vision loss such as RP or macular degeneration.

This is also a significant step in the use of implantable technology to improve our health and lives. While work in stem cells and other areas looks to culture and grow new organs and tissues, technology is working in parallel to find ways to address these same issues with bionic parts.

 

No More Self-Checkout Lines, Scan As You Shop Instead

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In the future, you might be do your grocery shopping without fumbling over self-check registers or waiting at a long line. Diebold, a financial innovations firm, will present the concept for a mobile, scan-as-you-shop, self-checkout process at the National Retail Federation’s“BIG” show in New York City this week.

Here’s how it works: scan each item you want to add to your cart using a smartphone app. Tap out and pay at a self-checkout unit before you exit the store. Pay using cash at the terminal, or use other saved payment information from your mobile wallet or through a retailer app. Pick up your receipt, and maybe some cash back (the checkout terminal can also function as an ATM).

Voilà: no more long lines, or strained interactions with cashiers.

The smartphone-paired concept sounds like the logical next step to self-checkout counters. Customers will have an easier, quicker checkout process, and retailers can benefit from adding mobile marketing campaigns or customer rewards through dedicated apps.

For the concept to take off, it does require trust on both ends: retailers will have to trust that customers will abide by the rules and not forget to scan a pricey item, and customers will have to have some faith when they give payment data to retailer apps.

Source: PSFK

Why It’s Hot

This is an example of an innovation that just make sense — we’ll look back in 20 years and talk about how we used to wait in lines for a human to scan each thing in our cart! What?!

Under Armour– Powered by Watson

Amongst the new partnerships announced at CES is one between Under Armour and IBM, which promises to launch “Cognitive Coaching Powered by IBM Watson,” which both companies call the “world’s first complete health and fitness insights app.”

Activity-Insight-1_640_1136How does it plan to stand out against the typical fitness app consisting of wearable device & smartphone sensor? Using Watson’s smarts. The program will integrate data signals from wearable fitness gear with Under Armour’s Connected Fitness community of users, research studies, and institutions with data from IBM Watson. To help individuals achieve their fitness goals as accurately as possible, the Watson database will compare each user’s fitness data to a cohort of people with similar characteristics and goals– a sort of crowdsourcing in which individuals can see real-time results of others they share commonalities with.

Two other projects in the works: using IBM Watson’s visual recognition capabilities to identify foods and their nutritional value and integrating weather- related and environmental factors as they relate to your health and fitness (powerful, as IBM purchased much of Weather.com’s digital assets).

Why it’s hot: the Under Armour- IBM Watson partnership is one of the first brand integrations with the IBM Watson system and the first fitness integration of its kind to use consumer data in a way that allows people to compare themselves to others in real time.

The Internet of Medical Things Partnership Between Novartis and Qualcomm Takes Off

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Last year, Novartis formed a partnership with Qualcomm to use it 2Net wireless platform to develop innovative clinical trial tools. Now they are moving from R&D to Commercial work. The focus on one disease and treatment portfolio, ,Novartis’ COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) products, and the shifting Biopharma business model makes this partnership the most compelling to date. They are testing wireless inhalers that allow doctors to track a patient’s biometrics around how well they are breathing. (To give this context, COPD affects over 210 million lives worldwide and is the 3rd leading cause of death.)

This is of interest because, on the whole, the idea of wearable’s/tracking devices has not gained much if any traction in Biopharma. Perhaps the abysmal failure of so many apps to help patients manage their conditions — over 10,000 — only to have, on average, 75% of them abandoned after 3 months (IMS data).

This partnership hits the strategic trifecta of patient-centricity, product advantage and using the data to gain pricing advantage with insurers. With Qualcomm providing the “piping”, data collection, privacy and feedback to doctors with The Cloud, Novartis is creating the service Some call it “Beyond-the-pill”, the strategy of adding service to treatment as part of the drug value proposition.

Data plays a huge role in this partnership. There is great pressure from insurance companies and government on Health Economics Outcomes Research. HEOR basically states: you need patient data over time to prove that your treatment is more effective, thus justifying it’s higher cost. While everyone is talking about this, few are moving as fast as Novartis. For a patient, this partnership means their doctor will know, in real-time, how they are doing — and with a disease that involves progressive loss of breathing capacity, that is critically important: less frequent and stressful visits to the doctor. Aggregate this data across thousands of patients and the true effectiveness of the treatment becomes quantified.

First, there is the 2Net from Qualcomm:

Then there is the Novartis inhaler device due out in 2019:

Novartis Qualcomm inhaler 1.7Why is this hot? First, Novartis is demonstrating what all Biopharma needs to do (as stated by Deloitte, PwC, Accenture) is to partner outside the culturally siloed industry to meet several objectives: better Connected Health, giving doctors the means to track in real-time how their patients are doing and proving the efficacy of their treatment. But as the SVP at Qualcomm put it:

“This is an exciting time for health care as we see the proliferation of the Internet of Medical Things,” said Rick Valencia, senior vice president and general manager, Qualcomm Life, Inc. “Through our expanded collaboration with Novartis, we are able to deliver a frictionless digital health experience to their COPD patients.”

The bottom line is often about $$$. But in this case, this kind of real-time monitoring will save lives. Technology is not about technology, it is about the impact it has on lives.

 

Placemeter Launches New Sensor to Detect Traffic

Placemeter is a TechStars alum that helps institutions measure exact foot traffic in or near their buildings by sensing movement. Paired with a sensor, live IP camera, or recorded video, Placemeter can track data in real-time and store to its cloud for immediate access in dashboard or downloadable files.

 

Placemeter Sensor Side and Back

Placemeter can measure volume of vehicle and pedestrian traffic, walking directions and store visits, and lists its primary usage for retail and municipal entities.

Why It’s Hot: There are so many interesting applications to this device for brands as it instantly connects physical movement to digital. With Placemeter, you can detect potential effectiveness of drive-to-retail campaigns more immediately, evaluate real estate potential, gauge the success of store displays, and generally have more tangible data that demonstrates results of marketing efforts.

Cloud-based phone set to launch

Robin, the first smartphone from Nextbit, is now available for pre-order. It came to fruition through a Kickstarter campaign, and is the first Android phone that leverages the cloud in a seamless way.

While Dropbox and other services have allowed users to back-up files automatically, Robin claims to be a “smart” smartphone that keeps track of the apps and files that you use and archives those to the cloud that you haven’t accessed in a while without you having to do anything. And those apps that are archived retain all of their cached log-ins and preferences, that are often lost when archiving other ways.

In addition, one of the head designers at HTC came on board at NextBit and tried to introduce an entirely different looking phone with Robin versus what is available in the market today.

Why It’s Hot

As the Internet of Things and Cloud-based computing becomes more prevalent, it is logical that our most personal of electronic devices, do the same. Nextbit has suggested that Robin may just be the beginning as they look to use the cloud to improve battery life and other performance aspects of the smartphone in future models.