From the makers of the UK’s SellMyLivestock website comes a new Tinder-style app for cattle farmers. Tudder provides an easy way for farmers to locate breeding matches by viewing profiles of cattle and their age, location, and owner. A swipe right to show interest directs farmers to the SellMyLivestock platform, which 1/3 of the UK’s farmers are already using.
While the marketing of the app includes playful language such as “seeks to unite sheepish farm animals with their soulmates,” the purpose is quite functional. Bringing a bull to a physical market is tedious and takes time away from other farm responsibilities. On the app, farmers can quickly search for organic or pedigree cattle, find out the cow’s health information, and get in touch with owners to make an offer.
Why It’s Hot
The app is a playful, easy way to facilitate cattle transactions — bringing real digital innovation to a timeless practice.
After years of research, McCormick & Company and IBM have announced the creation of a new AI system that will help spice up the dinner experience. The platform uses machine learning to predict winning flavor combinations and will aid McCormick in developing new recipes faster.
This spring, McCormick will debut the first AI-developed flavors in a new product line named “One.” The new recipe mixes intended for easy one-dish protein and vegetable dinners will include Tuscan Chicken, Bourbon Pork Tenderloin, Farmers Market Chicken, Glazed Salmon and New Orleans Sausage.
The data that led to these flavors involved 40 years of McCormick’s proprietary collection of past product recipes and consumer flavor preference studies.
Why It’s Hot
While the brand partnership seems unexpected, it’s smart of McCormick to take all the data they’ve collected over the years as the leader in their space and put it to good use in product innovation.
Casper’s new nightlight, the Glow, is far more than the nightlight you may have had in your bedroom as a child. While the product was inspired by the less harsh feeling of candlelight or lamplight, the Glow is future-forward. It’s a customizable connected device that can help improve sleep.
The light is meant to ease you into sleep by syncing with your body’s circadian rhythm, and slowly dimming as you prepare to fall asleep.
The Glow is connected to an app so that users can easily program the length of time the light takes to dim–from fifteen minutes to an hour and a half. Once the settings are saved once, the light will activate the same way each time someone picks it up to get it started. The light can also be twisted to dim or brighten manually.
The light, which retails for $89 or $169 for two, primarily sits on a charging base, but is also portable. The idea is that if you are getting up in the middle of the night, you can pick up the Glow and bring it with you, illuminating your way without disturbing a partner or having to flip on bright overhead lights that can single your body to wake up.
Why It’s Hot
As wellness and self-care continues to be such a pervasive topic, consumers are very aware of the importance of getting a full night’s sleep, and willing to try new strategies and products to help them break the habit of staring at their phones in bed. With competition increasing from other mattress companies, Casper is pushing ahead into becoming more of a lifestyle brand with a holistic approach to sleep.
This week, New Yorkers can use Lyft for a free ride to H&M. The partnership is meant to encourage people to participate in H&M’s Garment Collecting program–a global initiative where customers can drop off clothing from any brand to their local H&M, and H&M sends it to the nearest recycling plant for reuse. Every bag of clothing dropped off earns a 15% off discount at H&M .
All customers will have to do is enter the code HMRECYCLES to claim their free Lyft ride, up to $10.
The press release announcing the partnership highlights how both companies have committed to help the environment:
Since the Garment Collecting program started in 2013, H&M has collected 163 pounds of textiles globally
In 2018, Lyft committed to offsetting their carbon emissions, ensuring every Lyft ride in NYC is carbon-neutral
Why It’s Hot
Both companies are getting at their target customers’ affinity for eco-conscious brands, while helping prevent clothing from ending up in landfills.
Finland has set an ambitious goal to train 1% of its population (55,000 people) in the basics of AI. Their hope is that widespread technological expertise can help boost their economy and help them stay competitive in international markets, especially in the wake of Nokia’s decline.
In order to achieve this, they created a free online course called the Elements of AI. The course is made up of six parts, covering everything from machine learning to neural networks, and has a focus on practical, problem-solving applications.
The initiative has support of both the government and local businesses, with 250 companies vowing to train part or all of their workforce. So far, more than 10,500 people have graduated from the course.
Why It’s Hot
At a time when so many are afraid of how new technology will impact the current career landscape and are struggling to keep up with the pace of change, Finland’s idea to promote a free educational resource to equip its workforce is a smart move.
Starting on February 17th, Twitter will be live streaming NBA games–but only the second half, and only with an isolated view of one player. The interesting premise stems from existing second screen behavior. Instead of competing with fans who will watch the game on TV, Twitter wants to offer an interactive and complimentary experience.
During the first half of the game, fans can tweet to vote for which player they want to see in Twitter’s stream. Then, the “iso-cam” will stream on @NBAonTNT.
If the player selected happens to be benched or fouls out, the view will switch to a camera behind the backboard — still giving viewers a different perspective than what TNT will be airing on TV.
Why It’s Hot
This is a unique way to capitalize on the existing behavior of scrolling social media while watching sports. Twitter is giving people a reason to tune into their live stream to not miss out on the action that only they’ll be able to capture.
Orangetheory is testing a new pop-up gym model across hotels nationwide. Their first location opened last month at the Hilton-owned Boca Raton Resort and Club, and the company has plans to launch at least 12 more locations this year.
Pop-up locations will operate similar to Orangetheory’s standalone locations. They will feature the same equipment and offer classes taught by trainers brought in from other Orangetheory gyms. Guests staying at the resort locations will be able to join an interval training class for $30. Those guests who are already Orangetheory members get a discounted rate of $20 per class.
For now, the pop-ups will be open for six months, allowing Orangetheory to measure success before committing to long-term leases.
Why It’s Hot
Hotel guests are captive audiences for trying out new experiences while they’re away from home and outside of their usual routines. This model could become the best way to introduce the Orangetheory method to potential new members.
Postmates has introduced Los Angeles to Serve, a robot that will deliver food. Serve, which looks like a cooler on wheels with digital eyes, moves at walking speed and can carry up to 50lbs of food. In one charge, it can cover 30 miles.
Customers will be able to order food via the Postmates app, and then will receive a code to unlock the robot to retrieve their food when it arrives. They can also alert Postmates of any issues by interacting with Serve’s digital touch screen.
Serve is outfitted with lidar sensors to ensure it avoids obstacles, and uses a turn signal light to indicate to passersby that it is changing directions.
Postmastes calls Serve a socially aware navigation system, saying, “Serve’s personality is all about understanding people. Nothing about Serve’s intelligence is artificial.” In their announcement about their newest team member, they note that they are trying to be more city-friendly, as they will no longer be contributing to heavy street traffic.
Why It’s Hot
Postmastes has come up with a smart solution to enhance their delivery service while being environmentally conscious.
Marie Claire magazine has launched Marie Claire Edit – a shopping experience curated by their fashion editors. The e-commerce platform features brands including NET-A-PORTER, ASOS, Topshop, and many more.
The idea of the site is to give Marie Claire readers a place to shop where all the items are current, on-trend and paired with pro styling tips. Products are pulled together in themes like, “The major knits to wear right now,” “These Christmas jumpers prove you can be festive AND chic” and “The checked blazer upgrades you’ll need this season.” So the editorial voice of Marie Claire remains, but the collections are lighter on text, with shopping truly the main focus.
Marie Claire Edit also plans to work closely with designers. Their future vision includes housing exclusive interviews and major product launch news.
Why It’s Hot
As print magazines continue to look for new ways to stay relevant and profitable, Marie Claire is taking a big step in a new direction for publishers.
Sam’s Club will soon be introducing a whole new way to shop in Dallas, Texas. Their new location, called Sam’s Club Now, will serve as the company’s “epicenter of innovation,” where they’re testing everything from augmented reality product overlays to self-checkout via mobile app. A video on their site demonstrates what the experience could look like.
Shoppers will be able to make grocery lists on the app before entering the store. When they arrive, a map on their phone will direct them where to go to find the items on their list. The directions can also be activated by voice commands. Product pricing will use electronic labels — eliminating the need to manually print and replace signage. Scanning a product with their phone before adding it to a physical shopping cart allows for self-checkout when they’re finished.
AR product experiences will include showing ways to use the product, highlighting key features, and even speak to how items are sourced. There will also be kid-friendly experiences such as turning digital shopping carts into pirate ships or rockets.
Sam’s Club is using the new location to serve as a testing lab for these new technologies before rolling them out to other clubs. They’ll be using over 700 cameras to continually scan and optimize.
Why It’s Hot
Sam’s Club is testing innovative concepts that have the power to transform the everyday shopping experience.
Gillette is bringing personalization to the razor industry. Powered by 3-D printers, Gillette and printing company Formlabs have created Razor Maker – a website where you can customize and purchase a razor of your own design.
The base razors to choose from include 45 intricate designs that are named after their textures, inspired by nature (e.g. Redwood, Coral, Agave). People can customize the color, number of blades, and grip. There’s even an option to add 12 characters of text.
The razors go for $19-$45, with the option to add additional blade cartridges for an extra $15. While the Razor Maker site isn’t currently linked to Gillette’s subscription service Gillette On Demand, it does ask people whether or not they are interested in learning more about the service right before they check out.
Why It’s Hot
With Dollar Shave Club adding new products like shampoo and deodorant to their subscription boxes, and Harry’s Razors launching Flamingo, a new brand of razors and wax strips for women, it’s interesting to see that Gillette is turning to personalization and 3-D printing to stand out from the competition.
More importantly, this is one of the first times a major brand is offering mass customization with 3-D printing. There are endless possibilities that P&G can explore with their other brands, so they may be using Razor Maker as a trial run of the technology with plans to expand in the future.
A start up called What3Words has mapped and renamed every location on Earth. Using an algorithm to scan GPS co-ordinates, they created 57 trillion 3 meter by 3 meter squares that each have unique three word address. For example, ‘Tools.sand.stone’ refers to a spot in Central Park in New York and ‘Sportscar.citronella.photocopiers’ is a square of the Antarctic Ocean.
They created this map in order to increase accuracy in navigation for businesses and individuals in a simple yet global way. 75% of countries don’t have their own organized addressing system, according to the UN, so the possibilities that this system opens up are far-reaching.
Consumers can download the free app in 25 languages to get directions. But the real value comes when What3Words partners with brands and government agencies. Pizza Hut and Dominoes are using these addresses in places like Mongolia and the Caribbean to deliver pizzas to remote locations. And several models of Mercedes are using What3Words for their built-in navigation systems.
Why It’s Hot
The applications for more precise, universal locations are a win-win for businesses and consumers. UPS estimates saving each of its drivers one mile per day would result in a $50 million in overall savings. For consumers, the benefits range from increased accuracy for driving directions to life-saving emergency vehicles arriving on the scene more quickly.
Petal is a new company that provides credit cards to those who have not yet built up a traditional credit history. Instead, it uses data like how much money a person makes and spends in a month to determine what their credit limit should be.
One of the company’s co-founders, Jason Gross, explains that using a customer’s bank account history as a basis allows Petal to offer better credit limits that are often 10 times higher than competitors’ rates.
Annual Percentage Rates fall between the industry standard 14-25%, but the company has no fees of any kind, including late fees. Instead, the company generates money through interest payments and charging vendors when a customer uses their card.
Why It’s Hot:
Younger people who don’t have a credit score yet finally have a credit card option that doesn’t penalize them with high rates and fees. As Gross has noted, this is especially important since this group is disproportionately made up of minorities and immigrants who often suffer without a credit score to help them qualify for financial products.
TripAdvisor is overhauling their website and mobile app to be an all-in-one travel inspiration, planning and booking platform. Launching later in 2018, the redesign will include a new social feed aimed at giving each user a personalized, seamless experience.
People will be able to follow their friends as well as brands in the new feed. Over 500 partners are on board for launch, including publishers like National Geographic, The Travel Channel, and The Knot, and influencers like Giada De Laurentiis and TravelBabbo.
Content in the feed will include articles, videos, and recommendations that will help people discover new places. As members are planning a trip to a specific destination, they’ll see content relevant to the location and their interests. They can then save content into wish lists and itineraries, and ultimately book travel and experiences.
Why It’s Hot
60% of people booking travel online are already going to TripAdvisor. Building on their success with a social experience and the trusted expertise of publishers and influencers can only strengthen the platform.
Companies like EZPass on the East Coast, FasTrak in California and TxTag in Texas have been helping people get through tolls faster with electronic tag devices for years. But soon, they’ll be in competition with cars that have electronic toll technology built in.
Starting with their new electronic vehicle e-tron, Audi is launching what they’re calling “Integrated Toll Module.” The technology leverages a toll transponder within the car’s rear-view mirror. Drivers will be able to pair their cars with wireless toll payment accounts, eliminating the need for a physical electronic tag.
The system places a toll transponder into the car’s rear-view mirror. From there, drivers will be able to pair their vehicle with their wireless toll accounts So there’s no more need to mount and deal with physical electronic tag devices on the upper portion of the windshield, or on the front license plate.
Audi says its Integrated Toll Modules are already compatible with existing toll agencies, meaning it will be easy to register new accounts and to drive cross-country between different toll authorities.
Why It’s Hot
Paying for tolls is a major hassle and source of traffic. Having technology built into cars to alleviate this problem can make many drivers’ daily commutes and longer trips significantly more pleasant.
Doctors are turning to apps to help men who view discussing mental health as a sign of weakness. They’re particularly hopeful that apps can help reach groups like working-class men, men in rural areas, and men approaching middle age, who are more likely to feel isolated and self-medicate with alcohol or other drugs instead of talking about their depression.
One new app that is geared towards helping men break the stigma around mental health is Headgear. Partially funded by men’s health charity the Movember Foundation, Headgear is designed to teach men coping mechanisms that can be used in real life situations.
The app’s 30-day challenge builds mental well-being through videos and quizzes, while tracking day-to-day emotions. While a full study is yet to be released, early anecdotal feedback from users shows positive results with decreased feelings of depression.
Why It’s Hot
While mental health apps have been on the rise, not many seem to cater to this target. Creating apps with advice around specific triggers can drive real impact for those suffering from depression.
IBM has dreamed up the ultimate boost to employee productivity: drones that deliver coffee to people’s desks. They’ve filed a patent for technology that can identify the “cognitive state” of office workers to detect when a cup of coffee is needed.
The patent describes how the drones may be able to detect blood pressure, pupil dilation, and facial expressions that indicate a person is drowsy. The technology will also store individual preferences like what type of coffee they enjoy or whether or not they take sugar.
There are multiple ways in which coffee delivery can work: one option is to have coffee poured directly into a person’s mug, while another delivers coffee in a sealed bag. People can also summon coffee with a hand gesture.
Why It’s Hot
While it’s unclear whether IBM will actually build this coffee delivery system and how soon it could come to life, the technology has the potential to completely overhaul the office coffee break.
Bark, the company behind subscription service BarkBox, is opening a dog park in Nashville. It will provide a place where dogs can roam free off their leashes, while serving as a social gathering spot for their human friends.
Of course, there will be Bark branded toys and treats for dogs to try, with a selection available for purchase. There will also be free WiFi, a coffee shop, and weekly programming including live music and beer tastings.
To access BarkPark, dog owners will have to purchase day passes for $19 or select a membership package, with options for four-week ($49) or seasonal passes ($78). The members, however, are the dogs – which means any two humans can accompany the dog on any given visit. The pass can conveniently be shared by different family members and with dog sitters.
The Nashville location will open on September 8th for three months until its closed for the winter, giving Bark the chance to test and learn before considering opening up additional locations.
Why It’s Hot:
BarkPark seems like a natural brand extension with high potential. They already do a great job of fostering loyalty among passionate dog lovers, and providing a place that owners and dogs can enjoy together will only cultivate that loyalty further.
The next time you’re searching for a recipe on Allrecipes.com, you might see a cocktail pairing sponsored by Tito’s Handmade Vodka. The two brands have teamed up on a mixologist chatbot, Barkeep, to recommend drinks and walk people through preparation.
Barkeep is powered by natural language processing and a mixology database to suggest cocktails based on seasonality, popularity, and users’ preferences. The chatbot will be accessible by Facebook Messenger, as well as integrated within the Allrecipes search database.
Beyond recipes, the chatbot also features a catalog of on-demand alcohol delivery powered by Drizly.
The partnership is a natural fit — Allrecipes users are 20% more likely than the average U.S. adult to be frequent entertainers, and are more likely to have prepared a mixed drink in the past week. They are also 21% more likely than the general U.S. population to have consumed Tito’s Handmade Vodka in the last six months, according to comScore Fusion.
Why It’s Hot
39 million people use Allrecipes.com every month. This is a natural way to introduce cocktail pairings and alcohol delivery to a large, engaged audience.
Lowe’s Innovation Labs is using virtual reality as a fun and safe way to let potential customers play with power tools in their stores. Their latest installation involves a hedge trimmer–actual blades removed, of course.
The experience was built on HTC Vive VR, with accurate visual approximation and the real vibrating feel of trimming hedges. It’s also gamified, giving out gold stars for a job well done.
The pilot test across several cities has seen great success. People’s confidence with the product increased 127% after the experience.
Why It’s Hot
This is a smart way to help people test drive products that would normally be difficult to evaluate before purchasing. It also helps people get comfortable with tools that might otherwise intimidate them.
Insurance company Aviva added a new Dash Cam functionality to their app. The app begins filming as soon as it senses the vehicle move.
It films the journey in short, unsaved loops unless the motion reading from the smartphone detects a potential collision. In that case, the video footage is saved as video evidence that can be submitted with an insurance claim.
While the free app is available to all drivers, there are major benefits for those who are insured by Aviva, including safe driver car insurance discounts and easy ways to complete a claim via the app.
Why It’s Hot:
This functionality makes it easier for drivers to quickly file insurance claims directly from their phones.
Video footage can help drivers clearly indicate who is at fault in an accident
America’s largest grocery store, Kroger, has announced plans to launch a driverless home delivery service. A pilot program will kick off in the fall in partnership with Nuro, the self-driving car company started by former Google engineers.
Leading up to the launch, Nuro is using a fleet of six self-driving cars to map ideal routes around Kroger locations. The vehicles are designed to operate on public streets, and will continue to be tested in heavy traffic and a range of weather conditions.
When the service becomes available in the first, yet to be announced test market, Kroger customers will be able to request a delivery via the Kroger delivery portal or Nuro app. The vehicles which have two temperature-controlled compartments will be loaded up with up to 12 grocery bags. When they arrive at their destination, customers will have to come to the curb or their driveway and enter a PIN code or otherwise verify their identity to retrieve their groceries.
While for many this will be a welcome improvement in grocery delivery, it may not be as liked by those customers who currently use Kroger’s same day delivery service and enjoy having a person to carry the groceries right to their door.
Why It’s Hot
Consumers have increasingly high expectations when it comes to on-demand delivery. As Nuro and other self-driving car companies perfect their technology and optimize their routes, there is likely to be a major overhaul in how groceries, laundry, and other items are delivered.
Hotel service is getting a major upgrade. With Alexa for Hospitality, Amazon will help hotels manage and customize how their Echo speakers can work harder for their guests.
With an Echo speaker in each room, guests will feel right at home with the commands they use every day like turning the lights on and off, setting alarms, playing music and making phone calls. But even more importantly, Alexa will supplement hotel staff by taking on the functions of ordering room service, requesting room cleanings, providing information like pool hours, and helping guests check out. Amazon is also providing a digital platform to help hotels manage hundreds of Echo devices in one centralized view.
Along with the announcement, Amazon notes they are already working on enhancements. In the near future, guests will be able to temporarily connect their own Amazon account to the device in their hotel room, meaning preferences like favorite music and personalized details like contacts will be accessible. Upon checkout, the speaker will reset for the next guest.
Why It’s Hot:
Alexa for Hospitality can help hotels truly deliver the level of comfort and convenience their guests expect. As it continues to evolve, hotels should see significant operational efficiencies while guests enjoy all the benefits of a virtual concierge.
Uber has applied for a patent to use AI to determine a passenger’s “user state” before they’re picked up by their driver. While this may trigger alarm for those who rely on Uber to get them home safely after a night of drinking, it seems as though the company has the passenger’s safety top of mind.
If implemented, the technology would scan for patterns in behaviors like interaction speed, typing, device angle and even walking speed to understand when a customer seems to be acting out of the ordinary. It will also measure how far from normal the behavior appears.
The company hasn’t clarified exactly what this will mean for users, but the patent application mentions that passengers may be paired with drivers “with experience or training with users having an unusual state.” It may also encourage drivers to use pickup and drop off locations that are well-lit and easy to find.
Why It’s Hot:
This unique application of AI can potentially make for a smoother ride for both Uber drivers and passengers. It may also inspire other apps to push the boundaries of how to improve customer experience based on user behavior data.