BarkPark, the ‘Outdoor Clubhouse’ for Dogs

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.

BarkPark

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.

Source: TechCrunch

Barkeep, the Mixologist Chatbot

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.Tito Allrecipes bot

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.

Source: PR Newswire

Lowe’s Brings VR to Power Tools

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.

Source: Fast Company

The Aviva Dash Cam Will Save Drivers Time and Money

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

Driverless Grocery Delivery

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.

Source: The Verge

Amazon Alexa, At Your (Room) Service

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.

Source: https://venturebeat.com/2018/06/19/amazon-launches-alexa-for-hospitality-to-bring-voice-enabled-services-to-hotel-guests/ 

Uber Wants to Use AI to Tell if You’re Drunk

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.