Amazon has partnered with “O, the Oprah Magazine,” on a holiday promotion that gives voice-assistant Alexa the voice of Oprah Winfrey when users shop among the iconic celebrity’s “Favorite Things.” Oprah’s voice will recommend a product and share background on why it made her list.
Yes, it’s gimmicky – but, It’s an interesting ex anploration and build off existing platform (O, The Oprah Magazine and Amazon have worked together over the past couple of years to co-promote Oprah’s Favorite Things online and on mobile through a dedicated Amazon storefront), and therefore – a great way to test and learn.
The UX is not there yet – this won’t be a very efficient way to shop. Not only does it force you to listen to items one-by-one, it’s also difficult to encourage people to shop based on product suggestions and descriptions alone. Most people want to see photos – and sometimes even videos – before making an online purchase.
‘Good enough’ is never good enough for Google, who keeps improving their users’ experiences.
This new feature: was it critical? Probably not. Is it useful. Very much. This new feature basically responds to an everyday pain point: Always forget where you parked?
And this is different to Google Maps’ automatic Bluetooth-enabled parking detection, which figures out where you’ve parked without your intervention. — Which is great news, because does not limit its scope to specific technologies (e.g., Bluetooth integration), in turn, responding to broader use cases: always forget your [enter any location-related input here]? Always forget your locker room at the gym?
Now you can combine your two favorite things in one truly awesome mash-up, with LEGO letting you create custom kits to build yourself out of LEGO.
How it works
Everything feels like a traditional photo booth. Uncomfortable plastic stool, check. Touchscreen display, check. Handy, easy-to-follow instructions, check. You’ve got three chances to capture the perfect photo. Once ready, the machine prints your LEGO-inspired photo and feeds you the kit of bricks needed to make it a reality.
Cathay Pacific Airways is emailing personalized paintings as birthday gifts to its loyalty club members. Members can share their painting digitally or print a high-resolution copy.
The art piece is made by an algorithmic tool specially designed to create tailored digital paintings using each member’s travel data and flight trajectories.
Why Its Hot
The brief was for a member’s birthday greeting to drive increased loyalty amongst Marco Polo loyalty club members. But the brand understands that consumers are not loyal to programs or points: they are loyal to experiences.
Cathay Pacific is genuinely about meaningful experiences, treating travel with respect, understated elegance and being there when people need it and not when they don’t.This experience is rewarding, inspiring, and personal.
Google unveils “Purchases On Google,” which are basically buy buttons in mobile search ads.
Purchases on Google will be displayed after a user inputs an item into search and clicks on an ad, which will bring them to a Google-hosted, branded product page. For consumers, this will mean that you’ll see be a “buy” button in some promoted mobile search results, taking you to a page where you can buy the advertised product.
Shopping advertisers will pay on a cost-per-click basis.
Other 2 offerings on this front:
The Google Now price drop card indicates whether a product is being offered at a significant discount after it is searched for, a tactic that may fuel customers to purchase it before the price jumps up again.
Additionally, while Google does offer voice search options, it has expanded the functionality to encompass shopping. Consumers will now be able to ask specific questions about products and receive an answer in voice form. Users may ask for product ratings as well, which Google will display alongside snippets from the most useful customer reviews.
In the past year, Google has seen a 115 percent uptick in shopping searches stemming from smartphones around the world, cementing the mobile device’s role as a primary shopping tool (learn more here). The company’s focus on offering users specific answers to product inquiries, as well as streamlined checkout options, may prompt more retailers to join forces with it and allocate more of their advertising budgets to mobile search.
For users: The buy button will make the mobile web more functional, populated and app-like.
For advertisers: This feature will give advertisers a better sense of ROI.
For Google: This initiative will simply let Google sell more ads. Also, the buy button will drive use of Android Pay.
Inspired by a startling statistic — in Argentina almost one human dies in a traffic accident every hour — Samsung Argentina set out to reclaim safety with “Safety Truck” and the power of innovation.
With the guiding understanding that crashes often occur while automobiles pass on the country’s many one-way roads, Samsung added a built-in camera to the front of a truck. This device captures real-time footage of the road and then wirelessly feeds it to four screens on the truck’s rear wall. This live film will play continuously as the truck moves, making nearby drivers aware of their surroundings.
Samsung “Safety Truck” isn’t changing the road, just the way you see it. For this seamless connection of humanity’s needs to technology’s capabilities, the campaign is one of our 2015 Cannes contenders.
“An idea that, instead of changing people’s lives – Saves them”
Here is another great example of the use of Technology with a purpose. Wether this effort will end up being more distracting than productive – time will tell. What’s interesting to me is the unexpected; the smart use of a previously unused surface (or placement).
On-demand private jet charter company Blue Star Jets has launched a mobile application to offer on-the-spot bookings with access to and from any airport in the world.
The company claims to have the first-ever global private jet app and to be a pioneer in offering 24/7 customer service providing follow-up confirmation within 15 minutes of booking so travelers can be in the air with as little as four hours notice. Blue Star Jets anticipates business to double as a result of launching the app.
The app enables users to search a favorite location or any global destination for round-trip, one-way and multi-leg flights. Users can access a full list of all available empty leg flights, which are either flying to or from their point of origin empty to pick up other charter clients.
Flyers can choose from a variety of options, including helicopters, turbo props, any corporate jet, an air ambulance, a cargo jet and a jumbo jet.
An Uber-like approach to jetting – really? Just because it woks for daily commute, does not mean that the same exact business model can be translated into other categories (or, perhaps, I am simply not their target audience!). Still, great to see how different categories are trying to innovate and push the boundaries of the unthinkable.
At the NCAA men’s Final Four in Indianapolis, Coke Zero built a 4,500-foot straw that dispensed Coke Zero from a billboard. The straw spelled out the words “Taste It,” and had six fountains that dispensed the soda (watch video here).
In East London, Carlsberg beer created a similar experience with a beer-dispensing billboard.
And Mr. Kipling, a large-scale British company that supplies baked goods to stores, built a billboard made entirely of cake and icing. Sugar artist Michelle Wibowo created the billboard using more than 13,000 pieces of cake. The cake, with the tagline “Life is better with cake,” was distributed to passersby (watch video here).
The problem with food ads is that you can only see the product, but you can’t smell or taste it. Here is a great example of how an old medium can be used in new ways – creating disruption and driving conversation.
Missed opportunity: social amplification. In 2011, a German billboard dispenses dog food when you checked in on Foursquare– Read more here (video case study available).
Introducing the Inu, a battery-powered scooter you can fold up and take in with you. Push a button on a smartphone app, and in five seconds, the scooter unfolds and is ready to go.
INU can travel up to 15 miles per hour on the street. Prices ranges from $3580 to $6000. Once folded, it only weighs 18kg. A complete battery charge takes three hours.
Thanks to a dedicated mobile app (for Android and iOS), users can receive messages directly on the scooter or even take and share photos and videos using the controls on the handlebars. The “Find my INU” feature allows owners to easily locate their scooter using their mobile device.
“We understood that a product should be practical and feel magical.”
It doesn’t actually take a lot of work to fold up a normal folding bike. But pulling out each part and locking it into place might be just annoying enough to make most people avoid it.
Problem solved: Like any folding bike, the Inu aims to help commuters who might not be able to squeeze a full-size bike (and certainly not an electric scooter) on a subway car or the bus, and who might have trouble finding parking when they arrive at work.
“What if you could make thoughtful choices about exactly what your phone does, and use it as a creative canvas to tell your own story?”
Google’s Project Ara aims to enable users to create a modular smartphone that is precisely tailored to their functional and aesthetic preferences.
It all starts with an endoskeleton, or “endo,” the structural frame and data backbone of the device. The user can populate the endo with “modules,” the building blocks that make up the vast majority of the phone’s functionality and features. The modules have user-replaceable covers or “shells,” which provide a creative canvas for users to make their phone look exactly as they wish. Ultimately, customers will be able to buy a complete Ara phone, configure one from scratch, or buy additional modules through the Ara Module Marketplace.
Project Ara devices will run the Android operating system. Google chose Puerto Rico as a testing ground for the platform (Prototype: Spiral 2).
Customization is a big focus with Ara. The coolest part is how easily you can swap out and rearrange the modules.
With a modular platform, you can pick the camera you want for your phone rather than picking your phone for the camera. You could have a sensor to test if water is clean. You could have a battery that lasts for days. A really awesome speaker. A gamer phone. Or it could even be your car key. The possibilities are limitless. But, aren’t apps and add-ons doing that today already ?
You can upgrade different parts of your phone when you need too. Replace a broken display. Save up for a high-end camera. Share a module with your family, or swap one with your friends.
Estonia offers e-residency to foreigners | By the end of the year, people living anywhere in the world will be able to become ‘digital citizens’ without entering the physical country.
The ID card, issued to every Estonian at the age of 15, gives citizens access to around online 4,000 services – allowing them to manage their banking, register businesses, apply for child benefits, pay for parking tickets, and even check their medical records on their smart phones. It is used by 90% of residents, with about a third of Estonians using it to vote online.
Now, foreigners are set to gain access (e-residency), giving “digital citizens” in other countries new rights in Estonia. Digital identity for non-residents will have nothing to do with constitutional rights or actual citizenship – it’s about everyday matters: “to make life and business easier for our international partners and non-resident foreigners who have a relation to Estonia – who invest, work or study here and do trade with us”.
Their goal: to attract around 10 million “digital citizens” by 2025 (~13,000 people from a range of backgrounds have signed up to be beta testers of the new scheme). Why? In part, because Estonia’s model hasn’t been attractive enough to prevent Estonians from pursuing their futures abroad.
Estonia may be tiny but in tech terms it’s a giant. It has a population of just 1.3 million, yet produces more start-ups per head than any other country in Europe. For example, this is the country which created Skype. Playtech, one of the world’s biggest providers of online gambling software, was also founded in Estonia 15 years ago and is now listed on the London Stock Exchange with a value of around £2bn.
Estonia offers the perfect combo for innovation: a tech-savvy president, Toomas Hendrik Ilves; an open and online culture – 77% of the population has internet access and favors e-nitiatives; etc. But critics have expressed concerns about the level of centralized data the Estonian government holds on those with ID cards.
Lowe’s is experimenting with native video tools on Vine and Instagram.
The retailer’s new Vine video series, called “How-To Tap Thru,” uses the network’s tap-to-pause technology to turn a short video clip into step-by-step DIY tutorials, while its Instagram videos, dubbed “HyperMade,” use the platform’s HyperLapse feature to create time-lapse clips showing the progress of a project from start to finish.
Tech with a purpose: This “performance-based entertainment” experiment — a creative use case for facial recognition tech – was a reaction to increased government taxes on theatre tickets, which in turn led to drastic drops in audience numbers.
And it’s proven to work: The results of the experiment have so far proved positive with overall ticket prices up by 6 euros, according to the theatre.
Did you know? The advertising agency was The Cyranos McCann.
Starbucks and Duracell Powermat will begin a national rollout of wireless phone chargers in Starbucks and Teavana locations. Starting at stores in the San Francisco Bay Area, consumers will be able to set their cellphones down on designated spots on their tabletop, and their batteries will charge as they eat, drink, read or chat. No plugs. No cables. No cost.
Over the next three years, more than 100,000 table chargers — built-in Powermat charge pads — will be installed in Starbucks’ 7,500 company-owned stores in the U.S. That’s about a dozen per store.
Powermat has been already chosen by such global leaders as Starbucks, McDonalds, Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, Madison Square Garden, and dozens of airports around the world to supply wireless power, creating a wireless power network anyone can connect to (check poweruphere.com).
Starbucks | Access to power has become one of the most important factors in people’s choice of where to visit, what to do there, and how long to stay. When most retailers are struggling with store traffic, this example shows how “in-store experience” outperforms awareness drivers. This is a strategic move that gives consumers yet another reason to waltz into Starbucks. The coffee maker might not be a first mover on this one, but a smart mover for sure.
Duracell | The power maker has decided they are not going to be the next Kodak.
Mercedes-Benz UK is allowing consumers to direct and create a scene for a short film featuring the CLA-class. Using the hashtag#CLAStory, Instagram followers can upload scenes that correspond with three previously recorded clips found on Mercedes-Benz UK’s Instagram, Facebook and Web site.
SemaConnect, which makes electric vehicle charging stations, has launched an application on Google Glass to make it easier for drivers to navigate to the closest charging stations at a nearby Walgreens or Dunkin’ Donuts.
The app leverages augmented reality to make navigation faster and easier, with users able to locate the closest charging stations within a 20-mile radius. Users can also enable turn-by-turn navigation to station locations and initiate a charging session.
When a driver gets to the station, then the user says “Control my car” and the station begins charging the vehicle. If there is a fee applicable, it is automatically billed to the user’s credit card.
Why It’s Hot
While the Google Glass is still in its early days, and people are just getting started in getting and using this device and figuring out its capabilities, electric vehicle owners are most likely early adopters anyways.
The big advantage to using the Google Glass is that the user need not take her hands off the wheel or her eyes off the road. And the app is also driven largely by voice commands.
Conde Nast Entertainment announced at NewFronts on Tuesday that it has launched a video distribution portal for quality media called The Scene. The new warehouse will curate premium digital-first video. In addition to Conde Nast, video providers for the new venture will include BuzzFeed, Major League Soccer, ABC News, Variety, Weather Channel Films and Jash.
Think of it as a Hulu for videos produced exclusively for digital-media platforms. The Scene “addresses a void in the marketplace,” Mr. Santarpia said. “There are plenty of large portals for user-generated content and cat videos, he explained, as well as sites that repurpose TV. The Scene is meant to showcase high-quality digital-native videos so they don’t lost in the ocean of TV shows and user-generated stuff.”
The Scene is Conde Nast effort to get their videos in front of enough people to satisfy advertisers. What’s missing, however, is exactly how Conde Nast Entertainment will drive viewers to The Scene, which rolls out in July.
Also, a comment about “so they don’t lost in the ocean of TV shows and user-generated stuff” – Today we mostly “search” the web (vs. surfing it). Also, tags feed algorithms to help us discover.
Buzz Opportunity: Can you imagine what Twitter, Facebook and other social channels are going to be like if Branson’s venture gets going for real? (e.g., Leo DiCaprio is on the list).
Crisis Management: Imagine everything that can go wrong — that’s why they probably awarded this project to PR shop Edelman.
Novel content / Location-based with steroids: Virgin Galactic is pioneering and creating a brand-new industry. They are documenting all of it.
To be(long) or not to be(long), that’s the real question: “You will be joining our community of over 600 future astronauts which has become one of the most exclusive clubs in the world! (…) Once confirmed, you’re given priority access to a variety of Virgin Galactic events. Our future astronauts have visited Necker Island with Sir Richard Branson, completed G-force training, celebrated milestone powered test flights in the Mojave Desert and much more.”
Lexus International is collapsing the distance between fan and engineer during the unveiling of its new compact SUV April 21 at the Beijing International Auto Show.
The automaker will extend its Twitter talks with the engineer, Takeaki Kato, behind the NX models so that discerning fans can get an insider’s look at the cars. Leading up to the debut, fans are invited to Tweet questions about the NX line with the hashtag #LexusInBeijing.
Mr. Kato will then pick out 10 questions to answer, two per day, throughout the conference in a rich-media format. The videos will then be posted on a dedicated page.
Through this simple engagement, Lexus is putting a face to the brand — demonstrating to fans that inquiries are taken seriously, and that an aspirational brand can also be approachable.
In the past, the engineer seemed to be wholly removed from the consumer, making it seem that new cars just spawned mysteriously from the brand. When an engineer with a passion for cars is introduced, it adds a face to the brand, increasing the chance for meaningful connections to be made.
On the flip side, rather than post direct response videos, the brand intends to edit them with additional footage so that they are more compelling – which may kill some of the “authenticity” enabled by this medium, while creating some distance with fans.
Land Rover is giving drivers a better sense of obstacles with invisible technology that renders the front of the car see-through.
For vehicles that drive on rugged terrain, the virtual imaging concept will help owners navigate more effectively. The “Transparent Bonnet” technology, along with a suite of other concepts, will be showcased at the New York Auto Show beginning April 16.
Fans are invited to join the conversation using the hashtag #ReadyToDiscover
Mechanics | The technology uses cameras on the grille to capture data that is fed to a “Head-Up Display.” When activated, the display allows the driver to peer through the front to see what is on the ground and the angle of the tires and make more informed movements.
A great example of technology with a purpose: that of improving the user experience.
Land Rover is world-renowned for its all terrain capability: Tight spots, pavements, rocks and ruts that can sometimes be ‘lost’ under the view of the bonnet will all be visible to the driver using the head up display inside the car.
Presumably, drivers will be liberated from the need to crane their necks out of windows and gamble on uncertain pushes of the peddle.
A fundraising event launching in New York claims to be the largest public deployment of Bluetooth-enabled beacons, giving participants in a citywide egg hunt a way to access clues, rewards and other information.
The Big Egg Hunt is being sponsored by Fabergé and will benefit two nonprofits: Studio in a School and Elephant Family. For the event, more than 200 egg sculptures, each created by a leading artist, designer or creative, have been placed around New York, with consumers encouraged to find and check-in at the eggs as well as bid on them via a mobile application (e.g., created by Diane von Furstenberg, Ronnie Wood, Marc Quinn and Bruce Weber).
Mechanics | Unlocking the clues
The eggs have been hidden in public places across all five boroughs of New York.
To participate in the egg hunt, consumers are encouraged to download Fabergé’s The Big Egg Hunt mobile app to unlock clues as they hunt for the eggs.
Using the app, consumers will be able to check in when they find an egg.
The location of a specific egg will remain a secret until 10 people have checked in for that egg. After that, the egg’s location will appear on a public interactive map.
The winners of the egg hunt will receive Fabergé jewelry valued in excess of $30,000.
The eggs will be gathered together for a free exhibit at Rockefeller Center from April 18 to April 25.
The event is being held in partnership with Sotheby’s, who will auction off the eggs at the end of the event on April 22, with the egg hunt ending on April 26.
Another interesting physical/digital play, leveraging: a) the city as a playground, b) art as content, c) gaming elements as engagement drivers, d) Bluetooth technology as an enabler, e) cause marketing as the hook and main reason to play…and f) bringing the tradition of an egg hunt into the modern age, allowing hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers to participate simultaneously.
Google’s new partnership with Italian eyewear maker Luxottica (Ray-Ban, Oakley) could be a turning point for the wearable technology, and it comes at time when Google is trying to convince more people to try it.
The Luxottica deal follows Google’s January agreement with vision-care giant VSP Global to offer prescription lenses, subsidized frames and training for optometrists on how to properly fit the device.
Andrea Guerra, CEO of Luxottica, and Astro Teller, Google’s ‘Captain of Moonshots’ Rolfe Winkler for The Wall Street Journal
Fashion meets technology, in another effort that proves that form and function can and should play together–and that partnerships are the way to go (Did Nikon & Cannon missed the smartphone boat?).
“Partnering with Luxottica is a huge coup for Google,” said J.P. Gownder, an analyst at Forrester Research who studies wearable-computing devices. “In one fell swoop, Google could get Glass in front of tens or hundreds of millions of consumers in an eyewear-appropriate setting.”
Luxottica’s extensive distribution will help with that. The Italian company led the market for eyewear in 2012 with 12.4% share, according to Euromonitor International. It also controls LensCrafters and Sunglass Hut retail stores among others. Those outlets will offer Google Glass products through more than 5,000 U.S. stores.
Google also is getting distribution help from VSP, which has a network of 30,000 eye doctors nationwide and 60 million people enrolled in its vision plans.
Outdoor gear and apparel retailer The North Face continues to see strong results from its use of natural language and voice-enabled search, helping its sites across mobile and desktop in several European counties to deliver a 35 percent increase in search conversion rate and 24 percent increase in revenue from search.
EasyAsk has been deployed across 11 sites in nine countries, including Britain, Germany, Netherlands, Sweden, France, Italy, Spain and Austria. As a result, visitors to these sites can use specific terms for what they are looking for in their local language as opposed to using traditional keyword search.
Voice-enabled on-site search makes sense on mobile because users are familiar with speaking into their smartphones. The problem is still accuracy–I keep getting “pizza places” recommendations from Siri, whenever I search for Dry Cleaners…
For on-the-go users who may be trying to find something quickly, natural language search means they can quickly and easily find what they are looking for without having to use a general keyword and then have to scroll through a lot of unrelated results.–I get it for public restrooms: bit how urgent is your need for a new “warm winter jacket”?
On Tatia Pilieva’s short film First Kiss, the premise is simple: Get 20 complete strangers to passionately kiss. Nothing more. The result: a beautiful black-and-white tribute to every first kiss you’ve ever had, brought to you by fashion brand Wren Studio.
Published on 3/10: 2.5 MM people have watched the film in just one day. + 16MM views by 3/11. +41.5MM by 3/12.
Heineken is inviting filmmakers to submit their concepts on Twitter for a chance at a screening during the Tribeca Film Festival. The #15secondpremiere campaign is part of Heineken’s continued sponsorship of the festival, and it offers a new social call-to-action that encourages people to submit their film concepts via Twitter.
Heineken will select one to produce as a 15-second short to premiere at a private event at the film festival.
South Korea’s Kakao (133 million registered users) pushes boundaries of social media by loading its application with features such as photo sharing, gaming and online shopping.
Its biggest moneymaking hit is Kakao’s gaming platform (South Korea is one of the most gaming-crazed countries in the world). Another big success is a service called “Plus Friend,” which allows users to become virtual friendswith retail brands, media outlets and celebrities. Through Plus Friend, participating brands and stars send a set number of monthly messages, coupons and real-time information to their followers—for a fee. Kakao also allows users to buy cartoon images to send to their friends, or to pay for real-world gifts, ranging from cups of Starbucks coffee to Swarovski AG diamond necklaces.
Facebook’s acquisition of messaging platform WhatsApp may be making all the headlines, but Asia has a host of apps that are, on the surface, more colorful and sophisticated (including commerce and gaming features). We call it “differentiation”, they call it “survival instinct,” (co-CEO Sirgoo Lee says).
The Walt Disney Studios has launched its much-anticipated cloud-based service that lets users purchase Disney, Marvel and Pixar movies for streaming on TVs, desktops and mobile devices. The Disney Movies Anywhere service, which is free, is closely integrated with Apple’s iTunes and is initially available only on iOS mobile devices.
Two years ago the company declined to participate in a digital movie storage and management system called UltraViolet, even though every other major film studio signed on. At the time, Disney was worried that families were not yet ready to embrace cloud storage technology. Also, UltraViolet developed partnerships with major digital movie retailers like Best Buy and Walmart, but lacked a direct tie to iTunes, which controls roughly 60 percent of digital movie purchases.
Today, digital movie libraries are becoming the modern-day equivalent of rec room shelves lined with DVDs. Disney Movies Anywhere aims to make collecting Disney films easier: buy a Disney, Marvel or Pixar movie once and watch it on any web-ready TV, mobile device or computer. Link your Apple iTunes accounts with the Disney Movies Anywhere website and app.