TV Commercials Keep Shrinking

Commercials of non-traditional lengths have been increasing. Almost 6% of all commercials are not 10-, 15-, 30-, or 60-seconds long during the first half of 2017, according to Nielsen’s 2017 Commercial & Advertising Update.

  • Avg. primetime commercial on broadcast last season: 14:37 seconds
  • Avg. primetime commercial on cable last season: 16:08 seconds

On TV, Fox debuted the first six-second ads earlier this year at the Teen Choice Awards for reportedly $75,000 each.

Online, social sites like Facebook and Snapchat are commissioning research that proves the effectiveness of ads in the first two seconds.

Why It’s Hot:

TV commercials struggle to reach the Millennial audience: Per Adobe’s latest Media Habits Survey, between 34% and 49% of viewers constantly use another screen when commercials are on TV and 79% of millennials are distracted by other devices during commercial breaks either “most of the time” or “all of the time.”

 

HBO and Steven Soderbergh Create a Show Within an App and Soon to Be Mini-Series

Director Steven Soderbergh’s latest project—an interactive smartphone app called Mosaic—promises viewers will be able to follow different characters’ points of view through an iOS app.  The six-part TV series will air in January 2018. But, before then, viewers can download an app from November that will enable them to choose a character and follow their specific experiences. Sort of a choose your own adventure style narrative.

Why It’s Hot:

With the advent of AR, VR, AI, Social, and whatever else we haven’t invented just yet the way we consume media will continue to shift dramatically. This gives creative types the ability to experiment with new ways of telling stories that are not what we have come to expect. Doing so will take a lot of time and effort but will ultimately break through with storytelling in ways we’ve never experienced before.

The app contains a 7-plus-hour miniseries about a mysterious death, but because viewers have some agency over what order they watch it in and which characters’ stories they follow, each scene—and the point at which it should be introduced—had to be meticulously planned so that no detail was revealed too late or too soon. The script for it is more than 500 pages long and was written after most of the story was laid out using all of those notecards. Soderbergh and his team have been working on it for years. Turns out it takes a lot of work to overhaul TV as we know it.

 

Animation Created with the Use of Virtual Reality

Despite having no prior knowledge of VR coding, artist James Paterson has invented ‘Norman’ – an open-source 3D illustration tool created using Google’s WebVR, Google’s JavaScript API, which enables artists to experiment with their own VR tools. His animations resemble a flipbook made up of stick characters darting between planes, created in three-dimensions using VR controllers and a headset.

Why It’s Hot:

We’ve often seen experiences using VR as a way for people to have a more immersive experience when consuming content. In this case, Paterson is using VR as a way to create content in the form of animation. Instead of drawing on paper and then translating that work to a program that a computer can read, he has created a way to use VR to do the animation directly into the software while keeping his natural movements of drawing intact.

“Norman is the animation tool that I’ve always wanted. I built it in JavaScript, it runs in a web browser and lets me animate naturally in 3D using VR controllers,” he says, explaining its simplicity.

HQ Provides a Glimpse Into the Future of Mobile Gaming and Live Video

Everyone reading this is playing HQ, right? It’s pretty amazing. A live trivia game is hardly anything new – dating back to not only television but radio! – but it’s very well done. And it feels like one of those things that is right place/right time.

HQ is a new live mobile trivia game for iOS from the creators of the late short-form video app Vine. Each day, at 3PM and 9PM ET, the app comes to life for around 13 minutes. A well-dressed host — either New York-based comedian Scott Rogowsky or British on-air personality Sharon Carpenter — then rattles off 12 multiple choice questions live on camera, while a busy live text chat flows at the bottom of the screen. Answer every question correctly and you’ll be one of a small handful of people that splits a $250 prize pool.

Why It’s Hot:

So much of technology in recent years has been about allowing us to connect on our own time, remotely. Perhaps counterintuitively, HQ works because it forces everyone to be playing the game at the exact same time. It’s thrilling in a way that no other social service has been able to provide. It challenges the “on demand” trend and focuses on getting everyone participating to the same thing, at the same time.

 

Facebook Testing Allows Marketers To See What People Are Saying

Facebook is soon going to let us peek inside the very innards of the Big Blue Factory and see exactly how it’s fueled – the deal here is that Facebook is apparently testing the ability to give marketers and the like the opportunity to analyze “what topics, themes, brands and products are being discussed.”

The beta test isn’t expected to be widely available until next year, according to people familiar with the offering who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss something Facebook hasn’t announced yet. Early ad partners, which include top agencies and media companies, are searching Facebook’s vast history of public posts to see what topics, themes, brands and products are being discussed. Users’ identities are withheld.

It’s all still very hush hush.

Why It’s Hot:

The new tool could help marketers see the social network in a whole new dimension, and even give them a broader understanding of their businesses, with data that informs them about trends in the industry and the consumer mindset.

Facebook has always been much less interested in the content of posts than how people respond to them. “On Facebook, you know everything about a person from their profile, what they liked and who they connect with,” says one agency executive in the test. “But Facebook is not good at knowing what people are saying, what they’re posting.”

Netflix Show Narcos Allows You To Build An Empire Within Facebook Messenger

To promote the new season of Narcos, Netfrecentlynlty launched Narcos: Cartel Simulator, a game created to be played fully within the Facebook Messenger app.

The game takes place in 1994, and the aesthetic was drawn from games designed for graphing calculators and other LCD screens in the ’90s.

In the new Messenger game, you play a small-time drug dealer who owes money to the Cali Cartel. It’s essentially a game of supply and demand, as you travel drug marketplaces around the world, trying to buy low and sell high.

Why It’s Hot:

Facebook Messenger is popular among mobile users and quite easy to build within making it a great platform to promote things like new television shows on. The Messenger interface is perfect for a game like this, with most options, served to users as text-only multiple choice. Despite the minimalism, there’s enough to keep you engaged and, in the opening gameplay, quite stressed about your fate if you fail to give the cartel its due.

 

Quartz News Is Using The iOS 11 To Bring AR To News Stories

Quartz News, the digital-focused arm of  Atlantic Media, has launched a nifty AR feature in their news stories thanks to the new updates to iOS11. Now in a select number of the daily stories featured in the Quartz News mobile app you will find augmented reality to help illustrate objects featured in a particular story. For instance, its coverage of the demise of the Cassini spacecraft is joined by a 3D model of the ship that users can examine as if it was physically in the same room with them.

Why It’s Hot: 

Of all the emerging technologies that companies have their eyes on, augmented reality seems to be the easiest to scale by way of mobile phones with no need for extras like headsets or glasses. Apple CEO, Tim Cook believes that many people will “have AR experiences every day, almost like eating three meals a day. It will become that much a part of you,” Cook predicted at a tech conference last year.

Quartz News sees this as an opportunity to bring news stories to life in ways that users have never experienced before. “In the same way we can use images and emoji and gifs to bring alive the stories we’re sharing, we think we can use AR to help people understand objects in the news,” John Keefe, head of Quartz’s Bot Studio, adding that the tech could also be used to illustrate stories with 3D landscapes, models of landmarks and historic structures, or even data visualizations.

Monetize Web Traffic By Using It To Mine BitCoins

The Pirate Bay, a torrent website, experimented with getting site visitors to mine the cryptocurrency Monero with their browser over the weekend, without their knowledge.

The experiment was implemented to see if web traffic along with some code could in fact mine for bitcoins and to ultimately replace Pirate’s Bay banner ads. Upon discovering the surreptitious mining, people were understandably upset: Cryptocurrency mining can slow down your computer.

The service in question is Coin Hive and it allows users to embed JavaScript miners in their website as a side source of revenue, so the service in itself is not bad or evil. The problem with The Pirate Bay is that they have introduced the JavaScript code of the miner without letting any of the visitors know, so people started noticing that when they open the website their CPU load skyrockets and were obviously concerned.

Why It’s Hot:

As more and more ad-blockers are downloaded sites will continue to look for technology that can help them monetize with very little ask from the consumer. If more sites are more transparent with users about lending their CPU energy to mine bitcoins, then users might be willing to make the trade. The user will receive no ads and the publisher will receive revenue. A positive trade-off for both parties.

FOX Sports and NFL Testing 6 Second Commercials

A new kind of advertising is coming to N.F.L. games and other programs on Fox Sports this fall: the six-second television commercial.

The ads will be placed inside the usual commercial blocks of standard 15- to 30-second ads, but also during shorter breaks between plays. FOX first tested the format on its broadcast of the Teen Choice Awards in mid-August.

“When the six-second ads are placed in unique positions, it has the potential to gain even more attention than a traditional unit,” FOX Sports president Eric Shanks told Sapna Mahewshwari of the New York Times.

As applied to NFL games, this could happen when officials are huddling to determine a ruling on the field and during the replay review process. It also could happen during short time outs taken by a team not to regroup but to simply stop the clock.

VIDEO EXAMPLE — scroll down within article to see video example

Why it’s HOT:

People are tired of the legacy TV commercial formats and have shown they aren’t capturing the attention they once were. Mobile devices, DVR’s, and other technologies have made it easier for people to turn their attention elsewhere. Time will tell whether or not the six-second ad is effective but at least networks and marketers are showing signs of a willingness to innovate and try something new.

Joe Marchese, Fox Networks Group’s president of advertising revenue, said the format was an important step forward for the company and its advertising partners.

“We have already been collaborating with brands and agencies that understand the need to evolve the model. They are the ones that are going to receive the prime attention and get ahead, leaving behind those that try to make everything fit a legacy TV-buying model.”

The Countdown Begins…AI Versus the World

AI is continuing to rule the press headlines across all industries. No matter who you are or what you do, your life will somehow be affected by artificial intelligence. Below are just a few charts recently published by the Electronic Frontier Foundation on how quickly AI is catching up with humans.


Why It’s Hot:

Artificial intelligence will continue to get better over time. So much so that Researchers at Oxford and Yale  predict AI will outperform humans in many activities in the next ten years, such as translating languages (by 2024), writing high-school essays (by 2026), driving a truck (by 2027), working in retail (by 2031), writing a bestselling book (by 2049), and working as a surgeon (by 2053). Researchers believe there is a 50% chance of AI outperforming humans in all tasks in 45 years and of automating all human jobs in 120 years.

Ear Buds That Translate In Real-Time

The gadget straight out of science fiction has come to life, and all you need are WaverlyLab’s Pilot earpieces and a smartphone app. Designed as a pair of linked earpieces, Pilot connects to an app that uses speech recognition and machine translation to convert spoken language. It removes the awkwardness of phrase books or smartphone apps by playing a translated version directly to the listener. Strong dialects or local accents, however, could pose difficulties, but Waverly Labs claims the machine translation will improve with use.

Why It’s Hot:

To start with, it will be able to translate English, Spanish, French, Italian and Portuguese, and the company plans to add more languages later on. Even if it lags and stutters, Waverly Labs’s Pilot is a remarkable invention that could change what it means to be a student, tourist, immigrant, and refugee. It could allow for more substantive engagement with the world.

 

 

Amazon Goes Offline with a Physical Bookstore

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

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

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

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

Why It’s Hot:

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

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

Apple and Google to Implement Ad Blocker in Web Browsers

On Monday, Apple at its developer conference that it will start blocking autoplay videos on its Safari web browser and will add a feature that stops ad tracking technology from using a user’s web behavior to target ads to them.

Google also reportedly will officially move ahead with its Chrome ad blocker sometime next year and will block any site which hosts ad units that don’t adhere to a set of third-party standards — basically, most sites on the Internet. The Financial Times also reported that Google is creating a feature that will allow publishers to charge users who use ad-blockers on a page-per-view basis.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why It’s Hot:

Safari (10%) and Chrome (51%) make up most of the desktop search market in the U.S., according to comScore, and over 68% of mobile traffic in the U.S., which means that their efforts to curb ads that damage user experience will have a significant impact on the marketplace. These changes will force publishers to develop new advertising techniques.

Immediately following the announcement by Apple, ad retargeting firm Criteo’s stocks tumbled. Earlier this year, Terry Kawaja, Founder and CEO of media and technology firm LUMA Partners, said consolidation in the ad tech space (mostly driven by policy changes and user demands) will cause 90% of the companies to go out of business.

Warby Parker Just Made Getting A Prescription A Lot Easier

Usually, completing a vision test for new glasses requires a trip to the optometrist and the glasses store.  Warby Parker, which started out as a try-before-you-buy mail-order eyeglasses company, is currently looking to use devices you already have in your home to help you get a new pair of glasses without having to drive to a doctor. If you have an expired vision prescription, you can use an iPhone, a computer and about 12 feet of space to find out if your vision has changed since your last exam.

VIDEO HERE!

Why It’s Hot:

Warby Parker has been working on this technology since 2015, while other companies, like Smart Vision Labs, have found ways to use mobile phones for in-store eye exams in 2016. It is not a substitute for a comprehensive eye exam if your vision has changed since your last one, but those of us who just want to grab a new pair of frames based on a still-valid expired prescription can do so from the comfort of our own home.

Hey, Uncle Sam! Where’d the money go?

Government data is available, but it’s not exactly accessible. A new project from former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and Seattle design studio Artefact aim to change that. Called USAFacts, it’s an ambitious, $10 million effort to present government data in a way that’s open, non-partisan, and stupidly easy to understand. The website, launching today, organizes 30 years of data from more than 70 local, state, and federal government agencies into a well-designed, centralized hub that its creators hope will give people a clearer picture of how the government makes and spends money. Annual reports and quarterly reports will be created as the project matures.

The project is funded by Ballmer and ran with the support of Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research, UPenn’s Wharton school of business, and Lynchburg College.

Why It’s Hot:

It’s a worthy mission and one that’s been hamstrung in the past by shoddy organization and presentation. Ballmer’s platform makes it easier to find the governmental data you’re looking for—and the data you didn’t know you were looking for. Now it’s just up to the people to make use of it.

“I just think it’s important if you are going to make your case, for you to make your case in the context of numbers,” Ballmer said. “Here are the numbers. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist. You don’t have to be an economist. You decide what you believe. And when things come up that you need to vote on, you need to opine on; you’ll have the view of a citizen that’s informed by facts.”

Imagining What Radio of the Third Reich Would Be Like

The Man in the High Castle is an Amazon Original series based on Philip K. Dick’s novel of the same name, which imagines what the world (America, in particular) might look like if the Axis powers had won World War II.

To promote the show, Amazon Studios – the company’s film and series production arm – created a radio station that airs music and commentary from the world of The Man in the High Castle. Resistance Radio features four hours of original audio narrative from hosts broadcasting messages of hope and rebellion for an America ruled by Japan and Nazi Germany’s Axis powers

Why It’s Hot:

The immersive, transmedia experience takes an element of the series – the music – to bring the show to life. The music is recorded and performed the way music pre-1960 would have been. It also includes interludes and radio hosts promoting and/or speaking out against the fictional government to imitate the feeling of the show. Amazon has also taken into account the producers (Dangermouse/Sam Cohen) and artists (Beck, The Shins, Sharon Von Etten) of the music which lean a bit more indie and young to try and attract a younger audience that may not already be familiar with the show.

Android Instant Apps Made Available for Testing

Generally, to use an app on a mobile device, you first need to download and install it. With Instant Apps, an app can run right away — similar to loading a web page — without having to go through the installation process.

Google says that it has been working with a small number of developers to test the user and developer experience over the last few months. The result is a limited test that includes apps from BuzzFeed, Wish, Periscope and Viki. Google plan to roll-out instant apps to more developers once they have collected enough feedback from their current partners.

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Why It’s Hot:

“Instant Apps is really about re-thinking where apps are going,” saysGoogle VP of Engineering for Android Dave Burke “Web pages are ephemeral. They appear, you use them, and never think about them again.” Installing apps, on the other hand, comes with a lot of friction and users often only want to perform a single action or get a specific piece of information (say pay for parking with an app in a city you don’t often travel to). Ideally, Instant Apps gives you the speed of a light web page with all of the benefits of a native app.

Behind the Scenes on how Facebook collects your data

Curious about how Facebook uses machine learning algorithms use your data to gain insights about your personality? Install this chrome extension to get your Data Selfie. The extension allows users to see exactly how Facebook tracks your user behavior data and feeds that into machine learning algorithms to learn more about your personality traits.

Why it’s hot:

Most people know that online sites, apps, and experiences are always collecting data on its users but most don’t know how or what that data is being used for. This helps visualize the data collection tools and the ways in which it is being used to shape the online world around you.

Now is the most exhilarating time to be a circle

The future of design is circular. IDEO has created a new guide for designers that encourages them to create products that stay in closed loops and business models that discourage waste.

Designers are traditionally part of the linear economy—creating products from raw materials that would eventually end up in a landfill. But they’re beginning to consider the entire system and design products with materials that can be used in closed loops.

Why its HOT:

IDEO tends to be on the forefront of design and methods of applying it to develop new products and services. There is some merit to thinking about ways in which you can reduce waste while also keeping users using your product or service over time without needing to search for something new. For instance, when Philips designed its light-as-a-service model, it created custom light fixtures with components that can be individually replaced, saving material and making the lights last as much as 75% longer.

“Effective circular design looks beyond a single product lifecycle for a single user, to designing a bigger system—one that creates more value by enabling multiple usages and users of that material.” – Chris Grantham

Amazon GO Shopping

Amazon Go is a new kind of store with no checkout required. Amazon has created the world’s most advanced shopping technology so shoppers never have to wait in line. With Amazon’s Just Walk Out Shopping experience, simply use the Amazon Go app to enter the store, take the products you want, and go! No lines, no checkout.

Why It’s Hot:

By eliminating much of the staff needed to operate a store, Amazon keeps costs lower than traditional competitors. It’s also in a strong position to bring together data on its customer’s shopping habits online and offline to make better suggestions in all situations.

The experiment could also be seen as a new technology platform that Amazon could offer retail businesses after working out all of the kinks.  Similar to the way Amazon Web Service provides hosting for sites like Netflix and Adobe, Amazon Go will provide patent-protected technology infrastructure for “self-shopping” brick and mortar stores.

Health App And Uber Team Up To Get You To The Clinic On Time

Practo, the most popular doctor search engine in Asia, has teamed up with ride-sharing company Uber. The collaboration enables the Practo app users to book an Uber vehicle in advance through a reminder issued for their medical appointments. Upon booking, the Uber driver will be given the destination of the medical appointment, while users can see the estimated fare and waiting time. Practo, is initially running the partnership with Uber as a pilot in Singapore, India, Indonesia and the Philippines

 

 

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Why It’s Hot:

When building useful digital tools it is best to integrate with what already currently exists in digital and find ways to tightly integrate that within your own service. Thus, avoiding the need to build anything new. By integrating Uber within the Practo digital platform, the company is able to easily relieve the pressure of getting to and from a doctor’s office or clinic, which is often a pain point for the elderly and sick. This tight integration also helps position Practo as being on the patient’s side, considering not just their medical needs but the entire experience of visiting a doctor.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Internet of Things Recruits Basketball Players

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Wilson Sporting Goods is bringing a traditional brand name to the world of smart basketballs, and the company’sWilson X Connected Basketball is significantly unlike anything else out there. Wilson’s ball simply uses a sensor inside of it and some heavily tested algorithms to magically track your baskets and bricks.  The ball has a Bluetooth radio, low-power processor, and three-axis accelerometer inside of it, and it uses machine learning and some proxy processing by the cloud and a connected phone to calculate shot percentage and the shooter’s distance from the hoop. The ball communicates with a mobile application that helps turn shooting into a game while also visualizing your shots made based on the data feed from the ball. It comes at a cost of $200 per ball.

Why It’s Hot:

This just adds more entertainment beyond shooting a basketball. It actually turns the process into a game against yourself to beat your previous score. As a sports fan, it’s exciting to see sports manufacturers dip into using the IOT to give their products more usage while also creating new games around the sports they are manufacturing for.

Tesla Allows For Owners To Upgrade To “Ludicrous” Mode

Tesla announced a new “Ludicrous Mode” for its top-of-the-line Model S P85. The new mode reduces the 0-60 MPH time to 2.8 seconds with a quarter mile time of 10.9 seconds. The front engine now has 259 hp while the rear engine is pushing 503 hp. That’s impressive. The new electronics pack that makes Ludicrous Mode possible for the Model S will cost new owners an additional $10,000. Current owners will be able to upgrade their vehicle for $5,000 for the next six months

img_3153Why Its Hot:

This begins to change how we think about cars and purchase life of cars. Right now, cars are not an every two-year purchase like most technology is. Consumers are much more likely to hold on to a car purchase for a much longer time. So, how can the car manufacturer deliver a product that can keep up with technology without having to rethink the entire car? In this case it’s just an upgrade to the battery and a download of software that updates the engine. similar to a phone that continually can be upgraded through app and software updates.

The Most Popular Apps In America

According to a report from comScore, below are the most popular mobile applications in the United States.

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Versus last year (2014)

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(source: Atlas)

Why It’s Hot:

  • Google and Facebook dominate: the top 7 of 8 apps used are owned by Google or Facebook. The one outlier being Pandora, a music streaming service.
  • No Games: there are no games making the list as a top 25 used application. This could be due to the amount of games available which doesn’t allow for one game to dominate usage.
  • Microsoft is absent: Currently Microsoft is not creating application appealing enough for it to rank in the top 25. Skype was on the 2014 list but has since fallen off.
  • YouTube is quite popular: people love video and the one channel that does it best ranks high in popularity.

 

JFK To Show Wait Times Based On Cell Phone Monitoring

John F. Kennedy airport, one of the world’s largest and busiest airports located in New York City, now has 13 screens in Terminal 4 that present traveler processing times. The wait times are driven by beacons positioned at TSA Security and Customs, Border Protection checkpoints, and the indoor taxi queue, which anonymously monitor passenger’s mobile devices as they move through the airport. The system, which was installed by Blip systems and Lockheed Martin, uses sensors which monitor the movement of passengers’ mobile phone through the airport: any wifi or bluetooth devices in ‘discoverable’ mode can be tracked. Each device is automatically given a unique ID and encrypted and time-stamped when it passes an initial beacon. Then, when the same device is recognized at later beacons, the system records how long that journey has taken.

Checkpoint-JFKWhy It’s Hot:

Using the technology available to us to cut down on simple tasks like understanding wait times is incredibly useful and efficient. In the past, cameras and stopwatches were used to manually track how long it took fliers to get through lines. The data this methodology created was often inconsistent. Making sense of the data available in a visually useful way will not only cut down on a miserable travel experience but also help the airport understand when and where bottlenecks are created to better prepare for the future design of terminals and airports.

“We’re probably reaching 19.5 million passengers this year in total. It’s a big operation, which is why we’re introducing innovations to enhance the operations of the building. This new system will help us manage and eliminate problem spots within the facility, and sharing the processing time with our travelers will provide them with peace of mind so they may continue to expect a pleasant travel experience. Additionally, data from travelers’ phones could eventually influence future airport design,” says Gert-Jan de Graaff, President and CEO of JFKIAT.

 

Mobile Live Streaming Becomes A Powerful New Medium

Live-streaming services like Meerkat, Periscope, and Facebook offer new marketing opportunities by combining the excitement of live events with the personal engagement of mobile. Live-streaming is nothing new, but these three services have helped push live-streaming into the hands of users on their mobile devices. The ease of point and shoot in addition to 4G networks and the proliferation of WiFi have helped give these services the means to thrive and deliver these streaming services. Just recently, Periscope announced that they have 10 million user accounts. What’s more interesting is the time viewed on the Periscope platform is at about 40 years of video watched per day and steadily growing. In addition to mobile, Periscope is seeing lots of views take place on their web-based destination, Periscope.tv.

The mobile players are growing fast: Periscope, Meerkat, Facebook, Rhinobord, Yeplive, Ustream, Younow, Hang, and Stringwire. Plus, YouTube already offers the ability to live stream from a desktop – and it’s likely that it will introduce the functionality on its mobile app soon.

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(Source: Periscope)

Why It’s Hot:

These mobile services are still in their infancy and live streaming is growing but remains a small percentage of the video we consume on the web. However, they do open the door for brands and users to create inexpensive pieces of communication that can scale quickly. Which means brands and creators can reach new audiences that they maybe were not able to reach before. Simply another way for people to experiment and find new ways to create things that people are interested in.

 

Google Helps Nudge People Toward Solar Power

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(Source: Google Project Sunroof)

A team of Google engineers just released a tool called Project Sunroof to help users understand the sun your roof gets and the benefits of installing solar panels to capture that energy. They adapted the high-resolution aerial maps from Google Earth to estimate the total sunlight a rooftop receives throughout the year. The tool then tells you how much you can expect to save with solar panels under different financing plans (you can plug in your current electric bill for a more refined calculation) and connects you with local companies that do installations.

Why It’s Hot:

This tool is certainly valuable for anyone thinking about a solar panel installation, and for anyone who wants to know whether he or she should be thinking about it. It’s a potentially valuable tool for Google as well since those suggestions for companies to install solar panels for you are sponsored by the companies themselves. In other words, Google is giving you a tool with unbiased information to point you in the direction of a service (paid advertiser) that can help you with the install. Providing a simple to use service that helps solve a problem or overcome a barrier leads to a better customer experience and ultimately a purchase.

 

Cymbal – A New Music Discovery App

Music discovery is desperately in need of simplification. In the quest to stay on the pulse of the best new music, we’ve created a cycle of information overload that even the most dedicated of fans can’t keep up with.

Enter Cymbal, an elegant new music discovery app designed with simplicity at its core and powered by the most ancient and trusted source of information: friends.

Based on the idea that music suggestions from friends carry more weight than do recommendations from service-driven algorithms, Cymbal lets its users do the heavy lifting. In the app, each user chooses just one song to display to followers at a time, creating a constantly updating playlist of his or her favorite music.Cymbal_640

(source Forbes)

Why It’s Hot:

The app doesn’t threaten other music services but instead complements them. In the same way you’d upload an album of vacation photos to Facebook and the best one to Instagram, you create a whole playlist on Spotify and set the best one as your Cymbal. The app already syncs with Spotify and SoundCloud. If you discover a song you love, you can add it to your Spotify library and like it on SoundCloud directly through the app. The app does not host any music, it just provides an interface to better integrate all music services into one nice feed.

 

Google Search Now Shows You The Busiest Times At Local Businesses

Google is adding a new feature to it search engine that shows you the busiest times of the week for a bunch of different places and businesses. This should make it a little easier to avoid the crowds.

The company anonymously collects data from users of its Google Maps application in order to inform Google of things like traffic patterns and conditions. Similarly, that GPS-backed technology is now working to provide this business-level data as well.

“Much like we compute traffic data based on the anonymized aggregated movement of people on the road, we are able to determine relatively how busy a place is,” Google says.

Google Search Now Shows You the Busiest Times at Local Businesses

(source: Google)

Why It’s Hot:

For business owners, this new data could be helpful in giving them an improved understanding of their own traffic patterns and busiest hours – at least in a general sense. Though many business owners use traffic counters and other tools to get a more accurate idea of their daily customer visits, Google’s data can provide an additional lens for which business owners can compare their data to.

Mapping The Globe Using Three Words

A new mapping service, called What3Words, could spell the end of postal codes while being the perfect partner for voice-activated search.

The unique three-word codes are accurate to two meters and are a result of What3Words dividing the world into 57 trillion three-meter squared boxes and giving each one a code using three words from the English dictionary.

For example, the code “planet.inches.most” takes you to the Statue of Liberty.

Using the Google Maps API, What3words serves up a Web, Android and iOS app, each letting you search for and identify locations based around, well, three words. It’s touted as a new universal address system, designed to make it easier, and more accurate, to describe exact locations anywhere on Earth.

Why It’s Hot:

In some parts of the world, the idea is already bearing fruit. The Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro contains the largest shanty town or favela in the country – the district of Rocinha, home to about 70,000 people. Because of the haphazard way in which the area originally developed, its sprawling maze of lanes and alleys has never been subject to a proper system of addresses.

In places where people have no other viable way of identifying where they live, it is likely to prove a useful way of getting on the local authorities’ radar, especially as internet-based services pick up on it and build it into their systems.