Launching this week, Royal Caribbean is launching an online tool that turns user images into mini-videos with original music assembled by AI and inspired by the images themselves.
A picture from a botanical garden, of red flowers and green leaves, generates two bars of smooth jazz. An elaborate piece of graffiti on a brick wall renders into a crunching hip-hop beat.
The machine-learning process entailed more than 600 hours in which Royal Caribbean and a team of musicians and technologists reviewed hundreds of music tracks along with 10,000 photos, matching each of the 2.5 million combinations to one of 11 moods.
The A.I. in SoundSeeker uses Google Cloud Vision to identify objects, facial expressions and colors in a user’s photo by referencing the roadmap developed by the leaders in music theory at Berklee.
Why it’s hot
Tourism industry is always at the forefront of individualization beyond personalization by making something so personal and making it truly unique.
Book an appointment with your local divorce registration office with the click of one button. Chinese messaging platform WeChat launched a new service that allows couples to file for divorce straight from the app. Only available to users in the Guangdong province for now, the feature is planned for a nationwide roll out.
Why it’s hot:
Messaging apps have become end-to-end lifestyle ecosystems and with 1.8 Billion messenger app users demanding new products and services, they offer immense opportunities for brands.
Winning trend-driven innovators understand – and then stay laser-focused on – the needs and wants of their customers. And then use those needs and wants to guide to which platforms, devices and technologies to innovate around. – Trend Watching
The Wakino Ad Company is literally turning heads with it’s out of the box new product offering. It is now placing advertising in the armpits of young women. Armpit rentals start at about 10,000 yen (S$120) an hour. No word on what the ad wearer gets.
Wakino is owned by a Japanese brand that specializes in armpit beauty products and has already snagged its first client, a dermatology chain advertising painless underarm hair removal.
They are recruiting for aspiring models on their site, are open to male models as well, and even organizing an armpit beauty contest.
Why It’s Hot
Because it shows the importance of matching product to placement.
This game show will not only let you root for strangers looking to reduce their debt, it will let you learn the stories behind each contestant, like whether they were the first in their family to go to college.
Yes, you can wipe out your student loans with the show. And yes, you have to pay taxes on your winnings, but when all is said and done, the show plans to give away about 500K to over 60 people.
Series premier July 10th on TruTV
Why it’s hot:
Because student loans are a real problem! It’s good to see a show where the goal is not consumerism, but fiscal responsibility.
Why it’s not:
Because students shouldn’t be forced to indebt themselves for an education, especially with how ridiculously expensive it has become.
In a residential neighborhood in Japan, dogs have become a popular attraction. In particular the “Three Shibas of Shimabara”, are causing a sensation. The endearing pups regularly peek through holes in the wall.
According to the South China Morning Post, their owner built the 18 holes they pop their heads through to let them satisfy their curiosity of the outside world. Now that the area is thriving with tourists, the man has put up an equally adorable sign.
It reads: “We’ll get upset stomachs, so please don’t feed us.”
In other parts of Japan, other dog owners have made similar viewing areas for their pups.
For more dogs popping their heads through walls, click here.
Why it’s hot:
These dogs get to have a life outside of their own.
Colombians have struggled with a negative perception of their country for decades. Shows like Narcos, which distort the country’s history continue to perpetuate misconceptions. In collaboration, the mayor’s office of Medellin, Bancolombia and El Colombiano have created a series of videos aimed at fighting stereotypes with stereotypes.
Why it’s hot:
Turns a negative into a positive, capitalizes on the spotlight that the entertainment industry has placed on Narco culture, and it’s funny.
April 26th is International Chart Day. You may not have heard of it as it’s being celebrated for the first time this year.
A day-long celebration was scheduled for Thursday. The event and the day are sponsored by Tumblr and the Society for news and design in collaboration with the office of U.S. Rep Mark Takano.
What is the purpose of ICD?
Although charts and other information graphics are important tools for making complex information simple, they are very often be misinterpreted. Whether that’s due to conveying false or misleading information or being too complicated, the goal of the day is to help people become better data, information, and news consumers.
To this end, they shall:
1. Celebrate charts and infographics of all types;
2. Help the public understand how to read charts and gain useful insights from them;
3. Help chart makers of all levels understand the necessary components of a truthful chart;
4. Encourage the wider usage and adoption of charts;
5. Combat the spread of fake news by making the public smarter consumers of information.
Check out the website, where you can see the full manifesto. Below, their resolution:
Also, check out this video which really explains the problem the chart day organizers are trying to combat:
Sounds impossible, right? Well for this pair of robots it’s not. After 3 long years, a research team in Singapore has successfully taught a pair of robots to build an Ikea Chair.
They are not the first to build furniture, but the only previous contender was back in 2003 when MIT robots built a simple Lack table.
“And while a robot can be programmed to do a single assembly-line task efficiently, mastering all of the small tasks that IKEA assembly requires is a bigger challenge. Some of the same things humans struggle with, like fiddling with bags of screws, dowels, and doodads while trying to distinguish the slight variations in shape, are also difficult for robots.”
Their next goal is to go from teaching the robot ‘HOW to do it’, they want it to reason ‘WHAT to do’.
This AI will not just save time and stress, it can also save marriages. “The dynamics of flatpack furniture assembly contain a minefield of relationship conflict triggers, to the point where IKEA-related conflicts come up with surprising frequency in marriage counseling sessions.”
Amazon is filing for new patents. Not for a therapy drone, but a delivery drone that responds when you call or wave at it. The concept drone is designed to recognize human gestures, and then respond accordingly. Gestures the drone would recognize include, for example, waving arms, pointing, the flashing of lights, and speech.
“The human recipient and/or the other humans can communicate with the vehicle using human gestures to aid the vehicle along its path to the delivery location,” the patent states. The patent gives an example of a “shooing” motion, which the drone would recognize and stop moving closer. The drone would also then adjust its speed and the direction it’s moving in. If a person waves their arms in a welcoming manner, the drone can interpret the gesture as an instruction to deliver the package.
There’s no word on when or even whether the gesture-recognition system might debut. Amazon declined to comment.
Why it’s hot:
It’s the evolution of drone delivery. Human-machine interaction is changing as devices need to cater to individual needs.
L’Oreal group is buying Canadian beauty technology company ModiFace, as it tries to expand its digital offerings. Specializing in AR and AI, ModiFace builds products that tap into the beauty industries’ growing need for digital solutions. The purchase is meant to be a foundation for reinventing the beauty experience in the years to come.
L’Oreal is not a stranger to innovation, they have already launched tech-savvy items like sensory brushes that tell you how to care for your hair and phone apps for virtual testing.
ModiFace’s technology also extends to services such as skin diagnosis.
Why It’s Hot:
Competition is fierce in every industry, finding ways to grow business ecosystems to stay ahead of the curve will only become more prevalent.
The OECD runs time-use surveys, to identify the ways women and men spend their time. It’s no surprise women do way more unpaid work than men, but what is surprising is that countries considered progressive still have significant differences in time spent doing things like chores and taking care of children.
“When it comes to time spent on well-being, including eating and drinking, sleeping, and personal care, the gap between the sexes is much smaller. Not surprisingly, French and Italian women and men spend a lot of time on how they look (it shows—they usually look great). French women take top marks for the daily time spent on personal care, with a whopping 113 minutes, compared with 70 minutes for American women.”
Why It’s Hot:
Gathering and analysing this data can help quantify gender inequality issues. Understanding how and where we spend our time can help us find ways to balance the scale.
Since 2014, when the “right to be forgotten” was court ordered by the European Union, there have been 650K requests to Google to remove certain websites from its search results. This week, Google released a research paper that outlines the types of requests that were submitted.
Most of the requests were to remove five or fewer URLs from its search results. In all, Google says it received requests to remove more than 2.43 million URLs since the end of May 2014, and it has removed about 43 percent of them.
In May 2014 the Court of Justice of the European Union ordered Google and other search engines operating in the area to allow individuals to ask the sites to delist specific search results tied to a person’s name if the information is “inadequate, irrelevant or excessive”.
89% of requests came from private individuals.
Social media sites, directories, news articles and government pages make up the bulk of links being requested for removal.
A little more than half of requests came from France, Germany and the UK
The underlying information on a third-party website is not deleted in this instance, but it becomes much more difficult to find if it no longer appears in Google’s search results. The underlying information on a third-party website is not deleted in this instance, but it becomes much more difficult to find if it no longer appears in Google’s search results.
How do they decide whether to delete or not:
“Determining whether content is in the public interest is complex and may mean considering many diverse factors, including—but not limited to—whether the content relates to the requester’s professional life, a past crime, political office, position in public life, or whether the content is self-authored content, consists of government documents, or is journalistic in nature.”
Why it’s hot:
In the end, the responsibility to determine what’s in the public interest is placed on a private company, a burden, but also a huge responsibility.
The race is on to develop electronics that explode, melt, liquify, evaporate, or otherwise self-destruct on command.
“… gadgets that self-destruct so completely you can’t even tell they were ever there? And what if those gadgets weren’t Peter Graves’s reel-to-reel tape recorders or Tom Cruise’s exploding sunglasses, but all manner of wearables, smartphones, laptops, and even drones?
The Pentagon is working on devices for soldiers and spies that can explode, melt, liquify, evaporate, or otherwise self-destruct on command, on a schedule, or under specific environmental conditions. Tech companies and research universities are working on such technologies, too.
Apparently not! In the days leading to Valentine’s day, the world found different ways to express it’s love from country to country.
Tenor, a search engine for GIFs provided Quartz with data to help identify how people in 45 countries were using animated images to express their emotions. “Valentine’s Day searches were dominated by—as you might expect—the quest for love. But other voices were heard as well, including those searching for “Galentines” (the holiday to celebrate female friendships on Feb. 13), “single,” “forever alone,” “missyou, “eyeroll,” and “50 shades”—all of which saw a spike in activity”
Their methodology for data collection: 6.1 billion GIF searches and shares from 45 countries between Oct. 2017 and Jan. 2018, using data gathered from Whatsapp and Tenor GIF Keyboard application GIF searches and shares.
Here are a sample of some of the most-searched and -shared GIFs for various emotions, by country, according to Tenor:
Why It’s Hot
People like GIFs a-lot. In 2017 300 million people used 2 billion GIFs every day. Understanding how GIFs are used as a form of communication is crucial to brands hoping to capture cultural moments that put their brand in front of millions, but understanding cultural nuances can help global marketers and advertisers win.
Last week, The Wall Street Journal published an article with the title, “Stop Using Excel, Finance Chiefs Tell Staff.” Makes sense, seeing as there are newer applications (even from Microsoft Cloud Solutions) that are better and more accurate. However, hundreds of people went crazy. A majority of financial excel users refuse to let go of their precious spreadsheets while a minority shared fantasies of pressing CTRL+X and deleting the program from their workflows forever.
Unicode, responsible for standardizing the way computers around the world display characters and dropping new sets of emojis, is in discord around none other but the poop emoji.
Memos from Unicode contributors have surfaced regarding the addition of more poop emojis. Of note are memos from two typographers who feel that Unicode is losing sight of its mission and is becoming too lazy in its emoji approval process.
The proposal in question posits that “the smiley poo is intended to convey irony, while “the FROWNING POO emoji would allow users to discuss unfortunate things that are indeed shitty or that they are unable to joke about yet.” Some examples of its usage in an emoji sequence include:
FROWNING POO emoji + UMBRELLA WITH RAINDROPS emoji = Shitstorm
CHURCH + FROWNING POO emoji = Holy Shit “
But Michael Everson and Andrew West say that the idea that, “…5 committees would sanction further cute graphic characters based on this should embarrass absolutely everyone who votes yes on such an excrescence…” Both men argue that this is the beginning of a slippery slope in which Unicode will have to provide ridiculous options such as, “CRYING PILE OF POO, PILE OF POO WITH LOOK OF TRIUMPH, PILE OF POO SCREAMING IN FEAR”.
Why it’s hot:
Emojis are part of how we communicate and will continue to become more ubiquitous. So, do we go the route of allowing our new way of communication to become silly or do we focus on standardizing this new “alphabet” with seriousness?
“Aside from a couple of visual tells—subtle patches of raised stitches and a plastic button on its cuff—the Levi’s Commuter Trucker looks exactly like what you’d expect from the 144-year-old brand: a timeless jean jacket that keeps you warm while looking cool. But appearances deceive. The jacket is actually an interface between you and your phone. Brush, tap, or cover the right spot and you can answer or ignore calls, switch up your music, or get travel-time updates, all without looking at a screen.”
Creating durable conductive thread. Tech is treated with gloves, textiles are meant to endure tough situations from being exposed to fire (to remove extra cotton fibers) to heated presses and pre-skewing (Levi’s process where toothed grips latch and torque the fabric).
Figuring out how the wearer would interact with the interface, which is stitched onto the sleeve). “Levi’s and Google arrived at four main motions: brush in, brush out, tap, or cover the connected area. The actions are subtle enough so you can silence an incoming phone call during a conversation and it just looks like you’re brushing dust off your sleeve.”
Although relatively primitive, the gestures don’t do much more than what the remote control on earbuds, this is a starting point.
Why it’s hot:
Because although voice-based interactions are becoming more an more prevalent (Siri or Alexa), touch still has an important role to play in our future interactions with new technology meant to disrupt and replace our screens.
Dust, a new app, aims to change you save your spare change.
By connecting to your bank account, Dust can see your transactions and round up each of those to the nearest dollar. Like Acorn, it collects spare change. Once you have reached about $10 dollar worth, the amount is used to buy bitcoin, litecoin, or ethereum, in proportions set by the user. The cryptocurrencies are acquired through Coinbase, one of the biggest firms in the business. Additionally, the bank does not have access to the crypto funds.
The concept is powerful because it removes the need to think—or worry—about the right time to pull the trigger on an investment. It’s especially useful for volatile cryptocurrencies, where prices can swing 100% in a week.
This morning, at about 7:55 am, the Cassini spacecraft vaporized, on purpose, into Saturn’s atmosphere. For 4 decades Cassini had been orbiting Saturn and its moons gathering data. It was so good at its job, “it’s own discoveries were its demise”.
So, what did Cassini discover? While orbiting one of Saturn’s moons, it found that Enceladus has a warm subsurface ocean under its icy crust. Even more impressive, that ocean may contain almost all of the ingredients needed for life.
So, why was a functioning spacecraft that made such awesome discoveries ultimately destroyed? NASA abides by planetary protection rules set out to avoid contamination to planets with potential life.
According to the office of Planetary Protection at NASA, planetary protection is essential for several reasons:
to preserve our ability to study other worlds as they exist in their natural states
to avoid contamination that would obscure our ability to find life elsewhere — if it exists
to ensure that we take prudent precautions to protect Earth’s biosphere in case it does.
Up until its last moments, Cassini relayed invaluable data to scientists on earth.
Why it’s hot:
The data Cassini gathered can help scientists understand how Saturn evolved, which can help come up with new theories and validate ideas from previous scientific exploration.
Expected to launch this holiday season is Settler of Catan VR. The game, which slowly rose to fame after it was invented in Germany in ’95, has fans worldwide.
A new version is being developed by game studio Experiment7 — which previously created a pair of VR takes on chess — with feedback from the original minds behind Catan. The VR game, which is coming to both Oculus Rift and Gear VR and called simply Catan VR, is described as “true to the classic, but optimized for virtual reality” with “a fresh, fully-immersive format.” Unfortunately, right now the creators aren’t showing off what the new VR title looks like, though it appears that it will feature both a single-player and online multiplayer component.
Why it’s hot:
Because VR and because Settler’s of Catan! But no, in all seriousness. It’s time we see VR become more mainstream. The board game is pretty pricey, so fans won’t be surprised or unwilling to pay for the experience.
Hyatt was about to launch a month-long branded content partnership with the Atlantic that revolves around themes of inclusion, understanding and the importance of coming together. And then Charlottesville happened and they hesitated…
The video was conceived around the story of civil rights leader Xernona Clayton, who 50 years ago was searching for a place to host the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in Atlanta with Martin Luther King Jr. Not a single venue wanted to accommodate the organization until it happened upon a Hyatt Regency. Wednesday marked the 50th anniversary of the conference.
Hyatt isn’t the only brand to hesitate when it comes to releasing work that could be judged as politically driven. In March, for instance, brands like YouTube, Microsoft, Chevrolet and CoverGirl began promoting Muslim inclusivity through ads without saying they were political. Hyatt was among these.
On one hand, brands have to find a way to tap into the zeitgeist to connect with consumers. On the other hand, they must be wary of getting called out for taking positions in the polarized environment.
Beijing’s smog condition is out of control, but design firm Studio Roosegaarde is up for the challenge of reducing or eliminating it.
The anti-smog bicycles are expected to hit the Chinese city’s streets by the end of the year.
Here’s how the bikes work: A device installed near the handlebars of the bike sucks in smoggy air and filters out particulates like soot or dust, clearing the way for what will essentially be a bubble of clean air right in front of the rider.
The bikes are still in the planning stage, so their effectiveness has yet to be put to the test, but it’s possible that this air-filtration system could benefit more than just the cyclist who rides it. With Roosegaarde’s partner bike-sharing service Ofo providing access to over 6.5 million bikes in Asia and the U.K., a lot of air could end up running through those filters.
The design firm is known for creating other anti-smog tech. In 2016, they created a Smog Free tower, a 22 foot tall construction that can filter a million cubic feet an hour, with much of the particulate matter collected made into fashion accessories.
Why it’s Hot:
Outside the box thinking of enabling everyday items to help reduce pollution and help the environment is another way of tackling our environmental concerns that is accessible and feasible.
Researchers in Oregon report they have successfully genetically modified a human embryo (don’t worry, they were destroyed a couple of days later). They used a technique known as CRISPR where gene-editing chemicals are injected into a human egg at the moment of fertilization. In this case, scientists were correcting DNA errors present in the father’s sperm.
This is the first time this experiment is conducted in the US, researchers here have been watching in awe, envy and with alarm as the procedure was previously attempeted in China.
It is believed the US team has broken new ground due to the number of embryos experimented on as well as the ability to safely and efficiently correcting defective genes that cause inherited diseases. This is the first of many milestones to be reached in creating genetically modified humans.
Why it’s hot:
The objective of human gene modification is to potentially erradicate or correct genes that cause hereditary diseases.
Why it’s not hot:
Eliminating hereditary diseases is one thing, creating designer babys a whole other ethical debate.
Elon Musk has won a contract to build the world’s biggest lithium battery and how he has 100 days to build it. In a bold move, Musk has promised he will build the battery in under four months or the battery is free of charge.
Tesla will be partnering with French energy company Neoen to build the giant 129MWh battery to store renewable energy. “The system will be three times more powerful than any system on Earth,” Musk was quoted saying.
Why Australia? Australia is running short on natural gas, so much so that the lights may go out for most of the population within two years! Currently, South Australia is constantly plagued by power blackouts, making it a prime opportunity to prove the batteries efficacy.
Why It’s Hot:
One of the biggest problems with renewable energy is actually storing it. The second problem is that the sun is not always shinning and the wind is not always blowing making it somewhat unreliable. Finding the solution for storing large amounts of renewable energy is not just a solution for Australia, but for the future of worldwide energy production.
It was April 12, 2000. The words Do Not Try This At Home flashed on the screen, and television changed forever. MTV had released Jackass, a series of tasteless and painful stunts meant to horrify, shock and entertain. Fast forward 17 years later and in the headlines, “Woman Fatally Shoots Boyfriend in Youtube Stunt”.
Prank videos on youtube started off as good and fun has turned into an embarrassment for the internet. Innocent gags, such as surprising someone with an airhorn have escalated to unnecessary deaths and emotional abuse against children.
Check out this mashable article by Biran Koerber. In it, he takes us from the innocent beginnings of friends and families pranking each other, to today, where a 19 year old is charged for manslaughter for a prank her boyfriend wanted to pull off online. It’s interesting to read about the rise of youtube pranker sensations like MagicoRahat and proliferation of prank videos on social media, turning into a tool for advertising (Devil Baby Attack).
And now a harmless prank video:
Why it’s Hot?
I’m not saying this is advertising’s fault, but we need to be responsible about how we adopt popular trends.
AI isn’t just for setting reminders and asking general questions like with Alexa. We’re starting to see talking bots that specialize and focus on narrower tasks.
Not sure if you’re ready to have a dog? Get Lola on Google Home and see if you’re up for the task.
The whole point of Lola is to make people aware of what it’s really like to be a dog owner — random non-stop barking and all — before they take on the full responsibility. The bot will even throw in a joke every once in a while to keep you entertained.
The bot is not about selling stuff, it’s about training adults and kids before they adopt a dog. Lola will tell users it is going to run around in circles and chase a butterfly while they try to go for a run, and details other weird things dogs do on the regular.
Why It’s Hot:
This bot shows us that bots can/will become more task-specific in the way apps have become more tailored to individual needs.
Bonus: Watch this video of a goldfish controlling a hammer.
Bare Conductive has created a viscous carbon-based black paint that conducts electricity. Forget sockets, cables or wiring, this paint can act as a light switch painted directly onto your wall. The paint acts as a form of liquid wiring which can be applied to all types of surfaces including paper, plastic, metal and fabric.
Although conductive paint has been used in other applications for years, Bare Conductive is bringing new ways to use the medium.
“We started this project in earnest in 2009,” says Matt Johnson. “We were originally interested in trying to apply electronics to the skin … so we arrived at this idea of applying them as a coating and eventually we got this idea of a conductive paint.” Today, Bare Paint users use it to create everything from interactive color wheels to homemade electric toys.
Why it’s hot:
Conductive paint opens up an enormous range of creative opportunities. As conductive paint becomes increasingly common, we can look forward to a future where billboards talk back, walls are interactive, and greeting cards come to life in our very hands.
“Devices no longer have to look high tech to be high tech,” Johnson says. “Our goal is to put interactivity onto objects you don’t expect.”
Nasa has detected an artificial bubble around the Earth that forms when ground radio communications from the ground interact with high-energy radiation particles in space. This unintended benefit of technology protects us from potentially dangerous space weather, like solar flares.
Earth already has its own protective bubble, a magnetosphere stretched by powerful solar winds. The artificial bubble that NASA found is an accident, an unintended result of the interplay between human technology and nature. When humans want to communicate with submarines near the surface of the ocean, they use a type of radio communication known as very low frequency waves, or VLF, transmitted from stations on the ground. Some of the waves can stretch all the way out into Earth’s atmosphere and beyond, where they affect the movement of the radiation particles bouncing around in the region. Sometimes, the interaction between VLF and these particles creates a barrier that can be seen by spacecraft orbiting the planet.
The designs can be made up of any recorded sounds – whether noises, spoken words, music or a combination of these elements – which can they be tattooed onto your skin. They have already received thousands of messages, the majority of inquiries have been about preserving the memory of people who have passed on.
How it works:
Person uploads or records audio (up to 1 min) they want linked to their tattoo onto the Soundwave app or website.
Soundwave creates a unique soundwave template for your tune
Person goes to (licensed) tattoo artist who knows the limitations of altering the design, gets the tat.
A photo of the tattoo is uploaded to the platform
The platform processes the audio and tattoo and adds it to the app.
Any time the user opens the app and points the camera at the tattoo, it will recognize the shape and play back the audio.
Why it’s hot:
Incorporates augmented reality with the human body.
Offers an additional level of personalization to tattoos.
Why it may not be hot:
No real ground-breaking technology involved, may be more of a gimmick.