Working Den Helps Prevent Burnout

One-third of workers globally are experiencing increased burnout during the pandemic. Although burnout has been a topic for decades, with livingrooms becoming conference rooms, the lack of separation between work and life has become the #1 workplace stressor.

Yet even though burnout is pervasive and can result in everything from insomnia to high blood pressure, it’s one of those issues employees often feel they can’t talk to their employers about.

Source: Trendwatching

Filled with tools to help remote workers maintain healthy routines, Working Den has launched as a free service. Designed to be used throughout the workday, at launch, the service includes:

  • Exercise and stretching guides
  • Calming nature videos
  • Playlists of background noise
  • Mental health assessment quizzes
  • Pomodoro productivity timer
  • Eye-strain reduction notification system

New features like the ability to pair users up with one another to answer questions and as a way to combat loneliness are on the way.

Additional source: Fast Company

Why it’s hot: Although the site still has some rough edges, the site offers great value to those thrust into the deep end of working from home.

 

Wearable Peace of Mind

Allergy Amulet makes it easier to dine out of home by detecting target ingredients within seconds while doubling as a fashion accessory

Allergy Amulet’s novel technology can improve the quality of life for the millions of people living with food allergies or intolerances by testing for common allergenic ingredients in seconds. The portable device is made to fit every lifestyle — it’s small enough to fit on a keychain, a necklace, or in a pocket.

Source: Hit Consultant

Allergy Amulet Nabs $3.3M To Launch World’s Smallest, Fastest Consumer Food Allergen Sensor

Why it’s hot: Food allergies affect 32 million Americans and between 220 to 520 million people globally—that’s one in 13 children and one in 10 adults. They can be fatal, so having certainty about the safety of the contents of your food in an instant and without having to rely on third parties opens up a whole culinary world.

Google Trends to the Rescue

Google search data has been found to help pinpoint COVID-19 hotspots before they flare-up. It’s not the first time researchers turn to the tech giant to deal with possible outbreaks. In 2009, health specialists used keyword search volume to tackle H1N1 pandemic outbreaks. Although physicians like to think patients reach out to them as soon as they’re feeling ill, the reality is that patients turn to WebMD and Dr. Google before going into offices.

Tracking COVID symptoms is only going to get harder as flu and allergy season kicks off, but researchers leaning on the search data think focusing on searches for GI (gastro-intestinal) related symptoms can help point them in the direction of an outbreak.

The team looked at Google Trends data for searches on a range of symptoms that dated from January 20 to April 20 of 2020. They found that searches for ageusia (loss of taste), loss of appetite, and diarrhea correlated with COVID-19 case numbers in states with high early infection rates like New York and New Jersey, with an approximate delay of four weeks. The signal was less clear for other symptoms.

Source: Popular Science

While search data is not a sure shot predictor – the majority of COVID patients don’t experience GI symptoms, it does merit further exploration.

Why it’s hot: Having the right combination of keywords to track could help mitigate outbreaks in the future.

 

 

Creating an Index for Dynamic Pricing

Lifestyle, the sexual wellness brand has found a new pricing model. Offering discounts on the brand’s products based on Australian’s search data for sexually transmitted infections (STI’s) on Publicly Traded. The STI index, which tracks real-time searches for six STI’s serves to automatically adjusts the price of condoms: the higher the index, the lower the price. Conversely, when searches go down, the prices go up (but not above retail value). Customers can either purchase condoms through the index or sign up for price alerts via email or SMS.

The initiative is educational in nature – hoping people will nurture their sexual wellbeing in the same way they nurture their finances.

Taking cues from the stock market model, the LifeStyles Publicly Traded Campaign hopes to boost education and incentivise safe sex at the very same time. It works by correlating condom price fluctuations with real-time Google search data in relation to STIs.

Source: Man of Many

Why it’s hot: Although dynamic pricing is not a new marketing technique (Alaska Airlines and Bose have both done it), this is a great interactive way of engaging and educating your customer base.

Balloon-Powered Internet from Google

Google is now providing internet in some parts of Kenya through balloons like this one.Source: CNN

Covering more than 50,000 sq.km with a fleet of 35 base stations, Google’s Loon Project and Telkom Kenya are bringing balloon-powered mobile internet service to the country. The first balloon-powered internet launch in Africa and the first non-emergency commercial deployment in the world – the service will reach underserved and unserved people in remote regions.

The Loon service will work by beaming Internet connectivity from ground stations to balloons 20 km overhead. The balloons (floating base stations) are linked to the ground stations that have been connected to Telkom’s network. These ground stations utilise millimeter wave spectrum to send connectivity from the ground to the balloons overhead.

From there, a signal can be sent across multiple balloons, creating a network of floating base stations that will serve a wide coverage area, delivering connectivity directly to a user’s LTE-enabled device, below.
Source: IT News Africa

 

In an effort to support the Kenyan Government’s efforts to manage the current crisis, both companies at break-neck speed to ensure enhanced and alternative communication options.

The balloons are launched from locations in the United States and are being navigated to Kenya using wind currents. According to Project Loon, more balloons will be released as more experience in flying over Kenya is gained.
Source: CNN

Why it’s hot:  If this works sustainably, it opens possibilities for other remote regions across the globe.

Zoom Goes from Software to Hardware

Designed specifically for Zoom, Zoom for Home – DTEN ME is a 27″ display touch-screen is meant to help those without smartphones or laptops to work from home. The display includes 3 wide-angle cameras and an 8 noise-reducing microphone array and is pre-loaded with Zoom. The touch screen will allow users to use things like whiteboard applications in Zoom.

The stand-alone device, essentially a large computer-sized tablet, will work with an existing Zoom account and provide access to standard Zoom features. Users will be able to start meetings, make calls and take advantage of interactive annotations. The device will also allow users to sync their calendars, meeting settings and phones.

Zoom’s new device is available for pre-order now, and the company expects to start shipping it in August.  It’s Zoom’s first dive into hardware and the company has told TechCrunch that it will launch new products with more partners in the future.

Why it’s hot: Zoom’s exponential growth due to the onset of COVID-19 primes the company for expansion, but as we’ve seen with Portal TV, Facebook’s video chat camera accessory for your TV, breaking into hardware is not easy.

Source: CNBC

The Face Mask of The Future

face.jpg

Shipping in Japan in September, the C-Face mask will join the long list of the internet of things gadgets to hit the market. Created in response to consumer’s COVID concerns, the mask offers protection and convenience at the same time. Linked to the wearers’ smartphone, the plastic C-Face allows users to record conversations, amplify their voice, make calls, transcribe speech into texts and translate Japanese speech into 8 different languages.

Source: DesignBoom

Why it’s hot: Even though there are more IoT devices out there than we know what to do with, the C-mask solves an immediate real-life challenge – being heard through our masks and dealing with a no-touch world.

Smell Like Space

Want to experience space but don’t have the money? Eau de Space brings the experience straight to your nose. A new Kickstarter campaign lets you purchase a bottle for $29, and they’ll match your purchase with a donation to a local STEM program.

The fragrance is inspired by a scent developed by NASA decades ago to help acclimate astronauts as part of their space training.

The space agency had contracted specialists to create the “smell of space” to acclimate astronauts as part of their training and eliminate any environmental surprises prior to lift off.

 

Described by astronauts as a mix of gunpowder, seared steak, raspberries and rum, “space smell” is the latest attempt to capture the smells of places. Other attempts include the New York City candle (hopefully in winter, not summer) or Tom Dixon candles with a scent to evoke “historical memories of British life.”

Why it’s hot:  Smell is the most sensitive of the senses, 75% of emotions are triggered by smell – smell is the last frontier.

Prescription Game

Designed to help kids with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), EndeavorRx is the first game that’s allowed to be prescribed by doctors as medical treatment.

The game should not be considered an alternative to medication, but is officially approved by the US FDA. The game, aimed at patients age 8-12, can be plaid on an iPad or iPhone and has been found (after clinical trials for 7 years) to reduce attention-deficit for 1/3 of participants.

Introducing Akili

Akili, the creator of the game aims to reimagine what medicine can be. They are pairing neuroscience with the latest technology and video game entertainment in the hopes of challenging the status quo of medicine.

Why it’s hot: Gaming addiction was declared a legitimate disorder by the WHO last year and has taken flak in regards to violence. But, with Covid lockdowns and their ensuing madness, more and more people of all ages are realizing the benefits of gaming.

Sources:

CNBC – See the first-ever game approved by the FDA as a mental health treatment
Distractify – How the EndeavorRX game works
Forbes  – Games are great for your mental health study finds

The Internet of Taste

Taste works like a piece of music, with just 7 notes, you can make endless unique combinations. With taste, it’s about the five basic tastes: sweet, salty, acidic, sour, and umami. Every dish contains a combination of these with the intensity varying depending on the dish. So a pecan pie and a hamburger both contain all five tastes, but in varying amounts.

What does this have to do with the Internet? 

Enter the Norimaki Synthesizer. Developed by a researcher at Meiji University in Japan, has created a “taste display” that can artificially simulate any flavor. A taste machine!

As such, the Norimaki Synthesizer has five gels (one for each taste) that are arranged by an electric current. Through a process called electrophoresis that I cannot possibly explain, the electric current sorts the gels so that a desired amount of each is drawn towards the user’s tongue while the rest of the gel retreats away from the device’s opening.
Source: Inside Hook

Tests have indicated he machine is effective, fooling users to think they’ve tasted sushi, or a piece of gum.

Why It’s Hot: Nowhere near being mainstream, the taste tester could have a myriad applications. It won’t be a substitute for the real thing, but it could open a new way for consumers to “try” products remotely or it could be paired with environmental food initiatives to try to substitute environmentally unfriendly practices without losing taste.

Additional Source: gizmodo

PAS – Pollination as a Service

BeeHero, an Israeli startup is buzzing as it works to upend the age-old practice of agricultural beekeeping.

Monoculture farms have decimated bee’s ability to pollinate naturally, this isn’t new, but the solutions we see out there are neither modern or precise. The typical process for farm pollination is that farmers call in beekeepers to pollinate their crops.

Hives must be deployed and checked manually and regularly, entailing a great deal of labor by the beekeepers — it’s not something just anyone can do. They can only cover so much land over a given period, meaning a hive may go weeks between inspections — during which time it could have succumbed to colony collapse, perhaps dooming the acres it was intended to pollinate to a poor yield. It’s costly, time-consuming, and decidedly last-century.

By using IoT in the hives, BeeHero can monitor temperature, humidity, and sound among others to gain insights. The combination of data from the hive and additional sources (eg. microclimate) is used to track the hive’s health, be it the queen’s level of stress, or the amount of pollen brought to the hive.The company has already seen success with increases in yields for soybeans, cashews, and apples that range from 30% – 100%.

With colony collapse killing bees at enormous rates, having early detection can help save at-risk hives.

That’s part of the company’s aim to provide value up and down the chain, not just a tool for beekeepers to check the temperatures of their hives.

Source: Techcrunch

Why it’s hot: other startups are tackling the problem, but at too small a scale to actually make a difference. Their holistic approach makes them a tech development to keep an eye on.

 

Google Lens is Bringing Analog to Digital

Looking for ways to be more productive at home? Google has evolved google lens to help you get things done while working from home.

With Google lens you can:

Copy text from paper to your laptop

You can already use Lens to quickly copy and paste text from paper notes and documents to your phone to save time. Now, when you select text with Lens, you can tap “copy to computer” to quickly paste it on another signed-in device with Chrome.

Learn new words and how to pronounce them

Google lens offered the possibility to translate words into more than 100 languages by pointing your camera at the text, but now it’s been enhanced to allow you to listen to the text be read out loud.

Quickly look up new concepts

Trying to understand a concept or a phrase? No problem. Google lens allows you to highlight and find search results.

Why it’s hot: There’s so much more we can do to connect the physical and digital world. Finding ways to evolve products and give them an added value that is fitting to consumer needs is a way to ensure adoption and customer loyalty.

Catch up – Search Leads the Way

“75% of consumers said they would buy any brand available for the products they need.” (Forbes)

Loyalty as at an all-time low – and brands competing for consumers’ attention by turning to search. The latest comes from Heinz who combined search trends and consumer behaviors to reach people in-home and stay top of mind.

Promising to keep people entertained at home, the puzzle is mostly Heinz red and nods to the brand’s iconic packaging with the 570 pieces. Billing the puzzle as “ridiculously slow.” the brand gives a nod to their slow-moving bottles.


Search volume word puzzle

“Heinz  is known for its iconic slow-pouring ketchup. In a period when everyone has a little more time on their hands and puzzle popularity has skyrocketed, we wanted to help pass the time by connecting the two, ” said Kraft Heinz Canada Senior Brand Manager Brian Neumann in a statement.  “This puzzle is worth the patience, only this time, you can’t hold it at the perfect angle to solve it.

Why it’s hot: More than ever, we need to be attuned to what consumers want and how to safely get it to their homes. Finding areas where your brand can intersect with trending searches and in-home adaptations can help find brand disloyalty.

 

 

Background Critics

As keyword searches for “[insert communication platform name] + background” increase, cities and brands are responding quickly to help people keep the privacy of their homes to themselves.

But with more than 80K followers and growing, Room rater is looking to change the background game by offering unsolicited criticism and advice. And it’s working! Although it started as a side hustle, the site is just the right amount of levity the internet needs, it’s started to have an effect. It’s popularity was viral and celebrities, journalists and reporters are disputing their scores and even going so far as to pledge to reorganize to secure a 10.

The man in the account’s Twitter header, biologist William Haseltine, was Taylor’s original 10/10, the ideal (it still is his favorite room, though there have been many 10s since). The objects in Haseltine’s room—a statue of Buddha, a rocket against a bookshelf—looked to Taylor like a wonderful place to quarantine. Then he noticed Elise Jordan, MSNBC and NBC News political analyst and, full disclosure, the wife of Vanity Fair digital director Mike Hogan, flat against some wallpaper. He has nothing against her, he said, but the discrepancy encouraged them to start the account. “All I can say is Architectural Digest had no problem with the wallpaper,” Jordan said. (And in a later TV spot, she added five points to her room score with a bookshelf in the background, a real coup).

 

Why it’s hot:  As one of our only visual references, backgrounds are everything right now – from celebrities being criticized for complaining from their castles in the sky to regular folks fighting home shame – the pressure is on to hit the right tone. Whatever the right balance is, it’s ok to keep it light.

Source: Vanity Fair

 

Spicing up Zoom with Farm Animals

Sweet Farm, an animal sanctuary in California is putting their animals to work, but not how you’d imagine. For less than $100 one of their many goats, llamas, and other farm animals can join your Zoom meeting.

goat 2 meeting farm animals zoomFeatured guest, bottom row, middle. Source: Business Insider

The project, called Goat 2 Meeting which launched last week is aimed at making up for lost revenue due to Covid-19 lockdown orders. Since launching last month, the farm has fielded more than 300 requests for animal appearances and virtual field trips for corporate meetings and work happy hours.

People can pay anywhere from $65 to $250 for various interactions with the animals, which include goats, sheep, pigs, cows, turkeys, and llamas — by far the most popular choice. For $65, you get a 20-minute virtual tour of the farm for up to six call participants. For a bigger meeting, you can pay $100 for a 10-minute animal cameo or $250 for a 25-minute virtual tour.

Aside from paid cameos, Sweet Farm also offers virtual field trips for nonprofits and schools for free.

Why It’s Hot: As lockdown orders extend, businesses are having to find innovative projects and offerings to supplement lost revenue.

Wing Really Taking Off

Wing, the Alphabet subsidiary focused on drone delivery, is really taking off. It’s drone delivery service is adding vendors and new items as it’s customer base dramatically grows.

Wing drones are delivering food, medicine and household goods during the coronavirus pandemic. The service is offered in a limited number of places (Virginia, Finland, and Australia) and has partnered with local shops for deliveries. Although limited by the amount of weight the drone can carry, they have expanded their options to include items like pasta, baby food, and bread among others.

Wing said it’s seeing customers in the US order health and wellness items from Walgreens, including medicine, toothpaste and toilet paper, and groceries like pasta, canned foods, fruit cups and baby food.

 

“We’re trying to support local businesses that aren’t able to open their doors by allowing them to deliver their products directly to customers’ homes,” Wing said. It pointed to a local bakery in Christiansburg, Virginia, which is now selling 50% more pastries via Wing on one weekend than it usually sells in store.

Source: cnet

Will this be the push to make autonomous vehicles and drones commonplace?

”No one could have predicted coronavirus, but even we were surprised at the uptake of customers when ‘shelter in place’ came into Virginia,” Wing’s head of marketing and communications, Alexa Dennett, told Business Insider, “It’s really early days so it’s hard to know how coronavirus will shape our business’s strategy… Ultimately we would love many more households around the US and the world to have access to our technology.” Dennett declined to comment further on the company’s expansion plans.

Source: The Verge

Why it’s hot: Social distancing has increased demand for delivery, but this type of work exposes workers to COVID-19. Pushing the limits of contactless delivery can be the sure fire proof of concept many of these services have been waiting for.

Bot Buddies to Boost Your Mood

Social distancing got you down? Get your dopamine fix with Botnet.The social media network made up of millions of bots programmed to shower you with flattery and positive, supportive messages.


Botnet

Not only does Botnet serve as an ego booster, it also doubles as a journal of sorts. The app gives users access to a searchable library of their posts.

It has only been online since late last year, and with only 30 reviews in the app store it’s not really a blip on anyone’s radar. But, with Covid-19 social distancing seeming like it’s not going away any time soon, it may just be the type of emotional support people are searching for.

Ignoring the need for connection at this time is not an option. Research suggests that the majority of individuals today lack sufficient social connection. This connection deficit may exacerbate the negative effects of stress and diminish physical and emotional resilience that people will need to fight the COVID-19 virus.
Source: https://www.govexec.com/management/2020/03/covid-19-coinciding-loneliness-epidemic/164153/

 

Disclaimer: As with all things online, not to be used as a substitute for IRL relationships.

Why it’s hot: As social distancing measures become the new normal and the long term effects of loneliness start to take their toll, people will be looking for new tools and systems to help them emotionally cope.

Gamers Join the Fight Against Corona

NVIDIA, inventor of the GPU, which creates interactive graphics is calling for gamers to lend pare computing power from their graphic processing units (GPUs) to support scientific research on Corona Virus.

By downloading the folding@home app,participating users can decide when to share or turn off sharing of their GPU’s. Able to carry out massive computing tasks, such as those required during research as complicated as drug and virus simulations, idle GPUs could come in handy in the battle against Covid-19.

The more data that is generated around the virus (think genome analysis) the more analysis becomes the bottleneck in both time and cost perspectives. Having the extra processing power will come in handy.

Source: ForbesNVIDIA

Why it’s hot: Businesses of all sorts and sizes are being forced to pivot, this is a good example of how businesses can leverage unused resources to fight the corona virus.  

Social Distancing Late-Night Editions

Out of necessity and through personal good will,  late-night hosts are offering much-needed respite during this time. Taking to youtube sometimes with just their smartphones, they are performing without live in-studio announcers, without live bands. But the struggle is not only due to Covid-19. For months, late night hosts have been struggling with changing viewer habits especially in the younger co-hort who doesn’t watch SNL on Saturday nights.

The debate about whether late-night programs need to be viewed in their traditional time slot has been bubbling for months, particularly as the hosts, writers and producers have ramped up a slew of ancillary pieces of content: jokes posted all day on Twitter; traveling exhibits; Facebook video exchanges and more. Seth Meyers’ “Late Night” often posts its signature “Closer Look” commentary segments on Twitter several hours before the NBC program kicks off at 12:35 in the morning.

Why it’s hot: Having to test new ways to engage viewers could change the way late-night operates.

Source: https://variety.com/2020/tv/news/late-night-tv-coronavirus-jimmy-fallon-stephen-colbert-jimmy-kimmel-1203538149/

Forget FOMO

 

Keeping up with the internet today is time consuming and almost impossible. Set up RSS feeds (yes they still exist), Twitter lists, Youtube channel notifications, email refreshes, phone notifications for all of your apps, that while living a well balanced life is impossible.

Like a super-powered RSS feed, Fraidycat is here to help you.

My Fraidycat home page

Fraidycat works as a browser extension for Chrome and Firefox or as an app for Windows, Mac, and Linux. It bundles together all of your favorite internet stuff into one easy-to-read page, much like a super-powered RSS reader. The best part is that it’s not algorithmic like the Social Network That Shall Not Be Named.

Source: https://www.theverge.com/tldr/2020/2/25/21153460/fraidycat-app-extension-internet-reader-rss-news-blogs-youtube 

How it works:

  1. Drop a link to a favorite website
  2. Label the lik approrpiately
  3. Watch as Fraidycat organizes the content and updates it according to your settings.

The site is lo-fi, reminiscent of the bygone era of individuals creating content, before the giants took over.

Say you want to know what a small, niche YouTuber you like has posted in a single week, but you’d rather know what your favorite tech blog posts every day. You can organize your Fraidycat lists to separate those out, so it’s easy to jump between either based on the frequency or by the individual tags you’ve given each respective item. (You can even use emoji as tags.) Fraidycat will pull new info every five to 10 minutes as it comes in for items designated real-time and once every one to two hours for daily ones. (There’s also self explanatory weekly, monthly, and yearly options.)

 

Sources:
https://github.com/kickscondor/fraidycat
https://www.theverge.com/tldr/2020/2/25/21153460/fraidycat-app-extension-internet-reader-rss-news-blogs-youtube

Why it’s hot: In a way, it’s bringing back the egalitarianism that made the internet so great in its infancy by dissolving the barriers between networks and allowing people to curate their own personal survailance network.

Capitalizing on Alternative Uses

In time for the Oscar’s, google released “Find Your Scene” a 60-second spot that garnered over 11 million views on YouTube in just over a week.

Using UGC (user generated content), the spot features footage from famous YouTubers and regular folks to highlight how Google Maps can pinpoint (and provide directions to) famous movie locations (check out: Rocky StepsDoc Brown’s house or the beach from the Goonies).

Why It’s Hot:
Google capitalizes on the trend of Cinematic Tourism to showcase a feature that the product has had for a long time; the surprise and delight comes from the unusual use of the service.

 

Filling Food Prescriptions

Image result for free stock photography supermarket fruits and veg

Kroger, a US supermarket chain, is testing out a new service that has shoppers filling their food prescriptions. Born from the realization that doctors’ nutritional advice to patients is often vague – we’ve all heard “eat healthier”- the initiative pairs shoppers with aisle side assistance from nutritionists. The ideas is that dieticians can make more specific recommendations that make the doctor’s advice more actionable. Nutritionists take into considertaion budget, cooking skills and lifestyle when making recommendations.

The pilot launched last spring in Kroger’s hometown of Cincinnati, OH. In its current form, diabetes patients work with a local physician who makes dietary recommendations they can then take to a nutrition expert at a Kroger in Forest Park, OH. The prescription itself is actually just a shopping list of food items that have been tailored to the patient’s specific medical condition.

Source: https://thespoon.tech/kroger-is-testing-food-as-medicine-with-food-prescriptions-for-customers/

Why it’s hot:
Talk about added value! Kroger is talking to people in the right place and the right time and going above and beyond.

 

Increasing Financial Literacy One Athlete at a Time

Image result for tokyo olympics

Competing on the world stage is an honor for Olympic athletes, but what happens when their athletic careers end?

That’s the problem Visa is trying to solve with it’s newly announced endeavor during the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo. For 70 athletes, the games won’t only be about competition – they will be a stage for increasing their financial literacy. Led by former olympian and VP of marketing at Visa, the program will offer courses on topics including digital payments, building a social brand and entrepreneurship.

Source: https://www.cnbc.com/2020/01/13/visa-offers-financial-literacy-to-olympic-athletes.html

Why it’s hot: It’s not just athletes that are plagued by future job security, 94% of Americans can’t even pass a financial literacy quiz! There’s a huge opportunity for our financial clients to step in and offer some guidance.

 

Recording Scents for Posterity

Technology is not just making our lives easier by eliminating redundancies (from jobs to processes), it’s also quickly reducing our olfactory catalog. But fear not, the folks at UCL Institute for Sustainable Heritage are developing different techniques to recover “extinct” scents from the past and to preserve those around today for the future.


Source: https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20200108-why-preserving-certain-scents-is-important

Most cultural heritage preservation products center around visual heritage, however preservationists at UCL noted that one unprotected cultural heritage is scent.

In 2003, Unesco adopted a convention to safeguard intangible cultural heritage, which includes social practices, oral traditions and performing arts. Where, though, were the scents? For centuries there have been cultural practices where smell plays a vital role, like the Spanish Fiesta of the patios in Cordova or the Holy Week processions in Popayán, Colombia. In 2018, the skills related to perfumery in Pays de Grasse, France, were included on the intangible heritage list. No scents themselves, however, are listed.

From the smell of an old book to the smell of a pub “full of smoke and men and beerspilled on the floor and disinfectants coming out of the toilets, smell codifiers are trying to build a socio-economically agnostic library.

But why does smell matter? What valuable iformation can be written into the odour of an object or place? It’s all about culture and economy. Smells can give us an indication of a place’s character, but also tell a lot about the people of the area, their tastes and distastes.

Why it’s hot: Although facing obstacles of mainstream adoption, sych as health dangers of synthetic odors, the Digital Scent technology industry is projecting a forcast growth of 17.3% from now to 2025 (from 98.8M to 187.3M).

No Luggage, No Problem

W Hotels and Rent the Runway are partnering for a service long awaited by heavy and light packers alike.

Now, for the first time ever, travelers can have access to all the perks of Rent the Runway on the road as the Rent the Runway (RTR) Closet Concierge launches at select W hotels around the country.


Source: https://news.marriott.com/news/2019/12/05/the-closet-that-checks-in-before-you-do-w-hotels-x-rent-the-runway-team-up-to-redefine-the-rules-of-packing

When guests arrive at the hotel, they will find a variety of outfits tailored to the weather and location. No packing and no baggage required!

After booking the room, guests will be able to choose from four rental styles to outfit themselves during their stay from Rent the Runway’s Unlimited Closet for only $69 USD. Guests have access to the entire Unlimited Closet in addition to being able to select from a destination-ready assortment tailored to each unique W hotel location incorporating Rent the Runway’s proprietary data on trending colors, designers, silhouettes and the climate of each location. To return, guests simply drop-off the items at the Welcome Desk at check-out.

Why It’s Hot:
Brand collaborations with a purpose are the best! Anything that eases the burden of travel is bound to take off.

 

Twitter is Breaking Up the Flock

Image result for decentralize twitter"

Several years ago, Twitter snubbed developers by limiting features they could use when using the Twitter API to create their own interoperable products. Today, they are trying to right that wrong.  In essence, the company will be adding a layer above twitter that will decentralize the service much like email, where yahoo users and Gmail users can email between one another making it platform agnostic.

Twitter is funding a small independent team of up to five open source architects, engineers, and designers to develop an open and decentralized standard for social media. The goal is for Twitter to ultimately be a client of this standard.

Although years away, the Bluesky team will eventually be building social media protocols that will allow the company to prove the viability of decentralized social media. Some are criticizing the move saying it will reduce Twitter’s liabilities regarding the types of content that have gotten the company in trouble in the past. Dorsey, Twitter’s CEO, argues that Twitter’s value lies in its ability to direct attention towards valuable tweets – not hosting all the content.

Finally, new technologies have emerged to make a decentralized approach more viable. Blockchain points to a series of decentralized solutions for open and durable hosting, governance, and even monetization. Much work to be done, but the fundamentals are there,” Jack Dorsey

What this looks like: 

  • Centralized platforms have a lot of control over what data is seen, with algorithms deciding which content gets exposed. It promotes one type of content over another.
  • With decentralized social media, there would be no central control, no team of people who decide what content is shown to whom.
  • Personal data would go back to the hands of the user who would give complete control and could decide who to share it with.

Why it’s hot: 

Although still a pipe dream with a long road ahead, decentralization of social media may become the way of Web 3.0 – reducing platforms liabilities for UGC and democratizing content discovery – but what will become of brands that use these platforms?

Sources: TechCrunch, The Verge, Business Insider

 

Back to the Basics

  • The average smartphone user checks their device 47 times a day / 17,155 a year.
  • Conversation killer! 85% of smartphone users will check their device while speaking with friends and family.
  • 80% of smartphone users check their phone within 1 hour of waking or going to sleep35% of which will do within 5 minutes.
  • 47% of smartphone users have attempted to limit their usage in the past – only 30% of which feel they were successful.
    Source: https://www.bankmycell.com/blog/smartphone-addiction/

Experiments with Google is trying to help people break their cellphone addiction with a printable paper phone which will help you rest from your digital world.

An app lets you choose what to include such as favourite contacts, maps and meetings and then prints them directly to a sheet of paper. Customisable “paper apps” like recipes, phrasebooks and notepads let you get things done or unwind in a more focussed way.

Source: https://experiments.withgoogle.com/paper-phone

Paper Phone is an experimental open source Android app which is available to try and the code is available on Github for people to adapt and evolve.

Why It’s Hot:

Cellphone addiction is real, more than half (58%) of smartphone users have attempted to limit their usage. Great technology should help improve life, not distract from it.

Bonus

Long Layovers, No Problem

Traveling without traveling may be the wave of the future.  All Nippon Airways (ANA), Japan’s biggest airline, is working on telepresence robots to do the traveling for you. Gone would be the days of flight delays, long layovers, physical and financial stress. The robot, Newme was unveiled at Tokyo’s Combined Exhibition of Advanced Technologies.

Newme, a stand-in robot gives users the ability to enjoy their vacations without leaving the comfort of their home – potentially redefining stacations for ever.

The telepresence robot is a boxy adjustable 10.1-inch touchscreen with 1080p resolution on support that connects it to wheels. The bot has the ability to travel at speeds of 1.8 mph with about three hours of battery life. The user can use a VR headset to experience the environment through the robot’s perspective.

Source: Mashable

ANA envisions the robot to serve as an ‘AVATAR’ for humans in all types of environments, from the deap sea to the surface of the moon. The company also recognizes the robots can be used in industries outside of tourism.

 “By placing the world at your fingertips, Avatars will open up new possibilities and help reshape everything from business and education to healthcare and entertainment.”

ANA CEO Shinya Katanozaka source

 

Why It’s Hot and Why It’s Not

We are increasingly seeing technological advancements born from one industry that have applications and implications across verticals. When well executed and developed, the technology will have the potential not only change the way people travel (ex. opening up new worlds to people with disabilites), but how they work, learn and live.

On the flip side, are we facing a future where people live virtual only lives with less and less interactions? Ready Player One?

Subscription Wings

Jumping on  America’s subscription craze, KFC has cooked up a $75 offer to promote its wings.

Starting today on StubHub, KFC will sell up to 500 “Seasoned Tickets” – which give each buyer a weekly order of 48 KFC chicken wings for nine weeks, with a final order of 96 wings in the 10th and final week.


Source: AdAge

Kicking off during football season, the subscription is a real deal – each order of 48 KFC wings usually costs $36.99. Each subscriber gets 528 wings — a $406.89 value – for just $75, delivery included.

For KFC, offering a wing subscription is one way to try to stand out in what’s becoming an increasingly competitive fried chicken category. Popeyes got plenty of attention for its chicken sandwich, which is set to return to the national menu at some point after selling out in August, and industry leader Chick-fil-A continues to open locations at a rapid clip. KFC says “Seasoned Ticket” holders can vary their flavors, choosing from unsauced wings or one of three sauces: Nashville hot, Buffalo or honey BBQ.

Why it’s Hot

It’s an interesting brand collaboration (tickets and chicken, who would have thought?), it capitalizes on moments when the brand should be top of mind (wings and football).

Night Feeding Just Got an Oz. Better

Launched in the UK recently, the Night Feed app is part of a great wave of innovations that are geared at providing real empathy for the female experience. It provides moms entertainment, useful content and a community of other mothers to connect during the lonely midnight feeding hours.


Source: https://www.phoenixmag.co.uk/article/model-and-content-queen-ruth-crilly-is-launching-a-night-feed-app-to-combat-new-mum-loneliness/ 

It’s been positioned as a “virtual sancuaty for the sleep deprived” and includes interviews with pediatricians and midwives, guides for breast feeding clothes, book clubs, and other interest-based groups.

 “IT’S HARD TO PUT YOURSELF IN THE POSITION OF SOMEONE WHO IS THAT SLEEP DEPRIVED – With both kids, I’ve felt so lonely during the nights. No one else is up and you feel knackered and resentful… THE APP STEMS FROM WHEN I WAS IN THAT HEADSPACE”

Why It’s Hot: The app goes beyond regular baby feeding apps that only monitor feeding times and amounts, it shows real understanding and emapthy for the real female experience.