Ever sit somewhere and catch yourself staring intently at another person’s cell phone screen?
You’re not alone. So what is about other people’s screens that make them irresistible?
“Other people’s screens are windows into their lives, and brains, and relationships and work — into their politics, anxieties, failures and addictions. They tend to appear between one and three feet away from other people’s faces, depending.”
We used to not have as much access to other people’s screens as we do now. Home and office computers were more private than the now ubiquitous 5.5” screen everyone carries everywhere nowadays.
Munich researchers wanted to find out more about “shoulder surfing” in an effort to understand the security implications of having our lives exposed on small screens. So what did they find? The research suggested the majority of shoulder surfing was casual and opportunistic with survey respondents admitting they did it out of boredom and curiosity. In cases where there was malicious intent, “both users and observers expressed negative feelings in the respective situation, such as embarrassment and anger or guilt and unease.”
What were they looking at? Mostly text, and more specifically instant messaging, Facebook, email and news.
Observing shoulder surfers in NY can even tell how phone usage has changed since wifi was sporadically introduced. Gone are the days of CandyCrush. Today is all about long texts composed, then reworked and frantically sent when the signal appears, they are also selfies being retouched, or as the train transforms into an office, messages about the client. Other people’s screens can be used as warnings or endorsements. Whatever they contain, they are a reminder that we should all really just mind our business.
Why it’s hot:
As we design mobile experiences, should we keep in mind our second audience, the shoulder surfer?
BioSay, a Boston startup has created a biometric measurement app that monitors stress levels through inbuilt sensors on a smartphone. The app monitors the how different places and environments affect a user’s emotional state.
Users have to place their finger over their smartphone camera which can detect their heart rate; the reading is called a “bioji”. The app also analyzes facial expressions and voice (through the camera and mic) to aggregate data about their mood. By using location services, the app can gather data about the user’s environment and users are encouraged to add their own data by adding notes or tagging friends they are with.
“Biojis” can be shared or kept private, although the apps founders would like for the data to be shared on a larger scale so that other users and healthcare providers can see how different places are impacting people.
‘The war on stress, depression and disease will not be won by survival of the fittest where data is locked away and we can’t learn from one another, it will be won by collaboration,’ explained Donalds during her TED Talk, featured above. ‘As we endeavour to fight the war on stress, depression and disease our data must not be divided but united.’
The impact that different businesses have on people’s emotional states can be mapped by BioSay, too. This is good news for brands if people leave their stores smiling, but not so great if the experiences they offer cause stress. Smart companies will use the data to gain insights into how they can improve and enhance their customers’ wellbeing.
Why it’s hot:
Because users can start to understand the lifestyle choices they may not be aware of that are negatively influencing their health.
What’s this going to do for brands with physical locations?
Spotify is asking users with premium family plans to confirm their home address through GPS data or risk losing access to the service. For Spotify, a family constitutes 2-5 people living in the same home, which IRL is not necessarily how families work. So why are they looking into this now?
A story published in Billboard last month revealed that streaming family plans had some music industry executives concerned about Spotify’s slipping average revenue per user. According to Billboard, nearly half of global streaming subscribers (including platforms such as Apple Music and Pandora) are on family plans. Spotify’s ARPU declined 12% in the second quarter of 2018 compared to the same time last year, and Billboard’s Hannah Karp writes: “Family-plan price bumps could help compensate for the potential revenue being lost when family-plan subscribers share their passwords with friends outside their families.”
In today’s climate of data breaches and hacks, consumers are more weary than ever to share such information. However, Spotify is assuring users the data will only be used for verification purposes.
Why it’s hot:
Shared subscriptions have been user hacks and a thorn in subscription services’ sides for some time, but finding the solution to verification is still a mystery.
In 2017, a Reuters survey of over 4,400 US adults who used services like Amazon Prime, Hulu, and Netflix found that 21% of users aged 18-24 have borrowed someone else’s password. If Netflix cracked down on password sharing, the company could make almost $400 million more per year, Quartz found.
Launched on August 31st, Domino’s Pizza in Russia offered 100 years of free pizza to those who tattooed the company’s logo on their body and shared it on social media. The campaign, meant to last month had to end after only 5 days. In an effort to save face and money, the company promised pizzas to the first 350 to share their ink.
The tattoo needed to be in a prominent place and just hours after the promotion started, Instagram started getting flooded with images of fan’s legs, arms, and other body parts.
Why it’s hot:
Although it’s good to take risks and try something new, it’s so important to think about the possible ramifications.
Gone can be the days of impersonal, rushed doctor’s visits. Parsley health focuses on functional medicine, seeing patients as a whole person, instead of looking at you in a snapshot of time. The $150 a month subscription is not meant as a replacement for health insurance, but as more of an overall health barometer. The tech reliant company leverages today’s tools to make the process as convenient as possible. From the booking process being done online to doctor’s notes, medical records, and health coach messages available on an easy-to-navigate dashboard. The whole process even starts with an “uber for blood” home blood test.
Parsley also built data tracking into its system to assess and compare outcomes–a method rarely found in general primary care. It also built the Parsley Symptom Index, used to give clients a clinical health score. Before each visit, patients fill out a survey that helps the medical team monitor progress and outcomes. Over the course of a year, Parsley’s digital system then adds thousands of data points to a patient’s charts, which enable them to change course should a method or treatment show little improvement.
The average visit with a Parsley doctor is 75 mins long and encompasses a deep analysis of all aspects of the patient’s life. Also included in the service is access to health and wellness coaches.
Why it’s hot:
90% of health is dependent on social determinants, but we only get an average of 11 seconds to tell doctors our symptoms. Parsley goes beyond putting a band-aid on the problem to find a long-term solution for health issues.
Russia’s (in)famous Kalashnikov manufacturing company has revealed it’s first electric car. The prototype, shown for the first time at an event near Moscow is a throwback to a Soviet hatchback created in the 1970s. But it’s looks are the only thing retro about it. It’s makers have said it is a revolutionary cutting-edge “supercar” that can compete with the likes of Tesla.
There are still some kinks to iron out, but they’re hoping they’ll be able to offer would be able to travel 220 miles (350 km) on a single charge and with a higher top speed than other e-cars on the market.
“Kalashnikov has been looking to take its brand in different directions and recently launched a clothing line and a catalogue of personal items ranging from umbrellas to smartphone covers.”
Reactions to this latest venture have been mixed, from ridicule to praise of its cool look.
Why it’s hot:
It’s a bold and interesting design choice and it will be interesting to see whether this sparks a trend in a greater variety of e-car designs.
A good example of the growing trend of companies diversifying their brand offerings.
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.