A New Kind of e-Tail

Good, Cheap and Fast (GCF for short), is an e-tail website designed to take the effort out of e-shopping.

Source: https://www.fastcompany.com/90274504/hate-browsing-amazon-this-is-the-ultimate-no-frills-shopping-site

To that end, the site doesn’t waste effort on frills like “bandwidth-hogging images” or “spill[ing] 10,000 words of digital ink on…mundane appliances.” To DeFeo–a former designer–the job to be done here is simple: “save people time,” he says. Thus GCF’s Craigslist-esque, all-text aesthetic. (It does have nicer fonts, though.)

GFC’s design is based on the philosophy that not everyone is a maximizer: people who, intimidated by the internet’s abundance of options they want to know which one is the best. Who they are targeting is users who they call “satisficers” – people who just want something good enough without breaking the bank.

The site is curated by using a combination of existing shopping tools and plugins that filter out suspicious or spammy product reviews and then eliminates more by “measuring the relationship between 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5-star reviews, with an eye toward quality control issues.”

Why It’s Hot: 

Sometimes we need to remember that less is more.

What is in a Word?

“The Oxford Word of the Year is a word or expression that is judged to reflect the ethos, mood, or preoccupations of the passing year, and have lasting potential as a term of cultural significance,” Oxford stated in a post on its website.

 

With a 45% increase in searches, this year the word “toxic” takes the prize. In combination with chemical first and masculinity second, the word is top of mind for people. With the rise of the #metoo movement, it’s no surprise this year word searches seem to be all about strained relationships between men and women with spikes in searches for words like:

incel”—an involuntarily celibate man who holds hostile views towards women; “gaslighting”—a form of psychological manipulation that makes the victim doubt their own sanity, made famous by a movie in which a man does this to his own wife; and “orbiting,” which is when a person ceases communication (i.e: “ghosts”) but continues to lurk via social media, maintaining “an online presence in the subject’s life without any promise of meaningful interaction.”

To give some perspective, 2018’s word of the year is in great contrast with 2015’s, when the word of the year was:

Image result for smile cry emoji

Why it’s hot:

It’s sad, but also optimistic. It means we live in toxic times (sad) but at least we’re trying to educate ourselves and hopefully make a change (optimistic).

Scrolling to Diagnose Mental Illness

A startup in California, Mindstrong Health is using scrolling, clicking, and phone interaction data to determine the risk of mental illness.

Founded by 3 doctors, it is seeking to tackle depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and substance abuse.


Source: https://www.contagious.io/articles/mindful-scrolling

The App “monitors how every participant types, swipes and interacts with every other app on their phone (just basic stuff like how they use their keyboard, rather than looking at any personal information). The data gathered is then encrypted and run through a machine learning programme, which analyses it and delivers the results to the patient and their medical provider.”

One of the reasons the app works is, “‘people’s memory patterns and thinking speed change in subtle ways before they realise they’re depressed.’” The app was developed after trial participants were asked to perform neuropsychological tests and then asked to use their phone normally. This allowed them to find key smartphone signals that correlate strongly with mental performance.

Memory problems, for example, are a common element of brain disorders, and can be identified by looking at how quickly you type or scroll, as well as how many errors you make.

Our state of mind is top of mind in 2018 as more conversations are being had about mental health, so much so that even KFC participated in World Mindfulness day.

Why it’s hot: 

It’s difficult to diagnose mental illness because the symptoms sometimes differ from patient to patient. Mindstrong could provide data that helps define the different subcategories within illnesses and could even help lead to tailoring drug prescriptions for more effective treatment.

Fine Art Therapy

Image result for art therapy

Doctor’s in Montreal will be able to prescribe free museum visits to patients suffering from a range of illnesses. Patients suffering from depression to diabetes or chronic illnesses will be given up to 50 free visit passes for patients and caregivers.

 

In the 21st century, culture will be what physical activity was for health in the 20th century,” predicts Nathalie Bondil, Montreal Museum of Fine Arts director general, in the Montreal Gazette.

The Art Hive, an initiative from the museum, is just one example of what Bondil says is one part of the future of health care. With an on staff art therapist and the collaboration of physicians The Hive is open to people who want to explore the curative effects of art, whether it be creation or simply its presence.

 “There’s more and more scientific proof that art therapy is good for your physical health. It increases our level of cortisol and our level of serotonin. We secrete hormones when we visit a museum and these hormones are responsible for our well-being.”

Much like exercise, art can improve wellness for all types and ages of patients.

Source: https://qz.com/1433682/doctors-in-montreal-will-start-prescribing-visits-to-the-art-museum/

Why it’s hot:

It’s great to see doctors collaborating with other fields to find solutions for health issues that are beyond prescriptions.

Not Nosy, Just Human

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?

Source: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/10/style/why-you-cant-stop-looking-at-other-peoples-screens.html

Stress Mapping

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: 

  1. Because users can start to understand the lifestyle choices they may not be aware of that are negatively influencing their health.
  2. What’s this going to do for brands with physical locations?

Are the days of shared digital subscriptions coming to an end?

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.”


Source: https://qz.com/quartzy/1405477/spotify-is-demanding-family-plan-users-hand-over-gps-data/

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.

The Lengths People Go To For Pizza

There are pizza lovers and there are pizza LOVERS.


Source: https://www.businessinsider.com/dominos-free-pizza-russia-tattoos-promo-ends-early-2018-9

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.

Functional Medicine a (W)holistic Approach

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.
https://www.fastcompany.com/90224888/is-this-150-a-month-holistic-primary-care-service-the-future-of-medicine

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.

Giving Musk a Run for His Money

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:

  1. 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.
  2. A good example of the growing trend of companies diversifying their brand offerings.

Source: https://themoscowtimes.com/news/kalashnikov-unveils-electric-car-seeking-to-dethrone-tesla-62644

Soundtrack of Your Life

Royal Caribbean is partnering with Berklee College of music to set your vacation photos to music using AI.

 Source: https://www.adweek.com/creativity/royal-caribbean-now-sets-your-vacation-photos-to-music-using-ai/amp/

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.

One-Click Divorce

WeChat.png
Source: http://info.trendwatching.com/wechat-rolls-out-divorce-feature

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

Armpit Ads

Looking for space to advertise, look no further.


Source: https://www.straitstimes.com/asia/east-asia/no-sweat-japanese-company-sells-advertising-space-on-womens-armpits

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.

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.

 

Play Your (Student) Debt Away

Indebted students come on down! 

Paid Off a new comedy game show will try to do its part in reducing the $1.5T of student loan debt currently affecting more than 44 million borrowers.

How The Game Show Works

Each episode features three contestants, each of whom has student loans.

The premise of the game show is simple: Torpey gives these lucky contestants the chance to answer trivia questions during three rounds of play in a fun, fast-paced trivia game show.

 

The three rounds of play include:

  1. academic questions
  2. poll questions
  3. general knowledge / college major questions

One contestant will be eliminated each round.

The grand prize? One lucky winner can win a cash prize or the chance to wipe out their student loan debt.

 

During the final round, the final contestant has an opportunity to answer as many questions as possible. The more questions that the contestant answers correctly, the larger their winnings.

 

The lucky contestants who answer enough questions potentially can wipe out their student loan debt.

Source: Forbes

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.

 

Peeping Dogs

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.

Fighting Stereotypes with Stereotypes

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.

Source: http://colombianambush.com/site/

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.

 

Good Charts Are Like Good Jokes

They don’t have to be explained.

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:

 Have a suggestion for the wording of the resolution? We invite your input. Congressman Mark Takano will introduce a resolution declaring April 26 as “International Chart Day,” and deliver a speech on the House floor about the importance and history of charts. Other members of Congress on both sides of the aisle will be encouraged to participate.

Also, check out this video which really explains the problem the chart day organizers are trying to combat:

VIDEO 

Why it’s hot: 

Aside from being data visualization nerds’ dream come true, it brings light to misinformation in a fun new informative way.

 

 

Building Ikea Furniture in Harmony

Source: https://qz.com/1256576/robots-can-build-ikea-chairs-now/

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.”

Additional reading: The psychology behind why couples always fight when assembling Ikea furniture

Why it’s Hot: 

  • Once we can train AI to accomplish these complex tasks, the next frontier is independent thinking.
  • We’re one step closer to a world where we don’t have to assemble Ikea furniture ourselves.

A Drone That Understands You

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.

Source: https://www.theverge.com/2018/3/22/17150868/amazon-drone-patent-delivery-wave-speech-recognition

“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.

Building Business Ecosystems

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.

How Women Spend Their Time

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.

Source: Quartz

“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.

 

With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility

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”.

Some stats:

  • 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.

Source: https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2018/02/28/589411543/google-received-650-000-right-to-be-forgotten-requests-since-2014

This Post Will Self Destruct in ….

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.

Source:https://www.fastcompany.com/40532294/invasion-of-the-self-destructing-gadgets

Why have self destructing gadgets:

  1. Leave – behind
  2.  environmentalism
  3. public safety
  4. stealth
  5. personal privacy
  6. crime prevention
  7. and even medicine.

Check out the article to see devices that self-crush, melt, dissolve, and vaporize.

Why it’s hot:

The concerns that drive the military to want self-destructive technology make it a wish for consumers also. Although we will need to wait, some of these gadgets may become mainstream.

Is Love the Universal Language?

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”

Source: https://qz.com/1206333/this-valentines-day-almost-every-country-has-its-own-gif-to-say-i-love-you/

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:

“Love”

Finland

Philippines

Saudi Arabia

Vietnam

“Lonely”

France

Peru

The US

“Kiss”

France

The UK

Vietnam

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.

Excel is Dead, Long Live Excel

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.

Source: https://www.wsj.com/articles/finance-pros-say-youll-have-to-pry-excel-out-of-their-cold-dead-hands-1512060948

 

Why It’s Hot:

  • As technology evolves and we create better systems there will always be people unwilling/unwanting to change. So how can we communicate evolution to get new product advocates.

Topping the iPhone with AR

In hopes of topping themselves, Apple is working to create an augmented reality headset to be shipped in 2020.

“Unlike the current generation of virtual reality headsets that use a smartphone as the engine and screen, Apple’s device will have its own display and run on a new chip and operating system…”

Source: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-11-08/apple-is-said-to-ramp-up-work-on-augmented-reality-headset

Why it’s hot: 

  • VR and AR have been on the cusp of the mainstream for some time, but not have fully caught on. This may finally be the device that pushes AR.
  • VR is difficult because it is very isolating, maybe taking the route of really making AR mainstream will give us time to make VR more inclusive.

Emoji Discord

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.

Source: https://gizmodo.com/some-people-at-the-emoji-group-have-had-enough-of-this-1820088258

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 + DELIVERY TRUCK emoji = Shitload

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?

 

Overcoming the Challenges of Wearable Tech

Project Jacquard, an experimental initiative from Google’s Advanced Technology and Projects group, has partnered with Levi’s to create the Commuter Trucker denim jacket.


Source: https://www.fastcompany.com/40473911/google-and-levis-stitch-up-a-connected-jacket

“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.”

The Challenges

  1. 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).
  2. 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.

Spare Change for Cryptocurrencies

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.

Image result for cryptocurrency

Source: https://qz.com/1095292/dust-lets-you-buy-bitcoin-with-spare-change-with-monzo/

Why It’s Hot: 

  • 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.

 

RIP Cassini

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”.

Watch this Video

And for some actual footage:

(Start at 0:35)

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.

Sources: http://mashable.com/2017/09/15/cassini-mission-at-saturn-officially-over/?utm_campaign=Mash-Prod-RSS-Feedburner-All-Partial