Bring Your Own Buns to Popeye’s

Come to Popeye’s BBBQ…the extra B stands for BYOBB. What’s that extra B for? Bun

The fried chicken chain, which temporarily discontinued its wildly popular sandwich last month after running out of ingredients, suggested in a tweet on Thursday that customers simply buy a three-piece chicken tender, bring their own pickles and bun, and assemble the sandwich themselves. 

The tweet, which is both a joke and no laughing matter, reads: “Try our new BYOB! It’s basically The Sandwich! Only no mayo. Or pickles. And you bring your own bun… Really it’s just three tenders…” In the video included in the tweet, people put slipshod sandwiches together with hamburger buns and, disturbingly, a hot dog bun.

https://twitter.com/AktionAce/status/1172149020275425280

Why its hot

Popeye’s chicken sandwich is so popular they’ve run out, and now they’re trying to fill the gap before, I guess, they get more chicken sandwiches. How about turn in another brand’s chicken sandwich for a coupon for a free Popeye’s item? Just a thought

No Fun Allowed in Ikea

Ikea has repeatedly asked people not to play hide-and-seek in its stores. And yet people keep organizing massive, thousand-person games at Ikea.

 In 2014, a Belgian blogger named Elise De Rijck coordinated a hide-and-seek meet-up at her local Wilrijk store to celebrate her 30th birthday. She created a Facebook group and invited her friends—but soon, thousands of people had joined the group. Ikea Belgium got wind of the plan and instead of squashing it, offered Ikea’s full support, including extra staff and security to host the event. From the photos that still circulate online, the event was a riot, replete with people hiding under bins and beds all over the store.

Evidently, it was not a one-off thing for the people playing. Thanks to the organizational power of Facebook, Ikea hide-and-seekers have kept organizing—especially in the Netherlands it seems. By early 2015, 32,000 people had signed up on Facebook to play in Ikea’s Eindhoven store. Nineteen thousand people signed up for a game in Amsterdam, while 12,000 signed up for a game in Utrecht. While it’s unclear how many of these games actually occurred, Ikea hide-and-seek has become a *thing*, as evidenced by countless YouTube videos where “adults” are sneaking around to play unofficially.

Just this week, authorities in Glasgow foiled a new plan for a 3,000-person game in the Scottish city’s Ikea store. Employees at the local Ikea spotted the plan on Facebook and called the police, who turned away the would-be gamesters. An Ikea spokesperson told The Scotsman, “We need to make sure people are safe, and that’s hard if we don’t know where they are.

Why Its Hot

Ikea’s crackdown on hide-and-seek makes sense. But at the same time, it’s hard not to see the phenomenon as a potential opportunity for the company, which has been working desperately to reinvent itself, rethinking its store designs and opening smaller urban stores that are really just a showroom for digital orders. No, it probably truly isn’t safe to play guerilla-style games at a store that sells heavy furniture. Then again, Ikea has thousands of people excited about driving to the very suburban box stores it wants people to visit. Isn’t that a potential opportunity, rather than a problem?

Pinterest Pops the Anti-Vaxx Balloon

While Facebook and Twitter haven’t been able to figure out the spread of fake news, Pinterest is simply going to say, “Hey you, your content is banned.”

Earlier this year, Pinterest began serving a straightforward message to users searching for anti-vaccination content on its platform:

 “Pins about this topic often violate our Community Guidelines, which prohibit harmful medical information.” With this change, Pinterest made two things clear: Anti-vaxxer content was harmful, anti-science stuff. And Pinterest would have no part in its propagation.

Now Pinterest has updated its anti-vaccination landing page with an improved design. Rather than being a dead end, the company has, as a spokesperson puts it, “built relationships” with groups like the Centers for Disease Control, the World Health Organization, and the American Academy of Pediatrics to provide pins that offer simple science and facts, like the number of lives saved yearly from vaccinations. The information is sourced directly from these agencies.

This decision comes as the United States is at risk of losing its measles elimination status this October amid ongoing outbreaks, according to the director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases.

 Why its hot
Naturally, people aren’t going to Pinterest necessarily to read up about anti-vaxx theories. But it is heavily visual and so easy to spread information, or misinformation, quickly in little infographic, bite-sized images. You don’t even really need to click through to anything to get the story. Pinterest is taking a much stricter stance than our social media platforms and considering its user demographics, time will tell if there is any blow back.

Hackers Need Cooler Stock Photos

Hacking and data breaches are a serious issue, but stock photos don’t reflect the reality, instead painting hackers as mysterious phantoms.

To change this, OpenIdeo has announced a “cybersecurity visual challenge” to “re-imagine a more compelling and relatable visual language for cybersecurity.”

Designers of all backgrounds are invited to submit proposals for more accurate (and appealing) stock images, in order to shed light on the danger of data breaches. The hope is that visuals, which represent the reality of cybersecurity, will make the knottiness of data privacy, as a topic, more accessible for a public audience with varying levels of understanding.

Submissions for this (re)design contest are being accepted through August 16. The company has announced that 25 short-listed contestants will receive $500 and a mentorship period with in-house designers; once the final winners are announced October 24, up to five winners will each receive $7,000 prizes for their contributions. And, in an effort to repopulate the public domain, these winning visual creations will all be available via free licensure on Creative Commons.

https://www.openideo.com/challenge-briefs/cybersecurity-visuals 

Why its hot

It’s an interesting tactic to fight cyber crime by ensuring something as simple as a stock photo properly communicates the seriousness of the issue.

The World’s Worst UI

A well-designed user interface requires a clear understanding of the end user, easily guiding them toward the information they’re looking for without having to think about the actual interface at all. This is generally done by using universally understood design rules that are considered “best practice” and that provide visual cues toward function. So what happens when the design patterns to which we’re accustomed are turned on their head?

Antwerp, Belgium-based design firm Bagaar did just that by developing User Inyerface, a website that asks the user to complete a series of forms while using “an interface that doesn’t want to please you. An interface that has no clue and no rules.”

ll-caps plain text? That’s a link. Be sure to uncheck the terms and conditions checkbox in order to accept them. And that large button in the middle of the screen isn’t to go to the next page. It’s to cancel.

The task is simple: complete the forms as fast as you can. It might suck the life out of you, but it is possible if you simply look and forget everything you have grown accustomed to.

Why its hot

User Inyerface shows the importance of strong user experience and interaction design, even in something as simple as the word inside a button.

Down with Dongles

I hate flying. I especially hate flying without headphones. So when I was at the airport for a flight to Austin earlier this year, and realized I’d forgotten my headphones, I was in a panic. But no worries! I’ll just buy some. So I bought some headphones. Problem solved! Except my Google Pixel doesn’t have a headphone jack, it has a USB-C.

I survived the flight, sure, but clearly you see how a lesser person would have died under such circumstances.

Samsung was the last major smartphone maker holding out against the shift away from wired headphones but renderings of their upcoming Galaxy Note 10 show that’s all over with.

The images were leaked to the site SamMobile and show it would come with a dongle that converts the standard 3.5-mm headphone jack to a USB-C connector. Of course, this means you can only use wired headphones with the dreaded dongle, Best Buy’s top-selling iPhone accessory.

But perhaps most unforgivably, Apple’s decision to ditch the headphone jack led to a string of other smartphone makers jumping onboard. Google, HTC, Motorola, Huawei, Xiaomi, Nokia, and Sony all have started releasing phones without a headphone jack. Samsung previously announced that the Galaxy A8 would not have a headphone jack, but it hasn’t made the change consistently across its product line—the Galaxy S10 did have a jack. But this new leak suggests that Samsung is indeed moving in the direction of killing the headphone jack.

Why its (not) hot

I hate the dongle. Not only is it just bad user experience, but then, of course, they get the added revenue from selling dongles. They’re small and easily lost, and if you don’t have one, and don’t have wireless headphones, you can’t listen to music, watch movies, etc. in silence. What am I supposed to do, talk to the people around me? Interact with the world? I live in New York City – that is not an option.

Cheers to ‘Performance Beer’

For years beer and running have been closer exercise buddies than you might think—marathon bibs often come with tickets you can trade in for a beer after crossing the finish line, running clubs often end their treks at a bar, and local microbreweries hand out new IPAs at the end of a race

Sufferfest was created in San Francisco in 2016 by Caitlin Landesberg, a trail runner herself, who wanted to make beer that would work with runners after grueling workouts—often called “sufferfests”—and not set them back. The FKT (or “Fastest Known Time”), a pale ale, for instance, is low in gluten—like all of Sufferfest’s beers—and brewed with black currant and salt to supply the electrolytes and sugars that runners typically crave at the end of a race. Repeat, a kolsch brewed with bee pollen, is supposed to help with muscle recovery

Bill Shufelt quit his job in finance and in 2017 launched a company dedicated to creating nonalcoholic but still delicious and thoughtful beers under the name Athletic Brewing. In addition to opening a taproom in Connecticut last year, he has signed a deal to distribute Athletic along the East Coast, with plans to expand nationally. Shufelt also sells Athletic beers directly to consumers, which is much easier to do when there’s no alcohol involved.

“Wellness” has emerged in the past few years as both a buzzword and a $4.2 trillion industry. It encompasses everything from green juices to yoga, the Whole30 meal plan to natural skin-care products, SoulCycle to Goop crystals. Also: running. Since 2012, the number of running events has risen steadily in the U.S. Younger generations, as Amanda Mull recently reported in The Atlantic, are less interested in drinking alcohol. Hard kombucha and seltzer, meanwhile, are on the rise.

Athletic beers like Sufferfest and Athletic Brewing are cementing their position by sponsoring events like the annual Big Sur Marathon or the massively popular Spartan Race.

Why its hot

Not drinking alcohol is a big sacrifice for a lot of people into a “healthy lifestyle.” You miss the social aspect of grabbing a beer with your friends, and then there are holidays and time off. Not every active person is sober, but many make that choice to drink very little or none at all. Drinks like “performance beer” give people that feeling back without the guilt of alcohol. It’s a really simple problem that just needs a product to solve it and big breweries are smart to get in on it.

Robot umpires make their professional baseball debut

At the independent Atlantic League’s all-star baseball game on Wednesday, the “electronic strike zone” made its professional baseball—and American—debut. According to Yahoo Sports, the robotic umpire, called TrackMan, helped home-plate umpire Brian deBrauwere assess whether pitches were balls or strikes via an earpiece connected to an iPhone in his pocket. The iPhone was loaded up with the TrackMan computer system, which uses a Doppler radar to track the pitches. deBrauwere, positioned right behind home plate, called the pitches as he received the information from the program.

MLB claims the technology is intended to help busy home-plate umpires and pinky swears that human umps are still needed and is working with the union to keep everyone happy.

One pitcher told the AP that TrackMan called high strike zone pitches that human umpires frequently miss. Of course, players will only agree with the umpire until they disagree with the call, but that’s just part of baseball.

Why its hot

As a baseball fan, I can tell you a lot of fans are divided on this issue. Some want to see calls made correctly if there is the technology to ensure that happens. This was the main driver of the introduction of replay a few years ago. Others believe that the game should not be changed, regardless of what technology might exist, and that the human element is just part of it. Personally, I don’t like a robot umpire that makes the ‘correct’ call every time because I do like that human element, but only around balls and strikes. When it comes to replay, which governs things like fair or foul, or safe or out, I do want replay because those things are more grounded in fact than balls and strikes, which are more subjective. It’s an interesting discussion of where we will allow some possibility for error when when the technology to solve it exists.

Siri Is Listening to You Have a Heart Attack

In the not-too-distant future you may be able to ask Siri if you’re having a heart attack—even if you’re not touching the device.

Because smart speakers are always passively listening, anticipating being called into action with a “Hey Google” or “Alexa!” they are the perfect device for listening for changes in breathing. So if someone starts gasping and making so-called “agonal breathing” (add that to your Scrabble repertoire) the smart speaker can call for help. Agonal breathing is described by co-author Dr. Jacob Sunshine as “a sort of a guttural gasping noise” that is so unique to cardiac arrest that it makes “a good audio biomarker.” According to a press release, about 50% of people who experience cardiac arrest have agonal breathing and since Alexa and Google are always listening, they can be taught to monitor for its distinctive sound.

On average, the proof-of-concept tool detected agonal breathing events 97% of the time from up to 20 feet away.

Why is it so good at detecting agonal breathing? Because the team created it using a dataset of agonal breathing captured from real 911 calls.

“A lot of people have smart speakers in their homes, and these devices have amazing capabilities that we can take advantage of,” said co-author Shyam Gollakota. “We envision a contactless system that works by continuously and passively monitoring the bedroom for an agonal breathing event, and alerts anyone nearby to come provide CPR. And then if there’s no response, the device can automatically call 911.”

Why its hot

What other medical emergencies can be diagnosed through voice products like Siri? We saw the OOH unit that diagnosed dog health issues with their pee. Could there be an in-house doctor that analyzes your health without having to even see a doctor in person?

Instagram Launches ‘Checkout on Instagram’ to Facilitate In-App Shopping

After edging towards eCommerce for some time, and evolving its various tools to better facilitate on-platform shopping, Instagram is now taking the next step with the introduction of a new checkout option in the app.

https://twitter.com/instagram/status/1107975296265924610

The new process takes Instagram’s ‘Shopping Tags’ to the next level – now, instead of a ‘View on Website’ button when you tap through, users will see a ‘Checkout on Instagram’ option, which will enable them to make a purchase right there and then, before returning straight back to their Insta feed.

Right now, the process is being launched in closed beta, which means that it’s not available to all brands. In fact, only 23 businesses are participating in the initial trial, and the process will only be available to users in the US. Moving into in-stream payments is a big step, so it makes sense for Instagram to take it slow.

And on payments, Instagram will store your payment data after your first in-app purchase, and use that for future shopping, so you only need to enter your details once. Instagram is also charging businesses a fee for each transaction facilitated, giving it another revenue stream. And as the program expands, that stream could become significant.

Domino’s rewards customers for disloyalty

Domino’s is promoting a limited-time addition to its rewards program that kicks off the day before Super Bowl Sunday, one of the top five days of the year in the ever-competitive pizza industry. The leading pizza chain is giving points for any brand of pizza. Someone could even heat up frozen pizza and earn points.

The offer gives anyone who signs up the chance to get free pizza without having to buy from Domino’s.After Domino’s cooked up the idea, its internal analytics and digital team worked on an artificial intelligence system that recognizes photos of pizza.

Thousands of photos were tested. Some trickery is actually allowed. If a dog has a pizza-shaped toy, a photo would get points for the owner, as the ad explains. While the 12-week offer may sound like a gimmick or act of desperation, it comes as Domino’s is playing from a position of strength and could extend its dominance over competitors including Pizza Hut, Little Caesars, Papa John’s and numerous smaller chains.

To get the rewards, people need to sign up for Domino’s loyalty program and share a photo of pizza, up to once a week. Each photo counts as 10 points. After six photos are approved by the company’s “Piedentifier” artificial intelligence system, the person has 60 points that can be redeemed for a free pizza.

Domino’s traditionally doesn’t advertise in the Super Bowl and this year is no exception. The main push will be TV ads, with a heavy rotation on Saturday and on Sunday in the hours before kickoff.

Why It’s Hot

Domino’s owns the pizza delivery space and rewarding customers for eating the competition is a snarky way of reminding them who is the best.

Netflix Adds New Instagram Stories Sharing Function

A new sharing feature integrating Instagram and Netflix is letting users share what they’re watching on the streaming service as a Story. Once you share to Instagram, users can add all the normal Story functions like GIFs and polls on top of the Netflix creative.

Each story will live for the normal 24 hours, but Netflix adds a “watch on Netflix” button to facilitate traffic to the service. Integration with Stories is going to be huge for brands moving forward as the format continues to gain in popularity.

Why its hot

Stories are huge and being able to share to Stories is going to be important for any brand looking for engagement with the format.

The Top 10 Fake News Stories on Facebook in 2018

Facebook is working hard to eliminate fake news on its site, but these were the top fake news stories from 2018 according to engagements. Some of these are obvious nonsense and their humor probably aided their virality, but fake news is still and issue. It’s surprising that more serious, yet fake stories, weren’t among the top.

BuzzFeed News recently examined the biggest fake news stories which gained traction on The Social Network in 2018. According to BuzzFeed’s report, the top 50 fake news stories on Facebook generated around 22 million total shares, reactions, and comments for the year, which is 7% fewer than the 23.5 million engagements generated by to top 50 Facebook fake posts of 2017, and slightly more than the 21.5 million engagements for fake reports on the platform in 2016.

Facebook Watch isn’t doing so well, so they’re expanding it

It’s still too early to say whether Facebook’s video play Watch will actually become a success. Early reports have indicated that Watch is not gaining significant traction, and this week, Facebook has released its own usage data, which highlights both the potential and challenges ahead for the platform.

“Three months since our global launch, there are already more than 400 million people monthly and 75 million people daily who spend at least one minute on Watch — and on average, these 75 million daily visitors spend more than 20 minutes in Watch. We’re seeing that people are regularly coming back to catch up on the videos they care about and watching for longer periods of time.”

400 million people per month equates to around 17.6% of Facebook’s MAU count, so less than a quarter of Facebook users are checking into Watch at all, at any time. Now, that probably isn’t so important to Watch publishers if they’re seeing significant view counts – if you’re getting 100 million dedicated viewers per month, that’s a pretty good result.

But in all likelihood, publishers aren’t seeing that. When you break down the next set of stats, Facebook notes that 75 million people daily are spending at least one minute on Watch. That’s not a very high retention rate – “at least a minute”? Facebook then says that, on average, those 75 million spend more than 20 minutes in Watch – but that average is clearly skewed by a much smaller percentage watching a lot – otherwise, why would Facebook report that ‘one minute’ view time stat at all?

Essentially, Facebook’s latest figures show growth, but highlight the significant barriers to entry Facebook has to scale in order to challenge Netflix (130m subscribers spending more than an hour per day viewing, on average), YouTube (1.8b MAU) and other video on demand players.

But Facebook is pushing ahead – The Social Network has also announced that it’s expanding Watch availability to desktop and to Facebook Lite, while it’s also making ad breaks available to eligible Pages in 40 countries around the world, boosting monetization potential.

In addition, Facebook has greenlit second seasons for four of it’s most popular programs – ‘Five Points’, ‘Huda Boss’, ‘Sacred Lies’ and ‘Sorry For Your Loss’.

why it’s hot

Facebook Watch has potential – and you would think that piggy-backing on the most used online platform in the world would definitely be a big advantage. But it’s also still got a way to go – and that advantage hasn’t proven significant, at least not yet

Facebook Testing Ability to Let Users Block Certain Words

Facebook looks to be testing a new option that would give users more control over the content which appears, or can appear, on their personal profiles, with a new keyword blocking feature that would eliminate comments which include specific terms from your stream.

Spotted by Facebook code hacker Jane Manchun Wong, who regularly discovers upcoming social network additions, the new option, as you can see here, would enable users to choose whatever keyword/s they didn’t want to appear within the comment streams on their personal posts. Those comments would still be visible to the poster and their connections, but not to anyone outside of that, which is similar to how comment hiding works.

The option is much the same as personal comment filtering tools available on both Instagram and Twitter and would help to provide an extra level of reassurance to those who are having trouble with trolls and/or harassment – or who simply don’t want to see particular comments.

Already on Facebook, Page admins can block chosen keywords from appearing in post comments, while you can also mute certain keywords for a selected period of time to avoid seeing any updates about a chosen topic.

Facebook hasn’t officially announced this new feature as yet, but as noted, Wong regularly uncovers new additions well ahead of launch time.

This Cafe is Staffed By Robots Remotely Controlled By People with Disabilities

A new Tokyo cafe is staffed by robots that are remotely controlled by people with severe physical disabilities.

The cafe, which has the catchy name of Dawn ver.β, utilizes five OriHime-D robot waiters, which take orders and serve food at the cafe. The high-tech radio-controlled robots are designed so people with disabilities, spinal cord injuries, or diseases like ALS can operate them from home. They transmit audio and video footage wirelessly to the robot’s controller, who can direct them via tablets or computers.

This iteration of the cafe is only temporary, closing on December 7, but the partners hope to launch a permanent cafe before the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics and come up with new ways to promote employment assistance for people with disabilities.

The cafe stems from a collaboration between the Nippon Foundation, ANA Holdings Inc., and Ory Lab Inc., who makes the robots. The idea was to help get people stuck at home back into the workforce, offering part-time jobs and minimum wage (1,000 yen per hour) and some independence, too.

 

You can’t hide from Facebook

Facebook has filed for a patent for tech that allows it to tell who you live with in the same household, reports BuzzFeed News. Titled “Predicting household demographics based on image data,” the patent describes how Facebook can use its facial recognition technology on your photos to identify people in them, then correlate those people with the captions a user writes when they post a photo, as well as cross-referencing everyone’s device information, such as shared IP addresses to discover who lives in your household.

It would note the people identified in a photo, and how frequently the people are included in your pictures. Then, it would assess information from comments on the photos, captions, or tags (#family, #mom, #kids)–anything that indicates whether someone is a husband, daughter, cousin, etc.–to predict what your family/household actually looks like.

According to the patent application, Facebook’s prediction models would also analyze “messaging history, past tagging history, [and] web browsing history” to see if multiple people share IP addresses (a unique identifier for every internet network).

Facebook uses pictures from both its main site and Instagram in this process.

Why it’s hot

Well, this seems like a great idea *wink*

Facebook obviously has access to a lot a lot a lot of ohotos, but it doesn’t really do very much with them. This is the type of thing no one knows about until it’s auddenls controversial and then Facebook has to make a lot of security changes and apologise.

How Instagram and Snapchat helped get out the vote

Both Instagram and Snapchat added new features to prompt increased voter participation in the US mid terms – and with statistics showing that younger people are less inclined to get out and vote, their efforts likely had a significant impact.

Instagram added a new set of stickers which enabled users to share that they’ve cast their vote and a story at the top of users’ feeds called “We Voted” highlighted all your friends’ stories if they used the “I voted” feature.

Snapchat also got in on the action, rolling out a range of election day stickers and Lenses to encourage users to share their activity, and added polling locations to their Map.

Why its hot

 

From a voter participation perspective, this form of peer sharing can be highly effective in encouraging others to vote.

Facebook has conducted a test of the same previously – back in 2010, around 340,000 extra voters turned out to take part in the US Congressional elections because of a single election-day Facebook message which, essentially, used a similar form of peer pressure to prompt increased participation.

3D printing of body parts helps reduce surgery length

Formlabs has created a new 3D printing process for modeling real human organs and body parts before surgery.

“The use of 3D printing in medicine allows us to pull the patients’ anatomy off of a computer screen and put it into the physician’s hands,” says Todd Goldstein, director of the 3D Design and Innovation Center at Northwell Health, the hospital network. “This type of technology is a game changer for all parties involved, as it allows for physicians to better visualize the pathology, allows for patients to truly see what treatment is needed, and allows for more precise, patient-specific treatments across almost all specialties.”

The new system, which combines 10 smaller printers with robotics so the process can happen automatically with less involvement from medical staff, can help the hospitals scale up the use of 3D printing. With a 3D model, a surgeon can look at a specific tumor or deformity, for example, and plan exactly how a surgery should proceed before cutting a patient open. That can make an operation safer and also make it shorter; less time on the operating table also means that patients can recover more quickly afterward.

The system, called the Form Cell, takes data from CT and MRI scans and translates them into a replica of a specific body part, which can be used both prior to and during a surgery. “We’re talking about hours saved before a surgery, and even hours in the OR,” says Gaurav Manchanda, director of healthcare at Formlabs. One 2017 study of children’s surgeries found that surgeries were as much as 45 minutes shorter with the use of the models. A study using Northwell data, not yet published, found that using models in complex cases reduced the length of surgeries by about 10%.

Why its hot

3D printing is becoming more and more mainstream thanks to its increasing accessibility. People have more power than ever before. Wearables give us insights into our health that previously could only come from a doctor. With 3D printing, we can download plans straight from the web and create items right in our homes. Maybe one day we can decorate an entire apartment with furniture by downloading the plans from IKEA. This example is just another of many that show how 3D printing is making once complex processes easier, even advanced surgery.

Facebook Killed News

Seriously. Facebook killed news.

Facebook acknowledged in 2016 that it had been overstating to advertisers the average time users spent watching videos on the platform. But when exactly Facebook found out about that error—and how long the company kept it under wraps—is now the subject of a federal district court lawsuit in California. The suit, filed earlier this week, was brought by Facebook advertisers who allege that Facebook knew about the measurement error for more than a year before it was first reported publicly in The Wall Street Journal.

The current suit stems from an earlier, more narrow lawsuit filed in 2016, after Facebook admitted its error. The issue, which Facebook has since addressed, involved Facebook’s calculations for the average length of time a video was being viewed. Instead of dividing the total watch time by every user who played a given video, Facebook only factored in users who watched for more than three seconds. That yielded watch times that, the Journal reported at the time, were 60 to 80 percent higher than reality.

It was also around that time that many newsrooms across the country began laying off reporters, in what has become known as the “pivot to video.” Long story short, news rooms began to heavily invest in video, hiring tons of producers and content creators at the expense of firing journalists.

Why Its Hot

Would this have happened without Facebook’s ridiculously inflated video stats? Maybe. People do watch a ton of video on online even without Facebook. But when your business relies on advertising, and your ads are performing at the levels Facebook was reporting, you’ll probably think twice about who you’re hiring.

 

Do you know where there’s a bathroom?

Find a public bathroom can be difficult. Especially when you’re in an unfamiliar area. And even more so when you’re with a disabled person or disabled yourself.

Enter MoDE’s Restroom Map, a web-based app that allows people to plot the address of gender neutral or single occupancy public restrooms on a map so that others can plan trips around them. Created by David Nykodym and Christina Ingoglia, the app went live with Missouri-specific destinations in August and expanded nationally in September.

It is designed on Esri’s Crowdsource Reporter, a mapping platform hosted on ArcGIS, and allows users to add geographic markers that appear in different shapes and colors depending on the type of facility. There’s Unisex (orange dot), Family (blue diamond), Family with Adult Sized Changing Table (green star), and Other (yellow dot) for some spot that might have equally important but non-standard benefits.

So far, the public has designated 260 spots around the country. To expand the list, Ingoglia is in early discussions with several state public transportation departments to add their own rest-stop information.

Why its hot

This app solves an obvious problem that is actually a big issue for a lot of people. Able-bodied people find themselves running around looking for a bathroom, but imagine needing a very specific bathroom. It must be so frustrating. This app is such a simple design, relying on crowd-sourced data, with a familiar interface. I can see this catching on for anyone traveling, or even just in areas they know, whether they’re able-bodied or not.

Do you know where there’s a bathroom?

Find a public bathroom can be difficult. Especially when you’re in an unfamiliar area. And even more so when you’re with a disabled person or disabled yourself.

Enter MoDE’s Restroom Map, a web-based app that allows people to plot the address of gender neutral or single occupancy public restrooms on a map so that others can plan trips around them. Created by David Nykodym and Christina Ingoglia, the app went live with Missouri-specific destinations in August and expanded nationally in September.

It is designed on Esri’s Crowdsource Reporter, a mapping platform hosted on ArcGIS, and allows users to add geographic markers that appear in different shapes and colors depending on the type of facility. There’s Unisex (orange dot), Family (blue diamond), Family with Adult Sized Changing Table (green star), and Other (yellow dot) for some spot that might have equally important but non-standard benefits.

So far, the public has designated 260 spots around the country. To expand the list, Ingoglia is in early discussions with several state public transportation departments to add their own rest-stop information.

Why its hot

This app solves an obvious problem that is actually a big issue for a lot of people. Able-bodied people find themselves running around looking for a bathroom, but imagine needing a very specific bathroom. It must be so frustrating. This app is such a simple design, relying on crowd-sourced data, with a familiar interface. I can see this catching on for anyone traveling, or even just in areas they know, whether they’re able-bodied or not.

$1,500 to turn your bedroom into a fitness studio

A startup called Mirror wants to reclaim your living spaces and bring those sought-after boutique classes, from yoga to strength training and Pilates, to your home all via–you guessed it–a single full-length mirror hung on your wall.

The responsive connected device has an LCD panel, stereo speakers, camera, and mic and offers a range of fitness classes and one-on-one training. And when you’re done, it  returns to a simple mirror. The entire system is controlled by a companion app, keeping the mirror fingerprint-free.

A mirror on the wall is definitely a space-saver for people in tiny, cramped apartments.

Mirror launched yesterday with more than 50 new streaming workouts each week, produced in part with instructors across categories. This includes cardio, yoga, strength training, barre, boxing, Pilates, and stretching classes, with levels ranging from beginner to expert. Live classes are available every hour, and members are free to access the digital archives.

Of course, such luxury doesn’t come cheap. The Mirror equipment costs $1,495, while the monthly content subscription is $39.

 Each program can be personalized depending on stamina, weight loss goals, and personal metrics. It can even monitor heart rate via bluetooth or Apple Watch. In the live environment, instructors are able to see your movements, monitor your progress, and even offer real-time instruction. A dashboard provides them with all your info, should you want a more personalized touch.
Why its hot
Customizable, at-home workouts already exist via a variety of apps and equipment like Peloton. But many of those require more space in your home, or even a gym membership, to utilize. A $1,500 price point, plus $39 monthly subscription, is very steep for the average shopper. It doesn’t seem like Mirror offers any other services. Perhaps if it also included other useful skills, like cooking recipes or DIY, it could expand in value.

Roaming Animal Crackers

Since 1902, packages of Animal Crackers have featured various animals in cages, but not any more.

Now Nabisco–makers of Barnum’s Animal Crackers–has teamed up with PETA to release a new design of its cracker box, and it will make your heart feel as warm and fuzzy as when you’re watching Planet Earth. On the new box, the animals roam free–nay–the zebra, elephant, lion, giraffe, and gorilla are strutting free along the Serengeti with serious attitude and a golden-hour hue.

PETA actually flagged the box to Mondelez International, the parent company of Nabisco. Rather than shooing PETA away, the company entered a discussion with the animal rights group. PETA even submitted a new box design for consideration–taking a proactive stance on developing new branding that could work for the company. It was spiritually similar to what Mondelez ultimately went with, showing Africa’s animals midstride in the wild.

PETA’s mockup:

“The new box for Barnum’s Animals perfectly reflects that our society no longer tolerates caging and chaining exotic animals for circus shows,” writes the organization. “PETA is celebrating this redesign just as we’ve celebrated the closure of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus and an end to the use of wild animals in many other circuses.”

Final design:

Why its hot

Addressing cruelty in products will almost always result in goodwill from consumers, but it’s interesting that a brand that hasn’t changed their packaging in since 1902 didn’t think of it sooner. “Animal crackers” is a ubiquitous term nowadays, and people forget it’s an actual brand. This story will likely give Nabisco a nice little sales boost and some positive press coverage, but maybe not as much as a larger rebranding might.

Super Smart A-Eye

Researchers at Moorfields Eye Hospital have teamed with UCL, a subsidiary of Google’s DeepMind, to show off an AI system capable of identifying more than 50 eye diseases with incredible accuracy and then refer patients to a specialist.

The system uses deep learning to create algorithm-driven software that can identify common patterns in data culled from dozens of common eye diseases from 3D scans. The AI can even explain why a diagnosis was made.

A study published in Nature Medicine says the AI system made the right referral recommendation in more than 94 percent of cases based on a review of historic patient scans. It performed as good, or better than, top eye specialists who examined the same scan.

“Doctors and patients don’t want just a black box answer, they want to know why,” Ramesh Raskar, an associate professor at MIT, told Stat. “There is a standard of care, and if the AI technique doesn’t follow that standard of care, people are going to be uncomfortable with it.”

Why its hot

Would people be as comfortable going to an AI for medical diagnosis as they are with human doctors? Many people don’t see doctors because they’re uncomfortable, but perhaps they’d be more willing to get a diagnosis from an AI that they can then take as a referral to a specialist. Systems like this that give people more access to personal health information can only help increase access to healthcare, especially in countries where a lack of specialists is an issue.

 

Do you even lift?

“Across the board, across all industries, you see about $96 billion in worker compensation costs,” says Benjamin Kanner, CEO and founder of Worklete. “About 64% of those are related to musculoskeletal injuries–your back injuries, your shoulder injuries, your knee injuries.

“If we can teach these folks basic rules for human movement, and say, ‘Yes, there is a better and a worse way to move,’ that’s really how we win. That’s how we help blue-collar, underserved populations stay injury-free so they can work hard all day long and then go home and enjoy their lives outside of work, too.”

Worklete trains workforces to move in better, smarter, and safer ways, whether that’s teaching the proper driving posture when operating a forklift or the best technique for lifting a five-gallon water jug. Today, 20,000 frontline workers use the smartphone app, which runs each employee through 10 two-week training modules. The first week of each module is centered around movement “basics,” with photo- and video-based lessons followed by short quizzes. The total time commitment is about five minutes per week.

The second part of each module involves in-person practice sessions with partners or teams. These trainings are led by “champions,” unofficial leaders on the ground. Champions, typically shift managers, are selected during new client onboarding. For Worklete subscribers, an admin dashboard allows managers to monitor employee progress on training modules on an individual basis, evaluate performance at the city or regional level, and review team rosters, including new hires (marked with red), who might benefit from extra attention.

Why its hot

This is great on multiple levels. Not only does it solve a problem (workforce injuries from heavy lifting/general stress), but it also creates brand evangelists within the companies themselves, keeping employees engaged and using the service. Throw in the cost savings from keeping your employees healthy and it’s a no brainer for any company with a lot of physical labor. I would love to see companies with even less physical stress, where people mainly sit all day, use something like Worklete as well.

When You Shop Online, This Chrome Extension Suggests Ethical Alternatives

A Google search for “men’s dress shirts” yields a list of ads and results from the most expected brands. But if you install a new Chrome extension called DoneGood, you’ll also get a lesser-known suggestion: Tuckerman, a startup that makes organic cotton shirts in a union factory in Massachusetts.

DoneGood uses independent certifications, from B Corps to Rainforest Alliance, to screen companies, along with independent research.

The company also makes an app that lets customers search for companies more directly, by choosing a product and selecting values–like “women-owned” or “green.” DoneGood piloted an early version of the app in Boston while the startup was incubated at the Harvard Innovation Lab. Both the extension and app were released nationally on November 28.

Why it’s hot

I think people always want to make ethical choices when shopping for things like good and clothing, but lack of knowledge and price point are the biggest hurdles. Extensions and apps like this, that can alleviate one of those issues, is very helpful for people looking to make a change.

Major League Baseball tickets are going biometric in 2019

Clear, the company that lets people skip the TSA pre-check lines at airports, has announced it is teaming up with Major League Baseball and Tickets.com to introduce biometric ticketing at participating ballparks in 2019. A pilot program will arrive at select venues later this season.

The partnership will make use of the API of MLB’s ticketing technology company, Tickets.com. Clear members can link their profiles with their MLB.com accounts, entering Comerica Park or Yankee Stadium or AT&T Park with just the tap of a finger. There is also potential for more advanced tech like facial recognition. Lines would certainly move faster if all you had to do was walk right in!

The company is also planning to pilot biometric concessions in the state of Washington, meaning instead of getting carded for beer, fans can simply show a finger to prove their age. Clear is already at 13 stadiums across the nation, and while it charges air passengers to make use of the service, it will be free for sports fans.

Why Its Hot

Anything that makes lines move faster is ok by me! Right now, tickets on your phone is about as advanced as it gets, so it will be interesting to see how quickly new forms of tech can catch on.

Theater with an AR Twist

This week, his Israeli startup, ARShow, announced the launch of a new AR platform and operating system aimed specifically at theaters. The system allows theater producers to incorporate fantastical AR elements and characters into live shows, creating visually stimulating group experiences that are part stage play, part 3D movie.

“This is the ideal tool we’ve been waiting for,” theater artist, Sasha Kreindlin says. “It’s not a 2D projection behind the actor, but it’s 3D objects in the virtual space. The entire venue is my platform.”

Theaters have been experimenting with AR for a while now, but the technology usually requires audience members to peer through their smartphones to see the AR elements. ARShow goes a step further, equipping each audience member with an AR headset and integrating the operating system into the theater’s sound system, lighting, and projector. The live actors on stage use monitors to help them seamlessly interact with the show’s AR components.

Kreindlin says he’d like to debut the system on a mid-size stage off-Broadway, and would ultimately like to move to a larger Broadway venue. That might prove to be tougher than it sounds. Broadway producers are notoriously risk-averse, and most shows already don’t earn a profit, even without the added production expense of retrofitting a theater with unfamiliar technology.

Why its hot

Technology like this might be enough to get non-theater goes to try out a show, but it’ll probably be too off putting to the theater junkies in cities like New York. If it actually hit the big time, like a serious Broadway production, it would go a long way toward proving its value.

Twitter Is Definitely Making an Edit Button Now

So Twitter is definitely going to make an edit button because Kim Kardashian corned Jack Dorsey at some party and made a case for one.

So that means it’s definitely happening. Probably

This is actually the second time Kim K has brought this up to Twitter’s CEO. The last time was in 2015.

So what’s different now? Well, probably not much. But Twitter would certainly love a quick win given how often they’ve been hammered in the press for how they handle banning abusive users, cleaning out phony bot accounts, and handing out verification check marks.

Maybe an edit button will be some easy positive press.

There’s also the power of Kim K. If she doesn’t get the edit button she wants, maybe she just tweets something negative about Twitter, delete her account, and tank their stock. Kim’s sister Kendall Jenner did it to Snapchat already!

Why it’s hot

Personally, I don’t want an edit button, but I think I am in the minority and people would rather have it than not. Threading tweets makes it possible to add context to amend previous tweets, but to be able to go back and change things you’ve tweeted could cause a lot of problems trying to hold powerful people responsible for their posts (ahem, Donald Trump). Perhaps the edit ability expires after 5 minutes or something like that. Could be a good compromise.