Singapore Airlines is turning its planes into pop-up restaurants

Singapore Airlines, which experienced a 99.5% drop in passengers during its first quarter, is turning two aircrafts into pop-up restaurants for two weekends in October and November. Tickets sold out in 30 minutes.

Singapore Airlines’ in-flight experience is legendary. Travel + Leisure has voted it the best international airline for 25 years in a row, and meals across all classes are designed by world-class chefs. So it makes sense that fans of the airline would be willing to pay for a gourmet meal, especially if they were already nostalgic for air travel.

Customers had the option of buying tickets in different classes, with a meal in a first class suite priced at $474 compared to an $39 economy class meal. Both meals will take place on planes at Singapore’s Changi Airport, which is the company’s hub. The airline says it will enforce social distancing, using only half of the 471 seats on the plane.

Why its hot

Brands in many industries are being forced to quickly find some way, any way, of generating profit and interest from consumers during COVID. This is an interesting way of staying relevant at a time when air travel is almost nonexistent. Not sure I could think of a less comfortable place to enjoy an expensive meal right now, but it’s an interesting idea nonetheless.

The refreshing taste of capitalism

PepsiCo is launching its newest beverage, the de-stressing and relaxation-promoting Driftwell.

The calorie- and sugar-free noncarbonated water, flavored with a hint of blackberry and lavender, contains 200 milligrams of L-theanine and 10% of the daily value of magnesium. Driftwell sprouted from an employee incubator program in January.

The 7.5-ounce mini cans, with the tagline “Sip into relaxation,” go on sale online in December—a notoriously stressful time, even more so during the coronavirus pandemic—and will be available in stores in the first quarter of 2021. The suggested retail price is $17.99 for a 10-pack.

PepsiCo touts findings by Gallup and the American Psychological Association in which 55% of Americans report having “high stress” throughout the day, while 45% of Americans say stress makes them lie awake at night, and 21% feel more stress when they’re unable to sleep.

Big Soda is taking hits from all sides. Bottled water is now outselling pop; rising obesity rates are a growing health concern; brands are emphasizing healthy eating and lifestyle choices; and various municipalities around the United States have even implemented so-called soda taxes.

Why its hot

More consumers are expecting their foods and beverages to do more – aid digestive health, energize, etc. So a beverage that helps you sleep is likely welcomed, especially these days. And what better source than PepsiCo? You can perk up in the morning and afternoon with a Pepsi, and now unwind before bed with one too.

Lego’s Collab with IKEA Makes Parents and Kids Happy

Kids of love Lego. Parents? Maybe not so much. Lego can make a big mess and they hurt to step on.

To provide a creative solution to this problem, Lego partnered with Ikea to create a storage system that doubles as a play structure. The new storage solution, called Bygglek, is deceptively simple. The white boxes come in four sizes and are designed to store hundreds of bricks. The ingenious part is that their tops and interiors are covered in Lego studs, so they can easily be stacked or built upon. (It also makes it easy to move the entire structure.)

The two big boxes will come in a traditional Ikea flat pack, but it’s designed to be so simple to assemble that 5-year-olds will be able to do it. The new line will be available in the U.S. in October; prices start at $9.99 for a set of three small boxes, and go to $14.99 for the largest box.As part of this line, Ikea will also sell a 201-piece Lego brick set for $14.99. When curating the bricks for this set, the designers deliberately choose less complex Lego elements to ensure that even the youngest child could use them. They didn’t include building instructions—these pieces and the boxes they come in are designed to spur a child’s imagination.

Why its hot

Storage devices for Lego aren’t really new. Most kids have had something to put them all in, but not all storage is an actual playset. It solves a unique problem – give kids something to store their Lego in and play with at the same time.

Earth Speakr Gets Kids Involved in Advocacy

Artist Olafur Eliasson, in collaboration with digital agency AKQA, created an app called Earth Speakr that kids can use to articulate their feelings about the state of the planet, and the associate climate crisis that older generations have placed on their shoulders. The app uses AR to mirror the kids’ expressions, from a video they record, with a cartoon face that can be placed on anything, from a sewage drain to a tree to a hot dog.

As Elliason describes the app, “It’s about giving the planet a voice through the people who are going to inherit it.”

After kids record a message, the parent can place the “message,” which appears as a glass sphere, anywhere they feel it should be heard on a map of the world (also available on the corresponding site). Users can then click on different messages and share them. The messages on the map vary from the silly (one video asks, “Hello, who are you? Why??”) to the earnest to some that are not super audible.

Burger King Adds More Onions to Support Social Distancing

Burger King Italia is retrofitting its signature burger to encourage people to remain vigilant in keeping their distance.

The “Social Distancing Whopper” features triple the amount of raw onions regularly put on the burger, in the hopes that your stank breath will create a barrier of its own.

Why its hot

Funny, lighthearted video at a time when most messages are serious. Now which brand is going to add extra beans? Looking at you, Chipotle.

Here’s What Consumers Want to See from Brands During COVID-19

Twitter recently conducted a user survey to find out more about what people want and expect from brands in their communications during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Here’s what they found:

  • 64% said brands should continue advertising products as normal
  • 52% agreed that seeing/hearing ads gives them a sense of normality
  • 77% agreed they feel more positively about brands making an effort to support society at the moment
  • Only 7% of respondents said brands should continue using their normal brand tone of voice
  • 82% of respondents said that brands should look to support frontline health staff, where possible
  • 86% of respondents said that brands should support vulnerable people within their communities
  • 89% said that brands should provide reliable, accurate information
  • 77% said that brands should support their local communities
  • 80% said that brands should show how they’re supporting their employees

Why its hot

This is not business as normal – and clearly, consumers expect businesses to acknowledge such. The situation has changed, for everyone, and while people are generally supportive of ads, they’re also looking for brands to consider the circumstance, and communicate in accordance with the evolving environment.

And they said video games wouldn’t prepare you for real life

With sports suspended around the world, including all major sports in the U.S., fans have no live games to watch. At least none involving actual humans.

On Tuesday, the New York Mets, a semi-professional baseball team, had their play-by-play announcers calling a game – a video game.

If you shut your eyes, or drank enough, it was as great as any real game. The trio, Ron Darling, Keith Hernandez, and Gary Cohen, called the game between the Houston Astros and New York Mets on the recently released MLB The Show 20.

For sports fans, the biggest challenge to staying inside is a lack of anything NEW to watch. Sports channels are rebroadcasting old and classic games, but there isn’t anything people haven’t seen before.

I haven’t noticed other teams doing the same thing as the Mets have, but eSports and streaming platforms like Twitch are having a major moment, as viewers starved for competition and something to root for, have flocked to the platform.

A Finnish Hockey League, together with esports platform Telia, is launching video game hockey playoffs with a full TV broadcast.

Why its hot

Staying inside? Avoiding people? Playing video games. I’ve been training for this my whole life.

It will be interesting to see if there are any lasting effects for the popularity of streaming video games and esports once life returns to normal. How will these platforms keep people once there are actual humans playing sports again? Will they even try or will enough fans stay around, having found an interest in it.



Brands Gonna Brand: Social Distancing Edition

There haven’t been too many epic brand fails during Coronavirus so far, but we do some some competition.

With social distancing on everyone’s mind these days, someone had to ask: How can my brand weigh in on the topic? If you are a healthcare company, like Cigna, or you’re in high demand, like Lysol, maybe you do have a reason to weigh in.

But if you sell cars or sandwiches, maybe sit this one out. But no…brands gotta brand!

Gotta stay top of mind even if no one wants to buy your products!

Will Coronavirus Change the Materials We Build With?

When influenzas, bacteria like E. coli, superbugs like MRSA, or even coronaviruses land on most hard surfaces, they can live for up to four to five days. But when they land on copper, and copper alloys like brass, they begin to die within minutes and are undetectable within hours. “We’ve seen viruses just blow apart,” says Bill Keevil, professor of environmental healthcare at the University of Southampton. “They land on copper and it just degrades them.”

Copper is still widely used in power networks—the copper market is, in fact, growing because the material is such an effective conductor. But the material has been pushed out of many building applications by a wave of new materials from the 20th century. Plastics, tempered glass, aluminum, and stainless steel are the materials of modernity—used for everything from architecture to Apple products.  Brass door knobs and handrails went out of style as architects and designers opted for sleeker-looking (and often cheaper) materials.

With funding from the Copper Development Association (a copper industry trade group), Keevil, working in his lab with some of the most feared pathogens in the world, has demonstrated that not only does copper kill bacteria efficiently; it also kills viruses. (In 2015, he even demonstrated this phenomenon with a precursor to COVID-19, coronavirus 229E).

In 2015, researchers working on a Department of Defense grant compared infection rates at three hospitals, and found that when copper alloys were used in three hospitals, it reduced infection rates by 58%. A similar study was done in 2016 inside a pediatric intensive care unit, which charted a similarly impressive reduction in infection rate.

But what about expense? Copper is always more expensive than plastic or aluminum, and often a pricier alternative to steel.  But given that hospital-borne infections are costing the healthcare system as much as $45 billion a year—not to mention killing as many as 90,000 people—the copper upgrade cost is negligible by comparison.

As for the rest of the world’s buildings that haven’t been updated to rip out the old copper fixtures, Keevil has a piece of advice: “Don’t remove them, whatever you do. These are the best things you’ve got.”

Why its hot
Coronavirus is already drastically changing how the world works, how we get around, and how we function in our jobs. But it will be interesting to see some of the other ways it alters the world around us, including the materials we use to build with, ad how we can find ways, even resurrecting old ways, to combat emerging diseases like Coronavirus.

How Facebook is Fighting Coronavirus

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has written a lengthy post on his Facebook page detailing the latest steps the company is taking against misinformation about the coronavirus virus on its platform. The latest steps include giving the World Health Organization (WHO) free ads on Facebook. As Zuckerberg says, “We’re giving the WHO as many free ads as they need for their coronavirus response along with other in-kind support.”

The idea here is that the WHO will be able to widely spread factual information about the coronavirus via a theoretically unlimited number of ads on Facebook. This means that factual information about the virus is more likely to show up in people’s feeds.

Zuckerberg also said that Facebook will give “millions more in ad credits” to other organizations that are working to spread factual information about the virus. Facebook’s coronavirus ad-giveaway comes after the company announced in January that it will remove posts with coronavirus misinformation and last month said it is banning ads that promise to prevent or cure the virus.

Besides the free ad initiative, Zuckerberg also announced that people who search for coronavirus on Facebook will now see a “pop-up that directs you to the World Health Organization or your local health authority for the latest information.”

Why its hot

Nice to actually see Facebook doing something good for a change

These are the 117 new emoji you’re getting in 2020

New year, new emoji—as the saying goes (or if not, it probably should).

The Unicode Consortium, which administers the emoji we all know and love, has announced the first group of new emoji for 2020. Officially the group is known as “Emoji 13.0” and includes 62 new emoji along with 55 gender and skin-tone variants for a total of 117 new emoji coming to your phone.

The new group of emoji features new gender-inclusive options including both men and women in tuxes, in wedding dresses, and bottle-feeding a baby. Other firsts are a transgender flag and a transgender symbol. Then, of course, there are tons of new creatures, body parts, people, and items including pinched fingers, an anatomical heart, lungs, a ninja, a black cat, a mammoth, a dodo, a weird-looking seal, a worm, an olive, a tamale, fondu, bubble tea, a roller skate, a piñata, nesting dolls, a mouse trap, a plunger, a headstone, and more.

You can check out pictures of all the 117 new emoji below (courtesy of Emojipedia). Expect the new emoji to start showing up on platforms such as iOS, Android, and Twitter sometime in the summer to early fall.

Why its hot

It’s so interesting to see how emojis evolve, just like a dictionary, and how excited people still get over new additions.

Nike Made Shoes So Good They Might Be Banned

Elite runners may be banned from wearing Nike’s Vaporfly 4% shoes in races later this year.

The Nike Vaporfly 4% uses a combination of advanced foams and a carbon fiber plate to rebound as much as 4% of the energy from one running stride into the next. According to a test administered by the New York Times, a runner wearing a publicly available version of the Vaporfly 4% ran 4% to 5% faster than a runner wearing a typical running shoe. Kenyan runner Eliud Kipchoge wore the Vaporfly 4% when he broke the two-hour marathon for the first time last October. Then Brigid Kosgei wore the same version to crush the women’s marathon record the very next day.

And now, according to the London Times, the Vaporfly 4% will be banned by World Athletics later this year, the international governing body that determines the gear runners can wear in global competition. A report by the Guardian casts skepticism on this claim, however, citing sources disputing that a full-out ban will happen. Instead, according to the Guardian‘s reporting, certain limits will likely be placed on carbon plate technologies moving forward in an announcement coming at the end of January.

The International Olympic Committee did confirm with Co.Design that the “rules and regulations” of running are the jurisdiction of World Athletics. In other words, if Vaporfly 4% were to be banned by World Athletics, these shoes could not be worn in future Olympic Games. So this decision is of consequence for track athletes and global sporting fans alike.

Why its hot

Nike has always marketed its shoes as things that make you better at running and jumping. And it always seemed like questionable marketing and the shoes didn’t actually do anything. But these shoes really do something. For the average runner, it probably doesn’t make much difference at this price point ($250), but for elite runners it’s a big deal.

Facebook Gets Into the T-Shirt Business

Carlings, a Swedish retail company, entered into an exclusive partnership with Facebook and Instagram to produce a first-of-its-kind augmented reality (AR) T-shirt—functional only on those platforms.

Spark AR, Facebook’s AR studio, developed the functionality of the AR component. The physical T-shirt itself, which can only be ordered from the Carlings site, is a plain white tee to the naked eye, with the exception of some black text on the sleeve and a logo near the center front of the shirt collar. Once you activate the filter on Instagram, that logo becomes a functional part of the design. It serves as a tracking point for your phone’s camera, so that the associated Carlings filter can properly superimpose a graphic of your choice onto that blank canvas no matter which way your body bends or turns. (Carlings emphasizes that the technology is still in beta, so “don’t move too fast.”)

But unlike typical fashion sales, which require buyers to make multiple purchases in order to keep up with trends, the point of this shirt, according to Carlings, is that you don’t have to buy another one. A variety of filters allow the wearer to switch up the graphic on the shirt whenever they feel like it, and the company plans to release even more filters, potentially on a continuous basis, so the wearer can make a topical political statement even as the news cycle spins faster and faster.

Most of the designs currently on the site are very much oriented to the sort of ironic, memeified design aesthetic of Gen Z  (which honestly, makes sense, because the designs themselves are digital-first). Almost all the designs on the site relate to the climate crisis.

Why its hot

Instagram and Facebook filters themselves are really a practice in playfulness. And depending on the person’s following, it could be a way to get more eyes on your message, without having to buy into the fast-fashion mantra of buying poorly made clothes on the cheap in order to participate in a trend—and then ditching them.

YouTube Continues to Fight Misinformation

Unlike some other social platforms (*cough* Facebook *cough*), YouTube continues to actively combat misinformation.

This has been a key focus for the platform in recent times – as explained by YouTube in a new update this week:

“Over the past couple of years, we’ve been working to raise authoritative voices on YouTube and reduce the spread of borderline content and harmful misinformation. And we are already seeing great progress. Authoritative news is thriving on our site. And since January 2019, we’ve launched over 30 different changes to reduce recommendations of borderline content and harmful misinformation. The result is a 70% average drop in watch time of this content coming from non-subscribed recommendations in the U.S.”

Definitely, those results are promising, and YouTube continues to add in new measures to reduce the spread of misinformation, or dispell concerning trends that are not grounded in fact.

For example, YouTube now also shows information panels on content ‘prone to misinformation’, which provides links to relevant resources for more insight.

YouTube’s also working to address concerns with borderline videos – content that “comes close to, but doesn’t quite cross the line of” violating its Community Guidelines. YouTube says that such videos make up a tiny proportion of its overall viewership, but it’s now expanding its program of reducing recommendations of borderline content “or videos that could misinform users in harmful ways” into more regions.

Why its hot

As noted, this is an important area for YouTube, because an increasing amount of people now come to the platform for information, and can be lead down concerning rabbit holes by the content recommended to them, relative to their search requests.

Patagonia’s new line is made from old clothes damaged beyond repair

Wondering what to do with your damaged and worn Patagonia clothing? Those are the clothes Patagonia is focusing on with the launch of a new line called ReCrafted.

The line takes worn-out, damaged goods and transforms them into entirely new, one-of-a-kind products at a workshop in Los Angeles. Each item in the ReCrafted collection is made up of between three and six pieces of used clothing.

The first series of items consists of down jackets and vests, a sweater, a T-shirt, a toolkit, and four bags, all available on Patagonia’s Worn Wear website for prices that range from $27 to $327. The aesthetic, unsurprisingly, feels different from the traditional Patagonia line, with fabrics of different colors and textures stitched together.

This is just the latest part of Patagonia’s broader strategy of keeping garments in circulation for longer. When it comes to the fashion industry, the bulk of carbon emissions happens early in the supply chain, in the production of raw materials and manufacturing in factories. The longer an item is used, the lower its environmental footprint.

The ReCrafted products are available starting today on the Worn Wear website, along with Patagonia’s first dedicated Worn Wear pop-up, which opens tomorrow in Boulder, Colorado—along with a repair workshop on-site.

Why its hot

Will such projects inspire other brands to launch similar programs? It’s hard to say. It takes a relatively large company, with plenty of resources, to redirect worn-out clothes and bring on designers to create new pieces. This may prove too much of a hurdle for many brands.

How the Internet Laughs

It’s getting harder and harder to negotiate the spectrum of humor online.

The editors at The Pudding, a digital publication that explains ideas debated in culture with visual essays, noticed this problem and set out to explore how the limited visual cues we have access to online make it harder to decipher genuine laughter from the passive acknowledgment that something is “funny.”

The result is a three-part visual essay full of funky data visualizations which, as The Pudding describes it, take “a closer look at the usage, evolution, and perception of the digital laugh” to help us decode the intricacies of tech-based communication.

The first installment looks at our “laughter vocabulary” and ranks different sorts of responses, from “bahaha” to “heh” to “rofl” in order of usage. Unsurprisingly, “LOL” accounts for a whopping 55.8% of the world’s laugh language, and “ded” is the least used, at 0.2%.

The team’s second go at data collection tracks the evolution of everyone’s favorite shorthand, “LOL.” Over the past decade, it has only risen in popularity, in part because of its myriad applications. It can connote nervousness, be an attempt to soften the blow of a harsh text, or actually mean someone is laughing out loud (albeit rarely). “Lol’s transformation is less like a shift and more like an evolution,” the team at The Pudding notes.

Most recently, The Pudding has explored degrees of funny. The website offers users the opportunity to match each laugh style with the level of laughter that it represents to them. (After all, intention, and reception, are different for everyone!) So, when you type “rofl,” does that actually mean you’re rolling on the floor with laughter, unable to speak? Does using “lulz” indicate a passive chuckle? You be the judge.

Facebook Won’t Fact Check Political Ads

Facebook wants to make sure your crazy uncle has new information about vaccines, chemtrails, and local pizzerias for you this Thanksgiving.

House Financial Services Committee chairwoman Maxine Waters, a Democratic Congresswoman from California, drilled down about the social media platform’s stance on political ads—and their truthfulness. That line of tough questioning led the Facebook CEO to defend letting politicians lie on Facebook.

“Are you telling me . . . you plan on doing no fact-checking on political ads?” Waters asked.

“Our policy is that we do not fact-check politicians’ speech . . . We believe that in a democracy, it is important that people can see for themselves what politicians are saying,” he replied.

In addition, AOC stuffed Zuckerberg in a locker with her line of questioning.

Why its hot

Do you think Facebook should be responsible for fact-checking ads they run, particularly political ads?

Facebook Wants People to Watch Watch So Please Watch Watch

Facebook Watch hasn’t quite become the essential TV alternative that Facebook is hoping to build just yet, but its viewer numbers are rising, and its slowly working out ways to maximize attention, and lure more viewers across to its dedicated video content platform.

Its latest focus in this respect is European audiences, with new programs and ad options designed to attract publishers and advertisers, and further promote the option in the region. This week, Facebook has announced a new push, which will see it partner publishers and celebrities to create new Watch programs.

Among these new Watch programs will be:

  • Date Fails’ with Conor Maynard. A dating-meets-cooking format, which sees Conor Maynard help individuals find love through food. Weekly 4-6 minute episodes.
  • Ek is back’ with Eko Fresh. With twenty years in the rap business, Eko Fresh sits down with old industry companions and reminisce over old times. Weekly 4 minute episodes.
  • ‘Kim‘s Famous 5’ with Kim Gloss. Kim Gloss hosts a weekly top 5 ranking of celebrity posts that amazed the community, joined by on-the-sofa guests. Weekly 4 minute episodes.
  • ‘Menú a 20’ with La Pelo. Influencers and celebrities participate in kitchen-based challenges with limited time, limited budget and limited ingredients, hosted by La Pelo. Weekly 4 minute episodes.

​The new partnerships with these local celebrities will help to spark interest in Watch, which, in combination with the aforementioned new news programming, and other content, Facebook will be hoping will keep viewers engaged, and help it build momentum for the option.

Facebook Watch still has a way to go to establish itself, but it is growing. According to most recent reports, 720 million people tune into Watch programs monthly, and 140 million people spend at least one minute on Watch daily. On average, daily Watch visitors spend more than 26 minutes on the platform.

Why its hot

At Facebook’s scale, serving 2.4 billion users per month, those are still relatively small numbers, but Facebook can still make Watch a bigger consideration, and take a larger chunk of the video advertising pie. If it can provide relevant content and revenue models, and if it can give people more reason to switch to Watch instead of, say, Netflix or Disney’s coming streaming service.

Adult Gushers or Whiskey Tide Pods?

There is a wrong way to consume alcohol

When The Glenlivet announced with a video that it would be serving three cocktail combinations in edible ‘whisky pods’, the Twitterverse exploded with opinions, most of which came from people who had never tried the whisky delivery units.

Since then, the pods have been ridiculed, compared to Tide Pods, called evil, a “bad idea” and an “abomination” by whisky purists.

It started with a video on 4 October demonstrating “an original whisky drinking experience” with glamour shots of the three pods.

The Glenlivet partnered with sustainable packaging company Notpla and co-owners of Tayer + Elementary, Alex Kratena and Monica Berg, to create three original cocktails for the capsules, which are inspired by the elements and flavours of The Glenlivet Founder’s Reserve: Citrus, Wood and Spice. The company states that the ‘Capsule Collection’ of glassless cocktails would “redefine the way whisky is traditionally enjoyed”.

Each 23ml capsule holds 0.77oz of alcohol, roughly half a typical shot.

But here’s the funny thing – aside from the idea – it’s only available through October 13 and only at London Cocktail Week.

why its hot

How do you make whiskey classier? Whiskey is already pretty classy. Glenlivet says they’ve “redefined how whiskey can be enjoyed,” but people who drink whiskey already enjoy it. It totally removes the social aspect of drinking. Unless you want to stand around with your friends eating whiskey gushers.

300,000 People Are Reading Books on Instagram

In August 2018, Instagram followers of the New York Public Library were tapping through their Insta Stories when something unexpected showed up: the full text of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, designed for a small screen, with small animations that brought the story to life as you flipped.

The project, known as Insta Novels, is part of the NYPL’s goal to reach beyond its walls and convince more people to read books. In pursuit of this mission, the institution has turned to one of the largest social media platforms in the world, bringing classic literature to Instagram’s 400 million daily active users.

Designed by the design agency Mother New York, Insta Novels is the winner of Fast Company‘s 2019 Innovation by Design Awards in the Apps & Games category. Since launching in August 2018, more than 300,000 people have read the NYPL’s Insta Novels, and the NYPL’s Instagram account has gained 130,000 followers. While gaining more followers was definitely part of the project’s aim, the NYPL is more excited—and surprised—that people actually read the books that it published on Instagram.

Instagram is an unlikely platform for reading full novels. As Mother partner and chief creative officer Corinna Falusi puts it: “Instagram is a platform built to share visuals, and we are sharing words.”

So Falusi and her team focused on ensuring that each story was highly legible in terms of text size (not too small, but not so big that each story would take too many screens to complete), background color (a warmer cream to make reading easier on the eyes), and font (the team picked Georgia). They also took advantage of the unique nature of the platform by sprinkling small animations on chapter pages and throughout the books to continually pique the reader’s interest, since they likely expect sleek visuals on Instagram. Finally, they commissioned a different designer to illustrate the equivalent of a book cover that a reader first sees when they open up the Story, taking advantage of Instagram’s focus on visuals to create compelling animations that would convince people to give the story a shot.

To move between pages, the designers realized they could take advantage of Instagram’s interface, where users tap on the right side of the screen to go to the next image or video, to mimic the act of flipping pages. To help guide people, each story has a little animated icon where users are meant to rest their thumb. Then, they can tap every time they want to turn the page. For A Christmas Carol, the icon is a burning candle that slowly burns down as you tap, almost like a digital flip book.

Why its hot

This is a brilliant idea taking full advantage of Instagram’s UX and putting books in front of more people, which is never a bad thing.

Volvo ‘Cracks’ Up Truckers in New Ad

To promote their new Volvo Dynamic Steering product, Volvo shied away from the typical product demonstration – opting for something a little louder and a little more empathetic.

Truck drivers spend countless hours at the wheel of a massive semitruck and more than 80% of truck drivers say they have pain in their back and/or neck. So Volvo Trucks decided to promote the new feature by bringing in the popular and YouTube-savvy chiropractor Beau Hightower to give free neck adjustments at a truck stop.

Volvo Dynamic Steering, or VDS, which helps drivers turn the wheel easily rather than using muscle strength to change course, claims to reduce muscular pain by up to 70%. While the newest spot does, of course, mention the VDS feature, most of the spot is spent showing actual drivers and how common the of back or neck pain is for them. The steering feature, when combined with the chiropractic work, show that Volvo is trying to help, not just sell a new product. 

Why its hot

Rather than the typical product demonstration, which wouldn’t really resonate with the non-truck driving consumer, Volvo is taking advantage of the very popular video subject of “cracking” videos by leveraging a well-known influencer in the space. Videos of people getting chiropractic adjustments get millions of views on YouTube (I admit it’s a guilty pleasure of mine) and since Volvo’s product is made to reduce the issues truck drivers might see a chiropractor for, it’s a perfect marriage. And regardless of the audience – truck driver or not – Volvo demonstrates a care for their customer.


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.

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. 

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?