This 3D Food-Printing Genie Can Make Your Every Wish Come True

A new kind of food processing machine called the Genie can make personalized meals with the press of a button, ready for eating in less than a minute.

The appliance includes the single-portion capsules, ranging from couscous to cake and muffins, and the machine that prints the ingredients into edible foods. Genie can even consider dietary restrictions, including gluten-free and and vegetarian options.

Read more via No Camels.

Why It’s Hot: 3D printing is cool but 3D printing food is hot. We have already seen 3D printers that can make chocolate and print pancakes, but Genie expands this idea to make more personalized food and make it instantly. In addition to the fun tech aspect, Genie also seeks to eliminate food waste, as well as curb obesity by controlling consumers’ meal portions.

Fun technology, plus environmental and human benefits sounds like a piece of too-good-to-be-true instant cake to me. The company is already seeing public interest and are in the mass production stage for corporate clients, arranging thousands of orders from Israel (where it was founded), the U.S. and Greece.

Tumblr Unveils 24-Hour Ads on Dashboards

Tumblr users might have noticed something new atop their dashboards. The blogging platform this week released an ad product called Sponsored Day that allows marketers to appear at the top of users’ dashboard homepages for 24 hours.

Read more via Adweek.

Why It’s Hot: Tumblr’s new ad feature seamlessly fits in to its regular user dashboard, quite the opposite of the typical banner ad pop up. It’s subtle yet designed to drive users to the brand’s custom channel via Tumblr’s Explore tab, where they can also find recommendations, trending topics and staff picks.

Each ad unit is live for 24 hours and can be purchased for a specific country or worldwide. Any brand can purchase the ad, which can be viewed by anyone visiting the site.

Personally, I don’t mind the ads on platforms like Tumblr and Instagram where they blend right in with content; in my opinion, much better than promoted content on Twitter or Facebook. When it comes to social media ads, as a user, blending in is better than standing out in order to provide a better experience, which in turn, may result in a more effective ad.

Twitter Redesigns its Homepage to Lure In New Users

Twitter launched a new homepage this week designed specially for visitors who are not logged in to an account. The redesign offers real-time content from popular Twitter accounts for a similar experience to that of users who are logged in.

Read more via Venture Beat.

Why It’s Hot: Twitter found that the number of new birds joining the flock was down and sought to fix that. The company hatched the redesigned homepage solution with the hope that if the homepage is more engaging, more visitors will sign up and become active users. Since engagement is key to growing and maintaining a user base, it’s no surprise that Twitter is trying to engage visitors to its main site.

But rather than outwardly attempt to persuade people to start tweeting, the new homepage seems like a more effective way to reach site visitors by showing them what their experience could be like. Instead of telling people what benefits they’ll enjoy by using certain products or services, just show them.

The redesigned homepage is currently only available on the desktop website and its launch is limited to the U.S., but Twitter says that it intends to bring the homepage to more places over time.

USA Network Makes Programmatic Changes to Target Millennials

USA Network this week announced a reworking of its strategy to reach mainstream millennial viewers after finding that their audience has shifted to be more millennial than previously believed. As a result, the NBC Universal-owned property is replacing its slate of half-hour comedies with new dramatic series and extending its partnership with WWE.

The network is betting big on upcoming hacker thriller Mr. Robot (screencap above) out of its 14 new shows currently in development. USA will also air additional content from WWE including a rebooted reality competition series and the classic SmackDown program.

In addition to programmatic changes, the network is experimenting with different ad offerings as well to include digital programming and other non-traditional TV platforms such as video-on-demand, services more popular with millennials.

Read more via Adweek.

Why It’s Hot: USA Network is well aware of its target and changes in its audience’s demographics, and is making changes in order to keep its audience engaged. Apart from feeding the mainstream with more drama series and popular wrestling programs, USA and WWE anticipate increased interest from advertisers. With WWE’s 460 million social media followers, both enterprises hope to attract big advertising dollars with the new, additional programs.

As marketers, understanding the audience is key. The only way to give consumers what they want and to effectively convey a message to them is to understand them.

Google Invites Fans to Explore NBC’s American Odyssey

NBC has teamed up with Google to promote a new drama series called “American Odyssey” premiering on the network this Sunday. “Explore American Odyssey” launched this week with Google mapping out the cities and key locations from the show. Through this companion website, fans can learn about the show by discovering more about the characters and unlocking clues to the show’s mystery plot with exclusive access to bonus content.

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Read more via Variety.

Why It’s Hot: It appears that NBC is amping up its partnerships to reach wider audiences – something we may see other networks and brands doing more for upcoming projects. For example, just last week NBC Universal and WWE unveiled a powerful comprehensive brand campaign to air across all of both brands’ networks and platforms, with a social component as well.

With so many options of shows and ways to view them, it’s no wonder we’re seeing more and more integration of these brands or TV shows/films with major media players and social platforms in order to better engage viewers. This past fall, we saw the Gone Girl on Pinterest to promote that film before its release. Perhaps these partnerships between brands and companies, from broadcast networks to technology giants, is something we’ll continue to see more of in order to more effectively reach and engage massive audiences.

Facebook Introduces Friend-to-Friend Payments via Messenger

Facebook this week launched a new feature of its Messenger app that will allow users to pay friends from within messages. Forget PayPal or Venmo; similar to the Snapcash feature from Snapchat, Facebook users can split a bill or repay a friend within the app via private message.

Read more via Tech Crunch.

Why It’s Hot: Cashing in on the popularity of mobile payment apps, Facebook created its own feature to add to the mix of app payment options out there. There’s no question that Facebook’s internal payment system will be convenient for its hundreds of millions of mobile daily users.

To address the question of privacy, Facebook’s anti-fraud team has said that the payment system is kept in a secured, highly-monitored environment separate from other, less secure parts of the social network.

When it comes to mobile apps, it seems consolidation is everything. We previously talked about news apps that gather together information from different sources and combine into one app. Perhaps the future of apps will be that less is more: Having less apps because each one is capable of doing more.

Turn Breakfast into Art with PancakeBot

PancakeBot is the world’s first pancake printer. A Norway-based American maker of an earlier DIY LEGO Pancake Bot is at it again, this time crowdfunding a smarter batter dispenser that 3D prints drawings in pancake batter and cooks them in the order the lines were drawn, resulting in pancake art.

Learn more and watch a demo video to see how PancakeBot works via Tech Crunch.

Why It’s Hot: Perhaps the only thing better than eating pancakes is getting to design them too. PancakeBot’s success with its Kickstarter campaign proves that consumers are enthusiastic about their pancakes – and technology.

While Tech Crunch notes that 3D printing of food is still a niche market, we’ve already seen other edible applications of 3D printing technology. Humans need to eat to survive, and suffice it to say that most enjoy it. Printing and physically designing food makes eating that much more fun. We’ve seen the lengths of 3D printing being tested in other fields, from treating brain tumors to manufacturing automobiles, but PancakeBot provides a unique user experience by enabling – and requiring – consumers’ participation. We’ll have to stay tuned to see what 3D printing will do next.

Wireless Earbuds Create Radio Network in Your Body

Love listening to music on the go but hate untangling wires? Dutch manufacturer NXP Semiconductors is debuting a solution at Mobile World Congress this week: An improved radio transceiver system that could allow for high-quality, truly wireless earbuds with stereo sound by using Near Field Magnetic Induction (NFMI) technology.

Read more via Discovery.

Why It’s Hot: Wireless earbuds already on the market tend to not be completely wireless; that is, most have a wired connection between the ears. With NXP’s system, the NFMI technology creates a small network in and around the human body, thereby improving signal quality and lowering power consumption. This technology could allow earbud manufacturers to forego the wires altogether in the not-so-distant future.

Personally, I struggle with the wire from my studio headphones on an almost daily basis so the thought of getting stereo sound from entirely wireless earbuds is not only intriguing, but so, so appealing.

Google Rolls Out the Red Carpet in Real-Time

If you were browsing Google or playing a Google Play app during the Oscars broadcast this past weekend, you may have noticed ads honoring the winners not long after they even became winners. Those ads were the result of Google’s a real-time Oscars marketing campaign, built to promote buying or streaming the winning films on Google Play just moments after the stars accepted their awards – that is, while the topic was still hot.

After each major award was announced, Google Play served a customized congratulatory ad and within 15 minutes, continued on to the next real-time ad for the next winner.

Read more via Adweek.

Why It’s Hot: Google has previously used its ad network to deliver ads in real-time and to develop creative content quickly, but this is the first time the tech giant used its ad technology to promote its own business.

We frequently see brands flock to Twitter for real-time advertising, especially during live events. This time, Google used its own search platform for advertising instead. I recently posted and we talked about Target‘s real-time, live ad featuring a performance aired during the Grammy Awards. It seems we are entering an age of new ways to market products in real-time – especially during widely popular, hugely anticipated and thoroughly-covered-by-the-media awards shows.

It’s a no-brainer: Google found that the number of searches for stars or movies increases during awards shows; but interest only lasts for a few minutes – until the next award is bestowed. While Google hasn’t said how many movie sales the campaign actually generated, the ads were served across 650,000+ apps and its online network of websites. Now the question is: What will they do next year?

“Open Sesame” Smartphone Solution for the Disabled

In an ever-connected world, touchscreens and smartphones are like second nature to most people. But for the mobility impaired, it’s not that simple – until now.

Sesame Enable, a company that creates hands-free control technology for mobile devices, has created a touch-free smartphone that allows users to control their phone without ever lifting a finger. Fresh out of the box, all users have to do is say “Open Sesame” and the phone powers on and begins working.

Read more about Sesame Phone’s development and functionality via Forbes, via NoCamels.

Why It’s Hot: Apart from the obvious tech aspect, we often discuss the issue of privacy when it comes to new technologies, and being able-bodied, privacy is always possible to some degree. But for those living with motor disabilities, relying on a caretaker is a way of life and unfortunately, along with independence goes one’s privacy. With the Sesame Phone, the mobility impaired can do everyday tasks such as make phone calls to loved ones or even aimlessly browse the Internet without a third party liaison.

While Sesame’s current focus is on people with motor disabilities, the company is considering ways to make their touch-free technology available to people with debilitating injuries as well as to the general public. The Sesame phone was created for those living with paralysis, but its creators say that its touchless technology could be useful in the future. I often end my posts with this, but it’s true – the possibilities are endless.

Imagine Dragons and Target Win the Grammys with #MoreMusic

Target took a different approach to its Grammys advertising this year. Rather than opt for a traditional 30-second spot, the brand pooled eight 30-second media buys into a single four-minute commercial: A commercial break turned into a live performance by rock group Imagine Dragons.

Target’s VP of Marketing said the #MoreMusic campaign, launched this past week on the night of the Grammy Awards, gives the fans just what they want when watching the awards show: more music! In doing so, the campaign promotes the retailer’s exclusive release of the deluxe edition of the band’s upcoming album.

#MoreMusic literally gives fans more music: During the Grammys broadcast, viewers were treated to an additional live performance during a commercial break, and fans will get exclusive bonus tracks when they purchase the album from Target.

In addition, fans are also able to unlock bonus content on Twitter by joining the conversation with #MoreMusic.

Read more via Adweek and AdAge.

Why It’s Hot: What better audience to try to sell your new album to than viewers watching the biggest night in music? Imagine Dragons and Target made history with the first ever live ad to air in real-time during the Grammys. The #MoreMusic campaign lives on in rotation the week after the awards show, when the Imagine Dragons album is set for release.

With technology booming and us marketers having to be even more creative with ad content and media, this is just one of a list of infinite possibilities of connecting a brand to the consumer.

YouTube, We all Tube: Multi-Angle Viewing Comes to YouTube

Have you ever watched a video and wanted to view it from another angle? Maybe the shot was too wide or too close for your liking. Or perhaps you just want to be able to interact with your video content more closely.

Online video giant YouTube is trying out a new multi-angle viewing feature in a small-scale experiment rolling out this week.

Users can choose from one of four different angles and switch back and forth in real-time while the video plays. As of now, the new capability can only be experienced on one featured YouTube user’s channel. While other services have tried this feature before, YouTube has the sheer numbers and user base to make it work, with its 1 billion unique users each month.

Read more via Tech Crunch.

Why It’s Hot: Interactivity! It’s not enough to see interesting, entertaining content; people want to be able to engage with it too. Content becomes like a game. Perhaps instead of editors piecing bits of video together for a final product, viewers will soon be able to watch all recorded content and put it together in a way that suits them. The future of video is in our hands!

March to the Beat of Your Own Robot

As if the music industry wasn’t competitive enough, artists may soon have to worry about more than just each other. With the help of a 27-year-old musical artificial intelligence student, robots may be ready to share the stage.

Mason Bertan, a graduate student at the Georgia Institute of Technology, is teaching robots how to make jazz music by breaking down jazz theory and musical improv into a programming language the robots are able to understand. Not only can these robots produce their own music, but they are also aware of their physical bodies and capable of moving them to the music. These aren’t giant, industrial machines but rather head-banging, foot-tapping musicians!

Read more via Mashable.

Why It’s Hot: We have seen robot technology in the home and in the doctor’s office, and now we’re seeing – and hearing – it in music too. These physical beings create music on their own, as well as listen to and understand it. Also, as Bretan points out, the algorithms that the robots use to create music relies on their physical bodies – in other words, “if you give the same algorithm to a different robot (like a marimba-playing robot with one arm or 10 arms), you will get different musical behaviors and outcomes.” Just as with humans, the creative options are endless.

As someone who prefers music produced more organically, I’m not sure how much we need music-making robots. And as is the case with almost every new fancy piece of technology, the necessity is a hot topic of debate: We may not need it, but it’s hard to deny that it’s pretty cool.

Kyrzbekistan, the Hottest New Tourist Destination in the World (Wide Web)

Everyone makes mistakes, including credible news sources like The New York Times. The newspaper recently published an article about a climber who escaped captivity in Asia by throwing an armed militant off a cliff. It’s a fascinating story, but you won’t find the place where the article says the incident took place on any map. Kyrzbekistan, perhaps a mistaken mash-up of central Asian countries Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan, is not a real country.

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Naturally, the Internet responded almost immediately. Read more on the reaction to Kyrzbekistan via Adweek.

Why It’s Hot: No one can make a single error online without the world noticing. Mistakes quickly go viral, sometimes at the cost of a brand’s image, with the brand left to pick up the pieces. In this case, parts of the Internet are responding relatively well. While senior editors at the New York Times are undoubtedly kicking themselves, the accidentally-created country of Kyrzbekistan now has its own Twitter feed and a lighthearted, seemingly harmless following.

It’s interesting to note not just how fast the Internet reacts to things like this, but that they stay relevant for a little while – even if just to bored millennials – before fading out. With Kyrzbekistan’s statehood, it took one day for someone with perhaps too much time on their hands to create (and still maintain) a Twitter handle. Since then, tweets have continued to pour in.

The buzz is surely driving traffic to the original article; I wouldn’t have read the piece if it hadn’t been for the error. And the tourism industry of Kyrzbekistan – I mean Kyrgyzstan – is probably mindful of the publicity.

Vaccine Trains Immune System to Attack Cancer Cells

While a be-all, end-all cure for cancer remains a reach, mankind is getting closer to winning the fight. An Israeli biotechnology company called Vaxil BioTherapeutics is developing a vaccine for cancer designed not to treat the disease, but to prevent it from returning.

The prophylactic vaccine, called ImMucin, has been in development for over 5 years and has proven in clinical trials to trigger a response in about 90% of cancers. Although it’s classified as a vaccine, it is given to people who are already sick, either at the early detection stage or when the patient is in remission, to prevent the disease from coming back. It does this by training the patient’s immune system to attack cancer cells.

Read more via NoCamels.com.

Why It’s Hot: According to the World Health Organization, 14 million new cancer cases are diagnosed around the world each year. The disease is the second-leading cause of death in the U.S. and scientists have been trying to find a cure for decades.

This type of immunotherapy for an illness usually thought of as incurable gives hope that a cure is out there, and may arrive sooner than we think. Having a family member recently declared in remission from cancer, this hits home for me.

Aside from the human element, as marketers, especially those who work on our pharma and healthcare clients, innovations like ImMucin are huge. When our clients are innovative, it makes our job a little bit easier.

As science and technology advance, our options become endless. Perhaps we really can do [almost] anything.

Engie for Your Engine Troubles

For those of us who are not mechanically-minded, a sudden light on the dashboard can be a scary sight. What does it mean, and what do I do about it? How will I know if I’m getting ripped off at the repair shop?

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An Israeli start-up called Engie is here to solve that problem. The company has created a device that attaches to an automobile’s on-board computer and uses Bluetooth to send information to a companion mobile app. The app analyzes the data and simplifies it for the user with graphics. And before they visit a shop to have the car fixed, Engie can compare prices from local garages to show where the user will get the best rate.

Via Globes.

Why It’s Hot: While Engie is an Israeli start-up and currently only available in Tel Aviv, Israel, the idea has great implications.  It sets itself apart from the typical time-saving app by combining two highly-sought after services: explaining the complex and helping users save money. Engie is every driver’s one-stop-shop.

Auto repair rip-offs are something a lot of people can likely relate to. On the larger scale, who knows what humankind will develop next? Maybe we’ll be self-diagnosing and performing self blood tests via mobile in a few years – or maybe some things are better left to the experts.

For Sale: Vintage Boeing Airplane Parts

It’s the perfect gift for the one on your list who truly loves to travel: An airplane! Well, at least part of one.

Taking off just in time for the holidays, Boeing has launched a Custom Hangar store full of limited edition items including everything from home decor and furniture to apparel. Vintage airplane parts such as an authentic 747 jet window picture frame and a high-top table made from the real engine of a 737 are being diverted to your home.

Be it a couch of business class seats, a coffee table or a beverage cart, Boeing is arriving in consumers’ living rooms. Talk about a conversation piece.

Via Adweek.

Why It’s Hot: Boeing isn’t itself an airline or a traditional consumer brand — most of us probably don’t have a few hundred million dollars lying around to purchase aircrafts — but their sale of merchandise is getting consumers’ wheels spinning. As opposed to typical furniture retailers, Boeing’s products are a part of history. They even have fans; that is, they have spinning blades and people that are fond of them, and willing to spend money on memorabilia.

For a brand usually reserved for long-distance travel and faraway trips (via airplane), it doesn’t get much more personal than landing inside the home. Brands already vie for ad space in our hands, on our screens and outside our homes, so perhaps it won’t be long before more conventionally out-of-home, outdoor brands move inside to serve real purposes as household items.

“Dronies” Are the New Selfies

Smile for the drone camera!

A U.K.-based firm is building a self-flying micro-drone called Zano, with which athletes can capture photos and HD videos of themselves doing fun stunts or other hard-to-snap moments and, of course, the everyday selfie-taker can be free from having their extended arm dominate every photo.

 

While Zano does not require constant external guidance and control from the user, it will link to a mobile app by which users can tell the device to stay put in one position or to move around for a different angle. The nano-drone is still in development backed by a successful Kickstarter campaign and the company is planning for lift off next summer.

Via Tech Crunch.

Why It’s Hot: The possibilities are endless. Drones are all the rage, from security to commercial use (Amazon Prime Air, anyone?) and for private, recreational purposes. With technology constantly advancing and our desire to capture and share every moment of our lives building, the idea of programming a drone to snap “dronies” isn’t much of a surprise. Selfies have become a part of our modern culture, and soon, instead of having to rely on a friend or asking a stranger, people will be able to position a drone via their smartphone to snap themselves in a new way.

Apart from taking “dronies,” self-flying camera drones can be used for a host of other purposes. We’ll just have to stay tuned to see where the drones soar from here.

An Apple a Day for Keeping the Smartphone Away

Thanks to an app developed by three 20-year-old students from Singapore, you can now use your phone to earn rewards such as local retail discounts. It’s simple – all you have to do is not touch your phone.

The app, called Apple Tree, was developed as part of the annual Splash Awards by the Singapore Computer Society, this year’s theme being “Bringing Singaporeans Closer Together.”

In the app, apple trees start to grow when two or more users put their smartphones together and the devices remain untouched. The longer the users stay away from their phones, the more apples – and redeemable discounts – will grow on their trees.

Via Adweek.

Why It’s Hot: Leave it to modern society to need an innovative app to get us to put our phones down. We saw Applebee’s endorse going tech-free earlier this year, and now we have some real incentive to tuck our phone away – that is, aside from the appeal of actually socializing with other people face-to-face.

While there is a similar app already available, Apple Tree provides real-life rewards at retail outlets; that is, once the user has grown and harvested their apples. Apple Tree seems pretty ironic, and that’s because it is. But if developing an ironic app pays $24,000, I’d consider it.

As digital marketers, it’s worth noting when organizations – and apps – seek to reduce the amount of time and energy we spend on our devices. As Adweek notes, it also puts in jeopardy the digital and mobile ads we’re tasked to create  by our clients. Perhaps the digital revolution is seeing the approach of a counterrevolution.

Win an #EpicFood Tour from Turkish Airlines

Those filtered photos of your exquisite travel meals are no longer just for Instagram. Turkish Airlines wants to see them in a new Epic Food Map contest launched this week in support of the airline’s latest television commercial. The lucky photographer of the most mouth-watering #EpicFood, chosen by soccer stars (the stars of the ad) Didier Drogba and Leo Messi, will win a trip to five international destinations showcased in the spot.

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Read more about the campaign surrounding the contest via AgencySpy.

Why It’s Hot: There’s nothing quite as appealing and engaging as the prospect of an international food tour. Turkey, specifically the intercontinental metropolis of Istanbul, is often referred to as the crossroads of Europe and Asia; the TV spot even asserts that “We fly to more flavours than any other airline.” While it’s not unusual for airlines to promote their diverse register of destinations, Turkish Airlines uses this fact to engage customers and generate social buzz – because who wouldn’t want to travel the world eating delicious, exotic foods?

We have seen lately the emerging trend of airlines embracing just how boring flying can be, but Turkish Airlines instead keeps the traditional focus of the destination. Not even mentioning the journey, the airline shows that travel is all about the food to be enjoyed upon arrival, and offers customers a way to participate in the fun.

As we have discussed previouslycrowdsourcing for content helps brands to build awareness and loyalty, and while traveling across the world may not be something we all have in common, food certainly is.

Google Says, “You’ve Got A Friend In Me”

Have you ever casually agreed to plans with a friend – “Sure, let’s grab drinks next Thursday after work” – and then totally forgot about it? Google is here to the rescue to help prevent this from ever happening again (and to make us better humans) with its updated mobile app. The catch? The tech giant will read your email.

The new feature of Google Now will automatically keep track of informal conversations in users’ Gmail inboxes so that they aren’t missed. The app will continuously scan through the inbox searching for “half-baked plans” that users haven’t added to their calendars and will ask the user about them (as in the photo above).

Simply put, if you get an email asking if you’d like to meet for drinks next Thursday at 7pm, Google Now will recognize it as an invitation. You’ll then be prompted to add it to your calendar.

Read more via Huffington Post.

Why It’s Hot: We’re constantly talking about new apps and gadgets that essentially do our thinking for us and can help us remember things we’ll likely forget. It seems that we may soon be able to literally tap into our memory via some new device.

Google’s new feature is just one of many updates that are designed to anticipate the user’s needs and handle tedious mobile tasks without the user having to swipe a finger.

On the flip side of convenience is, of course, the issue of privacy. As with so many suggestive, helpful, and perhaps slightly invasive apps, this is a major concern. As Huffington Post reports, Google has been criticized for its increasing “‘surveillance’ capabilities.” We’re seeing more and more that the convenience of having one’s device help make their life easier comes at the price of privacy.

Slated is Knocking Down the Language Barrier

Texting against a language barrier just got a whole lot easier. While apps like Google Translate are useful, the time it requires to copy and paste words can be a hassle.

New app Slated is solving that problem. The keyboard app available for iOS 8 offers real-time translations of input text that users can send with a simple click.

The app can translate between 81 languages and shows the user’s text changing as they type. When the recipient answers in the other language, the app can also translate backwards so that the user can understand their answer. The app is still rolling out in the iTunes Store as of this week.

Read more and watch a demo video via Tech Crunch.

Why It’s Hot: Translation technology is buzzing! We’ve discussed apps like Skype using voice-recognition technology to translate speech into a different language in real-time, but now a translation service integrates directly into the keyboard so that users can type in one language, presumably their native tongue, and converse with someone in another language.

Slated’s creator says that while the app is designed for users to be able to have entire conversations with people in a foreign language, the user also inevitably ends up picking up some of the languages they translate to after frequent use. Not only does the app translate for you in real-time, but perhaps this is yet another unique way to learn a new language.

Now Your Coke Is As Unique As You Are

Coca Cola’s Share A Coke campaign showed that the soda brand seemed to really understand its drinkers – especially people with popular first names or those with the creativity to make something out of Coke cans. Now Coca-Cola Israel has expanded on this by creating a campaign with 2 million one-of-a-kind bottle designs.

Watch the video below for more information.

Via AdWeek.

Why It’s Hot: We’ve previously discussed the power of product packaging for a variety of brands. Coca-Cola, like many others, uses its packaging to engage consumers; the “Share A Coke” campaign felt personal, even though as AdWeek points out, it wasn’t personal at all. (If you’re able to find your name printed on a label, chances are that it probably isn’t too unique. Sorry to burst your carbon dioxide bubble.) The Diet Coke campaign, on the other hand, doesn’t leave anyone out and its designs alone are works of art.

I’m a fan of anything that doesn’t require finding “Lili” on a keychain – or in this case, a bottle label. Even as someone who can never find anything with my name on it, I think that a nice-looking keepsake bottle is a lot cooler than seeing my name on a label.

Money Doesn’t Grow on Trees, But Solar Panels Do

Sologic, an Israeli renewable energy start-up, has developed an innovative tree with solar panels for leaves. The tree, made out of metal tubing and designed to blend into parks and other public outdoor areas, is just like a natural tree but with a few added technical enhancements.

Sologic’s eTree offers shade, a water fountain, a WiFi hotspot, USB charging stations and even lights up at night, all powered by solar energy. According to the Israeli Ynetnews.com, the first eTree will be ‘planted’ in a park in northern Israel and the company is in talks to plant more in China and France.

Watch the video to learn more about the tree, or read more via NBC News.

Why It’s Hot: It seems that outdoor charging stations are becoming more popular in recent years as our inability to detach from our devices is becoming more of a reality. Sologic’s eTree has everything us tech lovers want and might have trouble finding outdoors. But eTree sets itself apart in that it doesn’t look like a random, industrial piece of technology invading Mother Nature’s beauty – rather, it blends in a bit more with its surroundings and serves a real purpose. After all, who doesn’t love taking countless sunny selfies and sharing them with friends? Now, the sky sun is the limit.

For Newsies: Now, the Push Notification is the App

Chances are that you probably have at least two different news apps on your devices that help you stay up to date on what’s happening in your areas of interest – whether it’s the local news, the latest tech updates and/or sports scores. Now, instead of wasting precious memory space on your phone, and much-needed time that you can’t afford to spare, two new apps will keep users ‘in-the-know’ of current events with a simple push notification from a single app.

The apps, called “Push” and “Drop,” save users from downloading multiple news apps and browsing different websites to get their news. Instead, the apps function primarily via push notifications.

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With both Push and Drop, users can follow a variety of topics and news outlets and be alerted of news by a push notification, which they can then open to visit the full article. Push is currently available via iTunes, and Drop is available for iOS and Android.

Read more via Tech Crunch.

Why It’s Hot: Push and Drop come at a time when the way we use our smartphones and devices is changing. A Tech Crunch editor noted earlier this year a shift in app usage, “the rise of the invisible app,” as we move away from overwhelming, information overload and toward more targeted, specific information from our apps (a la Foursquare’s Swarm app and Broadcast from App.net).

The pull from Push and Drop is that the apps consolidate users’ multiple news sources into one. With that said, most apps already have built-in push notifications for breaking news stories. Setting up notifications on only specific topics or from certain sources may also leave users missing some news, but perhaps it’s a start.

Personally, while I tend to keep my register of iPhone apps to a minimum, I do like having my local news and New York Times apps separate.

Sesame Street App Helps Kids Deal with Disaster

The PSEG foundation has teamed up with Sesame Workshop to launch an emergency preparedness initiative featuring two mobile apps, “Let’s Get Ready” and “Here For Each Other,” aimed at making children comfortable and knowledgeable in what could be frightening situations even for us adults.

PSEG Sesame app

The Let’s Get Ready app teaches kids what they need to know in case of an emergency, from packing an emergency kit with essentials, to their parents’ names and their home address. Here For Each Other is more parent-focused, offering tips and tools for discussing emergency preparedness with children.

Read more via NBC News.

Why It’s Hot: With so many natural disasters and man-made tragedies in the past few years, between the rebuilding and recovery, there are often discussions about how to talk to one’s children about emergencies to make sure they know what to do, just in case.

I’m not yet a parent myself, but I imagine that emergency preparedness is a scary subject to bring up to your little ones. While perhaps parents and relatives should be able to talk to their children about such things, kids would probably be much more attentive to a game-like approach than to a serious conversation with an adult.

As we have discussed previously, and as we see from the world around us, children love playing on smartphones and devices just like we do. In addition to fun and/or educational games, it might be effective to communicate more serious topics, like what to do in case of an emergency, via something kids can relate to – a fun, kid-friendly app.

KLM Warms 9 Million Hearts with Beagle Who Returns Lost Items

Traveling is stressful, but there’s nothing like losing something on the plane to really put a damper on the mood. Dutch airline KLM wants to relieve that stress, showing that they will go to great lengths to reunite passengers with lost belongings – even so far as to train a puppy to track down the lost article’s owner in the airport, by following the owner’s scent left on the item.

It’s not real, but rather a heartwarming public relations display of KLM’s dedication to reuniting passengers with any lost items.

Read more via AdWeek.

Why It’s Hot: Animals are effective! As we saw last week with Budweiser’s Don’t Drink and Drive PSA, there’s nothing like a cute puppy to warm even the coldest heart, and this helps get the brand’s message across in a positive, memorable way. In this case, KLM wants travelers to know that if they do accidentally leave something behind on the plane, they’ll get it back.

As a dog lover myself, I definitely see the effectiveness of using animals in TV spots to help sell a service like the Dutch airline. It might be far-fetched, but there’s no fighting the smile that comes from seeing a cute animal.

Give a 1-Star Review, Get 25% Off Your Meal

As the old saying goes, “There’s no such thing as bad publicity.” Especially in today’s social media world, we can all recognize that this rings true. Botto Bistro, an Italian restaurant in San Francisco, is no exception to the rule. The restaurant has created its own buzz as it seeks the worst Yelp rating in the Bay Area.

Botto Bistro invites patrons to not only share their dining experience on Yelp, but to “hate” the restaurant on the site. Botto will reward those who rate them poorly with 25% off of any pizza.

Owner David Cerretini says that his 1-star scheme is the “best business move” he has made in years. With saucy menu items (pun intended), witty wait staff and Yelp reviews to match, Botto Bistro plays into their tarnished image.

Read more via Adweek.

Why It’s Hot: It’s a no-brainer that if an establishment garners poor reviews online, consumers won’t be willing to try it out and it will likely go out of business. Botto Bistro flips this logic on its head. By creating social chatter around its notoriously bad service, sarcastic staff and over-charging for things like a glass of water and encouraging patrons to post honest reviews, the restaurant uses its “bad” publicity to its advantage. The social conversation around Botto Bistro inevitably creates curiosity, bringing new patrons in the door to check it out. The restaurant boasts on its website:

WE MADE IT!
Botto is officially the worst restaurant on Yelp!
Thank you to everyone who helped us acheive our one star rating!

 

I’d give them a one-star rating for a spelling error on their website, but that’s just me.

“Gone Girl” Pinterest Offers Clues into Girl’s Mysterious Disappearance

“Gone Girl” is the fictional story of a woman who suddenly goes missing, whose husband is presumed to be responsible for her disappearance. Twentieth Century Fox, the studio behind turning the bestselling novel into a film, is giving fans an inside look at lead character Amy Dunne’s life. In today’s modern world, it’s common for a digital footprint to be left behind by victims of crime, and in gearing up for next month’s film release, the movie studio invites fans to discover who Amy Dunne was before she went missing via her Pinterest page.

See the “Gone Girl” trailer and read more via the TODAY Show.

Why It’s Hot: The content on Amy Dunne’s highly-curated boards shines a spotlight on her personality and offer clues to understanding her story. For those who haven’t read the novel, Amy’s Pinterest paints a picture of her that will leave viewers guessing – and as Twentieth Century Fox executives surely hope, wanting to see the movie.

Social media accounts for movies isn’t a new concept, but accounts officially devoted to characters might be. This could be a new way of marketing stories (whether from the screen or in print) in the digital age, by letting the characters speak for themselves and tell their own story.

SheRides Offers Women an Alternative to Public Taxis

The app-based taxi and ride-share space is about to get busier as SheTaxis are set to launch in the New York metropolitan area later this month. According to a report in the New York Times, the taxi service (“SheRides” in New York City, due to a city law barring the use of ‘taxi’ in a name) will debut in NYC, Westchester and Long Island. So what makes this different from Uber, Lyft, Hailo and other app-based car services? This one is exclusively for women.

The app connects female drivers from car service companies to app users; that is, female customers. Users will be prompted to answer whether there are females in their party; if not, the app will direct them to another local car service. SheRides will initially only be accessible via an iPhone app, and only in the NYC area, though the company hopes to expand to Android phones and tablets in the future, and to cities across the United States.

Via Adweek

Why It’s Hot: Anyone who’s watched Law & Order: Special Victims Unit knows how it goes: A young woman exploring the big city hails a cab, climbs in, and ends up in a dangerous situation with a sinister driver seeking to do her harm. Maybe I just watch too much television, but the idea of a female-friendly service does seem appealing.

On the other hand, SheTaxis is feeling the heat even before launch as some accuse the service of being discriminatory and illegal. Similarly, hiring based on gender definitely goes against Equal Opportunity Employment, but it will be interesting to see if this line gets blurred for the sake of safety.

As the market for app-based taxis is expanding, it’s worth noting the new, unique services joining the mix. Perhaps hailing a taxi on the street sans technology will soon be a thing of the past.