Zara’s AR

Zara mannequins are coming to life. The fast fashion destination is giving its display windows an AR makeover, enabling passersby to simply point their smartphones at empty display windows to make virtual models appear, move, and converse on their screens. If they like what they see, they can shop items directly from their mobile phones.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=upWC8v-SQc

Why It’s Hot

-First retailer to implement AR at a mass scale

-Really smart and effective way to dress up retail…one that has fast turn arounds and less man power

-Bridges the purchase gap from brick and mortar to .com

The Dawn Of The Drone-era Is Upon Us

Elevation, a new film, shows how drones could transform the way we live and construct urban environments, from reimagining architectural design and construction to deliveries to infrastructure and surveillance. Drone development is already progressing rapidly, as drone devices become more accessibly priced for average consumers.

Some of the film’s drone predictions:

-Drones will enable innovative new building construction techniques, as they are powered remotely and can go anywhere

-Human passengers will travel by drone along drone highways

-There will be rooftop drone parking and drone charging stations

-Clouds of drone delivery “wasps” will hover above the city, transporting goods to people.

Architecture might have to change to accommodate delivery drones, whether that’s a giant cat flap on the side of the apartment or a little perch where it lands. The infrastructure around deliveries could change dramatically. If drones become a popular way of traveling, every building is going to have some sort of drone parking on it, so architecture might have to sprout branches and platforms to allow people to leave and enter the building.

As drone technologies start being used en masse by both brands and consumers, discussions are underway about the air traffic control systems, the regulations and even the privacy legislation that need to be developed to manage their impact.

Big brands are quickly getting involved in drone delivery, with Ford investigating how drone technology can be used in vehicles. Amazon has been granted a patent for a delivery drone that can respond to human gestures.

Why It’s Hot

-From government surveillance to urban landscape reconfiguration, drones are opening up a world of industries and tech use cases never even dreamed off

-With legalization/regulation of drones will have a huge impact on brands…from how they deliver their products, how they advertise, to how they deliver utilities

-How DOPE would it be to watch a high-speed drone chase between police-drones and some hoodlum drones?!

– I think we all need to start investing in some serious protective headwear for when shit starts falling from the sky

 

Source

 

Playing For Good

What if you could plant a tree just by paying a bill online? More than 280 million Chinese consumers are doing just that, alongside other similarly environmentally friendly acts. The Ant Forest app, launched as a pilot initiative in 2016 by Alipay, China’s leading mobile payment platform, gamifies going green. It rewards users who engage in activities with a low carbon footprint, such as using public transportation or walking to work. Through an animated, interactive mobile game, participants can collect “energy points” and compete with friends to grow a virtual tree. Gathering enough points means Alipay’s parent company Ant Financial will plant a real tree in Inner Mongolia or Gansu province.

 

 

 

Alipay takes the challenge very seriously. In light of transparency issues swirling around the philanthropy industry in China, not only does the company use blockchain to power its donation platform, it has also gone so far as to install a live camera feed in its newly planted forests, so that Ant Forest participants, of whom more than half are millennials, can see exactly what their efforts have amounted to. By the end of 2017, Alipay had planted 13.1 million trees as a result of activity on the app, and claimed to have reduced carbon emission by 2.05 million tons.

Ant Forest is not the only Alipay app that uses gamification for social good. Ant Farm lets users make micro-donations from their mobile payments to selected charities, within a framework that resembles a FarmVille-style game. Users compete with others in their social network as they raise a virtual chicken, gaining feed through making payments and eventually using the eggs their chicken lays to donate to organizations supporting children with congenital heart disease. Players have to keep checking the app to manage feeding times, lest their chicken run away to find food in other users’ digital farms.

Users who prefer to be more active can turn their own steps into a donation in another app, and can compare their fitness progress with those in their network.

Why It’s Hot

Gamification is being hailed as a strong contender for propelling the future of sustainability through digital means. It shows that digital finance holds a huge untapped power to mobilize people in support of sustainable development and the fight against climate change. And this power is literally at our fingertips through our mobile devices.

 

Source

 

Talk about waiting to death….

Pharrell is in it for the long haul in promoting his latest single 100 Years, having taken the slightly unusual decision to set a release date for, er, next century. As in 2117.

Only then will your great-great-great grandchildren be able to jam to Pharrell’s 100 Years, which this weekend was locked in a safe for the next hundo years. The N.E.R.D frontman has linked up with Louis XIII Cognac for the venture, which is aiming to raise awareness about climate change.

The sole copy of 100 Years has been engraved on a clay vinyl made from soil that’s been extracted from the Louis XIII Cognac vineyard, and is now safely locked away, time capsule-style.

But there is a twist…if Earth continues on a path of destruction (aka Global Warming) the vinyl, and only copy of the track, will disintegrate and disappear forever

 

Why It’s Hot:

– Very interesting unique idea / partnership / twist on a time capsule

– Not sure how effective it will be at changing environmental policy, but works beautifully as a branded stunt

Balls

Adidas Soccer revealed the Telstar 18, a reimagining of the original Telstar ball used at the tournament back in 1970 to be featured in the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

It will be the most tech-savvy ball in history with an NFC microchip embedded inside. The chip will allow consumers to interact directly with the ball using their smartphones. Each ball generates a unique identifier, unlocking exclusive content and information for the user about the details of each ball and providing access to challenges that users can enter before the World Cup.

In short, passionate soccer fans can tap their phone on the ball to unlock a consumer experience – technically this could be anything from player exclusive content, to games, to Adidas’s discounts, to brand co-partnership

Why It’s Hot:

  1. Harnesses a red-hot passion point (aka soccer) at a global scale
  2. Enables increased product sales (the balls)
  3. Delivers on a unique and exclusive consumer experience
  4. Sky is the limit when it comes to content

AI Births The First White Collar Criminal

The Brazilian edition of business magazine Forbes has created a provocative strategy to spotlight the issue of corruption, which is flourishing while the nation continues to struggle economically.

Working with Ogilvy Brazil, Forbes has personified the issue by creating a fictional character to represent the estimated $61bn that corruption costs the nation annually. The result is Ric Brasil, an AI-generated avatar whose aggregated ‘earnings’ from white collar crime would place him at number 8 in the upcoming Forbes 2018 billionaire list.

The features and persona of Ric Brasil have been developed by technology companies Nexo and Notan drawing on existing data and images held on convicted corporate criminals. Over the last eight months this material has been analysed along with information sourced from media reports, witness statements, interviews and books covering two of Brazil’s most infamous corruption cases.

According to the magazine’s CEO, Antonio Camarotti, ‘Forbes wants to take a stand against corruption. We thought of this campaign as a way not only to raise public awareness to the extent of the issue, but also to value honest business people—those who comply with their duties, pay taxes, and shun taxpayer’s money as a way to make a fortune. Someone who won’t let himself be lured into corruption practices.’

Members of the press will be able to interview Ric Brasil in the run up to the launch of the billionaires list on April 16.

Source: Contagious

Why It’s Hot:

Part of the problem with corporate crime is that while it has a cost, it’s often hard to find a way to channel public anger against what can feel like a victimless crime. By literally putting a face on an intangible, distributed crime – vividly ‘bringing the problem to life’ – Forbes has a better chance of getting people to connect with the issue.

3D Scale Is The Future Of Your Body Complex

The ShapeScale, a 3D body scanner that can provide enough information for even the thirstiest data fanatic. The ShapeScale, which cost $499 pre-order, uses body scanning to create a 360-degree, 3D digital avatar of you, complete with measurements and body composition stats.

The round scale looks like any other, but there’s an arm extending from it that has a camera. This arm circles around you about four times, taking extremely detailed photos of your body. Using the combination of these images and your actual weight, ShapeScale creates the avatar. The entire process is supposed to take about 30 seconds.

Then, on an app, you see the data. It shows your weight, of course, alongside measurements — hips, waist, thighs, arms, and so on. It also gives you body composition and even provides body fat percentage by body part, so you can know if your torso is 20 percent fat. You’re supposed to do it wearing form-fitting clothing, which I was not, so I didn’t receive my measurements. But I did see my avatar, and it looked extremely accurate.

The co-founders say that ShapeScale’s technology could work well with e-commerce; they’re among those collaborating with some clothing companies to explore the idea of letting people virtually try on products.

Why It’s Hot

  • One of the big reasons why people fall of the exercise wagon is because they can’t see results. This could be a strong motivator to stay onboard.
  • One more example of brands/services that are providing uber individualized services, which is a trend we have been seeing.
  • This has interesting retail implications, especially with the rise of e-commerce and the growing amount of returns

 

Source: The Verge

 

Sound Me In

Ticketmaster has partnered with audio startup Lisnr to develop an app that checks in event goers using sound technology.The app uses unique signals sent and received by mobile devices to identify who is entering the venue. When a person is in close proximity, they can simply open the app to check in.

Microphones installed at the event listen for audio signals emitted from devices at frequencies usually inaudible to people and checks them against the venue’s database. Once a person is identified and verified, their app lights up in green, signaling that they have been checked in successfully. This means that attendees can walk through without having to queue to get a ticket scanned or checked.

VIDEO – https://techxplore.com/news/2017-07-event-goers-audio.html

At some places, people can also use their Presence app to check in by simply tapping their phones on specially installed sensors and scanners. The digital passes can be used to view, transfer and sell tickets within the app, as well as through text messages and email.

Ticketmaster and Lisnr have hinted that, in addition to reducing ticket fraud and queues, the partnership can enable brands and event venues to personalize the experience for users.

Why It’s Hot:

  • It was a very obvious, yet innovative way to bring the ticket into the 21st century
  • Not only does this digital dog whistle allows you to waltz right in hassle free, it also recognizes you as an individual fan, allowing brands to serve you customized content, offers, and experiences.
  • Requires no additional hardware, no need for wifi, mobile service or Bluetooth connectivity allowing brands to scale this solution quickly and easily.

Source: Contagious

 

 

Alibaba gives the elderly some luvin’

Last month, Chinese e-tail giant Alibaba launched an easier-to-use version of its Taobao e-commerce app built with senior citizens in mind. Although the app has a simpler interface, elders can access the same features – such as personalized shopping suggestions and live-streamed content – as those with the original app. It also makes it easier for seniors to register an account and browse products, delivering an improved user experience, from personalized recommendations to after-sales service.

It also includes a new peer-to-peer chat function, allowing family members to share products and consult or help one another in one click, as well as a new “pay-for-me” option to pay for another’s purchases.

Taobao also added a feature that lets seniors get in touch with their families with the touch of a button. Over 30 million Taobao users are 50 or older.

We often hear about tech-driven companies clamoring to cater to millennials and Gen Z-ers. The stereotypes dictate that younger consumers are ‘digital natives’, radically different to older ‘digital immigrant’ counterparts. But that’s not really the case. Consider one recent telling sign of the times: the number of senior Airbnb hosts in Asia is rising faster than all other age groups. Older consumers are increasingly exhibiting the same behaviors (digital and otherwise) and have the same expectations.

  • Alibaba made a simple tweak to an existing service and in doing so gained access to a huge aging population – one we often alienate
  • This also opens up the market for sellers that cater to a very large subset people that would otherwise be hard to reach via brick and mortar
  • Modifying digital commerce services for the elderly makes a ton of sense considering their limited access to transportation and less opportunity for mobility
  • The feed is curated for this demographic and it seems the Asian community dabbles in sexy underwear and flame retardant pants

Source: Alibaba

Thumbs Down-ish

People can now downvote inappropriate comments to hide them on Facebook. But what Facebook does with signals about problematic comments could raise new questions about censorship, and its role as a news editor and media company.

The motivation for the button is to create a lightweight way for people to provide a signal to Facebook that a comment is inappropriate, uncivil, or misleading.

When tapped, the downvote button hides a comment, and gives users additional reporting options like “Offensive”, “Misleading”, and “Off Topic”. Those could help Facebook figure out if the comment is objectionable, a form of “fake news”, or just irrelevant. Facebook already has a “Hide” button for comments, but it’s usually hidden behind the drop-down arrow on comments rather than immediately clickable.

Though not a dislike button, its sure acts a lot like it. This has been the most requested Facebook feature, but Facebook has officially never given it. Instead, Facebook built the Reactions options that let you respond to posts and comments with love, wow, haha, sad or angry emoji.

The downvote button ties in with Facebook’s recent push to enhance its users’ well-being by prioritizing News Feed content that drives meaningful interactions instead of passive, zombie browsing. That led Facebook to show fewer viral videos, which in turn contributed to a 700,000 user decrease in U.S. and Canada daily active users — its first decline ever anywhere — and Facebook’s slowest DAU growth rate it’s ever reported.

But one way Facebook could generate more meaningful interaction could be by ensuring the most interesting comments are at the top of posts. Facebook already ranks comments by relevancy based on Likes and replies. But the downvote button could ensure that if objectionable comments rise up and stall discussion, Facebook will know.

Why It’s Hot:

  • Though not a dislike button it sure acts like a dislike button with teeth
  • It’s framed as part of their efforts to address fake news, but the truth is that they have recently experienced their first loss of users and this could be an effort to ensure the most interesting topics to each user rise to the top, and those that are objectionable don’t interrupt the experience
  • It’s going to be very interesting to see results, especially given the options of “misleading” and “off topic” as these are highly subjective…also if these will apply to advertisers

 

Source: TechCrunch

No Food Left Behind

An average restaurant might waste 100,000 pounds of food a year. Of the 50 billion pounds wasted en masse by restaurants across the U.S., only 1.4% is donated. Most edible food ends up in dumpsters. Any attempts to donate food might have involved multiple calls and complicated coordination, taking time that restaurant workers and short-staffed shelters/food banks didn’t have.

To solve the problem, a collaboration between DoorDash and Feeding America was born.

Using MealConnect, a Feeding America app, restaurants can now snap a photo of extra food, and the platform finds a nearby food bank, shelter, or other nonprofits that need it. Then DoorDash uses its delivery algorithm to find the most efficient way to transport it. DoorDash drivers who donate their time then come to collect and deliver the food.

 

Why It’s Hot:

-It’s not only a solution for the shelters, but also for the restaurant who are able to clear space as well as limit their waste

-It’s a great example of tech-for-good vs for profit

-It’s a plug and play solution that runs itself (more or less)

Source: FastCo.

What money won’t buy?

Back in 2008, 30 year-old Mike Merrill was at a career crossroads. So, he did what any other aspiring entrepreneur would do: he divided himself into 100k shares at $1 apiece and let people on the internet buy a stake in his life.

Since then, he’s sold off 10,991 shares of himself to 663 investors all across the world.

 

These shareholders — most of whom are complete strangers — get voting power on every major decision Merrill makes: whether or not to get a vasectomy, how much sleep he should get each night, and even who he should date.

Some early investors (including his own brother) chose to cash out big, while others have been in it for the long haul. In return, Merrill gets his own “personal board of advisors” to help him more decisively wade through life’s decisions.

But what’s life like as a “publicly-traded” human? And in an era of digital individualism, why would someone willingly auction off his own agency?

The self-proclaimed “anti-authoritarian” endured a strict, regimented lifestyle for 3 years, until he disobeyed the rules, and was discharged.

He has a “little identity crisis,” and eventually followed one of his buddies down to Portland, Oregon and “fumbled” his way into the software world, working various non-technical odd jobs.

Then, one night in 2008, dissatisfied with his choices in life, an idea struck: What if I let other people control my life?

So, he decided to “IPO” himself

The first thing Merrill had to do was determine his worth as a human.

“At time I had a day job,” he recalls. “So I calculated my worth based on my free time — nights and weekends — and I figured that time, for the rest of my life, was probably around $100k.”

Merrill ultimately decided to divvy himself up into 100k shares at $1 each. Like an actual corporation, he set out to “drum up demand.”

To keep shareholders informed, he built a website — KmikeyM.com — that contained a platform where people could vote ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ on the projects he should pursue.

At first, the topics Merrill put up for vote were trivial things, like whether or not he should invest $79.63 in a Rwandan chicken farming business (approved, with flying colors). But things escalated very quickly.

By the tail end of his first year on the market, Merrill made plans to move in with his then-girlfriend of 5 years — but when his shareholders caught wind of the decision, they were furious.

“I was getting emails from people saying, ‘We should have a say in such things — it’s going to impact your life!’” he says. “I thought, okay, that’s probably a fair point. And from then on, I let them vote on things in my private life too.”

First up on the table: whether or not Merrill should get a vasectomy — a procedure that would’ve permanently prevented him from having children (or, in the eyes of shareholders, “adding an economic burden” to their investment). His shareholders narrowly voted the procedure down, 45% ‘Yes’ to 55% ‘No.’ In the ensuing months, Merrill put a variety of major lifestyle choices up for vote: whether or not to adopt a polyphasic sleep schedule (Approved), become a registered Republican (Approved), or convert to a vegetarian (Approved).

When Merrill started putting more dramatic decisions on the chopping block, he started to attract more buyers.Driven by letting investors in on the more intimate aspects of his life, Merrill then decide to take things a step further.

When Merrill’s relationship dissipated in 2012, he once again turned to his shareholders for advice — this time, in the romance department.

“Under normal circumstances, no one is going to complain when someone is buying flowers or going out to dinner and a movie,” he wrote in an investor letter. “But as a publicly traded person with a responsibility of productivity to the shareholders, we live under special circumstances. A relationship is likely to affect both [my] productivity and [my] output.”

In a resolution titled “Shareholder Control of Romantic Relationships,” Merrill asked his investors if they’d like to take over control of his dating process. It passed with an 86% vote.

Merrill gives his investors an update

Merrill went on a variety of dates, updating investors via a private forum at each juncture and ceding to their feedback. After numerous dates, Merrill began to fall for a 28 year-old assistant named Marijke Dixon — and after securing his shareholders’ approval, he offered her a three-month “relationship contract.” As their relationship progressed, Dixon progressively acquired shares in Merrill in an (unsuccessful) attempt to gain a controlling voting power.

Stranger things

The flood of new shareholders dramatically changed the way Merrill thought about his experiment.

With a mix of strangers and friends (his original investors), Merrill realized he had to mitigate the possibility of “insider trading:” his friends, who he hung out with on a daily basis, knew more about his life than other investors. To compensate, he began publically posting more updates and information about his life.But he started to realize that strangers probably made better investors, anyway: “I found them to be more objective,” he says. “When people know you too well, they vote for what they think you want, which isn’t necessarily what’s in your best interest.”

This hypothesis proved to be true when his new shareholders unanimously voted for Merrill to leave his desk job of 10 years to strike out on his own and take a calculated risk.

Merrill’s market

Today, Merrill boasts 663 investors all across the world, who collectively own 10,991 shares.

Like all markets, Merrill’s share price is contingent upon demand, and demand usually fluctuates in tandem with hype, press, and publicity. In recent years, those things have stagnated, and his shares — once as high as $18 — fell as low as $2.18.

Today, his share price sits squarely at $4.75, still a solid return for his earliest $1 investors.

“I have a powerful decision-making engine of people who can give me feedback or advice about anything,” he says. “Honestly, who wouldn’t want that?”

 

Why It’s Hot:

-This 1st Crowdsourced Human Control project

-This type of “crowdsourcing” decision-making approach is beginning to take place within politics

-Will be interesting to see if brands adopt this at a more meaningful level

 

Source: The Hustle

The Robots Are Here

An animal shelter in San Francisco has been criticized for using a robot security guard to scare off homeless people.

The San Francisco branch of the SPCA (the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) hired a K5 robot built by Knightscope to patrol the sidewalks outside its facilities as a “way to try dealing with the growing number of needles, car break-ins and crime that seemed to emanate from nearby tent encampments of homeless people.”

Jennifer Scarlett, president of the SF SPCA told the Business Times last week: “We weren’t able to use the sidewalks at all when there’s needles and tents and bikes, so from a walking standpoint I find the robot much easier to navigate than an encampment.”

The robot in question is equipped with four cameras, moves at a pace of three miles per hour, and is cheaper than a human security guard — costing around $6 an hour to rent. The same model of robot previously knocked over a toddler in a mall and fell into a fountain in DC. Knightscope says its robots are intended as deterrents, and for providing mobile surveillance.

Reaction to the news on social media has been overwhelming negative, with people shaming the SPCA for deploying the machine, and encouraging others to vandalize or destroy it. Within a week of the robot starting its duties, some people “put a tarp over it, knocked it over and put barbecue sauce on all the sensors.” One Twitter user reported seeing the robot with feces smeared on it.

“Contrary to sensationalized reports, Knightscope was not brought in to clear the area around the SF SPCA of homeless individuals,” a spokesperson told The Verge. “Knightscope was deployed, however, to serve and protect the SPCA. The SCPA has the right to protect its property, employees and visitors, and Knightscope is dedicated to helping them achieve this goal. The SPCA has reported fewer car break-ins and overall improved safety and quality of the surrounding area.”

In any case, the SPCA K5 might have a limited shelf life in San Francisco. The city recently passed new legislation limiting the use of robots in city streets. Although the rules were aimed primarily at delivery bots, the SPCA has been ordered to keep the K5 off sidewalks or face a $1,000 daily fine. Knightscope is currently negotiating with the city over future deployments.

Why It’s Hot:

  • Knightscope’s response raises questions about how society will respond to robots like these in the future.
  • Seems that because these robots are semi-autonomous, Knightscope, and those who hire them, can shift the blame for its actions.
  • While most people are getting nervous about the physical takeover of robots, no one is worried about the more imminent threat of AI, which is what the majority of industry leaders, such as Elon Musk, are warning us about.

Source: The Verge

An AI for Fashion

New York startup Finery has created an AI-powered operating system that will organize your wardrobe.

It provides an automated system that reminds women what options they have, as well as creating outfits for them – saving users a lot of time and money (as they won’t mistakenly buy another grey cashmere jumper if they know they already have three at home).

Users link The Wardrobe Operating System to their email address, so the platform can browse through their mailbox to find their shopping history. All the items they’ve purchased online are then transferred to their digital wardrobe (with 93% accuracy).

Any clothing bought from a bricks-and-mortar shop can be added as well, but that’s done manually by either searching the Finery database for the item or uploading an image (either one you’ve taken or one from the internet). Finery uses Cloud Vision to identify what the object is (skirt, dress, trousers, etc.), the color and the material – then the brand and size can be added manually.

Once your clothing is all uploaded, the platform uses algorithms to recommend outfits based on the pieces you own as well as recommending future purchases that would match with your current items.

Users can also create and save outfits within the platform. And, if they give Finery access to their shopping accounts, the startup will aggregate all their unpurchased shopping cart items into a single Wishlist and alert them when said items go on sale.

Finery will alert its users when the return window for an item they’ve purchased is closing. And it will also let them know if they already own an item that looks similar to one they are planning on buying.

Finery has currently partnered with over 500 stores, equivalent to more than 10,000 brands, to create its online catalog. ‘That covers about ninety percent of the retail market.

Next, the company will be expanding into children’s clothing, and then men’s fashion. And it’s working on developing algorithms to suggest outfit combinations based on weather, location and personal preference, as well as a personalized recommendations tool for items not yet in user’s closets.

 

Why It’s Hot:

  • This personal “stylist” gives courage to fashion-handicaps (like myself) to shop online with confidence
  • It helps avoid unnecessary fashion splurges – BFD considering the average woman spends $250 -$350K on clothes over their lifetime
  • Acts as a fashion-dream catcher that helps grant your wish list by making purchases easy

Source: Contagious

P.s. Apologies for using a Fox News video but it’s the only one decent one I could find (YUK!!!!)

Drink Smartly

Jim Beam is making a foray into the newly popular voice-activated home tech category … with a delightfully absurd machine.

The whiskey marketer is billing it as the “first-ever artificially intelligent decanter,” and calling it, naturally, “Jim.” A parody of toys like Amazon Echo and Google Home, it’s available for pre-order at $34.90 and voiced by Fred Noe, seventh generation master distiller for the brand.

It won’t be able to tell you the weather or “call you a cab to Cupertino,” according to the promotional video, but it will encourage you to drink bourbon, rain or shine, any way you please—and even measure it out for you.

It’s not Jim Beam’s first time poking fun at consumer tech marketing. Last year it cooked up the Jim Beam Apple Watch, a green tweed band with a collapsable shot glass attached, launched to hijack attention around announcements from the gadget maker (and to promote apple-flavored Jim Beam).

The new addition is certainly amusing enough, even if it lacks the inspired brilliance (or perhaps, inspired stupidity) of its predecessor. Some Silicon Valley advertisers might get away with tediously pretentious marketing if they really are changing the world, but it’s also a category that’s deservedly spawned a rich tradition of mockery.

While it might be up for debate whether it truly is the first smart decanter (especially depending what you mean by “smart”), suffice it to say nobody else is going to be in a rush to claim the title. That for no other reason than if you’re too lazy or drunk to measure out another glass of the hard stuff for yourself, then you really don’t need it.

Source: Adweek

Trump Being President FINALLY Pays Off

Trump is a monumental $%*&&%%#$@^!. At least that is what the small card game company, Card Against Humanity (and the rest of the entire Universe) thinks.

So they decided to use their profits FOR humanity and bought a plot of land that prevents Trump from building a border wall between the US and Mexico. They also retained a law firm specializing in eminent domain to make it as time-consuming and expensive as possible for the wall to get built. This was part of a holiday promotion, for which customers could contribute to the wall-blocking project with $15 purchases for surprise gift packages. They sold out just within hours.

Why It’s Hot:

-Campaign stayed true to the brand’s irreverent nature of giving the middle finger to political correctness

-They made a very loud public statement that they knew would resonate with their audiences

-It’s another example of a brand picking and side an contributing their profits for good

So Much Baggage

It’s widely understood that when it comes to Mexicans & travel, your luggage is always at the seams. Someone always wants you to bring them something and you always want to bring a whole lot of trinkets you don’t need. This is mandatory ☝.

Due to this unspoken rule, one of the most frustrating pain points is going over the weight limit.

So when Samsonite released their new lightweight luggage product line, they headed straight to Mexico. The appeal of the luggage for this market would be that the less your luggage weights, the more unnecessary crap you can lug with you.

They drove awareness to the luggage by introducing much-needed utility into the market – an unconventional luggage tag that acted as a scale to help people avoid overweight shock. The giant branded tags attached to luggage handles. If it held when lifted, then luggage was under the 50lb. If it broke, you were in trouble.

 

Why Its Hot:

– The brand chose to support their claims with actions and utility, not just with messaging

– The tag kept the brand top of mind, especially during the most critical trigger moment of consideration…when people go over the weight limit.

– It didn’t require an uber elegant tech solution, just some elegant thinking

Source

Amazon Amps Up AR

Amazon announced a new augmented reality (AR) functionality for the Amazon App that will give shoppers a chance to envision real-world products around their homes before deciding to buy them.

Amazon didn’t specify exactly which of its offerings will be optimized for the app, but it claims that “thousands” of items across multiple product types will be viewable in AR. You can check out exactly how the tool works in the video below.

The app update is now available for the Amazon app on iOS 11 via Apple’s ARKit, so for now AR View is strictly for shoppers that have iPhones dating back to the 6S. Amazon didn’t share any plans to expand to Android phones.

AR visualization is a growing trend as the tech becomes more common, thanks to new efforts from Apple and Google. Home goods giant Ikea offered one of the first apps using the new ARKit for its customers back in September, while Google teamed up with Wayfair to show off a similar functionality for Tango phones on a mobile version of Chrome at the I/O conference in May.

Amazon is ramping up the tech offerings, giving us voice ordering with Alexa, AI style guidance with the Echo Look, and now AR functionality. The services are all cool shortcuts to make shopping easier than ever — which is exactly what Amazon wants to drive sales.

Why It’s Hot

  • For someone who is 15 steps ahead of the tech game, this is quite a lag for Amazon
  • Though late, Amazon continues to extend its world-class UX experience
  • This is yet another big ripple made created by iPhone’s ARKit

 

Source

$weet $weet Money

A combination of India’s lack of digital payment adoption and shop owners never having enough change to give back to customers after a purchase has resulted in a very unique cultural practice: giving candy as change to consumers, instead of coins. Though it may sound sweet (eh? eh?), this leaves customers feeling scammed and shop owners feeling annoyed.

Taking note of this mutual pain point Paytm, a digital payment app, created its own brand of candy. These could still be given as change to consumers, but with a twist – the candy wrappers could be redeemed as real money with the download of their app by inputting the promo codes on the inside of the candy wrappers.

Though Paytm didn’t monetize (the candies were given to shop owners for free) they massively reduced their acquisition costs from $ 0.92 to $.18) with over 1M people downloading their app.

Why It’s Hot:

  • The campaign stemmed from a real culture insight/pain point and the brand sat in the middle of the solution
  • Really smart way of turning an everyday object into a medium (the wrappers)
  • Leveraged an old behavior (cash economy) to transition people to a new one (digital payment)

Disney’s Real-Time Rotten Tomatoes

Disney is using new deep learning software to analyze movie-goers’ facial expressions and gauge how much they’re enjoying a film.

The innovation within the new system is an algorithm that Disney and Caltech call factorised variational autoencoders (FVAEs), which use deep learning technology to automatically turn facial expressions into numerical data, and is able to incorporate metadata.

Combining the FVAE algorithm with infrared cameras, Disney can analyse the facial expressions of moviegoers in a cinema as they react to what they’re being shown on screen. With enough information, the new technology can even predict how an audience member will react to upcoming scenes after just 10 minutes of observation.

Why It’s Hot

  • Technology could be used to tailor a film to an audience in real time, bringing in a new aspect of personalization to cinema
  • Data gathered and analyzed can be funneled into other developing AI systems where picking up cues from their body language to be able to better assist (e.g. robot babysitters)
  • Raises the question of how this will impact the movies we end up being exposed to with this AI now acting as the gatekeeper between us and the next Sharknado

Source

 

I’m gonna go watch some Jersey now…

Nike is celebrating the beginning of its partnership with the NBA by revealing that its new fan jerseys will include an interactive element, designed to bring the sport’s followers closer to its biggest stars. Billed as ‘the future of fan apparel’, each of the connected basketball jerseys features a unique NFC chip — the same technology used in metro cards, or for apple pay — built into its jock tag. using NIKEconnect, fans will then be able to access real-time, personalized experiences through their smartphone.

Why It’s Hot:

-Yet another example of how physical and digital worlds continue colliding at breakneck speed

-Successfully merged two of the most relevant communication tactics, tech and content, to deliver unique experiences

– Somehow, it turned clothing into a proprietary media channel with huge cross-selling opportunities

Source

Face-Controlled Emojis

“A new app is trying to make it simpler to help you react to photos and videos that your friends post online—it’s using AI to capture your facial expressions and automatically translate them into a range of emoji faces.

Polygram, which is free and available only for the iPhone for now, is a social app that lets you share things like photos, videos, and messages. Unlike on, say, Facebook, though, where you have a small range of pre-set reactions to choose from beyond clicking a little thumbs-up icon, Polygram uses a neural network that runs locally on the phone to figure out if you’re smiling, frowning, bored, embarrassed, surprised, and more.

Marcin Kmiec, one of Polygram’s cofounders, says the app’s AI works by capturing your face with the front-facing camera on the phone and analyzing sequences of images as quickly as possible, rather than just looking at specific points on the face like your pupils and nose. This is done directly on the phone, using the iPhone’s graphics processing unit, he says.

When you look at a post in the app you see a small yellow emoji on the bottom of the display, its expression changing along with your real one. There’s a slight delay—20 milliseconds, which is just barely noticeable—between what you’re expressing on your face and what shows up in the app. The app records your response (or responses, if your expression changes a few times) in a little log of emoji on the side of the screen, along with those of others who’ve already looked at the same post.”

Source: https://www.technologyreview.com/s/608748/the-next-generation-of-emoji-will-be-based-on-your-facial-expressions/

Why It’s Hot:

-The Circle is coming to life (eek)

-This has larger implications for how Biometrics are across various sub-categories such as e-commerce (e.g ratings & reviews) and advertisers (e.g. ad performance metrics)

-With new iPhone pushing this technology to the masses in the millions this type of functionality is sure to catch fire

 

 

Sex Sells

In Colombia, young lovers often resort to stealing moments of intimacy in places where they risk being interrupted (such as a parent’s house, or in a parked car).

To help them get their hot-n-heavy, Condom brand Duo released an app to alert young lovers in Colombia when they risk being caught having sex.

To work, the app requires two mobile phones with cameras. One phone is placed in the area where the interruption is likely to come from and acts like a motion sensor. When someone (or something) disturbs the scene, the first phone sends a message (and an image of the intruder) to the second phone, alerting the lovers and giving them time to compose themselves.

According to Geometry Global, the app attracted 62,262downloads, more than 23,000 monthly active users, and the brand achieved a 23% increase in sales in the fourth quarter of 2016, and a 20% lift in the first quarter of 2017.

Why It’s Hot

  • We’ll its sex related
  • Brand solved a very real pain point for their core audience; young consumers who are likely to live at home and crave privacy

 

Source: https://www.contagious.io/articles/brand-guardian

Immersive Branding

Google is redefining how we perceive the multiple “realities” we have been wrangling to understand to begin with by introducing Immersive Computing.

On one end of the human experience, you have reality. Living, breathing, non-digital reality. It’s great. Usually. In the middle, as technology becomes more “immersive,” you have augmented reality. Basically, graphics start to float in front of your eyes on top of the real world–like a monster in Pokémon Go. Then, eventually, as more and more of these graphics are layered over your perception, you naturally segue into virtual reality. At the right end of the spectrum, all reality has been replaced with pixels.

Basically, this is saying that the existing range of really distinct experiences or technological paradigms, aren’t different, but are all a gradient. And as technology advances and devices merge, immersive computing will allow us to pick and choose how much reality get (or don’t get). It’s the ability to dive as deeply (or shallowly) into the digital world as we’d like, at any time we’d would like, through glasses, or goggles, or a screen, or contact lenses…but preferably a Google device (Wink! Wink!)

And it’s also a way for Google (and brands) to eventually be able to hack our perception at a moment’s notice…In gradients of course.

Why It’s Hot:

New interesting way to frame immersive technologies- one that is more palatable to general audiences

  • By consolidating all their “reality related” interface experiments under one tech genre, Google is positioning themselves as the leaders in the category
  • It’s also an indicator of where they are going to be taking headsets/glasses, and possibly Samsung’s contacts.

Source:

Apple Takes a Bite out of the AR Pie

Apple released ARKit, a mobile AR platform that uses Visual Inertial Odometry (VIO) to accurately track the world around it. VIO fuses camera sensor data with CoreMotion data, allowing the device to sense how it moves within a room with a high degree of accuracy, and without any additional calibration. It’s open to all developers who want to come create and play…and it’s also probably luring them away from FB/Snapchat/Googs.

By having the experience live in an app on millions of iOS devices, it’s giving creators (developers) a much wider audience (and incentive) to test and socialize.

Already, ARKit’s sharing platform is seeing some really awesome crowdsourced examples of the tech in action.

See more examples of what developers have already been toying with, go here.

Why It’s Hot:

Apple Is….

  • Democratizing AR to both users and developers (HoloLens who?)
  • Positioning it’s self the Go-To AR platform
  • Low-Overhead cutting edge technology for brands to explore and own

Screaming for help, just went high-tech

Every year, there are 44,000 accidents causing injuries and in only 10% of cases do the emergency services reach the scene in time. This lateness or non-arrival of first aid leads to 14,000 deaths annually.

So life insurance brand AIA decided to harness the country’s 35 million smartphone devices to enable people to get help faster. Open Aiya, created my Happiness FCB Saigon, is a mobile app that allows people to alert their contacts about an accident even if they can’t reach their phone.

When a user says, ‘Hey Siri, Open AIYA’ the voice activated panic system automatically sends an SMS to family, friends and the emergency services. The message contains the person’s precise GPS location so they are easier to assist.

Why It’s Hot:

-Yet another example of brands finding a pain point that aligns with their business model, and solving it through innovative tech….and develop a first of it’s kind, at that (the first voice-activated panic system)

I’ll have chicken with a side of animatronics please

To celebrate National Fried Chicken Day, Kentucky Fried Chicken is bringing founder Colonel Harland Sanders to the drive-thru experience as robot chicken-expert H.A.R.L.A.N.D. (Human Assisted Robotic Linguistic Animatronic Networked Device). H.A.R.L.A.N.D. is a state-of-the-art voice modulator system that gives drive-thru customers the experience of ordering from an animatronic Colonel Sanders head that speaks in the voice of Colonel Sanders.

The animatronic uses speech recognition, artificial intelligence technology and text-to-speech techniques to repeat whatever the drive-thru operator speaks so customers can have unique and interactive conversations with the “real Colonel Sanders”.

In short, it’s a megaphone disguised as a Colonel Sanders head. A very cool one.

Why it’s Hot:

  • Revamped the drive-thru experience, which has remained unchanged for quite a while
  • Continues the trend of Tech being the new Advertising
  • Cleverly launched during a relevant moment for the brand (Fried Chicken Day)
  • Chances are this is not a one trick pony, but a step to replacing human employees with Colonel Sanders heads

How much is that Puppy in the windo….err flat screen TV

Pet care brand Pedigree and its partner charity Ampara Animal needed to drive foot traffic to animal shelters as part of the Pedigree Adoption Drive.

The brand partnered with shopping-centre electronics stores to create the Dog Channel, where the generic content displayed on the TV screens in-store was replaced with videos of dogs waiting to be adopted from a nearby shelter.

Alongside the footage was a message to customers that included the dogs’ names and encouraged people to visit the shelter. When the dogs on the screens found new homes, the display changed to indicate a successful adoption.

Why It’s Hot:

-Chimes with the brand’s quest to grow the pet ownership – and by extension the pet care market.

-It merged a digital activation with OOH in a pretty unusual and innovative way

Snickers Puts the “Video” in Video Games

 

Knowing that videos tend to run the risk of being skipped, Snickers developed a way to keep viewers engaged by developing video game videos.

In line with their “You’re not you when you are hungry” campaign platform, the first features a school-bus driver whose hunger has turned him into a WWE wrestler with incessant road rage. In the second, a hungry tennis umpire has transformed into a whining rockstar.

In both scenarios, a series of Snickers bars float across the screen towards the character’s outstretched hand, but the viewers must click the pause button at the correct moment to help the characters grab them.

If they’re successful, the WWE wrestler calms down into a bus driver, and the musician morphs back into an umpire. If not, they’ve got nine more tries to get it right.

Why It’s Hot:

  • Smart and entertaining way to engage viewers when consuming video
  • It’s another example of how platforms, such as YouTube, are flexing to service creative ideas led by agencies
  • Shows the growing trend of choosing to develop platform-digital-specific work rather than “copy and paste” TV commercials, which generally don’t perform as well

 

Gone In 6 Seconds

Australian retailer Myer hosted a flash sale using YouTube’s six-second pre-roll ad slots.

The 6 Second Sale ads feature more than 100 Myer products with discounts greater than those available in store and online by 5%. Viewers have only six seconds (the length of the pre-roll ad) to secure the deal being offered, with those that manage to click on the offer in time are taken to a pre-populated shopping cart on Myer’s site.

The campaign created using Google’s Vogon –  customization tool that lets brands create unlimited variations of the same ad by changing the text, audio or images. The targeting used in the 6 Second Sale ensures no YouTube user will see the same ad twice.

The 6 Second Sale is being promoted through Myer’s website, social channels, catalog and print.

Why It’s Hot

-It merges shopping impulse with a platform experience that times out in a very short amount of time

-Leverages scarcity to heighten the need to buy and drive sales

-Great example of a brand “hacking” a platform to drive a campaign