Facebook’s Cyborg Virtual Assistant Is Learning from Its Trainers

Late last month a few hundred lucky users of Facebook’s mobile messaging app got an unusual new contact to talk with: M, a virtual assistant powered by a mixture of algorithms and human operators.

That cyborg design makes M capable of handling much more complex requests than the mobile app assistants that Apple, Microsoft, and Google offer in their smartphone software. Siri, Cortana, and Google’s search app can interpret simple commands or factual queries, such as “What’s the weather forecast for London?” But they can’t field more complex questions such as “Where can I get a good burger in Chicago?” They can’t enter into back-and-forth conversation or book a hotel.

M can do those things because the software hands off things it can’t do to human operators known as “trainers.” Sometimes a trainer has to do all the work, but M is also capable of digesting queries it recognizes but can’t handle into easy-to-process summaries that make a trainer’s work more efficient.

Why It’s Hot:

It looks like the virtual assistant category isn’t slowing down with new players like Facebook joining the game. The common thread through all is creating better experiences – something that the future of marketing may find as an opportunity to implement into plans.

 

Article:

http://www.technologyreview.com/news/541401/facebooks-cyborg-virtual-assistant-is-learning-from-its-trainers/

 

Smart Swiss Watch

If you’ve been wondering how Switzerland was going to react to the coming of the Apple Watch, ponder no more: two smaller luxury watch companies, Alpina and Frederique Constant, have added electronic components to otherwise staid analog watches, essentially turning a fancy timepiece into a sort of mechanical Fitbit.

The platform, called Manufacture Modules Technologies or MMT, is embedded inside Swiss-made cases and powers the hour and minute hands as well as, in the current version, a subdial that tracks your activity. The crown on the side of the watch is actually a pusher and everything is set from your smartphone rather than by turning the crown. The internal battery lasts two years and syncs via Bluetooth. The modules are made by MotionX, the same company behind the motion trackers in Jawbone’s products.

A separate app shows your health data as you saunter from meeting to meeting or nibble a madeleine.

The central face tells the accurate, quartz time while the subface can display various pieces of data. In its current incarnation the system is basically an activity tracker similar to the Withings Activité. The functionality has been simplified so that companies are able to hide the complexity behind a traditional dial, a feature that should please Luddite watch lovers.

 

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Why It’s Hot:

 

True competition has arrived to the smart watch market. Maybe even true competition to the smart accessory market. This is shows true movement and sustainability that should be noted and leveraged for future initiatives.

Google and Mattel Revive The View-Master

n an attempt to fuse technology with nostalgia, Mattel and Google are partnering to revive the View-Master.

You remember it. The stereoscopic photo viewer is now using Google Cardboard Virtual Reality technology to bring the 85-year-old toy back to life.

The View-Master of yesteryear was a beautiful thing. By slipping in micro-reels from movies, far-off destinations, or from your very own life, users were able to see anything they wanted. The company says it has sold more than 1.5 billion reels for the View-Master over the years, and over 100 million View-Master units in total.

With the new version, just unveiled today at the World Toy Fair in NYC, Google and Mattel have fitted the View-Master to include a smartphone slot. Users can slip an Android phone into the plastic cover, and when paired with the View-Master companion app, choose from a host of viewing options.

Why It’s Hot:

Updated a classic is always something noteworthy. We are seeing these types of things happen across industries and they always pick up some buzz. Something to consider for all clients and brands that have a history.

Article Here

Clyp Wants To Be An Imgur For Sound

Meet Clyp, the app that bills itself as an imgur for sound files.

Founded by two University of Texas graduates, Clyp has blown up since its launch in 2013 with 825,000 unique users playing with the app.

The service is ridiculously easy to use. Simply drag and drop an audio file and it’s uploaded to Clyp. The company’s site contains sections for popular sound files, recently uploaded files, and featured files.

Although the service is still in its infancy, it’s managed to attract some high profile users. You might not recognize the riff, but it’s Eric Clapton who’s playing the notes.

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Why It’s Hot:

About150M people use Imgur per month which proves the potential Clyp has. More than the success of Clyp, it can have a unique impact on consumption of content. Social can potentially be greatly impacted as well. Quick and straight-fordward consumption is not going away, from images to now audio.

Fiksu introduces new products to help marketers

Marketers have a few more tools in their battle to win over audiences.

Mobile ad-technology company Fiksu is introducing a pair of new products as parts of its marketing platform. These includes Fiksu Aware and Fiksu Response, which are both fully integrated into the company’s other tools. Aware enables brands to find precise audiences on smartphones and tablets. Response helps companies convert audiences into paying customers. Mobile advertising generated around $18 billion in 2014, and apps were a big part of that.

In a statement, Fiksu chief executive officer Micah Adler said that the company came up with these products as a response to the “maturation of mobile.” Adler went on to say that smartphones and tablets represent “the dominant form of digital interaction for consumers worldwide.”

Aware and Response both fit into Fiksu’s mIQ platform, which uses a database of “2 billion mobile device profiles.” This tool enables marketers to have full control over a campaign while simultaneously providing the data needed to get the best return on their investment.

 

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Why It’s Hot:

Both mobile and data have long been a known challenge to marketers, and the emerging tools show some progress for the industry. Can this create a new product offering for marketers? The introduction of valuable tools has the potential to pivot the approach to the industry and data overall. Something to keep an eye on.

 

http://venturebeat.com/2015/01/30/mobile-advertising-data-company-fiksu-introduces-new-products-to-help-marketers/

Funny or Die Weather

Viral comedy site Funny or Die has its own weather app, and it promises to infuse some laughs into your daily weather forecasts.

The app is called Funny or Die Weather, and the main draw is a daily funny weather fact that makes observations like “The humidity of water is extremely high” and “No one knows what a barometer is.”

But nobody downloads a weather app solely for the jokes, so to make sure that its forecasts were up to snuff, the app sources its data from Weather Underground, which actually makes it just as reliable as any other weather app out there.

Aside from its jokes, the app offers some stylized weather animations to match the conditions outside, and it includes five-day forecasts, wind speed and direction, humidity, UV index, barometric pressure, sunrise and sunset info, and moon phases and tides.

We’ve never really heard of a weather app infused with jokes, but it make sense the more you think about it. The weather is boring, why not spice it up with a joke? The design isn’t as beautiful as, say, Yahoo Weather, but it’s not a limiting factor.

As far as the jokes go, Funny or Die thankfully appears to not have overdone it — the focus is still on the weather over the jokes for now — and with Weather Underground’s data powering it, comedy fans should find this app a fun addition to their collection.

Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/funny-or-die-weather-app-2015-1#ixzz3PelLesZ3

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Why It’s Hot:

A simple spin for a very simple solution already existing. Humor has always been a way to enhance the experience of day-to-day things, and this is a perfect example. Also this is another great example of the ease and accessibility increasing for apps and the potential for niche applications.

 

Consumer and E-Commerce Future

One of the more prolific VCs in Europe with close ties to e-commerce startup factory Rocket Internet has closed another fund — its biggest yet — to back more consumer internet businesses in the region and beyond, with an emphasis on e-commerce. Holtzbrinck Ventureshas raised €285 million ($331 million) for HV Holtzbrinck Ventures Fund VI, which will be used for early, middle, and late-stage investments, ranging from around $500,000 to $50 million per round.

“The new fund is larger than the previous ones and will allow us to deploy more capital across the lifespan of a startup,” a spokesperson tells me.

We’re in a heady period for venture investment at the moment. Dow Jones VentureSourcethis week released figures that noted 2014 VC investments totalled more than $52 billion, up 47% compared to 2013.

That’s partly fuelled by unicorn-sized rounds for the likes of Uber and other late-stage companies, but also the bigger, ongoing surge we’ve been seeing for a while now around the wider field of tech startups and the search for the next big tech phenomenon, or at least bright exits of interesting companies to existing juggernauts.

Holtzbrinck Ventures is tapping into that. It says this fund was not only its biggest yet, but it closed in less than four months and was oversubscribed.

HV — which first opened for business in 2000 as the investment arm of the German media and publishing group but went independent in 2010 — has also been one of the firms leading the VC charge in the tech world. As an investor in Rocket Internet, the firm has piggy-backed on a lot of the Berlin-based incubators’ prolific e-commerce startup creation in Europe and emerging markets.

HV has also upped the ante by directly putting in more money to fuel the aggressive expansion/funding that has helped some of the more sticky of these grow, with stakes in e-commerce marketplace Lazada, HelloFresh (food delivery), Paymill (Stripe clone) and Payleven (think Square) among them. It’s also funded e-commerce startups that are not Rocket Internet-created by share some DNA by way of founders and employees. Those have includedQuandoo, an OpenTable competitor.

A spokesperson for HV tells me that this will be the template for many of the investments going forward, but with a more likely emphasis on B2B2C rather than straight-to-consumer marketplaces. Think “Stripe” or “Airbnb” rather than “Amazon.” That is not too surprising: the marketplace category is dominated by economies of scale, and at the moment that makes it risky for new businesses trying to compete against the likes of Amazon and eBay out of the U.S., Alibaba out of China, or indeed the outfits in emerging markets started by Rocket Internet. (Fab is one of the many that has stumbled trying.)

While Holtzbrinck has been active in emerging markets (on its own and alongside Rocket), it remains bullish on investing in European companies too. “it’s still possible to build relevant startups in Europe for e-commerce,” the spokesperson says, “maybe not in categories with proven business models but in new areas.” As one example, he cites FlixBus, which was launched only a couple of weeks ago that is backed by HV and General Atlantic. Like RedBus in India, the company is tackling the antiquated bus and coach industry, by letting users access schedules and buy tickets online.

 

Why It’s Hot:

E-Commerce has been something invested in by many and a money shift this large just validates the future. Startups coming up in this industry means more innovative and creative competition and something we can have our pulse on or potential embrace if it can benefit the company.

Facebook Messenger App

Facebook’s unbundling of its Messenger tool into a stand-alone app was a spectacularly successful move for the social media company — except for overall usage of Facebook’s flagship app.

That’s one of the main takeaways from the ComScore mobile app data report for November, 2014, released today.

According to the report, Facebook’s app was the top app (by percent of overall reach) in November, at 69 percent. Its Messenger app came in fifth, with a reach of 43.1 percent. A year ago, those numbers stood at 76.2 percent and 22.1 percent, respectively.

Of course, it’s no accident that Messenger use grew so quickly: Facebook split Messenger off in August, forcing people who wanted to chat with their friends from their phones to use the stand-alone app.

The new ComScore data makes it clear that Facebook’s users consider mobile messaging a vital feature, and were willing to do what it took to keep on doing so, despite significant public hand-wringing at the time at being forced to use a new tool. By November, Facebook said at the time, half a billion people had migrated to the app.

Facebook was a big winner in the report, with Instagram coming in ninth, with a reach of 30.7 percent. Google had six of the top 15 apps, including second-place Google Play, third-place Google Search, and fourth-place YouTube, while Twitter’s mobile app lagged behind, in eleventh place, with just 21.3 percent reach.

 

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Why It’s Hot:

This presents a new opportunity for how we can approach Facebook. How can we take advantage of this shift in usage for multiple brands? Does this effect international and global consumers as well? This also might give us some insight to the future of how people will perceive Facebook – as a communication network rather than as social as it is new.

Customer Experience Platform

With so much data and so many tools, many companies are now issuing dashboards to bring everything together.

The latest is NewBrand, a provider of customer experience software for social listening, analytics, and reputation management. The Washington, D.C.-based company is today launching its new Command Center to surface the most important information in its system.

Any differentiation can help a social monitoring platform distinguish itself in an increasingly crowded category.

“You can [go outside] and spit and probably hit a social monitoring service,” CEO Kristin Muhlner told VentureBeat.

Her company’s system, she said, measures not only social data, but other sources as well, including surveys, point-of-sale, and transactional data.

“Pulling all of that info into a single platform gives us a singular lens,” she said, which is the idea of the Command Center.

The dashboard is intended to present anomalies in customer data and offer alerts about possible issues. There’s also the ability to drill down into more detail, make comparisons with competitors, and share information across an organization.
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Why It’s Hot:
We pride ourselves in being a top customer experience agency and how skilled we are in utilizing our tools such as social listening and performance data. Now a tool exists that could be meant for us. This presents not only a new application for big data, but also an interesting opportunity to bridge the data to directly impact our business goals. Is there something we can take from this? Are we able to create a similar solution?

Prizm Plays Music You Like To Transform Your Living Room Into Your Favorite Coffee Shop

Remember the last time you went to the same coffee shop or bar because the staff tends to play music you like and you don’t have to pick the next song? Prizm is a neat little pyramid add-on for your sound system to transform your living room into this coffee shop you like. The French startup is just beginning the last week of its Kickstarter campaign of its $129 smart music player for your home.

If you want to use Prizm to play music, you just have to press the play button and that’s it. Prizm will stream music directly from Spotify, Deezer and SoundCloud based on your favorite genres and tracks. You don’t have to launch anything on your phone or computer. It’s like a physical Pandora-like service for your home.

prizm_in-situ3

Why It’s Hot

Music has always been a driver of innovation and now we see it advancing even more. Being able to have devices dedicated to music that take the role away from a computer or phone is an interesting concept. Does this mean the phone doesn’t have to be the center of all entertainment.

Article here 

As book publishers go Hollywood, self-publishing startup Blurb launches a marketplace for hiring collaborators

Writing isn’t very difficult, regardless of who you are. Writing something that people actually want to read, however, is extremely hard — especially if it’s a book.

This is why we have editors to polish incoherent paragraphs, designers to develop gorgeous book covers, and illustrators to create artwork that compliments written pages. But according to self-publishing startup Blurb, there’s actually another very crucial reason aspiring authors need these kinds of collaborators: it greatly improves the odds of actually finishing a book.

Blurb simplifies the process of publishing both print and digital books and magazines for writers without publishing experience. It also acts as a distribution service, making ebooks available on Amazon’s Kindle store and print books available for order by bookstores. And today, the startup is rolling out a new “Dream Team” marketplace for authors to find and hire professional collaborators like editors, cover artists, illustrators, designers, and photographers, and more.

 

 

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Why It’s Hot:

Publishing could be getting a facelft with this new idea. Creating a marketplace of skill sets to better produce a book of any publication could change the industry itself. Collaboration is the way of accomplishing goals for the future and here is just another example. Is there something we can learn for the way we approach marketing? The alignment or versatility of having a “Dream Team” of skill sets that are not always tied to the same work.

Article here 

http://www.blurb.com/

 

 

Zoomcar Raises $8 Million To Democratize Transportation In India

Following on from Socar, Korea’s answer to Zipcar, which raised $18 million earlier this month, another car rental startup in Asia is in the money today. India-based Zoomcar has added $8 million to its coffers with a funding round led by Sequoia Capital.

The 18-month-old Bangalore-based company isn’t your average Indian startup. It is founded by two US expats — Chris Back and Greg Moran — and counts Lawrence Summers — an ex-U.S. Treasury Secretary and the former President of Harvard University — among its investors.

Sequoia aside, other investors involved in this new round include ex-Infosys CFO Mohandas Pai, Manipal Group’s Abhay Jain, and existing stakeholders Empire Angels, FundersClub, and Basset Investment Group. Prior to today, the startup had raised $3 million in funding.

Zoomcar is billed as a “self-drive” car rental company. That might sound odd to Western ears, but it goes against the grain in India (and other parts of Asia), where Back says that over 95% over the industry deals in chauffeur-driven rentals. The startup currently has a fleet of 450 vehicles (including electric cars) which cover Bangalore and Pune and can be booked via its website or smartphone apps.

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Why It’s Hot

India is always on the radar as a market for top consideration, and we can now see some common business models and ideas becoming more successful and adopted there. This may give insight to the mindset of the consumers there and can lead to thoughts about how we can take advantage of the opportunity.

Digital River E-commerce Acquired

E-commerce services provider Digital River Inc said on Thursday it entered into an agreement to be acquired by an investor group led by Siris Capital Group LLC for about $840 million.

The deal, valued at $26 per share in cash, is at a premium of almost 50 percent of Digital River’s Thursday’s closing price.

The agreement, approved by the board of Minnesota-based Digital River, includes a 45-day “go-shop” period during which the company can solicit alternative proposals, Digital River said on Thursday.

Siris will finance the deal with a combination of equity and debt, for which it has secured financing.

The companies expect the deal to close in the first quarter of 2015.

Morgan Stanley & Co LLC acted as financial adviser to Digital River, while Macquarie Capital (USA) Inc, Union Square Advisors LLC and Evercore Partners Inc are financial advisers to Siris

 

 

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Why It’s Hot:

There can be a lot to learn for what the future is for the adoption of technology and behaviors when looking at the movement of money. Companies don’t invest $840 million unless they truly believe this is the future of commerce. Is there something for us, as the people that have the ability to implement this, to learn from these moves? Can we use this as a sign to be even more proactive in implementing into future plans?

Article Here

With the Arrival of Twitter’s ‘Buy’ Button, Is It Time to Move Into Social Commerce?

Following pressure on social platforms to demonstrate their validity as powerful sales channels, Twitter recently started testing its “Buy” button. The button, which is embedded in tweets, lets users make purchases directly on Twitter and through its mobile app. Rather than users being redirected to a retail site, Twitter’s “Buy” button provides the ultimate one-stop social-media shop.

Twitter now joins other companies like Facebook that are trying to prove that a return on investment can be achieved through social commerce.

Social media has widely been known as a tool for building brand awareness and as a display-marketing vehicle rather than a social commerce platform, but companies like Facebook and Twitter are trying to change that perception. Previously, social-media tactics and results were measured by soft metrics such as increasing impressions and click-throughs, but the return on investment has been low or confusing.A Forrester report in 2011 found that 62 percent of retailers described the ROI from social commerce as “unclear.”

With the “Buy” buttons, Facebook and Twitter are elevating the focus on ROI by targeting the most important metric: the number of people who purchase the products.

Article click here

Why It’s Hot:

This of course opens up new doors for our clients and potential work we may take on. Social commerce is not a new idea, but will the implication of Twitter create a strong movement? Will this create a mass of early adopters? Is there an opportunity to start testing before going all in? Things to think about.

 

TheResearchBrowser

Ever try to plan a family vacation with distant relatives or friends? The logistics, with URLs hurtling through time zones and misunderstood hotel signoffs becoming fodder for Thanksgiving arguments, often rival D-Day’s.

Such use cases propelled two former Nokia Siemens consultants in Europe to develop TheResearchBrowser, made available this week in an iPad version. Windows PC, Mac, and other versions are in development.

The cloud-based browsing application is designed for multiple projects of organizing, sharing, and assessing Web-based research.

At the end of 2012, CEO and co-founder Andrew Sitterman and COO/co-founder Tom De Ruysser got a client request for a consulting project that needed what they described as “a massive amount of research.”

They never actually took that project, but the prospect of conducting that research led them to develop this self-funded effort. Sitterman is a self-described “Brit who lives in Berlin since the wall came down,” De Ruysser is based in Berlin and Rotterdam, and their ten developers are — literally — in Siberia.

Sitterman noted that bookmarks in a browser can work for some kinds of browsing, “But as soon as you want to mark stuff around the sites, it gets painful.”

The pair aren’t the only ones who have seen the need for browser-like joint efforts. Samepage, for instance, is oriented toward team collaboration. Diigo, a “personal knowledge management” multitool that includes notetaking and highlighting, is “great if you’re doing academic research,” Sitterman said.

Anyone dealing with a software issue and a modern help desk has encountered co-browsing, where an agent can remotely demonstrate or make a fix on your screen. There are even browsers designed for remote surfing parties where participants battle for control.

But TheResearchBrowser’s focus, as the name suggests, is on informal collaborative research. Like putting together with someone else a list of “books on Einstein’s works and availability on various second-hand websites,” the science-inclined Sitterman said.

Multiple projects can be maintained, pictures can be added, pages rated, comments written, collected items compared, and colleagues can be invited to join in. When one of the participants is looking at a webpage, there’s a link to that page in the browser’s chat.

Sitterman pointed out that TheResearchBrowser is not a full screen share; you only see content that other people are actively engaged with. You can share with the group, or just with individuals via chat. Private projects can stay private. Users can check in on recent activity while they’ve been away, and for backup, projects are stored in TheResearchBrowser’s cloud.

The startup intends to make money from relevant ads that are based on the last search and expects to offer a premium version sans ads.

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Why It’s Hot:

This is a great example of a simple problem with a simple solution of repurposed ideas. There is something interesting here that applies to the digital marketing world, and that is how innovations like this are not out of reach for the industry. This gives a great example of the type of work that can be considered for the future, but not a real challenge to the minds of the CEA world.

Google Buys Lift Labs

A person could be forgiven for thinking that Google is a biotech company.

Google plans to announce on Wednesday that it has bought Lift Labs, a San Francisco company that makes a high-tech spoon designed to make it easier for people with neurodegenerative tremors to eat, the latest in a growing list of moves the search giant has made into biotech.

A Google representative said Lift Labs would be integrated into Google Life Sciences, which is a part of Google X, the Internet giant’s long-term projects division. The representative wouldn’t say how much Google paid in the deal.

Lift Labs’ founder and a handful of employees will join Google and work out of the company’s Mountain View headquarters.

Most people take eating for granted, but for the 11 million Americans with either essential tremor or Parkinson’s disease, the act of lifting a utensil can be harrowing, embarrassing and messy.

Lift Labs’ Liftware device – basically a vibrating spoon/fork that makes eating easier by counteracting the tremors with a bunch of little swivels – tries to ameliorate the condition.

Article

Why It’s Hot:

The world of health is more and more important every day, and the intersection of technology is a true enabler. Companies like Google finding investment interest in these new technologies and tools shows the opportunity for what can be a huge part of the future. We must continuously think about what the healthcare experience for consumers is changing to, and we must be ready to deliver.

Let the Innovation Games Begin

You may have a crack research-and-development team, but that doesn’t mean it should be the company’s only source of innovation. Indeed, the pipeline of ideas likely will gush more bountifully if you find ways to stimulate everyone’s creativity.One business taking that notion to heart, and then some, is SkyTouch Technology, presently a wholly owned division of Choice Hotels and a candidate for a spin-off and an initial public offering at some later time. The organization conducts a twice-yearly, hoopla-filled competition for new ideas that it calls The Alpha Games, a moniker that blends the high-energy, popular multimedia franchise “The Hunger Games” with the notion of alpha testing.

The Alpha Games is a one-day event, always on a Friday. For several weeks in advance, the walls at SkyTouch’s Phoenix headquarters are filled with Hunger Games-like movie posters encouraging employees to brainstorm ideas and form teams that will come together on that day to bring the ideas to life. The teams then make presentations showing what they accomplished the following Monday, giving them the weekend to hone their efforts.

It is entirely possible for, say, a five-person, very focused team to flesh out an idea, even one that envisions a new use of complex technology, into a working model during thatshort time span, says SkyTouch president Ric Leutwyler.

 

 

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Why It’s Hot:

Innovation is a unique and thought-provoking way to solve problems. Every leading company should have it embedded into the formula that creates it. This initiative shows a great way to embrace these problem solvers, and to find new ones. Also, it shows how even traditional companies in industries like hospitality and travel can be on the cutting edge of technology and innovation.

Article: http://ww2.cfo.com/growth-strategies/2014/08/let-innovation-games-begin/

 

Viv – The Global Brain

When Siri debuted in 2011, she was groundbreaking. Suddenly, each shiny new iPhone came with a virtual assistant, there to answer questions, take orders or just chat.

Siri’s limitations, however, were quickly revealed. While she could respond to direct one sentence requests (Call Sarah’s home phone) or answer simple questions (What time is it in California?), even seemingly straightforward demands (Locate the nearest Pinkberry) tripped her up. Soon, she became most useful as party fodder, passed around so guests could laugh at her programmed answers to philosophical questions.

In an attempt to do this Cheyer and fellow Siri co-founder Dag Kittlaus, along with Chris Brigham (an early hire for the Siri team), are developing a new digital assistant that can handle complicated requests, using a crowdsourced approach. Instead of developing the system inside Apple, however, the group has broken out on its own to found the startup Viv Labs.

As hinted above, the central difference between Siri and Viv Labs’ AI system (appropriately named Viv) is that Siri’s responses are pre-programmed, while Viv is designed to learn as it goes, collecting an ever-expanding database of knowledge and abilities. The more people use Viv, the smarter it gets. (It’s kind of like the Waze of personal-assistant apps.)

Wired reported that Viv can already tackle complex requests, ones that would stump both Siri and Google Now (Google’s artificial intelligence, or AI, system): “You can [ask Google Now], ‘What is the population?’ of a city and it’ll bring up a chart and answer,” Kittlaus told the outlet. “But you cannot say, ‘What is the population of the city where Abraham Lincoln was born?'”

Website Here

Viv

Why It’s Hot

Detective Spooner would be going crazy right now because of this. The adaptive learning that Viv has could be ground breaking for consumer goods. We always hear about AI and what the capabilities are, but it always feels out of reach or too advanced. Here we have the opportunity for a new technological advancement to be implemented into one of the most common products in the world. Could this type of technology help in any experiencial environments created by brands?

 

3D Printing & Travel

For travellers, the process seems particularly convenient. Why lug around an entire suitcase of items, for example, when you could simply print out what you need once you’ve arrived at your destination?

That was the thinking of Janne Kyttanen, the Finnish artist who designed the entire outfit, down to shoes and bag – all produced via 3D printer – that was shown in an exhibit called “Lost Luggage” in Rotterdam’s Galerie VIVID this spring. “If you feel like going to Paris, then you just leave and go. You don’t have to go home and think of what you’re going to pack,” he said. “It’s like a futuristic dream world.”

“It’s not as simple as pressing a button and getting a product,” said Phil Reeves, managing director of 3D printing consultancy Econolyst. “It is just another manufacturing technology, that’s all. Yes, it’s quite clever, and yes, it’s quite flexible, but it doesn’t materialise things out of nowhere.” With traditional manufacturing methods remaining inexpensive, he pointed out, you might as well simply board that flight to Paris without your luggage – and just buy all of your items on the cheap when you arrived.

luggage outfit

Why It’t Hot:

We all know that 3-D printing is going to be the next commodity technology for the world, and we are now seeing even more ways to use it. This is particularly interesting because it is not just being used to create a product that can be sold, or be a modern upgrade of a system of manufacturing, but how it can become a consumer facing aspect of a common process.

IceCreamUber

Today Uber is offering ice cream to be delivered to you through the app.

No matter where you are in the world, nothing captures the sweetness of a sunny afternoon better than ice cream. Friday, July 18th, we’re serving up cold treats on demand in 144 cities, in 38 countries, on 6 continents.


THE INSIDE SCOOP

  • Ice Cream will be available on Friday, July 18th.
  • To request, choose the Ice Cream option in the app. If a vehicle is available, you’ll be enjoying your desserts in minutes.
  • No cash needed—your order will be billed to your Uber account.

Demand will be very high and availability limited.

Be a part of the #UberIceCream community worldwide—share your refreshing experience on Twitter and Instagram!

 

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Why It’s Hot

Uber is known for these unique offerings all the time. But it is time to really analyze how diverse they are making the brand, and how many new and exciting ideas they are using their core competency to build off of. Another aspect of this is the willingness to use mobile commerce to pay for minimal valued items. Also, it’s hot out so ice cream sounds good.

iPhone 6 Might Let You “Feel” Something On Screen

The next killer feature on Apple’s expected iPhone 6 could be a display that provides tactile feedback to users — giving users the impression, for instances, of a physical keyboard on a flat touchscreen.

This latest iPhone 6 rumor stems from a report Wednesday on Chinese site Laoyaoba, which said so-called “haptics” technology will be added into the new device.

Haptics technology is built into devices to create tactile feedback or vibrations so a user feels something when touching the screen of a mobile device. For instance, someone could feel thesensation of clicking a button or moving an object around the screen when using the technology.

Check out a video here

 

 

Whytouchscreen

Why It’s Hot

Just another addition to what the iPhone 6 might try to compete with. This also gives some foresight to what marketers can start using in experiencial marketing efforts in the new digital world.

 

Google’s Sub-$100 Phone

A low-cost smartphone designed by Google will go on sale in India this fall before debuting in other emerging economies, the company announced today.

The phones will be branded “Android One,” after the company’s mobile operating system Android, and will cost less than $100. They are part of a new effort by Google to get devices based on its software into the hands of people who currently lack access to the Internet.

Already, one billion people use phones running Google’s Android software, said Sundar Pichai, leader of Google’s Android division, at the company’s I/O conference in San Francisco today. “Our goal is to reach the next five billion people in the world,” he said. “In India and other countries like that, it’s disappointing that less than 10 percent of the population have access to smartphones.”

Google has also developed a series of smartphone “reference designs” that it is making available to manufacturers. On stage, Pichai introduced a device based on one of those designs, made by the Indian manufacturer MicroMax.

That device will go on sale in India this fall for less than $100. Its features include a 4.5-inch screen, dual SIM card slots, an SD memory card slot, and an FM radio.

google patriotic

Why It’s Hot

Everyone is rushing to become the “Phone of the rest of the world” and it looks like Google just made a play for that before the iPhone 6 comes out. As it’s known for the life cycles of innovations, price soon falls hard once it is adopted by the majority. Is this a sign of that? Can we make assumptions that some of our greatest technologies and brands will become much more affordable and accessible for everyone, just like how we all have HD televisions or a GPS now? Cheaper technologies mean more marketing opportunities for us.

UK Government Taps Healthy Start-ups

The UK government is putting out a call for early stage startups with a focus on healthy eating, fitness and physical and mental well-being to enter a public health-focused competition that promises the winners support with marketing and business development, funded by Public Health England (PHE), a division of the UK Department of Health.

The Health X competition was launched this morning at an event in London. Submissions from startups are being accepted from today via the Health X website until August 1, with a finalists’ event taking place later that month and the winning products getting promotion on NHS Choices and other publicly funded health websites such as Change4Life from this December onwards.

Winning startups will get access to PHE’s marketing database of 3.2 million Brits who’ve expressed an interest in healthy living and have signed up to be “digitally contactable” on that topic, plus promotion on the NHS Choices website, which gets some 10 million unique visits per week.

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Why It’s Hot

Our neighbors across the pond share an interest in the cross-section of health and technology, which can make for some interesting insights. If they see enough potential to get this involved, does that mean we could be next? What can we learn from what is going on in the UK? All information that will become very useful for us

Where a Picture is Worth a Thousand Songs

They always say a picture is worth a thousand words… well, how about a thousand songs? That’s where the fun new iOS app, Moodsnap, comes in!

Moodsnap is the world’s first image-based music streaming app, where deciding what to hear is as easy as knowing how you feel. Simply launch the app, click on a photograph that matches your mood, and presto!

That’s right, in Moodsnap, music stations are crowd-sourced collections of songs that users have collectively associated with emotive photographs. It is the community’s judgement of what songs feel right for each photograph, that fuels the listening experience for everyone.

Moodsnap is uniquely powered by Spotify and is free for Spotify Premium subscribers on iOS. Check out the app here!

 

 

moodsnap

 

Why It’s Hot

Taste-algorithms for music are nothing new, but usually are based off of components like artists, songs, or even activities. Photography has become a huge aspect of social media and the way the mass is expressing themselves. Music has always been a way to express and show emotion. Music and photography share that they are a way people identify and find common interests, so it makes sense they should be integrated. There may be potential for brands to use this as well. Such as having consumers upload pictures that create a brand playlist…. interesting.

 

 

California Ready For Driverless Cars

You need a license to drive a car. But does a robot?

For now, yes.

Come September, the California Department of Motor Vehicles will begin granting licenses to select driverless cars and their human co-pilots, which will make it a bit less legally iffy as to whether or not they’re actually allowed to be on a public road.

The good news: The license will only cost $150 a pop, and that covers 10 vehicles and up to 20 test drivers.

The bad (but probably actually good) news: You probably can’t get one, so don’t go trying to make your own Googlecar just yet.

The terms of the license are (as you might hope, in these early days) pretty strict.

 

driverless

Why It’s Hot

Technology is encompassing the simple things in life such as daily transportation. What can this type of technology and intelligence lead to? There has to be a way for experiencial marketing to take advantage of these new advancements its really cool ways. Brands like Amazon and Dominos are already playing with the drone technology, now what about this more familiar integration and how it can be used? There are far more cars in peoples lives than drones.

See the article here.

Vine TV Is Here

Twitter-owned Vine has just given its website a revamp, and the results are reminiscent of a video site that starts with “You” and ends with “Tube.”

The new Vine features users’ videos, playlists, and a big fat search bar to help you find whatever vineries you’d like to see. Vine started out as a mobile app that folks use to capture 6-second looping videos.

The new layout takes vines out of private vaults and puts them on the site for the world to see, much as YouTube does for its videos. It showcases “Popular Now” vines, trending hashtags, user-created playlists, category channels, and handpicked content.

“Up until now, the primary way to watch, share, and discover Vine videos has been on your phone,” the company writes in a blog post today. “We’ve heard from the Vine community that you sometimes want to explore Vine and view videos on your computer, too.”

You can watch each feed in TV Mode, which pulls up a near-full-screen display of videos that play one after another — much as one sits in front of a television and watches continuous video.

And people no longer need to be logged into their Vine account to view and explore vines; the new website is public. Vine profiles originally came to the desktop back in January, and today’s update is a huge next step in expanding the desktop Vine experience.

vinetv

Why It’s Hot:

Vine’s redesign could also be an effort toward monetization. Instagram opened its product to advertising when it signed its first deal with an agency, Omnicon, last month. Instagram’s video support likely played a big part in this, as video still commands the highest engagement and monetization. Vine’s new layout could be a move toward monetizing if vines start to pick up additional views, now that they’re more easily discovered, found, and watched.

Guy Cotten’s Site Scares You Into Buying

Paris agency CLM BBDO created “Sortie En Mar,” or “A Trip Out to Sea,” a vivid, first-person simulation of a man being accidentally thrown off his sailboat in deep water—all as a life-jacket PSA for Guy Cotten, a marine clothing brand based in France.

As the viewer, you’ll be drawn in, tasked with continually scrolling your mouse or trackpad to keep the man’s head above water. You will not make it very long. And if you do, it will not matter—this story ends only one way.

It’s very dark but incredibly compelling, and one of the more clever instances of marketers making users perform repetitive actions online—vaguely reminiscent of endurance-based advertising like Peugeot’s digital knockoff of Hands on a Hard Body a few years back (only it’s infinitely less dumb).

As scare tactics go, it doesn’t get much better than this. Perhaps it will even sell some high-end life jackets—or even some regular ones, too.

Website Here: http://sortieenmer.com/

 

Why It’s Hot:

Micro-sites are always used to enhance the experience of a brand or continue a consumer down the sales funnel, and Sortie En Mar has done this and more. The site accomplishes multiple aspects that you want any digital property to do – it entertains, it motivates, it emotionally connects. The combination of engagement and quality video is something to consider for future work.

 

 

 

Rolex – 109 Years Old and Still Keeping Up

Last year, the decision makers at Rolex decided the time was right for a shakeup.

Unlike with most “shakeups,” however, there wouldn’t be widespread corporate reorganization, and scores of merchandise wouldn’t be cut.

Instead, Rolex executives decided that it was time for the company to launch its first branded Facebook page, a herculean leap for a brand that has, for decades, closely monitored its reputation and only made tweaks — in both its watches and marketing strategies — after subjecting them to significant scrutiny.

Over the past century, precision has become Rolex’s guiding principle, encompassing everything from its watches to its product marketing. Here’s how the brand monopolized a message and withstood the temptations to cheapen it in the social media age.

Piccard Climbing Campbell Rolex-Gleitze

 

Agency sources say Rolex, on YouTube and its new Facebook hub, practices extreme caution and strategy calculation. Rather than publishing content for content’s sake, the brand meticulously selects what media tells the brand’s story best.

 

Why It’s Hot:

Rolex’s social media strategy is one to take under consideration for how luxury brands can approach their social properties. Many brands try to portray their personality and authenticity through their social channels, but fail when emphasizing the “sales and marketing” side of it. We can take a lesson from Rolex that social is an arena that does not have to be first-mover oriented or overly engaging, but a place where consumers can truly identify with the brand.

Fine the Article 

Google Pushes ‘Glass for Work’

Google is launching a new program to find practical ways to use its Google Glass wearable gadgets in the workplace, the company announced on April 8th.

More specifically, the “Glass for Work” program wants to cooperate with outside companies on ways that Google Glass might enhance an employee’s workflow, such as adding it to IT support workers while on calls or giving it to surgeons while operating. The main point of the program is to help make Glass an indispensable gadget in the office in the same way desktops and smartphones are.

Check out the announcement here

GlassForWork

 

GlassForMed

Read more @ NY Times Article and CNBC Article

Why It’s Hot

Google Glass has been a consumer-facing product up until now.This B2B targeting shows the vast usage Glass has the potential to have. There is a new market and strategy to consider for us marketers that can incorporate the use of Glass. An important note is the implications Glass has now opened it’s doors to such at doctors and sporting events where consumers are benefitting from the new technology in a variety of ways.

Can Spritz Change How We Absorb Information?

Spritz is a Boston based startup focused on text streaming technology and its integration into modern communication. The founders are serial entrepreneurs with extensive experience in developing and commercializing innovative technologies. We have assembled an international team of experts in reading methodologies and software engineering. Spritz offers a variety of licensing options for the integration with operating systems, applications, wearables, and websites.

The time consuming part of reading lies mainly in the actual eye movements from word to word and sentence to sentence. In addition, traditional reading simply takes up a lot of physical space. Spritz solves both of these problems. First, your eyes do not have to move from word to word or around the page that you’re reading. In fact, there’s no longer a page – with Spritz you only need 13 total characters to show all of your content. Fast streaming of text is easier and more comfortable for the reader, especially when reading areas become smaller. Spritz’s patent-pending technology can also be integrated into photos, maps, videos, and websites for more effective communication.

 

Find out more here, here, and here

 

 

Why It’s Hot

Consumer information is what us marketers want consumers to do. The implication that this technology is being implemented into websites and apps creates huge potential for us to give more information quicker and faster to who we want. At the moment it is also a very unique way to display content and an eye will be kept on Spritz for any future opportunities