Visionaries in Vision

This whole month, I’ve been going to the optometrist trying to heal my eyes and get the proper prescription for my glasses and eye sight. My eye doctor isn’t far from where I live or far from where I work. And I probably take that for granted.

In the video, I saw two people who realized that the implications of not having that convenience and wanted to do something about it. So they created an app that anyone can use. An app that diagnosis your eye strength at the push of a smart phone button.

Why it’s HOT: I never realized that poor vision can cost you more than frustrations. Good vision can improve your monthly income level by 20%! I always love seeing technology improve the overall state of health and the world and this video is a perfect example of that.

Visionary Solutions for the Visually Impaired

Blind and visually impaired individuals often have to rely on others for help with basic life tasks such as navigating an unfamiliar room, matching clothing or reading a menu at a restaurant. Technology exists that can help, but it often involves purchasing expensive singular devices for each purpose or carrying heavy equipment and power cords around that can sometimes make users stand out in social settings.
Visus Technology, Inc. is developing Velasense—a mobile application suite that uses the Verizon 4G LTE network and smartphones with advanced cameras and sensors—to deliver real-time feedback to users about people, objects and surroundings, including through tools for recognizing text, colors, currency, barcodes, and familiar faces. Useful information can also be stored in the Verizon Cloud for playback on command.

This application suite was recently tested at the Carroll Center for the Blind, and even the simple act of connecting students to social media offered a new level of social interaction. These solutions will not only help to improve the ease of daily life for customers, but will also help them find new ways of engaging with others, and can enable greater access to education, employment opportunities and life-changing independence. The next generation of solutions will include a hands-free, audio-controlled headset that can operate like a “seeing digital assistant.”


Instagram grows in China, despite ban on parent Facebook

Facebook — like so many other Internet sites — has been blocked in China by government censors for years. But Facebook-owned Instagram, beloved by photographers and selfie-addicts alike around the globe, has so far managed to avoid any major scrutiny.

Since Facebook took Instagram under its wing in 2012, Facebook HQ has been quiet about Instagram’s milestones in the Chinese market. The last time we heard “Instagram” and “China” spoken in the same sentence by an insider was as far back as November 2011, when Instagram founder Kevin Systrom divulged at TechCrunch Disrupt Beijing that his app was picking up 100,000 users in China per week.

It’s impossible to exactly identify how Instagram is faring among China’s 700 million smartphone and tablet users, but we can put Instagram’s growth into perspective with the aid of market researcher App Annie. Instagram ranked 312th in Apple’s App Store in China on the day of Systrom’s Disrupt appearance in late 2011 and has since climbed to a 66th overall rank.

Thanks to Weibo, Major news events pushed Instagram into viral adoption in the United States. Hurricane Sandy in 2012 was Instagram’s defining moment. The app was at the center of social media attention as it served up-to-date, user-generated images that drove users to the platform by the masses.

Recently in China, an apparent suicide was documented via Instagram and republished to Weibo, a tragedy that caught the public’s attention through Chinese online media and brought more Chinese users to the photo-sharing service.

In the wider sense, opinion leaders and celebrities are also propelling Instagram’s growth in the region via their re-shares to Weibo. Many of these include Chinese celebrities (and Internet celebrities) like Ling Jia Lu, Sun Fei Fei, and Zhang Xin Yuan, with hundreds of thousands of followers, as well as Beijing and Shanghai elites like Bao Bao Wan or one-time Beijing expatbeijingemily” who’s picked up 200,000 users (mostly from China).

Why it’s HOT: Although Instagram doesn’t have the same monstrous user base in China as WeChat or Weibo, its tremendous growth in a country known for its strict government censorship is an amazing feat. It truly proves the power of the consumers’ demand for social media and image sharing, especially in helping it survive and thrive in such a market. For marketers, we must decide for our brands whether to utilize platforms with larger users or the platforms that are hot (in download trends) and might more efficiently appeal to the impressions of a niche audience.

Furthermore, I also found it hot that Instagram’s growth in China is attributed to the same way that Twitter grew in popularity in the U.S. Has a formula for growing new social media platforms been found? In this case, live-sharing events with pictures and celebrity interactions has helped Twitter in the U.S. and Instagram in China overcome all odds. That’s something to think about!

Mexican Newspaper Prints Breaking Stories On Bathroom Towels

One newspaper in Mexico recently tried a unique way of getting people’s attention — by providing them breaking news printed on paper towels.

Mas Por Mas is a highly-circulated free newspaper that reached the top ten of Mexico’s largest circulation in only three years. The newspaper wanted to get more people to visit their website and worked with agency FCB Mexico to create a paper towel dispenser that printed out real-time news on the paper towels every time someone took a sheet to wipe their hands with.

FCB Mexico installed a printer inside the paper towel dispensers and connected them to the paper’s daily newsfeed via WiFi. Sensors were also built into the system to enable the machine to detect the presence of hands, and every time it detected someone’s hands, the dispenser printed out the latest news on the paper towel. The printer used a special kind of powdered ink that could be used in paper towels since it does not leave any stains on the hands.

Why it’s HOT: As odd as this tactic sounds, it only counts if it delivers. Sure enough, it appeared that the campaign worked — It grabbed people’s attention and the QR code and CTA were enough to increases traffic to the website. Advertisers and their agencies are constantly mulling over ways to break through the clutter and in Mexico, breaking through the clutter means breaking into the break room. But hey, it worked! Viva la unique media placements!

McDonald’s Turns Fries’ Packaging into Virtual Reality Soccer Field

The World Cup is almost upon us, and official sponsor McDonald’s is launching a huge global effort that features new fry boxes that allow you to play and an augmented-reality app called McDonald’s Gol!

Beginning May 26, the chain will — for the first time — change its medium and large fry boxes globally for the promotion, offering 12 different World-Cup-themed designs featuring work from artists commissioned from around the world. The fry boxes will also serve as the entry point for an augmented-reality game on the app.

The app essentially turns the packaging into a virtual reality soccer field, where players try to flick a ball into the fry box, which serves as a goal. The game also uses other real-world objects in view as a way to bounce the ball off them to avoid increasingly difficult obstacles. Points are scored by bouncing off or moving the ball around the obstacles. Points are tallied by country, and players can share their scores via social media.


First promo commercial:

Why it’s HOT:

Seeing one of the biggest and most recognizable brands embrace the World Cup by updating their packaging to include an interactive augmented reality game is VERY HOT. Especially knowing that this is the first time in McDonald’s history that they’ve changed their french fries packaging makes it even more special. As a consumer, I’m going to go to McDonald’s and try out this game on my own smartphone! As far as McDonald’s is concerned, this is exactly what they wanted.

Surviving in an Ad Agency

Ad agencies are often faced with surprise situations in the work place, like a client asking for several major changes just hours before the project deadline or the power suddenly going out right when people are busy working on their computers.

Canadian creative studio Phoenix has created The Survival Kit, which is designed to arm agency folks who are facing deadlines, major presentations, and other stressful events at work with the basic tools to help them survive those situations.

The Survival Kit is available in three packages: The Overtime, The Presentation, and The Power Outage. Each kit comes complete with different items that make each situation that much easier.

Read more here: Full Article



Why it’s HOT: At an ad agency, sometimes the best culture lures the best talent. And every seasoned advertiser knows about Murphy’s Law (Anything that can go wrong, will) when it comes to doing their job. So I think it’s really neat to see an agency show that they are compassionate and aware of some of the worst situations its employees are likely to face in their careers. Every agency needs a Survival Kit!


“Healthcare Advertising Done Differently”

Kids aren’t little adults. They see the world differently. So when Lehigh Valley Health Network built the region’s most advanced Children’s Hospital, they designed everything from a child’s perspective.

To communicate the depth and breadth of the Children’s Hospital, and to demonstrate that the focus is totally on the children, the campaign “From a Child’s Eyes” was created.

The campaign kicked off with two TV spots showing life from a sick kid’s perspective. We see ordinary things and people such as a patient’s room, wheelchair, MRI machine and nurse. But what we hear is a child’s voice describing them as “secret lair,” “rocket mobile,” “laser beams,” and “sidekick.” The award-winning campaign, “Through a Child’s Eyes,” was launched to help the community understand that the Children’s Hospital doesn’t just know how to treat diseases. They know how to treat kids.

Why it’s HOT: I thought this was another example of looking at healthcare from another perspective. I’ve personally worked on many health and pharma new business pitches and I’m always curious to see what other ideas the other ideas think up. I’m interested in hearing other people’s thoughts and who they truly believe the target audience of this commercial is. Is this the reverse strategy of that used in the cereal industry?

Is That a Doctor In Your Pocket?

Scanadu turns smartphones into health monitoring devices. The Scandu Scout is a device that may revolutionize and democratize healthcare, putting our health (information) in our hands. The company began shipping its first set of devices to its earliest backers in the first week of April.

Why It’s HOT: This is the first device I’ve seen that actually tells you what to do with your health data after reading your vital signs. Furthermore, though the technology is only now being created (and pending FDA approval), imagine its implications in future versions of the technology. Soon, everyday people may be able to tell whether the spot on your arm is malignant or not and whether they should see a specialist right away. Prevention and early detection are two of the keys to living longer and happier lives.

It looks like Star Trek’s tricorder is not going to remain science fiction for very long.

Could We Be Witnessing a Shift In Digital Business Models?

There’s a trend in digital. And it’s likely to cost you twice.

Facebook is the latest brand to offer a million services, but instead, separate it over multiple application.

This month, Facebook announced plans to remove messaging features from its main app, as TechCrunch first reported. Facebook’s intention, it appears, is to drive people to its standalone messaging appMessenger. It just recently updated the app to promote use of its voice-calling feature.

The messaging button within Facebook’s core app will remain, but it will only offer a quick way to launch the Messenger app (or point people to a download link if they don’t already have it). Facebook’s acquisition of messaging rival WhatsApp, a move that just received the go ahead from the FTC, likely influenced this upcoming product change.

There’s another reason that number will probably grow: If you want to message people on Facebook from a smartphone, now you’ll be forced to download the app. Facebook said that it’ll be ripping the Messaging feature out of its smartphone apps in the coming weeks, asking people to instead download the standalone app in the future.

Why it’s HOT: Companies are beginning to divide their platforms into mini platforms, independent of the “mother” platform. This may be an effort for some companies to concentrate on a certain feature and hence develop it in much more intricate ways . They also might see it as an opportunity to generate revenue from each mini platform, increasing overall revenue of “mother” platform or company. Soon, we may be witnessing the of decline of the full-featured web platform.

On April 23rd, Mark Zuckerberg announced that 200 million people were already using Facebook messanger.

Smart sleep mask increases productivity by promoting power napping


Reaching its target on Kickstarter in December 2013, the NeuroOn sleep mask monitors brain waves, muscle tension and eye movements  to determine the most efficient sleeping pattern for its wearer. Claiming to cut sleep time to between two and five hours a day, the mask is expected to ship in July 2014 for an estimated price of USD 250.

Why it’s HOT:
For decades, people believed that we need at least 6-8 hours of sleep a night to maintain positive mental and physical health. If the theories of NeuroOn’s creators are correct, the mask can help humans become just as efficient up to 75% less sleep! Imagine a world where you don’t have to sleep so long, and you can get more done! Sounds great for employers, huh? Either way, NeuroOn has exceeded their funding goals on Kickstarter and if proven to be successful, can literally change the world overnight.

A Classic Album Remixed with Modern Marketing

Illmatic is the debut album of American rapper Nas, released on April 19, 1994, by Columbia Records. Since its initial reception, Illmatic has been recognized by writers and music critics as a landmark album in East Coast hip hop. Its influence on subsequent hip hop artists has been attributed to the album’s production and Nas’s lyricism. Now, fans can celebrate the release of Illmatic XX, the 20th anniversary edition of Nas’ album, by uploading their own “selfies,” creating their own Illmatic XX cover art. The original cover art is considered iconic by many hip hop fans.

If that wasn’t enough reason to participate in the “Illmatic Experience,” participants could win tickets to a Nas concert or one of many autographed memorabilia for creating their own cover! After your cover is created, share it with your friends on Twitter or Facebook or look at everyone else’s cover before you. There is also an on-site music player that allows the participant to listen to a few tracks from the album.

Why It’s HOT:

Many classic albums have been re-released, especially upon their 10, 20, and 25 year anniversaries, but many of their marketing efforts fall short of spectacular. The marketers of this album refused to rely on the reputation of Nas and his classic debut album. They learned that the album cover was an iconic and easily identifiable image in the minds of all rap/hip hop fans. This was a simple and fun way for fans to feel like part of American music history while creating a fun user experience that motivated them to share that experience with their friends.


Pin THIS! Using Social Media Icons to Connect the Youth to Art

There’s a level of ironic beauty that occurs when the new age finds itself so insightfully injected into iconic works of art.

Ukrainian artist Nastya Nudnik has done just that in a series titled “emoji-nation.”

For example, the artist has brilliantly inserted new context to the works of American painter Edward Hopper, known for his masterpieces of social realismcapturing moments of solitude and loneliness by adding emojis and other well known social media images.

By Photoshopping in the iconography of social media, Nudnik updates these works of art giving teens a way to understand classical works of art and post-modernism. J/k, lulz.

Enjoy the results below, peppered with references to your favorite social media sites.

Why It’s Hot

Social media has become so intertwined into the fabric of our lives, that we don’t have to be online to see it! I find it fascinating that emoticons and social iconography are helping teens become more aware and connected to the paintings, albeit sometimes very cynical in nature.

As advertisers, we are constantly pushed to find different ways to resonate with the consumer. They are inundated with new technologies, creative messaging, and have generational adoption curves that we must take into account. Nastya Nudnik‘s strategy is a simple, yet brilliant way of reaching a generation whose culture understands the modern age of Facebook and Twitter versus post modernism art. Perhaps we should think about this example when determining how to best create relevant and engaging content and advertising.

A new smartphone app and plug-in sensor can measure oxygen levels in the blood, detecting life-threatening complications of preeclampsia.

We’ve all worn one in the hospital or doctor’s office: a small plastic device that clips onto a fingertip to monitor oxygen levels in the blood. Currently, these devices—called pulse oximeters—require a bulky box to gather and report data, and they cost enough that only hospitals and clinics can readily afford them. Now, a company called LionsGate Technologies Inc. (LGTmedical) is gearing up to produce a newer, cheaper device called the Phone Oximeter. It can be attached to a smartphone and costs only $40. Unlike other mobile-enabled pulse oximeters, the Phone Oximeter is uses the smartphone’s processor to do all the necessary computing. This means that the device itself need only consist of two LEDs and a small sensor.

Why it’s HOT: The technology could have a huge impact in the developing world, where many clinics, community workers, and even hospitals don’t have access to pulse oximetry. A pulse oximeter is especially important in emergency rooms and is also used to monitor heart and respiratory conditions. “The other really important innovation is that we’ve used the audio jack of the phone as the universal connector of any mobile device to be able to do this monitoring,” said Ansermino. “It uses the same channels that would produce sound and record sound from the microphone to light up the lights and record the amount of light that actually goes through the finger.”



A Dirty Diaper Full of Data

New York City-based Pixie Scientific is working on a diaper that can detect and report a range of health-related issues like dehydration, kidney malfunction, urinary tract infections and even Type I diabetes. A patch on the front of the Smart Diaper reacts to different proteins in the urine, generating an array of colors that, when scanned with your  smartphone, translates into a report on key indicators about the infant’s health. Parents can either respond accordingly or send the report to a pediatrician. The same technology could be applied to adult diapers for early detection and treatment of health problems in the elderly, as well.

Why it’s Hot

The QR Code is back! Well, maybe not yet. But to many worried parents, it’s hard to know what exactly is bothering their baby. And while some large brands, like Huggies, think a ‘smart diaper’ is a diaper that senses moisture and warns the parent that their baby is about to urinate, this diaper has serious implications to health and vitality. Products like this may be ahead of its time, but it’s no long unfathomable. In our line of work, we push the boundaries of technology and technology pushes the boundaries of advertising. Especially in digital health, we’re now able to create real solutions for patients and HCPs. I hope this inspires you (or at least intrigues you)!



Nymi- Is this biometric wristband the ultimate in security?

Bionym, the company that makes the Nymi wristband, markets it as a simple-to-use log-on device. Basically, it provides a biometric alternative to a password, using Bluetooth wireless signals to send your heartbeat signature to all sorts of computing systems where you need security, including your PC, your iPad, even your car.

Because your electrocardiogram, or ECG, readings are both hard to spoof and unique, Bionym thinks these little plastic wristbands will open up a whole new era of fun, password-free living — as you can see in this fantasy demo video:

Why it’s HOT:

FOUR of the hottest trends in technology are combined here. Wearable electronics, biometrics, security and the seamless integration between humans and their environment are all integrated into this nifty little gadget. What started off as a security device that would use your heartbeat as a unique ID, it quickly grew into an application for everyday life. What’s most interesting to me is that you can store your virtual wallets on it. Recently they made an offer to include a free integrated bitcoin wallet (see Rob’s article) for all of those that buy it. In case you were wondering, Nymi measures heart-wave characteristics that are constant, Bionym says, so the device will work whether you’re nervous or sleepy or you’ve just finished exercising.The cost to pre-order this product is only $79 but its not going into production until the Spring of 2014.



Coke Promotes Freestyle Fountain Machine With Clever Vine Shorts

Coca-Cola tapped Vine celebrity Zach King to help promote its new Coca-Cola Freestyle fountain machine, which can create more than 100 drink combinations, in a series of fun and clever six second videos. King, known as the “Vine Magician” for his use of special FX in the medium, helped create the Vines with the aim of capturing the fun, choice and possibility of Coca-Cola Freestyle.

Why It’s Hot

Leveraging Key Opinion Leaders is a strategy marketers talk about often. Strategically speaking, Vine is the perfect medium for reaching the target audience of the new Coca-Cola Freestyle machines and Zach’s combination of  technology and magic tend to go viral with great frequency. The first two posts have already generated more than 53,800 Likes and 30,000 Re-Vines. The series rolled out a new video each Monday throughout the month of February.

CMOs on a High

From Kate Clough

CMO optimism for the U.S. economy has reached its highest point in five years. This optimism occurred across all sectors. With optimism comes willingness to increase risk.


CMOs reported an average optimistic score of 66.1 (out of 100), nearly 20 points higher than a low score of 47.7 in February 2009. These top marketers also predict that customers’ top priority over the next twelve months will be a focus on product quality, not on low price. This shift indicates a belief that consumers are ready to spend again and are less interested in cost savings.

With optimism comes more risk taking. CMOs report their companies will spend more on market development strategies (sell existing products/services to new customers), product/service development strategies (sell new products/services to existing customers), and diversification strategies (sell new products/services to new customers). These three strategies are riskier than a market penetration strategy, concludes the report, which is which will decline by 11%.

In terms of other growth strategies, CMOs report they will allocate 71.8% of their budgets to organic growth, where the company innovates using its own resources, compared to growth via partnership, acquisition and licensing. The implication here is increased confidence in tackling innovation and developing markets in-house rather than buying it.

Why it’s Hot

Our jobs are a whole lot more fun when our clients are launching new products, pursuing new audiences, growing organically (vs. through partners, acquisition, licensing) and encouraging us to bring innovative new strategies to them (in contrast to the risk aversion we faced in 2008-2010, and worse, for us dinosaurs, 2001-2003).

We made incredible progress in selling through innovative channel plans last year and that will only continue this year, as clients move from recent channel “testing” to actual investing: digital audio, video, mobile/tablet ads, untrackable and premium media (subway wraps, events/stunts), things they don’t really understand (data targeting across ad exchanges) and so on. The new tests will be things that we haven’t even heard about yet. Maybe we’ll learn about them via Hot Sauce today.

Source: MediaPost Research Brief, Jack Loechner, March 7, 2014

Hot New App Spotlight: Whisper

Whisper is one of the hottest new social mobile apps for download, although you probably never heard a “whisper” about it before today.  The app, available on iTunes, Google Play and Windows marketplaces claims Whisper is “Where the Truth Lives.” But how can they make such a claim? Well, all posts known as Whispers, are anonymous.

How it works: Read from the millions of anonymous Whispers or create your own. If you see a peculiar Whisper that you like, you can “heart” it. If you want to reply to another person’s post with a Whisper of your own, you have the option to do that. What’s both silly and interesting, is that every Whisper created is assigned an image based on your keywords, making your Whisper look like a meme. If you’re not a fan of the image that the app chooses for you, you can change it to anything else you’d like or use your camera to take a new picture of your own. But NO ONE will ever know who it came from.

1904184_818296278186902_547901719_n Whispers

Why it’s HOT

Once upon a time, everyone wanted to be a social media superstar, but now privacy has become the biggest trend in social media. Think about it, with Snapchat, your pictures delete themselves in a matter of seconds and with TigerText, you can text co-workers a message that self destructs in 1 minute. Whisper allows you to share what you always wanted to say to the world but was afraid of the backlash that might ensue. Furthermore, this app allows you to pry into the deepest and darkest secrets of people’s minds all around the world. Needless to say, this app is not only addictive but fun. Whisper earned 1 million downloads in its first 6 months on iTunes and has since then gained millions of more downloads since launching on the other platforms.