Your phone’s camera didn’t capture the moment. It computed it.

The way our cameras process and represent images is changing in a subtle but fundamental way, shifting cameras from ‘capturing the moment’ to creating it with algorithmic computations.

Reporting about the camera on Google’s new Pixel 4 smartphone, Brian Chen of the New York Times writes:

“When you take a digital photo, you’re not actually shooting a photo anymore.

‘Most photos you take these days are not a photo where you click the photo and get one shot,’ said Ren Ng, a computer science professor at the University of California, Berkeley. ‘These days it takes a burst of images and computes all of that data into a final photograph.’

Computational photography has been around for years. One of the earliest forms was HDR, for high dynamic range, which involved taking a burst of photos at different exposures and blending the best parts of them into one optimal image.

Over the last few years, more sophisticated computational photography has rapidly improved the photos taken on our phones.”

This technology is evident in Google’s Night Sight, which is capable of capturing low-light photos without a flash.

Why it’s hot: 

In a world where the veracity of photographs and videos is coming into question because of digital manipulation, it’s interesting that alteration is now baked in.

In Japan, the Pager Passes from Existence to Nostalgia

After 50 years, pager service in Japan officially ended at midnight, Oct. 1, when Tokyo Telemessage Inc shut down it’s remaining radio signals in Tokyo and the Saitama, Chiba and Kanagawa prefectures.

The pager (or “Pocket Bell” in Japanese) was first used in Japan in 1968 for travelling sales staff. By 1996, pagers were used by 10 million people and had become “one of the defining symbols of a subculture among female high school students along with ‘loose socks’ and taking photos in puri-kura photo booths.” With the introduction of cell phones and email service, usage declined.

Why it’s hot: 

In an era where technology cycles so quickly, old technologies become sources of nostalgia and symbols of history. Fortunately, in American we still have time to give the pager a proper goodbye as they are still used in 80% of U.S. hospitals because of their ability to send signals in cellular dead zones.

Should you get paid for your data? How much?

In a New York Times opinion piece, Jaron Lanier, a computer programmer and futurist, argues that our data is being robbed from us by social media companies and used for algorithmic advertisements, in what amounts to a “crazy behavioral manipulation scheme.”

His proposed solution is that we should be paid for our data. Services like social media would no longer be free, but individuals would be compensated by commissions on any purchases their data influences.

Why it’s hot: 

As digital advertisers, we have a special window into the power (or powerlessness) of data in influencing behavior. Knowing what you know, what would do you think is worth more: $5,000 or the value of all of the data you have accumulated up to this point?

Lebron James and the Case of the Taco Tuesdays

ESPN reported that on Wednesday, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office denied Lebron James’s application to trademark the phrase “Taco Tuesday,” explaining that it is “a commonplace term.” According to James’s spokesman, the denial was the desired result of the filing. The reason? “To ensure LeBron cannot be sued for any use of ‘Taco Tuesday.'”

During the NBA off-season, James began promoting Taco Tuesdays. In a video from his Instagram feed, he shows genuine enthusiasm for the event while he and his family wear Lebron-branded Taco Tuesday shirts, which can be purchased for upwards of $20 online.

The result of the U.S. Patent office’s denial is that anyone can profit from the phrase ‘Taco Tuesday’ without fear of copyright infringement.

Why it’s hot: 

1. MRM now has legal cover to shamelessly capitalize on “Taco Tuesdays”. Cigna Taco Tuesdays. USPS Taco Tuesdays. Honeywell Taco Tuesdays.

2. We live in an age where celebrity sway is so powerful that their passion alone can revitalize dead marketing tropes. Cardi B loves free stuff? Bring on Cardi B BOGO Day.

Don’t know what to binge? Try Google

On Sept 5, Google announced a new feature in search: personalized TV and movie recommendations.

This feature will appear for general queries (e.g. “good shows to watch”) as opposed to specific ones (e.g. “Avengers”) and the results will be customizable depending on current subscriptions (i.e. Google will list top choices for the streaming services users have access to). To build their profile, users will be asked to Tinder swipe left and right on a series of movies and shows (see image below).

Why it’s hot: 

By utilizing its superior search and AI capabilities, Google threatens to become a powerful gatekeeper to streaming services. It is also poised to finally solve that perennial mystery: what should I watch?

 

The future of voting is…Microsoft?

In the U.S., the legitimacy of elections is a culturally recognized threat for both the political right and the left. Current voting machines are both old and hackable. Enter Microsoft, which is developing ElectionGuard, an open source, plug-and-play voting machine with new encryption technology that allows for votes to be both private (you can’t tell who voted for who) and public (voters could instantly see results in real time and use a private key to insure that their vote was properly tallied).

Why it’s hot: 

Increased security is often equated with increased privacy. Microsoft has solved the problem another way. Analogous to the security provided by the blockchain, it is the public and open nature of the code and data that insures legitimacy.

 

 

Ghost Restaurants are Here and Growing

In the last year, an estimated $863 billion dollars was spent on restaurants across America. To the barrage of options, from Thai to tamales, white tablecloth to hole-in-the-wall, a new contender is establishing itself–the ghost restaurant.

Ghost restaurants do not have places for customers to sit or even pick up food. They are kitchens with online marquees available on meal delivery services like Deliveroo (Europe) and Uber Eats. They are able to cut costs on square footage, waitstaff, and location while reaching the growing number of customers who get food delivered.

Because a Ghost restaurant’s digital brand is not tied to its physical space, it is possible for one kitchen to operate several ghost restaurants simultaneously. Top Round Roast Beef (above), is a San Francisco restaurant that maintains three distinct identities on Uber Eats: ‘Ribbon Fried Chicken’, ‘TR Burger and Wings’ and ‘Ice Cream Custard.’

Why it’s Hot: 

Digital branding and strategy will play a bigger role in the restaurant industry now that the kitchen has been separated from the service experience.

Domino’s v. Disability

In 2016, Guillermo Robles, a visually impaired man, sued Domino’s Pizza because their website and app were not compatible with screen-reading software, making online delivery impossible. Robles’s lawyers argued that this violated the American Disability Act (ADA), which requires that “places of public accommodation” be accessible. After the case was initially dismissed by a district court because of a lack of Justice Department guidelines, a federal appeals court ruled in Robles’s favor.

Now Domino’s is appealing the decision, asking the Supreme Court to decide that it does not have a legal obligation to follow the ADA online. The case pits a company defined by delivery against the very customers who need it most.

Illustration for article titled Domino's Could Fuck Up the Internet for People With Disabilities Because They Won't Just Fix Their Website

Why it’s hot

At stake is the future of user experience. If courts decide that the American Disability Act extends to the internet, then designers may be legally required to accommodate all users on all projects that accommodate the public.

See the full Gizmodo article here.

Finding Home Outside of the Home

IKEA recently published their annual Life at Home report for research done in 2018. The study, in its 5th year, is extensive, reaching 22,000 people across 22 countries. The goal is to better understand how people actually use and see their homes in today’s changing world.

This year IKEA found a shift. In 2016, 20% of survey respondents felt most at home somewhere besides the place where they live. In 2018 that number increased to 29% for people who live outside of cities and 35% for people who live in cities. IKEA identifies 5 needs that contribute to feeling at home: privacy, comfort, ownership, security, and belonging. The suggestion is that a growing number of people are satisfying these basic needs elsewhere.

Why it’s Hot

Increase in population, urbanization, and economic stratification mean less living space for individuals and families. When the basic needs of feeling at home are not met where people live, people will search elsewhere. Brands and governments will be asked to respond.