More People Have Died Taking Selfies Than from Shark Attacks

Prompted by the recent death of a Japanese tourist, a lot of attention has been center around the senseless, stupid and preventable deaths by those who were performing risky or short-sighted behavior in the pursuit of the selfie.

The rising epidemic has prompted efforts to stem the shocking trend, such as government-sponsored public service campaigns to educate folks on taking safe selfies.

But what’s the data actually look like?

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According to Mashable, in 2015 twelve people have died taking selfies while just eight have lost their lives by sharks.

Why It’s Hot

The numbers may not be huge, but the implications may reflect a change in culture as consumer technologies continue to expand. In response to these cases, groups have pushed to restrict the use of selfie sticks in public spaces like parks and zoos, where large groups of people may be. If people are paranoid about sharks, then maybe they should instead fear the death trap in their hands… whether from selfies, texting, distracted driving or otherwise.

Via Yahoo

Gatorade Puts Audiences Behind the Plate as Bryce Harper

Leveraging Google’s YouTube 360 platform for creating immersive brand experiences, Gatorade is giving users a chance to step up to bat and get in the mind/body of MLB Nationals star Bryce Harper.

 

Audiences who watch the branded experience are dropped into the world of Harper as a virtual reality imagination of what it’s like to go to bat in a baseball game. The inner monologue, the lights, the warping of time, and of course sponsorships. The Gatorade team used a 14-camera rig to create the real-time video/CGI engagement.

Why It’s Hot

Gatorade demonstrates the power that engaging content marketing can have. Brands can embed themselves into meaningful, powerful experiences… not just float around the periphery as an advertiser that gets in the way of a person’s interest. Gatorade succeeds because they created something visceral that grips viewers, surrounding them with subtle brand experience that suggests what it might be like to use, experience or benefit from the product… without ever directly saying it.

Via AdAge

Using Yelp to Pass Along Recos to Navigate the Criminal Justice System

Yelp is a great place to find and share reviews for just about everything: restaurants, barbers, landscapers, even doctors. But as a recent article on The Marshall Report highlights, Yelp is now being used by people to provide commentary on navigating imprisonment… with reviews, tips and tricks from people on the inside and out.

Indeed, Yelp is becoming a significant an influential place of prison conversation. Topics run the gamut, sharing knowledge and opinions to influence how people interact with the criminal justice system. Some learnings the article highlights:

  • Requesting certain ethnic meal cards and strategies to get the best meal choice
  • Reviews of guards and protections for high-risk populations
  • Recommendations on what to do with clothing while in the shower
  • Fashion tips for visitors to make sure they will be let into visitation spaces

In cases like the last, users are using Yelp to help others. After being denied entry to the prison for clothing deemed “too tight” and “see-through” while trying to visit her brother, Victoria Ramos of California went to Yelp, as she said, to save others from the type of experience she had during her visit. “Maybe I would have went in the proper attire if I would have read a review similar to mine.”

In other cases, Yelpers on the inside are posting about their experiences to show the realities of prison life, recommend paths to advocate for yourself, and even pass along life lessons. Or as the title of the article suggests, “I reviewed jail on Yelp because I couldn’t afford a therapist.”

Why It’s Hot

As social platforms and user-generated content take more meaningful roles in our lives, instances like this use of Yelp are a reminder that the incredible accessibility of digital means people can appropriate technology for their own needs and agendas. Yelp never intended for reviews to pass along information in this manner, and yet the openness of the platform allows those niche users to use it to satisfy these needs and connect with one another. To create more meaningful connections, marketers and creators of these platforms should be probing for ways in which technology can fulfill new needs in unexpected ways.

Via The Marshall Project

Samsung Wants You to Sleep with Its New Bedtime Device

It’s been shown in many studies that getting a full night’s sleep is an important way for staying healthy and happy. Despite this, it’s also been shown that many people fail to get a full night’s sleep for many reasons. Their disrupted, shortened sleep cycles may cause long-term health problems. So clearly we need to “fix sleep” for these sufferers. But what’s a poor sleeper to do?

Many trackers require manual input, a big negative for keeping up use over time. Wearables try to streamline the process by automating the data collection, but often requires sleepers to wear uncomfortable or unwanted devices on their wrists.

Samsung thinks the solution isn’t a wearable, it’s a device for your mattress that they’ve named “SleepSense.” The device is described as a “puck” that is placed below the sleeper’s mattress. Despite being buried into the bed, SleepSense still has the capability to capture metrics like respiratory and heart rates, in addition to the expected sleep-related metrics like REM, sleep length and efficiency, etc.

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SleepSense also has some nifty features built into it. For one, it’s also a “smart alarm” that helps users wake up gradually and more efficiently. It’s also integrated with Samsung’s “Smart Things” home automation app, to control integrated home products like thermostat, TV, and appliances to create the optimal sleep environment for you. And for caregivers, you can receive sleep reports on the behavior of those you want to monitor.

Why It’s Hot

SmartSense shows a really important integration between “near” medical devices, mobile applications, home automation and small appliances in a truly useful way. Samsung is taking home automation to place that is not just an expensive gimmick, it’s something to actually improve people’s health and everyday lives.

via Samsung

Protecting Yourself in the Facial-Recognition Era

Facial-recognition might make tagging photos a lot easier on Facebook, but let’s face it: there’s a lot of unresolved implications for the long-term about this increasingly integrated technologies. Rather than putting themselves at risk, some people are choosing just to opt-out altogether.

How do you go dark when your data is collected without your knowledge or consent?

It’s not a catch-all, but start with protective eyewear. The Privacy Visor, first unveiled in 2012, are glasses that reflect light in a way that confuses facial-detection software. More specifically, the glasses disrupt the patterns of light and dark spots around the eyes and nose that allow computer algorithms to recognize that a face is even present in the frame. Although the glasses don’t guarantee complete privacy, project lead Isao Echizen says tests have shown it to work over 90% of the time.

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As camera technology has adapted to more closely mimic human sight, The Privacy Visor has been updated to better shield identities even as the scanning technology advances. Echizen is pushing forward with the concept’s commercialization, targeting mid-next year to begin production of more fashionable and effective versions.

Why It’s Hot

The Privacy Visor is a product that exists to treat the symptom of a much larger problem: maintaining control of one’s own identity. It might be good for those of us who are paranoid, and those of us who very legitimately want to maintain control of the information they create about themselves… online and out in the world. In fact some privacy advocates go as far as saying the Privacy Visor is a detriment to the cause because its very existence is in effect “giving in” to these huge pressures for amassing databases of personally identifiable information. So the bigger question becomes less about the specifics of this product, and more about the broader culture of acceptance we’re creating.

Via FastCompany

The Wheaties Brand Extension Into Beer is Genius

The General Mills cereal brand Wheaties has made a supremely awesome move to get back into customer favor: extending the brand to beer. Partnering with the Minnesota-based microbrewery Fulton, “HefeWheaties” is a hefeweizen-style ale that will be marketed in 16-oz “tallboy” cans.

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Why Minnesota? Well, cereal and brewery are rooted in the Twin City. And as the story goes, the collaboration was borne out of a General Mills employee just having a close connection at Fulton.

For now the beer will only be available in Minnesota, but General Mills is not treating this like a stunt. If response is strong, the company may consider doing the beer in a bigger distribution.

Why It’s Hot

Beer is always a good way to grab people’s attention. And let’s face it, Wheaties hasn’t exactly been a cereal brand at the top of everyone’s minds these days. HefeWheaties was a smart, interesting way to get attention back to this legacy brand in and exciting fashion that brings interest by particularly younger audiences. And General Mills treating this as more than just a one-off shows the company is committed to smart business, not just PR.

via AdWeek

Starbucks Touch is a Smartphone Case to Pay for Drinks with a Tap

Starbucks in Japan has teamed with the a Japanese-based clothing company called Uniform Experiment to create a case for the iPhone 6 that can make mobile payments by nothing more than a tap. The program is called Starbucks Touch.

iPhone-toting loyalists first purchase their Starbucks Touch case (really, it’s not free?). Then they install an accompanying mobile app. After entering their payment information, the case is ready to complete mobile payment at specially designed in-cafe kiosks.

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Cases come in two designs:

  1. The primary, meant to look like the iconic Starbucks cup and sleeve
  2. The secondary, a colorful tiled mosaic

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No word on if/when the case will make it to more countries (or devices).

Why It’s Hot

With Starbucks Touch, the company has found a way to monetize its brand loyalists even further. First, they’re charging for the case itself. Next, each case is emblazoned with the Starbucks logo… free advertisement that reinforces the brand to loyalists and promotes to those around. And finally, there’s the word-of-mouth effect that will likely ensue from explaining to others what this Starbucks phone case is really all about.

If Starbucks wants to reach a wider audience, perhaps they forgo the charge for a case and instead give it away for essentially the free advertising and proximity to customers. In a grander scheme, Starbucks Touch is away to reach a niche group of customers, and reinforce the brand with them in an even more intimate way. If Starbucks has figured out a way to make even more money off of them, more power to ’em.

Via DesignTaxi

Uber Courts Short-Term Drivers with Pilot Leasing Program

In order to be an Uber driver, you need wheels. And the nicer wheels they are, the more likely you are to be well-rated and continue to getting business. Knowing this, Uber is beginning a pilot program called Xchange Leasing to offer drivers more flexible lease terms and hopefully increase its supply of drivers.

For a deposit of $250 and a higher monthly payment than typical lease, drivers can secure a lease on 2013 Toyota Corolla in a three-year lease. To coax drivers into the higher monthly costs, terms of the deal do not limit drivers to a mileage maximum. Drivers can also break the three-year term for a $250 penalty fee. Drivers will also have the option to buy the vehicle at the end of their lease term.

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The pilot is currently running in California, Maryland and Georgia.

Why It’s Hot

Uber’s new pilot is an interesting approach to solving a major barrier to growth: its supply of drivers. It may not be an advantageous lease deal for everyone given the higher costs, but the added flexibility to “get out” could be an attractive way of getting over the trial burden for some would-be drivers and help the service expand into new markets quickly.

Via re/code

Hackers Show Vulnerability of “Connected Cars”

When we think of hacks, we often think email, banks, phones. But many people don’t think of things like cars as a hackable devices, too. So researchers in St. Louis set out to demonstrate that the automakers need to be far more active in the security of the internet-connected vehicles.

The subject was Fiat Chrysler’s line of Uconnect vehicles. Using a Jeep Cherokee, the researchers demonstrated that using the vehicle’s Sprint network data connection, they could successfully attack a driver’s vehicle to remotely by pure anonymized hack. Some 470,000+ vehicles on the roads offer this connectivity, making vulnerability to hack no small risk.

So what could the hackers exploit? Quite a lot. While the driver was cruising at highway speed, they were able to alter wipers, display personalized messages on the dashboard, even disable the transmission to prevent acceleration. Traffic piled up behind the driver, as the subject was left helpless.

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But the hackers are doers of good. They sought to share these exploits with the hacker community, so that those with malicious intent do not find them first. What’s shocking is the automotive industries apparent attempt to minimize these studies. In a longer expose of the study, Wired highlights that automakers are more interested in out-competing for features over addressing real consumer safety concerns with this untested new drivable devices.

Why It’s Hot

As we are always looking for what is new, shiny and internet-driven, cases like this demonstrate why consumers need to remain vigilant in the connected age. In this case, it took hacker advocacy to open our eyes to corporate sluggishness and blindness to the dangers that new products can pose.

Via Ars Technica

MasterCard Thinks Selfies Will Be The Future of Payment Security

Late last week, MasterCard announced an initial pilot for new payment security systems for verifying cardholder identity: a selfie.

Instead of entering pin codes, users can either perform a fingerprint scan or take a selfie. Why consumers would want to be bothered to extend their arm and flash a selfie with other customers waiting in line is beyond me, but MasterCard thinks the move will help them appeal more to youths.

To avoid scammers using existing photos, MasterCard built in a user flow that requires cardholders to blink while taking the selfie scan.

The move is part of a broader company commitment to exploring new verification methods that help cardholders avoid having to remember multiple pin numbers and decrease account hacks.

Why It’s Hot

MasterCard’s selfie scan is just one example of how the company is evolving its business practices to better meet customer needs and reduce their experience pain points. Sure, a fingerprint is a more likely biometric technology to put into practice, but facial recognition offers an alternative and other tech explorations show that companies like MasterCard are racing to better serve customers… not themselves.

VIa Americans.org

Tumblr Launches Tumblr TV for GIF Searching

Tumblr is launching a new tool called Tumblr TV, designed to make finding GIFs easier. The new service is a full-screen GIF catalog that can be used to browse through some of the most popular images being shared, or search.

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The service works like a slideshow, allowing for easy exploration of search results. Users can also limit Tumblr TV to just images from a particular blog or category by modifying the URL – tumblr.com/tv/@staff ortumblr.com/tv/food, for instance.

Why It’s Hot

GIFs are an online marketer’s gold these days, and tools that help users share more through the Tumblr platform will certainly help the network. It’s not likely that out of the gate Tumblr TV will unseat Giphy as king of GIFs, but a little competition is always good.

Via TNW

Light Phone, Your Phone Away from Phone

Light Phone is trying to be everything your smartphone isn’t: dumb, efficient and engineered with a singular focus… to just make calls. In a hyper-connected world, why would you spend your hard-earned money on something willfully feature-deficient? That’s entirely the point.

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Well, also because it’s a pretty sexy piece of consumer electronics.

As described in its Kickstarter, ‘The Light Phone is a credit-card sized phone designed to be used as little as possible. It is your phone away from phone.’ Light wants to be your second phone, to take it everywhere your smartphone won’t go. Keep it in your wallet for backup when your smartphone dies, give it to your kids as a first phone, take it with you on epic hikes where your expensive iPhone might get damaged. And despite its compact size, the lack of mobile Internet enables The Light Phone to live ~20 days on a single charge (via USB). And forget carriers, The Light Phone operates on pre-purchased minutes. Talk about old school.

The project has passed its $200K fundraising goal with 15 days still to go.

Why It’s Hot

The Light Phone is interesting because it’s creating a new category of device. With the inherent limitations of today’s smartphones and battery technology, The Light Phone suggests that consumer will pay for something inherently basic.

Selfie Reveals ISIS Location, Bombed 22 Hours Later

This is a true story. Really, it isn’t satire.

It started with a terrorist taking an innocent selfie of himself at his holdout. But using a selfie posted as a reference point, U.S. Intelligence experts were able to identify the location of an important ISIS building in Syria and successfully execute a military air strike to destroy it. All in under 22 hours.

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According to Air Force General Hawk Carlisle (which is a perfect name for an Air Force General we must say), airmen from Hurlburt Field, Florida in the 361st Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Group were the first to pick up on the photo.

“The guys that were working down out of Hurlburt, they’re combing through social media and they see some moron standing at this command,”Carlisle said in an interview with Defense Tech. “And in some social media, open forum, bragging about the command and control capabilities for Daesh, ISIL. And these guys go: ‘We got an in.’ So they do some work, long story short, about 22 hours later through that very building, three [Joint Direct Attack Munitions] take that entire building out.”

Why It’s Hot

Clearly the terrorist in this story didn’t understand his influence on the Internet, and the extent to which his “innocent” selfie shared a plethora of data. The military would tell you this is a good thing, but we as civilians should be mindful that these same practices of targeting can be applied on civilian populations using drone technology. And it doesn’t have to be an airstrike; if we are not vigilant about our individual rights and privacy, we may subject ourselves to surveillance, self-incrimination of illegal activity, or worse. Think about what you’re giving away the next time you wave that selfie stick.

Via BGR

A Billboard That May Make You Sweat

Powerade has created a series of interactive “workout” billboards in Germany that let passersby use the advertisement to exercise.

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Each board is specifically designed to support a single activity. Rock-climbing, punching bag, and pulley-bar. Each activity is designed around an engagement with the Powerade brand logo. Participants receive a free drink from a rep following their completed workout. I think it’s to wash down the embarrassment they face from onlookers watching their routine.

Why It’s Hot

Offbeat billboards seem to be a flavor of the week these days, but one that forces people into action with brand is sure to break through the clutter. While they are not feasible to execute en masse, the story can amplify. The key is not to have interaction be a gimmick; the action needs to tie into the brand ethos and “make sense.”

Via PSFK

L’Oreal to Begin 3D Printing Human Skin

Cosmetics giant L’Oreal is partnering with Organovo to begin 3D printing human skin, which it will use during the testing and development of cosmetic products. Though L’Oreal has been producing human skin as far back as the 1980s massive facilities, new 3D printing technology could drastically increase the amount of skin available while significantly decreasing the costs associated with cultivating the necessary stock.

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According to Bloomberg, “Using the current method, skin samples are grown from tissues donated by plastic surgery patients in France are then cut into thin slices and broken down into cells. Those cells are placed in trays, fed a special, proprietary diet, and exposed to biological signals that mimic those of actual skin. “We create an environment that’s as close as possible to being inside someone’s body,” says Balooch. It takes about a week for the samples to form, he adds, “because the skin has different layers and you have to grow them in succession.”

The move could also be a boon to L’Oreal’s business. L’Oreal uses roughly half the skin it produces and sells the rest to pharmaceutical companies and rivals in the cosmetics industry. The company wouldn’t provide current prices but in 2011 that samples cost €62 ($70.62) a pop. Nine skin varieties are available, covering a range of ages and ethnicities.

Why It’s Hot

3D printing body parts is not a new concept, but L’Oreal’s plan to commercialize production and essentially become a “skin dealer” demonstrates how the line between businesses can be blurred through technology. Product improvement, faster development, and new lines of business can all be created by leveraging the right technology.

Via Bloomberg

Chip is a $9 Computer Smaller than a Credit Card

Meet Chip, the $9 PC that is smaller than a credit card. Yes, a personal computer that can surf the web, play simple games, and edit documents. $9. I’m going to let that sink in for a moment.

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What began as a $50K Kickstarter has spun out wildly, securing over $1MM in just four days on the site. So what do you get for $9?

  • With a 1Ghz processor
  • 512 MB of RAM
  • 4GB of storage (invest in some cloud support)
  • 1 USB micro port
  • 1 USB standard port
  • 802.11 B/G/N WiFi (connect mouse and keyboard)
  • Bluetooth
  • Linux OS

For some extra cash, you can buy some doohickies that let you connect to displays via VGA or HDMI, take the computer on the go via battery pack, or even get a full mobile keyboard/screen setup that resembles a Gameboy. If all goes according to plan, they’ll begin shipping in mid-2016.

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Why It’s Hot

To say that Chip is a huge innovation is an understatement. Chip can put liberating technology to educate and empower every single person on the face of Earth, at an unprecedented cost. And coming equipped with Scratch to teach coding, it has the potential to even the global playing field for “offline” populations in remote or impoverished parts of the world quickly. The potential to user Chip to create new digital devices, or string them together for power, demonstrates a new flexibility in computing that may lead to unexpected innovations in every facet of our lives.

Via Business Insider

Woman Uses Pizza Hut App to Escape Hostage Situation

Quick thinking by a Florida mother helped her and her children escape a potentially deadly hostage situation by an unlikely communication device: her Pizza Hut mobile app.

After being taken hostage at knifepoint by her boyfriend Ethan Nickerson, things were looking bleak for Cheryl Treadway and her two children. But while being held in Nickerson’s home, Treadway managed to convince her captor to return her cell phone so that she could order a pizza for her children.

In that moment, Treadway ordered a small pepperoni pizza and included the notes, “Please help. Get 911 to me,” and, “911hostage help!” The local Pizza Hut recognized her as a frequent customer and flagged the comments, contacting local police.

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When police arrived on scene, they had to talk Nickerson out of the house, but after a 20-minute standoff, he surrendered peacefully. Treadway and the children are unharmed, thanks to Treadway’s smart use of a pizza delivery app. “We’ve never seen that before,” said Pizza Hut manager Candy Hamilton. “I’ve been here 28 years and never, never seen nothing like that come through.”

Why It’s Hot

When Pizza Hut created its mobile app, odds are they didn’t think its code could do much more than order pizzas let alone save someone’s life. But with the proliferation of mobile technology like apps, even a pizza ordering service can be a communication vehicle. Thankfully this Pizza Hut was staffed by employees who took the comments seriously, and were able to play a role in saving the Treadway family’s lives.

Via Popular Mechanics and WFLA

Guerilla “Beach Body” Ad Backlash Goes Viral, Shows Brands How NOT to Respond

Since launching its “Beach Body” campaign in the UK, Protein World has been catching a lot of flack for its sexist advertising.The ads, which had popped up around the London metro system, prompted readers to question, “Are you beach body ready?” and quickly caused a stir last week for their role in promoting unhealthy body images among girls and women.

In response, riders of the transit system began to deface the advertisements with foul language, and creating a post-worthy spectacle across social media.

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People began using the campaign’s copy against it, twisting the CTA into its own hashtag #EachBodysReady giving the campaign more legs and representation among more people.

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As buzz grew, the guerilla tactics evolved from more and more advocates. Artists staged bikini-clad protests, feminists and allies bombarded Protein World with criticisms, and an online petition requesting the campaign’s removal garnered over 50,000 supporters in just a few days.

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You’d think Protein World might concede defeat. But no.

Protein World and its CEO Arjun Seth doubled down on their stance to dictate how your body should look. Through the branded handle, the company fired back at critics as “sympathisers” and “fatties.” The brand even went so far as to call the critics “terrorists” and suggest that they should not project their own “issues” on the Protein World brand.

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Showing how brands should not behave online, Protein World even went so far as to boast about its paying out bonuses for a surge in sales following the aftermath.

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So what happened?

After receiving more than 270 complaints to the Advertising Standards Authority, Transport for London has pulled the campaign citing its promotion of “unhealthy body image” to riders.

Why It’s Hot

The Protein World case study is a weird one, in that the brand has shown you can alienate a huge part of the population and still come out OK if you’ve galvanized the right support among your advocates. At the risk of their brand’s integrity, Protein World clearly tapped into some deeper sentiment among its most fervent customers. Those who hold similar views and are likely buying to voice support. Though the campaign was ultimately removed, Protein World managed to gain a big bump on all the publicity in its wake. Protein World demonstrates that when you’re selling image, doing what’s “right” isn’t always what’s best for business–so long as it’s right for your core demo. But will “Beach Body” come back to bite them?

Source: BuzzFeed

A Sign That Tidal is Toast: Kanye’s Deleting His Tweets

Just a month after its high-profile announcement, the music streaming service Tidal has not been the overwhelming success that Jay Z may had hoped for. Priced at twice the cost of Spotify, and with a fraction of the library, who could have imagined such a service would flop?

Kanye sure didn’t, but now everyone’s favorite rapper/fashionista/ego-maniac is now trying to put distance between himself and streaming service: starting with his Twitter feed.

BGR reports that Kanye has purged his feed from any mention of the service, and changed his profile photo from the Tidal logo to an old album cover.

A Twitter breadcrumb.

A Twitter breadcrumb.

We’ll see if Tidal can turn it around or whether more artists start turning their backs.

Why It’s Hot

Kanye’s swift turnaround is showing how critical success needs to be when pairing branded launches with celebrity endorsement. Influencers like Kanye depend on maintaining credibility with the publicity they create; if a product fails, or a launch is botched, their image is at risk. Kanye is just an example for how new media habits are changing with promotions online, and the importance that “getting it right” really has to maintaining advocates. Even your biggest supports will abandon you quickly.

Source: BGR

IKEA Will Help You Convert Your Furniture to Enable Wireless Charging

Furniture giant IKEA has made a commitment to enabling future wireless technologies in some of its new product lines. But rather than reinvent the wheel on its massive product line entirely, IKEA turned the problem on its head.

For $5, IKEA will sell you a specially formed drill to turn most IKEA furniture into wireless charging stations. The drill creates a perfectly formed hole to mount its Jyssen wireless charger ($30) that will go on sale later this spring. IKEA will also begin selling wireless charging cases to support the stations.

Like the IKEA brand, the solution is simple, cheap and elegant:

Why It’s Hot

New consumer technologies can be difficult to make ubiquitous. By enabling customers to easily make wireless DIY, IKEA can make smarter product line decisions while delivering more for customers who want the latest technologies. And by breaking those barriers (a $35 investment, not a $350 one for all new furniture), IKEA is helping this technology grow organically by consumer demand.

Source: Gizmodo

MyHealthPal: Platform for Managing Long-Term Health Conditions

MyHealthPal is a new iOS app and analytics platform designed to help patients diagnosed with chronic health conditions manage their disease. Though the platform will initially focus on Parkinson’s Disease, it is scalable to other diseases should it prove successful.

MyHealthPal employs a clean dashboard interface to let sufferers (or their caregivers) manage and measure the effectiveness of his medication, track symptoms, log mood, diet, exercise and other metrics and their impact on his quality of life.

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TechCrunch also reports., “The clever move with this startup is that is also allows users to donate their anonimized data in return for a share of the revenues that data generates to scientific research institutions and charities supporting research and care.” The app is HIPAA compliant.

Why It’s Hot

What’s most impressive about MyHealthPal isn’t its features, or that it even exists in this growing mHealth field. It’s that this was designed by an actual patient. This could help MyHealthPal flourish where others have failed, because it was designed by/for the end user. And the sale of health data makes this option financially viable in the way that a branded health tracker from a pharmaceutical company simply can never be.

Source: TechCrunch

Facebook Removes “Feeling Fat” Emoji

After a Change.org online petition popped up on the Internet this week calling for its removal, Facebook has decided to remove the “Feeling Fat” emoticon option from its status updates available to users.

The petition, which had garnered thousands of signers in the matters in the matter of a few days, asserts that the emoticon was an inappropriate joke against people who are overweight–especially hurtful to those who may struggle with eating disorders and unhealthy relationships to food. As the petition explains:

“When Facebook users set their status to “feeling fat,” they are making fun of people who consider themselves to be overweight, which can include many people with eating disorders. That is not ok. Join me in asking Facebook to remove the “fat” emoji from their status options.”

Facebook has responded to the Internet’s request, removing the status update option in an effort to promote a more “body positive” experience on its network.

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Why It’s Hot

To many, the idea of saying “I feel fat” wouldn’t even cause a second thought. But Facebook demonstrated a positive response to a request in its community, making a small but meaningful change showing the company listens to its users. Even something as innocuous as a status update can have an impact, and good brands are responsive to their customers’ demands.

Link: Daily Mail

Twitter Sentiment a Predictor of Heart Disease?

Much has been made of technologies that help track and predict disease geographically. Now scientists have found correlations that might help predict one of the nation’s biggest killers: heart disease.

Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania have analyzed  the language and sentiment in public Twitter data to better understand patterns across the U.S. And in a study of over 1,300 counties, researchers discovered that the level of anger in tweets was more closely correlated with instances of heart disease than 10 other leading health indicators, including smoking, obesity and hypertension.

What the data suggests, however, isn’t that these angry Twitter users are more likely to develop heart disease. Rather, the researchers uncovered patterns that linked higher concentrations of angry users with higher incidents of heart disease by other people in the nearby geographic area. In other words, angry Twitter users could be a sign of geographic stresses that make certain environments more dangerous to live in for maintaining good cardiac health. In other words, angry Twitter users could be a predictor of environmental stress in a given geographic area.

Why It’s Hot

This study demonstrates the power and potential within our social networks and the data we create. Big data analysis offers new opportunities to understand the connections and patterns that go unnoticed in our world every day. And by identifying these trends, hopefully we can invent solutions and remedies to live healthier lives.

Source: NPR

YouTube To Block “Middleman” Video Sponsorship

Google has revised its YouTube advertising policy in a move that tries to centralize all ad messaging through Google—shifting the power to solicit content sponsorship away from creators, YouTube stars and publishers.

The tactic in question is the use of “graphical title cards,” which can be persistent or temporary visual overlays to the video content, displaying a sponsor’s brand/product logo throughout the length of the video. Moving forward, the only way to get that type of message in a video will be to buy it directly through Google as part of a larger media plan purchase. Note: according to Google, text-only title cards are still allowed.

YouTube

Google says the policy change is meant to moderate the number of ads that users see in a given visit, but critics say the move is intended to be more of a revenue “land grab” that takes a slice of content creators’ revenue.

Playing into the trend towards short-form video advertisements, Google has introduced a new six-second pre-roll ad unit that enables brands to insert quick messages before the intended video is viewed.

Why It’s Hot

YouTube has become a critical component of how social media stars and vloggers have gained their internet stardom. Google is making a bold statement on who controls sponsored messages on its platform, at the expense of the content creators themselves. Only time will tell if publishers curb to these new demands, or whether video starlets try to migrate away from the all-mighty video platform.

Source: DigiDay

Animal Friends Evolve Android’s “Be Together” Campaign

Google and Droga5 harness the power of animal cuteness in their latest spot for Android’s “Be Together. Not the Same” campaign. Moving away from Android’s iconic cartoon imagery, the new 60-second spot entitled “Friends Furever” features pairs of inter-species “friends” to reinforce Android’s market positioning: fight the “sameness” of Apple the platform by supporting a plethora of devices with a single mobile operating system.

The video’s been a quick hit, already surpassing 5 million views in three short days online. When your spot earns its own BuzzFeed article, that might be a sign you’ve made it.

Why It’s Hot

Animals doing fun/silly things is as close to a “sure thing” as anything can be in the world of viral Internet videos. But “Friends Furever” succeeds by going further: evolving Android’s cartoon-y creative platform to something with far more meaning. Friendship is emotional, and “Friends Furever” moves Android into a more “human” place for customers (antithetical to the name Android or these animals, I know).

#LikeABoy Backlash Only Proves the Point that #LikeAGirl Makes

During Super Bowl XLIX, feminine care brand Always caused a bit of a ruckus among Internet haters with its #LikeAGirl campaign. The campaign, which aired its first spot in June of last year, uses “real people” to act out how girls run, jump, punch and kick. The aim is to female empowerment, meant to draw attention to the crippling social atmosphere that tells us doing something “like a girl” is to do it badly, weakly and ultimately inferior to how a boy would do it.

Now, you might think a message that promotes women would be universally lauded. And by most accounts it was. Always cut through football’s male-oriented culture with a positive, eye-opening message and inspired movement where few women’s brands play. Always was right brand, in the right moment, with the right message. Women loved it, helping push the hashtag to trend by sharing powerful content about strength and femininity.

good tweet

But that didn’t sit right with the meninists of the world.

Following the spots airing during the big game, anti-feminist oafs galvanized to mount a virulent reaction against the ad. Dubbed #LikeABoy, the response took many shapes. From misunderstanding that the #LikeAGirl message was an attack of men, not promoting gender equality…

meninisttweet

 

…to flat out sexism rooted in patriarchy, ignorance and hate not even worth sharing on this platform.

What these  “men’s rights” advocates miss is critical point: they as part of the patriarchy are the majority, and part of the problem. #LikeAGirl isn’t a campaign to establish female superiority; it’s a movement to identify that our language and culture (and through their use, we) are degrading women by associating women with the lesser. It’s no different than the negativity around the term “gay” (i.e. “Yo that’s gay!” to mean “bad”).

Fortunately, women and feminist allies showed they were up for the fight. When #LikeABoy began to gain steam, this vocal group took over the hashtag to point out its stupidity and misunderstanding of how gender inequality works.

Girltweet1

GirlTweet2

And yes, men “who get it” got in on the action and show their support:

OE Tweet

Why It’s Hot

Always took a bold step forward for women everywhere with #LikeAGirl. The spot got people talking, good and bad. And the power of the women’s rights movement shows that brands who speak to and empower under-served communities online can do more than with brownie points. what’s funny out of all this is that the Always brand didn’t get caught in the fight, their audience did. And their audience fought back. Scrolling through the top tweets in #LikeABoy are evidence of that.

Source: Huffington Post

Starbucks and Match Are Vying for Your First Date

Just in time for Valentine’s Day, Match users looking for a date will be able to now suggest coffee shop dates meet at Starbucks. The “Meet at Starbucks” feature is the first branded-product feature that allows Match users to directly send an invitation to set up a coffee date. Using the “Meet at Starbucks” feature, members can can also find a location for their Starbucks date using the Starbucks store locator.

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The company’s research shows that the endeavor could be quite successful: 1 in 3 singles rank “having coffee together” as a favorite first-date activity, and Starbucks says that “hundreds of thousands” have added their brand badge to their Match.com profiles.

“Meet Me at Starbucks” borrows from the coffee company’s global campaign launched in September, designed to connect consumers through Starbucks experiences across the world.

Why It’s Hot

As platforms like Match and the burgeoning app marketplace embed themselves intimately in the lives of consumers, co-promotions such as “Meet Me” are enabling brands like Starbucks to forge new personal connections with consumers. Journey mapping and other strategic assessments may uncover a host of partnership opportunity to create richer, more natural brand experiences. The key for brands will be to discover how they can add value for consumers. Are they unlocking a special feature or streamlining a process? Is their brand experience welcome or are certain activities “off limits” to marketers? This convergence requires that brands, advertisers and consumers “figure out” a new set of social norms to moderate brand activities… even if those attitudes shift quickly amid more and more incorporation of digital into consumers’ lifestyles.

Link: AdAge

Google May Plan Entry into Wireless Internet Market

As new reports suggest, Google is planning a new service offering to sell wireless service directly to customers as a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO). To do so, Google would acquire excess network capacity from Sprint and T-Mobile and reselling it to customers under its own brand. As TechCrunch points out, “This is the same approach used by Cricket Wireless, MetroPCS, Pure Talk, Republic Wireless and many others in the U.S., but Google’s arrangement apparently required special consideration, according to The Wall Street Journal, given the potential threat network providers perceived in giving the search giant and Android maker too much control.”

Google

The reports also suggest that carriers may not be feeling the fire from Google, because terms of the agreement may be renegotiated once Google hits a certain threshold of subscribers. The specific terms are not known to the public.

So why MVNO, why now? After all, Google has made headlines for rolling out fiber optic networks and experimenting with other means of free WiFi access to communities? The answer is two-fold. First, leveraging existing networks is a way to expand service quickly and more reliably than in-house plans might allow. And plus, the MVNO model is pretty popular right now.

Why It’s Hot

Google continues to demonstrate making investments that can reliably and easily expand access to their products and services. Though it seems like an exploratory practice for now, they are making infrastructure changes and strategic partnerships that will allow the expansion and development of their own platforms… understanding their products are useless if folks aren’t getting to them. The relentless pursuit of customers and the unorthodox ways of reaching them is why Google is always a standout innovator, and it’s why everyone should be watching the moves they make–no matter how innocuous they might seem.

Source: TechCrunch

MySpace Lives On, Thanks in Part to #TBT

If you haven’t heard, MySpace has had a bit a comeback. And though it may not have quite the $580 million luster it did 2005, the platform has had a resurgence.

According to its owner, Specific Media, MySpace:

  • Reached 50.6MM unique visitors in Nov. 14 (up 575% YOY)
  • Still has access to over 1B emails globally, including over 465MM in the U.S.
  • Has handled $5 billion in ad transactions for a set of beta advertisers Since launching the Advertising Cloud suite of products in the last seven months

The resurgence cannot be pinned to one action alone, but has instead been created by combining a number of variables:

  • Makeover into an arts & entertainment centric social platform
  • New found receptivity among young, niche audience (17-25s)
  • Repeat visits to find old photos driven by “Throwback Thursday”

MySpace knows it can’t build a social site on #TBT nostalgia, so it has invested a lot into cultivating a new audience and building a library of unique and sponsored content for them to consume.

Intrigued, I decided to sign up and explore the new MySpace.

When you arrive at the MySpace's new landing page, it almost feels more like an entertainment news site than a social platform.

When you arrive at the MySpace’s new landing page, it almost feels more like an entertainment news site than a social platform.

If you decide to register, MySpace has created a new user segmentation framework that caters to users’ specific creative backgrounds and interests. A note to those who register, if you choose to speed up the registration process by linking a Facebook or Twitter account be prepared to consent to a whole lot of data-mining. You also consent to give MySpace posting rights to share on your behalf… something I certainly was not willing to do at this stage.

New registration flow that segments users by creative interest.

New registration flow that segments users by creative interest.

The new approach to profiles is slick and feels distinct, albeit a little sparse. Important to note, “Tom” is no longer your friend.

Profiles feel quite different than most other social platforms out there.

Profiles feel quite different than most other social platforms out there.

But a new account should be sparse right?  So I went to create my first post. After selecting that I wanted to share a song, I searched for a track that (surprisingly) could not be found in MySpace’s library.

 

 

MySpace Post

 

I posted my track, but my profile remained a bare snare drum. Where did the post go?  Evidently into a new “Stream” feed that takes a typical “News Feed” and flips it horizontally. This creates a weird and confusing experience. Why wouldn’t my post appear on my actual profile?

MySpace's "Stream" attempts to create a content feed of posts and activity by users, including curated content. But the experience leaves something to be desired.

MySpace’s “Stream” attempts to create a content feed of posts and activity by users, including curated content. But the experience leaves something to be desired.

Why It’s Hot

So the new MySpace.com is major departure from its lineage. Focused on content catered to a niche community of artists, musicians and content creators, the site doesn’t feel like it’s made for everyone. And I think that’s part of its appeal. Specific Media has the business data to show there is still life in the faded platform, and with strong focus on content MySpace might be able to retake the sought after “creative” social arena. MySpace is certainly not the first to try its hand in this space, but for advertisers their mounds of user data may distinguish the platform from the competitors. But more than ads, MySpace needs to expand the reach of its rich content to beyond the walls of MySpace if it wants to break away from the site’s still tarnished reputation.

Oku: Skin Sensor for the Beauty Obsessed

OKU is a skin-focused mHealth device designed to help users obsess over their skin. OKU first uses visible light to look beneath the surface of a user’s skin to evaluate skin health. Then by analyzing a variety of factors such as oil, firmness and moisture levels, the connected app scores the user’s skin and makes care, diet and lifestyle recommendations to improve skin health. Vanity has never been this easy!

OKU

The true value of OKU comes in its recommendation/tracking capabilities. In addition to evaluating your skin today, OKU is able to predict skin developments and helps users avert negative changes. Moreover, the device helps users set goals and track progress to a healthier face.

The device launches this spring for $300.

Why It’s Hot

OKU is a major test for the consumer demand for mHealth gadgetry. While many device-based mHealth solutions are for niche or specialty conditions, OKU is thinking bigger: everyone’s got a face that blemishes and ages. The mechanism and method also position OKU to lead a burgeoning market of devices with potential to build in multiple use cases, even diagnostic capabilities for advanced conditions. Though at $300, OKU certainly doesn’t price itself for immediate mass consumer penetration. Perhaps if skincare professionals latch on to this idea and recommend OKU for their patients, OKU might find advocates?

Source: Tech Crunch