Marriott + Slack = Thumbs Up

 

Marriott has introduced a new Slack extension that lets teams browse and book hotel rooms directly in their chats. There is even an emoji feature.

The user provides a city and dates, and the extension will serve up a handful of options. Everyone in the chat can then vote using Slack’s emoji reactions on which option they want. When the votes are in, you can book the winning hotel right within the slack chat.

The extension is limited to hotels affiliated with Marriott’s Rewards program, but the company promises the Slack tie-in will aways turn up the lowest possible rate.

“Marriott also has the distinction of being the first hotel chain to have a dedicated Slack experience, though the hotel chain has previously dabbled in messaging, with a bot for Facebook Messenger and an iMessage app.

The extension was was built by a company called Snaps, which also makes emoji apps for businesses (and Kim Kardashian, as it turns out), so it’s not surprising they’d bring an emoji component to Slack as well.”

Why it’s hot: This takes some of the pain out of booking hotels (especially for business travel through concur) and allows multiple parties to weigh into booking decisions. Additionally, this further positions Marriott as a leading hotel chain leveraging technology to make their guests lives easier (recently launched an AI chat bot for in-hotel experience).

Source: Mashable

Spotify for Artists

Spotify For Artists is an app launching this week that gives musicians and their managers mobile access to super-detailed analytics about their music and the people listening to it.

The Spotify For Artists app takes some of the most useful insights about an artist’s music—which songs are most popular, how many streams they’re getting over all, where those listeners live, and which playlists are helping win over new fans—and boils them down into digestible graphical charts. It’s a bit like Google Analytics for rappers, electronic DJs, and pop stars.

This isn’t the first time Spotify has made this kind of data available. Spotify For Artists is a product that first launched on the web in April, after a private beta period. First, Spotify opened it up to all artists (the first big, on-demand streaming app of its kind to do so). Now it’s letting them access it on their phones.

The app also gives artists some control over their presence on Spotify, allowing them to do things like update their bios, post playlists, and select the “artist’s pick” track that Spotify lets them display on their profiles.

Spotify For Artists is part of a broader effort to build more artist-facing tools and ’empower’ them. The company also started a program called Fans First, which uses data to detect the most obsessive listeners of a given artist and target them with special offers like pre-sale concert tickets or exclusive merchandise. The company has also been working harder to strengthen its relationships within the music industry and among artists, in part by hiring former Lady Gaga manager Troy Carter.

Why it’s hot: This is yet another way in which Spotify is leveraging their data in an interesting and unexpected way. It is great to see them making it readily available for artists who can benefit from knowing more about their core users. Additionally, making it available on a mobile app vs. just desktop (as they launched in April) makes this an even more accessible and useful tool to the music industry.

Source: FastCo

IKEA’s Indoor Farm Is Trying To Alter How We Grow Food

IKEA has introduced an indoor farm with the hopes of giving people the ability to grow their own food at home. The prototype, or ‘Lokal’ as it’s called, was designed by SPACE10, IKEA’s lab for innovation.

Lokal is the most recent prototype to come from ‘The Farm’, a SPACE10 lab seeking to change how we view traditional farming while implementing new food production methods into our cities.

“By experimenting with hydroponics (growing of food without soil), SPACE10 says that it’s able to grow food up to three times faster and with 90% less water than traditional methods. In addition to being soilless and faster than traditional methods, Lokal is also able to grow greens without any sunlight at all. Instead, the plants survive solely off of LED lighting and mineral nutrient rich water.

SPACE10 points out that the current global food system is problematic for a few reasons. For starters, our current method of food production is contributing to the changing climate and is also wasteful of resources that we are already running low on, like fresh water. Furthermore, current methods lend themselves to wasting food. The hope is that the benefits of hydroponic farming courtesy of Lokal will go a long way in remedying some of these problems. According to its post with Medium, the food also “tastes good, is more nutritious, pesticide-free and fresh all year round”.

The lab also has hopes of “Introducing sensors and machine learning to the vertical stacks and connecting the data with Google Home — to enable people to ‘talk’ to plants, in effect, and hear how they’re doing, as well as to teach children and adults alike about sustainable food”.

Why it’s hot:

IKEA continues to step up their game in innovation. Although they are a furniture/lifestyle brand, they are taking a stand for a greater good.

Source: PSFK

Google and Levi’s Make a Connected Jean Jacket

The jacket is Levi’s Commuter Trucker Jacket with Jacquard by Google—is the result of a partnership between Levi’s and Google to integrate a conductive, connected yarn into a garment. It’s still early days, but the jacket offers a glimpse into connected clothing.

The jacket looks like most jean jackets, except for a small device on the left cuff. The black tag contains a wireless radio, a battery, and a processor, but the most important tech in the Jacquard Jacket remains invisible. A section of the left cuff is woven with the special yarn that turns the bottom of your arm into a touchscreen. You pair your phone through a dedicated app, and after setup it asks you to define a few gestures (What happens when you tap twice on the conductive yarn? What if you brush away from yourself, or toward yourself? What should it mean when the light on the tag illuminates?)

Someone who tested out the jacket while riding her bike home explains how her experience worked:

A double-tap on my left arm now sends a ping to Google Maps and delivers the next turn on my navigation, either through the speaker on my phone or whatever headphones I’m wearing. (All the Jacquard Jacket’s connectivity comes through your phone.) If I swipe away, it reads out my ETA. The small motor in my jacket sleeve buzzes and the light comes on when I get a text or phone call. You can change tracks in your music with a swipe, or to count things like the miles you ride or the birds you see on your way home. The jacket was designed with bike commuters in mind, and the functionality follows suit

Right now, the designers say they’re looking for more feedback. They want to know what people do with the jacket, and what they wish it could do. It goes on sale for $350 in a couple of high-end clothing stores on September 27, before hitting Levi’s stores and website on October 2.

Why it’s hot:

Although this is not yet a revolutionary item, it gives us a peek into the capabilities and use cases for connected clothing – whether that be commuting bikers or city-dwellers looking for directions, or someone wanting to change their music without taking out their phone. This could also have implications for the vision-impaired trying to navigate their way through a metro area, etc.

Source: Wired

Play music on your Oreos

Oreo is a popular snack around the world, but is apparently not so popular with Chinese teenagers. A media and creative arts team at Dimension Plus (agency based in Taipei and Hong Kong), combined Oreo cookies with something most teens love: music.

The result was ‘Oreo Vinyl’, tiny cookies embossed with miniature grooves that play music just like a vinyl record. These cookies are housed inside a cardboard pack, with each cookie playing the “Oreo Anthem” in a different musical style. The project actively involved teens by getting participants at the Strawberry Music Festival, a popular youth event held in Shanghai, to compose each of the different songs.

The grooves on the cookies were made with laser cutting and engraving machines. The cookies can then be played with the Oreo Vinyl Record Player contained in each pack.

Why it’s hot:

Oreo found a way to directly connect with their target audience both in the creation of this concept and in its deployment. This is an innovation that is both unexpected and functional that is sure to increase audience engagement with the brand.

Pay for Art Using Your… Screenshots?

Customers gave up personal data for art pieces to take home at this London based pop-up store.

“London based street artist Ben Eine recently opened a pop-up shop for his work; instead of paying with cash, however, customers at this the Data Dollar Store have to give up their personal information. The shop, opened in collaboration with cybersecurity company Kaspersky Lab, is meant to make customers reevaluate the information they often freely give away by the social media channels they are using. “I’m concerned about how that information is used and why are we not rewarded for giving this information away,” Eine told Cnet. “Companies use that information and target us to sell products, to feed us information that we wouldn’t necessarily look at.”

The store was set up in a temporary space at the Old Street Underground station in London. When visitors entered the store, an employee showed them the purchasing options:

  • Giving up three photos or screenshots of your recent text or email conversations for a mug
  • Giving up the last three photos on your Camera Roll, or the last three text messages sent, for a tshirt
  • Handing your phone over to the assistant to select any five photos to keep, publicly displayed on a large TV screen in the store for the next two days (you can attempt to barter for which photos they’ll pick, but the choice is up to them).

The store is meant to raise awareness about the sometimes risky informational exchanges that are happening all the time online. According to Kaspersky Lab, while 74 percent of survey respondents were unconcerned about data security, 41 percent were unprotected from potential threats and 20 percent have been affected by cybercrime.

Source: PSFK

Play with your food before you eat it

Kabaq is an augmented reality menu that will let you preview a 3D version of each dish before you commit to it. Users who want to see their order before they are served can the menu item and interact with a 360-degree simulation. This helps visualize ingredients, portion sizes, and side dishes. The app is meant to inspire cautious eaters to try new dishes.

Currently, 15 restaurants have signed on to test out Kabaq, with around 150 food items onboard. The AR service costs between $150-$200 each month. Aside from menu previews, the 3D models can also be used on websites, social media, and marketing materials, as well as accessible in the Kabaq AR app. The startup is working on an API to make the 3D food library accessible for food delivery, cookbooks, catering and menu prep services in the future.

Source: PSFK

Why it’s hot/not:

This might help some restaurants from a ‘wow’ factor perspective, however I do think this is not a great thing for a few reasons.

  • This has the risk of increasing the time patrons spend at restaurant tables, increasing the turnaround time for new customers – which might threaten overall restaurant revenue and user experience (longer wait times)
  • Unless the restaurants have some great, photo worthy food, this might deter some users from ordering what they might have previously.

McDonald’s Meets High Fashion

McDonald’s U.K. has been looking to elevate its image. To do so, they have asked for the help of a London designer. Julien Macdonald created a limited-edition burger box for the McDonald’s new signature collection gourmet burger range. (They have released a new range of ‘posh’ burgers that are being trialled in 61 branches, and comes served in a brioche bun.)

The box, which features a baroque-style gold print inspired by the designer’s signature shimmer, sequins and body-baring silhouettes, will be available at a series of showcase events held at McDonald’s stores across the U.K. Customers can buy the box by signing up to attend the showcase events.

“I drew inspiration from my fashion creations and iconic embellished red-carpet dresses. This was translated into a gold, baroque, crystal-encrusted box, which is the perfect packaging for the luxury McDonald’s collection,” said the designer.

Macdonald will also reveal a special hand-embellished box at the McDonald’s Leicester Square location, which will later be auctioned, with the proceeds going to the Ronald McDonald House charities.

Why it’s hot: This clash of luxury and fast-food will certainly get people talking and draw attention to McDonald’s new ‘gourmet’ burger collection.

Source: Fast Company

Swipe Up for a Burger at Your Doorstep

Ever wish you could have that beautiful burger you see on Instagram… brought to you immediately? An agency out based out of Brazil (named Africa) is deploying a new social campaign for Heinz: ‘Irresistible Posts’ where they seek to make this possible.

In Sao Paulo, Instagram users who are searching the Stories section in the early afternoon receive a targeted video of a delicious burger prepared by a local restaurant chef. At the end of the video, the chef appears onscreen and tells the user to swipe up to have this exact meal sent to them. Once the user fills out their location details, the burger is brought to their doorstep. Where does Heinz come in? It is delivered in a personalized box created by Heinz – which conveniently includes several of their condiment products.

Heinz has not announced if they plan to expand the campaign outside of Sao Paulo.

See video!

Why it’s sizzln’ hot: Not only does this activation play upon the extremely relevant #foodporn Instagram trend, but this is a strategic play for Heinz. By being the behind-the-scenes partner that helps users fulfill their cravings (and add to them with their condiments), they are becoming a more relevant and reliable brand that provide more than just the add-ons. Additionally, next time these users think back to the best burger they’ve had – they will associate Heinz with that positive, memorable, and tasty experience.

Source: PSFK

R.I.P Cable

Disney CEO Bob Iger announced that the company is ending its licensing deal with Netflix and will start offering Disney and Pixar movies on a Disney-branded subscription service starting in 2019. Iger also said that Disney is launching an ESPN OTT service.

“This acquisition and the launch of our direct-to-consumer services mark an entirely new growth strategy for the company, one that takes advantage of the incredible opportunity that changing technology provides us to leverage the strength of our great brands,” said Iger.

In the U.S. the new Disney app will be the exclusive, subscription video-on-demand home to upcoming releases such as the Frozen sequel, Toy Story 4, and the live-action version of The Lion King. It will also offer access to Disney’s library of TV shows and movies, as well as new, original Disney shows and movies that will be created for the service.

The ESPN-branded, multi-sporting app, will launch in early 2018 and will include about 10,000 live games from major sporting leagues as well as collegiate sports. So far, there’s no word yet as to whether NFL or NBA games will be on the service. The new app is an “enhanced” version of the current ESPN app, which will continue to allow pay TV subscribers access to ESPN programming.

Why it’s hot:

This puts one of the final nails in cable’s coffin. Recent research states that declines for second quarter of 2017 came close to a million subscribers with Dish Network, DirectTV, and AT&T hit especially hard. This cannot be helping their case. However, this makes for a much better customer experience – providing their preferred shows and programs at their fingertips!

Source: Fast Company

Amazon makes their own version of the P.O Box

Amazon now it wants to play an even more involved role in how packages are delivered. The company’s latest product, called Hub, is designed to act like a mailbox–not just for Amazon mail, but for any packages or deliveries. While it does not have AI-powered capabilities and it is not a large acquisition, it is a look at where Amazon is headed.

Hub is targeted primarily at residential building owners, and it promises that all packages from any sender will be stored safely and securely. Instead of having packages left at your door, in your lobby, or with a concierge desk, they’re placed within Hub, which has differently sized compartments designed to accommodate most packages. To access your package, you simply enter an access code and one of Hub’s doors will pop open.

Hub aims to fix one of the few areas of package delivery that Amazon doesn’t yet control: the final step between delivery and your actual home. It provides a convenient solution for packages getting delayed because of building hours, lost packages, or theft.

Why it’s hot:

  • One more step to Amazon take-over of all consumer retail interactions – you do not even have to shop on Amazon to interact with them now
  • Might have special implications for Amazon Prime subscribers
  • Whole Foods implications – could make grocery delivery even more appealing – helping food stay fresh

Source: Fast Company

John Mayer Made Really Boring Shoes

Level up.

A post shared by johnmayer (@johnmayer) on

John Mayer has designed a pair of sneakers, and they’re… anticlimactic. He debuted his Nike iD creation on his Instagram page Saturday: a customized pair of Nike Air Max 90s, in gray tones with a hint of neon-green bubbles in the heels. The shoes, named “Spirit Levels,” will be released on July 29, according to Instagram, and will sell through his Shopify page.

Mayer has not officially teamed up with Nike to release these shoes, unlike other celebrity-designed sneakers. After creating his sneakers through Nike iD, he then bought every pair the company would sell him. Interesting way to make these somewhat-boring sneakers already seem hard-to-get…

Why it’s hot/weird/cold:

One has to wonder if John Mayer was really bored and decided to make bland sneakers on Nike iD just to see if his fans would buy them because of him. I’m not impressed. However, if this is a success (which I predict it might be for the amount of ‘sneakerheads’ out there), it will certainly speak to the power of Instagram advertising, and a potential new path to celebrity-brand collaborations.

Source: NY Post

A Puppy DMed Me on Instagram

My Instagram feed is mostly filled with puppies, and food accounts (two of my sources of happiness…) However, one pup is by far my favorite and her name is Maya the Dachshund (@MayaTheDox). I have been following Maya for about a year now and have become quite attached to her as if she is my own. Through her Instagram stories, and frequent video/image posts, I have watched her grow from a wee-little-pup to a one year old. She also has grown to acquire almost followers – one might even call her a puppy-influencer!

https://instagram.com/p/BVQalGSBv8E/

As you could imagine, I was quite excited when her owner posted on her Instagram story that they would be in the NYC area for a “meet up” in the coming week. I immediately direct messaged her back and asked for the details. With a timely response, Maya informed me that she would be in Madison Square Dog Park at a given date and time. The morning of the meet up, Maya reminded me that she would be there with her puppy brother “Winston” and she hoped to see me.

Upon arriving at the park, I was greeted by (a plethora of other dachshunds, also excited to meet Maya) and her owners. I got to hang with Maya for 20 minutes or so, and when I was leaving her owners gave me a themed-Maya air freshener! After posting a photo on my own story with Maya, she wrote back again thanking me for coming. What a polite dachshund!

Why it’s hot: Overall, this was a great experience end to end. I became aware of an event via an Instagram story, received a timely response with further details via DM, and was then reminded of the event the morning of. I was pleasantly surprised at the friendly nature of Maya and her owners, and was even rewarded for showing up with a themed party favor. This speaks to the power of social media and its influencers – human or dog!

West Elm can now learn your “personal aesthetic”

West Elm thinks AI can narrow your furniture search by “learning your personal aesthetic”. The new West Elm Pinterest Style Finder tool gets a sense of style from your own or anyone else’s Pinterest board of images and returns a shortlist of furniture, rugs, curtains, mirrors, and other items in about 10 seconds.

An AI startup named Clarifai introduced a drag-and-drop online tool called Custom Training that allows anyone to upload a few photos of specific items, like a brand of shoes, to train a classifier to recognize that type of items in other photos. West Elm’s team then created a site that connects Clarifai’s tool to Pinterest that filters out matching products from West Elm’s online catalog of about 5,000 items.

The Style Finder didn’t have to match items with the same or even closely similar patterns; rather, it recommended products that were roughly in the same “stylistic vein”. “We let the neural networks decide,” says Clarifai’s founder and CEO Matt Zeiler. Unlike typical recommendation engines, Style Finder doesn’t rely on someone’s buying or browsing history—recognizing that tastes can change.

Why it’s hot: While not groundbreaking, this is a pretty good example of a brand taking advantage of the new capabilities of Pinterest, and making it their own. This eliminates the many pain points of Pinterest and turns themed boards into actionable, shop-able pages that you can actually utilize.

 

Source: Fast Company

Amazon Alexa has a Face!

Amazon’s new Echo Show went on sale this Wednesday and gives Alexa device both audio and visual senses. The device does pretty much everything an Echo does skills-wise but adds a camera and a 7-inch display. While the Echo Show can go anywhere in the home, it is truly optimized for the kitchen counter where it is likely to be an assistant in helping prepare meals or stock your fridge. (Further building on the Amazon Wand that Amy posted about a few weeks ago). Additionally, with the acquisition of Whole Foods – it will be interesting to see how Amazon creeps further into the home/kitchen.

This will help users visualize the answers to their commands or questions – they can see how much time is left on a timer, and easily reference previously asked questions. Additionally, now online videos (that many use to learn how to make new things in the kitchen) will be easily accessible using voice commands. For the many people that have a TV in the kitchen because they like to watch the news while they cook – there is the potential that Echo Show will evolve into video playlists of news briefings vs. just audio clips. The Show can also work well as a central hub of communications for families – visualizing notes, to-do lists, shopping lists, or the family “chore wheel.”

The Show’s camera both detects people in the room and is used for video chat with people on cellphones using the Alexa app. It can also be used as a sort of home intercom system, communicating with other Echos and Echo Shows around the house.

Why it’s hot:

This is yet another example of Amazon evolving and improving upon their technology, and further integrating their products and services into consumer’s lives. This evolves the use of Echo from just voice-command, to a fully interactive concierge-service. This will evolve its use case for brands and services.

Choose-Your-Own-Adventure with Puss in Boots

Dreamworks GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Netflix announced an experiment in interactive storytelling earlier this week with the children’s programs Puss in Book: Trapped in an Epic Tale, and Buddy Thunderstruck: The Maybe Pile. The shows, which offer thousands of permutations, bring the “choose your own adventure” format to internet TV and give the chance for the viewer to be the director. Netflix has proven an ideal platform to test this out on for a variety of reasons: its large user base, its original programming and the fact that a show does not need to start or end at a certain time.

It works like this: at certain, predetermined points in the story, Netflix pauses the tale and offers you a choice. Should Puss (from Shrek) befriend the bears he just encountered, or fight them? Your choice dictates his next move, and changes the arc of the story. Puss in Book offers viewers 13 opportunities to shape the story, which features two possible endings. It can be as little 18 minutes, or as long as 39. There are three thousand possible variations of how the story could go. Buddy Thunderstruck will provide eight opportunities to make a decision, an average length of 12 minutes.

Netflix explains that they started with children’s shows because “Kids’ content is essentially cheap to make, it also is more resistant to changing tastes and trends than other genres. All of which is to say, it’s the perfect laboratory for experimentation.”

Why it’s hot:

  • Increases engagement: this challenges the conventional way of watching TV or movies by forcing the audience to interact with the content in an exciting way
  • Increases data points: this could create a large amount of data for Netflix regarding: how many people are making active choices, what choices, are they re-watching the show at a later point in time?
  • While this likely won’t catch on with mainstream audience, this could create a new niche of Netflix viewers

Source: Wired

 

This App Has Moved Over 333 Million Pounds of Food

Americans toss out, on average, 72 billion pounds of safe, edible food each year. Around 52 billion of those pounds flow from manufacturers, restaurants, and grocery stores into landfill. Feeding America is a nonprofit that reaches the 42 million people in the U.S. who struggle to afford food through managing 60,000 partner organizations and efforts. They have developed a new tech platform called MealConnect to streamline food donations from stores and restaurants to those in need. They have facilitated 737,000 pickups and moved over 333 million pounds of food–enough for 278 million meals.

MealConnect officially launched in early June after a 3-year pilot period. It is a platform that acts as a dashboard to manage the flow of excess food in the communities around Feeding America’s food banks. Accessible in both website and app form, MealConnect allows business donors—whether it’s a retail chain like Chipotle, a local shop, or a farmers market—to create a free account, where they can upload information about excess food they have to donate, and select a date and time they’d like it to be picked up. On the Feeding America side, an algorithm sorts through the available donations and matches them with a partner organization, like a soup kitchen, based on need and timing. Once a donation is matched with a partner, someone from the partner agency will drive to collect the excess food from the source.

Before MealConnect, if a restaurant offered leftover food, they’d have to call the food bank, and the entire process might take a long time through a series of phone calls. On the app, donors snap a picture of the food, and fill out the reason for donation, ingredients, and sell-by data, if possible (for retailers who tend to consistently have the same type of food to donate; they can also include instructions for pickup logistics. For each donor account, their donations live on a dashboard they can access to view past transactions.

So far, the platform has facilitated 737,000 pickups and moved over 333 million pounds of food–enough for 278 million meals.

The platform was developed with a $1.5 million grant from Google’s philanthropic arm, Google.org; another $1 million grant from General Mills will help it scale out to more communities and organizations. Feeding America is hoping to make significant progress in solving hunger – its goal is to save around 2.8 billion pounds of food each year and end “food insecurity” by 2025.

Why it’s hot: This is an awesome example of using technology to simplify a dated process, and works towards getting wasted food into the hands of people that need it. Hopefully this platform is able to work towards solving a fundamental problem in the U.S.

Source: Fast Company

Walmart is turning its employees into delivery drivers to compete with Amazon

Walmart is investing in e-commerce to better compete with Amazon, is unveiling a new strategy: turning its army of 1.5 million US employees into delivery drivers. This is being tested at three stores in New Jersey and Arkansas, and designed to shave costs out of the “last mile” of distribution, the most expensive part of getting goods to customers.

Under the initiative, store employees will be given the option to deliver packages on their way home after work, in exchange for extra pay. They’ll be given an app that allows them to input their routes, and an algorithm will plot the most efficient path. In the pilot, most merchandise was delivered the day after the order was placed, beating Walmart’s pledge of second-day delivery.

The company has 4,700 US stores and 6,100 trucks, and it hopes to be able to use those assets to narrow the gap with Amazon. Walmart is also rolling out a grocery pick up service where online orders are delivered to customers’ cars, and is testing other ways of combining online shopping with its physical stores.

Why it’s hot:

  • This is enhancing the traditional brick-and-mortar structure and giving customers more on-demand goods, competing further with Amazon Prime.

Pinterest Finds Recipes Based On Your Extensive Collection Of Food Pics

Pinterest updated its image recognition software for users to take a picture of a meal and receive a list of similar recipes to make at home.

In February this year, Pinterest announced the release of an image recognition tool named Lens, which allows users to take a picture of anything they like and then find similar pictures on the applications others had posted.

This feature was recently given an update to allow users to take a picture of food they’re eating and receive a list of recipes based on the food in the image. The update also includes a new food filter allowing a user to narrow down the search results of new recipes based on how long they want to cook their meal, the ingredients they want to use and any dietary restrictions they may have. Additionally, Pinterest created a comments section through which a user can browse reviews from those who attempted to recreate the meals.

why it’s hot:

  • While not groundbreaking, this is an example of Pinterest becoming a more relevant social media player. They are encouraging higher engagement on their platform and capitalizing on already-popular Pinterest behaviors (I personally only use it to look for recipes – so this is exciting for me!)

Shazam Suddenly Started Forgetting Song Titles to Highlight a Little-known Fact about Alzheimer’s

Alzheimer’s Research U.K., and agency Innocean Worldwide U.K. brought a horribly human attribute to Shazam—the ability to forget. “The Day Shazam Forgot” was a collaboration in which Shazam appeared to have trouble remembering the songs people asked it to identify. When the app finally “remembered” the track, users were driven to a call to action about Alzheimer’s disease and invited to donate to the cause.

The purpose of the campaign was to tell a younger audience that Alzheimer’s disease doesn’t just concern seniors – it can affect people as young as 40 years old. Over 40,000 people under 65 are living with dementia in the U.K alone.

The campaign ran through the month of April in the U.K and in a mere few hours, the agency reported that The Day Shazam Forgot” yielded 2,018,206 impressions, with 5,096 visitors visiting the Alzheimer’s Research U.K. donation page – and hopefully donated!

Video – can start at :45

Why it’s hot:

  • A partnership with an unexpected application conveys a simple and straightforward message and puts the user in the shoes of someone with Alzheimer’s

Why it’s maybe not hot:

  • I would be interested to see the donation increase, because this could frustrate the user and be the wrong place and time for a donation (if someone is in an environment they are looking for a song… they might not be so willing to whip out their credit card for a donation)

http://www.adweek.com/creativity/shazam-suddenly-started-forgetting-song-titles-to-highlight-a-little-known-fact-about-alzheimers/

 

Snapchat Spectables on… Babies?

In a new Mother Day’s commercial for Brawny was shot from the point of view of toddlers wearing snapchat spectacles (attached with a sunglasses strap to make sure they stayed on)

Cutwater (a SF agency), enlisted four real families and shot in their homes over two days. The glasses have no playback function, so the creative team had to capture as many “happy accidents” as they could all in 10-second bursts.

The CCO of Cutwater says, “Motherhood in particular can be a challenging time, and we wanted to highlight the strength and resilience that women have during this period through the perspective of their children. ‘Once a mother, always a giant’ seemed like a simple way to articulate this point of view, while celebrating women for the strong and resilient people they are.”

Why it’s hot: This is an awesome execution that uses (otherwise, kind of useless) snapchat spectacle technology to capture simple human truths from an unexpected perspective.

Source: Adweek

The Fyre Festival: A Fiasco Fueled by Instragram

By now you have heard about the fiasco that was Fyre Festival. The social media-fueled project, co-founded by rapper Ja Rule and his tech entrepreneur partner Billy McFarland, promised people “two transformative weekends” on a private island in the Bahamas, with “the best in food, art, music, and adventure,” and, if the model-filled promo videos were any indication, this would be a tropical Coachella. This festival emerged seemingly out of nowhere but soon went viral after the festival organizers hired some 400 Instagram influencers to post about the event. The campaign promised luxury, beauty, and exclusivity.

This festival never happened, and the lead up to it was a fiasco. People remained stranded in Miami and the Bahamas on their way to the festival, which organizers announced at eight A.M. last Friday morning had been “postponed.”

The first warning sign came from Blink-182’s cancellation – the band backed out on Thursday afternoon, just 24 hours before the festival was set to begin, saying “We’re not confident that we would have what we need to give you the quality of performances we always give our fans.“ Then came reports of flight issues, with many attendees stuck on tarmacs in Miami. Those who actually got to the island found half-built tents (which end were actually storm relief tents), mattresses stacked around the tents, luggage dropped from shipping containers, a Sandals resort around the corner, less-than-ideal weather, and these sad sandwiches.

Festival goers now demand refunds, there is even a $100 million dollar lawsuit facing Ja Rule and Billy McFarland.

Why it’s NOT Hot:

What does this say about authenticity of influence marketing? Sure, many people blame “rich millennials” for falling for this mess of a festival, but is that fair? An editor at Wired writes “Fyre Festival was, in essence, the physical manifestation of the false narrative that social media creates. It’s the wide-shot on the smoothie bowl.” In my opinion, Fyre Festival and its rise and fall lessens the credibility of celebrity influencers – who have taken no accountability for promoting this, and collected their paycheck mindlessly.

Source: WIRED, Bloomberg

IBM Watson’s New Job as Art Museum Guide

For the launch of IBM Watson in Brazil, Ogilvy Brazil created an interactive guide that lets people have conversations with work housed at the Pinacoteca de São Paulo Museum. “The Voice of Art” replaces pre-recorded audio guides with a Watson-powered program that gleans data from books, old newspapers, recent articles, biographies, interviews and the internet.

It took IBM six months to teach Watson how to make sense of all that content. Hosted on cloud platform IBM Bluemix, its AI capabilities were put to work answering spontaneous questions about art by renowned Brazilian creators like Cândido Portinari, Tarsila do Amaral and José Ferraz de Almeida Júnior.

Conversational scope can range from historical and technical facts (like “What technique was used to create this painting?”) to the piece’s relation to contemporary events.

The video below does a nice job of showing how Watson fields natural questions whose answers feel especially relevant to the person asking, creating a unique connection between viewer and piece. In one cool moment, a boy approaches Portinari’s O Mestiço, a 1934 painting of a shirtless mixed-race man against the backdrop of a coffee farm.

When Oglivy found out 72 percent of Brazilians had never been to a museum, they saw an opportunity to make use of Watson’s cognitive intelligence to make their visit very interactive. At the museum’s entrance, visitors receive headphones and a smartphone equipped with the mobile app. As they walk, the app tells them when they’re approaching an art piece they can ask questions about. A separate feature, for hearing-impaired visitors, lets them interact through a built-in written chat tool.

Source: AdWeek

Why it’s hot:

  • This could have a lot of implications for our brands in the future – IBM Watson acting as a tour guide or concierge in different environments could help bridge knowledge gaps for things that need extra explaining, or for consumers that prefer more hands-on experiences.

Ada: Your Virtual… Doctor?

Ada, a London and Berlin-based health tech startup, sees its official U.K. push this week, and in doing so joins a number of other European startups attempting to market something similar to an AI-powered ‘doctor’. This app has been six years in the making, and originally started out start off as a tool to help doctors avoid misdiagnosis, but now it is a “personal health companion and telemedicine app”. Via a conversational interface, Ada is designed to help you work out what symptoms you have and offer you information on what might be the cause. If needed, it then offers you a follow up remote consultation with a real doctor over text.

The app works by plugging in the symptoms of something, going through quite an extensive set of questions, many of which relate to the answers you have previously given. The Ada app provides various possible conditions, and advises on next steps (treat at home vs. seek further guidance from a professional).

The app aims to empower patients to make more informed decisions about their health. Or, to out it more bluntly, to ensure we only visit a doctor when we need to and, more generally, can be proactive in our healthcare without adding the need for greater human doctor resources.

“Ada has been trained over several years using real world cases, and the platform is powered by a sophisticated artificial intelligence (AI) engine combined with an extensive medical knowledge base covering many thousands of conditions, symptoms and findings,” explains the company. “In every assessment, Ada takes all of a patient’s information into consideration, including past medical history, symptoms, risk factors and more. Through machine learning and multiple closed feedback loops, Ada continues to grow more intelligent, putting Ada ahead of anyone else in the market”.

Ada isn’t claiming to replace your doctor anytime soon. Like a lot of AI being applied to various verticals, not just healthcare, the app is designed to augment the role of humans, not replace it altogether. This can happen in two ways:

  1. Helping to act as a prescreen consultation before, if needed, being handed off to a real doctor for further advice, or simply helping to create a digital paper trail before a consultation takes place.
  2. By getting some of the most obvious symptom-related questions out of the way and captured and analysed by the app, it saves significant time during any follow up consultation.

App feedback has already shown it to successfully diagnose both common and quite rare conditions. Ada’s AI, since it has and continues to be trained by real doctors, pools a lot of shared expertise.

Video on how it works

WHY IT’S HOT:

Ada is another example of how AI is continually evolving, especially in the healthcare landscape. It’s certainly a good thing that this app in particular is not promising to replace doctors, but crowdsource information to make doctor’s appointments more efficient.

On the other side of this, I am sure doctors are not thrilled about patients coming in with a self-diagnosis – which can undermine the doctor’s job and derail and appointment all together.

Source: TechCrunch

Ford Made a Crib That Simulates a Car Ride, So Babies Everywhere Can Finally Drift Off

Ford Spain has made a mind-blowing futuristic baby crib that lets you record your baby’s favorite sleepytime car ride and simulate it, complete with engine noise, at home—so your baby can fall asleep without having to take a drive every night.

The Max Motor Dreams baby crib is a unique way to advertise the Ford Max family car range. The bed comes with wood panel accents (recalling the Woodie station wagons that were the preferred family vehicle of the past), “restrained” engine noise machine, a LED streetlight simulator, and soft movement.

Although Ford has made only one prototype so far, it’s willing to put it into production if demand is high enough. If parents head over to the website and put their number in under ¿Quieres una para tu familia? (Do you want one for your family?). They claim you can resister for a test drive.

See video! 

Why it’s hot:

The fact that Ford decided to take on this project shows how much they care about their customers. They’re willing to invent beyond cars to make our lives better wherever we are. Also – with all of the car commercials of babies falling asleep in cars – I am surprised it took someone this long to come up with this!

Source: ADWEEK

Alexa And Siri Are In A Fight To Become Your Hotel Concierge

Alexa and Siri have been fighting it out for a spot in our living rooms, our cars—and our hearts. Following Amazon’s footsteps and actually improving on it, Apple released its ‘Home’ application last year. Like Alexa it’s a home assistant, but with a wider selection of automation equipment.

Now tech giants and competitors Apple and Amazon are battling for a spot as the go-to hotel concierge. Currently being tested by Marriott, the international hotel chain will determine which one, Siri or Alexa, is best for their guests to use for simple tasks such as turning lights on or drawing the curtains.

For those who like the efficiency of a voice controlled assistant in their lives, this race is good news. Just like Apple improved upon Amazon’s Alexa last year, we can expect to see automation taken to the next level as these two try to outdo each other.

Amazon has already been stepping up its game hitting the food industry with Alexa features in a new LG Fridge and hospitals with a Boston Children’s Hospital app that allows the device to give medical advice.

According to Bloomberg, Marriott could be making a decision this summer.

Why it’s hot:

  • AI competitors will be constantly improving from trying to out-do one another
  • This is just one step in the direction of home automation / voice control taking over everyday life
  • Although – in this case, will guests miss human contact / authenticity?

Adidas In-Store Machine Knits A Custom Sweater

Two challenges currently facing any fast-fashion manufacturer include: making clothes that people want to buy and cutting the time it takes for new designs. With its new pop-up, Adidas might have just solved them both. Opened in Berlin, the ‘Knit For You’ concept store lets shoppers design a sweater and get it knitted by the high-tech machines within four hours – substantially cutting the typical manufacturing time of 12 to 18 months.

This tech-infused shopping experience is innovative and slightly resembles a video game. First, shoppers enter a darkened room where different designs are projected onto them with an option to switch between pattern using hand gestures. After choosing, customers move to a computer where they pick the color combination. To ensure the perfect fit, the shoppers can get a laser body scan. The custom-designed merino wool sweater cost 200 euros.

Adidas has been exploring localized production and customization in efforts to sell more products at full price and to bring its operating profit margins closet to its biggest rival, Nike, by 2020. Supported by the German government, the Knit for You pop-up will be used by Adidas to evaluate the profitability, before potentially introducing it in other locations.

If you’re interested in reading more – check out: their website

Why it’s hot:

  • Interesting activation for Adidas to better understand their customers, their behaviors and preferences, and offer them on-demand fashion
  • Plays upon the trend of 3D printing and customization

Source: PSFK

Patagonia Launches Its First TV Ad To Protect A Region

CLICK FOR VIDEO

Patagonia has had a long history of advocating for the environment. Beyond ‘greening’ their supply chain, the company also gets involved in external affairs, hoping to help save significant natural habitats from human destruction. Believing it is part of their moral obligation, Patagonia has partnered with Google to create an immersive VR series that advocates for the protection of Utah’s Bears Ears region.

The region is home to five Native American tribes and also is known for its rugged terrain that is perfect for climbing. Additionally, there are archaeological treasures that span back thousands of years. The significance of the area led President Barack Obama to declare it a national monument, protecting it from fossil fuel companies. Unfortunately, the Utah legislature requested that the ruling be rescinded in order to transfer this public land to private land so there can be more fossil fuel development.

As a response, Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard wrote an open letter to Utah Governor Gary Herbert, stating that, “Politicians in the state don’t seem to get that the outdoor industry—and their own state economy—depend on access to public lands for recreation.” Instead of pulling just a typical PR move, the company has also moved forward to create an amazing VR experience. These short films take anyone to the region to see the landscape for themselves, while telling the stories of tribes and athletes who value the space.

This Is Bears Ears National Monument is available for anyone to see and take action. The site encourages viewers to contact the Utah government to defend the Monument, providing an easy link to do so.

VR technology allows anyone to get a realistic glimpse of how the Bears Ears National Monument looks like and what it means for the people who occupy and visit the land. The brand has partnered with local communities, engaged in phone calls with the governor, and boycotted events to try to protect the territory. This VR film series is directed to galvanize the public to join the fight for the environment because even this large brand cannot change legislation alone.

WHY IT’S HOT:

  • Great use of Virtual Reality and storytelling to urge the public to take action to protect the environment. This type of technology puts the audience in the shoes of Bears Ear’s regions locals to understand the beauty and history of the region, compelling them to want to protect it!
  • Clear CTA for viewers to take action and contact the Utah government
  • Further reinforces Patagonia’s socially responsible brand positioning

Source: PSFK

OLAY Uses AI And Selfies To Give People Facial Analyses

As many of us know, shopping for make-up and cosmetics can be a game of trial and error. With an extremely saturated market, it’s hard to know which products are best for you and your skin type. The beauty brand, OLAY, is hoping to make this process easier.

OLAY is integrating AI technology into their smartphone app, and can help you find the right products for you and your skin type with just one simple selfie. Their new platform, called OLAY Skin Advisor, can give you the “age of your skin” and identify problem areas. Once identified, it will give you suggestions on how to best care for specific areas of your face, including a full face routine. As AI comes into contact with more faces and skin types, the faster it will learn and become better at identifying issues.

Some potential challenge areas might include how the system will distinguish between blemishes and uneven skin tone from birthmarks and scars. It will be also be interesting how accurate the selfie analysis will be, given that lighting and background can change the color and appearance of skin.

“Our AI technology is central to how well OLAY Skin Advisor is able to analyze women’s skin, but for women, it’s not about the artificial intelligence itself—it’s about what they get out of it,” Dr. Frauke Neuser, Principal Scientist at OLAY tells Mashable.

You can access the AI online, but you need to do so on a smartphone or tablet, and will give you a full analysis for free with problem areas highlighted, but it will only recommend OLAY products to fix them.

Why it’s hot:

This activation not only helps position OLAY as the trusted consultant of the cosmetics space, but it utilizes AI technology to build a database of different skin types. Although I am certain that this application exaggerates the severity of skin problem areas (it said my “skin age” was 35! Come on…), it showcases the importance of experiential and personalized marketing – all through a simple selfie.

 

Source: PSFK