Home Telemedicine Kit for Children

Startup Tyto Care created an at-home kit that lets parents take readings from a sick child and send them to their doctor for analysis and non-urgent care. Their tech sends at-home results taken by the parent to a doctor for analysis.

The $299 kit comes with a modular device with a stethoscope, thermometer, otoscope and special camera, so parents can monitor the heart, lungs, ears and take high resolution pictures of the eyes, skin, and throat. From there, the pediatrician (who needs to already be subscribed to Tyto Care in order to access the data) looks at the readings and gives a diagnosis. The system is not designed to replace taking a child to a doctor if they have a very high fever or are showing signs of distress.

This new technology takes into account not only the healthcare needs of children but also the struggles of the parents to give them the right non-urgent care.

Why it’s hot: This is some awesome tech that can ease the minds of parents (especially first-timer) if their child is sick. Additionally, the data implications are (somewhat scary) but could potentially predict illnesses in the future and cut urgent-care costs. The downsides are that some parents might become over-reliant, they might not trust this startup with their child’s personal data, and the HCP must be “subscribed” to this.

 

Source: PSFK

The (Physical) Book Was Better

Despite all of the advances of on-screen entertainment, from Netflix to Kindle, there are a lot of people who prefer to buy physical books. But Ambient Literature wants to change that and get people turning to their screens to read books.

The project, a collaboration between the U.K. universities UWE Bristol, Bath Spa University, and the University of Birmingham, Ambient Lit uses GPS and weather data to adapt to the user’s environment. The goal is to create an immersive experience that books just can’t match (apparently).

“We’re living in a phase where visual media is so readily available to us and visual media is so seductive for us,” says Kate Pullinger, an author who worked on a mobile-first ghost story called Breathefor Ambient Lit. “Part of what I’m interested in is what does it mean to read on screen in this world we live in that’s dominated by visual media. What kind of reading experience might be native to the smartphone in a way that just sticking an e-book on your phone isn’t?”

Open up the link to Breathe–which recommends you use a smartphone to read it–and the page will ask for your permission to use information like your location and your camera. When you agree, it uses three different data sets to personalize the story to your setting every time you read it: location, weather, and season. When you read the story on a rainy Monday in New York City, that’s referenced in the story.

Ambient Literature commissioned two other stories besides Pullinger’s, both of which take the form of apps. One, It Must Have Been Dark by Then by Duncan Speakman, combines a physical book with audio–which people listen to via an app–and incorporates the reader’s geographical surroundings into the story. The other, The Cartographer’s Confession by James Atlee, can only be experienced in London, and combines audio with historical photos. Both utilize location data to create different kinds of stories that adapt to the reader–a stark contrast to traditional novels that ask readers to engage in their fictional world.

Other features of the smartphone besides location data can find their way into the story, too: Another thriller Pullinger wrote (outside the Ambient Lit project), called Jellybone, pulls out all the stops, utilizing vibrations, video, audio, and even pinging notifications.

Why its hot

This is certainly a cool use of technology to make reading more interactive and engaging for the reader, creating unique experiences. It might be more interesting to younger readers and I’d love to see how they could adapt the technology to pre-existing books to make them more engaging. But I’ll stick with my old person physical books, small NYC apartment be damned!

Fighting Stereotypes with Stereotypes

Colombians have struggled with a negative perception of their country for decades. Shows like Narcos, which distort the country’s history continue to perpetuate misconceptions. In collaboration, the mayor’s office of Medellin, Bancolombia and El Colombiano have created a series of videos aimed at fighting stereotypes with stereotypes.

Source: http://colombianambush.com/site/

Why it’s hot:

Turns a negative into a positive, capitalizes on the spotlight that the entertainment industry has placed on Narco culture, and it’s funny.

 

Beer Vending Machine Uses Blockchain To Verify Age Before Dispensing Cans

Blockchain startup Civic found a creative way to show off the technology—and facilitate alcohol sales. At the fourth annual CoinDesk Consensus summit from May 14 to 16, Civic introduced a vending machine that users can grab a beer from free of charge, provided they have the Civic app handy on their phones to confirm via blockchain that they’re of legal drinking age.

You anonymously verify your age via the app to get your hoppy goodness sans human intermediary.

The idea is a one-off partnership with Anheuser-Busch, though it could be the start of additional measures in which blockchain-based technology is used to “facilitate on-demand, secure, low-cost access to identity-verification services,” as Civic’s website notes. That’s the calling card of the San Francisco-based company, which launched in 2016. Titus Capilnean, the communications and marketing director at Civic, told CoinDesk that unmanned access to casinos is another potential area where blockchain technology could come in handy. For now, though, Civic is content with giving out beers to test its prototype.

In action on Twitter

Source: PSFK

Why It’s Hot: Can I get closer to understanding what blockchain is if it’s connected to beer?

kit kat gives delayed fliers a proverbial break…

In both a kind gesture and a great demonstration of its brand’s stated “purpose”, Kit Kat created a vending machine at Sao Paulo airport in Brazil that reads travelers’ boarding passes and dispenses them a Kit Kat if their flight is delayed.

Why It’s Hot:
It’s always great to see a brand use its marketing dollars toward something that isn’t completely and utterly self-serving. Instead of an ad, they made something that might truly do something for people, a true relationship builder. Plus, they did it to address a notoriously painful experience all of us have had.

[Source]

Try on your kicks before pressing “place order” online

When it comes to clothing and footwear purchases, customers still sometimes have no choice but to purchase products online blindly without being able to try them on, hoping that it looks good when it shows up. AR company Vyking is offering a new feature that hopes to solve this problem by letting customers try on a pair of sneakers virtually before they make a purchase.

While AR facial recognition is already being used by retailers for things like letting shoppers virtually try on beauty products, this could be a first for ‘foot recognition’ technology. The app uses AR and computer learning to sense where the wearer’s foot is and projects a model of the sneaker onto their foot.

Why it’s hot: This not only helps customers find styles that match their preferences but also cuts costs for retailers with returns.

Source: PSFK

Sleepiest ad in the world

Ikea has created a sensuous print ad to help give people a great night’s sleep. The Sömnig (meaning ‘sleepy’) ad with Ikea as part of the brand’s 2018 bedroom campaign after discovering that nine out of 10 people in the UAE don’t get the recommended eight hours of sleep per night. To aid people’s sleep, the agency created a soporific print ad that was designed to be placed on a nightstand.

The ad is printed with ink made from lavender (which is associated with relaxation), has a portal which gives off more lavender scent, and it also has speaker that plays white noise (a sound that cancels distracting noises and induces sleep).

The advert was placed in Good magazine (the April 2018 issue). It could be torn out of the magazine and it had adjustable tabs to help it stand upright. The ad was also fitted with a USB port, to charge the battery when it ran out.

Why its hot?

Turned a print ad into a problem solving object that people want to keep and use in their home.

Netflix’s New Research Website

Netflix’s platform has always been very focused on research and data science. They have recently launched a research site that highlights the type of research they do, such as machine learning, recommendations, experimentation and casual interface, and analytics. Each section features research articles from the Netflix blog.

Why It’s Hot: Research is cool! This is a step forward in how a company is being public about the research they are doing and where they are going with their research endeavors. On the other hand, there are always some scary implications about what can be done with the research that is collected.

Source

The rise of compassionate technology

The UK technology sector is booming – and one of the biggest growth areas was is compassionate tech.

Compassionate tech is things like apps and online services aimed at helping society’s most vulnerable. Examples include Beam, a pledge site that lets people contribute to training for someone that is homeless. Another is ‘GP at Hand’, which allows you to book an appointment with an NHS doctor on your smartphone within two hours. A third is Komp, a high-resolution easily controlled screen that is helping the elderly communicate with others more easily to combat isolation and loneliness.

Komp

The UK has more investments in compassionate technology companies than the rest of Europe put together. Why the U.K.? Well, it already ranks as the 8th most charitable country in the world.

Read more: BBC

Why It’s Hot
Leveraging tech to help people who most often don’t have a seat at the industry table is a great reminder of the positive potential of innovation.

Boring Company’s Ridiculous Terms and Conditions

People that have bought The Boring Company’s Flamethrowers received an email saying they need to agree to some Terms and Conditions.

Once they clicked on the link, they were brought to a page that starts off some silly terms to agree to.

Eventually it does get to more legit Terms and Conditions

Why It’s Hot:

  • By starting with something more fun and engaging, users may be more likely to actually read through the terms and conditions
  • Fun thing that got people talking about their flamethrowers again

 

New Technology Analyzes Gender Equity in Scripts

At this point we are all familiar with the disparity between men and women’s roles and screen time in film, TV and even ads. Year after year, women appear less often, say fewer words, and general do less on screen than their male counterparts.

A new screenplay software can automatically tell whether a script is equitable for men and women. It only took a few weeks for Christina Hodson, a screenwriter who is involved with Time’s Up, to take her idea from theory to reality, working with the developer of screenwriting software Highland, John August, to create Highland 2. She wondered if screenwriters could tackle the problem before casting directors and producers even stepped in.

Above: an analysis of La La Land.

WHY IT’S HOT:

The next issue will be one of buy-in. While Hodson has already inspired others in the film community to come up with tests and tools of their own, will gender representation become the new benchmark of getting a film, show, or even script for TVC green-lit? And how might this tool or others tackle other issues of underrepresentation in Hollywood, and beyond? The Times writes, “Ms. Hodson and the software makers say they expect their tools will be expanded to address other issues of representation, like race and ethnicity, although that is more complicated, because those details are not always mentioned in scripts.”

Sometimes the Internet Can Be Used for Good

Last week and NYC lawyer went viral for threatening to call ICE on employees of a restaurant who were speaking to a customer in Spanish. This viral video helped people on the internet discover his real identity

It turns out this isn’t even a new move for Schlossberg. He’s confronted people all over NYC. Including YouTube star Willie Morris. This 2016 video has now been updated with Schlossberg’s real name.

But sometimes the internet works for good. Schlossberg was identified and DRAGGED. There are now gofundme campagins to send mariachi bands to his law firm, a facebook event organized lati party for outside his building and …

Maybe this wouldn’t have happened anywhere outside of NYC, but it’s interesting to see private citizens get shamed for anti immigrant sentiment in the same week as Donald Trumps “animals” comments.

Why it’s hot?

The dress, yanny/laurel, loose llamas and Aaron Schlossberg. Sometimes the internet can be a great place.

Google is fighting screen addiction that they helped create

At Google IO this past week Google announced plans to help people with “digital wellness” to help people combat screen addiction – something they helped create.

Here are a few of the features they discussed:

Shush

“With a feature called Shush, Android P will automatically silence your calls and notifications when you flip your phone over, screen side down. That means you don’t have to push any buttons or dig through deep settings menus. To put the phone down you just . . . put the phone down.”

Wind Down

““We heard from people that they checked their phone right before bed, and before they knew it, an hour or two went by,” say Sameer Samat, VP of product management at Google. Google and Apple have both already introduced warm, color shifting modes at night so that your phone’s blue light doesn’t disrupt your natural sleep cycle. But with Digital Wellbeing, Google is doing more with a feature called Wind Down mode that turns your phone gray.”

Dashboard Data View

“Most studies show that we check our phones more than 100 times a day. But that’s the sort of generalized stat that’s easy to brush off. Android P will have a personalized data visualization of your actual phone usage, from how many times you checked it in a day, to how many push notifications you received. It will even display what you did inside various apps–and on this front, third- party developers will be able to specify trackable metrics inside their software.”

Why It’s Hot: This won’t solve all of our problems, but will hopefully help reduce screen time.

Source

A Load Of Garbage

We all know the pain of waking up too early because the garbage truck just can’t keep it down as it devours fresh trash. But Volvo has that covered, the new garbage truck design is called the Volvo FE Electric and it’s designed to optimize efficiency meaning that it’ll be quietly towing your trash away (only if you live in Hamburg, Germany). The truck is powered by lithium-ion and has a 125-mile range. The truck will be available in Europe in 2019 and has a dual-electric motor model that is built to handle heavier lifting and store up to 60,000 pounds.

The Volvo FE truck is a quiet electric garbage truck.Volvo's rendering of the new electric garbage truck shows a man cradling an infant and overlooking trash collection.

Why it’s hot:
The truck is relieving the city of 66 pounds of carbon dioxide that the city’s 300 traditional garbage trucks emit. Plus it gives the garbage men a smoother ride with fewer vibrations and less rattling that’s great for the workers and for those who went to bed just an hour before garbage pick-up.

source: Mashable | waste360

 

Facebook Is Blocking Foreign Ads in Ireland During Abortion Vote

Facebook might have finally recognized that letting foreign countries advertise during important political moments is a bad idea.

Facebook announced Tuesday that it would not be accepting ads related to the upcoming Irish referendum on abortion laws from sources outside Ireland. The country is set to vote on May 25 on whether to ease abortion restrictions, currently considered some of the strictest in the world.

“Today, as part of our efforts to help protect the integrity of elections and referendums from undue influence, we will begin rejecting ads related to the referendum if they are being run by advertisers based outside of Ireland,” Facebook’s Dublin office wrote in a blog post.

Facebook’s move to block outside advertisers comes as the platform continues to implement new rules about political advertising. The company has been criticized for allowing foreign entities to buy ads targeting voters in other countries without disclosing the source of those ads.

In the U.S., Facebook is launching a “view ads” tool, which lets users see all the ads a particular source is running, as well as a verification process to make sure advertisers are from the country where an election is taking place.

Why its hot

This is the first time Facebook is proactively taking steps to block foreign advertisers from trying to influence and election. I think this is a good step for Facebook to take in order to try and preserve some sense of safety around their platform.

Is it illegal to cheat at video games?

While the legality of creating or distributing cheats or modifications to competitive video games has been explored through different lawsuits, a recent court case against a 14 year old explores a different aspect of cheating in video games.

In Epic Games v. Rogers, defendant C.R. (whose name has been redacted once it was discovered that he was a minor) is being sued by Fortnite studio Epic Games “for live-streaming himself using a cheat he found online and then linking out to it in the YouTube description box.”

“C.R. has a YouTube channel with over 8,000 subscribers. One day, he was live-streaming a demo of a Fortnite cheat when Epic issued a takedown. When YouTube took his video down, C.R. belligerently posted a second video in protest.”

From Epic Games v. Rogers

C.R. then created a new YouTube account to live stream the cheat again. This new video got taken down, prompting C.R. to file a DMCA counter-notification over the first video.

“i did noting rong this strike is all wrong i was modding in a video game that isnt against youtubes TOS Why was i striked!!!!”

It was probably this counter-notice that kicked off the unlikely lawsuit to begin with. The way that DMCA counter-notices work is that YouTube will keep the content offline for 10 days, but if the copyright claimant — in this case, Epic Games — files a legal action, YouTube has to continue to keep it offline. And that’s exactly what Epic Games did, before even realizing they were going after a 14-year-old. […]

By playing Fortnite without his mother’s permission, technically speaking, C.R. is outside of the EULA. But also technically speaking, playing Fortnite without being covered under the EULA might be a digital trespass, or worse, computer fraud and abuse. That might sound wild and ridiculous in a world where minors are almost certainly clicking through EULAs without their parents’ permission, but the whole underage internet exists on the precarious legal fiction that all these teens are being supervised by their parents, who are bound by these contracts that no one is actually reading.

But, minors can still get sued for copyright infringement, so this is interesting but irrelevant.

Epic Games is claiming that C.R. violated copyright law by modifying his version of Fortnite with a downloaded mod and then again violated copyright law by live streaming the game on YouTube.

Why it’s hot

Video game mods on YouTube are hugely popular, with series like Polygon’s “Touch The Skyrim,” “in which one host installs a bunch of weird mods on Skyrim and the other host plays through haplessly while trying to figure out what the mods do.” But the 1998 copyright decision Micro Star v. FormGen found that user-created levels within Duke Nukem were derivative works. While streamers might have a case for claiming fair use for something like “Touch The Skyrim,” the player versus player (PvP) mechanics of competitive games like Fortnite mean that mods can really harm the company’s profits. Epic Games is going after players create or distribute cheats for Fortnite, making in clear that they view cheating as a serious threat to their business. Some of the other defendants, however, have not responded with the same level of grativas.

It’s possible that C.R. would not have been sued if he hadn’t fought the DMCA notice or… doxed an Epic Games in-house lawyer… but “while everyone else who was caught in Epic’s shotgun blast of lawsuits late last year has either settled out or defaulted in court, C.R. is the last one remaining, defiantly posting videos as recently as two days ago.”

Read more at The Verge

How Juuling became a public health crisis (via Instagram and Snapchat)

From a New Yorker article this week, Jia Tolentino explores how Juul has become a major threat to big tobacco, the hottest thing for teenagers across the country, a social media phenomenon, and a public health crisis.

The health professionals are already calling Juuling a “nathional health crisis,” made possible by co-opting a wellness trend in America. And it’s getting huge. “An analyst at Wells Fargo projects that this year the American vaporizer market will grow to five and a half billion dollars, an increase of more than twenty-five per cent from 2017. In the latest data, sixty per cent of that market belongs to Juul.”

According to a 2017 study by the C.D.C., about fifty per cent more high schoolers and middle schoolers vape than smoke. Tolentino writes, “Young people have taken a technology that was supposed to help grownups stop smoking and invented a new kind of bad habit, one that they have molded in their own image. The potential public-health benefit of the e-cigarette is being eclipsed by the unsettling prospect of a generation of children who may really love to vape.”

And on the viral marketing of Juul, Tolentino writes: “Just as the iconic images of Malboro were shaped by Madison Avenue, Juul has been defined by Instagram and Snapchat. The company’s official Instagram account, @juulvapor, is age-appropriate and fairly boring—it has an aesthetic reminiscent of Real Simple,and forty-four thousand followers. But viral, teen-centric Juul fan accounts like @doit4juul (a hundred and ten thousand followers) are populated with a different sort of imagery: a bodybuilder Juuling in a tank top that says “Real Men Eat Ass”; a baby (labelled “me”) being shoved into a birthday cake (“the Juul”) by her mom (“my nicotine addiction”); a topless college student who has a Juul in her mouth and is wearing a pink hat that says “Daddy.” Teen Juul iconography radiates a dirtbag silliness. Vapes are meme-ready, funny in a way that cigarettes never were: the black-and-white photograph of James Dean smoking in shirtsleeves has been replaced with paparazzi snaps of Ben Affleck ripping an e-cig in his car. In one popular video, a girl tries to Juul with four corn dogs in her mouth. In another, teens at a party suck on a flash drive that they’ve mistaken for a Juul. “I know one of the girls in that video!” a high-school senior from Maryland told me. “It was a huge deal at my school.”

Above, the Juul website. Below, a post with the #Juuling hashtag on Instagram.

WHY IT’S HOT:

This is a classic example of a brand stepping back and letting viral marketing do its job – whether it was for the “intended” audience or not – with major consequences.

IKEA is dropping furniture like NIKE drops sneakers

IKEA seems to be taking a Nike approach to its sales and marketing by dropping limited editions into the market to see how a new generation of buyers reacts and the product sells. All items on display were also labeled ‘prototype’ and they were debuted through a livestream from a gallery in NYC and promoted via influencers.

IKEA followed up on the recently announced skateboard-lifestyle inspired line by Chris Stamp with a furniture collection by fashion designer Virgil Abloh. This is aimed Gen Z and Millennial adults moving into their first homes. To appeal to this audience, Abloh took classic pieces and gave them “subtle ironic twists.” As part of the collection, the designer created a glass cabinet with a wooden frame which stores goods but also acts as a showcase of those products.

Why it’s hot: From a brand that usually shows how their furniture items look in your home (from the layout of their store, to their AR app that you can literally see how they look in your home…) – it is an interesting approach to see them separate new items from in-situ and position them like limited-edition art pieces. It seems more like a stunt than a new Gen Z strategy, however I would be interested to see results from this tactic!

Source: PSFK

 

Instagram Adds Yet Another Feature: Emoji Slider

Top 5 social channels?

  1. Instagram
  2. Instagram
  3. Instagram
  4. Instagram
  5. Instagram

The newest addition to the growing list of features, the emoji slider.

““The emoji slider lets you ask more nuanced questions when you want to find out how your friends feel about something. By choosing an emoji for your question, you also add a layer of emotional context that helps those answering understand your tone and answer accordingly.”

Instagram is adding more tools to increase the usage of Instagram stories and steal share from Snapchat. At this point, it’s clear who is in the lead since IG has added several highly engaging features to the platform with more on the horizon.

How can brands use emoji sliders? To gain more information from their audience about their content and/or products services. This is 1:1 social listening on a grand scale with seamless and non-intrusive audience participation.

Why it’s hotter than a flame emoji:
This is a cool addition to the tool belt but it’s definitely not the last!
Instagram has also been testing in-app purchase features which would completely elevate the options available to marketers and users. IG is slowly making strides to be on par with WeChat, which has already infiltrated almost all aspects of a users life in the China market.

The Dawn Of The Drone-era Is Upon Us

Elevation, a new film, shows how drones could transform the way we live and construct urban environments, from reimagining architectural design and construction to deliveries to infrastructure and surveillance. Drone development is already progressing rapidly, as drone devices become more accessibly priced for average consumers.

Some of the film’s drone predictions:

-Drones will enable innovative new building construction techniques, as they are powered remotely and can go anywhere

-Human passengers will travel by drone along drone highways

-There will be rooftop drone parking and drone charging stations

-Clouds of drone delivery “wasps” will hover above the city, transporting goods to people.

Architecture might have to change to accommodate delivery drones, whether that’s a giant cat flap on the side of the apartment or a little perch where it lands. The infrastructure around deliveries could change dramatically. If drones become a popular way of traveling, every building is going to have some sort of drone parking on it, so architecture might have to sprout branches and platforms to allow people to leave and enter the building.

As drone technologies start being used en masse by both brands and consumers, discussions are underway about the air traffic control systems, the regulations and even the privacy legislation that need to be developed to manage their impact.

Big brands are quickly getting involved in drone delivery, with Ford investigating how drone technology can be used in vehicles. Amazon has been granted a patent for a delivery drone that can respond to human gestures.

Why It’s Hot

-From government surveillance to urban landscape reconfiguration, drones are opening up a world of industries and tech use cases never even dreamed off

-With legalization/regulation of drones will have a huge impact on brands…from how they deliver their products, how they advertise, to how they deliver utilities

-How DOPE would it be to watch a high-speed drone chase between police-drones and some hoodlum drones?!

– I think we all need to start investing in some serious protective headwear for when shit starts falling from the sky

 

Source

 

Inclusivity in VR

We talk about inclusive design for websites and apps, and accessibility for VR is now being addressed as well.

Here are two examples from the Association for Computing Machinery’s CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems last week:

  • Video chat for deaf people on Hololens: group video chats can be difficult for people who are hard of hearing. The solution was to create an AR based speech recognition software that features a speech bubble on the video chat. This tested better than traditional captioning.
  • Haptic Cane for VR: Microsoft Research project called a Canetroller allows blind or low vision people to navigate the virtual world. This allows users to navigate a virtual room without visual cues. This also would be a good option to help train people on using mobility canes before going out in the real world.

 

Why It’s Hot: We are the point where accessibility is being considered for emerging technologies.

A coral re(li)ef

From Hawaiian Airlines’ initiative in April to educate visitors on the harmful effects that many generic sunscreens have on the coral reefs, Hawaii has become the first state to introduce a ban on the sunscreens with chemicals believed to harm the reefs! The bill was introduced on Tuesday and if all goes well, it’ll take effect starting January 1st, 2021.

Why it’s hot:
Years of tourism has brutally impacted the reefs and accompanying ocean life leaving Hawaii to step up as they try to preserve what’s left.

source: https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2018/05/02/607765760/hawaii-approves-bill-banning-sunscreen-believed-to-kill-coral-reefs

AirBNB = RAISED RENTS

Th NYC Comptroller’s Office has released their report on the effect of AirBNB on rents in the city.

The report covers the years 2009-2016, and uses some interesting mechanisms to control for outside factors.

The takeaways (copied from the report):

 

  • For each one percent of all residential units in a neighborhood listed on AirBNB, rental rates in that neighborhood went up by 1.58 percent.
  • Between 2009 and 2016, approximately 9.2 percent of the citywide increase in rental rates can be attributed to AirBNB.

This rent hike particularly affected the neighborhoods with the greatest concentration of AirBNBs. The two neighborhoods with the highest absolute increase are Williamsburg and Greenpoint, where rent increased on average by $659.

Why it’s hot

The battle over AirBNB and selectively enforced regulations has been going on for awhile. Here we have hard data that in aggregate, AirBNB has a negative effect on NYC specifically. It will be interesting to see what happens moving forward.

Playing For Good

What if you could plant a tree just by paying a bill online? More than 280 million Chinese consumers are doing just that, alongside other similarly environmentally friendly acts. The Ant Forest app, launched as a pilot initiative in 2016 by Alipay, China’s leading mobile payment platform, gamifies going green. It rewards users who engage in activities with a low carbon footprint, such as using public transportation or walking to work. Through an animated, interactive mobile game, participants can collect “energy points” and compete with friends to grow a virtual tree. Gathering enough points means Alipay’s parent company Ant Financial will plant a real tree in Inner Mongolia or Gansu province.

 

 

 

Alipay takes the challenge very seriously. In light of transparency issues swirling around the philanthropy industry in China, not only does the company use blockchain to power its donation platform, it has also gone so far as to install a live camera feed in its newly planted forests, so that Ant Forest participants, of whom more than half are millennials, can see exactly what their efforts have amounted to. By the end of 2017, Alipay had planted 13.1 million trees as a result of activity on the app, and claimed to have reduced carbon emission by 2.05 million tons.

Ant Forest is not the only Alipay app that uses gamification for social good. Ant Farm lets users make micro-donations from their mobile payments to selected charities, within a framework that resembles a FarmVille-style game. Users compete with others in their social network as they raise a virtual chicken, gaining feed through making payments and eventually using the eggs their chicken lays to donate to organizations supporting children with congenital heart disease. Players have to keep checking the app to manage feeding times, lest their chicken run away to find food in other users’ digital farms.

Users who prefer to be more active can turn their own steps into a donation in another app, and can compare their fitness progress with those in their network.

Why It’s Hot

Gamification is being hailed as a strong contender for propelling the future of sustainability through digital means. It shows that digital finance holds a huge untapped power to mobilize people in support of sustainable development and the fight against climate change. And this power is literally at our fingertips through our mobile devices.

 

Source

 

What the heck is GDPR?

The European Union is about to roll out sweeping regulations governing how companies collect, use, and share people’s data. And it doesn’t matter where your business is based–if you deal with E.U. residents online, you’re going to be affected too.

The EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which goes into effect May 25, is designed to give users more control of their information. In total, there are 99 articles in the new GDPR laws. The law will require companies to obtain consent from users before collecting any data. GDPR also requires companies to notify regulators and affected individuals of any breaches of security within 72 hours. Companies that don’t comply with the new rules can be fined as much as 4 percent of their global annual revenue.

To date, the GDPR is one of the broadest and most comprehensive laws devised by a Western country to regulate the Internet and personal data privacy, according to Trevor Hughes, president of the New Hampshire-based International Association of Privacy Professionals. (The United States has only sector-specific laws to protect personal data.)

While the crux of GDPR is about putting the power of data back in the hands of consumers, giving users a better understanding of where our data is and what it’s being used for, for large companies it has resulted in a big bill. British firms have spent over $1 billion dollars getting ready, and for American companies that bill is over $8 billion. And for many, that money is being spent on legal fees trying to navigate the vague regulations.

But what about smaller companies? As of January, only about 40 percent of businesses had heard of GDPR, and of those that had, only a quarter were prepared for it, according to a survey conducted by the University of Portsmouth and a U.K. market research firm.

Why its hot

GDPR is a big, complicated mess. Large companies like Google and Facebook, who make most of their money outside Europe, won’t have much to worry about. But smaller companies are already starting to shut European countries out rather than comply. It’s just easier. Looking specifically at Facebook, their year-over-year revenue growth is more than Europe’s percentage of Facebook revenue. Companies can either dump all their data or stop doing business in Europe.

One thing GDPR may do is kill the targeted ads business in Europe. That’s a big deal to smaller firms who cannot handle the drop in CPM. Facebook won’t have that issue. If anything GDPR may only further entrench giants like Google and Facebook in our every day lives.

google’s magical VR doodle…

If you missed it, Google released its first 360-degreee video doodle yesterday – an homage to a French silent filmmaker and artist Georges Méliès, commemorating his film “The Conquest of the Pole”.

Why It’s Hot:

When even Google Doodles start to show up in 360-degree video, you know it’s bleeding mainstream. Storytelling in 2018 isn’t just a passive experience, it’s an interactive one that immerses the viewer in the story. As we approach video projects in the future, we should be designing for the experience, not just a two-dimensional stream.

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Bacoin

Oscar Mayer has launched a Bacon-Based Cryptocurrency, called Bacoin. Oscar Mayer is giving away a limited amount of Bacoin that fans can mine, track the value of and cash out for real packs of Oscar Mayer Bacon at OscarMayerBacoin.com.

Similar to other cryptocurrencies, the value of Bacoin can be volatile. However, Bacoin stands out by the fact that Bacon lovers can boost value by spreading the news via Twitter and email on OscarMayerBacoin.com. The more they share, the greater Bacoin is worth. When ready, Bacoin owners can select the best time to cash out and receive real packs of Oscar Mayer Bacon.

Why its hot?
The more people share the higher the value of bacoin and you can track its value on an hourly basis

 

 

 

 

“Alexa, Let’s Make Some Money”

Today, Amazon made important updates to its monetization model for Alexa.

First, Amazon finally opened up Alexa to developers to make money off third-party skills. Developers can now add purchases to skills and sell physical goods through Alexa. In-Skill Purchases (or ISPs) work almost exactly like in-app purchases for mobile apps. Developers will be able to offer either one-time purchases to unlock new content or ongoing subscriptions that enhance the skill. Developers get 70% of revenue from the in-skill purchase, and Amazon is ensuring that Prime members will always get some sort of extra benefits here, whether that be discounted prices or early access to new features. (It’s important to note that all skills are still free to use).

The second monetization update is that Amazon is now opening up Amazon Pay, letting third-party developers sell their products through their Alexa skills (similar to how you can already order things from Amazon through the voice assistant). TGI Fridays and 1-800-Flowers are the first companies to create skills with the new functionality, letting users order food or flowers through the Alexa voice interface using the same payment information that’s already attached to their Amazon account.

WHY IT’S HOT:

Opening up Alexa purchases to third-party developers will increase the velocity of the Amazon’s expanding ecommerce universe. As voice grows, Amazon makes a compelling platform for any brand or retailer to reach its customers.

Robot Delivery Drivers take Silicon Valley

Starship Technologies, an autonomous delivery startup created in 2014 by two Skype co-founders, has been in public testing mode in 20 countries around the world since 2015. Now the company says it is ready for its first “major commercial rollout”.

Employees of company ‘Intuit’ in Mountain View, California, will be able to order breakfast, lunch and coffee from their staff cafeteria and have it delivered to any point in the company’s Silicon Valley campus by one of Starship’s six-wheeled autonomous robots.

“You place your order, it’s one click, then you drop a pin where you want the robot to meet you,” says Starship co-founder Janus Friis. “We’ve seen huge demand for breakfast. For some reason people just don’t want to wait – they want to go straight to work and avoid the queue in the early hours of the day.”

Starship is now on the lookout for other campuses across western Europe and the US where it can deploy the robots.

Why it’s hot: This is just another step towards the autonomous driving cars and Amazon drone-delivered packages – talk about a seamless customer experience!

Source: PSFK