Amazon’s Heavy Recruitment of Chinese Sellers Puts Consumers at Risk

WSJ ARTICLE

WASHPO ARTICLE

‘In fact, Amazon’s China business is bigger than ever. That is because it has aggressively recruited Chinese manufacturers and merchants to sell to consumers outside the country. And these sellers, in turn, represent a high proportion of problem listings found on the site, according to a Wall Street Journal investigation.”

The paradox of choice is an interesting phenomenon in which the number of given choices, in any scenario eventually passes a certain threshold and leads to dissatisfaction. Personally, lately, I’ve felt this way about Amazon.com scrolling through pages of low-quality crap with 1,000s of reviews claiming something deserves 5 stars…

Why it’s hot: 
Amazon often seems completely invincible, but this story feels like a good illustration of what I perceive to be an interesting weakness – too much junk.

I’ve personally become a bit jaded on purchasing things off Amazon and wonder how they hope to combat some of the shopping ‘spam’ (?)

Inside Amazon’s plan for Alexa to run your entire life

The creator of the famous voice assistant dreams of a world where Alexa is everywhere, anticipating your every need.

Speaking with MIT Technology Review, Rohit Prasad, Alexa’s head scientist, revealed further details about where Alexa is headed next. The crux of the plan is for the voice assistant to move from passive to proactive interactions. Rather than wait for and respond to requests, Alexa will anticipate what the user might want. The idea is to turn Alexa into an omnipresent companion that actively shapes and orchestrates your life. This will require Alexa to get to know you better than ever before.

In June at the re:Mars conference, he demoed [view from 53:54] a feature called Alexa Conversations, showing how it might be used to help you plan a night out. Instead of manually initiating a new request for every part of the evening, you would need only to begin the conversation—for example, by asking to book movie tickets. Alexa would then follow up to ask whether you also wanted to make a restaurant reservation or call an Uber.

A more intelligent Alexa

Here’s how Alexa’s software updates will come together to execute the night-out planning scenario. In order to follow up on a movie ticket request with prompts for dinner and an Uber, a neural network learns—through billions of user interactions a week—to recognize which skills are commonly used with one another. This is how intelligent prediction comes into play. When enough users book a dinner after a movie, Alexa will package the skills together and recommend them in conjunction.

But reasoning is required to know what time to book the Uber. Taking into account your and the theater’s location, the start time of your movie, and the expected traffic, Alexa figures out when the car should pick you up to get you there on time.

Prasad imagines many other scenarios that might require more complex reasoning. You could imagine a skill, for example, that would allow you to ask your Echo Buds where the tomatoes are while you’re standing in Whole Foods. The Buds will need to register that you’re in the Whole Foods, access a map of its floor plan, and then tell you the tomatoes are in aisle seven.

In another scenario, you might ask Alexa through your communal home Echo to send you a notification if your flight is delayed. When it’s time to do so, perhaps you are already driving. Alexa needs to realize (by identifying your voice in your initial request) that you, not a roommate or family member, need the notification—and, based on the last Echo-enabled device you interacted with, that you are now in your car. Therefore, the notification should go to your car rather than your home.

This level of prediction and reasoning will also need to account for video data as more and more Alexa-compatible products include cameras. Let’s say you’re not home, Prasad muses, and a Girl Scout knocks on your door selling cookies. The Alexa on your Amazon Ring, a camera-equipped doorbell, should register (through video and audio input) who is at your door and why, know that you are not home, send you a note on a nearby Alexa device asking how many cookies you want, and order them on your behalf.

To make this possible, Prasad’s team is now testing a new software architecture for processing user commands. It involves filtering audio and visual information through many more layers. First Alexa needs to register which skill the user is trying to access among the roughly 100,000 available. Next it will have to understand the command in the context of who the user is, what device that person is using, and where. Finally it will need to refine the response on the basis of the user’s previously expressed preferences.

Why It’s Hot:  “This is what I believe the next few years will be about: reasoning and making it more personal, with more context,” says Prasad. “It’s like bringing everything together to make these massive decisions.”

Bigger Waves = Bigger Discounts on Flights for Surfers

Alaska Airlines teamed up with surf forecasting site Surfline to create a sales promotion that uses data from waves to determine prices for flights to Hawaii.

For the “Swell Deals” promotion,​ Surfline will source data from sites that monitor wave conditions by the minute around the Hawaiian Islands to determine the offer. A reading of 0-10 ft. will generate a 10% discount, 11-15 ft. swells translate to 15% off, 16-20 ft. leads to 20% off and 21+ ft. swells will bring a 30% discount.

Digital and social ads supporting the promotion will be dynamically updated and Alaska Airline’s landing page will feature the live Surfline forecast along with the corresponding discount.

Why It’s Hot

The use of real-time data creates a sense of urgency to book flights, while personally appealing to surfers’ motivation for traveling to Hawaii.

Source

WeChat and the future of CX

The story of the internet has mostly run west to east, San Francisco to Shanghai. WeChat has proven an exception. In China, it has become the dominant platform for everything from social media, bill pay, and messaging.

In the last 2 years, it has added digital storefronts to it’s roster. Businesses like HeyTea are primarily using it–instead of their own app or website– to reduce wait times through mobile ordering.

Image result for heytea whatsapp

Why it’s hot: 

With Facebook looking to integrate Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp with each other and with business payments, it’s worth asking whether a unified online experience with one app for all purchases, messages, and media is the customer experience that we will ultimately demand, or whether a series of apps and websites–each with their own usernames, passwords, and interfaces has benefits that will stand the test of time.

 

‘Headed South’ by Google Demos Their New UI

Google has made the Pixel 4’s Soli (radar that lives just above the phone’s screen to see shapes and gestures) technology into a game.

On the Pixel 4, Soli allows you to do things like air swipe to skip forward and backward on Spotify, or wave to Pokemon in the phone’s live wallpapers. Google has partnered with creative studio UsTwo to launch a free game called Headed South to showcase the technology in a fully realized app to help introduce Soli to Pixel 4 users.

“Overall, the project goal in itself was a mix between an onboarding experience and play experience,” says Anders Oscarsson, the design lead at UsTwo who headed the project. “It wasn’t specifically about creating a game… It’s still early days [for the technology].”

Headed South turns you into a bird flying from a storm. As you go, you encounter other birds. Using your right finger on the screen, you draft in their wake until you catch up and they join your flock. Then, to perform special tricks—like a turbo boost to catch up with the bird in front of you—you can air swipe with your left hand, activating the superpower without touching the screen.

“How often you’re gesturing, that’s something we played around with a lot,” says Oscarsson. “The first thing we tried was, you were controlling the bird and you’d push the wind all the time. The more you gestured, the faster you’d go. It created a repetitive interaction that got old soon. With a touchscreen, you wouldn’t be tapping on the bird all the time to fly fast!”

Why It’s Hot:

At the moment, Soli is still just a very polished tech demo. It’s an interesting play on how to get users to interact with new UI experiences in a way that users may be more open to. The tech is a pretty cool idea, but what will it do that’s better than using touch, besides gaming? I’ll be curious to see how they make it an essential to the cell phone experience, not just another cool additive that we probably will use once.

Source

Patagonia’s new line is made from old clothes damaged beyond repair

Wondering what to do with your damaged and worn Patagonia clothing? Those are the clothes Patagonia is focusing on with the launch of a new line called ReCrafted.

The line takes worn-out, damaged goods and transforms them into entirely new, one-of-a-kind products at a workshop in Los Angeles. Each item in the ReCrafted collection is made up of between three and six pieces of used clothing.

The first series of items consists of down jackets and vests, a sweater, a T-shirt, a toolkit, and four bags, all available on Patagonia’s Worn Wear website for prices that range from $27 to $327. The aesthetic, unsurprisingly, feels different from the traditional Patagonia line, with fabrics of different colors and textures stitched together.

This is just the latest part of Patagonia’s broader strategy of keeping garments in circulation for longer. When it comes to the fashion industry, the bulk of carbon emissions happens early in the supply chain, in the production of raw materials and manufacturing in factories. The longer an item is used, the lower its environmental footprint.

The ReCrafted products are available starting today on the Worn Wear website, along with Patagonia’s first dedicated Worn Wear pop-up, which opens tomorrow in Boulder, Colorado—along with a repair workshop on-site.

Why its hot

Will such projects inspire other brands to launch similar programs? It’s hard to say. It takes a relatively large company, with plenty of resources, to redirect worn-out clothes and bring on designers to create new pieces. This may prove too much of a hurdle for many brands.

Road Tales

Looking out of the car window used to be what kids did on road trips–but now, screens mean that they barely glance outside sometimes. Volkswagen has decided to counteract this with an interactive solution which, while it still relies on an app, means that kids are more connected with their journey.

“Road Tales” is an app featuring interactive audiobooks that creates unique tales based on the location of the user and transform ordinary road objects into  characters in a story. To make this happen, the Amsterdam based agency scanned all major Dutch highways (over 5000 km of road) to identify objects like bridges, windmills, trees, petrol stations and turn them into story elements. It collaborated with children’s book writers to write the story chapters, which are triggered by objects along the road.

The whole family can use the books, explains creative director Kika Douglas: “Parents can play the story through the sound system of the car and then put the phone away.  The characters of the story also ask the passengers to play family games, like guessing a color of the next car or doing a countdown to launch a rocket before entering the tunnel, or warning them to put their head down before going under a bridge.”

Developed for Dutch children between 4-11 years old, the app can be downloaded for free. It’s being promoted to parents via a social campaign, influencer strategy and online video.

Source: https://adage.com/creativity/work/volkswagen-road-tales/969896
Why it’s hot
The Screen-less era is coming with voice-first solutions. Surprises like Road Tales can live in both digital and physical worlds. According to Gartner, web browsing will be screen-less by 2020. It’s about time we start thinking about voice-only experiences that can transform how we interact digitally.

The Wall Street Journal Wants You to ‘Read Yourself Better’

WSJ dropped its first widespread brand campaign on Nov. 4 in an effort to attract new subscribers by encouraging them to “read yourself better.” As part of that effort, WSJ’s paywall will be lifted, and readers can view an unlimited number of articles on the site for three days, from Nov. 9-11.

WSJ focused on encouraging readers to turn to quality and trustworthy news for their information. A narrator encourages you to read past the hashtags, misinformation, angry comments, “troll armies” and overall noise in the 90-second spot. “Because no one ever did anything big by reading small. Read yourself better,” the narrator says.

Out-of-home ads will also appear throughout the country in L.A., Denver, Philadelphia and New York encouraging readers to “Read yourself past the hashtags,” “Read yourself to your own opinion,” and “Read yourself out of your comfort zone.”

Why it’s hot: This campaign plays very well into the cultural zeitgeist and challenges viewers to spend their time doing more quality reading and less mindless scrolling.

Source: AdWeek

Google’s ‘Project Nightingale’ Triggers Federal Inquiry

The news: Google has signed a deal with Ascension, the second-largest hospital system in the US, to collect and analyze millions of Americans’ personal health data, according to the Wall Street Journal. Ascension operates in 150 hospitals in 21 states.

“Project Nightingale”: Eventually, data from all of the company’s patients (birth dates, lab results, diagnoses, and hospitalization records, for example) could be uploaded to Google’s cloud computing systems, with a view to using artificial intelligence to scan electronic records, or diagnose or identify medical conditions. The project, code-named Project Nightingale, began in secret last year, the WSJ reports. Neither patients nor doctors have been notified.

A touchy topic: Inevitably, there are worries. The company took control of the health division of its AI unit, DeepMind, back in November 2018, and people at the time warned it could pave the way for Google to access people’s private, identifiable health data. Ascension employees have raised concerns about how the data will be collected and shared, both technologically and ethically, the WSJ reports.

Eduardo Conrado, EVP of Strategy and Innovations at Ascension, released a statement challenging news reporting. He claims the work has been anything but secret:

Ascension’s work with Google has been anything but secret. In fact, Google first announced its work with us in July, on its Q2 earnings call. Acute care administrative and clinical leaders across Ascension have been informed of the work, enterprise-wide webinars have been held, and the clinical leaders of our employed physician group have been informed in detail about the project. In our deployment sites, front-line nurses and clinicians have not only been informed but have actively participated in the project.

Compare that to the whistleblower’s open letter on why he decided to speak up:

After a while I reached a point that I suspect is familiar to most whistleblowers, where what I was witnessing was too important for me to remain silent. Two simple questions kept hounding me: did patients know about the transfer of their data to the tech giant? Should they be informed and given a chance to opt in or out?

The answer to the first question quickly became apparent: no. The answer to the second I became increasingly convinced about: yes. Put the two together, and how could I say nothing?

Source: The Wall Street Journal


Why it’s hot: It’s hot because it’s not the first time that Google is in hot water, back in 2017, Google DeepMind received 1.6 million identifiable personal medical records on an “inappropriate legal basis”, according to a letter written by Fiona Caldicott at the UK’s National Data Guardian.

As brands like Google, Amazon Apple (and even Uber) move into healthcare, raises new questions around data and confidentiality, but also forces us to re-think:
“Who do we have an actual relationship with—my doctor, my insurance company or a cloud service provider?”

The future is voice-first, but not for everyone

The tech industry is banking on artificial intelligence like Siri, Alexa and OK Google becoming ubiquitous. Voice assistants are notorious for misinterpreting local accents, but many overlook that this extends to people with disabilities.

Voice recognition algorithms are built from libraries of standard pronunciations and speech patterns, so people who have difficulties with speech or enunciation also have trouble accessing these technologies. And because they may have physical disabilities as well, these are often the very people voice assistants could help the most.

Because of their unique speech patterns, voice technology doesn’t understand people with Down syndrome. Out of the box, Google’s voice assistant misunderstands about every third word from an average speaker with Down syndrome. This is due to a large lack of training data.

Project Understood aims to improve Google’s algorithms by building out the database of voices. The Canadian Down Syndrome Society is working with Google to collect voice samples from the adult Down syndrome community to create a database that can help train Google’s technology to better understand people with Down syndrome. The more voice samples we have, the more likely Google will be able to eventually improve speech recognition for everyone.

Spots from FCB Canada follow Matt MacNeil, a Canadian with Down syndrome who works with CDSS, as he travels to Google headquarters in Mountain View, California, to work with Google engineers and product managers to refine the voice recognition tools.

Why it’s hot: We’ve seen the repercussions of a lack of diversity in advertising and tech, from alienating workplaces to tone deaf creative. But there remains much to explore and address. As artificial intelligence becomes more ubiquitous, the design of relationships between humans and machines carries exciting opportunity to help people in meaningful ways, and more serious implications to getting it wrong. Overlooking people with disabilities is a glaring misstep that is part of a larger problem – we can’t design inclusive experiences from a single perspective. We need to develop new design frameworks, blended skillsets, diversity of thought and ethical systems of governance for building empathy into technology.

Facebook and Twitter don’t agree on political advertising

After Facebook said it would not fact-check political advertising, Twitter’s CEO announced that they would ban all forms of political advertising on their platform, taking a completely different stance on the issue, than Facebook’s stance.

The announcement immediately became partisan with the Trump campaign blasting Twitter and Democratic candidates for President applauding the decision.

Twitter only has a small piece of the pie when it comes to political ad spending. A majority of the digital ad spending from political campaigns goes to Facebook, with its sophisticated demographic and psycho-graphic targeting.

Although Facebook runs a live-video service, it is not considered a broadcaster as defined by the F.C.C. Neither is YouTube. Social media was exempt from Federal Election Commission disclosure laws, which require political advertisements to state who is paying for them, until December, 2017. The Honest Ads Act, first introduced in Congress, in 2017 aimed to require social media platforms to meet disclosure laws. It was blocked by Senate Republicans in October 2019.

Which is why it has been so much easier for political campaigns to run exaggerated or factually ambiguous ads on social media as opposed to on television or radio.

Why it’s hot: Political advertising on social media is not as regulated (financial disclosure laws, fact-checking) by the government as it is on TV or radio, making it much easier to run disinformation campaigns on such platforms (precise demographic targeting makes it even more appealing).

Sources: The New Yorker, The New York Times, Jack Dorsey Twitter

 

 

This Dog Can Talk!

Meet Stella, the talking dog. Stella’s mom Christina Hunger is a speech language pathologist. Per Bustle, Christina “uses her skills to teach Stella how to communicate. According to Hunger, Stella already knows 29 words and can even form five-word phrases or sentences.”

https://www.instagram.com/p/B4AcoDPnNkO/

https://www.instagram.com/p/B4QAxF1ht3K/

https://www.instagram.com/p/B4VfYtFhJLV/

This seems pretty legit. We’ve seen science in non-verbal communication advance a lot over the years

Why it’s hot?

Here at MRM we’re OBSESSED with linguistics. And rightfully so! There is so much amazing data about how we communicate and what guides language. Think about what else we don’t know.

 

If you were on a Desert Island, what 5 apps would you use?

Google came out with Desert Island App. An experimental app, where you choose your top 5 essentials and see how well you were at sticking to just those. The next day, you bring it down to 4. Simple enough, there are a ton of apps like this that strip down your home screen to have less UX influence.

I can’t help but wonder what data they could possibly be getting out of this. Could this be a way to fuel the next Pixl phone, by seeing your top apps and then going into that space and creating them to be even more addictive? This could also be a way to segment a certain type of person, with their whole host of information on you (if you have gmail).

Also, PS, if you change the interface on your phone to black and white it helps phone usage too. Just not specific addictions like twitter.

Source

A Drone-Planted Tree For You, You, and You

A startup called Now is making it easy for people to support the goal of globally planting a trillion more trees to help fight climate change through subscribing to support an army of drones that’s planting millions of trees around the world.

If a trillion trees are planted on all of the land on the planet that’s available for reforestation, scientists have calculated that it could capture two-thirds of the carbon that humans have emitted since the industrial revolution.

This is where Now comes in. They are trying to reach this goal by planting the majority of these trees… using drones.

“We said, ‘Well, 1 trillion trees is a really massive goal—is this possible?’” says Jessica Jones, one of the Now’s co founders. “It’s clear that with hand planting, that just won’t happen in the time that it needs to happen.”

Drones, however, could potentially plant 20 billion trees a year over 50 years to reach the goal. The drones fly over land to map the topography and soil conditions and identify the best area to plant, and then shoot biodegradable pods filled with a seed and nutrients into the ground. On the platform, customers subscribe to plant trees by donating $10-$100 monthly.

A major study released in July mapped where trees could feasibly be planted, avoiding cities, farms, and landscapes that weren’t previously forests. On those 1.7 billion hectares—an area bigger than the U.S. and China combined—restored forests could collectively store more than 200 billion metric tons of CO2.

“We’re committed to closing the gap between the people and reforestation projects, while creating community in the process,” Jones says.

Why It’s Hot:

So many people (it seems) are interested in climate change and helping when they can, but maybe don’t know where to start. This is making an obvious and easy way to help, without even leaving your house and by giving such a small commitment.

Source

 

Sustainable Baby Clothes

UpChoose, a year-old startup, aims ‘to reimagine and redesign consumption in a way that’s less wasteful and more sustainable and efficient’ with its organic babywear rental service.

Body image for Always in fashion

New parents are confronted with endless choices of baby clothes, toys and accessories. Whether they feel pressure to buy the latest products or are given them by well-meaning family and friends, what we think of as an exciting time in our lives, entrepreneur and sustainability advocate Ali El Idrissi, the founder of UpChoose, views the occasion as a source of enormous waste, with many of the products outgrown in a matter of weeks.

But instead of lecturing people to buy less, he’s providing a sustainable and somewhat affordable alternative.

Body image for Always in fashion

Why it’s hot: With UpChoose, El Idrissi is democratizing sustainability. While sustainable subscription services aren’t new, one targeted to new parents seems to be. UpChoose is a way for individuals to help tackle over-consumption in their lives, while governments and companies attempt to tackle it on the larger world stage. Also, depending on where your live, the option to have temporary baby clothes, and eventually even furniture (his plan to expand at some point in the future), could be a real time and space saver for urban families in cities with itty-bitty living spaces (NYC).

Source: Contagious.io

How the Internet Laughs

It’s getting harder and harder to negotiate the spectrum of humor online.

The editors at The Pudding, a digital publication that explains ideas debated in culture with visual essays, noticed this problem and set out to explore how the limited visual cues we have access to online make it harder to decipher genuine laughter from the passive acknowledgment that something is “funny.”

The result is a three-part visual essay full of funky data visualizations which, as The Pudding describes it, take “a closer look at the usage, evolution, and perception of the digital laugh” to help us decode the intricacies of tech-based communication.

The first installment looks at our “laughter vocabulary” and ranks different sorts of responses, from “bahaha” to “heh” to “rofl” in order of usage. Unsurprisingly, “LOL” accounts for a whopping 55.8% of the world’s laugh language, and “ded” is the least used, at 0.2%.

The team’s second go at data collection tracks the evolution of everyone’s favorite shorthand, “LOL.” Over the past decade, it has only risen in popularity, in part because of its myriad applications. It can connote nervousness, be an attempt to soften the blow of a harsh text, or actually mean someone is laughing out loud (albeit rarely). “Lol’s transformation is less like a shift and more like an evolution,” the team at The Pudding notes.

Most recently, The Pudding has explored degrees of funny. The website offers users the opportunity to match each laugh style with the level of laughter that it represents to them. (After all, intention, and reception, are different for everyone!) So, when you type “rofl,” does that actually mean you’re rolling on the floor with laughter, unable to speak? Does using “lulz” indicate a passive chuckle? You be the judge.

Netflix Experimenting with new viewing formats

When streaming services introduced the ‘Skip Intro’ button, it was a wonderful way to streamline binging, but seemingly, recently they asked – “Why stop there?”

Streaming services are now experimenting with playback speeds and skipping different types of content all together…

Skipping content: 
“Seth Meyers’ first-ever comedy special Lobby Baby hits Netflix Nov. 5, and it’s a gamechanger. The revolution is not in the Late Night host’s jokes or performance, but courtesy of stand-up comedy’s ongoing disruptor: Netflix.

A little over halfway through Lobby Baby, Meyers addresses the elephant in the room and prepares the audience for a set of jokes about Donald Trump. But for the first time ever, he offers at-home viewers a chance to skip the political jokes entirely.”
Article – Mashable

Speeding up content:
Netflix is letting some people speed up or slow down their shows as part of a new test.

The company says that some users will be given the option to speed up films or TV to 1.5 times their normal speed, as well as slowing them down 0.5 times.”
Article – Independent 

Why it’s hot? 
The streaming wars are heating up and beside best in class content, services are doing what they can to stand out.

Ex. Hulu has the ‘Random episode generator’ Article – Mashable

Interesting to see how people are changing the viewing experience itself to differentiate themselves.

HEFTY’S HOLIDAY PARTY CUPS ARE DESIGNED TO KILL ANNOYING FAMILY CONVERSATIONS

There are a variety of strategies for avoiding uncomfortable family conversations during the holidays—silently nodding, changing the topic, chugging the champagne, heading to the loo or skipping dinners altogether. But now, Hefty has swooped in with a solution that requires you to do practically nothing at all.

The brand has created special “Party Cups” inscribed with messages designed to prevent those awkward discussions from happening at all.

Printed on the festive vessels are lines like “Don’t ask my who I’m voting for,” “Yes, I’m single and happy,” “Diet starts Monday,” “Ask about my furbaby” and “I’m funemployed.” So if Aunt Mary asks you about your love life or Uncle Joe irks you with a fake news headline, all you need to do is just take a sip of your drink.

The Hefty Holiday Party Cups are on sale for a limited time at $2.99 for 20 at HeftyPartyCupsSaveTheHolidays.com.

Source: Ad Age

Why It’s Hot

In a rather basic category with little differentiation (red solo cups are what brand? didn’t know…) this is a nice way to drive brand choice and a good example of people getting a kick out of product “personalization.”

Cars are fundamentally changing. Do we want them to?

The Ford Mustang sold so well after its 1964 release that it is credited with creating the ‘pony car’–an affordable coupe with a long hood and muscular motor that was widely imitated.

Now, after 5 decades of continuous production, Ford has developed an electric prototype, revealed at the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) trade show in Las Vegas last Tuesday.

Though electric vehicles have no need for an elongated hood to house a gas-powered motor or a transmission to moderate combustion power, Ford’s release includes a the stylized hood and six-speed manual transmission to make it feel like a traditional Mustang.

Why it’s hot: 

Cars have been marketed as symbols of power, freedom, control, and sex. But with the underlying nature of vehicles changing–from roaring to silent, from people-driven to autonomous, from private to shared–will our societal vision of what a car is change, or will we hold on to our dated car dreams as long as automakers continue to satisfy them?

AI vs AI

Idea

The media landscape of Russia is monopolized by the government. Russia-1 channel – the key figure in this monopoly – uses propaganda techniques to influence the worldviews of Russians. TV Rain on the contrary is the only independent liberal media that gives its audience many different perspectives on life in Russia and abroad.

To demonstrate a subtle difference between the news on both channels and how they affect people worldviews we created two pristine AIs. They were like twin kids who didn’t know anything about this world and had no life experience. Their minds were pure, so we brought them up on the news programs of Russia-1 and TV Rain channels respectively. In six month each AI had its own worldview formed through the lens of the media it was watching. The differences in their worldviews and vocabularies proved one thing. We really are what we watch.

What it’s hot

AI can surface the world’s problems to see the world differently and help us get together to change the world in a meaningful way. But we also know that when AI is built with biased data, it will generate biased information. AI is a machine, trained by data… It’s time for us to think about how information carries values and beliefs and how AI can play a role in shaping a better society together with us.

 

 

 

Back to the Basics

  • The average smartphone user checks their device 47 times a day / 17,155 a year.
  • Conversation killer! 85% of smartphone users will check their device while speaking with friends and family.
  • 80% of smartphone users check their phone within 1 hour of waking or going to sleep35% of which will do within 5 minutes.
  • 47% of smartphone users have attempted to limit their usage in the past – only 30% of which feel they were successful.
    Source: https://www.bankmycell.com/blog/smartphone-addiction/

Experiments with Google is trying to help people break their cellphone addiction with a printable paper phone which will help you rest from your digital world.

An app lets you choose what to include such as favourite contacts, maps and meetings and then prints them directly to a sheet of paper. Customisable “paper apps” like recipes, phrasebooks and notepads let you get things done or unwind in a more focussed way.

Source: https://experiments.withgoogle.com/paper-phone

Paper Phone is an experimental open source Android app which is available to try and the code is available on Github for people to adapt and evolve.

Why It’s Hot:

Cellphone addiction is real, more than half (58%) of smartphone users have attempted to limit their usage. Great technology should help improve life, not distract from it.

Bonus

Google to Buy Fitbit for $2.1 Billion

Google is acquiring Fitbit, the maker of fitness-tracking devices, for $2.1 billion as the world’s largest tech companies expand further into health in pursuit of growth.

The deal represents an aggressive attempt by Google to bolster its lineup of hardware products, which already includes smartphones, tablets, laptops and smart speakers. Fitbit makes a lineup of fitness-tracking devices, but has faced stiff competition from Apple after the introduction of the Apple Watch.

The deal is likely to face scrutiny from government regulators. Google has been the subject of antitrust investigations in Europe and the United States.

In recent years, the biggest tech companies have been expanding into health products and services. With the introduction of Apple Watch in 2014, the company has been adding new services for people to track their health. Amazon has also expanded its offerings in this field, including acquiring the online pharmacy company PillPack.

Source: NY Times

Why It’s Hot:

Seems like a strong data play!

Budweiser Launches Campaign To Find New NWSL Sponsors

“Last summer, Budweiser encouraged fans to support the National Women’s Soccer League with the #WontStopWatching movement, which encouraged attention all season and not only during high-profile events like the World Cup. Following the success of that campaign, Budweiser is now calling on sponsors to step up and support NWSL.”

The campaign which I first came across on Instagram is interesting because one brand egging on other brands feels like a new trend.

That said, I’ve never seen it this direct, in that Budweiser is boosting the NWSL sponsorship contact information and directing calling upon brands to sponsor the league.

It all feels a bit on the nose but is such a unique format that I personally give it a pass.

Why’s it hot? 
1. It’s funny to see another manifestation of Budweiser aligning itself with ‘progressive movements’ and communities

Ex. Budweiser x Brooklyn & Immigrant Superbowl Spot
“Budweiser has the potential to create a strong brand association with female sports fans and broader women’s rights movements. (Marketing Dive) 

2. It’s also just another (clever) manifestation of cause marketing and virtue signaling

eko and Buzzfeed create the evolution of toy unboxing with KidHQ

At KidHQ, kids are given the chance to become “toy testers” and help find out which of this season’s hottest toys are the most fun to play with. Using eko’s patented, live-action video technology, they use the “Funtroller” to explore and play. Kids can also embark on a magical adventure using the “Funovator” to explore “floors,” meet Santa, interact with live-action and animated characters, help to build a vlog with Barbie and more.

 

Accessible from a phone, tablet or computer, viewers click or tap prompts that appear on the screen to choose what happens and where to go next. eko’s technology provides uninterrupted interactive video the entire time, so choices are seamless and feel like a wish come true to kids and adults alike. Designed as a safe, open and COPPA-compliant experience for kids, KidHQ proves why eko’s technology is the new way for brands to connect with audiences online.

At the end of the experience, kids can share their “Toy Report,” a wish list that helps parents discover what their kids want for the holidays. In a special “Grown Up Only” floor in KidHQ, the Toy Report becomes a seamless click-to-shop experience for parents powered by eko’s relationship with Walmart.

About eko
eko is an interactive entertainment company that lets audiences affect, control, and influence interactive entertainment. The company provides a platform for interactive stories and partners with media companies, independent creators and top brands to create engaging experiences for audiences. Stories are distributed through Helloeko.com, affiliate partners, and social networks; available on desktop, mobile, and connected devices. The company has over 15 patents for its technology, including its proprietary player and authoring tools. eko Studio, the company’s suite of authoring tools, is also offered for free to a community of creators who craft their own interactive experiences using eko’s platform.

Sources eko, KidHQ

scenes from stockholm’s underground…


Apparently big music venues in Stockholm have had a rough past few years, with many closing. So, Clear Channel created “Stockholm Underground”, using this trend as an opportunity to direct focus back to Stockholm’s local scene. Basically, it turned 300 digital OOH units in Stockholm’s metro (underground) into real-time guides on where local, “underground” acts were playing each day.

Per The Drum:

“Instead of displaying ads on Clear Channel’s 300 digital screens, the ‘Stockholm Underground’ music guide, will run as a real-time guide to encourage commuters to take advantage of local shows and up-and-coming artists performing at smaller venues.

Drawn from a database of upcoming live shows aggregated from online sources such as websites, blogs and Facebook events, with up-and-coming bands and artists also able to add their shows to the database, the initiative will give even the smallest acts a chance to reach up to one million people.

The data will then be used to direct commuters to their nearest local music show in the hours before it is supposed to begin.”

Why it’s hot:

Ads that aren’t ads are my favorite kind of ads. It’s a bold move for Clear Channel to reallocate all of its ad space to help promote local artists. It’s a good example of what can happen when a brand asks how it’s contributing to the community around it – whether local, regional, national, or global. As summed up by head of Clear Channel Scandanavia, “We are a natural part of the urban space and have both the will, and the responsibility, to contribute to making cities dynamic. Stockholm Underground is another example of how we are committed to doing so.”

[Source]

Total Recall or Total Bust?

A UK-based company that produces promotional items (think branded industry swag) called Adler conducted a fun experiment in brand recall. They asked 100 participants to draw the logos of 10 of Europe’s biggest brands:

  • Aldi
  • BMW
  • Cadbury
  • Lacoste
  • Lego
  • Puma
  • Red Bull
  • Shell
  • Spotify
  • Vodafone

Then Adler plotted each of the drawings on a graph from least accurate to most accurate. Then they pulled out key insights.

 

Some of these Pumas look like kitty cats:

Full Story Here

Why It’s Hot
While verbal or written brand recall exercises are nothing new, it was fun to see what people draw based on memory. Seems like the simpler logos fared better, not surprisingly.

Battle of the generations : “OK. Boomer”

In a viral audio clip on TikTok, a white-haired man in a baseball cap and polo shirt declares, “The millennials and Generation Z have the Peter Pan syndrome, they don’t ever want to grow up.”

Thousands of teens have responded through remixed reaction videos and art projects with a simple phrase: “ok boomer.”

“Ok boomer” has become Generation Z’s endlessly repeated retort to the problem of older people who just don’t get it, a rallying cry for millions of fed up kids. Teenagers use it to reply to cringey YouTube videos,  and basically any person over 30 who says something condescending about young people — and the issues that matter to them. Teenagers have scrawled the message in their notebooks and carved it into at least one pumpkin.

Nina Kasman, an 18-year-old college student selling “ok boomer” stickers, socks, shirts, leggings, posters, water bottles, notebooks and greeting cards, said that while older generations have always looked down on younger kids or talked about things “back in their day,” she and other teens believe older people are actively hurting young people. “Everybody in Gen Z is affected by the choices of the boomers, that they made and are still making,” she said. “Those choices are hurting us and our future. Everyone in my generation can relate to that experience and we’re all really frustrated by it.”

Why its hot: Rising inequality, unaffordable college tuition, political polarization exacerbated by the internet, and the climate crisis all fuel anti-boomer sentiment. It’s Gen Z and millennials fighting back against the “snowflake” tag that boomers often use to describe them. Overall, its indicative of something unique in culture that puts the generational and power divide right at the center of the conversation – almost a boomer backlash anthem.

 

Amazon continues to go after Sports with “Insights powered by AWS”

For years, sports at the Olympic, professional, and collegiate levels has become very data-driven as decisions ranging from recruitment and training to strategy and in-game tactics rely upon statistics and a dynamic set of variables including personnel, game conditions, and scenarios.

For teams, AI brings the promise of big operational improvements:

  • AI can improve the value of cross-training by team role/position between 9% and 32%.
  • Up to 65% of long-term cognitive dysfunction due to concussions is preventable through the use of AI.
  • AI in sports can improve individual and team performance by an average of 17% and 28% respectively.

Amazon and The Cloud Wars
The enterprise cloud is without question the foundation for digital business; companies in every industry and in every region of the world are betting their futures on the ability of cloud providers to help them remake themselves as digital powerhouses that can move at the speed of their customers, innovate on the fly, and deliver world-class customer experiences.

AI and real-time insights are key battlegrounds for winning for what journalists have called “The Cloud Wars” (Spoiler: Microsoft is winning).

The Fan Experience
As competition heats up, Cloud providers like IBM, Microsoft and AWS are stepping up their game in another area: The Fan Experience—pursuing deals with major sports and entertainment institutions like the NFL, Wimbledon, and The Grammys to give fans an insider perspective into their favourite events.

“Insights Powered by AWS” Platform
Arguably, AWS is doing a better job at positioning itself as the standard in AI. While Microsoft and IBM provide inessential applications like Surface tablets for the NFL, or Watson-analyzed footage highlights to Wimbledon, AWS is doing a better job in communicating how teams are using AWS and machine learning to transform how sports are analyzed, played, coached, and experienced.

 

Why it’s hot:
As the drama between Microsoft and Amazon continues to unfold, tangible, relevant and well told use cases are a key to cementing top of mind in the public view, drive relevance, and ultimately, consideration.

The race to get your face in space

Samsung has sent one of its Galaxy S10 5G smartphones into space inside a balloon to allow its users to take selfies with the Earth in the background.

It launched a balloon equipped with a specially designed rig to take the S10 up to 65,000 feet into the stratosphere to receive selfies transmitted from the Earth and send them back to the ground using a 5G network.

The first person to undertake the “SpaceSelfie” mission was Cara Delevingne, an English actress and model, who shared her photo on social media. South Korean football star Son Heung-min will also join the campaign.

Why its hot?
Well, its your face in the space

Ever wondered how much money social media companies make per user?

Not every social media company makes the same average revenue per user. There are many factors in how much money a company makes per user. To name a few:

paid subscriptions

user demographics

types of ad units

pricing of ad units

Why it’s hot: Certain social media channels (Facebook and YouTube) need scale (number of active users) to generate meaningful revenue, while some (Twitter and LinkedIn) are able to generate substantial revenue from a much smaller number of active users compared to their rivals.

Source