Facebook announces new cryptocurrency

This week, Facebook revealed their plan to create Calibra, an alternative financial services system that will rely on Libra, its own cryptocurrency powered by blockchain technology. Facebook is planning to launch Calibra’s first product by the first half of 2020 – a digital wallet app that will also be built into WhatsApp and Messenger, allowing users to buy things and send money.

But how will this work? In a nutshell, people will be able to cash in local currency at local exchange points, get Libra, spend it like its normal money (but without high transaction fees or their identity), and then cash out whenever they want.

To protect users’ privacy, Calibra will handle all crypto dealings and store payments data. As a result, users’ data from Libra payments will never mix with their Facebook data and will not be used for ad targeting.

According to Facebook, Libra is meant to address the challenges of global financial services and promote financial inclusion. For example, today about 1.7 billion adults remain without access to a bank account and $50 billion are lost annually  due to exploitative remittance service charges. With Libra, people will be able to send and receive money at low to no cost, small businesses will be able to accept digital payments without credit card fees, and overall financial services will be more accessible.

However, despite these potential benefits, Facebook’s venture into the financial services industry has raised some concerns. People are questioning Facebook’s motives as well as the usefulness, stability and transparency of cryptocurrencies. Furthermore, given Facebook’s troubled history with privacy breaches, its commitment to protecting user-data and privacy is under scrutiny.

Why it’s hot: 

This is the first time a “mainstream” company attempts to get involved in the world of cryptocurrencies and, if all goes to plan, this new digital currency could fundamentally change global financial systems forever.

Sources: FacebookTechCrunch

Purina Street Campaign Tests Dogs’ Urine To Assess Health

Pet product brand Purina knows how much pet owners love their furry friends, and wants to encourage routine vet visits. Accordingly, its latest campaign in France involves an outdoor billboard that can check a dog’s health via its urine.

Special billboards use pheromones to attract dogs to urinate on them, and then will run the sample through several tests to tell the owner the results. The tests look specifically for four common problems— diabetes, kidney issues, urinary infection or cholesterol. The results even recommend a particular Purina diet or to take the dog to the vet’s office for a checkup.

The goal is not just to make sure people’s pets are healthy, but also to encourage customers to associate Purina with health and wellness for their pups. “Purina’s objective is to provide simple and efficient solutions to improve the wellness of our pets. We wanted to raise awareness on the importance of veterinary checkups, but also to offer a solution that fits in the daily lives of pet owners—the daily walk on the street or in the park,” Véronique Herman, marketing manager specialist at Nestlé Purina Pet Care, says in a statement.

Source: PSFK

Why It’s Hot: 

A good way to show a brand’s dedication a a broader cause for it’s audience, as well as execute on more innovation OOH marketing.

 

Wearables & Augmented Reality: Your New Workstation

By Brian Lee

Unless you’ve been living under a rock at the bottom of the ocean, you probably remember Google Glass, the sleek, futuristic looking smart glasses that Google released back in 2013. While it wasn’t the first piece of wearable smart technology, it was the most significant product announcement in the space for multiple reasons. At the time wearable tech was not as ubiquitous as it is today. Google was a $250 billion company and by far the biggest name to release a product of this type. And yet, with all the hype, fanfare, and the Google branding, the product failed to catch on with the world as hoped.

While Google Glass did a great job in stimulating the imagination with all of its potential applications, there was no stated purpose. Finding the demand or a problem in the world should be a prerequisite to developing the product that solves that problem, not the other way around. It was unclear whether this product would be best served for enterprise users, or if this was a consumer product, aimed at making the day-to-day of users’ lives easier. Rather, it was a hotbed of ideas without proper execution.. Or maybe it was the $1,500 price tag. Maybe it was too futuristic. Looking back, they were simply a pair of glasses that lacked vision.

Why it’s Hot

Google Glass was discontinued in 2015, reborn in 2017 as an enterprise solution, and earlier this week, the latest version was announced as Glass Enterprise Edition 2. With a price tag of $999, it becomes the latest product in an increasingly digital world where businesses are adopting smart technology and AR solutions to market to their customers, as well as to enhance their workplace efficiency, innovation, and collaboration.

Currently, the benefits of augmented reality and smart technology in the workplace are most evident in industries where manufacturing, production, and design are key functions. Healthcare is also a field where AR technology is being applied. Companies in these fields are well in the process of adopting and implementing this technology. However, the benefits and the incremental efficiencies of using such tools are not as clear for the corporate desk warriors that many of us here at MRM are. With more companies adopting tools like Google Glass or Microsoft HoloLens (Microsoft’s AR headset), it’ll be interesting to see all the applications that become preferred solutions and how we could apply those to the work that we do as a digital creative agency.

Imagine being able to use an AR headset for analyzing and visualizing massive data sets, being able to see more rows of a spreadsheet than what a screen limits you to, or projecting charts in front of you and walking around it like the guys below (as an analyst, I chose to use spreadsheets and charts as examples, but you can think of your own applications.. journey maps, creative concepts, Gantt charts, etc).

And yes, the guys above are looking at a city not a chart, but if you think about it, city skylines and bar charts are basically the same thing.

These tools already exist. They’re not mainstream yet, because laptops are still the preferred work machines of choice, but when the eventual shift happens, it’ll fundamentally change how we do things. From collaboration to efficiency, to how we present to our clients, it opens up a whole new set of tools for the world to learn and become experts at. Before you know it, working on laptops and monitors will be as antiquated as pen and paper. This will be the new normal, so prepare yourselves accordingly.

Sources/further reading:

https://9to5google.com/2019/05/20/glass-enterprise-edition-2-launch/

https://mytechdecisions.com/unified-communications/augmented-reality-in-the-workplace/

https://venturebeat.com/2019/05/20/google-glass-enterprise-edition-2-levels-up-with-qualcomms-xr1-and-smith-frames/

Can you own your data?

The question is interesting and one that carries a number of issues and questions. In the U.S. marketers are hungry for the best data – the mantra of delivering the best message to the right target at the right time is contingent on what data we can leverage at the individual level. Today we have very good access to data for targeting and messaging, and it’s getting better every day. Companies like Facebook, Google and Amazon are at the forefront (or rather the store front) of that data revolution and are commanding robust ad revenue as a result.

Everything from what you…

  • Like on Instagram
  • Search on Google
  • Check in on Facebook
  • Post on Twitter
  • Tell Alexa
  • Buy on Amazon
  • And more!

…can be used to ascertain your tastes and interest in products and services.

But with the privacy and trust concerns from recent snafus (i.e. Facebook), consumers are wondering how best to protect their data. Some are even pondering if there’s value in “owning” their personal data. But how? We don’t own the databases. We’ve already checked off on the privacy policy and kissing our data away…right?

At least one company is tackling the issue: https://hu-manity.co/

Hu-manity is hoping for a critical mass of users to claim data and set choices. If willing to share data, the app would allow users to reap monetary rewards.

“With the #My31 App consumers can claim a property interest on inherent human data, consent for privacy, authorize for permitted use, and elect for compensation if desired.”

Why it’s hot

If this catches on, it will undoubtedly do two main things: 1. Make data less accessible (and less timely), and 2. Make data more expensive. Marketers may end up depending more on statistical models based on limited data to reach the target audiences.

In an era where marketers have great access to data are becoming even more data-driven, we need to account for a future where greater restrictions and limitations may be put in place.

 

Other Companies:

https://datum.org/https://wibson.org/

Further Reading:

https://bryanjohnson.co/your-data-is-your-property/

https://medium.com/hub-of-all-things/can-you-own-your-data-8a185976ea7d

https://www.technologyreview.com/s/612588/its-time-for-a-bill-of-data-rights/

http://www.bbc.com/capital/story/20180921-can-you-make-money-selling-your-data

Podcasts: The New Wild West

The IAB expects podcast advertising to exceed $500 million in 2019, which represents growth of about 65% in just two years. It’s a fast growing medium with limited standardization where only a small handful of categories have had ongoing success.

Part of podcasts’ allure (to brands) is the quality of its core demographics, which skew ages 25 to 40 with higher income levels and education. This is often an audience that’s tough to reach and they’re not typically watching a lot of TV.

The other allure is credibility. Most listeners are highly engaged when tuned into a podcast and usually don’t mind hearing ads. Ads tend to be kept to a minimum and are relevant to the program’s content, often via host-read ads. Trust and brand recall for podcast ads is also high when compared with other ad formats.

Based on data from nearly 50 custom studies Nielsen has conducted over the last 18 months, podcast advertising has demonstrated that it can move the needle on many important key metrics like awareness, ad recall, affinity, recommendation and purchase intent.

US Podcast Penetration

Podcast Ad Effectiveness

Why Its Hot?

The podcast advertising market in the US is poised for strong continued growth in listenership and ad dollars, but without meaningfully addressing current friction points, it might remain a niche advertising vehicle primarily suited to direct-response advertisers in the near term.

The ability for sellers and buyers to talk the same language is holding back the value proposition for brands more than anything else. There is a question of scale and fragmentation still – with only a few programs reaching the masses and many more reaching only smaller, niche audiences at far less frequent intervals than other media.

Newspapers existed before the Audit Bureau of Circulation, Radio existed before Arbitron, TV existed before Nielsen and the internet existed well before the IAB and comScore.  Podcasts are still living in this dawn of pre-standardization and governance, and how downloads and audience size is measured from one show or network to another is varied, making it harder for larger brands to execute – and measure – any meaningful effort.  Anyone want to start up an independent 3rd-party measurement company?

sources:

https://www.nielsen.com/us/en/insights/news/2019/how-podcast-advertising-measures-up.html

https://content-na1.emarketer.com/podcast-advertising-2018?li=1

Microsoft’s New Surface Hub 2 Will Revolutionize Agency Work

Image result for microsoft surface hub 2 gifLast week Microsoft announced their latest attempt to change agency teamwork forever, and they call this attempt the Surface Hub 2.

They’re branding it as an “interactive whiteboard for business.”

Imagine you’re about to present in a meeting, and in the room with you is ten people and a 50-inch easel with a touchscreen. You scan your fingerprint on the side of the Hub, it recognizes you, and logs you in. Suddenly, everything you just saw at your desk pops up right there on the Hub. You go through your presentation, and someone from the Creative team walks in with their Hub and pushes it next to yours. Now you have an even bigger screen, where you can collaborate seamlessly. Something like this…

Image result for microsoft surface hub 2 gif

This is Microsoft’s dream. They want collaboration in environments like ours to be seamless. The Hub 2S (which launches in June) is aimed at business, not end consumers like you and me. This thing is meant to be bought in bulk by agencies like MRM to help the disparate departments come together and collaborate easier than ever before.

Why It’s Hot

This is hot because it innovates on something we all take for granted. This proves hardware like the Hub 2 can disrupt the agency status quo and bring a sense of experimentation and exploration into the agency’s culture. And that’s something we at MRM can’t get enough of.

Image result for microsoft surface hub 2 gif

If done correctly, Microsoft could be onto something. These devices could do wonders for the work we do. Or, if Microsoft half-asses the experience, or agencies can’t justify owning ten of these at $9,000 per unit, this could flop. Hard.

But their intention, to upgrade and streamline how we all do what we all do, is a damn good one.

Source: https://www.windowscentral.com/microsoft-surface-hub-2

#PRN

An actually engaging banner ad? I’m all ears.

Last week I was Googling some movies to watch. I clicked on a search result that led me to IMDB. To my surprise, I was greeted by Dumbo, who flew around my screen overtop of the content I was trying to view. After falling out of frame, he reappeared in what seemed to be a static banner on the side.

What did I just witness? Did I just see an elephant fly? It was unexpected. It was irrelevant. But it was kinda cool. I then proceeded to engage with the banner, wondering if Dumbo knew any more tricks. After clicking on the “watch video” button, Dumbo came back to life, flew out of the ad and back across my screen, leaving behind a pop-up of the trailer.

Sorry, no video—I took one on my phone but it was too large to upload. Hoping to share live.

Why it’s hot:

Upon closer inspection, this AR-like experience was nothing more than a cleverly placed pop-up that interacted with another cleverly placed banner ad. And although this technology is nothing new, it got my attention. In fact, this is probably the first time I intentionally clicked on a banner…ever? Let alone the first time I engaged with a banner that had nothing to do with the content I was viewing, or even anything I was remotely interested in. It was a smart idea with smart execution, which led to a click. What more could you ask for?

I’ve been returning to IMDB to see if there were any other cool ads like this. So far there haven’t been, although there was a somewhat similar pop-up for the Lion King, but it wasn’t nearly as innovative.

Ultimately, I believe this experience can best be summarized by the words of a particularly talented murder of musical crows:

But I be done seen ’bout ev’rything
When I see a elephant fly

Keurig of Cocktails or Juicero of Cocktails?

Drinkworks Keurig for Cocktails 6

Drinkworks, a joint venture between Keurig and Anheuser-Busch transforms pods of distilled cocktails into single-serve drinks such as gin and tonics, Mai Tais and Old Fashioned. It’s price point, $399, reminds us of the now infamous Jiucero’s price, not cheap.

Cocktail culture is thriving in the US as more and more Americans ditch beer and the industry giants are ready to play in the field. Each capsule will spout out a single-serve drink and act as an automated bartender for cocktail lovers and home entertainers alike.

“You can get a cocktail in a can, but it’s not the same experience,” Drinkworks CMO Val Toothman told Business Insider. “Cocktails … are a culture. It’s an experience. You want something crafted, freshly made.”

 

 

Why it’s hot: Pod machines are under more scrutiny since the Juicero scandal and companies have to bring a real products that really innovate to solve real needs to market.

Source: https://www.businessinsider.com/keurig-cocktails-drinkworks-makes-cocktails-from-pods-2019-3#each-sleeve-contains-four-pods-each-cocktail-pod-costs-399-with-beer-which-we-didnt-test-costing-225-per-pod-3

The AI Judge holds a digital gavel: can you trust them?

So, you have a small claims court 8K law suit against a neighbor. The verdict? In Estonia, it could be “guilty” from an A.I. judge.

AI and Justice is a subject discussed from the most recent WIRED magazine: In Estonia, the 28-year-old chief of data sciences for Finland’s government, believes AI can make all aspects of government run more efficiently – to the benefit of saving money and serving citizens better. But while we hear about all sorts of efficiency applications of algorithms and AI, Mr. Verberg has a new challenge: he was asked to create a “robot judge” to handle small claims court backlog.

Why is this hot? Well, first, according to the U.N., a formal system of Law is the backbone of a democratic society (along with a free press and open education to all people in a society). But does using AI instead of a human to make a monetary judgement undermine the belief in the fairness of the law?

WIRED note other examples already exist, but nothing that goes this far: “Estonia’s effort isn’t the first to mix AI and the law, though it may be the first to give an algorithm decision-making authority. In the US, algorithms help recommend criminal sentences in some states. The UK-based DoNotPay AI-driven chatbot overturned 160,000 parking tickets in London and New York a few years ago. A Tallinn-based law firm, Eesti Oigusbüroo, provides free legal aid through a chatbot and generates simple legal documents to send to collection agencies.”

But as we all know, no matter what the backlog is, I do not see anyone trusting an AI judge with their 6k to 8K lawsuit — unless they turn Judge Judy into a robot.

Burn, Baby, Burn!

Burger King wants to burn the competition. Literally. So much so that, in Brazil, anyone who opens their app and points their camera at a competitor’s ad will see that ad engulfed in flames and replaced with a coupon for a free Whopper.

It’s cheeky, engaging, and hot.  You can read more about it here.

Why It’s Hot
Well, it’s on fire. But that’s not all. The use of augmented reality is engaging, but it also creates an implicit hierarchy which puts BK at the top, conquering it’s competition.

But what really makes this a hot idea is how it can be a springboard. Thinking about how this idea could take shape in healthcare marketing elicits some big ideas.

Living healthy is often about making choices; choosing healthy foods, making time for fitness, avoiding bad habits. If a healthcare brand creates an app like this that treats a fast food restaurant, the comfortable couch, or a pack of smokes as the competition, it can drive people to healthy behavior by helping them to make better choices and rewarding them in an engaging way.

Advantage: Walmart?

What’s Going On

Not a day passes when we are not more acutely aware of Amazon impacting and possibly winning the business of retail. Let us not forget the first competitor in the mega sales business, Wal-Mart. As Fast Company puts it, “[Wal-Mart is] currently locked in a battle for consumers’ dollars with Amazon that dominates online shopping.”

We’ve known Wal-Mart to change the game of business and it appears they’re thinking that way still/again. Using this one key fact, Wal-Mart hopes to leverage that to their advantage to beat Amazon.

  • Ninety percent of Americans live within 10 miles of a Walmart store

What They’re Doing

Walmart has realized the importance of this fact, the increasing consumer empowerment and are leveraging it into many different ways to help consumers get what they want, when they want it and how they want it.

1. Fast, customized deliveries: In order to do this, Walmart plans to have their stores double as warehouses. So users create shopping baskets online and schedule them for delivery whenever they want, adding items up until the night before the scheduled time.

  • Plus: Walmart plans to use a machine learning algorithm to predict which items frequent shoppers will want every week. Apparently our habits make customization easy as a Walmart executive says that shoppers order the same items they ordered the previous week 85% of the time.
  • Bonus: Given that most of the cost in e-tail is shipping, the proximity of a Walmart to most homes in the U.S. really helps solve that cost of the last mile that plagues many retailers.

2. Convenient pick up: If you’re the type of customer who would rather click and collect, Wal-Mart can support that control and expediency that you want. Walmart stores now feature large vending machine-like towers where you can pick up an online order, and lockers for even bigger delivery items.

  • Bonus: Sure this sounds a lot like the Amazon lockers placed in convenient locations like 7-11. The problem for Amazon is that they have to rent that space the lockers are located on. Walmart owns their land, so there’s another area of profit advantage for them in the convenience game.

3. The stock problem: By making their stores double as warehouses, Walmart runs the risk of running out of a particular item faster than if it were just a store. But of course, they’ve thought of this. Walmart is rolling out a robot that is designed to look at inventory on shelves. Equipped with cameras and a map of what’s supposed to be on the shelf, the robots stroll around hunting for missing items. If it finds one, it alerts a store employee to restock the item or alerts logistics to bring more items in.

https://images.fastcompany.net/image/upload/w_596,c_limit,q_auto:best,f_webm/wp-cms/uploads/2019/03/i-2g-90319615-the-clever-way-walmart-is-trying-to-beat-amazon.gif

Why It’s Hot

While the increasing demands from consumers usually means more expense to businesses, Walmart realized that something true about their brand (their presence) could be an advantage. And their profits are trending upwards. In 2018, Walmart’s online sales grew 40%.

Fast Company sums it up perfectly, “By using technology to put the company’s colossal retail footprint to work for online deliveries and orders, Walmart is showing how tech can transform traditional retail into something of a hybrid.” [Heads up USPS team.]

[Source: Fast Company]

Taking the ‘His’ Out of History

His Story

You probably remember your elementary, middle and high school history books. There were stories of conflict, resolution, triumph and innovation. These are the stories of how the United States became the country it is today.

And the main characters in most of these stories? Dudes. Studies show that 89% of the history textbook references reference men as the main characters. Stories about men, written by men for men. Some academics accuse history as literally being his story.

HerStory

But a new augmented reality app aims to bring the other half of the population into the picture, literally. “Lessons in Herstory” shows students that there are women to remember as well. If students scan an image of a male historical figure in A History of US, Book 5: Liberty for All? 1820­–1860 (California’s most popular U.S. History text), the app unlocks a story of an important female historical figure from that same period. For example, if you scan President Zachary Taylor, and you’ll see an illustration and story of Cathay Williams, the first African-American woman to enlist in the army during the Civil War, when women were prohibited from entering the military.

[The app was created by the ad agency, Goodby Silverstein & Partners and currently features stories of 75 women from the 19th century. The project was born from a panel at Cannes Lions last year.]

Why It’s Hot

The novelty of AR has led to many frivolous uses of it as the industry struggled and grappled with how to make it useful. This application shows off AR in the best way possible – literally allowing it to augment our history lessons to tell a full story. Plus, this quickly allows us to recognize more to our history without having to rewrite history books.

Going Paperless in a Brick and Mortar

Lush is known for its colorful soaps and bath bombs, but the brand has consistently prioritized going green above all else—and its very first SXSW activation was no exception.

The brand set up its bath bomb pop-up to showcase its 54 new bath bomb creations using absolutely no signage. Instead, attendees could download the Lush Labs app, which uses AI and machine learning to determine what each bath bomb is with just a quick snapshot. “At Lush, we care about sustainability, and we wanted to take that same lens … and apply it to the way we are using technology,” Charlotte Nisbet, global concept lead at Lush, told Adweek.

Nisbet explained that three decades ago, Lush co-founder Mo Constantine invented the bath bomb when brainstorming a packaging-free alternative to bubble bath. (The new bath bombs are being released globally on March 29 in celebration of 30 years since Constantine created the first bath bomb in her garden shed in England.)

“But we were still facing the barrier to being even more environmentally friendly with packaging and signage in our shops,” Nisbet said.

Enter the Lush Lens feature on the Lush Labs app, which lets consumers scan a product with their phone to see all the key information they’d need before making a purchase: price, ingredients and even videos of what the bath bomb looks like when submerged in water. “This means that not only can we avoid printing signage that will eventually need to be replaced, but also that customers can get information on their products anytime while at home,” Nisbet said.

Why It’s Hot

The application sounds cool but is this a sustainable direction for more stores to take? As brick and mortar stores continue to struggle, we could see many start to experiment with ways to bring digital experiences to consumers already plugged into their smartphones in retail spaces.

Source: Adweek

Online therapy gaining traction

From Bustle:

In recent years, websites and apps that offer remote access to trained therapists have risen in popularity. The convenience of communicating with a therapist via smartphone and the relatively low cost are some of the drivers behind why people use these services; even the American Psychological Association recognizes online therapy as a resource on its site. Well-known platforms include BetterHelp, which matches users with an online counselor they can communicate with live via text, phone, or video starting at $40 a week, and Talkspace, which allows the exchange of text, audio, and video messages with a therapist beginning at $49 a week. Other platforms include MyTherapist and telehealth services available through employee assistance programs (EAPs). While these apps and services aren’t replacements for traditional face-to-face therapy, as the respective FAQs for BetterHelpTalkspace, and MyTherapist note, these platforms can help users get more familiar with their mental health.

Ashley Batz/Bustle

See this additional article in The Guardian for more. 

Why it’s hot: Patients say that therapy apps have been a cost effective way for them to gain judgement-free access to mental health care that they otherwise may not have even pursued, lowering the barrier to entry to address extremely common but often ignored issues. The convenience factor also plays a big role, as patients don’t have to worry about scheduling or getting to appointments, and can receive on-demand therapy when they need it – to cope with a loss, for example – or ongoing therapy for chronic mental health disorders like anxiety.

Woebot – Highly Praised App for Mental Health

AI counseling is the wave of the future. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy administered by a smart chatbot, via an app relying on SMS, has become highly popular and well reviewed. Woebot isn’t just the face of a trend, it’s a notable player in technology transforming healthcare.

Why It’s Hot

It’s not new. It’s better. The first counseling software was called Eliza. It was ~1966. Part of the difficulty was it required human intervention. Ironically, in 2019 when many believe a lack of human contact to be part of the problem, that void actually addresses a barrier in therapy. Perceived lack of anonymity and privacy. Sure therapist visits are confidential blah blah but people naturally have difficulty opening up in person. Plus there’s the waiting room anxiety. With an app, studies have shown that people get to the heart of their problem quicker.

Why it Matters

There’s a ton of demand for “talk therapy” and others. Human counselors can’t keep up. People wait weeks and months for appointments. That’s in the U.S. where they’re compensated well. In this On Demand age, that’s seen as unacceptable. Woebot, and others, address the market need for immediate gratification care. Another issue is cost. Therapy is expensive. Apps are obviously a solve here. No co-pay.

Obligatory Statement

All the apps remind users they’re no substitute for human counselors but they are helpful in reflecting behavior patterns and emotional red flags back to their users. At the very least, it’ll help you make the most of your next therapy visit.

Smart cat shelter uses AI to let stray cats in during winter

For stray cats, winter is almost fatal. Using AI, a Baidu engineer has devised an AI Smart Cattery to shelter stray cats and help them survive Beijing’s cold winter.

It can accurately identify 174 different cat breeds, as to let them enter and exit as they please. A door will slide open if the camera spots a cat, but it won’t work on dogs. Multiple cats can fit inside the space.A fresh air system monitors the oxygen and carbon dioxide levels to ensure the small space is well-ventilated.

Another neat camera feature is that it can be also used to detect if the cat is sick — it can identify four common cat diseases, such as inflammation, skin problems, and physical trauma. Once a cat is identified as needing care, associated volunteers can be informed to come and collect it.

Why it’s Hot: A neat implementation of AI for good – it pushes us to think beyond using AI for just marketing purposes and lets us imagine it’s role in helping solve human (and animal) problems. 

 

Are you ready for some robots?

MLB announced a partnership with the independent Atlantic League to test out “the use of technology to call balls and strikes,” which already exists on television broadcasts of baseball games on networks such as ESPN and FOX.

The experiment lets MLB use an independent league as a testing ground to see what happens over a full season of baseball. If results are good, it could become a future recommendation to enhance the MLB game to improve accuracy of balls and strikes calls.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is NOT what the new robo umpires will look like.

Story at the Sporting News

Why it’s Hot

Baseball is the most traditional, time-honoured and stodgy of all American sports. In addition to instant replay instituted a few years ago, tech has a lot to add to a deeply flawed and outdated rule book.

Stealing Your Attention

Last week, while perusing my LinkedIn feed at breakfast, this post from NYC ad agency DeVito/Verdi caught my attention:

“Last night, it seems that 3 carts full of advertising awards were stolen from our NYC office. We have it on security cam. Dozens of trophies — One Show pencils, Cannes, 4A’s Best Creative Agency (6 of them), Andy’s, Addys, Art Directors. Many clients (#CarMax, #Macys, #Sony, #herbchambers, #greygoose, #Gildan, #meijer, #mountsinai, #duanereade, #legalseafoods, #OfficeDepot, #steinmart, #solgar). We can only imagine which agency stole them. Who else would want these? Help us find #DVCulprits”

It was posted by their president, Ellis Verdi, and accompanied by this video:
https://dms.licdn.com/playback/C4D05AQGbOh-2vzfGYA/c2fe783cb20d4654ad43acb1af50aa3c/feedshare-mp4_3300-captions-thumbnails/1507940147251-drlcss?e=1551286800&v=beta&t=Ev1JWamZhJoznhR5ECFe9dW2k5aFjCCdeUlCBVPnZko

Why It’s Hot
Unlike lots of other self-promotional content, this approach really caught my attention, and I was not alone. There were plenty of comments (some of whom obviously missed the point and were organizing vigilante squads) and the underlying message, that this agency has won 3 shopping carts full of awards, is now inescapably branded into my awareness.

This illustrates how activating emotion can be done in a variety of ways, some very unorthodox and highly effective.

Virtual Dragon Rides at Walmart

Spatial& is bringing a VR experience to Walmart parking lots across the country to celebrate the premiere of How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World. This is the first activation from the v-commerce startup, incubated by Walmart’s Store No. 8. They’ve partnered with DreamWorks Animation to give customers a way to enter the world of the movie and experience a ride on the back of a dragon.

The experience starts with an onboarding, takes customers on a five minute virtual journey in VR motion chairs, and ends with an immersive gift shop featuring How to Train Your Dragon merchandise.

Why It’s Hot

Collaborating with Dreamworks Animations has set the bar high for Walmart’s foray into VR retail experiences.

Source: https://www.retaildive.com/news/walmart-startup-spatialand-launches-first-vr-experience/548501/

The future of digital will be…digit-based

Google is working on a new type of sensor using radar technology that “can track sub- millimeter motions at high speed and accuracy. It fits onto a chip, can be produced at scale and built into small devices and everyday objects.”

Project Soli, as they call it, has the potential to be a profound sea change in how we interact with digital. Imagine scrolling, clicking, swiping…without putting your hands on a digital interface or yelling at Alexa to take an action.

Hopefully this won’t turn the volume on the tv all the way up if you swat at a fly, but I’m sure they’ll work out the kinks.

Why it’s Hot

The potential to integrate this into every digital device and process is immense.

The Internet is Addicted to the Droste Effect

“My mom painted this and said no one would like it. It’s her 2nd painting.” It’s the line that launched a thousand paintings….

Leave it to reddit to take this mom: 

Source: https://imgur.com/Y0Dg3lx

and meme her. Hard.

Let’s start at the top, this first came to my attention via this great Twitter thread:

And of course someone tracked it:

Source: http://nubleh.github.io/i_painted/old.html

And in breaking news, the egret has arrived!!!

Source: https://imgur.com/8bNoFs5

It turns out this is called the Droste Effect, coined after Droste Cocoa, which featured a nun holding a box of Cocoa with her own face on it.

But this is what the internet LIKES. Here is a video of Kyle MacLachlan, doing an impression of Anne Frances, doing an impression of Catherine O’Hara playing Moira Rose on Schitt’s Creek. You’re welcome.

<<Features some NSFW language>>

https://twitter.com/Kyle_MacLachlan/status/1093626361762275328

https://twitter.com/AM2DM/status/1087356642591719427

Why it’s hot?

They pay me to keep on top of the internet memes so you don’t have to

 

get travel tips directly from (holograms of) locals…

When you’re waiting for a flight at the airport, you’ve usually got some time to kill. Some people watch Netflix on their phones, some have a drink at the bar, but KLM has come up with another constructive way to capitalize on these moments.

They’ve developed a “bar” currently at airports in Amsterdam, Oslo, and Rio de Janeiro where people can connect with others in the country they’re off to visit to gather tips on local customs, culture, and sights.

Dubbed “Take Off Tips”, here’s how it works:

“KLM is matching travelers up with people at the destination they’re flying to. For example, someone at Schiphol Airport who is about to fly to Norway will be connected with someone at Oslo’s Gardermoen airport who is waiting to board a plane to Amsterdam. To connect the people on opposite sites of the world, the bar is equipped with hologram technology so it can project a real-time virtual image of the traveler at the other airport.”

Why It’s Hot:

From a brand perspective, it’s a great new example of KLM “social airline” experience – connecting people to enhance their otherwise impersonal flying experience (see “Layover with a Local” and “Meet&Seat”.

From an experience perspective, it’s a brilliant solution to a common problem – our current main recourse to get the same tips would be Googling, dredging Trip Advisor, etc. – secondary resources to gain a first-person perspective. Plus, it removes quite a bit of work involved in that process.

From a cultural perspective, it’s getting us off our screens and in touch with each other. Increasingly, the promise of technology is not going to be “there’s an app for that”. As digital infiltrates the physical world, technology is facilitating more human-friendly interactions, such as sitting down at a booth and being projected holographically so that it’s just a face-to-face meeting, no devices needed.

[Source]

Everyday items in reusable packages

Recycling company TerraCycle has partnered with global FMCG brands to create Loop: a platform that offers customers everyday items in reusable packages.

Loop provides customers with branded FMCG goods, such as Häagen-Dazs ice-cream, Crest mouthwash and Tide detergent, in sturdy containers. When the customer is finished with the product, they return the packaging to the company, which then sterilises and re-uses it, creating a zero-waste cycle.

Loop aims to replace single-use plastics in the home by giving households the option to reduce the amount they have to recycle. In an interview with Bloomberg, founder Tom Szaky said, of the risk to the planet caused by pollution: ‘We can’t recycle or clean our way out of this. We have to stop the waste from entering the system to begin with.’

Loop was announced at the World Economic Forum in Davos in January 2019. So far, 24 global FMCG brands have signed up to support the program, including Procter & Gamble, Nestle, PepsiCo, Unilever, The Body Shop, Coca-Cola and Danone.

Loop will begin a pilot in Spring 2019 in Paris, where customers will be able to purchase its products online through supermarket Carrefour’s website. and in New York.

TerraCycle will also distribute products through Tesco in the UK later in the year and is looking to reach Tokyo by 2020.

Around 300 products will be available through Loop, ranging from shampoo to washing powder. Each brand has worked with packaging designers to develop the re-usable containers. Häagen-Dazs ice cream, for example, has designed a double-walled stainless-steel container that keeps the contents cold throughout an entire evening, while Oral-B’s new click toothbrush design allows a user to detach the head from the handle, reducing waste by 60%.

Why its hot?
Research has also shown that one of the most common barriers to recycling is consumers feeling uncertain about which plastics can be recycled. With Loop, consumers wouldn’t need to worry about which products are or are not recyclable. The initiative unloads any supposed hassle that comes with the current recycling model in a simplistic way.

 

 

AI Inspired Flavoring

After years of research, McCormick & Company and IBM have announced the creation of a new AI system that will help spice up the dinner experience. The platform uses machine learning to predict winning flavor combinations and will aid McCormick in developing new recipes faster.

This spring, McCormick will debut the first AI-developed flavors in a new product line named “One.” The new recipe mixes intended for easy one-dish protein and vegetable dinners will include Tuscan Chicken, Bourbon Pork Tenderloin, Farmers Market Chicken, Glazed Salmon and New Orleans Sausage.

The data that led to these flavors involved 40 years of McCormick’s proprietary collection of past product recipes and consumer flavor preference studies.

Why It’s Hot

While the brand partnership seems unexpected, it’s smart of McCormick to take all the data they’ve collected over the years as the leader in their space and put it to good use in product innovation.

Source: https://www.cnet.com/news/ai-gets-spicy-with-new-mccormick-flavors/ 

Facebook is about to launch a tool in the US that pings you to donate blood when there are shortages

Facebook is finally is using the strength of it’s network for a good cause! They’re getting ready to launch a tool that will notify users to donate blood when there is a shortage. T

The blood donation feature is the first tool built by Facebook’s four-year-old Social Good team, which also created the company’s disaster response tool — the feature that lets you mark yourself “safe” during a crisis.

facebook blood appThe initiative began in Bangladesh and has spread to Brazil and Pakistan before launching in the US.

In India, the problem was so dire that every week, thousands of users would flock to Facebook to ask their friends and family to give blood, according to Hema Budaraju, the company’s product director of health.

Inspired by those pleas, Budaraju and her team created an official Facebook blood donations tool that individuals and organizations in the country could turn to for help giving and receiving blood, introducing it in 2017. Since then, the tool has launched in Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Brazil. More than 35 million Facebook users have signed up, Budaraju told Business Insider.

Why it’s hot? 

It”s a perfect example of a brand playing a meaningful role in the world they live in and also shows how much power brands actually have to make the world a better place.

Living Drones…or Bionic Bees

Scientists outfit bees with tiny tech backpacks, creating swarms of tiny, agile drones that aren’t limited by battery life or no-fly zones.

Potential applications for what the researchers call “living Internet of Things platforms” might include smart farming to measure plant health. For example, moisture and humidity sensors could assist with precision irrigation, and temperature sensors can detect whether growing conditions are optimal for specific crops. Whereas “drones can’t really fly between plants, bees can fly pretty much wherever they want to get more fine-grained information than drones,” Gollakota says.

Why it’s hot:

Potential for a global IoT platform capable of generating massive amounts of data about anything…anytime, anywhere.

Data = the fuel of AI and Machine Learning

More data = more accurate modeling and predictions

Boundless buzzing terabytes of real-time data = a truly “smarter planet”

(Plus, I just think it’s kinda cool)

Source: World Economic Forum

Stories by the route

Volkswagen Highway Fairytales

Volkswagen Highway Fairytales
Volkswagen Highway Fairytales
Volkswagen Highway Fairytales

To make children’s car journeys more entertaining, Volkswagen has created a location-based app that tells personalised stories based on what kids can see out of the back window.

The Snelweg Sprookjes (Road Tales) app detects ordinary objects such as tunnels, windmills, pass overs, gas stations, and electricity poles and transforms them in real-time into story elements. For example, a tunnel turns into a rocket launcher.

Why its hot?
Other than stories that adapt to your surroundings in real time, Road Tales gives children a reason to put their tablets way and look outside the window instead.

It can cut your grass, but can it yell “get off my lawn!” at passersby?

iRobot, the makers of the Roomba robot indoor vacuum have invented its outdoor counterpart: the Terra robotic lawn mower.

“Terra will automatically return to its base to recharge when the battery runs low, and then it will resume cutting where it left off.”

Currently, this robo grass cutter is in beta testing and probably won’t be available in the U.S. until next year.

Story on MakeUseOf

Why it’s Hot

Tedious chores being done by robots means more time to do things that matter more, like playing on your phone.

 

Healthy and Informed? That’s Hot.

There’s a million ways to use social media, like finding material for self-righteous indignation. It can also be used to improve public health. Aside from all the Twitter text alerts, patient reviews of medications on YouTube, and questionable use of Instagram by branded treatments, there are legitimate ways using social media can actually improve public health.

HOW DOES IT WORK? A notable method of providing a service to society is the use of podcasts. People can learn about public policy, like the Affordable Care Act debate, in a way that’s easy to comprehend with The Healthcare Policy Podcast. Interested in the future of your Healthcare beyond video therapy sessions and chatbots to diagnose common ailments? Think robotic assistants for surgeons, lasers replacing the scalpel in new ways, and enhanced apps to improve med compliance. The weekly MedTech Talk Podcast has that and more.

WHY’S IT HOT?

Recognizing the seismic shift social media is bringing to healthcare, we’re constantly looking at our proposals to ensure our recommendations place brands at the forefront. Though Healthcare is right to be cautious, there’s actually a plethora of use cases that can be applied.

You are what’s in your fridge

According to Samsung, all our social media profiles are so shallow and edited now, that finding a date based on the contents of your fridge could be the way to find love.

Samsung Electronics Nordics’ “Refridgerdating” service lets users upload a photo of the inside of their fridge, and then swipe left or right to like or dislike others. To connect with other single people, two people need to match, meaning they both have to like each other’s icebox innards.

The campaign promotes the company’s smart kitchen technology, such as its Family Hub for refrigerators.This features a camera inside that shows you what needs to be bought on the way home so that you can add items on your grocery list, and also reminds you of expired dates. There’s also a Meal Planner application that delivers recipes based on your preferences and the food that’s in your fridge.

Samsung’s argument is that “it’s what’s on the inside that counts” when it comes to dating, so the impression given by our fridges “will be more representative for who we really are,” according to Mathias Johansson, Nordic Training and Communications Manager Home appliances, Samsung Electronics Nordic.

If you’re the kind of person who likes a neat, well-organized fridge, or if you love a colorful mess, there could be worse ways to match with a partner. However, we’d argue it’s equally easy to edit your fridge’s contents to make you look better–so if it’s filled with salad, sparkling water and fresh fruit rather than ready meals, out-of-date jars and beer, be suspicious.

Why its hot?
A very unique approach to using a foundational human insight to promote a refrigerator.
I was going to write Tinder for fridge but that seemed very cringeworthy