Veloretti Bikes courting car owners in Paris

Paris is Europe’s most polluted capital city. To prevent people from dying of particulate pollution, 2.7 million high-emissions cars are restricted from entering the city on weekdays — with hefty fines for noncompliance. If you work in the city, but can’t afford a new low-emissions car, this is a huge problem. You need to get into Paris, and may in theory also want to curb your emissions, but that’s not your main concern — you need to get to work! So what can you do? You’ll ride the train even though it’s a serious downgrade from your car. You might consider a bike, but making the switch to commuting by bike would require more of a nudge because it entails a bigger change in your lifestyle.

Amsterdam-based Veloretti bikes saw this as an opportunity to give car owners the nudge they needed to make that lifestyle change. They rode the wave of interest in clean mobility and sustainable urban transport during European Mobility Week 2018 by offering personalized bike discounts to 5 million Parisian car owners based on their car’s emissions ratings. This positioned the brand as not only helping car-owners, but helping the city itself solve its pollution problems.

The brand plugged the public database of license plates into a Shopify script, converting plates into coupon codes, which users could enter on Veloretti’s site. This gave Veloretti emissions information on a prospective bike-buyer’s car, which was used to automatically calculate a personalized discount at the POS. The worse the emissions score of your car, the deeper discount you got for a new Veloretti bike.

Seeing your car’s negative environmental impact at a time when both pollution and awareness of the need for clean mobility is at its peak in your city was coupled with a commensurate discount on a more sustainable transportation option.

Why it’s hot:

1. License plate discount is only revealed after user has placed a bike into their online cart. Commitment to purchase is strengthened as user sees their emissions score and subsequent discount.

2. Positioning their brand as a solution to pressures from macro forces and social trends (climate change, pollution, fines for driving in Paris, Mobility Week) at the time when awareness of these pressures was at its peak.

3. Highlighting a pain point with a competing product and immediately flipping it into a tangible financial benefit for their product — at the POS.

Read more: Contagious I/O

Forget a Thousand Words. Pictures Could Be Worth Big Bucks for Amazon Fashion – Adweek

Amazon is rolling out StyleSnap, its AI-enabled shopping feature that helps you shop from a photograph or snapshot. Consumers upload images to the Amazon app and it considers factors like brand, price and reviews to recommend similar items.

Amazon has been able to leverage data from brands sold on its site to develop products that are good enough or close enough to the originals, usually at lower price points, and thereby gain an edge, but its still only a destination for basics like T-shirts and socks. With StyleSnap, Amazon is hoping to further crack the online retailing sector with this new offering.

Why It’s Hot

Snapping and sharing is already part of retail culture, and now Amazon is creating a simple and seamless way of adding the shop and purchase to this ubiquitous habit.  The combination of AI and user reviews in its algorithm could change the way we shop when recommendations aren’t only based on the look of an item, but also on how customers experience it.

 

Source: Forget a Thousand Words. Pictures Could Be Worth Big Bucks for Amazon Fashion – Adweek

Other sources: https://www.cnet.com/news/amazon-stylesnap-uses-ai-to-help-you-shop-for-clothes/

LinkedIn Stories: Fail or Employer Branding Dream?

In late 2018, there were rumblings that LinkedIn would launch its own version of a stories feed. Critics believed it was just another platform itching to conquer Snapchat.

Now it’s June 2019, Instagram is the true leader in stories and LinkedIn is still preparing for launch. LinkedIn stories could be a huge fail or it could be an employer branding dream.

Companies have struggled with doing away with the polished workplace culture videos as they try to find a balance between quality and authenticity. Adding a story feature to LinkedIn automatically allows these companies to officially be less polished or well-thought-out while prospective employees gain a behind the scenes look at a company. 

LinkedIn is slated to go live with their stories feature at any moment. Meanwhile, they’ve revised the logo, developed their own custom font and defined a new color palette. LinkedIn is the woman that cuts her hair when she’s overcome a personal crisis.

Why it’s hotter than an IG story from Rihanna: Will this do anything to change the issues with job descriptions or the application process? I foresee the trendy companies using stories as a way to promote new jobs and asking people to swipe up to learn more. I’m unsure if all of these new ways to communicate are making us better or just further complicating processes that could be simplified. Look out for intern takeovers, content from the company thought leaders and IBM dominating the feature with kick-ass content about all the things they create.

Making pollution masks fun for kids

Fine particle pollution is Seoul is dangerous to health, especially for growing children, but most kids don’t wear masks, because they don’t like them and they don’t really understand the threat. To overcome this, the Peekaboo Mask was created to make masks relevant to Korean kids. Masks designed with fun characters on them, which transform as kids breathe, created a playful, interactive experience that raised the perceived value of mask wearing through the lens of what resonates with kids.

To get kids interested in the masks, kid-sized mask vending machines with digital displays told the story of the dangers of dust pollution with animated emoji characters, using real-time pollution data. On days when pollution was severe, animated videos addressed kids passing by about the dangers of dust. On less dangerous days, the machine stayed quiet until interacted with.

A pilot program showed promise: “According to the agency, over 300 children interacted with the digital vending machine, and 90% of them understood the importance of wearing masks on a ‘bad dust days’. Meanwhile, 88% didn’t want to take off their Peekaboo Masks.” –Contagious

Why it’s hot:

– Project addressed the audience where they were in the real world, integrated with digital storytelling modeling good behavior, which jumped into the physical world with interactive masks allowing kids to join the story and play out the designed experience.

– Seemingly human-centered design from the start (integrated throughout objects, digital interfaces, delivery, and an awareness ad campaign) made a previously irrelevant subject relevant to the target audience in a way that felt seamless to their routine. This ultimately changed perception and behavior.

– Real-time data informed the way machines interacted with people, giving kids approachable information on their health at the moment of “sale”, delivering the product when they’re most engaged.

Source: Contagious

AI Voice Assistant

Such tasks, historically performed by a personal assistant or secretary, include taking dictation, reading text or email messages aloud, looking up phone numbers, scheduling, placing phone calls and reminding the end user about appointments. Popular virtual assistants currently include Amazon Alexa, Apple’s SiriGoogle Now and Microsoft’s Cortana — the digital assistant built into Windows Phone 8.1 and Windows 10.

Why it’s hot:

  • Intelligent Personal Assistant: This is software that can assist people with basic tasks, usually using natural language. Intelligent personal assistants can go online and search for an answer to a user’s question. Either text or voice can trigger an action.

  • Smart Assistant: This term usually refers to the types of physical items that can provide various services by using smart speakers that listen for a wake word to become active and perform certain tasks. Amazon’s Echo, Google’s Home, and Apple’s HomePod are types of smart assistants.

  • Virtual Digital Assistants: These are automated software applications or platforms that assist the user by understanding natural language in either written or spoken form.

  • Voice Assistant: The key here is voice. A voice assistant is a digital assistant that uses voice recognition, speech synthesis, and natural language processing (NLP) to provide a service through a particular application.

Tractica is a market intelligence firm that focuses on human interaction with technology. Their reports say unique consumer users for virtual digital assistants will grow from more than 390 million worldwide users in 2015 to 1.8 billion by the end of 2021. The growth in the business world is expected to increase from 155 million users in 2015 to 843 million by 2021. With that kind of projected growth, revenue is forecasted to grow from $1.6 billion in 2015 to $15.8 billion in 2021.

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.

Digital License Plates

What’s the Story? 

First off, did you know that state legislatures have been in the process of proposing and voting on bills to allow electronic displays on cars? In fact, at the end of 2018, Michigan became the first state to approve the use of electronic license plates.

But Silicon Valley startup, Reviver Auto, had already seen the market for digital license plates. You might be wondering why you would need a digital license plate, but Reviver points out these plates could serve more functionality other than an electronic display of the numbers and letters that make up a license plate.

For example, states could tie a fully frictionless digital experience to renewing registrations through the plates, saving time at the DMV. The plates could also double as an EZ-Pass, or other RFID toll paying system. Or they could be used to send out messages like Amber alerts or a notification to alert authorities if the car is stolen.

Why It’s Hot

We’re increasingly seeing digital experiences that are useful and provide value (rather than being a shiny object). Sometimes these take the shape of transforming a physical entity and enhancing it to offer more features and less friction for consumers. And that is precisely the case here.

Source: Wired

Pictionary ups its game

The makers of Pictionary have updated their classic game by adding a digital element. “Pictionary Air … takes your competitive sketching off the paper and puts it onto your phone, tablet or TV screen instead.”

“Instead of a regular pen or pencil, players use a jumbo-sized light up pen to doodle their word in thin air, and their drawing is simultaneously cast to a mobile or TV screen using Chromecast or AirPlay ”

It’ll hit the Target shelves first, in June, and only set you back $20.

Why It’s Hot

Not only has it been made relevant again to a young generation, it actually sounds like they nailed the experience and sounds like it could be more fun than the original.

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]

Is it the End of Embarrassing Birds and Bees Conversations?

Last year Planned Parenthood started testing a chatbot that aims to answers teenagers plethora of questions around sex. Knowing kids probably don’t want to ask their parents about the more intimate aspects of their love lives, the organization has partnered with a digital agency to strategize, design and brand the chatbot that will be launching on Thursday.

Working with teenagers form Bushwick, Brooklyn’s Math, Engineering and Sience academy on the project. The charter school students have helped design the gender-neutral, friendly chatbot aimed at 13 to 17 year-olds.

Since so many teenagers get health information online, the artificial intelligence-powered bot is meant to give fast answers in a judgment-free, anonymous setting in a manner that’s comfortable for the audience — instead of kids going to unchecked online sources or YouTube for important information.

Source: https://adage.com/article/agency-news/planned-parenthood-launches-roo-a-sexual-health-chatbot-teens/316365/ 

Users can find all sorts of information, from puberty to sexually transmitted diseases, pregnancy, and masturbation. If the right information can’t be found, Roo will direct users to other sources like live educators. The experience lives on Roo.PlannedParenthood.org and is best experienced on mobile devices.

Why it’s Hot:

User first thinking really shows here. Teenagers are looking everything up online but when it comes to sex talk, they are embarrassed to have anyone find their search history. This solves for that, it’s completely anonymous! Also, it solves for them finding accurate and trustworthy information.

live someone else’s story with unrd…

In a world that’s exploded with media channels, we have many ways to tell or experience a story in 2019. Even many immersive ways. But a new app called unrd has added a fresh one to the mix.

The app allows you to choose from a number of characters, and instead of just reading a story, or watching a video or film, your phone essentially becomes that characters phone, and you experience their story as if it was happening to you.

Per its website, unrd bills itself as “real-time fiction”, and claims it allows you to “live someone else’s life and receive messages, videos, photos and audio messages – and even watch them LIVE on video.”

Why it’s hot:

In a way, we’re all already “experiencing” each others lives through social media and other messages on our phones. But while our friends lives might or might not be interesting, it’s nothing like “becoming” one of them in a crazy situation, such as “You have the phone of a missing girl. Amy Morris disappears after a night out with friends.Over 7 days receive texts, photos and video messages and discover the truth behind her disappearance.” It’s interesting how unrd has not only built a new storytelling platform, but also one that seemingly builds off our proclivity for following other peoples “stories” on our phones.

 

Mobile Supermarkets IRL

If the people don’t go to the grocery store, have the grocery store come to them. Stop & Shop is planning to pilot driverless vehicles that bring the grocery store to the customer rather than the other way around. 
Source: https://www.supermarketnews.com/retail-financial/stop-shop-test-self-driving-grocery-stores

Due to launch in the spring in Boston, the initiative will use autonomous electric vehicles from Robomart Inc. to carry an assortment of produce, meal kits, and convenience items to customers.

The process works as follows:
– Stop & Shop customers use a smartphone app to request a shopping visit from the closest Robomart.
– When the vehicle arrives, customers go outside, unlock the vehicle’s doors and then pick the fruit, vegetables and other products they want to buy off the shelves inside.
– After taking their items, they just close the doors and send the vehicle on its way.
– The vehicles’ RFID and computer vision ”grab-and-go” technologyautomatically records the products customers selected and charges them.
– Receipts are e-mailed in seconds.

Answers to questions you may be asking yourself:

  1. Stop & Shop store associates will be restocking the teleoperated vehicles with fresh items throughout their journey to ensure the best selection.
  2. Perishables will be kept fresh via purpose-built refrigeration and temperature control.
  3. Pricing and fees are still undetermined.

Why it’s hot: This solution could potentially eliminate the biggest pain point in online food delivery, allowing the customer to select their own produce.

barclay’s saves you from yourself…

Just a few weeks ago, Barclay’s became the first big bank to give its customers unexpected control over their spending. Via Barclay’s app, you can now “switch off” your debit card so that it can’t be used for five specific types of purchases – gambling, “premium-rate websites and phone lines”, restaurants/pubs/bars, gas, and groceries. Once a type of purchase is switched off, any transaction you try with your card at the relevant type of retailer or business will be automatically declined. The idea is to try and help people manage their spending impulses, and is aimed particularly at those with mental health issues or addictions. But, it can also be used to protect yourself from others trying to make fraudulent charges, if you’re worried about that. Barclay’s says it will do the same for credit cards in the near future.

Why It’s Hot: 

It’s a bold move for a bank to offer its customers a way to not spend their own money, but it’s clearly aimed at helping people. Unexpected, and a great example of putting people over profits and thinking about the customer experience beyond just transacting with the bank itself. It’s only a halfway house, given that the feature is completely within each person’s control. But even the cue of having your card declined and having to go into the app to turn whatever type of purchase back on would likely make someone who can’t help themselves think twice.

[Source]

Google Brings Amusement to CES

Taking event content marketing to another level, Google has built an amusement park style ride to promote its virtual assistant. Showing off their storytelling prowess, they have created a full arc with a beginning, middle, point of tension and end.

They built a two-story building right in the middle of the Las Vegas Convention Center parking lot, and the ride takes up the entire upper floor. From the pre-ride line experience (complete with animatronic Grandma talking with guests in line), to a holding room that uses clever projections to tell a story (Don’t forget the cake for Grandma’s birthday party! Assistant can help!), to the ride itself… it’s just ridiculous. The work and engineering that went into this — and the quality of what they built for something that’ll only be here for a few days — is seriously absurd.

Source: https://techcrunch.com/video-article/google-built-an-entire-theme-park-ride-in-the-ces-parking-lot-because-they-can/

Why it’s hot: Getting noticed at tradeshows is not easy, especially at CES. Finding a creative, wow-factor solution to promoting an otherwise boring-to-demo product can get you the attention your brand is looking for.

 

Barclays customers can now ‘switch off’ spending

A bank is helping it’s customers not spend money, yes you heard correctly. British Bank, Barclays is allowing its customers to manage their spending at certain venues to help them save money rather spend it.

How does it work?

Customers are not able to block specific retailers, but instead can decide which categories of spending are allowed.

These are:

  • Groceries and supermarkets
  • Restaurants, takeaways, pubs and bars
  • Petrol stations
  • Gambling – including websites, betting shops and lottery tickets
  • Premium rate websites and phone lines, including TV voting, competitions and adult services

Customers who want to select any of the categories above can do so via the Barclays app (see below). However, they will need to download the latest version of it.

app

Why it’s hot? 

A brand, specifically a bank, is using digital to fix a true customer pain point such as exorbitant debt and gambling/shopping addiction. Why does this make sense from a business perspective? Retention, loyalty, and trust. Three things that brands are fighting for everyday and spending tons of money on by digitally transforming themselves to learn more about the customer and deliver value. Barclays is doing just that – delivering value that matters to their customer.

Powering customer journeys in the age of AI

 

Double exposure of Engineer or Technician man with business industrial tool icons, enguneer using tablet with industrial business concept. Industry 4.0 conceptAI is at the top of every executive’s to do list embarking on a digital transformation, however CIO’s are still trying to figure out how to maximize the full strength of artificial intelligence. Most companies don’t have a full understanding around the complexities of AI and therefore don’t have the right strategy in place to execute relevant and purposeful interactions with customers.

“So, how do businesses go about unlocking these information systems to make AI a reality? The answer is an API strategy. With the ability to securely share data across systems regardless of format or source, APIs become the nervous system of the enterprise. As a result of making appropriate API calls, applications that interact with AI models can now take actionable steps, based on the insights provided by the AI system — or the brain”

The key to building a successful AI-based platform is to invest in delivering consistent APIs that are easily discoverable and consumable by developers across the organization. Fortunately, with the emergence of API marketplaces, software developers don’t have to break a sweat to create everything from scratch. Instead, they can discover and reuse the work done by others internally and externally to accelerate development work.

Additionally, APIs help train the AI system by enabling access to the right information. APIs also provide the ability for AI systems to act across the entire customer journey by enabling a communication channel — the nervous system — with the broader application landscape. By calling appropriate APIs, developers can act on insights provided by the AI system. For example, Alexa or Siri cannot place an order for a customer directly in the back-end ERP system without a bridge. An API can serve as that bridge, as well as be reused for other application interactions to that ERP system down the road.

At their core, APIs are developed to play a specific role — unlocking data from legacy systems, composing data into processes or delivering an experience. By unlocking data that exists in siloed systems, businesses end up democratizing the availability of data across the enterprise. Developers can then choose information sources to train the AI models and connect the AI systems into the enterprise’s broader application network to take action.

Why it’s Hot?

If we can help our clients develop customer strategies in tandem with a strong data and API strategy then we’ll be able to deploy 1:1 interactions with customers like the example below.

“Businesses haven’t truly realized the full potential of AI systems at a strategic level, where they are building adaptive platforms that truly create differentiated value for their customers. Most organizations are leveraging AI to analyze large volumes of data and generate insights on customer engagement, though it’s not strategic enough. Strategic value can be realized when these AI systems are plugged into the enterprise’s wider application network to drive personalized, 1:1 customer journeys. With an API strategy in place, businesses can start to realize the full potential AI has to offer.”

 

 

 

Vertical TV

Snapchat is producing interactive, original, scripted video shows called Snap Originals.

It released 12 original shows, spanning the comedy, horror and reality genres, among others. Each show has been created with established TV producers. For example Snapchat’s mystery thriller, Class of Lies, was created by Riverdale’s producers; Endless Summer, a reality show about socialites from Laguna Beach, was created by Bunim/Murray, the company behind Keeping Up with the Kardashians.

The shows are shot in portrait, to fit the Snapchat platform, and feature overlaid graphics, split screens and quick cuts, to suit Snapchat users’ fast-paced mobile behaviour. Users can find the shows in Snapchat’s discover area, as well as on the Show Profile page that is made available through Snapchat search. Snapchat also gives users the option to sign up to push notifications telling them when a new episode or piece of content is released.

Users can also activate the new ‘portals’ function by swiping their screen. This function uses augmented reality technology to allow viewers step inside a scene of the show and explore it for themselves.

Each show will also have its own Lenses and filters, creating more ways for viewers to incorporate the shows in their own Snaps

Snap Originals will be, well, snappy. Each episode will be as short as four or five minutes in length. Unlike Netflix shows which are either made available one series at a time or uploaded weekly, Snap Originals will have daily episodes.

Why its hot?
True to the brand 
Snap Originals will be, well, snappy. Each episode will be as short as four or five minutes in length.
Anti-Binge
Unlike Netflix shows which are either made available one series at a time or uploaded weekly, Snap Originals will have daily episodes.
Don’t watch from outside. Get inside the story
Portal lenses allow a user to take out their phone, open their camera, open the portal, literally get off their couch, walk into the scene, look around, and be in a show

S-T-A-R-B-U-C-K-S

Starbucks opened its first U.S. sign language store in D.C. that’s ran by deaf, hard-of-hearing and hearing employees. The store is located next to Gallaudet University, the world’s only university designed for deaf and hard-of-hearing students. The designs are also adapted to the deaf community and cultures.

The name is spelled out in the hand symbols of American Sign Language

All employees are conversant in American Sign Language

Store decor is designed to celebrate deaf culture

Why it’s hot: As one of the more accessible brands in terms of store location, Starbucks is a great pilot store to start embracing the deaf community into regular workforce.

Source

Not Nosy, Just Human

Ever sit somewhere and catch yourself staring intently at another person’s cell phone screen?

You’re not alone. So what is about other people’s screens that make them irresistible?

“Other people’s screens are windows into their lives, and brains, and relationships and work — into their politics, anxieties, failures and addictions. They tend to appear between one and three feet away from other people’s faces, depending.”

We used to not have as much access to other people’s screens as we do now. Home and office computers were more private than the now ubiquitous 5.5” screen everyone carries everywhere nowadays.

Munich researchers wanted to find out more about “shoulder surfing” in an effort to understand the security implications of having our lives exposed on small screens. So what did they find? The research suggested the majority of shoulder surfing was casual and opportunistic with survey respondents admitting they did it out of boredom and curiosity. In cases where there was malicious intent, “both users and observers expressed negative feelings in the respective situation, such as embarrassment and anger or guilt and unease.”

What were they looking at? Mostly text, and more specifically instant messaging, Facebook, email and news.

Observing shoulder surfers in NY can even tell how phone usage has changed since wifi was sporadically introduced. Gone are the days of CandyCrush. Today is all about long texts composed, then reworked and frantically sent when the signal appears, they are also selfies being retouched, or as the train transforms into an office, messages about the client. Other people’s screens can be used as warnings or endorsements. Whatever they contain, they are a reminder that we should all really just mind our business.

Why it’s hot:

As we design mobile experiences, should we keep in mind our second audience, the shoulder surfer?

Source: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/10/style/why-you-cant-stop-looking-at-other-peoples-screens.html

WeRemit

Around 170,000 Filipinos working in Hong Kong spend their days queuing, completing paperwork and paying substantial remittance fees to wire money home to families.

Chinese tech giant Tencent created a service to transfer money across borders using mobile payment technology.

Named WeRemit, the service exists as a function on Tencent’s WeChat, mainland China’s largest social media, messaging service and mobile payment app. Filipino users can transfer money to the Philippines in under 10 minutes, free of charge.

Filipino workers in Hong Kong, many of whom work as domestic helpers, can also use WeRemit for instant cash pick-up from 7-Eleven stores, bank deposits and mobile wallet transactions.

Why it’s Hot

The global remittance business moves more than $600bn around the world every year. The industry has become a strategic battleground for Asian tech giants seeking to disrupt a business that’s traditionally depended on a network of banks, convenience stores and pawnshops.

The Southeast Asian countries are an important market, with a growing population of 600m people, many of whom don’t have bank accounts. The Philippines is among the world’s most common destinations for money transfers, receiving $32.8bn in remittances in 2017, according to the World Bank.

 

get paid when you get delayed…


It seems solving the pain points of delayed air travelers has become one of 2018’s hottest challenges. The latest brand to take it on is insurance brand AXA, via “fizzy”, it’s smart travel insurance.

Here’s how it works – “AXA’s blockchain-powered insurance plan, called Fizzy, covers travelers for delays of up to two hours or more. When customers purchase insurance using Fizzy, all details and contract agreements are recorded publicly, on the Ethereum blockchain. The contracts, which are connected to global air traffic monitoring databases, automatically trigger compensation payouts when a delay of more than two hours is recorded.”

In otherwords, you get paid (automatically) when you get delayed.

Why it’s hot:

First, it’s one of the most simple and practical, yet smart uses of blockchain and smart contracts we’ve seen yet. There’s plenty of chatter about the potential of blockchain, but considerably fewer actual things consumers can currently do that are blockchain enabled.

But more importantly, it’s a beautiful example of human-driven innovation – and not just because it helps in a situation most of us are likely all too familiar with (delayed flights, more than 150k in the last 30 days just in the US).

One of the biggest headaches with insurance can be having to make claims and waiting to be compensated. fizzy automatically knows when you should be compensated and does so “by the time your flight lands”. So, a matter of hours instead of days.

[Source]

Do you even lift?

“Across the board, across all industries, you see about $96 billion in worker compensation costs,” says Benjamin Kanner, CEO and founder of Worklete. “About 64% of those are related to musculoskeletal injuries–your back injuries, your shoulder injuries, your knee injuries.

“If we can teach these folks basic rules for human movement, and say, ‘Yes, there is a better and a worse way to move,’ that’s really how we win. That’s how we help blue-collar, underserved populations stay injury-free so they can work hard all day long and then go home and enjoy their lives outside of work, too.”

Worklete trains workforces to move in better, smarter, and safer ways, whether that’s teaching the proper driving posture when operating a forklift or the best technique for lifting a five-gallon water jug. Today, 20,000 frontline workers use the smartphone app, which runs each employee through 10 two-week training modules. The first week of each module is centered around movement “basics,” with photo- and video-based lessons followed by short quizzes. The total time commitment is about five minutes per week.

The second part of each module involves in-person practice sessions with partners or teams. These trainings are led by “champions,” unofficial leaders on the ground. Champions, typically shift managers, are selected during new client onboarding. For Worklete subscribers, an admin dashboard allows managers to monitor employee progress on training modules on an individual basis, evaluate performance at the city or regional level, and review team rosters, including new hires (marked with red), who might benefit from extra attention.

Why its hot

This is great on multiple levels. Not only does it solve a problem (workforce injuries from heavy lifting/general stress), but it also creates brand evangelists within the companies themselves, keeping employees engaged and using the service. Throw in the cost savings from keeping your employees healthy and it’s a no brainer for any company with a lot of physical labor. I would love to see companies with even less physical stress, where people mainly sit all day, use something like Worklete as well.

Beyond Entertainment

Ubisoft Entertainment SA, a French video game maker, has created an educational add-on to the latest installment of the Assassin’s Creed video game franchise.

It is called Assassin’s Creed: Origins Discovery Tour and it allows users to freely explore the reproduction of ancient Egypt without actually taking part in standard gameplay. Purely educational, this add-on acts as a virtual museum and features 75 guided tours of historical sites voiced by real historians and Egyptologists on subjects such as mummification, the writing of hieroglyphs, the daily life of Egyptians and the ancient city of Alexandria.

This add-on is aimed for the educational market and was even used as a learning tool for high school students.

Why it’s hot

Apparently, there was 44% improvement of the high school student’s knowledge of the historical topic. Reading, talking and watching video presentations is incredibly enriching when a student can tour and interact with the world they’re learning about.

What does $1tn really look like?

On Thursday, Aug 2 2018, Apple became the first publicly traded American company with a $1,000,000,000,000 market cap.

Here’s a neat interactive data visualization from the NYTimes to play with after the jump; it gives you a reference point for just how big $1tn is compared to the rest of the publicly traded companies on the S&P.

SOURCE: https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2018/08/02/technology/apple-trillion-market-cap.html

Here’s another nifty graphic that shows us the history of Apple’s valuation:

SOURCE: https://www.ft.com/content/aebad290-9644-11e8-b67b-b8205561c3fe

WHY IT’S HOT:

So, how big is $1tn? When you hear a big number out of context, it’s not always easy to quantify. These data visualizations help define how BIG $1tn really is in the context of American business, adding more meaning to this landmark event.

AT&T Announces a VR Escape AdverGame

AT&T AUDIENCE Network created a VR escape advergame for their new show Mr. Mercedes. The game is all told from a first person perspective, putting the user in the shoes of the characters in the show to discover clues and find a way to escape.

The game incorporates footage directly from the set of Season 2 making it look awesome and is a great tease for watching the show. That along with it being a VR escape game, a genre that doesn’t have a flooded market, yet for gamers makes this advergame really stands out with the gamer audience.

“Escape before time runs out or be trapped in Brady’s lair forever! And, whatever you do, don’t let him inside your head.”

 

 

Why it’s Hot:

  • Unique advergame
  • Great way to have gamers find out about the show that were unaware of it previously
  • Innovative way to advertise in VR

Uber now lets you pay for rides and food via Venmo

Uber has teamed up with PayPal-owned Venmo to let people pay for rides and food via UberEATS with the funds in their Venmo account. According to the companies, more than six million payments mentioned Uber in the last year. The integration will also enable people to easily split the cost of food orders and rides with friends within the Uber app.

“Adding Venmo as a way to pay within Uber and Uber Eats furthers our mission to provide a seamless way to pay for the services that matter most to our customers,” PayPal COO Bill Ready said in a statement.

For Uber, this partnership is a way to further differentiate itself from its U.S. rival Lyft. Though, this is not an exclusive partnership, so Venmo could also team up with Lyft for payments. For Venmo, this is a way for the service to become more ubiquitous as it faces competition from Zelle, a bank-backed mobile payments service that’s on track to outpace Venmo in number of users sometime this year.

Within the Uber app, once you select Venmo as a payment option, you get directed to the Venmo app.

The integration will officially go live in “the coming weeks.”

Source: TechCrunch

Why It’s Hot

Integration all over the place!

JPMorgan built an online bank for millennials, and it should have apps like Acorns and Stash worried

Legacy organizations have been looking for ways to compete with nimble startups disrupting their respective categories. However, the secret sauce for these legacy giants might be in modernizing their product offering by blending traditional services with disruptive feature enhancements. JPMorgan is looking to disrupt the banking industry by building a mobile-first bank aimed at millennials dubbed Finn.

 Finn which is an end-to-end mobile bank, recently rolled out nationwide. In addition to offering bread-and-butter checking and savings account functionality, it also offers services many firms in the personal finance startup space have built their businesses around.

With Finn, users can create specific rules that determine when money will be transferred from checking to savings. One rule, “Work Hard, Save Smarter,” puts aside a set amount of money on pay day. There’s also “the Limit Does Not Exist” which saves a predetermined amount of cash whenever a user spends over a certain amount on a purchase.

That raises the question: what do fintechs do when big banks decide to step on their turf?

Why it’s hot?

It’s not all about the new kid on the block. Industry giants can compete with startups and even pose greater threats to them by transforming their product offering to meet and exceed their targets’ needs.

image_from_ios 1

Microsoft improves facial recognition across genders and skin tones

Tech is racist and sexist, and one of the many glaring manifestations of that is in the accuracy of facial recognition technology. Commercially available facial recognition as a whole works better on light skin than on dark skin, and also recognizes male faces better than female faces. So overall, the technology is catered toward white male faces and performs worst on female faces with dark skin.

In an effort to reduce this bias, Microsoft just announced an update to their facial recognition technology, available to consumers as the Face API via Azure Cognitive Services. They claim this update has reduced error rates for all people of color by 20 percent, and for female faces by 9 percent.

The reason why these systems are so biased is confusingly simple. AI tech like facial recognition is only as strong as the data used to train them. So, if a facial recognition system is going to recognize all kinds of faces equally, its training dataset needs to (wait for it) include all kinds of faces.

In order to improve their facial recognition tech, Microsoft made three key changes:

  1. Expanded and revised training and benchmark datasets
  2. Launched new data collection efforts focusing on skin tone, gender, and age
  3. Improved classifier to produce more precise results

Why It’s Hot: It’s great that Microsoft has invested a lot of time and money into improving their facial recognition to be more inclusive. But the question remains, why wasn’t it important to the company (and to every tech company) to include women and people of color to begin with? The fact that these systems need to be “updated” is symptomatic of the rampant sexism and racism that still permeates the industry. This update is a step toward fixing a problem that shouldn’t have been there in the first place.

Further, is this solution truly enhancing facial recognition for all people? Do they have trans and nonbinary people in their datasets? What about people with distinct facial markings or characteristics? Or does this solution update the software to a less blatant, but still questionable, level of bias?

Learn More: Engadget | Microsoft

 

A new purpose for brick and mortar

Startup company B8ta is taking the retail store experience concept one step further. B8ta sells no merchandise itself, instead charging “subscriptions” that brands pay to use their spaces and their Built by b8ta platform, for short or longer terms.

Built by b8ta, a store-as-a-service platform, includes checkout, inventory, point of sale, inventory management, staff scheduling services and other capabilities.

Lowe’s partnered with b8ta in 2016 to roll out a series of SmartSpot shops inside the home improvement retailer’s stores and earlier this month, Macy’s announced a plan to scale its new pop-up concept, The Market @ Macy’s, testing format spaces powered by b8ta’s technology.

Read more at Retail Dive.

Why It’s Hot
As ecommerce continues to rapidly grow and brands try to figure out the interplay of on and offline, we have a front-row seat to retail evolution.

Facebook launches gameshow platform with interactive videos

Some are saying Facebook’s latest interactive video polling features look familiar…

Facebook Gameshows

Rather than build its own HQ trivia competitor, Facebook is launching a gameshow platform. Today the company announced a new set of interactive live and on-demand video features that let creators add quizzes, polls, challenges and gamification so players can be eliminated from a game for a wrong answer.

“Video is evolving away from just passive consumption to more interactive two-way formats,” Facebook’s VP of video product Fidji Simo tells TechCrunch. “We think creators will want to reward people. If this is something that works with Insider and Confetti, we may consider rolling out payments tools.”

Why it’s hot

Facebook claims this latest move is an attempt to make videos more interactive for the sake of its users’ mental health, it seems more likely that the company is banking on the popularity of games like HQ to avoid a repeat of recent video failures. Allowing any creator to make an interactive video, Facebook seems to be hoping that partners like BuzzFeed will bring large audiences to the new feature.