3D Scale Is The Future Of Your Body Complex

The ShapeScale, a 3D body scanner that can provide enough information for even the thirstiest data fanatic. The ShapeScale, which cost $499 pre-order, uses body scanning to create a 360-degree, 3D digital avatar of you, complete with measurements and body composition stats.

The round scale looks like any other, but there’s an arm extending from it that has a camera. This arm circles around you about four times, taking extremely detailed photos of your body. Using the combination of these images and your actual weight, ShapeScale creates the avatar. The entire process is supposed to take about 30 seconds.

Then, on an app, you see the data. It shows your weight, of course, alongside measurements — hips, waist, thighs, arms, and so on. It also gives you body composition and even provides body fat percentage by body part, so you can know if your torso is 20 percent fat. You’re supposed to do it wearing form-fitting clothing, which I was not, so I didn’t receive my measurements. But I did see my avatar, and it looked extremely accurate.

The co-founders say that ShapeScale’s technology could work well with e-commerce; they’re among those collaborating with some clothing companies to explore the idea of letting people virtually try on products.

Why It’s Hot

  • One of the big reasons why people fall of the exercise wagon is because they can’t see results. This could be a strong motivator to stay onboard.
  • One more example of brands/services that are providing uber individualized services, which is a trend we have been seeing.
  • This has interesting retail implications, especially with the rise of e-commerce and the growing amount of returns


Source: The Verge


Ikea has put on a twist on customer research

In November 2017, IKEA created an innovative survey about co-living spaces. This study explores what the future of co-living will look like in 2030 when there are 1.2 billion more people on the planet with 70% living in urban areas with limited spaces and resources. IKEA’s future living research lab Space10 launched One Shared House 2030 developed by interaction designer Irene Pereya of Anton & Irene. This is an interactive take on customer research.

  • It’s an experiment: there’s an intentional pioneering spirit in the survey
  • Empathetic for its subjects: the research was inspired by a documentary Pereyra did about her own co-living experience from when she was a child; giving authenticity to the survey and creating a deep sense of empathy
  • Beauty: the research is visually beautiful with bold geometric shapes and intense colors; it’s inviting and makes you want to participate
  • Playful: the research is positioned as playful research that is designed more like an app vs. survey with music and pop-up windows
  • Setting it in the future: the survey doesn’t act you to imagine the future – it sets the whole survey in the future; it tells you it’s 2030 and the world is more crowded – allowing people to get into the right mindset

Now, the results are in! More than 7,000 people from 147 countries answered the survey. People of all ages, and are in any life situation from all countries on average:

  • Would prefer couples, single women and single men in their community
  • Are happier with access to multiple homes they could easily move between
  • Prefer members to share equal ownership of the house
  • Only want the common areas to come furnished and furnish their own space themselves
  • Want house members from different walks of life
  • Think the two biggest pros of living with others is having more ways to socialize and splitting costs and getting more bang for your buck
  • Most are interested in living in shared houses between 4 and 10 people

Why it’s hot?

The Survey: is engineered as a digital experience. Everything from the empathetic positioning to the sonic // visual design pulls you in. IKEA demonstrates that CX is something that should trickle across all aspects of your business – even market research.

The Results: show that no co-living company has really figured out the right balance between an economically feasible scale and a scale that favors human connections. It shows that there is still ripe opportunity to re-think the co-living space.


  • https://www.inc.com/ayse-birsel/think-customer-research-is-boring-here-is-how-ikea-made-it-fun-utterly-inviting.html
  • https://www.fastcodesign.com/90161409/what-todays co-living-spaces-get-wrong
  • http://onesharedhouse.com/

Facebook overcharged Clinton because her posts were boring

Image via Wired/Getty Images

Regardless of how much influence the Russian Internet Research Agency may or may not have had on the 2016 election, there is one way in which Facebook may have significantly affected the election.

This wired story by Antonio Garcia Martinez explains how Facebook charged the Trump Campaign significantly less than the Clinton campaign thanks to how it’s ad auction system works.

Martinez explains:

As on Google, Facebook has a piece of ad real estate that it’s auctioning off, and potential advertisers submit a piece of ad creative, a targeting spec for their ideal user, and a bid for what they’re willing to pay to obtain a desired response (such as a click, a like, or a comment). Rather than simply reward that ad position to the highest bidder, though, Facebook uses a complex model that considers both the dollar value of each bid as well as how good a piece of clickbait (or view-bait, or comment-bait) the corresponding ad is. If Facebook’s model thinks your ad is 10 times more likely to engage a user than another company’s ad, then your effective bid at auction is considered 10 times higher than a company willing to pay the same dollar amount.

This means that content that is especially alluring can result in the marketer paying significantly lower rates. The Trump campaign used what Martinez terms “provocative content” to encourage clicks and reduce their overall cost.

Additionally the difference in their geographic power bases affected their costs as well. Rural voters (more likely to go for Trump) are much much cheaper than urban voters (more likely to go for Clinton).

Another way that Facebook affected the election is through Custom Audiences and Lookalike Audiences, two ways in which marketers can identify and spread content. Custom Audiences are merely segmentation. Martinez uses the examples of shoes. Browsed for shoes and got cookied? You’re in a custom audience for shoes now.

Lookalike Audiences take the people in Custom Audiences and look for people like them through mutual engagement, and then spread the messages from the Custom Audiences to the Lookalike Audiences.

All of this is powered through engagement in the user’s feed, and created a self-reinforcing feedback loop.

The Trump Campaign leveraged both of these tools to do things like depress voter turnout in specific communities.

Interestingly, Facebook has released data to rebut these claims, though the data may not accurately cover what needs to be known.

Why it’s hot

We don’t understand how social networks are affecting our democratic process.

Good Riddance Facebook Explore

RIP Facebook Explore feed.

Facebook has decided to end a test of their controversial “Explore Feed,” which separated publisher content from page content. The alternative feed was tested only internationally, in Slovakia, Sri Lanka, Serbia, Bolivia, Guatemala and Cambodia, as a response to user feedback saying they wanted to see more from friends and family.

But, unsurprisingly, users were less satisfied with the posts they were seeing in Explore and having two separate feeds made it harder for users to access important information. Publishers saw a decrease in traffic from Facebook during the test, and that decrease was especially large for smaller publications more reliant on Facebook for traffic.

Why Its Hot

For better or worse, people are turning to social media for their news, and anything that takes the news out is going to be a problem. Between live shows, news and information, buying and selling things, and soon job listings, Facebook is becoming less and less the site to go when you want to see pics of your friends.

Uber is getting into healthcare with Uber Health

Uber’s launching a new business line called Uber Health on Thursday that will provide a ride-hailing platform available specifically to healthcare providers, letting clinics, hospitals, rehab centers and more easily assign rides for their patients and clients from a centralized dashboard – without requiring that the rider even have the Uber app, or a smartphone.

It was born out of patient need: some 3.6 million Americans miss medical appointments each year due to lack of available, reliable transportation. Nearly a third of patients fail to show up to medical appointments every year in total.

Uber Health stores all of the trip information but only in client-side, HIPAA-compliant servers, and that data is never stored on Uber’s own, Weber points out. The ability to view and export the records is key for the organizations in terms of billing and reporting, and provides basic patient info (name and number) along with trip star and end point data.

Why it’s hot: The healthcare industry is on the cusp of undergoing major innovation. With companies like Apple and Amazon–and now Uber–getting more involved, there will be a major shift toward customer experience.

Killer Tech

According to Eric Shmidt, a former Google boss, we’ll be amongst killer computers in the next decade or so. But fear not, Eric believes that it’s not completely life-threatening, well, I mean, it kinda is life threatening…. like if an aircraft was fully dependent on tech making life-or-death decisions, we’d all die. But it’s fine because we, the genius species that we are, “will remain in charge of AI for the rest of time.”

Is it hot?
Unless it’s molten metal, I’m not too sure. Does this mean that the Terminator movies and iRobot were just prophecies that told the future? Let’s not glitch out about it just yet, AI is still super helpful, watching your every move, learning everything about you, your strengths, weaknesses … Good ‘ol AI.

AI? More like A…. I think not.

Source: Metro

Microsoft launches app that helps the visually impaired navigate cities

Microsoft launched Soundscape, a new app that aims to help people who are visually impaired navigate better by giving them 3D cues.

They don’t want to replace guide dogs or canes but enrich people’s perception of their surroundings. A guide dog can’t tell you that there’s a Nike Store just around the corner. Using GPS and the built-in compass on the phone, the app can give people audio cues.

“Obstacle avoidance is not the problem, we have a dog, a cane and our blindness skills for that,” said Erin Lauridsen, Access Technology Director, LightHouse for the Blind.“The gap is knowing where things are and being able to decide what’s of interest.”

The app offers three possible actions: ‘locate’ tells you where you are, ‘around me’ calls out four points of interest around you and ‘ahead of me’ provides the names of five landmarks in front of you.

Why it’s hot:
It might not be a groundbreaking innovation and in terms of technology, it might not be the most advanced thing. But there’s nothing better than seeing technology been used to improve the quality of life of people.

Source: TechCrunch

Chrome Music Lab makes music education fun and accessible

Google recently released Song Maker, the latest web-based music tool from Chrome Music Lab. All of the previous tools in Music Lab have been intended to demonstrate and visualize concepts like chords and oscillators. In “Song Maker,” users can create music with drums and melody and have the power to change instruments, adjust the tempo, and set the key. Even with little to no music training, it’s easy to make fun little songs in no time at all. It’s also compatible with MIDI keyboards.

My favorite one to play with is Kandinsky, inspired by artist Wassily Kandinsky, where each shape you draw becomes a sound in your masterpiece.

Kandinsky inspired masterpiece

Why it’s hot

These are great examples of interactive demos that aren’t too open ended to be fun. I could (but definitely did NOT) waste a ton of time making little tunes, giving Google my time and attention and probably training a neural network or two for them.

Read more about Song Maker on Pitchfork, and play around with the full suite of tools on Chrome Music Lab

Enjoy the Show

The comedian Dave Chappelle hated when fans would pull out their phones during his show, record his act and post it online. But then he discovered Yondr, the technology that requires fans to place their cellphones into a form-fitting lockable pouch when entering a show. Fans keep the pouch with them during the show but it’s impossible to take photos, videos or text while the pouch is locked.

Chappelle now insists on deploying Yondr at all of the shows on his tour. Other entertainers including Alicia Keys, Guns N’ Roses and Donald Glover have implemented the system as well. The founder of Yondr described the solution as intuitive. “Our attachment to our phones isn’t all that intellectual,” he says. “It’s much more a body thing, so it was always clear to me that whatever solution there is to this problem had to be itself physical and tangible.”

Lesser known bands might be more hesitant to try Yondr as they rely on fan photos and videos to promote their shows. Many music fans, especially younger ones, say they would be disappointed to not be able to capture these experiences and relive them. On the other hand, older brands appreciate the old-school feeling of the fans being actually experiencing the show and not watching it through an iPhone.

Yondr has been used at weddings, schools, restaurants and movie screenings in addition concerts and comedy shows. The phone still gets service so you can feel the phone vibrate when a message arrives. Anyone who needs access during the show can simply leave the room, have the device unlocked and use the phone in the lobby or outside, not dissimilar to smoking.

Why it’s hot: This system addresses a modern dilemma that is not as often seen as an issue but just our current reality. It also calls out the question smartphone etiquette: when and where are our devices appropriate in the modern world?

Source: https://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/16/technology/your-phones-on-lockdown-enjoy-the-show.html

Amazon is taking a photo of your front door to show you where your package is

Amazon is delivering more than just your packages these days — it is also delivering photos. As part of the company’s efforts to make it even easier for you to receive your online orders, Amazon has taken to taking photos of your doorway to show exactly where your packages are being deposited. This will hopefully cut down on customer confusion, and also serves as photographic evidence of the successful delivery of your precious cargo.Amazon’s new picture-taking practice might also allow delivery folks to leave packages in more inconspicuous spots, like behind a bush or in a flower pot, as USA Today notes. Given the rise in package stealers, having a safe and somewhat surprising place to put your packages may not be such a bad idea and being able to document where that place is makes things easier.The new service is called Amazon Logistics Photo on Delivery and according to a company spokesperson, is “one of many delivery innovations we’re working on to improve convenience for customers.” Amazon Logistics in and of itself is one of those delivery innovations — it’s an Amazon-owned delivery network that is completely separate from other delivery services like FedEx or UPS. And while the Photo on Delivery program has been rolling out in batches for the last six months, it’s becoming more widespread. Now, folks who receive packages in the Seattle, San Francisco, and northern Virginia metro areas will likely be receiving photographic notifications of their delivery’s safe arrival.

 Of course, if the thought of someone taking a photo of your property doesn’t really sit all that well with you, don’t worry — Amazon is giving you a way to opt out of the feature, too. Simply head over to the Amazon website and navigate to the help and customer service tab. From there, you should be able to tell Amazon folks not to take an unapproved photo (assuming the photo-taking option is even available to you). But if you’re interested in seeing exactly where your packages are at the end of the day, Photo on Delivery may be the feature you have been waiting for.
Why Its Hot
Could this be data collection disguised as innovation? Or a way to cut down on false claims of lost packages and package stealing? In any case, I have always wanted my packages to be more inconspicuously placed and now they can be. Plus, why not gameify it? “Alexa, where’s my package”?

Apple to open medical clinics for employees

Apple announced that it is opening medical clinics called “AC Wellness” for its employees (of which there are over 120,000). It quietly launched a website, acwellness.com for the venture that says:

AC Wellness is an independent medical practice dedicated to delivering compassionate, effective healthcare to the Apple employee population.

The company will build two clinics, one in the Apple headquarters building, and one just north of it. The clinics are going to be concierge-style, with job postings ranging from medical assistants / nurses / phlebotomists to primary care doctors, health partners, clinical exercise coaches, and care navigators. Sources told CNBC that Apple “plans to use AC Wellness clinics as a platform for testing out products and services that it could eventually provide for all consumers,” but it’s pretty clearly being rolled out as an employee-only venture for now.

Why It’s Hot: This isn’t the first instance of tech companies moving into the deeply dysfunctional healthcare space – Amazon recently announced a partnership with Warren Buffett and JPMorgan Chase, though the details of that partnership are sketchy. But this seems to be the first move by a tech giant to opening a privatized medical care center. In a country that already uses healthcare to stratify economic classes via linking insurance to jobs, what does it mean that Apple employees get not just better insurance, but better CARE because of their ability to get a job at Apple? What will happen if job-based doctor’s offices become the norm for certain social/economic classes of people?

Read More: Engadget | Gizmodo

A circular building that actually makes sense

The nordic architecture firm, Snohetta, has recently designed concepts for an “energy positive” Arctic Circle hotel in Norway. Svart Hotel will consume 85% less energy than contemporary hotels and will produce energy through solar panels. Regarding eco-friendly design, Snohetta said, “It was important for us to design a sustainable building that will leave a minimal environmental footprint on this beautiful northern nature.”


They mapped the sun’s movement over the site and decided that a circular structure would provide the most light throughout the day and across different seasons. Recessed terraces shade rooms during the summer to reduce cooling systems and the large windows allow more thermal energy during colder months. The v-shapped stilts that holds up the hotel are inspired by traditional fisherman houses in the region.

Why It’s Hot: Unlike Apple’s new campus, this hotel has been designed as a circle in function of a larger goal – to produce energy to power the building. This type of approach to design and architecture is what will be needed to reduce human impact on the environment. This is a good example of how we can use new technologies like solar panels as well as traditional methods to lessen our impact on the environment.


With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility

Since 2014, when the “right to be forgotten” was court ordered by the European Union, there have been 650K requests to Google to remove certain websites from its search results. This week, Google released a research paper that outlines the types of requests that were submitted.

Most of the requests were to remove five or fewer URLs from its search results. In all, Google says it received requests to remove more than 2.43 million URLs since the end of May 2014, and it has removed about 43 percent of them.

In May 2014 the Court of Justice of the European Union ordered Google and other search engines operating in the area to allow individuals to ask the sites to delist specific search results tied to a person’s name if the information is “inadequate, irrelevant or excessive”.

Some stats:

  • 89% of requests came from private individuals.
  • Social media sites, directories, news articles and government pages make up the bulk of links being requested for removal.
  • A little more than half of requests came from France, Germany and the UK

The underlying information on a third-party website is not deleted in this instance, but it becomes much more difficult to find if it no longer appears in Google’s search results. The underlying information on a third-party website is not deleted in this instance, but it becomes much more difficult to find if it no longer appears in Google’s search results.

How do they decide whether to delete or not:

“Determining whether content is in the public interest is complex and may mean considering many diverse factors, including—but not limited to—whether the content relates to the requester’s professional life, a past crime, political office, position in public life, or whether the content is self-authored content, consists of government documents, or is journalistic in nature.”

Why it’s hot: 

  • In the end, the responsibility to determine what’s in the public interest is placed on a private company, a burden, but also a huge responsibility.

Source: https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2018/02/28/589411543/google-received-650-000-right-to-be-forgotten-requests-since-2014

KFC: We do chicken wrong

Due to a change in KFC’s supply chain in the UK, the fast food giant recently ran out of chickens in the UK….which is really bad if the entire business model relies on chickens.

Some Brittons have lost their ever-loving stuff and one woman’s whine about “having to go to Burger King” went viral. See below:

But the fiasco gave KFC an opportunity to turn a negative into a positive. The food chain ran an apology ad in the paper with the letters on the bucket spelling FCK instead of KFC.

Why it’s Hot

It’s hot because they were able to use humor instead of some stock pr apology, though it might take the woman in the viral video a bit longer to get over it.

Facebook rolls out job postings

On Wednesday, Facebook rolled out job posts to 40 more countries.

Businesses will be able to post job openings to a Jobs tab on their Page, Jobs dashboard, Facebook Marketplace, and the News Feed that they can promote with ads. Meanwhile, job seekers can discover openings, auto-fill applications with their Facebook profile information, edit and submit their application, and communicate via Messenger to schedule interviews.

“One in four people in the US have searched for or found a job using Facebook” writes Facebook’s VP of Local Alex Himel. “But 40% of US small businesses report that filling jobs was more difficult than they expected. We think Facebook can play a part in closing this gap.”

“The Job posts rollout could help Facebook steal some of the $1.1 billion in revenue LinkedIn earned for Microsoft in Q4 2017. But the bigger opportunity is developing a similar business where companies pay to promote their job openings and land hires, but for lower-skilled local companies in industries like retail and food service.”

Troy, the owner of Striper Sniper Tackle in North Carolina had trouble finding people with the specific skills he needed until he posted the job on his Facebook Page. He received 27 applications immediately, and hired 10 people” Facebook writes. 

Why it’s hot/warm:

Hot: Serving as a LinkedIn for blue collar jobs – benefiting both employers and those looking for jobs.

Warm: Users will likely be slower to adopt this since they might be reluctant to share their social profiles with employers.

Source: TechCrunch

Vero, the Newest Social Media App To Come and Go

Ok. So it hasn’t “gone” yet, but let’s see if it goes the way of Meerkat, Ello and Peach, but for now we at Hot Sauce can say, “oh yeah, I know about that”.

The appeal of the new app is its sleek design and it’s chronological feed. It’s still too early to tell what the path might be for Vero, but it might be interesting for our food service clients, as their new Places feature is a highlight.

Vero has been having trouble keeping up with customer demand:

and by the time I write this post… the backlash has already begun…


That went from 0 to 60 real fast.

Oh and once your in, can you even get out?

Why it’s hot?

This might be just a flash in the pan, but it’s always good to be “in the know”.

AiFi’s Checkout-Free Solution

Farewell, cashier jobs. Following the launch of Amazon’s cashless, cashier-free Amazon Go convenience store in Seattle, a startup called AiFi is emerging from stealth today to announce the availability of its own checkout-free solution for retailers. But unlike Amazon Go, AiFi claims its A.I., sensor and camera network-based system can scale from a small mom-and-pop all the way up to a big retailer with tens of thousands of square feet and a hundred thousand products.

Similar to Amazon, AiFi’s system involves cameras, sensors and A.I. technology to identify what shoppers grab from the store’s shelves. Also like Amazon’s Go store, shoppers will have to use a companion smartphone app, where their payment information is stored. However, Gu says AiFi is designed to scale – it can support tracking up to 500 people, and tens of thousands of SKU item numbers.

In addition to monitoring the products – AiFi monitors the people, too. That is, it can track shoppers’ behavior in the store, including things like if they’re shopping in groups, what items they’re picking up and putting back, their gait, their body poses, where they go in the store, and even identify if they’re doing something abnormal, like shoplifting.

In addition, AiFi’s business model won’t be based on the hardware, but a subscription fee associated with continuing usage of the system. The company may also move into payments in the future, too, instead of integrating its checkout with third-party processors.

Why It’s Hot?

AiFi has presented a scalable solution that offers convenience for shoppers and increased inventory management capabilities for retailers. Retailers don’t need to have Amazon’s scale to deliver on convenience.



Stick a straw in it

Strawbees, created by a Swedish start-up, is spreading STEAM one straw at a time. Pushing aside the standardization of the classroom, Strawbees emphasizes play and curiousity, encourages learning by making, and promotes experimenting and asking questions. They believe that learning is best when we have fun together!

Why it’s hot:
Their digital programming is an open-ended system that’s built on C language making it easy for beginners to learn but also allows advanced users to have fun as well. By using straws and strawbees (connectors). Their system is fully web-based instead of on an app making it work almost everywhere!

source: https://learning.strawbees.com/

This Post Will Self Destruct in ….

The race is on to develop electronics that explode, melt, liquify, evaporate, or otherwise self-destruct on command.

“… gadgets that self-destruct so completely you can’t even tell they were ever there? And what if those gadgets weren’t Peter Graves’s reel-to-reel tape recorders or Tom Cruise’s exploding sunglasses, but all manner of wearables, smartphones, laptops, and even drones?

The Pentagon is working on devices for soldiers and spies that can explode, melt, liquify, evaporate, or otherwise self-destruct on command, on a schedule, or under specific environmental conditions. Tech companies and research universities are working on such technologies, too.


Why have self destructing gadgets:

  1. Leave – behind
  2.  environmentalism
  3. public safety
  4. stealth
  5. personal privacy
  6. crime prevention
  7. and even medicine.

Check out the article to see devices that self-crush, melt, dissolve, and vaporize.

Why it’s hot:

The concerns that drive the military to want self-destructive technology make it a wish for consumers also. Although we will need to wait, some of these gadgets may become mainstream.

Good Posts On The Internet

It’s easy to think of the Internet as a bad, ugly place. Dissertations are being written about how the Internet of the late Teens got to be such a horrible place.

However, there are still good posts on the Internet! They are hidden away in fusty servers and often employ strange hex codes, such as #eeff99.

Strange hex codes are employed on the Internet

“Where are these good posts located?!” you might ask scornfully, while refreshing your Instagram feed in the hopes of seeing that red circle in the top right; someone messaged me!

Well, Hacker News user jsomers noticed that many of the best posts on Hacker News were old posts. He threw together a site that scraped everything that contained a year in parenthesis, which is the common convention for identifying old posts.

The result can be found here, and contains some outright bangers such as E.M. Forrester’s “The Machine Stops“, George Kennans “The Long Telegram” and many more. I highly recommend scrolling through it.

Why it’s hot

Knowledge is always hot. Knowledge, on the Internet, is Hot Sauce hot.

Voice AORs are here

“We want to get organized around having voice as a core part of our marketing efforts and marketing campaigns,” says JPMorgan ChaseChief Marketing Officer Kristin Lemkau. “Voice is not only coming; it’s here, and in a multitasking world, it’s really significant,” she adds.

JPMorgan Chase has brought on VaynerMedia as their Voice agency of record. They’ve seen how other brands have invested heavily into Facebook and Snap, but they see Voice as a whitespace where they can be one of the first brands to really be ahead of the curve.

So what will the work look like (or sound like)?

An example could be someone asking JPMorgan a quick question via Alexa, like “What’s my balance?” A skill could be someone asking: “If I keep saving the way I am now, how long would it take for me to buy this house?” or “What can I spend on vacation next week?”

When it comes to the more personalized questions, like checking an account balance, JPMorgan’s internal team will work to figure out all of the data security and cyber protection issues, with counsel from VaynerMedia, says Lemkau. The company is looking at all voice platforms right now – not just Alexa – and is looking to release its first voice activations later this year.

Why it’s hot: This legitimizes Voice as a real channel that brands (outside of the parent companies like Amazon for Alexa) can leverage to connect with their customers. I expect this to be the first of many brands putting a much larger focus on Voice.

Read more: http://adage.com/article/agency-news/jpmorgan-chase-brings-vaynermedia-voice-aor/312150/

“Snap” Up Those Jordans

Maybe “I need to snap those sneakers” will become a new thing people say. Young people anyway.

Snapchat launched its first brand collaboration, enabling users to purchase the latest paid of Jordan brand sneakers without leaving the app. The collaboration with Shopify and Jordan Brand launched during the NBA All-Star game. With Shopify facilitating the in-app check out process, the shoes sold out in 23 minutes. To take part, users scanned in a Snapcode, which linked them to the purchase process.

Of course, Snapchat is not the first to do this—Facebook Messenger and Instagram have similar partnerships with Shopify.

Why its hot

While this may have been a self-contained event during a prime moment for the intended audience (Jordans at the NBA All-Star Game!), this could be the way Snapchat grabs back some attention from Instagram Stories, giving brands a way in to that elusive millennial demographic. We could start seeing limited edition QR codes out in the world to discover through Snapchat.

google AI predicts heart attacks by scanning your eye…

This week, the geniuses at Google and its “health-tech subsidiary” Verily announced AI that can predict your risk of a major cardiac event with roughly the same accuracy as the currently-accepted method using just a scan of your eye.

They have created an algorithm that analyzes the back of your eye for important predictors of cardiovascular health “including age, blood pressure, and whether or not [you] smoke” to assess your risk.

As explained via The Verge:

“To train the algorithm, Google and Verily’s scientists used machine learning to analyze a medical dataset of nearly 300,000 patients. This information included eye scans as well as general medical data. As with all deep learning analysis, neural networks were then used to mine this information for patterns, learning to associate telltale signs in the eye scans with the metrics needed to predict cardiovascular risk (e.g., age and blood pressure).

When presented with retinal images of two patients, one of whom suffered a cardiovascular event in the following five years, and one of whom did not, Google’s algorithm was able to tell which was which 70 percent of the time. This is only slightly worse than the commonly used SCORE method of predicting cardiovascular risk, which requires a blood test and makes correct predictions in the same test 72 percent of the time.

Why It’s Hot:

This type of application of AI can help doctors quickly know what to look into, and shows how AI could help them spend less time diagnosing, and more time treating. It’s a long way from being completely flawless right now, but in the future, we might see an AI-powered robot instead of a nurse before we see the doctor.


Improved AI-powered photo stylization

A team of students and researchers has developed an improved algorithm for stylizing the content of one photo using another photo as a style reference. According to the research paper, “experimental results show that the stylized photos generated by our algorithm are twice more preferred by human subjects in average. Moreover, our method runs 60 times faster than the state-of-the-art approach.”

Previous methods at automated photo stylization have focused on matching color statistics and while they “[show] impressive performance for artistic style transfer (converting images to paintings), [they] often [introduce] structural artifacts and distortions (e.g., extremely bright colors) when applied to the photorealistic image style transfer task.” The new method, diagrammed in the image below, involves two discrete steps, stylizing and smoothing. The styling step (F1) maps the content photograph (Ic) to an intermediate image (middle) with the style of the style photograph (Is). The second smoothing step (F2) then removes artifacts and anomalies introduced by the first step, producing a more photorealistic result (right).

Why it’s hot

While there are certainly some Black Mirror-ish implications that come along with the ability to manipulate images to create fake photorealistic photos, this development is also an exciting move in our understanding of neural networks and accommodating for their limitations. It’s exciting to think of the creative possibilities of bringing new life to old photographs and possibly, eventually, movies?

Read the full report and see more amazing examples

World’s first baby marathon

Babies can cover a distance of more than 3 kilometers per day, according to research by New York University. Taking this data, babycare brand Huggies decided to host a Baby Marathon to raise awareness of its products in South Africa.

Four babies, nicknamed Thunder Pants, Hurricane Thando, Racin’ Grays and Danger Boy, were tasked with roaming 21km around their homes. Their progress was recorded over seven days using custom-made fitness trackers.

Huggies covered the race in four online episodes. With a fake sports commentator narrating the action, the videos highlight the effectiveness of Huggies diapers as if they were sports gear. Viewers could find out more about the products, as well as the babies and their training regimes, on a dedicated microsite

The Baby Marathon resulted in a 28.9% increase in Huggies’ diaper sales. The campaign trended within 10 mins of launch for 9 hours and attracted 8.4 million views.

Why it’s hot?
Brings the sportswear performance psychology to baby products.
By showing babies as athletes, it breaks away from the usual diaper efficacy claims.

Source: Huggies, South Africa

Bond: the machine that writes cards for you

We’ve seen a lot of innovations and technologies that are used to turn mail into a digital experience: QR code, AR, VR.

Bond is a company that is doing pretty much the opposite. They created a robot that has the ability to learn a person’s handwriting and replicate it, in order to help people and companies send a more “personal” mail.

How it works: they have an app where you pick from different types of cards and handwriting styles and where you can type your message. Then you just give the receiver address and they send the mail piece to you.

Although they offer a preselected range of handwriting types, they say you can also add your own –  but it seems like a not very simple process.

Here’s an interview with the founder.

Why it’s hot:
It’s a different use of technology – instead of increasing digital experiences, it aims to bring a human touch.
It can be an opportunity for a campaign for mail – for people and brands.

Source: Fast Company


A History of Olympic Pictograms

With many cultures and languages coming together in one place for the Olympics, pictograms have been important iconography to clearly indicate different events on signage, tickets, etc.

Here is a quote from the Pyeongchang Organizing Committee about designing the 2018 Winter olympic pictograms:

“They have been designed based on the Korean alphabet known as Hangeul. This is a system of letters that is unique to Korea and it was also used in the design of the official Games emblems. From the 16 vowels and 14 consonants of Hangeul that exist, four consonants and three vowels were selected and have been reflected in the pictograms.” — POCOG Press Office


The Evolution of Olympic Pictograms

“Aicher’s pictograms marked the debut of the circular head, the 45- and 90-degree angled lines, and the simplified body shapes that would become standard stick figure iconography not just in the Olympics but throughout the world–even the design schema developed by the U.S. Department of Transportation was based on it.”

The original Olympic Pictograms by Otl Aicher and team for the 1972 Munich Summer Olympics

Pictograms of the 1984 Sarajevo Winter Olympics

“Notice the painterly, imperfect, almost calligraphic lines. Some of the designs even veer into the abstract. ”

Barcelona Summer and Albertville Winter Olympics Pictograms (1992)

“This design awakening took on the task of introducing cultural history into the pictographs. In 1994, Lillehammer gave us some Norwegian rock carvings.”

“In 2000, Sydney threw some boomerangs into the effort. And in 2004, Athens found inspiration in the artwork of ancient Greek vases.”

“The 2000s saw a rapid advancement in design software and the pictograms of the Turin Olympic Games in 2006 and London in 2012 feel likewise touched by a more advanced set of tools. Witness a whole new level of craftsmanship in the presentation of volume, transparency, form, and color.”

Why It’s Hot: The original Olympic pictograms created by Otl Aicher have influenced other pictograms, like the US Department of Transportation. As time has gone on the pictograms represent more and more of the host city’s culture and language, which makes each set a unique expression of the time and place of that event. This year’s pictograms have a return to simplicity, while still being able to convey and represent South Korea’s rich language and culture.


HBO will host an interactive ‘Westworld’ park at this year’s SXSW

HBO has quite the plan to celebrate Westworld at the South by Southwest Conference and Festivals in Austin, Texas, in March. The network announced February 21 that it is building an actual park based on the show that will be open to visitors from March 9 to March 11. The park is more than two acres in size, and it will feature locations like the Coronado hotel and the Mariposa Saloon. There will even be actors playing “hosts” that visitors can interact with throughout their visit.

Perhaps the most exciting part of the entire experience is the fact that it offers season 2 clues. Visitors will be able to look for them as they go through the different parts of the park, and they will be able to try to uncover others in their conversations with hosts. Let’s hope they share whatever they discover.

The experience lasts about two hours, and keeping with the theme, visitors will be taken to and from the site in a Delos shuttle. There is, unfortunately, a limited number of slots available. HBO made half of them available online at the website DiscoverWestworld.com, and they filled up quickly. However, more will open up during SXSW.
Why It’s HotAwesome show, tired tradeshow. What is big time experiential is the next way in?


Augmented news

The New York Times app started to incorporate AR into its digital content that makes flat images three-dimensional.

In an article reporting on the Winter Olympics, NYT uses the technology to allow readers to engage with the content, the athletes. Readers can look closer on some parts of the content, look at it from a different angle and walk around it. This functionality extends the time a reader spends on the article by letting them engage with the content.

Why it’s hot: using technology to add value to content and improve customer experience.

Scientists develop a 3D-printed smartphone microscope

Australian researchers at the Centre of Excellence for Nanoscale BioPhotonics, a transdisciplinary government network, have created a 3D-printed device that clips onto smartphones, transforming them into fully functional microscopes. The device was developed with the goal of helping researchers and scientists have access to this crucial tool in remote regions and developing countries.

The microscope works by clipping an additional lens to the phone’s camera lens, and then holding slides up to it. Users can use the phone’s existing flash to do bright field or dark field imaging, which means the microscope can visualize both plant and mammalian cells. It’s powerful enough to view specimens as small as 1/200th of a millimeter. All of this means that the microscope can be used for things like analyzing water cleanliness, testing blood samples for parasites, and diagnosing diseases including malaria.

There are other portable microscopes on the market, but they require external LEDs and power sources, and get bulky surprisingly fast. This microscope makes full use of the smartphone as a power and light source, requiring nothing other than the clip itself.

Best of all? The researchers have made the 3D printing files free to the public. Good job, team.

Why It’s Hot: The 3D printer is again an innovation powerhouse, creating lifesaving technology with an incredibly low barrier to entry. And in making the printing files free to the public, these researchers are making a fantastic statement on putting the common good above individual profit. Would this have happened if a corporation, not a government program, made this innovation?

Learn More: Engadget | Newsweek