Increased Use of Point of Care Tactics Offer Opportunity For Better In-office Experience

MM&M announced this week that “up to 20% of pharma brands are moving digital media spend to point-of-care tactics” which was grounded in a study fielded by ZS Associates. To a certain extent, this is unsurprising as many forms of digital media such as social and display continue to face increasing scrutiny around the topic of ad fraud.

This will have an impact on two key audiences in healthcare marketing – patients and providers – which if well thought through, should be overwhelmingly positive.

Phreesia Patient Intake Platform

Patients

Platforms such as Phreesia offer patients the opportunity to engage with content as part of the intake process. The biggest challenge here will be placements that are relevant to the specific patient as there is a potential to spend effort on poor placements. Case in point; when I took my son to the pediatrician for his flu shot this year, I was offered the opportunity to “Learn More” about a branded product. The only thing I can recall about the brand is that is had nothing to do with why I was there and wouldn’t be appropriate for my son. Contextual relevance will be critical to success in these moments.

epocrates advertising platform from athenahealth

Providers

HCPs, particularly PCPs, are the target of massive amounts of marketing. Overwhelming is an understatement here. When you consider the necessity of staying abreast of current trends and new therapies, to a certain extent, they need to be exposed to these messages. However, when it’s all said and done, the moment that matters is when the Rx decision is made. The opportunity to be a relevant part of that moment as part of the HCPs workflow in the EHR/EMR offers pharma companies an incredible opportunity. When you consider the number of drugs that don’t have the budget for mass DTC advertising, the HCP really is the decision maker in the therapy of choice.

Why It’s Hot

While contextual relevance for audiences is improving and offers plenty of potential, the real win will be when a brand can own the conversation across the moments in an office visit.

Consider a diabetes patient checking in for a check-up who is offered a message around potential therapy they may be eligible with a DTC ad based upon key factors pulled through from their EHR.

Then, at the end of the appointment, the HCP if offered a targeted message in the EHR with a savings offer the patient can print and take with them.

With brands doubling down on these POC channels, we have the opportunity to take the in-office experience to new levels.

Overcoming the Challenges of Wearable Tech

Project Jacquard, an experimental initiative from Google’s Advanced Technology and Projects group, has partnered with Levi’s to create the Commuter Trucker denim jacket.


Source: https://www.fastcompany.com/40473911/google-and-levis-stitch-up-a-connected-jacket

“Aside from a couple of visual tells—subtle patches of raised stitches and a plastic button on its cuff—the Levi’s Commuter Trucker looks exactly like what you’d expect from the 144-year-old brand: a timeless jean jacket that keeps you warm while looking cool. But appearances deceive. The jacket is actually an interface between you and your phone. Brush, tap, or cover the right spot and you can answer or ignore calls, switch up your music, or get travel-time updates, all without looking at a screen.”

The Challenges

  1. Creating durable conductive thread. Tech is treated with gloves, textiles are meant to endure tough situations from being exposed to fire (to remove extra cotton fibers) to heated presses and pre-skewing (Levi’s process where toothed grips latch and torque the fabric).
  2. Figuring out how the wearer would interact with the interface, which is stitched onto the sleeve). “Levi’s and Google arrived at four main motions: brush in, brush out, tap, or cover the connected area. The actions are subtle enough so you can silence an incoming phone call during a conversation and it just looks like you’re brushing dust off your sleeve.”

Although relatively primitive, the gestures don’t do much more than what the remote control on earbuds, this is a starting point.

Why it’s hot:

  • Because although voice-based interactions are becoming more an more prevalent (Siri or Alexa), touch still has an important role to play in our future interactions with new technology meant to disrupt and replace our screens.

Pillboxes May Not Belong in the “Internet of Things” After All

Many people working in the healthcare space have been excited about the potential of expanding device connectivity to medication administration in recent years. After all, pill bottles are “things” so why not incorporate them into the “Internet of Things,” right?

As a result, various private innovation firms, as well as major pharmaceutical companies, have been making significant investments in developing “connected” medication dispensing systems in an effort to combat poor treatment compliance.

Lack of compliance – a patient’s inability to take a given medication as intended by their physician – is estimated to cost the US healthcare system $100 billion to $300 billion dollars a year.

Take, for example, a therapy that is self-administered once daily that also needs to be titrated to meet the unique, metabolic needs of a particular patient. If the patient skips a few doses, goes in for a follow up and swears, “Scout’s Honor, Doc!” that he didn’t miss a day – but in fact only remembered to take it about 60% of the time – the dose adjustment the HCP gives him to meet his unique, but misrepresented, needs may trigger an adverse event – pharma-speak for “serious side-effect” – if he suddenly decides to take the medication as intended.

Now consider the value of a medication container that communicates with the patient’s Bluetooth equipped phone. It can remind the patient to take his medication, record the time it was taken down to the second, and, when paired with a wearable technology, could also record additional health related data that gives additional context. This additional context also gives the health care provider more context in which to manage chronic conditions.

When paired with a relevant app, it can also give an additional view into consumer behavior to help marketers better understand optimal cadence and content topics to increase performance in their marketing plans.

However, a recent study published in JAMA showed that a study of post heart attack patients who were provided electronic pill bottles, combined with financial incentives and social support for medication adherence, had the same outcome in terms of re-hospitalization rate, medication adherence, and total medical costs as those who were not provided these resources.

Why It’s Hot:

While making the health connection has been a major leap forward from a technological perspective, it hasn’t solved the challenge of reshaping human behavior. Yet.

Until this technology has a better rate of success in reshaping patient outcomes, broader adoption of this technology may be in question.

Smog Eating Bikes to Alleviate Beijing Smog

Beijing’s smog condition is out of control, but design firm Studio Roosegaarde is up for the challenge of reducing or eliminating it.

The anti-smog bicycles are expected to hit the Chinese city’s streets by the end of the year.

Here’s how the bikes work: A device installed near the handlebars of the bike sucks in smoggy air and filters out particulates like soot or dust, clearing the way for what will essentially be a bubble of clean air right in front of the rider.

The bikes are still in the planning stage, so their effectiveness has yet to be put to the test, but it’s possible that this air-filtration system could benefit more than just the cyclist who rides it. With Roosegaarde’s partner bike-sharing service Ofo providing access to over 6.5 million bikes in Asia and the U.K., a lot of air could end up running through those filters.

(Source:https://www.good.is/articles/beijing-bicycles-remove-smog-directly-from-the-air)

The design firm is known for creating other anti-smog tech. In 2016, they created a Smog Free tower, a 22 foot tall construction that can filter a million cubic feet an hour, with much of the particulate matter collected made into fashion accessories.

Why it’s Hot: 

  • Outside the box thinking of enabling everyday items to help reduce pollution and help the environment is another way of tackling our environmental concerns that is accessible and feasible.

Augmented reality without glasses

Diagram of artificial lense

Artificial lens diagram via techcrunch.com

Six months ago, Omega Ophthalmics did a small trial of seven patients outside of the US. Their goal was to test for adverse effects of a surgery similar to lens replacements that often accompany cataract removals. The difference? Rather than replacing the cloudy lens with a normal artificial lens, surgeons instead implanted a lens that could be used for augmented reality, interactive sensors, or drug delivery.

Why it’s hot

Although widespread adoption of this technology is unlikely in the near future, scientists, entrepreneurs, and venture capitalists hope that there is a market for such implants in an aging population that wants to be independent for longer. Whether this small trial is successful may pave the way for larger trials to test additional possibilities and risk.

Learn more at TechCrunch.com

Beyond The Pill is moving to Game On!

Can conservative Pharma companies becomes Gamers? Although a large investment by Merck and AMGEN was announced several months ago, the repercussions are now being felt. This could help open up the long pent-up demand for innovation by Pharma manufacturers.

The investment news came last summer, as quoted in FierceBiotech: “Akili Interactive Labs, the Boston-based startup developing nonpharmacological therapeutics for various cognitive disorders like autism and Alzheimer’s disease, got an $11.9 million boost in funding, raising its total Series B proceeds to $42.4 million.” Basically, they use gamification to improve cognitive function.

Recently, the new Pharma and gamer partners announced their first accomplishment, EVO, the game:

The first game application for children with a cognitive disorder has proven highly effective. This gives the marketers a differentiating aspect to their Rx. Being a fact-based industry, this is big news.

Why is this hot?

  • The terms “Beyond The Pill” has become the industries code for “innovation” — trying to offer some technology or service to make their drug stand-out in the minds of doctors and consumers. “Innovation” is a word that is intensely frightening to most Pharma marketers. For several years, as more and more blockbusters (drugs with sales over $1 billion) become generics (70% of ALL drugs are now generics), Pharma has been haphazardly explored partnerships and technologies, but has often failed due to cultural entropy and conservatism in the C-suite. This is a first.
  • Change needs to come from the C-suite: $11 million is a lot of money, especially for an industry so conservative and ROI-obsessed.  Every company, even MRM-McCann clients, are looking for ways to engage patients from clinical trials through drug adherence — the entire product lifecycle.
  • I have been “selling” into one of our Pharma clients an Artificial Intelligence platform from a company that did Sgt Star on the U.S. Army site; we have had several meetings to try and issue AI as their Beyond The Pill strategy for launch of a new ADHD drug; this success with Akili may make that path easier.

AR Transforms Home Mobility

Thyssenkrupp, in partnership with Microsoft, has partnered to transform the manufacturing of home mobility.

A home mobility solution is a particularly personal product; it becomes a part of the customer’s home, and it’s a tool that preserves their ability to maintain independence and have full access to their space.The decision to invest in a mobility solution can be difficult – it goes beyond financial tradeoffs, encompassing as well the emotional impact of changing abilities.

Removing obstacles from the process helps turn a potentially uncomfortable customer experience into one that is quick and easy, thereby increasing the percentage of accounts that move forward.

Source

Benefits:

  • The sales person can measure the staircase during the first visit
  • The measured data is automatically stored and shared without the risk of human error
  • Allows for customized solutions to be easily decided upon and approved

“The digitization of the sales and manufacturing processes has reduced delivery times as much as 4x.”

 

Why it’s Hot: 

  • HoloLens can be incorporated into different workflows for maximized efficiency, imagine the possibilities!
  • Understanding the consumer pain pain point was what spurred the implementation of this technology which additionally has great operations improvements.

 

Can Facebook Turn Blue Into Green?

Can advertisers target teens when they’re feeling sad? Facebook might want to help them find out. Facebook came under fire this week when leaked documents showed Facebook Australia promoted advertising campaigns that exploit Facebook users’ emotional states—and how these are aimed at users as young as 14 years old.

According to the report in The Australian, the selling point of this 2017 document is that Facebook’s algorithms can determine, and allow advertisers to pinpoint, “moments when young people need a confidence boost.” If that phrase isn’t clear enough, Facebook’s document offers a litany of teen emotional states that the company claims it can estimate based on how teens use the service, including “worthless,” “insecure,” “defeated,” “anxious,” “silly,” “useless,” “stupid,” “overwhelmed,” “stressed,” and “a failure.”

The data is specific to teens in Australia and New Zealand only.

Facebook responded to the report: “Facebook does not offer tools to target people based on their emotional state. The analysis done by an Australian researcher was intended to help marketers understand how people express themselves on Facebook. It was never used to target ads and was based on data that was anonymous and aggregated.”

https://arstechnica.com/business/2017/05/facebook-helped-advertisers-target-teens-who-feel-worthless/

Why its hot

Facebook knows everything about us and this ability to gather incredibly intimate data raises obvious ethical questions. Should a pharma brand be able to target medication to mother’s with sick children? Should a sports supplement brand be able to target kids who feel weak?

In Two Shakes of a Lamb’s Tail We’ll be Growing Humans in Fluid Filled Bags

So we’re able to let Lambs develop outside the womb.

Physicians at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia worked with 23 week-old lambs to in order test a synthetic device that imitates a woman’s uterus, hoping to limit mortality and disease in premature children that are born before 37 weeks.

Premature birth is the leading cause of death for newborns. So it makes sense that we try to find a solution, albeit a creepy looking one. In this successful breakthrough, lambs were placed in transparent biobags just 105 days after they started development, which is equivalent to about 22 weeks of human development.

The lambs were kept in the biobags for four weeks. During this time, they grew hair; their lungs developed; and they reached the point where they could survive on their own.

Remarkably, the eight lambs in the trial developed normally in the artificial womb and each survived, proving that the biobag successfully mimicked the natural conditions found in the uterus—and paving the way for a new life-saving device for humans.

Although the fluid-filled plastic enclosure can’t develop a child for an entire nine-month term, it can allow us to incubate them remarkably soon after conception. The team of physicians is already in talks with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and clinical trials are slated to begin in the next 3 to 5 years.

Image result for the matrix image coming out of the goo

Read more here.

Why it’s hot:

  1. ‘Cause this new device could allow premature babies to develop in natural conditions and maybe avoid a host of chronic health conditions.

Monkeys in Magenta

After seven years, the digital band, Gorillaz, are releasing a new album, and as part of their promotion, a new app is encouraging people to find the color magenta to unlock unique content.

Deutsche Telekom has created the Lenz app that will unlock new content for users whenever they hover it over something magenta — the brand’s corporate color.

The brand has teamed up with the virtual band, Gorillaz, to launch the Lenz app, which was created by Saatchi & Saatchi for the Deutsche Telekom music and lifestyle platform, Electronic Beats. With the new app, when a user finds something magenta (it could be a t-shirt, a flower or anyting that matches the Pantone range), they can hold their phone over it, to reveal new content from Gorillaz, including the first ever “live” interview with the band using motion capture and composition technology, and exclusive clips from the band’s new album “Humanz,” dropping on April 28. The app uses Chroma Keying technology to use the color to unlock the content.

http://creativity-online.com/work/deutsche-telekom-lenz-app/51602 

Why It’s Hot

This is a really cool activation. It is great positioning for Deutsche Telekom because it’s not overly intrusive or brand-heavy. And Gorillaz of course gain additional buzz around their upcoming album. I think this is a great example of a brand involving itself in a moment without trying to take it over.

Facebook’s latest superpower: mind reading

So Facebook is developing a way for users to type and create posts with their mind. Not even your mind is safe anymore, Facebook wants it.

Stanford University researchers have already created a system that allows paralyzed patients type eight words per minute using only thought, although that is achieved via an invasive implanted electrode array.

Building 8’s provisions, it is claimed, will be entirely non-invasive, and optimize human function, for instance allowing people to type faster than they would physically, up to as much as 100 words per minute or more.

Even though this is decades away from being streamlined and super available there has been huge backlash from people in regards to ethical, legal, and social implications. It’s been reported that this type of technology may start out in the form of smart clothes, where smart clothes transit data.. instead of your mind.

Why its hot?

  • Aside from Facebook, only one other person is developing this type of technology. Elon Musk is creating his own brain-computer interface with a new venture called Neuralink.
  • When this technology becomes accessible, it will change everything. Who knows how many other companies will have developed similar device/tech.
  • How can we create strategies around this tech? How much data will be collected? So many questions…

Source: http://www.adweek.com/digital/facebook-is-working-on-technology-that-lets-you-type-and-control-vr-devices-with-your-mind/

Evolution of Adidas Product Development

Adidas is creating its first mass-market shoe that is being produced through 3D printing. The shoe is called FutureCraft 4D and it will be in market this year. One unique aspect of this shoe (besides that it is printed) is that the 3D printing allows the brand to customize soles for its customers. Amazing right?!

Check this out too!

Why It’s Hot

I chose this for my Hot Sauce because 3D printing has always fascinated me. This technology was bound to help brands produce products at some point down the line and now Adidas is testing it out. Considering the adaption of 3D printing, its going to be interesting to see how more brands leverage this technology and cut down human labor. At the end of the day, how will this impact jobs?

Getting People Comfortable with Technology

In collaboration with Oxbotica, the city of London is testing a self-driving shuttle that will ferry +/-100 people along a short route in an effort to show average people they can safely ride and share a space with autonomous cars.

The model being tested is designed to provide safe transportation in and environment which presents multiple obstacles (pedestrians crossing paths). Their goal is to find out how passengers react to the experience of being transported by a computer-run system. They also hope to gain insights on interior design and functionality.

Why it’s hot: 

  1. Not everyone has access ($$) to technology, but as it becomes more ubiquitous, everyone needs to be familiarized/comfortable in order for the technology to be widely accepted and implemented.
  2. As advertisers/marketers, we often face the challenge of getting consumers to adopt new technologies and have to find ways to familiarize people with changing tech (ike the cardboard VR glasses).

 

Create A Custom Sweater – No Perspiration Required

Adidas has taken the bespoke clothing trend a bit farther with a new machine that allows customers to design, virtually try on and then produce their own custom sweater. Using new body scan technology, the in store device exactly measures the customer and then allows them to design their own pattern from 100’s of colors. The machine then knits right in store and you get a custom designed sweater.

Why Its Hot

Creating immersive  VR/AR experiences that are truly relatable and useful is a challenge for any innovator. Finding ways to make something standard like shopping for clothes and integrated it with the latest technology is a great way to engage consumers that might not have had exposure to this technology. As we work to create the best experiences possible its not always the most flashy execution that makes the experience worthwhile.

The Winners and Losers of YouTube’s Brand Saftey Crisis

The ripple of the video giant’s woes has gotten so great that some have predicted the impact from major brands could cost YouTube $750 million. Seemingly, there are some that are happy when such a kink in the armor is exposed, but there are myriad of stakeholders, each with their own perspective. With that amount of money – as well as brand reputation and confidence – at stake there are going to be some winners and losers, and here they are:

WINNERS

Old-fashioned publishers

These are the classic media players who started losing their lunch the second Google started owning the internet. One could imagine publishers grinning ear to ear, thinking, “Told ya so. Quality content isn’t so easy.” They can can make a more convincing case that knowing the content and the audience actually is still important.

This issue can resurface a shift to high-quality, direct-bought content, where brands have the most control but pay a premium for it in some cases.

Streamers

Anyone selling streaming ads is in a good position – including Sling, Dish and even TV networks. Hulu, Roku, TV networks and anyone with a digital video platform will be showing off their highly curated content. These new shows and programming will look pretty good to anyone with a heightened interest in knowing exactly where their messages will appear.

Tech tools & 3rd Party Verification Partners

Brands have called for digital platforms like Facebook and Google to clean up the media supply chain and to be more transparent with data. The brand safety issue on YouTube is yet another bit of leverage to force more cooperation.

Independent third parties like Integral Ad Science, Double Verify, Moat and others will find more brands at their doorsteps looking for ways to ensure their ads appear near quality content.

The agency

One of the most important roles for agencies was helping brands make sure their ads didn’t show up in the wrong place by intimately knowing the targeting, brand safety protections and best practices of each channel. Well, now those services are increasingly valuable.

LOSERS

Net neutrality

When the Trump administration makes further moves to undo net neutrality, as many anticipate based on current momentum repealing FCC consumer protections, Google’s ability to defend it in idealistic terms could be undermined by all the talk about serving ads on terrorist video.

Programmatic

It took a long time for programmatic to stop being a dirty word. Programmatic advertising was once considered the least controlled, lowest quality ad inventory at the lowest price. In part, brands could start to pull back from blind, untargeted buying without transparency.

YouTubers

YouTube has said that part of its solution is to implement stricter community standards, and that could mean more bannings and ad blocking from their videos, impacting their earnings.They could be quicker to cut a channel at the smallest offense now that brands are watching closely.

Advertisers still on YouTube – this is a tricky one to classify and it’s too early to say. We’ll have to see how the video platform reacts over time to increasing pressures to allow verification partners and data trackers access within the garden’s walls.

Why It’s (Still) Hot:

This topic will continue to be important to the brands we represent, aim to represent and even those far from us that are faced with the same decision to either stay the course or sit it out. There is a lot of money moving around on media plans, a lot of POV’s being routed and a lot of reps working overtime to reassure teams of buyers/planners that they are taking brand safety very seriously. Often it’s not the crisis that defines a company, but what they do in the aftermath. Some are hopeful that this is a definitive crack in the ‘walled garden’-  but even if it is not, we’re all hoping for a better, safer platform at the end of this tunnel…a world where once again clients can be irked by their premium pre-rolls showing up prefacing water skiing squirrels and dancing cat videos instead of terrorist rhetoric.

Ready to Choose Your Own Adventure?

Netflix is working on technology that will allow viewers to choose their own adventure. They are considering implementing a new interactive storytelling technology for their shows and will have actors film alternative plot segments so that viewers at home can decide the shows unfolding.

Image result for Journey Under the Sea

Much like the Choose Your Own Adventure books of our youth, viewers will be able to decide how their show develops. Some storylines will have simple and linear choices while others will be more complex. All will be handled through your remote control.

Netflix will be running a trial with children’s shows later this year. If they are successful, they will use the model for adult programs.

Image result for alternate ending meme

 

Why it’s hot: 

  1. As attention spans get shorter and shorter, we’ll see a rise in interactive content in order to keep consumers engaged and on platform.
  2. Data, data, data… by allowing consumers to interact with the content, Netflix will be gaining valuable information from consumers which will help improve their customer experience.

Telehealth is here, it’s what next that is truly…

Scary? Amazing? Ruined by bad user experience? Right for some not for others? Revolutionary?

Telehealth video calls surpassed 50 million in the US last year. Telehealth video visits will reach 158 million by 2020. Just pick up your phone and you get a video consult with a doctor. There are two points to be made: it is not that Telehealth is big news, it is the dramatic rate of adoption starting…now.

A recent study done by AmericanWell, a major Telehealth provider, basically proves an aggressive adoption rate, but with caveats.  One of the major barriers? A doctor is really not allolwed to diagnose you over the phone. Another? Telehealth also weakens your relationship with a doctor, who uses visual observation as a key tool for diagnosis. But here are the stats that make it hot:

  1. Today, 50 million U.S. consumers would switch providers to one that offers telehealth.*
  2. Willingness to switch to a doctor that offers Telehealth is highest among parents of children under age 18 and 35-44 year olds.
  3. 60 percent of consumers who are willing to have an online Telehealth visit would see a doctor online for help managing a chronic condition.
  4. 67 percent of adults ages 45-64 who are willing to have an online Telehealth visit would see a doctor online for help managing a chronic condition.
  5. 79 percent of consumers currently caring for an ill or aging relative say a multi-way video Telehealth service would be helpful.

Why this is hot? Not because it is accelerating in use, but for what comes next: biometric sensors for your phone so when you do a video tele-consult, any of us will allow the doctor’s network to hook into all your health data, perhaps resolving the “no diagnosing” barrier. But there are real concerns. Is convenience gained but something lost? Would you like the world better if you didn’t have to go through the hastle of arranging and going to a doctors office? How do the doctors feel? And who is this doctor anyway — do you medical advice from someone you know and trust?

This year, with our IPG health insurance, we all received a plastic flyer offering the service to all employees, 24/7. Please share any experiences you have, if you feel comfortable doing so.

Explainable AI

We teach machines to think like humans. We ask them to solve complex tasks that increase in difficulty and the machine iterates and learns to handle new obstacles thrown its way. But how can humans understand how machines come up with specific solutions? What can we learn from the machines and their rationale process?

Explainable AI, an emerging field in AI research will help answer those questions. Through explainable AI, we will be able to understand a machine’s rationale, characterize their strengths and weaknesses in the decision-making process and have a better understanding of how they will behave in the future.

“Consider the use of AI-powered machines to help Wall Street firms trade stocks and other financial instruments. What if automated trading systems start building a massive position in a stock, against everything that the market appears to be predicting? If you were the head of the equity trading team, you’d expect those machines to be able to explain how they came to that decision. Maybe they discovered a market inefficiency that nobody has noticed yet, or maybe they are getting better at anticipating the moves of other rival Wall Street firms. But when millions of dollars are potentially at stake, you want to make sure that a bunch of machines are trading your money wisely.”

Why it’s hot:

  • Understanding how a machine “thinks” helps research teams check and debug machines over time so that they can anticipate how it will act in the future
  • XAI (explainable AI) brings us one step closer to making machines accountable for their actions, just like humans are (self-driving cars)
  • XAI could potentially help humans identify inefficiencies or understand complexities that were once a mystery

Crunch Responsibly

Tostitos partnered with Uber and Mothers Against Drunk Driving to develop a limited-edition bag that acts as a breathalyser. When alcohol is detected, red LEDs on the packet light up with the message ‘Don’t Drink and Drive’. To further help the unfortunate, or fortunate 😉 , drunkard the bag is NFC enabled so they can order an Uber by just tapping the bag.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3w26ymG7xYU

Why It’s Hot:

  • Breaks through the Super Bowl advertising clutter by leveraging tech in an innovative way
  • It’s not technology for the sake of technology – it addresses a consumer need
  • Execution reinforces Tostitos’ “Party Bag” positioning within a very relevant consumption moment

 

How A Harvard Professor Is Digitizing Scent

Cyrano is a “digital smell speaker” and the latest endeavor from Harvard professor and serial inventor, David Edwards—known for such madcap creations as smokable chocolate, edible food packaging, and inhalable alcohol.

Cyrano is a compact, portable device that emits 12 different scents that users can mix and match to create a “playlist” they can control via an app. The scents are divided into smells that are energizing, relaxing, and escapist. Selecting “Get Away,” for example, will give you a tropical melody of Bellini, guava, coconut, and suntan lotion; meanwhile, “Get Energized” will wake you up with scents like peppermint and orange ginger.

Edwards and his team are focused on incorporating curated scents into our environments to improve our well-being. He sees it as similar to how sunlight or sound can improve your mood. “From a conscious point of view, our perception of scent is secondary [to light and sound],” he says. “But from a emotive point of view, it is primary. In particular, in relation to wellness, scent is far more powerful than light or sound.”

At a conference, Edwards used data to explain how Cyrano can improve our lifestyles and well beings: “There’s a lot of data around wellness and driving,” he says, citing statistics that about 14% of driving Americans fall asleep in the car a day. “The car is also the perfect-sized space for containing a scent so that it doesn’t dilute or mix with other smells.” Cyrano is designed to fit snugly inside a car cup holder and can play “scent melodies” to keep you energized or emit odors that calm you down. The playlist is timed to shift scents every eight minutes in order to avoid olfactory fatigue—the point at which you become so used to the smell that you stop noticing it.

Perhaps the most interesting potential application for Cyrano is medical—and Edwards is already exploring it with the help of Richard Doty, director of the University of Pennsylvania’s Smell and Taste Center. Doty’s research focuses on how scent detection correlates with disease—loss of scent is seen as an early detector for Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, for example—and sees the app as a way to administer scent tests digitally. Eventually, Edwards says, they could adapt scent tests to broad public use, so that individuals could check their health in the morning with their own custom scent track. According to Doty, “humans actually have a very advanced sense of smell, we just don’t exercise it as much as other animals”.

For now, Cyrano is being released in a limited run of 500 devices—available here for $149—with a full product release later this year.

Source: FastCo

Why is this hot?

In a modern world where natural scents are lost in the madness of industrial odors, stimulating our senses to improve our health and wellness is like going back to our origins.

Fully implantable bionic eye

A team of scientists from Australia’s University of New South Wales are ready to begin human trials of the Phoenix99–a fully implantable bionic eye. It is expected that the bionic will not only improve vision of the patient but will also be better than any current vision restoration devices. It has already been tested successfully in pre-clinical studies.

Not only is the Phoenix99 the first fully implantable device for restoring some vision, it is also the first implantable eye with neural stimulation technology.

A big goal for the research is to help restore sight in those affected by Retinitis Pigmentosa. There are 2 million people around the world that are affected by RP, a degenerative condition that can be found in patients in their 30s. Gradually, it can lead to complete blindness. The degeneration can only be slowed down with medicines, it cannot be reversed. In 2012, a team that included the same scientists from the University of South Wales, tried to restore some site in patients with RP through a partially implanted prototype device. The device was made up of an electrode array with some external devices that allowed the patients to see spots of light. The special cameras on the device helped the users to get a sense of distance. The Phosphenes appeared brighter when still objects came closer.

Unlike that device, the Phoenix99 is fully implantable and is expected to provide better vision to the user. The device consists of a small disc that goes behind the ear, which transmits data and powers the device. The user also wears glasses equipped with a special camera. The camera captures the images that then stimulate the nerve cells in the patient’s retina.

Why It’s Hot

If the human trials go well, the team says the bionic eye could be available to the mainstream public within 5 years. If so, this could help improve the lives of 200 million people around the World that have some form of progressive vision loss such as RP or macular degeneration.

This is also a significant step in the use of implantable technology to improve our health and lives. While work in stem cells and other areas looks to culture and grow new organs and tissues, technology is working in parallel to find ways to address these same issues with bionic parts.

 

Rickshaws go Uber, without Uber

Even while Uber has, for the time being, backed out of on-demand rickshaws, New Delhi-based startup Jugnoo confirmed this week that it is closed another round of fundraising to continue to help make India’s ubiquitous auto-rickshaw drivers more efficient while also meeting consumer transportation demands. The service launched in November 2014 and is currently operating in 22 cities and claims 2 million users, around 6,000 drivers and about 30,000 rides per day. The co-founder and CEO of Jugnoo, Samar Singla, told TechCrunch in an interview that he started the service when he realized that auto-rickshaw drivers are just 30 percent utilized. The goal is to drive utilization up to 60 percent.

Top priority for this year is to expand Jugnoo’s presence into an additional 25 cities in India, most of which will be second-tier. untitled

Why It’s Hot

Uber failed at their initial attempt to enter the auto-rickshaw market with UberAUTO. They were unable to localize to the Indian market. India is Uber’s second largest market outside of the US, but it faces significant pressures from rivals such as Ola and Jugnoo.

 

Newest Sleep Number Bed Tracks Your Daytime Activities

The latest Sleep Number “It” bed not only analyzes how you sleep but also tracks what you do during the day to help you get the best sleep possible. In addition, it can pull in data such as weather forecasts and traffic reports to provide you with recommendations, such as going to bed earlier, to help you get the most out of your sleep.

The “It” bed was unveiled at CES in Las Vegas this week. In addition to using the existing sleep-tracking SleepIQ biometric technology that uses sensors to track presence, movement, and heart and breathing rates while using the mattress, the new bed connects to your mobile devices using Bluetooth or Wi-Fi to track your activity throughout the day.

The data can include when you eat, exercise, your schedule for the day, etc. Based on this data, the mattress suggests ideal firmness levels and ideas for how to get the best sleep.

Why It’s Hot
 We spend a large percentage of our lives sleeping, and sleep is vital to our health. As mhealth and the Internet of Things continues to grow, it makes sense that data be used to optimize our sleep experiences. This in turn may lead to better overall health and improved productivity!

Lean Cuisine Blocks TV Diet Ads

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At CES, Lean Cuisine announced that they have created a way to block “diet” ads on TV just in time for the big push of New Year’s resolution diet commercials. Traditionally Lean Cuisine has always tried not to focus specifically on weight or dieting, but instead eat and living a more balanced lifestyle. The box, essentially block the words “diet” and “weight loss” and provides a counter for users to see how many of these ads they have been able to avoid. In addition to the tool that blocks ads on TV, they have also created a Chrome extension so that you can also avoid these buzzwords on the internet. http://www.adweek.com/news/technology/lean-cuisine-found-clever-way-wipe-out-all-those-annoying-diet-ads-168887lean-cuisine-block-hed-2016

 

BlaBlaCar’s Chattiness Index

Paris-based BlaBlaCar is a popular car-sharing service in Europe, but not well known or established elsewhere. What makes them interesting is that during sign-up they have a “chattiness” index that asks the user how chatty they are in a car. They are either “blah,” “blah blah,” or “blah, blah, blah.” They can also select their fellow riders based on whether they smoke or what music they listen to. What is interesting and ironic in many ways is that the backlash to “Uber” in France has been tremendous. Unlike Uber, BlaBlaCar does not have contract workers or employed drivers, but is more a carpooling app. Drivers simply charge their fellow riders a small fee for gas and drop them off along the way to their final destination. And because it is more ridesharing that a car service, it does not have to deal with the regulatory hurdles that have challenged Uber in Europe. The company is valued at $1.6B, making it the only startup in France estimated at more than $1B.

Why It’s Hot

While Uber and other services may not be able to gain an enduring foothold in Europe, home-made solutions such as BlaBlaCar may be successful. It shows the universal need to find alternate solutions from getting from point A to point B.

 

Ditch That Water Bottle And Drink Your Water Out Of An Edible Blob

Ooho is an edible water “bottle” that turns your disposable drink into something more like an overripe fruit. To make one, a blob of water is frozen then coated with a transparent, dual-layer membrane made of brown algae and calcium chloride. When it’s done, the water is held in the bag, and you just take a bite to drink it. The Ooho just won a $22,500 European sustainability award.

 

The blob, which looks a little like a silicone implant, is a compound made from brown algae and calcium chloride that creates a gel around the water. “The double membrane protects the inside hygienically, and makes it possible to put labels between the two layers without any adhesive,” says co-founder Rodrigo García González. The blob is intended to replace petroleum-based plastic water bottles, sales of which are about to hit 233 billion liters this year.

Clearly, the Ooho is impractical as a drinking container, as the video shows. But a biodegradable container made from renewable sources that is so “natural” that it can be eaten—this really could replace any plastic packaging.
Source: FastCo?
Why is this hot?
I think we can all agree that there are too many packaging on the shelf, right?

Smart stethoscope gets FDA stamp of approval

Eko Devices, a smart medical device startup, announced this Wednesday that its Eko Core product has been cleared by the FDA. The device turns standard stethoscopes into “smart” ones. It allows doctors to take digital records of patient heartbeats using Bluetooth technology. The records are transmitted wirelessly to Eko’s HIPAA-compliant smartphone app and web portal. Eko will also sell a smart stethoscope for doctor’s who want to abandon the traditional scopes altogether.

The device costs $199 and allows doctors to chart heartbeats over time and send the recordings to specialists for further review.

Eko, which has received $2.8 million in funding, is only just beginning its cardiovascular innovations.

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Why It’s Hot

While much of the medical field has gone digital, it’s been a slow transition for the nearly 200-year-old stethoscope.

Beyond the Eko Core, the company is conducting trials in 2 San Fran hospitals to pool heartbeat data from 200 kids and 200 adults. The data will be analyzed and tested to help develop a Shazam-like heartbeat functionality being built by Eko. This is slated to underdo separate FDA-testing starting early in 2016. It would allow clinicians to interpret the heart sounds based on algorithms developed by engineers that analyze the pooled recordings.

 

E-Commerce in Dashboards Offers Convenience But Privacy Risks

Most cars sold today lack the technology for drivers to pay for items they purchase (unless they use a smartphone). But by 2022, 82.5 million autos worldwide will be connected to the internet, more than triple the number now, according to researcher IHS Automotive. In the next two to five years, “buy buttons” connected to smartphone mobile wallets will start appearing on dashboards, according to Richard Crone, who runs payment adviser Crone Consulting. That means motorists will soon be able to buy a pizza, fill up the tank or preorder a half caf skinny macchiato from Starbucks without pulling out their phone.

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Banks and credit card companies are looking to pile in. Visa has developed an app for the dashboard or smartphone that enables the car to automatically purchase gasoline, parking and fast food.

But automakers this summer have proven easy targets for hackers as we mentioned in previous Hot Sauce posts here and here.

Why It’s Hot

This new technology will create more opportunities for brands to connect with their customers at the right moment (e.g. alter drivers of deals at Dunkin Donuts when they are driving near a location) while also providing overall convenience to consumers. Unfortunately there are also concerns that this will also create opportunities for hackers to steal credit card numbers, and other personal information that could lead to identify theft.

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CNN: Bill Gates’ poop water machine gets a test run

Earlier this year, Bill Gates posted a video of himself drinking water made from human feces. The video went viral. The water Gates drank was proceeded by a machine that collects human waste and converts it into safe, reusable byproducts such as water and electricity.

According to a blog post from Gates this week, the processor referred to as the “Omni Processor,” is getting its first test run in Senegal. Specifically, it will be tested in Dakar, a city of more than 3 million people, with about 1/3 not having access to the city’s sewer system. Groundwater contamination is common.

The Omni Processor makes much of the current waste management process obsolete, potentially making sanitation much cheaper for Dakar. The machine also saves the city money by powering the rest of the sanitation facility with electricity converted from the waste it processed. Treated water can be drunk or used for irrigation, and ash can be made into bricks.

Gates said the Omni Processor is succeeding in its test run, and the results have been promising. Gates and Janicki aim to bring more Omni Processors to other cities in need.

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Why It’s Hot

According to the CNN article, more than 2 billion people around the world — nearly a third of humanity — use toilets that aren’t connected to a sewer system. Poor sanitation kills 700,000 children every year, according to Gates. This processor can radically improve waste management and create a renewable source for electricity generation, potable water, and more.