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

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

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

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

A more intelligent Alexa

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Click-to-Buy Experiences take on a new (analog) life

‘Contextual shopping’: Publishers are using model homes for retail experiences

Home-related publications like Real Simple, Hunker and Domino are using model houses to create experiential retail experiences that can drive affiliate revenue.

Domino magazine has created staged homes for years. But this year’s house, located in Sag Harbor, NY was the first to include shoppable technology into the space. In partnership with Stage&Shop, a real estate agency and an app developer, Domino created an app that integrate codes into all of the house’s furniture and design elements that people touring the home could scan to purchase them.

Domino’s winter issue will have a feature on the home, which will also include QR codes for those products that readers use their smartphone to scan.

Brands were included in the home through product placement, and affiliate links were used in the shoppable content as well as in the house itself. But the primary revenue driver for the project still comes from the content created surrounding the home, including its print spread and digital elements. And while it’s an ongoing franchise for the brand, Cho said that Domino isn’t leaning on that revenue, but is looking for constant iterations of how to make the project better and a bigger piece of the puzzle.

 

Why It’s Hot:  An interesting convergence of digital and physical, potentially symbiotically solving parallel/complementary problems of retail and ecommerce experiences:

  • Online purchase is convenient, but I don’t get to see, touch, try physical goods before buying.
  • Retail purchase is experiential, but I don’t want all of the friction of purchase and transport home.

Immortalized in Film…? Not so fast.

Tencent Shows The Future Of Ads; Will Add Ads In Existing Movies, TV Shows

One of China’s largest online video platforms is setting out to use technology to integrate branded content into movies and TV shows from any place or era.

(Yes, a Starbucks on Tatooine…or Nike branded footwear for the first moonwalk.)

Why It’s Hot:  

  1. Potentially exponential expansion of available ad inventory
  2. Increased targetability by interest, plus top-spin of borrowed interest
  3. Additional revenue streams for content makers
  4. New questions of the sanctity of creative vision, narrative intent and historical truth

Advertising is an integral part of any business and with increasing competition, it’s more important than ever to be visible. Mirriad, a computer-vision and AI-powered platform company, recently announced its partnership with Tencent which is about the change the advertising game. If you didn’t know, Tencent is one of the largest online video platforms in China. So how does it change the advertising game, you ask?

Mirriad’s technology enables advertisers to reach their target audience by integrating branded content (or ads) directly into movies and TV series. So, for instance, if an actor is holding just a regular cup of joe in a movie, this new API will enable Tencent to change that cup of coffee into a branded cup of coffee. Matthew Brennan, a speaker and a writer who specialises in analysing Tencent & WeChat shared a glimpse of how this tech works.

While we’re not sure if these ads will be clickable, it’ll still have a significant subconscious impact, if not direct. Marketers have long talked of mood marketing that builds a personal connection between the brand and the targeted user. So, with the ability to insert ads in crucial scenes and moments, advertisers will now be able to engage with their target users in a way that wasn’t possible before.

Mirriad currently has a 2-year contract with Tencent where they’ll trial exclusively on the latter’s video platform. But if trials are successful in that they don’t offer a jarring viewing experience, we can soon expect this tech to go mainstream.

Via now drives your kids home.

Via, a leading provider and developer of on-demand public mobility, was selected by the New York City Department of Education to provide a school bus management system for the nation’s largest school district.

As the largest school district in the nation, the NYC Department of Education (DOE) transports approximately 150,000 students on 9,000 bus routes each and every day to get students safely to and from school across the City.

“Via for Schools” will be the first integrated, automated school bus routing, tracking, and communication platform in the world.

Via for Schools will utilize a flexible algorithm, which allows for both stop-to-school and home-to-school pickups, accommodating students regardless of their learning style, mobility constraints, or where they live.

 

 

Parents and students will have the ability to track, in real-time, their bus’ whereabouts and receive frequent and reliable communications in the event of service changes, improving safety and bringing important peace of mind to all users of the system. By utilizing Via’s best-in-class algorithms to optimize school bus routing, the Department of Education will be able to achieve operational efficiencies and reduce transportation costs.

 

Why it’s hot:

NYC has been a testing ground for partnering with brands to improve life in one of the most densely-populated cities in the world. This partnership is a slight variation on the same model, but rather than leasing out Via cars to the city, they’re giving away the technology behind Via.

Source: Fast Company

 

Selfies Get Serious: Introducing the 30-second selfie full-fitness checkup

Keeping an eye on subtle changes in common health risks is not an easy task for the average person. Yet, by the time real symptoms are obvious, it’s often too late to take the kind of action that would prevent a problem from snow-balling.

Researchers at the University of Toronto have developed an app that appears capable of turning a 30-second selfie into a diagnostic tool for quantifying a range of health risks.

“Anura promises an impressively thorough physical examination for just half a minute of your time. Simply based on a person’s facial features, captured through the latest deep learning technology, it can assess heart rate, breathing, stress, skin age, vascular age, body mass index (yes, from your face!), Cardiovascular disease, heart attack and stroke risk, cardiac workload, vascular capacity, blood pressure, and more.”

It’s easy to be skeptical about the accuracy of results possible from simply looking at a face for 30 seconds, but the researchers have demonstrated accuracy of measuring blood pressure up to 96% – and when the objective is to give people a way of realizing when it might be time to take action, that level of accuracy may actually be more than enough.

Why It’s Hot

For marketers looking to better identify the times, places and people for whom their products and services are likely to be most relevant, the convergence of biometrics with advanced algorithms and AI – all in a device most people carry around with them every day – could be a game-changer.

(This also brings up perennial issues of privacy & personal information, and trade-offs we need to make for the benefits emerging tech provides.)

Apple and New Museum launch AR art tours

A new way for people to experience the city!

A new way for artists to engage the public!

A new way to think about experiencing space!

Brought to you by Apple! Apple’s brand and value proposition permeates this entire experience.

Why it’s hot

Apple is positioning itself as a brand that can bring a new magical realm to life. As we work out the ways in which AR will play a role in our lives, this project sells AR in a surprising and fun way, perhaps warming people up to the idea that a life lived with a layer of AR mapped over the physical world would be desirable.

Source: Dezeen

Breaking the Bias One Translation at a Time

The words we use daily can directly affect our perception and the way we think. For example, the effect of gender bias on language can influence how both women and men see certain professions. The terms cameraman, fireman and policeman, for example, are perceived as more masculine, while words like midwife are more stereotypically feminine.

Source: https://www.contagious.io/articles/what-do-you-mean

Released on International Women’s Day 2019, ElaN Languages has created The Unbias Button, to translate biased words, such as job titles, into gender-neutral ones.

Why it’s hot: This is a subtle way to change our awareness of the words we use on a daily basis.

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.

Choose Your Own Adventure Comes to Netflix’s Black Mirror

While everyone spent their Holiday breaks blindfolding themselves after watching “Bird Box” on Netflix against the advice of the streaming service, Netflix also rolled out an interactive standalone Black Mirror movie on Dec. 28.  The interactive movie allows viewers to choose the ending.

Image result for bandersnatch

Via NY Times:

“Black Mirror,” the speculative fiction series that encouraged people to be wary of new technology, is now hoping they will embrace it. The Netflix show released just one episode on Friday, a narrative titled “Bandersnatch” during which the viewer decides what will happen next.

It begins like this: Should the teenage video game whiz Stefan have Sugar Puffs or Frosties for breakfast? Soon the choices become more consequential. Will Stefan work at a game company, tell his therapist about his mother, take his meds? As so often on “Black Mirror,” reality is up for grabs.

Viewers are voting on more than who lives and dies on one program. If the response to “Bandersnatch” is enthusiastic, Netflix will take it as a strong signal that the public is ready for interactive movies and television shows, and a new age of storytelling will commence.

Not that the company needs much encouragement. It has already developed software to help organize stories that have endless permutations. It has perfected, or so it hopes, the technical ability to present these tales on multiple platforms around the world simultaneously. And it is calling for producers to submit interactive proposals in genres from horror to romantic comedy while hinting that it already has a few new shows in the works.

The idea behind the interactive push is simple: Viewers will care more if they are complicit.

“If bad things happen, you’ll feel even more crestfallen, because you were responsible,” said Todd Yellin, Netflix’s vice president for product. “If the character is victorious, you’ll feel even more uplifted because you made that choice.”

Source: NY Times, Read More Here.

Why It’s Hot: As more and more streaming services vie for the same pieces of the pie, services like Netflix and Hulu are constantly looking for ways to be the next most talked about show.  If “Black Mirror Bandersnatch” does well, interactive long form content may be the next big thing for entertainment, much like what “Avatar” did for 3D, and what Pokemon Go did for AR.

Stay Tuned.  The Future is Bright. 

Audi Wants To Make it Easier to Pay Tolls

Companies like EZPass on the East Coast, FasTrak in California and TxTag in Texas have been helping people get through tolls faster with electronic tag devices for years. But soon, they’ll be in competition with cars that have electronic toll technology built in.

Starting with their new electronic vehicle e-tron, Audi is launching what they’re calling “Integrated Toll Module.” The technology leverages a toll transponder within the car’s rear-view mirror. Drivers will be able to pair their cars with wireless toll payment accounts, eliminating the need for a physical electronic tag.

audi e tron features integrated electronic toll tag technology module

The system places a toll transponder into the car’s rear-view mirror. From there, drivers will be able to pair their vehicle with their wireless toll accounts So there’s no more need to mount and deal with physical electronic tag devices on the upper portion of the windshield, or on the front license plate.

Audi says its Integrated Toll Modules are already compatible with existing toll agencies, meaning it will be easy to register new accounts and to drive cross-country between different toll authorities.

Why It’s Hot

Paying for tolls is a major hassle and source of traffic. Having technology built into cars to alleviate this problem can make many drivers’ daily commutes and longer trips significantly more pleasant.

Source: https://www.digitaltrends.com/cars/audi-e-tron-features-integrated-electronic-toll-tag-technology/ 

Soundtrack of Your Life

Royal Caribbean is partnering with Berklee College of music to set your vacation photos to music using AI.

 Source: https://www.adweek.com/creativity/royal-caribbean-now-sets-your-vacation-photos-to-music-using-ai/amp/

Launching this week, Royal Caribbean is launching an online tool that turns user images into mini-videos with original music assembled by AI and inspired by the images themselves.

A picture from a botanical garden, of red flowers and green leaves, generates two bars of smooth jazz. An elaborate piece of graffiti on a brick wall renders into a crunching hip-hop beat.

The machine-learning process entailed more than 600 hours in which Royal Caribbean and a team of musicians and technologists reviewed hundreds of music tracks along with 10,000 photos, matching each of the 2.5 million combinations to one of 11 moods.

The A.I. in SoundSeeker uses Google Cloud Vision to identify objects, facial expressions and colors in a user’s photo by referencing the roadmap developed by the leaders in music theory at Berklee.

Why it’s hot

Tourism industry is always at the forefront of individualization beyond personalization by making something so personal and making it truly unique.

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