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

 

Phone a Friend: a mobile app for predicting teen suicide attempts

Rising suicide rates in the US are disproportionately affecting 10-24 year-olds, with suicide as the second leading cause of death after unintentional injuries. It’s a complex and multifaceted topic, and one that leaves those whose lives are impacted wondering what they could have done differently, to recognize the signs and intervene.

Researchers are fast at work figuring out whether a machine learning algorithm might be able to use data from an individual’s mobile device to assess risk and predict an imminent suicide attempt – before there may even be any outward signs. This work is part of the Mobile Assessment for the Prediction of Suicide (MAPS) study, involving 50 teenagers in New York and Pennsylvania. If successful, the effort could lead to a viable solution to an increasingly troubling societal problem.

Why It’s Hot

We’re just scratching the surface of the treasure trove of insights that might be buried in the mountains of data we’re all generating every day. Our ability to understand people more deeply, without relying on “new” sources of data, will have implications for the experiences brands and marketers deliver.

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.)

Move Over, Alexa

Voice command devices, like Alexa and Siri, enable humans to engage, operate, and interact with technology thanks to the power of voice, but these technologies fail to account for the voiceless among us. Many people— including those suffering from neurodegenerative diseases, paralysis, or traumatic brain injuries— are unable to take advantage of such voice-user interface (VUI) devices. That’s where Facebook Reality Labs (FBR) comes in.

Image result for brain computer interface facebook

FBR has partnered with neuroscience professionals at UCSF to give a voice back to the voiceless by attempting to create the first non-invasive, wearable brain-computer interface (BCI) device for speech. This device would marry “the hands-free convenience and speed of voice with the discreteness of typing.” Although BCI technology is not new, the creation of BCI technology capable of converting imagined speech into text, without requiring implanted electrodes, would be.

Image result for brain computer interface gif

In a recently successful—albeit limited—study, UCSF researchers demonstrated that brain activity (recorded while people speak) could be used to decode what people were saying into text on a computer screen in real-time. However, at this time, the algorithm can only decode a small set of words.

Although promising, such results are preliminary, and researchers have a long way to go until the power of this silent speech interface technology can be harnessed non-invasively and in wearable form. What is more, researchers believe this BCI technology “could one day be a powerful input for all-day wearable [augmented reality (AR)] glasses.”

Why it’s hot

Such a radical innovation would not only help those who can’t speak, it could alter how all people interact with today’s digital devices.

Sourcehttps://tech.fb.com

Saving the Early Web

Software becomes obsolete, companies that host websites go out of business, people stop paying for domain names – history is being erased, but some brave crusaders are ensuring it remains documented. Olia Lialina and Dragan Espenschied are on a quest to preserve the early internet. And although it seems like an easy way to mock the early web, their efforts are focused on maintaining an archive as a way to learn how to make the internet better.

original url http://www.geocities.com/nelly_ville_21/ last modified 2003-03-27 22:06:24original url http://www.geocities.com/we_are_brave/ last modified 2003-03-27 19:10:11Source: https://oneterabyteofkilobyteage.tumblr.com/

What started as an archive of what not to do online is slowly becoming a springboard for exploring new ways of experiencing the internet. With design, best practices and cookie-cutter web templates (wix, et al.) the internet has become somewhat of a sterile environment. Like a refined art gallery. And although user experience has improved vastly, much has been lost in the sterilization of the internet.

Today, platforms limit what you can post, and unless you are a developer you are forced into uniformity. But beyond that, the concept that the world wide web was made by individuals and accessible to all is fading. The modern internet is lacking in personality.

But we’re slowly seeing the early web aesthetic having comeback, slowly but surely. Websites are creeping up that embrace pixelated gifs and rainbow comic sans…


Official Captain Marvel Website: https://www.marvel.com/captainmarvel/

Official Bojack Horseman Website: http://www.bojackhorseman.com/

Why It’s Hot: As a digital agency, we should focus on ensuring best in class experiences for users, but should also be open to pushing the boundaries of what is conventional and look into the past for inspiration.

Purina Street Campaign Tests Dogs’ Urine To Assess Health

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

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

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

Source: PSFK

Why It’s Hot: 

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

 

Keurig of Cocktails or Juicero of Cocktails?

Drinkworks Keurig for Cocktails 6

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

Woebot – Highly Praised App for Mental Health

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

Why It’s Hot

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

Why it Matters

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

Obligatory Statement

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

dorito’s solves its age old problem…

Who doesn’t love Dorito’s? Nacho, Cool Ranch, Flamin’ Hot, whatever you fancy, they’re a classic and delicious snack. But for as long as they have existed, eating them has come at a price – Dorito’s fingers, the unshakeable film of Dorito’s dust that ends up all over everything you touch unless you clean your hands after each chip. 

But your clothes, furniture, pets, and gaming controllers no longer have to live in fear, for the Dorito’s Towel Bag is here, giving Dorito’s lovers a way to clean their hands while eating their favorite snack.

Why it’s hot

It’s a beautiful example of a brand embracing its essence, while improving its experience. Dorito’s dust is part of what makes Dorito’s the chip they are. But instead of eliminating it and changing the product, they created a new one to embrace their product’s dark side.

Casper’s Connected Nightlight

Casper’s new nightlight, the Glow, is far more than the nightlight you may have had in your bedroom as a child. While the product was inspired by the less harsh feeling of candlelight or lamplight, the Glow is future-forward. It’s a customizable connected device that can help improve sleep.

The light is meant to ease you into sleep by syncing with your body’s circadian rhythm, and slowly dimming as you prepare to fall asleep.

The Glow is connected to an app so that users can easily program the length of time the light takes to dim–from fifteen minutes to an hour and a half. Once the settings are saved once, the light will activate the same way each time someone picks it up to get it started. The light can also be twisted to dim or brighten manually.

The light, which retails for $89 or $169 for two, primarily sits on a charging base, but is also portable. The idea is that if you are getting up in the middle of the night, you can pick up the Glow and bring it with you, illuminating your way without disturbing a partner or having to flip on bright overhead lights that can single your body to wake up.

Why It’s Hot

As wellness and self-care continues to be such a pervasive topic, consumers are very aware of the importance of getting a full night’s sleep, and willing to try new strategies and products to help them break the habit of staring at their phones in bed. With competition increasing from other mattress companies, Casper is pushing ahead into becoming more of a lifestyle brand with a holistic approach to sleep.

Source: https://www.fastcompany.com/90293556/the-future-of-jeans-inside-the-levis-innovation-lab-bringing-denim-into-2019 

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.

Prime Design & How Fitting Rooms Could Become Obsolete

Amazon’s private label fashion business has faced several hurdles, but continued investment – Prime Wardrobe, Echo Look, and numerous pure play e-comm acquisitions – proves that they won’t stand for anything less than front row.

Recently, Amazon has acquired Body Labs – a firm which promises to bring 3D models to life. For fashion, accurately predicting size and fit across a diverse consumer base has always been a reach goal. Designers and other stakeholders in the supply chain have long relied on antiquated data, often based on models of an average person, and no one brand has found a scalable solution for custom-designed clothing.

While Body Labs can’t solve for customized design, it can provide brands with a range of different models and bodies that would validate the fit of different patterns, which makes for better fitting clothing.

If Amazon’s private label clothing knows your fit better than any brand can, why would you shop anywhere else?

Why it’s hot:

As personalization is becoming table stakes, Amazon’s foray into one of the most significant aspects of individual expression once again shows that any market can instantaneously become amazon-takes-all.

 

 

 

Giving Musk a Run for His Money

Russia’s (in)famous Kalashnikov manufacturing company has revealed it’s first electric car. The prototype, shown for the first time at an event near Moscow is a throwback to a Soviet hatchback created in the 1970s. But it’s looks are the only thing retro about it. It’s makers have said it is a revolutionary cutting-edge “supercar” that can compete with the likes of Tesla.

There are still some kinks to iron out, but they’re hoping they’ll be able to offer would be able to travel 220 miles (350 km) on a single charge and with a higher top speed than other e-cars on the market.

“Kalashnikov has been looking to take its brand in different directions and recently launched a clothing line and a catalogue of personal items ranging from umbrellas to smartphone covers.”

Reactions to this latest venture have been mixed, from ridicule to praise of its cool look.

Why it’s hot:

  1. It’s a bold and interesting design choice and it will be interesting to see whether this sparks a trend in a greater variety of e-car designs.
  2. A good example of the growing trend of companies diversifying their brand offerings.

Source: https://themoscowtimes.com/news/kalashnikov-unveils-electric-car-seeking-to-dethrone-tesla-62644

Amazon’s iPhone app adds AR feature for identifying and buying small nuts and bolts

Can’t tell the difference between a machine screw and a connector screw? Don’t worry, Amazon just added an AR feature to their app to identify one from the other.

Part Finder uses the AR capabilities of the iPhone to measure the depth and width of the part. You must line it up next to a penny and on white paper, so you can’t identify the part anywhere. Some people have reported that even when aligned on white paper, the technology takes a few tries to get the correct result.

 

Why it’s hot:

People are always building stuff. You have to build that Ikea couch but they forgot to include the right number of screws? You can take a picture of it and Amazon, with Prime shipping, will mail it you in two days.

Nike is heading to a famed LA shopping area to reinvent itself as a data-driven, direct-to-consumer brand

Nike unveiled its new concept store, Melrose by Nike, on Melrose Avenue in LA. Everything about it, including its location and the products it stocks, is determined by how people in the area interact with the brand.

The idea is to blend the physical and digital shopping experience. Everything about the store is designed to work with the Nike Plus app.  As soon as you enter the geo-fenced area, you start getting special deals on the app. If they think you’d be interested in a product they have on hand, whether you’ve specified it or not, they’ll reserve it for you in your size. All you have to do is access one of the many lockers in the store. If you see apparel you like, you scan the code, and a salesperson will come to you with it in your size.

Why it’s hot:

Brick and mortar business has grown stale. By blurring the line between digital and physical shopping, the customer will have a more personalized experience.

Plastic Measures

Plastic is one of the most abundant man-made materials found on earth. With over 8.3 billion metric tons of plastic recorded in 2017, it’s safe to say that it’s a massive problem. Bottles and bags are spearheading this problem. When purchasing a water bottle it’s evident that there are some ridiculously priced products in the market but a common misconception is “because of the brand name”, though that plays a part in the price, the cost pertains mostly to the plastic, not the actual water (how shocking).

Image result for plastic pollution

Evian, noticing this issue, is taking the first step forward and has pledged that by 2025 all of their bottles will be made from 100% recycled plastic. Eliminating the use of plastic overall would be best case scenario but this is still a righteous move. National Geographic states, “every year another 350 million tons of new plastic is created but only a tiny percentage is ever recycled.” A breakthrough came from Loop Industries’ founder Daniel Solomita who wanted “to find a way to take all of the world’s PET plastic – the most common kind of plastic”. Loop has found “a unique catalyst that breaks down PET plastic with zero heat and zero pressure” this monumental discovery is incremental to the future of recycling plastic due to the fact that the only two methods of recycling plastic at the moment utilize high heat and intense pressure.

Additionally, “This zero energy depolymerization is what allows Loop Industries to do what nobody else can do—recycle any size, shape and color of PET plastic waste into virgin-quality PET plastic resin on an industrial scale.”

Why it’s hot:
It’s so hot that it’s super cool. It really takes the pressure off of traditional methods and because the main focus is to keep the technology as simple as possible for simpler implementation and distribution no one has to take the heat. This is super exciting because this is an absolutely smashing step towards sustainability and guilt-free plastic. Now when you see a plastic bag drifting through the wind, you know it’s on its way to start again.

Source: https://news.nationalgeographic.com/2018/06/sponsor-content-revolution-plastic-recycling/ 

Free Power From Freeways? China Is Testing Roads Paved With Solar Panels

The experiment is the latest sign of China’s desire to innovate in, and dominate, the increasingly lucrative and strategically important market for renewable energy. The country already produces three-quarters of the solar panels sold globally, and its wind-turbine manufacturing industry is also among the world’s largest.

The potential appeal of solar roads — modified solar panels that are installed in place of asphalt — is clear. Generating electricity from highways and streets, rather than in fields and deserts packed with solar panels, could conserve a lot of land. Those advantages are particularly important in a place like China, a heavily populated country where demand for energy has risen rapidly.

Because roads run through and around cities, the electricity could be used practically next door to where it is generated. That means virtually no power would be lost in transmission, as can happen with projects in outlying locations. And the land is essentially free, because roads are needed anyway. Roads must be resurfaced every few years at great cost, so the installation of durable solar panels could reduce the price of maintenance.

Solar roads could also change the driving experience. Electric heating strips can melt snow that falls on them. Light-emitting diodes embedded in the surface can provide illuminated signage to direct drivers to exits and alert them to construction and other traffic hazards.

The Harry Potter chess board is now a real thing.

You’re a chess enthusiast, but let’s face it: your chess board is probably collecting dust in your closet. Since no one in your household wants to play, you’re forced to play a game online or, even worse, not at all. Don’t worry—InfiVention Technologies will solve your issue with artificial intelligence.

InfiVention Technologies is redefining board games with the help of AI. Their product Square Off lets you play a game of chess on a real board with real chess pieces against opponents online or the artificial intelligence of the board. You will see your opponent’s every move in real-time, right in front of your eyes. The board uses magnets to move the pieces, while careful to not dislodge the adjacent pieces from their positions.

 

Training Mode

Why it’s Hot:

No one expected AI to take over board games—it’s often associated with computers. Since board games are rarely single player, many games have transitioned online to allow you to play at your own convenience. This brings back the charm in playing chess.

Source:  This Robotic Chessboard Is Like Something Out of Harry Potter

Honda shows off a cute and high-tech food stand

At this year’s Tokyo Motor Show, Honda debuted what they call “’a unique form of electric mobility” that was “born to make each person’s ideas and dreams come true.” Its “use is limited only by the imagination.’

Or in other words, it’s a self-driving cooler with LED eyes.”

RoboCas, a cooler-shaped robot with a a telescoping awning

Hello, RoboCas

But Honda has big dreams for this little friend, imagining uses from food vendors to family beach holidays. Honda imagines people using it to open cafes or curry shops wherever they may roam. RoboCas “can follow people in its unique, cute way, bringing happiness and joy to everyone,” the company says. There’s also a Windows tablet stuck on the back, if that helps.

A mobile food vendor prepares her cafe while a man and child sit at a table, ready to order

Could RoboCas change the way mobile food vendors set up shop?

Learn more at the Verge

Internal Innovation Meets Telemedicine

As telemedicine becomes more and more prevalent in our healthcare, Warby Parker just took a very traditional appointment from the exam room; to your living room. The eye exam.

Warby Parker, whose “try before you buy” model of online glasses shopping has already disrupted the traditional eyewear retail store found that many of their users were needing more of an “Rx check” rather than a comprehensive eye exam.

This prescription confirmation, as WB calculates it is nearly a $5B market. So they decided to launch their own startup to capture the demand.  during the 2017 Fast Company Innovation Festival co-CEO Dave Gilboa stated

“We realized that we could use tech to make the experience newer, better, and faster,”

The new Perscitipn Check app leverages a desktop plus mobile experience to check the “health” of your current prescription. After the user completes a few tests the results are compared to a database. If the results are within spec, the user pays $40 for a licensed dr to confirm and write a new prescription. If out of spec, the app instructs the user to go for a traditional comprehensive eye exam. The $40 fee is over a 50% discount from a traditional eye exam.

 

Why It’s Hot

Warby Parker has once again launched innovation in a stagnate market space. Not only did they see that there was an experience gap for their customers, but also decided to take the risks and empower innovation from within. Companies who are humble enough to understand their “on-top” status won’t last forever often employee their best and brightest to create their own competition. This way they get the best new innovation without the delays of typical corporate sponsorship, and they see how the market might compete before a real competitor does.

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.

Play music on your Oreos

Oreo is a popular snack around the world, but is apparently not so popular with Chinese teenagers. A media and creative arts team at Dimension Plus (agency based in Taipei and Hong Kong), combined Oreo cookies with something most teens love: music.

The result was ‘Oreo Vinyl’, tiny cookies embossed with miniature grooves that play music just like a vinyl record. These cookies are housed inside a cardboard pack, with each cookie playing the “Oreo Anthem” in a different musical style. The project actively involved teens by getting participants at the Strawberry Music Festival, a popular youth event held in Shanghai, to compose each of the different songs.

The grooves on the cookies were made with laser cutting and engraving machines. The cookies can then be played with the Oreo Vinyl Record Player contained in each pack.

Why it’s hot:

Oreo found a way to directly connect with their target audience both in the creation of this concept and in its deployment. This is an innovation that is both unexpected and functional that is sure to increase audience engagement with the brand.

AR Audio Visualization

An artist created an AR app that displays visualizations for sounds in a 3D space. It remembers the space the device was in when a sound is recorded, creates a visual for it, and plays the chunk of audio for the visualization closest to the user. So, users can “scrub” through audio in AR.

Why it’s Hot:

  • Innovative AR tech
  • Interesting way to interact and visual audio

More info: https://www.wired.com/story/an-artist-uses-an-iphone-to-visualize-sounds-in-ar?mbid=social_fb

 

 

Produce is War: How Driscoll’s Reinvented the Strawberry

“Produce is war, and it is won by having something beautiful-looking to sell at Costco when the competition has only cat-faced uglies.” This lengthy New Yorker article recently dove into how Driscoll’s uses market insight and crop science to build their monopoly on the berry market.

Strawberry from New Yorker

“Driscoll’s focus groups have shown that millennials, adventurous and open-minded in their eating habits, and easily seduced by novelty, may embrace pale berries. With these consumers, unburdened by preconceived notions of what a white berry should look or taste like, Driscoll’s has a priceless opportunity: the definitional power that comes with first contact.”

“According to Frances Dillard, Driscoll’s global brand strategist and a veteran of Disney’s consumer-products division, berries are the produce category most associated with happiness. (Kale, in contrast, has a health-control, “me” focus.) On a slide that Dillard prepared, mapping psychographic associations with various fruits, strawberries floated between Freedom and Harmony, in a zone marked Extrovert, above a word cloud that read “Social, pleasure, joy, balance, conviviality, friendship, warmth, soft, natural, sharing.” (Blueberries vibed as status-oriented, demanding, and high-tech.) As I studied the slide over Dillard’s shoulder in her office, she smiled tightly and said, “This is proprietary.”

Why it’s hot: It’s pretty cool to learn how our favorite fruits came to be. I thought this was a cool case study in now market demand and consumer behavior drive product innovation and brand stories.

 

 

 

 

 

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

Elon Musk says he has ‘verbal’ okay to build multi-state underground Hyperloop

Elon Musk said on Twitter that he received “verbal government approval” to build an underground Hyperloop transit network connecting New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington DC, with stops connecting each city center, and a dozen more entry or exit elevators located within each city. The project would be run through The Boring Company, Musk’s tunneling venture, which has already begun test digging near SpaceX HQ in California.

In the original tweet, Musk noted that the trip time from New York to DC would be just under half-an-hour. Currently, by train, that trip is roughly three hours and 20 minutes, or over four hours by bus. Musk also said that an LA to San Francisco loop is likely on the horizon, as well as a loop to connect Texas to the network.

Musk also originally came up with the concept for Hyperloop, though he opened up the idea to development by outside interests because he said at the time that he would not have enough time to devote to making it a business in its own right, in addition to his other duties. It’s not clear whether the Hyperloop component of this project would be developed by The Boring Co. itself, or by an outside partner focused on the tech, like Hyperloop One, for instance.

It’s also unclear what exactly Musk means by “verbal government approval,” [Update 11:41 AM PT: Bloomberg reports it was approval from within the White House] and whether that means he has the ‘okay’ to proceed with a proposal, or to actually start digging. Plus, it’ll likely require many more formal written approvals before anything can proceed.

Hyperloop One CEO Rob Lloyd has discussed how use of its tech could transform communities, and have a similar physical transportation globalizing effect to the impact made by broadband on digital communications. Connecting these communities via transit that cuts commute and cargo times to below what you would expect for getting place-to-place within any one of these communities would undoubtedly have a tremendous economic and social impact.

During an interview at the International Space Station R&D conference on Wednesday, Musk talked briefly about The Boring Company, noting that “oddly enough it’s kind of like a little low stress activity, because everyone expects us to fail.”

Musk later tweeted that there is “still a lot of work needed to receive formal approval,” which is likely an understatement to say the least with a project of this scope.

Source: TechCrunch

Why it’s Hot

Love the prospect of a major, futuristic innovation that could tangibly change my life!

Food Computers Use AI To Make ‘Climate Recipes’ For The Best-Tasting Crops

It’s no surprise that climate change is inciting detrimental effects on our planet, but one of the most troubling is its effect on agriculture. The MIT Media Lab is hoping to remedy this by using special “food computers” to create the perfect climates for growing food, no matter the location or time of year. That means that not only could countries farm their local crops all year round, but they could also grow crops that are not native to their region of the world, meaning they could have fresh produce on-demand. Say goodbye to having to wait for shipments!

The Open Agriculture Initiative Personal Food Computer was first created in 2015, and can study and replicate the best growing conditions for specific plants with the use of sensors, actuators and machine vision. The Personal Food Computer can alter the light, nutrients and salinity of water. As the computer watches a plant, like basil, grow, it picks up data that can be used on the next set of crops. The research team is also trying to make the food itself tastier by maximizing the number of volatile molecules inside the crop, which is made possible by leaving the computer on constantly.

Babak Hodjat, CEO of Sentient says it’s all about engineering food in a totally different way: “Ultimately, this is non-GMO GMO. You’re not messing with the plant’s DNA. You’re just allowing it to exhibit the behavior it would in nature should that kind of environment exist.”

Source: PSFK

Why it’s Hot

Rolling with the punches, so to speak. In the case of environmental change, we can adapt. Looking at something like this at scale — could be an innovation that shifts how we approach agriculture and could also inspire additional environmental innovation.

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.