Beijing’s smart bakery

Beijing welcomed its first unmanned smart bakery, a collaboration between Alibaba and domestic baker brand Wedomé. The bakery uses technologies including AI image recognition, mobile payment and QR code to enable unmanned services.

 

Why it’s hot: Mobile payment is so prominent in China and sets the nation on its way to be (maybe) a cashless economy one day.

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The QR code is dead…long live the QR code

We’ve talked a lot about the rise of QR codes in Asia, but they may now finally be moving from being a “joke” to being more widely adopted in other places as well. They enable everything from online to offline (O2O) marketplaces, which are huge in China, to augmented reality.

Things people already do, but now with QR codes…

QR Wedding
A member of the bridal party wears a QR code as necklace to collect digital money from wedding guests.

QR Bikes
Users in China simply scan a QR code printed on the bicycle to unlock them and start riding.

QR Advertising
Including QR codes on large billboards is now very common across China.

More ways here: 16 Ways QR Codes are Being Used in China

Why It’s Hot
While the death of the QR code has been foretold since its inception, the simplicity and ubiquity mean it continues to hold on – and even grow more popular in certain cultures.

From Grocery List to Packing List: How One Airline Got Consumers to Buy Their Holiday Ticket from a Snack Bag

In a clever creative stunt to distinguish itself from other airlines (who typically rely on online bookings), Transavia decided to take the process of ordering tickets offline and into the aisles of grocery stores and vending machines.

The tickets come in three varieties: gummy bears, potato chips, and cereal bars, each corresponding to one of three destinations – a bag of gummy bears will take you to Lisbon, potato chips will fly you to Barcelona, and the cereal bar can whisk you away to Dublin.

With the purchase of any of these snacks, a quick scan of the QR code to take you to the booking page, and a special discount voucher on the inside of the packaging, it aims to portray the idea that Transavia’s plane tickets are so cheap (and easy to book!), it’s like buying a bag of snacks.

Why It’s Hot:

There seems to be a clutter of different budget airlines all competing to get travelers to use them. This may especially be true in Europe, where there are airlines like RyanAir that may feel like a bus in the sky but can fly across Europe in (sometimes) under 100 Euros. This campaign is a perfect way to disrupt that sea of sameness in airline marketing techniques. By venturing out into a territory that has never been advertised on, it creates a very surprising and innovative idea to bring this brand into the minds of consumers when they are least expecting it – in the grocery store, while conducting an average everyday task.

The best part is that most airplane tickets are booked by consumers actively seeking out the discounts, whether through codes that they find online or deals through emails, but this campaign flips that old traditional way of thinking completely on its side. It offers a new way to convince someone, who may have not even been thinking of traveling, to indulge on a new adventure somewhere for very cheap.

Read more here.

 

Rooms, Facebook’s New Anonymous Community App

Thursday Facebook introduced Rooms, a new mobile app that aims to create a new, hip and mobile-friendly “message board” community. But the twist: users do not use their real names, a major departure from Facebook’s heritage.

According to TechCrunch, “Rooms lets you set up a mobile-only in-app discussion space about any topic, customize the look and moderation settings, set a screen name for the room, and choose who to invite to share text, photos, videos, and comments with others in the Room. It’s a bit like forums inside an Instagram-style vertical feed. Rooms doesn’t require a Facebook account or even an email address to sign up. It employs an innovative QR-code invite system where people take a photo or screenshot of a Room’s code to gain entry.”

But Rooms is more than just another standalone Facebook app. “Where Rooms is truly different from Facebook is that it doesn’t import your social graph from either your phone’s contacts, Facebook, or anywhere else. Its invite system is designed to make you build a community based on interest instead.” says Mashable.

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Rooms is a bold step out into new territory for Facebook, showing the brand ecosystem can include one-off solutions that intentionally do not tie back into Facebook’s larger database of single user information.

Why It’s Hot

The website-based message board has become passe, and Rooms is an interesting attempt to make this type of utility fresh and accessible.  It’s too early to tell how successful (or not) Rooms may be, because it is so strikingly different from Facebook’s other properties. But by allowing anonymity, Rooms is an important test for how users may embrace the platform in the context of Facebook’s larger strategic vision.

Can Facebook bring message boards (and also QR codes) back from the dead?