Fat Burning Breathalyzer

A prototype breathalyzer developed by NTT DoCoMo monitors levels of acetone and lets the user know whether their exercise is working and their body is burning fat. The pocket-sized sensor measures levels of acetone on the breath and could help people determine which types of exercise are effective in terms of fat loss.

Phys Org reports that the new device is capable of detecting acetone concentrations in the range of 0.2 to 50 parts-per-million. It consists of a pressure sensor to detect the exhaled breath and two types of semiconductor-based gas sensors to detect acetone. After a user blows into the device, the acetone levels can be calculated and sent to a smartphone within 10 seconds.


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In a study, the researchers recruited 17 healthy adult volunteers to test the device. They were split into three groups, one group carried on with their normal life, another was required to take part in light exercise for 30-60 minutes a day, and the third group was required to do this exercise and also consume a limited number of calories each day.

The volunteers’ body weight, body fat percentage and breath acetone concentrations were measured every day. After 14 days the volunteers in the first two groups were not able to lose significant amounts of fat and their breath acetone concentrations remained constant. Those in the third group were able to lose significant amounts of fat and their breath acetone concentrations were increased significantly.

Why I’m Curious: As technology is helping people become more efficient – this would be a great addition to see something like Nike Fuel band add to it’s product.


Electronic Luggage Tags

The airline has partnered with Designworks to develop a high-tech replacement for the paper luggage tags featuring a scannable barcode.

Creative product design consultancy Designworks has partnered with British Airways to develop an electronic bag tag to replace the traditional paper ones. After passengers have checked in, they would just need to hold their smartphone over the tag. This would automatically update it with a unique barcode containing all of their necessary flight information and a view of their bag’s destination.

The tag could be used multiple times, with the details being replaced every time a passenger flies, eliminating the need for disposable paper tags. This would save passengers time by having their electronic tag quickly scanned at the bag drop and going straight through security to relax before catching their flight.

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Why I’m Curious: This is a fantastically simple, yet smart device that gives each customer the choice to have their own personalised electronic baggage tag that changes with the swipe of a smartphone – every time they fly. As the saying goes, ‘good things come in small packages’, and this innovative device is no exception.


Source: http://www.psfk.com/2013/06/british-airways-electronic-luggage-tags.html

JEEP GPS purposely gets people lost

To help Argentinians get out of the city, Jeep and Leo Burnett Buenos Aires created the first GPS with a function to help drivers get lost in nature. The “GPS to Get Lost” app is designed to give your GPS the power to take you “God knows where.” The app helps drivers discover 28 off-road spots in Argentina, and lets them choose between terrains like mountain, sand, or woods.


Jeep drivers can select the app and choose their terrain from several options like mountain, sand or woods. The GPS will then take them to one of 28 off-road destinations in the middle of nowhere, helping them discover new places.

This initiative puts the GPS in control, so that Jeep owners can reimmerse themselves in nature. You can check it out in the video below:

Self Destruct Emails

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Snapchat-like app allows people to send fleeting messages that disappear upon viewing.

The problem with sharing everything on the internet, is that it can feel so darn permanent. What started with Snapchat, the app that made sending naughty and silly photos seemingly safe, has branched out into a slew of applications that make our internet presence more ephemeral. Enter the latest iteration of erasable online media, OTR (which stands for off the record), a new in-browser application that let users send messages to other computers with a 5 second time limit before they vanish into the cyber atmosphere.

Created by app company Lamplighter Games, OTR was directly inspired by SnapChat (it was originally called ChapSnat when it was presented at a TechCrunch

The app is very much in-line with the trend of temporary online media, from self-destructing tweets to disappearing photos, more and more people are searching for semi-privacy online while still sharing parts of themselves. But it is unclear whether any of the media truly vanishes; in recent news a company announced it can retrieve all the SnapChat photos on your phone for $300, while another site SnapChat Leaked has begun posting pictures of those naughty bits you thought were lost in cyberspace. Nevertheless, Minkstein says OTR is not about hiding NSFW from the guys in human resources, ‘It’s not meant for ultra-secure communications or anything crazy like that.’ Rather OTR is just a bit of fun to break up another dreary day at the office and provides people with a way of controlling what they put out on the web.

Why I’m Curious:  Wondering if this adds any efficiency to people at work when they rely so heavily on emails to document important information. I do think it’s helpful to be able to vent or add humor to the day without worrying that anything written would be published forever.

The Buddy Cup

Budweiser doesn’t think grabbing some beers at a bar is quite social enough. Or at least not social network enough.

The company’s Brazil team has come up with the Buddy Cup- a cup that when tapped with another one of its kind allows the two cup holders to become Facebook friends. That’s right, no need to put down the beer, take out the phone, search for a name and then send a friend request.

So, how does it all work?  Similar to other connected objects, Manuel Rangel Macchiavello of Budweiser Brazil said. A computer chip with what Budweiser calls a “bump sensor”  is integrated into the bottom of the cup. Also on the bottom of the cup is a QR code, which works with a Budweiser app to link the cup to your Facebook account. When two people clink glasses, the friend request is sent from one to another.

“The Buddy Cup brings together the in-bar experience with Facebook, the most used social media channel for our consumers,”  Macchiavello told ABC News.

RELATED: Heinz’s Musical Fruit Now Includes Musical Spoon

The Buddy Cup joins some other connected food utensils. HapiLabs came out with its connected HapiFork at CES earlier this year. The fork pairs with your phone and warns you when you are eating too fast by vibrating. And in March, to promote new flavored varieties of their popular baked beans in the United Kingdom, Heinz released special spoons outfitted with tiny MP3 players.

But before you get excited about being able to make friends all over the bar, the prototype cups are just that, prototypes. However, Macchiavello told ABC News that a pilot event was held in Sao Paulo, Brazil, that it was an “instant success” and that the team is looking at taking this to bigger events in the future.

As for U.S. Bud and Bud Light drinkers, the company said this is a Brazil-only program for now.


Why I’m Curious: speaking from experience – think it’s interesting that they found a way to make a social behavior even more social. If they develop a beer that uploads your photos too we’ll be all set.

What if Your Boss Tracked Your Sleep, Diet, and Exercise?

Inside most companies, the typical health and wellness program includes regular blood pressure checks, a list of fresh foods for the office fridge, and some sort of exercise guru who shows up every so often to tell people they should work out more. If you’re lucky, you might even get some couponsdesigned to encourage healthier eating — and cut company insurance costs.

But at Citizen — a Portland, Oregon company that designs mobile technology — things are a little different. Employees at the company are now uploading data on how much they exercise, what they eat, and how much they sleep to a central server, as part of an effort to determine whether healthy employees are actually happier and more productive. The ultimate aim is to explicitly show employees how they can improve their work through better personal habits.

Kickstarted by Wired’s Gary Wolf and Kevin Kelly, the quantified self movement aims to glean more insight into our general well-being through statistics. Typically, this is a personal undertaking, but the same ideas are now moving into the business world. Chris Dancy, a director in the office of the chief technology officer at BMC Software, tracks his life in an effort to prove his worth to employers, and now Citizen is taking things even further.

C3PO taps into a service calls Health Graph — which collects data from personal activity trackers such as Fitbit and RunKeeper — but it also collects data from various software tools used inside the company, including the project management system TeamWork PM, the time tracking application RescueTime, the audio system Sonos, and the employee mood tracking service Happiily. In the future, its designers hope the system can provide all sorts of insight into employee behavior, such as whether listening to particular types of music increases productivity, or whether employees who have entered a new relationship are less productive than those who are single. Simpson says they even plan to post employee health stats to Citizen’s website.

Simpson and other developers built the system through Citizen’s Google-like “15% Time” program, which encourages employees to spend a certain amount of time on pet projects. It was originally just a way of satisfying their own curiosity.

The trouble is that it’s kinda creepy.

Sce Pike, Simon Vansintjan and Quinn Simpson are guinea pigs in Citizen’s ambitious — and creepy — plan to track how its employees live and work. Photo: Klint Finley

Hardcore self-trackers like Chris Dancy are already tracking dozens, perhaps hundreds, of variables related to their bodies and environment, such as skin temperature, heart rate, and diet. Dancy also keeps a detailed record of his work, and he can correlate his activities with what music he’s been listening to or what he had for dinner the night before. But he collects and analyzes the data for his own use. His employer has no access to any of his health data. Citizen’s approach is more ambitious — and potentially more useful — but it raises privacy questions.

“Health data can be used for many different purposes, and in an age of ‘big data’ can reveal things about you that you may not even know about,” Lee Tien, a senior staff attorney with Electronic Frontier Foundation, another privacy advocate. “And the laws that protect health information often only protect that information within the health care system — [meaning] doctors and those involved in medical treatment and health insurers.”

C3PO’s particular brand of health tracking may be too much of a legal headache to really catch on, but its designers also aim to track productivity independently of health data. Simon Vansintjan, a user experience designer and one of the employees working on C3PO, says that stats such as the number of tasks completed and the number of repeat clients may provide an accurate measure how much work is getting done — and how good that work is — but the company is still exploring which metrics work and which don’t.

This sort of thing is happening inside many companies. Some outfits track hundreds of variables in the quest to measure worker productivity, says Nathan West, director of analytics products at Evolv. Evolv offers a service for companies that want to track employee productivity and minimize employee turnover. It even tries to determine how employees perform under different supervisors.

Why I’m curious: I think it will be interesting if they can use the system to change the way the company operates, to better estimate how long projects will take or find new ways of reducing employee turnover.

Online game demonstrates where urban dwellers seek privacy

A new online game from BMW Guggenheim Lab called Public/Private explores the topic of privacy in cities by focusing on where it is sought out by city dwellers. Users pin areas where they seek privacy and how often, creating a unique visual graph that can be compared with results from other people in the same city, as well as from cities around the world.

Public/Private is an extension of two research projects conducted over the past seven months as part of the BMW Guggenheim Lab Mumbai. These explored the meaning and character of privacy for residents of one of the world’s most densely populated cities.

Public/Private, which was designed and developed by the New York-based design studio Collective Assembly, invites users to share their expectations of privacy as experienced in a variety of spaces, like home, work, and play. The responses produce a visual graph and as more feedback is gathered, a complex picture of privacy in urban settings will emerge.

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Follow this link to play: http://www.bmwguggenheimlab.org/publicprivate/

source: http://www.psfk.com/2013/04/online-privacy-game.html


“Making Cities More Usable” – Dennis Crowley on Foursquare at SXSW

A lot of people might think of Foursquare as that checkin app with badges and leader boards and finding out where your friends are. But it’s a lot more than that now, thanks to all the map data and information that they know about places people are going to.

In a conversation onstage at SXSW with Anil Dash, Foursquare CEO Dennis Crowley discussed the company’s evolution from an app that was primarily focused around helping people to find their friends, to finding out more about the world that they live in.

Crowley said that one of the underreported stories is the number of companies that rely on Foursquare’s map data and what developers can potentially do with that. The place database has more than 50 million places of interest in it, and it changes frequently. Users enter new places as soon as they open up, and signal places that have closed down.

When talking about the map data that it has, Crowley compared Foursquare’s check-ins to Google’s web crawlers scanning the Internet for new websites. “People tell us about the places that are interesting, the places that are no longer interesting,” he said.

More importantly, the company isn’t entirely dependent on just its users anymore for a lot of its data. Thanks to the Foursquare API, the company gets location data from lots of different apps. For instance, every Instagram picture that has a location attached to it sends a data signal to Foursquare about that place of interest.

At the end of the day, the data that Foursquare has is the ability to provide more personalized maps than what is available today. Crowley said that maps haven’t really changed that much since people started making them, but now that we have certain amounts of trending data or interest data, Foursquare could help make the places that people see more meaningful to them.

Crowley likened that to Harry Potter’s “Marauders Map” and how it provides Harry with details about the people and places around them. “There is enough data that we should be able to make that Harry Potter map and give it to everyone in the room,” Crowley said.

Source: http://techcrunch.com/2013/03/11/dennis-crowley-on-using-foursquare-to-build-the-marauders-map/

Why I’m Curious: The relationship between Foursquare and its API partners is kind of symbiotic: Foursquare has one of the best map data sets out there and makes it available. In exchange, it finds out more about the places that its partners’ users go to. It’s interesting to see how powerful data can be when combined with contextually relevant partnerships. It’s obvious most of these apps are created with the user in mind, the user experience as the priority, and they are becoming more and more valuable as complementary apps emerge.

Smartphone Voice-tracking Charts Emotional State

Sentiment analysis is one of those buzzwords that seems to have so much to offer. Over the last couple years, we’ve begun to see serious applications of mood detection technology. This can range from body sensors to speech processing tools like EI Technologies’ Xpression, a UK-based company that develops speech recognition software founded by Matt Dobson and Duncan Barclay.

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This app functions as a mood diary for patients struggling with mental illnesses and depression

Xpression is for patients visiting psychologists for a mental illness. Oftentimes, they are asked to record their emotions throughout the day and report back to their doctor. This task is often forgotten or not done properly, so Xpression is a new app that uses voice tracking to pinpoint a mood. The app reads a user’s emotion by sending short recordings of her or his voice to a remote server; this server then assesses the mood based on factors like loudness, intensity, pitch, and speech rhythm, ultimately it can sense changes in emotion through voice, record these changes, and forward them to the doctor.

Clinical psychologist Adrian Skinner told The New Scientist that:

with conditions like depression, people tend to stop doing things like filling in mood diaries. If this app gives us more complete diaries it could help us better find the day-to-day triggers that raise or lower a patient’s mood.

This brings up the point that in order for such innovations to work, the user experience is kept fairly passive. That’s why after being installed on the user’s phone, the app samples fragments of audio during a user’s calls. It provides output based on 5 key emotional states including calmness, happiness, sadness, anger, or anxiety.

Articulating the long-term vision for the app, a scientific advisor to EI Technologies told Digital Trends, the system “extract[s] acoustic features and let[s] the machine-learning system work it out. Eventually, such analysis will be able to be done within the app itself, removing any need for transmission of snippets of audio.

According to Mobile Marketing, while Xpression was initially targeted at patients needing to reflect on their struggle with depression, the app’s developers have further developed the app to address other illnesses such as Alzheimers, ADHD, epilepsy, and Parkinson’s Disease.

Why I’m Curious: I think this is an interesting link between what we are trying to uncover when doing sentiment analysis in the digital space. The ability to couple written word with emotional triggers could help brands understand consumers’ reactions and opinions of brand messaging.

Source: http://www.psfk.com/2013/03/smartphone-emotion-tracking.html

How Maker’s Mark Turned Its Watered Down Whiskey Debacle Into A Social Media Win

by David Geller
Last week Maker’s Mark announced plans to reduce the amount of alcohol in their signature product from 45% to 42%, reducing it from 90 to 84 proof.  This decision was being blamed on high demand and low supply.
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The outrage online was swift and unmerciful…angry tweets and boycott Facebook pages popped up all over the internet.
Executives at Maker’s Mark realized their mistake, reversed course and took to social media to spread the word.  They tweeted a simple apology “You spoke. We listened.” with a link to their Facebook page.
That phrase became a popular hashtag.
The Facebook post had been liked over 27 thousand times, shared more than 8.5 thousand times and has 4.2 thousand comments (as of Tuesday morning).
Why I’m curious
  • YAY!  Alcohol!
  • Brands will make missteps…how they react to them will determine their fate.  That Maker’s Mark was able to turn a debacle into a positive experience for their customers is a HUGE win.
  • Contrast this to some recent problems other brands have had w social media.
    • Applebee’s got skewered online for not only firing the hostess who posted a copy of the pastor’s “I only give God 10%, why should I give you 18?” receipt, but also for their ham-fisted reaction on social media.
    • Burger King recently lost control of their twitter account.  Not only were derogatory and offensive tweets made, but at one point the account’s image was changed to the Golden Arches and a message was posted that they had sold to McDonalds because the Whopper flopped.

Source: http://www.businessinsider.com/makers-mark-turns-whiskey-fail-into-win-2013-2#ixzz2LN1grTJn


There’s nothing like the atmosphere at a live sporting event. The crowds, the players being within shouting distance, and the nachos are truly an ‘experience.’ (Making nachos at home doesn’t even come close).

Earlier this week, the home of the Brooklyn Nets released the Barclays Center app in an attempt to merge the best of the stadium experience with the technological benefits of watching the game from home.


The Barclays Center app, which is iOS and Android compatible, is a new event app that allows spectators to interact with live in-game footage and other arena features. The app, which connects through the arena’s public Wi-Fi and is powered by Cisco’s StadiumVision Mobile technology, provides fans the ability to access live, in-game video, the official television feed, a 30-second rewind feature for replays, and up to four different cameras – mixing TV angles and GoPros mounted around the arena.

Incredibly, the app also lets users order food from their seat, send messages for display on the scoreboard, check-in, and interact with other users. The StadiumVision Mobile technology provides a nearly seamless stream of action to your phone at only a two second delay. It does this by using a ‘multicast’ connection, which keeps the stream from being overloaded and slowing down by splitting the feed and then delivering it individual to each fan. This is great if you want to watch a replay, and is certainly no worse than if you were listening to the broadcast on a handheld radio – as some fans still do.

Now, even if you are waiting in line for beer, food, to use the restroom, or are otherwise distracted, fans can get a front-row view of the action. For fans in the nosebleeds, they can get a little taste of what the high-rollers experience in the floor seats. And for fans that enjoy stats, replays, and different camera angles, they can enjoy the best of both worlds right from their hard, plastic stadium seating.

Why I’m Curious: This type of experience could go well beyond the basketball stadium – concerts, plays, baseball games, etc., and I think it’s a great opportunity for brands to get got involved in enhancing that “in the moment” experience.


Source: http://www.psfk.com/2013/02/barclays-center-stadium-app.html

NBA Gives Basketball Nerds the Gift of Big Data

Christmas just came six weeks late for basketball nerds.

The NBA will launch a new tool at midnight EST on Friday that gives hardcore and casual hoops fans alike access to an overwhelming amount of historical stats and data. Found atNBA.com/Stats, it includes box scores for every game dating back to the NBA’s first season in 1946, as well as deep historical dives on player performance and effective team combinations.


Users will be able to access an incredible total of 4.5 quadrillion statistical combinations, according to Ken De Gennaro, the NBA’s vice president of information technology.

Powered by the enterprise and analytics software company SAP, NBA.com/Stats appears to be an unprecedented step by a sports league into officially opening the gates of big data for fans.

An editorial component rounds out all the number crunching. It highlights certain stats and box scores from famous games, as well as contains a glossary section that explains some of the more advanced stats.

Each page also includes buttons to quickly share whatever you’re looking at via Facebook, Google+ or Twitter — so all that trash talking on social media may finally have some substance.

As for what all this means for SAP‘s potential in sports beyond basketball?

“Our partnership with the NBA enables fans to enjoy a deeper level of insight and feeling of connection to their favorite players and teams,” SAP’s senior vice president of sports and entertainment, Steve Peck, tells Mashable via email. “In this way, SAP helps the NBA to reach fans like never before. This is just a precursor of what SAP is capable of in the world of sports.”

Why I’m Curious: Since most of the obvious brands that have big data are still trying to figure out a way to make it relevant, I thought it was interesting to see an entertainment brand use data for exactly what it is. Plus hitting on an insight that most sports fan are heavily interested (obsessed) with statistics of players and games. They even tied in social to make most of the facts and numbers shareable so when people turn to Twitter to talk smack, they have the numbers to back it up.

Transparent Fingers

It’s the classic conflict presented by touchscreens — they display beautiful content that reacts instantly to your every move, but you can’t operate them without obscuring part of your view. A team at the National Taiwan University in Taipei is taking an neat approach to solving the problem, however, with tiny screens that you can wear on your fingertips. The team envisages the technology being used with flexible displays that fit over your nails like polish, but sadly notes that such a screen is not yet commercially available.

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Instead, the current NailDisplay prototype is a thimble-sized 96 x 64 OLED screen which syncs to the phone and displays relevant information. Touch a virtual keyboard with your thumb, for example, and the display will show you which “key” is being pressed — effectively letting you see “through” the digit. Another use case imagined is as a screen for a device that otherwise wouldn’t have one, such as an iPod shuffle. The team says it wants to investigate the possibilities for multiple devices at once, as well as the potential for eye-tracking software to improve the sensation of a “transparent finger.”

source: http://www.theverge.com/2013/1/30/3931624/naildisplay-gives-you-transparent-fingers

Why I’m curious: Not for the screen on your finger when it’s blocking the screen, but the concept of adding a screen via your finger to an object that doesn’t have a screen is interesting. Behaviorally we are learning to by pass the surface and just focus on the experience.  As we continue to find ways for technology to fit seamlessly into a users day to day, I wonder where this will net out.

Dodge Turns to Crowdsourcing to Sell Cars

Social media has played an increasing role in the automotive industry during the past few years. Now Dodge is using a form of social media called crowdsourcing to alter the new-car buying process.

What is crowdsourcing? In this case, if you’re looking to buy a new Dodge Dart, you’ll now have the ability to reach out to your friends and family via the Dodge Dart Registry to help fund the purchase. This registry is similar to KickStarter, a popular online crowdsourcing community used for supporting independent film productions, inventions and other projects that need funding.

Through the Dodge Dart Registry, those wanting to someday drive a new Dart off a dealer lot, can build — or should we say customize — their own Dart, which will then appear on a public page for people to sponsor. Money raised through that individual’s registry can be applied to either the full purchase of the new vehicle or toward specific parts like special wheels, heated seats or keyless entry. On your profile, you can upload a photo — maybe of that old clunker you’re trying to replace — write a short biography and set limits for donation tiers.



Why I’m Curious: This represents the “we tribe” trend that we are seeing when the shared passion of a collective of people is much more powerful than the individual. It would be interesting to see how successful this concept will be, or if it’s lacking a true charitable cause.



Don’t Black Out

If the physical effects of binge drinking aren’t enough to remind you to slow down, perhaps an external cue–other than a bartender’s threats to cut you off–could help do the trick. MIT Media Labs researcher Dhairya Dand has created a prototype for a set of ice cubes fitted with LED lights that tell overly eager drinkers when to stop sipping, by flashing an alarming red. Drinkers who ignore the cubes’ warnings will trigger the cubes’ plan B: a warning text message to a friend that their friend might be getting sloppy.

Dand was inspired to come up with the design after a particularly bleak night of drinking. “Party at MIT. The music was pumping. I was having a good time,” reads the text on the ice cubes’ demonstration video. Unfurling atop a dark, blurry background, the words create the context for a somewhat nerdy horror story: It’s clear the tale won’t end well. “11:30 pm: I remember having three drinks. 7 hours later: I wake up at the hospital. I had an alcohol induced blackout.”

A few weeks later, Dhan created Cheers, the “alcohol-aware glowing ice-cubes” in response, by stuffing LEDs, an accelerometer, and other circuitry into a waterproof jelly cube. “The accelerometer motion data is used to calculate the sips. Along with the timer chip, the cubes can reliably guess how drunk you are.”

At first sip, the cubes will glow green, then orange during the second cocktail, and red during third, when drank in quick succession. The lights beat along to any ambient music, making you look extra cool in the club.

Of course, drinks vary in strength, a design oversight pointed out in the comments onVimeo. One strong drink could be just as potent as three week ones. But, regardless, drinking with training wheels probably isn’t a bad idea.

Why I’m Curious: While most people may not want to know how drunk they are, I think people will definitely be interested in the lights of other people’s drinks. As we are often seeing with the “quantified self” trend, people will no doubt be curious enough to measure one more activity or intake. Maybe this feature can be added to the Nike Fuelband!

source: www.fastcoexist.com

Remote Presence

Cross-country and international travel is expensive. Three or four trips to London, Paris or Taiwan a year and you’re spending at least $16,000. What if you could spend that much and be in Europe and at home as often as you want? That’s what Suitable Technologies’ Beam Remote Presence System promises.

beam remote

Here’s how it works. Beam connects to your network via a Wi-Fi or cellular broadband connection. Roughly 5.5-foot-tall, it has a large LCD screen atop two slim bars and a rolling base. There’s also a charging station. Beam usually starts there so it’s fully charged when you’re ready to “travel.”

If you’re controlling Beam, your view is via your computer or laptop. You drive Beam with a joystick or, more commonly, the arrow keys on your keyboard, while Beam cruises along at up to 3 miles per hour. Your webcam beams your face to the Beam device, so your disembodied head looks like you’re wherever your Beam is. It’s like your own personal transporter, without the dangerous (and currently impossible) Star Trek hardware.

Why I’m Curious: It’s interesting to see technology giving control to the user. Where someone would normally be restricted by communicating via a remote location, this technology allows the user to navigate where they want. This could potentially connect people even more closely than social has been.

Source: Mashable http://mashable.com/2013/01/09/beam-remote-telepresence/

Actual Location-based Recommendation Tool

Facebook has just announced a huge revamp of their Nearby feature inside the mobile app that turns it from a not-too-remarkable tracker of friends’ check-ins to an actual attempt at a personalized local recommendation engine.

Now when you open up Nearby, you’ll see a search bar, a history list, and a bunch of new location categories – restaurants, nightlife, arts, hotels, shopping, etc. Each category has its own subcategories, like Mexican food inside restaurants or movie theaters inside the arts category.

Facebook is not just listings locations arbitrarily, or based on their global popularity. With Nearby, Facebook is using true social recommendations to find the best places for you based on your friends’ interactions. Let’s say your good friend Jimmy just gave an Indian restaurant a few miles away from you a great rating when he checked-in last night. Well, there’s a good chance that Facebook’s NEarby algorithm would put that location front and center for you.

“When someone looks for a place, the results that appear in their Nearby list are based on things like their friends’ recommendations, ratings, check-ins, and likes,” says Facebook.

Once you choose a location, you’ll be presented with Facebook’s redesigned location pages which include friends who’ve been there, hours, a map, star ratings, and reviews.

After you’ve experienced the location, Facebook wants you to share that experience with your friends through rating and reviewing. In theory, the more people that participate in this way, the better the recommendations will become.

Facebook encourages businesses to update their pages to include any and all information, including their category so they can be easily found through Facebook’s new Nearby product. Also, now more than ever, businesses need to make sure users are liking, checking into, rating, and sharing their Facebook page so that Facebook knows to recommend them when people are looking for things to do on the go.

So, Facebook has finally gotten into the local search game in a real and meaningful way. Facebook says that 150 million people visit Pages on a daily basis – so they have a rather impressive amount of like, check-in, and rating data to pull from. This, in theory, could make Facebook Nearby incredibly useful. They say that this is an early build, and “there’s a lot more to do.” But Facebook’s foray into truly personalized location recommendations should make the folks over at Foursquare and Yelp pay attention. Facebook says that the Nearby update should be available later today on iOS and Android.

Why I’m curious:  It’s interesting to see Facebook continue to surface all the data at their fingertips. Just when it appeared they were not going up against Foursquare, they  pulled a judo move, weaving location into status updates, photos, and other core parts of the social network. It also very quietly took on Yelp, by letting users recommend places to friends.

Source: webpronews.com


Smart Goggles For The Slopes

Oakley has officially unveiled their latest technologically forward creation in the form of the Airwave goggle. The new piece integrates GPS, Bluetooth and a heads up display that gives you access to all sorts of information such as maps, temperature, jump analytics, speed, music playlists, and more. The display is placed and from what we’ve read, it is completely unobtrusive, so your concentration level will remain intact.

This lets users see how fast they’re going, where their friends are on the mountain, listen and control music, see text messages, all while on the slopes — the user can download a corresponding Airwave app for Android or iOS and control their phone and other media through the Airwave’s wrist controller.

Oakley has also released an SDK to let independent developers make apps that integrate with the Airwave.

The Airwave is a $600 snow goggle that’s for sale in Apple stores

Why I’m Curious: I love the term “unobtrusive” instead of simplified, or integrated. Instead of having to stop and pull out your phone, all the information you would need surfaces right before your eyes. This product takes Nike Fuel to the next level. Not only tracking movement and speed, but offering all the utility a skier or snowboarder would need when they need to be hands free.


Source: Techcrunch http://techcrunch.com/2012/11/04/oakley-airwave-tctv-video/

A Lightbulb for Touch

A Lightbulb for Touch 

Powerful computers are becoming small and cheap enough to cram into all sorts of everyday objects. Natan Linder, a student at MIT’s Media Lab, thinks that fitting one inside a light bulb socket, together with a camera and projector, could provide a revolutionary new kind of interface—by turning any table or desk into a simple touch screen.


Linder describes LuminAR as an augmented-reality system because the images and interfaces it projects can alter the function of a surface or object. While LuminAR might seem like a far-fetched concept, many large technology companies are experimenting with new kinds of computer interfaces in hopes of discovering new markets for their products.

Linder’s system uses a camera, a projector, and software to recognize objects and project imagery onto or around them, and also to function as a scanner. It connects to the Internet using Wi-Fi. Some capabilities of the prototype, such as object recognition, rely partly on software running on a remote cloud server.

LuminAR could be used to create an additional display on a surface, perhaps to show information related to a task in hand. It can also be used to snap a photo of an object, or of printed documents such as a magazine. A user can then e-mail that photo to a contact by interacting with LuminAR’s projected interface.

Why I’m curious: As many brands are creating new products for consumers to interact with, I am interested in seeing the innovations with products and surfaces already at our fingertips. Additionally, adding hands-on interactivity to any surface in a home or office could expand the way computers are used today.

Source: http://www.technologyreview.com

Who’s in?

Tequila brand Jose Cuervo will next week release an international multi-platform campaign which it will focus on what it describes as ‘one of life’s universal characters’, The Instigator.

Peter Gutierrez, managing director at Jose Cuervo International said that the campaign aimed to tap into the universal insight around friends and tequila – that every group has an instigator who makes things happen and that their sense of spontaneity can create a ‘Cuervo Moment’.

“That Cuervo Moment exists everywhere…” Jason Goodman, CEO of Albion London, commented: “The Cuervo brand is all about the ‘here and now’. The ‘Who’s In? campaign we have created with Peter and the team brings this brand truth to life, and in doing so ‘hands over the controls’ to our consumers. The platform around this campaign is really exciting.”

The second phase of the campaign will see the launch of the ‘Who’s In?’ button online, in a partnership with Time Out and Skiddle.com that has been integrated with Facebook which allows instigators to invite friends to create their own unique night out.

The button also uses Foursquare and Instagram to offer details of local bars and restaurants. Through Vice and Spotify, bespoke play lists can also be created.

Created by Albion London, the 60 second advert will be supported online and through experiential activity.


Why I’m Curious:

Having spent the past 85 hours talking about “meaningful engagements” I was on the hunt today for a brand that is actually creating them, and defining what that means. It’s all about tapping a consumer insight – a universal truth between your brand and your consumers – and creating an experience for your consumers that says – we know you’re already doing this, we want to be in on that moment too. We want you to connect that moment with our brand, not just the product.

For Tequilla it’s that there’s a bottle, a group of friends, and someone getting out of hand. What is it for the brand you are working on?


Source: The Drum