Hudson Yards Project is building a connected neighborhood next to Starrett Lehigh


The largest private real estate project ever is being built right next door to mcgarrybowen’s home in the iconic Starrett-Lehigh building. This project is unique in that it’s being built from the ground up, and developers are capitalizing the opportunity to build a future-forward, all-inclusive neighborhood.

The developers are collaborating with NYU to create a “data-rich research environment” to quantify and analyze a number of verticals. Data could be collected for air quality, recycling, activity levels and health, or mobile browsing data. Most of the stream of data will come from building systems or smart “Internet of things” devices and appliances. But some will be supplied voluntarily by those who opt-in to the program, supplying access to sensors and apps on their smartphones.

Why I’m Curious

I’m sure we all hear rampant use of buzzwords like Internet of Things, Big Data, connected cities, and hyper-contextualized personalization. I’m so excited to see a project that is actually considering how to make those concepts accessible to a greater population. Since Manhattan is already incredibly developed, it often seems like there is little room for growth. This project shows that the future is rife with opportunity for NYC to become a part of the future of our connected world.

[via FastCompany]

Augmented Shopping Assistant Helps Shoppers Find Products And In-Store Deals

Google, in collaboration Walgreens and the mobile shopper platform Aisle411, has announced a new augmented reality shopping assistant that makes in-store deals “pop out” and helps shoppers find products on the shelves more efficiently.

A video released by Google (below) shows shoppers pushing a shopping cart equipped with a tablet. Each tablet uses Google’s Project Tango indoor 3D mapping technology to accurately and precisely sense its location within the store.

As shoppers move down the aisle, the tablet displays the exact locations of items on their shopping list and alerts them about deals on nearby products.

A gaming element has been introduced as well, allowing shoppers to earn rewards points by walking down certain aisles indicated on their store map.

The program will be piloted in retailers across the country in the coming months.

Why I’m Curious

I’m always interested in brick and mortar retailer’s efforts to offer connivence and service on par with their online counterparts. This latest effort is interesting because it goes a step further than in-store push notifications of deals. The precision of indoor mapping technology lets retailers know where you are, which products you’re nearby, and presumably (if you are using a shopping list feature) what’s in your cart. Using this information, retailers can gain insights about what you shop for and how you shop for it. They may know that you like buying certain items on a Monday, and offer you personalized rewards or incentives to get you shopping at their store more frequently.

It wasn’t that long ago when large-scale mapping projects such as Google Earth seemed mind-bogglingly cool, and now they are something that we take for granted. I’m curious to see how the indoor mapping revolution plays out and what new conveniences and annoyances come out of it.


Yahoo Developing Map Algorithm To Find Scenic Routes

Yahoo Labs is adding a dimension to their navigation algorithm that aims to provide more beautiful, quiet, and happy ways to get from A to B. Researchers at Yahoo Labs sourced images from Google Streetview (irony surely not lost on them) and crowdsourced user opinions about which streets were more beautiful via, then assigned an attractiveness variable to each location. When calculating a route, the navigation tool considers beauty alongside distance and traffic to generate a path that’s not only efficient but pleasant. The full study is available via Cornel University Library open-access archive.

via Gizmodo

Yahoo Scenic Map Algorithm

Why I’m Curious

Jokes about using their competitor’s tool to conduct this experiment aside, I’m impressed by Yahoo’s effort to identify whitespace in a market so dominated by Google.

This also serves as an example of infusing emotional storytelling in to a digital space that we usually consider utilitarian. As an integrated agency, we often discuss how we can translate the emotional impact of traditional mediums like video in to the digital experiences we build for our clients. This is a great example of “Show, Don’t Tell”. Providing a tool that responds to a human truth like our enduring desire for beauty in modern spaces that are increasingly un-beautiful is an elegant way to reflect the brand’s values. This execution also positions technology an altruistic hero, using a virtual tool to help us re-discover the physical places we inhabit.

Finally, the crowdsourcing inquiry (beauty is subjective, after all) generates an interesting new body of data with implications for disciplines like city planning, design and architecture, and psychology.

Ikea figures out a way to build an Instagram ‘website’


Beyond hashtag campaigns, Brands have struggled to make Instagram an actionable platform.   Taking the opportunity to take a crack at this challenge, Ikea Russia’s agency has found a clever way to make the platform work for them in an interesting way.  Ikea’s instagram account  ikea_ps_2014 is able to function exactly like a website—with 12 image tabs displaying different product categories (total of 34), all of which have their own Instagram accounts.

The effort is to promote their new “Ikea PS 2014” collection, which tapped into 14 young designers from around the world to target its younger urban audience.

Why I am Curious:

I absolutely love this idea and how out of the box it is.  I’m curious to see what happens as a result of having so many Instagram accounts to make this happen.  I wonder if they will be deactivated once the campaign is over—therefore losing the following that was built up.

Ikea built a website inside Instagram

To help push Ikea’s intensely odd PS 2014 collection, the furniture seller’s Russian division hired ad agency Instinct to build a marketing campaign within Instagram. Navigating to the Instagram account ikea_ps_2014 on your smartphone — it won’t format correctly in your browser — will open up a “website” within the app, consisting of 12 images.

Why I’m Curious:

Native advertising win


IKEA PS 2014 Instagram Website from Instinct on Vimeo.

Snapchat Messages!



It’s happened!  The long awaited update from Snapchat that allows messages and video chat via the app is here!

Why I’m Curious

Snapchat’s new look is cleaner, less muddy and easier to navigate.  Oh yeah, there is also messages and video messages that puts Snapchat in the the realm of conversation apps.  Users can send a Snapchat and reply instantaneously to the person who sent the chat directly.  You can finally respond to those great snaps quick and without much thought.  The new update also includes video chatting features; hold the chat button and video message with your pal.  For all those fans who like to get artsy you can now add filters to your messages to spice things up a bit.

After finding out about the new look and features I immediately updated my phone and started playing around.  For ten minutes I sent chats to my coworker and was engaging with the video messaging.   Now that Snapchat is in the sphere of messaging they have plenty of room to really explore the boundaries and create something that is completely different from apps like WhatsApp.  I can see fans moving off of messaging apps and utilizing Snapchat more because of the functionality of video that is incorporated with its original design.

The Heritage Bank Power Suite:

The Heritage Bank Power Suite:

Swipe with your sleeve not your wallet……..A new form of wearable payment tech is allowing men to pay for service without drawing attention. While contactless payment methods have no doubt gained popularity, the heritage bank power suit takes the idea to the next level in terms of style and ease of use. The suit—made from fine merino wool—contains an NFC chip (typically found in Visa payWave contactless payment cards) that is woven into the user’s suit allowing them to easily touch payment terminals to make any transaction. The user is then able to check their transaction instantly via mobile.

Why I am Curious:
I think this is a really cool idea and concept however I wonder how feasible this really is. You would only be able to use this when you were wearing this suite. Also, how is this washed? While I think the idea is clever I do think there are things that need to be worked out to make this a more seamless experience but I do believe it will get there soon.

Safeguard makes it difficult to leave the bathroom with dirty hands

We all know, people aren’t always the cleanest and or hygienic, especially in places like NYC. That being said, if one dares to actually think about germs in places such as a bathroom, the thought can be enough to make one sick. Only 1 in 3 people wash their hands after using the public toilette and only 5% of the people that do wash their hands do it well enough to actually kill germs.

In order to aid is this issue, Safeguard has created a soap dispenser alarm that shames people into washing their hands. Essentially the tool works through pressure sensors that are connected to cubicle stall doors. Once open, they trigger an alarm and the only way to stop it is to press the alarm button which also conveniently dispenses soap in order to wash hands.

Why I am Curious:
While not enough to stop the spreading of germs for an entire city, I think this idea is brilliant. No one wants to be publically humiliated and in a way it reminds me of that chemical put in pools that turns pee purple. That being said, people are crazy and gross and I wonder if they will just ignore the alarm and walk out quickly.

Dulux simplifies the job of interior design with a color matching app

Delux Australia has developed a new app call Colour (designed by Isobar) that helps interior decorators and amateurs alike match colors to real life objects. The app also contains 2014 colour trends. The app is promoted by a spot produced by BBDO—revealing the playful nature of colors.

What I am Curious:
I love to decorate and matching colors is actually really difficult because there is never one shade of a color…..there are at least 50 😉 That being said I think this makes the process much easier and we will continue to see more concepts/apps like this (i.e. Shazam).

Jawbone’s Up Coffee app allows you to discover how caffeine intake influences sleep

In time for National sleep awareness month, Jawbone created an app that showcases the correlation between caffeine intake and the quality of future sleep (i.e. if you drink X cups of coffee you won’t be able to go to bed until X time).  The app shows how “worn out” a user might become because of the caffeine they drink and reveals the user’s “coffee” persona, which measures the caffeine levels, sleep patterns and gives tips for behavioral change.


The app also pairs with Jawbone Up wrist tracker which ultimately helps users understand sleep, movement, and eating so they can make smarter choices.

Why I am curious:

As the health trend continues to grow and become more and more integrated with technological experiences, it is interesting to see how granular data is becoming.  i.e. Will a person eventually know what foods they need to eat/avoid and or exercises they need to do so they don’t get certain diseases/illnesses etc.

Bio-sensing book changes temperature based on the plot

When reading a good book, often a reader can find themselves so immersed in a fictional world where things such as empathizing with characters feels natural. But in order to really enhance this experience, Sensory Fiction—a course at MIT Media lab—is aiming to create concepts that are inspired by fictional fantasies. In one of the course’s latest concepts, users are able “feel” fiction as they read, through tech and sensors that vibrate and change temp in correlation to the plot.

The basic setup for the concept involves a book cover with LED lights—changing according to the mood of the story, as well as a wearable tech piece that changes temp, vibrations and pressure as the reader turns the page.

Why I’m Curious:
Some of the most exciting experiences are those that are convergent/ubitech (physical + digital). It’s a blurring of the lines between what is reality vs what is tech. I really love this concept and think this would be even more exciting if you could also smell the scenes in the book or even taste. I think adding all these sensorial touches/elements really has the power to create an exhilarating experience in the real world.

Unlock Your Phone With Your Ear

Apple was the first to tap into devices that recognize their owners by biometrics but Androids are taking it to the next level with ERGO.  ERGO is a new app developed by Descartes Biometrics, Inc. that can unlock a passcode on your phone using your ear.  The app is developed for the Android system and needs no other hardware in order to function on the phone.

Why I’m Curious

ERGO recognizes the phone user’s ears and cheeks against the touchscreen and will unlock the phone.  The app at this point is ready for the consumer but there have been complaints that after a number of scans the phone does not recognize the user’s cheek.  This is obviously an app that is a work in progress but think of the technology behind the app has opened a world of discussion.

As performance and technology on phones increases the exploration in mobile biometrics will become an accelerating trend.  The world already has seen functionality on the phone’s hard ware and now apps, what will be next?  It is possible that a developer will broaden retina scanners to unlock a passcode or breathing habits to control music through your headphones. (Which might already be developed and ready for the consumer.  Hint.  Hint.)  I am curious to see what will be available for the consumer come next year and what new developments for authentic identification will be accessible.

Nibblr snacks on the subscription model

As subscription surprise and delight services (think Birchbox, Craft Coffee, Kiwi Crate) have gained popularity, more brands are emerging to offer a similar service across industries.  General Mills recently launched Nibblr, a subscription-based snack delivery service aimed at female office workers, 25-35.

Screen Shot 2014-01-09 at 3.57.05 PM

Consumers subscribe to a box of snacks that can be delivered weekly, biweekly or monthly. The number of deliveries — six boxes for six weeks, 12 boxes for 12 months, etc. — is up to the buyer. Each box contains four individually packaged snacks made mostly of dried fruit and nuts, about 70 percent of which are 150 calories or less.

The product was developed by General Mills’ internal innovation department, 301 Inc., which aims to generate ideas outside of the company’s traditional business segments — cereal, yogurt, convenient meals, etc. — which have their own innovation teams.  Nibblr has its own unique branding and doesn’t tout its GM affiliation openly.

via @adverblog

Why I’m Curious

It’s unique to see a big brand like General Mills experiment with spin-offs, and  I’m interested to see how their foray into a direct-to-consumer model will pan out.  The subscription model is certainly a popular one, and no one has thus far dominated the healthy snacks market. As low calorie snacks are increasingly coveted by health conscious millennials and Gen X’ers, Nibblr looks promising, with the right marketing and customer response.


Take a Peek

We have experienced an explosion of photo and video sharing with the success of apps such as Instagram, and more recently Snapchat, the platform that lets users send 10-second messages that disappear after they’ve been viewed. PeekInToo, a new app from Greece, offers a real-time, virtual glimpse into an anonymous person’s life for just 12 seconds.

Taking “people-watching” to the next level, PeekInToo is a global social network that lets users be nosy for a short amount of time. Using a map to navigate, users select a location nearby — or on the other side of the world, if they wish — and pick another user who is accepting requests. The recipient receives a notification that someone wants to ‘Peek’ and they can accept or decline, before holding up their camera to let the other user see what they’re seeing in real time. The video exchange service can be used to simply satisfy a curiosity, but also to see what’s going on near them or in a specific location. If video from a location of interest isn’t currently available, users can also use the PeekShout function in order to request a feed. Viewers can also rate others’ video.

Why I’m Curious:

While most people hop on the social media trends and partake in sharing tidbits about their lives, many are also particular to who they share with and use privacy settings. Do you think there would be enough people that would be willing to share their lives with strangers?

Electrolux Design Lab 2014 focuses on ‘Creating Healthy Homes’

Electrolux Design Lab 2014 focuses on ‘Creating Healthy Homes’

Each year Electrolux does an international design competition for design students that is aimed at finding futuristic/cutting edge concepts for improving homes. This year’s theme was focused around spaces that are ‘greener’ and ‘healthier.’ Contestants could submit concepts that ranged across three different categories: Culinary Enjoyment, Fabric Care and Air Purification and had to create concepts for a product, accessory, consumable or service. After submission, contestants had to share their work via social media and write a development blog. They then received feedback from professionals and had the opportunity to win. The few that did win received a cash prize, and the grand prize winner got not only a cash prize but a 6 month paid internship with the company.

This years winning submission was developed by a man named Adrian Perez Zapata from Columbia—with a cleaning system that uses tiny flying robots to clean surfaces by removing dust with a drop of water. (See the winning submissions here)

Why I am Curious:
I’m always curious about design concepts that push the limits for what is currently in the mass consumer markets. I love seeing the designs that come out of this each year because they are always inventive and are on the cusp of technology.

block stuff you don’t want to see

Browser add-on, rather, replaces the things you don’t want to see on Twitter and Facebook with things you’d rather see. The add-on is currently only available for Chrome, but they have plans to make available for Safari, Firefox, and mobile in the near future.

Screen Shot 2013-11-08 at 11.27.59 AM

Why I’m Curious?

This add-on gets at a very real problem for a lot of people…That said, you wonder whether replacing the thing you don’t want to see with something else is really the best solution. Wouldn’t it be better to just have it not appear?

Replacing undesired content with something else lends this feature some serious quirkiness…Definitely something I could have seen Old Spice doing with their Wolfdog campaign.

How else could a feature like this serve an advertising function? Would it really only work for a campaign based in humor?

Google invents new revenue stream, Helpouts, initially designed to connect people

Tech powerhouse Google has now created a platform for individuals to fix real life problems in real time with “personalized” video advice from people. The service, Helpouts, connects individuals that seek help with those who can provide the required guidance through paid or free meetups. The service is offered in 8 different categories to start (from art & music, to cooking, to fitness & nutrition.)

The platform is able to connect users with experts across categories. Services not only include video chatting capabilities but also—with the permission of the user—screen sharing capabilities. Some classes or advice sessions are free while others have a fixed cost. In its initial stage of this project, Google already has over 1000 companies participating and hopes to continue to expand with more.

Why I’m Curious:
I’m curious to see how this unfolds. I obviously think this will be successful but I’m wondering if they will add in a community aspect (similar to a quora) where it doesn’t have to be an expert that answers questions and or if people will be able to rate the services that they receive through the platform.

Tweeting Bra for Breast Cancer

The tweeting bra is a project by Nestle Fitness for their breast cancer awareness campaign in Greece.  The way in which the bra works is that every time an individual unhooks their bra a special hidden mechanism sends a signal to a cell phone—then notifying a server that will generate the tweet.  The hashtag for the campaign is #Tweetingbra and users can also follow the twitter handle @tweetingbra to see more information. 


Why I am Curious:

Tactics for breast cancer have really gained traction in awareness and usage in the last couple of years (i.e. pins, clothes, ribbons etc), and while I think a “tweeting bra” is interesting it feels invasive and annoying in the amount of tweets that would be going off every time a person hooked their bra.  I’m curious to know if people would actually do this.

Want to bribe people to get dates? Stop right here.

Please watch this: 

A few quotes from the founder:  

“Women are like dogs. Give a dog a bone, and it will obey. Give a woman a present, and she’ll…”

“It’s like a pickup line, but more classy and interesting”

“This app helps create mutually beneficial relationships”

Carrot Dating brings romance back into the dating game by encouraging men to never go to a first date empty-handed.”


Bribes include:

  • Coffee
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
  • Drinks
  • Dessert
  • Spa Day
  • Shopping Spree
  • Tattoo
  • Sky-Diving Trip
  • Vacation
  • Bouquet of Flowers
  • Box of Chocolates
  • Tank of Gas
  • Piece of Jewelry
  • Plastic Surgery Treatment
  • Movie
  • Night Club
  • Concert
  • Sporting Event
  • Theatre

Via: AdWeek

Why I’m Curious:

Sure, it is a sad reality that there are people who are  superficial and would do anything for a free lunch.  In this case, a free movie, a tank of gas and even plastic surgery.  The thing that is disturbing about this app is that it approves of this behavior in society and encourages people to do it.

What do you think?

buy stuff on instagram

Unknown to me, lots of stuff gets sold on Instagram…or is at least put up for sale using the hashtag #forsale. A new company called Hashbag has stepped in to capitalize on the trend, and presumably bring a bit of order to the marketplace.

Screen Shot 2013-10-18 at 2.58.45 PM

From what I’ve read, the selling process seems to go something like the following:

1) Post item you want to sell with hashtag #forsale

2) Hashbag emails you (not sure exactly how) for pricing info, and you oblige

3) Your item goes live on a personal Hashbag seller’s page (e.g.

4) Somebody chooses to buy your item, and pays you using PayPal

The logistics of the process seem a bit hazy…Unless you call out your email in your profile info, I’m not 100% sure how Hashbag emails you in the first-place given that there’s no DM/PM functionality on Instagram. On the transactional end, same thing goes…not 100% sure how buyer/seller exchange PayPal info unless it’s directly in the comments section, which seems uncomfortably high profile to me.

Why I’m Curious?

Had I not known that lots of people were already doing this, I would’ve ripped on this idea more than I already am going to…Why not use eBay, an established, respected, and reliable marketplace, where you’ll likely get a better selling price, to sell whatever it is you’re selling on Instagram? Logistically, it also seems like a pain to buy/sell anything.

But, hey, the site is nice-looking, it makes it easier to sift through things that people are obviously already keen on selling, and, if the seller is registered to the site, mitigates some of the transactional difficulties. Maybe people will use this? I’m interested to see how it does.