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.

twitter boosts world cup integration

Twitter is making a real effort to stake out real-time conversations around the World Cup. While I don’t think anyone would debate Twitter’s status as the go-to social network for real-time discussions around live events, over the last few days Twitter has taken steps to enhance the platform’s ability to service these conversations with the following updates:

  • A step-by-step supporter’s guide to Twitter that walks users through how to follow their team – This appeared on both desktop and mobile versions (screenshots below from desktop)

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  • Upcoming match call-outs that link through to dedicated pages housing match-related conversation, a scoreboard, and links out to player handles (although it appears as of today that the pages aren’t as “customized” as they were earlier in the week)

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  • Team “hashflags”

Screen Shot 2014-06-11 at 4.31.01 PM Why I’m Curious? This move is all about usability – It’s awesome to see Twitter go to such lengths to ensure it’s as easy as possible for users to navigate/enjoy the one thing they know everyone will be talking about. For a platform who’s core strength is real-time conversation, the move seems a no-brainer, which makes you wonder why they haven’t pursued similar modifications, say for the Olympics. It’d be interesting to get a sense for how they’ll be gauging the success of the new features. I’ve got to imagine they made the move to facilitate more conversation, and to increase usage on a user-by-user basis…it’ll be tough though to say that the features impacted either KPI without any kind of baseline for comparison…Perhaps they didn’t roll the features out to everyone? Anyway, assuming the features are a success, it’ll be interesting to see whether or not they decide to do stuff like this for future big events, and whether or not they’d ever consider handing the reins for something like this over to an advertiser.

H&M’s “Fashion Mixer” catalogue turns apparel pieces into music

H&M is now launching a music project in Asia that see’s the brand’s fashion catalogue working as a musical piece.   The project—called fashion mixer—enables consumers to turn apparel pieces into musical sounds and then mix them.  The project is based on H&M’s “Divided” collection, which features clothing for both men and women.  Essentially, each item of the collection has it’s own sound effect ranging from beats to melodies and voices.  Users can add various fashion items by dragging and dropping them onto a special sampler on a mobile device that fuses the sounds to create a one-of-a-kind tune.


Why I am Curious:

It’s interesting to see brands play with the power of music. Some brands are doing it right and some brands haven’t quite figured it out.  I think this project from H&M will be something of interest to their core audience.

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.

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.

State Farm Brings Back “Chaos in Your Town” – This Time on Mobile

Couple years ago, State Farm introduced you to “Chaos in Your Town,” a website that let you plug in your home address and witness a robot wreaking havoc on your neighborhood. Now, the insurance giant came up with the second iteration of the campaign — except this time, it’s mobile.

The mobile iAd uses the GPS capabilities of your smart phone, replacing the manual address input requirement from 2011. The result is a movie featuring that robot going on a rampage in your current location.

One of the challenges was to drive users to call State Farm and get a quote that didn’t feel forced — some interactivity was incorporated to that part of the ad, where you’re asked how you want to respond to the robot. This also helped with the challenge of driving users to call State Farm and get a quote in a way that did not feel forced.

It’s no surprise the insurer is bringing back Chaos in Your Town, which racked up some pretty impressive numbers in terms of consumer engagement in its previous stint. In the first 10 weeks of the 2011 Chaos in Your Town effort, with a digital media spend around $700,000, the campaign

  • Garnered more than 900 blog mentions
  • Saw more than one million user-generated films were created
  • Resulted in more than 200 million user-generated impressions

In the following 20 months, without any paid media support, the campaign went on to generate 6+ million additional user generated videos, bringing the total to about 7 million films.

Why Am I Curious?

I think the most interesting part of this example is how much engagement and interactivity it brings into an ad. Sure it is using Google StreetView images as opposed to actual Augmented Reality but the end result still seems to really stand out from rest of the online ads and draws users to engage with the ‘game’ while still giving a strong brand message at the end.

Food Truck Dispenses Smells To Mimic the Experience of Eating

It’s pretty apparent that food trucks are all the rage in several cities across the US–where that can be mobile and give individuals access to foods they may not be able to obtain otherwise (i.e. areas there aren’t many restaurants–like 12th ave and 26th street). But in its height, innovation in the space continues—most recently with a concept that doesn’t actually require eating. A new project called the GhostFood Truck will do just this with an eating experience that will trick the mind. The GhostFoodTruck essentially mimics what actual food would taste like with a 3D-printed headset—attached to one’s face—allowing the user to smell various types of food.

The purpose of the headset is to trick your brain into thinking that it is legitimately eating food by get the chance to much on something (that is a vegan substitute) as well as get a sense for how it smells.

Food Truck Dispenses Smells To Mimic the Experience of Eating

Why I am Curious:
I think this is such a unique and forward thinking project that touches upon several problematic areas—obesity, climate change (threatening extinction of different foods), increasing population will increase food scarcity etc. In knowing that 80% of ‘taste’ actually comes from smell, I think this is a concept that could work to solve several issues but also heighten different experiences. For instance what if you were shopping for food online and saw something you wanted to try but didn’t want to pay for it if you didn’t like but were able to smell it to validate. Or what if you were doing a travel campaign and users could for instance smell the ocean and the beach increasing their desire to travel there. I am interested to see when this will launch and like may things if it will be insanely expensive.

don’t worry, it’s just mind control.

The studious students at the University of Washington have achieved a wonderfully scary feat – they’ve created a remote mind-control platform that runs over the internet.

On August 12, Rao sat in his lab wearing a cap with electrodes hooked up to an electroencephalography machine, which reads electrical activity in the brain.

Stocco was in his lab across campus wearing a purple swim cap marked with the stimulation site for the transcranial magnetic stimulation coil that was placed directly over his left motor cortex, which controls hand movement.

Using this set-up, Rao played a video game by directing Stocco’s finger to press a button on his keyboard. Wow.

Why I’m curious.

If this doesn’t excite you, you may need to check your pulse. The implications for future medical, emergency response and entertainment applications of this technology are mind boggling.

via Futurity –>

Food Meets Fashion

Clothing retailer Uniqlo has launched an iOS app that blends fashion and food by showcasing 24 recipes from six up-and-coming American chefs.

Each recipe in the Uniqlo Recipe app features a palette of bright colors and textures, which are matched by the chef’s Uniqlo outfits. For example, Chef Brian Leth wears a brown cardigan to introduce his Dark Chocolate Sandwich recipe. Users can click to instantly buy each of the featured clothing items the chefs are wearing. The app also includes a kitchen timer featuring cooking sounds.

Why I’m Curious

It’s amusing to see a fashion retailer pair its offerings with food in this way. The two don’t inherently go together, yet the brand has found a way to connect them through shared attributes like color and texture. The end result is an application that provides functional utility in addition to entertainment. Given the disparate nature of the two elements however, I wonder how many people will actually download the app.

Intoxication Nation

From Thirillist:

The Blowfish that’s not associated with Hootie is an over-the-counter hangover remedy (that at least one of our editors is legitimately addicted to). So naturally they want people to get, like, mad hungover.

They apparently also want to pit the 50 US states against each other in a hangover death match, and so compiled tons of cool stats on drinking in America, which they distilled into a slick set of interactive drinking maps that let you know exactly how your home state parties.

The first tab on the Intoxication Nation page shows you  a bunch of tweets in real time from people who are #drinking – the second tab is dedicated to the hashtag #hangover.

Click me to see more!


Why I’m Curious

This is an interesting branded experience that people want to engage with. It’s interactive, it shows stats in infographic form, taps into the competitive nature of the audience and integrates seamlessly with real-time social sharing. Are more brands going to be looking to use cases such as this to see how they can better engage their audience with lightly branded, interactive pieces that really make people want to engage? As a marketer, I sure hope so!

Kellogg’s RFID Glow In The Dark Skate Park

Last month, Kellogg’s in Australia launched an RFID triggered, projection mapped, glow in the dark skate park for their Nutri-Grain cereals.

Nutri-Grain Fuel On Skatepark included a Parkour course and one of the first digital graffiti walls in Australia. The experience gave skate enthusiasts the opportunity to test their skills on an eight meter glow in the dark half pipe. The course also featured laser triggered cameras to auto-shoot and upload images via RFID tags to Facebook. Real-time projection mapping on the skate ramps allowed riders to see their tracks come to life.

Why I’m Curious
This was a fun, innovative application using RFID along with social media. The colorful, high-energy branded experience also engaged Nutri-Grain’s young skating audience, while communicating the value the product offers to fuel the skaters throughout their active lives.

Your Pin’s Price Dropped!

Pinterest now sends you an email when your coveted pin’s price dropped.

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Read more here.

Why I am Interested

You know that giddiness you get when something you’ve wanted forever is suddenly a little (or maybe a lot) cheaper? Pinterest is bringing that saving feeling to their platform! And, the best of it: You don’t have to do anything to get notified. Just keep pinning the things you’re into, and leave the price watching to them.

Your Phone’s Homescreen: The Next Ad Platform

locket-ads2-copyNow brands can truly own your mobile device. Locket, a new Android app, displays ads on a phone’s lock screen and pays users one cent every time they unlock their device. The app has already attracted 150,000 users and signed on major advertisers including OrbitzAmazonSpotify, and SunnyD. These high-definition, fullscreen ads go far beyond run-of-the-mill mobile ads and pop ups ads.

Why I’m Curious: As more brands realize that people are media, there will be more platforms and pathways for tapping into that even further. Clearly this app provides a highly targeted way to speak to consumers – brands can target not just by demo and age but by location, time of day and type of device. Time will tell whether consumers are interested more in the money or if brands find a way to delight consumers with each swipe.

YouTube Announces A New Commenting System, Powered By Google+

Yesterday, YouTube announced a new commenting system that will be powered by Google+. The system, which is launching on channel discussion tabs this month, this week before rolling out to all videos over the next few weeks and months, will automatically rank comments and feature threaded and private conversations.

Right now, YouTube comments are a hotbed for spam and idiocy, something Google is painfully aware of. The new system aims to fix this by personalizing and ranking comments for each individual user.

Last year, YouTube started asking its users to connect their YouTube and Google+ accounts so more users would use their real names on the site. Today’s integration goes quite a bit deeper. The new system will switch away from the current, recency-based system and instead rank comments according to a wide range of factors.

As part of the Google+ integration, YouTube will now also aggregate public comments about a video from Google+ and display them on YouTube. Private messages, of course, will remain private. Thanks to the Google+ integration, users on YouTube itself will now also be able to have private conversations on the site by leaving comments that can only be seen by people in their Google+ circles or individual users.



Why I’m curious: Especially as a CM for both YouTube and Google+, it is interesting to witness the strategic moves Google enacts to make Google+ more relavant. Especially, I see this changing the nature of Youtube commenting, once a hotbed for spammers, trolls and all-around idiocy. Taking away anonymity from YT comments (though one can create a G+ page under any name or pseudonym  and giving control to the YT video owner should make the comments more relevant, applicable and tolerable. But it is worrisome that by doing so, video posters can essentially block all negativity altogether. Will this be the death of dissent, and will the YT comment section go from hateful troll-infested waters to sanitized chamber of only the most clean and positive pre-approved comments? We shall see…

Mess up you’re prfect Facebok status with a tpyo or 2? Just edit it.

Here’s a feature a lot of people have been waiting for, especially grammar nerds like me. Starting yesterday, you can edit your already-published Facebook status updates. Sometimes it’s a typo, or maybe a “they’re” instead of a “their.” We’ve all had it happen. You craft a clever update, post it, and let the likes and comments flow in. And then, OOPS! Until now, you would either have to live with the public humiliation of letting everyone know that you’re a human capable of mistakes or delete the status and lose all that precious engagement. According to TechCrunch, the feature is now available on the web and on Android, with an iOS update coming soon.

Why I’m Curious

While this update is a long time coming, I understand why Facebook was hesitant to make the change. They didn’t want people to make a status that says “Like this if you think puppies are awesome” to bait people into engaging with it and then edit the post to say “Everyone who likes this post owes me $100.”

I’m interested to see if this will also extend to brand pages as well. The ball is in your court, Zuckerberg.

Blink: When Your Eyes Are The Trigger

Virgin Mobile‘s latest Web spot harnesses viewers’ eyes, and their webcams, by delivering strange new video clips every time they blink, creating a new video experience with each viewing but always touting a $35 monthly phone plan. The “Blinkwashing” campaign is the final piece in Virgin’s “Retrain Your Brain” campaign and will live exclusively on YouTube. The video selects clips from 25 films and has more than 2 million possible combinations.

Read more here.

Why I am curious: 

The idea of “Blinkwashing” attempts to illustrate the brand’s message that consumers can “take control” of their phone experience (e.g. money-saving, no-contract offerings).The initiative offers a completely new experience every time you watch it…however, it is one that you cannot control!

Here is the Retrain Your Brain campaign…

Toolkit transforms whiteboard sketches into functioning apps

Toolkit transforms whiteboard sketches into functioning apps

Kickstarter concept—AppSpeed—takes prototyping to the next level by allowing users to quickly turn sketches into functioning prototypes. The way in which the concept works is that users create drawings/sketches of digital screens with crop marks clearly visible. Once finished, the user uploads their sketches into AppSeed, which then automatically crops screen sizes. Once images sizes/screens are isolated, the app uses computer vision to enable the movement of individual elements. Based on this, users can alter or designate specific functions to individual pieces in each image.

Ultimately, the purpose of the app is to make for a seamless and easy experience for designers and UX creatives by allowing for simple manipulation and modification of digitized sketches to create working prototypes.

Why I am Curious:

Minimal viable products are of extreme interest to me and I believe the best way to validate efforts are to quickly create concepts that can be validated with sample targets before production ever gets started. I think this idea will speed up that process. I think apps/programs in this space will only continue to get better.

Verified Twitter Accounts Get New Feed

Twitter has rolled out a special feature to only verified accounts – two additional filters on the “Connect” tab. Now users (with that little blue check) can view mentions from All, Filtered, or Verified. The ultimate goal? To make conversations between celebrities easier while eliminating spam. On the “Verified” tab, users will only see other verified accounts they follow (aka other “celeb status” individuals). Fancy, right?


Why I’m Curious: 

I get it, Twitter prides itself on being a place where celebrities, athletes, musicians, etc. can share their daily happenings, but did we need to create new functionality for them? I find it interesting that Twitter has taken an extra step to create a better user experience for their “top” users. I’m curious to see if this will decrease engagement with fans/common folk in the space or help it – fans are still housed in that “Filtered” tab with less spam!

I did some exploring on our own @RealLunchables brand page and the functionality (rolled out yesterday) appears to be a little glitchy. The “Verified” tab didn’t filter as expected… we will see!

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