Check In From the Air

A new app lets parachutists “check in” on Facebook as they fly through the sky. The Air Check In app takes your picture  mid-jump, records your height and lets you post it to Facebook. And if your 3G reception isn’t good enough, it stores the information for you to post later.  Every check-in has a link to Sky Company’s Facebook fan page.

Why I’m Curious: Seemingly, skydiving is one of the most incredible experiences that we can have. Yet, that in and of itself is not enough. And posting video or photos after the event isn’t enough either. There have been a variety of tools that allow of-the-second moment sharing and they likely will just continue to infiltrate more and more moments.


We Know What You’re Doing. Do You?

You’d think that most people are aware of the importance of privacy on the Internet and posting personal information…you’d think. But a recent ‘experiment’ from teenage web developer, Callum Haywood proves that wrong.

We Know What You’re Doing” scans for publicly posted updates from Facebook and Foursquare and then curates them with certain keywords such as ‘drunk,’ ‘hungry,’ or ‘boss.’ And then posts them in four distinct categories: “Who wants to get fired”, “Who’s hungover,” “Who’s taking drugs,” and “Who’s got a new phone number.”

Why I’m Curious

“We Know What You’re Doing” is simply pulling info that people are willingly sharing in status updates and check-ins. The key word being willingly. It wouldn’t seem too far off that sharing could lead to as ReadWriteWeb put it: “We Know What You’re Doing (Even If You Don’t).” In fact, Facebook already generated this playlist of songs people listened to on Spotify before officially updating their relationship status. As people continue to share more info (especially more info simultaneously), it become easier to learn more about them…and do something with it, even if they aren’t aware.

Introducing Tagbrand, the new Foursquare of fashion

From TechCrunch:

The model is simple enough. Take and upload photos of what branded clothes you are wearing and tag them. Effectively, it’s a photo check-in for brands, or ‘Foursquare for fashion’, if you will.

The twist is that users are encouraged to tag up pictures with a visual tag of what brand each item of clothing is. Alas, the site does not yet do visual recognition of the clothes. Maybe one day…

TagBrand doesn’t call this check-ins, but – wait for it – “brand-ins”. People can then comment or vote on the brands their friends are wearing. Clearly the opportunity here is to capture a fashion-obsessed audience and provide a platform for advertisers.

The product combines contains brands, polls and e-commerce. There’s a lot of virality built into the service – every tags has a Twitter or Facebook button on it.

Now, clothing brands and retail stores are constantly chasing these people. This is one way of delivering them a highly targeted audience. Tagbrand’s business model is based on creating a special marketplace for them which is visible while browsing the brand’s tag on a photo. The stores provide Tagbrand with a price-list and its system attaches them to a “Recommended” block.

So while browsing their friends’ clothes, users see the real-world item beside the image and can purchase from there (click are on a CPC basis). Users also get delivered latest news on brands they such as new collections.

Why I’m curious:

Launched in May 2011 in Russia, TagBrand launched last month in the U.S. It works like Foursquare, and looks like Pinterest, and shops like an e-catalog, except it’s all UGC. (Actually, it’s kinda like Uniqlooks, except brand agnostic.)

What’s interesting is that this takes Pinterest to a whole new, niche level. For users, it’s not about browsing; it’s about bragging. In this way, it’s about recognition for uploaders. However, for casual passers-by (and some users, too), it still is about inspiration — and the way that TagBrand has created the site, about purchase. Really like someone’s Doc Martens? You can buy that brand of shoes at X, Y, Z store with just one click from the site. This is taking streetstyle blogs to a more shoppable level — a clear benefit for brands. It’s just a question of whether it’ll catch on in the States.

As of today there’s 21,945 users.

Ritz Carlton Makes it Personal

Solidifying the notion that luxury knows no limits, luxury hotel group Ritz-Carlton debuted its long-awaited mobile app on May 1, giving luxury travelers easier access to the company’s portfolio of hotels around the world.

The booking engine and hotel room look up functionalities of the app are great but the app goes beyond being a booking engine and incorporates QR codes and location-based services. For example, the app includes personal tips from President & COO Herve Humler that identify the “hidden gems” guests shouldn’t miss when they check in (think: a Viennese crystal chandelier in Doha and a secret garden in Sanya), and offer personalized suggestions to guests based on location and duration of stay. Here are some interesting app features:

  • Insider information about each hotel
  • QR capability at 20 Ritz-Carlton hotels, allowing you can scan your mobile device when you check-in
  • GPS technology that allows the app to recognize when you’ve arrived at a Ritz-Carlton, and send you location specific advice, information and exclusive offers.
  • Integration with social media platforms including The Ritz-Carlton World Concierge global recommendations from Four Square
  • The ability to share your favorite Ritz-Carlton memory or experience in the ‘Let Us Stay With You’ section of the app.

Why Am I Curious?

We all know instant accessibility to information is a consumer expectation at this point but the real art is extending a particular brand into the digital space in a way that is meaningful and relevant to the consumer, and it is particularly difficult in the case of luxury consumers as it is difficult to stay true to core values of an organization and create premium experiences in the digital realm. I like the fact that Ritz Carlton gave thought into what may constitute relevant and useful for their brand and went beyond creating a simple utility app. Staying at a luxury hotel is all about creating an end to end premium experience that goes above and beyond what is required and this app extends this premium experience into the digital space and enriches the physical experience. It is not a requirement but a luxury.

I am so also curious about the further features that can be incorporated into the app to further enhance the luxury traveler experience. For example, currently, the app doesn’t gather any further information about the guest beyond his or her location, but if the app can identify the guests, Ritz Carlton can have access to a plethora of valuable information on the guests, and surprise and delight them on the spot based on previous stays, like/dislikes and provide a truly customized experience without the guest even asking for one.

A Start up that Encourages Good Habits

It’s not easy keeping up with personal goals. Whether you’re trying to lose those extra pounds, take steps toward sustainability or even be more involved in relationships, life and the little things always seem to get in the way.

And that’s the motivation behind DailyFeats. DailyFeats is taking the checkin and making it philanthropic. The site (and upcoming mobile app) lets users post their actions via SMS, web, email, Foursquare or Google Talk.

DailyFeats, the B-Corp certified, reward-based good-habit tracker that helps people keep their goals in sight through simple daily activities. For example, instead of one umbrella goal of “Lose 10 Pounds,” DailyFeats breaks down that goal into more manageable metrics, such as “Eat fruits and veggies” or “Do Pushups” that users can check in to on a daily basis as this method provides a simple way for people to get into forming good habits.

But all of this positivity doesn’t stop at good habits. All of those points mean prizes, and DailyFeats gives its users an opportunity to pay it forward and give back to their communities. While the company does have a standard “Rewards Wishlist,” where users can request what they’d like to receive in exchange for the completion of their goals, the most accessible option is converting points into money and donating it to a non-profit. Also, the company has managed to integrate its social layer with targeted coupons and sponsors. Certain actions unlock specific discounts. For example, sponsors “!newskills” and “!makeconnections” sections whereas sponsors “!sympathy” sections. It’s a smart way to target consumers and encourage good deeds at the same time.

The program is free to subscribe and most challenges are very easy to accomplish. So, how does earn money and afford the prizes for its membership? It sounds a little too good to be true. works with large companies like Walgreens and Ebay. These companies pay a fee or provide prizes to be sponsors. It’s good marketing for companies and provides the money needed to keep running and members earning rewards.

Why Am I Curious?

I like the idea of the platform because I do believe in the insight that people set too lofty goals that end up being unrealistic or daunting when approached as a whole. This program lets you divide that goal into manageable and attainable steps and allows you to track your progress into achieving your larger goal – even if it is in terms of points and getting closer to an award. It also allows marketers to reach to consumers less intrusively while getting behind philanthropic causes. However, so much of the program concept depends on self-reported actions and personal accountability and I wonder if majority of the users will use the program for the purposes it was intended for.

Toyota Belgium: Adventure Discount App

The Toyota Belgium Adventure Discount app encourages people to go on different adventures in Belgium and use the app to track it. With each new adventure you get more off of you Toyota purchase. -Tulani

Read the full article on Creativity and watch the video here.

Why I am Curious

Having lived in Belgium for 3 years, I know that there is a lot to do, even if it isn’t always portrayed as the most exciting place to visit! I think that by getting customers more involved in their discount opportunities and thus more interested in the company, it gives a more positive sentiment towards the brand and makes the purchasing of the car even more exciting.

It will be interesting to see how other companies are able to use apps to give discounts and create a greater investment in a brand. With this app you are able to tell a story about what went into purchasing your car and you have and the adventures you went on to add personal attachement and a fun memory to the story.

Social media game to track terrorists

The U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Embassy in Prague are sponsoring a social media gaming contest to test ways social media and open source data can be used to track terrorists and locate missing children.

Tag Challenge, the social media game, will be played by people in Washington D.C., New York City, London, Stockholm, Sweden and Bratislava, Slovakia on March 31.

Here’s how the game works . Profiles and mugshots of five suspects in each city will be posted on Tag Challenge. Players will have an entire day to locate the suspects in a public area of their city. The suspects will be wearing a t-shirt with the Tag Challenge logo. Suspects are not real-life crime suspects. The first player to upload photos of each of the five suspects to the Tag Challenge website will win $5,000.

Players can team up with other players, but only one person will be rewarded the cash prize. Although funded by the State Department, the contest page says the game is “not associated with any law enforcement agency, and the contest is not part of any law enforcement effort.” Graduate students from six countries who participated in social media and security conferences organized the game out of curiosity and for fun.

The game will offer government officials insight to “whether and how social media can be used to accomplish a realistic, time-sensitive, international law enforcement goal,” the Tag Challenge website says. “Results, strategies, and any data derived from the event will be made public after its conclusion.”


Why I’m Curious:

I think the idea of the government starting to tap into gamification is interesting. However, it is a little scary that this is being used to provide government officials insight into if social media should be an outlet for time-sensitive, realistic law enforcement. It kind of adds a whole new layer to the idea of Big Brother is watching.

In London, Riding the Underground Turns Into a Game

— Jocelyn

From Good:

A new app called Chromaroma has extended the logic of treating city life as a game to London’s public transportation system. It allows users to track their journeys in technicolor visualizations, earning points for each trip throughout the transportation system. Every time Chromaroma players swipe their Oyster Card for access to the city’s underground, the Tube, they earn points and update their location and movement on Chromaroma. Users can join a team to help “capture” a station, complete missions by checking in at places that represent strange moments in London’s transit history—like the Tube station where talk-show host Jerry Springer was born (true story)—and maybe even connect with fellow passengers who are playing the game. At the very least, the app can spice up a drab commute and help people think about public transportation in new ways.  Perhaps the coolest part is the way Chromaroma uses the data it collects to map a user’s progress around the city.

Why I’m curious:

The app capitalizes on a few “hot right now” tactic: checking-in, gamification, and data visualization. And the impetus is also nothing new: real-life rewards for virtual participation. However, Chromaroma is focused on celebrating a journey as opposed to fixed location, painting a story of travel as opposed to a list of places. The narrative is an interesting, different approach that could be a launch pad for better check-in ideas.

Shoppers collectively reduce pricing through check-ins

– Judy

Why I’m curious:

Encouraging group participation through price reductions is a great way to engage with retail consumers in mass. I like the fact that this campaign ties together the store visit and technology in a way that provides benefits for consumers who engage.


Here’s the full story from PSFK:

ICA, Northern Europe’s top retail company, is using technology to enable the world’s first Facebook check-in-activated price reductions in its supermarket branches. Currently featured at Supermarket ICA Vanadis in Stockholm, customers are able to individually reduce the price on a selected item by ‘checking in’ at the store on their mobile phones. Real-time status reports with information about the item, its current price, and directions on how to participate is displayed on a monitor as customers enter the store. They can either enter a short url or use the QR tag to ‘check-in’ through Facebook. Each price reduction period runs for a week when all participating customers can help reduce the price and purchase the selected item.

In the end, it’s all about the experience: Foursquare lets users check in at events

Foursquare has begun indexing events as well as places, allowing users to check in at movies, concerts and sporting events through partnerships with ESPN, and Songkick.


Why I am Curious: 

The company is tapping into an insight they were able to capture after time: users’ tendency to add event-specific information when checking in at certain venues.

“[A] place is often more than just a place,” the company said in a statement.

Social Location Check-Ins: The Who, What, Where, Why, and Why Not

— Jocelyn

In an infographic created for this year’s Social-Loco conference, digital agency Beyond set out to break down the people behind check-ins by surveying 1,000 people. The goal: try to understand the difference between what people are saying online compared to the actions of early adopters and the views of the rest of the US population when it comes to their mobile check-in habits.


  • 83% of people don’t check-in. Of these people, 50% don’t check-in because they don’t own a smart phone, 49% had no motivation, and 48% are worried about privacy
  • Of the 17% that do check in, 90% use Facebook Places, 31% use Twitter, 30% use Groupon, 22% use Foursquare, 22% use Living Social, and 10% use Yelp Check-In.
  • People who check-in mostly do so at restaurants (53%), cafes (40%), bars/clubs (38%).
  • Whether you’re a user or a non-user, discounts/coupons are the primary motivation to use social-location check-ins.
  • People are more likely to interact with large national brands (63%) than small businesses (37%) using social location apps.
  • However, people are more likely to share interactions with small businesses (63%) than national brands (37%) with their friends online (e.g. blogs, FB, Twitter)

Why I’m Curious:

While not surprising how people use social-local for discounts/deals, it is suprising how dominant FB Places is amongst those who actually check-in, especially compared to how little talked-about FB Places is online. The discrepancy between what people are doing and what people are talking about shows that the hype behind Gowalla and Foursquare just can’t match what people already do naturally — Facebook.