A Cup which Automatically Knows What’s Inside And Tracks Drinking Habits

Vessyl is a drinking cup with an electronic display that can detect what’s inside and tracks consumption in real time.

The 13oz tumbler features sensors that can identify the liquid inside.

When the vessel is filled up, its contents are displayed on the side, along with calorie information that helps drinkers watch their weight. As well as the instant identification, Vessyl can be connected to owners’ smartphones to track consumption in real time and create a history of users’ intake across a variety of metrics.

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Why I’m curious?

Does anyone have the feeling that drinking coffee, juices or diet soda is not caloric at all?

We spend entire days swallowing different drinks without knowing exactly what they are composed of.  Now, users can check if they’re consuming too many calories, getting enough hydration, or keep tabs on their caffeine intake.

In addition to keeping an eye on what you eat, you will now also keep an eye on what you drink!!

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.

Faces of Facebook Aggregates 1.2 Billion User Profiles

Ever wonder where you fall amidst Facebook’s 1.2 Billion Users?   I was actually the 2,551,647th person to join the social network.  I found this out using Faces of Facebook, a website built by a freelance technologist that catalogs and arranges user profiles chronologically.

http://www.thefacesoffacebook.com/

Via Mashable:

Got some time on your hands? You can spend 36 years scrolling through Faces of Facebook.

The site, created by freelance technologist Natalia Rojas, aggregates all 1.2 billion or so Facebook profile photos and claims to arrange them chronologically, starting with Mark Zuckerberg.

You can also log in to see where you fit into the picture. (The author of this story, who joined Facebook in 2008, was No. 249,759,340, but an unscientific analysis by Mashable employees suggests the numerical rankings may not be accurate.)

On her site, Rojas offers the following explanation:

Because there we are, all mixed up: large families, women wearing burkas, many Leo Messis, people supporting same-sex marriages or r4bia, chihuahuas, Indian gods, tourists pushing the Leaning Tower of Pisa, selfies, newborns, Ferraris, studio black and white portraits, lots of weddings but zero divorces, ID photos, faces framed in hearts, best friends, manga characters, political logos, deep looks, love messages, eyes memes, smiles, sweet grandparents and some not-yet-censured pictures.

 

Why I’m Curious:

I think this is a really interesting use of data. 

 

Storytelling 2.0: Visualizations show the power of Twitter data

Metadata in Twitter posts lets readers in on your geographic location, the language you speak, the phone you use, and more. Twitter-data reseller Gnip has produced a series of visualizations that use metadata from hundreds of millions of tweets to produce heat maps showing Twitter use. The company’s visualizations are fine-grained enough to show the location of Yankee Stadium in New York City, or the divisions that mark individual neighborhoods. Explore maps here.

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Why I am Curious

The fully scalable and searchable visualizations, created by Eric Fischer and Mapbox for Gnip, uses metadata from 280 million tweets collected from a data sample going back to 2011. The data that is generated by millions on social, can now be visualized in ways to respond to the needs of marketing and public policy alike.

 

Power Matrix: Siemens Energy Game

Siemens maintains its dedication to sustainability with a browser game to raise awareness and teach people about new forms of energy. Power Matrix starts you off with a rural territory where your future city will develop. The goal is to provide your new city with a sustainable power supply through a mix of various energy technologies while keeping a budget. You can trade excess energy, buy additional power generated by others, and even build an energy network to fund an energy research department that provides more efficient solutions and new technologies that are lower in emissions.

Why I’m Curious:

The amount of information required to create this must have been massive and I think it’s an impressive use of big data and analytics in an engaging and socially conscious way. The game flows through different energy sources and accounts for the effects they have on the community and environment. Although it’s a game, the truth is, the energy technologies presented are all available now, to be invested in and used to address the energy and economic concerns being faced all over the world.

Additionally, I think the idea and practice of CSR isn’t going anywhere, and will only become a larger part of the conversation as companies explore innovative ways to create and distribute truly innovative content that supports their corporate philosophy.

Alongside – An App to Colorfully Visualize Your Foursquare Relationships

Alongside

– Jordan

Alongside is a cool way to see a timeline of friends that you have checked-in with over the past.

From LaughingSquid:

The app allows you to view every time that you and your friends have “intersected” over time. It is a beautifully interactive design that provides your Foursquare data in a whole new way.

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Why I’m curious:

I think that there is always the question of how we can utilize all the data that we have at hand. To make it something truly interesting we must find a unique way to provide information but also just as importantly make that intuitive and beautiful for the user.

Touchscreen T-Shirts Only A Few Years Away.

Most people have to keep their smart phones within arms reach. But what if instead of having your technology an arm’s length away, it was on your arm? Imagine: clothing with touchscreen capabilities built right into the fabric. A truly ‘wearable’ technology.

Under Armour is working on it as we speak, but they’re not quite there – yet.

From PSFK:

Earlier this week, Under Armour officially unveiled Armour39: their next generation of wearable technology. Armour39 is an athletic performance monitoring system that measures ‘what matters most: WILLpower.’ WILLpower is Under Armour’s proprietary measurement for how hard an athlete pushes him or herself during a workout on a scale of 1-10, taking into account heart rate, calories burned, and past performances, among other things.

In promoting the new Armour39 system, Under Armour has released a commercial entitle “I Will” that seems to suggest a greater shift towards wearable technology. The video first focuses on the Armour39 system and chest strap, but transitions to a future concept suit that has touchscreen capabilities built directly into the fabric. The messaging in the video below makes it appear that Under Armour is currently working on such a suit, and not just promoting it as a concept.

Why Am I Curious

Microsoft is already working with researchers to create a new version of Kinect technology that can transform any surface into an interactive touchscreen.  The idea of being able to connect and engage through any object – a notebook, a wall, a hand – without being tethered to specific device fascinates me because it allows connectivity in the most immediate sense.

We have so many devices that collect and store our personal data – biometrics, athletic performance, etc. and it’s really interesting to think about how an article of clothing can  replace those devices and give us the opportunity to review, analyze and adjust to the data in real-time.  As a runner, I think about the practical applications as the technology becomes more refined – apparel manufactures could use that data to adjust the “functionality” of the clothing itself.  A shirt that can easily track external air temperatures, body temperature, heart and perspiration rate, etc. can take that data and alert the runner that they need to open/close a vent, remove sleeves, or even have the shirt self-adjust by increasing/decreasing wicking capabilities or turning on a heating element – all before the one actually experiences the adverse effects of a weather change or over-exertion.  And of course, we can collect and use the data to influence r&d, product design, even marketing communications.

Although there aren’t many specifics around the technology being used in Under Armour’s touchscreen apparel, they company has confirmed that this is a real project.

Twitter Being Used to Cast a Movie

From Mashable:

It’s no secret that Twitter‘s data has been shown to predict box office performance weeks before a movie opening. However, the company’s latest venture takes it much further back in the production cycle.

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Adam Bain, president of global revenue at Twitter, said he was making the rounds in the Hollywood studios recently when a producer gave him a proposal: “One studio chief said ‘This is amazing. I’ve got a film in production right now and I’m making casting decisions. What can Twitter tell me about a movie that’s going to appear two years from now?'”

That led Twitter to take part in what Bain calls a Moneyball-style effort to find undervalued actors. Bain didn’t go into specifics, but said the actors are being considered not because of their follower counts, but because of their engagement. Bain declined to say which studio and which film Twitter is working with. As for the results? “We’ll have to wait two years,” he said.

Bain, who was an exec at Fox Sports and Fox Interactive Media before joining Twitter, told the anecdote during media-buying firm OMD’s Social Day in New York on Thursday. Also in attendance was Deb Roy, the co-founder of Bluefin Labs, a social TV analytics firm. Twitter announced this week that it was buying Bluefin, which signals a deeper dive into providing data for the entertainment industry.

Why Am I Curious?

I am always interested to see the innovative ways people are starting to view and analyze the massive amounts of social data that is out there and use it to make predictions and smart investments. The initiative Twitter is undertaking is quite an interesting one and i am curious about the results because I do wonder if an actor’s social interactions and personalities before he/she is an unknown have anything to do with whether they do catch their break eventually. In addition to Twitter using its data to predict next big breakout start through their social interactions,  this week, Spotify announced that it would use its streaming data to predict the Grammy winners that are to be announced this weekend. Clearly, the predictive analysis using social data isa trend that is gaining momentum and I am interested to see if the predictions will be valuable enough to see increasingly more applications of it in the near future.

Send Data with a Chirp

Chirp.io is a new iPhone app that works like a link sharing service with musical versions of QR codes. Users upload whatever they want to share (whether it be a picture, video, or message) to Chirp’s cloud storage, which is then converted to a series of 20 musical notes. Any device that is enabled with Chirp within earshot of your phone can decode the melody and access the data being sent.

It’s a cute way to share photos, videos and documents between devices. But what makes Chirp stand out is that because it’s using sound, Chirp can reach much wider base of data transmitting devices to build from – like radios.

Why I’m Curious

I was first interested in Chirp because it seems like such a cute idea, but I’m curious as to how it can work differently from apps like Evernote that sync the same information on multiple devices. Also, by using sound to transfer data there can be great opportunities like mobile payments with sound but also big chances of problems like other noises interfering with a chirp.

 

Music by design. Well, natural selection.

So, we all learned about Darwin and natural selection at some point, right? If not, I might lose you here. But stick with me anyway. A few scientists at Imperial College London, recently decided to apply the theory of natural selection to music. After studying popular music styles over several generations, they noticed something we all take for granted: music evolves over time, yes, but it also maintains some key tenets along the way. What we like sonically also evolves just like the human and animal species do.

To track this theory,  Robert MacCallum (bioinformaticist) and Armand Leroi (Professor of Evolutionary Developmental Biology) created DarwinTunes, a program that tests the theory of evolution within a musical dimension. The leaders of this project develop genomic research tools for the insect disease vector community and host a TV series on genetics and evolution, so it’s serious stuff we’re talking about here.

There are two opportunities to participate: one is for a channel without drums and percussion, the other channel includes it. As you listen, vote for whether or not you like the sound loop. All of the votes get combined into one loop of music that evolves according to taste. Fascinating. Have a listen:

 

There are skeptics to this approach, of course, which you can read about here. And for the text of their research findings thus far, go here.

Why I’m Curious

Well, I’m a curious person. And I absolutely love that scientists are looking at data in realms outside the world of strict science to see what else can be uncovered. Patterns are truly everywhere: from the natural to the manufactured world and it just gets me going (see my data post from PSFK to see how excited I get). Naysayers included, it’s a worthy exercise in understanding the world around us, and how it’s created, shaped and formed.

Also, hat tip to the blog It’s Okay to Be Smart. Full of science and interestingness, it’s a great site to pique your curiousity and it makes science accessible and fun. And it’s where I found out about DarwinTunes/

Privacy Please

-Taylor

Mozilla CEO Gary Kovacs unveiled a new Firefox add-on named Collusion earlier this week at TED.

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Collusion, which is still in an experimental phase, provides users with an interactive diagram detailing how website visits are tracked by advertisers and analytics companies, and shows in real time, how the collected data creates a spider-web of interaction between users, corporations, and third parties.

The end-game, Kovacs says, is to launch Collusion on a grand scale, allowing users to opt-in and share their tracking data anonymously to a database (which will be accessible to researchers and others for study and analysis), as well as to educate consumers about the amount of data being shared as they browse.

(more information here)

Why I’m Curious

It’s hard not to see this as a direct response to Google’s controversial new privacy policy, but I think the recent crop of projects like this speaks to consumers rapidly growing concerns over sharing information on the web.

It’s interesting to look at this project alongside Cell, a Kinect-based video installation by collaborators James Alliban and Keiichi Matsuda, that attempts to show a users “digital aura.” The artists describe Digital Aura as the cloud of information associated with a person, “our virtual double,” Keiichi says.

When visitors enter a room rigged with Cell, keywords float out of the air and attach themselves to the individual. They follow you around as you move through the area, like a virtual mirror of your reputation.

As projects like this proliferate, I think we’ll face an increasingly skeptical public, and will have to work harder to alleviate privacy concerns in order to drive engagement with brands.

Wordle.net – fun toy. neat to look at. room for improvement.

-Mary

Wordle uses an algorithm created by the site’s founder, Jonathan Feinberg.  The result is

“a toy for generating ‘word clouds’ from text that you provide. The clouds give greater prominence to words that appear more frequently in the source text. You can tweak your clouds with different fonts, layouts, and color schemes. The images you create with Wordle are yours to use however you like. You can print them out, or save them to the Wordle gallery to share with your friends.”

Wordle is a useful tool for extracting word trends from any sample submitted.  A cloud can be created by pasting in text, inserting a URL of any blog, blog feed or any other web page that has an Atom or RSS feed.  Users can also search other users to see their tags.

Why I’m curious:

Ultimately, I’m curious about the evolution of this tool and how to better collect and disseminate the clouds’ results.

Right now, Wordle appears to be practical and handy for individual users.  Blindly cruising is also a good time.  However, the site isn’t very user friendly or helpful as an aggregate or searchable record of how and what information has been produced.  Clouds tend to have vague titles and the site provides no feature to search titles that may be more descriptive.  There’s also no opportunity to include background information on clouds.  Clouds might be clearer and more valuable if users could include details about the source(s), background, intent etc.  In this case, cloud info would at least be somewhat founded and more insightful to other users even if not highly scientific.

In other way less profound uses:

Run through every email thread that you’ve ever exchanged with your friends.   My own cloud yields a prominent “Mwahaha” and “crankypants.”  Deeply scientific evidence demonstrates that my friends are spiteful jerks that liberally employ fake suffixes.   Seriously, do this now.

Brand & Engagement via… Data?

-Michael

So the pundits say, we live in an ‘Age of Data.’  Data has never been more available to us.  In truth, we’ve also never been more overwhelmed by data either.  For both of these reasons, infographics are now in high demand  because they bring truth and simplicity to complexity.  At their core, infographics help us tell compelling stories via numbers – and with style.

A new startup, Visual.ly is looking to make infographics more available to publications, advertisers and companies looking to show their quantitative prowess.  Fast Company reports:  ‘By providing a data warehouse, a reporting and editing team, and skilled designers, the hope is to provide one-stop shopping for anyone in need of infographics.’

Why I’m Curious:

Infographics not only help communicate stories more effectively, they also impact perception purely by being innovative and novel.  A positive example that comes to mind is IBM’s Smarter Planet campaign, or even the Social Media Revolution video.  An example of quantitative-themed communications that could benefit from data visualizations is an Invesco campaign called ‘Intentional Investing,’ where it seems they use animated data visuals but never really touch upon real insights.

A concluding thought:  Data visualizations seems to show a ‘walking the talk’ mentality when it comes to those who say they ‘get data.’

When I think about the possibilities here, it also goes beyond animations and into the interactive space.  How can companies create experiences where users play with the data and draw their own conclusions?  Can data be used not just for storytelling but also for engagement?

Further reading:

50 Examples of Great Data Visualization