Like Being Trapped in a Horror Movie…

A new game created at USC’s Interactive Media and Games Division gets scarier and more difficult if the player shows signs of fear.


from Discovery News:

The game uses a Garmin cardio chest strap to monitor a player’s heart rate to gauge the gamer’s “fight or flight” response. Players assume the role of a “neuroprober” at the Neurostalgia Institute where gamers must recover the horrific, repressed memories of traumatized patients. Players must solve puzzles, find Polaroid photos and face nerve-wracking, terrifying scenarios to rid a patient’s subconscious of each memory. However, if the heart monitor detects the gamer is showing fear, then the game becomes more difficult.

Why I’m Curious:

This game combines so many things I’m fascinated by–horror, psychology, game innovation. Biofeedback is a powerful feature to make game experiences more realistic and immersive. With funding, this could be a powerful (and terrifying!) new feature in commercial video games. It could also be used in therapy for patients with phobias and anxieties.


Getting Kids to eat Veggies

<via Contagious>

Everyone knows kids hate eating vegetables—it’s just fact. But Japanese sauce-maker Asazuke No Moto wanted to improve kids’ diets and drive sales, so they created a game to get kids to eat vegetables. Making that change in behavior is no easy feat!

The game is called Funfair in Your Mouth. It activates the computer’s webcam and tracks the player’s head and mouth position, the basic part of the game mechanism. The virtual space takes users through a plane ride or on a roller coaster challenging them to catch as many vegetables in their mouth as possible—but it only works if they chomp down on the vegetable too!

However, the challenge is to actually get kids to eat vegetables, so they leveraged the same technology to incentivize kids to request and eat vegetables. After the first level, the kids had to ask their parents for an actual vegetable to eat in order to continue to the next level. The program would identify the vegetables actually held in hand via the webcam to confirm they were actually eating a vegetable. The cam identified shape, color, and how much of the vegetable had been eaten, offering a burst of appropriately colored firework on screen for each bite taken.

The campaign saw 2.5M virtual vegetables eaten and 25K real vegetables consumed. Asazuke No Moto saw sales increase by 130%.

Why I’m Curious

Leveraging technology to require a behavior to unlock more content is nothing new. We’ve seen it with Like-gating Facebook pages, we’ve seen it with POS promotions in-store, and we’ve seen it with eCRM programs. However, none of these previous programs has tied the actual content of the program so seamlessly with the behavior they want to change. Sure, the content unlocked here is geared towards kids and is very cheesy, so I’m left wondering if the same sort of principles can be applied to campaigns geared towards adults that can equally surprise and delight?

Pizza hut tried a similar campaign with a Chomp-a-thon Facebook App, which required users to chomp through a digital pizza as quickly as possible with a chance to win a prize. This game was not as successful because the game mechanism wasn’t as easy to control. However, I’m also wondering if it wasn’t as successful because it wasn’t as targeted or as insight-driven as this vegetable sauce game.

Heineken Dares Travelers To Play Departure Roulette

-Olga Boyko

Weiden+Kennedy set up a board at JFK Terminal 8 that dares travelers to drop their existing travel plans and play a little game of “Departure Roulette.” The new location is always a surprise and promises to be more exotic than the traveller’s previous plans. Once the location is revealed, the traveller must board the plane immediately. A man who was originally planning on a trip to Vienna, ended up boarding a plane to Cypress instead with $2000 from Heineken to cover expenses.
The game is in reference to Heineken’s new “Dropped” campaign. 4 men are dropped at remote locations and are given cameras to film their adventures.
(via AdWeek)


Why I’m Curious
This type of stunt is really interesting to me not just because it piques my own sense of adventure, but because it’s a great way to appeal to thrill seekers and “citizens of the world.” Heineken – as well as Dos Equis – brands itself as the beer choice for the adventurous man and so “Departure Roulette” dares the average person to live in the moment and say yes to the experience.

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.

Candy Crush Saga: A Killer Social/Mobile Combination


If you own a smart phone or have a Facebook account, chances are you’ve heard of or at least evaded the Candy Crush rage. The simple bejeweled-esque mobile game has reeled in a whopping 15.5 million players so far and tops the charts as one of the highest grossing free apps on the market. The game forces players to depend on their Facebook friends to grant them access to new levels, or else it’s $0.99 a pop (and there’s a lot of pops, pun intended). It’s a killer yet simple combination of social and addictive game design.

From ABC,

“The game, which was released for mobile phones in November 2012, has topped Zynga’s Farmville 2 and other popular mobile games such as Texas HoldEm Poker, Bejeweled Blitz and Subway Sufers. But why? What is it about this game that’s really no more than a simple puzzle game that has made it so popular? It’s a combination of mobile and social elements, says the makers and experts.”

Why I’m Curious:

Before Candy Crush I took pride in having a clean record when it came to these bandwagon social/mobile game rages. These games often have either the addictive or social piece nailed down, but not often do you see both being integrated so well. The dependency on one’s Facebook network that the game has garnered can reduce even the most conservative social networker to a shameful spammer. I am confident that Candy Crush has set a new bar and has facilitated a new upcoming wave of social integration in mobile gaming.

PNB Tweet and Shoot

In celebration of its 40th anniversary of its partnership with Roland Garros, BNP Paribas gave users the opportunity to train Jo-Wilfried Tsonga before starting the French Open tennis tournament, via Twitter. The Tweet and Shoot event, which occurred on 23 May, allowed Twitter users to drag-and-drop a tennis ball on a virtual on-screen tennis court to adjust the positioning of their shot to challenge Tsonga. Each tweet, selected at random, would command a robot to map each shot to the positioning and throw balls to Tsonga with the location, power and effect chosen by the user.

Why I’m Curious:
The power on online activation is rooted in its ability to affect offline experiences. I think this is a fun brand awareness and user interaction experience (for the user and Tsonga) that brings the digital world to real life.


And now for a new, improved way to waste your time…If you’ve ever spent any amount of time toying around with Google Street View, GeoGuessr is sure to please.

The game plops you down in a random location on Google Street View. Look for clues by zooming in and out, and tracking across to different vantage points, and then guess where you are on the map to the right. You’re awarded points based on how close you are to the actual location pictured.


Why I’m Curious?

Yet another creative use of Google Maps…While it’s easy to dismiss games like this as nothing more than time-wasters, I could see something like a GeoGuessr serving as the crux of a social engagement for a travel/leisure brand.

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.

Screen Shot 2013-04-05 at 3.58.33 PM

Follow this link to play:



Beer Dispensing Arcade Game

beercade-beer-arcade-barfighter1-625x418To drive awareness for Raleigh brewer Big Boss Brewing Company the company created Beercade: The Last Barfighter, a retro-style arcade game where players fight over a chance to get beer dispensed into their cup straight from the arcade machine. In place of coin dispensers, are drip trays, cup-holders and sensor that accept cups in place of quarters. The game is themed around the different varieties of beer and the best of three wins.

Why I’m Curious: From Nike to American Express, we’ve seen that many brands now have to play in the technology business. While this isn’t the most innovative piece of technology (it’s a flash-based game that’s very simple), the fact that the arcade box and game were created in-house shows that even a beer company can be invested in a technology that has nothing to do with its central product. Ultimately, intersecting your audience with a piece of entertainment is the best way to sell your product (even if you’re giving it away for free).

Coke Debuts Super Bowl Teaser & Social Game

Earlier this week, Coke unveiled a teaser video called “Mirage” that shows three groups (badlanders, cowboys and showgirls) racing through the desert for a bottle of Coke. As the group approaches the large bottle, they realize it’s only a sign – leaving consumers with the power to decide who wins.

From AdAge,

“Mirage” kicks off a game of sorts that will run through Super Bowl. Prior to the ad’s TV debut, consumers will be able to share the spot and vote for the group they want to win the Coke. Sharing content unlocks more content, including 50,000 coupons for a free 20 oz. Coke. Consumers can pick their favorite team, then slow down the competitors with “sabotages” — videos that show the cowboys delayed at a stoplight or the showgirls stopping to pose for a portrait, for example.

Why I’m Curious

I’ve been interested in seeing how Coke was going to top their real-time polar bear ad last year, and I’m excited to see if “Mirage” takes off. The trend of a second screen doesn’t seem to be going anywhere, and the layers promote social sharing.

If nothing else, it’ll be fun to see if viewers take to Facebook and Twitter to talk about Coke throughout the game, in addition to the score and Beyonce in the halftime show.

Dick’s Sporting Goods: Get Winter Ready

From Creativity Online:

You know how hard it is to get up and ready in the morning, especially in the winter months when you’d rather stay snuggled under the covers in your jammy-jams? Well, Dick’s Sporting Goods, along with Anomaly and Stink Digital have turned “rise and shine” into a game, Get Winter Ready, to promote the retailer’s winter collection.

It stars four buddies on a winter ski trip, and the goal is to get them all dressed so they can hit the slopes before sunrise. The gameplay doubles as a winter lookbook, as players are supposed to locate the various Dick’s goods they’ll need to wear. The experience was built entirely in HTML and works across mobile, tablet and PC devices.


Why Am I Curious?

Gamification is big, we all know it. It helps users engage with the brand longer, keeps the brand top of mind. The reason I particularly liked this game is because it not only doubles as a smart and engaging product catalog but also makes a good old sweepstakes promotion more engaging and entertaining. It is more than asking for consumers to fill out a form but also getting them to “earn” their right to be a part of the sweeps which helps the brand to expose them to their products and remind them the great amazing memories associated with skiing.


Get off your butt and explore your world, through a game!

Google recently launched a mobile game you play in real life called Ingress.  More on Mashable, but the gist is that Niantic Labs (the google smartphone app team) has done something to release strange energy that you have to discover at “portals” near creative places like art installations and museums:

Why I’m Curious:

The main thing that interests me about this game is the fact that it relies on the user getting up off the couch and exploring their community.  It leverages exciting technology and makes finding new and interesting hubs of creativity around you into a game.


Edelman, together with BBH, has developed a campaign for Johnnie Walker that makes use of the brand’s Facebook cover photo, turning it into a live, interactive stream of Instagram photos.

The new FB application on its official Facebook page changes the cover image every time the page is refreshed. The constantly-changing covers feature four Instagram-based photos taken by three of world’s foremost Instagrammers, which the brand has commissioned to take over the Johnnie Walker instagram feed over the course of next four weeks. Staying true to its philosophy, the brand will take the Instagrammers on a four different inspirational brand related journeys. Photos include journey-related inspirations as well as  exclusive behind-the-scenes glimpses of the iconic whiskey’s world.  The Instagram images are automatically fed through to the Facebook Page via the unique app to create an interactive timeline by live-streaming Instagram photos.

The campaign, which launched on August 27th, will be live until late September. Fans of the brand are also invited to capture images via Instagram with a dedicated hashtag, where the most impressive ones will be streamed to the brand’s Facebook page starting from late September.

Johnnie Walker’s Instagram feed went live on the 27th August 2012, and the campaign launched on the 3rdSeptember 2012. , the account has already garnered more than 2,000 fans in a week.

Why I’m curious:

This is a smart Instagram launch strategy by leveraging existing Facebook strong presence to quickly build an engaging Instagram community. (Johnnie Walker has over 4,000,000 Facebook fans globally). This campaign integrated Facebook and Instagram in a unique and innovative way, and allowed the brand to tell the story of its vibrant heritage seamlessly on both platforms via consumer-generated content and collective creativity.

‘Smart’ Table Can Identify Different Types Of Baked Goods In One Second

A new system developed by Brain Corporation in collaboration with the University of Hyogo is able to identify different kinds of baked goods on a tray, in just one second. The technology, which was trialled recently at a bakery in Tokyo, improves efficiency as new and part-time staff don’t need to learn all the various pastry names and prices. The machine automatically gives them the knowledge they need to assist customers and calculates the price, cutting down on serving time.

The items are placed on a light table at the counter and identified by a camera. A green outline on the screen confirms that an item has been identified correctly. If there’s any doubt, a yellow outline is shown, and item names can be selected from a list of possibilities. Repeating this process makes the system even smarter. The developer’s next move is to use the visual recognition system for other items that can be distinguished by shape and color, like vegetables and medicine.

Why I’m curious:

We’ve seen a lot of technology being used nowadays to streamline transaction process including mobile wallet and mobile coupons. With this specific type of technology, self-checkout can be made possible in a lot of categories and therefore might make offline purchase as efficient as online.

Olympic Hotel Uses Smartphone To Control Check-In, Room Service & TV

Samsung’s Galaxy S III is not only the official smartphone of the 2012 Summer Olympic games, but it is also a pretty nifty gadget to have if you happen to be staying in London’s Stratford Holiday Inn.

Guests staying in one of the 40 VIP rooms will receive a Galaxy S III smartphone with a customized Holiday Inn app capable of checking in and out, locking and unlocking doors, controlling the AC, ordering room service, and controlling the room’s TV.

Additionally, the app will be updated regularly with the latest Olympic event news, schedules and information, ensuring that all VIP guests are connected to the games no matter where they are.

Why I’m curious:

Unlike other smartphone launch giveaway campaigns targeting tech bloggers and influencers, Samsung made a smart move to distinguish itself by focusing on lifestyle-driven approach while still maintain the innovation component. By letting hotel VIP guests experiment with the cutting-edge mobile technology during their stay in London, and combined it with the timely Olympic events,  Samgsung successfully translated technology specs into a brand story around innovation and utility. However, where’s the social component in this app?

Run, Reykjavík, Run!

I’ve been quite obsessed with Iceland for the past two years. I don’t get it either. Yeah, Bjork is great, and whomever is running their social media deserves a big ol’ prize (have you been to Iceland Wants to be Your Friend? GO, click!) but there’s something else about this country that drives me wild. I haven’t been yet, but you bet I will soon. I also happen to loooove running. Even in this mad-crazy heat. So in honor of the third day of record heat in Chicago, I bring you news of a marathon in Iceland. Yes. You read that right.

Reykjavík Runs is a “social media experiment” that acknowledges marathons are more than just the running itself; there’s far more happening below the surface of the event. Via 42 steps spread across the internet, Reykjavík Runs utilizes several different social platforms to involve the general public and provide a behind-the-scenes look into the Reykjavík marathon. Videos show and explain landmarks in the race, music is provided via Soundcloud, and key players in the marathon are showcased. A new step is released each day, with social sharing components seamlessly built in. Who knows what’s next?

We’re only 3 steps in, but I’m excited to see where the run takes me. Check out the social presence for this project at the following: Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Flickr, Vimeo.

Why I’m Curious

This project is run by Íslandsbanki, the main sponsor of the Reykjavík Marathon, yet manages to maintain the same tone and voice as Iceland’s other brand presences across digital (like Iceland Wants to be Your Friend). It also explains why this effort isn’t quite cross-promoted on Iceland’s social channels.

Any runner will tell you: running races goes beyond just the runner. It’s about the crowd, the experience, the atmosphere. This idea is smart and works on this level, but also works on the level of promoting Iceland as a welcoming, fun country to visit. The fanbase is small right now, but I imagine there isn’t much paid media behind the effort. It’s an innovative way to spark interest about the event and the country in a cluttered social landscape.

Get the Card That Combines Credit Cards And Picks The Best One To Use For Purchases

People often apply for and acquire various credit cards to use for different purchases, depending on the benefits that each credit card promises to give them access to. However, carrying numerous credit cards and picking the best credit card for simple single-item purchases or more can be a hassle. To this end, Wallaby, a new financial service currently in beta phase, aims to be the ‘one card to rule them all.’

Wallaby is a cloud-based digital wallet that stores the information about all of your credit cards and automatically picks the best card to charge in each transaction, based on your preferences.  Signing up for the service entitles you to a physical card linked to all your credit cards that will intelligently select the best credit card to use for a particular purchase. If you find yourself paying for gasoline, for example, Wallaby can automatically select the credit card that gives you more returns, such as a discount or miles for subsequent gas purchases.

Why I am Curious

Mobile wallet and mobile register are revolutionizing the payment industry in every possible way. I’m curious to see how big a role mobile device gets to play in this area,  and how many of those features (digital wallet, mobile register, check-in, real-time coupons) can be combined together to offer users relevant benefits. In the meantime, I’m curious to see how financial brands would react to the fact that brand experience are getting diluted in the payment process more and more. And if this industry trend will become a bigger question for every brand to answer as to how can a brand offer both brand experience and convenience?

McDonalds Train Schedule Board Shows Delays As Potential Burger Eating Time

McDonalds in Warsaw, Poland figured out a creative way to make waiting for the train a little less boring for passengers and a little more profitable for their store in the train station.

In cooperation with Polish State Railways, McDonalds capitalized on its proximity (a mere 50 meters away) from the main hub of Warsaw’s Central Train Station by creating a ‘Hamburger Timetable.’ The timetable displayed real-time train information including departure time, destination, track number, and train platform alongside wait/delay time in hamburger and French fries eating potential.

Results: McDonalds saw an increase of 4,500 customers in the first month of the campaign.

Why I am Curious

Digital media have been used heavily in targeting moving consumers and driving them to  nearby stores. Tactics include real-time product updates, coupons and gaming elements. Mobile especially has become a powerful channel in this battle among retailors. However, often times, retailers are too busy throwing discounts and offers at consumers yet falling short on delivering relevant brand experience. McDonalds’ example interests me in that it epitomized the strategy of providing both utility and brand experience in a seamless way that essentially driving up business sales.

Share Your Wi-Fi With Strangers To Earn Free Bandwidth

Karma is a new “social telecom” service that allows users to pay for and share Wi-Fi anywhere.

The plan works like this:Users pay $69 for the hardware, which has a 4G connection and lasts up to eight hours on a single charge. By buying the hardware and signing in to the network with users’ Facebook ID, they automatically get 100mb of free data. From there, they can buy as many GB of data as they want for $14.99 each. Once you activate your Karma network, it remains as an open one, so people in the covered area can try to hop onto the network and steal some bandwidth. Karma is giving them a free 100mb of data as well for using the network if they sign in with Facebook (they can’t get on otherwise). More importantly, you also get 100mb of free data for every person that uses your network. Hosting up to eight devices, the Karma hotspot partners with Internet providers to provide bandwidth service.

The company plans to launch the product by the end of 2012 for $69 each. It runs on Clearwire’s network and offers service in 80 cities across the United States.

Why I’m curious:

There are at least two game-changing components in this new product. The first is the idea of rewarding users for sharing data. It’s not only a smart idea of pushing out the hardware product, but also creates first of its kind loyalty program in mobile space. The second is socializing WiFi usage by linking the account with Facebook. Karma has also just announced a deal with American Airlines and Uber, which will offer free Karma hotspots to frequent fliers and cab users.

U.K. Channel will only take its programming cues from social-media buzz

Social media influences TV viewing habits, so Channel 4, the U.K.’s second biggest commercial TV station, is launching a whole channel dedicated exclusively to the shows that create the most buzz on Twitter, Facebook and other social media.

The new channel called 4seven launches July 4th. It will reserve the 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. weekday slots for the shows that created the most buzz on social media during the previous 24 hours. The rest of the shows on 4Seven will be reruns of the most popular ones of the week.

Why I am Curious

The buzz around interactive TV has been going around for a while. The technology hasn’t really been adapted by mainstream, however, we certainly see the huge impact social media have on TV industry. I like the idea of a broadcaster listening to its audience and serving up what they want. Advertisers will also enjoy the confidence buying spots around shows that have already been given the thumbs up by the audience.