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.


Coca-Cola Israel Rewards Fans with Mini 3-D Printed Versions of Themselves

Coke has always been a brand that’s prided itself on creating a personal relationship with its consumers, and the Coca-Cola “Mini-Me” campaign suggests that they’re really just going for it these days. The campaign, from agency Gefen Team, promoted Coke’s new mini bottles and asked people to create mini versions of themselves via mobile app. They were then invited to Coke HQ to get a scan and then receive a 3-D printed mini-me, made of colored sandstone.

Participants had to take care of their their mini selves, Tamagotchi style (if you love going to the grocery store so much in real life that you want to play a game that lets you take a Sim-style version of yourself to the supermarket, you could finally have the chance thanks to Coca Cola).

Why I’m Curious: I think it’s interesting to watch how brands attempt to incorporate 3D printing into their advertising efforts. While I understand the tie between the mini bottle and mini me, I’m curious to see if these mini-me Tamagotchi will be enough of an incentive to get consumers to purchase more of the product. I’m also curious if the consumer behavior of this Mediterranean market will be excited or burdened by having having the responsibility of “raising” the mini-me.

Print Your Next Pair of Shoes

Why head to Nordstrom for heels when a 3D printer can pump out shoe after shoe from home? That’s the idea behind Finnish designer Janne Kyttanen’s new (and semi-free) collection of footwear that’s brought to life through 3D printing.


DesignTAXI reports: 

Kyttanen has created four styles of wedges—namely the “Leaf”, “Macedonia”, “Facet” and “Classic”—of which, their design files can be downloaded for free by anyone, who can then produce it with a 3D-printer.

Made for Cubify, an online platform that turns your 3D-printing ideas into reality, users will ideally be able to 3D-print this line of wedges in their homes when these high-tech machines become common household appliances.

For now, even if you do not own a personal 3D-printing machine, you can still have your pair of wedges printed by Cubify—download the free design files here.

ImageImageImageWhy I’m Curious

As brands look to produce more innovative forms of content with the goal of remaining more present in the lives of consumers, the expansion of 3D printing could create a new and welcome opportunity to surprise and delight customers. Imagine Procter & Gamble letting customers print plastic bins that are custom-tailored to house their cleaning products. Or Kraft issuing a series of attractive printable dishware to accompany their foods. The branded possibilities could be endless – but the key to it all? Will 3D printing really catch on with a mass audience? Only time will tell.

Peer-to-Peer App Connects Hungry Strangers with Leftovers

Whether it’s physical goods, digital wares or simple services – there’s probably a peer-to-peer network out there for it – now there’s even one for leftovers as well. Leftover Swap is a smartphone app that makes it possible to barter or give away any leftovers you might have after a particularly big meal. While some people might recoil in disgust at the idea, it could be an excellent way to deal with the huge amounts food that Americans waste every year.


The concept is simple, snap a photo of whatever it is you have leftover and post it to the app’s database. Strangers in the same geographic area then have an option of trading you for the food — or just taking it off your hands.


Why I’m Curious: I’m curious how people will receive this concept of food-sharing. I know a fair share of germaphobes in this world, and I am interested to see if there are enough people out there who can get on board with the idea. I find it to be a very clever solution for minimizing the enormous amount of waste and feeding people in need. The concept seems to be much like the idea of couchsurfing where you have to be willing to show a little faith in other people.

There is a huge potential for environmental impact with an app like this, especially considering the fact that current rates of food production around the world won’t be enough to feed everyone by 2050.

Augmented Reality Furniture Shopping With IKEA


In 2014, IKEA will release a new catalog that allows its consumers to augment reality with their tablet or mobile device and view the brand’s furniture in their home – right then and there. By placing the magazine in the chosen location for the piece of furniture, the buyer can use their device to test out different models, colors, and other products until they find the one they like.

From The Huffington Post,

“There are 90 products available to try, letting you get a rough idea of the size and dimensions of whatever you’re going to buy. All they need now is a version that will help you work out if the flat packs are going to fit in your car to get it all home.”


Why I’m Curious:

Virtual shopping is a curious subject because it allows the consumer to make purchase decisions in the comfort of their own home. Augmented reality allows the consumer to manipulate their space, which opens doors to other categories of shopping – for instance, apparel brands. I predict other industries will get involved in augmented reality mobile apps, for example clothing brands, shoe brands and even jewelry designers. Perhaps one day we won’t even need to leave our homes to go shopping – all thanks to the nature of digital and its ability to create immediacy and efficiency in our everyday tasks.

Artiphany Creates Greeting Cards That Augment Reality


A company called Artiphany has recently launched a different way for people to receive their Gizmo greeting cards – blending direct mail, tablet or mobile device, and the increasingly popular technology of augmented reality. Once the physical letter is received in the mail, the recipient will be prompted to use their smartphone or tablet device to activate the animation via digital software called DAQRI. The sender has the ability to choose between three different simulations of the red robot in action depending on the content of the card – for example, a clip of the character snowboarding as seen in the image above.



From Mashable,

“Although greeting cards may seem a bit outdated, the industry is still worth as much as $8 billion a year.

Therefore augmented reality, which has been gaining a significant amount of traction in concepts such as children’s coloring books and even auto repairs, may actually work well when paired with greeting cards.”

Why I’m Curious:

It is always curious to see how augmented reality is integrating itself into our digitally oriented culture. E-cards have been a popular advancement of greeting cards for a while so it is suitable that the next step in the marketplace is being explored. Although this activation by Artiphany is a small-scale effort, I think this concept has major potential for the future of cards – opening up opportunities for holidays, weddings, and other celebratory events.

The Future Of Airline Websites

What if there was a way to book a better flight? According to J.D. Power, eighty-seven percent of travelers used the Internet for the bulk of their travel planning in 2012, yet the online booking experience being offered by modern airlines is still stuck in the 90s. Inspired by the opportunity to bring progressive disruption to this huge marketplace, we reviewed all major airline websites, and graded them against design and usability criteria including: information architecture, interaction design and visual design. The results were disheartening. We believe that unless the airlines take drastic measures to improve their digital experiences, third-party sites like Kayak and Expedia will continue to eat into their profits. So we launched an experiment to explore, “what if?”


Why I’m Curious

This case study website of how the airline industry could change in booking and also the curiosity and the approach to booking travel. When this new example went around to the Account team this week, everyone was discussing the applications and usage for not only our client but also how competitors might pick this up. It’s interesting to think about how far behind some of the travel websites are and how much of a game-changer a disruptive all-in-one site like this could be.

Stella Cidre Launches Weather-Activated Ad Campaign

Stella Artois is hoping to make the inconsistencies of British summer weather an irrelevance with weather-activated ads. The outdoor effort takes over digital out-of-home ad spots when the temperature rises two degrees or more above the average in that specific location. Anything below, and the ad will not appear. It serves up a scene of handpicked apples with the brewer looking to highlight the cider’s taste at times when people are most likely to impulse buy.

Screen Shot 2013-06-14 at 8.48.46 AMIt is the first time AB Inbev has served weather-activated, location-based ads in real-time and the company plans to expand the approach to other brands such as Budweiser and Beck’s depending on how successful it is. The activity, developed in partnership with Posterscope and Liveposter, is part of a wider summer campaign launched last month. The system, which is connected to digital out-of-home ad spots across the country, automatically turns ad spots on and off based on the results of a real-time weather data plug-in. Ads will not appear in locations registering lower temperatures, or where it is raining.

Why I’m Curious: This innovative media mechanic is yet another way agencies are pushing the boundaries through digital technologies to be relevant to our consumers, at just the right time. I find this to be a very clever approach to offer meaning and value to consumers through a medium that is often distant and less relatable.

Low battery at the beach? No worries, Nivea has you covered.

Giovanni + Draftfcb in São Paulo, Brazil, developed an ad for Nivea which includes a wafer-thin solar panel and phone plug, to promote the Nivea Sun line of skincare products. It ran in Brazilian magazine Veja Rio, promoting the brands sunscreen line. Users of the ad could charge their phone as it dwindled away while they were at the beach and miles away from an outlet.

Why I’m Curious

This is an interesting way to link sunscreen to a common problem that many face while at the beach – their battery depleting. It is an interesting twist to traditional print advertising – will we see a shift to enhance traditional advertising?

PUMA Dance Dictionary

Don’t just say it. Move it.

PUMA is harnessing the power of interpretive dance as a way of promoting Sync, a line of fragrances for men and women. In order to ensure the dance moves were fresh, they partnered with dance choreographer SuperDave. People can browse pre-populated sentences and add new words to change the dance much like Mad Libs, but with more poppin & lockin.

Why I’m Curious

I’m typically a fan of anything that provides a creative utility with the brand taking a back seat. In this instance a better connection to the promoted product would have strengthened the execution.

Brewery Lets Party-Goers Pay for The Subway With Empty Beer Cans

To encourage people to leave their cars and use public transportation after partying and drinking at the Rio de Janeiro Carnival, official carnival sponsor Antarctica Beer, developed the Beer Turnstile that allowed tipsy travelers to ride home by scanning empty Antarctica containers.

During the Carnival in Rio de Janeiro, the high consumption of alcoholic drinks is the main responsible factor for the increase in traffic accidents. Drunk drivers are directly involved in the increase of 50% of fatal accidents during this time of the year. To combat this, Antarctica, the most consumed beer brand and sponsor of the event, wanted to ensure consumers arrive safely at home after drinking. So, they developed The Beer Turnstile. A new underground turnstile for which the ticket was an empty Antarctica beer can. Via optical reading, the can was scanned and the passage freed. The person just needed to save the last beer can and use it to get home safely.

At a subway station near the areas where street carnival groups gathered, Antarctica set up turnstiles that would accept empty beer cans instead of subway tickets. Optical reading recognizes the empty beer can and allows the party-goer to access the subway. The beer cans collected were donated to a recycling organization. According to the video campaign, the Beer Turnstile received an average of a thousand people an hour and the number of drunk drivers caught went down by 43 percent.

Why Am I Curious?

Because this is such a smart way to use your product and the brand to change behaviors in a seemingly less direct way. It is less about directly trying to change behavior of the consumer towards product purchase but more about using the product to cause a positive change all around – less accidents and more recycling. Nothing in that macro goal is about the brand and it is all achieved thanks to the brand and it does not get better than that in my opinion.

The latest Domino’s marketing stunt: DVDs that smell like pizza

Takeout pizza and a DVD are a natural fit for many. So Domino’s Pizza in Brazil decided to combine the two in a campaign via Artplan Sao Paolo. They joined up with 10 rental stores in Brazil to distribute DVDs that smell like pizza after they’ve been played.

About ten discs each of ten different new release titles such as Argo, 007, Dread And Dark Knight were stamped with thermal ink and flavored varnish, both sensitive to the heat. While people were watching the movie, the heat of the DVD player affected the disc. When the movie ended and they ejected the disc, they smelled pizza. They also saw pizza: the discs were printed to look like mini pies, and carried the message: “Did you enjoy the movie? The next one will be even better with a hot and delicious Domino’s Pizza.”

Why I’m Curious: In this age of streaming video, the idea seems a bit outdated. I can’t remember the last time I rented or watched a DVD. However, in Brazil streaming services like Netflix and iTunes may be relatively new and the cities may still have video rental stores in their neighborhoods. I find the thermal scented ink technology to be bizarrely fascinating, and I’m curious about how other brands may leverage such a feature. I also wonder what kind of impact a stunt like this and a campaign like we shared last week will be impacting their sales for this quarter.

Anti-Abuse Ad With a Secret Message

The Spanish organization Aid to Children and Adolescents at Risk Foundation (ANAR), with the help of Grey Spain, created an ad that aimed to provide abused children with a safe way to reach out for help. The ad was designed to empower children, especially since there’s a good chance they’d be out in public with their abuser.

From Gizmodo,

The secret behind the ad’s wizardry is a lenticular top layer, which shows different images at varying angles. So when an adult—or anyone taller than four feet, five inches—looks at it they only see the image of a sad child and the message: “sometimes, child abuse is only visible to the child suffering it.” But when a child looks at the ad, they see bruises on the boy’s face and a different message: “if somebody hurts you, phone us and we’ll help you” alongside the foundation’s phone number.

Why I’m Curious

This ad has been making its way around the web all week, and for good reason. Not only is it a very thoughtful and interesting tactic, but with such a powerful message. Journalists and influencers have been questioning when this technology will be used on children in grocery and toy stores, influencing packaging and in-store signage.

Display Turns Water Surface Into An Interactive Digital Screen

New ways of interacting with digital displays can bring about important new possibilities for working – as the Kinect-based Intera system for surgeons has proved. Now Japanese researchers have unveiled the AquaTop, which consists of a display projected onto the surface of water, controlled by interacting with the liquid.

The AquaTop uses cloudy water to act as a projection surface and – similar to the Intera – detects gestures with a Kinect. The creators engineered the system to use the water surface as an integral part of its control – for example, one action is carried out when users dip their fingertips to interact with a screen object, and another when they approach the item from underneath the water. On-screen items also react to the movement of the water, meaning that they can be moved or changed by simply disrupting the surface with a splash, or scooping up the water and placing it elsewhere.

The system has currently been rigged up primarily as a platform for games – with an underwater speaker included to create ripples when a goal is achieved – although researchers have also demonstrated how it could be used to interact with computer files such as images and video.

Why I’m Curious:

AquaTop shows the possibilities of widely-available consumer products in the creation of engaging and intuitive new ways to interact with digital objects. Considering how we take our devices with us wherever we go, this could be used practically – bringing electronics safely into the bathroom, for example – or for creating unique public displays. And if water can become a medium for digital interaction, other surface possibilities are endless.

What if Your Boss Tracked Your Sleep, Diet, and Exercise?

Inside most companies, the typical health and wellness program includes regular blood pressure checks, a list of fresh foods for the office fridge, and some sort of exercise guru who shows up every so often to tell people they should work out more. If you’re lucky, you might even get some couponsdesigned to encourage healthier eating — and cut company insurance costs.

But at Citizen — a Portland, Oregon company that designs mobile technology — things are a little different. Employees at the company are now uploading data on how much they exercise, what they eat, and how much they sleep to a central server, as part of an effort to determine whether healthy employees are actually happier and more productive. The ultimate aim is to explicitly show employees how they can improve their work through better personal habits.

Kickstarted by Wired’s Gary Wolf and Kevin Kelly, the quantified self movement aims to glean more insight into our general well-being through statistics. Typically, this is a personal undertaking, but the same ideas are now moving into the business world. Chris Dancy, a director in the office of the chief technology officer at BMC Software, tracks his life in an effort to prove his worth to employers, and now Citizen is taking things even further.

C3PO taps into a service calls Health Graph — which collects data from personal activity trackers such as Fitbit and RunKeeper — but it also collects data from various software tools used inside the company, including the project management system TeamWork PM, the time tracking application RescueTime, the audio system Sonos, and the employee mood tracking service Happiily. In the future, its designers hope the system can provide all sorts of insight into employee behavior, such as whether listening to particular types of music increases productivity, or whether employees who have entered a new relationship are less productive than those who are single. Simpson says they even plan to post employee health stats to Citizen’s website.

Simpson and other developers built the system through Citizen’s Google-like “15% Time” program, which encourages employees to spend a certain amount of time on pet projects. It was originally just a way of satisfying their own curiosity.

The trouble is that it’s kinda creepy.

Sce Pike, Simon Vansintjan and Quinn Simpson are guinea pigs in Citizen’s ambitious — and creepy — plan to track how its employees live and work. Photo: Klint Finley

Hardcore self-trackers like Chris Dancy are already tracking dozens, perhaps hundreds, of variables related to their bodies and environment, such as skin temperature, heart rate, and diet. Dancy also keeps a detailed record of his work, and he can correlate his activities with what music he’s been listening to or what he had for dinner the night before. But he collects and analyzes the data for his own use. His employer has no access to any of his health data. Citizen’s approach is more ambitious — and potentially more useful — but it raises privacy questions.

“Health data can be used for many different purposes, and in an age of ‘big data’ can reveal things about you that you may not even know about,” Lee Tien, a senior staff attorney with Electronic Frontier Foundation, another privacy advocate. “And the laws that protect health information often only protect that information within the health care system — [meaning] doctors and those involved in medical treatment and health insurers.”

C3PO’s particular brand of health tracking may be too much of a legal headache to really catch on, but its designers also aim to track productivity independently of health data. Simon Vansintjan, a user experience designer and one of the employees working on C3PO, says that stats such as the number of tasks completed and the number of repeat clients may provide an accurate measure how much work is getting done — and how good that work is — but the company is still exploring which metrics work and which don’t.

This sort of thing is happening inside many companies. Some outfits track hundreds of variables in the quest to measure worker productivity, says Nathan West, director of analytics products at Evolv. Evolv offers a service for companies that want to track employee productivity and minimize employee turnover. It even tries to determine how employees perform under different supervisors.

Why I’m curious: I think it will be interesting if they can use the system to change the way the company operates, to better estimate how long projects will take or find new ways of reducing employee turnover. Lets You Control Your Data Online is a little app that makes the web a lot better by helping users monitor and block more than 2,000 websites from collecting their data online.

Why I’m Curious:

While security from hackers is a big concern for almost everyone, people don’t realize that marketers and publishers are tracking every move you make and collecting that information to inform business strategies, product development, and marketing initiatives.  Big data is a big business.   And although questions  about consumer privacy occasionally bubbles to the surface (usually when Facebook does something to annoy people), for the most part, people forget that it’s not just hackers who are interested in what they are saying, doing, sharing, posting, or saving online.  As more and more people become aware of just how much marketers really know about them  – MasterCard claims they can predict the success rate of a marriage within a 98% accuracy rate based on the data they collect on card members – there will be more demand for tools and apps that provide some type of barrier against data collection, which could have big implications for marketers.

The irony – the developer, Brian Kennish spent more than a decade working for DoubleClick and Google building the software that allows companies to track user data online. Only after he became a heavy Facebook user did he begin to think about what privacy really means:

“I really enjoyed using Facebook, but the fact that their social widgets were popping up all across the web meant that by virtue of my using Facebook, I was also giving Facebook a big chunk of my browsing history…That just seemed like a part of the deal that I didn’t sign up for.”

Heineken Ignite: Interactive LED Beer Bottles

Heineken unveiled interactive beer bottles that light up based on gestures (cheers, drinking) and environment (music volume, not in hand) at a recent VIP party. The intent of the Heineken Ignite project is to create a memorable brand experience that unlocks the power and possibilities of mobile innovation and technology. The prototype is part of Heineken’s Lounge of the Future concept, and there’s no word if this project will see a larger release.

Why I’m Curious

Affecting packaging that not only amplifies existing behaviors but also benefits social sharing is the holy grail for advertisers. That being said, all those sensors and wireless networking doesn’t make it very practical for home use, but it could really catch on in big clubs if Heineken decides to roll the bottles out more widely.

Volkswagen Conquers The DVR Fast-Forward Challenge

In a time when more than 80% of TV viewers fast forward through commercials, what’s an advertiser to do? Volkswagen found the answer in a Slowmercial – a TV ad that works for both normal and delayed viewing.

The new Slowmercial for the Volkswagen Beetle is an almost static TVC that if viewed while in Fast Forward mode on DVR, you’ll experience the ad as if it were in print. The buy aligned with the most popular TV series that also have a significant level of delayed viewership, like Bones and Homeland and recently aired 16 March – 26 March.  Because the ad will reach both live & delayed viewers, it’s projected that the “slowmercial” will have 50% more impact than an ordinary commercial.

Why I’m Curious: 

It’s great to see an agency and a brand partnering to embrace the shift in TV viewing behavior and turn it to their advantage instead of just ignoring significant change. They make the most of the “new” medium by keeping the creative approach simple and impactful with the focus on just one key message.  But doesn’t it look suspiciously like a giant banner ad?

Volkswagon – The Search Engine Ad

A group of graduates of the Willem de Kooning Academy are taking Google’s Search Engine Optimization to a whole new level. They came up with Search Engine Advertising, which means that they are turning Google into a unique advertising medium. With the help of hardcore SEO-craftmanship it’s now possible to display a complete ad in the image search results.

“We’ve created this Search Engine Advertising campaign for Volkswagen during our third year in advertising, and we’re now talking with interesting parties to get this idea into production.”

Why I’m Curious:

We definitely do not always think of search as “cool” or “innovative” and this definitely opens up new ways of approaching what is often a not so exciting topic creatively.  its’ an interesting concept that would take some serious SEO skills to deliver, even just for an hour and likely only for a few people.

“Making Cities More Usable” – Dennis Crowley on Foursquare at SXSW

A lot of people might think of Foursquare as that checkin app with badges and leader boards and finding out where your friends are. But it’s a lot more than that now, thanks to all the map data and information that they know about places people are going to.

In a conversation onstage at SXSW with Anil Dash, Foursquare CEO Dennis Crowley discussed the company’s evolution from an app that was primarily focused around helping people to find their friends, to finding out more about the world that they live in.

Crowley said that one of the underreported stories is the number of companies that rely on Foursquare’s map data and what developers can potentially do with that. The place database has more than 50 million places of interest in it, and it changes frequently. Users enter new places as soon as they open up, and signal places that have closed down.

When talking about the map data that it has, Crowley compared Foursquare’s check-ins to Google’s web crawlers scanning the Internet for new websites. “People tell us about the places that are interesting, the places that are no longer interesting,” he said.

More importantly, the company isn’t entirely dependent on just its users anymore for a lot of its data. Thanks to the Foursquare API, the company gets location data from lots of different apps. For instance, every Instagram picture that has a location attached to it sends a data signal to Foursquare about that place of interest.

At the end of the day, the data that Foursquare has is the ability to provide more personalized maps than what is available today. Crowley said that maps haven’t really changed that much since people started making them, but now that we have certain amounts of trending data or interest data, Foursquare could help make the places that people see more meaningful to them.

Crowley likened that to Harry Potter’s “Marauders Map” and how it provides Harry with details about the people and places around them. “There is enough data that we should be able to make that Harry Potter map and give it to everyone in the room,” Crowley said.


Why I’m Curious: The relationship between Foursquare and its API partners is kind of symbiotic: Foursquare has one of the best map data sets out there and makes it available. In exchange, it finds out more about the places that its partners’ users go to. It’s interesting to see how powerful data can be when combined with contextually relevant partnerships. It’s obvious most of these apps are created with the user in mind, the user experience as the priority, and they are becoming more and more valuable as complementary apps emerge.