Take a Peek

We have experienced an explosion of photo and video sharing with the success of apps such as Instagram, and more recently Snapchat, the platform that lets users send 10-second messages that disappear after they’ve been viewed. PeekInToo, a new app from Greece, offers a real-time, virtual glimpse into an anonymous person’s life for just 12 seconds.

Taking “people-watching” to the next level, PeekInToo is a global social network that lets users be nosy for a short amount of time. Using a map to navigate, users select a location nearby — or on the other side of the world, if they wish — and pick another user who is accepting requests. The recipient receives a notification that someone wants to ‘Peek’ and they can accept or decline, before holding up their camera to let the other user see what they’re seeing in real time. The video exchange service can be used to simply satisfy a curiosity, but also to see what’s going on near them or in a specific location. If video from a location of interest isn’t currently available, users can also use the PeekShout function in order to request a feed. Viewers can also rate others’ video.

Why I’m Curious:

While most people hop on the social media trends and partake in sharing tidbits about their lives, many are also particular to who they share with and use privacy settings. Do you think there would be enough people that would be willing to share their lives with strangers?


NFL Tackles Online Gaming to Score Sales

Home Depot is once again making a bid to win over college football fans by bringing back a newly updated mobile gaming application from 2012 that lets consumers challenge their friends and family in games for a chance to win prizes.

In conjunction with Carrot Creative, they’ve launched the iPhone game app called Corso’s Cornhole Challenge in which fans compete against ESPN virtual personas for impressive prizes. In the 8 weeks since the campaign relaunched, the number of mobile game downloads has topped 55,000 with over 450,000 games played and growing. Engagement levels have been extremely high, with the average user playing 13 games.

To complement the iPhone game with a social element, Carrot created the Home Depot College GameDay Facebook application to serve as an additional hub for fan interaction. The Facebook application includes tailgating tips, an Instagram contest and DIY projects so fans can build their own cornhole sets – bringing the mobile game to life.

Screen Shot 2013-10-04 at 3.26.24 PM

Carrot Creative Video 2012: http://carrot.is/creative/college_gameday

Why I’m Interested:

Brands of all kinds are trying to find ways to engage consumers. Using branded mobile games is an often-subtle (see Chipotle and “The Scarecrow”) way to attract customers , raise brand awareness and ultimately drive sales. Home Depot is leveraging college football fans’ loyalty and passion to promote their brand effectively.

Mobile gaming has not caught on with all online retailers yet, but Home Depot’s app is a great example of effective brand-related mobile gaming. If designed to be a fun and addictive experience,  a branded mobile game can be an effective means for a retailer to stay in the forefront of a consumer’s attention.

I’m particularly impressed with Home Depot’s integrated approach to bringing the whole campaign full circle by not only building the game but using social media and sweeps to further incentive users and create bus. Furthermore, they’ve provided CTA’s back to the Home Depot website for DIY tips to build your own cornhole game, thus providing users with real-world applications and a reason to shop for specific products.

Toolkit transforms whiteboard sketches into functioning apps

Toolkit transforms whiteboard sketches into functioning apps

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

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

Why I am Curious:

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

The Scarecrow

Chipotle has done it again – their newest effort, “The Scarecrow,” is another grand short-film statement from the restaurant chain about the world of industrial food production. The centerpiece is a free, arcade-style adventure game for the iPhone and iPad that reflects the video.



In the game, you’re challenged to “fly through the city of Plenty to transport confined animals to open pastures, fill fields with diverse crops at Scarecrow Farms, and serve wholesome food to the citizens at PlentyFull Plaza, all while avoiding menacing Crowbots.” And if you get at least three stars out of five in each of the game’s worlds, you get a coupon for free food at Chipotle.

Why I’m Curious

Chipotle is knocking on the door of the gaming world, using a short film and a well known musician (Fiona Apple). I think this is a creative partnership and gives Chipotle an advantageous edge in their market.

Facebook Testing Auto-Playing Videos in the Mobile News Feed

Facebook is testing auto-playing video in your mobile News Feed. These videos are similar to the auto-playing videos on Instagram, except they start playing silently.


Facebook said in their Newsroom:

“…we’re starting to test an easier way to watch videos on Facebook. Now when you see a video in News Feed, it comes to life and starts playing. Videos initially play silently, and if you want you can tap to play with sound in full screen. Scroll past if you don’t want to watch.”

For now, the only videos that will auto-play are posts from individuals or musicians and bands. Facebook says over time they will explore how to bring this feature to marketers.

Why I’m Curious:

While Facebook is billing this is as “an easier way to watch video,” I think most people had the same reaction when hearing this news. Everyone assumes this is just opening the door for in-stream video ads. It will be interesting to keep an eye on how Facebook develops this feature to create an experience that can both benefit brands and provide a seamless, non-distracting experience for users.

Audi’s Augmented Reality Car Manual

Audi has created a replacement manual for their A3 in the form of an augmented reality app called eKurzinfo.

eKurzinfo covers over 300 different elements of the car, all of which can be easily identified with the iPhone’s camera. In addition to identifying various parts of the car, the app can help owners learn how to fix them as well. For example, if the engine is overheating and the warning symbol comes on inside the car, you can scan it with the app to find out how to deal with the problem, which may be as simple as topping up the coolant.

Why I’m Curious

We’ve been seeing a lot of augmented reality applications over time and many of them are purely for entertainment purposes. I thinks it’s great that the automotive industry is adopting this technology to offer practical functionality to its customers.


If This Then That, a service that allows you to connect two different apps or services, is now available for iPhone. The service has apparently been available as a web app since at least December of last year.

The service allows users to specify parameters (termed “recipes”) by which an action in one app will trigger an action in another, e.g. “when friend X posts a picture in Instagram, send me an SMS alert.” The amount of possible recipes is seemingly limitless, and by most accounts I’ve come across, the service works pretty smoothly.id660944635

Why I’m Curious?

This just sounds awesome to me…endlessly convenient for users, and a great example of technology being harnessed to make life easier.

It may also have potential as a tool for advertisers to target users during particularly relevant times, though I wonder about privacy/allowing users to opt-in…I suppose the app could house stock, branded recipes during promotional periods…? Ultimately, the output of the recipe has to be an interaction that users want…Might be an interesting platform for deal distribution or contests.

Say Goodbye To Burnt Popcorn With New iPhone App


Deutsch LA has created an iPhone application called “Perfect Pop” in an effort to once and for all fix the universal dilemma of burnt popcorn. Charred bags, singed kernels, and smoky microwaves will become a thing of the past with PopSecret’s new mobile innovation. By monitoring the sounds of microwave popcorn bags, the app aims to prevent overdoing popcorn kernels with the help of a playful popcorn mascot that notifies you when it’s time to eat.

From PSFK,

“Without being formally launched, Perfect Pop has already seen 80,000 people download it from the iTunes store in a bid to save their movie night from culinary disaster. The app is currently for iPhones only, so Android users, you’ll still have to fight the good fight against burnt popcorn.”

Why I’m Curious:

I’m curious about this app because listening to what people say via social media is a valuable lesson to be learned. Simply paying attention to the specific needs of the consumer can yield a powerful response as seen here when “…there [were] over 400 tweets per week complaining about burnt popcorn” (PSFK). Interestingly, mcgarrybowen UK also has hoped on the food apps bandwagon with “Happy Egg Timer”, a similar concept but with eggs.

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.

Smack Attack to Prevent Drowsiness and Boredom

A new toy for your car could help you stay alert and beat commuter boredom.  Smack Attack RITW is a an app through the iPhone via Bluetooth and steering wheel cover that uses your auditory and tactile senses that when hit produces the sounds of a drum.  It connects to your iPhone library where you can play the drums over the music or even have your own solo performance.  It works with mini speakers, FM transmitter, or through an audio jack

Why I’m Curious

As a commuter this would make my ride more bearable and replace countless hours that I find myself stuck in traffic.  It also can prevent riders from future accidents by eliminating the “highway hypnosis” by keeping them stimulated.  “Sleep researchers are finding the best way to fight highway hypnosis is through auditory or tactile stimulation.”  This is great, considering 60 % of American drivers feel drowsy and sleeping at the wheel.

There will soon be additional add-ons where you can record your performance and even upload it to the online community.  New features will also include inviting other commuters with the Smack Attack to join in on your performance.  And if you don’t have the steering wheel cover you can join in by tapping your iPhone screen.  The retail price is at $149 for the app and steering wheel cover.

Mosaic App Stitches iPhones and iPads Into a Single Display

– David Geller

Mosaic is an iOS app that lets you stitch together a single display using multiple iPhones and iPads.

Why I’m Curious

There is a cool/WOW factor to this – the possibilities for this technology are only limited by our imagination…from in-store displays to apps w features that can only be accessed by using multiple devices. We always talk about ‘social’ in terms of connecting online/virtually, but this let’s us connect digitally while we’re physically together.

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.


AirBnb Launches iPhone Alerts To Help Make Last-Minute Bookings

From PSFK:

Airbnb realizes the potential value of helping those who are frantically searching for accommodation with less than five days until their vacation. The popular peer-to-peer accommodation service has launched a new feature that aims to match guests with hosts according to their criteria.

Guests who need a place to stay within five days can note which locations they’re interested in and the amenities they’re looking for. The push notification system will then send the message to the hosts that fit the requirements and provide the guest with real-time feedback.

Why I’m Curious:
For any parent brand that requires reservations, this is a smart relative of the flash sale, making it easy to convert on last-minute bookings. Rather than force guests to search for accommodations and contact hosts individually , this service makes it convenient for travelers to have Airbnb do all the work, which in turn has Airbnb turn a profit. It’s a simple concept, but not one that’s readily employed by many brands.

Digitally Touch Someone Far Away On Your Smartphone Screen

Feel Me is a new app concept designed by Marco Triverio that aims to facilitate interaction and a renewed sense of connection among smartphone users using real-time tactile sensations. Inspired by the insight that tactile sensations are essential in human communication and can be mediated through smartphones, Triverio created Feel Me as an interaction trigger on an iPhone similar to a plug-in. Once installed on two smartphones, Feel Me can follow the touch patterns of both users and send vibrations to both phones once the fingers of the users touch the same “zone,” thereby mediating the sense of connection through touch. Whether you’re poking a friend or saying hello to a loved one across the sees, Feel Me adds a unique personal touch in the way we communicate over great distances, or even small ones. [PSFK]

Why I’m curious:

It is true that sometimes digital communications prevent the intimacy we want with our loved ones. I like the idea of seeing and and playing with each other’s touchscreen patterns. When you touch the dots the person made, the flowering and shooting-off effects of the dots is a nice trigger, it reassures the person on the other end of the device that you are there. There can be a layer of gamefication in the interaction and trigger points of the dots. Like the way that a person signs off in every conversation, the other person mimics it as a gesture of ending the conversation and so signaling a sentimental moment.

iCache Geode Turns Your Phone into Your Wallet (No NFC Needed)

– Jordan

From TechCrunch:

The already successful Kickstarter for the iCache Geode is already making headlines. This uber sleek cell phone case design allows you to combine all of your credit/loyalty card information and store it on your smartphone. The case is unique in the fact that it does not use NFC technology, but instead registers the correct card information to the case’s credit card or e-ink display.

Why I’m curious:

There seems to be a lot of discussion around mobile payment and whether or not 2012 is the year for mobile payment revolution. This product however, may be one step closer to the mobile payment catalyst, although it may have come a bit too late. With Google Wallet rolling out across new devices this year as well as the high probability the the new iPhone will have NFC technology coming this summer I believe that these guys are too late in the game to truly differentiate themselves from the key players.

Inkstagram (with a K) Builds Hashtag Albums for Instagram


From ReadWriteWeb:

Inkstagram, a third-party Web client for beloved iPhone photo-sharing app Instagram, has added user-created hashtag albums to its browser-based photo gallery. Instagram offers hashtags as a way of browsing photos, but Inkstagram’s galleries are an original feature built on top of them. Users can create galleries for hashtags as persistent, shareable Web pages that pull in all existing Instagram photos with the correct tags. The gallery page also displays its number of views and a list of related galleries for browsing.

Carel van Apeldoorn, Inkstagram’s managing director, says that 300,000 unique Instagram users – around 3% of the total – have connected their accounts to Inkstagram. The third-party service has many competitors, but hashtag galleries stand out as a compelling new way to browse photos on Instagram.

Why I’m curious:

This is an incredibly addictive feature for brands to tap into. Instagram is an idiot-proof advocacy system: people are SO EXCITED about stuff, they’ll take pretty pictures of it, tag it, and share it, and brands don’t have to do a thing.

Brands can tap into this by promoting specific hashtags and encouraging users to upload with them. They can tap into specific product feeds (enthusiasts for Droid, for example, are already doing self-advertising on Verizon’s behalf: http://inkstagram.com/#/tag/droid), or event feeds (e.g. VDC). And if brands can create  a module to showcase these UGC images on their main site, all the better.

Toytoyota Makes Driving a Family Event


Toytoyota launched Backseat Driver, an iPhone app that lets children in the backseat drive a virtual car that follows the route of the real car they’re riding in. The app is connected to the vehicle’s GPS, allowing the cartoon car to follow the same route the actual car is traveling on. Other than driving a virtual car, users will see virtual versions of landmarks that the actual vehicle is passing, and as users pick up earn points for picking up different items, they can customize their virtual car.

Why I’m Curious

“Backseat Driver” makes driving an activity that engages the entire family, not just the driver. The virtual landmarks and car gives kids an opportunity to become more connected to the route their parents are taking. For parents, it’s easy to be pleased with this app because it keeps kids quiet on long drives. But on a greater scale, “Backseat Driver” gives children a first glimpse of how great having or driving a Toyota is. Even as a virtual car, they are left with a good impression of the brand and when they are able to choose their own cars, it would be easy to refer back to a pleasant memory they had with Toyota.