McDonald’s Experiments With Mobile Orders

From Mashable:

mcds

Not lovin’ waiting in line at McDonald’s? There’s an app for that.

The fast food giant is testing a mobile payment application in Salt Lake City, Utah, and Austin, Texas, according to Bloomberg. With the app, you can order ahead and pick up your food at drive-thru windows, curbside or in the restaurant. Burger King and Chipotle already allow for mobile phone-based ordering; Burger King has a $10 minimum for such orders.

The McDonald’s app includes special offers, coupons and a loyalty program. Mobile payments is just the latest tech trend the Golden Arches has embraced in recent years. Some 11,000 of the brand’s restaurants in the United States also include free Wi-Fi, and some locations have rolled out NFC-enabled “Happy Tables” that transform tables into virtual racetracks.

Why I’m Curious

What does this mean for the teenagers of the world? Are first jobs going to become virtual customer service jobs?

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Red Bull Flow

red-bull-flow

Red Bull has launched “Red Bull Flow“, an app for the BMX and skateboarding community to film and share their tricks.

With Red Bull Flow, users can stitch together seamless films from their shorter videos, showcasing their tricks, without the need for any editing software or prior editing knowledge. After filming their video clips, users add tags to the video specifying the rider, trick and location. Next, the video is published to Flow and may also be shared on Facebook. In Flow, users can discover, watch and share other people’s tricks on their phone or as collaborative videos – ‘Flows’ – on redbullflow.com.

Watch the video for the app here.

Why I’m Curious

What’s interesting about this app, is that YouTube, Instagram video and Vine already exist for video sharing, yet Red Bull has created a unique differentiator in their branded video sharing app. By building an app catering to their BMX and skateboarding audience, Red Bull is essentially creating a new social network for their target to share their tricks, get inspired and essentially learn from each other. In this way, Red Bull is hosting a relevant, long-term branded social experience.

Optimizing our lives

Getting around the city quickly can be extremely painful at time. That is until now, Corral Rides is a transit aggregator that gives users multiple transportation options by simply type in your destination and it shows you pricing and schedule or time for each option. The app seamlessly integrates with Lyft, Sidecar, and Uber so you won’t have to open them all. 

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Those concerned about the security of their personal information would be glad to know that the app doesn’t get into the private APIs that Lyft, Uber, and Sidebar use, and it has to switch you over to the appropriate apps once you’ve selected them as an option.

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Why I am Curious?

If the current consumer behavior is to engage with mobile devices while traveling then shorter travel times creates fewer opportunities for a digital experience. Therefore, forcing new content delivery tactics to achieve client goals.  

How will this effect the ways we plan 3-5-10 years down the road for each of our clients. 

Quantified Life: Swedish Energy Company Allows Users to Monitor Energy in Real-Time

– Jordan

Utility provider helps people in Sweden cut their energy usage by creating away to track energy usage in real-time via an app. The experiment took place for 1 year and included over 10,000 citizens to answer one question, “If we knew how much electricity we used, would it change our behavior?”

From Contagious:

Challenge / If we knew how much electricity we used, would it change our behavior? Well, that’s what e.on’s Swedish arm, e.on Energispar, wanted to find out in a recent experiment.

Solution / The brand partnered with energy solutions provider Wireless Maingate to develop a measurement tool, called 100koll, which displays energy consumption in real-time.

Working with Forsman & Bodenfors, Gothenburg, e.on then recruited 10,000 participants to take part in Sweden’s Largest Energy Experiment. Each person was given an app which connected to their homes and monitored their power usage. The data collected was then visualised in five different ways – one was a virtual battle between participants, another was a furry Tamagotchi, whose health depended on each user’s energy consumption habits. The video above shows the games in more detail.

A data visualisation website, open to everyone in Sweden, also enabled people to monitor their progress. Users could see who had saved the most energy, identify which regions of the country were the best at turning off their devices, and even compare their energy-saving efforts to other people with similar sized homes.

In addition to this, everyone was encouraged to share energy-saving tips on the experiment website, and the best ideas were turned into a comic book by esteemed Swedish cartoonist Henrik Lange. These drawings were also used in OOH advertising.

Results / Participants changed their habits and lowered their energy consumption by an average of 12%.

Why I’m curious:

As trends happen, new ones emerge. SXSW was all about the quantified self but maybe the next step with the help of technology will be a quantified life bringing in aspects of every piece of your life and allowing you to optimize and tweak them in real time.

NBC & American Express Let Viewers Buy Items They See on TV Via Their Mobile Device

From Mashable:

NBC Universal and American Express have partnered for a program that lets viewers use their mobile devices to buy stuff they see on TV.

The deal relies on Zeebox, an iOS and Android app which NBC hopes to persuade viewers to download. Once armed with the app, consumers will be able to click-to-buy items from DailyCandy, an NBC-owned site that will curate exclusive products inspired by Bravo’s Life After Top Chef, E!’s Fashion Police and Style’s Tia & Tamera. AmEx customers will get a one-time $35 statement credit when they sign up.

Zeebox’s app, which launched in the UK last November and has amassed 1.5 million users so far, became available in the U.S. last month after Comcast made an investment in the company.

NBC is heralding the click-to-buy arrangement as the first of its kind. However, it is not quite the realization of TV execs’ decade-long dream that would let viewers buy a sweater they saw on TV and then click to buy it. Instead, the app directs viewers to a website for curated items that are “inspired by” the shows and don’t necessarily appear on the shows.

Though the deal is a baby step for click-to-buy commerce, NBC is putting some weight behind it, including 30-second vignettes starting Wednesday night — one of which stars Fabio — that instruct viewers about how to download Zeebox. NBC’s attempt to realize click-to-buy commerce comes as TiVo and PayPal joined forces for a similar effort in June. For Zeebox, the backing of NBC Universal helps it stand out among other second-screen social TV experiences including, most notably, GetGlue.

Why Am I Curious?

This is an interesting effort to take a step into social TV foray by American Express. But, the actual reason I am curious about is related to this quote from American Express: “American Express isn’t expecting millions of dollars in transactions to take place this time around, Mr. Paskalis said, but rather wants consumers to see the company enabling new ways of purchasing goods and interacting with programming.”

This mindset is something I have been becoming increasingly aware of among brands who want to be perceived as innovators and thoughtleaders. It sounds particularly close to some of the things I have read from GE around they may not get the same level of traction on each platform but being active on these platforms is representative of their core brand values – almost like Channel as a Message. It is a very interesting notion and i am curious about the resource allocation for this purpose and if more brands will start to take on different channels with this purpose.

IKEA Introduces AR App

IKEA Now is a new free app that lets users see how furniture will look in your home before you buy them.

From PSFK,

IKEA Now offers the ability to take a photo and read more IKEA product information. Business Insider reports that while you aim your smartphone camera at a certain place within your home, you can pick an item from the app’s catalog and “insert” the augmented reality image.

The first version of the app features the 50 most popular pieces of furniture, but the developers announced they hope to add more as well as integrate social sharing.

Why I’m Curious

IKEA and other furniture stores have offered consumers virtual rooms to see how various pieces could fit into a certain size space. However, IKEA went a step further, allowing consumers to see the room, not a 10-inch version on their computers.

I’m curious to see what happens when social sharing is integrated into the app. Then it will not only allow the user to see how the furniture looks, but also solicit opinions from friends and family. It almost gives buying furniture the quality of buying clothes

Introducing the Instagram Menu

A New York restaurant has implemented an Instagram menu, directing diners to check out pictures of food to help them decide what to order.

From Mashable,

When three-week old Latin-American restaurant Comodo — located in Manhattan’s SoHo neighborhood — noticed guests were repeatedly snapping pictures of their entrees and uploading them to Instagram, it decided to capitalize on the trend. The restaurant has embraced the hashtag #ComodoMenu and added it to the bottom of its real-life menu, encouraging guests to add, share and check out photos of food offered at the establishment.

Why I’m Curious

It’s no secret people love taking photos of their food, and I think this is a great way for a restaurant to utilize existing user-generated content. I always find myself looking around at other table’s plates for some inspiration, and this provides a curated (and perhaps less rude) solution.

I’m interested to see if other restaurants, or even bars and lounges, adopt this, or if diners prefer the element of surprise when a plate or cocktail is placed in front of them.

Dr Pepper Discovers that Controversy = Engagement

– Jordan

From Mashable:

Dr Peppers Facebook page is currently hosting a particularly controversial ad. The ad depicts a ape evolving into a man through the discover of Dr Pepper. This post has sparked a heated debate between creationists and atheist, discussing everything from differing evolutionary theories to boycotting the Dr Pepper brand.

The post has only been up for a day and has already received 2,500 shares, 25.5k likes, and 3,700 comments.

Why I’m curious:

While looking at this post I began to have another debate, was this reaction intentional? Did Dr Pepper follow suit fromt he Oreos Gay Pride cookie and seek to find a way to create a controversial image that would get a engagement rates from current fans and people who have never even been to the Dr Pepper Facebook page. The post has also been picked up by some major blogs such as Mashable, Business Insider, Huffington Post, CBS, Examiner, and Yahoo.

Im curious as to the outcome of making such a bold statement on a subject that remains to be off limits to many other companies. Would the debate spark affinity for the brand? And is that worth more than the potential consumer that it may have offended? No one knows for sure, but it may hold true that any publicity is good publicity.

Do Your Thing Better with Vodaphone

– Jordan

Vodaphone capitalizes on a New Zealand star to showcase how its network allows you to “be a doer.” With over 200k views the combination of New Zealand humor and celeb talent has  made this commercial a success both on and offline.

Why I’m curious:

The message of doing through a wireless network is one that is becoming a common place among carriers with “Helping you, do what you do, even better.” and “Do your thing better.” carriers need to try and obtain a way to stand out from the crowd.

C’est super-facile, non?

Google Translate is nothing new: fueled by the eponymous search engine, Translate can translate over 60 different languages and allows you to speak your text and listen to translations aloud. But a sneaky little update to the smartphone app just a few days ago made it all the more useful: you can now scan pieces of text for direct translation. Via your smartphone’s camera, Google Translate can translate whatever it is that you’re looking, from either printed word or hand-written instructions. And similar to iOS, the app allows you to select particular text, which is even more helpful if you just need a phrase or two translated.

So, the next time you’re on a train platform in Moscow, attempting to decipher Cyrillic, fret not. Google’s got your back.

Why I’m Curious

Short and sweet today: technology is ever-green. I appreciate companies that don’t merely release projects, but continue to improve on them. This is just another manifestation of Google’s “always in beta” mentality, and I’m digging it.

Samsung Galaxy S3 brings hotel services to your fingertips – Literally!

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 lighting
  • Acting as an in-room phone extension
  • Controlling the AC
  • Ordering room service
  • 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 Am I Curious?

I like this because it is such an intuitive use of the technology and is a great fit for the world of hospitality. Yet it is quite novel except in the sense that except for some trials at a few hotels in Asia, it has not been leveraged. Clearly, to this point, it did not fully catch on – potentially due to security concerns and/or costs – but I am interested in the kind of feedback it will receive this time around and if it will become something that gets rolled out to the larger population.

Vyclone Transforms Multiple Videos Into A Single Video Masterpiece

– Jordan

From Mashable:

The app lets two or more users create a collaborative video with others who are also shooting an iPhone video in physical proximity to them even if you’re not friends with or even aware the other people are shooting a video.

The result is an almost instant multi-angle video of an event that you’ll swear was created by a professional video editor.

Vyclone uses the GPS in your iPhone to determine your location. If you’re recording a video with the app at the same time and place as another person, then the app will automatically edit together your two videos into one ultimate video mix.

Once you’re done recording -– videos are currently limited to one minute in length — you’ll have the option to make the finished product available for just your crew (people you’re linked to on Vyclone), the Crowd (people who were around you when the video was recorded), or Everyone.

Video Demo

Why I’m curious:

I love the automation that this app brings. Going home with content from one perspective is cool but to have multiple camera angles at a single time for an event and to have it all edited for you is amazing. This app has some serious potential and I can imagine it could extend into other platforms.

#MyFaceWhen

GIFS and memes are becoming extremely popular in the digital space. Popular sites like 9gag.com and #Whatshouldwecall me have a very large following especially with young internet users. They allow users to create their own content and add their own voice. However, the only problem with these sites is that you tend to see the same gifs and memes over and over again. I think a huge reason is due to the fact that gifs are difficult to make if you don’t know how to use movie software.

This past weekend, I was introduced to the #MyFaceWhen app, which allows Iphone users to easily create GIFs. The process is very simple: you record a 15 second video of you or whomever you want and then the app compresses it for you into a GIF. Then you tweet it or message it to your friends. For example, here’s a compressed GIF I made of one of my dogs.

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Mashable Article 

Why I’m Curious 

I’m curious to see how this app will do once it generates more buzz (released in May). I think it could potentially be very successful because it allows consumers to generate their own content and share it with their friends. Not to mention, it’s quick and user-friendly.

Moreover, I think any brand that’s trying to target the younger market can leverage this app. Because let’s face it, even the most popular brands have a difficult time encouraging consumers to create their own content. But instead of asking them to create a video, what if a brand asked consumers record their reactions to one of their products (ex. #MyFaceWhen I got my new pair of _____ shoes). The whole idea behind the app is to capture reactions and what better way to speak for you product than to have an authentic reaction?

Doctors Get Their Own Social Network

by Nukte

from Mashable

When Dr. Rafael Lugo posted photos of a rare tumor to iRounds — a social network for doctors — he received immediate feedback from specialists nationwide and ultimately referred his patient to the appropriate doctor for treatment.

“Medicine is very much a team sport,” said Lugo, who is one of the 30,000 doctors currently on iRounds.

The new platform — which launched in February by Doximity, the largest online professional physician network — is being touted as a Twitter for doctors. iRounds gives physicians a community to discuss cases, ask for second opinions and engage in spontaneous dialogue with peers in real time. Furthermore, there is also a newly launched mobile app that makes it even easier for physicians to share information real-time.

The forum is secure under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), so all information is private and confidential, and only verified Doximity physicians and medical students are granted access.

Meanwhile, physicians can learn more about who they are interacting with on the site by accessing their profile to check credibility.

“At a glance, you can see any particular physicians’ publications, specializations, board certifications, and other qualifications, which enhances the credibility of they opinions,” New York-based nephrologist and internal medicine doctor Joshua Schwimmer told Mashable. “As with anything in medicine, you consult multiple resources and don’t trust a single source fully, so iRounds allows you to interact with multiple physicians in multiple specialties and potentially receive a wide range of opinions. The debates are always instructive.”

Why Am I Curious?

This is very interesting to me because to most people social media is just about finding cute cat videos and sharing their opinions on the latest movie they have seen. Many do not realize the large scale implications. However, as more niche but literally life-altering applications are developed such as iRounds, the power and true utility of social media will become increasingly more evident in our lives in really fundamental ways. It is not even too far-fetched to believe that a platform such as this not only can lead to collaborations that would otherwise not happen, lead to discoveries and save lives.

Like a box of Sharpies. But on your phone. For your brain. Or something.

This is a quick one kids. Have you heard of Highlight? It’s another social discovery app that helps you find out more about the people around you, providing said people have the very same app as you. In the words of the creators themselves (I said this was a quick one…):

“If someone standing near you also has Highlight, their profile will show up on your phone. You can see their name, photos of them, mutual friends, and anything else they have chosen to share. When you meet someone, Highlight helps you see what you have in common with them. And when you forget their name at a party a week later, Highlight can help you remember it.

As you go about your day, Highlight runs quietly in the background, surfacing information about the people around you. If your friends are nearby, it will notify you. If someone interesting crosses your path, it will tell you more about them.”

The app also includes links to each person’s social network presences, allowing you to track ’em down there, too, and uses Facebook Connect to get the whole registration thing started.

Why I’m Curious

Many, many apps have been here before, and I’m not quite sure of the differentiating factor. What is consistent though, is the usage barrier. How willing are we to put ourselves out there for others to find just by proximity? And upon meeting someone, wouldn’t you just look each other up on Facebook on the spot? What this app does do is tie together other fragments of social media in an effort to provide a full experience – something which Facebook (for example, since it’s the biggest) hasn’t been able to pull off just yet.

Vungle the In-App Video Advertiser

– Jordan

From TechCrunch:

Vungle is a new company that allows mobile app companies a platform to advertise their apps, it does this in a unique way however by creating app segments where a users is shown a 15 second promo of another app and an opportunity to download it. Vungle uses a sort-of in-app ad network to serve of videos and offers developers a simply way to inbed the Vungle code to place within their apps to instantly be part of Vungles’ network.

“The idea is that users will find the video trailers more interesting than a simple banner ad, and will be encouraged to try out the new app or game being advertised. Developers can also opt-in to show these trailers in their apps as another way to monetize their content, even if they’re not participating with ad spend of their own.”

Video

Why I’m curious:

Apps demand a huge part of the market right now and are a place where millions of dollars are spent, but there are difficulties to how you can get your app promoted. A lot of it requires earned media or top placement within the app store, Im curious to see how Vungle does given that they have a unique solution to this app ad problem.

Discover All Klondike Has to Offer by Destroying All It Has to Offer

– Jordan

From Creativity

To promote Klondike’s Choco Tacos (newly available in the freezer aisle, rather than just via ice cream trucks and convenience stations ), the VIA agency created the ‘flavor chamber‘ on Klondike’s website, where visitors are able to destroy either Klondike Bars or Choco Tacos and see what’s inside them. You can choose from weapons such as a baseball bat, a guitar or a pouncing kitten to smash the treat and find out exactly what it’s made of. Of course, you can share the result on Facebook.

*Must check out the chainsaw

Why I’m curious:

I am sure that most of us do not know Klondikes entire line-up of chocolate treats, so Klondike has made it awesome to discover all of its goodies by allowing you to watch slowmotion videos of them being destroyed. I thought it was a very clever way to get people to see up-close video of all their product offerings while genuinely having a great time doing it.

Amazing copy: “Do not attempt to recreate this video, you are only qualified to destroy Klondike bars with your mouth.”

Hugvie Enhances Your Phone Conversations With Hugs

Telepresence robots have already appeared on our virtual pages on several occasions before, but typically they’ve focused on commercial and industrial purposes. The Hugvie, on the other hand, is an uncharacteristically soft, cuddly creation that’s designed to give consumers a more complex feeling of interaction with those they speak to by phone.

The brainchild of Japan’s Osaka University and Advanced Telecommunications Research Institute International (ATR), the Hugvie is designed with a minimalistic, child-sized human form that could be associated with either gender. Featuring a pocket into which the user’s cell phone can be inserted, the huggable device includes also a microcontroller and vibrators that are designed to match the characteristics of the caller’s voice, according to a report on DigInfo. The vibrators pulse at the same rate as an average human heartbeat with the aim of making the robot more human and tactile-friendly, and the vibrations can become harder or faster depending on the tone of the caller’s voice. The video below demonstrates the Hugvie in action:

Why I’m curious:

It is often said that the technology of smartphones and tablets is an extension of oneself. The Hugvie attempts to bridge the real intimacy of our relationships with controls and haptic feedback that matches the patterns of our communication. Much like seeing a person a smile, receiving a firm handshake, feeling a heartbeat, you feel more connected with some form of sensorial touch and feedback. Among a number of apps that seek to create a deeper and more intimate connection, the Hugvie is another example that supports the emerging trend in innovation and design that makes a technology experience more human.

Static Texts Are So Outdated

There’s a new app for iPhones that can take a video and convert it to an animated gif so that you can text it to your friends.  MyFaceWhen launched this week, and is a free app, for now, but should be $0.99 at some point..  So now, instead of responding with “ROFL”, or even an emoticon, you can send an animated gif showing yourself ROFLing.The web is full of images and gifs that express certain emotions, but this takes it to a new level.  No longer must we rely on one of these memed pictures, although the app can accommodate many of your favorites as well, to express how we feel about a given situation in a message to our friends.

Why I’m Curious

Everyday communication continues to evolve.  Remember when we had to actually speak to a person to communicate?  Now, we’ve taken another step at removing words from communication.  At some point, I wonder if we’ll just get back to hieroglyphics like the ancient Egyptians…. but you know, in animated gif format.

Weotta Go answers the question: “What should we do next?”

Seems like a simple and harmless question, but we all experienced that moment when your friend asks, “What should we do next”, and your brain goes blank. Now there is an app offering a solution to this need and it is called Weotta Go.

The iPhone app is focused on spontaneity as opposed to making plans in advance. When you open up Weotta Go, the results are tailored to the time and location. For example, if it is noon, the app shows nearby lunch spots. If it is later in the day, you start to see happy hour recommendations. In the morning, you guessed it: Coffee shops near your location. You can also filter the results based on how far you’re willing to go (the narrowest filter is “2 blocks”), the price, the category (activities, attractions, coffees and sweets, food, and sporting events), and the context (is this just for guys, girls, kids, or a couple on a date?).

        

Even better, the app changes the results on-the-fly. Its recommendations are delivered as a stack of photos, which you can tap on for more information, drag down to save in a list, or swipe across to say that you’re not interested. As you do that, the list will change to show you more items in the categories that you’re interested in and less of everything else.

After you’ve created a list of things you find promising, you can also share it with your friends via email. The app also offers integrations with other services, like purchasing tickets from StubHub for a sporting event or from Fandango for a movie.

Why Am I Curious?

I find this interesting because of how the apps brings mobile, local, real-time, and big-data algorithms together in order to create the most customized and relevant ideas possible. I am also curious to see if they will add new data sources (via Facebook Connect) in order to further improve the strength of their algorithm and be more customized. Also, another question is how the app will be monetized. As mentioned, there is the relatively small affiliate model with 3rd party vendors such as StubHub and Fandango but what could really help is the obvious local offers/deals solution that could be attractive to brands given Weotta will have access to very specific real-time data of not only where people are but also potentially what they are in the mood for.