Thursday, May 22, 2014

What’s Next for Connected Devices?

The idea of connected living is frequently associated with simplifying our lives through streamlining our devices. However, as people look for ways for connected devices to truly have a meaningful impact, there is a drive to move beyond simplification, towards meeting deeper human needs – the need for protection and assistance within our daily lives. In other words, the next wave of connected devices should help us address issues around our physical health, our mental wellbeing, our safety and security and allow us to better connect with our loved ones.

So, what are some of the latest devices that address these needs?

Cuptime, out of China, is a smart cup that allows consumers to track their hydration levels. The plastic cup connects wirelessly to a cellphone, allowing consumers to monitor their water intake based on their height and weight.

Vigo is wearable device that tracks alertness through blinking and body movement, which syncs the data to a mobile app. When Vigo detects tiredness, it ‘nudges’ the wearer via customizable smartphone settings, including gentle vibrations and energizing audio tracks.

Toymail a device I recently checked out at NY Tech Day, is a range of talking toys that allow parents to stay in touch with their kids when traveling. The wifi enabled ‘Mailmen’ sync with an iOS app that allows parents to record and save voicemail messages, which are played through the toy in each character’s voice.

Implication: Each of these products as well as a number of others, such as Nest, make it clear that the next phase of connected living revolves around helping consumers enhance their lives.

Reposted in Tribal Worldwide's Smoke Signals.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Contextual Integration Digs Deeper at the Contagious Now/Next/Why Conference

Last week I attended the Contagious Now/Next/Why conference. During the conference, it became clear that a key trend is influencing the effectiveness of campaigns across all mediums – the need for true contextual integration. Contextual integration, sometimes referred to as contextual relevance, is not new. And, as a result, consumers now expect complete, connected and consistent experiences from a brand, no matter where they are engaging. But, we, as marketers, have not yet been able to create this experience and therefore, we have not allowed contextual relevance to reach its full potential.

One of the key areas that must evolve in order to create real contextual integration is in the creation of personas. Current personas tend to be based around demographic data and a picture of who a person is holistically. However, this demonstrates a lack of understanding of human nature. People’s roles and needs shift depending on who is around, such as a mother of two who is a brand manager at a corporation will have very different needs when she is at home with her children getting them ready for school versus presenting key findings about her product line to her colleagues. Therefore, personas need to be viewed by context and with the change in context comes a change in the information that is relevant.

In other words, it’s time to plan around people. As marketers, data allows us to dig deeper to do just that.

Implication: Design brand planning around contextually relevant pieces of data: time, platform, habits, intent, persona, and events.

Reposted in Tribal Worldwide's Smoke Signals.

Friday, April 25, 2014

NY Tech Day 2014

Yesterday, I attended NY Tech Day. NY Tech Day is an exhibition where entrepreneurs showcase their start-ups in walk-up booth style. It offers a unique opportunity for the more than 400 exhibitors, including startups from around the world, to show off their companies to thousands of consumers and investors. This was the 3rd annual time this free event has taken place.

While there were tons of cool ideas across numerous verticals, a few key trends stood out:

  1. Data alone is no longer enough. Data matters and everyone is collecting it, but at the end of the day, the key differentiator is not the data, but the insights and forecasts that can be drawn from it. It's about how you use it.
  • Canvs (powered by mashwork) is taking the idea of social TV analytics to the next level. It provides insight and context around entertainment content instead of raw, complicated data. It does this by delivering a glimpse of the nuanced range of emotion a TV show's audience expresses, rather than the general sentiment found in most social media monitoring tools.
  • Picpulse focuses trend forecasting for the fashion industry. It's purpose is to help fashion brands and retailers understand what's next, what to do with their inventory and how to best connect with customers using data and analytics. They are launching in the next few months.
  • Enertiv is a tool to help people save energy with actionable insights and recommendations that save energy and money. It provides a combination of hardware and software that allows buildings to monitor their energy consumption in real-time through circuit level, detailed information on energy use. The Enertiv Platform continuously analyzes this information in real-time, alerting users of anomalies while providing personalized recommendations for savings.
  • Additionally, PsychSignal uses NASA algorithms to predict financial trends with social chatter. Betterment helps individuals better manage their own investments through data.

  • Everyone's trying to find a way to unlock the mobile payments space and own the market.

    • Dash and Split both allow users to pay their restaurant or bar tab with their phone. 
    • PAAY uses what your phone paired with a personal pin to provide an easy and secure way to make payments.
    • Stripe is a set of unified APIs and tools that allows companies to instantly accept and manage payments online and seamlessly integrates mobile payments. Currently, Lyft, Postmates, OrderAhead, Instacart and numerous other mobile apps use Stripe's native iOS and Android libraries to charge on the go.

    1. It's time to disrupt the status quo across well-established markets
      • Real estate killer apps and tools, such as Clikhome, Roomi and Lystfreely, allow renters to take the power of their apartment search truly into their own hands; thereby, negating the need for brokers and agents in the near future.
      • Sols, custom 3D printed orthotics, is challenging the orthotics industry. Their 100% digital process captures and stores a detailed foot scan before visualizing the product, and prescription, in real time. With SOLS, people experience increased accuracy, improved comfort, and consistent quality, something no other orthotics vendor (we're looking at you, Doctor Scholl's) is providing as well.
      All in all, it was a pretty inspiring event. I can't wait to see what comes next.

      Monday, March 3, 2014

      Power Up On Good

      This article is a repost of an article I wrote for Tribal Worldwide's Smoke Signals
      A new joint effort between the Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing (BOINC) and HTC aims to combine the network power of mobile devices with scientific research. BOINC claims that the combined power of spare mobile computing cycles would be enough to solve complex problems related to AIDS and Alzheimer’s disease.

      The idea is that people will donate their phone’s resources to a worthwhile cause with minimal effort applied.

      HTC plans to tap into this through an app, HTC Power To Give, in the Google Play store. Through this app, users will also be able to select a specific research program that matters most to them. Additionally, the HTC Power To Give app only runs while the phone is charging and connected to a WiFi network, preventing any battery issues. Down the road, HTC plans to expand the app to work across all Android devices. The app will initially be available to download on HTC One and HTC Butterfly phones.

      Learn more about the HTC Power To Give project here.

      Implication: It is no longer about what technology can do just for you, but how you can use it to easily benefit the greater good.

      Connected Living Takes Center Stage at MWC14

      This article is a repost of an article I wrote for Tribal Worldwide's Smoke Signals.
      Yet again, Samsung comes out on top in this year’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, with the launch of Galaxy S5 and Gear Fit – the world’s first curved AMOLED touch-screen display on a wearable device that allows you to track your fitness.

      Samsung’s new Galaxy S5 has a number of advanced features. In addition to being water resistant and dust proof, it contains a fingerprint scanner that allows you to pay for shopping online and a camera that allows you focus after you’ve taken a picture. The smartphone will also provide extraordinarily fast network speeds by combining WiFi and 4G into a single stream. For an added human effect, the phone lets you track your own heartbeat – a world first, designed to work in conjunction with Samsung’s smart watches enabling wearers to better manage their fitness.

      What truly makes the Galaxy S5 unique is how it implements the idea of connected living across all facets of your life: what you wear, where you live and/or work, how you receive goods, how you connect with others, how you travel, and how you purchase. For the first time, a phone is not just part of a family of devices but it is genuinely integrated managing a series of other screens, including your watch, fitness tracker, TV, fridge and washing machine. In other words, the Galaxy S5 operates as a remote control.

      Implication: The trend of connected living will soon become part of our everyday reality.

      Thursday, December 19, 2013

      Harnessing the Power of the Collaborative Economy

      This article is a repost of an article I wrote for Tribal Worldwide's Smoke Signals
      While technology is often thought of in terms of benefitting the individual, a recent rise of the collaborative economy landscape is changing things. Now, the greater issue is not just about the individual, but the benefit to the greater community.

      One particularly interesting aspect of the collaborative economy is the emergence of mobilizing technology for shared problem solving. Cameron Sinclair’s Architecture for Humanity and Open Architecture app, both focus on proactive social innovation and ideation to improve the lives of people, globally. No longer is the goal restricted to how we can benefit ourselves but rather, what we can do to benefit the entire community.

      But, it does not stop with ideation.

      Products too have the ability to take the power of technology beyond the individual. For example, adidas’ Nitrocharge, “Power Pitch” harnessed game playing energy for the pitch-side lighting. Similarly, Soccket by Uncharted Play is a regulation-size soccer ball that converts kicks and headers into off-the-grid power. Two hours of play can produce enough wattage to light an LED for at least one night. By harnessing passion, people have the ability to extend their energy into the greater community.

      Implication: As our ideas around consumption change, so do our ideas around the importance of goods. However, a bigger question still exists: In an economy of sharing, how do the needs of purchase and consumption change? How do businesses themselves adapt to meet this model? Only time will tell.

      Learn more about this changing business paradigm in Wired.

      A Life Connected

      This article is a repost of an article I wrote for Tribal Worldwide's Smoke Signals
      The proliferation of smart consumer electronics intended to improve certain areas of life is not new. Nike+ allows us to quantify our personal fitness goals. Netflix gives us the opportunity to tap into on-demand entertainment. And Nest thermostat automatically adjusts room temperatures based on circumstantial factors.

      However, only now are frameworks being developed to allow the devices to communicate with one another.

      In the near future, we can expect that our devices will communicate across all facets of our lives: what you wear, where you live and/or work, how you receive goods, how you travel, how you purchase and how you connect with others. Ultimately everything will be connected to the point that all technology will be seamless and innate.

      Implication: By combining the unique value from each product there is an opportunity to create a much more powerful benefit for the consumer. To learn more about this trend, check out PSFK’s Future of Home Living.