Binge-Watching: A Key to Artificial Intelligence

National Post: “MIT says a computer that binge-watched YouTube videos and TV shows such as The Office, Big Bang Theory and Desperate Housewives learned how to predict whether the actors were about to hug, kiss, shake hands or slap high fives — advances that eventually could help the next generation of artificial intelligence function less clumsily.”

“The computer got it right more than 43 per cent of the time. That may not sound like much, but it’s better than existing algorithms with a 36 per cent success rate. Humans make the right call 71 per cent of the time.”

Hamed Pirsiavash, a member of the research team comments: “Humans are really good at predicting the immediate future. To have robots interact with humans seamlessly, the robot should be able to reason about the immediate future of our actions.”

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Cannes Job: The Facebook (Data) Invasion

The New York Times: “Google and Facebook have upended the old order by taking ownership of the new one, claiming nearly two-thirds of the $60 billion online advertising market last year and on course to take more this year … Therefore, the word of the week in Cannes was ‘duopoly’.”

“While Google has usually been the chief villain … Facebook seemed to have assumed the role of Frenemy No. 1. Two hours didn’t go by here without some top executive telling me about how Facebook’s ‘walled garden’ makes it a new intermediary between brands and their customers, and between newspapers and their readers. That gives Facebook the potential to steal them all away if it ever chose to do so. (It says it won’t.)”

“When Facebook is the mediator between advertisers and their customers, ‘They become Facebook’s customers first and the brands’ customers second,’ leaving the question, ‘Who owns the customer data?’ The nearly universal complaint in Cannes was that Facebook was not doing enough to share that data, leaving an informational imbalance that, combined with Facebook’s digital market share, gives it asymmetrical negotiating leverage.”

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

The ‘Cheese Pull’ & Other Chemical Reactions

Quartz: “In advertising, the cheese pull is more than just a tantalizing glimpse of melted goodness. It’s an idea, and an enduring one at that. Advertisers use it to communicate with the part of our brain that’s not verbal, with the primal core of our being that doesn’t understand words but responds with hunger, thirst, arousal, desire.”

“Pizza chains aren’t the only ones that use such evocative visual cues to tap into our baser urges. The hair flip in shampoo commercials, the car cruising down a windy road in auto ads, and the closeup on condensation on an ice-cold bottle are each metaphorical ‘cheese pulls,’ designed to provoke an involuntary response—one that advertisers hope will lead to a purchase.”

“In food advertising, the cheese pull can ‘trigger deep-seated memories of food experiences’ to ‘signal an enjoyable experience in you,’ said Uma Karmarkar, an assistant professor of marketing at the Harvard Business School … Those memories can actually set off a release of chemicals in the brain akin to those involved in drug addiction.”

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Have a Beer at Barnes & Noble?

The Washington Post: Barnes & Noble “will market test four redesigned stores later this year that feature larger café areas offering wine, beer and an expanded food menu, as well as table service. The goal is to boost traffic to the stores and to grow food and beverage sales from just under 10 percent of the retailer’s total sales to a larger pillar of the business.”

“The new design is aimed at making Barnes & Noble a competitor for your dinnertime dollars, not just your morning or afternoon pick-me-up … The café changes aren’t the only ones Barnes & Noble is implementing to try to make its stores into more of a gathering place. It is moving to add more seating throughout the store so you’ll be enticed to curl up with your book, and it is doubling down on events such as hands-on play sessions in its toy and game department.”

“And it is trying to reorganize the stores with better navigation. In some cases, that will mean simplifying signage, such as changing a section called ‘entrepreneurship’ to just ‘business.’ In others, that will mean putting items close together that are likely to appeal to a single shopper. So a new section of infant and toddler sleep books will be nearby those about baby food and baby sign language.”

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Ulta Shoppers Spend Time & Money

The Wall Street Journal: “At a time when many are shuttering doors because of lagging traffic and growing internet sales, Ulta is drawing in shoppers and getting them to spend more. In many subtle ways, Ulta offers a shopping experience that gets how women wear and, as importantly, play with beauty products. It stocks both mass brands like CoverGirl and Maybelline, which women typically buy at drugstores, as well as prestige brands like Lancôme and Clinique, which typically require a trip to a specialty or department store.”

“The brand mix and range of prices, from $2 lip liners to $200 hair dryers, also appeals to all ages. Mothers and daughters often shop together. Three quarters of Ulta shoppers spend 15 minutes or more in the store, the company says, and 20% spend 30 minutes or more. Stores have hair salons and many also have facial stations and ‘brow bars’ for eyebrow waxing.”

“Letting shoppers try a product before buying is a big part of the Ulta experience. Prestige cosmetics and skin care customers are accustomed to it, but testing is less available elsewhere. At Ulta, even the hair dryers on display are plugged in so women can try them … Ulta instructs sales associates to help when needed but not hover or serve as gatekeepers like they often do at a department store. The stores are meant to feel relaxed and welcoming to someone coming from the grocery store or a yoga class.”

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Airlines Opt for a ‘Two-Cabin’ Experience

Quartz: “Airlines are getting rid of the most coveted seats on their aircrafts, favoring souped-up versions of business class in the hope that high-paying customers won’t be able to tell the difference.” For Example: “United Airlines earlier this month unveiled its new business-class service, United Polaris, which will include rows of sleeping pods instead of seats. The company says it is ‘phasing out’ the first-class cabin in favor of a ‘a two-cabin experience for international travel’ … The trend is part of airlines’ battle for revenue, particularly high-paying customers.”

Analyst Jonathan Kletzel comments: “Once you’re lying flat and you’ve got your own personal screen and you’re getting a nice dinner, the distinction comes down to nicer wines, plusher pillow … That’s where you’re at.”

“For the rest of us, there’s premium economy, airlines’ latest pitch to entice coach travelers to pay a premium for a little bit extra legroom, early boarding, and other perks.”

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Made By Cow: Introducing Cold-Pressure Milk

Gizmag: “Made by Cow (MBC) says its alternative cold-pressure approach is a world first, with the milk going from cow to bottle within a matter of hours. The company explains that it is then put under intense ‘isostatic cold water pressure.’ Here, cold water is used to compress both the bottle, which is plastic so as to flex, and the milk inside … MBC reports that ‘bacteria can’t withstand the pressure we subject them to’ and so are eliminated, while the cold temperature of the water reportedly ensures that the process is gentler on the milk’s nutritional profile.”

“MBC claims that the resulting produce is creamier and more vitamin-rich than conventionally processed milk and that it will actually last slightly longer, too, though specifics are not yet available.”

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

PS: Ikea Beyond The Basics

Fast Company: “Every few years, Ikea releases its limited-edition PS Collection—a series of experimental products that aren’t intended to supplant its perennial offerings, but rather to add a jolt of energy into its stores … For its 2017 PS Collection, Ikea’s designers chose a theme they call Young Urban Life, delving into new material research, fabrication techniques, and product types.”

“Some of the more idiosyncratic products include a seating piece that looks like the love child of a Papasan chair and a rocker, a sofa that looks like it’s composed of pillows, and a throw blanket that can be worn like a jacket … For the practicality-minded set, there are still a few space-efficient pieces, like stackable storage bins, collapsible side tables that fold away when not in use, and arm chairs that join to become a love seat.”

Henrik Most Nielsen of Ikea: “Ikea is for the many, but the many are different. We’re trying to attract customers who think Ikea isn’t at the front of design. We’re moving from basics to embodying a strong personality and style.”

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail