Trends

Subscription service turns members into cocktail mixologists

Springwise - Thu, 2014-07-10 13:30
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Cocktail lovers who want some new inspiration each month aren’t short of creative subscription services such as Vinyl Me, Please, which combines music LPs with cocktail recipes to try out. However, making sure they have the best ingredients for the job is another thing. TWIST offers monthly boxes of premium ingredients that members can mix and match to create their own cocktails.

Cocktails in bars always taste a bit better than they do if the recipe is emulated at home. In part, that’s because the skilled bartenders are simply better at making them, but it’s also down to the ingredients. Each TWIST box includes high quality spirits and mixers that are usually only found in specialist stores or behind bars — from Vestal Blended Potato Vodka and Noilly Prat Dry Vermouth to Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur and Angostura Orange Bitters. Smaller pieces such as limes and sugar aren’t included, but TWIST notifies subscribers before delivery if they’ll need to get them. Each box comes with a recipe booklet containing 2 classic cocktails, although the ingredients will make up to 6 drinks. Members can decide if they want to follow the recipes or invent their own creations. The booklet also features histories of the ingredients, as well as tips and information from expert mixologists about technique and flavor matching.

The boxes can be purchased as gifts or a monthly subscription, and cost GBP 25 each. There’s also equipment kits available that include a shaker, measuring implements and bar spoon. Are there other subscription services that can help members learn a new skillset?

Website: www.givemeatwist.com
Contact: www.givemeatwist.com/#!contact-us/c11m6








Categories: Trends

Checking Your Work

A VC - Thu, 2014-07-10 12:44

I don’t recall who drove it into me when I was young, but I have always been obsessive about checking my work. Whenever I do a math problem, I take my answer and do a reverse check to make sure the answer makes sense. I do this even when adding a tip to a bill at the end of a dinner. It drives the Gotham Gal crazy to see me take so much time to do a simple math problem. It’s not even a conscious thing for me. It’s just how my mind works.

I tell all of you this because it relates to writing. I was talking to an educator that I respect greatly last night and I asked her what is the most effective technique for teaching kids to write. I expected her to say one on one editing sessions with a mentor, coach, or teacher was the most effective way to teach writing. But she told me that forcing kids to rewrite their work, solo, was the most effective technique to improve their writing.

When I write a blog post, I tend to write it as the idea forms in my brain. I write the whole thing out. And then I rewrite it. I go over every line and make sure the spelling and grammar are correct, I look at the phrasing. I consider the flow. I read it start to finish at least three or four times. I think about the whole and then each part. And I’ll cut out paragraphs, move things, rewrite parts, and mess with it for almost as long as it took me to write it in the first place. And I’ll do that even after I’ve posted it. I actually get some extra benefit from editing while the post is live. I am not sure why that is, but often times the best edits come to me after the post is live.

And so it turns out, if my educator friend is right and I would imagine she is, that this kind of obsessive self editing is the best way to become a better writer. I don’t consider myself a great writer by any means, but I have improved immensely over the years I’ve been blogging. Some of that, for certain, comes from writing every day. According to WordPress, I have written over 6,500 posts here at AVC. That’s a lot of writing. But you don’t learn as much from the process of putting words on paper (or online). You learn most from the process of perfecting the piece.

Based on the countless hours I have worked with my kids over the years, getting students to spend time on a project after they feel like they have finished it is really hard. They get annoyed. “It’s done, it’s right, why are you making me do this?” is a common refrain. But if you want your kids or students to learn and improve, you have to force them to do that. Like someone did for me when I was young. It’s a gift that pays dividends for me every day.

Categories: Trends

Cool Hunting Video: Alex Reben: An alumni of MIT's Media Lab and NASA, this artist applies his engineering skills to create robots

Cool Hunting - Thu, 2014-07-10 12:02

In a room piled with resistors, circuit boards and projects in various states of completion, we spoke with talented artist and engineer Alex Reben about his body of work. Reben—an alumni of recordOutboundLink(this,...
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Summer Beauty Essentials: Functional products that do the hard work, so you can enjoy the sunshine without worry

Cool Hunting - Thu, 2014-07-10 11:00

Whether you're taking a day trip to the local beach or leaving a frigid, air-conditioned office to hit a happy hour, keep your cosmetics bag light by packing just the essentials (like a lip balm with SPF). Here are a list of tried-and-true functional beauty products that'll keep you...
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Taxi fleet to be made kid friendly with safety seats

Springwise - Thu, 2014-07-10 10:30
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Regular readers of Springwise may remember our recent article on BalticTaxi’s new dedicated service for cyclists, which sees certain cars within the fleet equipped with bicycle roof racks. In an effort to further accommodate the varying needs of their passengers, the company is now adding in child safety seats as standard in selected vehicles.

The new Safe Baby service has seen child safety seats permanently installed in six vehicles from the BalticTaxi fleet — designed to offer a safer and more comfortable ride for young children up to 11 years old. Of course, many other taxi organizations also offer safety seats as an option, but by having the seats installed permanently, BalticTaxi can offer a quicker and more efficient service. The company also says that the service will help them meet an increasing demand to ferry children to and from school or kindergarten. Arita Zvirgzdiņa, Corporate Customer Department Manager of BalticTaxi, comments: “Being able to trust the taxi driver to safely take their child to the destination is important to our clients.” It might also prove useful for holidaymakers heading to and from the airport with their young kids. The Safe Baby taxis — identifiable by Safe Baby labels on the car’s exterior — will be served by taxi drivers who will be able to change and safely install different seats in order to best match the child’s height, age and weight.

As with the roof rack service, there will be no extra charge for riding in a Safe Baby taxi and making use of the provided safety seat. How else could everyday services be made more convenient and accessible for parents of young children?

Website: www.baltictaxi.com
Contact: info@baltictaxi.lv








Categories: Trends

Test Drive: 2015 Porsche Macan S and Porsche Macan Turbo: Off-road and on the track with the all-new model to see if it lives up to its badge

Cool Hunting - Wed, 2014-07-09 23:00

Brand extensions are tricky. Nearly every business wants to expand its reach and attract new customers, but if one veers too far from what makes it a success they'll frustrate their fans and alienate the true believers. For as many successful examples of...
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It’s Time to Forget the Fold

Futurelab - Wed, 2014-07-09 21:23

If you work with digital ads, you are no doubt familiar with the “fold” – the place where the user’s screen cuts off the content, and scrolling is required to view more. (It’s an anachronistic term from the newspaper days, when stories above the fold in the middle of the page were more prominent than those below.) Many advertising contracts specify “above the fold” placement on web pages, although exactly where that fold occurs depends on a variety of factors like screen resolution, browser window dimensions, etc.

Tags: Roger Dooleyweb designadvertisingneuromarketingdigital advertising
Categories: Trends

Photographer Will Adler's Tranquil Seascapes: The California lensman's new exhibition captures summer's golden days on the water

Cool Hunting - Wed, 2014-07-09 20:15

As much as barreling behemoth waves and 14-foot airs may be visually captivating and a major part of professional surfing, it's downright difficult to relate to for most. LA-based photographer Will Adler turns his lens on...
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Cycling with kor's Ünterwear Ultra-Slender Padding: Comfort that ditches the bulkiness, from the stylish NYC urban roadwear brand

Cool Hunting - Wed, 2014-07-09 19:00

From kor—a brand dedicated to designing and producing workout apparel that's stylish yet retaining all the necessary functionality—comes ünterwear. This undergarment comes in two versions: one for long distance...
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Travelers Don’t Need A Smartphone To Get Translations From Professional Linguists

PSFK - Wed, 2014-07-09 17:30

If you need something translated right away but don’t have a smartphone or have no desire to download any translation apps, mobile language translation service Muuzii may just be the answer to your problem.

Through Muuzii, users can request for a translation of any text by simply sending an SMS. Users don’t need a smartphone since there’s no app involved.

Founded by Eric and Lin Fang, Muuzii started out as a service that helps people talk to each other in English and Chinese. In 2013, the mobile language translation and learning service teamed up with AT&T; to bring the service to the US, so now folks in North America can now avail of the service.

Muuzii has two types of service – Muuzii Message and Muuzii Speak. To use Muuzii Message, users just need to send the desired words or phrases they want translated via text message, and within seconds they will receive an accurate translation in English, Chinese, or Spanish. To use Muuzii Speak, users will need an MMS-enabled mobile phone and send a recording of the phrase to get the correct translation.

In a press release, Muuzii CEO Eric Fang said,

Muuzii is a new kind of tool for practical day-to-day conversation. In the workplace, in a business setting, at a physician’s office – anywhere language is a barrier, subscribers can simply ‘speak Muuzii’ to communicate with ease and confidence. It’s right there in your pocket when you need it.

Aside from the fact that this translation tool can be utilized via your run-of-the-mill mobile phone, it also offers highly accurate, conversational translations because it uses human linguists, not computers. Muuzii uses a patented technology and a team of linguists who are on-call 24/7 to assist their users with their translation requests. The service also has a growing database of common translation requests, and as more people use the service the better Muuzii becomes in terms of sending back translations.

Fang also added,

The U.S. is a diverse society, and we need to be able to communicate in an easy way. Think about employers with a multi-lingual workforce or multi-lingual crew out in the field – Muuzii will transform how safely, efficiently and effectively they get the job done.
Universal language translation isn’t futuristic – it’s already here, affordable and just a text away.

Muuzii is currently available by subscription on the AT&T; wireless network and will expand to other carriers in North and South America in the next few months. The company is also looking to add more languages to its services.

Muuzii

Source: VentureBeat

Categories: Trends

Travelers Don’t Need A Smartphone To Get Translations From Professional Linguists

PSFK - Wed, 2014-07-09 17:30

If you need something translated right away but don’t have a smartphone or have no desire to download any translation apps, mobile language translation service Muuzii may just be the answer to your problem.

Through Muuzii, users can request for a translation of any text by simply sending an SMS. Users don’t need a smartphone since there’s no app involved.

Founded by Eric and Lin Fang, Muuzii started out as a service that helps people talk to each other in English and Chinese. In 2013, the mobile language translation and learning service teamed up with AT&T; to bring the service to the US, so now folks in North America can now avail of the service.

Muuzii has two types of service – Muuzii Message and Muuzii Speak. To use Muuzii Message, users just need to send the desired words or phrases they want translated via text message, and within seconds they will receive an accurate translation in English, Chinese, or Spanish. To use Muuzii Speak, users will need an MMS-enabled mobile phone and send a recording of the phrase to get the correct translation.

In a press release, Muuzii CEO Eric Fang said,

Muuzii is a new kind of tool for practical day-to-day conversation. In the workplace, in a business setting, at a physician’s office – anywhere language is a barrier, subscribers can simply ‘speak Muuzii’ to communicate with ease and confidence. It’s right there in your pocket when you need it.

Aside from the fact that this translation tool can be utilized via your run-of-the-mill mobile phone, it also offers highly accurate, conversational translations because it uses human linguists, not computers. Muuzii uses a patented technology and a team of linguists who are on-call 24/7 to assist their users with their translation requests. The service also has a growing database of common translation requests, and as more people use the service the better Muuzii becomes in terms of sending back translations.

Fang also added,

The U.S. is a diverse society, and we need to be able to communicate in an easy way. Think about employers with a multi-lingual workforce or multi-lingual crew out in the field – Muuzii will transform how safely, efficiently and effectively they get the job done.
Universal language translation isn’t futuristic – it’s already here, affordable and just a text away.

Muuzii is currently available by subscription on the AT&T; wireless network and will expand to other carriers in North and South America in the next few months. The company is also looking to add more languages to its services.

Muuzii

Source: VentureBeat

Categories: Trends

Q&A, Jamie Butterworth, CEO, Ellen MacArthur Foundation

JWT Intelligence Feed - Wed, 2014-07-09 17:28

Jamie Butterworth has worked with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation since the initial launch of the 5-year-old nonprofit, which aims to accelerate a transition toward the circular economy. In November, he plans to leave the foundation to set up a complementary venture tied to the circular economy. We spoke with Butterworth while researching our new trend report, which explores what the circular economy is and how brands are adopting its principles. He discussed why businesses are becoming more interested in this alternative economic model, some companies that are role models in this realm and what’s next for the circular economy.

How would you describe the circular economy in layman’s terms?

I would start by looking at the linear economy. In today’s economy, we tend to take something out of the ground, make that into something, take that something into a market, and at the end of its life, we throw that something away. We use a large quantity of resources to make that happen. We’re beginning to see increasing constraint on energy costs, and the circular economy is effectively a way by which businesses can begin to decouple future economic growth from resource constraints.

What are the social drivers and business incentives for the shift to the circular economy?

We see a number of elements that are causing the shift. The first one is economics. Between 1900 and 2002, we saw a century’s worth of price declines as we got better at extracting and processing materials in the economy and energy. In the decade between 2002 and 2012, however, we saw that century’s worth of savings effectively erased, so we’re beginning to see much more volatile commodity and energy prices.

Secondly, we’re seeing a different type of consumer, who is interested in different ownership and business models. We’ve seen many of these spring up in the last few years, like Airbnb or Zipcar. Others have been around for quite some time, but these are all successful models by which we begin to shift from ownership towards access or performance of products.

The third is, we’re beginning to see some increased legislation around topics such as toxicity levels in different materials or landfill taxes, recycling targets.

Lastly, we are seeing emerging technologies that make the circular economy possible. One of them would be the intelligence of knowing where things are within the economy, what they’re made from and what status they’re in. We link this with the Internet of Things. We can see that quite a few of these collaborative consumption or access-over-ownership models are enabled by knowing where things are and when they’re available through the use of the Internet and GPS.

This also applies to new technology in material science and manufacturing. How can you start to design materials that, by intent, are circular or optimized? In the future of manufacturing, how will things be made? Not through subtractive manufacturing but through additive manufacturing, or 3D printing. What opportunities do these ideas hold for building a different type of economy?

What are the operating principles of the circular economy?

The operating principles are quite simple. Within the economy, you have two types of stuff. You have technical materials, which cycle in perpetuity at the highest possible quality. This means that wherever possible, you’re moving beyond recycling into remanufacturing, refurbishment, maintenance and full-service provision. That would be one side of the economy. On the other side of the economy, we would have biological materials and the products that those make up.

Very importantly, there would be a separation between the two. Simply by doing that, we actually increase the value of the biological side of the economy in terms of the feedstock. We can start to do creative things with biological nutrients or materials, including valorizing that as a feedstock or taking biological processes and using those to create things like anaerobic digestion, or energy.

I’ll give you one example. If you look on the technical side, one company we work with is the European automotive manufacturer Renault. They’re part of the Nissan Renault alliance. They have a plant where they can take the drivetrain, the engine or the gearbox of the car at the end of its life, strip that apart, remanufacture it and send it back out the door with the same warranty as a new product. This remanufactured part is created using around about 80 percent less energy than a new product and contains about 60 percent of the materials embodied in a new product. They’re beginning to fundamentally change the relationship between the industrial economy and the way it uses energy.

One of the things we’re very keen to point out is that the circular economy isn’t really a new idea. It brings together a number of disciplines, such as industrial symbiosis, Cradle to Cradle, the performance economy, biomimicry and some of the initiatives in the collaborative business model. Ultimately it’s a framework for an economy that is regenerative by design.

Many of these activities, like remanufacturing, have quite a pedigree in a number of industry sectors, including automotive and heavy industry. But if we look globally at the amount of what’s manufactured in the economy and how much is remanufactured, it is absolutely the tiniest 2 to 3 percent. What we believe we will see is that as commodity prices become more price-volatile and as energy as well as materials become more expensive and harder to get hold of, we will see more of this activity.

When I describe this to people, they automatically assume it is an extension of recycling.

We did a series of analyses together with McKinsey, a Knowledge Partner of the Foundation, and one of them was to quantify what the circular economy would be worth. This was something we couldn’t find any data on back in 2010. We worked with McKinsey and manufacturers to look at a sector of the European economy. We studied things that were relatively complicated and cycle quite often in the economy, like TVs, washing machines and mobile phones, and modeled what would happen if we took a very conservative assumption on circularity. We looked at cycling about a quarter of the materials in those products once by about 2020.

What we found was that by the time we get to the materials level, most of what we call recycling is, in fact, downcycling. It’s a kind of detour to the end of its life. There are relatively small numbers of examples where materials have been optimized to cycle many times. The value we saw in the economy for individual businesses to benefit from was most apparent within the “inner loops” of component and product remanufacturing and refurbishment and moving into selling performance as opposed to selling the product.

Are there any new industries that may emerge from the shift in circular economy?

I think an industry will form around the use of intelligent data to know where things are in the economy: More data and more intelligence as to what is in the economy—where the stocks and flows are—will basically unlock value.

Another area we believe will grow quite significantly will be this part of the economy where people are beginning to sell the performance of products. One example we often talk about is Philips’ Pay per Lux lighting model, whereby they’ve shifted from selling light bulbs to selling a number of lumens of light, so how much light you need. They’re working with municipalities in the Netherlands, and what they look at is how many lumens of light would you need, for example, to light motorway infrastructure?

This has a number of advantages for both the customer and the company involved. For the company, this means that with the right business model, when they come up with a more energy-efficient lighting technology, they benefit from the margin—so they become incentivized to upgrade the LED. The other thing they benefit from is retaining ownership of valuable materials, which become their assets. They can then design for upgrades into a second lifecycle, so they actually don’t have an issue with someone bringing something back to them.

For the customer, the understanding is that they actually get a better product. They get a recipe of lighting that is exactly what they require. It might mean brighter lighting during periods of time when people are sleepy late at night or calmer lighting to calm people down during rush hour. The idea is, by innovating the business model, people benefit. We’re actually seeing some growth in that area right now.

The other area of the economy we are fascinated by is waste management, or reverse logistics. As businesses begin to recognize that their products, when they reach the end of their first life, become valuable components for the second lifecycle, we believe they will look more towards resource management or reverse logistics partners to bring their things back at a high quality, as opposed to traditional waste players. In fact, even within the traditional waste management industry, we’re seeing quite a lot of interest in the topic of the circular economy as these businesses start to innovate to provide businesses with what they need.

I’ve also seen examples of companies that are looking to create new revenue streams from the waste they are producing instead of remanufacturing and bringing it back for a second lifecycle. Starbucks Hong Kong, for example, was looking to create new materials from all the coffee bean waste they have. Is that something you see picking up?

Exactly as you say, the opportunities will exist for the waste of one person’s supply chain to become the food of the next, and at the materials level that is clearly interesting.

We were talking about the Internet of Things and the ability to effectively know where things are. If you look at fast-moving consumer goods, one of the challenges there is that you really need to be able to aggregate a large volume of material in one place, with the right purity for it to become valuable. We believe there will be a shift in the way you’re able to tag and trace these materials. This will enable organizations to trace where those materials end up.

The interesting thing about that is the business model because, at the moment, most of the examples you were referring to are where there is a joint benefit for the company selling the products and the company buying the products, who can then make margin from it by processing it into a product or something more valuable.

In those inner loops we were talking about, where we’ve got very established remanufacturing companies like Renault or Caterpillar, the interesting thing there is to look at how the business model drives that. It’s the ability for margin to flow, and we’re beginning to see more examples of that in print photocopiers and mobile phones.

In your opinion, what are the top three companies that are doing the circular economy well?

One really interesting company which has been doing this for quite some time is Ricoh. Ricoh is a print photocopier manufacturer based in Japan. What is interesting about them is that they do this from an economic perspective, and they have since 1994. Back in the ’90s, they put in place something called the Ricoh Comet System, which effectively is a continual improvement model.

They have a plant in the U.K. that employs 180 people on a semi-automated reverse-manufacturing line. They will take a product at the end of its first life, decomponentize that, upgrade the elements that need upgrading, ultrasonically clean parts of it, put it back together again and then send it back out into the market with the same warranty as a new product. What’s interesting about the way they do this is that they get better at it all the time. They have the feedback mechanism built in to incorporate any new learning into designing new products.

Another interesting example is a company called Desso, based in the Netherlands. They’ve looked at how you could actually design a carpet from first principles of what it is made from right through to how you sell it—asking how you may be able to lease floor covering in a B-to-B situation.

What’s very exciting is when emerging innovators come into the story. One fantastic example you may have heard of already is called Ecovative. Ecovative is based in California, and they grow packaging. They use the waste material from agricultural feedstock, and they actually grow mycelium, which is basically mushroom roots, into molds to create packaging. They’re now providing packaging for Dell, Steelcase and others, which is apparently price-competitive. They are changing the landscape of packaging by coming up with a different type of material.

We actually featured Ecovative on our 100 Things to Watch list a few years back. As you point out, the emerging innovators are designing their companies from the ground up with a circular economy in mind instead of revamping after the fact. These innovators don’t have to battle against years of bureaucracy and the status quo.

Exactly. These concepts aren’t completely new, and for us that’s actually quite important in terms of the role we play at the Foundation. What the circular economy provides is a framework with which to rethink the economy. Ultimately the economy starts to unlock new opportunities. Maybe existing organizations are wondering how they’re going to differentiate or define themselves in the future. Maybe some of them are in resource-intensive industries that really do rely on resources to make products. The circular economy is an interesting way for them to begin to rethink how they can prosper in the future.

What are some of the challenges companies need to overcome internally to transition to a circular economy?

One of the biggest challenges for a business is how fundamentally different a circular economic model is to a linear model. A really good linear company is highly effective at taking something out of the ground, making something with it, selling it in a market and not needing to ever see that product again. In a circular model, you’d have a system in place in which you would get that component, material or product back, and then you remanufacture, potentially upgrade, service or sell it back into the market.

If the business model is not enabled, then you can do all the design you want, but you won’t be setting things up for success. Philips set up a center of excellence within the company to focus on the circular economy across their three areas of health care, consumer electronics and lighting. Their aim was to set up this center of excellence centrally, which they can then use to build capacity across the business.

Then secondary to that is being able to highlight and identify how shifting from a linear to a circular model will become more profitable for that business and its supply chain.

What are some of the challenges to overcome when dealing with consumers?

We’ve done quite a bit of research around consumer attitudes towards different elements of the circular economy, and there are some fairly hard and fast rules. With regard to getting things back, there needs to be value and convenience in how you do that.

In the past, a lot of work has gone into trying to persuade consumers that they should buy less stuff, which is quite problematic on a number of different levels. One, obviously, is that the revenue of that business probably relies on the customer buying something in the first place. The second thing is, how realistic is it that we can persuade people to buy less things? In developing markets, is it even reasonable to suppose that people can develop economically without buying things?

What’s interesting about the circular framework is we begin to look at both business models and design practices that move from using less towards being restorative by intent. So take the carpet example I was giving you. If we are able to design a carpet which can be regenerated into a new carpet at the end of its life using 100 percent renewable energy, then we shift from buying that carpet to actually buying square meters of floor covering. In that case, is there actually a problem with more people having access to more floor covering?

Obviously, there’s an important balancing act in that discussion, but what we are interested in primarily is those business models and approaches that enable us to shift from a throughput consumer pattern to one which is ultimately circular and more restorative.

What does the shift to the circular economy mean for brands?

For brands, this is an inevitable and necessary shift due to the economics. In fact, in the future, some linear businesses will be unlikely to do as well as they can today. With 3 billion new middle class consumers increasing the demand for commodities, things are going to change. We will see some brands deciding to be proactive and taking advantage of that and others being less proactive. We’ve even begun to see investment notes on those topics.

For businesses that are able to operate in a circular economy, there are a number of benefits. We are fascinated by the idea of the ongoing relationship that businesses can create with their customers. Rather than selling them something and then leaving them with that, and needing to persuade them to use that for a period of time, get fed up with it and have to want another one, we actually start to look at slightly different, potentially more complex relationships, where there’s more of a relationship between the customer of a product—who shifts from being a consumer to a user—and the value add we can provide in keeping in touch with those people and providing them with the opportunity to upgrade at the right point. There will be some change in dynamic there.

What’s next for the circular economy? What changes do you think we’ll start to see in our everyday lives as consumers?

We’re beginning to see some signs already of what will happen in the next few years. We do a lot of work with universities in design, engineering and business, and we’re seeing more take-up around research, teaching and learning on the topic. As people become interested in using the circular economy as a framework for starting to redesign things, there are new questions around what future materials might look like and what future manufacturing might look like.

We will also see more collaboration among businesses. One example of this is a new project called Mainstream. We’re involved in it along with the World Economic Forum and McKinsey. It brings together a group of 15 CEOs from global companies who are looking for ways to work together to run large-scale demonstrations on the circular economy. At some point, it will involve more collaboration across the supply chain, so I think we’ll see more of that type of activity.

Shortly after launching Project Mainstream, we found there was a lot of interest from regions. For example, Scotland, the central region of Denmark and the southern region of Belgium. They’re interested because the model holds the opportunity to potentially increase resilient employment opportunities. At the moment, a lot of stuff is extracted out of the ground in the East. It then moves into another manufacturing market, probably the East, and gets shipped out to the West. If you take the Ricoh example, they have their remanufacturing plant in the U.K., so you’re actually creating employment on a regionalized basis. We are beginning to see quite a lot of interest from different regional players, and that’s something we are expecting to see more of over the next few years in North America, into India and China.

The other big factor will be the circularity/linearity of China, Asia more broadly and broader developing markets. The majority of the expected 3 billion new middle-class consumers will be in these markets. This provides an interesting opportunity: Developed markets like Europe and the U.S. already have a lot of embedded “linear” infrastructure, technology and setups, while emerging markets have the potential opportunity to leapfrog this phase and align themselves to create more circular economies from the start. This is a fascinating area that we are exploring right now.

Categories: Trends

A Night at The Ludlow Hotel, NYC: This Lower East Side venue's opulent bathrooms make for the perfect staycation

Cool Hunting - Wed, 2014-07-09 17:04

Forget making the two-hour trek to the Hamptons or upstate New York along with the mass of people with the exact same plan. Instead, why not consider treating yourself to a staycation in NYC: when you want to escape the hubbub and the...
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Smart Umbrella Tracks Air Quality While Keeping You Dry

PSFK - Wed, 2014-07-09 17:00

Earlier this year, a scientist had the idea to use umbrellas as a way to collect data and prevent urban flooding, but now a team from the Copenhagen Institute of Interaction Design wants to use the trusted accessory as a way to measure, and visualize air pollution. The Sensing Umbrella is able to measure carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide levels, while built-in LED lights respond to the air quality by changing color and rhythm. It’s a project that looks good, but also has plans to make an impact on people’s health around the world.

Equipped with an an Arduino Yún micro controller, the umbrella can upload timestamped and geolocated data to pollution databases. While there are already pollution indicators for entire cities, the data would make it possible to generate local maps. Apart from data collection, the umbrella also visualizes the information using flashing LED lights. Their color and sequencing changes depending on the quality of air in the immediate vicinity. This particular feature helps to raise awareness in the local community, and hopefully encourage them to do what they can to make a difference.

Saurabh Datta, Akarsh Sanghi, and Simon Herzog, the students who designed the umbrella, have already made it clear that they have no plans to form a company or monetize the idea. Instead, they want to keep everything open-source in the hope of creating a global network comprised of individuals who are willing to collect and share information related to air pollution.

Crowdsourcing is most commonly known as a way to fund creative projects that might appeal to traditional investors, but there are applications beyond that. In the same way that people use wearable technology to gather information about themselves, it’s possible for a large network of people to gather valuable information about the local environment. This can then be used to identify the most serious problems, and formulate effective solutions. Hopefully, we will continue to see more of these crowdsourced scientific projects, which might be able to come up with ways to combat climate change and other pressing environmental issues.

Sensing Umbrella

[h/t] FastCoDesign

Images by Sensing Umbrella

Categories: Trends

Brazilian Sweet Treats by Simply Brigadeiro: Sabrina Pires Kahn is bringing her homeland's best loved confectionary to the masses

Cool Hunting - Wed, 2014-07-09 15:30

by Eva Glettner Even though she has spent many years in Los Angeles, Sabrina Pires Kahn's Brazilian roots are deeper than just her Portuguese-tinged English. In fact, Pires Kahn is on a mission to bring brigadeiros—Brazil’s most loved confections—to the masses here in...
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Wearable tech uses shock therapy to exorcise bad habits

Springwise - Wed, 2014-07-09 15:04
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Ivan Pavlov was a Russian physiologist famous for experiments in classical conditioning — the idea that behavior can be manipulated by associating it with positive or negative stimuli. It’s a concept that’s been embraced by productivity experts, and is key to recent success of gamification. Now Pavlok is a smart wristband that tracks owners’ behavior and delivers an electric shock when they fail to commit to their goals.

Created by productivity blogger Maneesh Sethi, the device looks much like a typical Fitbit-style exercise tracker. Rather than just tracking sports activity, Pavlok is able to be programmed to monitor a variety of bad habits users want to change, from smoking to checking Facebook every five minutes. For example, if users want to start getting up earlier they can set the wristband to wake them up by vibrating at a certain time. If they hit snooze more than twice, it will stop vibrating and deliver an electric shock that’s probably certain to get them out of bed. After a while, Sethi believes, users will simply want to make sure they get up to avoid the shock.

Sethi is no stranger to negative reinforcement, having previously hired someone to follow him around at work and slap him every time he procrastinated on time-wasting sites. He’s serious about the device and has already raised USD 100,000 from investors. A crowdfunding campaign could soon be launched and Pavlok will retail for around USD 250.

For those who can’t afford the price tag or wait for it to be released, there have already been apps based on a similar premise such as Social Rehub, which charges users money every time their friends deem they’ve broken a bad habit. Are there other — perhaps less painful — ways that negative reinforcement can be used to shape behavior?

Website: www.pavlok.com
Contact: maneesh@hackthesystem.com








Categories: Trends

Radar sensor for cyclists keeps tabs on dangerous traffic from behind

Springwise - Wed, 2014-07-09 14:03
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Cyclists are always advised to keep a clear distance from motorized traffic whenever they can to reduce the chances of collision, but it’s difficult to know when cars from behind are in danger of coming too close. While Japan’s Safety Sight app already warns drivers if they’re heading too quickly towards another vehicle, a new device called Backtracker now aims to save cyclists’ lives by letting them know of dangerous traffic coming from behind.

Developed by South Africa-based radar and computer vision company iKubu, the system comes in two parts — a front unit and a back unit. The back unit uses radar technology to detect the presence of moving objects up to 150 yards away. It sends information to the front unit attached to the handlebars, which is displayed via a strip of LEDs. When there’s no traffic, the device shows a green LED at the top of the strip, representing the cyclist. The presence of a car is indicated by a white light which gradually moves upwards along the strip, and the green light turns yellow. If a car is detected as moving towards the cyclist at a dangerous speed, the green light turns red and the white light will move more quickly. The device gives cyclists time to maneuver into a safer position to alert the driver of their presence or to let them past. The back unit additionally features flashing red LED lights that blink more quickly as the car approaches, attracting the attention of the driver.

Watch the video below to see Backtracker in action:

According to the company, some 40 percent of all cycling fatalities are the result of being hit from behind by a car, and Backtracker helps both riders and drivers stay more aware of their proximity. iKubu is currently raising funds for the device via Dragon Innovation, where the product is available to pre-order from USD 199. Are there other ways to equip bikes with technology that can keep riders safe?

Website: www.backtracker.io
Contact: info@backtracker.io








Categories: Trends

Staffless coffee shop relies on customers to pay honestly

Springwise - Wed, 2014-07-09 13:18
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A cup of coffee can fluctuate in price, but customers can always expect to pay within the ball park of a few dollars. The low price means that cafés are ripe for experimentation with payment systems, and in the past we’ve seen La Petite Syrah Café in France charge customers more if they’re rude. Now The Vault in North Dakota is a staffless venue that gets customers to make their own coffee and show some honesty when paying.

Located in a former bank in Valley City, the venue doesn’t have any baristas. Instead, the café serves coffee from a Keurig K-Cup machine and a professional brewer, alongside other soft drinks and individually-packaged snacks. Customers simply take what they want and check the price board to add up their final bill. They can then place cash into a slot in the honesty box, write a cheque, or use the self-service card reader. Exact change isn’t needed — it’s up to customers to decide if they want to round their bill up or down, if indeed pay at all. Although the venue keeps security cameras, there’s no other incentive to be honest, but the café has found that its customers have paid an average of 15 percent more than the menu prices.

Watch the video below from Fox KVRR to find out more about the concept:

The Vault also lets customers decide the price of the secondhand books it sells, with a general rule of USD 1 for a book and a few dollars for a good one. Could other retail venues get away with a model such as this?

Website: www.thevaultvalleycity.com
Contact: david@thevaultvalleycity.com








Categories: Trends

Amino

A VC - Wed, 2014-07-09 12:56

At USV, we have always been interested in communities. They are, in some ways, the iconic representation of our “large networks thesis”. We have been impressed by communities like Reddit, 4chan, and Hacker News. We love what our portfolio company Disqus has done to turn blogs like this one into vibrant communities. And we have turned our own website at USV into community, using Disqus and Twitter and link sharing.

We’ve long wondered what a native mobile community looks like. A few months ago we saw one when the two founders of Amino came into our office. They have built an app constellation of native mobile apps, each focused on a niche topic (like a subreddit). Examples are Minecraft, K-Pop, and Anime.

My partner Andy wrote a short post on USV.com about our investment in Amino yesterday. If you want to see what the future of communities might look like check out Amino. We are intrigued and excited to see how this plays out.

Categories: Trends

Studio Visit: Jólan van der Wiel : The experimental Amsterdam designer shows the strengths of using gravity as a medium

Cool Hunting - Wed, 2014-07-09 12:01

With its large weighted wooden frame, pulleys and ropes aplenty, Jólan van der Wiel's experiments into gravity as a natural design force is a perfect example of The Netherlands' process-driven design ethos. An extension of the...
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