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McDonald’s recently created a version of Pong on a giant digital billboard in Stockholm and enabled passersby to play it using their smartphones. Players who managed to complete the game in 30 seconds won coupons for free food at the nearest McDonald’s. There was no need to download an app to play, as the game was […]

In another manifestation of our Worlds Colliding trend—the idea that the borders between the digital and the physical worlds are becoming fuzzier—PepsiCo’s new Social Vending System allows people to send free soda to friends. Customers select a beverage and then enter the friend’s name, mobile number and a text message that includes a code that […]

Instead of interrupting players with in-game banner ads between levels or at loading screens, the newly launched company Kiip (pronounced keep) offers tailored, real-world rewards at the most enjoyable moment of the mobile game experience: when players win or earn in-game achievements. (Kiip’s “Real rewards for virtual achievements” fits in with the trend toward digital […]

Harnessing the power of consumer word-of-mouth via online networks is one of the Holy Grails for Web companies right now. Curebit, a startup focused on incentivizing social media referrals, markets a simple add-on solution to e-commerce site or platforms. Shoppers are presented with a referral offer after making a purchase: If they share that purchase […]

Tomorrow, Facebook is scheduled to go live with Sponsored Stories, giving brands the opportunity to transform user activity—status updates, Facebook application use or Facebook Places check-ins—into advertisements. As explained here, these sidebar ads will feature the name of the friend who created the content, the ability to click through to the brand’s page and the […]


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Things to Watch

  • Crossing ‘the digital divide’
    March 19, 2015 | 4:24 pm

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    In a piece on an 82-year-old going online for the first time, The Washington Post called attention to a rising issue—the divide between those who use the Internet and those who don’t (13% in the U.S., and 41% among senior citizens).

    Continue reading “Crossing ‘the digital divide’” »

  • Incremental saving and giving
    March 11, 2015 | 1:51 pm

    Call it progress or just laziness—apps are popping up that harness our small change and put it to better use. Acorns, dubbed “the Tinder of investing,” links to a user’s debit or credit card and rounds up to the nearest dollar on every purchase. The app then takes that spare change and invests it in a portfolio of the user’s choice—portfolios range from low to high risk (and reward). Or users can opt to let Acorns choose for them based on their age, goals, income and other factors. Meanwhile, apps like Qapital and Digit facilitate regular small transfers from checking to savings, and banks themselves are getting on the incremental savings bandwagon. (See: Bank of America’s Keep the Change and Wells Fargo’s Way2Save.)

    Continue reading “Incremental saving and giving” »

  • Augmenting sleep
    March 9, 2015 | 12:02 pm

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    Digital platforms are already integrated into our every waking minute—now they’re moving into our sleep. A spate of apps and devices aim to aid and facilitate better sleep, from ambient lamps to a lucid dreaming sleep mask to an app that wakes you up with a phone call from a stranger.

    Continue reading “Augmenting sleep” »

  • The sharing economy grows up
    March 3, 2015 | 3:30 pm

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    Hotel giant Starwood has bought in to the sharing economy. The group, which owns W Hotels, St. Regis and Sheraton, has announced a partnership with car service Uber in which every dollar spent by a guest on an Uber car earns points toward free rooms and other perks.

    Continue reading “The sharing economy grows up” »

  • Digital immersive exercise
    February 25, 2015 | 4:04 pm

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    Equinox’s new revved-up cycle class speaks to a growing exercise trend—digital immersion. This month the gym brand unveiled Pursuit, an immersive cycling concept, to limited U.S. gyms. Equinox describes the program as “an immersive studio cycling experience that uses groundbreaking gaming and data visualization to drive competition and inspire peak performance.”

    Continue reading “Digital immersive exercise” »

  • Science fare
    February 20, 2015 | 2:07 pm

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    The worlds of science, gastronomy and art are continuing to cross-pollinate—from edible conceptual art to molecular gastronomy “lab cafés” to synesthetic dining events. Café ArtScience in Cambridge, Mass., is a recent example. Opened late last year by David Edwards, a Harvard engineering professor, the café serves whiskey “fogs” through a special carafe that turns the liquor into vapor (which means consumers don’t take in any of the calories and feel none of the intoxicating effects).

    Continue reading “Science fare” »

  • Aman’s authentic-luxe travel
    February 11, 2015 | 1:06 pm

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    As travelers continue to seek out authentic and unique experiences, hospitality brands keep raising the bar on hyper-localized offerings and exceptional access. Aman, for instance, is introducing a phinisi-style sailing ship in Indonesia, marrying the brand’s ultra-luxe sensibility with regional tradition. With an outdoor lounge and bar, the option to travel by motor, and air-conditioned cabins, the ship brings every modern comfort to an age-old means of navigating the Indonesian archipelago. Another Aman property, meanwhile, offers a dip into paleontology: Guests at Amangiri in southern Utah can join an official dig at the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, working alongside fossil experts for a half-day. The cost of getting one’s hands dirty starts at $600. (Resulting Instagram images: priceless.) —Marian Berelowitz

    Image credit: Aman

  • Adidas’ ‘virtual line’
    February 5, 2015 | 6:55 pm

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    Adidas’ new Confirmed app cleverly harnesses the fervor of collectors who normally line up for limited-edition shoes, moving fans onto a mobile platform. App users create an account, then get push notifications when hot new releases are on the way. Interested buyers in a given metro area—only New York City at launch—indicate their size and, if approved, receive details on where and when to pick up the shoes. An Adidas exec calls it a “virtual line.” In addition to collecting data on these super-fans, the app lets Adidas control which influencers get various styles, drives traffic to selected stores, builds additional buzz and cuts out secondary-market sellers armed with bots that secure advance orders. —Marian Berelowitz

    Image credit: Bloomberg

  • Adventurous play
    February 4, 2015 | 1:09 pm

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    Kids will slide through a “Tunnel of Terror” and get slimy on “Mount Mud” in Tough Mudder’s new obstacle course for the 7-12 set. The endurance-challenge purveyor is partnering with European soft drink brand Britvic on Fruit Shoot Mini Mudder, with events planned for the U.S., the U.K. and Ireland. The concept caters to parents looking to pry kids away from screens and get them moving—there’s now a CrossFit offshoot for kids, starting with preschoolers—in ways that are challenging and fun.

    Continue reading “Adventurous play” »

  • Rivals joining forces
    January 26, 2015 | 7:19 pm

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    Not long ago, a collaboration between two rival companies would have been seen as a counterintuitive and perhaps desperate measure. In 2015, however, BMW’s partnership with Volkswagen on fast-charging electric vehicle stations makes the automakers look self-confident, open and serious about sustainability and the common good.  Continue reading “Rivals joining forces” »

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