Slate may have to adjust the Minutes to Read feature on its articles. In line with our Age of Impatience trend for 2014, Spritz is a new reading app that uses a new visual technology to help people read at Evelyn Wood speeds or faster.
Pinpointing the “Optimal Recognition Point,” at which the brain begins to recognize numbers and letters, the program highlights that space for each individual word and places it at the same place on the screen, reducing eye movement. The program can push reading speeds up to 500 words a minute. (You can see it in action here.)
Sprtiz will be available on Samsung’s new line of wearable technology. —Aaron Baar
Image credit: Spritz
PhiSix, a 3D virtual technology company recently acquired by eBay, plans to bring more of the outside world into physical stores’ dressing rooms in an effort to increase sales. We’ve reported before on websites that offer 3D virtual try-ons at home and brick-and-mortar stores that have become living, breathing websites. But PhiSix’s technology takes the virtual fashion experience one step further, allowing shoppers to see how specific items of clothing look on them, in a variety of sizes and contexts, without actually trying them on. With PhiSix’s computer graphics, which will be made available to third-party retailers, shoppers will be able to enter a store dressing room and view themselves wearing clothing in a number of active settings (e.g., swinging a golf club, walking down the street). The technology also recommends other items to consumers, based on a few basic measurement inputs. Although virtual try-on technologies, which have existed for a while, haven’t succeeded in displacing trying on actual clothing, PhiSix’s sexy timesaver may draw more shoppers into physical retail outlets. —Alec Foege
Image credit: PhiSix
The U.K.’s Daily Mail, whose digital content is dominated by photographs, is planning to release an app called Just the Pictures that strips out the text for smartphone readers—or non-readers, in this case—who are looking for snackable content while on the go. At a Mobile World Congress panel in Barcelona, Melanie Scott of the Mail Online said the app will be out in March. Per Scott, the Daily Mail’s current iOS app attracts about a million daily users in the U.K., and they’re opening it four or five times a day for 12 minutes at a time, largely for the pictures.
Just the Pictures is another sign of images replacing words in our increasingly visual culture, one of our 10 Trends for 2014. For more on how this trend is affecting the mobile platform, watch for our annual mobile-trends report in April. —Marian Berelowitz
Image credit: Daily Mail
Bring on the brie! Last week NPR reported on two studies finding that “whole-fat dairy is linked to reduced body fat,” research likely to boost a recent shift away from lower-fat dairy products. Butter has been bullish lately: Annual sales in the U.S. have increased 65 percent since 2000, with per-capita consumption reaching a 40-year high. And while milk sales in the U.S. declined in 2013, full-fat fared relatively well (with sales declining 0.8 percent vs. 4.1 percent for reduced-fat).
The trend ties into a growing preference for foods that feel less artificial or newfangled, as well as the ongoing urge to Live a Little (one of our 10 Trends for 2012). —Marian Berelowitz
Image credit: liz west
In an “experimental collaboration” with digital design studio Universal Everything, Radiohead has created an app, PolyFauna, that leads users into an interactive exploration of an atmospheric digital realm. Based around imagery and sounds from “Bloom,” a track on The King of Limbs, the app lets users navigate through various worlds in 360 degrees by tilting and turning their mobile devices, following a floating red dot to move into each successive space.
Matt Pyke of Universal Everything describes the overall effect as “designed to simulate a sense of living inside the band’s music,” reports Creative Review. This ties into one of our 10 Trends for 2014 and Beyond, Immersive Experiences, the idea that entertainment, narratives and brand experiences are becoming more immersive and enveloping in a bid to capture consumers’ imagination and attention. PolyFauna succeeds in doing just that, by adding new dimensions to Radiohead’s music. —Nick Ayala
Our 10 Trends for 2014 report outlines the rise of Telepathic Technology: brain-computer interfaces and emotion recognition technology that can read people’s minds and moods. Filmmaker Brent Hoff’s Emotional Arcade uses these tools to gamify emotion: Balloons inflate according to how strongly participants feel an emotion; the first person to burst their balloon is the winner. Seen at Art Basel Miami in 2013, the installation is scheduled to pop up again next week in Brooklyn.
As noted in our report, several mind-controlled games are on the market, including Puzzlebox’s Orbit toy helicopter, recently spotlighted on NPR. Down the road we’ll see practical applications for brain wave-based games, with one neuroscientist suggesting to NPR that they could be used to help improve focus for kids with attention issues. —Will Palley
One of our 100 Things to Watch for 2014, the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset made a splash at the Consumer Electronics Show earlier this month. Engadget named the device Best of Show, saying it “may usher in an era of truly immersive gaming and entertainment, and even create new opportunities for businesses to use virtual reality in everything from manufacturing to medical environments.” Ford, for instance, is using it to design prototype cars.
The recent “Gender Swap” experiment from the interdisciplinary art collective BeAnotherLab—in which a man and woman wearing Oculus headsets view their bodies from the other’s perspective—points to the potential for highly innovative experiences. No date is set as yet for the device’s commercial release. —Aaron Baar
Adults will increasingly adopt for themselves the revitalized idea that kids should have plenty of unstructured play, which begets more imagination, creativity and innovation. This idea was among our 10 Trends for 2013, dubbed Play As a Competitive Advantage. In London, we recently noticed a good example of an organization that’s encouraging adult play.
Billing itself as a “real-life activity-based social network,” Antidote hosts events including African drumming, hula hooping and classic game sessions. The organization emphasizes “the value of being un-serious and having an opportunity to shake off the day” for people fatigued by London’s hectic lifestyle. In today’s Super Stress Era (another one of our trends for 2013), expect more fun-focused, community-oriented endeavors as more people seek not only the benefits of play but new ways to let off steam. —Will Palley
“The inspiration for this piece really came from the desire to create a totally immersive experience,” says fashion designer Gareth Pugh of “Monolith,” a virtual reality experience at Selfridges London for the month of January. It’s another manifestation of Immersive Experiences, one of our 10 Trends for 2014, the idea that entertainment, narratives and brand experiences will become more immersive and enveloping in a bid to capture consumers’ imagination and attention.
“Monolith” visitors enter a padded room and don an Oculus Rift, the virtual reality headset that’s due on the market later this year, which is housed within an angular Pugh-designed headset. Participants then take a two-minute journey through a cityscape that’s described as depicting the inspiration behind Pugh’s menswear collections. The installation is part of Selfridge’s “Festival of Imagination,” which also includes the Imagine Shop, featuring “pioneering products at the forefront of design, fashion and technology.” —Aaron Baar
Image credit: Selfridges
In our 2013 report on “The Future of Correspondence,” we examine how brands are fusing digital elements with physical mail and vice versa. An innovative example comes from Australia Post, which recently started offering Video Stamps. Using Australia Post’s smartphone app, the sender scans a QR code on the postage stamp and then records a 15-second video. Recipients access the message by scanning the stamp or logging onto the Australia Post website and inputting a unique code. The video is accessible for 90 days and can be shared via social networks or email once opened.
Our lifestyles now span a digital-to-physical spectrum. As consumers shift from one realm to the next and back again, they expect a seamless experience and an array of options across the spectrum. —Will Palley
Copyright © 2009 - 2014 J. Walter Thompson Company. All Rights Reserved.