Facebook Hand-Tracking

What do people most likely feel after being in virtual reality? Isolated. You can’t interact with the person sitting next to you. Good luck taking a phone call or responding to text messages. You’re completely cut off from the world. Yet, Facebook has made a baby step in lessening this VR isolation through hand-tracking.

Controllers are normally the interface used to interact in virtual reality. However, Facebook’s Oculus Quest is making the first move toward eliminating the VR controller and replacing it with just your hands. With new machine learning techniques, the Oculus team is incorporating standalone hand-tracking. This means your physical hand gestures can translate into virtual reality.

Lil Miquela's Resumé

Ronald McDonald, Homer Simpson, and Barbie. Three of the most influential people to never live. For the past 60 years, these “beings” have made an impact in every household across the US and abroad. How? Because an idea, a manufactured personality, and an image are all it takes to create a “person” that others can love and identify with – especially in the digital age.

This is why it should come as no surprise that digital humans are gaining massive influence. Just a few of the prominent points on Lil Miquela’s resumé thus far…

My TikTok Marketing Strategy

TikTok is dominating the news cycle and putting fear into the hearts of every social media incumbent. The 60-second, music-inspired, video-sharing platform has already amassed 1.45 billion users worldwide.

The riches are vast for those who can crack into TikTok and incorporate it into their marketing plan. In just a few short minutes, I’m brainstorming on YouTube Live how I’d position a brand on TikTok and use it as a marketing vessel.

Click this link to hear my marketing plan for TikTok

Cybathlon 2020

If you met a transhumanist at a bar, then it’s probably a conversation you’d try to get out of. Not because they were talking crazily. Rather, because your visceral reaction is like vinegar and water. Who would want to upload their consciousness to silicon? Why should we trust Artificial Intelligence to merge with the human form?

These are the narratives that come to mind when we hear transhumanism. However, that’s only a sliver of that ideology. And it’s the really far-fetched sliver. Transhumanism is the belief or theory that the human race can evolve beyond its current physical and mental limitations, especially by means of science and technology. In that sense, we’re all practicing transhumanists.

Solving the Literacy Crisis

There seems to be endless missions out there to teach kids STEM, enroll them in coding camps, and ensure they understand the language of technology. Meanwhile, kids are severely lacking in learning the language of humans. 64% of all eighth-grade students are unable to read proficiently. Further, 82% of black students and 77% of Hispanic students are not reading proficiently.

Traditional reading curriculums are failing our students. Stacked up against some of the most visually stimulating times – Netflix to YouTube to TikTok – we need to upgrade how we teach reading skills. 

The Great Rebranding of Travel Agents

Travel is one industry that’s been very receptive to innovators and changes. In the span of two decades, the Internet has brought two titanic shifts for the travel agency. At first, Orbitz, Kayak, and Booking.com put travel agents out of business. Now, they’re getting an opportunity to rebrand their services and curate travel for a variety of reasons.

Travel is no longer just a vacation good. It’s an experience that can be combined with inter-related services to create an entirely new reason to travel. Travel and work is combined to create digital nomad services. Travel and friendship is combined to create travel communities. Travel and spontaneity combine to create surprise vacations.

Intelligent Textiles

After choosing what to wear in the morning, the vast majority of us give almost no thought to our clothing because our clothing gives no thought to us. It’s a utility that sits idle 95% of the time until it’s time to lend us some covering. But like anything in this crazy, tech-filled world, our clothing is not immune to a digitized upgrade.

Sensors sewn into fabrics not only offer us style and modesty, but will grant us insight into the human relationship with our environment.

Digital Graffiti

Isn’t it a shame that every picture you take gets banished to the Photos App – a personal, chaotic abyss. The only chance of remembering these photos is to bravely dive head first into your digital photo album and peruse hundreds, if not thousands of photos.

But what if there were a more convenient way to resurface these memories? This is the idea behind digital graffiti – moments stamped in a time, a location, or in the company of certain people – set to resurface when these contextual clues emerge once again.

The DTC Nonprofit

If Jerry Lewis were still alive today, he’d probably be raising money for the Muscular Dystrophy Association on a Twitch livestream. Seriously, Twitch, YouTube, and other social platforms are proving that they could be great places for public charity events.

Twitch gamers raised $75m for charity between 2012 and 2017. That’s right, those kids “still playing video games in their mother’s basement” raise huge amounts of money by live streaming.

Tackling Food Waste with Technology

Let’s pretend once a week you go to the store and buy everything in groups of seven. 7 bananas, 7 instant oatmeals, 7 servings of orange juice, 7 servings of veggies, 7 chicken breasts, etc. You go through the first six days perfectly and on the seventh day you say, “Aw screw it, I’m gonna eat out.” And then you proceed to throw away the seventh serving of everything you bought.

Absurd, right?! Now imagine that on a global scale. Every food producer in the world, throwing away one out of seven servings. You don’t even need to imagine this scenario because it’s actually a reality.

Apps for AirPods

Headphones are on the verge of becoming something so much more than we can imagine. No longer just an accessory, they’re becoming a device that’s at the center of our attention. AirPods are more than earbuds. They’re a computing platform capable of reducing life’s friction and bringing us new experiences.

If you don’t understand the craze of AirPods, then walk down the street or look around your office and see how long it takes to count a dozen people with AirPods glued in their ears.

A Currency Exchange for Video Games

You arrive in a new country and what’s the first thing you do? Exchange your currency, of course. Dollars to Pesos. Euros to Yen. Even when making international purchases from home – a designer Italian handbag or a Samsung TV – a currency exchange has taken place.

Global markets and free flow of capital allow us to take the value we’ve earned in one nation and translate that value to another nation. It’s a beautiful choreography. So why does a currency exchange not exist for video games?

The “iPhone of Sleep”

Tech is changing everything. Can we expect to see a major change to the way we sleep in our lifetimes? Will we encounter a 2007 iPhone moment that changes everything about our sleep behaviors?

About a quarter of Americans experience acute insomnia every year, a statistic that’s similar elsewhere around the world. In the US alone, that’s 82 million people who struggle with sleep. This is why there are so many tech companies trying to cash in.

The New Apple Maps

Surprisingly, Google Maps doesn’t rank in the top 10 most-used apps. Yet, Baird Equity Research still estimates that Google Maps could deliver $5 billion of the company’s incremental revenues by 2020 if they really got serious about monetizing. My guess is that if Baird speculated on the value of Apple Maps, that revenue number wouldn’t even reach a billion.

But 2019 marks the year that Apple has finally decided to upgrade their map app. Are they gunning for Google’s position?

Trust in Telehealth

Who hasn’t Googled their health symptoms before only to find out that their lower back pain is scoliosis, their cough is meningitis, and their fever is swine flu? Our first reaction to health concerns is Google. But what if our first reaction was to FaceTime or video chat our doctor?

Telehealth (virtual doctor’s visits) seems like a no-brainer for society. At the touch of an app, you can video call a dermatologist and ask if that freckle on your right shoulder looks suspicious, instead of not scheduling an appointment for years. Yet, the traction on these technologies has been quite mediocre.

The Everything Algorithm

Open Instagram, Apple News, or (even in some cases) TV news stations and an algorithm is choosing what you read, watch, and hear. Open Priceline or Google Flights and an algorithm chooses the price you’ll pay. My dad is online car shopping on CarGurus. Even that site runs a program that decides what cars he gets to browse first.

Where does this go if we take it to the extreme? Clearly a personalized feed for everything we consume. One of the first examples of this is adaptive music, which is basically a choice-less music feed.

Food Network Kitchen

Almost 26 years ago, the Food Network introduced the world to all-day culinary entertainment. From the loud beginnings of Emeril Lagasse to the pleasant presence of the Pioneer Woman, the Food Network has been at the center of creating a nationwide addiction to watching food.

Now they plan on elevating the visual taste pallet, once again, with a streaming service meets education platform.

AI Animators

Ed Catmull – the eventual founder of Pixar – was also one of the first to use computers for 3D animation. His first creation A Computer Animated Hand played an instrumental role in showing us a computer’s ability in creating great animation. And today we’re wondering how we can use AI programs to make painstaking, laborious animation a thing of the past.

What follows are many AI projects working on automating animation. They’re not flashy. They’re not complete. But one of these might be the next breakthrough, as Ed Catmull once brought us.