Internet Driver’s License

When I thought up the phrase, “A Driver’s License for Surfing the Internet” I didn’t expect anyone to have thought about it before. So I was surprised to find that a think tank had already dreamed of this dream 19 years ago. And that 10 years ago, the US Government put a pilot program in place to deploy the idea.

Obviously, neither of their ideas went very far. But they were misguided. The think tank wanted 11-year-olds to pass an Internet program before they could freely browse the web. And the Government wanted a universal identification system for all online users.

Audio Augmentation

What if in the next 5 years wireless, connected headphones had the same degree of impact on our lives as the smartphone? How would connected headphones, like the AirPods, change our lives? What does life look like when half the world walks around with headphones all day?

Most people would say that’s a very isolating world with even lesser human connection than we have today. But to the contrary, I believe that headphones can actually restore a bit of what we had before cell phones and smartphones stole our attention.

Samsung's Digital Human

Two things happen when an emerging technology is adopted by a major tech company. One, the market (and all of those grassroots startups) are validated. Two, the pressure to perform and swallow up users heightens. The emerging Digital Human space has just entered this moment.

At CES 2020, Samsung unveiled a lofty vision for a project called Neon “Neons are” — realistic human avatars that are computationally generated and can interact with you in real-time.

The Next 20 Years of Digital Finances

The key to building wealth is putting your dollar to work while you sleep. We achieve this by purchasing land, developing that land, and watching the value of that land rise. We achieve this by purchasing shares in a company and getting a small taste of the profits they earn. The routes to wealth are through investments.

Surprisingly, though, not many people can afford to purchase a multi-million-dollar apartment complex… let alone purchasing the roof over their head. Even further down the line, many aren’t able to gather enough money each month to invest in one share of a company.

Digital Apprenticeships

For a long time, the only way to get a job was through apprenticeship. To work in someone else’s shadow was a real honor. And it was the swiftest way to learn a trade, eventually getting a stamp of approval from a known master. Today, many of us vastly overlook the opportunity to be Digital Apprentices. To be an Apprentice of the Internet is the most accessible form of apprenticeship to ever exist.

What does it mean to be a Digital Apprentice?

eSports Stadium Franchises

Nostalgia is one heck of a selling-point. Everyone reaches a certain age (and buying power) where the “old times” just sound like a nice escape from the current times. In large doses, it can become a real poison against progress. But in small doses, it can actually be quite pleasant and even work to counteract depression.

This is partly the reason why I think the upcoming line of Atari-branded hotels will be successful.

Emotion Recognition Technology

There’s power in knowing what emotions people are feeling at any given time of day. Mordor Intelligence estimates that power at $92 billion over the next four years. Emotion Recognition Technology is the offspring of facial recognition and its applicability has already become quite widespread.

Despite half the scientific community disputing the abilities of Emotion Recognition, companies in this field are already beginning to dominate major contracts in advertising, automotive, and entertainment.

Digital Third Spaces

When I’m old, retired, and telling my grandkids what it was like to live in the early part of the 21st century, I’m going to describe it as this: “We all willingly deprived ourselves of healthy social interaction when we agreed to be digital citizens.”

Now, I hope that by the time I get to say that it actually has some Wow! factor to it, in the same way that kids might now be shocked we used to be able to smoke on airplanes. In other words, I hope that we will have figured out how to create healthy digital communities at scale by the time I’m old and decrepit. Because we can’t continue to live like this.

AI Against Pandemics

Globalization has its perks. Hop on a plane and go nearly anywhere in the world at any time. Sell your products and services to the 4.5 billion digital citizens, instead of the few thousand or million in your area. But one thing that globalization doesn’t help is the spread of infections and disease.

At any given time, our planes are transporting more than 1.2 million people and likely 10 times more cargo, products, and produce. That’s why in the case of the coronavirus officials were quick to quarantine a zone that encompasses 8 cities and 35 million people.

Google Earth Tours

Google has mapped 98% of the inhabited world. If people live there, then Google has probably grabbed a satellite or street view image of that place. The immense value of mapping the globe goes beyond navigation, though. Interactive digital maps of the Earth will have a great impact on tourism, education, entertainment, and more.

Now that Google Earth unveiled new tools for anyone to create tours, presentations, games, etc, we should see the 36 million square miles of free Maps go to good use.

Why I’ll Be Visiting Japan Once a Year for the Rest of My Life

For the first two decades of my life, Japan was nothing more than the place where all of my favorite childhood anime shows came from. It was like Hollywood to a rural American. Fascinating, but mostly a fairytale.

And then I visited Japan last year and I vowed to visit Japan at a minimum of once every year for the rest of my life. It sounds cliché, but I really did feel at home.

While I was out there this previous trip, I had the pleasure of meeting Ranzo – creator of the Black Experience Japan, a YouTube series describing just that.

We sat down for a conversation on everything from why Japan inspires me to how Fortnite could create a currency that is traded on the NYSE. Personally, I think it’s one of the best interviews I’ve ever given. Check it out for yourself below:

Social Review Networks

In ten years, having digitally reviewed 10,000 places will be far more valuable on a social level than having 10,000 followers. Reviews are the building blocks of trust on the Internet. And they’ve yet to be realized to their full potential in terms of social utility.

Imagine for a moment that you’re out to eat with a handful of friends when someone brings up the new restaurant that just opened. You haven’t been yet, so you want to determine whether or not it’s worth going. Do you ask everyone to give it 1 to 5 stars and take the average? Or do you listen to everyone’s opinion and take the word of the person you trust the most?

3 Monumental Changes to Voice Technology

Stamp collectors may come across as being from another planet. Collecting stamps is a strange, obsessive hobby. That is until you’re at a stamp convention with hundreds of collectors, at which point these other-planetary beings show that they’re a part of an entire universe. A universe where their odd ideas are actually quite prescient. A universe where their hobby isn’t on the fringe of normalcy… It is normalcy.

Voice interfaces are on par with stamp collecting. To the average consumer a voice assistant is a thing that sometimes answers my questions, mostly sits on my kitchen counter, and is there to turn on my music when I want it to.

Alexa for Emergencies

Smart speakers should excel in emergency situations. Hands aren’t free, can’t find your phone, or don’t have time to find your phone? No problem, you just need your voice. When time is against you and you have to act quick, an emergency responder could be just a shout away in any room of the house, in your Internet-connected car, or on your smartphone.

This is the predicament that Gael Salcedo found himself in after his car hit an ice patch and slid into a freezing river. His phone was nowhere to be found, his car was beginning to sink into the water, and he needed to think quickly.

Death and Technology

Where’s the social network for dead people? Alright, horrible way of wording it. Where’s the social network dedicated to honoring the deceased? A place where we can connect with people who were connected to our friends that passed. A place we can revisit years or decades later that is filled with stories, photos, and memories from many periods of that person’s life.

After a loved one passes, we each have a way of remembering them. Some pull up old pictures. Some resurface an old memory. And then there are the stories that come out of nowhere, from a person we didn’t know was connected to our loved one, who share a story that just about melts our hearts.

Twitch and TikTok Ads

2019 was heavily projected to be the first year that digital ad spend finally surpassed traditional print and TV ads. It’s a moment that says a lot about how ad dollars are allocated: ad dollars are slow to adopt new platforms.

Namely, I want to talk about Twitch and TikTok. These two platforms should be on everyone’s radar for future marketing opportunities just given their behavioral impact. Twitch users spend an average of 95 minutes on Twitch per day, which crushes Facebook at 41 minutes per day. In just a few years, TikTok exploded into a 1.5 billion person user base.

The Future of Billboards

What never ceases to amaze me are the number of businesses that have emerged around ride-sharing. HyreCar lets you rent a car to get a ridesharing job. Cargo gives you the opportunity to sell snacks to riders with their snack boxes. And then of course the natural confluence of driving around food when “people rides” are slow.

Last week I was out at CES shooting a campaign for BMW and hosting a discussion on emerging tech with Chris Foster (the president of BCW). Chris brought together a room full of high-powered, future thinkers from all different industries. The conversation was one of the most enlightening I’ve had all year.

Experiential Marketing 2020

Every five years, you can expect a new flavor of marketing to emerge and become the most picked flavor at the ice cream shop. Remember when guerilla marketing was the rage? Flash mobs were everywhere and the CEO of Lifelock publicized his Social Security number for people to try and steal.

Marketing tactics come and go with the tides. But strategies last decades.

So, when everything is going digital, the physical is an opportunity in itself. Experiential marketing is not to be overlooked in 2020. In fact, it might be just the edge you need to create a buzzworthy moment.

Brand Avatars in Movies

When we speak of the automation of industries, rarely (if ever at all) do we talk about the automation of entertainment. How can you automate entertainment?

Like most automation, you take the humans out of the equation. With entertainment, the actors, musicians, and personalities are the product. So, you must replicate that product digitally. That’s the idea of digital humans (brand avatars).