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As one who loves data, I always find it interesting when it is used in new and creative ways. While I was impressed with fun infographics, IBM and the Institute of Culinary Education (ICE) have taken the creative use of data in an entirely new and exciting direction.

I’m sure we all remember Watson from Jeopardy, but now he’s entering a whole new world – food trucks! At SXSW this year, IBM has a food truck with ICE and all of the recipes have been created by Watson. IBM explains, the food truck will be used to explore “whether a computer can be creative by designing a machine that can create surprising yet flavorful recipe ideas no cookbook has ever thought of.”

“How can this be?” you may ask. Watch the video below and see:

It’s really incredible how data is used to not only come up with new and exciting pairings but also understand how humans will react to these combinations. Now we need to figure out how to get the food truck to the IBM site in RTP!

This is one of my favorite (PG rated) some ecards. Current or former iPhone owners can relate. Your apps are in a sense like players on a team. You have your team captain, the most important app. For most this would be either email or Facebook. And then you have the rest of your starting lineup: Alarm Clock, Maps, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Safari. You also keep the second string around for when you’re traveling or killing time: Netflix, Yelp, Flight Tracker, Angry Birds, Draw Something.

How often do you use apps? Would you say you’re addicted? If you’re anything like the 762 smartphone owners surveyed in Apigee’s 2013 Mobile App Behavior survey then I bet you are. Of those surveyed, 82% said there are critical apps they can’t go without — not even for one day. Those include email (57%), Facebook (41%) and alarm clock apps (31%).

Curious about how much time you spend on apps on your phone? There are (of course) app’s out there that will actually monitor your app usage and supply you with all the horrifying details. But meantime, let’s see how smartphone owners across the U.S., UK, Germany, France and Spain use their apps:

2013Apigee_Infographic_02

mzl.ucmlbqhf.175x175-75We often hear about technology’s double-edged sword: it’s intended to bring us closer together but more often than not, it distracts and disrupts us from making real human connections. As we continue the debate on technology’s role in facilitating honest and emotional communications, engineers, programmers, and designers are taking baby steps toward making technology feel more human.

Take for instance, the new free app from Rebtel: Re:Beat. This is the first app to take a function of the human body-the thud thud of a heartbeat-and turn it into a digital “love note.” The app works like this: the camera and flash function on a smartphone “senses” the beat of a person’s heart by measuring subtle changes in the color of their fingertip. Next, the rhythm is animated as an image of a beating heart. As a Valentine’s Day bonus, the app provides a couple of heart warming messages to send along with the personalized heartbeat.

Rebtel, one of the world’s largest mobile VoIP providers, designed the app as an homage to the everyday connections their services provide. According to the company “…sending your heartbeat to someone dear to you is a perfect way to express the depth of your love, especially if you’re not able to see them in person.”

Want to send a human connection in a digital package to your sweetie this Valentine’s Day? Here’s a link to the app. And from me to you, dear reader, Happy Valentine’s Day!

Despite the looming Mayan apocalypse there are still those looking boldly to the future and offering their prognostications for what our world might be should the poles fail to shift and the tides not rise.

Here is an assortment of trends for 2013 and beyond.

Frog Design examines the future of technology with the Tech Trends that Will Define 2013.

Mashable is looking ahead too with 11 Big Tech Trends for 2013. There is a lot to be excited about. I’ll give you one hint: ROBOTS.

Pantone’s Color of the Year for 2013 is 17-5641, otherwise known as Emerald.

Say hello to baby Thor. Ancient names are among the Baby Name Trends for 2013.

“Snackification” and more in Baum+Whiteman’s Food and Dining Trends for 2013. (PDF)

The National Intelligence Council, the strategic thinking arm of the U.S. government, is looking far ahead to the Global Trends for 2030.

Harper’s Bazaar’s Most Anticipated Hair Trend for Spring 2013: Knots.

What you’ll be watching: the Atlantic’s 18 Films to Look Forward to in 2013.

And finally, no one is looking forward to the apocalypse more than Jets’ fans: 5 Changes the Jets Must Make in 2013.

Happy Holidays!

 

 

Merriam-Webster has released its list of new words being added to the 2012 update of Merriam Webster’s Collegiate® Dictionary. This years list includes 25 new words and their exact definition as defined by Webster. From “brain cramp,” “e-reader,” and “underwater” to “f-bomb” and “sexting,” the list provides a revealing look at American culture.

Who determines which words make the cut? Merriam-webster.com says their editors monitor the changing language and add new terms to the dictionary once those words come into widespread use across a variety of publications. Influences range from the global financial crisis to technologies to Oprah Winfrey and her signature phrase “aha moment” (a moment of sudden realization, inspiration, insight, recognition, or comprehension).

Curious as to what made the list in 2011? Here’s a nice recap:

One year ago, drones dominated the Paris Air Show. Manufactured by major defense contracts, these drones were positioned as the future of warfare (and had a price tag to match in the tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars). Last month, the Hobby Expo China in Beijing featured similar drone with the same capabilities as the military ones (minus being able to blow stuff up). The difference? Many of these drones came with a price tag of less than a $1000. It’s no wonder open source drones, like the ArduCopter Quad from 3D Robotics, now outnumber military drones in the U.S.

What do drones and market research have in common? Well, nothing…yet. But reading Noah Shachtman article, 5 Drones at Work, there seems to be a common thread or strength if you will, of observation depicted. Drones that inspect oil equipment, conduct police reconnaissance, check on crops, and survey wildlife. In a sense, one could argue this is a form of ethnographic research, as ethnography simply aims to describe the nature of that which is being observed or studied (whether it be consumers, crops or wildlife).

At W5, observational ethnography is used to evaluate consumer behavior in detail, identifying meaningful patterns and themes that emerge through sustained, structured observation of people engaging in activities such as browsing, buying and trying products, or using services. By recognizing such patterns and themes and finding their underlying meaning, W5 ethnographers highlight the points of inflection at which consumers are most susceptible to influence, as well as develop a holistic picture of the market environment. Now, imagine a drone the size of a butterfly doing the observing. Impossible? Impossible like conducting Focus Groups in a virtual, online room? Impossible like collected data via mobile devices? Possibly.

One of Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) latest project – a butterfly-shaped drone weighing just 20 grams – the smallest in its range so far – can gather intelligence inside buildings.

There are, of course, existing rules and regulations that address a future where people, companies and police all command tiny aircrafts. (See Rules for Proper Droning for answers to questions like ‘Can I use a drone to spy on my sexy neighbor?’ or ‘Could a police drone look in my window for drugs?’) Chris Anderson, co-founder of 3D Robotics, reminds us “the military created the Internet, but the people colonized it and created the web for their own purposes. The amateur UAV community is hoping to do the same with drones—demilitarize and democratize them so they can find their full potential. There will be good uses and bad ones, but the same is true of any tool, from a crowbar to an ultrasound machine. Ultimately the way society best figures out how to think about a powerful new technology is to set it free and watch where it flies.”

It’s out there waiting for you whether you like it or not. Maybe you’ll be settling into a chair by the pool when your ears pick up its sequence of cascading disco strings. Or maybe you’ll be headed to that hip neighborhood restaurant when a car drives by blaring its hook. That’s right, no matter where you’re headed this summmer, Carly Rae Jepsen’s perfect pop ditty “Call Me Maybe” has probably made it there first. But what’s the story of Jepsen’s summer song success? How doesa pop song by a little known Canadian pop songstress elevate itself from a mere blip on the tween music map to a number one on Billboard?

The answer: Justin Bieber’s social media muscle. Jepsen’s song-an ode to an innocent exchange of digits and a whole heap of anticipation for a new romance-caught a slow burn when Bieber first praised the song via his Twitter: “Call me maybe by Carly Rae Jepson is possibly the catchiest song I’ve ever heard lol.” After that Bieber and other pop tarts (Selena Gomez, Ashley Tisdale) fanned the flames by releasing a YouTube tribute to the song (notably featuring plastic mustaches and some well-placed dance histrionics). That’s all it took for the song to take off in the social media sphere and become a full blown meme. A meme is popular and long lasting because of its adaptability. And Jepsen’s song takes the cake in adaptability. Bieber and crew’s initial lip-sync inspired over 20,000 different YouTube takes on the song featuring everyone from your local tween girls down the street to celebrity pop artists (Katy Perry), celebrity personalities (Jimmy Fallon and house band The Roots) and even the male models from Abercrombie & Fitch. So with a little help from her friends (well one very important fellow Canadian friend) and the power of Twitter/YouTube world wide domination is in Jepsen’s sites.

This leaves me with just one question:How can we apply the Bieber/Jepsen “meme” model to brands?

Attention males ages 18-35, I’m sorry to have to tell you this, but according to Alexis Madrigal of The Atlantic, you are not the coveted demographic in the tech industry anymore. 

According to, “Sorry, Young Man, You’re Not the Most Important Demographic in Tech” by Alexis Madrigal, women are purchasing more tech products than men. Women take the lead in the following tech purchase categories: Internet usage (17 percent higher usage than men per month); mobile phone voice usage; mobile phone based location services; text messaging; GPS devices; and even Skype. According to Time Magazine, in 2007, women accounted for 45% of consumer electronics purchases, 58% of online retail purchases, and 44% of the NFL fanbase.  This shows that women are no longer yielding to the stereotypes that limit their purchasing power to clothes, shoes, and washing machines, while the men purchase the fast cars, sleek televisions, cool phones, and game consoles.  Women want it all, and they are willing to purchase it now.

Companies are catching on to that fact. It is not enough to advertise a sleek model on the hood of a fast car. Now car companies are showing women behind the driver’s seat accomplishing their goals. According to the article, “Marketing to Women: Surprising Stats Show Purchasing Power & Influence” by Steve Parker Jr., women account for purchase more than half of new cars and influence at least 80% of vehicle purchases and spend 200 billion on new cars and mechanical services per year. The purchasing power of women is evident in the popular Honda Commercial below, where a woman who has just been proposed to immediately takes a moment to think, and then says that she has stuff to do before getting married.

 The bottom line is that like many other companies in the market, the tech industry is realizing that to achieve success they have to cater more to female customers.

So, I’m sorry guys, you’re just not as special in the tech industry anymore.