Weekly Roundup

Posted April 8th 2016


Messaging Services & Conversational Interfaces

  • As messaging apps boom, brands tiptoe in: Gatorade is one of a growing parade of brands eager to reach people inside messaging apps. With at least 1.4 billion monthly users collectively worldwide, apps such as Snapchat, WhatsApp and Kik, and Weixin and Line in Asia, have become the main daily hangout for many young people, sometimes even surpassing the time they spend on social networks and playing games. But should brands insert themselves into one of the most personal activities online? [via New York Times
  • What exactly are conversational interfaces?: A conversational interface is any UI that mimics chatting with a real human. Right now, there are two basic types of conversational interfaces. There are voice assistants, which you talk to, and there are chatbots, which you type to. I’d also probably distinguish a third “fake” kind of conversational interface: the pseudo-chatbot, which mimics a chatbot in appearance but is really a traditional point-and-click GUI. Microsoft Clippy and Quartz’s weird text-messaging news app are good examples of pseudo-chatbots—they borrow the visuals of a chatbot but don’t actually allow you to converse beyond their canned responses. [via Fast Company]
  • Kik beats Facebook to launching a bot store: Pretty soon, any messaging app that doesn’t have a platform for bots will be seriously left behind. With this in mind, the messaging app that’s big with America’s youth has launched a bot store and developer platform to support it. For example, at launch, there’s a bot that inserts relevant Vine videos into your chats at your request, similar to Giphy’s insanely popular Slack integration. A Weather Channel bot can tell you the forecast on demand or send you a regular update, and if you’re looking for beauty tips, Sephora‘s bot has you covered. [via The Next Web]


The Business of Mixed Reality

  • How virtual reality will revolutionize multiple industries: Virtual and augmented reality isn’t just the new cool thing. Serious reports are signaling tectonic shifts poised to disrupt a wide range of businesses (including video games, healthcare, real estate, engineering, education). According to a recent report from Goldman Sachs Research, VR and AR have the potential to become the next big computing platform. The report indicates that “VR and AR can reshape existing ways of doing things, from buying a new home to interacting with a doctor or watching a concert.” [via Media Shift
  • BMW and Ikea are using VR to create and sell products: BMW has used VR to develop cars since the ’90s, but now the company is using Vive and its advanced display and tracking technology for greater flexibility in how the technology is used throughout the company. Ikea has turned kitchen remodelling into virtual reality game. Users can change the cabinet and drawer colors for three different kitchens, and view it from the height of a child or adult. [via Upload VR]
  • Why a virtual reality web may never happen: What if you could browse the web in virtual reality? Just imagine the potential. Hyperlinks could take you not to Wikipedia pages about history, but right to the landscapes of ancient cultures, immersing you in plagues and art and war. Recipe sites could give you smell-o-vision cooking simulations. Message boards could become face-to-face chats. The web as we know it could become tangible, interactive, and more immersive than ever. In fact, you can browse a VR web today. But there’s a catch. It’s not very good. And it’s not what you’d call a “web.” [via Fast Co.Design]


Directly Connecting With Fans

  • Bkstg connects musicians with their fans: Bkstg lets artists own the entire experience of connecting with their fans, from posting videos and photos to selling tickets and merchandise. The idea here is that artists often don’t have information about their fans or followers that can foster their connection. Bkstg gives artists a full dashboard to show interaction on the consumer side. They can see who is buying tickets, who is engaging with content, and who is watching exclusive videos and listening to exclusive tracks. Once that top five or ten percent is established, artists can specifically target those customers with exclusive experiences, messages, tickets and merchandise. But Bkstg isn’t just about targeting those top revenue fans, but for creating new ones. For example, an artist on tour can send a geo-fenced message out to offer discounted tickets that haven’t sold yet. [via TechCrunch
  • N.F.L. will stream Thursday games on Twitter: Eager to offset slowing growth on its flagship micro-blogging platform, Twitter will pay about $15 million to stream 10 Thursday night games this season. The games shown on Twitter will be the CBS or NBC broadcasts, depending on which network is showing the game, and will include pre- and postgame highlights only available on Twitter. On AdWeek, Kyle Bunch, head of social at R/GA, added, “The prospect of the NFL on Twitter is exciting because it has the potential to make brand communications immediately actionable—be it a share, a comment, or even a purchase, all without leaving the video and conversation stream—for one of the largest, live viewing audiences worldwide.” [via New York Times


Human Technology

  • Using artificial intelligence to predict emotional responses: Persado’s software uses artificial intelligence and a massive database of marketing performance metrics to suggest language that can elicit certain emotional responses to advertising and email subject lines. In addition, it can warn marketing teams about cultural sensitivities to certain words and whether the timing of campaigns could be at odds with local holidays or events. The software can be used to fine tune email campaigns, Facebook messages, websites, display ads, and text messages. [via Fortune]
  • When Is the singularity? Probably not in your lifetime: In March when Google’s DeepMind subsidiary defeated Lee Se-dol, the human Go champion, some in Silicon Valley proclaimed the event as a precursor of the imminent arrival of genuine thinking machines. The achievement was rooted in recent advances in pattern recognition technologies that have also yielded impressive results in speech recognition, computer vision and machine learning. The progress in artificial intelligence has become a flash point for converging fears that we feel about the smart machines that are increasingly surrounding us. However, most artificial intelligence researchers still discount the idea of an “intelligence explosion.” [via New York Times]