December 6, 2013
Looking for a creative boost on a Friday afternoon? We're frequently amazed by the work being done by the MIT Media Lab, and their latest creation is truly remarkable - check out the video below of a Dynamic ShapeDisplay, which allows a user to interact with a physical environment remotely through a table of moving pixels. We think the most interesting thing is simply how many applications they were able to devise for this technology - just when you think you understand its parameters and limitations, they reveal a new way to use their creation. Sometimes innovation is really about looking at the same solution from a new perspective!
December 4, 2013
We love the idea of using a deck of cards as a tool to help spark innovation. From the medieval Tarot deck to Brian Eno's Oblique Strategies, there have always been attempts to capture creative inspiration in a few slips of paper. But New York restaurant The Nomad is getting even more specialized, using a deck of custom cocktail cards to help diners construct their ideal tipple. Though not officially on the menu, there are reports that some diners have been offered a pack, from which they can choose cards - at random or selected - representing various ingredients, moods, and abstract symbols that the bartender will use to direct their mixing. Now where can we get a deck?
November 26, 2013
Over the past decade, Cyber Monday has become almost as big a tradition among American consumers as turkey for Thanksgiving. Every year, sales figures for the day have broken records… jumping from $608 million in 2006 to a whopping $1.5 billion last year… and 2013's numbers are expected to do the same.
Interestingly, though, just as we prepare to mark online retail’s biggest day, there are signs that brick-and-mortar retail may not be as doomed as some predict:
· A recent McKinsey & Company insight report shows that while many consumers conduct retail research online, they prefer to buy in person. Overall, e-commerce still only accounts for 5% of all retail sales!
· Younger consumers enjoy the in-store experience: in a 2013 Curve Report from NBC Universal, 71% of Gen Xers and Ys say they would rather shop in brick-and-mortar stores than online, while 84% say they enjoy face-to-face help from salespeople.
· Brick-and-mortar stores are luring back existing customers using digital media. A Synquera study from last month indicates 85% of respondents return to brick-and-mortar stores when alerted to upcoming sales on items they’ve purchased there previously.
In fact, we’ve even seen some online retailers reverse migrating from the virtual world back to the real world.
Etsy Crafts… in Chain Stores
The online arts and crafts clearinghouse is pushing its Etsy Wholesale business in an attempt to get its handmade goods into brick-and-mortar stores. Etsy Wholesale links crafters with wholesale buyers from a range of stores, including national chains. Early partnerships include West Elm and Nordstrom.
Piperlime and Bonobos in 3-D
Though it was born online, fashion retailer Piperlime recently opened its first physical shop in New York’s SoHo. It’s merchandised like the website, with items arranged by seasonal trends – to provide a unified extension to the online experience – but it has in-store associates to personally help customers find styles they’ll love.
Online men’s clothier Bonobos is taking a slightly different approach… their new Guide Shops (currently in 10 markets, including New York, San Francisco, Austin and Chicago, and expanding) don’t have any goods for sale. But men can use the stores to try on items, pull outfits together, or receive advice from Bonobos Guides. Then, if they find something they like, they can order it from the website with free shipping!
November 19, 2013
Within the world of coffee enthusiasts, there's often a battle between Keurig users and purists: purists claim that a Keurig's pre-packaged units and brewing process limit the quality of the coffee being made, while Keurig enthusiasts point to the speed and ease with which their machine can brew a hot cup.
A new machine could solve the debate once and for all. Bonaverde Coffee Changers has just launched a Kickstarter campaign for a new kind of machine that takes care of the entire coffee process, Keurig style, but with one significant innovation – it'll roast the beans for you, too. Just drop in a handful of raw green coffee beans, push a button, and you'll get the freshest cup of coffee possible. Even including the roasting cycle, the whole process only takes 12-14 minutes. We'd be willing to get up a little earlier for that!
November 11, 2013
In the last couple years, a great deal of thought has been put into the pizza-ordering process. Hungry customers can follow Domino's Pizza Tracker, which logs every step of their pizza's creation, from the initial order, to baking, to the moment it leaves the store. A Domino's in Salt Lake City even installed 5 webcams in its kitchen for maximum transparency. And online ordering, through a company's site or services like Seamless, has become the norm. So where can we go from here?
Enter the Pie Pal, a device hacked together by D.C.'s iStrategyLabs. Truly the last word in pizza ordering, the user simply twists the dial to select the number of pizzas and then mashes the comically large "order" button to submit their request. Wanted anchovies? Sorry, the Pie Pal is designed for speed, not options. It's all pretty ridiculous, but it also perfectly meets the needs of a particular subset of hungry college students - and a good understanding of your target is crucial to innovation.