STATE OF AMERICA
Connected Neighborhoods In Action – Live in one place long enough and people start developing strong opinions on things in the area that need improvement. In the digital age, people no longer have to walk over to their neighbor’s door and ask to help by signing a petition. ‘Signing in’ to a neighborhood and connecting with those who live in the area about shared issues – speed bumps, recycling, bike lanes – is a more likely and familiar scenario nowadays. The new social network Neighborland is helping neighborhoods do just that by helping people rally their neighbors to take action. The recently launched site, backed by the co-founders of Twitter, takes neighborhood revitalization a step further. The site functions like Digg or Reddit for neighborhood ideas, pooling suggestions from the residents. Neighbors have the ability to browse these ideas and show support by clicking a “Me Too” button indicating they’d like the suggestion to be taken seriously. When an idea gains enough traction, Neighborland makes it visible to the appropriate local city agencies.
BRAVE NEW CONSUMER
Online Shoppers Demand Retailers Up Their Game In The Offline World-Online shopping has become a mainstream activity – 70% of all Internet users ages 14 and up bought something online last year. The good news for retailers is that while online (web & mobile) shopping has increased, it has not impacted trips to brick and mortar stores. Research shows that while some shoppers use the web for purchases, they prefer going into their local store for pick up as well as returns of unwanted online purchases. The challenge though is shoppers’ new behavior has raised their expectations of in-store experiences as they find inconsistencies between a retailer’s on- and off-line channels. One such disparity is the knowledge gap between sales associates in store and customer service reps online. Shoppers expect consistency from store to Web to call center to mobile. The other expectation stated in the research is access to real-time inventory information that is available not only across all systems but at a moment’s notice. As nothing is more frustrating than trying to locate a product and having to call individual stores and the website separately to find it.
BMW’s Mobility Of The Future – BMW has established a new, sustainability-focused sub-brand, and along with it, a venture capital fund for finding and helping tech startups in the field of mobility, location and travel. BMWi Ventures promises to deliver innovative mobile solutions to improve urban mobility – inside and outside of the car. It has invested $100 million in the project and expects to spread it among early- and mid-stage mobility and travel tech startups. The fund’s first investment is MyCityWay, a suite of location-aware apps for urban navigation.
Striiv – Fitness Meets Gaming Minus The Console – Striiv, a new entrant in the growing market of exercise-tracking gadgets caters to the crowd that doesn’t care to track, graph or analyze their every move. Instead, it motivates people to move through games and charity. Striiv functions like a pedometer by measuring the number of steps its user makes. What separates Striiv from the average pedometer is the option for embedded apps. One such app, a Farmville-like game called MyLand, makes every step made translate into buildings in the game. The more a person moves, the bigger their farm. The device also allows people to give back by ‘walking’ for charity. If people reach 18,000 steps, Striiv will donate money to Global Giving on their behalf. There finally are no excuses left to get moving.
ON THE RADAR
Play This: In an attempt to mobilize the 45 million 18-29 year olds eligible to vote in 2012, MTV is extending their “Power of 12” voting campaign to include an interactive game called Fantasy Election ’12. Similar to Fantasy Football, the game enables users to draft a team of candidates and earn or lose points based on how their candidates behave in the real world. Users also earn extra points for registering to vote, checking into debates, and casting their ballot on November 6th. High performing teams are eligible to win prizes such as tickets to MTV’s Video Music Awards.
Try This App: Doink Express is an app that allows you to use photos on your iPhone to create customized and beautiful messages. From the basics of simply writing a quick message on a photo to a loved one, to creating a full animation using that photo and sound, Doink Express really seeks to bring out the iPhone artist in you.
Or This App: Ever been harassed by airport TSA? There’s an app for that, you know. Instead of tweeting your frustration, you can actually complain directly to the government using the new FlyRights app. Designed by the Sikh Coalition, FlyRights is available on both iPhone and Android platforms and provides an easy way to send complaints directly to the Transportation Security Administration and the Department of Homeland Security. The app is intended for everyone who feels they are unfairly profiled or subjected to other unfair treatment, be it race, religion, or gender.