The rise of the cannabis economy

1 in 5 American adults has access to legal marijuana. Colorado processed one billion in sales in just the first eight months of 2017. In fact, by 2020, the marijuana market is estimated to reach 22 billion in revenue.

Marijuana users have historically been viewed as college dorm stoners or perhaps baby-boomer hippies. But what we’re seeing is a whole new range of products aimed at the enthusiastic and hip millennial audience. So why should marketers care about this too? Well, for one we’re seeing these products being positioned in a radically different way and it’s being coupled with increasing normalization among consumers. Nearly 2/3 of Americans supported legalization in 2017 so you have a wide range of support for this. This number has nearly doubled since the 2000s so you’re seeing rapidly changing perceptions. And with that said, marijuana is now being positioned as a tool, as a therapy and a multitude of new different spaces.

So for example, High Times is supporting moms who get high and using either CBS oil or smoking cannabis itself as a way to manage the challenges of motherhood. Recently, sublingual nano-sprays have been introduced where the effects don’t last all afternoon so you can still do the school run, in theory.

All of this is a part of this general shift where we’re actually seeing marijuana being pointed as a lifestyle vertical. We’re seeing this also coupled with a shift in media, from celebrities to pop culture, everyone is really starting to celebrate and normalize pot and all its iterations as a part of everyday life. Broad City is probably a good example of that, High Maintenance HBO, and of course Vice Media.

We’re also seeing a whole wave of new brands trying to luxify the use of cannabis-related products. In fact, it’s gone so far the Business of Fashion which is a leading luxury in fashion business network pitched marijuana as the luxury industry’s next big opportunity.

One of the big shifts that we’ve seen with this recent explosion of marijuana is this notion of “Women and Weed” culture. Entrepreneurs and celebrities like Whoopi Goldberg who has teamed with a partner to create Whoopi and Maya, a medical marijuana line of botanicals that help with menstrual cramps. We have Foria, a tampon brand that also includes weed.

All of this is a part of a massive wave of creativity generally. Aspects of cannabis are being appreciated for more tangential properties and benefits and we’re looking forward to seeing how this market flourishes to more innovation and more startups and more cannabis-infused moisturizers in the future.

 

 

 

Google and BBC introducing digital storytelling

The Inspection Chamber on BBC radio, a program that explores a new way of interacting and controlling the story, with a make-your-own decisions spin to it.

The voice assistant, which in this case is “The Inspection Chamber” tells the story of an alien who has been captivated and is being interrogated by a robot. Users play the alien part by answering the questions which are being asked and by doing so, determining the course of the story.

We can tell the inspiration came from immersive entertainment, or more so the interactive aspect of video games.

“We were trying to go for something between a full game and linear radio,” said Henry Cooke, senior producer at BBC Research and Development, in an interview with The Memo. “Rather than making choices about what happens next, like a director, it’s more like you’re a participant, talking directly to the characters.” The Stranger things story telling game is also another example of fun use of a home assistant by Google home.

“Voice is going to be a key way we interact with media, search for content, and find what we want,” said Tony Hall BBC director general.

 

The future of women

In this article, I am doing to talk about the future of Women – or at least, changes and emerging trends in the world of women’s marketing and also the gender gap when it comes to products and how they’re being presented by brands. The changing attitude to culture, lifestyle verticals and what is driving this change.

Many female-founded brands are starting to disrupt traditional Women’s verticals, especially in the female health tech, with a fresh new tone of voice, product offer, and visual language.
What’s really exciting about this time, is that you have a wave of female founders who are singlehandedly reinventing categories based on this new criteria.

We’re seeing women create director consumer brands designed in an empathetic way with a more approachable tone of voice. They’re building ethics into their business model from sustainability to donating to important charities and women’s causes, and they’re reframing how these categories are integrated into women’s lives.

You would expect female-oriented brands to embrace women, well quite frankly this is not always the case. Women are sick of tired of what’s out there. But what’s out there?
The truth is the industry is quite fractured, you have these large brands that speak to you in this really hyper-masculine way and then you have these newer companies who are hyper-feminine and equally raunchy at times. There’s no space for comfort. You better pick pink or blue or black and gold.

Take condom companies, for example, the biggest problem with their marketing campaigns is that it looks like they’re trying to sell you sex. All these brands need to start setting the tone to a more educational and realistic approach as opposed to being explicit and talking about what you’re doing in the bedroom and after. It makes people feel guilty and uncomfortable. There’s a wide-open space for change.

Another thing these brands need to start doing is using culture and human insights to develop meaningful marketing. Disrupt and dismantle stigmas, put a spotlight on cultural discomfort with women’s bodies and the way that they function.

Take this advert for a change, it tackles a lot of subjects head-on.

This campaign was refreshingly honest and artful, they refused to use blue liquid to show how their product worked instead they used red liquid because HEY that’s what blood looks like.

So, in conclusion, there’s not a lot of campaigns that portray women the way they want. There’s the need for connection, the need for better products, the need to disrupt the taboos around women’s bodies. The industry should make space to talk about these issues in a way that doesn’t feel so medical and embarrassing, also maybe permission to laugh about it a little bit. It’s time to bridge this corporate hurdle.

Startup accelerators can into space!

Every fan of space industry can open their bottle of champagne, because big players like NASA, U.S. Air Force, Lockheed Martin, Maxar Technologies, SAIC and the Israel Aerospace Industries company, Techstars and Starburst Aerospace have decided to to join their forces together to make a space industry accelerator!

 

Accelerator will be called Techstars Starburst Space Accelerator, with Matt Kozlov as a manager of the whole program, with Van Espahbodi (co-founder of Starburst Aerospace) as his main advisor. TSSA headquarters will be located in Los Angeles, city well known for strong and well established private space sector with companies like SpaceX, Virgin Orbit, Rocket Lab, and many more.

 

As space is getting more trendy, more investors show up, and estimates tell us that by 2045 this sector of economy will be worth 3 trillion USD.

 

 

Sources: Techcrunch

Apple fights for its customers privacy

 

Recently Apple has started a real war with developers violating their privacy policy, starting with facebook and their research app and going to every app that records screen to process how users interact with it. Either this feature will be deleted or the developers will face being removed from App Store.

An apple spokesperson asked about that situation told TechCrunch: “Protecting user privacy is paramount in the Apple ecosystem. Our App Store Review Guidelines require that apps request explicit user consent and provide a clear visual indication when recording, logging, or otherwise making a record of user activity.”

“We have notified the developers that are in violation of these strict privacy terms and guidelines, and will take immediate action if necessary,”

 

Many apps, including ones like Hotels.com, Expedia or Hollister used third party software to record every tap of users and didn’t ask for permission to do that. Software like Glassbox is a cross-platform analytics tool which allows companies to record users activity and analyse every single move. Even though Apple strictly forbids gathering any data without users knowledge, many developers use software like Glassbox despite unconsciousness of users.

 

Is Apple going to continue removing apps like Facebooks “research” from the App Store? Is the company going to strictly execute their policy and rules on developers? We will see soon.

 

 

Sources:
techcrunch.com
theverge.com

Smart pills to help diabetics?

Scientists from MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), Harvard Medical School, Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Novo Nordisk collaborate on creating a new kind of drug which aim is to make diabetics’ lives easier and less painful.

Nowadays people suffering from diabetes have to inject insulin multiple times per day to maintain a proper blood glucose level. For the last 100 years scientists tried to find a way to make insulin possible to be taken orally, which is quite a challenge, because many pharmaceutical compounds can’t survive the stomach’s harsh, acidic environment.

The new device created by previously mentioned scientists is about to finally allow diabetics to put injections off and make the whole process a lot easier. The smart pill works by attaching itself to the inside of the stomach and then injecting a payload through the gastric wall. Once the sugar glass that surrounds it is dissolved by acid in the stomach a tiny needle is released and a patient gets a proper dose of insulin.

The current injection is not the most comfortable process because of the pain related to inserting the needle into veins, right? Taking this smart pill orally means the injection will be done inside your stomach, which exactly means that you will not feel any pain. Why? According to Robert Langer, coauthor of the whole project, there are no pain receptors within the gastrointestinal tract.

Leopard Tortoise (Geochelone pardalis), Kruger National Park, South Africa

Moreover, the shape of the pill is inspired by the shape of a leopard tortoise’s shell, which automatically self-rights no matter how it lands – that kind of structure ensures that the device will attach to the gastric wall every time. It’s worth noting that the whole project is still at the proof-of-concept stage and has only been tested in animals, so the device won’t be available in the nearest future.

So, what are your thoughts on this topic? Do you think that in the futue smart pills will be a common thing? Let me know down below!

 

Sources:

https://www.technologyreview.com/the-download/612917/smart-pills-filled-with-tiny-needles-could-inject-medicine-directly-into-your/

https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2019/02/pills-armed-tiny-needles-could-inject-insulin-other-important-meds-directly-stomach?r3f_986=https://www.google.com/

 

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Air conditioner in a fabric?

It is difficult to feel perfectly comfortable in terms of body temperature. We are either too cold or too hot, and constantly tinkering with the air conditioner is not the way to go. How about an AC embedded into our clothing? This seems absurd and impossible, but believe it or not, something of this sort has been made possible.

In the University of Maryland, a new fabric has been invented that cools down a person when they’re hot and warms them up when they’re cold. The strands of the fabric are coated with carbon nanotubes that are efficient at emitting heat, and the other coating is copper that is good at trapping heat. This fabric also feels exactly like regular clothing. When a person is sweating, the fabric reacts to the increased temperature and moisture levels, so the strands twist becoming thinner which activates the nanotube coating. This results in the fabric to have gaps, allowing infrared radiation to pass through, almost like pores in a body, causing a person to cool down. The opposite process is that when a person is cold the fabric is cool and dry, so the strands expand blocking and trapping the heat in order to warm someone up.

I think that this is a great innovation of clothing, and something that I would love to acquire. I myself am either always too cold or too hot, so finding an equilibrium is extremely rare. On the other hand, the uses and advantages of this for different people is uncountable. This fabric is not only comfortable on daily basis, but it would be most beneficial for athletes, but also babies, elderly or disabled people. This is because they require the “most attention and constant comfort”. However, imagine men that wear suits at 30 degrees Celsius during the summer, or women that live in countries that require them to cover up their skin at all times. This fabric would be beneficial not just for specific people, but for all people on regular basis. After all we all sweat.

Sources:

https://www.technologyreview.com/s/612909/this-new-fabric-will-automatically-cool-you-down-when-you-get-hot-and-sweaty/

https://www.newscientist.com/article/2193057-heat-sensitive-fabric-cools-you-on-hot-days-and-warms-you-in-the-cold/

New Fabric Warms or Cools Depending How You Wear It

 

“Ideal Plant”: solution for global warming

Climat change is happening. It is one of the most important problems that the humanity is dealing with. No wonder that many scientists dedicate their time and effort in order to find the most efficient solution of this problem. It wasn’t otherwise at the Salk Institute, California. A group of genius scientists decided to deal with a different spectrum of life than disease. The leader of the project, Joanne Chory, has made groundbreaking discoveries on photosynthesis process. Now she wants to make a difference in one more field she cares about.

 

Ideal Plant isn’t any kind of new, sci-fi plant invented in the laboratory. The main purpose of creating one is to transform the ability of the most popular plants, like wheat, soya or cotton, to be able to store more carbon dioxide in their roots. If the experiment succeeds, the plants will literally “suck out” the carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.  This way, planting regular crops we would be able to slow down the processes responsible for climate change. Carbon footprint is an inseparable part of our lives  and thanks to this initiative, maybe we could decrease our bad influence on the planet just a bit.

This project is exceptional regarding the fight against climate change. Scientist from Salk Institute were the first ones to think about the solution with the use of what we already know well: plants. But they are not the only ones thinking of plants as a solution of different problems. There are plants identified as a great neutralisers of harmful smog. Keeping one next to your bed will help you sleep better and breathe cleaner air. Hopefully, plants will eliminate most of the pollution inside of our houses so we can be safe.

The plants are copies of one another so the experiments won’t have different result because of their varieties. The idea of ideal plants seems to be promising. Thanks to the hard work of Californian scientists a step towards better future will be taken. Without further engagement of the third side parties, we will be able to clean our air as we seed our plants. It is surprisingly simple mechanism which can prevent us from what’s about to come: more pollution. Except for the long waiting time for the experiment to become true, I have no objections on this project. It is amazing how simple yet powerful some solutions can be.

 

https://www.ft.com/content/aa055276-2419-11e9-8ce6-5db4543da632

For three years Facebook has been craftily collecting data under radar

If you don’t feel well with Facebook analysing your every move in web, this might be very disturbing for you.

Since 2016, Facebook has been running research program in which they offered users in ages from 13 up to 35 small, monthly payments for using their software. The whole idea was that the user gave full access to their phone data, which then facebook could gather, analyse and use. The app, literally called “Research” used for this purpose, was recently removed from the App Store by apple due to the fact that it violated their policy by getting root access to network traffic.

Tim Cook has repeatedly criticised  Facebook for their data collection practices and breaking AppStore rules might be worsening his opinion.

The system was administered by beta testing systems such as Applause, BetaBound and uTest in order to hide any connections to Facebook, the whole project was given a fitting name – “Atlas”, rather highlighting that Zuckerberg and crew tried to map trends among users worldwide.

Will Strafach, Guardian Mobile Firewall’s security expert, was asked to do some research on the “Research”, after all he reported “If Facebook makes full use of the level of access they are given by asking users to install the Certificate, they will have the ability to continuously collect the following types of data: private messages in social media apps, chats from in instant messaging apps – including photos/videos sent to others, emails, web searches, web browsing activity, and even ongoing location information by tapping into the feeds of any location tracking apps you may have installed.” Basically, if you install the app and give it permission to use your data, it will collect anything that goes out or in your phone.

 

This shows how far the tech giant is willing to go for data collection, the direction in which it’s going might even scare some of us, even so big and trusted companies like facebook violate policies and go beyond ethics.

 

 

 

 

Sources:
techcrunch.com
betabound.com

Garmin data used to convict a runner for murder

Recently a British runner was convicted for life in prison for murder of two gangsters. Mark “Iceman” Fellows was under investigation for killing a crime boss and his associate. The nail to Fellows coffin was his Garmin watch. Garmin wathces can measure a lot of parameters such as blood pressure and heart beat, but can also show the GPS location of the watch.

The suspect was seen wearing one of these watches during a marathon in 2014. Police found the watch and checked it’s location history. Data showed that months before the crime was commited Fellows was doing reaserch in the area. Route from the day of the murder was used to support evidence that Fellows was guilty of the commited crime. This case is one of the examples how technology, smart watches, home devices like Alexa or even our mobile phones can help our catch a criminal. In my opinion this is great but there is also a bad side of the story. For us everyday users of smart watches and smart phones it is not that good of a story, unless you like to be stalked all the time. Those devices spy on us constantly, they know our location, they can predict if we are scared or excited based on our heartbeat. It just shows how expensive is information today. Companies go to every measure possible to know the most about customers. For me it looks very grimm that every piece of technology will constantly monitor me, the worst case sceniario is for me Alexa, it can record without your knowledge your whole day schedule, making it easy for someone to hack it and rob the house when you are not at home.

 

Sources:

https://www.theverge.com/2019/1/18/18188205/garmin-data-iceman-murder-mr-big-amazon-alexa