Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Apple's Smile Codes - Re-inventing the QR code

I spotted these codes at the Amazon UK Black Friday pop-up in Soho.  To buy products on display you need to open the Amazon app, click on the camera icon, then select smilecode scanner. 

Then fit the 'smile' logo into the rectangle in the phone viewer, and it will read the code.

This sort of engagement is commonplace in China, and has been a part of Singles Day for years. 

Can Amazon finally provide the impetus for QR codes to take off?

(NB - Pinterest is trying something similar in the US)

Wednesday, November 08, 2017


It didn't take long for people to find a fun use for the new Apple animated emojis!

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Fanta: The 13th Floor

A fun 3 minute 360° film for Halloween.  Fanta is, of course, the colour of Halloween...

Best seen on mobile with a headset.

Friday, August 04, 2017

Tilly's Augmented Reality Scavenger Hunt

Each new technology seems to throw up its own version of the scavenger hunt - people did it with Foursquare, with Snapchat filters, and now US retailer Tilly's is doing one with YouTuber Shonduras - find the different bits of AR around its stores, and win a discount code:

You can see some of the players here

More info here

Thursday, July 06, 2017

Dell's Spider-Man Game in Times Square

Play along with your phone at the poster side in Times Square, New York.

Great use of a gif in their tweet!

Monday, July 03, 2017

Augmented Reality Videos - Made with AR Kit

Last week marked the ten year anniversary for the iPhone, possibly the most important piece of technology created since the colour television (you can almost compare the mobiles that came before the iPhone to black and while TVs).

Apple continues to innovate, and the next iPhone is likely to be very special, with Augmented Reality at its heart, using Apple's new AR Kit developer technology.

A taster of what is coming can be seen on the AR Kit YouTube and Twitter accounts.

For example



& even

Friday, June 23, 2017

Pepsi's Let's Get Together ad users 3 mobile screens at once

This is great - a new Pepsi ad fro Ramadan asks you to put 3 phones next to each other on the table, then plays a film that includes all three screens - effectively making one giant screen.

Apparently this works when the ad is on both Facebook and YouTube.  It's the first time I've seen it done, but I'm sure it won't be the last.  (& we'll all be singing the song by the end of the month)

Full details here

Update - I've now heard how it is done - and it's actually pretty low-tech.

Here is a trailer -

There are three videos.  Friends have to select the right one, put their phones together, and press play simultaneously:

Left video

Middle video

Right video

(Note - only the 'Middle' video has sound)

The view counts are about 200,000 for each, which is some indication of popularity.

Oh - and here is a fan video of the three side by side - which has had over 250,000 views -

Monday, June 05, 2017

Chicken Connoisseur / Crep Connoisseur

So – The Chicken Connoisseur (Elijah Quashie) has started a new channel, Crep Connoisseur

(He always started his chicken shop reviews with a ‘crep check’)

No surprise that he’s starting with a pair of Nikes - He's only ever worn Nikes in his chicken shop reviews.

But – I don't think it's very good (yet)…  It lacks the charm and spark of his original series.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

'Will my kids learn to drive?' 'Will my kids learn to cook?'

I was listening to this podcast this morning - Marc Andreessen of Andreessen Horowitz interviewed about the future.

It's a brilliant listen - Andreessen is very smart, and very well-read - at one point citing CP Snow - and ably defending the tech industry, Silicon Valley, and engineering as a way to make our futures better.

At the end the interviewer asked if he thought his kids would learn to drive. Well he though, this six year old probably would, but his two year old.

I completely see why, with his inside knowledge on the development of self-driving cars, he might say this, but I think he's missing some vital points.

First, it will make a big difference whether you live in an urban or rural place. I think driving will be essential in rural areas for a long time to come.

Second, for everyday getting around you may not need a car, but what about for holidays, trips etc. I don't own a car - I live in Zone 2 in London, 3 minutes from a tube station - but I rent a car every year to go on a walking holiday.

Third, it doesn't matter if it's essential, you might just enjoy it. No one needs to learn to cook these days - there is ready to eat food in every shop, takeaway options, delivery and so on. But some people like cooking.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

The Plum Guide - Putting a Luxury Layer on Airbnb

A year ago or so I was in an art gallery, and a posh voice behind me said:

"The problem with Airbnb is that you're reliant on someone else's definition of a comfortable bed."

& that's the problem with Airbnb.  As much as I love it, there are often a few 'quirky' things about the places you stay; things that you don't want to write in the comments because it would be churlish, but you would mention to friends who were looking to stay there.

This is essentially the service The Plum Guide performs.  It finds the best of the properties on Airbnb and other rental sites, using 100 criteria to make sure that everything works, everything is clean and so on, and then offers you just these.

Yes, it's more expensive, but you get what you pay for.  Some of the properties look both stunning and interesting - have a look at Hackney for example.

I can imagine a similar 'luxury layer' on other parts of the sharing economy, and other parts of the DIY online experience.  Uber started off as the luxury layer with town cars, and went mass market, but there could be a business curating the best of other services.  For example Groupon was killed by flakey spas etc, who could not be checked by Groupon, but how about a luxury version that only offered the good stuff?  Or a luxury 'ZipCar' car-sharing scheme?

See more about The Plum Guide in this profile

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

CityMapper's Bus Service

CityMapper, the app that helps me get around London, is launching an experimental bus service for London, in conjunction with Transport for London (TfL).

It's a two day experiment, travelling in a loop between the City and Waterloo - see map - and while I won't be able to try it, I'm fascinated by it.

(It's also part of this new part of the 'online to offline' trend that has seen Deliveroo open commercial kitchens, Uber buy parking spaces, and of course online and app brands like Snapchat produce hardware).

It's based on data that they receive, and according to their blog post, they've noticed that current routes don't best serve how people want to travel.  (Remember this story from 2013, where mobile phone data led to a re-design of bus routes in the Ivory Coast).  CityMapper must have so much data on how their users travel, and could add real value here - their trial route is a new route,   (Possible caveat - it's not clear that CityMapper users are representative of the whole London travelling population).

It's going to be fascinating to see how this develops.  I'm also very impressed that TfL is open to new ideas.
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