EA Dante’s Inferno Protest. Fake promotional stunt or just honest social media?

June 4, 2009

Update – this campaign has been confirmed as a FAKE (here)

I spotted a tweet (here) from @danteteam a few minutes ago which is the Twitter account for the new game Dante’s Inferno (here). The game is said to be controversial, so I was quite interested when they tweeted an image of people protesting about the game.

Now I can’t quite figure this out. There are also a lot of images on the official Facebook page (here). It’s either a marketing stunt set up for E3 (yes the protestors look a little stereotyped) or a brand being very honest allowing very anti-brand statements to be published freely through social channels. Maybe no news is bad news when promoting a controversial product but I wouldn’t think ‘Electronic Anti-Christ’ would be something EA would actively sponsor.

If this was not a PR stunt then this is the first time I can think of that a brand has shown a negative image of itself using its own social channels.

Update:
Article with most comments saying it’s fake (here)
Article saying it’s all true (here) and (here)

Anyone have any comments/thoughts/witness? Leave a comment!

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Razorfish Emerging Experiences blog and labs

May 22, 2009

If you’re into the next generation of devices, technology, multi-touch – check out the new Razorfish blog ‘Emerging Experiences’ – http://emergingexperiences.com – there’s some really fascinating content to explore. As we move from the GUI (Graphic User Interface) to the NUI (Natural User Interface) this is great first look into what’s coming.

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From ‘Me’ research to ‘We’ Research

May 13, 2009

Mark Earls and Dr Alex Bentley have recently published this great article in Research Week discussing ‘How ideas spread?’ Not only is it another great view on ‘spreadability’ they highlight an interesting approach to research that may actually help us understand groups of people (we) and how they might spread our ideas. Earls and Bentley challenge traditional methods stating that they focus on individuals (me) and generally treat them as being isolated from the rest of the population and social influence.

So how do they define ‘We research’?

‘From asking individuals about themselves – who are poor witnesses to themselves and their behaviour – to instead asking them to play to their strengths in observing their peers’

It kind of makes perfect sense really. So much of what we do is still too focused on the me rather than the we, even though it is becoming more and more important to consider people’s extended networks. How are your briefs structure as one example?

I have a kind of love hate relationship with research. Whilst it’s great to be enlightened and uncover something new or interesting that inspires you, it seems to be happening less and less. Unfortunately I find a lot of research I come across to be particularly unhelpful these days and extremely ubiquitous. The output rarely justifies the cost.

And here’s a case in point. In a recent post a study by Jack Trout and Kevin Clancy was cited from the Harvard Review, finding that only two categories of product – soft drinks and soap – were becoming more distinct, but the other 40 were homogenizing. The authors also found that only 7% out of 340 prime time ads monitored included what could be considered a ‘differentiating message’. Now there is a hell of a lot of research and ad dollars being wasted just to end up saying and sounding the same as each other.

Unfortunately research is being used more and more to validate rather than innovate, particularly in this current climate so it’s nice to see a refreshing and common sense approach to research that will hopefully help us understand social influence and how our ideas might spread.


5 Recession Related Articles That Show Us Things Are Looking Up!

May 12, 2009

We’re being told to only invest in cash. To hold off on property. Interest rates are bordering on ridiculous and while the dollar is slowly climbing, we seem to have a propensity for feelings of despair.

Even with a fresh $900, burning a hole in the jeans i haven’t washed because i don’t want to waste too much laundry detergent, there’s still an air of worry, a mood of concern about.

So this week I set out to do something about it, I knew there must be an upside to the downturn and was determined to find it. What i found was a myriad of articles chronicling the happy side and upward trends that a recession brings us. And more, I learnt A LOT, which always makes me happy and, for the next few weeks, the lamest guy at a dinner party, sprouting off all my new found stats to anyone within earshot.

So, without further adieu:

#1 The Recession Culture
NY Mag shows us that ‘No money changes everything, from murder rates to museum attendance, from career choices to what you eat for dinner. And not all of it for the worse.’

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#2 The Lipstick Theory
The New York Times gives us some fascinating insight into why you can follow a recession trend by watching lipstick sales.

#3 When Unemployment Becomes…Well…Employment
The Times again comes through with some awesome stats about the unemployment rates and how close they actually are to the number of jobs available. In February, 4.8 million workers were laid off, and yet, some 4.3 million were hired!

#4 Forced to Switch – When Getting Laid Off Pays Off
The Wall St Journal gives us insights into the world of freelancing with some very interest piquing statistics.

#5 How Has the Recession Affected Dating? – In A BIG Way!
In times of need, people have a heightened desire to connect and to share their money woes. Looks like we’ll all be going Dutch on dates from here on out!!

Discuss in the comments : Have you seen other evidence of good things coming out of the recession?


Razorfish : “Send us your Business Problem”

May 6, 2009

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During his 2009 Client Summit presentation, “Innovation Hell,” Joe Crump did something quite extraordinary: he challenged event attendees to send Razorfish their business problems, a global problem, or just something that plain bugs them. 

He promised Razorfish would spend the next year to create an innovative solution to the problem. (You can view Joe’s presentation on SlideShare or Vimeo).

To submit an idea, clients need only jot an email to [ innovate at razorfish.com ]

For instance on Twitter @scottlum of Microsoft asked, “Can we educate, inform & synthesize change for Swine Flu using social media w/out spreading disinformation, confusion and panic?”

You get the idea… now you have the chance to have those thought leaders at Razorfish look at your problem.

Also: Make sure you read the David Deal (VP Marketing for Razorfish) post on the subject of innovation Hell” here.

~eunmac


Top 100 most valuable brands in the World? Why they got it all wrong.

May 6, 2009

Article by Iain McDonald – Founder / Exec Creative Director at Amnesia Razorfish. (@eunmac)

Each year Millward Brown puts out it’s index of the top 100 brands every year (here). I’m going to offer a different opinion (and yes, it’s only my opinion) on why I think it’s a load of old-school corporate phooey which is sending a financially skewed perspective on the value of brand compared to the modern consumer REAL thoughts about brands.

Note: I take the point that not all brands in this list are consumer facing per-se, but when publishing a list of the “Most Valuable Global Brands” I believe the word ‘value’ and ‘brand’ needs to take a deeper dive into broader consumer data and well beyond “highest margins and the most recognisable logo”.

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In my humble opinion the power of a brand should mostly be judged by how well it is able to reach, interact with and influence a consumer, in particular with regards to their decision making process (which has a lot to do with ‘Trust’). It’s a big subject area and worth a lot of $ when you look at the $ad spend invested by these brands. Millward Brown have their ‘formula in a bottle’ to compare brand power but I believe the only place this list belongs is in a Sunday-Financial-Pullout-Section and that it is not indicative of a modern day ‘powerful consumer brand’ particularly in today’s digital world.

As a footnote I should say that my core interest lies in understanding the ever-evolving ‘digital’ consumer, (which of course is now an every day consumer too). I spend most of my day listening, observing (some might say spying), engaging in real conversations as well as looking at a lot of quant data and an array of third party research. I’m of the school of thought that you can define a brand by what consumers actually think and feel about a brand – I do not believe a brand is always what the CMO says the brand is so when I see a list like the one above it makes me squirm slightly. I’ll tell you why in a second.

Firstly I do recommend reading the full PDF of Millward Brown’s Top 100 Brands (here) and come to your own conclusion – hey… you may just love it and agree with their definition of ‘brand power’ 100%. That’s ok by me – I’m just offering another way of looking at things.

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The first problem for me is right here below an excerpt from their report:

“Customer Opinion
The secret ingredient is WPP’s BrandZ
database, based on an annual quantitative
brand equity study in which consumers and
business customers familiar with a category
evaluate brands.
Since BrandZ’s inception over 10 years
ago, more than one million consumers and
business-to-business customers across
31 countries have shared their opinions
about thousands of brands. It is the most
comprehensive, global, and consistent study
of brand equity.”

As you can see the above plays a critical part within the formula below used to calculate the list.

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So why do I have an issue with this? For a start I’m not a big fan of anything that tells me they have “secret ingredients”… especially when I believe the raw data is available elsewhere in digital channels already and in much larger quantities. Secondly I do not believe the final list reflects the actual brand sentiment or evidence that can be seen daily by the interactions consumers have in the digital landscape, which as a source of information offers a lot more qual and quant data than any one study a single company can undertake to produce in a ‘comprehensive study’.

Search Trends – An alternative way to measure Brand Power
When you have enough data, the signal usually rises above the noise. Search trend data (which Google makes available here) gives us some critical insight into ‘real’ Brand Power pull and arguably the biggest source of data available on a brand. In this instance if a brand is unable to PULL its consumers into active search through it’s spend on marketing, comms, PR, CRM, new product innovation etc then there is probably an issue in here that needs to be addressed. I know some will question if search is relevant to all brands, but I would argue that even with ‘low interest categories’ the global data is there. Example: Here’s Wrigley’s in amongst the category mix for Chewing Gum and Bubble Gum over the last 4.5 yrs.

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The argument against the top 100 brand power list:
Let’s take some of these brands in the top 100 and look at search trend data from the last 5+ years in Google as well as the last 12 months. (Note: I’ve chosen unique brand keywords to look to keep the data more ‘pure/clean’ for my examples). Given that the growth of the Internet during this period you would expect to see a brand in good health showing positive results in search and an upwards curve. This is NOT the case with many of the brands listed in Milward Brown’s top 100. In fact IBM (#4 on the list) has seen a steady decline in search traffic, yet it is listed as being 20% more valuable than the previous year. Sure – they are not focussing efforts on the consumer these days, but that to me means they are not as powerful as a global brand as I see it. IBM belongs in a list which talks to corporate, finance, and niche brand power and does not belong at #4 on a list which defines Global Brand Value/Power. To the image below – in general when it comes to consumer facing brands my own opinion is that when search data trends down it usually represents negative brand health.

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In fact many other brands in the list (and yes, I include Porsche in here) are flat-lining which in real terms represents a relative decline given the growing internet usage and penetration occurring. (Please note I’m keeping data simple here and concentrating on Search  – I have actually taken time to look at plenty of Buzz/Social media trends and available traffic data as well and most trending data is in line with search data).

Going Up or Down?
Millward Brown states that Vodafone’s brand value is up 45%, IKEA is DOWN 21% (at #95 in the table) and Tesco is down 1%. (Strange?! IKEA attracts double the search volume of Tesco but is ranked 74 places behind on the list which begs the question: Does Tesco’s financial performance really make it that much more powerful as a brand?). In fact all of these three brands are seeing marginally positive search growth when adjusting for seasonal trends and economic factors so I would suggest a positive brand increase overall for all three.

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I’m the Chairman of IBM what do I do?
Now, I’m sure Millward Brown’s report probably makes a few CEO’s feel a little better about their business (and no doubt helps WPP’s advertising empire too), but personally I cannot agree with these results as a definitive list of modern day brand power. The reality is that the consumer of 10 years ago does not exist anymore. Today’s consumer connects, shares, evaluates in entirely different ways which of course is another blog post for another day. If you are the Chairman of IBM and you’re reading this, then my advice, “It’s time for you to rethink your brand strategy – your consumer has shifted and you as a brand haven’t moved and are certainly not moving with them at the moment” and if you think that the only people you need to impress with your brand is the CTO, CMO, CEO and CFO then I would beg to differ.

So… what are the most powerful brands?
As a start point I believe the most powerful brands are the ones which consumers trust the most, identify with and feel comfortable enough to share with others. Yes of course financial stability is important and plays a big part when it comes to “Trust” which is possibly the single most important word when it comes to Brand Power.

I find it amazing that there was no section in this report on ‘digital brands’ especially when you look at the search data below… now  you start to get an idea of how BIG these new digital brands are in peoples lives. Facebook has actually outpaced Google in search trends by almost 3:1. YouTube is the worlds second biggest search engine, and ranks higher than Google itself in trends.

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On the chart above none of the top 100 brands make a dent on Google, and even Microsoft looks small next to that. I could go on and on… but I’ve probably made my point and this is supposed to be a blog post not a thesis.

My Conclusions:
– The top 100 brands in Millward Brown’s list do not match available trend data on brands from independent sources such as Google, Blogpulse, Alexa etc.
– Digital Brands like Facebook clearly belong in any Power Brand list if sheer volume of interaction plays a part in establishing the power of a modern brand.
– IBM and many other brands on this list that were given positive brand health in 2009 by MB are in fact declining (from a consumer perspective).
– Big brands are still not investing enough in digital as a channel as a proportion of overall marketing spend.
– Traditional agencies still selling too many brands ‘the old way’ – not investing in digital relationships with their customers.
– Reports of this kind should include public sources of data. Why not include search data, twitter mentions, blog posts and semantic data in forming these kind of studies?
– Brand Power should not be based so heavily on financial data. Some of the biggest brands are also the most complained about brands.
– Lack of competition in a category yielding financial success should not be mistaken for positive brand sentiment.

Article by Iain McDonald – Founder / Exec Creative Director at Amnesia Razorfish. (@eunmac) – feel free to drop me a comment!


Razorfish TweetDoubler – Amazing Twitter tool that allows twice the character count

April 1, 2009

We’re pretty excited here in Australia to be the first people globally to talk about a new text compression technology just released by Razorfish, one of the worlds largest digital agencies. The Razorfish guys in white coats have developed a compression algorithm that works on text, a bit like the way jpeg compresses an image – which means HUGE news for everyone using Twitter.

Try it now! www.tweetdoubler.com

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Twitter normally only allows 140 characters. This Razorfish web application allows you type DOUBLE the normal amount.

You simply enter the text (up to 280 characters) – the compression takes about half a second, next your compressed tweet is sent out (under 140 chars) and then automatically decompressed as the end user views the message. It’s so simple, it’s hard to believe nobody has done this before.

We believe that in the future we can optimise the algorithm, potentially allowing 1000 characters to be compressed to inside Twitter’s limits of 140 characters. This first round of beta testing will provide us with enough data to push limits in the future.

Razorfish Credits:
Thanks to the globally coordinated team who have worked around the clock to bring this to life. Make sure you say Hi to them on Twitter:

Olaf Prilo (@olafprilo) – Independent Science and Maths Consultant.
Iain McDonald (@eunmac) – Creative Director.
Stephan Lange (@Maniac13) – Project Co-ordination.
Chris Saunders (@thesaund) – Lead Coder.
Michael Kliennman – Lead Design.
Shiv Singh – (@shivsingh) Social Media Director.
David Deal (@davidjdeal) – Marketing Director.

Please note this is a beta version open for testing for today only. Enjoy & have a wonderful day 😉


Seeing space from a balloon

March 23, 2009

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4 students and their teacher proved that you don’t need Google’s billions or the BBC weather centre’s resources to get to the stratosphere.

Building the electronic sensor components from scratch they managed to send their heavy duty £43 latex balloon to the edge of space and take photos and readings of its ascent.

They took some pretty cool pictures that you can see here.

I found this first here, but you can get some more information here.


Always read the (marketing) label

March 3, 2009

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We all know the human brain (particularly those of marketers) work in mysterious ways, but I’m starting to wonder if we have gone just a wee bit too far. We can apparently choose from about 170,000 words according to the Oxford English Dictionary. However we have successfully managed to shorten our vocabulary so it fits on a single sheet of A4 paper using Rockwell font, size 36.

If I had a dollar for every word that we marketers use these days, I’d be piss poor quite frankly. I’m not sure why we have slowly reached this horrifying state of affairs. But we need to start articulating exactly what needs to be done.

Since reading this article and sitting in meetings it’s scary how accurate these observations are;

1 # Labels create a binary wor(l)d view. A case of either / or. After all, you must believe in something – and of course everything is definable.

E.g
New media vs traditional media
Brand vs Direct Response
Push vs Pull

2 # Social language has become a very powerful form of propaganda. It is social engineering unveiled very clearly, sitting in broad daylight – yet few actually even notice it.

E.g
Viral
Social media

3 # Labels appeal to the Ego, because of its desire to stand out and “Be Different”, the Ego needs to believe “It’s the Real Thing”.

E.g
Social media consultant

4 # Catch-phrases that allow people to run on auto-pilot 24/7.

E.g The majority of us who work in marketing

The human and semi human marketing mind does indeed move in mysterious ways. My advice, always read the label.


A Totally New Way To Generate Renewable Electricity

February 25, 2009

Renewable energy company,SolarBotanic, unveils a revolutionary solution — Energy Harvesting Trees.

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They will introduce artificial trees that make use of renewable energy from the sun and wind, they are an efficient clean and environmentally sound means of collecting solar radiation and wind energy.

how?

They are composed of Nanoleafs, which use nanotechnology designed to capture the "sun’s energy in photovoltaic and thermovoltaic cells, then convert the radiation into electricity and they also have stems and twigs which house nano-piezovoltaic material which act as generators producing electricity from movement or kinetic energy caused by wind or rain.

if you want more info read here

found on engadget


Mouse Clicks Heat Map application

January 19, 2009

In case you were wondering what you were really doing all day… this tracker app creates a nice heap map of your desktop clicks recording every little interaction for you to see visually. Uh-oh – from the look of it seems I spend way too much time in PowerPoint… groan.

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http://www.anappaday.com/downloads/2006/10/day-18-mouse-heat-map.html


He Played the Violin in the Subway

January 13, 2009

An intriguing social experiment.

A man sat at a metro station in Washington DC and started to play the violin; it was a cold, December morning. He played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes. During that time, since it was rush hour, it was calculated that thousands of people went through the station, most of them on their way to work.
 
Three minutes went by and a middle aged man noticed there was a musician playing. He slowed his pace and stopped for a few seconds and then hurried up to meet his schedule.
 
A minute later, the violinist received his first dollar tip: a woman threw the money in the till and without stopping continued to walk.
 
A few minutes later, someone leaned against the wall to listen to him, but the man looked at his watch and started to walk again. Clearly he was late for work.
 
The one who paid the most attention was a 3 year old boy. His mother tagged him along, hurried but the kid stopped to look at the violinist. Finally the mother pushed hard and the child continued to walk turning his head all the time. This action was repeated by several other children. All the parents, without exception, forced them to move on.
 
In the 45 minutes the musician played, only 6 people stopped and stayed for a while. About 20 gave him money but continued to walk their normal pace. He collected $32. When he finished playing and silence took over, no one noticed it. No one applauded, nor was there any recognition.
 
No one knew this but the violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the best musicians in the world. He played one of the most intricate pieces ever written with a violin worth 3.5 million dollars.
 
Two days before his playing in the subway, Joshua Bell sold out at a theater in Boston and the seats average $100 each.

From: The Washington Post


Get Smart and Fit at the same time

January 7, 2009

Fitness centers are entering the next lap of their evolution with the NeuroActive Bike, a new breed of exerciser that simultaneously trains the body and the brain.

The bike, engineered by Dr. Bergeron and BCA’s international team of brain specialists, enable users to combine cardio workouts with brain workouts.

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Users of the NeuroActive Bike may select from 22 brain-stimulating exercises that train different parts of the brain, including: memory of names and faces, 3D visuo-spatial skills, concentration, word naming and arithmetic. As they pedal, they manipulate a wireless mouse to interact with the computer and complete the NeuroActive Program, the only brain-fitness program that uses an advanced artificial intelligence and a series of word problems and visual exercises to train the entire brain and sharpen 16 cognitive functions.

Get on down to the Gym and get fit and smart at the same time 🙂


Classic Levi’s TV Ads Collection. 1985-1997

December 29, 2008

Remember these classic Levi’s Ads? Oh yes, you will! This is the collection of the most memorable ones, many of which are imprinted on the brains of a generation, running between the mid 80’s to late 90’s. Brilliant choice of music that inspired countless imitations over the years. Here they are… the originals 🙂

Note: Clip ‘Prison’ has a very famous main character…

Above: The Launderette (Nick Kaman) 1985
Music – Heard it through the Grapevine – Marvin Gaye

Above: The Bathtub. 1986
Music : Wonderful World – Sam Cooke

Above: The Refrigerator 1988
Music: Mannish Boy – Waters, Muddy

The Pickup. 1989
Music : Be My Baby-The Ronettes

The Bike (1990) –
Music – The Joker/Steve Miller Band

Pool (1991)
Music The Clash – Should I stay or should I go.

Prison (feat a very famous movies star) 1991
Music: Twentieth Century Boy – T-Rex

The Swimmer (1992)
Music: Mad About The Boy – Washington, Dinah

The Fall / Oilrig (1994)
Music: Music by Peter Lawler – Fictional Self


The Procession (1993)
Music: Scream Jay Hawkins – Heart Attack and Vine

The Creek 1994
Music: Peter Lawler | Stiltskin – Inside

Spaceman 1995
Music: Babylon Zoo

The Mermaids (1997)
Music: Smoke City- Underwater Love

Is it just me or was Mermaids the last of the great Levi’s ads???

Note/Help!:
There are several notable missing ads from this collection/era which can be identified by the soundtracks:
Erma Franklin – Piece of my heart
Ben E King – Stand by Me

(If you find the above please post in comments thx!)

Edit: Thanks to @oonai5000 for posting some of these Levis commercials.


Piezoelectric on the go – forward that is

December 14, 2008

Piezoelectricity is the ability of some materials (notably crystals and certain ceramics, including bone) to generate an electric potential in response to applied mechanical stress.

I have been talking about this before in April here with piezoelectric material and in July here when I was talking about a power generating dancefloor. There I suggested it would be a good idea to put it under streets to generate power.

image And it seems like the UK has been reading my post as well 🙂 :
”An idea mentioned by the British Environmental Transport Association (ETA): a road filled with tiny piezoelectric crystals that would be smooshed with each vehicle running over it. Each smoosh generates a small electric charge, and the net effect is that just one kilometer of this piezoelectric roadway would generate 400 kilowatts, enough power up eight small cars, according to the Israeli researchers behind the plan.”

A test is scheduled for next month.

And the Japanese will be testing something similar.

East Japan Railway Company (JR East) will install piezoelectric elements in the floors at ticket gates and other areas of Tokyo Station to test a system that generates power using the energy created by passengers passing through the gates.

And now I come back to my point before and I really hope these tests will show that it is a brilliant idea. Maybe at some point we can use the energy generated to power the cars driving on them – good bye fuel!

Piezoelectric is an interesting concept and if you want to know more, you can find some great details here.


Easy video editing and manipulation

December 1, 2008

I am pretty sure we have talked about similar things in the past, but they already have come a long way.

Check out the video below for a quick insight in how easy it is to manipulate your video in simple steps and without waiting for it to render for hours.

Especially the part with the 3 friends and how he drags them around separately until he has the perfect position for them – I can see some shenanigans being done with that 🙂


Urine recycling equipment passes tests

November 27, 2008

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After five days of ill-fated attempts, International Space Station (ISS) astronauts today ran two successful tests of equipment on board designed to turn urine, sweat and moisture from the air into drinking water.

NASA now must decide whether the contraption, deemed essential for hydration of future astronauts traveling farther out into space.

you can read more here, but honestly would you dare to be the one that drinks first?


Samsung concept phone unfolds

November 26, 2008

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Cellphones are caught in this awkward spot where they’ve got to be small — like pocketable, doesn’t-look-ridiculous-on-your-face small — and yet somehow big enough to pack an expansive, pretty display that’s capable of displaying a lot of stuff at once. That’s a paradox that has forced manufacturers into some curious form factorsover the years, but ultimately, if you want to somehow cram the desktop viewing experience into a device the size of a pack of cigarettes

Samsung’s new concept phone shown off at the FPD International show in Yokohama comes into play, opening like a book to reveal a flexible OLED big enough to handle those cute puppy videos that no plain-vanilla, 2.5-inch display can do justice. There’s no word on when a so-equipped handset might see production


Bendable, ultra-thin fuel cells coming soon

November 12, 2008

MyFC is a fuel cell company that is showing prototypes of fuel cells that could be built into cases a la the Mophie. The cells run on small hydrogen packs and can fold over surfaces. They could even be embedded inside cellphone bodies.

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The company has two products, the 1636 chip that fits inside a charger-sized enclosure and the FuelCellSticker, the bendable model. The maximum output is 0.9W at .5V while the four-cell model outputs 3.2W at 2V. It is .11 inches (3mm) thick and weighs a mere .2 ounces (5g).

The company is currently making these devices to order and they are reasonably priced at consumer levels. The 1636 reference design works now while the bendable models are available in any shape and size.

Don’t look for these at Circuit City just yet, but they’re amazingly close to production.


They can copy your key from a picture

November 7, 2008

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Computer science professor Stefan Savage and a handful of grad students at the University of California at San Diego have developed a computer system that makes a functional copy of a key based solely on a photograph, regardless of angle or distance — the image resolution just has to be high enough to make out the details. They claim they did this "to show people that their keys are not inherently secret" so they’ll be more careful about flaunting them around in their Flickr photos