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tech talk

Talking Robots: The Branding Challenge

Posted by Ilan Beesen on February 19, 2015 11:08 AM

On my way to LAX last week, I noticed a billboard for Neill Blomkapt’s new film, "Chappie." The film, set for release in the US on March 6, is about a robot that’s programmed to save humanity.

It got me thinking about a childhood road trip from the Bay Area to Vancouver—an eternal ride for any kid. In the backseat boredom, I got it in my head that I had to have a “robot with buttons,” and started a whiny campaign to get one. I don’t know where the thought came from, but I still remember the obsession, and I’m sure my parents do, too.

Obviously robots have progressed way beyond the toys of childhood—metallic bodies, buttons and blinking lights. They’re even starting to resemble and act like Hollywood’s trusty sidekicks: think R2D2. But they’re also creating uncomfortable questions about a future so chillingly portrayed in such films as “2001: A Space Odyssey,” “Terminator” and “Blade Runner.”Continue reading...

license to thrill

Classic Toy Brands Look to the Future at the 2015 New York Toy Fair

Posted by Sheila Shayon on February 17, 2015 11:01 AM

Hello Barbie ToyTalk talking doll

The 112th annual North American Toy Fair is on in New York, with licensing partnerships bringing together brands that tap into the toy industry's top trends of 2015, from the maker movement to tech innovation and beyond.

Case in point: Mattel is partnering with Google to reinvent the View-Master from its 1939 roots as a proto-3D virtual reality device, relying on cardboard disks with stereoscopic images inserted in a plastic device and observed through a viewfinder.

Now View-Master is using a different kind of cardboard: Google Cardboard, which uses an Android smartphone app to deliver a 360-degree animated environment.Continue reading...

tech innovation

Konnichiwa, Watson: SoftBank's Pepper Finds BFF at IBM

Posted by Sheila Shayon on February 13, 2015 11:32 AM

IBM’s celebrity super-computer Watson is learning Japanese, thanks to a new partnership between Big Blue and SoftBank aimed at bringing cognitive computing to Japan.

With an impressive résumé including its famous “Jeopardy!” victory over humans, cancer research, gastronomy and customer service expertise, Watson’s next challenge is to learn a language written in a non-Western alphabet.

The complexity of the Japanese language, which uses the kanji alphabet—a series of complex diagrams, thousands of characters with various meanings and several phonetic options—will test Watson’s current capabilities and inform future applications.Continue reading...

brand news

Brand News: Spider-Man, AMC, JetBlue and more

Posted by Shirley Brady on February 10, 2015 08:25 AM


AMC’s Better Call Saul (Cinnabon-featuring) premiere on Sunday was the biggest series premiere in the history of US cable TV.

Sony and Disney's Marvel team up on next Spider-Man movie.

JetBlue becomes first airline to accept in-flight mobile payments using Apple Pay.

Apple sets record by closing with $700 billion valuation, announces $850 million investment in solar energy.

IBM and SoftBank partner to bring Watson to Japan.Continue reading...

tech innovation

Cooking With Big Data: IBM's Watson Releases a Cookbook

Posted by Sheila Shayon on January 22, 2015 03:18 PM

The Internet of Things has its first celebrity chef: IBM's Watson, which is releasing a cookbook in April.

Cognitive Cooking with Chef Watson, due in April, features more than 65 recipes developed by the Institute of Culinary Education (ICE) using “unconventional ingredient concepts generated by Chef Watson.”  

The results offering surprising flavor twists indeed (check out recipes below), including Spanish Almond Crescent, Creole Shrimp-Lamb Dumplings, Austrian Chocolate Burrito, Hoof-and-Honey Ale, Vietnamese Apple Kebab, Poutine and Chile—and, of course, bacon via Belgian Bacon Pudding.Continue reading...

brand news

Brand News: Virgin Hotels, Toyota, SpaceX and more

Posted by Shirley Brady on January 21, 2015 07:45 AM


Virgin Hotels opens first property in the world: a female-friendly hotel in Chicago with a virtual concierge named Lucy.

Toyota fends off Volkswagen to remain the world's biggest automaker for the third consecutive year.

Elon Musk's SpaceX confirms $1B investment by Google and Fidelity for $10B valuation.

Walmart introduces in-store tax refund pick-up for shoppers.

Dove campaign encourages girls and women to love their curls.Continue reading...


NRF 2015: IBM and Apple Debut Retail Apps as Watson Turns Personal Shopper

Posted by Sheila Shayon on January 12, 2015 05:15 PM

IBM Smarter Commerce retail app Apple iPad

IBM and Apple announced a partnership back in July to create a suite of apps for mobile devices and the enterprise B2B market. The latest sector the global brands are teaming up to improve: retail, with two new apps for retailers revealed today at America's National Retail Federation annual conference, aka the NRF Big Show 2015, in New York.

In anticipation of new consumer research being released at NRF, “Shoppers disrupted: Retailing through the noise,” IBM showcased the apps in a keynote presentation. Attendees and press were invited to check out the apps at IBM's booth as the latest additions to its Smarter Commerce offering, presenting new ways to satisfy shoppers' demand for personalization, curation and relevant recommendations.

IBM’s deep reach into analytics and cognitive computing, not to mention its big data big brain Watson, is powering the latest stage in IBM's toolbox to help retailers: enterprise apps and insight-driven tools to better engage, and retain, customers.Continue reading...

tech innovation

IBM Watson Brings Big Brain to DNA-Based Health App for Consumers

Posted by Sheila Shayon on November 13, 2014 01:28 PM

IBM expects the bioinformatics market will grow to $12.86 billion by 2020, and its super-computer Watson is the brand's ambassador-at-large, set to secure its place—and future—in banking, education, insurance, retail and healthcare, the focus of Big Blue's big news today. 

Watson, which is being actively commercialized by IBM as a B2B offering for others' apps and software, is at the heart of a major announcement that could mean the end of the annual doctor's visit.

A joint effort by IBM and Pathway Genomics will combine Pathway's personal DNA sequencing and biometric data with Watson's human language analysis and research capabilities to track and diagnose your health, and deliver it all through an app that should be available to consumers in mid-2015. Continue reading...

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