Delivering a great brand experience? A new Google Glass app from Emotient will tell you. The new emotional analytics app uses facial recognition software to track the emotions of those around you. The app, that also works with webcams, tracks overall sentiment (positive, negative or neutral) and also is capable of recognising specific emotions (the basic set of emotional ‘channels’ joy, surprise, sadness, fear, disgust, contempt and anger).
Not just useful for the emotionally illiterate – or who have had an emotional intelligence bypass, we think the Emotient app will help us put some numbers into the business of (digital) brand experience. We know, for example, that ads that evoke emotions tend to outperform those that focus on appealing to reason and logic alone. But how do we track the emotional impact of marketing? The Emotient App could be a smart alternative to self-reporting and surveys that are notoriously subject to research effects.
We’re big fans of the ‘happiness is your business model’ school of thought; selling smiles is what success is all about. But you can only manage what you can measure. Now you can measure smiles.
Feeling sad? Then going out an buying your favourite brand will make you feel better; it’s a dose of retail therapy that works. That’s the finding of a new new study (in press) in the Journal of Consumer Psychology from researchers at the University of Michigan.
The finding is summed up in the title - The benefits of retail therapy: Making purchase decisions reduces residual sadness – and three experiments demonstrated how shopping restores a sense personal control over one’s environment and this reduces sadness.
The psychology is simple – we feel sad when we’re not getting a positive return on investment for our efforts – in love, life or work; we no longer in control of the outcomes of our efforts. Sadness is simply your mind telling you to stop and think – perhaps investing in that person, job or activity is not such a good thing? Retail therapy – buying a brand we love can help restore our sense of control over outcomes, putting us back in control of our lives, and this restores a positive emotional state.
Bottom line for brands is that AUTONOMY and CONTROL are key value propositions. Sell people control, you sell them happiness.
If there’s ever a time in a person’s life when she wants to keep tabs on everything that’s going on with her body, it’s while she’s pregnant. Every inch added to her waistline, pound gained, heartbeat she hears, and kick she feels is something to be monitored and celebrated.
But even as the quantified self movement has become mainstream when it comes to counting steps and tracking calories, many expectant mothers still largely rely on their doctor appointments to chart out the progress of the lives growing inside of them.
Bellabeat, a startup in the current Winter 2014 class of Y Combinator, wants to help change that by providing a “connected system” that enables mothers to track their pregnancies on their own, while in between doctor visits. Today the startup is launching its first product, a $129 pocket-sized digital ultrasound tool that connects to a smartphone app to let women hear, record, and share their babies’ heartbeat.
Bellabeat’s mobile app, which is available on both iPhone and Android, also lets women easily track important data such as weight gain, nutrition, and fetal movements through a “kick counter.” There is also a social component for connecting with other expectant moms and sharing their stories.
Bellabeat co-founder and COO Urska Srsen told me in an interview this week that the goal of Bellabeat’s system is to give pregnant women the data and feedback they crave while in between doctor visits — and to make the visits they do have more satisfying and productive. During a healthy pregnancy, Srsen says, visits to the doctor can often seem short and unsatisfying for the patient because “from the doctor’s perspective, being pregnant is not a disease. It is a normal state. But for the woman, being pregnant is so exciting, and she wants to know everything that she can right away,” she said.
Bellabeat’s goal is to bridge that gap. “We want for patients to be more calm, and for the relationship between doctor and patient to be more fluid and communicative.”
There is also a cost saving component at play. “In the United States, we spend $98 billion each year on pregnancy and childbirth. That is a huge amount of money,” Srsen says. “Some doctors’ appointments are just for checking blood pressure, weight, and making sure the heartbeat is still there. If we could enable women to do some small routine exams at home, that could reduce the cost of healthcare so much.” The company’s longer term vision is to expand into more remote medical patient tracking tools, but for the time being, Bellabeat’s full focus is on the pregnancy space.
In terms of competition, Srsen says that on one side, there is the world of mommy blogs, pregnancy web forums, and simple pregnancy apps; on the other side, there is a market that includes hardware for checking your own vital signs. “We bring it all together and make it all easy to analyze and process,” she says.
It’s one of those ideas that makes so much sense, it’s a wonder that more Silicon Valley startups aren’t tackling it right now. It will be exciting to see how Bellabeat grows in the months ahead.
Here’s a video that shows Bellabeat in action:
Article courtesy of TechCrunch
Pounce, a recently launched mobile shopping app that allows consumers to snap photos of items found in circulars, print ads, and catalogs in order to purchase directly from their smartphones, is out with a new version today that improves the overall experience and helps you find and compare deals.
The Tel Aviv-based startup has been tackling one of the tougher problems with mobile commerce: checkout. While a number of companies, from Pinterest to Wanelo and many others, have improved product discovery by leaps and bounds, when it comes to actually buying the items you fall in love with, users are typically redirected to a retailer’s website, which may or may not be mobile-optimized. They then get frustrated with the checkout process, and often just give up.
And the way it goes about getting products in front of consumers is interesting, too. When the app first launched, it offered image recognition capabilities that let you simply snap a photo of an item advertised in some sort of printed material – there’s no barcode or QR code to scan.
Instead, the company works with retailer partners and third parties to build up its product database, linking item photos to inventory and pricing information. As CEO Avital Yachin explains, “within, literally, 20 to 30 seconds…you can use our app to scan the item, the application will automatically recognize the item, and we allow you to purchase the item in just one or two clicks.”
“The whole point is that you don’t have to type in your billing information and shipping information over and over again,” he says. “It’s two-click checkout from major retailers.”
To be clear, shoppers aren’t buying from Pounce, but are purchasing directly from the retailer, via the application, at the same price as if they bought directly from the retailer’s website. And with the simplified checkout option, retailers have the opportunity to compete against Amazon’s patented one-click checkout.
Currently, Pounce supports retailers like Macy’s, Ace Hardware, Target, Toys “R” Us, Babies “R” Us, Staples, and more are on the way. Yachin says Pounce plans to support a few other retailers before the holidays, including Best Buy.
In the updated version of the mobile app, out today, the company has added a couple of new features that make this kind of mobile shopping experience more feature-complete when compared to traditional e-commerce. You can now select different colors and sizes for fashion and apparel items, as well as magnify images to get a closer look, for example. Soon, Pounce will support using gift cards and discount/coupon codes at checkout, as well as an option to buy online and pick-up in the store.
However, the bigger feature in the new app is the addition of a deals browser, which lets you compare the ongoing promotions from all retailers. (Though before the app could recognize the images in printed flyers, weekly circulars and the like, it wasn’t actually showing what the current promotions included.) This ability to pull up the latest discounts puts Pounce in competition with other shopping deal-finders, like Shopular, RetailMeNot, Shopkick, Zoomingo, and others. But those apps don’t also offer simplified checkout or image recognition capabilities, which is what makes Pounce stand out.
The company, a team of five full-time, is backed by an undisclosed seed round of financing from local angel investors, and is currently raising its Series A.
The new version of Pounce for iOS is available for download here.
Article courtesy of TechCrunch
Among the crowd showing at TechCrunch Disrupt’s Startup Alley was Embrace Her Health, a two-year-old company at work on a suite of maternity apps that aim to enable women to manage their pre- and post-natal health better and cut the risk and costs of preventable complications.
Embrace Her Health’s first mobile app for iOS and Android, Pregnancy Companion, serves as both a personal pregnancy tracker and a source of information for expecting mothers. Women plug in their due date, and from there the app uses an algorithm written by the team’s OB/GYNs to power a range of tools related to weight gain, hydration, kicks, and contractions. The app also gives users access to a network of MDs who answer specific questions.
Most women only see a doctor once a month during pregnancy, and these appointments are often short, said co-founder Aron Schuftan, MD. This is partly due to the introduction of Obamacare, which resulted in more patients for the same number of doctors. Enabling women to track their own pregnancies fills in those gaps and educates them about risks of which that they might not otherwise be aware.
“It’s day-to-day tracking. It’s a more ongoing, proactive identification of risk versus that one-time visit,” CEO and co-founder Denise Terry said. “If your blood pressure doesn’t spike when you’re there [in the office], you’ll never know that it spiked two weeks ago. We’re moving to a daily and weekly self-monitoring state of health. This allows that to happen. You only see a doctor 8 to ten times during your pregnancy. Doctors miss things.”
The app assumes a normal pregnancy track, but when certain flags are tripped, they interact with the algorithm to deliver personalized content modules. If a woman learns she is having twins or has gestational diabetes, for instance, the app will provide tips specific to those scenarios.
Embrace Her Health was founded two years ago by Terry, Shufton, and Chief Medical Officer Jan Rydfors, MD, who co-authored the widely used clinical handbook “Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Infertility.”
Thus far the app has been used by 250,000 women and is distributed by 500 doctors.
The company has been bootstrapped so far and is now looking to raise a seed round of $1 million to expand the team and develop similar apps for post-partum health, infant pediatrics, breast feeding, and fertility. That suite will likely launch in Q4.
In the next six months, Embrace Her Health will integrate wearable fitness trackers for weight, pulse, and blood pressure into its Pregnancy Companion app, from Withings, Fitbit, and Jawbone Up.
Currently, the app serves as a way for mothers to manage their own pregnancies, so that they can bring a potential issue to their physician. The plan is to eventually integrate with doctor’s offices so that based on the mother’s tracking, the doctor will know as soon as the mother does that there is a problem.
As with many medical tech devices, the preventative nature of the app is meant to reduce pressure on the medical system overall. Schuftan pointed out that the cost of providing for preterm labor amounts to $60 billion annually.
In the interest of giving expecting parents even more of a handle on their pregnancy, Embrace Her Health is looking to incorporate genetic testing from 23andMe, currently a sponsor for the start-up, into their offerings.
“You can know 150 inherent genetic disorders before the baby is born, based on that spit test. It’s amazing, and we think that every expectant couple should use that,” Terry said. “We’ll be incorporating that into your health profile.”
Article courtesy of TechCrunch
BabyList, the online universal baby registry which lets couples request unconventional items – like diaper service subscriptions, for example – in addition to gifts from around the web, has raised $620,000 in seed funding from 500 Startups, Okapi Venture Capital, Altair Capital, Chris Messina, Mike Greenfield (co-founder of Circle of Moms), and Mike Seiman.
The service was founded by former Amazon software developer Natalie Gordon, whose son is now just over 2 years old. She says she was inspired to create BabyList out of a frustration with the current products in this space, noting also that “if more women were coding, there would be a much better baby registry experience.”
Gordon launched the site just two weeks before giving birth, but for the first year, it remained something of a side project, only getting around an hour per day of her attention. But after participating in the latest 500 Startups program, she’s now devoted to the startup full-time.
In her case, Gordon said she found the prospects of wandering around a big box store like Babies R Us armed with a scan gun intimidating as an expectant mother. She didn’t know what some of those baby products filling the shelves even were, much less if she needed them. But she did know that she would want someone to walk her dog during those first few months, and she knew she would be trying cloth diapers, so a subscription to a diaper service would be useful, too.
But registries today don’t let you add requests like those, nor do they typically let you register for items across multiple stores. (One exception being Amazon’s universal gift list, of course, but it wasn’t custom-designed for baby products.)
Gordon explains that the difference between BabyList’s product and Amazon’s own universal list is the experience. “With Amazon’s specifically, all the non-Amazon items have smaller images and are at the very bottom of your registry,” she says. “We let you put your items in whatever order you want to put them in. And we’re trying to help you figure out what you really need, and help you find great products.”
With a browser bookmarklet, BabyList’s users can add items to their custom lists from anywhere on the web – including larger retailers like Babies R Us, Amazon, IKEA, Walmart or Target, for example, but also from other sources like Etsy, Giggle, or Crate & Barrel-owned The Land of Nod.
Giggle and Land of Nod will now also power a new, curated product catalog BabyList now launching into beta, which also includes content from Jessica Alba’s The Honest Company, plus ten pilot Etsy shops, and other Amazon products.
Since its initial launch, BabyList users have added over 900,000 to their registries. The site has also attracted 10,000 users this year alone. Having generated word-of-mouth interest from mommy bloggers and Pinterest, the latter which is the service’s number one social media site for user acquisition, the now three-person startup will focus on building a complimentary mobile app to accompany the main website. This app will also include the new curated item catalog, says Gordon.
In the meantime, interested expectant moms – or dads, if you choose! Really! If we can work, you can care about parenting! Lean in, dads! – can sign up for BabyList here.
Article courtesy of TechCrunch
We’ve been getting all sorts of new info since we first ran our story about Google dogfooding ”Google Shopping Express,” its same-day Amazon Prime and Postmates competitor. While we originally reported that the service would be $10 or $15 cheaper than Amazon Prime – so $69 or $64 a year – we’re now hearing that the pricing is still in flux.
While Google irons out the kinks, we’re hearing, Googlers are getting the product for free if they sign up for membership — with non-members paying $4.99 per delivery. The company has lined up eight stores in the Bay Area, according to our sources, and we’ve heard from two sources that omni-store Target is part of the coterie.
We were also forwarded the email below, supposedly from Google PR, that names Babies”R”Us and Nob Hill Foods as other Shopping Express partners, with the focus group including local stores of all sizes. I’ve emailed Google, Target, Nob Hill Foods and Babies”R”Us for confirmation. I’m pretty sure this will be the first and last time I email Babies”R”Us for confirmation for anything.
While we still have little idea when Google plans on launching the service, the below email does say that the test is now available for all Googlers. And might be coming soon to a Babies”R”Us near you.
As you may have seen, there was a leak last night about Google Shopping Express, including several very specific product details. Our PR team is working to quiet this down, but we need your help — please don’t add fuel to the fire by discussing or even confirming Google Shopping Express. If you are contacted by a member of the press, please follow normal procedures and refer them to email@example.com.
But wait, you asked me to ship to my home to help you test … so what about spouses and roommates? We trust your judgement. If your roommate writes a tech blog or works for a company in this space, please don’t ship it home. But if you feel it’s safe, then by all means, we still really need your help dogfooding this.
Get free same day delivery with Google Shopping Express
After weeks of testing, we’re now excited to open Google Shopping Express to every Googler in the bay area including temps, vendors and contractors.
Save yourself a trip to the store and stock up at places like Target, Nob Hill Foods, Babies “R” Us and more. Googlers who sign up early for a free membership will receive free same day delivery for one year! Non-members pay $4.99 per delivery per store.
Article courtesy of TechCrunch
In the 1940s, DC Comics gave Superman a new enemy. After WWII, the Ku Klux Klan was rising to power. They were gaining adherents in the south and the mystery and mayhem of their secret society was wildly frightening.
A writer named Stetson Kennedy had been researching the Klan and prepared a dossier on its wild hierarchy, passing it on to the writers of the Superman radio show. Over the course of two weeks, Superman took on bigots of all stripes, revealing Klan secrets and code words to the world. A short while later, folks would show up at Klan meetings just to laugh at the Grand Cyclops.
In short, sunlight (and Superman) reversed the darkness.
That’s happening now in North Korea. I won’t pretend that a club of goofy bigots is as dangerous as a nuclear tyrannical state, but the concept is at least congruent. At the risk of sounding like the Fake Jeff Jarvis, I will say that something is cracking in the North Korean facade and when it finally tumbles it won’t be pretty.
Jen H. Lee is the Korea bureau chief for the AP and spends time in Pyongyang. She now has access to a foreigners-only 3G network when she is in North Korea and has been tweeting and posting pictures from inside the country. I’d wager she is doing some of the most important strategic tweeting in the world right now. A sample:
She is tweeting the mundanity of real life out of a country that is seen in the media as an iron-clad box filled with dynamite. She is proving that North Koreans are just like us, regardless of their failed ideology. It’s clear North Korea needs to be seen as less like the crazy man of Asia and more like a burgeoning third world economy. What better way to prove this than offer even a stab at true freedom to those most important members of the international community – foreign traders.
Her service costs over $70 a trip for a SIM card and 3G activation, so it’s not cheap. However, now Lee can bring her own phone and send data right out of the the country almost instantly. She wrote in a great essay:
Koreans, North and South, love gadgets.
Not all North Koreans have local cellphones. Those who do use them to call colleagues to arrange work meetings, phone and text friends to set up dinner dates and ring home to check in on their babies. They snap photos with their phones and swap MP3s. They read North Korean books and the Workers’ Party newspaper, Rodong Sinmun, on their phones.
But they cannot surf the “international” Internet, as they call it. The World Wide Web remains strictly off limits for most North Koreans. North Korean universities have their own fairly sophisticated Intranet system, though the material posted to it is closely vetted by authorities and hews to propaganda. Students say they can email one another, but they can’t send emails outside the country.
There is nothing here that says North Korea isn’t watching these phones with a gimlet eye and is attempting to use the data collected for its own ends. They most decidedly are. But when the denizens of a country that ham-handedly steals blast footage from a video game to spread wonky propaganda are shown making a happy face in a cappuccino and walking morosely along a dead highway, perceptions change. Politicians can no longer pretend that this blustering mini-dump is more than a Potemkin village. We can finally appreciate that real people are dying in real gulags… real people who, one moment could be squirting an extra bit of mocha into your coffee and the next minute get trundled off to frozen wastes.
The easiest political ploy is to dehumanize your enemy. North Korea, in popular media, is seen not as a confusion of voices clamoring to survive – it’s is seen as a steel-eyed vulture intent on slamming missiles onto our shores. The more we see North Korea as a place of potential the more we can appreciate its place in the world – and work to ensure that the edicts of madmen don’t impinge on human dignity.
Article courtesy of TechCrunch
[Editor’s Note: This is a weekly series. If your company is doing something amazing to help a charitable cause or doing some good in your community, please reach out.]
Disruption comes in all shapes and sizes, and benefits people of all shapes and sizes. When you think about global entrepreneurs solving hard problems, you might not think about creating hardware products that aim to save the lives of premature babies.
A company called Embrace, based in India, is doing just that. It sounds lofty, altruistic and extremely difficult. That’s mostly because it is, and Embrace is making a difference in the face of uphill battles that they see as completely solvable and surmountable. According to WHO, 15M babies are born premature throughout the world, with 1M of them never getting the chance to live a long life. This is a very real problem.
Breaking down the walls of personal healthcare sounds like something that goes on in an MIT lab, but it’s actually something happening in the city of Bangalore, and Embrace is doing it in extremely unique ways. Its product is an infant warmer that can protect a premature infants during their most vulnerable time after birth. Most of the time, these babies have to stay in hospitals, which can be extremely expensive, away from the parents.
The infant warmer that Embrace has developed allows families to take their precious newborns home and care for them in a safe and affordable way. Since premature babies cannot properly regulate their own temperatures, these devices help keep them warm while mom and dad introduce the new member of the family in the privacy of their own home. This is no small problem and this team is making it happen.
Embrace has developed an innovative, low cost infant warmer for vulnerable babies in developing countries. Over 20 million low-birth-weight and premature babies are born every year around the world, and over 4 million die within their first month of life. Temperature regulation is a key problem among many of these infants. Embrace has developed an infant warmer that costs a fraction of the price of existing solutions, and that functions without a continuous supply of electricity.
For reference, Embrace has taken this device built by GE, and made it cheaper, mobile and more personal:
The result? These items completely conceived of, designed and manufactured by Embrace:
This product requires no in-depth training to use, no electricity and no maintenance. It just works, as field tests have proved before launching its latest version.
The most interesting thing that I gleamed from talking to one of its co-founders, Rahul Panicker, is that its number on competitor, in theory, is GE. It happens that GE is a global partner for Embrace when it comes to distributing their product. For the for-profit arm of Embrace, this is a fantastic position to be in, business wise. After two years, grabbing funding from Khosla Impact and Capricorn Investment Group doesn’t hurt either.
Embrace started as a team project at Stanford and has evolved into its current iteration in Bangalore, drawing employees and volunteers from all over the world who are focused on creating change and disrupting emerging markets. I spoke to some marketing interns that had come from Palo Alto and Mountain View specifically to work on this problem. As the team walked through some of its design concepts, it felt like this would be the product that Apple would create if it were in the healthcare space…there’s that much attention to detail here.
Even though there is no medical device standard in India, the team has adopted the European standards, which is a forward thinking move to make its products available everywhere they are needed. The team sees huge opportunities for Embrace products in Africa, Ghana and Latin America with at least pockets from 30 countries total requesting the product to be launched in their back yard.
Until that expansion comes, which it most certainly sounds like it will, Embrace is focused on making a big difference where it is. The feedback that they’ve received and business they’ve gotten, mostly from word of mouth between families, is important lessons and feedback learned as a tiny group of people try to tackle huge markets like healthcare.
Since I’m on the Geeks On A Plane trip with Dave McClure, I’ve been bouncing some ideas off of him as far as what stories would be interesting for you, as readers, to read and learn something from. On Embrace, McClure says that their story is a perfect example of “India lifting India up and not relying on anyone else.” That’s pretty powerful.
You can participate by donating money to Embrace’s non-profit arm, or just sharing their story with friends. This company has made a product for hospitals that cost $250 and products for home that cost $80. When you stop and think about how impactful that is, it’s quite mind blowing. I walked away impressed and inspired, and I of course asked McClure if he’s invested in the company yet. His answer was “not yet,” which certainly doesn’t sound like a “not interested.”
Article courtesy of TechCrunch