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