In the outside world: March 21st

A few bits of noteworthy media news this week from Anjali Ramachandran, Head of Innovation

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Transport for London has signed a deal to rent out unused vacant space in and around areas they own (tube, rail, bus stations) to pop-up shops, working with a short-term lettings firm called Appear Here. Around 15 TfL sites are currently available for use, including Old Street, Piccadilly Circus, St James’s Park and Baker Street. Last year, Nike sold special edition trainers at a Piccadilly Circus site. Not only is this a revenue stream, but it gives brands the chance to test out new and limited edition products, especially around special events.

Delta Airlines in the US have created a new mentoring programme for passengers, located high in the air. They are offering people the opportunity to reserve a seat next to inspiring business people and leaders, to use their time in the air in a completely different way from most – being mentored. Prospective applicants apply for a seat using their LinkedIn profile, and the Delta team reviews it. If approved, they not only get free insight and advice but a free flight! Making use of downtime, for the biggest go-getters out there. I approve of Delta Innovation Class.

In the UK, not only is Netflix stepping up its game along with Amazon, Tesco’s Blinkbox and Apple TV, but BskyB is going to offer a film download service from the Sky Store soon. They are targeting a chunk of the £1.4 billion DVD market (steadily in decline, yes) and say the new service will “have all the flexibility and the convenience of a digital store but all delivered to your TV set with instant access through the touch of a button the Sky remote”. The viewing war is going to be more interesting than ever.

Some ex-Poke London people created a nice little service, backed by Spotify, called Guilty Pledgers. It allows you to crowdsource songs for your party and raise money for charities at the same time. For every song you add to the list, you donate to charity. Fundraising and fun at all at once – why not? I like it because it uses an existing behaviour (parties and the arguments over playlists) and clubs it with another one (please support my charity). Some of the best ideas are created by taking two fairly common things and fusing them together, as we all know.

At the 2014 Game Developers Conference this week in San Francisco, Sony unveiled a prototype for a PS4 virtual reality headset set to compete with the slightly more well-known Oculus Rift. They’ve been working on it for 3 years, and there’s no commercial release date as yet – it’s only being made available to developers to work on. If any of you have tried an Oculus Rift you know how much it adds to the experience of gaming, and I expect to see many branded uses for it soon. The Oculus Rift itself has already started seeing uses in architecture, emergency response training and more. The other interesting Sony news is that they have announced their first original Playstation series, ‘Powers’. Think House of Cards but for the Playstation. I’m excited – it’s based on an adaptation of a graphic novel. Original content is here to stay, clearly.

A few months ago, crowdsourced product innovation platform Quirky announced a partnership with GE to explore the internet of things. They have just created a smart air conditioner which can be controlled via Quirky’s Wink mobile app. It uses power only when you’re in the room, and of course, as smart energy meters are becoming more popular, will tell you how much energy you are using on an ongoing basis too. Beautiful intelligent products are on the up. Have you seen the intelligent washing machine prototype developed by London firm Berg Cloud yet? Fun times. Wait a few months and they’ll all be cheap and accessible on Amazon (not immediately, but you know…)

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