Inventions are fun and world changing … but sometimes they are also dumb and head-scratching. In this week’s email, I’ll share a few of both. You’ll read stories about Intel’s secret plan, the future of aquaculture and perhaps the most gratuitously pointless product ever. Some of these inventions may be ahead of their time and others may never work. Reading about them, though, was highly entertaining for me and (I hope) for you as well.
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This story is a fitting place to start this issue all about invention. Though details are sparse about what exactly Intel is planning here, their “bold secret plan” to change computer memory is getting plenty of media attention. Potentially as important is the new research into liquid batteries that could cool your processor while powering it. Moore’s law may be obsolete, but the future of computer technology is still pretty exciting anyway.
This story really belongs second in my update this week, mainly because it describes a product from Japan that has been widely criticized online for its “gratuitous pointlessness.” The product is an app that connects to a device which will unscrew the bottle cap off your plastic bottle for you with “flair.” If you think that’s ridiculous, just watch the pitch video where a pitchman promises that the product will allow you to “wake up to an open bottle … what a glorious morning!” You really have to hope they are joking.
Most of us don’t really pay attention to how something simple like a childhood nursery rhyme and song can perpetuate old stereotypes about girls. In this powerful ad from Nike Russia, a little girl sings a well known Russian song about what girls are made of, and then changes the words in an empowering way. The ad is exactly what you would expect from Nike – celebrating sports and powerful women … and it delivers a punch.
This device might make you wonder who would want to walk up to a homeless person and press a button on their jacket to make them a cashless donation to help pay for their food or shelter. If you think about it – this does address several interesting issues. Firstly – donors don’t need cash and can be sure the money goes to food or shelter. More importantly, it offers more humanity than walking by and dropping some change into a bucket. This is one of those ideas that might not work … but it would be a beautiful thing in the world if it did.
What do you do if you happen to run a public space plagued by people who steal your toilet paper? If you are the administrative team at Beijing’s Temple of Heaven Park, you install facial recognition on the restrooms to prevent anyone from getting too much toilet paper. Extreme or inevitable? No matter what you think about it, you have to appreciate just how true the old adage of necessity being the mother of invention happens to be. Still, facial recognition in the bathroom is pretty creepy.
For every overpromising tech company that aims to “change the world” – there are some ideas that actually have a shot at doing it. This is one of them. In this interesting story about a future of fish farming that doesn’t rely on growing fish in disease-ridden offshore tanks. This new model of “acquaculture” solves multiple problems in the world and is exactly the sort of thing we will all need to take off in popularity to improve our health and the environment all at once.
Data compression is not a sexy topic. Yet the news that a new compression technique could make JPGs 35% faster is important globally. Better compression is the underappreciated flipside of the global race to create faster processors and faster access. As data gets compressed in higher quality ways, the population of people around the world who are “under-connected” will get faster access more quickly and the digital divide will shrink. And all of this could start with something as simple as finding a way to create faster JPGs.
How Are These Stories Chosen?
Every week I review more than a hundred data sources to curate the best and most under appreciated marketing stories of the week. The aim of this email is to spotlight these “non-obvious” stories, along with a quick take on why they matter for you. I hope you find this email interesting and useful … and am always open to your suggestions on how I might make it better!