We hope that you’ll find these concepts as inspiring as we do, and that they spark even more innovation in the year to come!
One of the problems brick-and-mortar retailers have with Facebook likes is that – by their very nature – they’re visible online, rather than in stores. In order to bring them into the real world, Brazilian fashion outlet C&A installed displays on their coathangers to inform shoppers of the popularity of each item. This blurring of the boundaries between online and offline customer interaction is something that may set successful brands apart as the web integrates further into our daily lives.
Bicycles are probably the most eco-friendly form of urban transport around, but how can they be made even more green? That was the question Israeli entrepreneur Izhar Gafni asked himself before coming up with his working cardboard bike, a lightweight device costing between USD 9 and USD 12 to create. Despite its primary material being recycled cardboard, the bike can hold around 300 pounds. Gafni has proved that even when an idea works well, there is always room for improvement.
Many of us may take electric lights for granted, but there is a considerable portion of the world — around 1.5 billion people — who live in poor, remote areas and have to rely on dangerous kerosene alternatives. Currently being funded through an Indiegogo campaign, the GravityLight hopes to change that by offering a cheap lamp that runs on an entirely renewable resource. The device is attached to a weight, which when lifted for a few seconds harnesses enough energy to power the light for 30 minutes. Operating without batteries, the GravityLight contains no deteriorating parts and means owners don’t have to spend money to keep it running. Hoping to make a big difference in developing countries, the idea has already raised over 500 percent of its initial funding target.
Another innovation looking to integrate the web into the offline world this year was Y&R Dubai’s marketing campaign for the UAE-based Gulf News. Y&R adapted coffee cup sleeves that it prints for its client Tim Hortons to include headlines tweeted by the newspaper in the previous hour. The company recognized that drinking coffee and reading the newspaper go hand in hand and also included QR codes to enable customers to read the rest of the day’s news on their smartphone. According to figures released by Y&R traffic on the Gulf News website grew by 41 percent.
Many credit card companies offer a variety of deals on their products in order to entice customers, meaning that many end up with more than one account in order to make the most of different offers. Rather than making card holders keep track of which card would be best for each purchase, Wallaby enables them to upload all of their cards’ details, which are accessed via the single Wallaby Card. Depending on what is being bought, at what time and how expensive it is, the Wallaby Card selects the best account and charges it. Freeing up wallet space and allowing customers to easily take advantage of the best deals available to them, Wallaby is carving its own space in the growing world of smart credit cards.
Packaging that is discarded once a product has reached its destination still causes environmental headaches for brands and Netherlands-based company Joolz set out to do something about it. Considering cardboard is a sturdy enough material to be turned into a bike, the company attached instructions to its baby stroller packaging to enable parents to create homely items such as chairs, lamps and birdhouses. In October, we also saw Australian brand DIY Living go down a similar route with its packaging, perhaps indicating that this kind of eco-thinking could yet solve the problem of waste in the manufacturing industries.
Indicating how much social media is becoming a major part of many businesses’ strategies, Dutch airline KLM this year rolled out its Meet and Seat program, enabling travelers to choose their seats based on the online profiles of those sharing their flight. Customers can make a match by offering their Facebook or LinkedIn data, depending on whether they’re looking for a potential personal or business relationship. The use of social media is surely set to grow ever more prominent in the future – and we could see this kind of model applied in many other industries in 2013.
Another trend which has grown over the past 12 months is the idea of the quantified self – learning about ourselves through data analysis. We’ve seen many new products which help to catch information about sports, one of the most comprehensive being adidas’ miCoach, a suite of products to help sports professionals and trainers work out exactly how to improve performance. Using trackers placed onto players’ kits, the miCoach delivers metrics on speed, pace, heart rate and more in real-time. The system can also monitor entire teams at the same time, giving coaches the ability to make smart decisions during play. Given the emergence of products such as Babolat’s Play & Connect tennis racquet, it may not be long before devices like these become a necessity in professional sports.
While new technology has often been the bane of major record companies over the past decade, artists seem to have readily embraced it’s possibilities. One such musician is Dan Deacon, who teamed up with Wham City Apps to create a way to take over the smartphones of live audiences. Those attending a Dan Deacon show in support of his album America could download the app, which enabled their phone to respond to sonic prompts, changing the color of the screen or playing sounds in addition to those coming from the stage. The app allows for a greater deal of interactivity between the musician and the crowd, making for a more engaging experience.
Connecting each other in new and novel ways seems to have been a theme for businesses in the last 12 months, perhaps most appropriately in the hospitality industry. Operating out of Germany, Plus One Berlin now offers tourists not only an apartment to stay in, but also a knowledgeable local resident who can show them around the city. Travelers can see profiles of each of the 28 locals on hand in order to choose which one they’d like to accompany them. The idea makes city exploration a more unique experience, as travelers increasingly look for more than generic package holidays.