Spotted for you this week: a vegetarian butcher serving up lupin-based meat substitutes, an ear-mounted mini video camera that records continuous footage, a pop-up cafe offering healthy "five a day" meals for five UK pounds, and more. Our next edition is due on 20 October 2010. In the meantime, check out our daily postings on, send us your tips, and please don't forget to tell your friends and colleagues about us. Much appreciated!


October 13, 2010

Luxury hotels for dogs aren't a new concept, but we recently came across one in Portland with a twist that we couldn't resist sharing. Not only does the Sniff Dog Hotel offer high-end accommodations, grooming, training and daycare, but it also includes a café where dog-loving humans can hang out and watch their canine companions play for free.

With daily rates beginning at USD 37 for a 16-square-foot room, the Sniff Dog Hotel's accommodations feature elevated beds with fleece bedding, multihour play sessions and complimentary baths after a four-night stay. Climate-controlled suites of larger sizes are also available, many offering natural lighting and views of the city. All hotel guests are monitored 24/7, and an indoor play park — used for daycare as well — features dirt-free K9 grass and custom playmate-matching based on temperament. Grooming, spa services and massage therapy are also available, but the best part in our view is the Sniff Café, serving local beer, wine, coffee, pastries, sandwiches, pizza and more. During the café's Happy Hour from 5 to 7pm Monday through Saturday, human patrons can let their dogs romp for free in Sniff Dog's indoor park while they enjoy reduced beverage prices along with the café's flat-screen TVs, free wifi and outdoor seating.

Still not sure pets and their owners represent a compelling market? Then just pause for a moment to consider the USD 47.7 billion US consumers alone are expected to spend on their pets this year. Next, check out some of our other pet-related coverage. In no time at all you'll be saying “woof” with the best of them! ;-) (Related: With every box of dog food, a meal for a homeless petFive business ideas aimed at cats, dogs & their doting ownersDesign your own pet foodGPS collar tag helps owners find lost petsPeer-to-peer petsitting serviceBrain-building toys for dogsSocial networking for dogsRFID collar tag helps dog owners meet new friends.)





October 13, 2010

Where Stop the Water aims to get consumers to use less water in the shower, Kimberly-Clark is focusing its attention on all the gallons that are flushed away each year. Recognizing that toilet flushing is actually the No. 1 use of water in the home, the company last month launched an initiative whereby it's giving out a free water conservation tool with every purchase of its Scott Naturals bath tissue.

The Smart Flush bag offers a safe and easy way for households to save water. When placed in the toilet tank, the material in the bag absorbs water and expands. By taking up space in the tank, the bag makes less available for water, with the result that each flush uses up to one liter less water than it normally would. A family of four, in fact, could save as much as 2,000 gallons of water per year by using the Smart Flush bag, Kimberly-Clark says. The Smart Flush bag is now being given away on Scott Naturals 8- and 12-pack bath tissue while supplies last at US retailers nationwide.

Water shortages are expected in 36 US states over the next five years, Kimberly-Clark says, citing the U.S. Government Accountability Office. How can your brand help Generation G conserve while giving out its own eco-minded free love...? (Related: Eco-iconic toilet reuses sink's wastewater.)





October 12, 2010

We've already seen gift tags, CD cases and even floral bouquets that can be personalised with a recording of the giver's voice, but recently we came across an innovation that targets kids. Similar in some ways to the platforms we've seen enabling online bedtime stories, the Talkatoo is a cute little button recorder that saves a message from a parent or loved one for playback at any time.

The Talkatoo comes as a necklace or clip-on charm for backpacks, lunchboxes or even belt loops. Adults need only press the device's small button to record a message up to 30 seconds long; once they're satisfied with it, a lockout switch protects the message from accidental re-recording. Over the course of the day, then, kids can replay the message as often as they like whenever they need the comfort of a loved one's voice. The Talkatoo is priced at USD 16.99. For each one purchased online directly from the Michigan-based company behind the device, it will also donate one to Kids in Distressed Situations for children with military parents abroad.

The Talkatoo is also available at Amazon and in select North American stores. Retailers in the rest of the world: time to help bring a little comfort to kids in your neck of the woods...? (Related: Remote (grand)parents read bedtime stories by web videoOnline platform for long-distance bedtime storiesNarrate-your-own storybook videos.)





October 12, 2010

This is the first in a series of posts on traceability. Written by Springwise, and supported by IBM. Read more about building a smarter planet.

Product recalls can have potentially serious health consequences, but the sheer number announced each year makes it almost impossible to keep track of them all. Aiming to help consumers stay abreast of the recalls that affect them, SafetyBook lets users register the products they own and then notifies them immediately of any relevant safety-related alerts or decisions.

The majority of recalls occur in three main product categories, SafetyBook says: child products, home appliances and automobiles. For that reason, those are the products it focuses on with its service. A yearly membership is now priced at USD 19.95. Once consumers sign up and register the products they own, the Chicago-based company actively monitors recall alerts from manufacturers and federal agencies including the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and National Highway Transportation Administration (NHTSA). When a relevant product has been recalled, SafetyBook notifies affected members via its company’s “Direct-Alert” email system.

The CPSC has already recalled nearly 45 million products this year, 32 million of which are a child-safety threat, SafetyBook says. Plenty of opportunity here to use smart tracking to deliver a little peace of mind!





October 11, 2010

Much the way the wearable Vicon Revue takes digital photos throughout the day as a means of recording the wearer's life, so the Looxcie records continuous video for a similar purpose.

Launched last month by a California company with the same name, the Looxcie (pronounced “look-see”) is a wearable Bluetooth camcorder that lets users capture video of everything they see. The device fits comfortably over the ear, the company says, and points wherever the wearer looks. It's always on, so the user needn't worry about turning it on when they want to record. When something memorable happens, though, they simply press a button to save a permanent, sharable clip of the last 30 seconds. Otherwise, Looxcie continuously purges the oldest video in its storage, which can accommodate up to five hours of recording. An accompanying smartphone application, meanwhile, turns the user's phone into a Looxcie viewfinder, remote control and editing tool for creating clips up to 30 minutes in length. Clips can also be uploaded to a Mac or PC via the device's USB connector for archiving, viewing, editing or additional sharing; a pre-programmable auto-share feature lets users automatically send clips to a preset email address. Looxcie currently operates with the majority of Android 2.0 and higher smartphones, with support for additional operating systems coming soon. The device itself is available at for USD 199.

We've been following the life-caching trend for years now, and it just doesn't seem to be fading away. How can *your* brand help consumers document their lives...?





October 11, 2010

There's no doubt the content-producing masses like to collaborate, and technology is helping that happen in more ways than ever before. Much the way WEbook helps writers collaborate, Songza lets music fans create shared radio stations and even London's Royal Opera House has undertaken a crowdsourcing effort via Twitter, so ThumbScribes enables the collaborative creation of virtually any kind of content from just about every type of device.

Inspired by chain novels and the 1900s parlour game Exquisite Corpse, New York-based ThumbScribes is a platform for creating collaborative content. Participants on the site, which is now in beta, begin by signing up and then either creating a new “scribe” — or piece of content — or joining in on one already started. Haiku, poems, short stories, flash fiction, novellas and songs can all be created asynchronously or in real time on the platform using computers, tablets, cell phones, IM and Twitter. Scribes get passed back and forth among ThumbScribes authors, who add new chapters or sections to the work until it's completed. They can be kept private and limited to a select set of authors, or they can be opened up to the world. Once a piece of content is completed, it can be published on the site and open to visitors' votes.

Will the crowds ever stop creating and collaborating? Never. And will brands ever stop recruiting them for new content? Certainly not. Facilitate the process, and you just may find yourself sitting happily in the middle ;-)

Contact: monthly briefing




October 8, 2010

Supermarkets and health food stores offer a growing variety of meat substitutes, aimed at vegans, vegetarians, flexitarians and everyone else who has decided to eat less meat. What we hadn't yet spotted, however, was a store dedicated to meat substitutes in the same way a butcher is dedicated to meat. Filling that gap is De Vegetarische Slager — the vegetarian butcher — which will be opening its doors in The Hague on Monday.

In addition to selling existing meat substitutes, De Vegetarische Slager's main innovation is its own line of lupin-based products. Protein-rich lupin seeds, also known as lupin beans, were common fare for the Romans. The plant's popularity as a source of human food fell by the wayside, and until soy came along, it was used to feed livestock. Now, a Dutch lupin grower — eighth generation farmer Jaap Korteweg — aims to bring lupin back into the kitchen as a sustainable alternative to eating animals.

The process of turning lupin seeds into edible protein was developed by a company in Wageningen. Korteweg, meanwhile, partnered with chef Marco Westmaas to create a culinary range of lupin and soy-based products that he'll be selling from his new 'butcher's shop'. De Vegetarische Slager hopes to appeal to foodies, and is targeting the higher end of the market — consumers willing to pay as much for a meat substitute as they would for the real thing. As more people opt for meatless Mondays or cut out meat altogether, we wouldn't be surprised to see vegetarian butchers pop up on main streets around the world.


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October 8, 2010

It's no secret that young kids are irresistibly drawn to all the many games and other entertainment options available on their parents' mobile phones. The havoc that can wreak on said phones, however, is another matter. Enter the Woogie, a huggable case for iPhone and iPod touch that keeps the device safe while allowing kids to enjoy the fun it has to offer.

Launched last month by Tennessee-based Griffin Technology and app developer ScrollMotion, the Woogie is part stuffed animal and part protective case for iPhone and iPod touch. The six-legged creature features two built-in speakers powered by included AAA batteries, and its body is made from soft, non-toxic fabrics designed to protect the device within from the drops, dings and bumps that are sure to happen in a kid's hands. The Woogie is easily carried by a child, but its legs can also be tucked underneath to prop up the phone for hands-free viewing. Priced at USD 19.99, the Woogie is available online from Griffin. Also available for the Woogie in Apple's App Store is ScrollMotion's free Iceberg Kids Sesame Street eBook sampler app for iPhone and iPod touch, which reads stories out loud and even allows parents and kids to record their own voices. More than 150 additional Woogie-ready titles are available in the App Store as well.

With the continuing rise of portable devices, it's a safe bet that demand for kid-proof protection will only increase. The Woogie, however, is currently available only in the U.S. One to partner with or emulate in other parts of the world? (Related: The coffee cup for moms that won't scald tykesPersonalized e-stories for kids on iPhone and KindleiPhone app narrates stories for young kidsiPhone game gets kids into the (hidden) park.)





October 8, 2010

Companies have long recognized that bloggers and other influencers in social media can be a highly effective target for marketing efforts. It's finding the right social influencers that's always been the trick, and that's where Klout comes in. The San Francisco company has devised a metric that captures in a single number an individual's influence on Twitter.

Ranging from 0 to 100, the Klout Score represents any individual's overall Twitter clout, with higher scores indicating a wider and stronger sphere of influence. More than 25 variables go into that score, inlcuding the number of engaged followers as opposed to spam bots and dead accounts, the likelihood that the person's messages will generate retweets or spark a conversation, and how influential the person's followers are. Scores on those variables are then run through Klout's analytics engine, which creates a composite score representing how successful a person is at engaging their audience and how big an impact their messages have on others. Soon to come from Klout is the inclusion of Facebook data as well as, potentially, information from LinkedIn, MySpace, Digg and even YouTube, AdAge reported.

For brands, the Klout score can be used to find influencers by topic or hashtag and connect with them directly through the Klout Perks program; in a current example, Klout is giving away free tickets to select influencers to try a new Virgin America Toronto route. For applications, meanwhile, the Klout API provides the ability to sort incoming messages based on the sender's Klout score, for instance, as well as to use it for social search, CRM and lead generation. Starbucks, Cover Girl and Dannon Yogurt have already put Klout to work, as have Fox and the Palms Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, according to AdAge. "Throwing free samples to a whole bunch of poorly targeted bloggers has serious limits," Klout global sales head Garth Holsinger told the publication. "The individuals we engage are identified because they've worked hard to establish a credible voice on subjects that matter to them." Time to put Klout to work for your application or brand...? (Related: Viral tourism site recruits expats to help promote New ZealandFree products for bloggers at invitation-only eventsTravel company gives bloggers free tripsConnecting restaurants and bloggers for 'tastecasting' via Twitter.)


Spotted by: AdAge




October 7, 2010

It's not uncommon for bookstore patrons to read page 99 of a prospective purchase as a way to decide if they actually want to buy it. Now aiming to help authors benefit from such evaluation earlier in the process, Page 99 Test is bringing that practice online.

Currently gearing up for a launch into private beta, Page 99 Test lets writers upload page 99 of their published or unpublished books to the site. There, readers can read and rate those single-page samples and indicate whether they'd a) turn the page, and b) buy the book based on what they read. Each page stays up for 30 days or 50 reads, whichever comes first. The goal is “to help writers understand if their writing — judged by the reader, who has access to just that one page — was good enough to compel the reader,” the site explains. Sign-up is now open for Page 99 Test's upcoming beta period. Coming later will be a paid service allowing authors to upload full chapters of their books for evaluation, as well as a service to help them connect with agents and editors. Referral fees for published books may also be added, according to the Page 99 Test blog.

As the tablet and eReaders continue to transform the book publishing world — and as the (often self-publishing) crowds have an increasingly prominent voice in determining what gets sold — Page 99 Test could play a role in helping the cream of unpublished books rise to the top. One to watch! (Related: Free e-book streaming and sharing with ad supportA curated marketplace for self-published booksLeanpub encourages authors to publish early & edit oftenCrowdsourcing site helps publishers find new authorsHarperCollins hopes crowds will spot next bestsellerSelling books by the chapter.)


Spotted by: NOTCOT




October 7, 2010

Pop-up cafés can be an effective way to promote both brands and concepts. We've already seen one showcasing sustainable design and another focusing on the Yellow Pages; now, borrowing a little bit of both, a brand-sponsored example in London is helping consumers get their five servings a day of fruits and vegetables.

Launched by the Innocent smoothie brand at the start of this month, the 5 for 5 Café in London's Shoreditch region gives U.K. consumers a way to get their recommended “five a day” in one meal for just GBP 5. The 5 for 5's menu was created for Innocent by celebrity chef Gizzi Erskine, and a different selection of dishes is served up each day including two starters, three main courses and two puddings; consumers need only pick two for a complete day's quota of vegetables and fruits. Sit-down lunches and dinners are available by reservation only through Friday, and a kid's menu is available. So, too, are take-away “veg pots” and smoothies — also priced together at GBP 5 — for those on the go.

You have two competing options for your brand's next promotional expenditure: a) a weeklong café that combines education, tryvertising and an experience consumers will remember; or b) a big, expensive ad. Which do you pick? A+ to everyone who said “a”! ;-)





October 7, 2010

We've seen plenty of “no-frills chic” hotels emerge over the years, including Dutch Qbic and citizenM, which both take a modular approach to building hotels. Borrowing a page from each of those concepts, Spanish Lookotels is gearing up to build an energy-efficient budget hotel with 100 modular rooms in less than six months.

For its “lowxurious” hotel, Lookotel envisions a structure in which every room is a separate, prefabricated module. Rooms will range in size from just 9.7 square metres up to 12.10 square metres, each one of them self-sufficient structurally, architecturally and functionally with a sofa bed, TV, desk, chair, telephone, individual air conditioning, bathroom, automated controls and wifi. Self-service check-in and -out will be enabled by automatic dispensers and control-card access, while a built-in safety system and 24-hour telephone customer service will keep guests comfortable. Building costs will be minimized through reduced construction time and raw material costs, the hotel says, while operational costs will take advantage of reduced staff costs, an energy-efficient and low-maintenance design, and supply-chain solutions including services outsourcing. Staff wage costs, for instance, will be 70 percent lower than those in equivalent Spanish hotels, according to, while energy expenses will be 40 percent lower.

With initial financing of EUR 60 million, Lookhotel hopes to build 10 such hotels in Spain before expanding around the world, the site reported, noting that early interest has been shown by several budget airlines. Meanwhile, the hotel seeks franchisees for its concept; one to get in on early...?





Just in case you missed it, we've included our previous edition below.

And don't forget—you can access everything we've published in our idea database, which is
conveniently organized by industry.

whipbikes Students pay by phone for bike-sharing on campus
Transportation / Marketing & advertising

WhipBikes is a self-service sharing system at Newcastle University.
Users text a bike's number and receive a reply containing a code to
unlock it. The small rental fee is added to their mobile phone bill.

fattie T-shirts for boys with 'fat ties' sewn on
Fashion & beauty / Style & design

Available in both short- and long-sleeved versions, Fat Tie shirts
aim to bring a hip sense of style to boys' tops with bold, tie-like
appliques sewn on the front. Sizes range from 12 months to 5T.

nabewise Online guide to US neighbourhoods
Homes & housing / Media & publishing

NabeWise offers real-time neighbourhood rankings using attributes
such as trendiness, noise level, suitability for families and safety. Plus
there are photo tours, reviews and scorecards based on survey data.

safetytat Design-your-own emergency tattoos for kids
Life hacks

SafetyTat's new TatBuilder has a choice of more than 100,000
style combinations allowing parents to design a temporary tattoo
carrying contact information to help lost kids get home.

jillies Blouses designed for breast cancer treatment
Style & design

Featuring Velcro closures and deep armholes, Jillies blouses are
cotton tunic-style garments designed to replace the standard-issue
hospital robe routinely provided to cancer patients.

flatterme Service delivers flattery by phone, on demand
Entertainment / Telecom & mobile

For USD 5 Flatter Me will call a customer's friend or relation in North
America and deliver a load of compliments. Users can customise
the message or let the Canadian firm come up with the tributes.

matchfounders Matchmaking service helps find startup cofounders
Life hacks

MatchFounders aims to hook up potential business cofounders.
Users search for potential matches based on their desired
partner's areas of expertise, funding preferences and commitment.

alula Limited-edition art by yearly subscription
Style & design / Retail

California-based Alula offers a yearly subscription service that
buys its subscribers quarterly pieces of limited-edition textile art.
All pieces are signed and numbered; one year costs USD 200.

huddleforhunger Kraft uses social media to tackle hunger
Marketing & advertising / Non-profit, social cause

Through an array of online activities such as 'liking' Kraft Foods
on Facebook, uploading photos, watching YouTube videos and
tweeting, consumers will help Kraft donate up to 4 million meals.

renac High-end calculators for rent to students

Graphic and financial calculators are still used in some college
classes. Canadian Renac is offering appropriate models for rent,
promising a saving of more than 70 percent over a full purchase.






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