Weekly newsletter — 19 January 2011

Spotted for you this week: a way to give to charity by automatically rounding up credit card purchases, a cut-to-fit mat that turns into a vegetable patch, a knitwear accessories site where consumers choose someone to knit their own designs, and more. Our next edition is due on 26 January 2011. In the meantime, check out our daily postings on www.springwise.com, send us your tips, and please don't forget to tell your friends and colleagues about us. Much appreciated!


January 19, 2011
Rounding up credit card purchases creates a monthly donation to charity

It makes sense that reducing the effort involved in donating to charity should increase donations overall. That's part of the premise behind Method's clothes-collecting laundry truck, and it's also inherent in online donation-generators such as ProcrasDonate. Now, San Francisco-based SwipeGood aims to accomplish something similar, this time harnessing consumers' use of credit cards.

Users of SwipeGood begin by signing up with the service and selecting the charity they'd like to help. They also register the credit card they'd like to use toward that end. Once that's done, they simply go about their normal daily routine, using the designated credit card as they normally would. The only difference is that for each purchase made using that card, SwipeGood rounds up the amount spent to the nearest dollar, donating the difference to the user's chosen charity at the end of each month. On average, just that simple rounding up process amounts to about USD 20 per month, SwipeGood says, though users can also set an upper limit. Participation in SwipeGood is free for charities; donors pay a fee to the service of 5 percent of each monthly donation.

As an interesting side note, SwipeGood's management and advisory teams include founders of Blippy and Supercool School, both of which have appeared on our virtual pages in the past. Charitable organizations: one to get involved in!

Website: www.swipegood.com
Contact: www.swipegood.com/contact

Spotted by Troy Tessalone




January 19, 2011
Photography workshops inside a camera obscura on wheels

There's certainly no shortage of photography classes out there to help hone enthusiasts' skills. What's much less common, to say the least, is the chance to take a class inside a working camera obscura. Sure enough, though, that's just what's on offer through the Roulot'ographe, a mobile trailer that transforms into a giant camera obscura and photography lab.

Students who participate in Flash007's workshops inside the Roulot'ographe, which is based in Luxembourg, don't just get the opportunity to study a giant camera obscura, however. They also learn how to form a photographic image, they discuss the effects of light and chemical reactions, and they produce and take pictures through a small pinhole camera of their own creation. Digital photography is discussed as well. All that's needed for the mobile studio to set up operations is proximity to an electrical connection and running water.

We've already seen the likes of Canon offer tryvertising workshops in scenic locations, but the Roulot'ographe definitely adds something new with its educational content, unique experience and flexible mobility. Photography brands, retailers and educators around the globe: be inspired!

Website: www.roulotographe.lu
Contact: neckel@flash007.lu

Spotted by: Petz Scholtus




January 19, 2011
In Australia, volunteer-made site enables help for flood victims

Necessity is the mother of invention, as the old saying goes, and there's no clearer time to see that maxim in action than in the wake of a disaster. Much the way Bushfire Housing sprang up back in 2009 to help the thousands of Australian families left homeless by fires in Victoria and New South Wales, so Flood Aid aims to help those affected by this year's devastating floods.

Created by a team of some 30 people spanning nine cities and five continents, Flood Aid aims to be a social resource that can help connect people in need with those who can help. People affected by the 2011 floods in Australia and Brazil can register on the site for help with cleanup — offering supplies or housing, for instance. Those able to offer assistance, meanwhile, can also register that with the site, whether it's carpentry skills, a place to sleep or some home-cooked meals. Social media including Facebook and Twitter play a key promotional role in Flood Aid, which puts no limit on the number of offers or calls for help any one user can list.

The site explains: “Floodaid.com.au is not a charity, nor is it a business. We're not a non-for-profit or an organisation. We're merely an international group of like-minded people following a vision and combining skills to create a new type of social network with big plans for the future.”

Coming soon from Flood Aid is a suite of mobile apps designed for similar purposes. Time for your generous brand to get involved with sponsorship, development or other practical assistance? (Related: Donated site helps families keep their homesVirtual game purchases benefit Haiti Relief Fund.)

Website: www.floodaid.com.au
Contact: www.floodaid.com.au/content/contact-us

Spotted by: Deborah Frenkel



January 18, 2011
Using Skype, UK 'granny cloud' helps teach Indian children

If the internet can enable grandparents to read stories to their grandchildren from afar, then why not use similar technology to improve literacy and education around the globe? That, indeed, is the premise behind an initiative launched by Sugata Mitra, a professor of education technology at the UK's Newcastle University.

On a trip to India a few years ago, Mitra — whose work is perhaps best known for inspiring the film “Slumdog Millionaire” — asked children there what they would most like to use Skype for. “Surprisingly, they said they wanted British grandmothers to read them fairytales — they'd even worked out that between them they could afford to pay GBP 1 a week out of their own money," Mitra told the Guardian in a report last year. Accordingly, Mitra put out a call for UK grannies to do just that, and some 200 volunteers responded. "Many are retired teachers, who are now regularly on Skype teaching children in the slums," Mitra explained.

Since then, the project — known officially as “SOLE and SOME” but unofficially as the “Granny Cloud” — has expanded from incorporating volunteers just for storytelling to using them more as educational mentors. “This is the group of SOME volunteers that is emerging — a group of people who would make themselves available over Skype for, say, one hour a week,” explains the project's site. The session would then be led by a mediator, and involve conversation, stories and singing.

Prospective volunteers are encouraged to contact the project to get involved. Meanwhile, which generosity-minded brands will add their sponsorship and involvement to help keep it going...? (Related: Video stories for kids, read by kids onlineRemote (grand)parents read bedtime stories by web video.)

Website: solesandsomes.wikispaces.com/
Contact: sugata.mitra@newcastle.ac.uk




January 18, 2011
Web app helps create & track business proposals

Creating a business proposal can be a time-consuming endeavor, involving multiple rounds of creation, editing, revision, formatting and approval. Aiming to make that process easier, TinderBox is a web-based application that helps individuals and teams create, manage, deliver and track interactive business proposals.

Indiana-based TinderBox allows users to manage all aspects of proposal creation — including writing, formatting, management, approvals and tracking — all from within one simple interface. The app ensures that everyone is always working with the most accurate, consistent and up-to-date proposal content, and it provides tracking data for every proposal that gets sent out. Users can always see, for example, when a proposal was viewed by a prospect, what sections they viewed and how long they spent reviewing it, offering key insights that can help improve their proposals over time. Pricing for small teams of up to four people starts at USD 30 per user per month.

Wherever there's pain, there's opportunity, as we've noted so many times before — how can your brand help...? (Related: Crowdsourcing business documents.)

Website: www.gettinderbox.com
Contact: info@gettinderbox.com




January 18, 2011
From recycled leather scraps, purses with a story

Eco-friendly fashion has been an ongoing theme on our virtual pages in recent years, as have product life stories. Combining an element of each, we recently came across New York designer Diana Eng's “fortune cookie” change purses, which are made entirely from recycled — and traceable — scraps of leather.

Each 4-by-4-by-2-inch fortune cookie purse comes with a dust bag as well as a real printed fortune inside. Even more interesting, the purses are all made of scrap leather reclaimed from the furniture, upholstery and garment industries. One batch, for example, derives from a pelt of leather that was mistakenly written upon with magic marker, making it unsuitable for the clothing it was intended for. Instead, Eng simply used small sections that were still clean. Perhaps best of all, however, is that each purse is branded with a unique number indicating the source of the leather it's made from; consumers can look up the number of their purse on Eng's website to learn its origins. Pricing on the purses is USD 45 each.

It's one thing to craft a product from reclaimed materials, but making those origins traceable by consumers takes the effort to a whole new level. How could your brand turn your sustainable sourcing into a story worth hearing? (Related: One-of-a-kind kids' clothes, locally made from reclaimed discardsMarketplace for reclaimed building materials tracks each piece's storyVirgin Atlantic's seat covers, reborn as bags.)

Website: www.dianaeng.com/shop/fortune-cookie-coin-purse/
Contact: www.dianaeng.com/contact

Spotted by: Murray Orange




January 17, 2011
iPhone app sends safety alert if you don't arrive on time

Among the many new capabilities enabled by mobile technologies, personal safety is perhaps one of the more intriguing. We've seen Dutch Onna-onna's SMS service alerting customers to icy conditions; then, too, there's Aha Mobile's iPhone app allowing drivers to warn one another of upcoming hazards, and CiviGuard's mobile app service for location-specific disaster alerts. The latest spotting? Bluelight, a free iPhone app that notifies friends and family when a user doesn’t arrive at his or her destination as planned.

Created by Chicago-based Sandbox Industries, Bluelight users begin by telling the app how much time they need to get to their destination on a particular occasion, such as a late-night trip home. They also designate a friend or family member for the application to contact if it's necessary. Then, assuming they arrive at their destination as planned, they simply check in with Bluelight and their contact won’t be bothered. If they don’t check in, however, Bluelight will send a text message or email to the contact with the user's most recent location in the form of GPS coordinates plotted on a map. That person can then reach out to make sure everything is OK. Bluelight also offers a “Send Alert Now” button as an alternative to waiting for the application's timer.

Launched in January 2011, Bluelight is available for free download from Apple's App Store. Development-minded entrepreneurs: how can you harness mobile technology to further the cause of personal safety...? (Related: Flight tracker notifies contacts when you arrive.)

Website: www.bluelightapp.com
Contact: hello@bluelight.com




January 17, 2011
Ready-to-plant mats grow into vegetable gardens

As we've tracked the urban gardening trend over the past few years, we've seen several initiatives designed to help those born without a green thumb reap the rewards of homegrown produce nonetheless. Now, California-based Amber's Garden has taken that concept even further with a series of preseeded mats that need only be planted in order to enjoy produce grown at home.

Constructed of burlap and a paper-like material made of plant fiber, Amber's Garden Ready-to-Plant mats are designed to take the guesswork out of seed spacing, seed depth and when to plant. Packed with a variety of vegetable seeds — properly spaced and chosen in part for their similar depth requirements — the mats can simply be planted in a sunny garden spot or cut up to fit patio containers and then watered. In addition to holding the seeds, the biodegradable paper-like layer serves as a weed barrier for the first eight to 10 weeks, making the process of growing a garden as effortless and rewarding as possible; there's not even any need to transplant once the seedlings have grown. Harvesting can typically begin 30 to 35 days after planting. Available varieties include an Asian garden mix, summer crop, salad garden, salsa mix and pumpkin patch, among others. Pricing for a 6-foot-by-14-inch mat is USD 18.99.

Ease of use is clearly a defining characteristic within the urban gardening trend, and Amber's Garden mats may just represent a pinnacle in that respect. Home and garden retailers around the world: one to get in on! (Related: Online gardening service sends seeds when it's time to plantGardens for rent by the season, with vegetables pre-plantedHomegrown vegetables, no green thumb needed.)

Website: www.ambersgarden.com
Contact: www.ambersgarden.com/contact.html

Spotted by: Audrey van Petegem

trendwatching.com monthly briefing




January 17, 2011
Site promotes, ranks & books eco-hotels in Greece

Hotels are increasingly embracing green practices as a way to set themselves apart, so it only makes sense to see a portal emerge that aims to help eco-minded consumers find them. GreenHotels, in fact, serves not only as a portal and booking engine promoting eco-hotels in Greece, but it even scores those hotels on the “greenness” of their approach.

To be included in the GreenHotels network, hotels must have implemented operational systems and methods that are eco-oriented and they must have applied principles of environmental management. Eco-minded practices in use should target water savings, waste reduction, energy footprint and locally sourced products, among other areas. Based on their performance on those criteria, each hotel is given an overall score and classified as a full-fledged “Eco Hotel” — the named used for those with the best scores — or as “Eco Class” A, B or C. Prospective guests can then search the GreenHotels site by map, keyword or the “greenness” level they're looking for. Once they find one they like, they can book directly through the GreenHotels site.

GreenHotels is the brainchild of Greek mSolutions. Who will help environmentally conscious travelers find like-minded hotels in other parts of the world...? (Related: Hotel rewards visitors for smart transportation choicesFive innovative hotel conceptsFrom 12 tons of trash, a pop-up hotel with a message.)

Website: www.greenhotels.gr
Contact: info@greenhotels.gr

Spotted by: Sotiris Milonas




January 14, 2011
City guides reveal stories through urban adventures

We continue to spot innovative ways of showcasing cities to travelers, whether it's tours of London led by the homeless, tools for creating customized guides, or guides devoted to street art. However, we've recently come across a series of Italian guides that reveal stories to travelers as they are led on adventures around the city.

WHAI WHAI offers guides to Venice, Rome, Florence, Verona and Milan — with New York currently being prepared. Players begin by sending a text message to WHAI WHAI, which can specify the number of hours they would like to play the game, the difficultly level, or the starting location. A series of enigmas are then sent to the player, each requiring local knowledge to solve before the next destination is revealed. As the adventure unfolds, the book provides the next installment of a narrative based on the city's history.

Each guidebook can be played twice, with a different series of challenges and stories. Players also have the option of challenging their friends to a game, where they will be led on different adventures that start and finish at the same locations. WHAI WHAI has now developed an iPhone application, currently offering guides to Venice and Verona — with further destinations to follow. The game unfolds in much the same way, but also employs the phone's compass feature to guide players on their journey.

There will never be a shortage of tourists hungry for the best local knowledge, and with the proliferation of online guides they are increasingly spoilt for choice. WHAI WHAI, however, has taken a different tack; proving that the medium can be as compelling as the message.

Website: www.whaiwhai.com
Contact: info@whaiwhai.com

Spotted by: Giulia Cuccolini




January 14, 2011
A Facebook life, rendered in book form

Facebook users can already see their online content made tangible on real-world notebooks, mugs and photo albums. In fact, with Kodak's Picture Kiosks, they can even print out their Facebook pictures at Target. Now adding to the mix is the SocialBook, a project currently seeking funding on Kickstarter that aims to bring the user's whole Facebook experience into the concrete, physical world.

SocialBook — also known as “The Facebook Book” — is a personalized, 8.5-by-11-inch book that can be created from the status updates, published pictures, wall messages and comments shared between the user and as many as 10 selected Facebook friends. Pages in the SocialBook follow the chronological order of the user's Facebook account, and its Facebook-blue cover — available in paperback or hardcover — is customized with the user's Facebook account name. Pricing will depend on the length of the user's Facebook history, ranging from USD 25 for paperback and USD 35 for hardcover for up to 6 months' worth of online life (up to 50 pages) to USD 100 for paperback and USD 110 for hardcover when the user's history spans two years or more (up to 400 pages). SocialBook aims to raise USD 10,000 on Kickstarter by Feb. 5; each pledge can be counted as a pre-order for a Facebook Book of corresponding length. Shipping within the US is free.

Consumers' social lives may be increasingly lived online, but that doesn't mean the need for tangible offline evidence has disappeared. How can your brand help bridge the OFF=ON connection?

Website: www.yoursocialbook.com
Contact: yoursocialbook@gmail.com

Spotted by: Susan Hurwitz 




January 14, 2011
Design-your-own accessories with a choice of knitting grannies

It's remarkable how many times grannies have appeared on our virtual pages over the years, both for their eco-sensible advice and for their nifty knack for knitting. Now, in addition to Danish Mormor, Swiss Netgranny and French Golden Hook, consumers with a hankering for hand-knit clothing have a new design-your-own option in London's Grannies Inc.

Grannies Inc. offers an array of knitwear accessory templates that consumers can use to design their own masterpieces. Myriad different styles, textures, colors and added features are at the consumer's disposal as they go about brainstorming the perfect beanie, scarf, wristwarmer, snood or head band. Once they have a design they like, shoppers can also choose the granny they'd like to have make it. From there, it gets speedily knit by the chosen knitter using 100 percent British spun merino wool yarn. For those who like to see before they buy, a premade collection is also available. Currently, wrist warmer pricing begins at about GBP 20.

Anyone still doubt the value of a good product life story and some (still) made here appeal? We didn't think so.

Website: www.granniesinc.co.uk
Contact: hello@granniesinc.co.uk

Spotted by: Ken Green




January 13, 2011
Tanzanian clinic uses mobile payments to facilitate treatment

Mobile payment systems have seen a surge of growth in Africa, with many businesses and individuals benefiting from the safe, low-cost alternative that they provide. However, we've recently come across a novel application that harnesses this technology to deliver healthcare to women in rural Tanzania.

The Comprehensive Community Based Rehabilitation in Tanzania clinic (CCBRT), based in Dar es Salaam, is one of the few places in the country that can perform corrective surgery for fistula — a stigmatised condition sometimes developed after traumatic childbirth. Using Vodafone's M-Pesa service, the clinic can send transport grants directly to patients to cover the average USD 60 cost of a round-trip from rural Tanzania. In a country where many live on USD 2 per day, the financial assistance they receive is crucial in allowing treatment, and has seen a surge in operations at the clinic.

The M-Pesa system and its competitors continue to see rapid growth, particularly in areas such as East Africa where citizens with mobile phones vastly outnumber those with bank accounts. Not only do mobile money transfer services promise a market poised for further growth, they also provide opportunities to help in the poorest communities around the world. And, as CCBRT has shown, there is still endless room for innovation…

Website: www.ccbrt.or.tz
Contact: info@ccbrt.or.tz

Spotted by: textually.org via Judy McRae




January 13, 2011
Radiation shields for expectant mothers

The list of potential threats to the unborn child is longer than most expectant mothers can keep track of, but one that's more recently emerged in this mobile world is the radiation from cellphones and other gadgets. Aiming to keep unborn children safe while giving pregnant women some peace of mind, New York-based RadiaShield offers protection in several forms.

RadiaShield's Belly Armor line offers three ways to protect children still in the womb from today's ubiquitous electromagnetic radiation. The machine-washable Belly Blanket, for instance, combines baby-soft cotton with the protection of RadiaShield fabric to shield babies from 99.9 percent of incoming radiation, RadiaShield says. Measuring just the right size for protection from a laptop computer, the Belly Blanket is priced at USD 69. The USD 59 Belly Tee, meanwhile, features a lightweight and breathable cotton/spandex blend along with a mid-section lined with RadiaShield fabric for all-day protection from radiation. Then there's the Belly Band, also priced at USD 59, which fully covers the belly when worn under or over clothes. The efficacy of all three can be tested by wrapping a cellphone in one, RadiaShield says; after 30 seconds or so, the signal should diminish or disappear. A portion of all Belly Armor proceeds goes toward programs that promote women’s prenatal health.

Belly Armor products are sold online and in select stores around the world. (Related: Five business ideas focused on babies & new parentsThe wisdom of the crowds, tailored to expecting parentsFunctional food brand for pregnant women.)

Website: www.bellyarmor.com
Contact: info@bellyarmor.com

Spotted by: Murray Orange




January 13, 2011
Personal coaching service delivers motivation across media

Recently we've looked at confidence-building services that deliver praise via phone or text message, but Goalpher takes a combined approach to helping consumers achieve their life goals.

Now in beta, California-based Goalpher uses a combination of one-on-one counseling via phone, email or text message along with an assortment of web tools. Personalized counseling contact tends to focus on motivational reminders, goal updates and relevant information and techniques, while the web application is designed to tie everything together with tools for capturing goals, priorities, action plans and coaching notes. Pricing options range from USD 20 for a single call along with unlimited app access to USD 75 for a three-month package including two calls per month and unlimited access to Goalpher's app tools. Goalpher earmarks 10 percent of its profits for the development of goal-oriented programs for youth and financially challenged individuals.

For as long as consumers need help setting and pursuing goals, there will be opportunities to help them. One to regionalize for other cultures and languages? (Related: Web service uses gaming to motivate salespeopleSite matches motivation 'buddies' with shared goals.)

Website: www.goalpher.com
Contact: contact@goalpher.com




Fast forward to last week

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.

solcinema Mobile micro-cinema powered entirely by the sun
Entertainment / Non-profit, social cause

The Sol Cinema is a 1960s caravan converted to showcase locally
made films. The quirky venue seats just 8 adults or 12 children and
presentations are powered by a solar panel and lithium batteries.

urbanquest Urban adventure game with mystery dinner location
Lifestyle & leisure / Food & beverage

Ottawa-based Urban Quest uses a sequence of clues to lead
participants on a scenic tour through the city, ultimately
culminating in a fine dinner at an initially unnamed restaurant.

wavefront Rental cellphones let developers test their mobile apps
Telecom & mobile

Wavefront's handset rental service allows app developers to check
their software works with different devices, whilst avoiding having to
purchase unlocked phones or commit to mobile operator contracts.

startuplift Crowdsourced feedback offered to young startups
Media & publishing

Companies looking for feedback describe themselves on StartUpLift,
highlight particular areas for comment, and can offer rewards for
useful contributions. Firms can receive ongoing feedback indefinitely.

tokipoki Personalized trading cards feature members' own pets
Lifestyle & leisure

Los Angeles-based Toki Poki aims to help animal lovers share stories
and resources, raise awareness and learn about events, products
and services by means of its social network and pet profile cards.

veeel Crowdsourcing site actively manages design process
Style & design

Veeel works with more than 1,000 freelance designers to offer product
development services for a variety of brands and corporations. The
company itself plays an active role throughout each process.

transcend For skiers, GPS-enabled goggles with LCD dashboard
Lifestyle & leisure

Transcend goggles provide real-time feedback including altitude,
latitude/longitude, speed, vertical distance travelled, total distance
travelled, stopwatch mode, a run-counter, temperature and time.

inlovia Site helps aspiring matchmakers pair up their friends
Lifestyle & leisure

Aspiring matchmakers tell Inlovia the details of a potential couple,
and why they think the two should meet. The site then sends each
an email saying their friend wants to introduce them to someone.

spotconnect Device turns smartphones into satellite communicators
Telecom & mobile / Life hacks

SPOT Connect is a satellite communicator that allows smartphone
users to send texts, short emails and SOS messages with GPS
coordinates, or to send updates to maps or social networking sites.

businessideas2011 Top 20 business ideas & opportunities for 2011

A selection of business and marketing ideas -- from pop-up,
medically equipped care suites to a funding service targeting
eBay merchants -- that we believe will provide entrepreneurs
with plenty of opportunities and inspiration in the coming year.

mgxbymaterialise Brussels store focuses on 3D printed goods
Retail / Style & design

Rapid prototyping firm Materialise's .MGX store will showcase and
sell the brand's lighting and other collections, all created through
3D printing. It will also feature exhibitions from its designers.

tickettailor Online ticketing, minus the booking fees
Financial services

Ticket Tailor abolishes mandatory booking fees: instead, event
organisers pay a monthly fee, scaled according to the number
of events. They then receive all the proceeds from each ticket sale.

buyback Amazon buys back used books from customers
Retail / Media & publishing

Amazon's trade-in program has been extended to allow users to
sell books they purchased on the site. Eligible books can be returned
by mail in exchange for a gift card credited to the sender's account.

feedbackroulette Review a website, get a free review in return
Media & publishing / Life hacks

Canadian Feedback Roulette offers website owners a quick, free way
to get anonymous feedback on their websites. Users review other
participating websites, thereby qualifying for reviews of their own site.

jrtokai Dedicated cars for families on Japanese bullet trains
Transportation / Lifestyle & leisure

Removing some of the pressure on parents to keep children quiet,
Central Japan Railway recently introduced 'family cars' on its Tokyo
to Shin-Osaka route. Fares are up to 9% lower than standard tickets.




What is Springwise?

Springwise and its global network of 8,000 spotters scan the globe for smart new business ideas, delivering instant inspiration to entrepreneurial minds from San Francisco to Singapore. Time to start the Next Big Thing!


Bloggers, journalists, editors

Feel free to publish part or all of these ideas at your convenience. As long as you properly name, credit and link the source, www.springwise.com, we're happy. If you're a journalist working on a new business idea-related article, check out our press pages or request a quote: we'll do our best to make your deadline-dominated life easier.


Change your email address or unsubscribe

Has your email address changed? Please update your details here: springwise.com/newsletter/change
Want to unsubscribe? Please go to: springwise.com/newsletter/unsubscribe



The author reserves the right not to be responsible for the topicality, correctness, completeness or quality of the information provided. Liability claims regarding damage caused by the use of any information provided, including any kind of information which is incomplete or incorrect, will therefore be rejected.


Contact/Address details

Springwise BV, a 53rd Floor BV company.
Address: Rhijnvis Feithstraat 17-I, 1054 TV Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
Web address: www.springwise.com
Contact email address: info@springwise.com