Create the Future. Today

With internet access becoming more of a necessity than a luxury these days, we’ve seen a number of startups trying to boost wifi coverage outdoors, including pavement hotspots and even park wifi powered by dog poo. Now a re-enactment village in Israel is providing connectivity to tourists from the animals that carry them around the park, through its Wi Fi Donkeys service. Kfar Kedem is a foreign tourist attraction that offers donkey rides through the Lower Galilee hills while actors depict biblical-era life around them. Despite being located in an area steeped in history, the park’s owners are bringing the service up to date by equipping five of its 30 donkeys with wifi routers. Taking advantage of the number of visitors who turn up with smartphones and tablet devices, the park is hoping that – by providing connectivity – those tourists will be able to instantly share their opinions on the attraction, as well as photos and videos on social networks. With internet access slowly becoming ubiquitous, Kfar Kedem is leading the way by bringing wifi to the remote hills of Israel. One to replicate in your part of the world? Spotted by: Murtaza Patel Not long ago we saw ad agency BBR Saatchi & Saatchi IL tap multiplayer game Diablo III to find its next programmer, and just recently we came across another ad agency with a similarly unconventional strategy. Focusing in this case on the search for a new web designer, Ogilvy Brussels has targeted file-sharing websites and designers trying to get the latest version of Adobe Creative Suite through less-than-legal means. “Ogilvy Brussels is currently searching for a new web designer with fresh ideas and an unconventional style,” the company explains. “But if you’re an unemployed web designer, you probably can’t afford the crazy expensive application suite you need to work.” Accordingly, the firm has uploaded a file that purports to offer Adobe’s popular software package on numerous file-sharing websites including RapidShare, MediaFire, and DepositFiles. Instead of Adobe Creative Suite, however, what those who download the file get is “an appealing job offer at our agency.” After years of relying on human resources to fill open jobs, companies are beginning to seek out candidates where they’re most likely to be found online. How could your tech-savvy brand do something similar? While the world recovers from the excitement of the recent Olympic Games, and the highlights are still fresh in our memories, it seems a good time for sports-minded entrepreneurs to lay out their wares. This is exactly what David Lowe has done, launching his own line of designer ping-pong bats – Uberpong– on Kickstarter. His timeliness has paid off with his 10,000 USD target reached and surpassed. Ping-pong is a popular pastime, particularly after its recent high profile during the Olympics, but it is not considered to be the most stylish of sports with its bland white kits and uniformly colored paddles. David aims to change this with his Uberpong paddles by combining art and design in the sports’ equipment. In his words: ‘Andre Agassi changed the way tennis was perceived when he wore crazy outfits on his way to winning Grand Slam tournaments. We want to do a similar thing with ping-pong. The Uberpong ping-pong paddle designs are an extension of your personality. We want you to play with style.’ The designs are printed on the paddles using UV digital flatbed printing, which gives a photographic quality to the image and, crucially, doesn’t change the surface of the paddle so a player’s game is not impeded. The designs have been sourced from graphic designers and artists all over the world. At this stage there are a limited number of designs available, but David hopes to allow customers in the future to customize their own paddles. Who says that sport and style can’t go hand in hand? Perhaps a combination that more lifestyle and leisure entrepreneurs should explore? We’ve seen how public art can provide an aesthetic addition to an area whilst also providing eco benefits, with pieces such as Nissan’s vertical gardens in Mexico. This time, the Elevator B sculpture in Buffalo, New York, is also a working beehive. Building manufacturer Rigidized Metals originally bought the land, known as Silo City, with the idea of creating an industrial estate there, but the plan was scrapped. After finding a colony of bees living in one of the abandoned buildings, the company then decided to get graduate students from the University at Buffalo’s School of Architecture and Planning involved to design a new home for them. The result is the 22-feet high Elevator B, a shining metal honeycomb-shaped tower that houses the bees and also allows for visitors and school groups to walk inside to get a closer look – without getting stung. Rigidized Metals now hopes to revitalize the park as Hive City, which will act as a place for people to learn about the insects’ role in the environment, house a non-profit art center and provide building materials to businesses. Elevator B is yet another example of art tackling environmental issues, with the addition that it will also serve as an educational tool for children and adults alike. One for inspiration? Games have long helped parents educate and interact with their young children, but the advent of mobile technologies has expanded the possibilities considerably. Enter TinyTap, a free app for the iPad that lets parents and kids turn their shared experiences into personal and educational games. Creating a game with TinyTap – which is free on Apple’s App Store – is a simple matter of adding photos, recording questions and tracing answers. Parents and kids can do it together, and then the game is ready to play. Users of TinyTap can also share the games they create and browse for other ideas in the TinyTap store, where the educational games on offer can be fully personalized. The video below illustrates the concept in use:

With scoring built into the app, teachers can also use TinyTap to create customized activities and track students’ progress automatically. Meanwhile, more games, extended language support and an Android version are in the works, the app’s Israel-based maker says. Education entrepreneurs around the globe: one to get involved in? Creative gift-giving has remained a perennial challenge through the years, inspiring more than a few services designed to make it easier. Much like a cross between 15gifts and NOTANOTHERBILL, both of which we covered last year, Gift Owl is a UK venture that aims to take the pain out of finding the perfect gifts. Gift-givers begin by buying a Gift Owl Card on the company’s site; pricing is GBP 24.99, including delivery within the UK. Gift Owl then mails the card out to the intended recipient. When it arrives, the person on the receiving end fills out an accompanying questionnaire and sends it back to Gift Owl. “They can complete as little or as much as they want, but the more they tell us the better we can choose their gifts,” the company explains. Next, Gift Owl scouts the world of craft fairs, vintage shops, designer studios and more for unique items tailored to the recipient’s personality, style and taste. It then packages those items up, wraps the result in brown paper, and sends it along to the recipient. Where there’s pain there’s opportunity, as every entrepreneur knows. How could your brand offer some pain relief of its own, in gift-giving or beyond? We’ve already seen a combination of television broadcasting and app technology working to direct customers to extra content with the SonicNotify advertising platform. Now, the Super PAC app aims to give voters extra information about the advertisements appearing on television during the US presidential elections. Throughout September, US citizens are set to be bombarded with pleas from parties seeking their vote, particularly from the Democratic and Republican main contenders, who are heavily funded by groups known as super political action committees (PACs). Using Shazam-like technology, the app enables smartphone users to hold up their device to the television during the broadcast of a political ad in order to gain insight into who was behind its production. Super PAC recognizes the audio from the adverts and sends information its funding, as well as details about the veracity of the claims made in the commercial. They can then let others know if they loved or disliked the ad, or if they thought it was ‘fair’ or ‘fishy’, and see other viewers’ reactions. The video below shows the app in action: Currently available as a free download for the iPhone, the Super PAC app aims to bring an element of transparency to what is otherwise a period of political point-scoring and vote grabbing. Designed for use during the upcoming US presidential election, could this idea be implemented across advertising in general? Spotted by: Murtaza Patel Japanese innovators have been working hard to find preventative solutions in case of another disaster on the scale of the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami, from shopping bag helmets to escape pods. These ideas are still coming thick and fast, with the latest being the Shinko Industries Wood-Luck bed, which can protect sleepers from suffering injury from rubble in the case of a quake. Many of the casualties of earthquakes are a result of falling rubble and collapsing buildings. With this in mind, the company has created a four-poster bed made of a cypress wood that has been aged for 30 to 40 years, which gives it a strength that can withstand 60 tonnes of pressure from falling debris. The bed is currently available in a single version for JPY 450,000 or JPY 500,000 for a semi-double, with JPY 50,000 for installation. The following video from DigInfoTV shows the bed’s construction in greater detail: Providing a more sturdy alternative in place of taking cover under a table, as is the usual advice in the case of an emergency, it is hoped that the Wood-Luck bed could have more of a chance of saving lives, particularly during the nighttime when the majority of people will be asleep. How else could everyday objects be transformed to help in the event of a disaster? We first covered the World’s Most Valuable Social Network back in July, which operates as a global reach-out to missing children. The operation works by motivating social network users to donate their online profiles to the company. Currently confined just to Canada, whenever a child goes missing a call-out post is broadcast across all the donated profiles to help spread the message as quickly as possible. Communications Manager, Becky Scheer, has been overwhelmed by the response from the public: “We have welcomed over 2,700 Facebook networks and 550 Twitter networks donated so far, and counting. With over 3,200 networks signed up with the Most Valuable Network, our reach is over a million people.” These numbers are no surprise to Becky, who believes the network’s success so far is due to the simplicity of the action it requires from its users. “Anyone who has a child in their life can empathize and support the work that we do to find missing children and bring them home. We believe people have strongly supported our Most Valuable Network tool because they can immediately see how their simple act of donating their Facebook or Twitter feed can make such a powerful difference. We hear from people every day who want to help our work in searching for missing children, and this tool gives them an opportunity to make a meaningful contribution that is easy and doesn’t require any additional commitment.” Once a user is signed up, missing children alerts will be posted to their Facebook and/or Twitter profiles approximately four to five times a year. A recent success story for the founders is the case of a young girl who had been missing for over a month. Usually the business only operates within the geographical confines of British Columbia, but law enforcement agencies from a nearby province had asked for their help. Within two days of the Most Important Social Network spreading the message across user’s profiles, the girl made contact with her family. In Becky’s words: “This young girl had been missing for close to a month and authorities – and her family – were extremely concerned for her well-being. We were thrilled to have been able to play a role in safely locating this vulnerable teen.” Alongside support from the general public the initiative has also seen high profile backing from Canadian celebrities including TV presenter Sarah Richardson and sports broadcaster Rob Kerr since its founding in May. These celebrities have donated their widely followed online profiles thereby increasing the reach of the missing child posts considerably. The founders have been shrewd in their marketing of the initiative – launching the business to coincide with International Missing Children’s day on May 25 and reaching out to celebrities after having recognized the powerful pull they have on social networks. By utilizing Facebook and Twitter they have harnessed the sway of one of the most common mediums of communication in the 21st century, and consequently provide a constant reminder to social network users about their community responsibility. A good example of the success a startup can have with a simple premise and a finger on the pulse. You can read more about the World’s Most Valuable Social Network here or visit the World’s Most Valuable Social Network website here. We recently covered British Airways’ campaign to improve airline food which saw the company only using ingredients that taste good at 30,000 feet. Now our latest spotting, Inflightfeed, is also aiming to help fliers have a better culinary experience onboard by operating as a customer review site for airline food. Visitors to the site can browse the paid-for food options offered by over 80 airlines to help them make a decision about which company they might like to travel with. These include both the standard menu and economy class upgrades available. Fliers who have recently traveled with those airlines can also leave their comments on the menu, service received, value for money and taste – in order to help others with their future choices. They also have the option to upload a picture of the meal they had to give readers a greater indication of what the food was like. While customer review sites such as TripAdvisor have become a staple for the travel industry, this is the first that caters solely for judging the quality of airline food. Are there other aspects of travel entrepreneurs could explore that are being left out?