Discovering innovations that matter since 2002

To coincide with Fashion Week this year, here are the top business ideas and innovations from the industry.

10 In Uruguay, customers can pay for shoes with plastic bottles

It is heartening to see recycling making a place for itself in a multi-faceted way in the fashion industry. Uruguayan shoe brand Mamut, for a two week period, let customers exchange plastic bottles they have used or collected for their summer shoe line. The brand hopes to assist a drive to clean up local beaches. How else could recycling be encouraged in this industry?

Read more about MAMUT »

9 Hyper-absorbant bikini could help to clean the oceans

We also saw an interesting product that takes steps towards thinking about how wearables could be used to help clean the environment. The Sponge Suit is an item of eco apparel made from an outer layer of 3D printed elasto-plastic and a hydrophobic, carbon-based filler material which acts as a sponge. Effectively, the suit will enable its wearer to absorb pollutants in the surrounding water. The designers envision a large suit-cleaning infrastructure that will heat the suits to clean them, then remold them into a new suit. How else could apparel be more environmentally productive?

Read more about Sponge Suit »

10 In Uruguay, customers can pay for shoes with plastic bottles

It is heartening to see recycling making a place for itself in a multi-faceted way in the fashion industry. Uruguayan shoe brand Mamut, for a two week period, let customers exchange plastic bottles they have used or collected for their summer shoe line. The brand hopes to assist a drive to clean up local beaches. How else could recycling be encouraged in this industry?

Read more about MAMUT »

8 Try-before-you-buy service only charges customers for the clothes they keep

In the ecommerce sphere, we’re seeing a couple of plugins being created to enhance the customer experience. Try is a Google Chrome plugin that enables customers to try out multiple garments at home for ten days and only pay for the ones they keep. Anyone can install the plugin onto their browser and use the service with participating retailers such as Zara, Asos, J. Crew, and more. A gifting button from Loop can now also be installed, to enable users to choose and purchase a gift online, but leave the specifics, such as size and color, up to the recipient.

Read more about Try »

9 Hyper-absorbant bikini could help to clean the oceans

We also saw an interesting product that takes steps towards thinking about how wearables could be used to help clean the environment. The Sponge Suit is an item of eco apparel made from an outer layer of 3D printed elasto-plastic and a hydrophobic, carbon-based filler material which acts as a sponge. Effectively, the suit will enable its wearer to absorb pollutants in the surrounding water. The designers envision a large suit-cleaning infrastructure that will heat the suits to clean them, then remold them into a new suit. How else could apparel be more environmentally productive?

Read more about Sponge Suit »

10 In Uruguay, customers can pay for shoes with plastic bottles

It is heartening to see recycling making a place for itself in a multi-faceted way in the fashion industry. Uruguayan shoe brand Mamut, for a two week period, let customers exchange plastic bottles they have used or collected for their summer shoe line. The brand hopes to assist a drive to clean up local beaches. How else could recycling be encouraged in this industry?

Read more about MAMUT »

7 Smart friendship bracelets teach teenage girls how to code

Though fashion and coding don’t usually appear in the same sentence, it is a welcome surprise when they do. Joining a stream of devices that aim to teach kids about programming, Jewelbots are programmable friendship bracelets targeted at teenage and pre-teen girls. Connected by Bluetooth, the bracelets can light up or change color when friends are near, and as the young wearers become more experienced, they can design more complicated and creative responses, all the while learning the fundamentals of computer science.

Read more about Jewelbots »

8 Try-before-you-buy service only charges customers for the clothes they keep

In the ecommerce sphere, we’re seeing a couple of plugins being created to enhance the customer experience. Try is a Google Chrome plugin that enables customers to try out multiple garments at home for ten days and only pay for the ones they keep. Anyone can install the plugin onto their browser and use the service with participating retailers such as Zara, Asos, J. Crew, and more. A gifting button from Loop can now also be installed, to enable users to choose and purchase a gift online, but leave the specifics, such as size and color, up to the recipient.

Read more about Try »

9 Hyper-absorbant bikini could help to clean the oceans

We also saw an interesting product that takes steps towards thinking about how wearables could be used to help clean the environment. The Sponge Suit is an item of eco apparel made from an outer layer of 3D printed elasto-plastic and a hydrophobic, carbon-based filler material which acts as a sponge. Effectively, the suit will enable its wearer to absorb pollutants in the surrounding water. The designers envision a large suit-cleaning infrastructure that will heat the suits to clean them, then remold them into a new suit. How else could apparel be more environmentally productive?

Read more about Sponge Suit »

10 In Uruguay, customers can pay for shoes with plastic bottles

It is heartening to see recycling making a place for itself in a multi-faceted way in the fashion industry. Uruguayan shoe brand Mamut, for a two week period, let customers exchange plastic bottles they have used or collected for their summer shoe line. The brand hopes to assist a drive to clean up local beaches. How else could recycling be encouraged in this industry?

Read more about MAMUT »

6 Orwell-inspired clothing stops phones being hacked

To add a layer of security for the various contactless devices being carried around nowadays, fashion brand The Affair has developed a range that features the UnPocket. These are pouches made of metal-infused fabrics and attached to shirts, chinos, and jackets, which blocks all wifi, GPS, cell and RFID signal. As a result, the wearer’s mobile phones, credit cards and chipped passports can remain disconnected. It means that location can’t be gleaned through GPS or cell tower triangulation, and thieves can’t remotely skim data from contactless cards.

Read more about The Affair »

7 Smart friendship bracelets teach teenage girls how to code

Though fashion and coding don’t usually appear in the same sentence, it is a welcome surprise when they do. Joining a stream of devices that aim to teach kids about programming, Jewelbots are programmable friendship bracelets targeted at teenage and pre-teen girls. Connected by Bluetooth, the bracelets can light up or change color when friends are near, and as the young wearers become more experienced, they can design more complicated and creative responses, all the while learning the fundamentals of computer science.

Read more about Jewelbots »

8 Try-before-you-buy service only charges customers for the clothes they keep

In the ecommerce sphere, we’re seeing a couple of plugins being created to enhance the customer experience. Try is a Google Chrome plugin that enables customers to try out multiple garments at home for ten days and only pay for the ones they keep. Anyone can install the plugin onto their browser and use the service with participating retailers such as Zara, Asos, J. Crew, and more. A gifting button from Loop can now also be installed, to enable users to choose and purchase a gift online, but leave the specifics, such as size and color, up to the recipient.

Read more about Try »

9 Hyper-absorbant bikini could help to clean the oceans

We also saw an interesting product that takes steps towards thinking about how wearables could be used to help clean the environment. The Sponge Suit is an item of eco apparel made from an outer layer of 3D printed elasto-plastic and a hydrophobic, carbon-based filler material which acts as a sponge. Effectively, the suit will enable its wearer to absorb pollutants in the surrounding water. The designers envision a large suit-cleaning infrastructure that will heat the suits to clean them, then remold them into a new suit. How else could apparel be more environmentally productive?

Read more about Sponge Suit »

10 In Uruguay, customers can pay for shoes with plastic bottles

It is heartening to see recycling making a place for itself in a multi-faceted way in the fashion industry. Uruguayan shoe brand Mamut, for a two week period, let customers exchange plastic bottles they have used or collected for their summer shoe line. The brand hopes to assist a drive to clean up local beaches. How else could recycling be encouraged in this industry?

Read more about MAMUT »

5 Modular smartwatch lets wearers pick and choose the functions they need

Smartwatches, too, are now seeing super-customization options. Blocks, a London-based startup created a smartwatch with modular straps, which can be made up of varying components so the wearer can tailor the watch’s function to their specific needs. For example, an active customer can choose the GPS location, extra battery, and heartrate monitor blocks, while others can get a large screen for reading notifications, a microphone block for recording voice notes, and have a gesture control block for extra convenience. Another smartwatch innovation is the Kairos T-band, which is a smart band that can be fitted onto any existing watch. It features a small screen and standard smartwatch functions.

Read more about Blocks »

6 Orwell-inspired clothing stops phones being hacked

To add a layer of security for the various contactless devices being carried around nowadays, fashion brand The Affair has developed a range that features the UnPocket. These are pouches made of metal-infused fabrics and attached to shirts, chinos, and jackets, which blocks all wifi, GPS, cell and RFID signal. As a result, the wearer’s mobile phones, credit cards and chipped passports can remain disconnected. It means that location can’t be gleaned through GPS or cell tower triangulation, and thieves can’t remotely skim data from contactless cards.

Read more about The Affair »

7 Smart friendship bracelets teach teenage girls how to code

Though fashion and coding don’t usually appear in the same sentence, it is a welcome surprise when they do. Joining a stream of devices that aim to teach kids about programming, Jewelbots are programmable friendship bracelets targeted at teenage and pre-teen girls. Connected by Bluetooth, the bracelets can light up or change color when friends are near, and as the young wearers become more experienced, they can design more complicated and creative responses, all the while learning the fundamentals of computer science.

Read more about Jewelbots »

8 Try-before-you-buy service only charges customers for the clothes they keep

In the ecommerce sphere, we’re seeing a couple of plugins being created to enhance the customer experience. Try is a Google Chrome plugin that enables customers to try out multiple garments at home for ten days and only pay for the ones they keep. Anyone can install the plugin onto their browser and use the service with participating retailers such as Zara, Asos, J. Crew, and more. A gifting button from Loop can now also be installed, to enable users to choose and purchase a gift online, but leave the specifics, such as size and color, up to the recipient.

Read more about Try »

9 Hyper-absorbant bikini could help to clean the oceans

We also saw an interesting product that takes steps towards thinking about how wearables could be used to help clean the environment. The Sponge Suit is an item of eco apparel made from an outer layer of 3D printed elasto-plastic and a hydrophobic, carbon-based filler material which acts as a sponge. Effectively, the suit will enable its wearer to absorb pollutants in the surrounding water. The designers envision a large suit-cleaning infrastructure that will heat the suits to clean them, then remold them into a new suit. How else could apparel be more environmentally productive?

Read more about Sponge Suit »

10 In Uruguay, customers can pay for shoes with plastic bottles

It is heartening to see recycling making a place for itself in a multi-faceted way in the fashion industry. Uruguayan shoe brand Mamut, for a two week period, let customers exchange plastic bottles they have used or collected for their summer shoe line. The brand hopes to assist a drive to clean up local beaches. How else could recycling be encouraged in this industry?

Read more about MAMUT »

3 Jacket uses vibrations to guide wearers around Paris

And an equally exciting area is, of course, wearable tech. We saw Australia-based startup Wearable:Experiments introduce its location-enabled Navigation Paris range, which comes pre-programmed with a detailed map of the city. The jacket works by delivering vibrations on each sleeve to signal turns — a small vibration signifies a slight veer, while a big vibration means take a hard turn. The technology hopes to enhance its wearer’s travel experience by enabling them to walk around an unfamiliar city without hunching over a map or a smartphone. In Japan, Jins Meme eyewear integrated sensor technology in their eyewear, which tracks its wearer’s tiredness and posture and sends reports to a companion app.

Read more about Wearable:Experiments »

4 Jeansmaker offers 400 different sizes to fit all women

With mass production becoming a norm in high street fashion, the super-customization trend is creating a counterforce for those who value unique, well-fitted tailoring. Qcut, a denim maker, is offering 400 different sizes to create a perfect fit for every woman. Their jeans are made according to five measurements — height, weight, shoe size, typical jean size and bra size — as opposed to the standard waist size and leg length option. Looking again at Japan, eyewear company JINS have created an app which lets customers alter their frames, adding colors, patterns, stamps, photos, or even messages to their new frames.

Read more about Qcut »

5 Modular smartwatch lets wearers pick and choose the functions they need

Smartwatches, too, are now seeing super-customization options. Blocks, a London-based startup created a smartwatch with modular straps, which can be made up of varying components so the wearer can tailor the watch’s function to their specific needs. For example, an active customer can choose the GPS location, extra battery, and heartrate monitor blocks, while others can get a large screen for reading notifications, a microphone block for recording voice notes, and have a gesture control block for extra convenience. Another smartwatch innovation is the Kairos T-band, which is a smart band that can be fitted onto any existing watch. It features a small screen and standard smartwatch functions.

Read more about Blocks »

6 Orwell-inspired clothing stops phones being hacked

To add a layer of security for the various contactless devices being carried around nowadays, fashion brand The Affair has developed a range that features the UnPocket. These are pouches made of metal-infused fabrics and attached to shirts, chinos, and jackets, which blocks all wifi, GPS, cell and RFID signal. As a result, the wearer’s mobile phones, credit cards and chipped passports can remain disconnected. It means that location can’t be gleaned through GPS or cell tower triangulation, and thieves can’t remotely skim data from contactless cards.

Read more about The Affair »

7 Smart friendship bracelets teach teenage girls how to code

Though fashion and coding don’t usually appear in the same sentence, it is a welcome surprise when they do. Joining a stream of devices that aim to teach kids about programming, Jewelbots are programmable friendship bracelets targeted at teenage and pre-teen girls. Connected by Bluetooth, the bracelets can light up or change color when friends are near, and as the young wearers become more experienced, they can design more complicated and creative responses, all the while learning the fundamentals of computer science.

Read more about Jewelbots »

8 Try-before-you-buy service only charges customers for the clothes they keep

In the ecommerce sphere, we’re seeing a couple of plugins being created to enhance the customer experience. Try is a Google Chrome plugin that enables customers to try out multiple garments at home for ten days and only pay for the ones they keep. Anyone can install the plugin onto their browser and use the service with participating retailers such as Zara, Asos, J. Crew, and more. A gifting button from Loop can now also be installed, to enable users to choose and purchase a gift online, but leave the specifics, such as size and color, up to the recipient.

Read more about Try »

9 Hyper-absorbant bikini could help to clean the oceans

We also saw an interesting product that takes steps towards thinking about how wearables could be used to help clean the environment. The Sponge Suit is an item of eco apparel made from an outer layer of 3D printed elasto-plastic and a hydrophobic, carbon-based filler material which acts as a sponge. Effectively, the suit will enable its wearer to absorb pollutants in the surrounding water. The designers envision a large suit-cleaning infrastructure that will heat the suits to clean them, then remold them into a new suit. How else could apparel be more environmentally productive?

Read more about Sponge Suit »

10 In Uruguay, customers can pay for shoes with plastic bottles

It is heartening to see recycling making a place for itself in a multi-faceted way in the fashion industry. Uruguayan shoe brand Mamut, for a two week period, let customers exchange plastic bottles they have used or collected for their summer shoe line. The brand hopes to assist a drive to clean up local beaches. How else could recycling be encouraged in this industry?

Read more about MAMUT »

2 3D printed skin could become the standard for cosmetics testing

One of the biggest trends in innovation this year is without a doubt surrounding the potential of 3D printing. In terms of beauty, we saw bioprinting startup Organovo team up with L’Oreal to begin introducing 3D printed human skin tissue for use in cosmetics testing. The technology also made its way into cosmetic surgery, where MirrorMe3D is offering customers the option to print out miniature replicas of their post-surgery face, so they can get a peak of their new face from every angle.

Read more about Organovo »

3 Jacket uses vibrations to guide wearers around Paris

And an equally exciting area is, of course, wearable tech. We saw Australia-based startup Wearable:Experiments introduce its location-enabled Navigation Paris range, which comes pre-programmed with a detailed map of the city. The jacket works by delivering vibrations on each sleeve to signal turns — a small vibration signifies a slight veer, while a big vibration means take a hard turn. The technology hopes to enhance its wearer’s travel experience by enabling them to walk around an unfamiliar city without hunching over a map or a smartphone. In Japan, Jins Meme eyewear integrated sensor technology in their eyewear, which tracks its wearer’s tiredness and posture and sends reports to a companion app.

Read more about Wearable:Experiments »

4 Jeansmaker offers 400 different sizes to fit all women

With mass production becoming a norm in high street fashion, the super-customization trend is creating a counterforce for those who value unique, well-fitted tailoring. Qcut, a denim maker, is offering 400 different sizes to create a perfect fit for every woman. Their jeans are made according to five measurements — height, weight, shoe size, typical jean size and bra size — as opposed to the standard waist size and leg length option. Looking again at Japan, eyewear company JINS have created an app which lets customers alter their frames, adding colors, patterns, stamps, photos, or even messages to their new frames.

Read more about Qcut »

5 Modular smartwatch lets wearers pick and choose the functions they need

Smartwatches, too, are now seeing super-customization options. Blocks, a London-based startup created a smartwatch with modular straps, which can be made up of varying components so the wearer can tailor the watch’s function to their specific needs. For example, an active customer can choose the GPS location, extra battery, and heartrate monitor blocks, while others can get a large screen for reading notifications, a microphone block for recording voice notes, and have a gesture control block for extra convenience. Another smartwatch innovation is the Kairos T-band, which is a smart band that can be fitted onto any existing watch. It features a small screen and standard smartwatch functions.

Read more about Blocks »

6 Orwell-inspired clothing stops phones being hacked

To add a layer of security for the various contactless devices being carried around nowadays, fashion brand The Affair has developed a range that features the UnPocket. These are pouches made of metal-infused fabrics and attached to shirts, chinos, and jackets, which blocks all wifi, GPS, cell and RFID signal. As a result, the wearer’s mobile phones, credit cards and chipped passports can remain disconnected. It means that location can’t be gleaned through GPS or cell tower triangulation, and thieves can’t remotely skim data from contactless cards.

Read more about The Affair »

7 Smart friendship bracelets teach teenage girls how to code

Though fashion and coding don’t usually appear in the same sentence, it is a welcome surprise when they do. Joining a stream of devices that aim to teach kids about programming, Jewelbots are programmable friendship bracelets targeted at teenage and pre-teen girls. Connected by Bluetooth, the bracelets can light up or change color when friends are near, and as the young wearers become more experienced, they can design more complicated and creative responses, all the while learning the fundamentals of computer science.

Read more about Jewelbots »

8 Try-before-you-buy service only charges customers for the clothes they keep

In the ecommerce sphere, we’re seeing a couple of plugins being created to enhance the customer experience. Try is a Google Chrome plugin that enables customers to try out multiple garments at home for ten days and only pay for the ones they keep. Anyone can install the plugin onto their browser and use the service with participating retailers such as Zara, Asos, J. Crew, and more. A gifting button from Loop can now also be installed, to enable users to choose and purchase a gift online, but leave the specifics, such as size and color, up to the recipient.

Read more about Try »

9 Hyper-absorbant bikini could help to clean the oceans

We also saw an interesting product that takes steps towards thinking about how wearables could be used to help clean the environment. The Sponge Suit is an item of eco apparel made from an outer layer of 3D printed elasto-plastic and a hydrophobic, carbon-based filler material which acts as a sponge. Effectively, the suit will enable its wearer to absorb pollutants in the surrounding water. The designers envision a large suit-cleaning infrastructure that will heat the suits to clean them, then remold them into a new suit. How else could apparel be more environmentally productive?

Read more about Sponge Suit »

10 In Uruguay, customers can pay for shoes with plastic bottles

It is heartening to see recycling making a place for itself in a multi-faceted way in the fashion industry. Uruguayan shoe brand Mamut, for a two week period, let customers exchange plastic bottles they have used or collected for their summer shoe line. The brand hopes to assist a drive to clean up local beaches. How else could recycling be encouraged in this industry?

Read more about MAMUT »

1 Fashion company’s cruelty-free fur only uses roadkill

The fashion industry’s quest to find sustainable, recycled material has seen everything from salmon skin to plastic bottles being transformed into clothing material. Now, targeting the niche tree wastage industry, Organic Lingerie recycles unwanted pine trees and creates luxury underwear pieces from them.

Taking another resourceful approach to material sourcing, luxury clothing company Petite Mort Fur found an ingenious solution for those seeking the authenticity of real fur — by using animals it can verify either died of natural causes or in an accident. In doing so, they remove part of the guilt often associated with buying real fur.

Read more about Petite Mort Fur »

2 3D printed skin could become the standard for cosmetics testing

One of the biggest trends in innovation this year is without a doubt surrounding the potential of 3D printing. In terms of beauty, we saw bioprinting startup Organovo team up with L’Oreal to begin introducing 3D printed human skin tissue for use in cosmetics testing. The technology also made its way into cosmetic surgery, where MirrorMe3D is offering customers the option to print out miniature replicas of their post-surgery face, so they can get a peak of their new face from every angle.

Read more about Organovo »

3 Jacket uses vibrations to guide wearers around Paris

And an equally exciting area is, of course, wearable tech. We saw Australia-based startup Wearable:Experiments introduce its location-enabled Navigation Paris range, which comes pre-programmed with a detailed map of the city. The jacket works by delivering vibrations on each sleeve to signal turns — a small vibration signifies a slight veer, while a big vibration means take a hard turn. The technology hopes to enhance its wearer’s travel experience by enabling them to walk around an unfamiliar city without hunching over a map or a smartphone. In Japan, Jins Meme eyewear integrated sensor technology in their eyewear, which tracks its wearer’s tiredness and posture and sends reports to a companion app.

Read more about Wearable:Experiments »

4 Jeansmaker offers 400 different sizes to fit all women

With mass production becoming a norm in high street fashion, the super-customization trend is creating a counterforce for those who value unique, well-fitted tailoring. Qcut, a denim maker, is offering 400 different sizes to create a perfect fit for every woman. Their jeans are made according to five measurements — height, weight, shoe size, typical jean size and bra size — as opposed to the standard waist size and leg length option. Looking again at Japan, eyewear company JINS have created an app which lets customers alter their frames, adding colors, patterns, stamps, photos, or even messages to their new frames.

Read more about Qcut »

5 Modular smartwatch lets wearers pick and choose the functions they need

Smartwatches, too, are now seeing super-customization options. Blocks, a London-based startup created a smartwatch with modular straps, which can be made up of varying components so the wearer can tailor the watch’s function to their specific needs. For example, an active customer can choose the GPS location, extra battery, and heartrate monitor blocks, while others can get a large screen for reading notifications, a microphone block for recording voice notes, and have a gesture control block for extra convenience. Another smartwatch innovation is the Kairos T-band, which is a smart band that can be fitted onto any existing watch. It features a small screen and standard smartwatch functions.

Read more about Blocks »

6 Orwell-inspired clothing stops phones being hacked

To add a layer of security for the various contactless devices being carried around nowadays, fashion brand The Affair has developed a range that features the UnPocket. These are pouches made of metal-infused fabrics and attached to shirts, chinos, and jackets, which blocks all wifi, GPS, cell and RFID signal. As a result, the wearer’s mobile phones, credit cards and chipped passports can remain disconnected. It means that location can’t be gleaned through GPS or cell tower triangulation, and thieves can’t remotely skim data from contactless cards.

Read more about The Affair »

7 Smart friendship bracelets teach teenage girls how to code

Though fashion and coding don’t usually appear in the same sentence, it is a welcome surprise when they do. Joining a stream of devices that aim to teach kids about programming, Jewelbots are programmable friendship bracelets targeted at teenage and pre-teen girls. Connected by Bluetooth, the bracelets can light up or change color when friends are near, and as the young wearers become more experienced, they can design more complicated and creative responses, all the while learning the fundamentals of computer science.

Read more about Jewelbots »

8 Try-before-you-buy service only charges customers for the clothes they keep

In the ecommerce sphere, we’re seeing a couple of plugins being created to enhance the customer experience. Try is a Google Chrome plugin that enables customers to try out multiple garments at home for ten days and only pay for the ones they keep. Anyone can install the plugin onto their browser and use the service with participating retailers such as Zara, Asos, J. Crew, and more. A gifting button from Loop can now also be installed, to enable users to choose and purchase a gift online, but leave the specifics, such as size and color, up to the recipient.

Read more about Try »

9 Hyper-absorbant bikini could help to clean the oceans

We also saw an interesting product that takes steps towards thinking about how wearables could be used to help clean the environment. The Sponge Suit is an item of eco apparel made from an outer layer of 3D printed elasto-plastic and a hydrophobic, carbon-based filler material which acts as a sponge. Effectively, the suit will enable its wearer to absorb pollutants in the surrounding water. The designers envision a large suit-cleaning infrastructure that will heat the suits to clean them, then remold them into a new suit. How else could apparel be more environmentally productive?

Read more about Sponge Suit »

10 In Uruguay, customers can pay for shoes with plastic bottles

It is heartening to see recycling making a place for itself in a multi-faceted way in the fashion industry. Uruguayan shoe brand Mamut, for a two week period, let customers exchange plastic bottles they have used or collected for their summer shoe line. The brand hopes to assist a drive to clean up local beaches. How else could recycling be encouraged in this industry?

Read more about MAMUT »

Sending that first email to an unknown contact can be intimidating. What kind of person are they? Should the email be conversational or to the point? A new tool called Crystal is now addressing this anxiety, by offering users a way to understand someone’s communication style before approaching them. The web-based service aims to make communication healthier and more productive, by helping users write emails based on the recipient’s unique personality.

Working primarily through LinkedIn, Crystal analyzes online content written by and about the chosen recipient. This information is then fed into an algorithm that matches all the available web content to a given personality type. The more visible a person is online, the more accurately the algorithm will predict their communication style — a confidence score is also provided.

When writing emails, Crystal offers suggestions by supplying whole templates or offering alternative phrases and words. Users will be told if they’ve written too much, whether to avoid unnecessary sign-offs, or even to include an emoji or two. The aim is to build an empathetic relationship; writing in a way that appeals to the recipient’s personality. Suggestions are not limited to email — Crystal suggests how to approach conversations with a person, down to favorable discussion topics and the way to greet them. Notably, Crystal alleviates approach anxiety, especially in the case where a user is looking to pitch a sale, ensuring poor communication doesn’t get in the way of business.

crystalknows1

Could the language of online adverts change depending on the reader’s personality profile?

Any connoisseur of specialty food or drink will know the risks involved in picking the wrong product for your own palate — it is a costly and unpleasant mistake. There are now apps that allow users to profile indie alcohol before they buy. Maille, purveyors of French mustard for centuries, are going a step further and embracing smart technology to help users choose their favorite mustard.

In their showroom in Piccadilly, Maille teamed up with Hirsch and Mann and creative agency Mr. President to develop the Discovery Spoon tasting experience. Consumers were invited to try various mustard flavours, using the spoon to tap on sensors placed in front of the mustards that they enjoyed most. The Discovery Spoons remember where they were tapped, saving the various data to build up a unique flavor profile for the user. The information is then downloaded from the spoon, after which consumers are sent emails with Maille mustard-based recipes tailored to their particular palate. Consumers spend time physically tasting mustards, receiving a physical experience that Maille can then use to promote its mustard to individuals based entirely on their own preferences.

maille

As consumers’ palates grow more discerning, the ability to tailor products to individual tastes will become an important feature of the specialty food and beverage industry. Could restaurants develop menus around individual taste preferences?

Potholes are a major inconvenience for cyclists and often lead to serious accidents. We have already seen devices that scan the road ahead and alerts cyclists to help them conquer irregular road surfaces. Now, Auto-Complain offers an even better solution: it enables users to automatically alert their road repair department, any time they encounter a pothole.

autocomplain-2-potholes-germany-smartphone-cycling

autocomplain-1-potholes-germany-smartphone-cycling

Created by German interaction designer Florian Born, Auto-Complain is a smartphone app that tracks the motions of the bike and logs any potholes encountered, automatically sending the data to the online archiving platform. Users first launch the app and attach their phone to their bike. Then, whenever the bike hits a pothole, the app registers the location and intensity of the bump and send the information to the online archive. When the cyclist arrives at the destination they can access their complaint at the Auto-Complain website, download a PDF file and send it to the authorities, eliminating the usual paperwork. An additional feature is a spray device, which connects to the bike and leaves a mark, flagging up the hazard to other cyclists and improving conditions in the meantime.

cap

Auto-Complain enables citizens to affect positive change to their local area without the bureaucracy usually associated with making complaints. Could other grievances with the urban landscape be automated in this way?

It is one of life’s inconvenient truths that there is never an umbrella around when you need one. Except at the University of British Columbia campus in Vancouver, where UmbraCity recently launched their umbrella sharing service. Students can now borrow and return umbrellas anytime from five fully automated kiosks — enabling them to stay dry around campus without having to lug the awkward item around with them all day.

umbracity-1-vancouver-sharing-economy-lifehack-advertising

UmbraCity operates similarly to bikeshare schemes now prevalent in cities — such as London’s ‘Boris Bikes’ currently sponsored by Santander. Users are given a membership card that enable them to borrow an umbrella from any UmbraCity kiosk. If they return it within two days, the service is completely free, otherwise there are late fees. Each umbrella has an unique ID, so it doesn’t necessarily need to be returned by the same person who borrowed it. Broken and damaged umbrellas can still be returned for free and are recycled into other products such as grocery bags.

The highly visible product has great potential for sponsorship and partnerships. Could this scheme work on a larger scale in other rainy cities?

LED lighting can provide huge energy savings but the high manufacturing costs of the technology has, so far, prevented it from being widely adopted. Now, Zhibin Yu — an engineering professor from Florida State University — has developed a low cost variation of the light-emitting diode, which could lead to greater uptake of the eco-friendly option.

Yu’s single-layer LED technology is a combination of organic and inorganic materials. It dissolves and is applied like paint as a thin film. It can then be sandwiched between indium tin oxide and indium-gallium eutectic, and used to make a lightbulb, which will shine a blue, green or red light. While current LED materials are constructed from four or five layers on top of each other, Yu’s LED paint only needs one layer — making it significantly simpler and cheaper to manufacture.

Residential LED lighting uses more than 75 percent less energy than incandescent lights, and can also last significantly longer than both incandescent and fluorescent lights. How could consumers be encouraged to use more LED lighting?

A restaurant without a kitchen might seem like something of a oxymoron, but for one weekend earlier this month, a pop-up in Amsterdam’s Ijburg district was exactly that. Created by Dutch design agency Golfstromen, Ijburg Serveert — which translates to Ijburg Serves — celebrated the district’s community of hobby cooks and the thriving culture of peer-to-peer sharing.

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The beachside restaurant hosted three evenings of three-course meals over one weekend. Local cooks were recruited to prepare their signature dishes in their homes and the food was then collected and delivered to diners by cyclists from the TringTring delivery service.

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There are a growing number of platforms that celebrate and encourage ‘neighbor cooking’ in the US and the UK. Could the Ijburg Serves pop-up work as a longterm business model?

Combining a successful career with raising a family has long been a problematic issue for both employers and employees. With a necessary period of leave, often unplanned, companies can struggle to manage the period of absence and often fail to provide adequate paid leave for both parents. Currently, US law does not even require companies to provide paid leave. Anna Steffeney, founder of LeaveLogic, believes that a proactive approach to parental leave can be beneficial to both the parents and their employers.

LeaveLogic provides management software that works for both the employer and employees. The expectant parents are presented with options unique to their situation, including if they intend to adopt or foster children. LeaveLogic provides up-to-date State and Federal legislature, which companies can integrate with their own policies. Companies are encouraged to acknowledge that retaining an employee is more cost effective than training a new employee, and that being more approachable to a traditionally taboo subject enhances employee experience. Having a parental leave management system in place encourages employees to announce their pregnancy 3-5 months sooner, so that more preparation time is available to both parties, and practical solutions can be tailored to individual needs.

LeaveLogic is providing a practical, technological solution to a traditionally complex subject, aiming to simplify HR issues while allowing expectant parents to be open about an upcoming pregnancy. Could a similar approach be taken for those with long-term medical conditions?

Whether you own a business or are thinking of starting one, chances are you’ve already slogged through the endless amount of business advice on the web. TED talks, dreary webinars, bedtime reading of the Harvard Business Review — the list is endless. You’ve heard all about the value of conversion rates and ‘going viral’. But have you heard anything about the value of design-driven thinking?

Didn’t think so.

This is odd considering the fact the some of the most innovative start-ups, like Airbnb, Gumroad, and Pinterest, have been founded by designers. Countless others have adopted practices taken from creatives of all backgrounds. There’s plenty to learn from design-driven brands, and these five lessons are a great place to start.

Use A Design Perspective To Solve Business Problems

When Airbnb founders Joe Gebbia and Brian Chesky first sought funding for their start-up, they were uniformly rejected because Silicon Valley investors didn’t think two design grads could build a successful company. But what those investors perceived as a weakness has actually proven to be one of Airbnb’s greatest strengths.

Gebbia and Chesky’s design backgrounds have played a role in everything from building their conference rooms — which are modelled after real Airbnb listings — to the structuring of a new employee’s first day on the job.

In fact, each new employee at Airbnb is expected to implement a new feature on day one. This unorthodox policy has yielded some impressive results. When a new designer changed the icon used when users ‘favorite’ a listing from a star to a heart, user engagement increased by 30%.

Not every business issue can be solved by design, but by making a habit of approaching problems from a design perspective, you’ll often find unique solutions that wouldn’t have otherwise been discovered.

Steal Like An Artist

Taking a page out of Austin Kleon’s seminal book about standing on the shoulders of giants, the founders of online opticians Warby Parker found inspiration from their favorite designers.

In an interview with Fast Company, co-founder Neil Blumenthal said, “We thought a lot about Zappos and how they changed the game from a customer service standpoint. They created this awesome internal company culture that then impacted the customer experience and their brand.”

In the same interview, the company’s other co-founder, Dave Gilboa, noted that they wanted to give their start-up a name that emphasised their focus on fashion and design in order to differentiate themselves from their competitors, whose names were overwhelmingly literal. Gilboa said they tested over 2,000 names before finally settling on Warby Parker.

Even if you aren’t an expert designer, as a business owner you definitely have taste. Don’t be afraid to use it to take inspiration from your favorite artists or brands and make them your own. And if you want customers to associate your brand with a specific aesthetic, make sure you pick a name that reinforces that.

Give Your Employees Room to be Creative

Sahil Lavingia, one of Pinterest’s first designers, knows a thing or two about the value of creative freedom. When he set out to found Gumroad, an online marketplace for creatives, he made sure to keep the hierarchical structure flat.

There are no managers at Gumroad, offering employees a degree of autonomy rarely seen at other start-ups. A recent First Round article points out that this structure — or lack thereof — has helped the start-up acquire millions of new users in a short amount of time. While this may sound like anarchy, it’s anything but: all 20 Gumroad employees report directly to Lavingia, enabling him to ensure that everyone has the same information and the same overall goals. In his own words, “the people who define the choices have more power than the people making the choice.”

By creating a company culture with a central mission and using the right tools to establish intuitive workflows, employees can often find answers to their own questions without needing a manager to micro-manage them. That freedom, in turn, can result in tremendous growth and innovation.

Try Radical Transparency — Your Customers Will Love You For It

During his days as a venture capitalist, Michael Preysman didn’t understand why there was such a high markup in fashion — so he flew to Spain to see where his favorite designer wallet was manufactured.

From this experience, he designed Everlane, a radically transparent online fashion retailer. Every cost, from cotton to shipping, that goes into making their products is detailed on their site, and their mark-up is never more than double the production cost.

Practicing this kind of transparency can attract customers in a way no other advertising can. Being open and honest breeds authenticity in your brand that is worth its weight in gold.

Make Design As Important The Business Itself

When former Gap CEO Mickey Drexler was brought in to reinvigorate J.Crew’s stalling brand in 2003, one of his first decisions was to make the design team as powerful as the business itself. The days of anonymous suits at corporate HQ deciding what ended up in stores, Drexler decided, was over.

He would eventually name veteran J.Crew designer Jenna Lyons as president and executive creative director of the company, pairing her with Libby Wadle, president of J.Crew Brand on the business side.

Of the business vs. design dynamic, Wadle said, “There should always be tension. Tension [between merchandising and design] will always help move each party forward.”

Too often great design work is stunted by the business side of an operation too afraid to take risks. By trusting your design aesthetic, you can be an innovator in your market, instead of falling in line with the rest of your competitors.

So put the spreadsheet down and pick up the paintbrush, it’s not always about doing what the rulebook says.

Written by Michael Tunney

The most effective charities make a difference at every stage of their work, rather than simply providing a group of people with something they need. Elephant Bikes does just that: the UK-based social enterprise is currently saving 20,000 old Royal Mail bikes from landfill and using them to raise money for vital services in one of the world’s poorest communities in Malawi, via the Krisavec Project. In the UK, the bikes are being refurbished by offenders at a local prison, while in Africa, local people are taught to repair and service the donated bikes, providing valuable skills and experience for both sets of people.

Every limited edition refurbished bike sold in the UK raises enough money to ship another bike to the Chilomoni Township in Malawi. The bikes are then sold to Malawians so they can transport goods to market, and travel to work, school or college. They are even used by fence wardens at Liwonde National Park to help them patrol more efficiently — this is where the name Elephant Bikes came from. The Krisavec Project has already helped raise funds for a children’s centre, a primary school and an IT training academy.

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The Limited Edition Elephant Bike is currently for sale in the UK for GBP 250 in various colours. Could this scheme be replicated elsewhere?