dilluns, 27 d’octubre de 2008

Innovation examples

We wrote about on-demand airline DayJet on two different occasions before it closed its doors a few weeks ago. Now a new Swiss company is taking a different approach to private jet travel by making the most of existing empty leg flights.

Launched in May, Geneva-based LunaJets takes advantage of the fact that many private jets fly empty when they return home after dropping passengers off or when they head out to pick passengers up. The company works with a select set of jet operators to maintain a database of all such "empty leg" flights, as they are known, and allows users to browse that database to find flights that match their own needs. Travellers can book anything from a single seat to a whole cabin on flights shorter than 2h30m; on longer flights, they must reserve the whole cabin. Booking and payment can both be handled online, and prices are fixed and open, beginning at EUR 890 for a single seat on a flight up to one hour long. Discounts are available for multi-seat purchases, and LunaJets can also work to reroute empty legs to suit a given member's itinerary. Weekend shuttles, on-demand services and a forum for members interested in sharing a cabin are available as well. LunaJets operates throughout Europe, the Middle East, Russia and the USA. Membership on the site is free for passengers and operators alike.

By offering benefits to both travellers and jet operators in the form of discounts and increased efficiency, LunaJets' model offers a win-win proposition that could prove to be more sustainable than creating a brand-new airline was for DayJet, particularly during difficult economic times. For travellers, this is one to try out; for operators, it's one to get in on ASAP!

Insurance provider Allstate recently announced a pilot program that could ultimately lead to reduced insurance rates for senior drivers who play brain-building video games.

Beginning in Pennsylvania—home to the fifth largest population of Allstate customers aged 50 to 75, the company says—Allstate is offering the program free to more than 100,000 drivers in that age group to test the impact of cognitive training on driving safety. The program uses InSight, a video software package from Posit Science that's designed to reverse age-related cognitive decline and improve the visual-processing skills needed for safe driving. Five games make up InSight, including Jewel Diver, which tests the ability to keep track of multiple moving objects at one time. Among the results of using the software, Posit says, are a reduction of dangerous driving manoeuvres by up to 40 percent, an improvement in stopping distance by an average of 22 feet when travelling at 55 miles per hour and a reduction in crash risk of up to 50 percent. In the Pennsylvania tests, which will run through March, Allstate will encourage participating older drivers to devote at least 10 hours to the training exercises. It will then track accident rates for the groups that did and didn't use the software. If the results validate Posit Science's claims, Allstate says it hopes to offer discounts to older drivers nationwide who use the software.

As the aging of the baby boom generation leads to increased numbers of older drivers on the road, using brain exercises to improve safety makes good sense. Of course, the program could also help Allstate identify and reward its safest—and therefore most profitable—customers. Sounds like a win-win proposition for other insurers to watch—and emulate!

Encouraging people to organize their own wine tasting parties, 4xProeven (Tastingx4) combines a board game with a four-pack of wine.

The concept is simple: four small (0.375 litre) bottles of red wine are packaged in a carton that folds out to a board. Four blank stickers are included to hide the bottles' labels. A leaflet explains the basic elements of wine tasting: look, smell, taste and compare. It also describes the four single grape varieties included in the game. Players shuffle the bottles and start tasting. By comparing a wine's taste to the four descriptions, the objective is to guess which is Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir and Shiraz. Just launched in The Netherlands, 4xProeven is currently sold online for EUR 24.95 and by a small number of wine shops, and the company is planning to launch internationally soon.

While wine tasting games certainly aren't new, they generally include game elements only, not the wine itself. And here's where we think 4xProeven missed a great opportunity (or maybe they're working on it). Instead of including unbranded wines, partner with a well-known label and turn the game into a smart and simple way to tryvertise, getting customers to sample a variety of reds or whites while connecting with the brand. We're sure Springwise has a few readers at E&J Gallo and Jacob's Creek. Time to give this one a spin? ;-)

The iBar is a customisable surface technology that turns any bar into a giant version of an interactive, touch-sensitive screen. Integrated video projectors can display any content on the bar's milky surface, while built-in intelligent tracking software continually maps the position of every object touching its surface. That input is then used to let the projected content interact dynamically with the movements on the counter, allowing coloured lights, for example, to illuminate, link and follow every movement of hands, bottles and glasses. Multiple people can interact with the iBar at once, and virtual objects can be "touched" with the fingers, enabling a game of pinball where players shoot with their thumbs, for example. Content that can be displayed on the iBar includes internet content, interactive games and advertising; bars can also be fitted with Bluetooth technology to allow consumers to download their own content. The iBar is a stand-alone system comprising modules 2m long, and it can be networked wirelessly to allow interaction between two or more separate units.

The iBar has already been used in events, exhibitions, product launches and top night spots all over the world, Mindstorm says, including BMW's head office in Munich, Geneva's Pimp Club and a gala dinner at Google. Such technologies certainly have the potential to transform the consumer experience at bars, restaurants and other venues, as well as providing a wealth of new advertising and point-of-sale opportunities. One to try out early!

Las tecnologías semánticas gestionan automáticamente los contenidos de interés para el usuario.

Recursos hasta ahora restringidos al campo de la inteligencia artifical, como el procesamiento de lenguajes naturales, forman parte de las tecnologías subyacentes a la web semántica, una nueva etapa y un más elevado nivel de interacción entre el usuario y las redes, en la que gran parte de la gestión de los contenidos de la web será realizada de forma automática por herramientas inteligentes. En Twine, esas herramientas trabajan interpretando los intereses del usuario, enriqueciendo los contenidos elegidos por éste mediante la selección de lo esencial y la exclusión de lo irrelevante. Por César Gutiérrez.

Con la utilización del lenguaje de descripción de contenidos RDF (Resource Description Framework), entre otros estándares definidos por el consorcio W3C, la web se adentra de hecho en una nueva era comenzando a implementarse en ella recursos, como el procesamiento de lenguaje natural, hasta ahora restringidos al campo de la inteligencia artificial.

Se trata de recursos a partir de los cuales los gestores de contenido artificiales serán capaces no sólo de clasificar y etiquetar automáticamente aquél, sino de interpretarlo: aplicaciones y herramientas semánticas que llevan a nuevo nivel de evolución la interacción hombre-ordenador y también la comunicación entre las propias máquinas. De esta nueva generación forma Twine parte.

La generación automática de etiquetas, descripciones y sumarios para las páginas web marcadas según los intereses del usuario es una herramienta ideal para la recopilación, el intercambio y la discusión sobre la información. A diferencia de otras redes sociales, lo que ocupa el lugar prominente en Twine no es el “con quién”, sino el “qué”, es decir, las relaciones están al servicio del crecimiento y el enriquecimiento de los contenidos de interés para el usuario.

In a standard custom logo assignment, the average graphic designer develops six concepts for evaluation by the business owner client. Only one of those will be used, leaving five creative logos to be stored away—and probably never seen again. Enter IncSpring, a beta site that aims to help designers with ideas and business owners seeking same find each other for mutual gain.

Launched last month, Texas-based IncSpring is a virtual marketplace linking graphic designers and businesses interested in corporate logos, brands and corporate identities. Designers can upload brand concepts onto the site for the perusal of entrepreneurs, corporations and businesses without middlemen or agency fees; they also retain complete control over their pricing. Potential buyers, on the other hand, can search by industry, colour or name, evaluating and even assessing market reactions to the designs they see via IncSpring's social network, which lets users rate and provide public feedback on submitted ideas. Potential customers can also request minor changes to shape a particular design to their individual specifications. When a purchase is made, IncSpring charges a commission of 15 percent, the artist receives the rest and the buyer receives the brand in a ready-to-use digital format. As part of its site launch, IncSpring is currently holding a contest—with a deadline of Sept. 19—offering USD 2,000 in cash and other prizes for designers who submit ideas to the site. Membership on IncSpring is free.

In an industry where only a small proportion of ideas make it through to the finish, IncSpring will undoubtedly give designers a welcome way to capitalize at last on the many hours they put in, whether or not originally for a paying client. Entrepreneurs, meanwhile, gain access to a wealth of ideas that wouldn't ordinarily be available. It's a win-win for everyone involved and one to try out—particularly if you happen to be an enterprising Springwise reader on the brink of launching the next big thing! ;-)