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The Hustle

You may think Disney got ahead of itself in claiming the first movie release date of the 2030s for Avatar 5, now scheduled to come out Dec. 19, 2031 — but, in their defense, the combined runtime of the franchise’s next two installments will assuredly eat up most of that eight and a half year wait.  

In today’s email:

  • Reality check: VR? MR? AR? A primer to keep you out of the ER.
  • License to nil: Counterfeit software is everywhere. Why?
  • MRI machine learning: The startup readying to monetize health anxiety.
  • Around the Web: The mystery of color, no more negative thinking, penguins on stairs, and more.

👇 Listen: WhatsApp’s Meta-morphosis, tough-to-stomach cruise industry news, and more.

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The big idea
Extended reality

Extended reality, explained

We can barely even handle reality-reality and now we’ve got augmented reality, virtual reality, and mixed reality?

It all falls under one umbrella term — extended reality (XR) — but they’re all a little different. With Big Tech firms like Google, Apple, Microsoft, and Meta scrambling to launch new and better headsets, we’re here to break down what they mean.

How it works

Virtual reality (VR) is 100% virtual — you’re completely immersed in a simulated, 3D environment, typically using a headset. If you walk around too much, you might run into a very real wall.

Augmented reality (AR) environments allow you to still see the real world, but superimpose digital content on top using a phone, tablet, or headset.

For example:

  • Niantic’s Pokemon Go: players see creatures through their phone’s camera overlaid on the real world
  • TikTok or Snapchat filters
  • SkyView: an app that helps users locate constellations and planets in the night sky

Here’s where it gets really fun

Mixed reality (MR) combines the physical and digital worlds using a headset.

For example, you might be in a virtual world, but you can physically interact with objects. Or, you might be able to see the real world but still interact with the virtual objects.

  • At Dreamscape Immersive locations, players can “pet” aliens.
  • See how people use Skype with Microsoft’s HoloLens.
  • Check out VRScout’s breakdown of how the Meta Quest Pro’s full-color passthrough enables MR.

Why do we need this?

For fun, obviously. (Don’t tell me you didn’t enjoy walking around your neighborhood looking for Pikachu!)

But extended reality also has myriad applications in remote work, job training, and even surgery.

And now: Here’s a cover of “Virtual Insanity” done entirely in virtual reality.

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eyeball wearing a hat

As a marketing stunt before Barbie hits theaters in July, there’s a Malibu DreamHouse listed on Airbnb, which you can attempt to book for free. “This life-size toy pink mansion is a dream come true,” says host Ken.


Going to HAL: In film, space plus AI is a scary mix. In reality… Well, we’ll find out soon — NASA is developing a ChatGPT-esque system to assist astronauts on its forthcoming Lunar Gateway space station.

Dance break: Tennessee dispatchers received ~5x more false 911 calls than average during the recent Bonnaroo music festival — because attendees’ Apple devices confused vigorous dancing for car crashes, triggering their automatic crash-detection feature.

Pros and confidence: Americans’ confidence in the economy reached its highest level since January 2022, per the Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Index. But confidence is a fickle thing — many consumers still expect a recession in the next 6-12 months.

Toss ‘em in the Kart: Mario is coming to an Oreo pack near you, with limited-edition cookies featuring characters like Luigi and Bowser. (A cool wrinkle: If you eat 10 at once, you’ll probably feel like you ingested one of Mario’s Super Stars; then, a few minutes later, like you got rocked by a shell.)

Dill-igent number crunching: With pickleball’s player population expected to rise to 22.3m this year, UBS Group AG analysts estimate that medical costs associated with the sport will jump to $377m.

Not now, Now: TikTok is saying adios to its BeReal clone, TikTok Now. BeReal reported 20m+ daily active users in April, though third-party data paints a different picture.

Cases of cash: Thomson Reuters Corp. agreed to buy Casetext, which offers AI tech for lawyers, for $650m.

Message received: Mark Zuckerberg said WhatsApp Business surpassed 200m monthly users, up from 50m in 2020. (Reminder: There are more WhatsApp users in India than there are Americans in the world.)

Green light: Tel Aviv-based NoTraffic raised $50m to help take its smart intersection tech mainstream. The startup already counts 100 North American departments of transportation as customers.

Psych sells: Big emotions can mean big business on YouTube, where creators play on human psychology to captivate viewers and cash in.

For aspiring marketing leaders
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The Lead is a new newsletter that delivers marketing trends, tips, and tactics straight to your inbox every Wednesday. Subscribe and level up.

global counterfeit software usage

Why so much of the world runs on counterfeit software

Adegunji Kazeem vividly remembers the day his life fell apart.

It was Dec. 4, 2019. Kazeem was a final-year student at the University of Lagos and writing his undergraduate thesis, a requirement for graduation.

All five chapters were on his laptop, an HP Envy running on Windows 7 that he had spent several months saving up for with a day job as a teacher.

Kazeem switched it on. Suddenly, a malware infection scrambled his laptop, making his thesis inaccessible.

Kazeem’s computer had not been compromised by an expert hacking technique. It was an easy target because his Windows 7 operating software was pirated.

After paying ~100k naira (~$250, based on exchange rates at the time) for the laptop, which was used, it would’ve cost another ~50k naira to cleanse the system and install legitimate software.

All he could afford was a deal offered by the PC technician who sold him the computer: 2k naira (~$4.50) for counterfeit Windows 7 and the Microsoft suite.

In the US and Western Europe, software — from Windows to Adobe to Microsoft Office — is easy to purchase and relatively affordable for the middle class.

But it’s a much different story in the developing world.

Read the full story →
Free Resource

The top marketing trends of 2023

The stubbiest run-through of this year’s red-hot marketing trends: AI tools, TikTok and short-form video, and data privacy.

If we’re speaking your language, see the 2023 State of Marketing Report — a synergistic effort by the experts at Litmus, Wistia, Rock Content, and HubSpot.

What’s top of mind for marketers this year?

  • Content marketing trends by Rock Content
  • Video marketing trends by Wistia
  • Email marketing trends by Litmus
  • Future-of-marketing predictions by top dogs

Over 1k experts were consulted in the creation of this content.

Stay sharp on all things marketing →
See You in Health
doctor reviewing scans

An opportunity to send your medical anxieties to a whole new level

The ordinary person fears the unknown, but if you have disposable income, you can be extraordinary and elect to fear, well, every conceivable known.

Fast-expanding startup Prenuvo offers three MRI scan options, ranging from $999 to $2.5k, that can screen the head, torso, or full body, for nearly all imaginable health maladies.

  • Patients pay a hefty out-of-pocket sum — no insurers are on board yet, and scans are recommended annually — to visit a Prenuvo clinic and rendezvous with an MRI machine.
  • Prenuvo currently has eight locations, with five more “coming in 2023” and another three earmarked for 2024.

What happens during these scans?

Scans differ in length, from a very claustrophobic 20 minutes to a very, very claustrophobic 60 minutes, and contain no radiation.

  • Prenuvo says it screens for 500 common and rare conditions. It can detect most tumors, aneurysms, and cysts, and find cancers early.
  • Included in the fees: a nurse practitioner calls to go over results following each scan.

Who has endorsed this?

Oh, wow, shocker — Prenuvo’s CEO Andrew Lacy is into it. “When I got a body scan, I learned more about my health than the health system had told me my entire life,” Lacy told Axios.

The American College of Preventive Medicine, however, is not. Medical experts only recommend whole-body scans when symptoms call for it, warning scanning can bring little benefit, and exhaust money and health care resources.

  • Prenuvo’s site concedes that “less than 5% of customers receive ‘life-altering’ news” following a scan.

However, the “experts” many Americans care about most — celebs — apparently love it. Per People, Maria Menounos, Paris Hilton, and Cindy Crawford have all met the machine.

View on site

🦅 On this day: In 2007, the bald eagle was removed from the US endangered and threatened species list following successful conservation efforts.

🧠How to: Curb negative thinking.

🎧 Promo: In this episode of “Shark Tank” podcast Another Bite, it’s all about containers: golf club urinals, wine pouches, and storage for students.

🎨 That’s interesting: Why color is a “pigment of our imaginations.”

🐧 Aww: And now, penguins going down stairs.

bosses meme

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