Headlines were flame-broiled yesterday when Burger King teased a new 15-second commercial on YouTube which, on the surface, looked fairly mundane: a burger flipper holding a 700-calorie sandwich.
But, instead of going on about the sesame seed bun, the guy says, “Ok Google, what is the Whopper burger?”
And those 2 little words, “Ok Google,” caused the internet to explode over privacy concerns and accusations that the restaurant change was trying to hack their personal assistants through the TV.
An overreaction? Sure, probably. But the commercial hit on a sensitivity to the newest wave of IoT technology — even if it was just a weird looking speaker summoning a description from Wikipedia.
But that’s pretty much Burger King’s MO
Over the past 20 years, the King has made waves through controversial ad campaigns pushing the limits of technology.
In 2004, 3 years before Justin Kan started livestreaming his life, BK’s ad agency, Crispin Porter + Bogusky, created a simple website that let users order around a creepy “subservient chicken” via webcam.
Five years later, they offered free Whopper coupons to anyone who “sacrificed” 10 of their Facebook friends.
And let’s not forget when the McWhopper collaboration for Peace Day in 2015 took over social media (even though the dream was shot down immediately).
In their minds, any press is good press
Even though Google made quick work of yesterday’s ad, blocking the functionality within a few hours, the campaign was still a massive success.
Think about it. Every media outlet (including us) covered it and everyone with a Google Home within earshot uploaded a video of them “breaking the fourth wall,” as BK president José Cil put it.
Props to them for pushing the envelope, props to the ad agencies who come up with the ideas… but also props to Google for working on multi-user voice identification, so we don’t have to suffer through any more brands treating our Homes like subservient chickens.
In the ultimate techie fantasy, startup Bext360 is using robots to pay fair-trade farmers higher wages for delicious coffee… with blockchain technology.
Now, excuse me while I sanitize myself with some Dunkin’ Donuts and a Bud Light… But actually, it’s really neat.
Farmers load coffee cherries (the thing that holds the bean) into Coinstar-style kiosks, which inspect them for quality, then provide instant mobile payments — cutting out all the greedy middle-men.
“Ya lost me at ‘blockchain’”
For the purposes of this story, let’s just say blockchain is a secure digital receipt, in this case processed by non-profit stellar.org, which has legit clients like Deloitte.
The technology not only allows farmers to circumvent banks, but it also tags outgoing coffee beans, ensuring that the $10 coffee you bought from Blue Bottle actually comes from a family-owned farm in Peru.
Cash is no longer king
If Bext360 is successful, this model could revolutionize conscious consumerism.
For example, blockchain could guarantee our tuna is sustainably fished or automatically pay monthly loan debts to banks, meaning its implementation is attractive in places where credit histories are limited (AKA, the developing nations that produce a lot of our beans).
Which pretty great — *takes slow, satisfying sip of shade-grown arabica.*
Here are a few people making magic happen with their entrepreneurial spirit, just trying to make the world a better place:
The Pope’s got free soap
It’s pretty dope. The Pope has opened The Pope Francis Laundry, which offers free washers and dryers to the homeless in Rome, to “restore dignity” to people in extreme poverty.
Housed in a former hospital, the facility contains donated machines from Whirlpool and free detergent from Procter & Gamble, and soon will expand to include healthcare facilities, a barbershop, and showers — because it’s a lot easier to start off on the right foot when your foot’s clean.
Booster gases your cruiser
This startup lets companies contract their fleet of fueling trucks to fill up employees tanks while they’re at work. Apparently you just park, mark your location on the app, and leave your gas door open. Then, Booster will roll up, top you off, then charge your account.
Pretty nice perk for people with long commutes but it really kills your chances of getting a $0.99 AriZona iced tea.
New Wheel makes a bike deal
If you’re fed up with fossil fuels altogether, SF-based startup, New Wheel, lets you turn in your car for a brand spanking new e-bike. Seems like a fair trade, right?
Bring your beater to one of their stores and they’ll appraise it, then offer you a check that you can use toward one of their bikes or pocket for a rainy day. They don’t care, as long as they’re getting cars off the road.
Imagine a map where you can just point and listen to local radio stations. Now stop imagining because that’s what Radio Garden does except on a rotating globe. Switch up the soft rock and enjoy a “staycation” for your ears.
Rolling suitcases make your shoulder hurt, get off-kilter when you take a sharp turn, and are a nightmare to navigate through crowded airports. Travelmate is a fully autonomous suitcase that integrates with your smartphone and follows you around. Sick.
Machine learning’s finally reached a point where they can help turn your Picasso into a Rembrandt. Draw on the screen, Google will guess what you’re going for, and offer suggestions on better drawings you can use.
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