Need to Know
17 : 01 : 19

Owlet offers peace of mind for pregnant women, Toyota is making manual driving safer and consumers are unaware of the benefits of open banking.

Gillette confronts #MeToo movement

We Believe: The Best Men Can Be, Gillette, Grey New York

US – The shaving brand tackles issues such as bullying and sexual harassment in its new advert, building on past efforts to redefine its long-standing tagline ‘The best a man can get’.

In 2018, Gillette launched a campaign showcasing the evolution of modern manhood but the most recent advert is the first to challenge viewers with topical issues such as the #MeToo movement. According to Gillette, the latest ad addresses the crossroads at which many men today find themselves, ‘caught between the past and a new era of masculinity’.

The company has also committed to donate £776,500 ($1m, €876,800) a year for the next three years to non-profit-making organisations with programmes designed to inspire, educate and promote positive change among men of all ages. Having previously been a brand that conformed to a very narrow view of masculinity, the initiative reflects a wider climate of Brand Redemption, with Gillette claiming it has ‘a responsibility to make sure we are promoting positive, attainable, inclusive and healthy versions of what it means to be a man’.

Owlet alleviates worry for pregnant women

Owlet Baby Care band, US Owlet Baby Care band, US
Owlet Baby Care band, US Owlet Baby Care band, US

Utah – The technology company has launched the Owlet Band, a wearable device that allows expectant mothers to track their baby’s health.

Made with ultra-thin fabric sensors, the band tracks the foetal heart rate and kick count of the baby using bio-electrical signals. The real-time data is then sent to a smartphone, allowing the mother to track the wellbeing of her baby and reduce potential anxieties.

‘Doctors have been wanting a technology to capture accurate readings at home in order to really find out what is happening inside the womb,’ says professor of obstetrics and gynaecology Robert M Silver. The Owlet Band is now being tested for accuracy validation with the Colombia University Irving Medical Center, and is expected to be available to consumers later in 2019.

By tapping into the market for Pregnancy Wellbeing and offering at-home analysis for expectant mothers, Owlet has the potential to lessen the strain on healthcare providers.

CES 2019: Toyota’s self-driving tech enhances human control

Las Vegas – The Toyota Research Institute (TRI) has unveiled advances in the car-maker’s autonomous driving technology, which aims to enhance rather than replace, manual ability.

Shown at CES 2019, Toyota’s Guardian system combines and co-ordinates the skills and strengths of the human driver with a number of advanced safety features. The technology allows the driver to remain in control of the vehicle at all times, except in cases where the AI anticipates potential collisions or other incidents. As such, the breakthrough ‘blended envelope control’ optimises input from both human and machine, inspired by the way fighter jets are flown.

Toyota’s intermediate approach aims to preserve the joy of driving and is better aligned with consumer attitudes, which are still divided when it comes to autonomous vehicles. ‘We think the most important benefit of automated driving is not about the autonomy of cars, but about the autonomy of people,’ says TRI CEO Dr Gill Pratt. This tension between man and machine is an idea we explore in our Morality Recoded macrotrend.

Toyota Guardian, US

A Russian start-up wants to display ads in the sky

StartRocket, Russia StartRocket, Russia
StartRocket, Russia StartRocket, Russia

Moscow – Media company StartRocket believes that the commodification of the night sky is the next frontier in advertising.

A recently released concept video to promote the project shows logos bearing a resemblance to those of McDonald’s and KFC hovering in the sky over various cities. To action the initiative the start-up will launch its Orbital Display in 2020, in which CubeSats will orbit at an altitude of between 400km and 500km. These will start displaying ads in the night sky by 2021.

‘We are ruled by brands and events,’ project leader Vlad Sitnikov, told Futurism. ‘The economy is the blood system of society. Entertainment and advertising are at its heart. We will live in space, and humankind will start delivering its culture to space.’

As we move into the future, our cities will become ever more dictated by brands. To explore the idea that omnipresent advertising could lead to an urban dystopia, visit our Branded Cities microsite.

Stat: Consumers’ awareness of open banking is low

One year after the launch of the government-backed initiative, which requires banks in the UK to share their data, just 22% of consumers have heard of open banking. In addition, only one in five of those understand what it means, according to a recent survey.

Open banking gives financial providers a secure way to access consumers’ financial information in order to develop products and services better suited to people’s individual needs. This lack of awareness among consumers means that many are missing out on the potential benefits, which include finding better mortgage rates, comparing household bills, controlling direct debits and tracking payments across multiple bank accounts.

For more on what open banking means for both consumers and brands, read our interview with Anne Boden, founder and CEO of Starling Bank.

Thought-starter: Why are affluent schools banning technology?

Psychologist Richard Freed, who studies the effects of technology on children, explores what happens when digital learning becomes the preserve of lower-income kids.

Freed believes there are disparities in how children from different socio-economic classes use technology. ‘It’s clear from my clinical practice and research that lower-income children spend much more time looking at entertainment-based screens than higher-income children,’ he explains.

‘Higher-income families have a number of advantages that allow them to limit the amount of time their kids spend in front of screens. [The care-givers in] more advantaged families, especially those who work in America’s Silicon Valley, have access to fact-based information showing the harm that comes from kids spending long periods with screens and phones,’ he says. ‘Consequently, kids in these families are growing up with greater exposure to books and opportunities for creative and outdoor play.

This is subsequently affecting their career opportunities in the future. ‘Unfortunately, the great amount of screen and phone time that less advantaged kids experience will probably affect their ability to gain a successful career in any profession, as high levels of screen time hurt kids’ ability to do well in early education and gain a college degree,’ says Freed.

Read the full Q&A here.

AltSchool by Architecture + Information is an educational start-up that integrates technology while also offering play-based learning and human interaction. Photography by Magda Biernat
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