Friday Five: targeting trolls and flying taxis
Zone’s Mark Sylvester handpicks and shares the five best stories on new digital trends, experiences and technologies…
1. Taking a stand against the trolls
From the moment we were able to paste our thoughts online, abuse has followed. How we respond to haters has been a thorny issue, confused by the blurry line where free speech melts into hate speech. So, it’s interesting to see how brands such as Nationwide, Mars and Lush are setting out their stalls.
The stars of ad campaigns, or those behind them, are open to attack, and it appears the stronger a brand’s position and social purpose is, the more vulnerable they are to trolls. The key issue seems to be having a culture within the organisation prepared to back its message, support its talent and protect its wider online community. We believe in “freedom to…” But we should also stand strong on “freedom from…”
2. Accessibility is often about using your head
There’s an awful lot of tech out there, and sometimes it just takes a fresh perspective to demonstrate that some of it isn’t pulling its weight. Which is what happened when a mobility-impaired eBay intern started playing around with the iPhone X’s front-facing sensor and developed an app that allows users to navigate a retail site using simple head movements. In that moment HeadGaze was born.
While the potential for assisting those with physical impediments to negotiate an interface is clear, it could also be handy for the likes of sticky-fingered cooks using online recipes, and other scrollable hands-free moments. Maybe it’s time big brands assessed their products to see if they could benefit from a little boost?
3. Insta support for addiction
When designing a user experience you want to create a smooth and seamless journey while avoiding the impression you’re ‘big-brothering’ users. Which speaks to the dilemma facing social platforms where the same hashtags are used by those seeking support and those seeking illegal substances.
Now Instagram appears to have got the balance of responsible design just about right with a pop-up offering drug addiction resources when triggering hashtags are used. This kind of intervention offers expertly crafted support, while not seeming heavy-handed and judgemental towards users. Hopefully it’ll help do some good.
4. Get a Street View on pollution
The adverse effects pollution has on our health are widely documented, so the more accurately we can measure and record air quality, the better armed we are to deal with it. This is where Aclima comes in.
The San Francisco-based start-up has teamed up with Google to fit air quality sensors to Street View cars, allowing super-accurate and hyper-local snapshots of pollutants in the air. Aclima has found that air quality can vary enormously along the same street, meaning the information gathered could be invaluable in assessing threats and creating solutions. While tech is certainly behind some of our planet’s most pressing problems, there’s little doubt it is also our best chance of solving them.
5. Your cab’s just landed
I’m pretty sure flying cars were one of the things we were promised as part of the techno-digital revolution. They were right up there with hoverboards and four-day weeks. Tech companies have been a bit slow delivering on that promise, but with UK company Vertical Aerospace entering the fray, dreams may soon become reality.
The high-flying start-up has lured engineers from the likes of Airbus to build a prototype, and compete with existing players like Uber and Rolls-Royce. It’s one of those occasions where evolving technology joins with entrepreneurship to create a product that could be truly useful. And a lot of fun.