for what it’s worth

stories and stimulus from a consumer insight consultant

Recycle-More Helps You Text Your Waste Away, the recycling information website from Valpak, (the UK’s largest compliance scheme) have made their impressive advice service even better with the introduction of a text location tool. Users can simply text ‘waste’ or ‘elec’ and their postcode to 60060 from anywhere in the UK, and receive a text back with details of the closest location for their recycling needs.

Not only does this help to correctly dispose of the items that the council doesn’t pick up, but more importantly it helps you to continue recycling wherever you may be in the country. As recycle-more’s web manager Sam Blades explains “the text service allows people to recycle materials ‘on the move’. If you’re on holiday in the UK and want to keep up the good work you do at home, it’s now quick and easy to locate your nearest recycling site. It also gives those without internet access a convenient way to find recycling facilites”.

Texts will cost a rather pricey 50p plus standard network charge (why does it always cost to be good?!), made more acceptable by the fact that the company will put any money made directly back into its educational services. Next stop gps mapped locations for truly mobile recycling? Or how about a mobile operator offering this as a free service???

via newconsumer

Filed under: mobile lifestyles,

Nokia Launches Eco-Friendly Evolve

nokia-evolve At the annual Nokia World conference yesterday, the company announced it’s new environmental initiative: the 3110 Evolve phone. Having fallen from first to ninth place in Greenpeace’s Greener Electronics Guide last month, Nokia are bouncing back with this eco-friendly version of the traditional 3110 which has ‘bio-covers’ made from over 50% renewable material, comes in a smaller box with less packaging all made of 60% recycled content, and is powered by Nokia’s most energy efficient charger yet which uses 94% less energy than the Energy Star requirements (the energy-efficiency guidelines set by the US Environmental Protection Agency and the US Department of Energy.)

Speaking yesterday, CEO and president Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo explained Nokia’s viewpoint:

“We are at the dawn of a new era in mobile communications driven by the rapid convergence of the internet and mobility, and Nokia is setting the pace of change. But with market leadership in an industry of this scale also comes responsibility. We are committed to taking a leading role in increasing environmental awareness and performance right across the industry, creating further products and services that help people make more sustainable choices. It is both the responsible thing to do and it makes good business sense.”

No word on the launch date (though apparently is it’s due out early next year) or price point, but with the highest eco-credentials of any new phone we’ve seen actually coming to market, could this become the Prius of the phone world?

Filed under: evironmental insights, mobile lifestyles,

Google at the Gas Pump

google gasFor lost drivers without Google on their dashboard, digital directions will soon be available as you fill up the tank. From next month thousands of new gas pumps with inbuilt Google map displays will open across the U.S. offering search categories including local landmarks, hotels, restaurants and hospitals. Once a destination is selected the pump will then print out directions to help the happy motorist on their way.

The aim is to eventually be able to offer specific directions based on an inputted address, however for now all the local results are selected by the gas station’s owner- and as this service won’t include any ads, that means they wield ultimate power. It will be interesting to see which brands, stores and chains make the grade on a local, personal level- and which are left out.

A.P: Latest Additives at Gas Pumps: Google

Filed under: brand extensions, mobile lifestyles,

Location Based Services In Europe: An Interview With Socialight London

socialightSocialight, the location-based community platform that delivers user-generated information through geo-tagged ‘sticky notes’, have just launched a location-aware search service for London, offering hyper-local, custom-filtered content on your phone. The site is currently in Beta for the UK so, for PSFK, I caught up with Simon Davis and David Belnick from their London team to find out more about the state of the location-based services market that they’ve just entered.

Everyone’s been talking about location-based social networking services, how do you see this working for the future?

Location-based services got a very bad name with the initial offerings, what you would get wasn’t worth it. Everyone’s wanted it but it’s never been delivered. But tons of people have got great location-based content, it’s just very difficult for those people to know how to develop a mobile service to put it on their phones. With Socialight we can go to companies like Time Out and offer them another channel for communication.

The idea of Socialight is that it offers different types of content for different types of people broken up by the channels, and through either bookmarking it or texting specific words to the short code it will pull you in to different kinds of content. To us, the user-generated aspect is very important in terms of having people interact with the service and improve the quality of the data, but we have also built up some channels through buying in and commissioning content, in particular Late Night London which is loaded with opinionated content created by musicians, DJs, artists and people who are out late! We’ve tried to make this an open platform so that anyone with appropriate content can also create these kinds of services.

As well as the usual networking comments and tags, we envisage you creating lots of little communities around specific types of location-based content. As the channels grow there’s the possibility of collaboration and communication with those that are all interested in the same thing within that channel, plus there’s the ability for whoever created the channel to then communicate with them. It’s a way of creating communities around people’s content and existing content. It is community created, but it’s not community for community’s sake.

How do you see your revenue model working for the future? Are you able to support it as a free service?

Yes we are currently a free model but I wouldn’t rule out the fact that we might charge for some services, where the advertising revenue wouldn’t generate enough to subsidize it. We’d love to be a much better version of a directory service. Currently people pay £1 to talk to 118118 or Texperts to get a single answer to a single question in a single location, if we charged 50p and for that you received the full, rich directory data, and you didn’t get one listing you got the closest 400 places sorted around where you are, we think it’s a much better directory service and the way our service is designed we can potentially charge a lot less for it.

But then what we would do is use those services to continue running services that are free like the general Socialight social networking service or niche services like Late Night London, stuff that’s interesting and edgy and exciting, but also social. So we think there’s going to be a mix of paid services and free services. That was the reason we built this open platform with channel capability.

Our preferred model is obviously advertising supported. We think mobile services will go the same way as the online model; free services ad-supported, it’s just what to do in the interim process.

How far do you feel the advertising industry is from utilizing these mobile opportunities?

The problem with WAP ads is that they are in their infancy. Although they’re growing exponentially, the pool of advertisers is currently limited to ringtones, wallpapers or services that can run on a handset. What we want is for the ads to be part of the service, relevant to the location-based services, when this happens an ad-supported model is definitely going to work across all these services, but we’re not there yet.

Currently there’s nothing stopping someone going into Socialight, creating a note on their business and offering a special offer/ advert that it will serve as a piece of content, as a sticky note. People already do this, but in terms of serving ads, the big companies don’t provide any mechanism for say Joe’s Café to place an ad that’s going to be delivered to a mobile user around them, the targeting is just not there, they can only send it to a particular handset or country. The current ad networks aren’t geared to support these services with ads, but we’re thinking about that too, we’re building our ad service that is specifically geared to these types of services.

Within Socialight you can also have any channel you want and attach any value to that channel in terms of sponsorship, branding and specific demographic. Because if the content is valuable the people will consume it, and sometimes even be willing to pay for it.

How do you find the state of location-based services in Europe versus the U.S?

The UK the market is much more mature for this. Here it’s quite easy to launch a service with a call-to-action that involves a short code, everyone’s used to that. In the U.S you often can’t get a cross-carrier short-code because there are so many carriers. There is no aggregation in the US so location-based services don’t work. Plus there’s a huge installed GPS handset base in the US, about 50% of the handsets there have GPS chips, so we think there you’re likely to see the take-off of java application with GPS rather than any network location stuff.

This UK model however transports very well to Europe, to South Africa, and to most of Asia. Socialight already handles content created in all different languages, we’ve made sure it supports all the correct character sets so you can get notes right now in Italian, German, even Korean. The underlying technology in Europe is the same as here so with the right partners we could definitely move into different territories, but right now we’re focussed on the UK.

Thanks guys!


Filed under: mobile lifestyles

Newtoon teaches Physics on your Phone


A mobile phone and web-based gaming activity that embeds physics learning into the core of its application, Newtoon is a collaborative project between UK-based Futurelab and Soda Creative that is designed to encourage children to create, play, edit and share micro-games based on Newton’s laws of physics.

By motivating children to make use of their own phones for learning and encouraging mobile applications within the classroom, the project aims to offer teachers an engaging and exciting new tool for education, as well as hopefully inspiring students to involve science into their lives outside the school walls. There are two key aspects; the ‘microlab’ which allows teachers to demonstrate and explain physics principles, and the ‘microgame’ allows pupils and teachers to create their own games based on these principles, explained in the scenarios give on their website:

Scenario 1

A science teacher is anxious about KS3 Unit 8J: Magnets and electromagnets. She wonders how she can excite her pupils about the world of magnetism. The teacher launches Newtoon on the whiteboard and searches for a tutorial on ‘magnets’. She opens a research microlab and by moving and rotating the bar magnet, she demonstrates that the ferrous bar always attracts while the bar magnet both attracts and repels depending on polarity. On their desktops, the pupils then select ‘dog’s dinner’, a micro-game which explores magnets. Racing against the clock, the pupils steer a dog towards the bone, avoiding the magnetic forces.

Scenario 2

During the science lesson, all the pupils’ games are collected into a game-carousel at the Newtoon website. At home, a pupil, Laura loads the game-carousel onto her mobile phone and challenges her family to play her creations. “How does it work?” her mum asks. Laura explains that her game, ‘dream-date’, uses magnetic variables to make her game characters attract and repel each other depending on how ‘cute’ they are, using pictures she has imported from the internet. She then shows her mum that her game has been the most played by her classmates, and that she has improved in her understanding of physics

Having been prototype tested in schools around the UK already this year, and with trails due to launch any day now, this is an exciting new system for the future of learning that may finally begin to bring about the materialisation of the much-deliberated re-think to the tenets of teaching.

‘The evolution of a gaming community has the potential to invoke an interactive and collaborative classroom culture with doing, debating and deliberating science at its heart. This will involve exploring the possibilities of a 21st century science curriculum.’

Futurelab: Newtoon

Filed under: education, mobile lifestyles, products with a purpose

Social Retailing: “Is This Dress For Me?”

116mall6_413x550_1IconNicolson has a “social retailing” vision which means mashing up social computing and near-field communication technologies with youth shopping habits – to target young adult shoppers. As a part of this project, they have come up with an interactive mirror that sends a live video feed to any cell phone or e-mail account selected by a shopper. CNet reports:

A New York-based designer has come up with a mirror equipped with infrared technology that sends a live video feed to any cell phone, e-mail account or personal digital assistant device selected by a shopper.

Christopher Enright, chief technology officer for digital design company IconNicholson, said putting these mirrors outside store fitting rooms meant women could go shopping with their friends — remotely.

“She could be in Paris, your mom, watching you try on your wedding dress (while you are in New York),” Enright told Reuters on Tuesday as he unveiled the interactive mirror at a retail trade show.

Using the interactive mirror, a shopper’s friends can then text message back with comments about the outfit.

Filed under: mobile lifestyles, visions of the future