SS+K

FreshDirect Takes Atlantic Ave

If you find yourselves at Brooklyn’s Atlantic Ave station this January, be sure to check our latest work for FreshDirect. You can explore every inch of the station to discover quick and easy recipes for the whole family, sundae combinations to make your mouth water, and tips on cooking.  All expressed through the gorgeous food photography of Johnny Miller.

View more photos after the jump.

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Working Hard for the Hardest Working

This week SS+K and Jackson Hewitt unveiled a new identity and integrated marketing campaign around the brand philosophy of “Working Hard for the Hardest WorkingSM.”

With an emphasis on television and radio, the creative work shines a light on the hard-working Americans who look to Jackson Hewitt as their financial advocate. And just in time for tax season, Jackson Hewitt reminds them of its guarantees to uncover the biggest refunds possible with 100% accuracy.

Read more about the new campaign over at MediaPost.

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What excited us at CES 2015

Each January we travel to the Consumer Electronics Show, a mega conference filled with 200,000 people, miles of new technologies, over the top brand experiences, and flashy parties celebrating the next new big thing. It’s hard not to be overwhelmed by it all, but amidst the craziness we found ourselves fixating on a few key trends that make us excited for the year to come in consumer tech:

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The future of TV.
Satellite cable provider Dish announced a groundbreaking new TV product called Sling TV that offers select premium cable channels, including ESPN, directly over the internet for just $20 / month. Live sports is the most valuable asset cable companies have in their expensive bundle, and Dish’s ESPN deal could be, for many, the straw that broke the camel’s back for cord cutting. Along with HBO announcing an Over-The-Top internet service at some time in 2015, this could be the year the great unbundling of cable actually happens.

Dish’s Sling TV will be available on just about every internet connected device. Photo: The Verge

Smart devices we actually want. 2015 will give us meaningful reasons to believe in the Internet-of-Things. Parrot Pot: a self regulating and self watering plant bowl; Dash Earphones: wireless headphones report your activity and heart rate; August Smart Lock: a door lock that can be controlled remotely; and eSkin Thermometer: stickers to monitor your child’s temperature in real time via your phone. Better yet, we can expect convergence across connected devices through smart home hubs like Google NEST.

The eSkin Thermometer is a cheap single use sticker that has NFC to communicate with your phone. Photo: Engadget

VR beyond hype. The latest version of Oculus Rift was mesmerizing, and paired with products like the Sixsense Motion Controller it can be transformative. But maybe more impressive was Google Cardboard, which managed to replicate much of the experience with just cardboard and a phone. A base jumping simulation was so real it caused a stomach ache. At minimum it shows the depth of which experiences can be created using the censors in a standard mobile smartphone, how much innovation is still possible.

Google Cardboard is just a simple folding kit and a mobile application for your Android phone. Photo: Google Images

A little bit of awe inspiring. We raced cars using just our brainwaves, saw drones that follow behind us as we run, listened to creepy lifelike robots singing to us, and watched autonomous cars that can start and pull out of our driveways for us with the touch of a smartphone button. The future really is still in our imaginations, and all of us have the potential to unlock it. It’s going to be a wild ride.

Toshiba’s concept robot, named ChihiraAico, is nearly believable, especially from a distance. Photo: Mashable

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Preventing Digital Memory Loss

My first piece on TechCrunch is all about how to take back control of your digital memories before it’s too late.  An enterprising reader also recorded a reading to an interesting new podcasting for articles platform Umano.  Have a read (or listen) and share your thoughts.

Read on TechCrunch | Listen on Umano

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Happy Holidays With Deco-Tron 3000

This season we were too busy for decorations, much less a holiday card. So we built an internet-connected robot catapult to take care of both. Meet the DECO-TRON 3000, the first ever tree decorating robot powered by our friends and family sitting at home.

Learn more about how the Deco-Tron 3000 worked at SS+K Labs.

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Smile Train: Dreaming of Midnight

Today on Giving Tuesday, SS+K and Smile Train are launching Dreaming of Midnightan interactive video that shares the story of a Mexican New Year’s Eve celebration through the eyes of Camila, a child with an unrepaired cleft.

Follow Camila through a child’s magical, whimsical view of traditions and holiday joys, and feel firsthand how difficult it is for a someone with cleft to experience them.  Watch for twinkling hot spots that can be clicked to make a donations give children born with cleft the promise of a new year, and a new smile.

Watch Dreaming of Midnight today.

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When You’re Smiling For Smile Train

Imagine a world where every child can smile. That’s the world our client Smile Train, an international children’s charity that provides 100% free cleft repair surgery to children in developing countries, strives to create by providing the resources needed to give every child born with a cleft the surgery and related treatment to transform his or her life.

Recently with Smile Train we launched “When You’re Smiling”, an interactive art installation that lives online and as as a traveling exhibit.

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On the Smile Train website participants around the world can record a video of themselves singing a line from the classic song “When You’re Smiling” and join the collective voices that sing the full song together. The site then loops everyone’s recordings through ever-changing arrangements, encouraging viewers to share Smile Train’s message, and donate.

A pop-up exhibit brings the web experience to life giving people an opportunity to fully immerse themselves and lend their voices in support of Smile Train. The installation recently premiered at Photoville in Brooklyn, NYC, a one-of-a-kind annual event that uses repurposed shipping containers to create a constellation of photography exhibits each year. Smile Train’s exhibit featured two customized containers – one where participants could record a line from “When You’re Smiling” and see their video stitched together with other voices on large-scale LCD screens.

 In the second, adjacent container, Smile Train exhibited photojournalistic images that tell the stories of five patients (of over one million) whose lives have been changed by cleft repair surgery provided by Smile Train.

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10 Lessons on design and making things I learned at Brooklyn Beta

The 10 most important lessons I learned at this year’s Brooklyn Beta conference about design, business, and technology when it comes to making stuff:

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  • Giving people just what they need, when they need it, and not more, is fundamental to the user experience. Tavi Gevinson publishes only three new stories per day on Rookie magazine, timed to ‘After School’, ‘Dinner Time’, and ‘Sweet Dreams’. Her teen readers know new content will appear just when they need it, and in manageable doses.
  • Creators innovate on ways to provide value, as well as how to make money from their ideas. Over time Tavi has grown Rookie into a triple thread with an annual published book for sale, as well as an physical event series. They all work together to deliver Rookie’s promise.
  • If you can’t win the game, change the game you’re playing. When David Hieatt realized his small town denim factory couldn’t win in the market for denim jeans competing for the best price, he started over as a brand focused on quality and innovation at a premium.
  • Purpose makes your company stronger, makes people believe in you, and want to support you. People believe in Hiut Denim Co. because Hiut’s mission is to bring jobs back its town and enable its craftsman community to put their wealth of skill and knowledge to work.
  • Be an ideas company that applies ideas to a your business platform of choice. Hiut is an ideas company that makes denim jeans. They constantly innovate on the product, the experience, and the story of their denim jeans. Ideas are what can have a multiplier effect.
  • Limitations can give your product direction and distinction. While a majority of the jean market is for pre-washed jeans, Hiut couldn’t offer this because of the impact on the town’s water supply. Instead, Hiutcreated the “no-wash jeans” club and embraced the uniqueness of jeans that have creases from the wearer’s life instead of a machine.
  • Consider the impact your decisions will have on our culture for the long term. Getting wrapped up in the Internet party and not thinking about the clean up after is destroying our heritage. Jason Scott said 40% of URLs they index at Internet Archive are gone. Everything important about us is on the shakiest foundation since the dawn of time.
  • Be honest with yourself about whether you’re achieving your goals.Brooklyn Beta co-founder Cameron Koczon rated their conference a C+ despite a 5 year run and thousands of passionate happy attendees because he felt it became too design focused and didn’t help bridge the gap between design and development + business they intended.
  • You can choreograph empathy and creativity by paying close attention to the details. Brooklyn Beta succeeded as an un-conference because the organizers perfectly choreographed the experience. Things like no announced schedules, no Internet, DIY creator stations, ample conversation breaks, and unlimited coffee + beer set the pace.
  • Do the stuff that matters to you the most. Have big, audacious, scary dreams. It’s not the job of dreams to be realistic, it’s the job of dreams to be damn near impossible. If you work hard enough, you might achieve a jean company that employs a town, a magazine for a new generation, or a conference that inspires and changes people’s lives.

This article was first published by Kevin Skobac on Medium.

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Rob Shepardson Talks Millennials and Politics

AdWeek spoke to SS+K’s Rob Shepardson about engaging millennials in politics, and our experience as President Obama’s youth agency during the 2012 re-election campaign:

Because young adults view Washington as “a cesspool,” creative agency SS+K was determined to “sell a politician by not being political,” notes Rob Shepardson, the shop’s co-founder and partner. “They knew Obama, liked him as a person, but were disappointed with the economy and generally alienated from politics,” he recalls. “There was an enthusiasm gap. Our job was to create that enthusiasm.”

“Millennials will align with somebody regardless of political labels based on values. Communicate through issues, not through the candidate. Negative ads and politics-as-usual can turn millennials off. They are quite shrewd when it comes to marketing. You need to get to a point or a benefit that matters to them. We had to be very careful not to make one false move and fall back into the traditional way of marketing.”

Find the whole AdWeek article here.

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With Apple Watch, Don’t Be Afraid To Dream Big

On Tuesday Apple finally unveiled the Apple Watch, ending years of rumors and seemingly insurmountable hype. The reviews have been mixed, at best. There are critiques about the design, critiques about the interface, critiques about the feature set. But mostly people are just saying “why would I ever need a watch when I already have a phone? What could it possibly do better?”

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The ‘Why’ is what’s important.

The challenge of new technology is to overcome the obvious and enable the unprecedented. It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking a device has failed just because it can’t do what we already do, any better than we already do it. It’s much harder to think about what a new device, especially one with such unique features as the Apple Watch, is capable of enabling in our lives.

This is precisely the same question we’re pursuing with Google Glass.

If you put on Google Glass and simply take a picture, do a search, or even play a game, you might feel like you are wearing an overpriced Halloween costume. When it comes to reproducing existing behaviors Google Glass often feels inferior, clunky, even infuriating. For that reason, over two years after Google Glass was first announced, it’s considered by many to be a dud.

But when you begin to think about what it could mean to augment people’s vision with the information they need, without taking up any additional human faculties, you look at Glass a little differently.

Recently SS+K partnered with Mark Morris Dance Group to build an application for Google Glass specifically tailored to augment the lives of people living with Parkinson’s disease. Taking advantage of Glass’s heads-up display, bone-inductive audio, and verbal and gestural navigation, we’ve discovered new tools that will give people living with Parkinson’s greater control and freedom in their lives. In a way that only Google Glass, and nothing before it, could make possible.

This is equally true of other Glass-based projects now underway. Remedy is a medical technology company building Glass software that enables physicians to lend their eyes to specialists for remote consultations. Quest Visual is making international travel easier than ever before with their application Word Lens that magically replaces the foreign language words you’re looking at with the proper translation, right before your eyes.

So when I look at the Apple Watch I’m not thinking about text messaging, Google searches, Facebook, or phone calls. I’m thinking about how the Apple Watch could be more consistently and more prominently connected to us than any mobile technology before it. How the underside of the watch face has a heart rate sensor. And how the watch body can generate varying degrees of haptic feedback to the wearer. I’m trying to think about the things that have never been before.

Writing off Apple Watch based on how it performs against today’s tasks is a fool’s errand. Instead, we need to look at Apple Watch as a new opportunity that we have the capability to make wonders with.

What’s possible is only limited by our imagination.

This article was first published by Kevin Skobac on Medium.

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