MSC Cruises Launches Digitally Enhanced Guest Experiences

What Happened
MSC Cruises, the world’s largest privately-owned cruise line, debuted its fleet-wide digital innovation program at the travel industry trade show ITB Berlin. The company worked with companies including Deloitte Digital, HP Enterprise, and Samsung to develop a new cruise system MSC for Me, which leverages VR content, wearables, and RFID/NFC technology to deliver a connected, personalizable, and holistic guest experience.

Each guest will be given a connected bracelet that will offer guests quick access to the ship’s services and will activate geo-located suggestions through 3,050 bluetooth beacons. Other key features of this new program include digital way finder and mobile concierge services, a VR content for previewing their trips, and a gallery with interactive screens showing the photos and videos that guests shared.

What Brands Need To Do
If this program sounds familiar, it is because MSC’s approach is quite similar to the Ocean Medallion program that Carnival Cruise unveiled at this year’s CES. Together, this two new guest-oriented innovation programs point to the future of travel and hospitality, where new technologies such as wearable and cloud computing work together to deliver a frictionless and highly personalized experience for each guest, guiding them through each stage of their travel.

As AI and wearable tech continue to advance, their potential to transform the travel and hospitality industries is just starting to show. Therefore, brands would be smart to start exploring the vast potential they hold and incorporating them into your guest experiences.


Source: Yahoo Finance

Header image courtesy of MSC Cruise’s press release

Mercedes Launches In-Car Wellness Initiative With Wearable Data

What Happened
Mercedes-Benz is looking to improve the driving experience with a new health and wellness initiative that taps wearable data to improve a driver’s mood and comfort level. After setting up a Mercedes Me profile, Mercedes drivers can adjust climate control, lighting, seat massagers, entertainment systems in their vehicles. If they wear a fitness tracker, they can connect it to the profile and receive automatic adjustments on the in-car environments according to their stress level and other physiological stats. For example, if the system detects a driver is sleepy, it will play some energizing tunes to keep the driver alert. Moreover, drivers will also receive personalized health and fitness tips from Mercedes’  Fit and Healthy Coach, even when they stepped out of the vehicle. Mercedes says these features will be released “in the near future.”

What Brands Need To Do
This serves as the latest example of how brands may incorporate fitness and biometric data into AI-powered digital experiences and provide added value to their customers. By launching this wellness initiative, Mercedes is adding a new dimension to its driving experience and, because the initiative can reach drivers even when they’re not in the car, establish a holistic brand presence in customers’ daily lives. More brands can benefit from this approach and expand their services by leveraging those customer data to power new services and brand experiences.


Source: PSFK

Header image courtesy of Mercedes-Benz’s press release


Union Square Hospitality Group Transforms Its Restaurant Experience With Apple Watch

What Happened
Union Square Hospitality is bringing wearable tech into the hospitality industry as it plans to equip every floor manager and sommelier with an Apple Watch when its Union Square Cafe reopens in Manhattan next month. In a partnership with startup Resy, managers will receive taps on their wrists as timely but subtle alerts whenever a VIP walks through the front door, a guest waits too long to order her or his drink, or a menu item runs out.

What Brands Should Do
This initiative serves as an interesting use case for restaurants and hospitality brands to leverage wearables to improve their customer service. The kind of discreet notifications smartwatches offer can keep managers in the loop without disrupting the customer experience. More hospitality and retail brands should consider exploring similar opportunities to modernize their on-premise customer service.


Source: Eater

Apple’s iPhone 7 Event Preview: What Marketers Should Look Out For

Apple is holding its annual iPhone event on Wednesday in San Francisco, and based on the early reports and leaked intelligence, the new iPhone 7 will undoubtedly be the star of the show. Here is a roundup of things that marketers should look out for tomorrow from Apple’s press event.

iPhone 7 To Make Push For Siri & Conversational Interfaces
By all accounts, Apple will be unveiling the next-gen iPhones, which will come with faster processors and bigger storages, but won’t look that much different than the iPhone 6 and 6s – save for two important changes.

To start with, the new iPhone 7 Plus will reportedly be equipped with a dual-lens camera, which will unlock some more advanced photography features for consumers. The iPhone 7 will also most likely come without a 3.5mm headphone jack, which could boost the usage of wireless headphones. This, coupled with the extended functionality of Siri thanks to the new SiriKit, could encourage iPhone users to interact with Siri more and help familiarize them with the type of conversational interfaces that are changing the way consumers interact with brands. (For more on this topic, check out the in-depth analysis in our 2016 Outlook.)

Faster Apple Watch With Built-in GPS
Besides a new iPhone, Apple is also set to release an Apple Watch update that will reportedly launch apps seven times faster and come with a built-in GPS for more accurate fitness tracking. As Apple continues to improve its wearable products, brands in the healthcare and fitness, athletic wear, or other fitness-adjacent fields should consider developing an Apple Watch app to reach their target audiences.

New Softwares Extend Apple Pay Support
Along with the annual September event, the new Apple operating systems announced at this year’s WWDC will come out of beta testing and become available for the masses. One significant feature these upgrades will bring is the ability to use Apple Pay across iPhone, Apple Watch, and the Safari browser on Mac computers, enabling Apple Pay users to complete their online orders seamlessly regardless of the device they are using. For more marketing implications the software upgrades are set to bring, check out our Fast Forward analysis on the 2016 WWDC event.

One more thing, maybe?
Apple has been reportedly working on a variety of projects that range from self-driving cars to AR products, but none of them appear to be anywhere near ready to be publicly announced at the moment. Still, don’t be too shocked if Apple decides to surprise the world with a “one-more-thing” type of announcement.

Don’t forget to check back tomorrow to read our take on Apple’s announcements.


Sources: Bloomberg & 9to5Mac & The Verge

How Infiniti Visualized Customer Response To Its New Cars

What Happened
Japanese auto brand Infiniti wanted to show people how exciting their new models are, so it leveraged biometric tracking for an innovative event activation at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance auto show last week. Visitors to the Infiniti Pavilion received an armband that tracked their physiological reactions like muscle cell electrical activity toward the new cars on exhibition. Also, the armbands were connected to various sensors installed in the cars and throughout the Infiniti Pavilion to map out how long attendees checked out the new models. The data was then graphed and projected on a giant LED display to showcase the enthusiasm of potential buyers.

What Brands Need To Do
This use case of biometric data showcases an interesting way for brands to incorporate wearables into event activations. It offers a cool way to visualize the enthusiasm of event goers, attract and entertain onlookers, and collect data about what potential buyers are most interested in. Other brands seeking ways to infuse their events with a little digital fun should take a cue from Infiniti and explore what wearable tech can add to brand activations.


Source: Digiday


Gatorade To Suggest Drinks By Analyzing Your Sweat

What Happened
Sports drink maker Gatorade is pushing into digital fitness with a smart-cap bottle and a chip-embedded sweat patch. The smart-cap bottle can monitor fluid intake and share real-time hydration data with the Gatorade app, and the sweat patch can work with an app to analyze sweat and identify a user’s sweat level, as well as their electrolyte and additional fluid-intake needs. Combining these real-time data, Gatorade can inform users when and how much they should drink during workouts and recommend one of its twelve drink formulas that fits their sweat type.

What Brands Need To Do
As Gatorade taps into biometric data and adds extra value to its products, it provides a great example for brands looking to use customer data to optimize their products and services. As more consumers embrace fitness wearables, it is important for fitness, healthcare, and lifestyle brands to keep up with shifting consumer behavior and find a way to integrate all the fitness data available into their products and services.


Source: Digiday

CES 2016: Under Armour Teams Up With IBM’s Watson For Smart Fitness Data

Under Armour has been developing “connected clothing” for a while now, and at CES 2016, the sportswear maker announced a new partnership with IBM, integrating the computing power of IBM’s AI platform Watson into its health and fitness app, UA Record to analyze users’ fitness data and give them actionable insights on healthcare and exercises.

Moreover, Watson will also use other data in making those fitness and health suggestions. For example, it can pull real-time weather data from The Weather Channel app, which IBM recently acquired, to figure out the optimal time and temperature to suggest a run outside. This signals an exciting new direction for the fitness wearables to tap into big data and AI to expand its functionality and offer added value to users.


For more of the Lab’s CES coverage, click here.

Mondelēz Will Trade A Pack Of Trident For Your Fitness Data

What Happened
Mondelēz gets into wearable data with a holiday campaign for its Trident gum brand. As part of its Trident’s C.H.E.W. (Change Health Every Week) campaign that rewards shoppers for staying healthy during the holiday season, the international snack giant is giving exclusive offers to customers of convenience store chain Kum & Go in exchange for sharing their workout data from fitness trackers. Those reward offers will be delivered through the Kum & Go mobile app once users hit some pre-fixed goals, such as taking 10,000 steps.

What Brands Need To Do
With this new initiative, Mondelēz found a way to engage health-conscious shoppers with a gamified challenge, presenting an interesting example in how brands can acquire consumer data and use it for good. Tapping into wearable data can help brands gain valuable insights into consumer behavior, and incentivizing people to share that data in exchange for value offers is a good way to do so.


Source: Digiday

Apple Watch Gets More Apps and Fashionable Watch Bands

Apple kicked off Wednesday’s event with a showcase of its newest product, the Apple Watch. With the new watchOS 2 (first announced at WWDC event back in June) coming next week with Watch-native apps, Apple demoed various new Watch apps such as Facebook Messenger, GoPro, and healthcare app AirStrip to showcase the versatility that its first wearable product gains through third-party apps.

Moreover, Apple continues to converge tech with fashion as it collaborated with Hermes on new models with exclusive bands and watch faces, as well as releasing new colorways for the Apple Watch Sport. The company is also reportedly prepping its first exclusive content in the form of fashion network ‘Made 2 Measure’.

Google Brings Interactive Watch Faces To Android Wear

What Happened
Earlier this week, Google opened up Android Wear to allow developers to build more powerful interactive watch faces, which now allow users to launch apps directly or pull up more information. For example, Google worked with Under Armour to build a branded, interactive watch face that centers around fitness and activity tracking, powered by Under Armour’s Android app.

What Brands Can Do
As wearables, especially smartwatches, continue to gain momentum, brands that wish to stay ahead of the adoption curve would be wise to start experimenting with this nascent media platform now, and interactive watch face could potentially offer great brand presence as well as high engagement with smartwatch users.

It is also worth noting that Apple Watch currently does not support customizable interactive watch faces, but Watch OS2, set for release next month, will allow customizable “complications” on watch faces, which offer similar functionality for brands.


Source: TechCrunch

Header image courtesy of Google Play