RTC Blog

From inside information to far out ideas, here's what
has captured our attention and spurred us into action.

What’s Happening : 8/4/14

Reinventing the Pay Phone
The contracts for New York City pay phones expire on October 15, with no plans to replace them. Instead of having empty terminals, NYC has received several proposals from companies vying for a chance to recreate the iconic pay-phone network. What form will these re-creations take? So far, the proposals include Wi-Fi hotspots, solar-panel charging stations, and augmented-reality kiosks. NYC’s Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications (DoITT) is the agency tasked with finding a way to both maintain this historic city infrastructure and update it into a more 21st-century form. Furthermore, these outdated phones turned into lifesavers during hurricane Sandy, when cell-phone services were lost, so some, like City Council member Ben Kallos, feel that the phone booths should remain. Fastcolabs.com

Hop In, hitchBOT
In an experiment on human-machine interaction, researchers at McMaster University sent a hitchhiking robot across Canada. hitchBOT is a child-sized talking robot that stands on the side of the road with its thumb cocked, waiting for curious drivers to pick it up. By placing robotic technology into an “improbable cultural context,” this social experiment helps reveal whether humans can trust robots. Although hitchBOT has a cake-saving container for a head, he is able to independently tweet and post photos to Instagram. Not only is this little guy charting new social media territory for the field of robotics, but he is also using speech-recognition technology to have actual conversations. Fastcocreate.com

Technology Spotlight
Researchers are testing an implanted chip that would let women wirelessly control their own fertility. Although this may sound convenient to some women, the device is still in its early stages and poses several health issues. Said to be controlled by a remote, the chip is highly hackable and relatively dangerous to implant. Although an invention like this could help a lot in developing countries, much more research must be done first. Mashable.com

Marketing Spotlight
Jell-O is slowly getting into the sports marketing game. With its special kits that include college-themed mold trays and flavors matching the school colors, Jell-O is trying to lure more students to bring it to their campuses. Amazon, which sold these kits, sold out of its 20,000 allotment in less than a week. Looks like Chobani is taking note of
Jell-O’s tactics, too, and is starting to make special flavors themed by school and colors. Adage.com

Health Spotlight
Starting this week, “gluten-free” labels on packaged foods have real meaning. Until now, the term “gluten-free” had not been regulated, but the FDA has now created new requirements for producers and manufacturers before they slap the term “gluten-free” on any packaging. Although the same rules don’t apply to restaurants, the FDA is encouraging them all to comply so those with celiac disease (a hypersensitivity to gluten) can live easier lives. Foxnews.com

Design Spotlight
Artist Joey Spiotto has taken nostalgia to a new level with his re-creation of classic movies and TV shows in the form of children’s books. The exhibit, which will be held this Friday in LA, features title reinterpretations such as “Kill Bill” becoming “The Little Bride.” All of the animations are in a Little Golden Books style and maintain an air of innocence that the original films themselves have stripped away. This is truly childproofing at its best! Fastcocreate.com

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