Emerging Trends: Pay Forward

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Good deeds begets good deeds

By Ethan Lyon, Senior Writer

Definition
When John F. Kennedy famously said, “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country,” he understood the inherent goodwill of Americans. We have to rely on that goodwill in the face of difficult challenges. Our compassion for one another is a common thread that unites us. It was with this idea of compassion that JFK inspired thousands of Americans to serve selflessly for the good of our fellow man. JFK’s message was strongly echoed after 9/11 and stronger yet after the near collapse of our financial systems.

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Goodwill—Doing good deeds for others is fulfilling. Have you ever seen a person mad after they walk the little old lady across the street? No, their good will engenders a feeling of purpose and meaning that is tremendously rewarding. As we face difficult times, we are humbled and unified through our collective experience. As a result, the good within us will shine through.
Karma—Stemming from the Hindu religion, the concept of Karma comes from the idea that your actions in the here and now will effect the future you. Those that committed wrongdoing before will now face the consequences of their actions. Those that acted in good faith will be rewarded with a better future.

Examples
Peace Corps—John F. Kennedy created the Peace Corps with the idea that Americans are genuinely charitable. That idea has carried through the decades. Over 170,000 Americans have served their country and their fellow man through the Peace Corps since its conception in 1961.
Secret Millionaire—Nothing says reality check like working for minimum wage, living in an impoverished community and lending a helping hand—particularly for a millionaire. Fox’s new show Secret Millionaire does just that. After the undercover millionaires have had a chance to see how “the other half lives,” they decide who receives a gift of $100,000. It’s a lesson in humility that breaks lifestyle barriers to enlighten the more fortunate with the realities of the less fortunate.
Link Lessons—No longer does it take hundreds, if not thousands of dollars to perfect your swing. Link Lessons is an online video site where amateur and professional golfers meet to side step the expensive lessons… at least in the beginning. Amateurs film their swing, post it to Link Lessons, and professionals give them pointers based on their uploaded video. For the professionals, it’s a great way to meet prospective clients and for amateur golfers, it’s an inexpensive alternative to on-course lessons.
Northland Professional—Donating a portion of your company profits is a noble gesture. However, it doesn’t resonate like it should with the everyday consumer. It’s difficult to see bank-to-bank transfers, and more often than not, most people do not benefit from your companies charity. That’s why last November, Northland Professional launched a charitable project that had impact for all… at least for those who walked by their billboard. Austrian outdoor fitters, Northland Professional tacked winter apparel to their billboards for passerbys’ to just… take. Northland Professional’s project is a lesson in charity with impact that meets everyday reality.

Key Words
Charitable, Goodwill, Fulfillment, Giving

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Emerging Trends: Redefining Icon

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Heroes Emerge in Challenging Times

By Ethan Lyon, Senior Writer

Definition
“There are dark shadows on the earth but the lights are stronger in the contrast” (Charles Dickens). Heroes take many shapes and forms. As we move forward, we are redefining our expectations of both our leaders and of ourselves.

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Influencers—American celebrity has just gotten a face-lift. Though the glitz and glamour of Hollywood-like celebrity is a cultural mainstay, with the inception of the Internet, celebrity has been democratized. Now, any Internet user with a loud and interesting enough voice to be heard above the constant drum of Internet chatter can ascend to celebrity. Celebrities, particularly bloggers, will be judged on the character, not their low-cut dress… unless that’s what the blog is about, of course.
Heroes—To quote a famous action toy, “Extreme times call for extreme heroes” (G.I. Joe). We are looking to our political, economic and social leadership for guidance. Our expectations of them are elevated to a higher standard than before. We have more faith in them. Therefore, when our leaders fail us, the repercussions and frustration are amplified.

Examples
Perez Hilton—From the underbelly of celebrity gossip scene, Perez Hilton broke through the celebrity prattle by providing uncanny up-to-date juicy celebrity info. His Internet popularity launched him to TV stardom with a number of red-carpet interview spots for celebrity media, and even his own TV show.
SullenbergerChelsey Sullenberger III became an instant hero when he safely landed US Airways Airbus A320 in the Hudson River, saving the 155 passengers from a potentially fatal crash. It’s times like these where heroism like Sullenbergers’ will bring hope to dim future.
Phillips—A test of courage, bravery and willingness act lead Captain Richard Phillips to his capture by Somali pirates. After days on a small lifeboat with his captors, he was finally released to duly awarded praise and honor from the highest political office to the fanfare of proud Americans. He returned to his Vermont home where he could retreat from the event that steered America’s foreign policy attention and kept Americans on the edge of their couches.

Key Words
Hero, Challenging Times, Celebrity

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Emerging Trends: Retrofitting

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Reinventing Classic

By Ethan Lyon, Senior Writer

Definition
Taking something old and passé and making it “cool” again is nothing new. Fashion is always recycling the style of yesterday and putting today’s spin on it. But fashion is not the only industry actualizing the Retrofitting trend. Companies are finding new and interesting ways of giving a face-lift to products of old. Though innovation runs through our veins, new products don’t have to look slick. As we search for authenticity in our lives, we will turn to familiar, comforting, quality products.

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Authenticity—New isn’t always better. Well, new is good, but as long as it doesn’t look like it. It’s called vintage-chic. Often times, products from a different era are altogether new products. What a strange paradox. But consumers crave authenticity, because authenticity means quality.
Reinvention—Taking a pastime product, like Coke, and reintroducing the glass bottle design is ingenious. In effect, Coke is reinventing its product. That glass Coke bottle represents a time when quality was the cornerstone of company promise. You might even think it tastes better. Now, as companies are hacking away at budgets, quality will suffer. Therefore, the market for quality goods will be less competitive, which equals opportunity. Companies that can deliver authentic products with authentic pricing will have the upper hand.

Examples
Bigelow Apothecary—The apothecary vocation might conjure images reminiscent of a Shakespearian drama. Perfect, says Bigelow. Shakespearian is good. It’s the pinnacle of linguistic perfection–an emblem of quality. Then it’s no surprise Bigelow introduced its Apothecary collection to the Bath and Body Shop. Bigelow Apothecary exemplifies why the Retrofitting trend is emerging. It harks back to a time when products were made to a higher standard.
The Impossible Project—Remember the instant film Polaroid camera? Well, nowadays it’s been pushed aside by digital technology. You can’t purchase the integral film it requires to operate. That’s why the Impossible Project is calling on the help of instant film aficionados to donate funds in an effort to reproduce the film that inspired instant photography.
Lush—The bath and body store, Lush, were in a pickle: stores are only so big and Lush wanted to offer new and old products consumers love. Solution: the Internet. Offer the latest products in store (with a couple retro products in the mix) but create an online store that sells everything from the originals to the latest and greatest product line.

Key Words
Authentic, Quality, Classic

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Top 5: Emerging Twingo Trends

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We’ve Gone Through the Twictionary to Bring You Emerging Twitter Lingo

By Ethan Lyon, Senior Writer

The unique culture surrounding Twitter has been explosive in the past year. Twitter serves as testing grounds for innovative and interesting approaches to social media. Twebinars is an example of Twitter using mash-ups to create a powerful new web 2.0 tool for business (ie @nielsoncompany, or @cnn), celebrities (ie @Opera, @aplusk) and anyone with an Internet connection.

This counter-culture is so expansive and unique, it has its own language. Mostly “tw” is place in front of a word to make it “twingo” (Twitter lingo), but there are some more interesting approaches to “twitify” language. We scoured the twictionary to bring you interesting ways our emerging trends apply to Twitter.

1. Maximizer
Brevity and conciseness is the premise on which Twitter was built. The 140-character concept is what the Maximizer trend is all about. Finding the most compressed way of getting your message across is a necessity on Twitter. Exacto Tweeters are those who use the 140 characters to get their message across—maximizing their allotted space. But for those who still can’t get their message across in less than 140 characters, well… you’ve just made a 140ism.

2. Houdini
Tweaven is the obvious combination of Twitter + Heaven. For those who feel Tweeting puts them in a sublime paradise—an escape from the daily routine—they are following the Houdini trend. The Houdini trend is all about taking a virtual vacation from reality. Those completely immersed in Twitter could be living in Tweaven—the Twitter version of virtual vacation.

3. Sensory Mashup
First there was the seminar. Then there was the webinar. Now, naturally there’s the Twebinar. The Twebinar (@twebinar) allots a time and digital location in which users can discuss an interesting topic with a social media wizard like Chris Brogan or any other “speaker.” The Twebinar entitled “Listening” received approximately 1,400 tweets—quite an involvement for a discussion on listening.

4. Retrofitting
Vintage tweets. They could be from a year, month, week or day ago… but they are so good they deserve a another Tweet. RT stands for re-tweet. If you just enjoyed your tweet or another twiends, you tweet it again. Just like the Bigelow-Apothecary re-introducing vintage beauty products, RTs re-introduce interesting tidbits that need to be bumped up the page.

5. Private Eye
For this post, we followed the Private Eye trend—in that we had to delve into the twingo (Twitter lingo) to find interesting, on trend Twitter language. We scoured the twictionary to find lingo that made sense with our emerging trends. Soon, there’ll be a Twesaurus to sort similar terms such as twingo and twargon.

To find out more about our emerging trends, download the Emerging Trend Report in PDF format

Emerging Trends: Crisis = Opportunity

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Rebuilding from the Ground Up

By Ethan Lyon, Senior Writer

Definition
John F. Kennedy once noted that the Chinese character for the word, “crisis” has two brush strokes: one stands for danger, the other opportunity. As of late, the media have been pouring over the crumbling political, economic and social structures of the U.S. and international countries. Though the seeming collapse of our home and workplace might be disheartening, through the ashes we have the opportunity to rebuild anew.

Many have drawn parallels with the economy of today with the economy of the Great Depression. It was a time when America needed heroes (DC Comics, 1934), when we needed personal security (Allstate Insurance, 1931), a positive image of ourselves (Revlon, 1932) even simple pleasures (Sara Lee, 1939). No matter what the economic outlook may be, business leaders will always innovate to meet the needs of the time.

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Critical Juncture—These are defining moments in our history. Those after us will judge our decisions based on our merit, courage and capacity to think and create without borders. In the 11th hour, we will prove our worth through innovative ideas and the motivation and focus to execute them.
Clean Slate—Through the ashes, there is great possibility and room for experimentation and innovation. We are a nation of dreamers and do-ers—combined is an opportunity to emerge from this crisis stronger and wiser than before. We have an opportunity to change the status quo in a major way. Our minds are open to new ideas, to thinkers with a fresh perspective because convention has lead us to this critical juncture.
Soul Searching—When confronted with fear, particularly in careers, we are challenged by change. We are taking precautionary measures, like putting in those extra hours, or deciding whether job insecurity is so great it’s time to move on. When faced with fear, we are confronted with the reality of life.

Examples
Bankruptcy—More often than not, bankruptcy has serious negative overtones. Of course it does… it means you or your business are losing everything. Instead of thinking the glass is half empty, think of bankruptcy as a fresh start—a clean slate to start anew. It is a second chance to begin a life without debt. Though there are many restrictions on those people or businesses that claim bankruptcy, it’s a second chance nonetheless—an opportunity to do better.
Eco-Friendly Stocks—Let’s begin with the problem: the environment is in crisis. Next, Barack Obama takes the oath of office. As promised on the campaign trail, Obama delivers on his word to fix the economy with a stimulus package. Included in the stimulus package are “green jobs.” More green jobs translates into a larger green market. A growing green market equals opportunity. Thus, crisis=opportunity.
Overqualified—The LeBlanc family exemplifies a fate many Americans face in an economic slump. Rob LeBlanc, formerly a restaurant manager, lost his job from the challenging economy. He was forced to work as a pizza delivery person to get by—to pay for the bare necessities for his family. Like many Americans, the LeBlanc family is going to make many sacrifices to just get by. We are challenged to work outside our boundaries, as we struggle to stay above water.

Key Words
Restructuring, Rebirth, New Direction, Innovation, Possibility

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Emerging Trends: Darwinism

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Survive and Thrive

By Ethan Lyon, Senior Writer
Definition
To summarize Darwin’s work: adapt or die. When faced with a seemingly insurmountable challenge, consumers nationally and internationally are forced to adopt a doctrine of change. We’re re-assessing our impact as individuals and a people while we adapt to our current social, technological, economic and political environment. Even blue chip companies could not stave off evolution. When adaptability meets reality, no one is immune to change.

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Extinction—Just as in nature, when companies do not adapt, they face certain extinction. At this pivotal time in our history, we have to make tough decisions. And for those who lack foresight, their future is uncertain.
Adaptation—Companies and people alike have a choice… either change and march ahead, or give up and fall behind. Through our business decisions, and personal behavior (whether it’s buying or voting etc), we have to adjust to our shifting environment if we want to be successful.

Examples
The Detroit Three—Foreign automakers have been the driving force in innovation and efficiency. Unfortunately for the Detroit Three, their image has been quite the opposite. As the Detroit Three struggle to re-brand themselves into an image similar to their foreign counterparts, adaptation is a necessity for survival.
Rentobile—The up-to-date and “coolness” factor are two elements that drive technology. Apple, is all about the “coolness.” They sell “cool.” And consumers are constantly changing phones to get the most recent “cool.”
Rentobile has squeezed itself between the traditional supplier and consumer to meet our incessant need for this “cool.” It offers mobile phones for rent, much like Blockbuster, except with $200-500 products. Simply rent a phone on a month-to-month basis and if you like it, keep it for however long you want. Then, if Blackberry comes out with a new phone, exchange your old product for the new “cool.”
China—The 2008 Beijing Olympics was a snapshot of an emerging global economy experiencing some sizable growing pains. Pollution, national infrastructure, overpopulation, international image are a few of the issues hitting the worlds third largest economy (surpassing Germany, according to the World Bank) like a ton of bricks. China’s policy of isolation has taken a 180-degree turn in direction–making adaptation essential for continued success and growth.

Key Words
Adaptation, Extinction, Evolve, Survival, Change

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Top 5: Emerging Trends in News

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How News Fits into Sparxoo’s Emerging Trends

By Ethan Lyon, Senior Writer

Who would have thought a book entitled, “I Can Has Cheezburger” would have sold 100,000 print copies? A compilation of pictures of cats with German-accented commentary might have been fun to check out between getting to work and actually working, but why such a blog would have such cross-platform success is what we’re going to talk about in this week’s Top 5. We found interesting news items and discuss how they fit into our Emerging Trends.

1. Redefining Icon

Selling 100,000 copies of your book is no easy task. But for Ben Huh it wasn’t so hard. From the Indie success of his blog, “I Can Has Cheezburger,” a site that posts German-accented commentary in pictures of cats, a book deal was a natural step. Susan Boyle, a middle-aged church patron, was unknown to many until she starred in a British TV talent show, “Britain’s Got Talent.” For most people that know her now, they probably didn’t tune into the TV show. Instead, she was catapulted into 5-minute stardom when that TV clip of her went digital. With nearly 30 million views and counting, her YouTube clip and the cross-platform success of Ben Huh’s cat commentary exemplifies the Redefining Icon trend by re-branding celebrity in the digital age.

2. Sensory Mashup

The Sensory Mashup trend is all about a fun, engaging experience. That might be why Apple scored 80% on customer satisfaction survey and PC scored a mere 58% to 66%. Apple has created a chasse for developers to create very interactive applications and software for its users. The iPhone uses its accelerometer and touch-screen technology to give users a Sensory Mashup experience that has non-users say, “Oh is that an iPhone?” Apple is waiting for PC’s to catch-up, but at that point, the next generation of Sensory Mashup technology will be wowing the consumers.

3. Crisis=Opportunity

Chapter 11 is a tell-tale sign of crisis, but Chapter 11 is also synonymous for opportunity. For General Growth, Chapter 11 a year ago was an acquisition opportunity. As of last week, the tables turned and now General Growth is finding itself in the deep end of debt financing–unable to keep its head above water. For real estate owners, the opportunity could not be louder and more ever-present… strike while the iron is hot. General Growth will be selling its assets at very discounted rates, leaving prime opportunity for competitors to grab valuable property at bargain basement prices.

4. Private Eye

You might not have heard of Treehouse Foods Inc or Ralcorp Holdings Inc, but you might have purchased their products. Both are private labels. Treehouse and Ralcorp produce the generic, off/in-house brands are being favored by consumers, as penny-pinching forces them to look past the flashy label and understand brand name cream corn tastes enough like off brand cream corn–even if the difference is $0.15.

5. Pay Forward

Generosity and conscience-minded business is what the Pay Forward trend is all about. AT&T aligned its business with the good-cause, good-feet company, TOMS to promote global coverage and the far-reaching villages TOMS contributes to. For every shoe sold, a shoe is given to a person without. The cause-related marketing with AT&T extends the reach of TOMS message while aligning the mobile carriers brand with an impactful, Pay Foward company.

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Emerging Trends: Patriotism 2.0

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United we Stand

By Ethan Lyon, Senior Writer

Definition
What does it mean to be an American? As a nation, our sacrifice, spirit, ambition and innovation are all links in a chain that pulls our country forward. With strong leadership and spirit, we can wade through the hard times of today and those ahead. As in our history, the links in our chain become stronger with the weight we carry. To pull ourselves out of this economic rut, our expectation and goals require renewed national enthusiasm.

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Leadership—As we are all important in strengthening the integrity of country, it’s new, fresh leadership that dictates our social, economic and political direction. New thought and insight on all levels—from community-based all the way to the Oval Office—are the driving forces that move and inspire us to create a better country.
Sacrifice—To join as a country, there has to be a consensus—everyone has to be on the same page. Our acceptance of collective sacrifice is paramount to the unity and success of our country.
Pride—As we face to each other for help in these trying times, we are re-discovering our identity as a country. As we redefine what it means to be an American, we are adopting a feeling of hope, pride and dignity from within.

Examples
Ballot of Hope—Barack Obama has been a symbol of hope and change for many Americans struggling today. His unique and insightful perspective has truly inspired a nationalistic spirit that yells out, We can do it—we will prevail!
Helping Hands—Over 60 million Americans volunteered through an organization in 2007, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Though volunteerism, in recent years, has faded, given the radically different economic, social and political environment, more Americans will make that sacrifice for the greater good.
300,000 Applications—If there is any indicator of patriotism, the 300,000 applications received by the Obama administration is it. Compared to the 44,000 George W. Bush received during his first term, the Obama administration has become a symbol of Americas pride in its future.
Made in America—Product origins will mean much more to Americans as our economy continues to slump. Products made in the US don’t just signify jobs; it’s a stamp of quality. Many third world nations, and even developing nations, turnout products that have zero quality control. In America, with government entities like the FDA, when consumers buy homemade products, they’re also buying peace-of-mind.

Key Words
Hope, Sacrifice, Leadership, Unity, Pride

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Emerging Trends: MAXimizers

Venture for Value

Doing more with what you have is what the MAXimizer trend is all about. Whether it’s getting the best value in education or finding the best bargains, a savvier shopper will emerge as we face economic hardships that challenge us to search for outstanding value. The MAXimizer trend is where the intellectual fulfillment of the classroom meets the great feeling of getting the best deal—keeping in mind that value is relative, regardless of class, no one wants to be taken advantage of.

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Getting an Edge–In a competitive world, we need to stay a step ahead. Now more than ever, we have to capitalize on our strengths and push ourselves to be stronger and more competitive. Learning new skills is an important element in staying ahead of the curve. College admissions have seen an influx of applicants due to what some call the “bomb shelter mentality.” Academia is a great way to boost your resume while dodging the harsh realities of a slow economy.

Savvy–Bargain hunting is key to those seeking to maximize their shopping dollar. Consumers are finding new ways to get the best deal. Whether it is a web service or the penny-saver, coupons and discounts are the carrot at the end of the stick for the MAXimizer.

Examples
Re-Tooling–In a recent survey, the Department of Labor reported a substantial job decline in the manufacturing and construction sector, while education and government sectors remained unaffected. It is going to be evermore important that former employees with a high school diploma as their highest academic achievement return to the classroom. To have a competitive edge in a new job market, it is critical for workers to learn new skills.

Amazon–Finding the best deals has never been as efficient and accessible as today. With Internet services such as Amazon, users can buy used books, compare prices, and receive deep discounts with each purchase. Through consumer reviews, rating systems and competing vendors, Amazon helps its users find the right item at the right price. It’s the bargain mentality companies need to capitalize on in order to capture the savvy shopper.

Aldi’s DiscountAldi’s deep discounts and no-frills philosophy (bag the baggers and serve yourself at the cash only registers) may be just the ingredients of a recession proof recipe. Already, Aldi’s low prices—up to 40 percent lower than those of regular supermarkets—have scored it a loyal following. Whether your household income is $30,000 or $300,000 everyone is looking for real recessionary “rollbacks” and Aldi may be the answer to savings without having to “cutback” on purchases.

Perkler–This Australian website is the Amazon.com for rewards programs. Users sign-up for rewards programs that look interesting and Perkler.com sends users rewards in store or online. It’s also a buy for niche shoppers or those looking for that unique something. Perkler has over 500 rewards programs with 150,000 rewards. Finding that right something can come with the right price.

 

Emerging Trends: Sensory Mashup

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Multi-Experiential

By Ethan Lyon, Senior Writer
Definition
To re-energize product appeal, many companies are looking toward unconventional ways to speak to our senses–often adding additional, more alternative ways to grab our attention. Sensory Mash-Up is all about finding different ways to makes us feel, using nontraditional methods. Whether its shoes or rock climbing, companies are connecting (A)typical to (C)onvention to get (B)usiness.

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Purely Experiential–Taking two unrelated, great ideas and smooshing them together is the core of the Sensory Mash-Up trend. Most ideas are interesting, but do not have staying power. It’s all about experimenting to create something interesting and new. Often times Sensory Mash-Up products are difficult to launch because they are too far in left field. But once in a while, Sensory Mash-Up works and becomes an instant sensation.
Custom Fit–Nowadays, companies are buzzing about, asking, “how can we customize this to our consumers?” Well, the ideas hatched from that question often times lead into Sensory Mash-Up. It begins with what part of your companies product can be customized. Is it your shoe color/design, or the size of your mug? Then, how are consumers going to customize… are they going into your store or are they customizing online? There are so many variables that can be tweaked to differentiate your product in the market, while giving your customers a unique way to experience your product.

Examples
DigiWall--Recently, there has been a movement in the gaming world to push gamers off the couch and into a world that further blurs the line between reality and virtual reality. Some game consoles (i.e. Wii) have brought this movement to the forefront of the gaming world. However, some Sensory Mash-Up games do not scale well for in-home gaming. DigiWall is a perfect example of this. DigiWall incorporates a fun, gaming experience into the sport of indoor climbing. Lights are embedded into the holds (aka, grips), so climbers are challenged to either climb using certain holds, or might be challenged to climb the wall within a certain time frame. The portable wall is targeted toward children, but it provides a fun experience for adults.
AudioFuel–For many runners, music is the life force behind every stride. The beat of the drum guides our pace and the rest of the band carries our strength to do better. The people at AudioFuel began thinking… why not create a music download site for runners who need the right beat for the right workout? AudioFuel did just that, and then some. Runners can download beat-specific play lists (varying in intensity), with voice-overs counting the beats and offering running tips and inspirational remarks.
Samsung--Traditionally, vending machine advertising has been left up to the product inside the machine. Well, Samsung hopes to change that. With their new 46″ touch-screen Coca-Cola vending machine, unveiled at the International CES (produced by Consumer Electronics Association), Samsung gives a new face to the on-the-go snack machine (with much ad space, of course).

Key Words
Blend, Enhance, Experience, Fresh, Mutli-Dimensional, Innovative

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