Eye on AI - September 3rd, 2021
Welcome to Aigora's "Eye on AI" series, where we round up exciting news at the intersection of consumer science and artificial intelligence!
This week, we’ll be looking at the new Alexa Flush, said to be the world’s most hygienic voice-controlled toilet, then switch gears to address Budweiser’s surprising move into crypto.
Alexa Flush Toilets Use Voice Commands for Germ-Spread Prevention
We begin with some curious news out of Campaign Live on the development of the Alexa Flush, an Alexa-powered public bathroom that allows users to use voice commands to open and close the door, flush, turn on taps, and play soothing background music (optional).
“... inspiration… came about after much research and reading around users' behaviours in public toilets across Europe and the US to avoid contact with the surface; 60% stepping on toilet levers to flush, 50% opening the door with toilet paper, 40% closing the door with hip, 30% avoiding hand contact as much as possible by using elbow,” says Kazoo Sato, chief creative officer at TBWA Hakuhodo, which designed the restrooms.
The toilet was conceived as part of The Tokyo Toilet project, which includes 17 unique public toilets designed by leading local and international designers and architects, and was designed in reaction to the pandemic desire for more hygienic public restrooms. Sato's minimalist facility is the 12th design open to the public, located in Shibuya, a ward of Tokyo, Japan.
The design is bright, white, spherical, and exuded a feeling of cleanliness. The ceiling is shaped to control airflow, and a 24-hour ventilation system that combines natural air supply and mechanical exhaust helps prevent odors from lingering. It’s an unusually attractive design, and among the more practical Alexa applications I’ve seen of late, a far cry from the dingy public restrooms we’re used to in the states. My hope is that it will inspire more aesthetically appealing, hygienic public facility designs. For more context on the evolution of voice AI’s, check out this Eye on AI post.
Budweiser’s Move Into Crypto Suggests Big Moves for AB InBev
Let’s finish by addressing at the recent move by Budwiser, as reported by Yahoo Finance, to purchase Rocket NFT (non-fungible tokens), which suggests AB InBev may have larger aspirations within the crypto market.
“Richard Oppy, vice president of global brands at Budweiser’s parent company, Anheuser-Busch InBev, told CoinDesk last month the beer brand is investing in a new NFT media shop run by internet entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk,” writes Yahoo Finance contributor Sebastian Sinclair. “The shop, touted as a ‘long-term business play’ by beer company executives, will see the intellectual property of Budweiser and other beer brands packaged and sold as NFTs.”
Hard to say exactly what this purchase means for AB InBev. NFTs are notoriously difficult to grasp –– as opposed to ‘fungible’ currencies (think Bitcoin or physical bills), they don’t have a fixed value, typically acting more as certificates of authenticity for ownership of digital assets than hard currency. To further complicate the move, AB InBev executives were notably vague about the announcement, saying only that the purchase was a “long-term business play.” That said, the move suggests Budweiser may soon use NFTs to facilitate future sales of digital assets; what those might be is anyone’s guess.
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