Things we are thinking about.

Thing 1 — Sonali

MIT Tech Review just published their breakthrough technologies for 2017 — some of it is positively mind-blowing, while others are simply fun (360 degree selfie). The one that captured my imagination was the one on reversing paralysis. This sort of thing used to be the realm of religion/charlatans (“Make him walk!”). Now advances in science can help reverse paralysis by wirelessly connecting brain implants to electrical stimulators on the body. The method, known as “neural bypass” reads the brain’s intention to move and transmits that as an electrical signal that stimulates the muscle (essentially bypassing the injured neurons). We are entering the world of cyborgs — where humans + machines can work together to expand what is possible individually.
 This has profound implications to humanity. Coincidentally, also reading Yaval Harari’s book Sapiens (about the history of humankind and why homo-sapiens thrived and ultimately vanquished all other humanoids). His next book Homo Deus addresses the questions of what’s next. How is human society going to function, when machine-augmentation is available to the wealthy? What happens when some humans are truly superior — in terms access to machine-aided intelligence, and longevity through organ re-generation? Profound questions to ask ourselves as we hurtle towards the future.

Thing 2 — Sam

Every week there seems to be a disruption in the tech industry. A disruption in the way of taking a traditional process or business and completely flipping it on its head. This week, the disrupter was Capital One’s online banking. On Tuesday morning, I was going to get my computer checked out in the Short Pump Mall and I stumbled across a new cafe, the Capital One Cafe. At first, I was very perplexed. Was this just a coffee shop with Capital One’s name across it? Or was it just another branch location? So, I decided to walk in and check it out. The space was large and beautifully designed with tall exposed ceilings, lots of seating and modern decor. Something a designer like myself glows at the sight of. There was a Peet’s Coffee bar on the left and as you kept walking back there was a Capital One Banking Specialist. He greeted me with a warm smile and began to tell me a little bit more about the space and their services. I quickly learned that this was not just another coffee bar with Capital One’s name on it, but instead, one of their new online banking locations. Where guests can enjoy free Wi-Fi, 50% off Peet’s coffee and talk to a banking specialist about Capital One’s services. My mind had just been blown.

The idea of taking a very traditional and un-innovative process of banking and completely transforming it into a welcoming, hangout environment is truly brilliant. Creating disruptions such as these create marketing wonders. In the sense that change equals a new way of thinking. Which then leads to creating unique lasting impressions for consumers. Something designers strive to accomplish when creating beautiful user experiences. Hats off to Capital One for taking everyday banking and creating an extraordinary experience out of it.

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