FITBIT FOR CRUISES: Carnival has developed Fitbit-style bracelets that link to personal information, and applied them to cruises. The result: Millions of passengers on Carnival ships will soon be using a similar but more advanced system that allows travelers to do everything from plan vacations to open stateroom doors to order poolside cocktails.
Cruisers will be able to pay for food, drinks and merchandise simply by having their credit card-connected Ocean Medallion in their pocket.
Carnival’s disks, each laser-etched with the guest’s name, will also power a new, shipwide gambling platform.
WEDDING TECH: For many couples, wedding planning is a frustrating monthslong project that requires sifting through masses of details and costs on venues, services and products. The field is crowded with small, local businesses that are predominantly low tech and survive on word-of-mouth recommendations. However, the overall industry is large, with $58 billion in revenue, with an average $26,500 per wedding.
Lover.ly has been able to build a database of 65,000 vendors. A virtual wedding planners assembles a list of vendors based on a couple’s criteria, and the couples receive it within 48 hours of purchasing a service. Couples are charged from $10 to $399, and vendors $10 per client lead. Lover.ly is also beta testing its chatbot.
Another app, LadyMarry developed its own artificial intelligence bot to streamline communications between the company, vendors and couples. LadyMarry had been used to plan 90,000 weddings. It is free for couples; the company charges vendors 15-45%, depending on the location and service.
Carats & Cake partnered with the payment platform Stripe to offer online invoicing and bill paying. It has 20,000 member businesses; about 300,000 couples used the site in 2016.
PALLIATIVE CARE: In a life changing event like a permanent disability, life is not extra difficult now, but only uniquely difficult, as all lives are. Suffering is simply a “variation on a theme we all deal with — to be human is really hard.” Don’t we all treat suffering as a disruption to existence, instead of an inevitable part of it? what would happen if you could “reincorporate your version of reality, of normalcy, to accommodate suffering.”
We call ancient sculptures with missing limbs art: monumental, beautiful and important, but we’d never seen them whole. Medicine didn’t think about bodies this way. Embedded in words like “disability” and “rehabilitation” was a less generous view: “There was an aberrant moment in your life and, with some help, you could get back to what you were, or approximate it.” So, instead of regarding injuries as something to get over, try to get into them, to see life as its own novel challenge, like traveling through a country whose language you don’t speak.
All palliative-care departments and home-hospice agencies believe patients’ wishes should be honored, but Zen Hospice’s small size allows it to “actualize” these ideals more fully. Sharpen the essential set of questions: What is a good death? How do you judge? In the end, what matters?
½ WORLD’S ANIMALS DEAD: We’ve killed roughly half of the world’s non-human vertebrate animal population since 1970. Tropical areas saw greater declines, while temperate regions – like North America – saw lesser drops. Habitat-wise, land and saltwater species saw declines of roughly 39 percent. But freshwater animals – frogs, fish, salamanders and the like – saw a considerably sharper 76 percent drop. Habitat fragmentation and pollution (think algae blooms) were the main killers of freshwater species.
Decrease of vertebrate species populations since 1970 (World Wildlife Fund/WAPO)
The telematics box sends a wireless message that the car is moving. The phone sends its own message about its location. Both sets of information — from the car and phone — are sent to Katasi’s servers.
Then, an algorithm weighs the incoming data with other information, like the location of the phones belonging to all the people who drive the car and the starting point of the trip; if the trip starts at Junior’s high school, and mom and dad’s phones are at work, the driver has been identified — Junior is driving.
So what happens when husband and wife share a car and Katasi’s servers say that both are in the car at the same time with their phones? Which one is driving? At that point, Katasi generally doesn’t block the messages on the assumption that the passenger will prevent the driver from texting. The system is capable of blocking calls, email and other data, but initially the plan was to block texts.
A Bottomless Cup of Coffee: Cups, an Israeli app that has just been introduced in the city, aims to capitalize on a $45 monthly subscription service that will entitle users to unlimited coffee at an expanding number of independent coffee shops in the city. Yes, unlimited.
“People love the notion of unlimited coffee and empowering independent coffee shops.”
A drop-down menu lists member coffee shops in order of proximity. Once you are in the coffee shop, you simply specify your order and press the “checkout” button. The cashier enters a code on your smartphone, and you’re all set.
Cora Lambert, the owner of Box Kite on St. Mark’s Place, and its 1 & 1, espresso and macchiato with a graham cracker. (Karsten Moran, NYTIMES)
101 Places to Find Great Coffee in New York: NYC has 1,830 coffee shops – 130 more than last year. The majority are single locations or part of a smaller chain. On average, 1 coffee shop opened in New York every 3 days.
For a long time, our most sophisticated drinkers were at our downtown shops. Now the Midtown crowd is coming around in a very vocal way. We never thought that bankers in ties would wait in line for drinks that are a culinary product, instead of an injection of caffeine.
Serious coffee drinkers know that the question of who is roasting the coffee is as important as where the beans are from, and the New York scene is maturing in that respect, too.