TIME Innovation

Buying Food in Bulk Is a Waste of Money

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

These are today's best ideas

1. Stop buying food in bulk.

By Eric Holthaus in Slate

2. In rural India, delivering clean drinking water requires lots of power. Enter the solar desalinator.

By Julia Sklar at MIT News

3. Find out why we might be wrong about America’s stagnant wages.

By Josh Zumbrun in the Wall Street Journal

4. We’re overprescribing antipsychotic drugs for our kids.

By Nancy Shute at NPR

5. When robots make work obsolete, will humanities education make a comeback?

By Jonathan Malesic in the New Republic

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Innovation

Why We Need More Than a Standoff in Ukraine

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

These are today's best ideas

1. In the face-off with Russia over Ukraine, stalemate is the same as losing.

By Leslie H. Gelb in Daily Beast

2. Africa’s biggest wind farm could generate a fifth of Kenya’s power.

By Tinashe Mushakavanhu in Quartz Africa

3. Let’s pay adjunct professors more than peanuts.

By Lee Hall in the Guardian

4. Want to invest in your city? Try this Kickstarter for municipal bonds.

By Kyle Chayka in Pacific Standard

5. Soon we’ll hack our skin’s bacteria to stop mosquito bites.

By Karen Emslie in Smithsonian

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Retail

6 Futuristic Retail Displays That Will Change Your Idea of ‘E-Commerce’

These digital displays merge online and offline shopping experiences

The death of the physical store has been greatly exaggerated. In fact, despite the growth of online-only giants, retailers with a brick-and-mortar presence still control between 94% and 97% of the market, according to Harvard Business Review. Half of the e-commerce pie is still squarely on their plates, and many are finding new ways to blend on and offline shopping, deploying technologies that mix and match experiences from both worlds. Below are six innovative displays that hint at how they might start slicing up the other half.

  • Bloomingdale’s Clothing To-Go WIndow

    Bloomingdale's Ralph Lauren
    Matthew Carasella—Bloomingdale's Processed with VSCOcam with e5 preset

    Bloomingdale’s Manhattan flagship store sought to convert passersby into paying customers this Father’s Day with six interactive window displays of Ralph Lauren clothing. Shoppers on-the-go could tap color swatches on a touchscreen facing the sidewalk. That same colored shirt, tie or pants would materialize behind the window. If they liked what they saw, they could text “POLO” for a link to a checkout page.

    “We wanted to create an interactive experience that would literally make you stop in your tracks with something theatrical and mesmerizing,” said David Lauren, Ralph Lauren’s Executive Vice President of global advertising, marketing and corporate communications.

    The experience also aimed to avoid slowing shoppers down — they could opt to have the clothing hand-delivered to the sidewalk, completing the entire impulse buy without ever setting foot in the store.

  • Rebecca Minkoff’s Interactive Dressing Room

    Rebecca Minkoff eBay Enterprise
    eBay

    The mirror in the fitting room of Rebecca Minkoff’s SoHo store doubles as a personal shopping assistant, inviting shoppers to reflect (in every sense of the word) on which designer handbag suits their taste. A touchscreen display suggests alternative designs and colors. Shoppers can flip through their options, make a purchase or even adjust the mood lighting.

    “You can come in here and be completely anonymous, or you can get VIP treatment,” Minkoff told TIME in an in-depth profile of the futuristic touchscreens. The mirrors are powered by inventory management software from eBay. Users can see precisely what the store has in stock, rather than ask an assistant to go rifling through inventory “in back.”

  • Samsung’s Virtual Fitting Room

    SAMSUNG CSC
    Samsung SAMSUNG CSC

    Korean electronics giant Samsung unveiled a 55-inch LED display earlier this month that can drape a virtual necklace over the user’s reflection, among other interactive tricks.

    Retailers can then situate a “virtual fitting room” anywhere within a shopping center and lure customers into “trying on” jewelry and clothing without lifting a finger — well, maybe one finger to tap an item of interest. Three-dimensional cameras do the rest, mapping a floating image to the contours of shoppers’ bodies. Depth perception software developed by Intel helps secure the virtual item in place, “in order to deliver highly differentiated, exquisitely personalized customer experiences,” said Jose Avalos, worldwide visual retail director for Intel Corporation’s Internet of Things group.

    Retail is just the staging ground for the technology. Samsung envisions its smart mirror as a potential replacement to the typical silvered-glass mirror at home, which got its last technological overhaul circa 1835.

  • EBay’s Uncanny Personal Assistants

    eBay

    EBay has created an app called the Retail Associate Platform, which tracks a customer’s online shopping habits and arms retailers with an arsenal of personal information as soon as that customer walks through the door. As a result, sales assistants can have an uncannily personal conversation with shoppers, knowing, for instance, that they might be interested in a pink satchel that would perfectly match those new pink suede shoes.

    “If a customer walks in and doesn’t buy, the retailer has no idea they even exist,” said David Geisinger, head of retail business strategy at eBay Enterprise. “With this new technology, retailers will be able to gather more detail that can help them understand the customer and compete in a crowded commerce landscape.”

  • Microsoft’s Immersive Screens

    Microsoft

    Microsoft has a natural edge when it comes to deploying high tech displays in its retail stores, but it set a particularly high bar with a strip of wall-mounted LCD displays that wrap around the space, end-to-end, and can display a runner zipping from screen to screen in a continuous loop around the store.

    The display requires a specialized server that synchronizes the images as they play across the screens so the handoff appears seamless. The result is an eye-catching flow of information that’s as unmissable as a news ticker in Times Square.

    “Not only does the digital wall display beautiful images and provide an inviting and immersive experience, it is used to communicate ideas about how technology can be used to accomplish tasks, announce new trainings and entertain customers and includes localized information such as weather and events” Florin Gale, creative director of Microsoft stores, told TIME. “We even invite customers to play Xbox One on video walls in store, which are surrounded in directional sound that immerses the players in the gaming experience.”

  • Angry Birds Shopping Experience

    Dallis Willard—Orange Photography/Westfield

    Westfield Corporation unveiled a real-world version of the smartphone game Angry Birds at its San Francisco shopping center last month, proving that as much as retailers long to go digital, companies locked in the digital world may also want a room of their own.

    Game maker Rovio installed a gaming booth where shoppers could strap on Samsung Gear VR goggles and start slinging birds in three-dimensions. The booth was only an experimental display, one of many displays that Westfield Corporation set up for a showcase of innovative retail space uses. But it is perhaps the surest sign yet that the line between online and offline shopping could be relegated to a thing of the past.

TIME Innovation

The End of Law School

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

These are today's best ideas

1. Is it time to start shutting down law schools?

By Natalie Kitroeff in Bloomberg Business

2. One airline wants to make food and farm waste into jet fuel.

By Jenny Che in the Huffington Post

3. Here are five reasons America should fear the rising global middle class.

By Brenda M. Seaver in the National Interest

4. Forget merely securing Bitcoin. This tech can secure and encrypt any transaction on the web.

By Morgen E. Peck in IEEE Spectrum

5. For young girls, having a working mom could unlock future success.

By Jesse Singal in the Science of Us

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Innovation

Why Iran Wants a Nuclear Deal

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

These are today's best ideas

1. Here’s the real reason Iran wants a nuclear deal.

By Kathy Gilsinan in the Atlantic

2. We need a Marshall Plan for the victims of America’s War on Drugs.

By Nancy Gertner at the Aspen Ideas Festival

3. Investors and entrepreneurs are getting creative to weather Greece’s crumbling economy.

By Elmira Bayrasli in TechCrunch

4. We need a partner to stabilize Afghanistan. India is right for the job.

By Alyssa Ayres at the Council on Foreign Relations

5. Though a cleaner source of power, hydroelectric dams drastically slash biodiversity.

By the University of East Anglia

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Innovation

You Might Soon Be Able to Verify Online Purchases With a Selfie

MasterCard is testing the new technology

MasterCard customers may soon be able to make their online purchases more secure by verifying their identity with a selfie.

The company will soon start testing a new technology that will allow shoppers to use fingerprints and facial scans to prevent fraudulent purchases, according to CNN Money. The trial will begin with 500 customers, who must use the MasterCard app on their phone, either presenting their finger prints or posing for the camera when prompted.

To prevent fraudsters from simply using a photo of the real cardholder, users will be asked to blink to demonstrate that they are really there, not simply a static image. The resulting photo will be converted to code and compared to an algorithm on file.

If the trial run goes well, MasterCard hopes to take the technology to a wider pool of customers.

There are some things money can’t buy. For everything else, there’s selfies.

[CNN Money]

TIME Innovation

America’s Very Own Greece

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

These are today's best ideas

1. Puerto Rico is America’s very own Greece.

By Felix Salmon in Fusion

2. What’s behind the bloody surge in violent extremism? Competition.

By Justin Conrad and Kevin Greene in Political Violence at a Glance

3. With one decision, the Supreme Court opened the door to political innovation. The next part will be harder.

By Francine Kiefer in the Christian Science Monitor

4. The next nuclear accident is closer than you think.

By Hugh Gusterson in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

5. Upgrading America’s communications infrastructure wasn’t important until Google did it.

By James Surowiecki in MIT Technology Review

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Innovation

Why the Euro Was a Mistake

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

These are the best ideas of the day

1. The euro was a big mistake, and Greece is paying the price.

By Timothy B. Lee in Vox

2. Homeownership is fading and we’re not ready for the renting explosion.

By Laurie Goodman, Rolf Pendall and Jun Zhu at the Urban Institute

3. How to power Africa’s renewables revolution.

By Kevin Watkins in World Economic Forum

4. What if our moral code explains the human propensity for violence?

By Tage Rai in Aeon

5. Can hip-hop overcome the conflict inside itself to be the voice of a changing culture?

By Talib Kweli at the Perception Institute

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Innovation

Driverless Car Maker Denies Claim of Near-Miss With Google Car

Delphi clarified a report about a close encounter with a Google car

After a report that a Delphi driverless car and a Google driverless car came close to a traffic incident on a road in Palo Alto, Calif., Delphi has issued a statement that “the vehicles didn’t even come close to each other.”

The original report, by Reuters, quoted a Delphi official as saying he was in one of his company’s driverless cars when it was “cut off” by a Google car as it was preparing to make a lane change. He said the Delphi car “took appropriate action,” aborting the lane change.

But a Delphi spokesperson subsequently said that the incident was blown out of proportion, calling it “a typical lane change maneuver” and adding that “no vehicle was cut off.” Google, which did not originally comment, put out a statement saying both cars “did what they were supposed to do in an ordinary everyday driving scenario.”

According to a spokesperson, Reuters “stands by the accuracy of its original story.”

[Reuters]

TIME Innovation

Why Recycling Is a Bad Deal for Cities

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

These are today's best ideas

1. Find out why recycling used to be a good deal for cities, but now it’s costing them millions.

By Aaron C. Davis at the Washington Post

2. Setting its sights on the next billion users, Facebook is opening its first office in Africa.

By Kurt Wagner in Re/code

3. We can save $40 billion of National Park land and assets from climate destruction.

By the U.S. Department of the Interior

4. Let’s get rid of religious tax exemptions.

By Mark Oppenheimer in Time

5. Violence is contagious. Tackle it like an infectious disease.

By Alexa Clay and Kyra Maya Phillips in Salon

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

Your browser is out of date. Please update your browser at http://update.microsoft.com