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Peter Diamandis: A look to the future

We have the tools today to make the change the world needs, says engineer, author and futurist, Peter Diamandis, on the latest episode of the Innovators podcast. 

Speaking from Summit LA19, an annual gathering of today’s brightest leaders, he explains why we must remember that our mindset matters more than ever before as we head into 2020. 

“I think this is the most extraordinary time ever to be alive. I think that we are living in a time where if you want to make a difference in the world you can. You’re more empowered as individuals to take on the world’s biggest problems than heads of nations and kings and queens were just decades or centuries ago,” he explains.  

During a time when we’re surrounded by negative news – something we pay 10x more attention to than anything positive – it’s easy to get dragged down. But it’s time to feel optimistic, he notes. We have a new decade ahead of us, which presents more opportunity than ever before. 

“I’m more bullish than ever before. Yes, we have problems. Yes, we have environmental problems. Yes, we have political problems. Yes, we have all those things. But the fact the matter is, we also have the tools to challenge them and change them and make the world a better place. We’ve romanticize the past, but the past was pretty brutal, pretty brutal compared to today.” 

During this conversation, Diamandis explains why there’s a crazy idea behind every breakthrough innovation, how the next decade will be a critical time to reinvent much of humanity, and the one thing you need to know to prepare for this future.

Listen here: Entale | Spotify |  Apple Podcasts | Android Google Podcasts | Stitcher | RSS

Catch up with all of our episodes of the Innovators podcast by the Current Global here. The series is a weekly conversation with visionaries, executives and entrepreneurs. It’s backed by the Current Global, a consultancy transforming how consumer retail brands intersect with technology. We deliver innovative integrations and experiences, powered by a network of top technologies and startups. Get in touch to learn more. 

Editor's pick Retail technology

Exploring Google’s experiential London pop-up: the Curiosity Rooms

Google's The Curiosity Rooms
Google’s Curiosity Rooms

Google has opened a month-long pop-up on London’s Regent Street, called the Curiosity Rooms, which offers a balance between connected moments and digital detoxing over a cup of tea.

The space is dedicated to encouraging visitor curiosity, a theme the tech company has embraced with the launch of its new Google Pixel 3 phone.

The result is a plethora of workshops, talks and experiences that have welcomed crowds of people since it opened last week, with most of the events planned sold out for the month.

The biggest lines when I visited focused around the “All-In Auto Wash” room – where groups can take selfies with the new Pixel phone, framed by pink carwash wipers – and the invite-only activation in the basement with pop band, Little Mix.

In between the mania, however, is a little haven of quiet in the form of The Pixedilly Café, a pink and blue 60s designed space. Here, guests are invited to experience one of the new features of the Pixel 3 phone, which invites a more mindful approach to digital communications.

The simple idea is that when you turn the phone over, all notifications, messages, calls and any other digital noise is turned off. Only when you are ready to get back to the real world, can you see all missed communications, simply by turning it back over.

To celebrate this sense of digital freedom, Google wants you to relax and enjoy in the most English-way possible – with a cup of tea. You don’t just get any old tea selection though, but instead the perfect one for you, based on a tasting menu that asks you four questions, all connected to how you would spend your perfect (digital) day-off.

The tongue-in-cheek asks include what type of weather you are, “warm and sunny” or “dark-and-stormy”, in order to concoct your custom brew. I ended up with the “Perfect Wind Down Cuppa”, a hot and spicy fruit tea mix.

Google's Curiosity Rooms
Google’s Curiosity Rooms

The pop-up space is otherwise spread over three floors in total with a multitude of further areas dedicated to different experiences.

There’s also the Google Maker’s Studio, which sees space rented by local London vendors, including flower-delivery company called Patch, and a small designer hosting workshops every week to teach children how to make clothes. There‘s also another space for creative talks, a coffee bar and a children’s play area with a giant “Not Pink” slide that allows those of all ages to travel down to the ground-floor again.

Meanwhile, the changing roster of events, with different talks, workshops and live podcast recordings, all tie in with the themes of health, mindfulness and millennial mind-sets.

A notable kick-off to the store space saw writer and activist Scarlett Curtis recording a live version of her Feminists Don’t Wear Pink podcast. Visitors have also been privy to a one-of-a-kind dining experience with food writer Grace Dent; a talk by entrepreneurial creative Sharmadean Reid, the co-founder of WAH nails and founder of beauty platform Beautystack, on how to use everyday technology to reach your goals; and further live podcast recordings with Dolly Alderton and Pandora Sykes and their weekly The High Low show.

How are you thinking about innovation? We’re all about helping you build innovative integrations and experiences. TheCurrent is a consultancy transforming how fashion, beauty and consumer retail brands intersect with technology, powered by a network of top startups. Get in touch to learn more.

business Startups

UK fashion entrepreneurs take note: $1.5m up for grabs via WeWork’s Creator Awards

WeWork's Creator Awards will take place in London on September 14
WeWork’s Creator Awards will take place in London on September 14

Co-working business WeWork is offering a grant of over $1.5 million to UK entrepreneurs, SMBs, non-profits and artists as part of its Creator Awards this summer; a global initiative that will hand out a total of $20 million worldwide to innovative projects and the people behind them.

The team is looking to recognise and reward those who are thinking in new ways, building fresh projects and achieving real change across all industries. Fashion falls comfortably within that bracket, but what’s better is any stage of growth is relevant; whether you have an established business or even just the beginnings of a good idea.

Prizes from $18,000 to $360,000 are up for grabs across three categories in a bid to offer opportunity to as many different types of creators as possible. The Incubate award is for individuals with an idea or project that needs funding; the Launch award is for start-ups and non-profits that have launched but are still learning; and the Scale award is for those with a record of success that are ready for the next level.

“We’re a company that wants to provide people with an energy source. We want to provide people with motivation, excitement. We want them to love what they do,” Miguel McKelvey, co-founder and chief creative officer of WeWork, says in the above video. This is the first year of what’s set to be an annual programme.

The barrier to enter is low too – all you have to do is fill out a form and submit a 90-second video by the deadline of August 24. The regional finals will then take place in London on September 14, before the Creator Awards Global Finals in New York in November.

At the first three regional finals in the US, Emily Kane won $36,000 for GirlForward to bring her English Language Learning curriculum online to support girls who have been displaced by conflict and persecution around the world. Donovan Morrison won $72,000 for Luna Lights to help bring the safety light solution to 20 assisted living communities and 600 older adults this year. And Samuel Bain won $180,000 for Imerman Angels to take the one-on-one Cancer Support Community beyond the US.

London’s event on September 14 will also include a full day of public programming, a pop-up market with local sellers and a job fair. Further Creator Awards will be hosted in Berlin, Mexico City and Tel Aviv.

Editor's pick product Startups technology

Seeking start-ups: Topshop launches innovation programme geared to wearable tech

Karlie Kloss for Topshop, spring/summer 2016
Karlie Kloss for Topshop, spring/summer 2016

British retailer Topshop is aiming to bring technology-enabled fashion product to its consumers with the launch of a start-up programme focused on wearables.

Top Pitch, as it’s called, aims to discover and co-develop prototypes that move wearable technology further into the fashion arena while retaining functionality that delivers for the user. The initiative is run in collaboration with corporate innovation and early stage investment company, L Marks.

It comes at a time when wearable technology is an increasing consideration in the retail market; the outcome of ever-connected consumers, coupled with advances in technology (proliferation of sensors, evolution of batteries, cloud computing and such like) making product delivery increasingly possible.

While the fashion industry has been playing in the space for some time, there’s not yet been anything that has truly resonated to a mass audience. Early examples varied from garments that light up for stage performances, or quirky t-shirts and footwear that can send and receive Tweets on the user’s behalf, for instance.

More recently, a shift was seen towards collaborations with technology companies to produce accessories for existing devices (Tory Burch and Public School for FitBit and Hermès for Apple, for instance), or with Intel to create new products like Opening Ceremony’s MICA bracelet.

The aim with each was to demonstrate the role design must play in making wearables that consumers actually want to “wear”. From a functionality perspective, however, the majority of releases to date have still been geared around the fitness or communications space.

Seemingly, there’s a space in the market for something that not only appeals to consumers from an aesthetic perspective, but offers broad desired utility. Wearables will only get to the point of mass adoption if indeed they provide something to the user that is in-keeping with what they like to wear and don’t just do something they get bored of and discard.

Which is what Topshop is hoping to find. “The merge of style and function has yet to have been seen in a true consumer-ready sense and our aim is to discover new-to-market, highly desirable product at accessible prices for our fashion-savvy customer,” says Sheena Sauvaire, global marketing and communications director at Topshop.

Top Pitch then is an invitation for start-ups in the smart accessories or emerging apparel space to participate in a month-long bootcamp, which culminates in a presentation to Arcadia owner Sir Philip Green. Each will have access to a group of mentors* from across the fashion and technology world, including Maddy Evans, fashion director at Topshop, Bethany Koby, co-founder and CEO, Technology Will Save Us; and (full disclosure) myself – Rachel Arthur, journalist and founder of Fashion & Mash.

It’s a move that makes sense for such a brand: one with a tech-savvy youth consumer keen to explore in this space, an attitude to democratising fashion – thus drive to find the right products at the right price – and an ongoing commitment to supporting and championing emerging talent across the creative industries.

Adds Stuart Marks, chairman of L Marks: “Top Pitch is such a great opportunity for entrepreneurs working on a wearable technology product. When presenting to buyers, it is always better to know them really well. What better way is there to learn about Topshop than work in collaboration with them for four weeks, developing your brand and strategy as well as the direction your product will take.”

At the end of the programme, the most promising team (judged on designing a product with utility, relevance and style for the Topshop customer) will be awarded the chance to secure equity investment and potential to see their product in Topshop stores in the future.

For further information or to apply for a place, visit Closing date for applications is May 22, 2016.

This story first appeared on Forbes.