Best Of 2012: Technology

As 2012 quickly comes to an end, we're looking back at what stood out across various industries this year. Today, Camilla, one our Youth Advisory Board members, discusses some of the biggest achievements in the tech space.

Best Of 2012: Technolgoy

This year, we’ve been met by some incredible novel pieces of technology, and stellar improvements on already-existent technology. Incidentally, we’ve also been advertised (often successfully) a fair number of less-than-impressive techie goodies, but we won’t talk about that today. For me, at any rate, the best of this year’s technology spans two separate realms of possibility: the maybe-if-I-save-up variety, and the completely unpurchaseable but nonetheless faint-worthy innovations. In these categories, I’ve picked out a couple highlights.

So, without further ado:

Your world: Roku Streaming Stick

RokuDoesn’t ring a bell? That’s because this is the present you want, but didn’t even know how much you wanted it (but, now you know, you’re going to pretend you’ve always wanted one). Basically, it looks like a USB stick you plug into your TV. Unlike a USB stick though, this tiny object provides you with extensive access to online streaming episodes on Netflix and likeminded sites — and it’s (relatively) affordable. “Stream to your heart’s content,” their website proclaims.3D printing

Out of this world: 3D printing.

Obviously, this is not a viable Christmas present, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t an ‘I always WISHED this existed’ sort of dream. It’s exactly what it sounds like: you print in three dimension. It's of incredible use to architects, and apparently also in constructing dental crowns. For those of you who don’t build buildings or teeth, the options seem limitless now but after a week of printing origami-like designs, I’m not sure this gift…

 
 

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The Newsfeed

“As a graphic designer, without the arts being available to me in school I would have been lost as a child and where to take my career path. The fact that schools are cutting art programs is heartbreaking.”—Female, 24, NJ

Applebee’s is putting down the sriracha and giving up on trying to appeal to Millennials. The brand has decided their newer menu items—like a “triple pork bonanza” sandwich—and attempt at a “modern bar and grill” reinvention has “alienate[d]” Boomers and Gen Xers. They’re shutting down more than 130 restaurants and bringing back initiatives from before their attempted “pendulum swing towards millennials,” all-you-can-eat specials and 2-for-$20 deals. Other brands are creating new spin off chains to appeal to fast-casual lovingMillennials, that “[lack] the associated baggage of the old.” (Inc, NPR)

Adults-only ball pits, bouncy houses, and giant slides are sweeping the U.K. Millennials seeking a break from adulthood are flocking to places like Wacky World’s “massive bouncy-castle obstacle course,” which started out as a children’s event. The founder received so many requests that now every event has an 18-and-over slot, and has expanded to 19 cities. This “trend for arrested development activities” is caused by nostalgia, but the influx of marketing and branding leveraging the emotion could be popularizing these playgrounds for adults. (The Guardian)

Facebook is responding to the trend of asking for birthday charitable donations by integrating it right into the platform. Users in the U.S. can now trade in all the “HBD”s they get on Facebook for donations to the cause of their choice: well-wishers will be notified of the birthday along with the selected non-profit, and get the chance to donate. Facebook will ask users which charity they wish to dedicate their day to two weeks in advance, allowing them to choose from 750,000 organizations. (TNW)

Appear Here is the Airbnb of pop-up shops, giving brands their perfect temporary store for the new era of retail. The company finds short term retail space, and has worked with big-name brands like Nike and Net-a-Porter to open “experimental activations” or “test new products.” As brick-and-mortar continues to suffer and long-term stores close, Appear Here says physical retail is still needed, but to “tell a story.” The pop-up industry was valued at $50 billion in 2015, and provides a more low-risk, flexible option to avoid the retail wasteland. (Glossy)

Millennials & Gen Z are turning a profit online and on mobile by re-selling their retail. Thredup, Poshmark, and Depop are just a few of the most popular brands cashing in on the resale economy’s $18 billion market, and some shoppers say they are making $300 a week on the platforms. Some are also using social to sell, often in conjunction with apps or sites, including Snapchat, Facebook Groups, and Instagram. College students on a budget are reportedly especially drawn to resale, thanks to convenience, value, and access to luxury at a lower price. (FN)

“Adult means being entirely independent. I pay my own bills, make all decisions in my life, and feel very in control.”—Male, 20, NY

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