The Soapbox is our monthly foray into the realm of Connection, Culture, and Change.
Giving Hope to the Homeless: tech-driven human interaction and connection
Have you ever stopped at a red light, tapping to the beat of your favorite song when someone suddenly catches your eye? You take one look at the flimsy brown sign they hold and your heart begins to race with emotion because you can only imagine how those 8 simple letters could change everything. H-o-m-e-l-e-s-s. Thankfully, mobile apps like Counting US are working to change how we show up for our ‘unhoused neighbors’.
The app makes it easier to document each individual’s needs via user-friendly counting and surveying tools. The way the data is captured brings to life the person behind the numbers; illuminating areas of need in real-time, enabling advocates and community members to offer targeted resources and services.
For many homeless people, sharing their story and their data is the only moment of real human connection they experience that day. So, while technology helps to address the problem, its real power is in what it enables – tech-driven human interaction and connection.
Retail: a new hybrid is born as people flip between ease and experience
The blurring of the lines between physical and digital retail worlds began long before the pandemic, but we are now entering a new ‘Phygital’ retail world. And no, we didn’t make that up.
Traditional brick-and-mortar retailers known for their in-store experiences have entered the digital realm. For example, IKEA has invested in virtual rooms where people can explore flat-pack joy without stepping foot in a warehouse.
Conversely, online retailers, such as Amazon, have decided to close the gap between ease and experience by entering the physical retail world in an attempt to form closer connections with people.
And then there are those who have gone headlong into the Phygital like Burberry who have launched a social retail store in China where customers use the WeChat app to shop in-store using augmented reality.
With the diversification of online offerings and big players offering local in-person shopping options and hybrid solutions, the only thing certain is that innovation in the retail space has never been more exciting.
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