Raising the Bar


The next step for global connectivity? A smartphone for the developing world. And it’s designed by none other than John Sculley, former Apple executive and Robert Brunner, the designer behind Beats by Dre headphones.

The Obi Worldphone marks a greater push toward accessible technology–Sculley aims to provide developing countries in places like Africa and Southeast Asia with high-powered, affordable smartphones, which he predicts will replace their needs for personal computers.

In addition to its sleek design, the phone is tailored to its target consumers’ preferences. For example, in sub-Saharan Africa, texting, taking photos, and banking are popular uses for smartphones, so the Obi Worldphone has features like a 13-megapixel camera and a diverse marketplace of applications.

The phone will retail for $200, a reasonable price to most first-world Americans, but still may be a problem for the standard income in a developing country.

What Sparks Our Fire: A quest for a high-powered but inexpensive smartphone that makes technology more available on a global scale.

The Future Of Wearable Tech And Fashion

The world today lives in fear of technology taking overparents complain of their kids being glued to their electronics, websites and advertisements can be tailored to your preferences and location in real-time, and sci-fi movies depict robots whose artificial intelligence is dangerously self-aware. The introduction of “wearable tech,” accessories with electronic capabilities, represents a shift toward compromise: items that both serve to be both functional and convenient, like the introduction of the hotly-marketed Apple Watch or Disney‘s $1 billion investment in the creation and integration of all-access “MagicBands” in their Disney World park in Orlando.
However, as wearable tech becomes more commonplace, functionality and convenience are simply not sufficient selling points by themselves anymore. Now more than ever, as exemplified by brands like Apple and Tesla, there is heavy emphasis on gorgeous product design, and companies are quickly learning to capitalize on it. While wearable tech has existed since the 1961 development of an accessory that helped gamblers cheat at casino games, the trend of marrying fashion and technology has only recently emerged. Designers have now begun releasing their own lines of accessories for the tech-savvy, like Rebecca Minkoff‘s line of wearable techmobile phone chargers and notification chips disguised as normal braceletsat New York Fashion week this past spring, or French designer Pauline Deltour‘s “Fine” collection of tech accessories, which include a Bluetooth speaker, portable phone charger, and USB keyring that are designed to mimic the beautiful designs of early 20th century Parisian vanity objects.

French designer Pauline Deltour’s “Fine” collection

The key to the success of these items, it seems, is not necessarily the introduction of a new device, but instead seamless integration. Consumers have demonstrated an interest in devices that keep them connected, but are aesthetically appealing as well. A demand for consumer electronics with a degree of artistry has driven the creation of things like Ringly, a cocktail ring that alerts the wearer of push notifications on their phone, or Cuff, a bracelet that doubles as an emergency signal. These companies advertise their products as “wearable tech that you want to wear,” desirable for fans of technology that find devices like Google Glass lacking in style, and bringing new meaning to the words “by design.”
What Sparks Our Fire: Companies that are dedicated to both purpose and beauty, making “wearable tech” truly wearable

Makeup Meet Your Match

make up genusEveryone is talking about wearable technology. In fact, Apple announced yesterday the release of its most anticipated product: the iWatch. But, in beauty land, L’Oreal is leading the conversation with augmented reality technology in its new app Makeup Genius, taking the way we look at beauty and cosmetic application to the next level.

The app took over 10 years to develop and uses an exclusive RT Track 64 facial-tracking-algorism to deliver the most precise facial recognition through a live mirror camera. It allows you to see what you really look like with certain shades of makeup on in real-time as you turn your face, change your facial expression and take various angles.

So, if you ever found yourself trapped in the makeup aisle at a drugstore for hours trying to figure out the perfect shade of lipstick, blush, eye shadow or eyeliner and end up covering every square inch of the back of your hand with different colors, you will love this app. Simply put, you can now test out the colors virtually and make your purchase without having to go to the store and make your hands look like a palette.

How it Works
1. Download the app (works on iPhone or iPad)
2. Take a selfie
3. Let the app scan your face
4. Apply virtual makeup (you can choose up to 300 color cosmetics plus it also works on all ethnicities and allows for 400 lighting situations)
5. Purchase your perfect match instantly

What Sparks Our Fire:  A free makeup app using the latest augmented reality technology to help save time in your search for the perfect makeup shade.

Have you tried Makeup Genius? Share your thoughts!

Knowing When To Fly


While there are a number of things you can do to find the cheapest airfare, timing is everything when it comes to getting the best deals.

Hitlist is a mobile app that knows when it’s least expensive for you to book a flight to your pre-picked destinations, saving you the trouble of regularly checking travel websites. So, if you have a bucket travel list, but also a budget, Hitlist will keep tabs on travel search engines, notifying you when it’s the best time to fly to any of your selected locations. For example, you can create an alert that notifies you if/when flights to Buenos Aires are listed at $650 or less.

Among other customizable features, you can pick the best airport for your travel needs, make your Hitlist public or private, and specify if you’d like to travel only on weekends (or whenever). And there’s also a cool world map to show you all the places you plan to go to or have visited already.

What Sparks Our Fire: A mobile app that finds you the best deals on flights and helps you travel the world more affordably

What places around the globe would you save through Hitlist?

Do Be A Mooch

MootchAs the sharing economy continues to grow at a rapid pace, new ways of renting different types of property are developing and evolving. This enables the consumer to avoid spending significant amounts of money on items they may only use once or very sparingly.

Mootch – a platform for on-demand peer-to-peer and business-to-consumer renting of everyday goods with delivery and pick-up – has finally invented a way to make renting simple and safe. So, for example, if you have electronics, appliances or designer items that you seldomly use, you can make extra cash by renting them out to others. And the same goes for when you’re in need of an expensive device, mode of transportation or appliance that you may only be using for a couple of days, but don’t want to buy. Someone in your area probably has one you could rent.

Like many other mobile apps in the sharing economy, you can make money by safely and securely renting out your own stuff as well as cut expenses by renting when you need to do so.

What Sparks Our Fire: A mobile app to rent pretty much anything to and from people around you

What items would you rent through Mootch?