Mashable: Latest 29 News Updates - including “Startup Partners With Top Designers, Celebrities on High-End Capsule Collections”

Saturday, 26 May 2012 by Irwan K Ch

Mashable: Latest 29 News Updates - including “Startup Partners With Top Designers, Celebrities on High-End Capsule Collections”

Startup Partners With Top Designers, Celebrities on High-End Capsule Collections

Posted: 25 May 2012 07:33 PM PDT

The Spark of Genius Series highlights a unique feature of startups and is made possible by Microsoft BizSpark. If you would like to have your startup considered for inclusion, please see the details here.

Name: Edition01

Quick Pitch: Limited-edition capsule collections from celebrities and some of the world’s most recognizable designers.

Genius Idea: Making luxury even more exclusive.

Since sites like Gilt and Groupon took off in the U.S. at the end of the aughts, the number of online businesses offering limited-time discounts, particularly on luxury goods and services, has proliferated. This has been a worrisome trend for many a luxury brand anxious to preserve the price integrity of its wares.

Edition01 is part of a small but growing flock of young startups, including retailers Moda Operandi and AHAlife, developing new models for full-priced retail. And it’s landing partnerships with some major brands as a result. It’s current list includes Donna Karan, Anna Sui, Zac Posen and Prabal Gurung. The one-and-a-half-year-old company has also done sales for vintage handbags and a private label collection of fur vests and scarves.

How has Edition01 been able to land all of these designers? In addition to the appeal of selling at full-price, cofounder Estefania Lacayo has been working with many of them for years through consulting jobs at Rent the Runway and ideeli, where she worked on designer acquisitons. Before those, she worked as a retail buyer.

Items are produced in limited editions of up to 80 and, if very expensive, as few as three. And most of these items are expensive, relatively speaking: Dresses on the site typically carry price tags between $1,000 and $2,500; jewelry and clutches typically cost between $300 and $600. Cofounder Estefania Lacayo says the company plans to launch more collections priced under $300 “for the woman who appreciates craftsmanship but doesn’t have the resources for a $3,000 dress.”

Edition01 works with designers at different stages in the production cycle. Sometimes, both parties will meet when a designer is choosing fabrics for his or her own collection; other times, they’ll meet when a designer is placing orders, and develop something from the fabrics he or she has already ordered.

Between now and the end of the summer, Edition01 is launching a line of sporty legwear with actor Gwyneth Paltrow and her trainer, Tracy Anderson, as well as a five-designer collaboration in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the CDFA and the New York Mets. A collection with jewelry designer Pamela Love will go live in September.

Edition01 raised around $500,000 in seed funding from venture capitalists David Tisch, Ken Lerer and Ron Conway's SV Angel in August 2011. Lacayo says the company has raised a bridge round with existing investors and also struck a licensing agreement with a luxury store in Qatar.

Series Supported by Microsoft BizSpark

Microsoft BizSpark

The Spark of Genius Series highlights a unique feature of startups and is made possible by Microsoft BizSpark, a startup program that gives you three-year access to the latest Microsoft development tools, as well as connecting you to a nationwide network of investors and incubators. There are no upfront costs, so if your business is privately owned, less than three years old, and generates less than U.S.$1 million in annual revenue, you can sign up today.

More About: bizspark, edition01, fashion, luxury, retail

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‘Dear Photograph’ Turns 1, Spawns Book, Prepares for App Launch

Posted: 25 May 2012 07:13 PM PDT

Surreal. Humbling. Grateful. One year after unleashing Dear Photograph, a blog showcasing photos within photos, Taylor Jones describes his emotions with those three words when looking back on the viral success of his nostalgic idea.

In May 2011, he gave the world a simple mission: Find an old photograph, return to where the image was taken, hold up the pic, snap a new photo and write a heartfelt caption.

Within weeks, millions had visited Dear Photograph and hundreds had contributed photos. A year later, Jones took the idea offline, releasing a 241-page book. Now a mobile app is in development, Jones tells Mashable.

“It is surreal to think that in one year, that one idea, has taken off and had such an emotional impact, resonating with so many people around the world,” Jones says. “I’m just waking up every day to my email and learning through every one’s life experiences which in turn has enriched my own.

“I can see how much we are all traveling on the same page, wanting the same things, appreciating days gone by and cherishing the moments by paying more attention to what is happening right now.”

The blog now attracts 15,000 to 20,000 views each day, garnering high praise from fans and even other creators of popular websites such as PostSecret founder Frank Warren: “Dear Photograph is digital nostalgia of the highest order — it will make you smile, maybe cry, and go find your old family photos.”

SEE ALSO: Pokémon Art Tumblr Reimagines 151 Original Characters [PICS]

Meanwhile, the book is already reaching coffee table book status in homes across North America.

“So many people have said that they got teary eyed at parts, smile at others and just overall were taken aback with how touching everything is,” Jones says.

On Friday, Jones celebrated his blog’s 1-year anniversary with a Dear Photograph post:

Dear Photograph,
One year ago today, I posted this photo of Landon on his 3rd birthday and here we are, standing together, with Dear Photograph the book in hand. Thank you to each and every person who has submitted their photographs and heartwarming stories, allowing us to share them with everyone around the world. Thank you to all of the readers who come everyday to the site and share their thoughts and love to all. Happy 1st Birthday Dear Photograph! I'm truly grateful you came my way.
Love, Taylor Jones

More About: BLOGS, books, family, mobile apps, nostalgia, photography

11 Hilarious ‘Men in Black’ Parodies

Posted: 25 May 2012 06:50 PM PDT

1. Men In Black: A Hardcore Parody Trailer

Wicked Pictures may have created the most extensive Men in Black parody of all. The silver spraypainted Nerf guns are a nice touch.

Click here to view this gallery.

A few weeks ago we found out a lot of people like to dress up with their friends as the Avengers? It turns out, a lot more of you like the Men in Black look.

It’s been quite some time since we’ve seen Agent J and Agent K on the big screen, but Men in Black 3 hits theaters Friday. In case you’ve been zapped by a neuralizer and can’t remember the film, these YouTube galaxy defenders have you covered.

Over the past few years and in anticipation of the third film in the MIB series, many fans have created hilarious parodies. Most of them involve suits, sunglasses and some sort of kitchen utensil or Nerf gun. There are also thousands of “MIBelievers” getting psyched for the big return.

SEE ALSO: 'Men in Black 3′ Trailer Reveals Time Travel Plot

We’ve investigated the web for 11 hilarious parodies to celebrate Men in Black 3‘s release. Share your favorite video in the comments, or tell us your fond memories surrounding the trilogy.

More About: Entertainment, features, Film, humor, men in black, Video, YouTube

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New Computer Algorithm Knows Your Phony Smile [VIDEO]

Posted: 25 May 2012 06:26 PM PDT

Have you ever wondered how genuine that smile really is?

If your intuition isn’t stellar at gauging real versus fake smiles, this information might be of interest to you: Researchers at MIT have developed a computer algorithm to distinguish honest-to-goodness smiles from those simply trying to mask frustration.

Experiments conducted at MIT’s Media Lab asked people to act out expressions of delight or frustration — and webcams captured their reactions. Researchers then watched the participants either fill out an online form purposefully designed to cause frustration, or invited them to watch a video designed to draw out delight. The researchers captured and logged each smile.

The results? According to Ehsan Hoque, graduate student in the Affective Computing Group of MIT’s Media Lab and lead author of the paper documenting the research, when asked to feign frustration, an overwhelming majority of the subjects — 90% — didn’t smile. Yet when it came time to fill out the form intentionally designed to be frustrating, the same percentage of people did smile to cope with the situation.

While still images of the photographs showed little difference between the frustrated smiles and the delighted smiles, the video analysis of the experiences eliciting those reactions revealed the nuances — especially regarding the progression of the smiles. While the genuine, happy smiles built up gradually, feigned smiles appeared quickly but faded just as fast.

With the data accumulated from the experiment, the researchers then created the computer algorithm they say is more effective than humans at determining the sincere smiles.

“We humans can normally zoom out and try to interpret an expression, whereas a computer algorithm can utilize the nitty gritty details of a signal, which is much more enriching than just zooming out and looking at the high-level picture,” Hoque said.

Indeed, when humans were asked to interpret the smiles, they were only 50% successful at accurately determining the real responses. The algorithm, on the other hand, was correct 92% of the time.

In addition to noting the timing of the smiles, the algorithm tracks the movements of different facial muscle groups, which also come into play when people smile. Phony smiles tend to be made with just the major muscles at the corners of the mouth. Real smiles, though, involve involuntary muscles that raise the cheeks and cause crinkles around the eyes.

And who might be able to benefit from the research? Just about anyone, says Hoque. Timing especially has much to do with how people interpret expressions. For example, he says, people perceived former British Prime Minister Gordan Brown as having a fake smile because of the unnatural timing of his grin. Similarly, when former presidential candidate Herman Cain came out with a campaign video that concluded with him displaying an incredibly slow-motion smile — it took 9 seconds to appear — it was widely parodied.

“Getting the timing right is very crucial if you want to be perceived as sincere and genuine with your smiles,” Hoque says.

Although knowing how to create genuine smiles just might obviate the sincerity behind them — if people do in fact take the time to appear happy when they really aren’t — Hoque says the goal of the research is “to help people with face-to-face communication.”

That means that this information is especially important in areas like autism, since autistic people are generally taught that a smile means someone is happy. Potentially, the research could help train autistic people and others who have difficulty interpreting expressions how to more accurately gauge the expressions they see.

Not only that, but the information could also be useful to marketers in assessing customer satisfaction. As Hoque says, “The underlying meaning behind the smile is crucial.”

Would you be interested in a computer algorithm to figure out real versus fake smiles? Let us know in the comments.

Photo courtesy of iStockphoto, TPopova

More About: algorithm, research

Are You Game for Tetris: The Movie? [VIDEO]

Posted: 25 May 2012 06:04 PM PDT

They made a movie out of Battleship, right? So why not Tetris?

That’s the plausible conceit behind this (unfortunately fake) trailer for a movie adaptation of the famed ’80s videogame. The plot seems to be that the game has gotten out of control and now giant versions of the game’s Tetriminos are dropping all over the world. Luckily, there’s a plucky hero on board to stop it.

Seriously, though: Wouldn’t you see this movie?

[Via Ian Schafer]

More About: Gaming, Tetris, videogames, viral videos

10 Ways to Bootstrap Your Startup Office Decor

Posted: 25 May 2012 05:25 PM PDT

Mashable’s new video series, Behind the Launch, follows Vungle on its startup journey toward a June launch. Each week on Mashable, the Vungle team offers tips and lessons learned from its own startup experience. This week, we saw Vungle take a break from their computers and head into nature, giving us a peek into Vungle’s company culture. Watch the episode above, and then check out Jack’s tips below to find out how to make your office embody your culture. Want more? Tune into Behind the Launch every Monday and Wednesday.

Building a great company culture is really important to motivate your staff and to get everyone working toward a common vision and feeling a part of something big.

Decorating your office is a fun and cool way to build culture, and though most startups don't have the budget to compete with Facebook or Google, there are lots of things that you can do to add flair on the cheap. Below, you’ll find 10 ways to bootstrap your office decor, from a stuffed honey badger to a 22-inch gong. What “pieces of flair” do you have in your office space? Let us know in the comments.

1. Paint a Mural on Your Wall

Murals are an inexpensive way to add color and personality to a room. Recruit a local artist or art major to do the job. Cost: $240 and a creative friend to help

Click here to view this gallery.

More About: Behind the Launch Series, features, mashable, office decor, startup, Vungle

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Texting and Walking: 65% of You Do it

Posted: 25 May 2012 05:07 PM PDT

By now you've probably seen the videos of the woman falling into a mall fountain or the guy who comes dangerously close to a bear while walking and texting. You might even have heard about the New Jersey town that will issue $85 fines to people caught with fingers flying as their feet are moving.

So it should come as no surprise that a recent survey by textPlus, a free texting and calling app for Android, iOS and Windows, found 65% of those polled admitted to texting while walking.

Turns out, though, that stat changes with age. Only half of the 35 to 44 year olds say they text and walk while 73% of 13-17 year olds admit to doing so. Why do people do this? Because they feel their texts are too important to wait. And as you'd expect, the younger the age, the more important the text.

Which begs the question, is your text so important you'd risk your safety? Sixty-three percent of those textPlus polled said texting while walking might be safe, depending on where you are. Perhaps they haven't seen those padded posts on the streets of London that were put up to protect distracted texters.

What about you, do you text while you walk?  Do you think people should be fined for it? See the results of our recent Mashable poll and let us know what you think.

More About: distraction, poll, texting

Geek Pride: Mashable Staff Shows Off Their Nerdiest Tees to Celebrate

Posted: 25 May 2012 04:46 PM PDT

Mashable Features Editor Matt Silverman, Marketing Manager Jennifer Diamond, Features Writer Stephanie Buck and Campaigns Manager Lauren Drell pose for their geeky t-shirt-themed album cover.

Click here to view this gallery.

While every day may be “Geek Pride” Day in the Mashable offices, we decided to celebrate the day in style with our best nerdy tees.

Mashable‘s staff is representative of the wide variety of geeks, from music lovers to space nerds to old-school gamers. The shirts we were wearing Friday represented that well, as everyone let a little bit of their geek flag fly.

Geek Pride Day actually falls on two important geek days: the anniversary of Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope and Towel Day, in honor of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series of books written by Douglas Adams.

Check out photos of our staff showing off their geeky threads, and let us know your favorite shirt in the comments.

More About: geek, mashable, Star Wars

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Yahoo Shutters Flipboard Competitor After Just 6 Months

Posted: 25 May 2012 04:22 PM PDT

Yahoo has decided to discontinue production of Yahoo Livestand, a newsreading app for the iPad launched just six months ago. The news was announced in a post to Yahoo’s corporate blog on Friday, leading up to three-day holiday weekend in the U.S.

The app, which was positioned as a competitor to Flipboard, Zite and AOL Editions (among others), served up content from various Yahoo verticals and content partners, including Forbes and the NFL. It was also capable of delivering a more “personalized” set of news based on your Facebook activity and your reading habits.

In the post, Yahoo said it planned to discontinue or consolidate a number of its products over the rest of year. It’s part of an effort, initiated by Scott Thompson (Yahoo’s CEO until, oh, 12 days ago), to reallocate resources to key products. It appears that interim CEO Ross Levinsohn is upholding the plan laid out by Thompson.

The app enjoyed a modest degree of popularity: It averaged a four-star rating in the App Store from more than 1,900 reviews. By contrast, Flipboard has received 4.5 stars from 154,682 reviews, AOL Editions 4 stars from 6,169 ratings and Zite 4.5 stars among 5,606 ratings. The total number of downloads was not disclosed.

Yahoo Livestand

Click here to view this gallery.

More About: Yahoo, Yahoo Livestand

Headed Out for Memorial Day? Pack These Apps

Posted: 25 May 2012 03:59 PM PDT

Headed out for a Memorial Day weekend road trip? Before you hit the road, take a few minutes to check out the places you’ll be going. Really check them out, like right down to whether there’s street parking and how close you can park to the historical site you’re visiting.

Google Maps is a free app you likely already have on your mobile phone. What you may not know is that in addition to getting you to your destination, it will zoom you right down to street level. Street View lets you take a 360-degree spin of the places you’re thinking of visiting, so you can see what restaurants are nearby and how far a walk you might be signing up for.

But don’t stop with just Google Maps. For restaurants, make sure to have Yelp loaded on your phone. Using your phone’s GPS, it searches for places to eat, and offers up user-generated recommendations and directions. You can even make a reservation on Open Table right from within the app.

Many cities offer subway and bus map apps so be sure to download those if you plan on leaving the car at the hotel, or are flying to your destination. A transit app, combined with Google Maps means you’ll never have to ask for directions again.

If you’ll be needing a last-minute hotel reservation, check out HotelTonight. It offers great deals for those searching for a room after noon that day. While we hope those of you traveling with small kids don’t need this, it’s nice to know the option is there.

SEE ALSO: 11 Essential Road Trip Apps

And if you want to head off the beaten path for a little, try iExit. It lets you know what's coming up in real time when you’re driving down the interstate.

Google Maps

Google Maps Street View lets you take a 360-degree spin of the places you're thinking of visiting

Click here to view this gallery.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, skynesher

More About: Google Maps, Holiday, HotelTonight, Mobile, mobile gps, travel, yelp

App Helps Steer You to Lowest Gas Prices [VIDEO]

Posted: 25 May 2012 02:54 PM PDT

More than 30 million people will drive at least 50 miles over Memorial Day Weekend, according to results a survey from the AAA.

No matter where they fill up their tanks along the way, they’ll likely spend less money on gas than last year. National gas prices on Friday averaged $3.67 per gallon, down from $3.81 a year ago.

Those who still want to beat the average, however, can get some help from an app called GasBuddy. The app, which is available for both Android and iPhone devices, crowdsources gas prices and directs users to the stations where they’re lowest.

Watch a demo of the app in the video above and tell us in the comments where you’ll be headed this weekend.

Thumbnail image courtesy of iStockphoto, aydinmutlu

More About: gas, gas buddy

‘The Avengers’: The First All-Star Movie By Design

Posted: 25 May 2012 02:01 PM PDT

The Avengers

Jeff Gomez is CEO of Starlight Runner Entertainment, a New York based production company that consults with Hollywood studios on some of their most popular entertainment franchises. Follow him @Jeff_Gomez.

With some industry observers projecting global box office revenues as high as $2 billion for The Avengers, it’s clear that the film is an unprecedented success. Many have pegged Marvel Studios franchise producer Kevin Feige’s creative and strategic approach in building a shared “story world” out of a series of movies (Iron Man, Incredible Hulk, Iron Man II, Captain America and Thor) that coalesced into a kind of all-star movie in Joss Whedon’s Avengers.

But contrary to popular belief, this is not the first time a mess of heroes (or anti-heroes) have been assembled in the service of a greater purpose‚ or multiple revenue streams.

Our love of team-ups, in fact, dates back to the Stone Age. Early man imbued all things around him with animus, and the coolest things — the sun, the moon, the ocean — were either the incarnations of, or controlled by superior beings, gods. It was just a matter of time before pantheons formed, relationships got complicated, and villains arose to challenge the benevolent.

In the Beginning


In the myth of Jason and the Argonauts, stalwart and charismatic Jason assembled a crew of some of the hottest celebs of his day in order to retrieve the Golden Fleece. These included Hercules, Medea and Orpheus, all stars of their own myths and legends. In The Iliad, the epic poet Homer (the Joss Whedon of his time) brings together dozens of Greek gods and heroes and crashes them into the Trojan War. The story was such a hit, Homer followed up some years later with a sequel in The Odyssey.

In the late 15th century, Thomas Malory took a mass of tales and legends around the character of King Arthur and wove them into a single story called Le Morte d’Arthur. There we see all of the heroic Knights of the Round Table (Lancelot, Galahad, Perceval, Gawain, etc.) united for the first time. A century later, the Italians were having fun mixing and matching prominent characters‚ often portrayed in masks and capes‚ from literature, theater and opera in their Commedia dell’Arte.

Heroic pantheons became a motif in so-called low art in the 19th and 20th centuries. Pulp anti-heroes or notorious gunslingers met one another in dime store novels, but the comic books of the 1940s kicked things up a notch, uniting some of the most powerful and popular costumed heroes of the time to save the world from certain doom.

All-Star Comics #3, for instance, introduced us to The Justice Society of America, teaming Hawkman, the Flash, the Spectre, Green Lantern and others in adventures that must have certainly blown young minds.

From “Frankenstein” to Manga

But the precedent that most clearly laid the foundation for Avengers can be tracked back to the great horror movies from Universal Pictures in the ’40s. After experiencing huge hits with such films as Dracula and Frankenstein, the studio took a cue from the comic books of the time and started cross-pollinating their franchise.

So Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man was followed by House of Frankenstein, where posters screamed, “All Together! Frankenstein’s Monster, Wolf Man, Dracula! Hunchback! Mad Doctor!” The monsters would reunite two more times, until popular comedy duo Abbott and Costello killed them off once and for all by making the whole situation laughable.

You might say the Japanese have had the most fun with pop culture pantheons. With the rise of the post-World War II ethos of keiretsu, concepts and characters tended to flow more easily between formal rival media companies. Heroes and villains could more readily show up in one another’s storylines, and the rest of the world got to enjoy the results with such franchises as Toho’s giant monster movies.

Godzilla Versus Mothra featured the first rubber-suited cross-over, but no child of the ’60s could ever forget Destroy All Monsters, uniting Godzilla, Rodan, Anguiras and a megaton of other goggle-eyed kaiju in defense of the Earth against the triple-headed, lightning-spitting King Ghidorah.

Always game to top themselves, the Japanese have more recently been mixing and mashing their own superhero franchises on television and in theaters. Five, 10 and 30 Kamen Riders, each from their own TV series, have banded together to save the world from escalating menaces. Check out this awesome team-up of every Power Ranger who ever existed in an epic battle against an alien armada from the climactic episode of Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger:


Crafting For Greatness

So what makes Marvel’s Avengers different from all of these previous mash-ups? A few things, actually. By all accounts, Kevin Feige and his team laid out a vision for how every Marvel movie would dovetail into the others, each introducing characters and elements that come into play in the others, all building toward Avengers.

No writer, director or studio exec had incorporated this level of planning into how his or her franchise would unfold and interlock, not even George Lucas for his Star Wars movies.

In addition to somehow skirting all the reasons why such an endeavor could not be possible under contemporary Hollywood business and creative constraints, Marvel Studios also played the technology and digital distribution cards like no other in history.

Armed with the knowledge that their superheroes are the closest things we have to a godlike pantheon, Marvel worked triple-time over the several years to dust off these characters and reintroduce them to the world. Animated series, chapter books, action figures, video games, Blu-rays loaded with crash courses in Avengers lore, even a million-dollar Facebook game that mixed X-Men and Spider-Man into the four-color stew. We were set up like ten-pins and Avengers, as recounted by the cleverly chosen Joss “Homer” Whedon, could only bowl us over.

Here’s both the takeaway and the challenge studios face in the wake of Avengers: a well-known and coherent story world is a rare and precious thing, and there is great power in a grand unifying narrative.

Replicating Success

The threads that tie 20th Century Fox’s X-Men franchise together are loose at best, with various filmmakers fraying even those with different, often contradictory takes on the material. Warner Bros. approach to the DC heroes has been almost entirely auteur-driven, with Batman, Superman and Green Lantern existing in entirely different universes. It will be some years before any of those characters can meet on the big screen, even if the studio wanted them to.

We experience a certain kind of exhilaration when our gods unite toward a common purpose. That’s why we have All-Star baseball games, and why we’ll forever remember how Bruce Springsteen, Stevie Wonder, Willie Nelson, Michael Jackson, Tina Turner and a host of others joined forces to sing “We Are the World” for starving people in Africa. They are our champions, and their adventures together forge national, and now global narratives.

To repeat the success of The Avengers, however, studios will need visionaries up to the cause, new kinds of storytellers as savvy with how narrative unfolds across multiple media platforms (and in their ability to use marketing and licensing campaigns to build equity in lesser known characters), as they are with how to turn a good scene. Super nerds, thy time has come!

More About: contributor, features, Marvel, the avengers, transmedia

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May the Crafts Be With You: 15 Star Wars Etsy Items

Posted: 25 May 2012 01:28 PM PDT

1. Baby Jawa Print

The littlest resident of Tatooine gets even smaller in this cute print, suitable for the room of your young Star Wars nerd. Price: $8.99

Click here to view this gallery.

Today is the 35th anniversary of Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, and to celebrate, Mashable has decided to get its craft on by gathering the quirkiest Star Wars-related items on Etsy.

Etsy is a great place to find unique, handmade and vintage creations, especially ones that have a geeky bent. We found everything from clothes and custom shoes to cool tech accessories.

SEE ALSO: Star Wars Tweets: 15 Hilarious Parody Accounts

Check out our gallery above to unleash your inner Star Wars geek. See anything else we should have included? Let us know in the comments.

Thumbnail image courtesy Etsy, FineArtDesigns

More About: accessories, Etsy, features, Star Wars

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iPhone-Powered gTar Teaches You How to Play the Guitar [VIDEO]

Posted: 25 May 2012 01:10 PM PDT

“If you’ve ever picked up a guitar for the first time and tried to play a favorite song, you know how discouraging it can be. The gTar completely changes that,” says Drew Houston, Dropbox founder and CEO.

The gTar is an iPhone-powered guitar that boasts itself as “the first guitar anyone can play.”

Designed by the California-based Incident Technologies, the guitar includes an app and a piece of hardware to connect to your guitar. Once you dock your iPhone on the hardware and load the app, integrated LEDs on the fretboard will illuminate — thereby allowing you to follow and learn how to play the guitar.

Unlike a standard guitar, the gTar doesn’t use pickups to amplify the strings. Rather, sensors detect the strings as you play them in real-time and send them back to your iPhone. The phone then produces the actual sound.

The free app comes with a collection of songs from which you can choose to play. As you attempt to follow along with it, a feature called SmartPlay will mute out incorrect notes and “nudges you along to play the sound correctly.”

GTar comes with three different levels — easy, medium and hard. The easy level is designed for the user to only play the strings on the guitar; the medium level graduates the player into playing both the strings and the frets at the same time. SmartPlay will mute the incorrect notes on both of these levels, but once you get to the hard level, all of your notes — good and bad — will ring out.

The gTar also has a “Free Play,” option, which allows you to choose from guitar models, keyboards, synths and drums to add more music to your playing. Since all the sound is produced on the phone itself, you can also manually tweak the sounds to create effects like a chorus or echo.

With 30 days to go on its Kickstarter campaign, the gTar has already reached its $100,000 fundraising goal — in fact, it’s more than doubled that amount. It’s expected to sell in retail for “over $449.”

Would you be interested in learning to play the guitar on a gTar? Tell us in the comments.

More About: education, iphone, kickstarter, Music

Facebook Wants You to Star Your Friends in Push for Lists

Posted: 25 May 2012 12:54 PM PDT

Facebook is testing a new feature called Close Friends, which lets you know every action the people you add to the list take on the social network. Facebook told Mashable it began the push to some users Thursday.

When you sign into Facebook, you’ll be prompted to “Star Your Close Friends” to guarantee you don’t miss their important moments. In other words, you can now stay close to people you indicate as high-priority friends without ever interacting, visiting their profile or catching an update in your news feed.

Facebook’s explanation of the new features emphasizes organizing your friends into Smart Lists, based on where you work, live, went to school or family, to ensure you share with just the right people.

You can also view a news feed of your Close Friends update — much like a feed of a certain Google+ circle — by selecting the list from below the Friends tab on the left-hand side.

I decided to try out the new feature Friday morning, by adding about 20 friends to my Close Friends list. I added stars — Facebook conveniently suggests a pretty good idea of who you consider your close friends based on your interactions — and was ensured my friends wouldn’t know they’d been added to my list. Within an hour, I’d received a handful of notifications — only none of them had anything to do with me. My friends had joined events, shared stories and posted to their Timelines and I didn’t miss a beat.

I was eager to test out the feature because it seemed like an easier way to create lists — something I’ve been meaning to do on Facebook since Google+ rolled out its Circles feature. But the Close Friends feature became annoying as soon as my phone was flooded with status updates that looked like this one (taken from the phone of someone who put me on their Close Friends list):

If you receive mobile notifications from Facebook, it will send you an update every time someone you add to the list takes an action. If you’ve never restricted your push notifications on mobile before, this feature might be the one to drive you to cut some of them.

Do you organize your Facebook friends into lists? If so, do you only share certain posts with certain people?

BONUS: 10 Facebook Tips for Power Users

1. View Photos Full-Screen

You can browse Facebook photos in full-screen mode, making for a better gallery viewing experience. In an album, click on the first image, then hover over the photo. A floating menu will appear along the bottom of the image. Click on "Options" and you'll see the ability to "Enter Fullscreen." Now you can browse with a clean, black background. To return to normal mode, simply hit the Escape key or the "X" on the top-right of your display.

Click here to view this gallery.

More About: Facebook, Google

Facebook Browser Is Imminent [RUMOR]

Posted: 25 May 2012 12:40 PM PDT

Are you ready for a Facebook browser that integrates the social networking behemoth into your online life more than ever? That’s exactly what could be on the way soon, according to one report.

A Friday Pocket-lint report cites a “trusted source” that Facebook wants to buy Opera Software — manufacturers of the Opera web browser, which claims more than 200 million users worldwide. The Facebook browser would include default menu bar plugins, further permeating Facebook into users’ general web experience, according to the report.

A Facebook spokesperson declined Mashable‘s request for comment.

A custom browser would be a significant step toward Facebook becoming your web, as opposed to just an Internet site you visit and service you use. Opera’s mobile browser has received strong reviews online, meaning a functional Facebook browser using it could be even more powerful. Facebook has struggled to penetrate mobile use as deeply as many think it should be able to — and will need to in order to sustain long-term growth.

A Facebook browser would also bolster the newly public company’s competition with Google. Google Chrome recently became the web’s most-used browser, but Facebook’s gigantic user base of more than 900 million people would present a potential serious threat down the line. It would be interesting to see Facebook try to battle Google for browser dominance as Google+ struggles to play catchup in social networking.

We’ll see if the Opera rumors are true, but if Pocket-lint‘s “man in the know” is even remotely hooked in, it’s not hard to imagine the arrival of a Facebook browser being only a matter of time.

How could a Facebook browser help the company take over the web — or can it? Share your perspective in the comments.

More About: Facebook, trending, web browser

‘Call Me Maybe’ Mashup of 75 Videos Will Haunt You

Posted: 25 May 2012 12:22 PM PDT

Carly Rae Jepsen's catchy “Call Me Maybe” continues to win over the hearts of countless Internet music lovers, topping Billboard‘s Digital Songs chart this week and the iTunes Store singles chart last week.

Music website Popdust, though, wants to keep the tune’s momentum flowing with its clever mashup of 75 lip-dubs, vocal covers, instrumentals and dance numbers.

We spy loads of famous faces in the clip such as Katy Perry, Justin Bieber, Selena Gomez, James Franco, Joan Rivers, Jessie J and Kathie Lee Gifford. Lip-sync king Keenan Cahill makes an appearance as do cover-song heavyweights Sam Tsui, Cimorelli, Ahmir and Tanner Patrick, who recently turned an iPad into a drum machine to put his spin on Perry's “Part of Me.”

Of course, the mashup also stars Harvard University‘s baseball players and Southern Methodist Univeristy’s female rowing team (see their viral dance renditions below).

SEE ALSO: 'Call Me Maybe' Parody Features Digital Obama, Romney [VIDEO]

“If you thought the song was intoxicating before, just wait till you see it performed on accordian, lip synched by three shirtless dudes in a river, and danced to by an overzealous girl alone in a closed Burger King,” reads the video’s YouTube description. “You will see these people and hear this song when you close your eyes at night, and again as you wake up in the morning.”

The song’s original video has 76 million views while her second video (featuring cameos from Bieber, Gomez and Ashley Tisdale) has nearly 40 million.

BONUS: Watch 11 Sports Teams Rock Out to 'Call Me Maybe'

1. Harvard University Baseball

Click here to view this gallery.

More About: Entertainment, humor, Music, music videos, trending, viral videos, YouTube

Photo Challenge: Show Us Your Best Action Shot

Posted: 25 May 2012 12:02 PM PDT

A sense of motion can turn a static photo into something truly engaging. Whether it’s a car speeding down the highway or a puppy catching a tennis ball mid-air, we want to see action!

This week for the Mashable Photo Challenge, we’re looking for movement. So, we want you to send us your best action shots.

SEE ALSO: LAST WEEK’S RESULTS 21 Brilliant Reflection Photos From the Mashable Community

When you’re capturing your photo this week, think of a subject that exemplifies momentum. If you’re shooting with a DSLR, you will probably adjust your shutter speed to get the perfect shot. If you’re shooting on a mobile phone, get creative and remember how important a strong subject is.

SEE ALSO: 10 Top Tools for Digital Photography Lovers
For an example, this week, we chose a photo of a child riding his bike through a flooded area in Astoria Park in Queens, New York. (Photo taken with a Blackberry Bold 9930)

How to Enter the Challenge

  • Take a picture that shows an action shot.
  • Tweet your photo to @mashablehq with the hashtag #MashPics. If you need more than one tweet to write your caption, just send us another tweet. OR
  • Drop your photo into the picture widget below.
We will choose images based on composition, originality and overall appeal.

Submit your photo by Wednesday, May 30 at 12:00 p.m. EST. We’ll feature some of our favorite photos on Mashable, as well as on our Facebook page. We can’t wait to see your photos!


More About: community, Mashable Photo Challenge, photography

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The Stock Is Down But the Sky Isn’t Falling for Facebook

Posted: 25 May 2012 11:28 AM PDT

Mashable OP-ED: This post reflects the opinions of the author and not necessarily those of Mashable as a publication.

Dallas Lawrence writes about emerging media trends, online reputation management, and digital issue advocacy. Follow him @dallaslawrence.

What a difference a week makes. Some seven days ago, media outlets from around the world were stumbling over themselves covering "the most anticipated IPO in history." Even Facebook and its investment bankers drank their Kool-Aid, upping both the number of available shares and the price in the final hours before the world had a chance to own a piece of Mark Zuckerberg's dorm room brainchild.

One week later with a botched NASDAQ IPO and a tanking stock price, the knives have come out. During one 24-hour period on Wednesday, Google tracked more than 40,000 online news stories about the fumbled IPO. And never one to miss a media opportunity, SEC Chairman Mary Schapiro announced a review of the "issues" that led to the chaotic initial public offering.

SEE ALSO: Facebook Users: 13 Ways the IPO Could Affect You

In times of increased scrutiny and potential crisis, when it rains, it usually pours. And for Silicon Valley's golden child, a tsunami of criticism has suddenly washed ashore. The good news for Zuckerberg and Co. is that despite the current coverage and deflated stock price, the future still looks very bright. Here’s why Facebook's impending demise has been greatly exaggerated.

  • Size Matters: Facebook recently crossed the 900 million user mark. While an impressive number, it is the tip of the global iceberg. According to a recent Times of India piece, in just the past six months, new Facebook users have grown 20% in India, 65% in Japan, and 56% in South Korea. This number will continue to grow and Facebook will have no trouble doubling in size in the next few years.
  • Data is King: If Facebook unplugged tomorrow they would still own the most powerful repository of global human data ever collected. Age, race, sex, marital status, kids, employer, and education history are all table stakes for Facebook. They also know what we like, who we like, what we don't like, and what we read, listen to, and watch. It’s all cataloged and tagged. The best part is that Facebook doesn't have to use creepy data-scrapping technology to gather this information. More than 900 million people voluntarily provide and update it every day. If data is the new currency, Facebook will be printing money plentifully well into the future.
  • Humans are Social: Facebook's in-house cultural anthropologist (they actually have one) often speaks about how, since the beginning of organized civilization, we have gathered together in groups of several hundred. No more, and not much less. When the number gets too large for the kind of social interaction we crave (interestingly a number eerily close to the average number of friends a typical facebooker engages with), the village breaks off to form a new conclave and a new "social network." This social connectivity is what sets us apart as a species, and Facebook knows how to leverage that.

    And while every digital platform has their "gee wiz" engagement numbers, Facebook continues to stand out on the metrics that really count. More than half a billion unique users log into Facebook each day sharing three billion likes and uploading 300 million photos. Of their 900 million current users, 398 million visit the site six out of every seven days. These numbers relay far more than just engagement. They showcase social interaction at the deepest levels.

    Think about it. When was the last time you printed a photo to share with friends or family? Why would you when they can see it on Facebook? When was the last time you used an event-planning website to organize a social gathering or even attended a high school reunion? Why would you? All of your friends are on Facebook. Humans are instinctively social and Facebook is providing the organizing conceptual framework we crave as social creatures.

The challenge for Facebook now is to move past their reluctance to forcefully engage in the communications marketplace and remind investors, users, advertisers, and developers of what is working at Facebook. GM may have cut advertising, but thousands of businesses large and small are seeing huge successes in targeted social advertising and will continue to.  Facebook needs to share these stories every day.

And while mobile has been piled on as another touchy point for the company, it’s worth noting that there were still half a billion mobile Facebook users in April 2012. That's more than twice the number of iPhones ever sold. And with mobile projected to explode in emerging and developing markets in the next two years, Facebook will be positioned to further leverage its growing revenue potential into areas such as payments, social gaming, and shopping.

To be sure, Facebook's current flood waters of criticism must be addressed first and directly by the company. It’s completely in their power to stabilize and grow, in spite of what’s happened. What they don’t want is to let their critics — and there are plenty — define them. That could leave the company with decidedly fewer "friends" and "likes."

Thumbnail image courtesy of Katrina.Tuliao and Crunchies2009 via Flickr

More About: contributor, Facebook, facebook ipo, features, mark zuckerberg, social networks, trending

Should Entrepreneurs Collect Unemployment?

Posted: 25 May 2012 11:08 AM PDT

A plan backed by the U.S. Department of Labor would allow entrepreneurs to collect unemployment benefits while they build a business, an acknowledgement of startups’ growing importance to the American economy.

The plan, called Self-Employment Assistance Programs (SEA), allows people collecting unemployment who “have proven to be good candidates for self-employment” to continue receiving checks while they build new businesses, according to the Department of Labor.

In many states, people who are out of work can collect unemployment benefits only if they’re actively searching for a new job at an existing company. SEA waives that requirement, so long as a recipient of benefits can prove he or she is working on what the department calls a “credible” business. Entrepreneurs receiving benefits under SEA would be allowed to continue doing so for up to 26 weeks — the same time frame given to all other unemployment recipients.

Unemployment insurance rules are largely determined at the state level — the federal government only gives certain rules and says that states must provide some form of it. Thus, the Department of Labor can’t dicate that every state adopts the proposed rule change. Instead, the department has made $35 million available for states who want to adopt SEA to do so, and it’s published guidelines showing state governments how they can institute the new rule.

The plan is based on a model pioneered in Oregon and four other states, including Delaware, Maine, New York and New Jersey. It’s being championed by Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), who called the plan a “success that has far outdistanced the cost to [Oregon].” He welcomes other states to model similar changes on his home state’s example.

"We already know that unemployment insurance is an economic multiplier, but with self-employment assistance it can be a jobs multiplier too,” said Wyden in a statement. “Today's guidance from the Department of Labor will show states exactly how to give the smart entrepreneurs looking for work in their state the spark they need to become small business job creators.”

Labor Secretary Hilda L. Solis credited the Oregon plan with sparking economic revival there, adding that any state which follows suit will also see job growth.

"Self-Employment Assistance has proven to be a valuable tool in helping many unemployed Americans realize the dream of business ownership in Oregon and around the country," said Solis. "These grants will help improve and expand these state programs while strengthening the economy and creating new jobs as more start-ups launch and grow."

Scott Gerber, entrepreneur and founder of the Young Entrepreneur Council, called for more states to adopt SEA immediately.

“SEA creates a guaranteed source of capital for startups without any of the traditional credit or collateral requirements as barriers — or the need to give away equity to investors — and empowers the unemployed to one day become the employers,” said Gerber. “The program’s track record speaks for itself, and now state legislatures must do their part and enact these programs.”

What can the government do to better recognize entrepreneurship as a viable career? Tell us your opinion in the comments below.

Thumbnail image courtesy of iStockphoto, lisegagne

More About: Business, entrepreneurs, Politics, Startups, US

Grown Woman Watches ‘Star Wars’ for the First Time [TRANSCRIPT]

Posted: 25 May 2012 10:46 AM PDT

Against all odds, there are people on Earth who haven’t seen Star Wars. And I’m not talking about hunter-gatherers in the Amazon rainforest. I’m talking about people who enjoy indoor plumbing, like my colleague Christine Erickson.

For 24 years, she’s been bombarded with quotes, jokes, memes, toys, commercials, sequels, prequels, parodies, marketing and countless cultural references that fly right over her ignorant little head like the Millenium Falcon making the Kessel Run. (She has no idea what I’m talking about there.)

Today is auspicious. Thirty-five years ago, Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope debuted in theaters, blowing the sideburns off countless ’70s sci-fi nerds. George Lucas created an institution — dare I say, a cultural prerequisite — upon which all subsequent sci-fi owes a debt.

How dare you, Christine Erickson, work at a nerd emporium like Mashable having never seen this seminal space opera. Do you think you’re better than us or something?

Well, do you?

Christine Watches Star Wars

To remedy this affront on humankind, we’ve locked Christine in a windowless storeroom asked Christine to watch Episode IV for the very first time and share her experience live on the web. At 2:00 p.m. ET, we launch her into a galaxy far, far away, and you can follow her journey right here in this very post.

The #StarWarsVirgin Team

Click here to view this gallery.

You can also play along on social media:

  • Follow Christine’s tweets: @christerickson.
  • Follow the official hashtag: #StarWarsVirgin. Lots of awesome people will be chiming in!
  • Follow the plot of the movie in real time as it unfolds: @StarWarsPlot.
  • Lots of people have RSVPed for the event on Facebook. See what they’re talking about!
  • Check in to Star Wars and follow along with Mashable on GetGlue. Be sure to use the hashtag #StarWarsVirgin when you share your updates.

We want to hear from you! Are you shocked that someone has never seen this movie before? Are you a Star Wars virgin yourself? Every tweet with the hashtag #StarWarsVirgin will be seen by our team, and the funniest, nerdiest, craziest ones will be included in our live blog, right here on Mashable.

So, fire up your hyperdrive and join us for this special, social experiment.

A huge thanks to Nick McKaig for providing the soundtrack to our video above. If you haven’t checked out his amazing acapella arrangement of the Star Wars theme, you’re really missing out. You can also download the track from iTunes. What better way to geek out on this holiest of holidays?

More About: Entertainment, features, Film, humor, live blog, Movies, Sci-Fi, Social Media, Star Wars, trending, Twitter

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MIT Scientists Develop a Device for Needle-less Injections

Posted: 25 May 2012 09:57 AM PDT

MIT scientists are developing a needle-less injection that could make getting a flu shot as painless as a mosquito bite.

The device shoots a tiny, high-pressure jet of medicine through the skin as fast as the speed of sound.

According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, hospital healthcare workers incur about 385,000 needle-related injuries every year. Meanwhile, fear or discomfort from needles prevents many patients from complying with doctors’ orders.

MIT isn’t the first institution to experiment with needle-less injections that may help solve these longstanding problems. The concept has been around since the 1860s. The U.S. military developed high-speed models in the 1950s for use in mass-vacination programs. And modern pharmacists have long offered needle-free flu shots.

The prototype injection system that MIT has created, however, allows for more precision in needle-less injections than has previously been possible. According to MIT News, it allows healthcare workers to adjust a range of doses at various depths.

If giving a shot to a baby, for instance, the shot administrator can use less pressure than he or she would to breech the skin of an adult. Flexibility in dosage and depth also makes jet-powered shots viable for a wider range of treatments.

MIT researchers have experimented with using the device to deliver drugs through the eye or ear, and are working on a version that can inject powdered drugs as if they were liquid drugs — something that could be useful in places where proper refrigeration of liquid drugs is impractical.

Thumbnail courtesy of iStockphoto, numbeos

More About: mit, needleless injections, vaccines

How (RED) United the Social Web in the Fight Against AIDS

Posted: 25 May 2012 09:42 AM PDT

Chances are, Product RED first came on your radar in 2006, when The Gap debuted its line of desi(RED), ado(RED) and inspi(RED) t-shirts.

The t-shirts were the start of a viral movement, which today is recognizable in distinctive digital campaigns and partnerships with some of the world’s most popular brands, including Coca-Cola, Apple and Starbucks. Social campaigning has bolstered awareness for RED’s iconic products, the profits from which have resulted in $190 million in donations toward the global fight against AIDS.

In the non-profit’s short history, it has embraced what it means to be a distinctive brand in the social space. RED is the only non-profit with more than 1 million followers on both Twitter and Facebook, having more than 3 million followers on all platforms, including Foursquare, Instagram, Pinterest and Myspace.

SEE ALSO: 5 Smart Companies Using Tech For Good

“RED as a brand is all about innovation — it disrupted the whole notion of what corporate philanthropy consumer giving is all about,” Chrysi Philalithes, RED’s chief digital officer, told Mashable. “The fact we were born the same year as Twitter is no coincidence to the RED brand, and to the fact that digital is at our roots.”

RED’s Beginnings

RED was created to provide a sustainable flow of funding toward The Global Fund, the organization Kofi Annan started in 2002 to fund the fight against the spread of AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.

The aim was to drive private sector money toward The Global Fund, because governments from countries like the U.S. had been providing the vast majority of money during its first five years of existence. Rather than tackling all three diseases, RED chose to target AIDS specifically, as it’s the number-one killer of women of reproductive age. To raise money, RED’s founders decided to create a brand, represented in a family of high-quality products from the world’s most iconic companies. (You can see some of the tech products in the below gallery.)

“When you make a RED choice, it’s a self-identity thing, since consumers demand that their companies are doing good in the world,” says Philalithes. “When I say I have the RED Mophie, it says I’m making a difference every way that I can. It’s not just about me being aware with my purchase, RED’s about spreading awareness to others.”

Though late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs was know for his aversion to philanthropy, the company’s RED products alone contributed $50 million toward The Global Fund.

RED’s recent efforts have focused on the Millenium Development Goal of creating an AIDS-free generation by 2015. This could be achieved by ending the transmission of the fatal disease between mothers and their children.

World AIDS Day: A Social Holiday

Since 2009, RED has made its biggest splash of the year on World AIDS Day, celebrated Dec. 1, when it turns the social web red.

One Color Unites Us, the 2009 campaign, most strongly manifested on Twitter. Tweets containing the hashtag #red or #WorldAIDSDay would turn links, hashtags and usernames red. Celebrity influencers like Ashton Kutsher, Kim Kardashian, Shakira and Ryan Seacrest tweeted for World AIDS Day. Twitter even changed the color of its homepage. In addition to RED, World AIDS Day and HIV, and the campaign’s name, One Color Unites Us, trended on Twitter.

“The fact that you could change the color of your tweet is incredible,” says Philianthes. “The fact that you’re doing it for a cause, as well, is like ‘oh my goodness!’”

RED created six different iterations of Facebook downloadable profile pictures, and Facebook users could opt to turn their Facebook news feeds red. The non-profit gained 111 Twitter followers per minute and 148 Facebook fans per minute during World AIDS Day.

In 2010, RED focused on turning the world red, illuminating 90 landmarks around the globe, including the Sydney Opera House, Niagra Falls and the London Eye. To bring the theme of red places into the social space, RED focused on Foursquare, at the time one of the hottest new social networks. World AIDS Day check-ins earned RED badges.

“Every year we try to think how can we do things different than what we did the previous year,” says Philalithes. “Given the association with the landmarks turning the world red, we wanted to turn the streets of the digital space red, so Foursquare was a really key partner for us in this.”

RED created a map of the world, divided into regions, which turned darker shades of red as social activity increased. Working with Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare and Meetup, the RED map living on the organization’s website turned red before the U.S. even woke up at 2:50 a.m. on Dec. 1. Participants made some 100,000 acts of support on the social web.

RED partnered with One in 2011 to create an HTML5 crowd-sourced digital quilt called (2015)QUILT, which featured images and messages of support from people across the web. The idea came from the AIDS Memorial Quilt, began in San Francisco in 1987, which grew to become the largest community art project in the world.

YouTube live streamed an event with Presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, along with celebrities Bono and Alicia Keys, calling for the beginning of the end of AIDS.

RED in the Digital Space the Rest of the Year

One of RED’s most powerful projects was documentary film, The Lazarus Effect, which launched with an iPad app. The film follows a patient’s transformation during the first 90 days of HIV treatment, with two pills, costing $0.40 per day.

The Lazarus Effect‘s free iPad app contained the full film, along with additional resources about antiretroviral drugs and photos of the 90-day transformation of HIV-positive people.

The film also launched a celebrity PSA about what you can buy for 40 cents; it has garnered more than 1 billion impressions.

During the 2010 World Cup, RED partnered with Yahoo to create a game, Yahoo Penalty Shootout, which donated $1 for each goal scored, up to $100,000. The game quickly met its goal with players from 15 countries.

RED Rush to Zero: The Latest Digital Push

RED’s most recent digital campaign, RED Rush to Zero, includes three new efforts to drive money toward the Global Fund: the RED Rush Games, a global video gaming tournament; the RED Music program, which offers RED tickets to concerts featuring popular artists at major venues; and the Cash & Rocket RED Tour, a fundraising mission across Europe. RED Rush to Zero will take place June 1-10.

“The world is at a historic moment in the fight against HIV/AIDS, with the opportunity to end mother-to-child transmission of HIV and take a critical step toward defeating this global pandemic,” said Deborah Dugan, CEO of RED. “RED Rush is a unique effort to build momentum and ensure that the incredible progress that has been made over the last decade continues.”

The RED Rush Games partners with the world’s largest gaming competition, E3, on June 1. Gamers will donate to the Global Fund to play games like FIFA 12 and NHL 12. Celebrities on board include Wayne Brady, Kris Allen, Kate Upton and Scott Porter. Converse, Mophie, Funny or Die and Bugaboo are among the brands offering prizes.

The RED Music program will turn concerts red by auctioning RED Row tickets online to a slew of major music names, including The Black Keys, Coldplay, Death Cab for Cutie, The Killers and Tim McGraw. Between June 1 and 10 famous venues, including Austin’s Stubbs, Chicago’s Metro and New York’s Brooklyn Bowl, will donate a portion of their profits from certain concerts to the Global Fund.

Check Out RED’s Tech Products


Launched: December 2011 and January 2012 (depending on model)

Currently available

Click here to view this gallery.

More About: features, non-profits, Red, Social Good, Social Media

Behold: The First Video Taken with Google Glasses

Posted: 25 May 2012 08:51 AM PDT

Google has unveiled the first video taken with its sci-fi eyewear concept, Project Glass. The topic: jumping and flipping on a trampoline, doing a backflip while wearing Google glasses.

Google launched its Project Glass goggles on Google+ in April, and the news sent the concept of Google’s futuristic glasses — which would project augmented reality images into wearers' field of vision — into a worldwide frenzy on the web. Although Google co-founder Sergey Brin has been testing the device and teasing pictures to show the Internet what it can do, this is the first time we’ve seen a video taken by the device itself.

SEE ALSO: Google: Here's What Our Sci-Fi Glasses Look Like

In addition to taking pictures and video, the glasses can perform many tasks performed by a smartphone. For example, while wearing the glasses, you would be able to see weather forecasts and what’s on your calendar for the day, as well as send text messages and emails to friends and family — all projected right before your eyes.

Google told Mashable in April that selling the glasses this year would be “very unlikely.”

Would you want a pair of Google Glasses? Do you think this is the way we will live our lives in the future? Let us know in the comments.

BONUS: Google Glasses Pictures

Stephen, Google engineer

Click here to view this gallery.

More About: Google, Google glasses, project glass, trending

6 Crowdfunding Mistakes That Can Kill a Campaign

Posted: 25 May 2012 08:32 AM PDT

Scott Steinberg is a leading expert on leveraging new technology trends to enhance business strategy and family life. The noted industry consultant and bestselling author has a new book The Crowdfunding Bible, which is free to download here.

Interest in crowdfunding continues to skyrocket, thanks to the record-breaking success of campaigns like the Pebble: E-Paper Watch, and Double Fine Adventure. The recent passage of the JOBS Act and the popularity of websites such as Kickstarter, RocketHub and IndieGogo have only reinforced its popularity.

But for every successful crowdfunding campaign you hear about, many more have utterly and completely failed to meet funding goals. The reasons? Well those are plentiful. Based on the research I did for my new book, here are several common characteristics that appear to lie at the heart of disastrous ventures — all worth heeding before hitting the launch button.

1. Nobody Knows Who You Are

Among the most common reasons campaigns croak is the lack of a meaningful brand identity. Projects with existing followings or known personalities attached (e.g. Wasteland 2) often do well. Unproven or obscure projects, such as Class of Heroes 2, don't fair as well. In fact, according to Kickstarter, 75% of projects fail just in the video game space alone. It makes sense that building and maintaining trust and awareness is imperative in a connected world where the options, particularly to invest, are many.

This is where, when possible, it's a good idea to tie your project to an existing brand, fan base, or personality. Also, recruiting testimonials (including videos) from well-known industry celebs and support from other creators can build trust and help raise awareness. Pairings should be both genuine and synchronous, however, appending Kim Kardashian's likeness to your family hot sauce recipe or line of drink holders won't do anybody any favors. Consider the case of Shadowrun Returns, which piggybacks on a sci-fi role-playing franchise popular in the early '90s. Creator Jordan Weisman, who appeared in pitch materials, made impassioned pleas to potential investors. It worked. The once-dormant franchise raised $1.8 million in pledges.

2. No One Can Tell What You're Talking About

Crucial to any campaign is your ability to clearly and concisely explain and illustrate a projects' core value proposition and benefits. There are too many examples of campaigns that have generated good traffic and awareness, but have failed to monetize it because customers don't understand the project or key sales points. Getting a lot of questions about your concept, supporting features or how you plan to accomplish building it? Consider those red flags.

The good news: Extensive pre-launch preparation, including testing and screening campaign pitches and materials by presenting them to objective third parties can help you avoid this trap. You should also review successful examples and failed projects alike to see which ideas, rewards, and promotional activities click. Also vital is that you understand who your target audience is, how big it is, and how to best reach it online.

3. Nothing Sets You Apart From the Competition

If you're pitching a movie, video game or even smart watch that sounds like dozens of others, why should people invest in yours? Finding ways to quickly and neatly position your project uniquely is vital. One to three core benefits and vital sales points should be communicated in all supporting messaging and assets. A good examples is the Pebble watch, which summarizes itself with the tagline: "Customize your perfect watch — it's as easy as downloading an app."

4. You Fail to Ignite, Engage, or Connect

Ever wonder why a great project, campaign, or video pitch consistently fails to raise money online? It could be suffering from a lack of consumer awareness, a terminal condition caused by insufficient or ineffectual public relations (PR), marketing, or social media tactics. Competition is tougher than ever, and backers' attention spans more fractured. To generate awareness, don't just look to social media services or press mentions. Also consider building unique and/or exclusive rewards, develop an eye-catching video, and team up with other creators and industry celebs to raise awareness. And definitely don't forget to listen to fan feedback. Backers will let you know what's resonating, and how to tweak campaigns, promotional activities, and rewards to better spark interest.

5. You Don't Maintain Contact with Supporters and Backers

It’s crucial to maintain a running dialogue throughout campaigns in the form of project updates, newsletters, and social media outreach. Thank contributors often, and keep them abreast of new developments worth passing along. Outreach should occur on a daily basis — it's imperative to stay top of mind and may help spread the word or lead to valuable suggestions.

Similarly, other campaigns may have generated media attention and buzz, but little in the way of actual cash. As Ed Petterson of The Giuseppi Logan project points out, it wasn't until an appearance in The New York Times that the campaign truly took off. But the write-up wouldn't have happened without his and his wife’s daily outreach to bloggers, critics, and collectors to raise awareness. Likewise, Wasteland 2 creators recommend constantly reviewing which rewards connect with donors. In that case, the game's $15 rewards generated huge donations out of the gate, its $30 pricing tier quickly stalled. Once the team revised the $30 offering to be more attractive by adding new bonuses, and introduced more rewards such as a novella and video blog, this pricing level began to pick up steam.

6. You’re Greedy or Clueless About Fundraising Goals

How much is too much to ask for? Tough to say, but the smartest thing you can do for your campaign is to set funding goals to the plausible minimum required to realize your vision. The more reasonable the figure, the likelier fans are to believe it's attainable and contribute. To improve your chances of getting funded, start by right-sizing products, trimming extraneous features, focusing only on the elements needed to deliver a high-quality and compelling value proposition. Estimate conservatively and provide some financial cushion — e.g. a 20% to 30% buffer — in case of unforeseen mishaps. The more realistic you are about audience size and funding goals, the safer you'll be. Remember, any money earned above and beyond initial targets can always be reinvested into new project expansions.

More About: contributor, crowdfunding, features, kickstarter

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Every Song You Download Here Helps Charities

Posted: 25 May 2012 08:07 AM PDT

The World at Work is powered by GE. This new series highlights the people, projects and startups that are driving innovation and making the world a better place.

FairShareMusic Online Music Store

Name: FairShareMusic

Big Idea: UK online store FairShareMusic sells millions of songs and vows to give at least half of its net profits to charities that address major issues such as world hunger, cancer research and endangered species.

Why It’s Working: The website infuses philanthropy into music fans’ lives. The more a user downloads songs, the more donations are made to charities all over the world.

What if you could help make the world a better place with the click of a button? With FairShareMusic, you can.

Since 2010, the London-based company has offered top songs for download in its online music store. And with one click of the “Buy” button, consumers simultaneously get their favorite tunes and donate money to charity.

It’s simple: You pick the songs, you pick the charities, and a portion of your payment goes to an issue that you care about.

FairShareMusic, which donates 50% of its net profits to charities, touts its selection of more than 18 million tracks, with Carly Rae Jepsen’s viral hit “Call Me Maybe” currently listed among the top downloads. The songs integrate into your iTunes or Windows media libraries seamlessly, with no extra software required.

"We stimulate change in giving by promoting social action, connecting people and charities through music.”

“We stimulate change in giving by promoting social action, connecting people and charities through music — making it easier for people to give directly to a cause through something they're passionate about, whilst promoting further a culture of giving and increasing the amount existing donors give to charity.” co-founder Lee Cannon told Mashable.

FairShareMusic has seen steady growth in the past 12 months with sales and customer numbers increasing.

“Unique visits are converting into registrations at approximately 6%, with 98% going on to purchase. 62% of registered customers have bought more than once, and our average basket size is almost double the UK average at £7.20,” Cannon says.

FairShareMusic is optimizing the store for mobile and will eventually release Android and BlackBerry apps.

Here’s how the company divvies out your money to British and international charities, such as Amnesty International, British Red Cross, Centrepoint, Friends of the Earth, Oxfam, Teenage Cancer Trust and World Wide Fund for Nature, among others: FairShareMusic pledges to always donate at least 4% of each track’s price. The other portions of the cost get doled out to the “tax man,” record label, music publisher and bank.

Cannon says the larger charities do well, as do the ones with strong associations with music such as War Child, TCT, Youth Music and Nordoff Ronbins.

He and Jonny Woolf launched the store, which operates in pounds and pences, in June 2010 after having dipped their toes in other music and charitable ventures.

Would you use FairShareMusic? Let us know in the comments.

Series presented by GE

The World at Work is powered by GE. GE Works focuses on the people who make the things that move, power, build and help to cure the world.

More About: charity, features, mashable, Music, Social Good, World at Work

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Obama and Romney Go Head-to-Head on Twitter [INFOGRAPHIC]

Posted: 25 May 2012 07:27 AM PDT

One of the battles in the war for the White House is being fought on Twitter. It’s common knowledge that Obama’s beating Romney hand-over-fist in followers: the president has more than 15 million followers, compared to Romney’s half-million. However, the number of social followers alone doesn’t mean much — instead, the key to waging a successful political campaign on Twitter is engagement.

Along those lines, how does President Obama’s Twitter presence stack up with that of Republican rival Mitt Romney? PeekAnalytics, a social audience measurement service, did some digging to find out.

President Obama has more than 5,000 times the “pull,” or influence, than the average Twitter account, compared to Mitt Romney at 466 times the average. That means Obama has 12 times the influence of Romney. That seems like a clear win in the Obama column — until you consider that Obama has 30 times the followers that Romney does, meaning Romney is doing a better job of influencing his smaller audience.

SEE ALSO: Obama vs. Romney: The Social Showdown

Breaking down both presidential contenders’ followers into demographic categories, PeekAnalytics says Obama’s followers are more international (48% of Obama’s followers live abroad compared to 10% for Romney), they’re younger (58% are between the ages of 18-25, whereas 43% of Romney’s followers are in that bracket), and female (47% for Obama, 29% for Romney) than Romney’s social audience. Meanwhile, Romney’s followers tend to have higher incomes (30% of Romney’s followers make more than $100,000 a year, that category makes up 22% for Obama).

Can the candidates’ Twitter following tell us anything about their chances come Election Day? According to PeekAnalytics, a higher percentage of Romney’s followers come from crucial battleground states, save Ohio.

For more, check out PeekAnalytics’ infographic below.

Do you think presidential campaigns are using Twitter effectively? Sound off in the comments below.

Disclaimer: Mashable and PeekAnalytics have a commercial relationship, but Mashable did not pay for this report.

Thumbnail image courtesy of iStockphoto, PashaIgnatov

More About: 2012 presidential campaign, barack obama, Mitt Romney, Politics, Social Media, Twitter, US

SpaceX Dragon Makes History, Docks With the ISS [PICS]

Posted: 25 May 2012 07:12 AM PDT

SpaceX Dragon docked to the ISS

SpaceX’s Dragon capsule has successfully docked with the International Space Station, making SpaceX the first privately owned company in history to achieve such a feat.

This success came after a long period of planning and several launch delays. While there’s still work to be done (the Dragon must successfully return to Earth), it’s a historic event, hopefully marking the beginning of a new era of privately funded space exploration.

Now that the docking process is complete, the astronauts aboard the ISS will open the Dragon's hatch and unload the supplies the spacecraft is carrying.

After that, they’ll load used equipment into the Dragon, which will return back to Earth approximately two weeks later. The Dragon is scheduled to land in the Pacific, hundreds of miles west of Southern California.

Check out a gallery of photos from the mission tweeted by SpaceX below and our interview with SpaceX’s founder and chief designer Elon Musk here.

SpaceX Dragon Capsule flying in formation with the ISS

Click here to view this gallery.

More About: International Space Station, ISS, NASA, SpaceX Dragon, trending

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Authors or Curators: Who Will Be More Valuable in the Future?

Posted: 25 May 2012 06:55 AM PDT

The great debate between original and curated content has been a hot topic in the age of social media. Today, so much content is produced at such a rapid rate that the web has become a realm of tastemakers.

Tools like Storify make it easy to archive on Twitter, a site notorious for breaking news and real-time discussion. Tastemakers also help with discovery, but without the content creators, it would be difficult for anyone to curate in the first place.

So who is more valuable in the future: the ones who create original content, or those who filter through the noise to curate the most valuable content?

SEE ALSO: Storify Reimagines Interactive Stories With Element Sharing

At this year’s Mashable Connect conference at Disney World, Mashable‘s chief technology officer Robyn Peterson caught up with Storify co-founder Burt Herman backstage. Here’s what Herman had to say about who will have more clout in the future.

More About: content creation, content curation, content discovery, features, mashable connect, Storify, Twitter, Video

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2K Games Looks Beyond Twitter, Facebook for Customer Outreach

Posted: 25 May 2012 06:24 AM PDT

Live Stream for Spec Ops: The Line

The community and customer service teams at 2K Games are committed to reaching out to the company’s audience, even if it means facing unhappy customers head-on.

When Reddit user Loyal2NES posted a thread Tuesday night, sarcastically titled “2K Games support team is top-notch,” it was to complain about an unhelpful experience he had.

The thread title quickly became more genuine, however, as 2K's head of interactive marketing and community, Elizabeth Tobey, stepped in during evening hours to assuage the original complaint. She also took time to answer other Redditor's questions and crack a few jokes, commenting on the thread 36 times in all.

"People are used to stuffier news broadcast style, but we are able to answer questions candidly,” she said. “It's way better than the past, with forums, where you have to jump through so many hoops to have a conversation.”

Reddit is just one of the vehicles Tobey uses to guide 2K’s customer communication. The company is also active on traditional social channels like Facebook and Twitter. Tobey says 2K even has a policy of trying to talk to everyone who reaches out.

"You can reach out and touch anyone, any day, at all hours. It's a little daunting, but so rewarding, " said Tobey. "We can pay attention to the little things, like tweets or messages."

Tobey said 2K's community team is determined to find new ways to have two-way conversations. Recently, the team harnessed the power of streaming service TwitchTV to reveal the multiplayer mode in upcoming military shooter Spec Ops: The Line. They put six gamers (who happen to be veterans at streaming their content) into match, while letting the community ask questions in the chat as the pros played. The stream ran over three and a half hours, during which time spectators could request to see different parts of the multiplayer experience.

"We're all about 'show, don't tell.' By putting the opinions in the hands of respected gamers, we can better demonstrate what they’ll be excited about and interested in," said Tobey. "It's about trust and respect; we get unbiased opinions from them, and let the community talk to the community."

2K will run similar experiences when Spec Ops: The Line launches June 26; gamers will be invited to play matches against the game's developers.

Behind-the-scenes action and interactivity are all part of the experience Tobey is trying offer gamers. During the lead-up to E3, the biggest gaming trade show and traditionally a press- and industry-only affair, Tobey and her community team will post pictures and videos of their booths as they’re assembled. During the conference, they will interview other notable attendees and share the video with their audience.

"We're able to become real people, not just a name on a forum," said Tobey.

Perhaps one of the best examples of being “real” just happened to Tobey. She posed her miniature dachshund, Pancake, alongside a special edition case, to be released with the collector's edition of Borderlands 2, to creatively illustrate its size. After she posted on Imgur, the pictures received over 8 million views. Safe to say, the company probably got more pre-orders.

Pancake the dachshund and Borderlands 2's collector's edition.

What do you think of 2K's community management style? Let us know in the comments.

Thumbnail image courtesy 2K Games. Dachshund photo courtesy of Elizabeth Tobey on Imgur.

More About: borderlands 2, customer service, Entertainment, features, Gaming, reddit, Social Media

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