Try This On for Size

iStock_000062439902_Large - Copy“Mirror, mirror on the wall. This lighting doesn’t work for me at all.”

My amusing poem is a fitting way to describe how shoppers are using “smart mirrors” to enhance their experiences.

Where have you been all of my life?

Let’s take a look at how the technology, which can be found in dressing rooms at places such as Ralph Lauren’s flagship store, works:

Equipped with radio-frequency identification technology that tracks items via their tags, the room identifies every item that enters and reflects it back on the mirror that doubles as a touchscreen. Shoppers can interact with the mirror, which functions like a giant tablet, to control the lighting, request alternate items or style advice from a sales associate.

“There’s this narrative that ecommerce collects better data – but online, it’s black and white. The physical world contains all these shades of grey that are truly interesting,” says Healey Cypher, who has built his career around twin concepts, namely that brick-and-mortar shopping isn’t going anywhere and the experience is in desperate need of a technological upgrade.

He’s working on it. Cypher is the CEO and co-founder of Oak Labs Interactive, the company behind the interactive mirrors, which just announced it has raised $4.1 million in a seed round led by Wing Venture Capital to bring refine the technology and bring it to more retailers. …

For retailers, the key draw is the wealth of collected data. By tracking each item that enters a dressing room, Ralph Lauren can determine how shoppers are interacting with its clothes. Is a jacket frequently being tried on, but isn’t selling? This likely indicates the look is popular, but the fit isn’t. Equally valuable: how customers interact with the touchscreen. Are they buying recommended items? How are they interacting with sales associates? Oak Labs analyzes the data and distills it into digestible and actionable insights.

This idea isn’t a new one – Nordstrom has experimented with interactive mirrors in its fitting rooms, and designer Rebecca Minkoff’s flagship store in New York City has employed nearly identical technology for about a year, to huge results. Since its installation, the store reportedly tripled its clothing sales.

Read the full Entrepreneur story.

Carter: Biopharmaceutical Industry Supports Tens of Thousands of High Pay, High Skill Jobs for Hoosiers

Our VP Cam Carter recently spoke with We Work for Health (WWFH) about the importance of Indiana’s biopharmaceutical sector. WWFH is a grassroots initiative that shows how biopharmaceutical research and medical innovation work together to create a strong, vibrant economy and a healthier America.

Keeping the Skies Open for Drones

droneWill drone technology “transform the way we live and work” or prove to be an intrusive, security-filled hurdle to overcome? The Competitive Enterprise Institute is betting on the former, with its new report warning of federal regulations that could get in the way of substantial progress.

Also see Rebecca Patrick’s APEX Award-winning 2014 BizVoice article on drones and their potential business impact.

Taking the Digital Age Into New – and Very Green – Territory

36886821What does the world’s greenest office building look like? You’re about to find out.
The Edge (enticing moniker) towers over onlookers in Amsterdam and is home to 2,500 Deloitte employees … who don’t have desks.

Let me back up. There are desks, but employees aren’t assigned one of their very own. The space they occupy each day is based upon their schedule. They may get cracking on projects in the concentration room, along the sun-infused balcony, in the atrium – it’s called “hot desking.”

Living on The Edge (or at least working there) is all about innovation. Connectivity and going green are king. A smartphone app allows employees to control lighting and climate preferences at their workstations. Rainwater is collected for flushing toilets and irrigating gardens. A security robot stands guard. And that’s just the beginning.

Check out this short video and share your input: Brilliant work environment or too much of a good thing?

Defying – Not Glorifying – Stereotypes

Every once in a while, something really fires me up. Today’s trigger is about misconceptions regarding women engineers.

First, there’s the words of wisdom (insert heavy sarcasm) of Nobel Peace Prize winner Tim Hunt. This summer, he declared – at the World Conference of Science Journalists – that labs should be segregated by sex. “Let me tell you about my trouble with girls,” he reportedly mused. “You fall in love with them, they fall in love with you and when you criticize them, they cry!”

Shameful, indeed. It reminded me of another recent high-profile controversy, this time involving Isis Wenger. The brilliant OneLogin platform engineer unwittingly found herself at the center of a firestorm when she posed for a recruiting photo.

To both the company and Wenger’s surprise, what got people talking about the campaign wasn’t the image of its security engineer wearing a black hat and hackers shirt … Instead, it was the photo of Wenger. TechCrunch reported a taste of what people had to say about it:

“This is some weird haphazard branding. I think they want to appeal to women, but are probably just appealing to dudes. Perhaps that’s the intention all along. But I’m curious people with brains find this quote (appearing on Wenger’s shirt) remotely plausible if women in particular buy this image of what a female software engineer looks like. Idk. Weird.”

And here’s what another guy said:

“If their intention is to attract more women, then it would have been a better to choose a picture with a warm, friendly smile rather than a sexy smirk. …”

To change the way people think about engineers, Wenger started the hashtag #ILookLikeAnEngineer.

“#ILookLikeAnEngineer is intentionally not gender specific,” Wenger says. “External appearances and the number of X chromosomes a person has is hardly a measure of engineering ability. My goal is to help redefine “what an engineer should look like” because I think that is a step towards eliminating sub-conscious bias towards diversity in tech.”

Wenger’s hashtag has inspired women to post their own photos illustrating that they also “look like an engineer.”

You go, ladies!

Blinding Music Fans with Science


While I’m passionate about music, it’s rare that I don headphones and pop in a CD to inspire me during the workday. Perhaps I should change my tune.

Turns out there’s a melodious connection between music and productivity. Check out this Business Insider story to see – and hear – for yourself.

The story offers several approaches to boosting productivity. One involves choosing songs that feature sounds of nature:

Researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute recently discovered that adding a natural element could boost moods and focus.

Sounds of nature can mask intelligible speech just as well as white noise while also enhancing cognitive functioning, optimizing the ability to concentrate and increasing overall worker satisfaction, the researchers found. The mountain stream sound researchers used in their study also possessed enough randomness that it didn’t distract test subjects.

Other examples include listening to songs you enjoy, songs you don’t really care about (the horror!), songs without lyrics, songs with a specific tempo and songs played at medium volume.

Let’s rock!

Video Matters Now More Than Ever

rebeccaThis commentary, written by Indiana Chamber VP Rebecca Patrick, originally appeared on Inside INdiana Business.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, exactly what is a video worth? That’s a question more and more organizations have been asking in the last few years.

We’ve all seen something “go viral” on YouTube and make its way around social media and even the traditional news. And the frequency of business emails with video content continues to rise – and with good reason: Consumer surveys reveal those emails are noticeably more effective.

The list goes on and on about the emergence and power of video messaging, whether it’s used for external marketing or rallying the troops inside your company. The population in general – thanks to continued technology advances – is increasingly more visual in how it wants to receive information.

In 2014, the Indiana Chamber opted to devote space in its office to a video studio. We built it with three types of communications in mind: 1) messages to our 17,000 members and investors; 2) public policy advocacy to a broad, public audience and 3) media-ready footage.

The studio was possible for us – and for other businesses our size – because the equipment prices have come down to meet the demands of the masses who want to film videos for webcasts and more. So a suitable video camera, lighting equipment, teleprompter and accessories for our studio were quite affordable.

But before we made that leap, we did our homework. We talked to member companies in the communications/marketing field and to videographers to make sure our studio would be capable of doing what we wanted.

Over the last 18 months, the Indiana Chamber has produced more than 50 videos – ranging from legislative calls to action and television commentaries to event promotions and membership testimonials.

Tom Easterday, our current chairman of the board of directors who is executive vice president at Subaru of Indiana Automotive Inc. in Lafayette, believes video messaging is “effective for communicating with a lot of different generations; it can be used as part of social media, as part of your web site and direct communication.”

At Subaru, Easterday films various videos – many for internal use.

“Frequently we will have messages we will need to get out to our associates before it breaks in the press or before the rumor mill starts. We’ve found that having our own in-house closed-circuit television system and utilizing video allows us to get the same message out to all of our associates at the same time. It’s a very valuable communications tool in that regard,” he explains.

“It helps us be more effective in getting associates to understand what is happening, and gets their buy-in and cooperation regarding whatever the next move is we need to make as a company… It’s a very clear message instead of hearing it second or third hand, or via written communication, which may or may not be read.”

Subaru has also used video to maximize the time of its dealers and suppliers. The company produced a five-minute video introduction on the plant when dealers from across the United States were arriving with limited time on their hands. A virtual tour of the facility is also available on the company web site.

Easterday says videos are a welcome option for material that is “very difficult to put into print or would be tedious to read on a web site.”

He also encourages companies to not dismiss video production out of concern over price.

“There are a lot of companies out there that do them so you can shop around, or we have our own internal videographer. That can definitely cut the cost down,” Easterday shares. “But if you shop around and ask the communications companies to provide you samples of their work, they will do that.”

Indiana Logistics Summit to Kick Off Sept. 22

2015 LOGISTICS SUMMIT LOGO JPEGThe Indiana Logistics Summit is fast approaching, and will convene in the Indiana Convention Center in Indianapolis on Sept. 22 (and a VIP Colts tailgate reception will be held at Crane Bay on Sept. 21). Visit or call (866) 515-0023 to register or receive more information. (Registration is $175 per person, or call Liz Folkerts at (317) 232-9205 for information on group rates.)

There is something for everyone at the 2015 Indiana Logistics Summit as top executives from Google, GE Aviation, Indianapolis Colts, Fair Oaks Farms, NCAA, Harvard Business School, IndyCar and others will be featured speakers at the 13th annual event on Tuesday, Sept. 22, in the Indiana Convention Center. The Summit will bring 300 leaders to Indianapolis to hear educational presentations about logistics from a variety of industries and to celebrate the Indianapolis Colts’ home opener on Monday Night Football.

In conjunction with a “Logistics in Sports” segment, the evening reception for Summit attendees will be held on Monday, Sept. 21, at The Crane Bay as part of the Colts VIP Tailgate leading up to the Colts game versus the New York Jets. Tickets to the reception are complimentary with Summit registration, and include a Morton Steakhouse buffet, cocktail bars hosted by Jim Beam, visits from Colts cheerleaders and former players, the live broadcast site for the Colts’ pregame show, an NFL memorabilia auction and much more.

The Indiana Logistics Summit is co-hosted by Purdue University, the Ports of Indiana and Conexus Indiana to promote the logistics industry and showcase the critical role this sector plays in the national economy. Some topics to be featured at this year’s program include:

– The Role of Logistics in Attracting Indiana’s Mega Projects
– A Behind-the-Scenes Look at Logistics in Sports
– Closing the Skills Gap to Improve U.S. Competitiveness
– New Solutions for the National Transportation Infrastructure Crisis
– Emerging Technologies: Unmanned Systems, Smart Drones and What’s Next?

There will also be a special “Logistics U” program for high school students to learn about career and educational opportunities in logistics.

“This is a can’t-miss event for anyone interested in logistics, sports, drones or the future of our economy,” said Rich Cooper, CEO for the Ports of Indiana. “Logistics is something that Indiana knows very well. Our robust transportation infrastructure and central location create tremendous logistical advantages for businesses that move products by air, rail, truck and water. The Summit celebrates the importance of this industry and provides an important platform for informative discussions among businesses, leaders and transportation professionals. This year’s program will offer a diverse group of topics that will appeal to a broad audience.”

The Summit program opens with the Keynote Breakfast featuring a presentation titled “Grass to Glass Logistics” by Mike McCloskey, the CEO of Select Milk Producers and owner of Fair Oaks Farms, one of the nation’s largest dairies. The Northwest Indiana dairy recently announced a new partnership venture with Coca-Cola that is aimed at revolutionizing milk consumption across the country.

There will also be an inside look at the Indianapolis Colts’ ‘Midnight Move’ from Baltimore, the NCAA’s coordination of 90 national championships per year, and a preview of the ‘100th Running of the Indianapolis 500.’ Emerging technologies will be explored in a futuristic session focused on the development of drone delivery systems, the launch of the state’s first college major in unmanned vehicles and companies with real-world applications for drones in logistics. Top national experts will also share recommendations for how businesses, government and academia can help address two of the biggest challenges facing the logistics industry – aging transportation infrastructure and workforce development in closing the skills gap.

VIDEO: Ikelite Making a Splash in Indy

David Combs, general manager of Ikelite, spoke with BizVoice about the intriguing history of the Indianapolis company and why it’s so successful. Some may find it odd that a company so loved by SCUBA divers would be based in Indiana, but hey, it’s been working since the 1960s!

Read the Indiana Ingenuity feature on this exceptional business in BizVoice.

Bluebridge Holding Launch Party with Verge This Thursday

https_proxyHave plans Thursday? If not, you should hear one of Indiana’s leading young entrepreneurs, Santiago Jaramillo of Bluebridge, describe his experiences thus far in starting a business, and unveil his company’s new digs and new app technology in Fishers. (Get your tickets online.)

During this Verge event, Jaramillo will discuss raising capital in Indianapolis and give entrepreneurs advice on scaling their business to the first $1 million in revenue. Topics will include fundraising, scaling sales and marketing, and hiring.

Here’s a message with details from our friends at Verge:

We’re really excited to team up with Bluebridge for the month of July and celebrate the birth of the new Verge app. We’d love for you to share your feedback on the app experience for its test launch. We’ll be adding features in the months ahead.
Here’s the launch agenda:

– 5:30 pm – Doors open to public (Pizza & beer provided)
– 6:15 pm – Welcome announcement
– 6:30 pm – Pitches
Mobile App Studio – Santiago Jaramillo, Bluebridge
Verge App – Matt Hunckler, Verge
Future of Tech in Fishers – John Wechsler, Launch Fishers and Scott Fadness, Mayor of Fishers
– 7:00 pm – Fireside chat with Santiago Jaramillo, CEO of Bluebridge
– 8:30 pm – Doors close

As you know, tickets move fast, and we’re only releasing 300 spots for this special event. Reserve your spot today!

If you’d like more background, we’ve also covered Jaramillo and Bluebridge in BizVoice.