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Happy Pancake Day!

A pointless thing to say, in my opinion. I challenge anyone not to be happy when they have woken up to a breakfast of pancakes. Or, are returning home after work to a pancake-full evening. Pancake Day is known as ‘Mardi Gras’ in some areas of the world. Mardi Gras means ‘Fat Tuesday’ in French – if this isn’t permission to eat as many pancakes as you can I don’t know what is! However, it is worth remembering why we eat pancakes on Pancake Day/Mardi Gras/Shrove Tuesday. The idea is to use up all our fatty foods before lent. So if you are indulging on Pancake Day, what are you giving up for lent?

Anyway lent doesn't start until tomorrow so here are some of our favourite pancakes designs for inspiration. I think anyone that manages an Olaf as good as this will be very popular... (for those of you who need a hand, YouTube is full of helpful pancake tutorials)

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Look At Me

Children with autism struggle with the subtleties of communication we rely on for everyday life. For example, recognising different faces and the emotions they are showing. The ‘Look At Me’ app attempts to tackle these problems head-on. However, the beauty of the app is that to the child using it, it comes across as a fun game! The app highlights how communication difficulties as a consequence of autism not only affects the child but also their parents and close family. A feeling of disconnect from their child must be one of the worst things a parent can feel.

Look At Me aims to strengthen the parent-child connection through improving the communication skills of the child. The child should then be in a better position to communicate outside their family, with classmates and teachers.

All of the ‘lessons’ are in the form of a games, or missions as they are referred to. This helps the child relax and enjoy the experience. One of the games involves an image of a face being placed over the eye of a larger image of a face. The player must pick whose face is contained within the eye out of a series of options! Not only does this improve facial recognition it also teaches the child to look at a person’s eye. We as human beings are very expressive through our eyes and autistic children often miss out on these signs. A second game requires the player to identify happy and sad faces from a line-up. This is designed to help them recognise and identify the emotions a real person is showing when talking to them.

Let’s hope this app can make a real difference to the lives of children with autism and their families, and pave the way for more apps of its kind.

http://youtu.be/99TL3hGPw5I

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Success at the PM Awards

We are delighted to announce our ‘Hard to See, But Easy to Find’ campaign for Shire Pharmaceuticals has won four bronze awards and one silver at Friday’s PM Awards! ‘Hard to See, But Easy to Find’ is a disease awareness campaign for Gaucher disease. Being a very rare lysosomal disorder, Gaucher is hard for healthcare professionals to recognise and, as a consequence, is chronically under diagnosed. Shire strives to ensure all patients are diagnosed and treated as soon as possible, with their ethos being ‘to be as brave as the people they help’.

The resulting campaign stands out because of it aesthetic appeal and artistry. It combines photography with a number of sophisticated editing techniques to create the final illustration, capturing the sentiment of the problem perfectly.

The idea is based on the phrase ‘can’t see the wood for the trees’. Healthcare professionals struggle to diagnose Gaucher amongst other possible diseases that associated symptoms may point to. However once the disease is suspected, it is easy to diagnose with simple tests.

Our concept mirrors this idea. Initially it is hard to see the person within the picture but once you notice they are there, they are much easier to find.

The result is a beautiful campaign with a beautiful sentiment.

For more information on Gaucher disease please visit http://www.focusongaucher.co.uk

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Sorry, I can’t hear you, my signal's not great, I’m in space!

Check out these amazing pictures of an iPhone 6 being sent to the edge of space, and landing again in one piece!

Urban Armor Gear, the company that produced the case that secured the safe return of the iPhone, undertook the stunt.

The phone (within the UAG case) was attached to a weather balloon and sent up to heights of over 30,000 m. It experienced temperatures as low as -56 °C which caused it to shut down during the flight. On the edge of space the phone was released from the balloon and fell back to earth. It landed fully intact despite the cold temperatures and heavy landing.

Urban Armor Gear can now officially say their products are tested from space! I wonder if this will become a regular occurrence for products in the future.

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The best app ever?

Well only if you live in Washington DC. The AB InBev app delivers Bud Light to your door within an hour, meaning a good night is only an hour away (for those of us who like Bud Light that is).

It will be interesting to see the effect this has on the sales of Bud Light. Convenience is everything for consumers and you can't get much more convenient than this!

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There's no accounting for taste - or it there...

Picture the scene; a couple are out for dinner. One, usually the lady, will order a salad. The other, more often than not the gentleman, will order a steak and chips. During the meal, the salad eater will pinch a few chips (sometimes more than a few), from the steak eater’s plate. This often leads to feelings of hostility on the part of the steak eater, if not a full blown argument along the lines of “I asked you and you said you didn’t want chips! You could have ordered your own portion. Why did you say you didn’t want any and now you stealing mine?”

The problem is; in an effort to be healthy, when presented with a menu, people often order what they feel is a healthy meal. However, when the meals are placed in front of them, cravings for the less healthy option can overpower them. This explains why they can’t stop themselves pinching the odd chip.

Imagine though if you could stop these cravings, and one step further in fact, crave the salad!

Cravings are partially governed by the bacteria that inhabit our gut. Our gut contains over one trillion bacteria of many different strains. The different strains require different foodstuffs for energy. For example, some bacteria require fats while some require carbohydrates. Their presence is thought to cause cravings for that kind of food. Put simply, the presence of large numbers of fat craving bacteria in your gut, cause you to crave fat.

Therefore, in the future, with the right balance of bacteria, we could be programmed to crave certain foods, or alternatively, not crave certain fatty foods! Watch this space.

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Giant beach art created by robots

A robotic beach artist has created a method for developing giant drawings in the sand. Researchers from both Disney Research Zurich and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology have even developed the robot in such a way that it can recreate photos sent to it from a phone or tablet.

Using a rake at its rear end, the robot calculates a route across the sand before etching its pattern into it. This effectively allows the beach (as long as it is sandy) to act as a giant digitally controlled canvas.

The team are now hoping to add a number of tools to the robot to allow it to create different textures in the sand and erase previous markings.

The developer behind the idea, David Beardsley, said, “We would like to make huge sand art that amazes people, similar to the Nazca Lines in Peru.”

He and his team are certainly heading in the right direction to doing that.

To see the robot in action, click here.

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What are smart phones doing to our brains?

It is no secret that the use of technology in our every day lives has exploded in the last century. While some people choose to immerse themselves fully in technology, others are more wary. How TVs, computers and smart phones are affecting our health and wellbeing has long been debated. I always remember being told – ‘if you watch too much TV your eyes will go square’. Although there is evidence of this, and my eyes are certainly not square, we do now have increasing evidence of the effect technology has on us, good or bad.

Researchers from the UK and Switzerland have shown the repetitive use of smart phones can affect sensory processing from the hand. Greater brain activity was measured in the study group that used smart phones, as opposed to traditional push-button phones, when their thumb, index or middle-finger were touched. This is a similar response to that seen in string musicians who display greater somatosensory cortical activity in response to touch on the little fingertip compared to people who do not play string instruments.

Do we consider this as a good or bad effect on our health? Increased sensitivity (and consequently brain activity) in our fingers, due to increased use does, initially sound like a good effect. However, it does sound more wholesome when it has been achieved through playing musical instruments rather than repetitive use of a smart phone. I think the message to take home is the use of technology does affect our brains, but other activities traditional activities do too!

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New bmorians!

bmore is rapidly expanding once again and welcomes x5 new team members.Back row: Left to right Patrick Bawn - Junior copywriter Domini Du'prat - Web and digital UX designer James Thomson - Digital producer Front row: Samantha Percy - Artworker and production manager Alice Raines - Account executive, content team.

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An app that detects jaundice in newborn babies

The idea of medical or healthcare apps is not a new one. Yet, there are not many that appear to have as much real-life validity and worth than the BiliCam app. The app provides a way for parents to assess the scale of their newborn baby’s jaundice when they have left the hospital. Jaundice is common in newborn babies and usually does not need treatment. However, serious cases must be identified and treated as it can lead to brain damage.

So why is this app so good? There are two things you can be sure of when parents take a newborn baby home for this first time: 1. They will be very anxious about the baby’s health. And, possibly concerned they weren’t ready to leave the hospital quite yet. 2. Not far from the baby will be a smart phone, ready to take pictures, which they can bombard their friends Facebook pages and What’s App conversations with.

The BiliCam App uses point 2 to help alleviate the worry of point 1. Using the smart phones camera, the app takes a picture of the baby to determine the extent of jaundice. A small, coloured card is placed on the baby while the photo is taken to calibrate the app to ensure accurate results. If the baby requires further tests or treatment the parent will be warned to seek medical advice.

The name BiliCam comes from the substance bilirubin. Jaundice is caused by an increased amount of bilirubin inside the body. It should be excreted but newborn babies in particular are not always efficient at doing this. The increased levels of Bilirubin cause the characteristic yellow colour of the skin and pigmentation of the eyes.

Only time will tell how successfully the BiliCam App will prove to be!

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Flip book reinvented

Japanese artist Mou Hitotsu no Kenkyujo has used negative space to reinvent the classic flip book and so creating well-animated art. A few of his flip book are for sale on Amazon

View more of his work on his website here

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The Christmas Truce

In the spirit of fairness, it seems only right to take a look at Sainsbury’s Christmas advert. Like John Lewis, they have thrown everything they have at creating a heart-rending tear-jerker to create an emotional attachment between us and them this Christmas. Sainsbury’s advert, based on the story of the Christmas truce of 1914 is particularly topical. The timing couldn’t be better following on from the week’s World War One 100 year commemorations.

I have come across mixed responses to the advert. However, the most alarming being – ‘is that a true story? And ‘did they make that up? The Christmas truce is an amazing display of humanity during the horrors of war. It is stories like this that give you faith in humanity, and such a very important story for people to know. So if the Sainsbury’s advert has taught just one person about this – it is a good thing in my eyes.

http://youtu.be/NWF2JBb1bvM

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A new generation of cigarette advertising

You might not know what ‘vaping’ means. Maybe I am showing my naivety here, but I have to say, until this time last week, I didn’t. Despite perhaps not knowing it, we have most likely all seen people ‘vaping’ (or if you still don’t know, using an e-cigarette). Up until now this would have most likely been at the pub or in a bar. A glance across the room prompting the thought “I can’t believe they are smoking inside”, quickly followed by, “oh yes, it is an e-cigarette” has become commonplace. However, despite being available for about 10 years, it is only now that people vaping and the device itself can be shown in adverts.

Advertising cigarettes has always been a controversial issue. e-Cigarettes bring a new debate. Some people think e-cigarettes should be in the same category as conventional cigarettes and not advertised at all. But, are we advertising a healthier alternative to smoking? Or, are we encouraging people to start a new bad habit?

The first advert to be aired is for Kik e-cigarettes. It is a far cry from the original cigarette adverts for brands such as Lucky Strike, or even e-cigarette adverts such as for VIP’s. It is fair to say, though produced decades apart both use the same tactic, sexualising smoking.

The Kik advert shows a group of, apparently middle-class friends, approximately in their forties, enjoying a meal together. They are shown vaping both outside and inside while at the dining table.

I don’t believe this will encourage young people to take up smoking because it is sexualising it. It does seem to say smoking e-cigarettes is socially acceptable, I don’t believe we have decided as a society whether it is though? One thing I think we can be sure of though, more people will know what vaping means.

http://youtu.be/xIVTOdknHr8

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Is your 'smart phone' smart enough?

Is your ‘smart phone’ smart enough? If not, how would you make it smarter? With the Met reporting over 300 mobile phones are stolen every day in London, perhaps a smart phone too smart to be stolen would be a good idea. Researchers at Glasgow Caledonian University have come a step closer to this. They have developed software that can tell who is using the phone. Or, more specifically, is it you using your phone, or could it have been stolen? By understanding the unique way you use your phone, the software causes the phone to lock if it detects unusual activity. If you are the legitimate user of the phone you can confirm your identify with a password which unlocks your phone.

The software starts in ‘training mode’ – here it learns you and your phone’s routine. This includes which apps you use, which WiFi networks you login to and which signal towers you are near. It can even detect noise and light levels to record the environment you are in.

Once it has sufficient data to recognise you as the user it changes to ‘deployment mode’. If significant changes from what it considers ‘the norm’ for you are detected, it will lock the phone and require a password to unlock it.

This might seem unnecessary to the more security conscious among us whose phones’ already require PINs to unlock them. However, studies have shown that an increasing number of us are disabling this feature, finding it more of a nuisance to constantly unlock our phones. This software is smart enough to second guess the situation and determine whether a password or PIN is required.

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Do you recognise Monty?

It is almost certain that, if he isn’t already, Monty will become the country’s most famous penguin. But doesn’t he look familiar?

This is because Monty is in fact an Adélie penguin, who shot to fame on the BBC’s Frozen Planet as the criminal ‘stone-stealing’ penguin.

Previously dubbed villainous and sneaky it would seem that the Adélie penguin has had a change in reputation thanks to Monty and John Lewis!

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Is Emma Watson encouraging the slacktivists?

If you hate the word ‘feminist’ then you should watch Emma Watson’s powerful speech on gender equality for the United Nations. It might change your opinion on the word.

The aim of the speech is to promote the ‘HeForShe’ campaign, described as “a solidarity movement for gender equality that brings together one half of humanity in support of the other half of humanity, for the entirety of humanity”.

Watson believes that both men and women should stand up for one another and that gender equality is impossible to achieve if only one sex participates. The speech is an invitation to both men and boys to join the fight for gender equality. The important point of the speech is that it is not about only achieving equality for women but also for men.

However, could this be another slacktivist approach to a major social issue? Watson’s speech has gone viral and indeed raised awareness of gender inequality, but will anything happen because of it? The website itself is basic – it has a world map with the number of men supporting the campaign from each country, but doesn’t list specific issues or offer solutions.  Was there a point to such a moving speech if no action will be taken? Only time will tell.

If you wish to support this campaign then you can sign up here: http://www.heforshe.org

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Introducing: The bPhone

It’s Christmas day for Apple fans, who have waited patiently for months to see what the new iPhone will look like. Rumours have been flying around for weeks about the kinds of features the iPhone 6 will include, with NFC payments and a larger screen topping the list. But when was the last time Apple actually asked us what we want from a phone? Wouldn’t this be a much simpler way to please their audience?

We carried out this simple task in the office, and came up with a list of revolutionary new features that might just rival the iPhone 6 for innovation and user-friendliness.

 We think you’ll agree this approach to smartphone design signals a huge leap forward. Will Apple follow our lead? Watch this space.

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Video games – soon to be prescribed on the NHS?

Videos games are something you either love or hate. They undoubtedly give some people – children and adults alike – endless hours of entertainment. To others they bring with them health concerns, mainly due to the sedentary life they are seen to encourage. The launch of products such as the Nintendo Wii revolutionised video gaming.  It got the user off the sofa and physically taking part in the game. This was a step forward for the more health conscious amongst us, although, some would argue no substitute to being outside and playing the sport for real!

However, researchers in Italy have evidence of users receiving a direct health benefit from using games requiring the Nintendo Wii Balance Board. It is the specific high-intensity, task orientated exercises, necessary for the use of the Balance Board, that are beneficial to sufferers of multiple sclerosis (MS).

MS affects your central nervous system. A major symptom is having difficulties with balance; this means injuries as a result of falls are common in MS patients.

Signature Nintendo Wii games utilising the Balance Board, such as slalom skiing, require high-intensity, task orientated exercises. It is these specific exercises that have been shown to help improve the balance and movement of MS patients. Using a technique called Diffusion Tensor Imaging (DTI) the users’ brains were monitored. It showed that changes in the nerve tracts of the brain, important for balance and movement, correlated with improvements in balance. The exercises performed on the Balance Board can be tailored to the patient to improve the specific symptoms they experience.

This example of the coming together of science and technology from very different spheres could have a major impact on the lives of MS patients.

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ALS Ice Bucket Challenge – changing the future of fundraising

So far the ice bucket challenge has helped raise over $94 million for research into amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a fatal disease that attacks the nervous system. This is a phenomenal amount compared to the $2.6 million raised last year, so what's the secret and how can other charities replicate it?. According to Wikipedia, more than 1026 celebrities have taken part. There are over 653,000 videos on YouTube and 527,537 people have liked the ‘Ice Bucket Challenge’ page on Facebook. Experts have agreed that the challenge has revealed a few truths about viral fundraising, many of which will likely need to be followed in future months and years to come.

Time magazine has set out the following five steps for how fundraising will need to be done:

1. Leverage an existing phenomenon

ALS Association didn’t invent the ice bucket challenge but after seeing donations rise quickly they got behind it, inspiring both celebrities and regular people to join in by posting their videos and donating to the cause.

2. Set fun, easy-to-follow rules

By nominating your friends and family with a 24-hour time limit to donate creates the sense of urgency and spontaneity in completing the challenge.

3. Emphasise visuals and creativity

Making videos has let participants become creative and the funnier (or more famous) they are, the larger the audience will be creating more awareness of the disease.

4. Simplify donations

Being able to donate digitally either through texts or a donation page makes donating fast and easy.

5. Make the message stick

The ALS Association now need to show donors that their money is making a meaningful impact against the disease so that ongoing donations are sustained.

bmorians Alex and Paul completed their challenges today:

 

Alex Ice Bucket Challenge from bmore on Vimeo.

Paul Ice Bucket Challenge from bmore on Vimeo.

Please don’t forget to donate to the UK-based Motor Neurone Disease Association by texting ICED55 £5 (or other amount) to 70070 (only available in the UK).

Or through their website:

http://www.mndassociation.org/news-and-events/Latest+News/thank-you

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Agency news – we are proud of Sophie!

bmorian Sophie and her horse Belle claimed the British Riding Club National Horse Trials Championships a couple of weeks ago. We know how much time Sophie dedicates to both her horses so we couldn’t be more proud and happy for her. Sophie even got her picture and interview published in Horse & Hound – she’s almost famous!

Well done Sophie :)

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