A San Francisco Tech Survival Kit

 

Moving to the city is no easy feat – that’s why we’ve compiled a San Francisco Tech Survival Kit to help you make it in the city.

HOME SWEET HOME

  • HOUSING – you can’t crash on your friend’s couch forever. We recommend searching real estate resource and housing company, Trulia, to find the perfect apartment and neighborhood for you. Use Trulia’s map layers to check neighborhood amenities, commute time, local crime data and more. They even have an iMessage extension for a collaborative house search experience with your future roommates.
  • MOVING – now that you’ve signed the lease, next step is transporting your belongings to the new place. If you’re travelling a short distance, we recommend downloading Lugg, an on-demand moving and delivery service that helps you move your furniture from apartment to apartment or to your storage unit.
  • LAUNDRY – it’s been three weeks since you moved into your new apartment and you’re on your final pair of underwear. You don’t have the quarter inventory nor the energy to drag your overflowing basket down to the neighborhood laundromat. Have no fear – Rinse is here! With the Rinse app, users can schedule a pickup to have clothes dry-cleaned or washed, saving you time and energy.

FOOD

  • TAKE-OUT – whenever you’re feeling under the weather or whenever it’s inevitably raining outside, Postmates will be your go-to for food – the on-demand food delivery app runs 24/7 for all your food cravings.
  • GROCERIES – not everyone has the luxury of living near a Safeway or Trader Joe’s. Rather than heave your groceries through the public transportation chaos, consider ordering your groceries on Instacart, your friendly grocery delivery service. Using the app or website, order your regular grocery list items and an Instacart shopper will do the work and bring it straight to your door.
  • COFFEE – if you’re like us, you probably can’t survive without your morning cup of coffee. Order ahead apps from coffee stores like Starbucks are SF’s everyday heroes, especially on days when you don’t have time to wait in the treacherous coffee line.

MONEY

  • SAVING – the city is fun, but your bank account isn’t always pleased with your spending habits. If you’ve depleted your savings account, recommend switching to a newer, non-traditional bank account like Chime, which helps customers save money with the auto-save feature, and offers rewards for paying your bills and making purchases. With Chime, you can also kiss your monthly overdraft fees good-bye!
  • SPLITTING THE BILL – we all have that friend that’s always down to party but never down to pitch in. Venmo connects to your bank account and allows you to request money from your friends or pay them back after spotting you – all the cool kids are doing it.

SOCIAL

  • DRINKS – if you’re ballin’ on a budget, we recommend downloading Hooch, the $10 monthly subscription app where you are awarded one free drink per day from partnering bars.
  • MUSIC – SF has some amazing local venues and artists pass through the city constantly. To keep tabs on your favorite artists and track when they’re coming to SF, try checking SongKick or Bandsintown to start planning your next concert experience.
  • FINDING LOVE – finding love in the city can be tough. Zoosk is a dating website that not only connects you with your perfect match, but also publishes helpful dating content and advice for all your romantic woes. Other popular dating apps include Tinder, Bumble or Coffee Meets Bagel.

TRANSPORTATION

  • TRAVEL – parking is a struggle, so when public transportation is too slow, San Franciscans take to ride-sharing apps to get where they need to go, especially the money-saving carpooling features like Uber Pool or Lyft Line. Prices fluctuate and vary on each app, so the savvy San Franciscan will check both apps and choose the one that offers the best price.
  • PARKING – We don’t always drive in San Francisco, but when we do, we use the SFPark app to refill our parking meters and save us the extra trip every 2 hours.
  • COMMUTING – unless you are San Francisco royalty or have money to burn on parking daily, your commute will most likely involve public transportation of some sort. We recommend downloading the free Routesy app to check the real-time status of your bus lines.

The Mean, Green Fighting Machines Powering the Environmental Movement

To These Groups, Every Day Is Earth Day

This weekend marked the annual Earth Day celebration, where major metros around the globe showed their appreciation for Mother Nature and celebrated the groups that advocate for the environment on a regular basis. In spirit of Earth Day, we compiled a list of cool environmental and clean tech companies and innovative products that are contributing to a greener, healthier planet:

  1. Hyperloop One – One of the biggest talks of the town is Elon Musk’s Hyperloop initiative, which strives to connect major metros through high-speed tunnels powered by solar energy. Not only will the new rollout cut back on travel time for people, but it will also reduce the environmental impact of transportation by taking cars off the road. To speed up the process, Hyperloop announced they will host a race this summer awarding the engineer that can design the fastest moving pod for Hyperloop.
  2. Etsy’s DIVERTsy – Etsy, a company dedicated to running zero waste operations by 2020, has shared the customizable code called DIVERTsy, which helps the company manage waste that leaves their building. Coupled with hardware, the code measures landfill, recycling, compost, electronic materials, food scraps and other waste to give businesses an accurate sense of their output and help develop plans for minimizing waste. Etsy is setting the bar high by giving corporate buildings the responsibility of managing their waste. The software can be downloaded here.
  3. Molekule – Believe it or not, indoor air is 5x more polluted than outdoor air, and the average U.S. citizen spends most of their day indoors (around 90 percent to be more specific). Molekule is the world’s first molecular air purifier that breaks down harmful microscopic pollutants in your home, including allergens, mold, bacteria, viruses and sometimes even airborne diseases, giving you a clean, fresh breath of air.
  4. The Seabin – Powered by 12 volt submersible water pumps, the Seabin collects trash, oils and pollutants floating on the surface of our marinas, docks and commercial ports in contribution to the battle against global oceanic littering.
  5. Sense Sense is a home energy monitor that gives consumers an understanding for how much energy each of their appliances, lights and devices are expending. Once set up, Sense automatically picks up on the various devices around your home based on their wattage. Over time, the Sense monitor trains itself to learn new devices, distinguishing when someone in your household is blow-drying their hair or charging their phone. Sense customers use the device to cut down on their energy bills and conserve a valuable resource.
  6. Apana – Outside of energy, people should also be wary of their water usage, especially in times of drought. In steps Apana, an analytics service for businesses that shows how much water they’re wasting and presents strategies for cutting back on usage. According to Apana, 20-25 percent of water use is avoidable. The platform analyzes operational use patterns, identifies flaws in water infrastructure and provides actionable data on how to minimize water waste by employees.
  7. Greenpeace’s VR ExplorerGreenpeace is a NGO operating out of 40 global locations that works toward solving some of the world’s most pressing environmental dilemmas. The group recently launched a VR app called Greenpeace VR Explorer, which brings viewers face to face with major wildlife habitats like The Amazon and The Artic and presents some of the urgent climate challenges these areas face. The group plans to expand their visual storytelling this year to urge consumers to give back to their planet.
  8. Drones in the Wild – A recent trend among scientists and researchers is the use drones for conservation. Specifically, advocates use these hovering bots to monitor endangered species and help fight illegal deforesting, poaching and destruction. Animals that have been under drone operators’ watchful eyes are the rhinos, elephants and whales.
  9. Drones for Ag – Last year, farmers were given the go-ahead to implement drones in their farming operations. With drones, farmers are able to monitor their crops, scope out weeds and pests, and spray fertilizer and pesticide. The ag drone market is projected to to become a $32B market.
  10. Photovolaic Solar Technology – One of the biggest issues with traditional solar panels is their large size and appearance. Photovoltaic technology offers an alternative to these clunky panels, taking the form of sleek, see-through material that coats windows and displays. Companies innovating this space include Ubiquitous Energy, NanoFlex Power and Solar Window Technologies.

Tell us about some of your favorite environmental, clean tech companies in the comments.


It’s the End of the World as We Know It: How VR Will Transform the Way We Experience the World

Without a doubt, VR is currently one of the hottest, revolutionary technological advancements today. The concept is flashy, from the hardware to the immersive, simulated experience, and if you’ve ever put on a high-quality VR headset, you probably would agree that there’s huge potential for it beyond the entertainment world. Once it becomes more affordable and accessible to the masses, VR will lift off and disrupt commerce, transportation, education – plain and simple, it will completely transform the ways we communicate and interact with one another on a daily basis.

Of all the current applications of VR, the ones that are most striking to me are ones that aid social impact initiatives and improve psychological health because they challenge our worldviews and transform the way we actually experience life.

Social good – you have to see experience it to believe it

We’ve all heard it before: an image is worth a thousand words. But how much more impactful would it be if you actually got to step into the picture and experience it? The immersive experience of VR gives it great storytelling power and has been shown to have long-lasting psychological impact when compared to other forms of media.

Vive’s VR for Impact and Oculus’ VR for Good are among the few VR social initiatives currently driving positive change on a global level. Among the handful of social impact VR experiences, Clouds over Sidra by Within is one that follows a young Syrian refugee in Jordan as she wanders through a refugee camp. Potential donors were able to enter her world and come face-to-face with her reality. As a result, UNICEF was able to raise $3.8 billion for the cause, nearly double the amount they projected (Oculus, 2016).

Living in the city, you sometimes forget about everything that goes on in the rest of the world, both the good and the ugly. I hope that one day, VR will be used more widely as a means to come back to reality and inspire us all to become more aware of the world, feel more appreciative of where we stand and act more selflessly.

 Psychological therapy – rewiring the brain

In addition to effects on social good behavior, VR has been shown to change physical and mental experiences. The following are studies that indicate just how powerful VR has been on human perception:

  • Depression
    • Psychologists and computer scientists at the University of London and University of Barcelona studied the impact of VR on fifteen depression patients. After three weekly sessions, nine of the patients reported reduced depression symptoms, and four experienced a significant drop in the severity of their symptoms. Although the sample is small, the study exhibits the potential for VR to become a regular prescription of mental health therapy.
  • Pain
    • Doctors from the University of Washington, Seattle studied the impact of VR on perceptions of pain. Results showed that VR helped reduce psychological perceptions of burn pain for patients that played a VR game involving snow as opposed to a game about spiders.

These are just a few of the groundbreaking impacts that VR has had. While research still needs to be done around the impact of VR, the possibilities are endless when it comes to the potential positive impact of VR in society.

 

 


Astrology Meets PR: The Importance of Identity

A few years back, NASA discretely added a new zodiac sign called Ophiucus to the mix, causing 86 percent of the planet’s horoscopic labels to shift. When news spread this past September, the planet was in uproar – media felt NASA had done an injustice to society, Tumblr teens went on endless Internet rants and people began to question the bane of their existence. Despite there being no scientific support behind astrology’s link to personality traits, many people were shocked by the sudden change. Strangely enough, I was among those defensive about the shift, and even more strangely, I was in denial that I could be anything other than an Aquarius. I mean, how could you now say I’m a Capricorn if I am quirky, creative and curious just like a true Aquarius? Even my faults seemed to mirror the setbacks of the water-bearing air sign.

Being an ex-psychology major with a fascination for human thought and behavior, I began pondering why a simple, silly switch-up bothered us so much. While searching online, I came across a concept known as the Barnum effect, or a phenomenon in which people rate the personality characteristics assigned to them as highly accurate as if they were curated especially for them, despite the descriptions being vague, ambiguous and easily applicable to others. Sure, this explains why we give astrology more credit than it deserves, but the Barnum effect doesn’t explain why we feel upset when these internalized descriptors are challenged.

The truth is, these horoscope personality traits have become deeply rooted in our identities. Since we were kids, zodiac sign qualities have defined how we see ourselves and how we believe others perceive us, regardless of whether they were originally true or not. Therefore, our identity is super critical to the ways in which we communicate to others and how we communicate about ourselves to other people. What are my needs, wants and goals? What are my capabilities, strengths and weaknesses? Who am I as compared to everyone else? Although these questions seem high-level and fairly philosophical, they are important for understanding how we as individuals stand out and blend in amongst the crowd.

Similarly, having a consistent sense of identity, or brand, is important for communicating within the PR world. At ICLabs, our clients have a brand, and with that brand comes a language for how to talk about our clients with media and the public. Without a doubt, building an identifiable voice for our clients is everything. Even more imperative, however, is our ability to talk about our client’s brand with our own voice. Adding company flare is the secret sauce to PR success because it showcases our irreplaceable value as experts in our field. Identifying ourselves with a consistent PR brand allows us as an agency to provide media with incredible and original content on our clients, and offer unique perspectives and strategies to our partners. The company identity we have built also allows us to convey our thoughts in writing, be brilliant and creative problem solvers, and manage high-stress situations. Similar to how astrology brings confirmation to some people’s self-identity, our PR achievements and experiences at ICLabs confirm and mold our company branding to what it is today, and we are continuously tweaking and revising this unique identity towards perfection.

All in all, having a company brand and identity is a major key to success (shout-out to DJ Khaled), and there’s a reason why we have succeeded where other agencies might not. So laugh all you want at my petty astrological tantrum, the zodiac news prompted me to reassess and tweak my personal brand so that I can be successful moving forward. How has this new zodiac sign changed your perspective?

 


The Art and Science of Public Relations

image-for-art-and-science

“So what exactly is PR?” I have heard the question all too many times as a recent grad -- whether it come from my family, my friends, family friends, or strangers. Having studied psychology and communication at a theory-driven university, I have developed a tendency to translate human interactions, conversations, and behaviors into processes, inputs, outputs and patterns. If I enact the desired action, I will get a desired response. If I do not enact the desired action, I will get an undesired response. It follows that this is how PR works, right? Prior to working at Inner Circle Labs, my answer would have been yes. Now? It seems that PR is much, much more complex than that.

You see, PR is more than just a systematic science. There appears to be an uncharted, artistic element to being successful in this industry. Yes, much of PR is dependent upon understanding what people want and how they will react – representing a scientific element of PR. We know in this industry that if we give a reporter the scoop on a topic they’re interested in, they will more likely cover the story. If we give the reporter a story that doesn’t fall in their beat, they will most likely not cover the story. However, science can only go so far when explaining how things pan out in the PR world.

Suppose we have a reporter that regularly covers consumer technology including wearables, gadgets and robotics, and we have one client launching a new artificially intelligent robot and another client aiming to promote their fashion show event. Pitching the consumer tech reporter a fashion show story will not only waste your own valuable time, but you will also risk upsetting the reporter by showing that you didn’t do your research. However, pitching the artificially intelligent robot will multiply your chances of wowing the reporter, landing an exciting feature for the client and building a valuable media relationship. It’s the science behind success.

However, if I pitch this robot launch to that same reporter without sharing insight into why it’d be interesting for their publication, they still may not bite on the story. You can’t just give the reporter a product without any information on why it’s significant. Why should this reporter care? We as PR specialists need to transform linguistics and style to bring to the surface the most interesting and captivating elements of a story, so that reporter understands the importance to their audience. This is what some people call, art.

So, what exactly is PR? I am learning more and more each day, but after my first month as an intern, my conclusion is this: PR is the interplay between art and science; where one is no more dominant than the other. There is not always a right or wrong answer as science depicts, but it helps to have science as a guideline for making the right decisions in this industry. PR also needs that artistic craft to truly be successful in this field.