Posts tagged with "Netflix series"

To promote ‘Stranger Things,’ these firms developed an app that lets you order a pizza with your mind

June 13, 2022

At the start of the fourth season of the popular Netflix series, “Stranger Things,” the character Eleven has lost her telekinetic abilities. But, thanks to some small-business innovation, viewers can now channel her powers for a vital task: ordering a pizza. 

Indeed, Inc. reports, working with ad agency,  WorkInProgress,  and  content creation company,  Unit9, Domino’s released  a new “mind-ordering” app  in partnership with Netflix to promote the show’s May 27 season premiere.

The app enables users with a Domino’s account to order a pizza simply by moving their head while looking at the screen. There’s also a “Just for Fun” mode where users can explore the show’s Hawkins National Lab and find Stranger Things Easter eggs.

The head movements necessary to place an order mimic those that Eleven (played by Millie Bobby Brown) makes when using her mind powers: App users tilt their heads down and stare at an object to select it—and flick their heads to the side to dismiss it. The promotional campaign also includes a three-minute “how it started” video featuring characters from the sci-fi series; as well as a page on Domino’s website designed by WorkInProgress with instructions for using the app.

“Domino’s has a history of innovative ways of ordering,” says Dan Corken, director of Interactive Production at Boulder, Colorado-based WorkInProgress. The food giant previously has introduced ordering through Amazon Alexa and Google Home, as well as by sending a text with the pizza slice emoji. “We’re always looking for unique, fun, and technical ways to push the boundaries of ordering,” he says.

To create the app, WorkInProgress and London-based Unit9 started with already-existing facial recognition software. They then developed custom logic for the software, so that the app could recognize Eleven’s specific gestures; and employed testers to refine its accuracy.

“There were quite a lot of complexities on our side in terms of tracking the features whilst also looking at the position of the phone, because it’s a 360-degree experience,” says Shelley Adamson, creative director at Unit9.

If you’re interested in developing a novel app to promote your business, that process might seem daunting. But, according to Derek Riley, the electrical engineering and computer science program director at Milwaukee School of Engineering, there are a variety of ready-made facial recognition software programs, and adding them to an app isn’t significantly more complicated than introducing any other feature.

Adding facial recognition technology to an app can become more complex, however, if you decide to first customize the software, as the Domino’s app team did, which Riley says requires access to and knowledge of its code. “That improvement step is [also] the expensive part,” he adds. Domino’s declined to provide any information on the costs of the campaign.

Research contact: @Inc

YouTuber MrBeast recreates ‘Squid Game’ with $456,000 top prize

November 30, 2021

Hundreds of cash-strapped “Squid Game” fans recently competed in a real-life recreation of the dystopian smash-hit Netflix series for a $456,000 cash prize, reports the New York Post.

Popular YouTuber MrBeast, who boasts 81.5 million subscribers, said he spent US$3.5 million on the elaborate reenactment, in which 456 contestants battled for the jackpot.

The social media star, whose real name is Jimmy Donaldson, said on Twitter that it cost him around $2 million to build and produce, while he spent around $1.5 million on prizes.

In addition to the six-figure first prize, Donaldson doled out $2,000 to every competitor and $10,000 to the runner-up.

The recreation included the same Korean children’s games played in “Squid Game,” such as Red Light, Green Light; marbles and tug-of-war —played within huge sets that took weeks to construct.

However, there was one major difference from the real-life show: No contestants were harmed.

Instead, players were rigged with “wireless explosives” packed with fake blood that burst open when a player was eliminated. In the tug-of-war and glass bridge challenges, losing contestants fell into a foam pit rather than plummeting to their deaths.

Yet, true to form, the real-life “Squid Game” contestants were seen in footage of the game trembling as they tried to carve shapes out of honeycomb in the “dalgona challenge.”

According to the Post, the “Squid Game” reenactment isn’t the first time Donaldson has pulled off an extravagant stunt like this for his YouTube channel. Donaldson is famed for offering outlandish prizes to his online followers willing to compete in absurd challenges, such as when contestants stood in a circle for 12 days for $500,000 cash.

The social media sensation was the second-highest paid YouTube star in 2020—earning about $24 million and garnering some 3 billion views, according to Forbes.

But his latest video has attracted harsh criticism from viewers who slammed Donaldson for reenacting a game about rich people exploiting the poor for their macabre viewing pleasure.

Finally, in the latest, stunning development kickstarted by the original Netflix series, the stunt video was released just a day after a smuggler who sold copies of “Squid Game” in North Korea was sentenced to death by firing squad.

Research contact: @nypost

Holding court: ‘The Crown’ will return on Netflix for a sixth and final season

July 13, 2020

Long live the Queen! Not only is Queen Elizabeth II the longest-serving British monarch; but her on-screen reign in the smash hit Netflix series, The Crown, also has been extended to a sixth season by writer and producer Peter Morgan.

According to a report by Deadline, Morgan has changed his mind about bringing the curtain down on the popular show after five seasons, saying, “As we started to discuss the storylines for Series 5, it soon became clear that in order to do justice to the richness and complexity of the story we should go back to the original plan and do six seasons. To be clear, Series 6 will not bring us any closer to present-day—it will simply enable us to cover the same period in greater detail.”

The change of heart comes just six months after Netflix announced that Season 5 would be the last. It means that the new Queen Elizabeth II, Imelda Staunton, will follow her predecessors in filming two series — as will Lesley Manville, who was last week confirmed as Princess Margaret.

Season 6 will take the story up to the early 2000s, meaning we won’t see the likes of Meghan Markle become part of future storylines after she married Prince Harry in 2018.

Sources always said that Morgan would write six seasons, and this idea was further cemented when he signed an overall deal with Netflix last year.

Furthermore, Deadline notes, six seasons has long been Netflix Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos’ ambition for the Left Bank Pictures show.

Cindy Holland, vice president of Original Content at Netflix said: “The Crown keeps raising the bar with each new season. We can’t wait for audiences to see the upcoming fourth season, and we’re proud to support Peter’s vision and the phenomenal cast and crew for a sixth and final season.”

The Crown’s fourth series, starring Olivia Colman on the throne, will premiere later this year after wrapping just before the coronavirus pandemic swept through British TV production

Research contact: @DEADLINE

What’s with all of the decluttering?

January 17, 2019

Healthcare. Gun control. Privacy. Global warming. At a time when most major issues are out of our control, Americans have focused on the pressing need for decluttering. If we cannot fix the world, at least we can bring some order to our own small parts of it.

It began back in 2014, with a manifesto by a professional organizer based in Japan—“The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up”—and it has built to a cultural climax with the hit Netflix series, “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo.”

And while, The Chicago Tribune reports, Marie Kondo’s minimalist manifesto is a phenomenon unto itself, with Twitter testimonials (#tidying, #konmari) and hundreds of YouTube videos, the author also has helped to espouse a broader societal cleaning spree: Your family, friends, and neighbors are accepting the 40 Bags in 40 Days (#40bagsin40days on Twitter) clutter-removal challenge—which runs from March 6 through April 20 this year.

They are listening to Graham Hill’s TED Talk (“Less Stuff, More Happiness,” with 4.4 million views and counting), posting photos of dumped junk on Instagram, and snapping up popular get-rid-of-it guides targeting minimalists (“The Joy of Less” by Francine Jay).

“The whole decluttering thing is a huge trend right now,” Kristin Collins, 40, of Raleigh, North Carolina, told the Tribune. She has been on a self-described clutter reduction “bender” for the last few years. “It’s what everyone’s talking about.”

Collins, a communications professional who lives with her husband and their nine-year-old daughter, told the news outlet that she doesn’t even have to purchase kid clutter; it comes to her. “Birthday parties (mean) piles of presents, and there’s treasure boxes at school, and they come home with all these cheap junky toys and goody bags, and then grandparents are shipping lots of cheap stuff from Walmart that breaks in the first two weeks and scatters on your floor. I feel like we’re at a point where it’s reaching a critical mass and people are just losing their minds

How did decluttering rise through the ranks of the American self-improvement agenda?

In a pioneering 2001-2005 University of California at Los Angeles study that sent researchers into the homes of 32 middle-class families to carefully chronicle their possessions, researchers found refrigerators covered with magnets, photos, calendars, memos, and kids’ art; common spaces full of toys; shelves stuffed to overflowing with DVDs, books; and mementos; and garages so full of boxes, bins and rejected furniture that there was no room left for cars.

The researchers began their report on “The Clutter Culture,” by describing the value system of the home owners: “Get stuff. Buy stuff. Get more of it. Keep that, too. Display it all, and proudly.”

“One thing that was really striking to everybody that worked on this study was just how much of a clutter crisis our families are facing right now,” Darby Saxbe, now a professor of Psychology at the University of Southern California, told the Chicago Tribune. “They were surrounded by stuff to the point where it seemed emotionally and physically stressful and taxing for them.”

Saxbe traces the clutter buildup, in part, to unprecedented access to deeply discounted consumer goods.

“We’ve got Walmart, where you can buy anything for $10, and we’ve become used to this very acquisitive style, where if you can’t find your stapler, you just go buy another stapler,” she said “I was just reading the ‘Little House on the Prairie’ books with my daughter, and if they wanted a doll, for example, they had to make it, and it was incredibly labor-intensive.”

Ergo, the success of Kondo’s book, which was a best-seller in Japan and Germany before hitting the U.S. market. The book—which is part cleaning memoir, part decluttering how-to—centers on the author’s personal “revelation” that our possessions, themselves, create stress. As a young girl, she learned to cull them mercilessly, keeping only those things that brought her joy. She built a system of decluttering based on that insight, as well as a business.

In a true Kondo household, every object has its place and is returned to it religiously after it is used. Kondo makes the remarkable — and very seductive — claim that no one who has completed her private tidying course, which involves a one-time, full-home purge, has rebounded into disarray. No one.

“This whole Marie Kondo thing has changed my life,” Jamie Gutfreund, the global chief marketing officer at the global digital agency Wunderman, told the Tribune.”Everybody who knows me right now is so tired of me talking about it, because I feel so much better,” Gutfreund says. “I really feel so much better. I (used to) lose my glasses every day. The whole thing is, you have to respect your items, and you have to put them in the places where they’re supposed to go. So now I’m putting my glasses where they’re supposed to go, and I don’t lose them — funny! I probably gained 20 minutes a day.”

There’s also an emotional aspect to decluttering, and for some a spiritual one. Like meditation and yoga, decluttering appeals to overscheduled Americans seeking calm and focus, Gutfreund says.

And that’s the key to the decluttering revolution—that sense of calm and control within the turbulence that characterizes our current society.

“I am the opposite of a neat freak — I’ve always been a messy person,” Collins says. “But even I just feel a sense of calm when there’s not stuff piled in every corner of my house.”

Research contact: @Marie Kondo