John Krafcik, CEO of Google-spin-off Waymo, used this year’s Web Summit to announce the launch of the world’s first fleet of fully self-driving cars using public roads without anyone in the driving seat. Based initially in Phoenix, the cars will be available to participants in the brand’s early rider programme in the next few months.
As exciting as Krafcik’s revelation was, however, it was overshadowed by Uber chief product officer Jeff Holden, who revealed that the mobility brand was working in partnership with NASA to create a new air-traffic control system to manage low-flying, autonomous vehicles. Holden also announced that Los Angeles would be the third test city for the Uber Elevate project’s first services, scheduled for 2020. And the cost? ‘We’ll be able to offer you an Uber air flight for the cost of an Uber X trip on the ground,’ claimed Holden. ‘Of course, for that price you’ll be moving at 150–200mph.’
US – Gossamer is a new lifestyle magazine that explores art and culture, outdoor activities, travel and food through the lens of cannabis. The biannual print magazine will be supplemented by a series of travel guides for cannabis-friendly cities in the US and an interview-based podcast. Co-founded by Verena von Pfetten and David Weiner, Gossamer is aimed at ‘discerning and affluent cannabis consumers’ who enjoy the drug but do not let it dictate their lifestyle.
As LS:N Global explored in our Cannabusiness Market report, the legalisation of cannabis in some US states is opening up new opportunities for brands and driving innovation in the market.
New York – Cult beauty brand Glossier has opened a new store devoted entirely to its new scent, Glossier You. Visitors to the store are guided by sales associates, on what the brand describes as ‘an olfactory journey’, designed to stimulate each of the five senses. The opulent interior, with its abundance of mirrored surfaces, dusky pink carpets and crimson walls made to resemble theatre curtains, has been designed as more of a showroom than a shop floor as purchases can only be made at the end of the experience.
‘I was really inspired by theatre, performance art and magic shows,’ says Emily Weiss, founder and CEO of Glossier Inc. in a press release. ‘We’re excited to bring Glossier You to life offline in a totally weird and unexpectedly luxurious way.’
In line with this idea of escapism, within travel and hospitality there have been a host of brands offering immersive experiences that cultivate a sense of theatrics.
Abu Dhabi – The Louvre Abu Dhabi, a partnership between the city, the Louvre and 16 other French museums and cultural institutions, has officially opened to the public. First announced in 2007, the institution is billed as ‘the first universal museum in the Arab world’, and will exhibit a variety of historical objects such as a prehistoric stone tool dating back to 350,000 BC alongside artworks from partner museums including Vincent van Gogh’s Self-portrait.
The museum is located on Saadiyat Island, a £14bn ($18bn, €15bn) project designed to transform the capital into a global cultural hub, and will later be joined by the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi museum, which is under construction. Oil-rich regions in the Middle East are increasingly considering ways to move away from their reliance on fossil fuels and establish themselves as key players on the global cultural stage. Read our Saudi Arabia Travel Market to find out more.
Eindhoven – Created by designer Audrey Large, life.vfx proposes a way of distorting physical objects through visual effects used in film-making.
Large argues that the ubiquity of screens and digital content is already creating a mixed reality, in which computer-generated images are superimposed onto physical environments. She suggests that by designing and editing physical objects as if they were part of the digital realm, we could create a more consistent experience of reality. ‘The awkwardness of our times is felt because we keep on designing objects and spaces as navigation between two physical and digital worlds while we are experiencing them as one,’ she explains.
Large brings the idea to life through the Mocaps.vfx series of artefacts. Each object in the series started as an everyday product such as a fork or a vase, before being repeatedly distorted to reflect the gestures of its user. The movements were measured through motion capture and fed back into the software to transform the original shape. The project is a comment on the increasingly blurred nature of our reality and proposes that we create unified design principles for the physical and the virtual worlds.