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The latest news from Business Insider

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    The Insider Picks team writes about stuff we think you'll like. Business Insider has affiliate partnerships, so we get a share of the revenue from your purchase.

    raise main

    • Few of us ever use all the gift cards we receive. Instead of letting them go to waste, you can sell them for free on an online marketplace called Raise.
    • You'll be able to set your own selling price, and after Raise takes a 15% commission from the sale, the rest of the money is yours. 
    • You can also buy discounted gift cards to the places you really want. They're shipped to you for free or made available in your account instantly. 
    • The well-designed website decreases your gift card clutter and helps you spend your money more productively. 

    There's a drawer in my house that's unofficially known as the Gift Card Graveyard: It's where all the gift cards we've received over the years go to die. On the off chance we remember we have a gift card for that coffee chain we haven't visited in years, it attracts some attention, but for the most part it remains untouched and hundreds of dollars go to waste. 

    Gift cards aren't useless. They're easy, last-minute gifts for anyone in your life and a convenient way to pay at your favorite stores. The problem, however, is when you receive a gift card for a store, restaurant, or website that you don't intend on visiting and is of no use to you. 

    A website called Raise is the best way to get rid of your Gift Card Graveyard and make some extra money, with little effort. Raise is an online marketplace where you can sell your unwanted gift cards for cash at whatever price you choose and buy discounted gift cards to the places where you actually shop. 

    Here's how Raise works

    To sell a card:Visit the Sell page and enter the name of the store. You'll be taken to a page that looks like the below, where you'll enter all your gift card information and set your selling price.

    It's free to list a card, but once it sells, Raise will take a 15% commission from the selling price. Raise tells you what your total earnings will be after the commission cut, so you know exactly what to expect. 

    After you submit your listing, it takes up to 24 hours for the gift card to be verified and approved. Once it's sold, you can get paid out through three different methods: ACH Direct Deposit, PayPal, or check ($30 fee).

    raise desktop sell listing

    To buy a card: Visit the Buy page and search for your desired store, or filter by price, category, and sale specials. Raise offers thousands of brands that you shop regularly, including Target, Macy's, Nordstrom, Wayfair, Sephora, Airbnb, Starbucks, and Chipotle. 

    If you don't see a price you like, you can set up Brand Alerts that will notify you when a card in your desired price and discount range is available. 

    Physical gift cards are shipped to you for free in three to 14 business days, while most electronic gift cards are delivered instantly (processing can take up to 24 hours). 

    You can buy and sell with confidence because of Raise's one-year money-back guarantee. 

    Every order is backed for one year after the purchase. Raise will cover: 

    • Cards that are not active
    • Cards with an inaccurate balance
    • Cards delivered as a different brand than ordered
    • Physical cards not received within 30 days from the date of purchase

    Other than the desktop site, Raise also has iOS and Android apps, which let you instantly use your gift cards online or in-store through the Raise Wallet. 

    Since 2013, Raise has attracted more than 2 million buyers and sellers, and saved its users a total of $150 million. Though the savings on each gift card might seem minimal, the platform is still a smart way to find cash in unexpected places and save money where it matters. 

    Buy and sell gift cards at Raise here

    SEE ALSO: 13 easy, legitimate ways to make extra money this month — that you probably haven't considered yet

    Join the conversation about this story »


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    35 big tech predictions for 2018Technology is increasingly disrupting every part of our daily lives.

    Smart speakers and voice assistants let us interact with our homes and with retailers in new and seamless ways.

    Smartphones are taking over as the dominant shopping device.

    Viewers continue to move away from traditional TV toward digital platforms.

    And the list is growing.

    Nearly every industry has been disrupted by digital technologies over the past 10 years. And in 2018, we expect to see more transformative developments affect our businesses, careers, and lives.

    Business Insider Intelligence, Business Insider's premium research service, has put together a list of 35 Big Tech Predictions for 2018 across Apps and Platforms, Digital Media, Payments, Internet of Things, E-Commerce, Fintech, and Transportation & Logistics. Some of these major predictions include:

    • Cryptocurrencies will become more widely accepted
    • Google and Apple will challenge Amazon in the smart speaker space
    • The resurgence of the VR market
    • The real self-driving car race will begin
    • Drone regulations will relax
    • Alibaba’s international expansion
    • Gen Z will become a major focal point for media companies and advertisers
    • Payment security will become paramount
    • Smart home devices will take off

    This comprehensive list of 35 predictions can be yours for free today. As an added bonus, you will gain immediate access to our exclusive free newsletter, Business Insider Intelligence Daily.

    To get your copy of this FREE report, simply click here.

    Join the conversation about this story »


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    This is a preview of a research report from Business Insider Intelligence, Business Insider's premium research service. To learn more about Business Insider Intelligence, click here.

    As headlines like "Amazon Is Secretly Becoming a Bank" and "Google Wants to Be a Bank Now" increasingly crop up in the news, tech giants are coming into the spotlight as the next potential payments disruptors.

    Millennials Trust Tech Payments

    And with these firms' broad reach and hefty resources, the possibility that they'll descend on financial services is a hard narrative to shy away from. To mitigate potential losses under this scenario, traditional players will have to grasp not only the level of the threat, but also which segments of the financial industry are most at risk of disruption.

    Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon, and Microsoft, collectively known as GAFAM, are already active investors in the payments industry, and they're slowly encroaching on legacy providers' core offerings. Each of these five companies has introduced features and offerings that have the potential to disrupt specific parts of the banking system. And we expect a plethora of additional offerings to hit the market as these companies look to build out their ecosystems.

    However, it remains unlikely that any of these firms will become full-blown banks or entirely upend incumbents, due to regulatory barriers and the entrenched positions of big banks. Moreover, consumers still trust traditional firms first and foremost with their financial data. That means these companies are far more likely to rattle the cages of incumbents than they are to cause their total demise. That said, these companies have a proven capacity to revolutionize industries, making their entry into payments critical to watch for legacy players, especially as their moves demonstrate an intent to be a disruptive force in the industry.

    In this report, Business Insider Intelligence analyzes the current impact GAFAM is having on the financial services industry, and the strengths and weaknesses of each firm's position in payments. We also discuss the barriers these companies face as they push deeper into financial services, as well as which aspects of a bank’s core business provide the biggest opportunities for the new players. Lastly, we assess these companies' future potential in payments and the broader financial services industry, and examine ways incumbents can manage the threat.

    Here are some of the key takeaways: 

    • GAFAM has been actively encroaching on the payments space. This includes offering mobile wallets for in-store and online payments, peer-to-peer money transfer services, and even loans for small- and medium-sized businesses. 
    • These firms' broad reach and hefty resources have put them in a strong position to take on legacy players. GAFAM has products that have been adopted by millions of users, and in some cases, billions. They also have access to a tremendous amount of capital — Apple, Microsoft, and Google had over $400 billion combined in cash at the end of 2016.
    • However, these firms have to overcome major barriers to compete against legacy players, which includes regulation and trust. For example, 60% of respondents to a Business Insider Intelligence survey stated that they trust their bank most to provide them financial services.
    •  As a result of these barriers, it's more likely that GAFAM will make a dent in very specific segments of the financial services industry rather than completely disrupt it. 

    In full, the report:

    • Explains what GAFAM's done to place themselves in a position to be the next potential payments disruptors.
    • Breaks down the strengths and weaknesses of each company as it relates to their ability to build out an extensive financial ecosystem. 
    • Looks at the potential barriers that could limit GAFAM's ability to capture a significant share of the payments industry from traditional players. 
    • Identifies what strategies legacy players will have to deploy to mitigate the threat by these tech giants.

     

    Join the conversation about this story »


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    trump christmas

    • President Donald Trump challenged a seven-year-old girl's belief in Santa Claus on Monday night.
    • "Are you still a believer in Santa Claus," Trump asked. "[Because] at seven, it's marginal, right?"
    • The girl told the Post and Courier that she still believes in Santa, and that she's shocked she spoke to the president.

    The seven-year-old girl who spoke to President Donald Trump about Santa Claus Monday night says she still believes in Father Christmas.

    On Christmas Eve, Trump answered phone calls made by children to CONAD, a switchboard where members of the North American Aerospace Defense Command pretend to tell callers about Santa's whereabouts.

    One exchange — where Trump challenged a girl's belief in Santa Claus — went viral.

    "Are you still a believer in Santa Claus," Trump asked. "[Because] at seven, it's marginal, right?"

    Read more:Trump challenges 7-year-old kid's belief in Santa during Christmas Eve phone calls

    The Charleston, South Carolina-based Post and Courier caught up with Collman Lloyd, the seven-year-old caller in that exchange.

    She said she didn't know what the word "marginal" meant and still believed in Santa.

    Lloyd also said she was stunned that she was able to speak to the president.

    "I was like, 'wow.' I was shocked," she said. "It wasn’t really (nerve-wracking), I just had to think of what the truth was."

    Lloyd found a wrapped American Girl doll under the Christmas tree, according to the Post and Courier's report.

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: 6 airline industry secrets that will help you fly like a pro this holiday season


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    Growth Regtech Firms

    This is a preview of a research report from Business Insider Intelligence, Business Insider's premium research service. To learn more about Business Insider Intelligence, click here.

    Regtech solutions seemed to offer the solution to financial institutions' (FIs) compliance woes when they first came to prominence around 24 months ago, gaining support from regulators and investors alike. 

    However, many of the companies offering these solutions haven't scaled as might have been expected from the initial hype, and have failed to follow the trajectory of firms in other segments of fintech.

    This unexpected inertia in the regtech industry is likely to resolve over the next 12-18 months as other factors come into play that shift FIs' approach to regtech solutions, and as the companies offering them evolve. External factors driving this change include regulatory support of regtech solutions, and consultancies offering more help to FIs wanting to sift through solutions. Startups offering regtech solutions will also play a part by partnering with each other, forming industry organizations, and taking advantage of new opportunities.

    This report from Business Insider Intelligence, Business Insider's premium research service, provides a brief overview of the current global financial regulatory compliance landscape, and the regtech industry's position within it. It then details the major drivers that will shift the dial on FIs' adoption of regtech over the next 12-18 months, as well as those that will propel startups offering regtech solutions to new heights. Finally, it outlines what impact these drivers will have, and gives insight into what the global regtech industry will look like by 2020.

    Here are some of the key takeaways:

    • Regulatory compliance is still a significant issue faced by global FIs. In 2018 alone, EU regulations MiFID II and PSD2 have come into effect, bringing with them huge handbooks and gigantic reporting requirements. 
    • Regtech startups boast solutions that can ease FIs' compliance burden — but they are struggling to scale. 
    • Some changes expected to drive greater adoption of these solutions in the next 12 to 18 months are: the ongoing evolution of startups' business models, increasing numbers of partnerships, regulators' promotion of regtech, changing attitudes to the segment among FIs, and consultancies helping to facilitate adoption.
    • FIs will actively be using solutions from regtech startups by 2020, and startups will be collaborating in an organized fashion with each other and with FIs. Global regulators will have adopted regtech themselves, while continuing to act as advocates for the industry.

    In full, the report:

    • Reviews the major changes expected to hit the regtech segment in the next 12 to 18 months.
    • Examines the drivers behind these changes, and how the proliferation of regtech will improve compliance for FIs.
    • Provides our view on what the future of the regtech industry looks like through 2020.

       

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    bride outdoor wedding bouquet

    • Amanda McLearn-Montz and Ian Buchta can no longer have their wedding at Cabrillo National Monument Park on December 29.
    • The federal government shutdown on December 22 over border wall funding forced the closure of all national parks, including their wedding venue.
    • The couple found a church to host their wedding ceremony on December 29, but they're disappointed they can't go through with their original plan.

    Amanda McLearn-Montz had all the details for her wedding planned out. It would be an intimate gathering — just around 20 people — and it would be on the cliffs of Cabrillo National Monument Park, overlooking the ocean she and her fiancé both loved. The date was set: December 29.

    And then the government shut down.

    On December 22, after President Donald Trump rejected Congress's bill to fund the government for another year, the federal government stopped functioning. The shutdown includes national parks, so San Diego's Cabrillo National Monument Park was closed to visitors and the park rangers working there were sent home.

    The news was particularly bad for McLearn-Montz and her fiancé, Ian Buchta, who had to find somewhere else to get married.

    "During all of this, I've felt stressed and disappointed," McLearn-Montz told INSIDER in an email. "I'm still disappointed we will not exchange vows at Cabrillo. Cabrillo is a beautiful place; its gorgeous cliffs and wildlife fit my fiancé and me so well and would have been the perfect setting to make our promises to each other. But we're making the most of it."

    Cabrillo National Monument park san diego

    McLearn-Montz said she first heard their wedding plans would be ruined on December 20, when a park ranger working at Cabrillo called her and warned that a government shutdown might close down the park.

    "We watched the news anxiously the next day and a half. We heard the update about the government's official shutdown and waited for the ranger's call," she said. "On Saturday morning (Dec 22nd and one week before our wedding), the ranger called and said the park would definitely be closed. He apologized and wished us well. We were heartbroken but knew our wedding would still happen, despite the relocation."

    The only way the couple's wedding could still happen at Cabrillo National Monument Park on December 29 would be if President Trump sign's Congress's funding bill before then. That's unlikely to happen. The president trashed the bill because it doesn't include $5 billion he wants to help fund a wall of steel slats along the border between the United States and Mexico. And Congress doesn't seem interested in writing a new funding bill: It recessed for the holidays and isn't scheduled to resume until the new year, when the 116th Congress is sworn in. (Some states are using their own money to keep a selection of parks open, but Cabrillo National Monument Park isn't one of them.)

    runaway bride

    McLearn-Montz's parents came up with a backup plan. They found a church where they could do the ceremony. And the couple had a restaurant with an ocean view booked for a reception, so they could still take the photos they wanted.

    "We plan to do the ceremony [at the church] unless Cabrillo magically reopens," McLearn-Montz said. "We will still do dinner at the restaurant on the bay and our photographer graciously said he would come to dinner so we can still get the gorgeous ocean wedding pictures."

    But the couple is still disappointed they couldn't get the wedding they planned. The ocean is an important place for both of them, and they chose Cabrillo National Monument Park because of its coastal view.

    anonymous bride

    "[My fiancé] worked as a marine science teacher for two years, so the ocean is an important place to him and he would have loved to incorporate it into his wedding," McLearn-Montz said. "But he keeps reminding me that he doesn’t care what happens on the 29th as long as he gets to marry me. I think he’d marry me in a dingy basement as long as he knew we would get to spend the rest of our lives together."

    And even though the government will likely be shut down through the new year, they're making the most of it.

    "Despite my disappointment, I know I'll marry the love of my life on Saturday, December 29, 2018. And it'll be the happiest day of my life whether I'm on cliffs overlooking the ocean or in a Christmas decorated church," she said. "The most important thing is that I get to marry my best friend."

    Visit INSIDER's homepage for more.

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: The true story behind the name 'Black Friday' is much darker than you may have thought


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    This is a preview of The Digital Media Forecast Book from Business Insider Intelligence. Current subscribers can read the report here.

    Media consumption has changed rapidly over the past decade, with digital increasingly claiming a larger share of the daily time spent with media. Increased mobile usage is driving much of the growth in digital time spent, as smartphones become more powerful and capable of handling tasks otherwise completed on desktop.

    Digital Media Forecast Book 2018

    Meanwhile, cord-cutting and cord-shaving will continue as consumers seek more affordable alternatives to traditional pay-TV. Marketers need to understand the underlying consumer trends that are driving billions of dollars in global advertising, and how those behaviors are likely to play out in the near term.

    In this three-part forecast book, Business Insider Intelligence forecasts how much time users spend consuming each format as we approach peak media, and how those changes reflect how advertising dollars are spent globally and in the US.

     

    Join the conversation about this story »


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    car accident iphone

    • iCloud turned photos of a woman's car crash into a cheery video with the Vengaboys song "We Like to Party!" playing over it.
    • The video went viral on Twitter. It's morbidly hilarious.
    • "I took it as a sign of the universe trolling me," the woman told INSIDER.

    On Christmas Eve, Karla, a woman living in Los Angeles, got into a car crash. She took photos of the damage to her car and videos of herself describing what happened, then put them in a folder for an insurance claim.

    She tried to share the folder with her dad, but accidentally hit the "slideshow" button instead of the "copy iCloud link" button. iCloud turned the images into a video. As a backdrop, it used the upbeat late 1990s hit "We Like to Party!" by the Vengaboys.

    "We like to party!" the refrain goes, played over Karla's testimony about the accident. Karla posted the video to Twitter, where it went viral.

    "I took it as a sign of the universe trolling me," Karla told INSIDER in a Twitter direct message.

    Karla told INSIDER she knew the song has been used as a meme. She purchased it months ago, but was bewildered that iCloud chose it as the soundtrack for her car crash.

    "I have no idea why out of all of my songs in my phone it chose that. So I just thought it was ironic that such a party song would be background music to a really sucky situation," she said. "I posted it on Twitter thinking just my friends were going to see how ridiculous it was and it went viral."

    People were shocked by the song's horns in particular. No one was hurt in the crash, Karla said, but the combination between the song and horns gave the video a grim humor.

    "It's hilarious how when the damage is shown on the car the two horns in the song start blaring," Karla said. "I just had to show the irony of my misfortunes with such an iconic song blasting in the background!"

    Visit INSIDER's homepage for more.

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: I'm a diehard iPhone user who switched to Android for a week — here's what I loved and hated about the Google Pixel 3 XL


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    Keep your friends close and your enemies closer. That’s the strategy e-tailers will have to adopt if they want to compete with Amazon. To fight back against the e-commerce giant’s expanding dominance, other online retailers must understand exactly why and how customers are buying on Amazon — and which aspects of the Amazon shopping experience they can incorporate into their own strategic frameworks to win back customers.

    Why Amazon First

    Business Insider Intelligence, Business Insider’s premium research service, has obtained exclusive survey data to give e-tailers the tools to figure out how to do just that with its latest Enterprise Edge Report: The Amazon Commerce Competitive Edge Report.

    Enterprise Edge Reports are the very best research Business Insider Intelligence has to offer in terms of actionable recommendations and proprietary data, and they are only available to Enterprise clients.

    Business Insider Intelligence fielded the Amazon study to members of its proprietary panel in March 2018, reaching over 1,000 US consumers – primarily hand-picked digital professionals and early-adopters – to gather their insights on Amazon’s role in the online shopping experience.

    In full, the study:

    • Uses exclusive survey data to analyze the factors behind Amazon’s success with consumers.
    • Segments three types of Amazon customers that e-tailers should be targeting.
    • Shares strategies on how e-tailers can attract shoppers at key moments.

    First, why is Amazon so popular?

    Amazon is ubiquitous. In fact, a whopping 94% of those surveyed said they’d made a purchase on the site in the last twelve months. And of those who did, the vast majority believed Amazon’s customer experience was simply better than its leading competitors’ — specifically eBay, Walmart, Best Buy, and Target.

    The biggest contributor to Amazon’s superior experience? Free shipping, of course. According to Amazon’s 2017 annual report, the company actually spent $21.7 billion last year covering customers’ shipping costs, a number that’s been compounding over the past few years.

    Not only is free shipping included for all Prime members as part of their subscriptions but, of all e-tailers listed in the survey, Amazon also offers the lowest minimum order value for non-subscription members to qualify for the perk (just $25). The pervasiveness of free (and fast) shipping is steadily heightening customer expectations for the online shopping experience — and forcing competitors to offer similar programs and benefits.

    Who exactly is shopping on Amazon?

    The survey results showed that across generations for a large minority of respondents, Amazon is a standard part of their typical shopping process. Nearly a third (32%) of respondents said they begin their online shopping process on Amazon. Of those who do start their journeys elsewhere, 100% ended up purchasing something from Amazon at some point over the last 12 months.

    Based on the trends in responses, Business Insider Intelligence segmented out three different types of Amazon shoppers, each with unique implications for how competitors could evolve their strategies:

    • Amazon loyalists: This group of consumers is most committed to shopping on Amazon. E-tailers must understand what has made Amazon their default experience — and how they could be pried away.
    • Comparison shoppers: This consumer segment looks at other sites before ultimately completing a purchase with Amazon, which could allow e-tailers to find success at the bottom of the purchase funnel. E-tailers should focus on what they can do more of to steal sales away at the end of the purchasing process.
    • Open-search shoppers: These consumers start their online product search away from Amazon, often with specific reasons including what they’re looking for and why they’re not looking on Amazon. Other e-tailers have the opportunity to attract these shoppers from the beginning of the purchase funnel — keeping them from ever venturing to Amazon.

    Want to learn more?

    Business Insider Intelligence has compiled the complete survey findings into the four-part Amazon Commerce Competitive Edge Report, which dives deeper into each of these consumer segments to give e-tailers an intricate understanding of Amazon’s role in their purchasing processes.

    The report presents actionable strategies for retail strategists and executives to zero in on three individual consumer segments at critical shopping moments, and empower them to win sales in an Amazon-dominated world.

    Join the conversation about this story »


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    The Insider Picks team writes about stuff we think you'll like. Business Insider has affiliate partnerships, so we get a share of the revenue from your purchase.

    51oeUypy0CL._SL1000_

    • For personal luxuries, I'm pretty cheap. But getting the seemingly ridiculous $150 Philips Hue White Ambiance Starter Kit has actually improved my quality of life.
    • You can control all your Philips Hue bulbs by an app or by voice using Amazon Alexa, Apple HomeKit, or Google Assistant. 
    • The app lets you set schedules so lights automatically come on at any time of the day and for any specific need (reading, focus, relaxation, etc).
    • If you love ambiance, you will love these. 

    I am probably more surprised to find myself writing a story about how wonderful expensive light bulbs are than you are to find yourself reading it.

    As someone who almost exclusively subsisted off of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in college without complaint, I can tell you I’m not exactly a high maintenance person. In fact, where my needs are concerned, I’m pretty cheap. I moved myself into my first post-grad apartment using suitcases and Uber pools.

    But, I recently got the Philips White Ambiance Starter Kit (currently $144 on Amazon) in a bid to mitigate the many annoyances I had gotten used to living around rather than solving. When you interact with slightly-too-short phone cords and mismatched Tupperware every day, the little things start to add up.

    The Philips White Ambiance Starter Kit may seem like a ridiculous, unjustifiable cost, but they're the best upgrade I've made to my apartment all year. They just make life easier and better.

    Basically, the kit is made up of four Alexa-compatible, smart light bulbs with many light variations. The kit I got includes four A19 LED bulbs and a Philips bridge (which connects it all). And though the upfront cost is high, it's nice to note that each bridge should be able to control up to 50 lights — so you won’t have to buy that most expensive piece of tech again if you want to add more Philips accessories to your home to synchronize. You can just buy the (comparatively) much cheaper bulbs

    Installation is as easy as screwing in the light bulbs, downloading the Hue app, and pairing the bulbs to your Hue Bridge (which is included). It took me all of five minutes.

    From there, you can control your lights from the app or just by voice control using Alexa, Apple HomeKit, or Google Assistant, and you can set schedules in the app for things like waking up in the morning, going to sleep at night, or making it seem like somebody's home when you're out of town for the weekend.

    You can also adjust them to very specific needs: energize, read, focus, and relax. And, as you might have guessed given the name “White Ambiance,” you can play with 50,000 shades of white light. If you love anything even remotely “atmospheric,” you will love these, and they are worth it.

    61WvRqzZ2bL._SL1000_

    There are many practical implications of these features for lots of different people, but for me, it made getting up in the morning easier, made me more relaxed, and made me enjoy and love my living space more.

    It fixes a common small apartment annoyance; My room has one master switch, so either everything is on or everything is off, unless you use their individual switches. But since my room is small, most outlets are covered by furniture. Having to shut the master switch off to control the lights at the expense of my Amazon Echo and fail-safe alarm weren’t options, so virtually every night I would have to cram my hand behind my dresser to click the light off. I can’t explain how nice it is to be able to control the lights from an app or by voice commands — even dimming.

    It also means that I can be in my space for virtually every mood — I can use bright lights for reading, and varied levels of dimmed for activities like relaxing, watching a movie, or lulling myself to sleep.

    61C5Mr2tPfL._SL1000_

    I don’t get a ton of natural light in the heart of NYC, and I was missing the little joy of waking up to sunlight. I set a schedule in the app, though, and now I wake up to my favorite type of warm light every morning at the same time. It actually puts me in a better mood. And it’s nice to have that be the first thing I notice rather than just the Alexa alarm.

    And since it makes waking up early feel more natural (and much less gloomy), I’ve felt better about getting up early for workouts. I still rely on (healthy) pre-workout to actually get me going, but the mimicked sunlight gets me out of bed much more consistently.

    So, all in all, even though these light bulbs are definitely more expensive than anything I would have normally bought for myself, they’ve absolutely been worth it for me. They've also functioned as a nice lesson that sometimes just judging things by how cheap they are kills the very necessary fun of “joie de vivre." When it almost laughably affects your quality of life, it's really not so hard to justify.

    If you appreciate mood lighting, waking up to sunlight-like light instead of just your alarm, or are similarly cramming your hand behind your bedside table every night just to turn off the lights, I really recommend the Philips Hue White Ambiance starter kit. Even at $144, it's one of the best value buys I made for my apartment in the last year. Sometimes, it's worth it to spend a little more for a lot more comfort.

    SEE ALSO: 13 organizing ideas that'll help you make the most of your space

    Join the conversation about this story »


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    DLT TAXONOMY NEW

    This is a preview of a research report from Business Insider Intelligence, Business Insider's premium research service. To learn more about Business Insider Intelligence, click here.

    Of the many technologies reshaping the world economy, distributed ledger technologies (DLTs) are among the most hyped. DLTs are most often associated with cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, but such coverage sidelines the broader use cases of DLTs, even though they stand to make a far bigger impact on the broader the financial services (FS) industry.

    DLT's value lies in its ability to centralize record-keeping, while cutting out the need for authorization by an overseeing party, instead allowing a record to be confirmed by multiple parties with access to the database. This means DLTs have the potential to streamline financial institutions' (FIs) operations, boost data security, improve customer relationships, and drastically cut costs. But many FIs have struggled to implement DLTs and reap the rewards, because of organizational obstacles, but also because of issues rooted in the technology itself. There are a few players working to make the technology more usable for FIs, and progress is now being made.

    In a new report, Business Insider Intelligence takes a look at what DLTs are and why they hold so much promise for FS, the sectors in which DLTs are gaining the most traction and why, and the efforts underway to remove the obstacles preventing wider DLT adoption in finance. It also examines the few FIs close to unleashing their DLT projects, and how DLTs might transform the nature of FS if adoption truly takes off. 

    Here are some of the key takeaways from the report:

    • DLTs are proving attractive to FIs because of their ability to act as a single source of truth, distribute information securely, cut out middlemen, improve transaction times, and cut redundancy and costs.
    • DLTs like blockchain and smart contracts stand to save the FS industry up to $50 billion a year through improved operational efficiencies, reduced human error, and better regulatory compliance. 
    • The technology is being explored actively across FS, with trade finance, insurance, and capital markets proving especially active. Overall adoption is still low because of organizational and technical hurdles, but these are now being eliminated, promising to boost implementation.
    • A few FIs have pulled ahead of the curve and are very close to taking their DLT projects live, if they haven't already. These players can serve as useful case studies for other institutions in getting their DLT solutions live.

    In full, the report:

    • Looks at what DLTs are, and why the FS industry is working hard to make use of them. 
    • Gives an overview of the financial segments which are seeing the most DLT activity, and what they stand to gain.
    • Outlines efforts being made to make DLT more approachable and usable for the FS industry.
    • Examines use cases in which FIs have managed to take their pilots live, and what they can teach their peers. 

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    This is a preview of a research report from Business Insider Intelligence, Business Insider's premium research service. To learn more about Business Insider Intelligence, click here. Current subscribers can read the report here.

    AmazonShipping_CostSavings

    Outside of the US Postal Service (USPS), FedEx and UPS have dominated the domestic logistics industry — and in particular, the last-mile of the delivery — for decades. On a quarterly earnings call in 2016, FedEx estimated that itself, UPS, and USPS executed a whopping 95% of all e-commerce orders.

    But rapidly rising volumes have put the pair of legacy shippers in a bind. E-commerce sales have risen over 50% and are projected to continue their ascent into the next decade. High volumes are already straining shippers' networks — UPS struggled to bring consumers their parcels on time due to higher-than-anticipated package volume, which upset some big-name retail partners, including Macy's, Walmart, and Amazon. As online sales surge further, package volumes will outstrip legacy shippers' capacities, creating space for new entrants. 

    Amazon is uniquely well-positioned to dethrone UPS and FedEx's duopoly. It's built up a strong logistics infrastructure, counting hundreds of warehouses and thousands of delivery trucks.

    Further, as the leading online retailer in the US, it has a wealth of data on consumers that it can use to craft a personalized delivery experience that's superior to UPS and FedEx's offerings. Amazon must act soon, however, as UPS and FedEx are hard at work fortifying their own networks to handle the expected surge in parcel volume.

    The longer the Seattle-based e-tailer delays the launch of a delivery service, the more it runs the risk that these legacy players will be able to defend their territory. 

    In a new report, Business Insider Intelligence, Business Insider's premium research service, explains how the age of e-commerce is opening up cracks in UPS and FedEx's duopoly. We then outline how Amazon's logistics ambitions began as an effort to more quickly get parcels out the door and fulfill its famous 2-day shipping process and how it'll be a key building block for the company if it builds out a last-mile service. Lastly, we offer concrete steps that the firm must take to maximize the dent it makes in UPS and FedEx's duopoly.

    The companies mentioned in this report are: Alibaba, Amazon, FedEx, and UPS.

    Here are some of the key takeaways from the report:

    • While UPS and FedEx have dominated the US last-mile delivery market for the last few decades, the surge in e-commerce is creating more volume than shipping companies can handle.
    • Amazon is uniquely well-positioned to put a dent in UPS and FedEx's duopoly due to its strategic position as the leading online retailer in the US.
    • Amazon can carry its trust amongst the public, a wealth of consumer data, and its ability to craft a more personalized delivery experience to the last-mile delivery space to ultimately dethrone UPS and FedEx.
    • The top priority for Amazon in taking on UPS and FedEx needs to be offering substantially lower shipping rates — one-third of US retailers say they'll switch to an Amazon shipping service if it's at least 20% cheaper than UPS and FedEx. 

    In full, the report:

    • Outlines Amazon's current shipping and logistics footprint and strengths that it would bring to the last-mile delivery space in the US.
    • Lays out concrete steps that Amazon must take if it wants to launch a standalone last-mile delivery service, including how it can offer a more memorable, higher-quality delivery experience than UPS and FedEx.
    • Illustrates how Amazon can minimize operating costs for a delivery service to ultimately undercut UPS and FedEx's shipping rates in the last-mile space.

     

    SEE ALSO: Amazon and Walmart are building out delivery capabilities

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    This is a preview of The Reverse Logistics Report from Business Insider Intelligence. Current subscribers can read the report here.

    Returns

    With e-commerce becoming a lucrative shopping channel, retailers and their logistics partners have been primarily focused on how to quickly move goods through the supply chain and into the hands of consumers — a process commonly referred to as forward logistics. However, the opportunities presented by the growing popularity of e-commerce also come with a challenging, multibillion-dollar downside: returns.

    Return rates for e-commerce purchases are between 25% and 30%, compared with just 9% for in-store purchases. Turning reverse logistics — the process of returning goods from end users back to their origins to either recapture value or properly dispose of material — into a costly and high-stakes matter for retailers.

    Not only are retailers experiencing more returns as a result of e-commerce growth, but consumer expectations also demand that retailers provide a seamless process. In fact, 92% of consumers agree that they are more likely to shop at a store again if it offers a hassle-free return policy (e.g. free return shipping labels). Some consumers even place large orders with the intention of returning certain items. 

    And e-commerce sales are only going up from here, exacerbating the issue and making retailers' need for help more dire. However, for logistics firms that can offer cost-effective reverse logistics solutions, this has opened up a significant opportunity to capture a share of rapidly growing e-commerce logistics costs in the US, which hit $117 billion last year, according to Armstrong & Associates, Inc. estimates. 

    InThe Reverse Logistics Report, Business Insider Intelligence examines what makes reverse logistics so much more challenging than forward logistics, explores the trends that have driven retailers to finally improve the way in which returns move through their supply chains, and highlights how logistics firms can act to win over retailers' return dollars.

    Here are some of the key takeaways from the report:

    • E-commerce is now a core shopping channel for retailers, and it's still growing. US e-commerce sales are set to increase at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 14% between 2018 and 2023, surpassing $1 trillion in sales, according to Business Insider Intelligence estimates.
    • Booming e-commerce sales have driven product returns through the roof. Business Insider Intelligence estimates that US e-commerce returns will increase at a CAGR of 19% between 2018 and 2023, surpassing $300 million dollars. 
    • Consumers have high expectations about how returns are handled, and retailers are struggling to find cost-effective ways to meet their demands. Sixty-four percent of shoppers stated they would be hesitant to shop at a retailer ever again if they found issues with the returns process. And retailers don't have the expertise to effectively keep up with how demanding consumers are about returns — 44% of retailers said their margins were negatively impacted by handling and packaging returns, for example.
    • Logistics firms are well positioned to solve — and profit from — returns. These companies can take advantage of their scale and expertise to solve pain points retailers commonly experience as goods move through the reverse supply chain. 
    • Reverse logistics solutions themselves present a lucrative opportunity — but they're also appealing in the potential inroads they offer to supply chain management. The global third-party logistics market is estimated to be valued at $865 billion in 2018, according to Bekryl. 

    In full, the report:

    • Explores the difficulties found in the reverse logistics process.
    • Highlights the reasons why reverse logistics needs to be a key focus of any retailer's operations. 
    • Identifies the specific trends that are leading to growth in reverse logistics, including changes in shopping habits, consumer expectations, and regulatory pressures
    • Pinpoints where along the reverse supply chain logistics firms have opportunities to attract retail partners by offering unique and helpful solutions. 
    • Outlines strategies that logistics firms can employ to capture a piece of this growing multibillion-dollar market.

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    Hype around artificial intelligence has never been higher — and one industry where it has a chance to make a major impact on profits is retail.The Future of Retail 2018: Artificial Intelligence

    Business Insider Intelligence projects that AI will boost profitability in retail and wholesale by nearly 60% by 2035, setting off a wave of excitement and investment among companies.

    The areas where AI will have its biggest impact are personalization, search and chatbots.

    But as hype and misunderstanding continue to build, it’s become harder than ever to keep sight of the true disruptive potential of AI.

    Find out how AI is being implemented in these three areas and how each one can impact revenue in this new FREE slide deck from Business Insider Intelligence.

    In this third and final installment of the three-part Future of Retail 2018 series, Business Insider Intelligence takes a hard look at the retail use cases where AI can make an impact, explores noteworthy examples of retailers implementing the technology, and weighs the benefits of investing in AI today.

    As an added bonus, you will gain immediate access to our exclusive Business Insider Intelligence Daily newsletter.

    To get your copy of the third part of this FREE slide deck, simply click here.

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    Theresa May Cabinet

    LONDON — One of the big questions in British politics as we head into the New Year is whether 2019 will be Theresa May's last year as a prime minister — and if so, who will replace her?

    This month she claimed she would not lead the Conservatives into the next general election — scheduled to take place in 2022 — and there is chatter in Westminster that she could step down once Brexit divorce talks finish in March. 

    A number of leading Conservatives have already started strutting their feathers, knowing that they need to be popular with the Conservative party membership and MPs to have any chance of succeeding May as prime minister.

    In no particular order, here are the most likely candidates to inherit May's throne.

    Sajid Javid

    Sajid Javid

    Home Secretary Sajid Javid is the name on all lips in Westminster at the moment.

    Could he be the UK's first ever BAME prime minister? 

    The ex-banker has made his mark on the Home Office since replacing Amber Rudd as Home Secretary earlier this year. His eye-catching move to legalise cannabis for medicinal purposes was the first sign of his ambition, and since then he has become a key player in the Cabinet's Brexit discussions, often siding with Brexiteers on key issues.

    Javid reluctantly campaigned for Remain in the 2016 referendum and he knows that he must boost his pro-Brexit credentials in order to woo a Conservative party membership which is overwhelmingly Eurosceptic.

    Earlier this month he hosted a drinks reception with his Cabinet colleague, Andrea Leadsom, who we'll come onto later. It fuelled speculation that he was planning a leadership bid.

    Penny Mordaunt

    Penny Mordaunt

    Matching Javid's ambition is International Development Secretary, Penny Mordaunt.

    The MP for Portsmouth North has recently emerged as a favourite to succeed May amid her growing influence in Cabinet decision-making. This is particularly the case on Brexit, over which she has threatened to resign from the government. She campaigned for Leave and is popular with pro-Brexit Conservative MPs. 

    As Business Insider reported earlier this month, her Cabinet colleagues believe she is already laying the groundwork for a leadership pitch. In September, she penned a lengthy article explaining what she believes makes an effective leader. This was seen as a precursor for her inevitable leadership bid. 

    Jeremy Hunt

    Jeremy Hunt

    Few names on the list have as much Cabinet experience as Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt.

    The ex-health secretary is a seasoned government minister who is generally well-liked across Westminster. He has been particularly well-received by Foreign Office staff who were keen to see the back of his predecessor, Boris Johnson.

    Like Javid, he campaigned for Remain. And like Javid, he has said some Brexit-y stuff recently in what could be interpreted as an early pitch to the Conservative party's pro-Brexit membership.

    In October he raised eyebrows by comparing the EU to the Soviet Union. More recently, he insisted that the UK could "flourish and prosper" under a no deal Brexit. Quite the journey for someone who called for the UK to have a very close relationship with the EU and a second referendum immediately following the vote in 2016.

    Just a few days ago, he said he would like to "have a crack" at being prime minister.

    Jacob Rees-Mogg

    Jacob Rees-Mogg

    Jacob Rees-Mogg's lack of government experience (he has never served as a minister) and general divisiveness make him seem like an unlikely candidate to replace May as prime minister.

    However, perhaps similarly to Jeremy Corbyn's unlikely rise to the top of the Labour party, Rees-Mogg has captured the imagination of his party members. Like them, he is very pro-Brexit. In fact, he is the leader of the European Research Group of vehemently pro-Leave Conservative MPs who tried to oust May a few weeks ago.

    He is also an old-school Conservative who holds "traditional" Tory views, like opposition to abortion and same-sex marriage. This goes down well with a Conservative party membership containing lots of people who think the party went too far to the left under the modernisation project of David Cameron.

    Given the rules of Conservative party leadership contests, in which MPs decide who the final two will be, the odds look to be stacked against Rees-Mogg. However, if the last few years have taught us anything, it is to expect the unexpected.

    Amber Rudd

    Amber Rudd

    If you're a Conservative member and Rees-Mogg really isn't your thing — if you're an avid Remainer Anna Soubry, for example — then Work & Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd might just be your candidate.

    The MP for Hastings and Rye had a torrid summer when she was forced to resign as Home Secretary for misleading MPs after weeks of outrage about the Windrush scandal. However, since then, she has been fiercely loyal to May, and has quickly found her way back into government. She is also very well-respected by her ministerial colleagues.

    Rudd is also one of the few flag-bearers for Remain in Cabinet. Last week she said there was a "plausible" argument for another referendum and has been a staunch opponent of calls to leave the EU without a deal.

    Her very slim majority is an issue. At the last election, she won by just 346 votes, making her incredibly vulnerable the next time Brits go to the polls. Nevertheless, she'd be the first choice of many moderate Conservative MPs.

    Boris Johnson

    Boris Johnson

    The bookies' favourite to replace May, despite everything, is ex-Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson.

    The last few years of Johnson's career have basically been one big pitch to be prime minister. Ever since his uncanny conversion from a mild Europhile into a staunch Brexiteer, he has had his eyes on 10 Downing Street.

    His performance as Foreign Secretary has hugely damaged his reputation among Conservative MPs who once upon a time would have considered backing him. His role in the Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe saga had MPs on all sides calling for his sacking long before he eventually resigned. His claim that Libyan city of Sirte could be the new Dubai if they "clear the dead bodies away" was just one of many remarks that landed him in hot water. 

    Nevertheless, he remains incredibly popular with a significant number of Conservative party members. You only needed to see how many queued up to hear his speech at Tory conference in October to know that.

    This month he has been "ramping up" preparations for a leadership bid, his allies told Business Insider.

    Dominic Raab

    Dominic Raab

    An influential figure in Tory circles, who has been involved in previous leadership campaigns, told Business Insider this month that they believed former-Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab would be the next prime minister.

    His resignation as Brexit Secretary earlier this year in protest against May's Brexit plans enhanced his popularity among pro-Brexit Conservative MPs and members. He is also someone from the party's new generation, and was tipped to go far long before being chosen to replace David Davis as Brexit Secretary.

    Andrea Leadsom

    angela leadsom

    Will House of Commons leader Andrea Leadsom take a second bite of the cherry?

    She along with May got to the final two of the 2016 leadership contest and Conservative figures believe she would have won with the membership had she not been forced to drop out for remarks she made about May not being a mother.

    Last year, she refused to rule out another leadership bid in an interview with Business Insider, claiming: "Anything can happen." She is popular among the Brexiteers and her allies say she is one of the most influential figures in Cabinet.

    One ally recently told Business Insider that a Leadsom-Javid joint leadership bid would make a "dream ticket."

    Michael Gove

    Michael Gove

    You can't rule out Michael Gove.

    The Environment Secretary is widely regarded as one of the Conservative party's shrewdest operators, evidenced by his record of generating positive headlines for the numerous departments he has led. 

    And compared to most of his fellow Brexiteers, Gove is arguably more capable of winning the support of pro-Remain Conservatives. After all, avid Europhile Nicky Morgan backed him in 2016.

    Whether he is still popular with his pro-Brexit base is another question. His steadfast loyalty to May's Brexit plans when others have resigned has led some to question his commitment to the cause of delivering a 'proper' Brexit.

    David Davis

    David Davis

    Finally, we have David Davis. 

    Davis has been rejected by Conservative members in two previous leadership contests but the original Brexit Secretary will fancy one last run, given that is a champion of the clean Brexit that so many Tories members would like to see.

    Pro-Brexit Tory MPs also believe he is a much safer bet than someone like Johnson, given that he is less volatile and has the experience of being around the negotiating table with EU leaders during his time as Brexit Secretary.

    He has reportedly been getting into shape ahead of a leadership contest. He has lost one and a half stone, according to The Sunday Times, and reportedly told friends: "I do three or four miles. It's mostly sprinting."

    SEE ALSO: 5 things you need to know about Theresa May's plans for immigration after Brexit

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    NOW WATCH: Anthony Scaramucci claims Trump isn't a nationalist: 'He likes saying that because it irks these intellectual elitists'


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    trump impeachment protest

    • Markets are being driven by politics and hedge funds are already beginning to assess the risk that US President Donald Trump may face impeachment in 2019.
    • It's not the only risk on their radar, of course, and nor is it the most likely. But investors are talking about it as a possibility.
    • At least three Wall Street hedge funds are trying to assess how an impeachment might affect the markets.

    Investors have a lot to worry about in 2019 — there's the trade war with China, Federal Reserve policy, and oil prices to name a few.

    Recently, a new worry has cropped up: a possible Trump impeachment.

    At least three Wall Street hedge funds and asset managers have started talking about the possibility of the impeachment of US President Donald Trump as a potential market catalyst in 2019, according to people familiar with their thinking.

    It's an unwelcome development for hedge fund managers, who are finding it difficult to adjust their strategies to fit the increasingly uncertain political reality thanks to a soon-to-be Democrat-controlled House of Representatives. They can handle normal macro factors like central bank activity and trade tensions, but they view impeachment as a wild card — and it's thrown a wrench into their best-laid plans.

    "That's something you really can't model for," said Larry Newhook, the CEO of Alpha Innovations. The firm runs a managed account platform for institutions to access smaller strategies and funds.

    It's a relatively new market catalyst, coming after the midterms which saw Democrats win a majority in the House of Representatives and ever-present turmoil in the administration. In betting markets, the odds that Trump will be booted from office next year are shortening. After the midterms that saw Democrats flip the House and pick up dozens of seats, oddsmaker Bovada increased the likelihood of an impeachment, with a $100 bet on a Trump impeachment only paying out $125 compared to a $160 payout before November. Currently, the oddsmaker has a $100 impeachment bet paying out $150. 

    It's now also enough of a possibility to land on the radar of big investors.

    "Internally, we're talking about this because it's interesting, but if it gets more significant we will talk about it more," said one London-based asset manager at a Wall Street firm. "I'm not sure it's a market positive, but it may not be a market negative. And it will take a long time."

    Markets can react sharply to big geopolitical and global economic events, leading to big paydays for so-called "macro" investing strategies. A Trump impeachment would be behind other, more pressing macro risks next year, the asset manager said, such as, in order of magnitude: Fed policy, the US-China trade war, the "leveraged loan" boom, eurozone drama, emerging market turmoil and volatile oil prices. (The person added that Brexit is much higher on that list for UK-focused investors).

    Newhook said that even comparing it to Bill Clinton's impeachment in 1998 wouldn't do much good because the market has changed so much in the years since.

    Correctly gauging price moves from geopolitical events can be incredibly profitable. Big macro funds like Jeffrey Talpins' Element Capital have posted stellar returns in a year when the average hedge fund through the end of November has declined 2%.

    But the last quarter of 2018 has been brutal for investors of all stripes — the average macro fund, according to data from Hedge Fund Research, lost 4.1% through November. Even one of the world's best macro traders, George Soros, is reportedly pulling back on the strategy. Soros Fund Management has cut its allocation to macro investments to $500 million compared to $3 billion last year.

    "All you can do is say 'Hey, do I want to be aggressive with my risk-taking or not?'" said Newhook, who was formerly the head of due diligence for hedge-fund giant Steve Cohen. "The one thing you don't want to be doing if you think impeachment is possible is be short volatility. The bottom line is that this is just another source of volatility."

    SEE ALSO: Goldman Sachs just dropped its annual Christmas crossword — see how many clues you can get

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    Angry Birds magic leap thumbs up

    • The gaming studio behind "Angry Birds" has made a version of the famous mobile game for mixed-reality headset Magic Leap.
    • I got to demo the game, and it was the perfect use of Magic Leap's tech.
    • I selected a spot on a real table, and up sprang the familiar setup of green pigs perched atop various combinations of blocks. Then you get to work knocking them down.
    • What's impressive is Rovio built "Angry Birds" having not seen the Magic Leap kit.

    If you love "Angry Birds," you will go wild for "Angry Birds" on Magic Leap.

    Rovio, the gaming studio behind the franchise, teamed up with VR/AR specialists Resolution Games to bring its original slingshot to the much-hyped mixed-reality headset.

    Magic Leap first revealed its long-awaited glasses in August, and they were met with some disappointment from critics.

    But having spent just 30 minutes with the game (which was released in October) at a demo in London, it is possibly the perfect application of Magic Leap's tech.

    Read more:Andy Serkis says Magic Leap has gone from a Frankenstein-like contraption to the future of storytelling

    When I first put the headset on, a field of white dots spread out, mapping the room. Then, I was invited to place the game wherever I wanted.

    I selected a spot on a table, and up sprang the familiar setup of green pigs perched atop various combinations of blocks. You then use a very simple slingshot mechanic to catapult the birds towards the pigs, as in the original mobile game.

    The game was extremely intuitive, and intensely addictive. I walked all around the table looking for the best angle. I also stooped in so close my nose was almost touching the pigs, who mocked me as I peered at them. As I moved around, a group of birds followed me around on the table, ready to be launched.

    Most amazing was probably the fact that when I accidentally overshot and saw a bird fly into the corridor and bounce off a chair. The fact that the kit had rendered that far was a moment of astonishment — although I was told that the tech still struggles with mirrors, as it confuses them for a window into another room.

    Blocks tumble off a table in Angry Birds Magic Leap

    Rovio's creative director of extended reality Sami Ronkainen told me that the after teaming up with Resolution in January, the studio batted around a few different ideas before settling on the classic slingshot game. "We had ideas like the pigs building stuff on structures, and maybe chasing the pigs around and all that kind of thing," he said.

    Flying Blind

    Ronkainen said Rovio opted for the more familiar slingshot mechanic because they had a short time-frame to make the game, and hadn't actually seen the Magic Leap kit yet.

    "We knew we would be working with hardware still in development, we couldn't be a hundred percent sure of the performance of it so we didn't want to rely on the 3D modelling working correctly all the time," he said.

    Without having seen the Magic Leap kit, Resolution had to develop the game itself using a VR simulation living room, CEO Tommy Palm told Business Insider. It took five engineers six months to build the game, and then in the summer they finally got their hands on an actual Magic Leap headset.

    "Three days later we had a running version of the game that actually worked," Palm said. He credited the fast turnaround to a "bit of luck" along with some "good estimations on what the hardware was capable of."

    Magic Leap One (Lightwear headset)

    Ronkainen is pleased with how the original idea for "Angry Birds" translated into mixed-reality. "I think what works really nicely is because the slingshot game is physics-based by nature, so then combining the game physics with the real-world physics works really natural," he said.

    For Rovio, taking "Angry Birds" onto Magic Leap is largely a research and development project. The Magic Leap headset currently costs $2,300, so people won't be playing the game en masse any time soon.

    Still, Rovio is ramping up its AR and VR ambitions. Last week, Rovio and Resolution revealed a new VR game in the franchise called "Angry Birds VR: Isle of Pigs." Should AR and VR headsets become a commercial reality, Rovio will be well prepared.

    SEE ALSO: $2.3 billion later, Magic Leap's futuristic headset has the same problem as Microsoft's HoloLens

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    Ad blockchain diagram

    This is a preview of a research report from Business Insider Intelligence. Current subscribers can read the report here.

    Blockchain technology promises to transform how nearly all industries manage data. Since roaring onto the scene as the engine behind Bitcoin in 2009, it's become applicable to a diverse array of industries beyond financial services, including industrial manufacturing, healthcare, and logistics.

    The common thread between these industries is that they all feature complex supply chains, large numbers of interconnected players, and vast amounts of data. The digital advertising industry shares those characteristics as well. These characteristics, combined with the industry's transparency issues, make advertising a prime candidate for blockchain solutions.

    Blockchain can help solve one of the advertising industry’s biggest challenges: opaque advertising practices.  Publishers, advertisers, and ad tech vendors are exploring blockchain as a tool to boost transparency around ad practices, with the end goal of reducing fraud. Ad fraud is expected to cost the industry $44 billion by 2022, up from $19 billion this year, according to Juniper Research estimates. Through its function as a public database, blockchain can store information about a digital advertisement, like who has created it, while sharing it with everyone else on the network in a verifiable and immutable way. For digital advertising, that means ad impressions can be tracked along the supply chain, and advertisers can record where an ad is delivered. 

    In this report, Business Insider Intelligence will explain what blockchain technology is and how it can inject transparency into the advertising supply chain. We will then highlight the significant hurdles to adoption, and propose different ways the industry could navigate those challenges. Finally, the report will profile companies that are at the forefront of the blockchain advertising space to give advertisers an idea of what blockchain looks like in practice today.

    The companies mentioned in this report are: Basic Attention Token (BAT), IBM, Kochava, and MetaX

    Here are some of the key takeaways from the report: 

    • Blockchain promises to mitigate ad fraud through its function as an immutable public database, which allows it to store and validate previously murky information about digital ads.
    • Despite this promise, just 11% of advertisers and agency executives have completed an ad buy using blockchain technology, according to an Advertiser Perceptions survey.
    • Limited adoption is the result of several significant hurdles — like ad executives' skepticism around the technology's usefulness — which must be overcome before blockchain is widely accepted.
    • Blockchain is heralded as a transformative technology, and while it has that potential, it's not quite there yet for advertisers.
    • Still, it shouldn't be dismissed as "pie in the sky"— blockchain presents several short-term use cases for advertisers, and those who take advantage will be set up for long-term success as the technology matures.

    In full, the report: 

    • Highlights how blockchain technology works, and how it can be integrated into the advertising supply chain to improve transparency. 
    • Outlines practical, low-risk ways marketers can prepare themselves to benefit from blockchain including using smart contracts, registering domain names, and exploring tokens that reward consumers for use of their data. 
    • Profiles several companies at the forefront of the blockchain advertising space, gaining industry-wide recognition as thought leaders.

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    delta plane

    • Pierce Vaughn is a flight attendant for Delta Air Lines and was scheduled to work Christmas Eve and Christmas. 
    • Her father, Hal, used Pierce's family benefits to fly with her on Christmas Eve.
    • Delta employee benefits include free or reduced travel for spouses, minor dependent children and parents.
    • The Vaughns flew from Fort Myers, Florida, to Detroit and Massachusetts.

    A dad spent Christmas flying across the country with his flight attendant daughter after learning she would have to work the holiday.

    Hal Vaughn flew on at least two flights with his daughter, Pierce, a flight attendant for Delta who was scheduled to work Christmas Eve and Christmas.

    Hal joined Pierce on flights from Fort Meyers, Florida, to Detroit, Michigan, and Detroit to Massachusetts, according to 11 Alive.

    In a Facebook post, Pierce said her dad used her family benefits to book the flights.

    According to Delta's website, Delta employee benefits include free or reduced travel for spouses, minor dependent children and parents.

    Read more:11 of the cutest things that have happened on airplanes

    "Dad's first trip using his benefits was a success!"Pierce wrote on Facebook. "A special thanks to all of the patient, wonderful gate agents around the country and my perfect crew. He made it on every flight and even got first class RSW-DTW (Christmas miracle)."

    Pierce shared two photos that had been taken by another passenger, Mike Levy, who sat next to Hal on his flight to Detroit.

    "What a fantastic father," Levy wrote in the post, which featured a photo of Pierce in her Delta uniform and a selfie with Hal.

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    Elon Musk Tesla tent

    • Some Tesla customers may still be able to take delivery before the end of the year, Tesla CEO Elon Musk suggested on Wednesday via Twitter.
    • Vehicles that are delivered before the end of 2018 are eligible for a $7,500 federal tax credit that will begin to expire in 2019. 
    • "Reminder to US buyers that the $7500 tax credit cuts in half in 5 days! Order online at http://Tesla.com  to see if there is any inventory left in your region or visit Tesla stores," Musk said.

     

    Some Tesla customers may still be able to take delivery before the end of the year, Tesla CEO Elon Musk suggested on Wednesday via Twitter.

    Vehicles that are delivered before the end of 2018 are eligible for a $7,500 federal tax credit that will begin to expire in 2019. 

    "Reminder to US buyers that the $7500 tax credit cuts in half in 5 days! Order online at http://Tesla.com  to see if there is any inventory left in your region or visit Tesla stores," Musk said.

    Read more: I tried Tesla's Navigate on Autopilot feature to see if it lives up to the hype — here's the verdict

    The US government gives a tax credit ranging from $2,500 to $7,500 to people who buy electric vehicles, depending on the vehicle's size and battery capacity. As Tesla wrote in an annual report filed with the US Securities and Exchange Commission in February, its customers get the full $7,500.

    Two calendar quarters after a company sells 200,000 electric vehicles in the US, the tax credit begins to phase out. Tesla confirmed to Business Insider in July that it had passed the 200,000-vehicle threshold. It was the first company to have its credits phased out.

    Tesla customers who take delivery between January 1 and June 30, 2019, will receive a $3,750 tax credit and those who take delivery between July 1 and December 31, 2019, will receive $1,875. Customers who take delivery beginning in 2020 will not receive a federal tax credit.

    Musk said on Saturday that Tesla would reimburse customers for the lost portion of the tax credit if they were told they would receive their vehicles by the end of 2018 and delivery is delayed until 2019.

    "If Tesla committed delivery & customer made good faith efforts to receive before year end, Tesla will cover the tax credit difference," he said.

    Have a Tesla news tip? Contact this reporter at mmatousek@businessinsider.com.

    SEE ALSO: These were the 13 biggest car stories of 2018

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