We know: claiming to have found the coolest news story of 2016 as early as February is a massive call. But we don’t shy away from big calls at Podium. It’s so amazing, we’ve brought the traditionally-end-of-the-week On the Podium feature forward to Monday.

On this week’s Podium: Google’s birthday wishes, the Internet of Things, and the Coolest Thing You’ll See All Year. Off the Podium? Disappointing presents in a digital age.

Third place: Google wishes me happy birthday

This nomination comes as a result of my being a) easily impressed and b) ever keen to mention to anyone who’ll listen that it’s my birthday today. So Google’s special Google Doodle that marked me turning 37 raised a smile this morning. I assume it was personal to me and that everyone in the world wasn’t getting a Steve’s Birthday doodle, but it’s nice to know everyone’s favourite search engine is taking time out from its aggressive tax avoidance activities to wish the common folk a happy birthday.


Second place: The Internet of Things

You can be forgiven for having heard about The Internet of Things (IoT), but not fully understanding what it means. Even if you’ve gone out of your way to find out, it can be hard to get a clear definition.

This is because it’s still a little bit Tomorrow’s World, and while industry analysts are predicting it’s going to become the next big thing in connectivity, working examples of the IoT are still quite difficult to come by.

The easiest explanation is a fridge that is connected to the internet, and which ‘knows’ when you have run out of certain regular shopping items, and which will automatically add them to a shopping list or your online groceries account.

However, courtesy of this review in the Guardian, a new Samsung IoT ‘hub’ is launching, and it does a great job of demonstrating exactly how this technology can work as part of your daily life. Plus, the basic hub isn’t actually that expensive, paving the way for a quicker-then-expected adoption into homes.

For marketeers, the prospects are certainly intriguing. Sticking with the fridge example, imagine what the big supermarkets would give to be able to find out exactly when you run out of milk. We’ve already seen from the way they use loyalty cards – personalised offers, vouchers to entice you back in when you’ve not shopped there for a while – that there’s no limit to how they’ll use data about your grocery habits. It’ll be interesting to see how this pans from a marketing perspective when the Internet of Things technology is more widespread.

First place: eagles attacking drones

I am no criminal mastermind. I’d probably be a lot richer if I was. It is therefore a surprise to me to find out that drones are being used for criminal activity, because I can’t even imagine what that might be.

However, apparently it’s a thing. It’s such a thing, that the Metropolitan Police Force is looking into ways to tackle criminal drone use. Leading the way is using eagles – actual, massive eagles – to swoop along and take the offending drones out the sky. That’s right: in the skies over London, you could soon get to witness trained eagles taking out drones.

It’s like the synopsis for the best film ever. Or maybe the worst.

This is too cool for words, so here’s what it could look like:


Frankly, if I’d ever known that becoming an eagle handler for the Met was EVER likely to become a career prospect, I’d have re-thought several major life decisions. So achingly cool. Good work.

Off the Podium: disappointing birthday offer

Two things:

  1. You know when you’re in a restaurant and you want to leave a tip, but literally the only ‘spare’ money you have on you is about 30 pence, so you realise you’re better off leaving nothing than leaving a tiny amount and looking sarcastic?
  2. Companies who have your details such as date of birth, and email address, will often, when it’s your birthday, send offers to you as a ‘birthday treat’. It’s common practice, and you are occasionally sent some decent stuff.

With both of those points in mind, look at what I got in my email today from Rakuten (formerly play.com):


They’ve given me a pound! To spend on whatever I like! Most sarcastic birthday offer ever? Possibly.