It’s that time of the week, when I rush off a roundup of joyous digital stories, before punching my card and strolling off into Soho.

This week is a cracker, and it starts with something to soothe you..

IKEA produces ASMR video

If you don’t kow what ASMR is, Nikki Gilliland has written a lovely explainer post.

Ikea’s own 25 minute effort is part of its ‘Oddly Ikea’ campaign, and highlights Ikea products perfect for college dorms.

Full disclosure – ASMR doesn’t sit comfortably with me. Sure, I get a head tingle, but there’s something borderline seedy to me about watching hands rubbing an undersheet and listening to somebody trying to talk in a slow and soothing voice. Call it a guilty conscious, perhaps.

Whatever my stance on ASMR (and who could deny the appeal of George Hamilton dressed as Colonel Sanders), I’m a big fan of Ikea’s marketing, including this left-of-field approach to a product showcase video.

Men are dressing as car seats to witness how motorists and pedestrians react to driverless cars

This is one of my favourite photographs of all time.

'driverless' car


This ‘driverless’ car was actually seen in California earlier this year. But a more recent sighting of a driverless van in Vriginia was reported this week by CNN.

Professor Jim Hollan specialises in computer-human interaction at UCSD. He told Communications ACM that it’s “important [for] autonomous cars [to] communicate their intent to other road users as well as to passengers.”

In campus experiments though at UCSD, there was a predictable outcome, the scientists observed students were nonplussed, mainly because they didn’t notice the ‘driverless’ cars. Most pedestrians were ”just walk[ing] without looking, while reading their cell-phones.”

Pop-up shop allows singles to pick 3D printed models of prospective partners

I love this from The dating site printed seven men and displayed them in a pop-up shop for anyone in the market for a man.

B*stard cold? Head to IKEA

Forgive the profanity, it’s an expression used in the North of England when the weather is chilly. It’s also a bit of a pun on Jon Snow, who it has been revealed wears Peta-approved faux animal skin rugs from Ikea as part of his costume in Game of Thrones.

Ikea wasn’t about to miss out on such a great marketing opportunity, and has already posted some cheeky content on social media.

Microsoft helps combat human trafficking with bait and switch chatbot

Now here is a chatbot I can warm to. Designed by Microsoft employees, Project Intercept is a philanthropic enterprise which uses fake online adverts and a text messaging bot to snare people looking for sex.

As you can see from the picture below in the excellent Wired story, the bot first pretends very believably to be the person in the ad, able to discuss age, bodies, fetishes and price. But as the conversation goes further, a stern message is delivered.

The lead partner of Project Intercept is Seattle Against Slavery, which works with other non-profits in 21 US cities. 14,000 messages have so far been exchanged with around 1,000 people, with half of the exchanges ending with the stern message seen below.

microsoft bot

Audiobooks for dogs

Yep, Audible, is providing audiobooks to soothe dogs when they are home alone. The books have been selected in partnership with Cesar Millan, a reknowned dog whisperer.

They are not specifically designed for dogs, rather existing audiobooks that Millan has decided are particular effective. The list includes Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice – who knew dogs were a fan of the epistolary novel?

Hotel Association attacks Airbnb with ridiculous video

Not so joyful a story to end on, but one which shows the bitter feud between Airbnb and the Hotel Association of New York.

Here’s a video ad run on network TV in July by the Hotel Association (which spent half a million dollars on air time) that suggests short-term rentals are linked to terrorism:

The issue with said video is that the terrorist identified, Salman Abedi, who carried out the Manchester Arena attack, was not staying in an Airbnb property.

Whatever you think about Airbnb, it was good to see them hit back with a more positive message, by funding the following ad showing how the service supports NYC citizens.

More from The Verge.