1. Public Art (TM)
Merchandisers may assume that public art means public use and slap pictures of Central Park's The Gates (above) or Chicago's Cloud Gate on mugs or in ads. That's a mistake. Rights to new works of art in public spaces are increasingly held by private entities, and artists sue for copyright violations when businesses use those images. Reproduce with caution as this area of intellectual property law takes shape. "It's uncertain ground that hasn't been developed in the law," says June M. Besek, of Columbia's Center for Law, Media and the Arts.
2. The New Lava Lamp
After designing Berlin's millennium light show, German gift-store magnate Archie Perleberg sought a similar look in the Lounge Light. It's the first candle to house an LED cartridge within a wax-and-wick pillar; the inner light freezes on one color or shifts through the spectrum. Two million have sold in Europe; in the States, they've appeared at Jay-Z's 40/40 club in Manhattan and the Trump wedding. In five-inch ($22) or seven-inch ($25) versions at loungelightusa.com.
3. Responsive Ads
Interactive advertising's newest incarnation lets kids at McDonald's dance with the Hamburglar. Reactrix, a San Carlos, Calif., company, installs a network-connected hidden camera that captures the infrared spectrum around a person's body as he or she moves. Then, the program determines how images, like Hamburglar, would react to the movement, and projects responding images instantly. Tabu, a Las Vegas nightclub, uses the system to project digital images of ice cubes onto tables and charges more for seats there. Reactrix has installed 70 systems nationwide, charging about $2,500 for a 30-second spot.
4. Blasting Text Messages
This month, Ipsh!, a San Francisco marketing agency, launches Eztxtmsg.com, letting businesses text marketing messages to opt-in lists of customers. Businesses upload cell phone numbers to a secure database via Eztxtmsg.com, and send text messages such as coupon codes or event details to targeted group lists (e.g., baseball fans) or the entire list. It costs $25 to send 500 messages a month, or $100 for 2,500 messages a month. Ipsh! stops service if recipients complain of spam; individuals can use the service too.
5. Boost Wireless Coverage
Arc Wireless usually builds antennas for cell phone towers. With its Freedom Antenna Plus, which improves wireless connections in low-coverage spots, it's scaled down to checkbook size. The latest edition is the company's first universal antenna, which connects to any wireless device, from laptops to cell phones to BlackBerrys. Available at talkfarther.com for $59.