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Snapchat captures Viacom

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Viacom and Snapchat have announced a partnership to take a creative approach to speaking  to millennial and post-millennial audiences.

The wide-ranging deal, anchored in both content production and advertising sales, will bring two high profile channels to Snapchat Discover – a Comedy Central International channel and an MTV Channel in the U.S. These will complement the Comedy Central and MTV International Discover channels. The agreement also grants Viacom the right to sell Snapchat’s U.S. owned and operated advertising inventory, allowing Viacom to offer more value to television advertisers who want to add Snapchat’s premium video platform to the media mix. In addition, Viacom also has agreed to provide Snapchat with expanded access so Snapchat can produce Live Stories covering more of Viacom’s events.

“Viacom and Snapchat naturally complement each other in significant ways that make us ideal partners in both content and business development,” said Wade Davis, CFO, Viacom. “Snapchat captures young audiences on an intimate and immersive mobile video platform while Viacom is the leader in premium long- and short-form storytelling for these same audiences. Add in Viacom’s custom marketing solutions and commitment to evolve our global mobile strategy and you’ve got a partnership that is great for both companies, for advertisers, and is a real evolution of the marketplace.”

In addition to selling its advertising alongside its own content on Snapchat Discover, Viacom will now also have the right to sell Snapchat’s U.S. owned and operated ad inventory, which includes ads in ongoing Stories such as “New York,” capturing daily happenings in New York City, and non-partnered holiday Live Stories, such as “Valentine’s Day”. Viacom is the only television company to have this arrangement with Snapchat.

“Snapchat provides the best storytelling experience on mobile. Through this partnership with Viacom, we can now offer television advertisers a way to tell their stories across television and mobile in a frictionless way,” said Imran Khan, Snapchat’s Chief Strategy Officer.

On the content side of the deal, Viacom will further invest in the creation of original premium video content specifically for Snapchat Discover. While MTV International and Comedy Central have previously been committed to creating original content on Discover, additional resources will now be put towards the launch of an MTV US Channel and a Comedy Central International channel on the platform.

MTV’s new Snapchat Discover channel will feature a wide range of content created exclusively for the platform and updated daily. At launch on Tuesday 9 February this includes MTV News articles and video with design and art direction unique to Snapchat. MTV is also developing additional Snapchat-native content, including new original series and reinvented MTV fan-favourite franchises for the platform. .

Another key element of the Viacom/Snapchat partnership will leverage Snapchat’s Live Stories, which are curated collections of user-submitted content covering major events and places around the world. Through the partnership, Snapchat will have access to cover Viacom events like MTV’s Video Music Awards (VMAs) and BET Experience.

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Meet the ambassador to the future

Tilly Lockey, 14, lost her hands as a toddler, but sees it as a massive opportunity to embrace technology. She chatted with ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK about the human of tomorrow.

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Picture by Arthur Goldstuck

It is a description that defines 14-year-old Tilly Lockey: She lost her hands at the age of 15 months, and now uses bionic hands to show the world how to overcome disability.

That could easily read as an advertisement for a prosthetics company, but Tilly refuses to be defined by marketing messages. She has not only embraced what is supposed to be a disability, but wants to become nothing less than an ambassador to the future.

Picture by Arthur Goldstuck

That is in effect what she is achieving by pushing the boundaries of what is possible with artificial hands. It means that, eventually, she will have more capabilities built into her body than most able-bodied humans can imagine. She collaborates closely with Open Bionics, a start-up that is using 3D printing to create low-cost prosthetics with high-tech capabilities.

“I have very high hopes for the future,” she said during a chat on the sidelines of the SingularityU Summit at Kyalami north of Johannesburg. From Newcastle-on-Tyne in the United Kingdom, she was at the Summit as a guest speaker, chaperoned by her father Adam and sister Tia. 

“When I started working with Open Bionics, I wanted it to include lighting, music, Bluetooth, a projector in my palm, all over-optimistic things. But then I feel that is not too far away, and then a disability would turn into and enhancement of normal human hands. I’m really excited about it.

“I know there’s a couple of things they are working on right now, like trying to get the built-in battery thinner, because it’s hard to get overcoats and jackets over it, so they are trying to get the hands slimmer. They’re working on haptic feedback, to give a sense of touch of vibration, which tells me of I have a good grip on something. It could be coming soon. These hands I’m using now were made in the past five years. In another five years, I think we’ll have all of it.”

The hands in question are called Hero Arms, which its creators, Open Bionics, say is “the world’s first clinically approved 3D-printed bionic arm, with multi-grip functionality and empowering aesthetics”.

Click here to read more about the development of Open Bionics’s Hero Arms.

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How Tilly Lockey became a Hero

Part 2 of ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK’s interview with Tilly Lockey explores her amazing career.

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Picture courtesy SingularityU South Africa 2019 Summit

This is the second part of this series of articles. To start from the beginning, click here.

Tilly Lockey was diagnosed with Meningococcal Septicaemia Strain B when she was 15 months old.

Her mother spotted the tell-tale signs one day in 2007: a fast-spreading skin rash that looks like pinpricks, along with symptoms like lethargy and bruising. She was rushed to hospital, but the bacterial poisoning spread so aggressively, doctors gave Tilley no chance of survival. They had to make a quick decision to amputate her hands to save her life.

Twelve years later, her future truly came into focus: “I was surprised with really cool Alita: Battle Angel bionic Hero Arms and went on the blue carpet at the world premiere of the movie with Rosa Salazar and director James Cameron.”

That pivotal moment in her life would not have been possible without the intensive efforts of her mother, Sara, to raise funds to buy something better than the metal prosthetics issued by the National Health Service in the UK. She increased Tilley’s profile with a campaign to “Give Tilley a Hand”, and today works as a fundraiser and events organiser for the Meningitis Now support group. Her involvement in an event meant she was unable to join Tilley on her trip to South Africa last week, when she spoke at the SingularityU Summit. After coming off stage, Tilley told us that Sara was her biggest inspiration in her life, and the closest to a role model.

“I’m usually a speaker at her events. I tell everyone my story and what I’m doing now and give these kids inspiration, because they often feel they can’t do anything because of what Meningitis did to them.

“I am home schooled now, which is pretty cool, because I’m able to have a career and get educated at the same time. I feel I can do a lot of things that friends can’t do. I can take a whole class on an aeroplane. I have a great time traveling and meeting so many inspiring people who are making a difference in the world.”

The form of Mengingitis that attacked her leaves hidden scars and issues that only become apparent years later. She is almost absurdly cheerful about the challenges that have faced her.

“I personally figured out that my left leg had stopped growing. I’m still finding out things it has caused, but you survive. At least I’m here and I’m alive.”

It does help that she’s comfortable in the spotlight, happy to give interviews, and eager to show what she can do with her bionic hands.

“I want to go into public speaking a lot more, and it could be an option as career. I want it to continue because it’s a lot of fun, and I feel I’ve got a story to share. If I can inspire people to change the world, I will. “

Her travels this year will still take her to Barcelona, Jakarta and New York. In the Big Apple, she will accept a humanitarian award, and intends “to give a funky speech”.

In Jakarta, Indonesia, she will take part in a fashion catwalk and do a makeup tutorial live. She learned to do makeup with one of her bionic hands when she fractured her right elbow in a fall at school

“I got makeup for Christmas and wanted to play with it, and got the idea of doing it with an open hand. It took a lot of perseverance and patience, but after studying how to do it, I was able to recreate a full makeup routine using one hand. It wasn’t a great situation at the time, but now I’m happy it happened because it got me into doing what I do now.”

What she is doing with makeup is remarkable in its own right. She gives tutorials on YouTube, where she says she is “kinda new”, as she has “only around 16,000 followers”. That may well soon expand into cooking videos.

In other words, everything is an opportunity: “I could be sad, just sit on my bed and cry, or I can live my life and realise what I’ve got: these amazing bionic Hero Arms.

“All I want to do is help give people confidence in themselves, accept who they are, accept their scars and everything about them. That they don’t have to impress everybody and just be themselves.”

Read more in the third article of the series about how family remains at the centre of Tilly’s life.

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