‘Operation Rudolph’ Brings Great Cheer to Phobio Employees

Phobio is a software company that helps brands create better technology experiences for their customers. The Atlanta-based business is driven by a team of individuals who are leaders and experts in their fields. In 2017, as a way to reward employees for a successful year, Phobio partnered with FUSION OF IDEAS to help create a one-of-a-kind gift for its employees to appreciate and enjoy all year long.

In comes “Operation Rudolph.” Working in stealth mode, FUSION OF IDEAS customized 75 Apple Watches to surprise Phobio’s employees at its holiday party. The watch features a detailed design of the company logo on the dial. The exterior of the watch band is embellished with a design that represents the Phobio brand, and the inside of the band is etched with the company mantra: “Be better.”

Each watch included a personalized gift tag for the recipient and was packaged in its original box covered with a custom box sleeve. Phobio chose to pull everything together with custom gift wrap, which was designed by FUSION OF IDEAS and incorporated the company logo.  

As a company that fosters a collaborative working environment, Phobio was excited to present these personalized gifts to its employees, and the response was overwhelming.

“Our ‘Phobiosapiens’ worked very hard all year and I wanted to show them my appreciation for their great work,” said Phobio CEO Stephen Wakeling. “Operation Rudolph was a huge success and everyone was blown away after opening the gift at our annual holiday party. It’s been a great point of pride among team members. They show their friends and can tell them ‘look what my company did for us!’ It’s going to be very difficult to top that this year.”

Phobio CEO Stephen Wakeling and Chief Solutions Officer Denny Juge on stage with one of the Apple Watches customized by FUSION OF IDEAS. 2017 PWP Studio Corporate Event Photographers
Phobio employees show off their gifts at their holiday party. 2017 PWP Studio Corporate Event Photographers

The WORLD’S FIRST Customized Apple Watch Series 4

As soon as we got our hands on the new Apple Watch Series 4, our design team went to work to find the best points of customization and created the WORLD’S FIRST customized Apple Watch Series 4.

Here’s what we did:

  • The specs. We started the process by getting the exact specs of the device, down to the millimeter. Precise measurements are crucial as we only get one chance to print directly on a device or accessory.

 

  • The mockup. Once measurements are logged, our design team went to work creating a mockup of the design, painting a picture of what a finished custom device will look like. A final proof is sent to the client for approval before production begins.

 

  • The production process. Depending on the device, we may build a custom housing to hold the device while it is in the printer. Our patent-pending color and laser customization process allows us to permanently brand devices with high-quality, full-color graphics without voiding the device’s warranty.

 

  • The packaging. We extend the brand experience with custom packaging solutions including sleeves, boxes, gift wrap, shrink wrap and one-of-a-kind packaging experiences.

We are thrilled about the new Apple Watch and the results of the customization. The most significant added feature on Apple Watch Series 4 is that it is also a health-tracking powerhouse. Game-changing features such as fall detection and emergency SOS open the device to new audiences: fitness and outdoor enthusiasts, senior care providers and healthcare workers.

For us at FUSION OF IDEAS, deciding whether or not this new wearable gadget is worth purchasing is a no-brainer. And with the holiday season around the corner, this is the perfect gift for your valued employees or customers. The only question remaining: how will you customize the Apple Watch to fit your company brand and culture?

Check out how we transformed Apple Watch Series 4, from ordinary to extraordinary:

Customized Mobile Devices as Employee Rewards

Employers are always looking for new and different ways to reward employees and celebrate successes. A trend that has been rising in popularity with our clients is using customized devices as part of its employee rewards program.

There are many ways for an employer to use corporate gifting to build up, fuel and recognize employees. Some ideas include:

  • Creating a points-based system to reward employee performance through peers or managers
  • Building a rewards system to recognize significant service milestones
  • Setting productivity or sales goals with a highly valued prize that employees can earn when they reach the goal
  • Or simply planning a surprise holiday gift as a reward for all of your employees.

Any employee gift can be taken up a notch with customization – custom printed Apple Airpods for employees to listen to music quietly at work, a customized Apple Watch with laser-etched company name, or even a branded drone that is guaranteed to wow the recipient.

FUSION OF IDEAS has pushed the boundaries of creativity by customizing a wide range of devices, from headphones and portable speakers to game consoles and cameras. The possibilities are truly endless. What can custom-branded devices do for your business?

Gearing Up for Apple’s Newest Devices

Apple CEO Tim Cook took center stage yesterday at the Steve Jobs Theater in Cupertino to announce the release of several Apple device updates. If you were on the watch like us, you know there will be three new iPhone models building off of the company’s 10th anniversary iPhone X: iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, and iPhone XR. Additionally, Apple Watch Series 4 will feature a larger display with a slightly thinner body, along with some cool features like heart monitoring and haptic feedback on the crown.

Announcements of new Apple products, or any new mobile tech device, mean one important thing to us at Fusion of Ideas: we’ll be researching and presenting our customization offerings for the shiny new devices as soon as they hit the market.

The art of mobility is clear with every touch point of the customizing experience. And members of the Fusion of Ideas customization team are seasoned pros at figuring out the specs for new devices. Even when the new device is similar to an existing one, measurements accurate to hundredths of an inch must be taken to create a spec file that will be used for production. We also run tests and research on the materials the device is made out of – even a slight change to the type of metal or glass can change the way we approach customization. Most importantly, our color and laser customization process allows us to brand devices with high-quality graphics while not voiding Apple’s device warranty.

We’re excited to dive in and present custom options specific to these new devices. Stay tuned for more information as we await the release dates.

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Branding Superheroes: Customizing the Apple HomePod

By Jennifer Fujimori

This may seem obvious, but we tend to nerd out every time a new Apple product is released. Apple’s livestream product announcement events, typically happening once or twice a year and bearing charming names such as “Let’s meet at our place” and “Hey Siri, give us a hint”, are monitored closely in the Fusion of Ideas office. Part of this is because many of us are personally Apple fans, but the other part is excitement about the branding possibilities that come with a new device.

The R&D process begins at Fusion well before the device has officially hit the market. Our customization team gathers information about the materials the device is made of, the dimensions, the packaging and any accompanying accessories. We get our hands on a sample device or two as soon as we can and get to work testing out customization capabilities.

When the HomePod smart speaker hit the market in 2018, it was the first completely new device released by Apple since 2014, when the Apple Watch was announced. It also posed a unique challenge: the round, cylindrical speaker did not present many obvious options for customization. “The HomePod offered a challenge in that there is not a lot of surface area to customize,” said Chris Mancuso, Customization Manager. “It pushed us to think outside the box to come up with customization options that would fit with the sleek and modern design of the device.”

Working with the Fusion design team for artwork and production files (and inspired by our office-wide affection for the Marvel Cinematic Universe), the customization team did a bold color print of the red Marvel logo on the white mesh of the HomePod. The top of the speaker is outfitted with a clear color printed Stealth Armor version of Iron Man’s arc reactor. Rounding out the sample package is a custom sleeve and gift wrap, printed with vibrant images of Iron Man and the Marvel logo in its signature red and black colorway. “We really pushed the boundaries with this device and came up with some really innovative ways to brand the HomePod,” said Mancuso. “The Marvel-branded sample provides our business team with a great way to show clients what we can do with this device.”

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AirPods Trend

Since their release in late 2016, Apple’s AirPods have been flying off the shelves – and landing here at Fusion of Ideas, where we’ve been customizing unprecedented numbers of the wireless earbuds for our clients. We expect AirPods to be the most customized device during the upcoming holiday gifting season for the second year in a row – it’s an excellent portable piece of technology at an affordable price point for many of our clients. Customization options include the earbuds themselves, the charging case, and custom sleeves and gift wrap to tie everything together. Here’s an example of a recent custom AirPods project we did for a client that nicely showcases all of our available services.

Inside Look: Dassault Falcon Jet

By Jennifer Fujimori

Each month, the Fusion of Ideas blog will highlight a unique client project. We’ll be giving you an inside look at each client and project, including the customization details, the project, and the outcome. Keep reading below to find out how we partnered with an aviation company at the top of its field in design and innovation.

Who they are:

Dassault Falcon Jet is a subsidiary of the French company Dassault Aviation, a global leader in the aerospace field. Falcons are known for industry-leading technology and design, incorporating comfort, speed and efficiency into each aircraft. The Falcon family of business jets, the first of which was introduced in 1965, delivered its 2500th jet in 2017.

Their customization goals:

Dassault came to Fusion of Ideas with a plan to enhance the buying experience for its customers. Before each Falcon jet is delivered to a customer, the aircraft is outfitted with a custom iPod Touch, iPhone and customized case, custom iPad, or all four of those items. The inclusion of the custom devices aligns with the company’s reputation as a luxury high-tech brand, and makes a big impact on the customer.

The process:

At the beginning of our partnership with Dassault, we created a system to uniquely meet their fulfillment and deployment needs. We procure, customize, and ship devices based on preset requirements. The process is seamless and efficient; each of these steps is completed entirely by the Fusion team at our headquarters in Lake Forest, which works diligently to ensure a high level of quality and accuracy throughout the process.

The outcome:

Each device and case is custom printed with the sleek Dassault Falcon logo. Upon unlocking the devices, recipients see a specially chosen app layout against a black background with the Dassault Falcon logo in white. The devices are preloaded with the prerequisite Apple native apps, as well as four apps that were selected by Dassault. The finished product is polished and professional, contributing even more to the unique experience of doing business with Dassault Falcon Jets.

 

Milwaukee Brewers

By Jennifer Fujimori

The Milwaukee Brewers and their fans have a lot to be proud of. The team is currently just one game back from taking the lead in the NL Central division. Their closing pitcher Corey Knebel has recorded 14 saves this season. Legendary hitter Hank Aaron called Milwaukee home for his entire MLB career, and now serves as the senior vice president of the team. And perhaps what speaks the most to the integrity of this team is their commitment to giving back to their community.

The Brewers Community Relations program works actively with players and their families, coaches, and personnel to find and participate in events supporting various causes. Highlights include speaking engagements, youth baseball clinics, fundraising through events like bike rides and 5K runs, and a fan fest from which the proceeds are donated to Brewers Community Foundation youth recreation and education programs.

To recognize these achievements in community outreach, the Brewers organization presents each participating player with an annual gift. This year, the gift of choice was the sleek and lightweight Beats Pill+ speaker, which is a device Fusion of Ideas has customized for several past projects. When the Brewers club approached Fusion, their goal was to elevate the gift even further. They wanted the gift to be both a superior piece of technology and a token of personal appreciation from the team. With the help of mockup designs from our creative team, the client decided on a custom laser etched Brewers logo, which is a letter “M” with a sprig of barley underneath to represent Milwaukee’s brewery tradition.

The resulting final product sent a heartfelt message to the players that their team places a high value on philanthropy and giving back to the Milwaukee community. We couldn’t think of a better way to say thanks.

The Rock Gives Back

We got so excited that we posted on social media, but forgot to include the news right here on the blog.  Dwayne Johnson, also known as The Rock, gifted custom Skyscraper edition Xbox’s to a group of amputees. He’s seriously a huge role model.  We wanted to share a clip of the video of him giving them away, as well as some of the really cool product shots we got of the project before it left our doors.  We love working on projects that are used to do good in the world.

In The News: Lil Yachty Opening Custom Xbox and Controller

We love seeing people react when they’re opening a gift customized by Fusion. Today, the recipient happened to be @lilyachty. Check out this video of rapper Yachty showing off his brand new custom Xbox and controller.  

 Repost 7/11/18 video credit: @lilyachty on Instagram.

A few more photos we took at our Fusion headquarters before the project went out. Photos by Fusion of Ideas

 

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Picture Start: Making Your Mark as a New Business in an Elite Industry

By Jennifer Fujimori

Throughout our many years of customization experience, Fusion of Ideas has worked with clients in almost every industry – healthcare, education, food service, construction, entertainment, fashion – the list goes on. We relish the chance to impress our clients by customizing devices or mobile apps for their employees or customers. But for many of our movie-obsessed team members, it’s hard to deny that it’s especially thrilling when we get the chance to work with clients who are in the entertainment business.

PICTURESTART is a production company who set out to find a customized tech gift for 200 top clients and company executives. Our design and business teams went to work, collaborating with the PICTURESTART decision makers to create a sleek logo print for Apple AirPods. The PICTURESTART logo is printed on the charging cases for the AirPods, the stems of the AirPods are printed with a clean blue stripe, and to round out the project, we did a custom sleeve to fit over the AirPod box. PICTURESTART is focused on youth-oriented movies and shows, so the colorfully printed AirPods were the perfect way for the new company to announce itself as a fresh and innovative presence in the film industry.

The gifts you give your clients and the technology used by your employees offer unique opportunities for you to make a statement about your brand and the way you do business. By partnering with Fusion of Ideas, PICTURESTART created an impactful brand experience that recipients will recall every time they pull out their AirPods. “We’re finding that the AirPods have become a highly preferred gift in the year and a half since they were released,” said Russ Taylor, CEO at Fusion of Ideas. “They’re compact, useful, and can be customized in several areas. Plus, they have the appeal of being a relatively new Apple product, at a price point lower than an iPad or Apple Watch.”

Whatever your tech and design preferences may be, we can help you come up with an unforgettable gift. And if you’re on the fence, check out some of the finished projects on our website and Instagram account. We’d love to create your custom gift next!SaveSave

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HomePod Gets A Make Over

We’re predicting that the Apple HomePod might be at the top of many gift lists for the holiday season later this year.  The HomePod already gets major cool points as a gift, but when you add laser engraving, custom printing, custom packaging, and custom gift wrap, you take it to a whole new level.  Our Business Development Team made a very cool video to show how you can customize a HomePod. Check it out!

Xilinx AirPod Project

It was almost exactly a year ago that the Xilinx project went down in Fusion of Ideas history.  The new Apple AirPods had just been announced, and everyone was anxiously waiting for them to hit the market.  A few months had gone by since Apple’s announcement, and the public wanted to know when the AirPods would be arriving in stores.  Small batches of AirPods were released to stores, but were immediately sold out. Fusion was told that it would be awhile before businesses would have the opportunity to purchase them in large quantities, because production was just not fast enough to keep up with the demand.  Then Xilinx reached out to Fusion after being referred by Apple. They had 800 AirPods (a big deal, since stores hadn’t even received this many yet) and they wanted to find out more about our customization services.

Xilinx was planning to give AirPods to each of their employees as a special gift from their executive team.  They wanted to customize the AirPods’ white custom casing with the Xilinx logo. They also wanted to send the AirPods to employees in unique customized packaging to show their thanks and appreciation.  Fusion was their one-stop-shop for getting both of those things done in record time. The custom packaging included signatures of all of the executive team as part of the design, meant to show their appreciation.  

“Xilinx was looking for something cool to give their employees,” said Theresa Brown, Senior Business Manager at Fusion of Ideas. “Gifting the Airpods alone would have been nice, but the real wow factor came from outfitting the AirPods with logos and customized packaging including their executive team signatures. It took the gift to a whole new level.”

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What’s next? What will the next iPhone be called?

There’s been a lot of speculation as to what the next iPhone will be called. It’s no secret that Apple typically chooses consecutive numbers for its iPhone releases. But since the iPhone X deviated from that pattern, the name of the next iPhone is up in the air. Will it be called be called iPhone 11? Or iPhone X1?  There’s even talk of the lower-end iPhone being called iPhone SE. Rumors have been surfacing that the next generation iPhone might be getting a new name.

We asked our Fusion of Ideas team for their best guesses on what the new iPhone will be called.  The name that got the most votes was iPhone XI. Additional suggestions and name ideas included iPhone Xs, iPhone X-1, iPhone 9,  iPhone Elite, iConnect, and iPhone Pro.

“The X isn’t technically the 10, but just a roman numeral to represent the anniversary of the iPhone,” said our Creative Manager, Bryan Underwood. “That being said, I believe the next release in line is still the iPhone 9.”

Rachel Trotter, Administrative Assistant, thinks it’ll be named something completely different.  “I don’t even think it will be called an iPhone anymore,” she said. “I think it might be something like iConnect or iLink.  Something that implies an iPhone is far more than a phone, but also of a way to interact with the world.”

Junior iOS developer Long Le said, “I think they could keep it boring and just call it the iPhone Xs.”

Whatever it’s called, we’re excited for the debut of the new iPhone and all of its new features.

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What We Think of The New HomePod

Since the release of the new Apple HomePod our Fusion of Ideas tech expert and Business Development Manager, Jacob Sarabia, has been busy testing and utilizing the device since the moment we got it. Here is what he’s saying about it:  

What do you like and dislike about  the design?

Apple has done it again: blending art and technology to create the new HomePod. I personally appreciate the attention to detail on how seamless the fabric mesh covers the internal components. Every detail down to the power cable, which is carefully woven together, showcases the quality of Apple products. Additionally, there are no physical buttons that might distract you from the overall design. Apple accomplished this by placing a touch screen display at the top of the speaker. I had a hard time trying to find things I did not like about the HomePod design. When comparing it to the other speakers on the market, I still chose the HomePod.

We hear that you have to keep the cable installed into the HomePod. Have you found this to be a problem?

Initially, I did question Apple’s decision to make the power cable non-removable when comparing it to other speakers on the market. Technically speaking, it can be removed with some force, which I do not recommend trying (this leads me to believe it’s reserved for servicing the device).  If the HomePod is being used the way Apple intended it to be used, then there really is no reason for the cabled to be removed, so overall, this has not been an issue for me.

What’s the audio quality like? How does the HomePod compare to similar smart speakers?

Music has always been in Apple’s DNA, and they certainly proved this with the HomePod. They have upset the marketplace by offering an unparalleled audio listening experience that is like no other competing smart speaker. The audio notes are rich and clear with little to no distortion, even at a 100% volume level. Most of the other speakers on the market focus on AI technology first and speaker quality second.

Is it easy to use Siri on HomePod? Have you encountered any issues?

Siri is just as easy to use on the HomePod as on my current iOS devices. Of course, there are some limitations, but knowing that Siri is available practically everywhere in my home/office is great. One of the down sides to utilizing Siri on the HomePod is that it can’t distinguish my voice from someone else’s. If I allow full access through the initial set up process, anyone can ask Siri to read back my text messages, notifications, and so on. Also, I can’t set up multiple timers, which would be useful while listening to music and cooking. I really see the HomePod being used primarily for music and home automation tasks.

How would the HomePod be used in a business?

For now, the HomePod would be perfect inside of a conference room for taking calls – you can’t beat the amazing sound quality it provides. As Siri progresses, I can imagine a day when developers can integrate Siri into their web/mobile applications to run tasks or provide real-time information by simply asking a question. The HomePod would be the perfect gift for someone who is looking for not just a “smart speaker,” but also better sound quality at a reasonable price point. And it could be a great gift for employees or clients.

Are the HomePods customizable? What areas can be customized?

You know us – at Fusion of Ideas, we always push the limits to provide the best customized out-of-box experience. Every new product release poses new challenges for our team. Different shapes, sizes, and raw materials can all affect our capabilities. The services we currently offer for the HomePod include: custom packaging, laser etching, and our customizable film, Stealth Armor. Stay tuned for more exciting HomePod capabilities as we continue to go through the research and development process.

Another Fantastic Year With Kidd’s Kidds

This November marked FUSION’s seventh year of sponsoring and working with Kidd’s Kids.  Since 2011, FUSION has donated app development and customization services to the charity, who works with families of children with life-altering or life-threatening conditions.

Kidd Kraddick founded Kidd’s Kids in 1991 with the goal of making a difference in the lives of children and families who are dealing with life altering conditions.  Initially, the program began with a bus ride to Sea World in San Antonio, Texas. Thanks to the volunteer efforts from partners, donors, and medical professionals, along with the Kidd Kraddick Morning Show listeners’ willingness to embrace their mission, Kidd’s Kids has grown at an exponential rate. Now in its 26th year, the foundation has sent over 1000 kids and their families on a trip of a lifetime to Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida.

Here’s a video showcasing a little more about this foundation and our involvement with them.  For more information, please visit http://www.kiddskids.com

Creating An Unparalleled Welcoming Experience For New Homeowners

For over 30 years, Consultatio Real Estate has successfully developed innovative high category real estate projects in prime locations.

Passionate about transforming ordinary into extraordinary, Consultatio Real Estate wanted the most high-end, absolute best for their tenants. They wanted to create an unparalleled welcoming experience for new homeowners of both the Oceana Key Biscayne and Bal Harbour properties that reflected the union of art, real estate and technology.

In 2014, Consultatio needed a solution for their welcoming process with their Oceana Key Biscayne project.  They wanted a very unique gift experience for the tenants of Consultatio Real Estate that would capture the attention of future homeowners and provide a suitable resource for displaying the many amenities the property had to offer. As an unprecedented solution to enhance Consultatio’s welcoming process, FUSION created fully equipped and branded iPads, including a custom sleeve, branded Smart Cover, and preloaded with custom iOS content, providing each tenant with a little piece of art for their new home. The tenants loved the gift so much that Consultatio knew it needed to be part of their next project.

This year, when the Bal Harbour property neared completion, Consultatio Real Estate connected with FUSION again to discuss the next rollout of customized iPads. It was quickly discovered that among the many exquisite works of art on the Bal Harbour property, one in particular stood out above the rest. Created by iconic Americana artist Jeff Koons, the mirror-polished, stainless steel sculpture “Pluto and Proserpina” stands over 10 feet tall and serves as a centerpiece of the property. Using this masterpiece as an inspiration, FUSION presented a new complete iPad package with a design that surpassed expectations. Consultatio loved the new packaging and exquisite custom gift boxes built specifically for their custom project with high-end materials fit to be displayed on a coffee table. The iPads were customized with pre-loaded content about the property and its amenities. A custom printed Smart Cover paired nicely with the full-color printed iPad. A custom sleeve was also fitted around the iPad box before it was inserted into the gift box. The result was a stunning, one-of-a-kind gift for each tenant to feel welcomed and cherished.

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The Ultimate Corporate Gifts: The Gifts That Keep On Giving, The Whole Year

“Oh great, they’re handing out another company calendar,” said no employee ever.  

Getting thoughtful gifts can go a long way with coworkers or team members.  With the season rapidly approaching, this is the year for creating excitement and the “wow” factor for your company’s team or special clients.

One of our own employees tells the tale of the value they placed on two separate gifts they received.

“On two separate holiday seasons, I received gifts from my employers. One was an elaborate chocolate and fruit gift basket that was delivered to my home with a generic happy holidays message from the company.  While the sentiment was sweet (no pun intended), the gift was quickly forgotten, and I never really told anyone what I got.

The next year I received some Beats By Dre headphones. They were printed with a small company logo and the headband was printed with my name. They also were sent to my home, but came gift wrapped in retro wrapping paper with a company image repeated in a cool pattern. That made me very excited to open it. There was a personalized card with a note from my boss and the company thanking me for some of the accomplishments during the year. Whenever I wore those headphones, I had family, friends, and even strangers ask me about them. I explained that my company had given them as a gift for my hard work during the year, and I always showed off my name printed on them.  I received many “Are they hiring?” type of comments as people were impressed by the thoughtfulness that went into the gift.

While I’m sure both presents cost my employer about the same amount of money, the one that was cool, unique, and something I could talk about made the biggest impact. As Eddy from National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation says, “That’s the gift that keeps giving the whole year, Clark!”   

One of the most important components of gift-giving is taking into consideration what your employees would truly appreciate. Putting a message, logo or thought on your gifts can add a layer that reminds them of you or the company whenever they use the gift.

Now, working at Fusion of Ideas, I’ve loved seeing the impact that customization and thoughtfulness can have. Some of my favorite Fusion services are gift wrapping and custom boxes and sleeves that take gifting up to a whole new level.  And on top of that, Fusion can organize and kit multiple items together (they don’t have to be devices!) so you can really add that extra pizzaz to any thoughtful gift. They can also print and write custom cards and gift tags,  and they ship anywhere around the world.  So if you want a super easy process, all you have to do is order, and Fusion will take care of the rest.”  

Fusion handles projects of all sizes and shapes and we’d love to help you with your gifting ideas. So if you want to give the gift that keeps on giving, contact us at info@fusionofideas.com or 949-453-0740 ext. 109.

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