Sneakers that play music

Surround sound sneakers

Start up DropLabs has developed the EP01 sneakers that feature a power supply, a transducer (for vibrations) and Bluetooth connectivity. The shoes enable the wearer to experience the full musical effect, mimicking the vibrations in the floor during a live performance. The company’s CEO reports that brain functions are enhanced when an experience is received with four or more senses, making these shoes an important accessory for serious gamers and eSports competitors. TechCrunch

dis-rup-shun: Sensurround was the product of speaker maker Cerwin-Vega and was added to theaters to support the release of 1974 movie Earthquake, along with a few other movies in subsequent years. The rise of the sale of subwoofers in theaters (home and big screen) is attributed to a trend started by Sensurround. Will DropLab’s vibrating sneakers also start a trend? The appeal for gamers is clear, and perhaps this technology would be very helpful to the hearing impaired. A larger market might be those people who silence their phones, and don’t wear a smart watch, but want to be notified of incoming messages through their feet.

Google enters the banking arena

Not to be outdone by Apple’s credit card, Google, in partnership with Citibank and Stanford Federal Credit Union, will be offering a checking account. The accounts will be tied to Google Pay, but will also be held by one of the banks to maintain insurance through FDIC or NCUA. A company spokesman stated that Google did not intend to sell personal data from this banking venture. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: All the Big Tech players are or soon will be bucking to enter consumer finance. In the U.S., banks and credit unions are highly regulated at the federal and state levels, so to offer banking services, Big Tech must partner with a bank and essentially be a sales agent for a bank. This could be a really attractive partnership for a bank, especially in light of increased regulation potentially being placed on Big Tech — meaning that banking laws will not soon be amended to enable more control by tech companies. The lesser-seen mad dash will be banks who do not yet have a Big Tech partner and who could be left with no giant digital distribution partner.

Will new Razr foldable put Motorola back on the map?

Motorola is resurrecting the Razr flip phone, but this time it is a smart phone with a foldable screen. At $1500 and on sale in December, it’s a great holiday gift for the high end phone buyer and those that want to be the first with a foldable phone. Technical specs include two cameras (16 MP main, 5 MP selfie), water-resistant outside coating, a Qualcomm Snapdragon 710 processor, Pie version of Android, 6GB of RAM, 128GB of storage, and 2510mAh battery. Mobile World Live

dis-rup-shun: This looks like the beginning of a new again form factor for smartphones. People like the large screen size of today’s smartphone models, but would really like one that folds up to more easily fit in pockets, purses and bags, plus foldables protect their own screens when closed, and the Razr can be used while closed when connected to Bluetooth accessories. Expect to see emulators of the Razr while prices for foldable screens plummet over the next two years, but these emulators will be Chinese versions that will make it hard for Motorola to stay in the game for the long haul.

Connected car cloud leaders are Amazon, Microsoft and Harman

The connected car cloud is the platform that does and will connect in-car technologies, including engine diagnostics, navigation, communication and entertainment, among other things. It is the place where new software updates for dozens of car systems can be updated. The market leaders, according to a new report, are, not surprisingly, Amazon, Microsoft, Harman (holding 70% of the market). The list of top 11 players includes Airbiquity, AWS, Continental, Ericsson, Google, Here, Harman, IBM, Microsoft, Mojio, and WirelessCar. ABI Research

dis-rup-shun: Just as other intelligent devices, the profits for the automotive industry may soon be the software — but this time the software is in the cloud, and the auto makers don’t own the cloud. Harman is the only player in the list that has long been a well-recognized name in the automotive business, as the brand purchased most of the car entertainment systems that were familiar a decade ago or more. Samsung acquired Harman in 2016, and is up against some big players in the car cloud business, but should have an edge in relationships with car manufacturers. Let’s see how long Harman can use insider relationships to maintain a competitive edge over the other 10 top players.

Best Buy folds branded smart home line

Best Buy pulls the plug on its own smart home

Best Buy’s house brand, Insignia, announced on its website, that the company has discontinued its Insignia Connect products, which consist of smart plugs, IP camera, light switch and a refrigerator/freezer. Except for the IP camera, the other devices will continue to work, but will not connect to an app. The article does not suggest that Best Buy will discontinue selling the plethora of smart home products from other manufacturers that now make up a large part of its shelf space. Wired

dis-rup-shun: What’s the problem with smart home products? The industry analysts continue to forecast strong growth (IDC – 23.5%, Forrester – 26.2%, Security Sales & Integration – 31%, McKinsey – 31%), yet Best Buy joins Lowe’s as two big retailers who have pulled the plug on their own branded systems. Best Buy, by the way, is the same company that paid $800 million to acquire another form of smart home products — Great Call, makers of devices to connect seniors to family, friends and care givers. One of the clearer answers to the smart home riddle is that consumers buy solutions to problems, and home automation is not a mass market problem. Home security, remote monitoring and safety of seniors, and utilities needing to save energy are large scale problems that smart home products and systems solve. A number of companies, including Alarm.com, have forged relationships with new home builders such as Toll Brothers who have found that home automation increases home value and who will lead a gradual transformation to making automation a new home standard. Much of the success of smart home is the result of single products such as door bell cameras, smart speakers, and smart thermostats, that are both cool and helpful in solving point solutions. These hot products, however, are DIY install products. When people want a whole home system integrating multiple devices, they are more inclined to call a home systems integrator than to put a system together themselves, as big retailers have discovered.

Facebook creates Venmo-like payment system

In an effort to link Facebook, Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp, the company will equip all of those applications with a common pay system. This pay method is separate from Calibra, which is part of the doomed Libra cryptocurrency consortium. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: Facebook serves a majority of social media users, so it makes sense that a common pay platform will be convenient, but what about the Facebook trust factor? As reported Monday, Facebook’s tarnished image is hurting its success in new product areas. If the Facebook brand has some rot, isn’t tying the company’s brands together a bad move?

Tesla will open fourth Gigafactory in Berlin

Musk stated that he intends to sell more Teslas in Europe, and appears to be following through with his intentions. The factory will be located near Berlin’s new airport, and will be in addition to factories in Reno, Buffalo and Shanghai. While sales of Teslas were down in the U.S. for Q3, sales in Europe have been trending upward for the last three quarters. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: Musk is out to change the world, and despite some bumps in the road, he is well on the way to making Tesla a global brand. With manufacturing in three continents with high interest in electric vehicles, the company will continue to disrupt traditional automakers and, very likely, will be acquired by another global brand, as developing new car models, especially with a completely different engine, is a huge undertaking for traditional players. Many existing car companies already have electric cars at the dealer or in the pipeline. Perhaps a Tesla company buyer will come from another industry. Virgin Auto or Amazon Auto, anyone?

Disney + Streaming Service is live and ready for your credit card

Disney’s new streaming service is up and running, and has the advantage of content from the Mouse House, from Pixar, National Geographic, Fox, Marvel and Star Wars. Not only does the company have a content advantage over new and incumbent streamers, it also has a technology advantage, having purchased BAMTech in 2017 — an expert in streaming content infrastructure and encryption. Wired

dis-rup-shun: As stated many times on this site, Netflix has a serious battle on its hands as its future relies on the difficult task of creating a long string of big hits. Disney + must also keep the hits coming, but it has the advantage of leveraging many beloved franchises for an infinite number of sequels and prequels. Netflix is a beloved brand which will likely not be displaced, but subscriber growth will likely be more difficult and the costs of operations, thanks to expensive original content, will continue to rise.

Apple card culture clash

The Apple card stink: east and west coasts collide

Apple’s new credit card has come under fire when couples who file joint tax returns received different credit limits. The credit card is branded Apple but the financial management of the new card is handled by Goldman Sachs. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: This incident is a good example of why Apple doesn’t have as many partnerships as a company of its size might. Apple’s golden aura and cult-like following was built on doing things different, to remember the 1997 ad campaign. The problem is, Goldman Sachs is not a think different bank (are there any?) — it relies on the same thing most all financial institutions rely on — the big three credit agencies. Those agencies have dozens of frustrating and seemingly punitive policies, and have frequently made dumb credit decisions. The card is a strange match up of West Coast cool and East Coast traditional, and not one that Apple is likely to do again, but in this case, Apple was anxious to quickly bring a number of service products to market in 2019 to combat slowing iPhone sales. The partnership was successful in a quick launch, but has tarnished the Apple reputation a bit.

Google division amassing personal health data

Google has formed a partnership with the nation’s second largest health system, Ascension. The project, named Nightingale, enables Google to operate as an associate of Ascension, thereby gaining access to millions of personal health records well within the protections of HIPAA laws. HIPAA specifies that your data can be used to further medical research, and that is what Google is doing, but of course there is fear that Google will want to do far more. The company assures that personal health records will not be combined with other data the company collects for the purposes of advertising. Wired

dis-rup-shun: AI has the potential to dramatically assist in health diagnoses, quickly analyzing symptoms to determine the cause of an illness with a very high probability. In theory, this could be done without a doctor, or a doctor could be involved only after a computer determines your ailment and directs you to the right care provider. To do this effectively, however, a computer(s) must have access to tens of thousands of health records at a minimum. With more data, the accuracy increases. Google, through its Ascension partnership, is racing to build that database so that it can become a primary provider of disease data to the healthcare industry. That will make Google’s health division a very valuable information utility, and Google thanks you, I’m sure, for contributing your data.

Amazon grocery store: not self serve

Amazon has leased over a dozen locations in Los Angeles to open a chain of grocery stores. The stores will not be autonomous as some of its Seattle stores, and will not be Whole Foods brand. The format of the new stores is unknown. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: It seems odd that Amazon would launch yet a third food store brand and format, but then again, this is Amazon. Amazon knows that almost every person in almost every country shops at a food store, and if it owns a significant number of food stores, it can directly reach most citizens. At its current pace, Amazon will be a major player and market mover in most all of its lines of business. On Sunday as I received a package from FedEx, I asked the driver how long his company had been delivering on Sunday. He said several weeks and that it was a result of the Amazon effect. What more should your business be doing to give customers something they want but antiquated industry rules say that can’t have? That’s what Amazon is studying right now.

Realme enjoys smartphone sales growth of 808%

As smartphone sales slow in Western markets, sales of the product are exploding in markets including China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan, Vietnam and Egypt. The upstarts, Chinese companies, are pushing out Samsung’s lead in many markets. Xiaomi has been the leader, pushing Samsung to second place, but a one and a half year old upstart called Realme is now giving Xiaomi and Samsung a run as its overall growth in the past year has been 808%, with 401% annual growth in India. TechCrunch

dis-rup-shun: These phones sell for $80 to $240 in their markets. Evidently the phones have enough smart features to connect large, Internet hungry populations. What would stop them from selling decent phones into Western markets? Not much. Apple and Samsung have lower priced models of their flagship phones that are less frequently seen in the U.S. and Europe, but it won’t be long before the Chinese phones are widely available everywhere, and that is why we see Apple, Samsung and Google doubling down on ear buds, smart watches and services. The golden era of the smartphone is entering its later stages and the dreaded C-word (commodity) is on the horizon as new vendors with staggering volumes are not afraid to slash market prices for the category.

Facebook reputation hurts Portal product

Facebook’s reputation tarnishing its products

CNET reviewer rips Facebook’s Portal TV companion TV accessory device, not due to any lack of product performance, but due to extreme distrust of the company’s privacy policies and inability to assure the public that its stated policies will be executed. 

dis-rup-shun: Facebook may have a decent TV add-on product in Portal TV, designed to enable users to video chat with other users via their existing TVs and to chat about programs that both people are watching together. If consumer sentiment is that of CNET’s reviewer, the tarnished and getting-worse-by-the-week reputation of Facebook (the company) will clobber any chance that the product will be a hit. This situation is a case study on how poor decision making, communications, and public relations can drag down the revenues of companies with products people love to use. 

Amazon Care app available for employees

Amazon Care, the telemedicine service of employees based in Seattle, has released its app. Employees can use the app as the first level of care — providing information about health concerns and offering the option of chatting with a nurse of conducting a video chat with a health professional. The next level of care, through the app, is scheduling an in-home doctor visit and tracking the doctor’s progress to get to your home (like watching an Uber driver’s progress?). CNBC

dis-rup-shun: The service, which sounds like a fantastic way to get healthcare, must be viewed as a Beta test for a larger, non-employee roll-out. Step two will undoubtedly be offering the service to non-Seattle based Amazon employees. Once the company has built a physician network in multiple cities, expect the service to be offered to the general population in a few pilot cities. Thinking of Amazon as a health care provider is exciting and frightening at the same time. It is exciting in that such an offering will rapidly cause a restructuring of health care delivery that will greatly benefit consumers, and possibly care providers, and provide transparent pricing and simpler filing processes. This development is also frightening in that Amazon’s leadership in shopping, video streaming, and healthcare will provide the company with even greater market power.

Reviewer prefers Amazon buds to Apple

Wired takes Echo Buds for a few runs and daily routines, and finds that sound quality, ear comfort and mostly voice control response offer a better experience than Apple’s AirPods. At $128, the Amazon buds, though with shorter battery life and clumsy ear fins, are a good buy.

dis-rup-shun: It is interesting to see that Alexa’s dominance in voice control continues to provide a better experience than perhaps even better designed products — a strategy clearly intended by Amazon. As Amazon can get more and more manufacturers to build-in Alexa, it will help vendors differentiate their products, gain market share, and make Alexa technology even more valuable. This is why we see Amazon continue to offer Alexa-powered products at very competitive prices, and Google offer even lower prices for its Google Nest Home products, in a desperate attempt to slow the freight train called Alexa.

IOTc Next Summit takes place tomorrow 

The Internet of Things Consortium launches IOTc Next, The Connected Futures Summit. The event takes place in New York City’s TimesCenter on November 12th.

dis-rup-shun: This is the last chance to receive event discounts for the one day event featuring a wide variety of IOT topics and speakers. The agenda topics include: financing IOT projects, user interfaces, media organizations in a connected world, marketing how-to’s, seeing the future, IOT and mobility, smart homes, connected health and wellness, securing devices and networks, connected retail, smart cities, and the ethics of IOT. 

HoloLens2 augmented reality visor now available

Microsoft has released its HoloLens 2 augmented reality visor. This $3,500 visor is lighter and with a wider field of vision than the first generation. To get a sense of the experience delivered, watch Microsoft’s short video on TechCrunch.

dis-rup-shun: Microsoft’s video helps envision how this technology could be applied. At its price point, the device is clearly not for wealthy gamers, but is for industrial, professional, medical, military or other specialized applications where overlaying a training manual, or an alternative view of what you are viewing could increase speed, accuracy or safety and doing so justifies the cost of the technology. Computer technology has, of course, delivered incredible graphics and video tools to thousands of tasks, but comparing those views to the objects they are describing slows down the task, and perhaps the accuracy. By overlaying computer views on actual objects, tasks are performed with greater accuracy, faster, and in many applications, that has profound impacts.

Medicare ready to reimburse telehealth

Medicare finalizes rules for telehealth

CMS, the regulatory body that determines which medical treatments will be reimbursed by Medicare and Medicaid, is now finalizing the rules to reimburse doctors and clinicians for remote care, starting in 2020. These new rules allow for reimbursement of remote examination of a patient in another location by qualified medical professionals. mHealth Intelligence

dis-rup-shun: This is likely a watershed event for the connected health and wellness industry. Despite desperate need for cost savings and new efficiencies through technologies, connected health and wellness products have not been adopted by consumers or care providers at any reasonable scale. It appears that, despite the effectiveness of remote patient monitoring, without a reimbursement model, care providers have not deployed the technology except in rare cases. Allowing Medicare funds to pay for remote patient visits will make remote patient monitoring a standard offering in rural and urban areas alike. The connected wellness market hopes this development will be a catalyst for adoption of many effective technologies that are available today.

Xerox makes offer to purchase larger HP

Xerox announced an offer to acquire HP for a combination of stock and cash in order to cut up to $2 billion in operating expenses. Xerox’s market capitalization is $8.05 billion to HP’s $27.27 billion. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: Is this a mind game? If two ships are slowly sinking and everyone on one ship jumps to the other and then 10% of people are thrown into icy water, what’s left? 90% of the people and one ship. This is not progress – this is a survival game. These are two of the strongest corporate brands in tech history – both once leaders in their respective markets. This merger reminds one of the 2001 Carly Fiorina-directed merger of sinking HP with sinking Compaq – a merger that cost her the CEO position, thousands of jobs, and billions in market value. Surely there are some innovators that can help these companies focus on developing new and emerging technology products and services.

Xiaomi launches Apple Watch knock-off

Xiaomi, the Chinese maker of smartphones and wearables, has released an Apple Watch clone for $185. The Mi Watch runs the company’s MIUI operating system and features apps 40 popular Chinese apps. As expected, the device includes speakers, microphone, heart rate monitor, and connectivity via cellular, Wi-Fi, GPS, Bluetooth and NFC. TechCrunch

dis-rup-shun: While imitation is flattery, Xiaomi’s watch is a less expensive copy of Apple’s premium priced device. Hey Xiaomi, did you know that Apple has sued vendors before for copying its design and look and feel? It seems odd that this Chinese firm would launch this Apple clone in the face of a hot trade war that intends to end illegal use of protected intellectual property. Maybe Xiaomi wants to take the heat of off Chinese telecom vendor Huawei, or maybe Xiaomi determined that the design of the Apple Watch is generic (black rectangle) enough that it cannot be protected.

IOTc, the Internet of Things Consortium launches summit

The Internet of Things Consortium launches IOTc Next, The Connected Futures Summit. The event takes place in New York City’s TimesCenter on November 12th.

dis-rup-shun: Readers of dis-rup-shun.com are entitled to event discounts. The one day event features a wide variety of IOT topics and speakers. The agenda topics include: financing IOT projects, user interfaces, media organizations in a connected world, marketing how-to’s, seeing the future, IOT and mobility, smart homes, connected health and wellness, securing devices and networks, connected retail, smart cities, and the ethics of IOT. 5 days to register.

Uber forgot to program jaywalking into autonomous car’s software

In a federal investigation of what went wrong when an autonomous car killed a woman in Arizona, it was determined that the car’s software was not programmed to account for jaywalking (crossing the street outside of a cross walk – for our foreign readers) pedestrians. Wired

dis-rup-shun: This discovery is a blow to our trust and confidence in: the (likely) young, over-worked and over-caffeinated developers from Silicon Valley who may not even own a car; the QA lab at Uber that is supposed to simulate enough use cases to find deficiencies in a program before it goes live; regulators that approve the testing of new devices with the general public. Technologies fail, and even several rockets produced by NASA, the most fastidious tech organization in history, exploded and killed people, but this discovery is a shocking reminder that the tech companies we trust make some really big mistakes. Since the industrial revolution, companies have built products that are dangerous (737 Max, anyone?) and government oversight mostly resolves safety issues, if the product is on the government’s watch list. Whose is responsible for proper certification of autonomous vehicles?

Amazon Fire tablet great at half price of iPad

Newest Amazon tablet “really great” at half the price of iPad

Amazon’s latest Fire HD 10 tablet “is a great alternative to the iPad at half the price.” The third generation Fire HD is faster, charges quickly and has long battery life. The tablet is optimized for Amazon services but also enables access to websites such as Netflix and Spotify on its 1080p screen, and allows for expanded storage. The Fire HD 10 starts at $150, compared to the iPad at $329. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: So, is Amazon trying to be more like Apple, by creating better and better devices, and selling them at break even or less to try to catch Apple, or is Apple trying to become more like Amazon by launching new video, music, gaming and news services? Apple makes fat profits on hardware but has determined that continuous growth will require being good at services. Amazon has built vast empires of services, including shopping, video, books (of course), and delivery, but has determined that owning the device that gets you to the services (Echo, Firestick, Kindle) will result in higher consumption of Amazon services. Two vastly successful companies are accomplishing similar goals by very different paths. At what point do they begin to look similar, and what course does that leave for Google? Google, already dominant in services, looks more like Amazon in its strategy, but got lost on the journey a few years ago when it bit off a bigger Nest than it was ready to chew, but appears to be regaining its vision.

Google and OpenTitan seek to build un-hackable chip through open source

A chip technology called secure enclave seeks to secure a computing device by putting the microprocessor in charge of encryption, and in charge of shutting down the device if any of its operating system has been tampered. Google and a consortium of companies called OpenTitan seek to create a shared secure enclave chip architecture, allowing many contributors to build the chipset, rather than it being property of the usual suspects (Qualcomm, Intel, Nvidia, etc.). Wired

dis-rup-shun: What is Google doing in the microprocessor business and why is it creating an open architecture that potentially disrupts the value of person-decades of knowledge carefully protected by patents? It’s just everyday Art of War strategy in which defeating your enemy is about defeating your enemy’s strategy and re-writing market rules that have traditionally rewarded holders of protected intellectual property. If the strategy sounds familiar, it is how a search engine became the largest player in the smartphone operating system market by making Android an open environment that enlisted armies of developers around the globe from many different companies. If you can’t win at the game, bust up the game board and see who has enough money, developers and marketers to build the new board first.

Congress begins creation of a Federal data privacy law

California federal congresswomen Anna Eshoo and Zoe Lofgren (Dems.) have drafted legislation to protect data privacy rights by forming a new 1,600 employee agency entitled the Digital Privacy Agency (DPA) responsible for policing companies’ use of private information and penalizing scofflaws. The law would also give individuals the ability to see what companies are using their data, for what purposes, and to manage when those rights could be retracted. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: This is real progress, as Europe enacted strong data privacy laws, called GDPR, several years ago while the U.S. has only talked. This will be a test to see if the U.S.’s fractured legislators can agree on a much needed new policy, and for those of us paying taxes, we will appreciate the headcount for the new agency coming from a reduction in some outdated agency, like the Stage Coach Regulation Agency. In debate are states’ rights issues. It will be very difficult for companies to answer to the laws of fifty states, so a single body of legislation, as in Europe, is the better solution. Apple, the company that has chosen to position itself as the privacy company, must now decide to support this initiative or pooh pooh it as inferior to the company’s own internal privacy standards.

IOTc, the Internet of Things Consortium launches summit

The Internet of Things Consortium launches IOTc Next, The Connected Futures Summit. The event takes place in New York City’s TimesCenter on November 12th.

dis-rup-shun: Readers of dis-rup-shun.com are entitled to event discounts. The one day event features a wide variety of IOT topics and speakers. The agenda topics include: financing IOT projects, user interfaces, media organizations in a connected world, marketing how-to’s, seeing the future, IOT and mobility, smart homes, connected health and wellness, securing devices and networks, connected retail, smart cities, and the ethics of IOT. 6 days to register.

It’s now time for you to purchase a robotic vacuum cleaner

iRobot Roomba S9+ is expensive. Its $1,399 but this model is truly smarter than any of its predecessors or competitors. The S9+ uses sensors to create a map of your home, enabling it to do the job more quickly. It includes sensors that enables it to avoid vacuum dangers, like strings, socks, and stairs. And most importantly, it empties itself into a dust bin that requires human attention only after multiple house cleanings. Wired

dis-rup-shun: If you have ever used a Roomba, you know that it is a great vacuum that really works, except for the fact that it randomly bumps its way through the house, doubling back in certain areas and likely never reaching some. Also, the small size of its dirt compartment means it must be changed every 20 minutes or so, especially if you are knee deep in pet hair. The new S9+ proves that rocket science, when applied to household products, really does make every day living better. This is the level of machine intelligence that will make smart home products must haves from here onward.

Remote care improves cancer care

Remote monitoring improves care for cancer patients

Cancer patients at Memorial Sloan Kettering (New York City) whose health symptoms were monitored remotely each day showed an unplanned hospital visit rate approximately 2/3 less than those not monitored. Unplanned admissions between scheduled hospital cancer treatments account for 48% of the costs of cancer treatments. Daily management of patients enabled them to receive, in most cases, care without admissions. HBR

dis-rup-shun: The healthcare world is full of indications that certain technologies improve care, but not enough clinical bodies of evidence that statistically confirm the results. As a result, the healthcare industry lags other industries in the deployment of connected technologies. The rising costs of care, especially hospital admissions, require increased use of remote care. In two to three years, large care providers will be deploying remote care solutions, pushing the industry to more efficient operations.

BMW demonstrates gesture control

BMW has offered gesture controls in cars for several years, but new enhancements in the 850iL prove highly reliable and easy to learn. With hand motions, like rotating one’s index finger, the sound volume can be turned up or down. Gesture control further reduces the need to find and depress a button. Gesture can be an alternative to larger touch screens which may require more, rather than less, focus on locating the correct control on the screen. TechCrunch

dis-rup-shun: New interfaces in cars include larger touchscreens, voice control, and now gestures. In car technology is a significant differentiator, as consumers love technology that improves the in-car experience. Better, easier controls increase safety and lower production costs, however the driving experience continues to be significantly different from manufacturer to manufacturer.  New innovations continue to make it difficult for car renters and borrowers to easily know where all the controls are in unfamiliar models.

The pros and cons of Google’s acquisition of Fitbit

Wired ponders the pros and cons of Google’s acquisition of Fitbit. On the positive side, the same intelligence that tells you which route to take to get to an appointment and how long it will take can make smart suggestions about how to reach certain fitness goals. On the downside, Google could use the data that it has committed not to sell to cross-sell other Google products and services, fatiguing users with promotions of products we don’t want (remember Google +).

dis-rup-shun: The majority of tech users today are mostly willing to trade personal data for beneficial services. What is lacking is constant assurances that our data is safe and has not been compromised. Apple has taken the lead in establishing its public image as “the privacy company.” Google will quickly follow suit and try to prevent Apple from gaining this higher ground without company. Facebook is too busy testifying to Congress to improve its tarnished privacy reputation.

IOTc, the Internet of Things Consortium launches summit

The Internet of Things Consortium launches IOTc Next, The Connected Futures Summit. The event takes place in New York City’s TimesCenter on November 12th.

dis-rup-shun: Readers of dis-rup-shun.com are entitled to event discounts. The one day event features a wide variety of IOT topics and speakers. The agenda topics include: financing IOT projects, user interfaces, media organizations in a connected world, marketing how-to’s, seeing the future, IOT and mobility, smart homes, connected health and wellness, securing devices and networks, connected retail, smart cities, and the ethics of IOT. 7 days to register.

Nest WiFi a top performer

Nest has joined the ranks of companies selling mesh network WiFi extenders for the home. Nest’s extenders double as smart speakers and come in colors to match decor. CNET

dis-rup-shun: Big Tech is anxious to create new product categories, especially ones that Apple does not already dominate. Why device makers have waited 5 years to solve the common problem of weak WiFi reception in certain parts of the home is a puzzle, but having a coordinated, fashion forward device that makes me quit cussing my WiFi is a great value.

Apple considering iPhone subscription

Apple ponders subscription model

Apple may be preparing to offer iPhones on subscription plan, easing the cost of up-front purchases by charging by the month. Tim Cook stated that the company has a similar plan now that provides upgrades and bundles warranties and tech support. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: As Apple transitions its revenue mix to much more emphasis on services, “throwing in” devices with services is a quick way to do so. iPhones can be a part of a SPaaS (Smartphone as a service) initiative that includes the latest and greatest phone with subscriptions to Apple’s streaming video, game service and news service. Perhaps there is a way to throw in the Apple credit card, which currently charges no annual fee, but could be free with smart phone subscription. Cell phone upgrade plans are confusing enough, so a simple monthly fee including services and regular upgrades could ease the confusion and make people happy.

Internet Archive enables digital access to rare books

The Internet Archive, the non-profit that is cataloging for posterity old websites that have come and gone, is in the processing of digitizing old books that are hard to find or not in print. The service is improving the verification of citations in reference documents such as Wikipedia and enabling researchers to dig deeper into unique data sources, such as old books. In addition, the service is allowing people to check out the digital books, one at a time, for free. Wired

dis-rup-shun: Did you know that you can use the Wayback Machine to find archives of old websites that are long gone? Think of it as the microfiche of old newspaper editions that a librarian could, on demand, retrieve from drawers at the library. The Internet Archive is bridging the gap between commercially available books provided by Amazon and Google, and old volumes long out of print. This amazing service is the digital key to unlock stores of important books that would never be offered by Amazon or Google due to their lack of commercial value.

Ring Fit Adventure — gaming to get fit

Nintendo’s animated exercise adventure game is now available for $80. The game comes with a ring that attaches to a controller (Joy-Con) and a leg strap that attaches to the other Joy-Con. The user works (literally) to foil an ugly dragon that can only be defeated with some hard labor on the part of the player. TechCrunch

dis-rup-shun: In the new world of connected fitness, an old player re-enters. Ring Fit is for the home fitness enthusiast who would rather fight dragons than follow hard bodies teaching live or recorded spin classes and boot camps. The demand for connected fitness should be big enough for many approaches, and there are certainly plenty of people who would prefer to workout in a fantasy world.

New conference to feature top IOT thought leaders

IOTc, the Internet of Things Consortium launches summit

The Internet of Things Consortium launches IOTc Next, The Connected Futures Summit. The event takes place in New York City’s TimesCenter on November 12th.

dis-rup-shun: Readers of dis-rup-shun.com are entitled to event discounts. The one day event features a wide variety of IOT topics and speakers. The agenda topics include: financing IOT projects, user interfaces, media organizations in a connected world, marketing how-to’s, seeing the future, IOT and mobility, smart homes, connected health and wellness, securing devices and networks, connected retail, smart cities, and the ethics of IOT. That’s a busy day!

Forrester’s turn to predict the future

Market research firm Forrester has joined the ranks of future predictors with its 5 trends for 2020.

  1. 5G will augment existing low power personal area networks (LoWPAN) to provide faster connectivity of networked devices to the cloud.
  2. Smart speakers will catch on, not just at home but in the corporate conference room to facilitate conference calls and video meetings, with software that adjusts to unique contexts, like too many people speaking at once.
  3. Cybercriminals will also enjoy the rise of IOT, taking over more devices and holding them ransom. IOT devices will include improved security in an attempt to lock out these challengers.
  4. Connected trucks that provide more data about their contents will optimize logistics, resulting in fewer empty or partially full trucks. Connected technologies will also keep drivers informed if they are drowsy or showing signs of diminished performance.
  5. Device makers will shift from selling devices to bundling devices as a part of service delivery. See the Apple subscription story above for an example. Tech Republic

dis-rup-shun: As stated before, IOT has an ROI problem and the exciting news about the future will be examples of IOT making or saving money. Of Forrester’s predictions, improving logistics efficiencies in trucks, or anything that carries paid freight will be a great example of the tangible value of connecting things. Let’s hope that 2020 brings a number of strong examples of IOT making a difference to the bottom lines of industries that have connected their assets.

Is Apple entering smart home?

Is Apple getting serious about smart home?

CNET states that so far, Apple has missed smart home opportunities, but cites job openings for 15 Homekit developers as a signal that things may be changing. To win, the company should build a low cost entry-level version of its HomePod smart speaker, should build a camera that is better than the armada of imperfect offerings in market, and should differentiate both products with its superior stance on data privacy.

dis-rup-shun: If Apple would offer some really well designed Apple-like smart home products, like cameras, locks and smart speakers, they would likely smoke those products on the market today. Why have they (or are they) waiting? Perhaps Apple has been waiting to watch the adoption numbers increase for smart products, and perhaps they have been letting Nest, Ring and Echo raise awareness for new categories until they can offer a “category killer” line of products. In the world of smart home products, one in which continuous improvement has been evident, there is still plenty of room for better user experiences, and we can hope Apple will oblige.

Google acquisition of Fitbit worth $2.1 billion

Google made their acquisition plans for Fitbit official. The company stated that Fitbit will be an important addition to its Wear OS wearable family of technologies, and will help the company realize its ambient computing plans — surrounding a person in all places with access to information (and data collection by Google). The company currently licenses its Wear OS technology to watch makers such as Fossil, but does not make a watch. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: Hardware is a tough business, especially living in the shadow of Apple. To the founders and investors of Fitbit, congratulations for hanging in there and making it to your pay day. For Google, this signals that the company is “all in” on hardware and will not be intimidated by its third class status in smartphones (Pixel) and its distant second place in smart speakers. The company’s device strategy has been a bit shaky and the integration of Nest has been bumpy, but Google is signaling that it is ramping up its hardware business. Like Microsoft offering Surface and competing with its biggest customers (Dell, HP, Lenovo), Google is now competing with its best Wear OS customer — Fossil — but going up against Apple will take serious financial firepower and Google has it.

Inne creates home hormone sensor

Berlin-based start up Inne has received Series A funding to further develop its compact saliva-reading hormone analyzer. The device is the latest among many designed for women’s health — providing daily updates on hormone levels to assist in tracking health, menstrual cycles, and to aid in timing for conception. The device sends data to a smartphone app for easy analysis. The company has completed CE certification in Europe and has applied for FDA approval in the U.S. TechCrunch

dis-rup-shun: While the accuracy of a number of vital sign readers in market are still a bit imprecise, the makeup of the home first-aid cabinet is about to change drastically, with new forms of thermometers, ear, nose, throat and eye exam devices, and now hormone readers. Once our home care products are collecting regular, accurate data and storing them on a regular, secure basis, our corporate doctors, located in a far away state, can quickly diagnose us and transmit a prescription to an online pharmacy that will deliver in hours without us ever leaving home.

New generation Google Nest Mini employs edge computing

Google Nest’s next generation of the Mini is still priced at an amazing $49 and features improved sound, the ability to easily mount it on the wall, semi-reliable gesture recognition and more intelligence in the device to perform more processing in the device rather than total reliance on the cloud (this is edge computing). Wired

dis-rup-shun: If you are a Nest product manager, how do you compete with Amazon and its various Echos? You keep the product dirt cheap ($49), you make it look different so it appeals to the hip influencer demographic, you make it mount on the wall (Echos don’t easily do that) and you add a “maybe cool” factor — gesture recognition — that Amazon doesn’t offer. At $49, it’s easy to try one out just for fun and maybe decide to outfit every room if you like it.

Apple outperforms again

Apple stock rises on strong earnings

Apple reported on its Q4 earnings, which showed better than expected results, despite iPhone sales down 9% from last year. Strength in Apple’s recently beefed-up services offering and wearables (watches and AirPods) led to a strong quarter. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: What do you do when your flagship product’s sales are slowing due to market saturation and differentiation is becoming more difficult? You diversify, of course, and seek to differentiate your products by creating more add-ons (AirPods, news, music, TV and gaming services) that strengthen the value of your core product (iPhones). Apple is a master at execution — both device building and marketing, and its success with new products and services is playing out in text book form. The Cupertino hero continues to lead not only technology, but the tech economy.

Ford improves user interfaces to be more tablet-like

Ford will be equipping cars next year with a 15 inch touch screen which will enable simultaneous display of navigation, radio and phone, via either Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. Over the air updates will keep the features and applications current unlike today’s static systems. Wired

dis-rup-shun: We can thank Tesla for showing the auto industry that big screens are not only possible in-dash, but highly desirable. For a decade or more, the technology in cars has been significantly inferior to that of consumer electronics, creating a disappointing experience. Automakers are waking up to the reality that they can differentiate the car driving (and buying) experience with leading edge technology. Just notice that half of car commercials now are not about the car but about the apps available in the the car. Expect future car tech features to be so engaging that consumers will increasingly decide to purchase an additional wireless account for the car.

Tesla debuts solar roof 3.0

Tesla’s slate-looking solar roof tiles are made of a new unspecified material that is easier to install, will withstand 110 mph winds and hail up to 2 inches in diameter. The new tiles come with a 25 year warranty. California’s rolling blackouts to prevent wildfires makes solar much more desirable. Wired

dis-rup-shun: The concept is brilliant but the past application flawed, and Tesla has struggled to be an energy company. Musk, however, like most great pioneers, is unfazed by failure and may get this right. If roof tiles can, in fact, reliably generate electricity and cost about the same as a composite shingle roof with solar panels installed, or can be heavily subsidized by an energy company, then this can be a highly desirable innovation in home building. Climate change is no longer science’s theoretical problem, and as fires, floods, big tornadoes and hurricanes wreck our lives, we are ready to spend more money to be more prepared, and this is one way to confront the increasing perils of home ownership.

We’re not making it hard for hackers – a list of crappy passwords

More than 21 millions stolen passwords used by Fortune 500 employees were found on the Dark Web by researchers. Of these, 95% were plain text and only 25% were unique. Some of the worst passwords commonly used include:

000000, 111111, 123456, password, abc123, opensesame, penispenis, welcome. Forbes

dis-rup-shun: The password game is maddening, with many accounts requiring different rules and all urging users not to use the same password. The only relief is the dubious yet effective encrypted browser based password control program, but placing all of your keys in Google’s hands seems to be a gamble in itself. The market is ripe for a new technology for authentication, but there seems to be little innovation other than two factor authentication. Opportunity?