Netflix ups the content war chest

Netflix raises $2 billion for content development

In the latest move in the streaming wars, Netflix has placed a debt offering to develop more original content. This follows an April offering for the same amount. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: Faced with intense competition, Netflix is showing what it’s made of — doubling down for the long haul, intent to win with better content. The question is, can Netflix be a better studio than the studios and drive more viewers to its monthly service than its competitors who have such assets as live sports (ESPN), blockbuster syndicated series such as Friends (AT&T), and a catalog of treasured content (Disney)? Hats off to the scrappy streamer that, when faced with intense competition, is ready to fight. What is certain is that the big winner in the streaming wars will be the consumer who will enjoy boatloads of original content from competing streaming networks, commercial free, for a low monthly fee.

A look back at 10 years of smartphones

CNET surveys technologies of the last decade, including a look at how smartphones have transformed our lives. Recalling earliest Android devices and apps which included fart and virtual lighter apps that made thousands of dollars of revenue every day, the article lists the industries that have been essentially destroyed by smartphones. Those include MP3 players, point and shoot cameras, voice recorders, GPS devices, and almost, except for Apple’s actions, the wristwatch. Hot companies such as Nokia,  Blackberry, HTC and Motorola were not successful making smartphones that people wanted, and are paying dearly today. Chinese smartphone makers are quickly developing lower cost and high functionality devices that will challenge Apple and Samsung’s dominance.

dis-rup-shun: As in every technology hardware introduction (mainframe, mini-computer, PC, modem, game device, etc.), the category transforms consumer habits, sells millions of units, changes the way people work and live, becomes mature, and reaches commodity status. Can Apple and Samsung continue to innovate at a fast enough pace to stay ahead of Huawai, Xiaomi and Oppo? Expect Apple and Samsung to aggressively lead critical innovations such as heart and health tracking, and to greatly improve their smart home offerings as value adds. Whatever the leaders do, the Chinese players will be very close behind.

Shine brings the smart toilet to U.S. bathrooms

Smart toilets, like those in Japan, are able to clean a person, clean itself, heat the seat, measure heart rates, and play music. Despite their popularity in Japan, they have never caught on in North American homes. The Shine Bathroom Assistant seeks to ease the U.S. market into smart toilets through its $99 Echo looking device that sits next to or on the toilet and cleans the bowl after every flush. It also detects water leaks that are common in toilets. TechCrunch

dis-rup-shun: Transitioning our homes to regularly feature smart appliances and devices will sometimes be painful, asking us to put connected devices all around our homes, running power cords across counter tops, floors and tables. A smart toilet like those in Japan that has everything built in sounds quite nice, but an external gadget that further clutters the bathroom does not. After all, cleaning the toilet is one of the easier home chores. Perhaps Shine can increase our interest in a fully integrated smart toilet, but it won’t be at the top of many people’s holiday shopping list.

Hackers find a way to spoil smart speakers

Malicious third parties have developed a number of skills for Alexa and Google Home that eavesdrop or phish for passwords. The skills, disguised as providers of horoscopes or random numbers, keep listening long after they have gone silent, or provide an error message that requests a password. Ars Technica

dis-rup-shun: Simply put, with each new technology innovation will come abuse and bad intentions. The data security and malware fighting industry has a bright future, and will be an excellent vocation for the brightest of technical minds.

Smart surfaces are next big technology innovation

Next big thing: smart surfaces

Sentons is a company that has developed a processor and software capable of turning any surface into a user interface. The company uses ultrasound technology to make any surface respond to gestures, touch and other forces. Initial applications are for smartphones — enhancing gaming input and camera controls, but the possibilities extend to most any device. TechCrunch

dis-rup-shun: Smart speakers are transformative and we have only begun to see how they will change machine control. Amazon is just now pushing Alexa into cars. Now we know the next wave of innovation of device interaction — making any surface smart. This will lead to virtual keyboards appearing on counter tops, desk surfaces, and appliance controls no longer being physical knobs or buttons, but virtual. Imagine the convenience of typing on your airplane seat tray since there is no space to open up a laptop. The cost of many devices can be reduced as the electro-mechanical components can be eliminated.

Why Big Tech keeps building hardware 

Apple and Samsung are the dominant device makers of our age, yet Big Tech software and service companies keep introducing new devices. Google, with Pixel and Chromebooks, wants to offer a pure, undiluted Google experience to loyalists. Amazon wants to bring consumers into the Amazon shopping experience by any door, and is willing to build devices that support Alexa to help do so. Microsoft uses its Surface line of hardware to introduce and showcase new features, such as the Duo and Neo folding computer. Facebook wants to dominate AR/VR and is using its Oculus investment to try to be the market leader. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: The hardware business is, well, hard, and the margins can be thin. Apple has demonstrated that the new game is not about just making great devices, but using devices as a platform for services, be they music, news, videos, personal fitness, or mobile payments. To be a software and services provider to third-party device makers has become riskier, as device makers often want to use their own services and apps, even if they are not the best. To minimize the risk of displacement, software and service companies are having to take on the difficult, unpredictable, and high cost role of device makers. There will continue to be a few successes, but mostly failures.

Apple credit card the most successful launch ever

Goldman Sachs, the bank behind the Apple credit card, called the launch of the new card the most successful credit card launch ever. While we aren’t given specific data on the launch, consumer demand has been strong since August. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: The magic powers of the Apple brand continue, and Goldman Sachs follows companies like AT&T that have made billions off of Apple’s brand power. The success of the card also prepares the way for Apple to further extend its reach into services including gaming, videos, news and many others not yet imagined. Banks and other partners have to weigh the benefits of a partnership with the risk that Apple will someday decide to offer services without them. If Apple (or Amazon or Google, for that matter) seeks to disrupt an industry, it will, so it makes sense for partners to make as much money while they still can and possibly have a seat at the table for later.

Drone delivery is happening now in Virginia

Wing, the drone division of Google parent, Alphabet, has started delivering small items to residents in Christiansburg, Virginia. Wing’s partners include Walgreens and FedEx and the company has been authorized to deliver packages to certain zones that are beyond the line of sight of Wing traffic controllers. TheVerge

dis-rup-shun: You will enjoy the video that shows how the service works. While we can all think of dozens of complications, the main point is that Wing has beat Amazon and UPS to production. As city streets become increasingly crowded with gray Amazon Prime vans stopping at many houses seven days a week, we have to remember that for Amazon, shipping is not a profit center as it is for UPS and FedEx. One of the carriers’ biggest customers, Amazon, is going to market increasingly without them, potentially changing the economics of the logistics business. If drones will be a profitable delivery mechanism, UPS and FedEx don’t want to lose to Amazon, so FedEx’s partner’s first-to-market win in Virginia is an important development.

Ride sharing fails to dent car ownership

Car ownership up despite ride sharing

Despite the claims that ride sharing and fractional car rental services would lead to fewer people owning cars, the reverse is the case. Shared ride initiatives from BMW and GM have shuttered, and Uber and Lyft are losing vast amounts of money. Wired

dis-rup-shun: Were the futurist simply wrong, or will it take longer for big shifts in ownership habits to change? The article does suggest that decreases in car ownership occurred earlier this decade as a result of the Great Recession, suggesting that ride sharing is now seen as a replacement to the luxury of car ownership. So, the ride share companies just need a good recession to help them be profitable, and the auto makers will be wishing they were still in the ride share business when car sales plummet. 

Robot solves Rubik’s Cube one-handed

OpenAI is a research organization that is developing smarter robots. The organization developed a one-handed robot last year, called Dactyl. This year it taught the robot to solve a Rubik’s Cube using one hand. TheVerge

dis-rup-shun: If you were never able to solve a Rubik’s cube, or never had the patience to learn, then you are reminded that robotics are advancing rapidly and will outperform many of us at many tasks — depressing. However, if you view this amazing video of a boy solving a Rubik’s cube in 4.22 seconds, you are reminded that robotics will never outperform humans when humans are at their best. As stated before, the displacement of robotics will be for ordinary, repetitive tasks and the hope is that these machines will free up mankind for higher productivity pursuits.

Congress calls for in-car drunk driver detection technology

According to the NHTSA drunk driving crashes cost almost $200 billion and killed 10,847 people in 2017. New legislation by two senators, Tom Udall of Utah, and Rick Scott of Florida, call for in-car technology for detecting a drunk driver be installed in every new car. New technology uses infrared to scan blood vessels in a driver’s fingers, or to detect eye movement. CNET

dis-rup-shun: Technologies to increase safety should be a welcome addition and should be fully supported by bipartisan government leaders. The additional costs of technology in the car could be offset by the savings to law enforcement. These in-car technologies could inform you of the location of the Uber driver that your car just hailed as it gives you the disappointing news that you will not be driving tonight.

Big Tech on stage at Democratic debate

Big Tech and anti-competitive practices were a topic at Tuesday’s Democratic party debate. An array of views all agreed that Big Tech needs to be examined more carefully, but not all agreed with Senator Warren’s call to break up all the Big Tech companies. Andrew Yang suggested that returning ownership of personal data to individuals is a way to rein in Big Tech, while Beto suggested companies like Facebook be regulated like publishers, rather than utilities. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: Big Tech will test the resolve of Democrats as the Big Tech founders and employees lean heavily Democratic and will want to shower their favorite candidates with riches. But with the Dems promising to curtail Big Tech power, its an awkward dance. Expect to see the sitting Congress continue to keep the heat on Big Tech through fines and investigations and the calls for a break up to grow quiet after a Democratic candidate has been selected.

Cartoon of man selling his own data in tag sale


Ready for a smarter lock?

Former Apple employees start a smart lock business

Level Lock is the latest entry into the smart lock business. The founders are former Apple employees who envision a smart lock that can be controlled by an app, by smart speakers such as Alexa, can be included into home automation scenarios, can be unlocked with a code texted to someone, and is backed by Walmart and Lennar homes. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: A few former Apple employees leave the company to create a far better version of an everyday household product that will sell for a premium. If the story sounds familiar, it is the story of Nest, which was quickly gobbled up by Google for $3.2 billion. Level Lock sounds like a great sequel, but this time big investors like Walmart and Lennar lined up early, possibly to keep the company from being swallowed up by Amazon or Google, or big lock makers such as Assa Abloy or Spectrum, who purchased August Lock and Kevo, respectively. Add in the growth of the AirBnB rental economy plus the rising demands of home health care, in which strangers will frequently enter homes, and the timing is good for Level Lock.

Google’s hardware party

Google unveiled several new products at a launch event in NYC. The new products include:

Pixel 4 Phone – selling for $799 or $899 for the XL version, implements a better camera, facial recognition technology, and gesture control.

Pixel Buds – Google’s answer to Apple’s AirPods, featuring BlueTooth distance of a football field or three rooms inside a building.

Pixelbook Go – starting at $649, is a souped up Chromebook that provides more memory and more processor for those that can live on a cloud based computing device.

Nest Mini (re-branding of the Google Mini smart speaker) – is $50, smaller, comes in bright colors, can serve as a home intercom, music player, or can be used to call people on their phones.

Nest Wi-Fi Router — priced at $269 for 2 or $349 for 3, are colorful small devices that spread Wi-Fi signal throughout the home by creating a mesh network. Wired

dis-rup-shun: Google’s hardware rollout has been, to date, a bit disjointed and it has definitely made some heavy handed moves with its integration of Nest products into the Google mothership. It is hard for the Big Tech companies to be all things, but it appears that they are all trying, with even Facebook now in the hardware business. Given the close relationship between devices and services, first manifest in the iPod and iTunes, it seems that each Big Tech company needs to ensure that its services will have a device home by building its own hardware. The dream of open systems in which any hardware device can run any software or service app (like an AM/FM radio or a WinTel PC) is once again under fire, as companies race to own complete product ecosystems.

TytoCare is a home health device that includes the doctor

TytoCare is a multi-purpose tool about the size of an orange, with multiple attachments to enable one to perform simple at home health tests. Tests include ear exam, heart rate measurement, temperature, lung and throat exams. The app connects the device to a doctor, who can either remotely take over the exam, or who can read data from the just-performed exam and make a diagnosis, including prescribing medicine. BestBuy Studio @ Gizmodo

dis-rup-shun: When the first in-home thermometers were sold, people must have felt they were on the threshold of a technology breakthrough. Tyto is the new home thermometer, and for those with young children, the convenience is astounding. Devices like Tyto will contribute to the demise of the family doctor, who will now be bypassed by the rotating crew of corporate doctors at the other end of the TytoCare app. As mentioned previously, these new business models will make it easier for doctors to thrive in the world of expensive office rents, equipment and insurance.

Flexera survey spells trouble for enterprise IT providers

A study of anticipated IT spending shows that as computing moves to the cloud, makers of enterprise premise software, namely Oracle and IBM, may be big losers. ZDNet

dis-rup-shun: Migration to the cloud is no secret, and a trend that started a handful of years ago. But legacy software and services providers may not have moved quickly enough to stem the rush of revenues to big cloud providers such as AWS, Microsoft and Google. What is not measured by Flexera is the fallout to IT consulting shops such as Accenture, HPE, Deloitte, etc. whose businesses may be under pressure from cloud companies who are good at packaging solutions with their cloud services. Why would an enterprise pay Accenture hundreds of thousands for a custom implementation when AWS could offer similar solutions-as-a-service rolled into the cost of computing time and data storage fees? It’s a fast changing landscape.

GDP missing critical data

Internet disrupting the study of economics, says Powell

The economy may be stronger than we think. Jerome Powell, Chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank, noted in a recent speech that the country’s lackluster GDP and productivity may not be due to a mild economy, but may the result of metrics. GDP, the valuation of goods and services over a period of time, has been missing, for quite a period of time, the value of some of our most important services. The Internet economy leverages a massive amount of resources (network, software, hardware and people) to produce free services such as search, video (YouTube, etc.), social networking, email, maps, Wiki facts, etc. The consumption of those services does not get valued given they are, to some level, free, therefore our GDP measurements are missing a significant amount of production. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: Could it be that the Internet has broken the study of, and measurement of, economies? Our university professors are so busy studying the disruption of traditional industries that they didn’t notice that their’s too, has been disrupted? To be fair, the economic value of free Internet services do get monetized in the form of advertisements and premium services, and those are getting measured. Along those same lines, if more output is being sold for less (or given away for free), then does that suggest that the developed world’s economic productivity, as measured by the market value of produced goods and services, is, by nature, decreasing? If so, then the economic metrics of yesterday simply must be supplemented by alternative metrics to determine if our workers today are producing more output, measured in something other than market prices, to determine if we are heading up, down, or sideways. N.B. If you know an economist, please forward this article and ask for her or his help!

Apple’s key growth driver in 2020 will be $399 iPhone

TF Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo reported that a highly affordable iPhone will launch in 2020 for $399. He estimates that 170M to 200M people are still on the iPhone 6 (Apple’s best seller so far) which will not support the latest iOS version (13). CNBC

dis-rup-shun: As stated in this publication and others, a slow down in smartphone sales is a significant problem for today’s leading tech companies, as smartphones are economic drivers of innovation and the cash fueling the world’s largest tech device companies. Would a low cost iPhone be Apple’s key growth driver? How will such a cheap phone impact the sales of thousand dollar iPhone 11s? Perhaps premium phone buyers and budget buyers, who have not upgraded since iPhone 6, are discrete market segments and Apple is essentially doubling or tripling its potential market with this two-tiered approach. Regardless of cannibalism by a lower priced offering, the move is smart as Apple will not force budget customers to turn to the rising wave of high-feature low-cost smartphones made by China’s Huawei, Xiaomi, Lenovo, ZTE and others.

New Zealand firm catalogs and tracks space debris

Debris the size of an M&M floating in space could destroy a multi-million dollar satellite. There are over 12,000 small objects orbiting the Earth and every month, more satellites and devices are being launched by governments and companies. Leo Labs is a company that tracks and follows space objects. The company has just activated a massive phased array radar in New Zealand which can quickly scan space and rapidly track objects. TechCrunch

dis-rup-shun: Leo Labs has tapped into a strong growth business, with customers who have already invested millions or more in their craft, and who have little choice but to pay for improved tracking. This may be a business like satellite radio that later was determined to never be profitable until Sirius merged with XM Radio. The fixed costs are high and it is hard to know how much customers will pay. One big collision and the guys in New Zealand can say “I told you so, would you like to subscribe?”

Report details Chinese hacking to assist in development of Chinese airliner

The hacker tracking and security company CrowdStrike published a report on Monday that chronicles the amazing stories of organized hacking campaigns backed by the Chinese Ministry of State to obtain intellectual property from global aviation companies. The campaigns were intended to assist China’s Comac state-owned aerospace maker bring the C919 airliner to market.  ZDNet

dis-rup-shun:  The timing of the report is interesting, given what may have been a breakthrough in strained U.S. – China trade relations only a working day prior. Regardless of any political agenda CrowdStrike may or may not have, the fascinating chronicle of espionage will make a great movie some day.

Samsung’s The Wall is 146 inch TV

Samsung’s “The Wall” 146 inch TV now installed

Southern California video company Just One Touch/Video & Audio completed the first U.S. in-home installation of Samsung’s giant wall panel MicroLED TV. The price of the installation was not disclosed, but several more are scheduled for a movie star, hotel and a mega yacht. CEPro

dis-rup-shun: This giant wall TV will be a big hit in 2020 as news will travel fast that it is possible to own the largest TV made. Other manufacturers will follow quickly and high-end homes will feature media rooms that, instead of having a big built-in TV, will have a complete wall covered, top to bottom, side to side, by TV.

Some doctors getting licensed in all states to prepare for telemedicine

Insurance companies have begun to cover remote medical care, or telemedicine, which means that you can have a video chat with a doctor who may live in a state across the country from where you live. The telehealth business will be worth $130 billion by 2025. In order to offer a comprehensive telemedicine business, doctors must be licensed in all states that may call the doctor. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: Telemedicine will be the norm, not the exception, for doctor visits within several year’s time. Use of doctors’ services will actually increase when you don’t have to wait for the office to open, try to find a convenient appointment time, drive across town, sit in the waiting room and eventually see the doctor. Doctors who are getting licensed in all 50 states are likely on their way to developing mega-practices, and it is likely that the future of medical practices will be a small number of giant doctor corporations (think of national and regional banks) and plenty of small specialists whose trade will continue to require local, in-person visits. The changes will be rough on doctors, but will help them find business models that continue to reward them well for their expertise.

Nature-as-a-service may have positive effects on workers

Monthly plant subscription businesses such as Horti that deliver a plant a month, can have positive impacts on moods and productivity. Some studies indicate an increase in worker output when surrounded by natural elements. Wired

dis-rup-shun: The subscription/rental economy, with cars, rooms, homes and pools available for om demand, makes having a little nature in life easy and affordable. Millennials who seem averse to ownership, can have a new plant each month and not worry about the permanence of trying to raise one or two houseplants for years to come. Kill it and no sweat, another plant is sent to you next month and you can start over.

Nomad Base Station Pro offers charging surface

The Nomad Pro is the surface charger that Apple delivered then discontinued. The device charges up to three devices at once, all at a charging speed of 5W — not the fastest speed, but adequate. The Nomad station, however, does not support charging for the Apple Watch. TechCrunch

dis-rup-shun: Surface charging has been slow to catch on, but offers a great alternative to cord hunting. Charging surfaces built into car consoles are a great accessory, and desks at work should have a built in charging surface, preferably that looks the same as the desktop itself. Expect smart counter tops and work surfaces at home and in the office to be chargers, as more and more of our personal communications devices will require charging at all different times of day.

Make your own vinyl records

Phonocut for in home analog recordings

Phonocut is an in-home vinyl lathe that enables anyone to cut their own 10 inch records. An audio cable plugs input in from other devices including your own musical creation and can be controlled with an app. The device costs $1,100. Wired

dis-rup-shun: The nostalgic fascination with vinyl and the many great hours spinning records with friends in understandable, but this is stretching it. Do you really want to create a library of vinyl that will be based, most likely, on input from digital recordings? What’s next, cassette tape players with digital inputs, or even better, a return to 8 Track tape players. Will the new 8 Track version be as good at eating the tape after about 10 plays?

2019 IPOs will face internal price pressure in Q4

The class of 2019 IPOs, including Pinterest, Uber, and Zoom, face a rocky market in Q4 as some investors are convinced of recession, while trade war moves create constant unrest. On top of market volatility, lock up periods for employees and investors will expire, resulting in significant sell-offs by insiders during Q4. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: Expect a rising number of tech IPOs to be direct offerings, cutting out expensive banking firms. Market volatility, working against the critical need for an oversupply of venture capitalists to earn a return on a shrinking pool new companies, will require some cost cutting moves. In the age of everything-as-a-service and the rental economy, tech investors, of all people, will be more anxious to prove the benefits of DIY IPOs. Investment banking is in for a rough ride as the pool of new companies shrinks and the economic landscape shows many warning signs.

EyeQue Vision Check smartphone eye exam

Several companies are working on cutting out the ophthalmologist by creating DIY eye exams. 800 Contacts offers an online eye exam, and EyeQue Vision has won awards for its smartphone attachment that determines your prescription. Gizmodo’s reporter, however, warns people with significant vision problems to see a professional.

dis-rup-shun: The medical industry is in dire need of technology disruption, and many of these disruptions are very welcome changes. Technology will, fortunately, more efficiently allocate health care resources to specialty cases, requiring advanced expertise, while middle of the road cases will be processed by lower skilled workers, aided by artificial intelligence or by devices such as EyeQue. Doctors need to begin tailoring their practices to specialized, fringe cases, where they will be paid more for their deep expertise as the average medical procedure is already providing little financial reward for medical professionals.

Apple Watch versus Fitbit Versa 2

Apple Watch Series 5 is an amazing device. Fitbit’s Versa 2 holds its own at half the price and longer battery life. Apple Watch functionality is expanded though use of the iPhone, but can provide a host of connected services without the phone. Versa 2 works with Android or iOS, includes Alexa support, and is well designed for workouts. Both watches have always on displays, and a wide variety of style choices. CNET

dis-rup-shun: How to survive in a market when your primary competitor is Apple? Specialize and differentiate. If Fitbit tries to be a nearly-as-good Apple watch at half the price, it will struggle. The company should dig deep and create a rich content library of workout classes that make the experience very unique — forming a cult like following of loyalists. Fitbit should take some lessons from Peloton, and create content that is more valued than the hardware.

Can Apple create AR glasses that people actually want?

Apple rumored to release augmented reality glasses in 2020

A Chinese securities analyst has reported that Apple plans to release a number of new devices in the first half of 2020, including augmented reality glasses. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: Augmented reality glasses, a different product from AR headsets adopted by some gamers, have yet to become a widely adopted product. Glasses brought to market by players such as Google have been bulky, awkward and provide questionable value. Wearers of Google Glass were labeled “glassholes” as the primary purpose for wearing them seemed to be to impress. Apple took the MP3 player from niche market to mainstream, then did the unthinkable by creating a computer the size of a phone. The company’s watch line continues to gain features, style and adoption. So can Apple make AR glasses a mainstream product? To succeed, the glasses must be highly fashionable, becoming an object of desire. Apple is good at that. Like the Apple watch, AR glasses will need to be developed in cooperation with a hot designer such as Oakley, Chanel, or Michael Kors, for starters. This is a formidable test for Apple, and a good chance to see if the company still has “it.”

Google Cloud begins massive hiring to catch Amazon and Microsoft

Google has hired SAP’s top HR executive to triple in size in an effort to catch Amazon and Microsoft’s booming cloud business. Deutsche Bank values Google’s cloud business at $225 billion. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: The future of computing is in the cloud. The arrival of 5G and the constant threat of hackers and ransomware make cloud computing the best choice in many applications. As reported in May, Q1 market share of cloud vendors pegged Amazon at 33% of the market, followed by Microsoft at 16%, Google 8%, IBM 6%, and Alibaba at 5%. Margins and growth are high in the cloud business and Google wants its share. Google’s ramp up may create some competitive pricing and increase the economic attractiveness of cloud services. 

Tile, stickers, and IOT’s ROI problem

Tile, the company that developed tracking devices for easy to misplace valuables such as keys and purses, is releasing a sticker. The sticker adheres to objects that tiles can’t attach to, and uses Bluetooth with a range of 150 feet. Outside of that range, other Tile devices form a mesh-like network to extend the tracking range, assuming there are others device nearby. TechCrunch

dis-rup-shun: A world of connected devices is a wonderful idea, and being able to track everyday items sounds like the ultimate IoT use case. Tile and its competitors, however, are struggling, and like so many IoT applications, strong profits are not following great ideas. A number of general problems are plaguing IoT applications, including lack of scale, high infrastructure costs, and soft use cases. Perhaps all of these are the same problem, but until consumers are convinced that such connected amenities are staples, they aren’t buying enough for vendors to reach economies of scale and, subsequently, profitability. The road to connected living will continue to be littered with companies that had great ideas before their time. If every product category could enjoy the explosive growth of the smartphone, many of us would already be on the beach.

The worst of the last decade of tech

CNET’s 2010s Decade in Review features some of the worst of the last decade:

  • Robocalls — more SPAM calls than real ones
  • Litigation: Apple vs. Samsung — seven years of court battles that were finally settled for $1 billion
  • Flaming batteries (lithium-ion) in Galaxy Note 7s, e-cigarettes, and Teslas
  • Transportation deaths — 757 Max, Takata air bags, ebikes and scooters
  • Selfies and the fatal version, killfies
  • The end of net neutrality
  • So called unlimited data plans that throttle data speeds
  • Subscription fatigue — the creation of many subscription services and the requirement to join many to enjoy the same shows we used to get
  • Ransomware and cyber crime
  • Loss of privacy to omnipresence video cameras
  • Nearly routine data breaches
  • Social media bullying and hate messages

dis-rup-shun: Let’s add one more – no serious progress towards eliminating passwords and differing requirements for characters across accounts, resulting in memory retention for passwords at less than 50%.


Senior care enabled through inexpensive DIY kit

Smart home kit enables remote, unobtrusive tracking of seniors 

People Power has released Presence Care, a kit consisting of a gateway and five sensors, for $299, which can be self-installed in the home or apartment of seniors. Intelligence in the cloud quickly learns residents’ routines and alerts a circle of trusted family and friends if activities, such as frequent bathroom use, oversleeping, wandering, or even falls, are outside of the norm. Global News Wire

dis-rup-shun: Providing a simple, cost-effective system for keeping tabs on seniors is critical for keeping families who more frequently live far apart, close. Senior care is perhaps one of the most important uses of machine learning, as changes in sleep and bathroom habits correlate highly with illness, and addressing oncoming illness early can prevent hospital admissions. Hospital admissions in the U.S. for seniors cost an average of $10,000 and often precipitate a move to a higher level of residential care, ranging from $50,000 per year for independent living to $80,000 for assisted living. Expect significant use of sensor technologies and machine learning to keep families in closer touch with seniors.

Smart stove knobs prevent kitchen fires

By 2022, American households are expected to spend more than $63 billion on smart home products and services. One new product from Inirv is smart stove knobs that sense when a stove has been left on for longer than normal, and signals to others as well as shuts off the stove. The knobs can also be controlled through an app to remotely adjust cooking temperatures, or to turn on based on timer settings. The app can also be controlled through smart speakers such as Echo and Google Home. Hypepotamus

dis-rup-shun: The smart home industry is awash with gadgets that don’t make sense, but products that increase safety and convenience without requiring a complete replacement of expensive appliances is a winner. One can easily visualize a time when smart stove knobs could be required by building codes, and a time when smart knobs are included in all new stove models. Just like power windows or door locks on cars, in a few short years, many of today’s smart home innovations will be expected standards in 100% of new homes.

iPhone now blocks SPAM calls

A feature built into Apple’s latest iPhone software version, iOS 13.0, automatically blocks SPAM calls, or most any call that is unknown. For numbers that you have not recently called or that are not in your contacts list, calls are routed directly to voice mail. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: For people who have been using third party apps to block robot callers (I use Robokiller), the built-in app prevents one from having two voice mailboxes, as well as an additional annual fee, as Robokiller is $30 per year — a veritable fortune in a world of $.99 apps. Features like these keep us interested in the latest updates for our expensive phones, and help us justify spending $1000 on the latest and greatest. Expect high value features like this one to keep us interested in the newest phone models and software releases.

Sony PlayStation 5: faster, richer, better

Sony’s next console, the PS5, will feature solid state storage, eliminating a hard drive and increasing loading times. The device features better graphics capabilities, utilizing ray tracing technology, and a controller with rich haptic feedback, enabling you to feel the bumpy ground when you swerve your race car off the track. Wired

dis-rup-shun: Despite the evolution of computer and mobile gaming that has progressed as much if not more than any other technology since its humble origins, game enthusiasts love consoles. Apple’s and Google’s games services will engage many a business traveler or soccer mom, but enthusiasts want premium experiences that only consoles can provide. Despite efforts to grow the game market, the three big console makers understand the power of market segmentation (as well as the Cash Cow of the BCG brand matrix), and keep milking enthusiasts by providing ever greater console experiences.

Uber plans to test self-driving cars and air taxis in Dallas

Uber points to Dallas as test city for self driving cars

Uber has big plans for Dallas, including a second headquarters in the downtown neighborhood of Deep Ellum, expecting 3000 employees to be based there. The company halted tests of self driving cars after one of its cars killed a pedestrian in Arizona. Road tests have resumed in Pittsburgh and will begin in Dallas in the near future, the company states. In addition to self driving car tests, the Dallas operations will test the company’s urban air taxi service. The Dallas Morning News 

dis-rup-shun: A Town Hall meeting is scheduled in Dallas to get resident’s feedback. Dallas likes to think of itself as a progressive city, so tech leaders are welcome, but is there fear of being run down by driver less cars in downtown Dallas? Given that driver-full cars offer enough danger, Dallasites will be hard pressed to oppose Uber’s move to their city.

15 important tech trends for the next decade

As we near the year’s end, it is time to hear various analysts’ thoughts on the future. Here are the top 15 of 90 trends that were presented in London by CSS Insight. Read them all at ZDNet

  • By 2021, algorithmic and anti-bias data auditors emerge to tackle “pale, male and stale” artificial intelligence
  • By 2023, psychometric testing of software developers becomes commonplace
  • By 2021, Amazon buys 5G mobile spectrum for its own use in at least one market
  • In 2020, Apple launches its “Apple Privacy” brand
  • By 2021, a Premier League football club launches a facial recognition ticketing system
  • Artificial intelligence replaces referees in a major sporting event by 2022
  • Samsung launches Galaxy Glasses in 2022
  • Environmental pressure sees virtual reality displace 20% of business travel by 2029
  • By 2025, one in 50 households in affluent markets owns a domestic robot
  • Brain–computer interfaces evolve beyond medical applications into commercial offerings by 2027
  • By 2023, a lack of diversity in data sets pushes a wearable device maker to pay users for their data
  • Oversupply of 5G smartphones in 2020 sees prices plummet
  • In 2020, at least five operators start to offer subscribers an annual smartphone “health check”

dis-rup-shun: Some of these are easier to visualize than others. A vendor needs to take ownership of a privacy standard and make that an asset that differentiates the brand. Apple is a logical player to do so. Others will follow in a race to provide the most private, best secured services and products — and that’s a great achievement for all. Facial recognition in lines at airports, concerts and events would be a convenience, if it works and at airports we are glad to give up our identities as all of us simple travelers know we don’t need to be security checked. The oversupply of smartphones has already started, resulting in a less costly iPhone, and likely to bring on more great choices for a lot less money for those that don’t need a state of the art camera in their smartphone.

3D printed organs replace cadavers 

Stratasys’ J750 Digital Anatomy 3D Printer and new synthetic materials together result in a 3D printed heart that is so realistic in texture and structure, that it will replace human cadavers in many institutions. The printer can create an exact replica of a heart with a particular anomaly, to be studied prior to surgery. Tech Republic

dis-rup-shun: As the medical industry is rapidly squeezed by rising costs and labor shortages, technology can impact the level and cost of care in thousands of ways. Building organ models that are nearly realistic enough for human use will increase the level of education and preparation for health professionals, and will enable people with injuries and medical conditions to keep a copy of their bodies available for care professionals as a 3D medical record.