It’s the experience, stupid!
Best Buy was believed to be on death row only a handful of years ago, as similar big box stores such as Toys ‘R Us bit the dust and blamed the Amazon Effect. Best Buy’s sales are on an uptick. Its success is attributed to three things that are not easily available online: a well-lit, attractive place to see and touch products, knowledgeable sales people, and the ability to pair a sale with an installation appointment by the Geek Squad. Wired
dis-rup-shun: The call for experiences is all around us. It’s the only reason that new malls are still being built, new restaurants are opening weekly and movie theaters, despite exorbitant ticket and refreshment prices, are still selling out. It’s why Apple stores are often packed to capacity. Experience is something that Amazon has not yet been able to offer on its website, and the reason that the online king is increasingly opening brick and mortar stores.
AI employed to sort your old Lego collection
In an ingenious display of AI, or more specifically, a convolutional neural network, Daniel West has developed, out of Legos, a machine for sorting any Legos that the computer powering the system has ever seen in a 3D rendering. See it sort on YouTube. TheVerge
dis-rup-shun: This demonstration is a great visualization of how AI and object recognition can transform processes in a manufacturing facility, an airport baggage belt, a pill dispensary, or many other applications. The fact that it is made of and for Legos also reveals that the toys of tomorrow also need to include software components. Kids of tomorrow will be snapping the Lego AI module onto the Lego platform and solving many of civilization’s toughest problems on the floor of their rooms. Toys and entertainment need to keep apace of flourishing minds and their craving for powerful tools.
Newer, cheaper self-driving tech on the horizon
A start up called Aeva, founded in 2017 in Mountain View, California, has attracted the attention of automaker giant, Volkswagen. The company employs a technology called silicon photonics that results in an autonomous package in the $500 per car range — far cheaper than current offerings in development. Volkswagen is considering implementation of the technology in the resurrection of its iconic VW van, called the ID Buzz vehicle. CNBC
dis-rup-shun: Competition once again proves that more nimble players will increase the rate of development of a new technology. If you aren’t familiar with Christensen’s classic Innovators Dilemma, this is an example of emerging companies being out-innovated. With more players offering more affordable paths to the goal line, autonomous cars may be on the road in four to six years.
Smart home product makers waiting for privacy guidance
TechCrunch has inquired of smart home makers if they have a stated policy and report for what personal data has been requested by and or released to law enforcement agencies. Amazon, Facebook and Google/Nest all disclosed any government requests in their respective transparency reports. Apple stated that due to the fact that all data collected is anonymized, no such report is necessary. Other popular device makers have not produced transparency reports.
dis-rup-shun: The debate about the legality and morality of providing personal data in criminal cases will endure until the end of time. The best examples we have from our past are the most personal high tech device our society has enjoyed over the past 100 or so years — the telephone. The use of phone records in criminal cases is well established and will likely set the legal standards for smart home devices. Companies such as Google who want to personalize and monetize personal data will face increasing pressure to anonymize data, like Apple, and will find themselves at the middle of this debate for years to come.