Moxie robot teaches kids what parents don’t

Moxie robot builds children’s social and emotional skills

Moxie is a small robot for children. It is designed by the founder of iRobot, makers of Roomba whose current company, Embodied, has identified the need to help children with deficiencies in social and emotional development. Moxie becomes a new friend and mentor for children, helping them learn to make eye contact when speaking, remember to thank people, and complete a number of human tasks. Wired

dis-rup-shun: Sad. Parents aren’t modeling social and emotional skills for their children and need to outsource parenting to a little robot. On the other hand, we all know people whose parents clearly skipped those lessons when raising them, and would have benefited from a robot step-parent. Expect teaching robots to be common household appliances in three to five years.

Zoom chooses Oracle in chess match with Google and Microsoft

Zoom announced that it has chosen Oracle, a distant “also ran” cloud infrastructure provider to handle the exploding demand for Zoom’s video conferencing services. The choice became clear as cloud leaders Microsoft with Teams video conferencing software and Google with its Meet video software announced plans to provide the software for free (Teams is a no-cost add-on to users of Office). Zoom stated that it was not interested in funding its rival’s free offerings. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: The diversity of the organizations under Big Tech’s umbrellas make it hard for smaller technology players to determine who is friend or foe. Is Google’s massive ad platform, the leading online marketplace, also a threat as it collects shopping and traffic data of all of its customers’ customers? Is Amazon’s leading cloud platform — a significant infrastructure provider — providing competitive data to Scale obviously has advantages, but creates many conflicts that are the source of much of the Justice Department’s concerns about Big Tech, which have been muffled by the COVID crisis.

Electric Harley Davidson is the company’s latest reinvention

Harley’s LiveWire is an exciting offering in the growing electric motorcycle market. Harley has broken its tradition of using mostly its own components and has sourced best of breed components from other vendors to create a state of the art device. For $30,000, one can have an efficient, renewable energy work of art. CNET

dis-rup-shun: Harley has taken a play out of Tesla’s playbook. That is, the company is first launching a state-of-the-art, top-of- the-line product that redefines the company’s image as leading innovator. GM’s approach to electric vehicles — starting with the economy-minded Volt, proved unexciting. Harley, like Tesla, can later target a larger, more mainstream motorcycle buyer with a less expensive electric model, but first it will tantalize the market with a product many people, including non-cycle enthusiasts, would like to own.

Indoor security camera round up: Wyse wins

CNET offers a quick review of the top indoor Wi-Fi connected cameras, from the best value to the most sophisticated. The Wyze camera costs $20 with 2 weeks of free video storage. Netatmo works with HomeKit, the iPhone native home control app. Nest Cam IQ recognizes faces and tells you who is coming and going.

dis-rup-shun: These amazing cameras at amazing prices will continue to make homes smart. My employer’s latest survey, research firm Interpret, determines that 11% of U.S. broadband users have a smart security camera installed. With the Nest Cam, how could you teenager ever deny coming home after curfew? Expect that 11% to grow steadily as people solve “home problems” with video.


Drones deliver meds to retirement community

UPS and CVS use drones to deliver meds to retirement homes

Residents at Florida’s The Villages retirement community will receive medications via drone, starting next month. The companies have been testing the service since last year and are now addressing the challenges of the current conditions by delivering medications to a facility that is particularly vulnerable to visits from non-residents. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: The current shelter in place environment is a text book application for medicines delivered by drones — especially since most drones cannot carry a heavy payload. Light loads such as medications, in emergency situations, are an ideal application of the aircraft. Regular specialty delivery applications will advance the role of drones as everyday link in the logistics chain.

Airbus 380, the largest passenger jet, is 15 years old and retired

The massive A380 is the largest production passenger plane ever built and is Airbus’ answer to the Boeing 747 — provided to a market that was clamoring for large, efficient craft to optimize hub and spoke airline operations models. The A380, however, turned out to be more fixed asset than most airlines wanted — requiring terminal and tarmac re-configurations and oceans of fuel to operate. Airbus expected to sell over 1200 models over its product life, but pulled the plug on the program after selling only 251. CNET

dis-rup-shun: The Corona Virus pandemic did not kill the A380, but it put the last nail in the coffin as all A380s are currently grounded. Attacking business problems with scale is difficult, and risky. While scale often looks like the proper strategy on paper, the inflexibility created by commitments large enough to keep a fleet of A380s flying has proved to be a hindrance. The A380 will be honored as both an engineering feat as well as case study in business planning.

WFH is working well for a large number of displaced workers

In a multi-state survey, 42% of respondents reported to be working from home, up from 9% who were working from home pre-COVID. Among respondents working from home, 24% indicate a desire to remain at home or working at home more frequently after the shelter in place order is over. 60% of workers stated that they are equally or more productive at home than in office, and 28% said time saved on commuting was spent working longer. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: Even a 5% shift in work habits will send ripples through the office economy — lowering demand for office space, office supplies, lunch counters, commuter trains, bus seats, tolls, gas consumed and dry cleaning, to name a few items. The productivity gains proven from web conferencing and remote work platforms such as Teams and Slack will result in permanent structural changes to many organizations — and potentially better performance and lifestyles for workers.

Books sales are booming – not just at Amazon

Online booksellers are pandemic winners. Independent bookseller upstart Bookshop expects to complete $6 million in sales in year one, and hot topics are gardening, sustainability and eco-friendly activities, while guide books, travel and foreign language topics are duds. Wired

dis-rup-shun: Not just Bezos, but everyone in the online book business is enjoying the spoils of a captive audience. At home online entertainment companies are thriving, including those that support cooking, streaming video, music services, games, sexual health, exercise and home delivery, to name a few.

Your personal data could prevent future pandemics

Social networks may be the future of epidemic tracking

Carnegie Melon University is working to use self-reported personal data to Facebook and Google, about COVID and statistics on doctor visits to build a data map of the pandemic, which may be a powerful predictive tool for future outbreaks.  Wired

dis-rup-shun: This is a great example of how using your data and mine can help scientists identify movement of diseases from region to region, perhaps better preparing communities for what is coming, and understanding what actions may be taken to curtail outbreaks. This data is provided by willing volunteers, so if it seems creepy or “overstepping” consider that individuals have decided to make a contribution, using the new currency of personal information. After all, you are already contributing every day, thanks to your smartphone.

Facebook adds video calling for 50 to Messenger

Facebook won’t get left out of the video conferencing boom. The company will begin, this Friday, enabling free video calling for up to 50 through Messenger rooms over which the host can control access and invite people without having Facebook accounts. Video call traffic in WhatsApp and Messenger has more than doubled since the beginning of the global pandemic. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: First there was the telegraph, and a company called ITT dominated. Eventually the telephone replaced the telegraph, and calling was dominated by AT&T. Then, of course, there were mobile phones dominated by a company called Cingular Wireless, and then there was the Internet, dominated by Google for search and Facebook for social networking. Will Zoom become the dominant video conferencing provider of the next era, controlling the majority of video conference calls? Not if Facebook can stop them with WhatsApp and Messenger. Leadership is changing quickly with the world turning to virtual communities and Facebook knows that an opportunity lost may not ever be regained.

Fortnite in-game concert event attracts 12.3 million players

Epic Games’ Fortnite property hosted a live, in-game concert by rapper Travis Scott. The psychedelic event was a debut for new music from the rapper. The event follows prior events featuring a never before seen clip from Star Wars, and Chance the Rapper’s Quibi debut. Event attendees received special Fortnite loot. CNET

dis-rup-shun: An alternative reality is not complete without an alternative economy, and attracting players with big name live events does a good job of pumping up the latter. Epic is creating buzz for Fortnite and, just like a live concert, gets a bump from selling special items within the event. And you thought there was nothing to do during quarantine?

Airtime app creates a YouTube viewing party

The new Airtime app from YouTube enables a group of friends, families, or associates to experience a curated set of video together, in a private viewing room on YouTube. Once friends are alerted and invited, then sign in to a private room where they can, together, watch a movie of show, watch and video chat with one-another, and pause the video as desired. CNET

dis-rup-shun: Forget homework — every night is now a Friday night sleepover with this app. This blend of YouTube and Zoom takes virtual community building to a new level. Expect group activities such as going to a mall, a movie theater or a frozen yogurt shop to be permanently impacted by increasingly better ways to hang out without every leaving home.


Google changes the ad game, again

Google requires all advertisers to provide identity to consumers

Google is making a major change to online advertising, requiring all advertisers to provide their identity and country of origin for any consumer that clicks “Why this ad?” button. All advertisers will be given 30 days to comply with the same disclosure that Google has required of political candidates since 2018. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: It is very gratifying to see new CEOs such as Google’s Sundar Pichai join Microsoft’s not-so-new CEO, Satya Nadella, do logical and smart things to make their companies better industry leaders. Maybe Zuckerberg will get inspired to polish up his company’s tarnished reputation, and take a leadership position in the right direction.

Apple releases cheap but powerful iPhone

Apple’s iPhone SE is out this Friday, and while Apple has not made much noise about it, it is a powerful offering at $399. For less than half of the flagship iPhone 11, one can get the same processor, much of the same camera technology (no zoom or wide angle) in what is an iPhone 8 case. Battery life is shorter, but if you charge daily, no big deal. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: Why is this a big deal? Apple needed to beef up its low end to ward off growing rivals from Korea and China that are offering amazing functionality for less. Also, in the post-COVID-19, yet-to-be-named recession we are now in, plopping down a grand for a new device will be a low priority. As long as you are not ashamed by your smaller screen, you can replace your old or broken phone without breaking the bank.

WAH desk injuries? Get a massage gun

One side effect of sitting at your desk for inordinate hours is aches and pains in the back and butt. Percussive massage guns are an increasingly important work at home tool, along with large monitors, standing desks, and back lighting for web conferences. There are a variety of massage gun models for different conditions. Jen Reviews

dis-rup-shun: Working at home, if you are not home schooling, raises efficiency and output for most knowledge workers. It also required that people learn when to leave the office. For many, the result is 14 or more hours in the desk chair, especially since our social lives often take place from the same seat. Post sheltering massage businesses should see a surge in demand, but until then, massage guns and Peloton workouts will sustain us.

Smart homes learn by listening

Carnegie Melon University and Apple are partnering to develop Listen Learner AI technology. Listen Learner is an AI based technology that enables smart devices in the home to identify sounds and attach them to an action. For instance, jingling of car keys might signal to your home that you are leaving and you want to put your home into an away mode, with lights off, temperature in save mode, and the alarm system activated. To train smart systems to recognize those sounds is a tedious process, but Listen Learner technology tries to guess and asks you, verbally, to confirm. This process is much more convenient for home owners and more likely to succeed. TechCrunch

dis-rup-shun: Despite people’s fears of big brother listening, audible AI technologies are pushing ahead. Expect home security systems to depend less on your arming them as they learn to recognize motion and sound patterns and decide, mostly correctly, when it is time to arm. The applications for seniors are very promising. If your home recognizes the sound of the front door opening and doesn’t “hear” a return, it could notify caretakers. Or if it senses the sound of a fall, it could take immediate action, perhaps saving a life.


Google opens healthcare API to connect providers

Google opening healthcare API

Google’s Cloud unit continues to pursue the connected health industry by opening its health information interface, called Google Healthcare API. This action enables different healthcare information providers, regardless of if they are using Google’s cloud, to connect to a common data interface intended to integrate disparate health information sources. The Department of Health and Human Services previously issued a mandate restricting vendors from a common practice of blocking information exchange between systems. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: Microsoft’s Azure cloud service has pursued a similar path to encourage standardization and information exchange. The healthcare industry, quite simply, has used data as a competitive advantage, making it difficult for consumers and doctors to shop for competitive services. Creating an open data exchange will enable willing healthcare providers to de-mystify the healthcare pricing and payment system, and empower consumers to choose what they pay to whom. Fear of sharing personal information with BigTech will hinder some, but when shopping for care becomes as easy as ordering an Uber ride, consumers will overcome their privacy concerns.

The rise of the Apple watch

The Apple Watch is now five years old, and last year, according to Strategy Analytics, the company shipped an estimated 31 million units while all Swiss watch brands combined shipped about 21 million units. Today the Apple Watch offers about 20,000 apps, most that require the use of the iPhone (which offers 2 million apps), and include many health and fitness apps, including an FDA approved EKG sensor. CNET

dis-rup-shun: Apple is, in fact, redefining the definition of the watch, much like it did a phone. Calling an iPhone a phone is almost a misnomer, given that voice communication is such a small part of the utility it offers. Soon an Apple Watch will provide so many seemingly-essential functions that comparing the device to a wrist watch will be for the purposes of nostalgia only. As CNET says, watch makers that have not joined the smart watch race have essentially missed the window to do so.

Facebook’s Portal is a Coronavirus winner

As often covered, Facebook’s smart display offering, the Portal family, was received tepidly when introduced, mostly due to people’s lack of trust for Facebook’s privacy policies. Now the devices are out of stock on most online stores. Strategy Analytics estimates that Facebook has sold about one million units in 2019 and 200,000 units so far this year. This success, however, represents only 2% of the market, of which Amazon has 45%. CNET

dis-rup-shun: The pandemic may have saved this product line from extinction, and it seems that many people believe that Portal is a better solutions for seniors than its competitors. Will Facebook seize this opportunity and seek to carve out its place in the aging-in-place market, or will it continue to throw small stones at Goliath? Facebook has an opportunity to double down on attempts to prove that the company is trustworthy, and winning over seniors would be a smart way to build a beachhead of consumer support.

Battling slow Wi-Fi?

If sheltering in place has made you more aware of the ups and downs of your home Internet service, then read CNET‘s explanations and suggesting course of correction. First, the review suggests that inconsistent Internet speeds are the result of your provider throttling your speeds to better share bandwidth across customers. They can do so given legislation that gave them that right (net neutrality). Step 1 in the diagnosis is to run some speed tests through M-Lab. If this test verifies inconsistencies, then you may wish to install a virtual private network (VPN) through software, to conceal your streaming volume and schedule from your provider. In theory, this will reduce fluctuations they impose.

dis-rup-shun: The article also suggests that you call your provider and threaten to switch if they won’t stop jacking with your speeds. It seems that we are as dependent on Wi-Fi for living as we were with dial tone and maybe even moreso, but the mysteries of getting constant, stable coverage are battles faced my most households. Is it poor infrastructure to the home, or is an old router, or inadequate signal to cover the home? It seems that there is a real opportunity for an Internet Doctor service to replace the dying Cable Guy.

BigTech increasing presence in wallets

BigTech gaining increasing share of wallets

Tech firms have been seeking to replace our wallets with electronic payment methods which are very popular in many countries, but slow to catch on in the U.S. Apple’s credit card, along with payment services from Google and Samsung are increasingly accepted and 15% of Starbucks orders are now mobile.  McKinsey found, in a 2019 survey, that only 35% of people trust Facebook to handle their finances, compared with more than 50% who trust Apple and 65% trust Amazon. BigTech firms know that direct access to consumer spending data is a treasure trove of marketable information. CNET

dis-rup-shun: Banks are sitting ducks. While BigTech cannot take over all capabilities of banks, and while banks exist under charters issued, in the U.S., by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), many of their services will disappear. BigTech will take more transaction fees, annual membership fees, small loans, and yet to be created financial services. Currently big banks are forming close relationships with BigTech, which is a competitive strategy, but will also accelerate the displacement of traditional banking as tech firms acquire both ownership and knowledge of the industry.

Facebook accelerates gaming with dedicated app

Facebook is launching a dedicated app, Facebook Gaming, that allows users to watch live game play or to share live their own game playing. This release is timely, given the uptick in gaming as a result of the global pandemic. The app positions Facebook against live game playing platforms of YouTube, Amazon’s Twitch, and Microsoft’s Mixer. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: Game playing is up by more than 20%, according to some sources, and Facebook is simply accelerating a plan that was already in testing in Asia. Facebook continues its wise moves to diversify and enrich its platform, as the core service is mature and losing many of its followers to alternative social media platforms that are seen as more trendy and relevant, as Facebook becomes, for millennials, like the phone book of their parents’ generation.

Apple Music now available without iTunes

Apple Music is now competing with Spotify, allowing streaming directly from a web browser for those with a paid subscription. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: We can thank Apple for reinventing the music business and igniting a round of innovation with the coupling of iTunes and the iPod. Apple, however, botched iTunes and the Apple experience when it made moving and authorizing owned music from device to device, complex. Apple’s failure to keep iTunes as the most friendly music experience pushed consumers to streaming platforms such as Real Audio, Pandora, Spotify and many other competitors. Now Apple is doubling down on services and trying to capture more of the market it gave away a decade ago.

Mendel air sensor critical for indoor growers

Mendel has manufactured a $99 air sensor that tracks temperature, humidity, VPD, and Lux (lumens). Data is refreshed every 15 minutes and displayed on an app. Mendel, reportedly, was encouraged to develop this technology by cannabis growers whose margins are thin and investments high. TechCrunch

dis-rup-shun: Self-sustainability is more interesting than ever, with trips to the grocery store being dangerous and disappointing as a number of products, including produce, in short supply. Growing things indoors is challenging and the air sensor critical. With large numbers of people entering the cannabis business, demand for “smart gardening” products will remain strong.

NBA and Microsoft take basketball to the cloud

NBA moves to the (Microsoft) cloud

Remember sports? The NBA and Microsoft announced a sweeping contract which employs Microsoft’s Azure cloud to create an enhanced fan experience — enabling fans to access historical videos and select camera angles. The contract also includes the NBA’s widespread use of Microsoft’s Surface devices. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: Question:  How do you beat the cloud giant, Amazon? Answer: You leverage assets (a line of PC/tablets) that your competitor does not have, and you position your services to invent a new way of watching sports to create new camera angles and special features for online users. Microsoft continues to execute beautifully under Nadella and beat dominant AWS in some very strategic accounts.

Apple to develop over-the-ear headphones

According to Bloomberg, Apple is readying a line of over the ear, noise cancelling headphones. The company owns Beats, which offers a number of over-the-ear models. TechCrunch

dis-rup-shun: Over-the-ear headphones seem like a not very innovative product and it’s a bit of a surprise that Apple is pursuing this product now. What are some reasons? Firstly, the company has made so much money selling its premium priced AirPods that it can’t resist the urge to follow that act with another audio accessory. Secondly, given the fact that the future appears that it will be spent, in large part, on video conferencing applications, demand for audio accessories is greatly increased. Finally, since the company already owns Beats, it can repackage the technology and use existing supply partners quickly. In short, it is a low risk way to expand a profitable product line.

Website provides the office and workplace noises you miss

For those that are on the edge of insanity from the quiet or repetition of sheltering at home, the microsite Reichenbergerstr 121  offers a cacophony of office/coffee shop noises, taking you back to the time when you worked around people. Sounds effects supplied include:

  • Clandestine whispers of two people trying to gossip in an open office
  • Opening of a La Croix can
  • The retro summer jam everyone at the office agrees is a bop
  • Mediocre but hard-working Keurig machine gurgles
  • The marketing manager who worked with someone named Felicia and smugly shouted “bye Felicia!” 3 to 30 times daily
  • Two people apologizing for bumping into each other in the hall
  • C-SPAN broadcasting a Congressional hearing
  • Mysterious laughter from the one area where everyone is best friends
  • My editor trying to eat lunch the quietest that anyone has ever eaten Lifehacker

dis-rup-shun: This site does offer good amusement, especially if you start it and leave it, forgetting it is running until you hear distant giggles or an occasional whistle. Perhaps, once people return to public places, the sounds of crowds can be used to jump start traffic to empty shops and restaurants, and get the pump primed, so to speak. What would we do without the wonderful place called the World Wide Web?

Rokid glasses “see” COVID-19 from a distance

Chinese start-up Rokid has released infrared glasses that are able to see people with high body temperatures from three meters away. Outfitted on hospital workers or airport security agents, the technology could help remove infected people from crowds and public places. TechCrunch

dis-rup-shun: While this technology could be very useful, its use again seems like a violation of privacy, wherein the eye in the sky scans the crowd for people that will be escorted, by storm troopers, to an unidentified back room.


Ecobee joins home security race

Ecobee offers home security system

Ecobee, known for their well-designed and high featured Wi-Fi smart thermostats that include Alexa voice support, has launched new home security products and a cloud monitoring service. With the addition of the company’s entry sensors, Wi-Fi connected camera, and cloud service, it is now able to offer a complete, integrated home security system to rival other DIY offerings from Nest, Ring, Simplisafe and Honeywell. The home security system market is getting more crowded, and more interesting. CNET

dis-rup-shun: Ecobee products are well designed, so this system may turn out to be a better experience than similar DIY offerings. What’s most interesting is to watch device makers, such as the Ecobee of five years ago, add more and more products and features to their ecosystem. The question is, will these systems continue to grow in functionality to rival more complex and complete systems such as those provided by ADT/ and Vivint? Do Ecobee’s and rivals’ DIY systems compete with professionally installed security systems, or are these buyers as different as buyers of SUVs and Priuses?

Verizon to buy video conference platform BlueJeans

In what could be one of the first post-pandemic restructurings, Verizon will pay $400 million to acquire the internet video conferencing platform BlueJeans. BlueJeans boasts 15,000 current customers. Verizon sees the platform as a logical add-on to its 5G offerings, as more workers are expected to work remotely after the pandemic. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: This may be one piece of evidence that the corporate landscape will change as a result of COVID-19. Verizon is counting on the increased popularity of video conferencing tools to be more than a temporary uptick, and to become a permanent and important part of the core telecommunications offerings. Expect to see a large brand reach out to acquire the superstar Zoom in the next six months as the pandemic dust settles.

Peacock streaming service launches

NBCU Comcast has launched its own answer to the video streaming wars. The Peacock streaming service has multiple forms: a limited, free, ad-supported version, a $4.99 ad-supported version for non-subscribers to Comcast/Cox pay TV, and a premium ad-free version for $7.99. The service is now part of the pay TV bundle from Comcast and Cox — included in their pay TV offerings. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: It feels as if NBCU is late to the streaming party, with Disney + having gained so many subscribers who may have decided to be three service households with Prime, Netflix and Disney +. To squeeze in a fourth service, or to prefer Peacock over other services seems unlikely at this point. NBCU was wise to use this service as a value-added sweetener for those who have not, and maybe will not, cut the cord. Investing in core customers is wise, and NBCU’s strategy seems to be to straddle the old and new worlds of TV services.

Fitbit adds features and no bulk in Charge 4

Fitbit has added a new, slim fitness tracker to its lineup. The Charge 4, for under $200, provides GPS and heart rate alerts. For core fitness fans who want a slim, attractive device and don’t want the bulk of a smartwatch, this is a new alternative.  CNET

dis-rup-shun: Fitbit is doing a good job of finding niche markets within the niche of wearables. Just emulating the Apple watch is a tough strategy, so creating more specialized devices for micro-segments is a good way to expand the market into spaces that are likely not on Apple’s road map. Fitbit is building highly specialized fitness trackers for fitness enthusiasts who have very particular size, weight and feature requirements. Stay tuned to watch the divergent paths of the swiss-army-knife Apple approach, versus the specialist approach of Fitbit.

Quibi thrives in first week

Quibi one week later…

Last week Quibi, the short form mobile-only streaming content provider, launched. The service provided 1.7 million downloads in week 1. The company stated that it has sold out all of its advertising slots for the remainder of the year, and will accelerate its plans to enable casting of programs to a TV. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: As stated last week, this company got Corona-lucky. Never before (or again) will the target audience of people with disposable income have so much time on their hands to experiment with a new, unique form of content. Let’s not forget that Quibi has offered a free 90 day trial, but trials that require a credit card number are quite sticky.

Create a looping video to stand in for you during video calls

New tools make for new creativity, and it is easy to create a video of yourself sitting and listening attentively in a video call — unless, of course, you are called on to contribute your comments. By using Zoom to record a video of yourself sitting and listening, with an occasional gesture or nod, then editing to create a seamless loop, you can create a video virtual background.

dis-rup-shun: Having some fun and letting your personality show through is more important that ever. and this hack has been used to amuse. One of my colleagues uses this feature to create a background of himself walking by and waving into the camera — quite a shock while speaking to him, live. Another colleague replaced himself with a puppet, which sat in his chair as he manipulated its mouth and arms through a one hour company-wide status call. Humor is helpful.

Amazon hires yet more workers

Amazon is hiring another 75,000 workers, on the heels of the 100,000 it hired last month. Most workers are in logistics — helping to fulfill orders in warehouses and packing delivery trucks for daily runs. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: Talk about a windfall! Amazon cannot keep up with the inundation of orders from people sheltering in place. Fortunately, the company is making a dent in the massive joblessness caused by the pandemic. The interesting question again is how will Amazon benefit long-term from the massive, likely temporary, uptick in business? Can it retain many of the at least 175,000 new employees it has hired, and will it keep a much larger share of the market for regular household supplies than it enjoyed pre-COVID-19?

Pandemic brings cities an opportunity to reconfigure

Among the many impacts of the pandemic is less crowded streets, but overcrowding of sidewalks and public parks in large cities such as New York, Bogota, Calgary, and Denver. Many cities have closed off streets, creating pedestrian-only centers. Low levels of air and noise pollution, combined with more pedestrian friendly atmospheres promise to create a better experience for urban dwellers. Wired

dis-rup-shun: The world will be a better place after it (we) recovers from the current crisis, and making cities more livable will help us restore our need for community and connected-ness. City planners should make the changes permanent. Expect large cities to be less car friendly as they transform dense areas to favor walkers and large gatherings.


Nintendo: case study in resilience

Nintendo: a top player for 130 years

Filmmaker Adam Isaac has produced a 20 minute online documentary of Nintendo – the company that entered and dominated the game console market in the 1980s and has survived fierce competition from Sony, Microsoft, Google and a plethora of smartphones. Its latest offering, the Switch, is sold out across the U.S. CNBC offers a look at what has kept the former game card, ramen noodle and taxi company at the top through so many successes and failures. Donkey Kong was the first big hit in the days of video arcades, a $27 billion industry in 1982. A string of hits included NES in 1985, GameBoy in 1989, N64, DS2, GameCube, Wii and Switch, when released in 2017 caused caused company revenue to jump by 116%.

dis-rup-shun: A great example of company reinvention, the head of the company saw the playing card business drop and applied the company’s gaming DNA to electronics. Like Steve Jobs, Nintendo leader Miyamoto has kept the company focused on two key elements: making games fun (over realism) and keeping game content and hardware tightly coupled. Facing the new world of gaming on smartphones and inexpensive cloud services, most notably Apple’s casual game service, Arcade, Nintendo must either compete on the cloud or remain entrenched in specialized devices. This crossroads is just one of many make-or-break decision points that the company has faced over its 130 year history.

Broadband speeds fall in major cities during COVID-19

Speeds have decreased in many large cities as a result of increased Internet traffic, according to network monitoring company, Thousand Eyes. Despite the reduction, the speeds have remained adequate for entertainment, video calls, and most online activities. Speeds in New York City dropped by 20%, whereas the decrease in Austin, Winston-Salem, and Oxnard was up to 40%.  ArsTechnica

dis-rup-shun: Our global economy, as damaged as it is, is in large part intact thanks to the Internet. As one looks at all prior recessions, depressions and setbacks, none has occurred during a time when so much of life and business are online. Even the Great Recession of 2008 occurred in the early days of streaming video entertainment and before video conferencing was as easy and as accepted as “business as usual.” When the dust settles and we survey the damage of the coronavirus pandemic, we will find that many industries remained intact and even benefited as a result of the crisis. The facts don’t lessen the damage to many, but will certainly prove that an online economy is a far more resilient economy.

SpaceX rapidly builds another Starship prototype

Multiple corporations are vying for NASA’s renewed budget for space travel, and SpaceX and Boeing will begin trips to the International Space Station this year. SpaceX’s heavier craft, the Starship, will not be used for the scheduled ISS trips, but is critical to the company’s delivery of heavy cargo into space. The new prototype replaces two others that imploded during pressure testing. CNET

dis-rup-shun: The space race is just that, with a dizzying pace of launches, experiments and new prototypes built. Competition is good for the industry, but some of the space racers are extremely competitive, pushing hard on the limits of technology and engineering for companies that theoretically will earn a profit. Expect to see more fiery crashes as competitors race for big contracts, and hope that safety measures will more than adequately protect human lives from aggressive new space travel projects.

Professional lighting for video calls is a career booster

A $50 investment in a desktop ring shaped lamp from UBeesize placed behind your laptop provides lighting on your face that transforms your image on web conferences. CNET

dis-rup-shun: The new “dress for success” involves looking healthy and confident on numerous daily video conferences. Even though you have your gym shorts and flip flops on down under, having a healthy and attractive glow proves that sheltering-in-place has not dulled your edge.