Microsoft fixes voting

Microsoft seeks to become the voting standard

Microsoft is out to fix broken voting technology through its new ElectionGuard product line that creates dual printed copies of each ballot, encryption, and a certificate validating the vote. If hackers break into the system and change votes, the discrepancy will be more noticeable and traceable. CNET

dis-rup-shun: It is hard for the average voter to fathom how antiquated the polling process is, and why the best minds have not developed as foolproof a system as can be created. If we now bank mostly from home and on our smartphones, why can’t voting be done the same way? And for a fraction of the cost of recruiting all of those volunteers to over-staff polling places.

Redbox offers free ad-supported streaming service

Redbox is feeling the pinch of the slow demise of DVD rentals, and is now launching Redbox Free Live TV. In a world of cord cutters, receiving content via the internet for the price of watching some commercials appeals to many. The free content is organized into channels by theme, and offers a viewing experience more like over the air TV, but with no subscription or per episode charges. TechCrunch

dis-rup-shun: In the new world of streaming video, there is something for everyone. Premium services, discount services, and free services will all coexist on you internet connected TV, as different services fill different niches. Expect the services that are pumping out original content to take a premium, hybrid price model similar to Amazon Prime Video today, in which one pays an annual subscription fee as well as per-event up-charges. For those that don’t want to pay at all, there is always Redbox over free over the air TV. After all, Redbox offers a better deal than paying a monthly subscription fee and watching commercials.

Can Google watches catch Apple Watch? 

Smartwatches are going after the turf served by the less functional but smaller fitness trackers, such as Fitbit, a company that is being acquired by Google. Apple is doing deals with large health club chains, that now offer discounts to owners and regular users of Apple Watches. Nearly 70% of fitness club members own a device, but only one-third of smartwatch owners belong to a fitness club, meaning incentives to smartwatch owners could be a great enticement to join up. After catering to fitness enthusiasts, the next logical segment for smartwatch makers to target is parents. Smartwatch owners with children under 18 show a high affinity to shop for pizza, jewelry and financial service products — and there is a (smartwatch) app for that. Interpret Research

dis-rup-shun: Digital natives claim they have little need for a watch, since their smartphones provide the time. But digital natives no doubt need an on-wrist communicator to keep them even closer to text messages, so the watch, in its new form as smartwatch, lives on. Once again, apps will define the utility of the device, and Google is running fast to catch Apple, acquiring Fitbit and, in theory some of its users. If Google opens the smartwatch OS, as it did with Android on the phone, then it stands a good chance to at least control the software on the majority of smartwatches after a number of manufacturers catch Apple’s long lead in this category.

Amazon Care now open for Seattle employees

Amazon Care is the company’s internal health care service for employees, providing them for an app for live, remote doctor visits, as well as for scheduling the appropriate Amazon Care health care professional to come visit the employee at home or office. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: It is not unique for a large company to have its own health services for employees, but Amazon is different. It has built its own app, it owns an online pharmacy called PillPack, and it likes to rapidly scale projects that seem to work. This could very well be the test bed for a nationwide alternative care network which would likely change the way we consume health care services — turning the entire care industry on its head in a few short years. Time will tell, but healthcare is an industry very ripe for some Amazon-ization.


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.

Amazon makes second healthcare move

Amazon makes second healthcare acquisition

Amazon has purchased Health Navigator, a company that helps physicians route patients to the correct care givers and a facilitator of telehealth. The company currently serves a number of companies but has informed them it will not renew its contracts after the Amazon merger. Amazon intends to make Health Navigator a part of its Amazon Care group, a division focused on providing care to its growing armies of employees. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: Amazon is building a new care model for its internal employees that makes use of remote care and physicians’ assistants and nurses to better apply the proper set of skills to the appropriate needs. While this is wonderful news for employees, one must assume that this is also a pilot for a new care model which would be rolled out nationally, perhaps with Amazon’s prior acquisition, online pharmacy PillPack. Given the direction of our healthcare industry, Amazon’s disruption could be a welcome catalyst to a more efficient and more affordable healthcare market.

Tesla earns a profit and scores in China

Tesla reported earnings for the quarter which show the company returning to profitability with a slim margin. At the same time, the company reported that its new Shanghai plant is up and running and will produce one thousand Model 3s per week.

dis-rup-shun: Elon Musk is a pioneer. Pioneers have to be tough as nails, have unbridled belief in their missions, and not be worried about others’ perceptions of them. Musk qualifies in these regards and is on a path to change the auto industry as well as U.S. – China trade relations. In a time when U.S. companies are moving production out of China, Musk has jumped in, taking advantage of a new Chinese regulation requiring foreign manufacturers to build products in country in order to avoid a 25% tariff. Tesla is in place to be a huge success in China, with high fuel prices and rising incomes. Success in China will help the company continue to win U.S. and global buyers as Tesla’s technologies will be better tested and better financed, continuing to entice auto owners to retire their gasoline cars.

License plate recognition technology: a good thing?

Axon, the company that makes the Taser and a host of other law enforcement technology has developed a dash cam capable of reading license plate numbers. Concerns about infringement upon civil rights accompany this new technology, as ethics boards determine the limitations of its application in law enforcement. TechCrunch

dis-rup-shun: Violating the law is one thing, but getting caught is another. How many times have you driven a car with an expired registration because, despite your best intentions, you were late sending in the renewal? Chances are you were not fined as police have far too many demands to scrutinize every window sticker. Axon’s cameras, however, could do the trick and quickly notify police persons that you were in violation of this or other crimes, like driving with stolen plates or that the car is registered to a criminal. If all laws were more systematically enforced thanks to technology, would that make for a better society or a call for fewer or less stringent laws?

The ladies on the hill rough up Zuckerberg

Congresswoman Maxine Waters, Chairperson of the Financial Services Committee says candidate Elizabeth Warren has “opened up the opportunity” to consider breaking up Facebook. Warren has declared that she will break up Alphabet, Facebook and Amazon if elected. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: It could be Zuckerberg’s boyish looks, lack of contrition over election interference in 2016, or his extremely ambitious plans for the Libra private currency, but he is Congress’ favorite whipping boy. Congress’ disdain for Zuckerberg guarantees that Facebook will be the first of the Big Tech companies to take the beatings, fines, regulations, and dismantling, if that unlikely action comes to pass. Apple’s Tim Cook, on the other hand, has been making nice in Washington D.C. and building up political capital. Mark needs to take some fatherly advice from his Silicon Valley neighbor.