Amazon employee clinic may be care model of the future

Virtual care clinics and how Amazon may change corporate benefits

Amazon has launched an internal virtual care clinic for its own Seattle based employees. The clinic offers a virtual doctor visit through an app or web portal. The employee can visit the virtual clinic anytime of day or night and consult with a doctor, nurse, physician’s assistant or practitioner. The result of the visit can be a diagnosis, a prescription for medicine, or an in-home visit by a nurse for a follow-up. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: This care model, or something very similar, will become the standard first for corporations that are self-insured, then for the general public. Think of this as an Uber-like care model, where the appropriate clinician is matched to the appropriate need, without regard for location. Doctors will be involved in few of the visits, and will not have to maintain and schedule offices with waiting rooms and high overhead. Nurses will see patients if a face to face is required. The company’s own pharmacy network can emphasize the use of generics and control drug pricing. The faster our society can embrace this or a similar model, the faster costs can be controlled without compromising care quality.

Peloton IPO — a bumpy start

“I feel like we’re six or seven different companies in one,” said CEO John Foley. The stock closed 11% off of its opening price of $27 per share. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: While the company is a unique combination of devices, original content, media and health club, Wall Street likes to put companies in boxes, and investors aren’t sure which is the right box for Peloton. What is clear is that the company has a successful subscription model, amazingly low attrition, and a cult-like following. The question Foley must answer is can the company return a profit before a better Peloton comes along and unseats this pioneer. Expect to see waves of connected fitness products flood the market, but be surprised if others do as good a job of content creation as Peloton has.

Ring-ification of urban living

Wired discusses the new reality of doorbell cameras being frequently installed in neighborhoods and, facing outward, recording the public as it goes by. Ring has aggressively built relationships with local police departments, furnishing crime scene videos in exchange for endorsement. Questions arise, however, of who owns the content of me walking past my neighbor’s house. Is it mine, or is it my neighbors’, or is this a matter requiring new legislation?

dis-rup-shun: The inevitability of inexpensive Internet connected cameras is a loss of privacy. However, in public spaces, I should expect my behavior to be public and subject to both local laws and society’s mores, whatever those may be. Expect to see some interesting legal defenses that seek to disregard evidence recorded by an unrelated third party’s (neighbor’s) camera. The number of crimes and un-resolved crimes, however, will undoubtedly decrease as our cultures understand that someone is nearly always watching.

Apple should buy Sonos says TechCrunch

TechCrunch’s Darrell Etherington says the time is right for Apple to purchase Sonos given Apple’s lack of significant smart speaker progress and Amazon’s debut of the Echo Studio, the high fidelity Alexa device. He points out the alignments between the companies: premium pricing, excellent design, strong support of Apple standards such as AirPlay, and robust support of streaming services.

dis-rup-shun: The Sonos experience has always been great — maybe even better than the Apple experience. Such an acquisition could make sense except that Apple would likely disable Alexa support on Sonos devices in favor of Siri only. Perhaps we don’t have favorites of voice assistants for device control as long as they generally work and connect to multiple home devices, but Siri’s third-party device support is lacking. If Apple were to buy Sonos, it would nice to see support for Siri, Alexa or Google Assistant — not likely.

Amazon expands device offerings

Amazon turns up the heat on Google and Apple with a wide array of new devices.

Amazon’s hardware unveiling took place yesterday in Seattle. Here is what they released:

Echo Buds — Earbuds with Bose noise suppression, powered by Alexa.

Echo Frames — $180 eyeglass frames with microphone built in, enabling you to issue voice commands without touching your phone.

Echo Loop — a ring (for your finger) with a microphone and haptic feedback. Again, you can speak to Alexa on your hand without having to touch your phone.

Echo Speaker — a revamp of the former Echo, with a better speaker components and, consequently, sound quality.

Echo Studio — an Echo that is packed with a high quality woofer, tweeter and midrange speakers, designed for 3D sound for those that want good sound in a compact form factor.

Echo Show 8 — an 8 inch diagonal screen Echo Show for those that agree that bigger is better.

Echo Dot Clock — a Dot with a digital clock on one side.

Echo Glow — a globe-like lamp that changes colors and dims or brightens based on alarms.

New Eero — this is the Wi-Fi range extender/mesh network that is a nice way of covering your house with Wi-Fi, if you don’t mind several devices sitting out on tabletops, or tucked into cabinets.

Two new Ring cameras — a stick up version that can run on battery, solar or outlet power, and a plain indoor camera powered by outlet power.

Sidewalk — a new protocol at 900 Mhz (free spectrum) that has better range than Bluetooth.

Alexa Enhancements — some improvements include multi-lingual modes, emotion detection, privacy enhancements, and more Alexa hunches — applications that anticipate what you will be doing around the house based on history, and when you are likely to run out of supplies. Wired

dis-rup-shun: Clearly some of these interesting new product categories, particularly the Echo Loop and Echo Frames, are not likely to be the next must have holiday items, but the innovation is impressive. How to crack the code of Amazon’s strategy? It is clear that the company believes that it can be a very formidable hardware maker, and, unlike Apple, which expects perfection with every product, is willing to launch a few albatrosses. Perhaps the most interesting release is not hardware, but the “Hunches” applications which use machine learning to understand your household sufficiently to set the right temperature, lighting, and music and tell you when you are nearly out of toilet paper. If a device maker has not already offered Alexa support, they better hurry before their product is not compatible with an Alexa-powered home. If a company has already provided support for Alexa, there is no peace of mind, as Amazon could well reinvent that product category and make the partner’s product obsolete.

Amazon in the fitness device business

Amazon planning fitness earbuds

Amazon’s hardware roadmap will include earbuds powered by Alexa that track motion, running distance, and calories burned. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: Amazon is continuing to head the direction of device powerhouse, extending Alexa to ever more products, and creating possibly a new category of device (fitness earbuds) to capitalize on the hot connected wellness market. Reasons for investing heavily in the generally not profitable device business likely include the fact that, as Apple has taught, devices are platforms for online services. A monthly fitness coaching subscription, possibly free to Amazon Prime members, could be in the works. Furthermore, creating an armada of Alexa-powered products could lead Amazon’s Echo family to become the defacto home hub for all things connected, from music players to microwaves, to light switches, driving commerce for grocery delivery, utilities, and music and TV services through an Alexa-powered home transaction hub. So far consumers have not used Echo as a purchasing platform, but that could change.

Streaming Wars: Netflix’s stock tanks

Netflix’s stock price has dropped, giving up all gains from 2019 and sending it negative for the year. The combination of a drop in subscribers, new competition from Apple, Disney, AT&T, CBS, and others at aggressive price points (several below Netflix), and the loss of the blockbuster series The Office, have painted a challenging picture of the company’s future. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: It is amazing to watch how fast a pioneer company that invents new categories, like Netscape, Uber, Blockbuster, Sony and now Netflix, can find itself fighting to keep its place in the race it started. As mentioned before, Netflix, though a beloved brand, is different from its new competitors in that it does not have other revenue streams to help subsidize losses of its subscribers. Differentiation is now all about original content, and if Netflix is tempted to lower its monthly pricing, it will have to cut back its original content budget, blunting its competitive edge.

Microsoft quickly capitalizes on retail’s revolt against Amazon Web Services

Microsoft has released retail friendly tools, Dynamics 365, making it simple for online retailers to build product pages that can get ratings and comments from customers. The tools are tightly integrated with other Office tools. As many retailers have moved their cloud business to Microsoft Azure in order not to further enrich their rival, Amazon, Microsoft is moving quickly to provide advantages to retailers. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: Microsoft continues to effectively re-tool its business, both enhancing its core assets (Windows + Office 365) and developing superior products in the cloud race. The company has acted swiftly to capitalize on big retailers’ anti-Amazon movement. Expect the company to continue to find ways to differentiate its cloud services, and to apply similar specialties to other target industries.

Facebook invests in neural monitoring company

Facebook has paid an estimated range between $500 million and $1 billion for neural armband monitoring maker CTRL Labs. The acquisition follows Facebook’s prior investments in methods to control devices with brain waves — eliminating dependence of keyboards, mice and smart speakers. TechCrunch

dis-rup-shun:  How does this investment fit into Facebook’s distinctive competencies of social networks? Is this about being able to update one’s status without typing, or is Facebook trying to leapfrog Amazon by building portal devices for video communications and neural controllers since Amazon owns voice control? It is likely a power play to establish the company as a pioneer of a future, undefined product category rather than execution of a defined strategy, but definitely a bold and ambitious (and expensive) initiative.

Drones offshore veterinarians and cattle ranchers

The economics of drones for cattle ranchers

The market value of the average cow raised in the U.S. is about $550. 2.5 million cows die each year due to illness or predators. That’s $1.375 billion in losses. A grant from the USDA is funding research conducted at the University of Kentucky to use drones to monitor the health and movement of individual cows and herds every day, affording ranchers a daily visual inspection of herd health. CNET

dis-rup-shun: As society becomes aware of the dangers of feed lot grown beef, lowering the cost of free range cattle is vital for good health at lower costs. Expect drone technology to transform the veterinary industry — enabling veterinarians in distant places like India to be tracking the health of cows in Kansas or Kentucky. It’s a way to offshore ranching without importing beef from other nations.

BBC launching its own version of Alexa

The BBC has been experimenting with its own digital voice assistant technology, and has chosen the wake word “Beeb” to activate the assistant.  The BBC says that developing its own technology will enable it to implement customer experiences in its own way. BBC News

dis-rup-shun: This surprise move raises a number of questions. Does the BBC have the horsepower to develop a highly functioning digital voice assistant that is sufficient to delight customers, or will it fall short of expectations derived from Alexa and Google Assistant? Why wouldn’t the BBC build a library of skills to use on the top three assistants, that combined have over 50% share of the market? Expect the BBC to transition to Alexa or Google Assistant if this experiment continues.

Smart locks are a star of the smart home

One of the best use cases for smart home technology is smart locks. CNET ranks the August Smart Lock Pro + Connect Bundle at the top. With its Wi-Fi module, it can be accessed remotely and is compatible with voice assistants. Others at the top of the list are Yale Assure deadbolt, and Schlage Encode. CNET

dis-rup-shun: If you are old enough to remember cars without power locks, you will recall how this luxury option became a standard for all cars. Similarly, few new homes will be built, starting in 2021, without smart locks. Builders are finding that buyers value smart home technology, and with the AirBnB movement, they are essential. The incumbents in the lock business have been careful to not get displaced by upstarts such as August, that was purchased by industry giant Assa Abloy.

Amazon selling home Wi-Fi security

Amazon purchased mesh Wi-Fi router company Eero earlier this year. In a move for premium revenues, the company is now offering an add-on subscription at $2.99 per month to provide amenities such as home VPN, data encryption, parental controls and phishing warnings. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: The holy grail of any device business is to sell monthly subscriptions along with the device. This lesson was taught well with iPods and iTunes. The commodity home networking business, however, will not allow Amazon to change the rules. Expect leading equipment makers such as Netgear, Linksys, Arris, and others to match the offering without additional fees in an effort to differentiate the commodity products. Service providers, in addition, have always used security features in an attempt to differentiate commodity home broadband offerings. Kudos to Amazon for raising the bar on home network security as these offerings become standard.

Target shows Amazon it’s not afraid

Target has figured out omni-channel retailing

Target’s earnings numbers, released this week, exceeded forecasts and reflected same store sales growth of 3.4%. Target has perfected omni-channel retailing, which combines online shopping with in-store pickup or same day delivery through its Shipt offering. Yahoo! Finance

dis-rup-shun: Competition makes companies better, and Target refuses to be crushed by Amazon. Target has determined how to offer both the convenience of in-store shopping and meet the demands of those who want products the same day without entering the store. Expect to see other retail outlets emulate omni-channel retailing — hybrid brick and mortar and online model, and expect Amazon to more aggressively experiment with physical stores.

Bose returns to the leading edge

Bose released a surprise, the Portable Home Speaker, that is both a Bluetooth portable, as well as a Wi-Fi multi-room speaker with voice support from Google Assistant, Amazon’s Alexa, AirPlay 2, and Spotify Connect. TheVerge

dis-rup-shun: Bose, the coveted speaker brand of the 80s and 90s, let Sonos create and dominate the market for Wi-Fi music as it focused on the highly competitive Bluetooth speaker market. Over the past two decades, two segments of digital music grew in parallel: the Sonos-centered middle market whole-home replacement market, using Wi-Fi to stream music throughout the house, and the low-end portable Bluetooth music player. Bose and Sonos are bridging these segments with products that can both stream via Bluetooth at the lake, as well as be members of the whole-house Wi-Fi music system back at home.

Huawei fires an AI salvo

Huawei, despite its ban by the Trump Administration, has released its NVidia killer AI chip set, called Ascend 910. The chip is designed for AI data centers that require fast processing of large amounts of data to quickly establish data profiles. The chip set will compete head on with Qualcomm, Intel and NVidia, among others. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: Earlier this week Cerebras unveiled its giant, AI-optimized processor, signaling a new segment for silicon manufacturers who will serve cloud data centers, autonomous vehicles, drones and robots. Expect a host of similar offerings from Intel, NVidia and Qualcomm as they pursue this specialized category of microprocessors.

Google Photos enables text search in pictures

A new feature in Google Lens, part of the Google Photos app, enables one to search through pictures for text strings, then copy and paste the text using optical character recognition (OCR) technology. ZDNet

dis-rup-shun: A number of expense tracking apps have long supported photos of receipts to input data, but this process relied in part on people to assist with character recognition. Greater ability to convert photos to text means students can snap pics of the whiteboard rather than write notes, product managers can circulate sensitive data from photos of competitors’ conference notes, and people can archive their photos by date, based on images of newspapers, magazines or other dated documents that may appear in the photo. Expect select word processing applications to offer a photo-to-text conversion feature.

Smart appliances make purchase decisions

Smart home as shopping platforms

A new report (for purchase) from Business Insider reports that people are using their smart speakers to perform research about products, but not to actually purchase products. The report predicts the smart refrigerator will be the food control center of the home — informing grocery shopping and food delivery. The report covers the strong alliance opportunities between smart appliance makers (that will order goods) and consumer products providers (that will supply the goods ordered by connected appliances).

dis-rup-shun: Dis-intermediation of traditional supply chains is coming. Washing machines and refrigerators sold through Amazon will be delivered with, guess what, automatic links to Amazon.com, pre-configured with your Amazon.com account, to order detergent, milk, eggs and soft drinks from Amazon.com. Who should worry? Appliances makers, grocery stores, and BestBuy.

Find my iPhone works for AirPods

If your AirPods are missing and still powered and still within range of your iPhone, you can use an app to find them. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: The beauty of the connected economy is the ability to bail yourself out of dumb moves — many have found phones in backseats of moving Uber’s, golf courses, under the bed covers, and in the possession of thieves with a quick search from a friend’s device. AirPods, one of the most likely devices to be lost, can be found if they are in Bluetooth range, but unfortunately that is less than about 300 feet, so success may be limited.

Four rocket companies vying for critical Air Force contract

Submissions are due this week for bidders for 24 launches for Air Force surveillance rockets which will take place between 2022 and 2026. Two of four big bidders will win the contract in 60%/40% split. Bidders are United Launch Alliance (Boeing and Lockheed Martin), SpaceX (Elon Musk), Blue Origin (Jeff Bezos) and Northrop Grumman. The contest has very large implications about the future of the U.S. space program as well as the welfare of the competing companies. ArsTechnica

dis-rup-shun: This contest pits traditional aerospace contractors with deep government ties with tech company startups. The traditional contractors have a great deal to lose, as they are not focused on the private space business and have few other customers besides the military establishment. The tech upstarts have focused on more economical rockets and lower cost crafts, giving them a potential advantage, and meaning that they will have great influence on the future of space — both government and private funded. Expect one incumbent and one startup to win the contract, providing both low-cost innovation and trusted providers on the job — likely United Launch Alliance and SpaceX.

The Four: The Hidden DNA of Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google

Scott Galloway’s book on “the Four Horsemen” offers a candid look at the actions and power of the tech giants, not afraid of offering strong opinions, and praising the companies for their impressive accomplishments. The NYU Stern Marketing professor has long been a student of the companies. Huffpost

dis-rup-shun: To consider the unchecked power of the big four is sobering — why have these companies not been subject to more regulation? On the other hand, each of these companies has played an out sized role in making the fantastic tech-powered world we live in today. Where would we be without them. Expect a significant amount of restrictions and regulations to be placed on at least three of these companies, Facebook, Amazon and Google, over the next two years as their power has become too large to overlook.

 

 

Disney launches Netflix killer

Disney announces streaming bundle

Disney is ready to accelerate the undoing of the pay TV industry with its announced streaming bundle, offering ESPN, Disney and Hulu at the price of $12.99. That price is equivalent to Netflix and Amazon Prime. The Verge

dis-rup-shun: This changes the streaming game, and the pay TV game altogether. Why? First of all, getting these packages at this price means that Disney is selling at a loss and plans to play the long game. That’s bad news for Netflix, a company that doesn’t plan to make a profit for a long time, and has stated that it will eventually reach profitability through original programming. It will take a great deal of original programming to come close to original content of non-stop sports, Disney’s catalog, and the less interesting Hulu catalog. Given a choice, why take Netflix at all? Because of a few interesting shows. Secondly, AT&T, now entering the streaming game with its Time Warner acquisition, is clearly playing the long game with its own studio. It is also in the streaming business to recapture the cord cutters that are leaving DirecTV for bundles such as Disney’s.

Amazon price pressure — anti-competitive?

Amazon is under investigation by the FTC. What’s of interest to the Feds is Amazon’s practice of telling its third party sellers who offer the same products on other marketplaces for a lower price that they may lose some Amazon perks, like listings at the top of a page, or Prime shipping. This causes the sellers to raise prices on marketplaces such as eBay or Walmart.com. Amazon’s costs for listing and advertising, however, are the highest online. The Verge

dis-rup-shun: When you control the largest online marketplace (by far) and you charge your customers fees for placing products in that market, and you penalize customers for setting their own prices, you just may have more influence than “the free market.” Consumers might benefit from knowing that they don’t have to shop because all marketplaces offer the same goods at the same price, but not as much as they benefit from finding better deals and deciding if they are willing to trade a discount for non-Prime shipping. Expect Amazon to have to make some concessions to the Feds.

Man crosses English Channel on hover board

After failing a month ago by wiping out in the sea, inventor Franky Zapata successfully crossed the English Channel this weekend on a hover board, traveling from France to England in 20 minutes. TechCrunch

dis-rup-shun: As vehicle ownership decreases, giving way to transportation-as-a-service models, and as drone use increases, super fast travel such as hover boards may be an option for commuters.

Amazon delivery robots working sidewalks in Irvine

Amazon is now testing delivery via robotic carts to neighborhoods in Irvine, California. The Scout devices are autonomous, but are accompanied by a person who is there to make sure everything goes as planned and to test sentiment for the devices. One problem to be resolved is sharing sidewalks with pedestrians and Scouts. ZDNet

dis-rup-shun: Will people prefer delivery trucks running through the neighborhood, or robots buzzing along the sidewalk? In densely populated areas, robotic carts from multiple vendors dodging pedestrians won’t be tolerated, but reducing truck traffic on the streets will be favored. A drone lane between the sidewalk and the street could be easily painted, and supported by appropriate fees from Amazon, FedEx and UPS, cities may enjoy a new source of revenue.

T-Mobile Sprint merger: do you approve?

Sprint T-Mobile merger: good or bad?

T-Mobile has been cleared by the Justice Department to acquire Sprint. This is the third attempt by the carriers to combine forces. 13 states are suing, claiming the deal will reduce competition and increase prices. The carriers have promised to freeze prices for three years and will give away some of their services and spectrum to Dish Networks, already an owner of significant spectrum, so that it may launch a fourth wireless network service, thereby not reducing the number of competitors. CNET

dis-rup-shun: The best argument for approving the deal is that three big carriers will continue to be ‘cutthroat competitive’ to win market share. AT&T and Verizon are not likely to be less aggressive in the market given the merger, but will be more aggressive, given that the new T-Mobile will be a third giant. T-Mobile with Sprint will be financially stronger to accelerate the race to deliver 5G networks and Dish will be the weak ‘also ran’ that must introduce creative plans for niche customers but even so will likely not be profitable. Given that the merger will not reduce market competitiveness and will accelerate 5G, the DOJ made the right decision.

Capital One data breach exposes 140,000 SSNs

A data breach and subsequent posting of SSNs and Capital One bank account numbers was announced. One perpetrator, 33 year old Paige Thompson, was arrested and charged in Seattle. The breach will cost Capital One between $100 million and $150 million.

dis-rup-shun: Seems that Seattle is increasingly the epicenter of tech innovation, good and bad. It turns out that Thompson briefly worked for Amazon. This breach is another reminder that higher standards are required for storing personal information. Encryption and its keys must be stronger such that access to personal data must be limited to only a handful of traceable employees at even large corporations.

Banned Huawei reports 23% increase

The Chinese tech giant that has been banned by the U.S. and many Western partners, experienced strong growth, mostly by selling more smartphones in China. The gains come at the expense of Xiaomi, Oppo, Vivo, and Apple. The Verge

dis-rup-shun: What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger, Huawei may be saying. On the other hand, Huawei’s challenge — selling 5G infrastructure gear across the planet, remains a challenge with increased sanctions. The power of the consumer — the power to make or break companies such as Apple and Motorola and Nokia (remember when the Razr and Nokia candy bar phones were “it”) — has floated Huawei. Could it be Chinese nationalism causing consumers to favor Huawei smartphones, or are they just that good?

Internet crosses oceans through 380 underwater cables

Today, Internet communications from continent to continent rely on not just a few submerged cables, but 380 which are owned and operated by telcos as well as by Google, Microsoft, Huawei and others. While cables are frequently disrupted by ship anchors, fishermen and seismic activity, the ability to re-route traffic means most outages are not noticed. CNN

dis-rup-shun: The space race, often covered by dis-rup-shun.com, seeks to provide a more economical means of covering the globe with network services through satellites in constant orbit, rather than vulnerable undersea fiber. Companies that control the physical Internet infrastructure are guaranteed a financial advantage for essentially now until the end of civilization.

Walmart discovers $10 billion app

Walmart misstep turns to $10 billion gain

Walmart, in an acquisition questioned by many, acquired, for $17 billion, an Indian e-tailing company, Flipkart. Last year’s acquisition was seen as a misstep given vast cultural differences between the companies and Walmart’s distance behind Amazon in e-commerce. Recently, however, Walmart discovered that the acquisition’s subsidiary, payment app PhonePe, has experienced 77% growth in the past year. The payments company is riding atop of rapid growth of Indian consumer use of payment apps. ZDNet

dis-rup-shun: Walmart needs a little luck as it struggles to catch Amazon in the online retailing race, but finding it has control of one of the fastest growing payment apps in India could open new lines of business for the company that has mostly struggled to gain traction outside of North America. As mobile payment apps quickly become preferred forms of commerce outside of the U.S., Walmart can build on its strong position in India.

Attorney General Barr decides to take on Big Tech

After a number of controversial testimonies, the U.S. Attorney General has decided to investigate if Big Tech has become anti-competitive. Stock prices of Amazon, Alphabet, Facebook and Apple fell 1% in extended trading. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: If the determination of anti-competitive is having a “dominant market position,” then Google search dominance will be a problem, as will Facebook’s dominance in social networking with not only its Flagship, but its owned subsidiaries of Instagram and WhatsApp. Amazon’s domination of ecommerce will be hard to dispute.

Honeywell T9 smart thermostat full on features, light on design

Resideo’s newest smart thermostat, branded Honeywell T9, has remote sensors that go beyond Nest and Ecobee by measuring both temperature, presence and humidity. Despite the strong feature set, the device lacks the sleek industrial design of leading competitors. The Verge

dis-rup-shun: Despite Honeywell being the best recognized brand in residential HVAC controls, it has struggled to grasp the importance of cutting edge design and to shake off its industrial heritage. As the smart home struggles to move from Early Adopter to Early Majority, engaging the young professional, tech savvy buyer who considers aesthetics as important as features, is critical and appears even more important than brand recognition.

Electric Ford F-150 pulls a train

Ford sold 1.1 million F-150 pickup trucks last year. The company released a video showing a prototype electric F-150 pulling a train load of F-150s (42 trucks). Ford believes that consumers perceive EVs to have less power, hence the towing demonstration. Ars Technica

dis-rup-shun: Global share of electric vehicles of all vehicles was up 54% in 2017, and is expected by Statista to make up 14% of all U.S. vehicles sold by 2025. Government policies, providing incentives for electric car buyers, has been critical to sales growth. Now car makers are offering some exciting electric options. Expect ride sharing apps to offer an electric vehicle option, as soon as there are enough on the road to enter the ride share pool.

Amazon could fix one of corporations’ ugliest habits

Amazon to refurbish, rather than dispense employees

Amazon, ever resourceful, announced that it would begin a program of retraining existing employees as its business and personnel needs change. At the cost of $7,000 per worker, it will train up to 100,000 employees who elect to participate, between now and 2025. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: At a time when Big Tech is increasingly under fire for monopolistic practices and personal information mismanagement, Amazon creates the ultimate loyalty program — potentially leading a cultural shift among global corporations to stop the long held practice of quick termination of employees who don’t fit changing needs, at a high cost of severance, unemployment, and bad public relations. This is a cultural change with very powerful benefits.

Connected hair straightener with poor security

U.K.’s Glamorizer makes the world’s first Bluetooth hair straightener. The app can be easily hacked, giving nefarious beauticians the ability to take over someone’s straightener and sustain high temperatures over sustained periods.

dis-rup-shun: Get ready for it –a wave of connected appliances that gain little value from being connected other than differentiating them on the store shelves or Amazon.com pages. Makers of inexpensive household appliances that do little by being connected have little incentive to secure them. For this reason the appliance industry needs to implement a security standard that is displayed on a sticker on the device, just as UL certification assures consumers that electronic products have undergone some inspection.

Luminar raises $100 million for next generation lidar

Increasing total funding to $250 million, Luminar is racing to be a heavyweight in the autonomous car industry. TechCrunch

dis-rup-shun: What is lidar? It is the radar-like technology used by autonomous vehicles to see what’s in front of them. Without really good lidar sensors, driver-less cars will run over things they shouldn’t. 79 million cars were sold globally last year. Think of the market value of being a leading provider of a component that will be in almost every new car in 2025.

Automation replaces part of umpire’s jobs

Baseball’s Atlantic League is using computerized TrackMan radar to call balls and strikes, dumbing down umpire’s jobs to watching for checked swings and keeping an eye on the technology. TechCrunch

dis-rup-shun: Point and counter-point: replacing the judgement of umpires with technology removes some of the human-element charm of the sport, or, finally, costly errors by umpires won’t skew outcomes of games in the future. TrackMan took over for tennis lines persons years ago, yet they still sit and stare down each line for every match. Pilots sip coffee while watching computers land large jets, but well-trained pilots remain a part of every flight. Let us conclude that AI will eliminate some jobs and will certainly eliminate the human factor of many jobs.