Trade War consequences: China as innovation leader

China vs. U.S. tech race — who ends up stronger?

A key tenet of U.S. tariffs imposed against China is curtailing the illegal use of intellectual property by Chinese companies. An unintended consequence of the trade war is strengthening of Chinese tech leadership, as China’s tech giants, including Huawei, Tencent, Alibaba and Baidu are developing their own AI microprocessors and mobile operating systems. The U.S. needs to develop and fund a national agenda for reaching new gains in technologies such as AI and 5G, says think tank CFR. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: Countless examples throughout history confirm that competition is good. Competition is proving China to be swift and agile in moving from tech follower to tech leader. If trade wars are accelerating innovation in China, it stands to reason that the EU, US and India will step up innovation as well. Would open economies without tariffs reward innovation at the same rate? Perhaps the US agenda of greater enforcement of IP laws will be successful, especially when Chinese companies develop more IP than the US.

Apple CarPlay gets an update

Apple has made some useful updates to CarPlay, the app that enables your in car display to more easily display your iPhone screen. New features include a split screen, allowing you to see a map and media player at the same time. Also, a passenger can now look things up on other apps while connected to CarPlay and the car display still shows the map. The Apple Maps has been enhanced to make it more travel friendly. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: If your car isn’t compatible with CarPlay or Android Auto, then you need a new car. Integration between the car and the smartphone is perhaps the most important car feature aside from the actual car systems, and the ability to seamlessly integrate both in a safe manner will greatly influence the customer experience. Successful integration provides a powerful platform for entertainment and shopping, as Xevo, a division of Leer Corporation, has shown. Xevo’s growing list of merchant vendors are the preferred vendors that are easily displayed when you search for gas, tires, food or other services from your car.

Musk unveils Starship Prototype

Elon Musk’s SpaceX unveiled, this weekend, its enormous Starship rocket prototype. The large, stainless steel reusable craft will be flying in a matter of months, says Musk. What is not understood is the business model for such a large rocket – far larger than needed to launch satellites. Gizmodo

dis-rup-shun: Musk’s unbounded thinking (and spending) put him in the realm of Steve Jobs, especially if SpaceX is able to make commercial space travel and delivery routine. SpaceX is years late in delivering on a NASA contract for Commercial Crew development, and Musk’s problems and cultural problems at Tesla suggest potential for problems at SpaceX. The Starship concept is way ahead of its time and the business model for a large, reusable rocket is, as of now, unknown, but perhaps that is not as important to Musk as being first at something truly revolutionary.

Motorola Razr re-boot: foldable

The popular Razr will come around again, this time, however, it will be a foldable — the new technology that has proven hard to bring to market. Motorola’s mobile assets are now owned by Chinese PC maker, Lenovo. The phone was supposed to have been delivered this summer, but now appears it will be a late year release. CNET

dis-rup-shun: While innovations in smartphones have continued along existing lines, providing better cameras, batteries and apps, it is time for something different. A phone that incorporates current technology (apps), the latest technology (foldable screens) and yesterday’s iconic memories (Razr) could be a hit and a great change from the status quo.

Ikea doubles down on smart home

Ikea commits to become a force in smart home

Ikea revealed its smart home and IOT strategy by announcing a new smart home division that will aggressively ramp up its start in smart home products. Previously the company released a line of lamps with Sonos speakers, and a line of smart lighting before that. The company’s smart home division is an significant part of its future strategy. TheVerge

dis-rup-shun: Ikea’s announcement is another good sign for the smart home industry, as the consumer is being surrounded on all sides by all channels with IoT and smart home products. The smart home section in Best Buy has grown from a portion of an isle five years ago, to three isles in many stores. Smart home products are integrated into offerings from telcos, cablecos, security companies, energy providers, retailers, and now furniture makers. Ikea’s excellent design, value and user experience will further elevate the penetration of smart home technology into the mass market.

39% of execs believe China will lead AI

A survey of worldwide execs believe that China will overtake the U.S. as AI leader. 35% believe it unlikely. 50% of executives view machine learning and AI as the leading opportunity and cyber security risks are seen as the top operational challenge. Forbes

dis-rup-shun:  The sprint for world leadership in AI, and the neck and neck contest between the U.S. and China will make for blazing-fast acceleration of technology over the next decade, at least. The contest will create thousands of jobs as well as hopefully displacing fewer. Unfortunately, the contest will include development of increasingly powerful smart weaponry, and, sadly, more sophisticated hacking and cyber attacking technology.

AI changes the course of chip making

The race for AI includes implementing deep learning, or a process whereby AI processes are better with more data. Processing massive amounts of data to make quick and informed “decisions” requires math capable CPUs. For this reason, graphics processors (GPUs) from companies such as NVidia, have enjoyed significant demand for AI. New chip company Cerebras has announced a chip the size of an iPad itself, 56 times the size of NVidia’s most powerful GPU. With 1.2 trillion transistors, compared to NVidia’s 21.1 billion, Cerebras is a supercomputer on a chip. Wired

dis-rup-shun: Autonomous cars, planes and drones, for a few examples of IoT,  have to process thousands of data points and instantaneously adjust to changing external conditions. The compute power required to do so accurately is significant and, quite frankly, no one will trust these new vehicles until they are proven to respond flawlessly. Expect at least two Cerebra scale CPU’s — one primary and one redundant, in critical applications.

Microsoft hires former Siri chief

Bill Stasior, former head of Apple’s Siri products, was previously a senior executive at Amazon. Microsoft’s answer to Siri, called Cortana, was unbundled from Windows 10’s search box last year. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: Microsoft has a lot of catching up to do in the areas of voice, as Cortana is not found in many devices and without a force in the smartphone or smart speaker market, Microsoft has mostly missed the voice interface race. Microsoft’s smart home and IOT strategy includes a number of investments in AI and machine learning and has likely tapped Stasior to make voice a key part of future Windows versions, as well as some new products from Microsoft. Expect a new version of voice control to show up in Microsoft devices such as XBox, keyboards, mice, and, of course, Surface tablets and notebooks in about a year.

Ikea’s robotic furniture makes arranging easy

Ikea launches line of robotic furniture

Ikea’s upcoming furniture line features wheels that, with a push of a button, reconfigure your rooms to convert sitting or work areas into sleeping areas. With the accelerating migration of populations to cities, real estate is becoming costlier and space, accordingly, more efficient.  engadget

dis-rup-shun: Ikea’s line is not yet ‘smart,’ and does not yet boast of AI, but that will inevitably follow so that one can reconfigure their apartment as they are approaching in their Uber, or so the apartment can ready itself as the usual time, or, of course, so that Ikea can collect more data on sleep habits and inform you if you are sleeping well.

11 Great applications for facial recognition technologies 

CBInsights shows the growth of patents for facial recognition technologies, and lists 11 use cases, including law enforcement, accessing and starting a car, banking authentication, virtual makeup sampling, workplace security and worker alertness, insurance quotes, personalizing food orders, healthcare access and diagnosis, hotel check-ins, shoplifting prevention, travel check-in.

dis-rup-shun: If you use facial recognition on your phone or your PC, you have experienced the ease-of-use and effectiveness of the technology, and if you have “enjoyed” long hotel or rental car check-in lines on your latest business trip, you will be willing to risk a compromise of privacy for some convenience.  After all, you do that every time you surf the Internet — why not share your photo with Google, Amazon, Avis and Hilton?

China launches rocket from a ship at sea

China’s National Space Administration successfully launched a rocket from a cargo ship. The March 11 rocket carried five satellites — two which will be part of a global, space delivered Internet network. China is the third country behind Russia and USA to launch a rocket from a ship, though the first country to do so without cooperating with other countries. engadget

dis-rup-shun: Independence is the name of the game for China as the U.S. tries to force China to change its trade practices. As the U.S. shames China’s Huawei, China will be showing off its technology and flexing its strengths very publicly. The race is on for space, and thousands of new satellites and space objects will be cluttering the skies to provide networking services and military defense outposts. It is the Wild West in space and those who get there first will own platforms for both revenue and national defense, worth billions.

Amazon drones use AI to avoid power lines

Amazon is developing a drone called Prime Air, designed to deliver light loads, under 5 pounds, at high speeds. Challenges that must be overcome are identifying hard-to-see dangers such as power lines or clotheslines, and the craft must land and liftoff in tight spots. engadget

dis-rup-shun: Many obstacles remain for commercial drone deployment, but Amazon will not have to rely on others when regulators open the skies. FedEx and UPS cannot rest on their logistics network laurels, as Amazon plans to fly right over them.

Cracking Amazon’s Choice

Trying to understand Amazon Choice features products in each category called “Amazon Choice.” Wired tries to figure out what it takes to nab the Choice label, as this spot drives staggering volumes. Choice products are not the most or least expensive, and they can change quickly. For those that shop using voice commands and a smart speaker, Choice makes voice shopping easier.

dis-rup-shun: Cracking the code behind seemingly arbitrary Amazon Choice picks is tough, but it is clear that the company is a master of psychology, understanding that consumers want lots of choices AND are overwhelmed by too many choices and need a recommendation. Why not offer both? Differentiation has always been the key to sales success, and never before has it been so important.

Ring adds more smart lighting

Ring, an Amazon company, has released a new line of outdoor lighting that uses motion sensors, Wi-Fi, and connects to a home hub. The “smart” occurs when a motion sensor detects movement, turns on the light, and activates a camera, and vice-versa. The lighting additions complement the company’s offerings of doorbell, cameras, and security hub and sensors.

dis-rup-shun: The biggest growth in the smart home market is coming from point solutions, such as Alexa, Ring, Hue, and smart locks. These devices present a simple and affordable value proposition. Consumers get it. The billion dollar question is, can these point solution sellers surround their hits with layers of products which, voila, create a system that merits monthly subscription fees? The answer for Ring and Alexa appears to be yes, as they are tirelessly adding to their ecosystems in a Legos or Garanimals manner, increasing options, value and revenues.

Stanford prof launches 105 satellites 

The KickSat-2 project (2 for second attempt), a project born at Stanford with the support of Cornell, launched 105 tiny, cracker-sized square satellites from the International Space Station this past March. The tiny satellites are in low orbit and communicate with one-another and with a base station on Earth. TechCrunch

dis-rup-shun: Nano satellites are small, less expensive, and specialized in function. Corporations and organizations that prefer a private communications device could become users of this technology in the future. Who needs a personal satellite? There was a time when people thought mobile phones were just for special people.

Trade war spurs Chinese semiconductor business

As the U.S. government’s fight with China’s Huawei has resulted in starving the company of many technology components, China is pushing hard to accelerate its own semiconductor industry. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: The impact of the escalating trade wars, regardless of being quick or drawn out, will undoubtedly change the global economic mix, as China commits to never being in this position again. The trade wars will make for a stronger, more independent China that will begin to demonstrate its strength in 24 to 36 months with its own technology breakthroughs.