Smart surfaces are next big technology innovation

Next big thing: smart surfaces

Sentons is a company that has developed a processor and software capable of turning any surface into a user interface. The company uses ultrasound technology to make any surface respond to gestures, touch and other forces. Initial applications are for smartphones — enhancing gaming input and camera controls, but the possibilities extend to most any device. TechCrunch

dis-rup-shun: Smart speakers are transformative and we have only begun to see how they will change machine control. Amazon is just now pushing Alexa into cars. Now we know the next wave of innovation of device interaction — making any surface smart. This will lead to virtual keyboards appearing on counter tops, desk surfaces, and appliance controls no longer being physical knobs or buttons, but virtual. Imagine the convenience of typing on your airplane seat tray since there is no space to open up a laptop. The cost of many devices can be reduced as the electro-mechanical components can be eliminated.

Why Big Tech keeps building hardware 

Apple and Samsung are the dominant device makers of our age, yet Big Tech software and service companies keep introducing new devices. Google, with Pixel and Chromebooks, wants to offer a pure, undiluted Google experience to loyalists. Amazon wants to bring consumers into the Amazon shopping experience by any door, and is willing to build devices that support Alexa to help do so. Microsoft uses its Surface line of hardware to introduce and showcase new features, such as the Duo and Neo folding computer. Facebook wants to dominate AR/VR and is using its Oculus investment to try to be the market leader. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: The hardware business is, well, hard, and the margins can be thin. Apple has demonstrated that the new game is not about just making great devices, but using devices as a platform for services, be they music, news, videos, personal fitness, or mobile payments. To be a software and services provider to third-party device makers has become riskier, as device makers often want to use their own services and apps, even if they are not the best. To minimize the risk of displacement, software and service companies are having to take on the difficult, unpredictable, and high cost role of device makers. There will continue to be a few successes, but mostly failures.

Apple credit card the most successful launch ever

Goldman Sachs, the bank behind the Apple credit card, called the launch of the new card the most successful credit card launch ever. While we aren’t given specific data on the launch, consumer demand has been strong since August. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: The magic powers of the Apple brand continue, and Goldman Sachs follows companies like AT&T that have made billions off of Apple’s brand power. The success of the card also prepares the way for Apple to further extend its reach into services including gaming, videos, news and many others not yet imagined. Banks and other partners have to weigh the benefits of a partnership with the risk that Apple will someday decide to offer services without them. If Apple (or Amazon or Google, for that matter) seeks to disrupt an industry, it will, so it makes sense for partners to make as much money while they still can and possibly have a seat at the table for later.

Drone delivery is happening now in Virginia

Wing, the drone division of Google parent, Alphabet, has started delivering small items to residents in Christiansburg, Virginia. Wing’s partners include Walgreens and FedEx and the company has been authorized to deliver packages to certain zones that are beyond the line of sight of Wing traffic controllers. TheVerge

dis-rup-shun: You will enjoy the video that shows how the service works. While we can all think of dozens of complications, the main point is that Wing has beat Amazon and UPS to production. As city streets become increasingly crowded with gray Amazon Prime vans stopping at many houses seven days a week, we have to remember that for Amazon, shipping is not a profit center as it is for UPS and FedEx. One of the carriers’ biggest customers, Amazon, is going to market increasingly without them, potentially changing the economics of the logistics business. If drones will be a profitable delivery mechanism, UPS and FedEx don’t want to lose to Amazon, so FedEx’s partner’s first-to-market win in Virginia is an important development.