Alexa as medication minder

Alexa helps track medication schedules and reorders

Amazon announced that it has entered into a partnership with pharmacy chain Giant Eagle, serving Pennsylvania, Ohio, Maryland, West Virginia and Indiana. With the pill minding skill, one can set up their prescriptions with Giant Eagle, order refills through Alexa, and request that Alexa remind them when its time to take a pill. A PIN code secures the privacy of the reminders and helps Alexa keep its HIPAA certification. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: Alexa is crossing over from the interesting and cool category to lifestyle manager. Alexa has yet to become a popular shopping device, but reminders of when to take meds and when to order refills may be that important niche application that makes Alexa a commerce engine. Layering telemedicine apps on top of medication reminders, and encouraging people to purchase Amazon Echo Shows for video health exams could make the device a critical addition to households. For people with chronic diseases, or young children or seniors, having a health portal device with proven telemedicine and medication reminder functionality will be an easy purchase decision.

Doorbell cam-phobia increases

Facebook links to a website built by a group called Fight for the Future that criticized the use of doorbell cameras, specifically Ring, was blocked by Facebook. The group is concerned that Amazon’s Ring doorbell, and its tight relationship with many local police departments across the land, is a threat to “privacy, civil liberties, and security.” Gizmodo

dis-rup-shun: The triple threat of technology, tech giants such as Amazon and Google who “know all,” and local police have a growing number of people fearful of a police state in which everyone is being watched, recorded, and tracked. Last week’s Iranian government block of the Internet to punish its citizenry for protests over fuel prices, and years of accounts of spying by the U.S.S.R on its own people combined with a constant serving of movies and TV about governments using technology for bad, keep many people wary. Those concerned with data privacy have become a sufficient market segment that tech players such as Apple, and now Sonos, are making data privacy a key part of their market strategy. Expect data privacy to join climate change and gender equality in shaping the marketing messages of many product and service companies.

Los Angeles traffic going electric

The Zero Emissions 2028 Roadmap calls for a 25% reduction in greenhouse gases by the 2028 Olympics. This lofty goal calls for 30% of passenger cars and 80% of new cars sold to be electric. The city will ramp up its placement of public chargers. The city has requested help from electric car makers Nissan, Tesla, BMW, Audi, and makers of electric-buses, Proterra and BYD. One of the city’s initiatives is to move more people out of single person cars and into clean mass transit vehicles. Forbes

dis-rup-shun: Car makers in general, but especially those without an electric vehicle in their line ups, continue to bear the brunt of a new generation of everything-as-a-service urban dwellers. Millennials, coupled with environmentally aware baby boomers, make the outlook for the auto industry unclear. Expect efficient living trends – especially regarding fuel, water, real estate, and natural resources, to be guiding new technology products and services. As a matter of fact, if your new tech concept doesn’t align with more efficient living trends, your market potential is very limited.

And the #1 rated Thanksgiving TV show is …

Wired offers us a menu of the top 20 Thanksgiving episodes from popular (and some less so) shows of the past couple of decades. The authors tip their hats to the often dysfunctional and frequently awkward combinations of people that the tradition unites. It’s a holiday for streaming video, and the top 5 of the top 20 are…

5. Friends—“The One With All the Thanksgivings”—Season 5: Episode 8 (Netflix)

4. The West Wing—“Shibboleth” — Season 2: Episode 8 (Netflix)

3. Cheers—“Thanksgiving Orphans”—Season 5: Episode 9 (Prime, Hulu, Netlfix)

2. Master of None—“Thanksgiving”—Season 2: Episode 8 (Netflix)

1. WKRP in Cincinnati—“Turkeys Away”—Season 1: Episode 7 (Available on Amazon Prime)

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.

Can Ring make transition from doorbell camera to home automation?

Ring eyeing a larger role in the smart home 

Ring’s alarm system is part of the company’s shift from products to overall safety systems, says CEO Jamie Siminoff in an interview with Fast Company. Siminoff says the company is seeking to create an ecosystem of its own products and third party products that can leverage an alarm system’s state changes, and offer services accordingly.

dis-rup-shun: Translating the success of a hot product, like Ring’s doorbell camera, to enthusiasm for an entire ecosystem has proven difficult for Ring’s predecessors. Providing truly game-changing technology to control one’s home through a security system, without occupants having to arm or disarm their system, is the promise of AI for the smart home, being developed by a small number of players including People Power, and Vivint. Security systems not deploying machine learning/AI one year from now will be underwhelming.

Tech employees are demanding social responsibility

Employees of tech firms including Google, Microsoft, Clarifai, Amazon, Palantir, Salesforce, and others are demanding their bosses cease working on projects for weapons, immigration enforcement, censorship and other applications considered unethical. Some employees have voted with their feet, leaving companies working on projects employees don’t approve, and others have called for the installation of ethical standards oversight officers. AP News

dis-rup-shun: A rising prioritization of social responsibility over financial gain marks a shift from the Gordon Gecko inspired “greed is good” mentality of the 1980s. Workers of tech leaders are aware of and concerned by the unchecked influence of Big Tech, and their employers’ control of AI. Members of the Business Roundtable recently revised their mission statement to prioritize stakeholders, the environment and communities.

Myia Health uses wearables to monitor chronic illness

Wearables are not new, but Myia Health has developed a package of wearables that focus on congestive heart failure patients. The kit uses a gateway tablet, a blood pressure cuff, an under-mattress sleep sensor, a heart rate patch, an activity monitoring ring, and wireless scale. The company charges hospitals a monthly subscription fee. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: The connected health space shows tremendous promise with an acute shortage of care givers and an aging population, but business models in the care arena are complex. What is not complex, however, is the fact that CMS (the organization determining Medicare reimbursement policy) now penalizes hospitals who re-admit patients they have recently treated. Using home technologies to keep tabs on heart patients to ensure they won’t require readmission can avoid penalties and pay for itself. Expect connected health companies to become more effective at quantifying benefits of their products in an effort to influence CMS reimbursement policies.

Blood screening startup Baze offers inexpensive analysis

Switzerland based startup Baze offers a kit that, for $100, enables you to easily draw a small sample of blood which, after 12 days, is analyzed to provide an assessment of what supplements your body requires.

dis-rup-shun: Not claiming to transform the universe as did Theranos, Baze offers an inexpensive and accurate way to determine if you should be frequenting the health supplements store. Expect a large supplement retailer to acquire the company to increase awareness of the products consumers should purchase for increased health.

A recipe to reverse tech decline

Make America tech again (MATA)

Here are depressing stats on the U.S.A.; the country ranks 25th in the world in R&D tax credits, is no longer in the top 10 in global innovation, is behind in the race for AI development, is behind in creating scientists and computer scientists, and is ranked #11 in world technology readiness.

Forbes provides specific instructions for government policy to reverse these trends:

  1. Implement a consistent data security and privacy policy similar to Europe’s GDPR standard. This provides a consistent standard for data protection and a guideline for enforcing violators.
  2. Use satellite technology to provide broadband to all citizens, and restore net neutrality.
  3. Increase the R&D tax credit to 25% to keep cutting edge tech development companies from setting up shot elsewhere.
  4. Increase annual STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) funding by at least tenfold.
  5. Healthcare must be pushed to adopt a standard for electronic health records (EHR) and must encourage the use of telemedicine and telecare technologies to lower costs and increase care across populations.
  6. Encourage the funding of digital technology to measure and analyze climate change and better quantify changes from year to year.
  7. Make it easy for knowledge workers to obtain H1-B visas (and their spouses).
  8. Increase competition within the Internet economy by shrinking the tech oligarchies.
  9. Spend generously on cyber security, increasing the budget by 25% per year until the problems diminish.
  10. Outline specific and substantial spending initiatives to lead in the development of artificial intelligence. Forbes

dis-rup-shun: Perhaps the U.S. Federal government can accomplish all of these objectives by breaking up the tech oligopolies, but rewarding the new baby techs lucrative contracts to accomplish these tasks, and giving them large tax credits and visa allotments. Break-ups could be bitter sweet launches into new businesses with new partners and plenty of government assistance.

Trouble on the horizon with fake nudes

A new app imagines photos of women with no clothes. The AI-powered app uses its database of images of nude women to find a best replacement for the clothed portions of the image. It only works for pictures of women. The Verge

dis-rup-shun: While this app may be the X-Ray glasses dreamed by many a schoolboy, it will get a lot of people in trouble. Scandal, libel, lawsuits. This may boost the tattoo industry as women feel the need to wear a “unique stamp” to disprove the authenticity of  fake nude photos.

Amazon using smart home as Prime Day feature

Amazon’s annual Prime Day campaign to pry open wallets which are generally funding other activities in July will include a number of smart home products from Nest, Ring, Echo, and others. The products will be offered at steep discounts.

dis-rup-shun: The smart home industry growth is currently attributed to the increasing availability of interesting ‘hero’ products like doorbells, IP cameras, and voice assistants. The big challenge, however, is converting the successful sales of end point products to systems that enable whole home functionality and a robust monthly service fee. A large number of companies including traditional home security players, as well as energy utilities, insurance companies, telcos, and retailers are determined to convert the 80% of the population without home security system, and the path to their wallets appear to be through cool, connected devices.

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.