TrackingPoint makes s $27,500 smart rifle that doesn’t miss it’s target even at a 1000 yards. The Texas based business is backed by $35 million in funding from founder John McHale, his buddies and Austin Ventures. The rifle’s smart system is so clever that any novice can pick up the gun, point it at a target a thousand yards away and hit it dead-centre first time (or at least that is the promise). Peer down the smartscope and line up a white dot (the centre of the crosshairs), push a red button to lock the gun’s guidance system on the target and pull the trigger… nothing happens, you’ve duffed it… shaken too much. The rifle’s system takes over calculating the perfect alignment sensing your breathing rhythms and countering your moving hands. Without warning at the precise perfect moment the rifle fires itself hitting the target.
The predictions of Apple’s demise have, it seems, been all too premature.
At TomorrowToday, we’re big Apple fans. Personally, I am certified Apple cult member, with a completely Apple-infested house (with everything from iPads and iPods to Apple TV and Airports). I don’t claim to be objective on this issue.
We also steer clear of short-term market trend forecasting, precisely because it is so difficult. And unless you’re the marketing and sales director of a company in that industry, it’s not really that important. Keeping “score” by trying to predict how many Apple handsets will be sold on the third Saturday after the next full moon doesn’t make much sense to me anyway. The health of companies must surely be more related to longer term trends than short term triggers?
Yesterday, however, an article on AppleInsider.com caught my eye. A year or so ago, technology analysts were falling over themselves to predict the demise of Apple. Linked, of course, to the death of Steve Jobs, they made all sorts of predictions about how Apple would lose market share, not be innovative and generally lose their way. As a vocal supporter of Apple, I disputed each of these points. There appears to be a culture at Apple that I was hoping would outlast a single person.
Some things have not been brilliant at Apple in the last year. The biggest issue for us at TomorrowToday is that the latest version of Keynote (in Mavericks OS) is a massive leap backwards for professional presenters. Key things that we need have just been taken away – the most significant is the ability to customise the presenter view screen on your laptop. Inexplicable, frustrating, and Apple are doing nothing to restore this functionality or respond to user demands. I am sure they will in time. The logic, by the way, is that they are moving all of their software to focus more on iPad functionality – but that’s a dumbing down power users can’t abide. They apparently did the same a few years ago with Final Cut Pro, and eventually rolled back all their changes after power users demanded it.
But this is a minor issue (for the company; a major one for me – I have stuck with the old version of Keynote).
As we review 2013 and the performance of the main technology companies, it appears that it is not Apple who were in danger of slipping sales, slowing innovation and sliding standards. As the article I saw says: “Google, Samsung and Microsoft were the companies in 2013 with sales problems and a lack of innovation, while Apple continued to remain the most profitable and successful in executing its strategies and the company everyone else in the industry looked to for ideas and leadership.”
Read it in full here if you’re interested. There’s important information about the fight between NFC and BLE (Apple’s choice is BLE and it’s winning); on the sizing of phones (seriously, is it the 80s all over again with the size of some Android screens being sold as phones these days?); and Google versus other search entry points.
We are not too concerned about the exact features of the 2014 smartphones or whether Apple or Samsung end this coming with a higher market cap. But we are very interested in where the innovations of the technology world are heading. Enjoy the article and the in depth analysis of who is doing what, and where it’s likely to go.
Do you go to the real place to understand the changing trends affecting how people live, work and play? The Japanese have a term called “genba” which refers to the real place or where the work is done. For some the real place is the factory floor, for others it’s the checkout point and then most importantly it’s where customers use your product or service, that’s the real place.
Observing how people use your products and services in their real place can give insights into new areas of innovation and disruption. When Deborah Adler saw her grandmother mistakenly take pills from the wrong perscription bottle, the then design student recognised an opportunity to improve the decades-old drug packaging. She designed a new label system called ClearRX that has been adopted by Target, Johnson & Johnson, Medline Industries and others. For Deborah the “real place” was her grandma’s medicine cabinet.
Where is your real place, your businesses real place and your customers real place? Are you spending too much time and energy on things that are in the wrong place?
In our TIDES of Change presentation, we’ve been saying for a few years now that the company that finds a cheap and easy way to desalinate sea water will make more money than they will know what to do with. Access to usable water is one of the key issues the world faces. If you are not aware of just how little usable (fresh) water we have (it’s less than 3% of all water, and if it was gathered up into a big ball of water, its base would only just cover Manhattan; in fact, even all the ocean water is not as much as you think – the oceans are not really that deep (see the picture attached to this post).
On Christmas Day last year, it was reported that chemists from the University of Texas and the University of Marburg have devised a method of using a small electrical field that will remove the salt from seawater. The technique requires little more than a store-bought battery.
If this is true and workable, it is a radical game changer for the world. Watch this space.
I don’t enjoy cycling, but my UK colleagues do. Dean van Leeuwen, James Dunne and Wendy Mauchline all regularly hit the roads and cycle tracks of the world in a serious way. So, when I saw this neat little video about a new invention, the Copenhagen wheel, I immediately thought of them and whether this could indeed change the world. I think it can.
It’s a snap on component for the back wheel that stores energy when you’re cycling normally, and then allows you to use this energy to help propel the bike when you need it (like when you’re going uphill). It will make cycling easier. This is not necessarily what fitness fanatics or pro cyclists need, but it could make cycling accessible to a lot more of us.
What I love about this invention is that it is simple and elegant, makes a real difference and cuts to the heart of a big issue: energy usage. We have plenty of energy in the world, but we don’t use it nearly well enough and waste a lot of it. This innovation does exactly the right thing with energy. What excites me most is the mindset behind this: how to utilise a resource we’re currently wasting, and making our lives easier and better at the same time.
I hope it succeeds.
And here’s a link to the website where I found this information.
“We write code, play with robots, experiment with tensioned tubes and cables and drink lots of Red Bull,” says Nadia Shouraboura CEO of new start up Hointer a retail store that combines technology and with traditional shopping. It’s the ultimate in high-tech, modern shopping experience – fast and efficient as buying online, but with the added advantage of allowing shoppers to try on and touch the clothing.
Shouraboura used to be Amazon’s VP of global supply chain and technology so she knows a thing or two about what works in today’s instant gratification world of shopping and she is rapidly expanding her new business model and shopping experience having invested $5 million of her own money and another $5 million from friends and family. “We are zooming,” says Shouraboura — with plans to open new stores in Bellevue, San Francisco, Tokyo and Shanghai this is one business model that has the ability to radically transform retail shopping.
Hointer understand that people like to engage in the real world – see, feel, touch, hear and smell the product they want to buy. But they also enjoy the speed and efficiency of the web. Hoinster’s business model is designed to offer the best of both worlds and shows how an innovative business model can merge the digital world with the physical world.
The Hointer Experience
Enter a small but spacious store with only one item of each individual product for sale being displayed. Using your mobile device and Hointer App scan the bar code to view style guides, social media and customer reviews. Once you’ve chosen what you want to try on, a single tap of a button on your smart device has the items of clothing delivered to you in a changing room within 30 seconds via a tension tube. If the item is too big or too small or not the right colour, no worries, toss the unwanted item into a chute and request the new item and again within 30 seconds you are ready to try on the new garment. Find the item you want, just swipe your credit card and walk out – no lines, no waiting.
Watch the video to see how this innovative business operates.
Today’sTransformers is a TomorrowToday Strategic Insights initiative that brings you insights on innovative and pioneering people, organisations and companies that are using disruptive forces to transform the world and make it a better place to live, work and play. Use them as case studies and inspirational stories for your team and help them think differently about the unique challenges you face.
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Imagine a company with no written contracts between the business partners; no offices; no underpinning capital; as much – or little leave as you want; measured by outcomes; no HR policies or any policies really – just sensible agreements on how things should work; where everything is transparent, including take home pay; where home is where you work – unless you choose some coffee shop, park or beach; where learning is mandatory and sharing what you have, know and don’t know is as natural as a mid-day movie, fetching your kids from school or taking time to think; a place where you work with smart people who also happen to be nice people; people who ‘have your back’ and with whom you would take into any battle, face any challenge or tackle any obstacle; where your clients span the planet and emanate from a variety of industries; a place where who you are matters more than what you know; a place where meaningful work and passion are more important than making a lot of money – as nice as that is; a place that is fun, flexible and challenging; where robust conversation never threatens relationship and feedback is prized more than recognition; a place where every day is different, an opportunity, a challenge; a place where you can make a difference; a place that prizes the journey over the destination.
That company, that place is TomorrowToday. Welcome to our world.
Scanning cameras lock onto John Anderton’s face as he walks through a shopping mall. Using facial recognition technology advertisers clock his presence and begin an invasive barrage of “personalised” advertisements designed to entice, cajole and convince him to purchase the must have products on promotion. In this a scene from the 2002 movie Minority Report where Tom Cruise plays John Anderson, we are offered a vision of marketing in the future that is coming true today. Last week, Tesco, the UK largest supermarket, announced that it is installing hundreds of hi-tech screens to scan the faces of shoppers as they queue to pay. Facial recognition technology will then determine age, identify if the person is male or female and how engaged they are with the advert on display. Sounds spookily big brother-ish!
The advertising system, called the ‘OptimEyes’, can tailor content based on time and location, and will be rolled out into 450 Tesco petrol forecourts, reaching more than five million adult customers every week. Simon Sugar (Son of Sir Alan Sugar) the CEO of Amscreen, the company behind OptimEyes is optimistic about the systems ability to provide data to enhance the understanding of consumer behaviours. Using face detection technology to “revolutionise” the advertising industry Simon Sugar promises a step-change in advertising stating that “brands deserve to know not just an estimation of how many eyeballs are viewing their adverts, but who they are too. Through our Face Detection technology, we want to optimise our advertisers campaigns, reduce wastage and in-turn deliver the type of insight that only online has previously been able to achieve.”
Simon Sugar and the Tesco marketers that support and promote this big brother push-marketing approach are missing the point of today’s connected technology and the Connection Economy. They are failing to recognise the shift where old marketing methods are irrelevant. There is no doubt that the technology being used here is impressive and represents an important milestone but it’s application is woefully inadequate and being wrongly implemented. What is required is a mindset shift – the technology of the future has arrived but it is being implemented using old paradigms.
The world of connected things, the Internet of Things, combined with smart devices, wi-fi, broadband and massive storage in the cloud is enabling the step change. But this step change is not technology driven. The step change is a mindset shift around how technology is enabling consumers to interact, engage and form partnerships with companies. In the Connection Economy the consumer calls the shots and it is the consumer who invites the best brands and most trusted companies into their lives. Astute companies are using technology to build relatiosnhips not to push products and determine who is looking at their adverts. Which is like so old school!
One of the big trends for 2014 will be the explosion of smart wearable computer devices. This is an important exciting trend offering perhaps the most powerful engagement platform companies have ever had for building trusted relationships with customers. Companies that are not thinking how they can leverage and benefit from the ecosystems and Apps being created in this space are fast falling behind the competitive curve. As an example of how it should be done let me introduce Nymi Wristband, a smart wearable computer devices that recognises, encrypts and shares biometric data of the wearer. Like a fingerprint every person has a unique heartbeat rhythm, Nymi reads and recognises this rhythm. By using biometric information to validate a user’s identity the Nymi Wristband enables immediate and seamless recognition of who you are with other smart devices and connected objects. As Wired Magazine puts it:
SAP recently released one of the best presentations on the future of business we have ever seen. Freely available on slideshare, it lists 99 facts that should have a profound impact on your view of the future, on what organisations need to do to be successful, and on how you approach your world.
Take some time to work through this presentation, and do so with your team as well, asking what each of the fact means for you. This is a remarkable resource – but what are the implications for you?
A few of my favourite facts included:
What do these facts mean for your business? Now and in the near future?
What facts would you add to SAP’s list?
If you follow anything at all about our work at TomorrowToday, you’ll know we’re passionate about understanding the changing world of work. We are also always on the lookout for people and organisations who are attempting to make adjustments today for the world they see coming tomorrow. Right now, we’re in such a time of disruptive change that some of what needs to happen to make our organisations more “future proof”, by necessity, will be experimental. So we’re thrilled when we discover companies and organisations prepared to experiment.
There are two dangers with workplace experiments. The first is more obvious: some of them will fail. We’ve spoken at length about this being a new reality of the 21st century workplace and of the need for bosses and leaders to accept some level of failure in order to find the gems. The second danger, though, is that you think you can appropriate other peoples’ experiments and make them your own. In some cases, it is acceptable to a be a good follower, and to wait for others – braver, bolder, with more resources than you – to try and fail and try again until they come across a clever formula. However, especially when it comes to management techniques, it’s not always appreciated that the culture which allows mistakes is often a prerequisite to the success of any experiments within that culture. Put more simply: you cannot simply copy the outputs or models another company comes up and expect them to work in your company.
Having said that, it’s still worthwhile keeping an eye out for the workplace experiments other companies are trying, and at very least getting some inspiration for experiments of your own.
Here are a few of my favourites:
While doing some reading to prepare for a workshop with a group of head teachers last week, I came across this very well researched and presented future timeline of potential educational changes we can expect technology to bring in the next two decades. I don’t agree with every point, but I definitely buy into the general tone and direction of the piece.
You can read the original at the Teach Thought website here, or an extended extract below. Note, follow all the awesome links author Terry Heick has taken the time to include. This is a GREAT article and resource!
30 Incredible Ways Technology Will Change Education By 2028
by Terry Heick, 19 March 2013, TeachThought.com
Technology is changing at a rapid pace, so much so that it’s challenging to grasp.
While there is little uniformity in technology, there are some trends worth noting that have spurred tangent innovation, including speed (a shift from dial-up top broad band), size (from huge computers to small handheld devices), and connectivity (through always-on apps and social media).
In fact, we have some to expect nearly instant obsolescence—smartphone contracts that last a mere 24 months seem like ages. Whether this is a matter of trend or function is a matter of perspective, but it’s true that technology is changing—and not just as a matter of power, but tone.
In 2013, technology has become not just a tool, but a standard and matter of credibility. While learning by no means requires technology, to design learning without technology is an exercise in spite—proving a point at the cost of potential. And it’s difficult to forget how new this is.
Fifteen years ago, a current high school sophomore was born.
So was Google.