Disney Breaks Through Augmented Reality In A Social Way

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Disney has always been about imagination and the ability to blend real world and augmented reality into magical journeys. Well as technology has changed, so has Disney’s ability to create these experiences.

Disney Research recently began a journey to discover how they could use augmented reality and mixed reality experiences to create social experiences. They have created something called the Magic Bench which is a blend of augmented and mixed reality that groups of people can participate in.

The system uses camera’s and depth sensors to identify how many people are present, where they are facing and alert the participants when a virtual “digital actor” is present. Take a look.

Blockchain For Educational Records Becoming A Reality

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Here’s a perfect and practical use of the Blockchain technology. Sony Education Group has just finished developing a system for storing and managing educational records using the open ledger concept. Think degrees, diplomas, standardized test records…something they call a “digital transcript.”

Sony developed the idea about 18 months ago and believes it is ready for commercialization. It’s original premise was actually to fight fraud while enabling a simpler model for 3rd parties wishing to access information for job interviews, etc. Sony is actively pursuing partnerships with universities, high schools, preparatory schools to aggregate the information and present it in a highly efficient manner.

Sony believes it can expand the system to move into areas like digital asset management, IOT logistics, real estate and content.

Monsanto’s Deep Learning Agenda

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Monsanto has long been a significant player in modern day agriculture and a forward thinker relative to modern day farming techniques supported by data.

In its latest move, Monsanto is partnering with a company called Atomwise to leverage deep learning and AI to identify and solution for molecules that can help better protect crops against disease and pests. The approach has inverted traditional thinking off trying to kill off disease…in this approach they are looking to find defenders of disease before it emerges.

 

Here’s the punch line….it takes an average of 11 years for a crop protection market and costs ~$250 Million to produce…this could greatly reduce the time and costs required while helping the industry attack negative forces before they become devastating and costly.

Uber Freight Launches Commercially

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Uber has officially entered the trucking arena as long speculated by analysts.

Called Uber Freight, this new service focuses on driving logistics between trucking companies and independent operators to identify and disperse drivers against loads that need to be hauled from point to point.

They are leveraging the same technology platform as consumer Uber and the app is said to look very similar, albeit with a few more questions about load type and size. Uber claims it is simplifying a highly manual process (phone calls back and forth coordinating drivers and schedules) and bringing transparency to pricing for drivers. Drivers love the service as it accelerates cash flow by providing much faster settlement windows for pay.

Question will be if this is a bridge to autonomous trucking which Uber is also investing heavily in….given them an early look at truck logistics and volume of shippments across geographies.

 

Amazon’s Alexa Is Dominant Platform By Far

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Amazon continues its dominate run to take over the world and become our one and only retailer. Growth has come from many different elements of Amazon’s ever expanding business models and while it stumble early on with hardware (the horrible Amazon One phone), it has seen the patience pay off with Alexa.

Recent reports suggest Amazon has a 70.6% share of the voice digital assistant space….virtually leaving all competitors to fight for the remaining balance (including Apple and Microsoft.)

In 2017, 35.6 Million consumers in the US will use the voice activated assistant devices, up ~130% from prior year and growing. These figures are supposed to hit the exponential curve as the hardware integration begins to penetrate automotive and appliance markets where consumer value is immediate.

Analysts expect Amazon to give back some market share as Google Home and others scale, but dominate it will remain and who knows…with additional advancements in hardware it will be hard to catch.

 

Big Data Meets Bike Pedals

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Big data comes in many forms and continues to solidify its place as the world’s most precious resource. It is being gathered in virtually every digitized experience…including the growing bike rental economy in China.

Mobike, China’s next promising unicorn, is looking to map how you enjoy your leisure time on bicycles. With a new investment round totaling $300M USD, Mobike is quickly looking to expand its fleet and charge riders a nominal rental fee for access to what they do and when they do it.

They have recently unlocked a number of insights about behavior shifts on holidays and weekends and can use this data to predict where people will ride and generally at what time of day, with whom and how far….think local marketing in real time.

They can even map users as the y migrate from city to city in the region and their pedal behavior. They are taking all of this information and building a scalable Artificial Intelligence play that could scale to the likes of Uber like status.

 

 

Apple Sucking Autonomous Vehicles?

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Google Ventures (now know as GV) continues its march to leverage and be involved in all things digital. This time they are leading the investment round in Abundant Robotics, a company building apple picking robots that could eventually handle harvesting a multitude of crops. The breakthrough is how they have tackled some of the challenges of picking the apples using vacuums…helps to avoid becoming a manufacturer of apple sauce with traditional hand grabbing mechanisms.

This space has exploded recently and Abundant Robotics joins a growing group of hardware manufacturers developing autonomous equipment for use on farms, both on the ground and in the sky. Others players include Harvest Automation, Deepfield Robotics and the Autonomous Tractor Company

Agriculture in the U.S. and much of the world is facing a tremendous labor shortage today. Meanwhile, the World Bank estimates we’ll need to make 50 percent more food by 2050 to sustain the growing, global population, with climate change decreasing crop yields by 25 percent outdoors.