Dot.com Giants Battle Over Physical Presence.

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As Amazon and Walmart go head to head in an arms race to win over the consumer direct market, we are seeing a high stakes game of trial and error play out right in front of our eyes. Good news is they are focused on consumer value propositions and enriching them through convenience and simplicity….at the heart of the consumer today.

This week, Walmart’s Jet.com announced it will trial a brick and mortar grocery play to see how consumer react to a food retail concept store. Jet.com’s value proposition is the delivery of fresh produce right to your door without the need to even be home to receive it.

Walmart acquired the Jet brand as an accelerator for competing directly with Amazon’s Fresh grocery play and pickup services. All of which can and will be used to extend Walmart’s digital footprint where they have invested heavily in online ordering, store based pick up and new partnerships with Uber and Lyft for home deliveries.

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.

 

The Future Of Farming Is Here?

vertical-farmImagine a farm scenario that increases productivity by 130%, uses 95% less water, involves no pesticides and can be harvested 24 times per year, rain, snow or shine.

Aerofarm, a new jersey based vertical farm company has become a pioneer in this type of farming. What’s driving the explosive growth in this areas…the globe climate changes which are driving significant draught scenarios in many places where farming flourished. Aerofarm isn’t the cheapest game in town. Not yet at least. They will need to invest significantly in the latest robotics and automation capabilities to drive costs down significantly. They are facing high energy costs of running the plants, facility costs of building out the factories with optimized fixtures…all leading to a premium, yet higher quality, sales price initially.

Carnegie Mellon’s University of Computer Science is aggressively working to address the paradigm shift in how we grow food….using government grants to invest heavily in the development of sensing technology, robotics and AI technologies to improve overall crop management using data driven decision making. This is a big market opportunity with growth of agricultural robots set to increase from 32,000 units in 2016 to almost 600,000 units by 2024…creating a ~$75B market.

Implications will change how large scale suppliers invest for the future…quickly retiring old farming techniques susceptible to further climate impacts with faster, better and more scalable solutions. Orange groves, apple orchards and generally vegetables of any type will be produced at scale in a fraction of the time as traditional impacts.

Meet Harry…The Self Driving Shuttle To Solve London’s Rural Commuting Challenges

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London introduces “Harry”, it’s prototype driver-less pod capable of carrying up to four passengers to and from designated routes at breakneck speeds of 10 MPH. This is an initiative born from the UK’s Transport Research Laboratory (TRL) which is designed to behave like the modern day, street legal mono rails.

Essentially shuttling passengers between commuting points and or high traffic areas via a special lane. London is hoping to break the traffic congestion problem by building a network of these autonomous commuting capabilities in both the city and in areas that are not regularly services by bus, train or trams.

Pilot begins in the next week.

IKEA Gets Into Smart Home Market…Makes Total Sense

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Ikea is jumping on the smart home bandwagon by offering its own suite of smart home connected furniture. From floor lamps and light bulbs to backlight kitchen cabinets and TV stands, they are quickly helping to not only decorate the home, but empower it.

All of the various offerings are connected to your preferred device through an in home hub (called Zigbee) that uses essentially netowrks all devices via radio signals. You can program and control lights all from the comfort of your phone.

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You can quickly see how Ikea is morphing to meet the demand of the digital home by leveraging its significant foothold in consumer products to unlock future value for the brand and consumers.

 

Domino’s Tests Autonomous Delivery Bots

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Domino’s pizza is quickly moving from supply chain and experience digitalization to distribution transformation.

This summer, Domino’s in partnership with Starship Technologies , will begin testing autonomous deliver of large pizzas.

Initially scheduled for Hamburg Germany, expansion plans are already in the works for the Netherlands and beyond. Pretty simple extension to experience today…order your pizza via app, messenger, twitter, etc…provide delivery address, pizza gets baked, placed in a small robotic delivery food cart and wait for the notification. Open your door and retrieve your piping hot pizza for the robotics delivery vehicle.

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This area of robotic driven logistic’s is literally exploding, and while drones maybe far off from receiving formal licensing approvals, 4 mph ground based robotic delivery vehicles have a chance to drive a complete disruption (some for the better)  for local retailers and restaurants.

You can quickly imagine a central platform (think Amazon) that you order through, order is sent to fulfillment center or hopefully a local retailer, order is fulfilled and loaded into autonomous deliver vehicle and it shows up outside your door.

This will be areality this summer (actually already is)

Solar Skin Creates Opportunities For Autonomy.

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Here’s a pretty advanced one. Smart skin…designed for amputees to help return certain senses relative to feeling pressure, temperature and dampness. University of Glasgow has developed exactly that and is using solar power to fuel the system, providing greater independence and portability  by removing the need for a connected power source.  “Graphene” is the secret…a flexible material that can now cover covered with a flexible with durability greater than that of steel, and is electrically conductive and transparent.

The material draws and converts power from the sun’s rays sufficient enough to power to support movement of prosthetic hands. While the power is used in real time, they will eventually determine a way to store it efficiently when sunlight is available.

Thinking bigger picture here….you could create autonomous everything….from prosthetic limbs to life like pets to robotic workers in the fields based on advancements in bendable electronics and sensing technologies.