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.

Cruise launches Autonomous Car Service in San Francisco

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Think autonomous car services are still far off, well think again. Cruise (a San Fran based startup) has begun testing Cruise Anywhere with its employee based in San Francisco. Employees are able to hail a self-driving vehicles and go anywhere they wish in San Francisco using a mobile app (just like ???).

Right Now, Cruise is using a small fleet of vehicles (modified Chevy Volts with lots of sensors and software, but says it has plans to expand fleet by a 100 vehicles in coming months.

Why Gasoline Is The Best Drone Fuel

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Drone technology is rapidly evolving to service various scenarios on land, in the air and underwater (even underground.)

Number one commercial issue remains power sources and ability to sustain activities for longer periods of time without requiring a recharge.

MIT engineers recently attempted to extend the duration of an airborne drone using an expected method…gasoline. They created the Jungle Hawk Owl, a 24 foot wide drone that can be launched from the roof of a car and can stay airborne for 5 days on a single tank of gas.

Original ask by the Airforce was a solar powered device, but it appears solar lost quickly due to need to size of surface area, weight of batteries and challenges as you moved to latitudes far from the equator.

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.

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.