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.

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.

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.

 

Google “Aero” Gets In On Home Services Market.

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Google has emerged (no surprise) as the next big player to take advantage of the growing restaurant and home services business. Last week, Google announced the launch of Google Aero, a new app that emerged in Mumbai and Bangalore, India, focused on allowing users to order food and schedule appointments with local service e providers (e.g. electricians, painters, cleaners.)

In this scenario, Google is basically brokering the dialogue between local advertisers and merchants and the consumers (a platform play), making it easier and more accessible to find what’s needed from any mobile device.

Google is already operating and scaling its rapid delivery service “Google Express” which is delivering items from Costco, Walmart, Petsmart, Whole Foods and more.   Google faces steep competition from Amazon who already is operating a Home Services  Business through which consumers and find and book local service offers.

Knowing these two, the battle will become big and aggressive, especially as Amazon looks to monetize more of the consumer traffic with Google like ad services.

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.

 

Starbucks Goes Mobile Only For The Entire Experience.

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Starbuck’s is taking the next step in its journey to becoming the world’s best consumer driven, digitally advanced beverage company in the world.

Next week, their flagship café in Seattle will begin testing a mobile only concept…meaning you will only be able to order using the app. The experience will move from the traditional cattle corral approach to ordering to a streamlined pickup window model, greatly reducing the need for retail space and potentially enabling higher through put, given the efficiencies in mobile payments. You simply pick location, choose your selections and pay….the app will tell you where to pick up your order and when it should be ready…so no more waiting.

You can imagine how this type of business shift will enable Starbucks to drive more efficient supply lines, automate coffee production and reduce wait times and overcrowding (a nice problem to have)