Wearable Tech’s Big Retail Distribution Challenge

Kickstarter is bursting with startups in the wearable technology sector. Not a day goes by without some new entrepreneur or venture backed startup announcing a new gadget that is going to change your life. Companies such as Pebble, Jawbone, Fitbit and GoPro that most people had not heard of 2-3 years ago have now become household names. But big companies are competing the wearable tech sector as well. Samsung and LG have smart watches. Nike and Garmin have activity trackers. Motorola is experimenting with a temporary tattoo that can be used to unlock your cellphone. The startups are predicted to win big, but I think vendors such as Nike, Adidas, Garmin, Samsung, Bose, LG and Motorola have a strong advantage over the cool kids on Indiegogo.

Continue reading

Robots and the Peopleless Warehouse

Robots have inhabited manufacturing plants for decades now performing tasks such as welding, painting, assembly, inspection and testing. Working side-by-side with humans, robots tackle tasks that can be performed much more efficiently or quickly by machines than humans. In some plants, the robots perform the end-to-end manufacturing process with no people involved. Both Philips and Fanuc have been able to create “lights out” peopleless plants. But what about other parts of the supply chain like warehouses? Will we ever have a “lights out” peopleless distribution center?

Continue reading

Five Examples of Digital Business from the Auto Insurance Industry

When you think about digital disruption the first industries that come to mind are ones such as retail, publishing or media & entertainment where the physical, real-world experience is being replaced by digital products and experiences.  But service sector industries such as insurance are experiencing considerable digital disruption as well.  However, in many cases, the disruption in insurance is being proactively initiated by large carriers rather than forced from small startups.  In this post I will share four examples of how the auto insurance segment is transitioning to digital business models.

Continue reading

Sci-Fi Inspired Technologies of the Late 20th Century are Coming to Life

In the 1960s and 70s humankind believed that by 2014 trips into space would be as common as traveling across the Pacific. Cartoons and movies were full of depictions of space planes that could travel into Earth orbit, dock at space stations or travel to the moon.  While we are nowhere close to the future that many imagined for 2014, there has been noticeable progress in many of the sci-fi inspired technologies depicted in various movies and TV shows.  Below are five examples of futuristic technologies that are slowly becoming a reality.

Continue reading

The Race for Same Day Delivery in Online Retail

One of the biggest impediments to online shopping continues to be delivery times. No one wants to wait 3-5 days for a purchase to arrive at their doorstep. They want it now. Not surprisingly, the focus of many online retailers has been how to reorganize their supply chain for faster home delivery. Amazon.com took an early lead when it introduced its Prime service. For $79 per year consumers could enjoy free two-day delivery on most Amazon-fulfilled purchases. Since then several dozen traditional brick-and-mortar retailers, online marketplaces and startups have followed Amazon’s lead with programs aimed at faster and faster delivery time. Below are some of the more interesting examples: Continue reading

Wearable Tech – Fitbit versus Jawbone UP

I had the Fitbit for two weeks, lost it three times (the last time for good). The product design is both excellent and terrible at the same time. At first I loved it because the Fitbit is so light that you forget you have it on. But then I realized that its near weightless, unobtrusive design is the worst aspect of the design. You don’t notice when you don’t have it on. So you may be awake for hours before realizing that you are not measuring your activity. You also don’t notice when it falls off your belt – while doing yard work or taking off your jacket.

Continue reading