Tag Archives: design

SpotMini Learns to Dance and Atlas Does Parkour

In an article posted on this blog earlier a few weeks ago, the focus was on the simplicity of innovation. Sure, innovation can often be smooth and simple, such as extending a brand line, or simplifying packaging and pricing. But, what really grabs consumers’ attention is the more imagination-capturing innovation involving high-tech products such as drones, self-driving cars, and of course – robots!

Welcome back our friends SpotMini and Atlas from Boston Dynamics. They’ve both learned new tricks and are excited to show us their accomplishments: dancing and parkour!

While the videos are not typical robot behavior, they do show how robots can be programmed and even autonomously learn new behavior such as jumping over obstacles. While to date, all of its robots have been built individually, Boston Dynamics plans to manufacture hundreds of SpotMinis next year. But, unfortunately for consumers, the robots won’t be sold in the consumer market. The likely industrial markets include construction, commercial security, municipal security, and entertainment.

In the meantime, watch the videos and enjoy the show. (But be warned. Seeing a robot dog twerk can cause lasting damage…)

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Discuss the principles of innovation.
  2. First, show Spot mini dancing to Bruno Mars “Uptown Funk”: https://youtu.be/kHBcVlqpvZ8
  3. Next, show Atlas doing parkour: https://youtu.be/hSjKoEva5bg
  4. Finally, this video is an interview with Boston Dynamics about how its videos became YouTube viral sensations: https://video.wired.com/watch/the-story-behind-the-internet-s-favorite-robots
  5. Discuss business-to-business marketing.
  6. Divide students into teams. Have each team define an industry that SpotMini or Atlas could be sold to.

Source:  Wired, Boston Dynamics

 

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Target Launches New Brand – “Smartly”

Not all innovation requires high-tech. Sure, shiny robots, drones, talking home pods, and self-driving cars get a lot of coverage in the innovation spot light. But there is plenty of innovation around in even the simplest of household items. The key is to make sure the innovation meets the needs of the customers.

A very simple new product line innovated and launched by Target this fall is called ‘Smartly’. Smartly is a new, low-price brand with more than 70 items priced below $2.00. That’s right. Two dollars. The products include household cleaners, razors, hand soap, paper plates, and toilet paper.

And it’s not just a low price point. Most of the products are sold as single-items, or in small multi-packs. This is ideal for space- and budget-conscious consumers, such as students and young apartment dwellers starting their first jobs.

Going along with the reduced packaging, prices are roughly 70% lower than traditional brands such as Tide, Gillette, and Charmin. And, the Smartly line even undercuts Target’s own Up & Up brand by about 50%.

Simple innovation can equal smart innovation.

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Discuss the importance of clearly defining a target market.
  2. Explain the use of a product-market grid to determine market segments.
  3. Show Target’s new Smartly product line: https://www.target.com/c/smartly/-/N-r4rpp#?lnk=snav_rd_smartly
  4. Read Target’s announcement of the new line: https://corporate.target.com/article/2018/10/smartly
  5. Divide students into teams. Have each team build a market-product grid by identifying five market segments that shop at Target, and five categories of product groupings sold at Target.
  6. Where does Smartly fit in the product groupings? What market segment is the best one for Target to pursue with this new product line?
  7. Finally, how should the company promote the product line?

Source:  New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Target, other news sources

 

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Flippy the Robot: Fast-Food Robotics

Many students (and professors when they were young) have likely worked in the fast-food industry in one capacity or another. Probably the most dreaded jobs there are in the hot and greasy areas of the fryer and grill. However, despite the grease and hours, the unemployment rate for restaurant workers today is the lowest on record (U.S. Labor Department). But, the industry also faces a lot of employee turnover and still requires more workers. So, why not get help in the more undesirable positions?

Give a warm welcome to Flippy the Robot! Engineered by Miso Robotics and now employed at 10 CaliBurger restaurants in California and Dodger Stadium in New York, Flippy is an autonomous robotic kitchen assistant that can learn from its surroundings and acquire new skills. Flippy can work at the grill or fryer, cooks perfectly and consistently, can automatically switch tools, cleans, and is OSHA safety compliant.

While some wonder if robotics will lessen the need for human employees, most restaurants need more employees to handle extended hours, increased demand, and provide better customer service. Robotics are intended to help employees, not replace them.

The best part? Flippy never complains about long hours and always shows up for work on time!

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Discuss the use of robotics in businesses, including fast-food restaurants.
  2. Poll students: Who has worked in fast-food at fryers or grills? What was the experience like?
  3. Show Miso Robotics videos: https://misorobotics.com/
  4. CaliBurger restaurant: https://caliburger.com/
  5. Discuss the buying process for organizations. Who would influence the decision-making?
  6. For Flippy the robot food-preparation product, have students work on the actions taken in each of the five steps.
    1. Problem recognition?
    2. Information search?
    3. Evaluative criteria?
    4. Purchase decision?
    5. Post-purchase behavior?
  7. What are key considerations in each step?
  8. Debrief the exercise.

Source: Jargon, J. & Morath, E. (24 June, 2018). Short of workers, fast-food restaurants turn to robots. Wall Street Journal

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