Tag Archives: innovation

No More Cash or Credit Cards. Instead: “Do you take palms?”

When you shop, how do you pay? Do you use cash, credit/debit card, check, or mobile? And, when you enter campus buildings or work, do you use an access card or code? Ever wish there was an easier way to do these things so you don’t have to worry about carrying a wallet or cards?

Well, if Amazon One gets adopted in the marketplace, then you can pay for items and access buildings using just your palm. Yep, that’s right. Put your hand right there and access is granted.

Amazon is now using its palm-scanning payment system in a Seattle (Wash.) Whole Foods store. This expand the testing of Amazon One beyond Amazon Go and Amazon Book stores, and the company says thousands of customers have signed up to use the new service.

How does it work? The palm-scanning device analyzes “the minute characteristics of your palm – both surface-area details like lines and ridges as well as subcutaneous features such as vein patterns” to identify customers and use palms to pay. But first, customers must register their palms at a kiosk in the Whole Foods store and link a credit/debit card to the payment. Easy. Since palm prints are unique, and your hands are attached to your body, only you can unlock the payments. And, in the times of contagious diseases such as Covid-19, the payment is truly contactless – you don’t touch a thing at checkout.

Amazon is also exploring selling the technology to other companies, so perhaps you will see this at a store (or office) near you next year. However, there are concerns about security and privacy as the data is stored on a cloud.

Raise your hand if you’re willing to use palm recognition systems.

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Poll students: How do they pay for most of their shopping? Cash, check, credit/debit card?
  2. How would they feel about using palm prints as payment/recognition systems?
  3. Show the Amazon One website and video: https://one.amazon.com/
  4. Show news video: https://youtu.be/rf7por-57yI
  5. Discuss the importance of developing a clear, concise message for launching new products.
  6. Use a pyramid model to build the key messages: Top of pyramid – most important message that the customer wants to hear. Middle of pyramid – how the product achieves its value for the customer. Bottom of pyramid – proof points used to validate claims.
  7. Divide students into teams. Have each team develop a key message pyramid for Amazon One Palm Payment service.
  8. When debriefing the exercise, make sure to emphasize to students the difference between what a company wants to tell the market, and what a customer wants to hear about the product.

Source: Reuters; The Verge; other news sources

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New “PJ Suit” for Working From Home

What are you wearing? Hmmm…that is rather a provocative question, and we’re not sure you should ask your co-workers. But, in these days of work-from-home attire, people around the world have been impacted and have adopted new types of ‘business’ attire. Some wear sweats, some wear suits, some wear pajamas, and then there are a unique set of people who want the combination of BOTH business and sweats.

Enter: the WFH Jammies, designed by Japanese firm Whatever.

The concept began with the recognition that Zoom calls and virtual meetings require workers to dress up for the video, but the rest of the day they wanted the comfort of pajamas. WFH Jammies is a unisex suite of a shirt-and-sweat combination that comes in white, pink, and polka-dot. It’s not the only solution; Aoki’s Pajamas suit is in a flexible knit fabric that looks dignified enough to stand-in for a suit jacket and turtleneck, and doesn’t wrinkle from your afternoon nap. Other fashion brands are following suit with their own comfy-but-formal-enough attire.

Wear these PJs and give a presentation online right after you get up, take a nap in comfort at lunch time, and still look professional for the evening Zoom wrap-up meeting.

So… what are you wearing?

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Discuss new product development. What are the steps that go into developing a new product or service?
  2. What are key considerations?
  3. Show the WFJ Jammies on Kickstarter: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/197719879/wfh-jammies
  4. WFH Jammies page: https://whatever.co/work/wfh-jammies/
  5. Show Whatever’s website: https://whatever.co/
  6. Video: https://youtu.be/ishqJgmy4Ao
  7. Divide students into teams. Have each team list other work-from-home problems that need new solutions.

Source: Wall Street Journal

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That Robot Can Dance!

We love robots. They are endlessly fascinating to us as we contemplate the technological advances that make robots useful to humans. They can carry gear, map territories, and enter spaces unsafe to humans. But of all their uses, we particularly like how robots can bust a move and dance (remember Spot the robot dancing to Uptown Funk?)!

Thanks to its incredibly animated robots and technology, Boston Dynamics may be the world’s most well-known robotics company. Boston Dynamics was originally an offshoot of Massachusetts Institute of Technology and is now owned by Hyundai Motor Group. Its robots include Atlas, Spot, Big Dog, and Handle.

Programming the robots to dance was a daunting task, requiring hundreds of hours of work. The programming had to let robots balance, bounce, and (seemingly) even carry a rhythm. Atlas the robot uses a vast array of sensors, actuators, and a gyroscope to help it balance. It also contains three quad-core onboard computers. The result is an imaginative display of robotic versatility and possibility.

Dancing to the 1962 hit song “Do you love me?” by The Contours, Atlas and friends seem determined to get humans to love them indeed.

But can they salsa?

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. First, show the video of Atlas and Spot dancing: https://youtu.be/fn3KWM1kuAw
  2. Bring up Boston Dynamics’s Web site: http://www.bostondynamics.com
  3. Bring up Boston Dynamics YouTube page with videos and show robots in action: https://www.youtube.com/user/BostonDynamics
  4. Dancing Spot can be viewed at: https://youtu.be/kHBcVlqpvZ8
  5. Discuss the concepts of products, product line, and product mix.
  6. What are commercial and business applications for each robot?
  7. What companies might buy robots (beyond the military)?
  8. Divide students into teams. Have each team develop a business-to-business marketing campaign for robots.

Source:  Associated Press; Boston Dynamics

 

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