Tag Archives: innovation

Look – up in the sky – it’s a blimp!

How did you travel on your last vacation? Probably via car or airplane. Are you ready for another way to travel? Then perhaps it’s time to consider blimps. We’re used to seeing blimps in the air as floating billboards used to advertise brands (Ex: Goodyear Blimp). But, blimps – also known as airships – have more utility than just advertising. Several companies are now exploring the use of airships for passenger travel and other uses.

Marketing passenger travel by airship will be tricky though. Airships have a negative stigma attached, and have not been used for passenger travel since 1937 after 36 people died when the Hindenburg airship burst into flames shortly before landing. It was a horrific event that still lives on in memory.

Today’s airships promise to be quite different though. They have the ability to fly for days using helium to stay aloft and can takeoff and land without a runway. Airships are also more environmentally sustainable with fewer carbon emissions than airplanes, plus the interiors are spacious and quiet.

Several companies are exploring new technologies and use of airships. One of those, OceanSky Cruises, compares the travel to that of a cruise ship, but must faster. The airship is 320-feet long with guest cabins, restaurant, and bar. Since it flies at lower altitudes than airplanes, it boasts floor-to-ceiling windows for viewing the landscape. A North Pole voyage is planned for 2024 – at a price tag of $232,845 for a two-person cabin!

How would you like to travel by airship?

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Start by discussing current ways to travel. What are negatives and positives of each mode?
  2. View OceanSky’s website: https://www.oceanskycruises.com/
  3. A video of the new airship can be seen at: https://youtu.be/QuM-gFJRhlY
  4. If students are not familiar with the Hindenburg disaster, show a video of the event: https://youtu.be/A7Ly1Oh-xvs
  5. Divide students into teams: Have each team identify the constraints that might keep people from using airships.
  6. What adjustments are needed in marketing airship travel versus airplane travel?
  7. Have each team develop a marketing campaign for the new flights.

Source:  New York Times

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Amazon’s Newest Products

Ready for a robot in your home? Amazon thinks you might find it useful, along with several other new product updates to its Echo brand. The new products seem to focus in integration with other Amazon products. (For example, a new Ring Alarm Pro meshes with the Eero Wi-Fi router.)

Another of the products include:

  • Amazon’s Smart Thermostat. The thermostat links with Alexa for commands, and also adjust temperature when you are out of the house. Cost: $59.99
  • The new Echo Show 15 is a 15.6-inch smart frame that can be mounted on a wall or placed on a stand to show the family calendar, notes, and stream different content. It can also recognize your face and show content personalized for the viewer. Cost: $249.99.
  • Capitalizing on the home fitness trend, the new Halo View fitness band has a built-in display and can access studio workouts and meal planning tools. Cost: $3.99/month after the first year with purchase of the fitness band.
  • Other new products include Amazon Glow interactive projector for kids, Ring Alarm Pro, Disney virtual assistant, and Alexa Together remote care subscription service.

But our favorite might just be Astro, the home robot. Astro has a cute looking monitor as it rolls around the house and can be commanded by Alexa. Astro can have pre-set routine household patrols (on one floor only, no stairs) and uses a periscope with a 12-megapixel camera that can be raised to 42-inches. It can create a 3-D map of the house so it can be dispatched to various rooms on command. Sensors keep it from crashing into people and walls. But the best feature – a cargo bin so that small items (such as cans of beverages) can be transported to humans who are in another room. Cost: $999.99 to a limited number of invites.

Hmmm. I can see it now –  “Astro, bring me a drink during the football game.”

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Discuss the importance of product development and innovation.
  2. Amazon is usually considered only as a retailer. Why is it investing so much in new product development?
  3. Show video of Amazon’s latest product launch: https://youtu.be/nOYctKrANxQ
  4. The announcements can be accessed at: https://www.aboutamazon.com/news/devices/amazon-devices-services-news-september-2021
  5. A short video on Astro: https://youtu.be/h-2LXb-0Rfs
  6. Divide students into teams and assign each team one of the products. Have students determine the target market for the products. How should the product be promoted?

Source:  Amazon; New York Times; Wall Street Journal; other news sources

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The Future of Parking Garages

When is the last time you left your car in a public parking garage? It may sound a little crazy to ask this, but what was your experience? Most likely, it just was parking and nothing else. Nothing special. Boring. Repetitive. Unattractive. Expensive. Time consuming.

Now, think of the potential business opportunity to give those car owners something else to enjoy – and spend money on – in addition to keeping their cars safely tended. The parking garage could actually become a ‘mobility hub’ or a ‘silo’ that could provide restful parking for delivery drivers who might need restrooms and food. After all, those large concrete buildings are usually in valuable real estate located next to destinations such as entertainment, shopping, and events venues.

Innovation is now coming to parking garages. In Chicago, an underground parking garage downtown is being converted to an e-commerce delivery center. Los Angeles parking garages house shared commercial kitchens. Denver and Seattle parking garage roofs are being used as urban greenhouses and farms. San Francisco is redeveloping a garage into a mixed-use complex with affordable housing. Other garages are using parking spots for autonomous vehicles and EV charging stations, adding integrated access controls, kiosks, valet parking, and more, all synced through mobile devices.

Technology plays a large role in the future of parking garages. High-tech cameras can read license plates, enabling drivers to buy passes online and bypass ticket taking and payments, reserving a parking spot in advance. Some garages work with car-sharing companies, bikes, food trucks, and scooters to help patrons quickly access transportation. Others are considering how to combine workspace, retail, fitness centers, and housing using pre-fabricated modules.

What would you like to see in a parking garage?

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Poll students: What has been their experiences with parking garages? What is negative? What could be done to improve parking garages?
  2. View FlashPark website: https://www.flashparking.com/products/
  3. Show video – why parking lots will disappear: https://youtu.be/XMt4zEEHxv4
  4. Discuss the impact of ride-sharing services and autonomous vehicles on parking garages.
  5. Divide students into teams. Have each team select a parking garage in the area.
  6. Research the garage, number of spots, footprint, revenue, usage.
  7. Have each team redesign the garage to be more innovative and useful.
  8. Debrief the exercise and select a winning design.

Source:  Axios; New York Times; Wall Street Journal; other news sources

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