Tag Archives: manufacturing

The Robotic Dog that Can Open Doors

Robotic technology is advancing by leaps and bounds. But the ultimate in robotic technology today undoubtedly comes from Boston Dynamics, a spin-off from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (previously owned by Google; now owned by Japanese conglomerate SoftBank). The company has a variety of robots with two legs, four legs, and wheels. These robots seem to be able to do nearly anything. They can run, leap, fly, walk, and climb buildings.

The newest robot is SpotMini and it has the ability to open doors. While that might sound pretty simple, it is actually a very complicated robotic task. And, in a recent video highlighting SpotMini, having a human wielding a hockey stick makes opening a door even more complicated! (Spoiler Alert: Spot eventually gets the door open.)

In this case, the robot does almost all the moves autonomously. A human handler drove the robot to the door, then commanded it to open the door. The robot was able to automatically correct for the forces of hockey stick and tail-pulling. While Spot has very limited abilities, robotics are entering into areas such as security, food delivery, as well as answering questions and interacting with humans in public places.

Before you worry about robots taking over the world though, remember that they are designed to help humans. Even if we shove them with hockey sticks.

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Discuss the concepts of products, product line, and product mix.
  2. Bring up Boston Dynamics’s Web site: http://www.bostondynamics.com,
  3. Show the latest video of SpotMini opening doors: https://youtu.be/aFuA50H9uek
  4. Other videos are on Boston Dynamics’ YouTube page: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC7vVhkEfw4nOGp8TyDk7RcQ
  5. Make sure to watch Atlas do a back flip! https://youtu.be/fRj34o4hN4I
  6. Using Boston Dynamics, illustrate the concepts of products, product lines, and product mix.
  7. Divide students into teams. Have each team come up with an example of other companies and state the products, product line, and product mix.

Source:  Simon, M. (20 Feb. 2018). Watch a human try to fight off that door-opening robot dog. Wired.

 

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Brand Extension – PetComfort

 

Brand and product line extensions can be tricky things to successfully pull off. If the extension is too far out of the organization’s capabilities, or if the extension brings the organization into contact with a new target market, then the extension might be too costly or risky. However, when the extension helps expand the offerings and meet needs of the current market, it can be a beautiful thing.

WeatherTech is a company well-known for its American-made floor mats and trunk liners. It has gained greater market awareness through advertising in the Super Bowl for each of the last five years. However, WeatherTech recently announced an interesting brand and product line extension that takes it into a new market – pet care. The new brand is called PetComfort and is a line of pet food bowls and mats that are made to human-safety standards.

The PetComfort products are ergonomically designed stainless steel bowls on an elevated state with integrated floor mat. Materials are NSF-certified safe for humans and uses anti-microbial and anti-fungal additives and resins that are meet FDA requirements. The products come in different sizes and colors and range in price from $89.95 – $149.95.

Does this new product line fit into the WeatherTech brand?

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Discuss product and brand extensions. What makes for successful extensions? Unsuccessful extensions?
  2. Show WeatherTech Web site: http://www.weathertech.com/

Show PetComfort Web site: https://www.petcomfort.com/

  1. Which marketing strategy is WeatherTech using for PetComfort? (Ex: market penetration, product development, market development, or diversification)
  2. Divide students into teams. Have teams develop a target market profile for WeatherTech products and PetComfort products.
  3. What are the similarities? Differences?

Source:  Buss, D. (27, Feb., 2018). For Pet’s Sake. Brandchannel.com

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Was The Force with You? Columbia’s Star Wars Jackets

The newest movie in the Star Wars franchise is now in theaters and fans can’t get enough of the series of popular movies, or the Star Wars’- related products. The products are flying off the shelves as if they were under control of The Force. We are particularly sad to report that Columbia’s exclusive Star Wars-themed Echo Base outerwear collection sold out within minutes after its release! (Cross that one off your Christmas shopping list.)

Columbia released three jackets based on those worn by Luke, Leia, and Han while on the icy planet of Hoth. Luke’s jacket was designed to be “warmer than a tauntaun.” Han’s jacket reminds us to “Never tell me the odds.” And with Leia’s jacket, “May the force be with you.”

The company made only 1,980 coats (Get it? 1980 was the year of The Empire Strikes Back release) and they sold out online almost immediately, with very few left in stores. According to Columbia, the Luke jacket sold out in 5 minutes 22 seconds; the Han parka in 6 minutes 23 seconds; and the Leia jacket in 7 minutes 05 seconds. Not quite hyper-drive speed, but pretty darn fast nonetheless.

Columbia said the jackets were “built to withstand freezing temperatures on Hoth or other galaxies closer to home.” Unfortunately for fans, there are no plans to create more jackets.

Never underestimate the power of The Force, or a limited release.

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Discuss the power of entertainment for marketing products.
  2. Poll students. What products related to movies or shows can they recall? Have they bought any of these?
  3. Show Columbia’s Star Wars-themed site: https://www.columbia.com/starwars/
  4. Discuss why the product sold out so quickly? Who was the target market? What role did exclusivity play in the sales?
  5. Should Columbia make more of the jackets?

Source:  Griner, D. (2017, Dec. 8). Columbia created a line of Empire Strikes Back’ jackets and sold out in minutes. Adweek.

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