Tag Archives: product development

Drink Up!

water

Do you drink enough water during the day? Sure, you might intend to drink up regularly, but intentions don’t always match actions. The problem came to a head for an entrepreneur in Minnesota when she continued to experience headaches. The problem, not drinking enough water. And, as often is the case, a problem sends consumers in search of new solutions. Thus, the Hidrate Spark “smart” water bottle was developed.

This is no ordinary water bottle. It features an innovative design and technology that tracks how much water is consumed, lights up when it’s time for more water, and also connects to smartphones and wearable devices such as FitBit. The Bluetooth-connected app records the customer’s height, weight, and activity level. Using location, the app adjusts water goals based on temperature, humidity, and elevation.

The BPA free water bottle holds 24 fluid ounces, has a battery life of one year, and even includes a “don’t leave me behind” tracking – just in case you forgot it behind.

So, go ahead and drink up!

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Look around the classroom at the various types of water bottles carried by students. Poll students about how many water bottles they have, and if they believe that they drink enough water.
  2. Show the Kickstarter campaign and videos: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/582920317/hidrateme-smart-water-bottle?ref=nav_search
  3. Show the Hidrate Spark Web site: http://hidratespark.com/
  4. Since water bottles are ubiquitous, this product can be used to illustrate the importance of product differentiation.
  5. Discuss environmental scan factors: social trends, economic trends, technology, competition, regulations.
  6. Divide students into teams and have each team complete an environmental scan for this product.

Source: Minneapolis Star Tribune  

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Self-Driving Minivan from Waymo and Chrysler

chrysler

It seems that we can’t get enough of self-driving vehicles. The technology keeps advancing rapidly, and now technology and automotive companies are teaming up to bring self-driving cars to the roads as soon as possible. Recently, Waymo (the self-driving car company spun-off from Google) and Fiat Chrysler announced that they are ready to deploy a fleet of self-driving Chrysler Pacifica minivans at the end of January.

Waymo is making all of the technology itself, building the cameras, sensors, and mapping technology. This work is bringing technology costs down by approximately 90% – from $75,000 in 2009 to $7,500 today. Working with Fiat Chrysler to integrate technology with the car’s architecture, the minivan is built with the specific mission of driving itself. Vehicles will take to the roads in another month in Mountain View, Calif., and Phoenix, Ariz. (The roomy, seven-person minivan does have a steering wheel though as it is required by many state laws.)

The van is equipped with three rings of 360 degree LIDAR sensors to give the vehicle both long and short range vision, allowing vehicles to see objects that are very close as well as spot tiny objects that are farther away. Waymo stated that it has more than 2.5 million miles on self-driving cars, and an additional one billion miles in simulations.

Ready for a ride?

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Show the video of the Waymo/Chrysler minivan:

https://youtu.be/SwsEn7P97nw

  1. Another video of an interview with the CEO of Waymo: https://youtu.be/-pO-MIHGlgc
  2. Discuss competition: What are the direct competitors for this product? Indirect competitors?
  3. Divide students into teams. Have each team compare Waymo’s minivan with a competitive product. What are the points of difference (what makes the product different from competition)?
  4. Debrief the exercise.

Source:  New York Times, The Verge, CNBC, CNET, other news sources

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Waymo – Google’s Self-Driving Car Company

car

Google has taken its autonomous vehicle project to a new level and has created a subsidiary company named Waymo to continue to work on the technology and vehicles. Waymo’s mission is to make it safe and easy for people to get around. Since 2009, Google’s autonomous cars have been self-driven for more than two million miles, and have an additional one billion miles in simulations!

Recently, Waymo announced that last year it had successfully completed a 10-minute self-driving ride around the city of Austin, Texas (a state that does not require a driver behind the wheel) without a driver, steering wheel, or brake pedals. The rider was a legally blind man who has not been able to travel alone for years.

There is a great deal of attention on autonomous, semi-autonomous, and driver-assisted vehicles. Almost every major automotive company is investing in the technologies either directly or with partners. While there is still a lot of work to do on the vehicles, maps, and regulations, Boston Consulting Group estimates that this will become a $42 billion industry by 2025.

Even more important, the new technologies will help cut down on the more than one million traffic deaths that occur around the world each year. Now that’s a technology that benefits everyone on the road.

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Show the video of the Austin ride:

https://www.wired.com/video/meet-the-blind-man-who-convinced-google-its-self-driving-car-is-finally-ready

  1. Bring up Waymo’s Web site for students:

https://waymo.com/

  1. In teams, have students review information about the company and technology. What are their opinions about the company and self-driving vehicles.
  2. Next, discuss the components of a situation analysis: company, general industry, trends, key competitors, technology, legal, etc.
  3. Have each team use laptops to do general research to answer the questions above. (ex: overview of industry, size, growth, new technologies, environmental impact, etc.)
  4. Debrief the exercise by compiling information on the white board. Does this give a good picture of the situation faced by Waymo?

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

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