Tag Archives: product development

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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Baby Food Innovation

“Baby food.” Even the phrase itself brings to mind mushy, tasteless, pureed, prepared food. While that may have been true of the old-fashioned prepared baby foods, it certainly doesn’t apply to today’s offerings of fresh, organic, foods for babies. Today, new parents are turning to delivery-based meal services to help them save time on meal preparation, but still provide healthy, nutritious, and delicious foods for their families.

Meal preparation is a topic for all stages of family life. According to Pew Research, both parents work in nearly two-thirds of all U.S. households. And, with so much time spent at work, time in the kitchen is at a premium. This has given rise to a number of meal delivery services such as Home Chef, Blue Apron, Plated, and more. But all of these are focused on adults. What about meals for the babies? Meals for babies present a somewhat unique problem– babies can eat only a small amount at a time, meaning that the potential waste of food is quite high.

A number of start-up companies have entered the baby food arena. These companies offer a variety of prepared products including flash-frozen food pouches which contain portioned, chopped, ingredients to meet a baby’s nutritional needs. Other companies deliver cold-pressed fruit and vegetable food pouches in temperature-controlled packaging. And yet another provides tubs of cold-pressed baby purees, including a spoon and packaged in a reseal-able container.

Food matters.

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Discuss the use prepared, delivered meals. Have students had an experience with these?
  2. Review key aspects of developing a product positioning map, including determining the axis labels for positioning.
  3. Divide students into teams and have each team review a baby food product company with respect to product, price, place, and promotion.
  4. Examples include:
    1. Raised Real: https://www.raisedreal.com/
    2. Once Upon a Farm: https://onceuponafarmorganics.com/
    3. Little Spoon: https://www.littlespoon.com/
    4. Gerber: https://www.gerber.com/products/baby-food
  5. Have each team develop a positioning map.
  6. Have each team draw their map on the board.
  7. Debrief exercise.

Source:  Painter, K. (29 September, 2018). When the jar isn’t enough: Baby food innovators are on a roll these days. Minneapolis Star Tribune.

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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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