Tag Archives: product development

Flippy the Robot Works the Kitchen

It can hard to find restaurant workers lately, particularly for fast-food chains where the jobs can be long, hot, and greasy. One of the more thankless jobs is probably flipping burgers and fries. It’s boring, repetitive, and carries an everyday risk of burns from hot oils. But now, CaliBurger (California) has deployed a robotic assistant to flip burgers and fries. The robotic arm, aptly named “Flippy,” is the product of Miso Robotics in Pasadena.

Flippy is billed as the world’s first autonomous robotic kitchen assistant that can learn from its surroundings. It can work a grill or fryer, cooks perfectly and consistently every time, collaborates with kitchen staff, and is OSHA safety-compliant. Now ‘employed’ by CaliBurger, the company plans to launch 50 more Flippys at additional locations. Flippy can make 300 burgers a day, all without burns or complaints for additional break times!

Flippy’s role hasn’t been an easy one. Similar to many human workers, Flippy was ‘fired’ in the spring and had to be retrained to work better with humans. Flippy has been a popular draw for the restaurant though; they have been overwhelmed by the response by customers who want to see Flippy in action. The robotic arm isn’t cheap though. Flippy costs between $60,000 – $100,000.

But then again, Flippy never asks for a day off!

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Poll students: Who was worked at a fast-food restaurant? What was the experience like for them?
  2. View videos at Miso Robotics: https://misorobotics.com/
  3. View CaliBurger: https://caliburger.com/in-the-news
  4. Review the buying process for organizations.
  5. For Miso Robotics have students work on the actions taken in each of the five steps.
  6. Consider assigning different student groups to work on different target markets. Then the process for the different target markets can be compared and contrasted.
  7. Debrief the exercise.

Source:  Wall Street Journal, Forbes, USA Today, other sources

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Sony’s New Litter of Aibo Robotic Puppies

In the very innovative electronics industry, Sony faces a slew of competitors such as Apple, Samsung, and others. While Sony was once the pinnacle of innovative devices such as the Sony Walkman and Discman, it has been overtaken by industry leaders Apple’s and Samsung’s products including smart phones and devices. Now, Sony is seeking to reestablish itself in the U.S. with its totally charming robotic dog – Aibo (Japanese word for a pal).

Aibo isn’t totally new; it was first released in 1999 and then discontinued in 2006 – to the dismay of many thousands of Aibo owners in Japan. The new litter of Aibo puppies combines robotics with a cloud-connected artificial intelligence (AI) engine and advanced imaging sensors. And, as Aibo interacts with its owners over time, it will develop a unique personality to make owners happy and form bonds with the family members.

Like many real-life puppies, Aibo doesn’t come cheap. It has a price tag of $2,899 which limits how many families can afford to adopt from the new litter. Sony’s goal does not appear to be market penetration, but is instead using the product to show the company’s innovation skills by combining software, hardware, and services, as well as rebuilding brand awareness.

Sony wants to connect with consumers on an emotional level with Aibo. The puppy has more than 400 parts and 22 points of movement, making it move more like a real animal. The eyes are displays so that its gaze can follow its owner around the room, and it can learn doggie tricks like fetch and shake hands by using the Aibo app. Aibo can also take photos and videos to share with the family.

How much is that doggie in the window? 

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Discuss new product innovation and its importance to electronics companies.
  2. Show Aibo Web site: https://us.aibo.com/
  3. Show Video: https://youtu.be/oGo0TwNXXuo
  4. Discuss the various promotional tactics that can be used for launching a product.
  5. Have students come up with tactics and list all the tactics on the white board (ex: billboards, print, direct mail, etc.).
  6. Divide students into groups to work on this exercise.
  7. For Aibo, have each team select three different tactics. For each tactic, explain why it was selected and how it will be used.
  8. Debrief by putting together the entire suggested lists on the white board. As a final step, have the entire class vote on the top three tactics to use.

Source:  Tsukayama, H. (23 August 2018). The rebirth of Aibo is also a chance to revitalize Sony’s brand. Washington Post.

 

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Crocs Launches High-Heels

Crocs casual shoes surround us. The comfortable, resin-based footwear comes in a wide variety of styles for women, men, and children. There are classic clogs, sandals, wedges, sneakers, boots, and more. But until recently, there were no dress-up Croc shoes for more formal and business events. Hmmm….. Is this a new market opportunity? The answer appears to be a resounding ‘yes’.

Crocs heard the need from its loyal female fans and recently launched a new high-heel Croc shoe. Crocs may have started as the shoe for casual outdoor wear, but were quickly adopted by people who are on their feet (such as restaurant and hospital workers) for long periods of time. Made with a closed cell resin called Croslite, the foot beds warm and soften with body heat, molding to the shape of each foot. The shoes use an orthotic heel, built-in arch support, and tarsal bar, making customers’ vocal fans of the comfortable shoes.

While fashion-forward consumers might not be fans of Crocs, the company has sold more than 300 million pairs of shoes in 90 countries, and reached $1 billion in revenue. The shoes have been featured in fashion run-way shoes, and been seen on the feet of Pres. George W. Bush and First Lady Michelle Obama, among others. The shoes have also been a frequent recipient of satire and “worst” lists.

Crocs – love ‘em or hate ‘em?

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Poll students: Who has Crocs? What are the opinions of students about the shoes.
  2. Videos can be found on Croc’s: https://www.youtube.com/user/crocs
  3. Crocs’ website: https://www.crocs.com/
  4. Discuss the importance of clearly defining a target market.
  5. Divide students into teams and have each team develop a profile of a target market for Crocs high-heel shoes. Include demographics, psychographics, behaviors, values, attitudes, etc.
  6. Based on the target market profile, what makes this product unique for these customers?

Source:  Fast Company, USA Today, other news sources

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