Tag Archives: research

Cool Tech Products from the Consumer Electronics Show

Most students are unaware of it, but the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is one of the largest and most influential showcases in the United States for introducing innovative products from around the globe. This year, CES exhibited more than 4,500 companies, including manufacturing, transportation, entertainment, robotics, automotive, and more. The show is produced by the Consumer Technology Association which represents the $398 billion U.S. consumer technology industry.

This year, CES was held in Las Vegas, Nev., and hosted 182,000 attendees who viewed products in categories such as 3D printing, gaming, robotics, sports, drones, fitness, health and wellness, retailing, wearables, and a variety of other product groupings. CES regularly announces thousands of new products, including many that we all know and use, such as:

  • High Definition TV
  • Satellite Radio
  • Microsoft Xbox
  • Blu-Ray DVD
  • OCED TV and 3D HDTV
  • Tablets, notebooks
  • Virtual reality

This year’s show provided a lot of great new products and technologies, including foldable phones, scooters, roll-able TV screens, flying cars, robots, and even an elevated walking car. While not all of the products at the event will make it into full production and into our homes and garages, they are nonetheless interesting to consider and think about.

What would you like to see at CES?

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Discuss the purpose of CES show and how innovation fits into it.
  2. View the CES Web site: https://www.ces.tech/
  3. Show a summary video about CES from the Wall Street Journal: https://www.wsj.com/video/the-best-stuff-we-saw-at-ces-2019/E4A868A0-AEC6-4EFB-8A09-97E51993C57B.html
  4. Additional summary videos can be found on YouTube: https://youtu.be/mHreov2zl1U
  5. Divide students into teams. Have each team select a product featured at CES.
  6. Instruct students to research the products online, and define a target market for the product.
  7. Which ones do they think will be winners in the marketplace?

Source:  Pierce, D. & Bindley, K. (8 January 2019). The craziest and coolest technologies that might even matter. Wall Street Journal.

 

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Meet Zora, the Robotic Caregiver

Aging is a fact of life. No matter how hard we try to fight it, the years keep adding up and our bodies keep aging. According to MIT’s Age Lab, the world is currently at a historical high of more than 600 million people over the age of 65! By the year 2030, there will be an estimated one billion people over 65, growing to 1.6 billion by 2050.

This growth, while affecting the entire globe, is of primary importance in wealthy countries where spending by and for this age group is in the trillions of dollars. The aging population will also require more caregivers than ever before. But there is a shortage of such people. Creative solutions are needed to address the gap. What can be done?

Meet Zora, the caregiver robot, now a resident of a number of care facilities in France and Australia. Zora can join with care facility residents for activities such as aerobics, singing, playing games, and reading. Although Zora is small in stature, she speaks an impressive 19 languages. And, Zora cares for children as well as adults. Patients develop an emotional attachment to Zora, holding, kissing, and cuddling the robot. More than 1,000 Zora robots have been sold to hospitals and care facilities; pricing is $18,000 per unit.

Of course, Zora is not a substitute for a trained human caregiver or health care worker, but she sure makes people smile!

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Discuss the business of robotics. Where is it going? Who will benefit?
  2. Show Zora the robot: http://zorarobotics.be/index.php/en/
  3. Videos can be found at Zora’s YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCbT8GS9L_IdYvpCeNRd2gVg
  4. Discuss the buying process for organizations. Who would influence the decision-making?
  5. 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?
  6. What are key considerations in each step?

Source: Satariano, A., Peltier, E., & Kostyukov, D. (23 November 2018). Meet Zora, the robot caregiver. New York Times.

 

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The World Needs a Better Toilet

In the United States we seldom think about the importance of toilets. Good hygiene and working sewage is just something that the average citizen assumes will always be there, and always work. However, this is not true for the rest of the world where hygiene is a critical health and wellness issue.

More than half of the world’s population – roughly 4.5 billion people – live without access to toilets and the safe sanitation they provide. Estimates are that globally, unsafe sanitation costs the world’s population $223 billion (yes, billion) a year in higher health care costs, lost productivity, and lost wages. It is an issue that The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is taking very seriously, pledging $200 million over the past seven years to help reinvent toilets, and pledging another $200 million more to get companies to understand the problem – and business –  of human waste.

At the Reinvented Toilet Expo, held last fall in Beijing, companies showcased new toilets that could recycle water, separate urine from other waste, and even with solar roofs. Mr. Gates told the audience that human waste contains 200 trillion rotavirus particles, 100,000 parasitic worm eggs, and other harmful organisms.

This might not be an easy subject to discuss, and a lot of bad jokes will undoubtable be told in class, but it is an issue that affects the world, and one that product innovation can help to solve.

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Discuss the business of waste, sanitation, and fixtures.
  2. What happens when sanitation is poor? What are the impacts?
  3. Show Bill Gates video: https://youtu.be/M9nRsJinHhM
  4. View Gates Foundation site: https://www.gatesfoundation.org/
  5. View Toilets for People for an example of a business: https://www.toiletsforpeople.com/
  6. Have students research other companies with a similar mission and objective.
  7. What social issues matter to the students?

Source: Wee, Sui-Lee (6 Nov. 2018). In China, Bill Gates encourages the world to build a better toilet. New York Times.

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