Tag Archives: technology

No More Cash or Credit Cards. Instead: “Do you take palms?”

When you shop, how do you pay? Do you use cash, credit/debit card, check, or mobile? And, when you enter campus buildings or work, do you use an access card or code? Ever wish there was an easier way to do these things so you don’t have to worry about carrying a wallet or cards?

Well, if Amazon One gets adopted in the marketplace, then you can pay for items and access buildings using just your palm. Yep, that’s right. Put your hand right there and access is granted.

Amazon is now using its palm-scanning payment system in a Seattle (Wash.) Whole Foods store. This expand the testing of Amazon One beyond Amazon Go and Amazon Book stores, and the company says thousands of customers have signed up to use the new service.

How does it work? The palm-scanning device analyzes “the minute characteristics of your palm – both surface-area details like lines and ridges as well as subcutaneous features such as vein patterns” to identify customers and use palms to pay. But first, customers must register their palms at a kiosk in the Whole Foods store and link a credit/debit card to the payment. Easy. Since palm prints are unique, and your hands are attached to your body, only you can unlock the payments. And, in the times of contagious diseases such as Covid-19, the payment is truly contactless – you don’t touch a thing at checkout.

Amazon is also exploring selling the technology to other companies, so perhaps you will see this at a store (or office) near you next year. However, there are concerns about security and privacy as the data is stored on a cloud.

Raise your hand if you’re willing to use palm recognition systems.

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Poll students: How do they pay for most of their shopping? Cash, check, credit/debit card?
  2. How would they feel about using palm prints as payment/recognition systems?
  3. Show the Amazon One website and video: https://one.amazon.com/
  4. Show news video: https://youtu.be/rf7por-57yI
  5. Discuss the importance of developing a clear, concise message for launching new products.
  6. Use a pyramid model to build the key messages: Top of pyramid – most important message that the customer wants to hear. Middle of pyramid – how the product achieves its value for the customer. Bottom of pyramid – proof points used to validate claims.
  7. Divide students into teams. Have each team develop a key message pyramid for Amazon One Palm Payment service.
  8. When debriefing the exercise, make sure to emphasize to students the difference between what a company wants to tell the market, and what a customer wants to hear about the product.

Source: Reuters; The Verge; other news sources

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Wing Drones Can Now Deliver Girl Scout Cookies

When you get a cookie craving do you go to the store? Poor you. If you lived in a Christiansburg, Virginia, a community that tests commercial delivery drones, you could get Girl Scout cookies delivered directly to your front lawn!

Christiansburg has been testing Wing drones since 2019. Wing is the drone subsidiary of Alphabet (Google’s parent company). The main delivered products are rather mundane, such as pastries, tacos, and coffee. But now – Wing will be delivering those tasty Thin Mints (my personal favorite) and more. Wing worked with the local Girl Scout troops who said they have had a harder time selling cookies during the pandemic. And, let’s face it, delivering cookies is an excellent way to garner public support for commercial drone services.

Wing’s drones can carry items up to 3.3 pounds that fit into a special aerodynamic package. The drones don’t actually land in your yard; drones hover over a designated delivery area and lower the package to the ground using a string. Customers then retrieve the package from the delivery area. The drones fly lower than 400 feet and cannot be near airports. Items range from foods, flowers, medicine, and more. In addition to the U.S. location, Wing is also delivering via drone in select locations in Australia and Finland.

Now, how many boxes of cookies do you want?

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Poll students: Have them think of all the products that could be delivered by drones.
  2. In order to be successful, companies must be able to physically get a product into the hands of the customers. Discuss how a distribution channel works.
  3. For Girl Scout cookies, what distribution channels are used now?
  4. How can the channel be expanded? What approach could be used?
  5. Show videos of Girl Scout cookie delivery: https://youtu.be/DFfsepDkTkA
  6. What can a drone deliver? https://youtu.be/HVDZgTJ8JLA
  7. View Wing’s Website for additional information and videos: https://wing.com/
  8. How does drone delivery change the experience? Positive or negative?
  9. Finally, what types of companies will benefit from the use of drone deliveries?

Source: Associated Press; USA Today; other news sources

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That Robot Can Dance!

We love robots. They are endlessly fascinating to us as we contemplate the technological advances that make robots useful to humans. They can carry gear, map territories, and enter spaces unsafe to humans. But of all their uses, we particularly like how robots can bust a move and dance (remember Spot the robot dancing to Uptown Funk?)!

Thanks to its incredibly animated robots and technology, Boston Dynamics may be the world’s most well-known robotics company. Boston Dynamics was originally an offshoot of Massachusetts Institute of Technology and is now owned by Hyundai Motor Group. Its robots include Atlas, Spot, Big Dog, and Handle.

Programming the robots to dance was a daunting task, requiring hundreds of hours of work. The programming had to let robots balance, bounce, and (seemingly) even carry a rhythm. Atlas the robot uses a vast array of sensors, actuators, and a gyroscope to help it balance. It also contains three quad-core onboard computers. The result is an imaginative display of robotic versatility and possibility.

Dancing to the 1962 hit song “Do you love me?” by The Contours, Atlas and friends seem determined to get humans to love them indeed.

But can they salsa?

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. First, show the video of Atlas and Spot dancing: https://youtu.be/fn3KWM1kuAw
  2. Bring up Boston Dynamics’s Web site: http://www.bostondynamics.com
  3. Bring up Boston Dynamics YouTube page with videos and show robots in action: https://www.youtube.com/user/BostonDynamics
  4. Dancing Spot can be viewed at: https://youtu.be/kHBcVlqpvZ8
  5. Discuss the concepts of products, product line, and product mix.
  6. What are commercial and business applications for each robot?
  7. What companies might buy robots (beyond the military)?
  8. Divide students into teams. Have each team develop a business-to-business marketing campaign for robots.

Source:  Associated Press; Boston Dynamics

 

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