Tag Archives: technology

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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CES and New Products to Fight COVID-19

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’s CES show looked a little different though. Due to the pandemic and travel restrictions, CES was held virtually in an all-digital format. Still, it included more than 300 speakers, 150 countries, 700 start-ups, and thousands of new products from around the globe. A diverse group of companies included the latest innovations in manufacturing, transportation, entertainment, robotics, automotive, consumer goods, and more.

This year CES hosted 150,000 digital attendees who viewed products from thousands of different exhibitors 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 helps to launch thousands of new products, including many that we all know and use today.

Of course, given the times we live in, a big draw this year was for products and services that could help us cope with COVID-19. The show also provided looks at products in the marketplace as well as products-yet-to-be-launched in categories including:

  • Artificial intelligence
  • 5G and mobile connectivity
  • Food and CPG companies
  • Health care technology
  • Smart cities
  • Home sensors and technology
  • Travel and tourism
  • Transportation and vehicle technology
  • And of course, lots of robots!

What’s your favorite innovation from CES?

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Discuss the purpose of CES show and how innovation fits into it.
  2. Also discuss the use of trade shows and exhibits as part of a marketing plan.
  3. Show a summary video about COVID-19 products at CES from the Wall Street Journal: https://www.wsj.com/video/series/joanna-stern-personal-technology/ces-2021-smart-masks-smart-air-purifiers-and-more-covid-fighting-gadgets/5BED1C45-A45E-4CDA-9E4B-DC1195F807ED?mod=djem10point
  4. Additional summary videos can be found on YouTube, such as: https://youtu.be/ouiPPIH1uXc
  5. View the CES Web site: https://digital.ces.tech/home
  6. Divide students into teams. Have each team select a product featured at CES.
  7. Instruct students to research the products online, and define a target market for the product?
  8. Which ones do they think will be winners in the marketplace? What products miss the mark?

Source:  C/NET; TechRadar.com; Wall Street Journal; other news sources

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Digital Commerce Continues to Grow

More than any single factor, the pandemic has impacted virtually all industries, but it has most impacted how consumers shop. Prior to 2020, consumers may have shopped online for many different products and services, but since mid-2020 buying habits have changed significantly. Consumers now feel more comfortable buying what were once in-person purchases such as cars, food, and medical or health care needs.

A recent survey by McKinsey & Co. highlighted that since the pandemic began, three out of four people have tried new shopping and delivery methods. More than half of the consumers surveyed intend to continue to use curbside pickup or delivery services after the pandemic ends. Roughly 70% of those consumers intend to keep buying online. Among the changes are increases in online streaming, grocery delivery, restaurant curbside pickup and delivery, and store curbside pickup. Consumers are going online not just for shopping; they now go online for medical appointments, fitness classes, tutoring, and more.

While these changes are good for digital commerce providers, they are not so good for traditional brick-and-mortar retailers. This year will likely see a record of store closings, bankruptcies, and liquidations. And, retailers have had to shift how they deliver services, including more online experiences such as digital events, contactless payment methods, virtual online services, and curbside pickup.

Overall, ecommerce in the U.S. rose to 16.1% from 10.8% a year ago. New shopping habits also extend to a decline in cash and an increase in credit and debit card use.

To quote Bob Dylan, “the times they are a changing.”

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. As class begins, poll students about their shopping.
  2. What are the last three websites they visited? Did they buy anything? Why or why not?
  3. How have their shopping habits changed this year?
  4. Do they have new online shopping habits?
  5. Will they keep these new habits once the pandemic is contained?
  6. Show video about how pandemic has changed shopping habits: https://www.wsj.com/video/the-future-of-retail-how-will-the-pandemic-change-how-we-shop/526ADB88-F6D1-4B77-AA97-BAA323496D4D.html

Source:  Wall Street Journal

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