Earlier in the semester when I gave a presentation on 3D printing, I suggested that Consumer 3D Printing won’t be mainstream for another 5-10 years. Well, it looks like it may be here sooner than expected. A team of engineers recently set out to develop a cheap, high-quality consumer 3D printer. With their product, named Tiko, they did just that. Tiko is a 3D printer that is easy to use, non-proprietary, accurate, Wi-Fi enabled, and even comes with its own software to design 3D models on (and be sent right to the printer) — and you can get one for a $179 pledge! This piqued a lot (well, several) peoples’ interest. The group of engineers created a Kickstarter campaign with the goal of raising $100,000 in order to further develop and mass produce the printer. As of now, with 10 days left in the campaign, $2,251,129 has been pledged by 12,663 backers — that is around 178x what they asked for.
As the Kickstarter campaign shows, there is a lot of interest in consumer 3D printing. With Tiko, it looks like it may soon be a reality. I personally think a product like Tiko can make a huge impact, especially in the toy industry. As I mentioned a lot in more presentation earlier in the semester, I think that a company like LEGO should be concerned by the arrival of product like Tiko. If I had one, for example, I could print all of the LEGO pieces that I want, and for much cheaper than buying actual LEGO sets.
What do you guys think, though? Do you guys think this could make a significant impact in the consumer industry, or is it still too early for consumer 3D printing to enter the mainstream market? Let me know what you think!
In February, Lockheed Martin’s Skunk Works team made a bold announcement: they are 5-10 years away from successfully creating and commercially selling compact fusion reactors (CFRs). These devices are conceptually safer, cleaner, and more powerful than much larger nuclear systems that rely on nuclear fission. CFRs use water for fuel, produce byproducts that are safe, and releases no air pollution. These devices are scalable, so they can be used as the power source for airplanes and space ships, for which they could fly indefinitely. A CFR that is the size of 23 x 42 feet could produce enough energy to power a large cargo ship or an 80,000-home city. If Lockheed Martin can actually make this work, then, as so many people are saying, it will be a revolutionary and transformative step for humanity.
It’s clear that such a device would be a huge disruptive innovation. To create a cheap, portable, more powerful, safe and clean energy source would significantly affect several industries, especially the energy, oil and gas, and environmental industries. I think would be several types of disruptive innovations, including low-end, sustaining, and new-market innovation. This would be a low-end innovation because using a CFR would be cheaper than using, say, oil and gas for your primary energy source. It would also reduce the risk of catastrophic nuclear disasters (think Fukushima). This would be a new-market innovation because, well, a fusion reactor has never been created before. It may be performing the same function as other energy sources, but it will create new industries around it. And it will be a sustaining innovation for the reason mentioned earlier: it’s performing the same function of generating energy.
What do you guys think about these Lockheed Martin’s announcement? Is it as revolutionary as they purport it to be, or is it overhyped? Do you think it would be a major disruptive innovator, or might it lose out to legal opposition from the current energy and oil and gas industries? What other industries do you think would be affected by this technology? Let me know what you think!
With Windows 10 right around the corner, Microsoft just Windows Hello. If your computer has the right hardware (being Intel’s RealSense camera), your login password can be your face. It will also be used to unlock a number of online services and applications that are linked to your account. It’s not clear as to how accurate or secure this will be (i.e. What if I just print a picture of a person’s face? Would that allow me to sign in?). If done right, though, then this will probably be a popular and secure feature.
While this in particular may not be disrupting any markets (it’s just a password), it gives a glimpse into how this sort of technology will change the way we access hardware and software, and has great implications for the security industry. For example, imagine if this technology were used in order to gain access to your home. There would be a camera at your door, and the door would unlock only if it recognized your face as being a resident of the house. By bring Microsoft Hello to computers, it will help spread awareness of autonomous technology and the benefits of it.
What do you guys think about this? Is this a good or bad idea? Can you think of any other autonomous technologies could be effectively implemented on personal computers? I personally think this can be a good thing if Microsoft is able to make the software really smart at detecting actual faces from fake ones. However, I don’t think it makes sense to make your face the password. It would make more sense to have your face be the username, or at least a security measure to gaining access to your username.
Project Ara: Part of it (YouTube video)
The smartphone market is filled with innovation; companies are always trying to outdo themselves in order to create a superior, albeit expensive, smartphone. Google, on the other hand, is looking to alter the current cycle with Project Ara. The goal is to create a modular phone. Rather than having to constantly buy new phones, you just simply upgrade certain parts to your phone. Want a faster processor? Then buy a faster one to put in your phone. Want a longer-lasting battery? Then buy a bigger battery to put in your phone. You have complete control over how you want your phone to be. In a smartphone market where people are very picky about what they want to have in a phone, Project Ara can potentially be a game-changer.
If Project Ara is a success, then I think it would be an example of a Low-End Disruption. Although there is no idea as to what the price of the phone and individual pieces would be, I think that the fact that you only have to buy the phone once will save you money over time. Also, since this phone is being developed by Google, it’s possible that the phone would be carrier-free, which is a popular option for the low-end market. It may take a little while for this to catch on, but I’m very excited by the prospects of a modular phone.
What do you guys think about this? Do you think Project Ara has the potential to be a disruptive innovation? If not, then what might Google be able to do with this project in order to make it so? And besides for Project Ara, can you think of any other future phone technologies that could be a disruptive innovation?
I found this article about Ohmconnect, a sustainable energy management company. What’s interesting about this company is their business model: they will pay you to use less electricity. Ohmconnect partners up with ISO, the organization that manages California’s electrical grid, and gets user authorization to access the user’s home smart meter and any supported internet-connected devices. It can then track the user’s energy consumption and alert the user of energy spikes, asking you to cut back on power consumption. Based on the user’s baseline energy consumption, as set by the ISO, Ohmconnect can determine the reduced electricity consumption and the amount of money you will be paid. The money saved is split between the energy companies, Ohmconnect, and the user.
This is a unique business model that benefits all parties: the user gets paid for less energy consumption, energy companies save money, Ohmconnect makes money, and the carbon footprint is reduced. With this in mind, can you guys think of any other companies or industries that would benefit from a business model like this? Do you think that there is a better business model that Ohmconnect could be using instead? I personally think this is an effective business model for Ohmconnect to use. I would think that cutting back on your electric bill would be enough to reduce energy consumption, but getting paid to do so would certainly be a good incentive for most people to reduce their consumption. What do you guys think?
I found this article from last month in which Terry Greer-King, Cisco’s director of security, said that the focus on IT security should be people. This contrasts from the common notion that not enough money is spent on effective security. This also contrasts the common belief among businesses that IT functions should be left to just IT. I completely agree with Greer-King. IT security cannot be left to just IT; everyone needs to know how to keep their devices secure. All it takes it one compromised device for an entire system to be compromised. Last year, $49.8 billion was spent on cyber security (referenced from the second article), so the infrastructure is certainly in place. But if there aren’t enough competent people to utilize the technology, then security will continue to be a major issue.
What do you guys think is the most important factor of IT security? Do you agree with Terry Greer-King that employees need to be better trained, or that better security technology needs to be in place? Are there any factors to this that you feel are missing or lacking?
I’ve noticed that many of the most innovative IT companies seem to incorporate some seemingly unorthodox organization architectures. One of the prime examples of this is with Valve Corporation, in which there are no job titles. Whenever there is a new project, employees get to choose which aspect of the project they wish to work on. Valve employees appreciate this approach in that they can get their hands dirty in whichever aspect of the company they want. CEO Gabe Newell provided one example of an animator from the film industry who specialized in just mouth animations. But once he started working at Valve, quickly realized that he was longer confined to working on just mouth animations, but could instead work on whatever animation he wanted. This welcomes creativity among employees.
It may seem like this type of organizational architecture would result in not much work being done, or for there to be work that no one will choose to work on. However, Valve continues to create some of the most innovative and praised games, and their Steam market has proven to be an ingenious business model that benefits both the company and developers. Although not explicitly stated in the article, there are still employees who act as “managers” for projects. There may be no job titles, but there still needs to be some sort of structure and people who can keep track of the work being done.
What do you guys think of this type of organizational architecture? Is it always a viable option, or is it more suited for companies that strive to create innovative products and solutions? I personally think it’s a great approach for sparking innovation and creativity among employees, but also think that most employees will end up working on the same aspects of each project anyway. For example, in my group for this course, we each already have defined roles and divide the work to be done for each week, even though we could really work on whatever we want.