“What we will see in the future, I believe, is not just the ability to put two tanks on a planter and vary the rate of pop-up fertilizer and nitrogen,” says AGCO’s Hamilton. “We’ll see phosphorus, potassium, and nitrogen tanks, and we’ll see micronutrients in the future.”
The iPod happened. Playlists happened. Pandora happened. YouTube happened. Spotify happened. SoundCloud happened. Shazam happened. I couldn’t believe them when I saw them. I couldn’t believe them when I heard them. But they are here, and they are changing everything about our relationship with music.
Still—like Fishbone said in a song I just heard on a streaming radio station—problems arise. Sometimes it’s a little too easy to get to a song: think, type, retrieve. What about calling up your friend, making him drive you to the record store, waiting patiently behind the guy who won’t move away from the “B” bin, and then flipping through to see what Beach Boys records (or Beastie Boys or Brothers Johnson or Buckingham Nicks) are left? All of that’s gone now. And, counterintuitively, because it’s gone, it’s harder and harder to truly fall in love with a song or album. What was your cost of entry? How hard did you have to work? Which leaves the ultimate question: How do you build a relationship with music? How do you find your way to those songs that draw you in and—like Eddie Floyd and Mavis Staples said in a song I heard just yesterday on a randomly shuffled playlist—never never let you go?
Asap54 is an image recognition app that can match photos of clothing and accessories to identical or similar products stored in its database, making items easier for shoppers to find and directing them to retailer sites.
On a visit to Detroit this week I saw several old and new aspects of this ever evolving area
First a dinner with two friends who work for Silicon Valley companies but chose to relocate to this part of the world for the quality of life. Appropriately opposite a town square and park in Plymouth which is Americana at its best.
Next a visit with Plex Systems, which is a provider of cloud manufacturing solutions to many companies in the auto industry (among others). Plex’s HQ in Troy has all kinds of street art which adorn its conference rooms.
Jason Blessing, CEO of Plex, proudly showed off his Shinola watch. Shinola, one of several new local startups, proudly says “ We’re starting with the reinvigoration of a storied American brand, and a storied American city.”
Time with executives of Inteva Products, a supplier of panoramic roofs and door panels you see in a number of Mercedes and other cars. They explained how their Adrian plant, an hour sw of Detroit is now one of the most profitable in the world. That’s saying something because they have plants in China, East Europe and other low cost locations.
Then a dinner at a restaurant in Birmingham, which has been a town of choice for generations of auto industry executives.
Finally, the tunnel at Detroit airport with 9,000 feet of color changing LEDs. Impressive that the Philips Color Kinetics solution has lasted for over a decade with no lamp or fixture replacements.
Plex Systems invited a few analysts to its HQ in Troy, Michigan. The highlight of the day was an interactive session where 4 of us “worked” on the shop floor of "Edge Corp" extruding from resin pellets components for car key fobs then assembling the parts and observing the workflow in the Plex ERP system.
While there were plenty of iPad, ruggedized PC and other displays on the floor and on the walls and Plex UI on each (some simply designed with color coding and alerts for shop floor convenience, others more colorful to show Kanban flow and product traceability graphs), what was striking was the variety of data capture technology that did not require keyboard and mouse interaction. It was an impressive display of how the Internet of Things as is already changing manufacturing plants around the world.
To start with, we all had employee badges printed using a Zebracard printer, Those badges were read by a Opticon OPR-2001 scanner. That provided our security access, guided us to appropriate work areas, and kept track of our time and our productivity for payroll input.
Labels with barcodes generated by Zebra light (GX420T) and heavy duty (ZM400) printers and scanners (like the Motorola MC9190 ) documented the production flow for the system from resin receiving to various production areas to finished fob shipping.
Quality checks via a digital Mitutoyo caliper (which triggered alerts in the system if tolerances were not met), and safety/inventory controls via a Kors Engineering provided light curtain and nano device (like a Staples Easy button) provided other non-keyboard interfaces.
The Plex IT Services team has a catalog which shows forklift computers, quality recording devices and IP based surveillance systems for various shop floors. It partners with a wide range of device vendors as shown below.In the next wave expect this list to expand as wearable technologies invade the shop floor.
One of their executives told me these connected devices are now allowing customers to take a step further and fine-tune energy usage decisions depending on how much lighting/air-conditioning is needed based on device utilization metrics.
Ben Stewart, an executive at a Plex customer, Inteva Products which provides door panels and sun and panoromic roofs to several auto makers, observed us at work. I asked him what he thought of the set up, and he said it fairly represents shop floor set up and technology at many plants he has worked at. That’s a pretty high compliment to the Plex mockup we participated in.
Entrepreneur magazine lists 75 new franchise ideas started in last 5 years. They reflect our changing taste in foods, lifestyles etc including Bricks 4 Kids which offers “Lego-engineering classes, camps and parties” and Tide Dry Cleaners, Procter and Gamble’s foray into the service side of laundry.
Hundreds of employers of all sizes are contracting directly or through their insurers with telehealth providers to cut medical costs and give workers 24-hour access to doctors and nurse practitioners. WellPoint teamed up with Boston-based American Well to offer telemed services to 3.5 million of its health-plan subscribers last year and intends to extend the service to another 32.5 million over the next 12 to 18 months. UnitedHealth Group began a pilot program in January, providing 310,000 subscribers in Nevada with virtual doctors’ visits.