BMW is in the midst of celebrating its 100th anniversary, and to mark the occasion, it just rolled out the Vision Next 100 concept at its Munich headquarters. By all appearances, it's one of the most insane concept cars BMW has ever conceived.
If you squint your eyes, you can still see a car that's clearly a BMW here — it has the iconic "kidney" grille, for instance — but beyond that, the details are all visions of a distant future. The entire windshield is an augmented reality display, which takes the place of every single dashboard display. There are also 800 triangles embedded in the dash, which BMW calls Alive Geometry. These multicolor polygons apparently communicate "very directly with the driver through their movements, which are more like gestures than two-dimensional depictions on a display."
"Launching a refrigerator takes two and a half years from mind to market," Venkatakrishnan says. Or imagine a new product, like a slushie maker. "It takes six months to a year to do the engineering feasibility," he says. "Then it takes a year and a half for us to go into the system to make a decision. Then you get a team together and scale that up, which takes another year and a half." Four years later, you have your slushie maker. And so do your competitors.
By contrast, consider FirstBuild's most successful product to date, a small machine called Opal that produces "nugget ice". These are small, soft pellets of ice popular at fast-food restaurants and convenience stores in the south of the US. Prized for their cooling ability (the ice has more surface area) they can, curiously, also be comfortably chewed. It was a niche market, with an uncertain consumer demand for making nugget ice at home.
FirstBuild is an experiment by parent company GE that combines the power of so-called "open innovation" -- the idea that new products can come from outside a company's own walls -- with the speed of additive and low-volume manufacturing, topped off with the novel promise of crowdfunding, or getting a passionate, self-selecting market of consumers so early to adopt that they are willing to buy something before it has even been built.
At New York’s Toy Fair trade show over the weekend, Mattel unveiled its new, $300 3D Printer, the “ThingMaker,” which will allow children to print their own toys at home. The device works in conjunction with a 3D printing app developed in collaboration with Autodesk that offers a simple interface for designing items that can then come to life via Mattel’s ThingMaker as well as with other standard 3D printers already on the market.
The accompanying app is actually key to making Mattel’s 3D printing experience more accessible to a wider audience.
“For the 2016 March Madness tournament, Microsoft Bing and NCAA are partnering up once again to bring fans their smarter bracket, powered by Bing Predicts.
The Bing Predictor tool is the foundation for the smarter bracket which has been used to pick winners for popular events such as the Oscars and Grammy awards.”
“Looking under the hood at the engine driving the Predictor tool, a user would find intelligent machine learning technology that pulls in consumer-oriented data, such as search data and social media activity, to “find signals that correlate how people will vote. This kind of information is very valuable in terms of driving signals that might not be easily available to the general public,” Sun said.””
The decision to design semiconductors was risky. About the size of a small postage stamp, the microprocessor is the most important component of any computing device. It does the work that makes playing games, posting to Facebook, sending texts, and taking pictures seem easy. Small currents of energy move from the battery through hundreds of millions of tiny transistors, triggering commands and responses in nanoseconds. It’s like an intricate city design that fits on the tip of your finger. When the chip isn’t doing its job efficiently, the device feels sluggish, crashes, or makes users want to throw it against a wall.
If there’s a bug in software, you simply release a corrected version. It’s different with hardware. “You get one transistor wrong, it’s done, game over,” Srouji says. “Each one of those transistors has to work. Silicon is very unforgiving.” Among computer and smartphone makers, industry practice is to leave the processors to specialists such as Intel, Qualcomm, or Samsung, which sink billions into getting the chips right and making them inexpensively.
Over the past two years, Under Armour has spent close to $1 billion buying and investing in three leading makers of activity- and diet-tracking mobile apps. By doing so, the company has amassed the world's largest digital health-and-fitness community, with 150 million users. Plank envisions all of those users, and their metrics, as a big data engine to drive everything from product development to merchandising to marketing.
Today, Under Armour has 13,500 employees around the world and nearly $4 billion in revenue. But Plank is still every bit the entrepreneur, chasing audacious dreams--chief among them overtaking Nike as the world's largest sportswear maker. Under Armour leapfrogged the longtime number two, Adidas, in the U.S. sportswear market in 2014, but worldwide it's still third. And Nike remains far larger, with more than $30 billion in revenue in 2015 Which is part of why Plank wants to move so aggressively. Nike has about a fifth as many users on its Nike+ platform as Under Armour does on its apps, and in 2014 the shoe giant shut down its FuelBand fitness-tracker business.
Companies such as Consumer Cellular are known as mobile virtual network operators, or MVNOs. Essentially they’re marketing and customer service operations, leasing network capacity from the Big Four U.S. carriers and reselling it under their own brands. Switching carriers typically saves customers at least $20 a month (some base their charges on use), and MVNOs often target niche audiences—seniors, kids, immigrants.
Years ago, the iPhone killed a lot of these companies, which couldn’t keep up with consumer demand for increasingly data-hungry smartphones. Times have changed: It’s a lot cheaper and easier to run an MVNO than it used to be, and more customers are seeking an alternative to the Verizons and AT&Ts of the world. MVNOs account for 36 million (1 in 10) U.S. wireless subscriptions, estimates researcher Strategy Analytics, roughly double their 2009 numbers. During that time, subscriptions at the Big Four rose 28 percent.
I said enthralled at the end of Disney’s Zootopia – hundreds of credits rolled by (some of which are listed at IMDB) of sound effect technicians, animators and stereoscopic artists.
The creative genius John Lasseter has, pardon the pun, pulled a rabbit out of the hat again. Thanks to the many in the credits, here’s the quantum leap Zootopia makes in technical wizardry:
“Disney Pixar's Brave (2012) set a significant milestone for computer-generated tresses with the use of a simulator named Taz. To give Merida's curly bonce that bounciness, it started off with cylinders around which the curls are wrapped, allowing them to stretch and snap back into place. In total, 1,500 handmade strands were placed on Merida's head. Back then, Taz was a CGI revolution.
Jump forward one year and you get Frozen (2013), in which heroine Elsa boasts 400,000 strands of hair on her head. Now if you look at Zootopia, you need to know that the movie features 64 different animal species, from which the creators drew about 800,000 different character models. For example: baby mouse, bigger baby mouse, grandpa mouse, funny uncle mouse, etc. And one mouse has 480,000 hairs alone.”
Forget the technology – it is a magical movie, especially in 3D. And funny too – the sloths at the DMV in the vid hit close to reality