I’m very concerned if the big athletic footwear manufacturers believe that their only advantage with 3-D printing in footwear is better margins and a faster supply chain. If they aren’t using 3-D printing to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to innovation, then I believe they will fall behind and are ripe for disruption.
I love the picture you painted about walking into a shoe store and they can scan your foot to find your perfect size, pressure points, etc. To me this is the future of footwear. Considering that the orthotics market alone is $900M, 3-D printing for your exact foot seems like a NPV positive play for the major footwear players (https://www.inc.com/tom-foster/profoot-makes-50-million-dollars-a-year-selling-sexy-orthotics.html). I truly believe if they don’t do it, then a start-up will come in and start to claw up market share, similar to what Under Armour did with it’s performance wear.
It was very surprising to me that it seems like the U.S. Military has been using this additive manufacturing approach since at least 2013, if not before. This is not something we typically hear about in the news cycle, probably because of the next question on everyone’s mind, which is how much are the taxpayers paying for this technology. I thought cost would be the biggest hindrance to why AM hasn’t grown in volume, but your comments on the strength and properties of the component make absolute sense in the military setting.
I wonder with the growing popularity in 3-D printing of guns and the latest controversy and court ruling about this, whether it has any downstream implications to the military (https://www.cnn.com/2018/08/28/us/3d-printed-guns-cody-wilson-blueprint/index.html)?
I think it is no longer a question of if, but when 3-D printing infiltrates every part of the military. Just recently the Marine Corps created the world’s largest 3-D printer to “print” a concrete barracks (https://newatlas.com/marine-corps-systems-command-3d-printing-barracks/56261/).
This article was spot on with the reason Amazon Echo has been so successful for Amazon versus Google Home or Apple HomePod. Besides the first mover advantage it had on its competitors, it is also the most affordable option. The reason Amazon can make it so affordable is they are betting on the network effects of Alexa. More people want to own an Echo, because of all of the skills it can be used for. And if more people own an Echo, then they are able to make those impulse purchases that Amazon profits from. Forbes came out with a research article in May 2018, that showed that Echo owners on average spend 29% more than non-echo owners due to this “think it, buy it” phenomenon (https://www.forbes.com/sites/johnkoetsier/2018/05/30/40k-person-study-buying-echo-increases-amazon-purchases-29-especially-cpg-items/).
I did not realize that Amazon was open sourcing the language learning component of Alexa, but I’m interested to learn more about this. I agree that Amazon needs to expand this capability if it wants to move outside the United States and gain dominance. I’m interested to see if they would ever consider partnering with a Chinese e-commerce company, such as Alibaba, in order to start promoting Amazon’s brand awareness in China.
I think what Amazon is doing here is genius. Why spend their own time and money on this problem, when they can essentially outsource it through a “contest”. One concern with these robots I have is if they can ever be value positive for the company. I think Amazon may need too many of them at too high of a price to actually net a positive return, even in the long run. With these robots, they will need to hire higher paid engineers to constantly maintain or fix them if they break down. This can end up being even more costly than the minimum wage warehouse workers of today.
I’m wondering if this is not necessarily a value play for Amazon, but a public relations play. They have recently gotten some extreme negative press about the working conditions in their warehouse (https://www.businessinsider.com/amazon-warehouse-workers-share-their-horror-stories-2018-4). This included workers peeing in bottles, because they couldn’t take breaks and 55% of workers suffering from depression since starting to work for Amazon. If they can replace these workers, then there may be less pressure from Bernie Sanders about raising the minimum wage and less PR issues surrounding the working conditions (https://www.cnbc.com/2018/09/05/bernie-sanders-introduces-the-bezos-act-slamming-amazon-low-wages.html).
I do believe that the likes of Airbnb and VRBO are the future of hospitality and tourism. I think it is interesting what they are doing by using machine learning to put pictures of the rental in a different order that may attract more renters. However, I do have a concern with the AI matching guests and hosts. With machine learning if there is bias in the input data, there will be bias in the output data. As evidenced, by Airbnb’s partnership with the NAACP back in July 2017, they know they have inherent issues with bias that they are working to resolve
So how does Airbnb combat this issue? Can they start blinding the names and genders of the guests from the algorithm, so they aren’t judged based on race or sex? Can they teach the algorithm to root out inherent bias? It will be interesting to see how Airbnb manages these political controversies moving forward.
As part of the FDA’s mission statement, they claim “FDA is responsible for advancing the public health by helping to speed innovations that make medical products more effective, safer, and more affordable and by helping the public get the accurate, science-based information they need to use medical products and foods to maintain and improve their health.” (https://www.fda.gov/aboutfda/whatwedo/default.htm) However, they are often viewed by many in the medical industry as a deterrent to iterative medicine. With the mandatory 10 month review cycle, plus the obligatory pre-meetings before the meetings, it can often seem like the FDA acts as a filibuster, not “helping to speed innovation”.
Although mobile medical applications (MMA apps for phones) are not new, the FDA still has not issued regulations for this space, but merely general guidance issued back in 2015. For example, if an MMA simply wants to push out a weekly update of its application, does it need to get FDA approval for a minor change to the algorithm? Does it need to prove this out through clinical trials that the update didn’t change the intent of the original algorithm? (https://www.fda.gov/downloads/MedicalDevices/DeviceRegulationandGuidance/GuidanceDocuments/UCM263366.pdf)
I believe the FDA is trying to do right by its overall mission of protecting the public health, but I do think it is at a cost of speeding innovation in the digital world. I appreciate the speediness that they approved IDx-DR, but wonder if the same is possible for more complex digital applications, such as dosing insulin in Diabetes patients, or personalized treatment for cancer.