innovation

created 2 years ago

Amazon has become the leader in the e-book market on the strength of its Kindle line of e-readers. And it dominates an important segment of the cloud computing market; Amazon Web Services is expected to generate $12 billion in revenue this year.
“There's an opportunity to do innovation in big companies,” says author and startup guru Eric Ries. “But very few big companies have done this really well. Amazon is one of them.”
But so far, Google has had little to show for these efforts. Google Glass was a flop. The company has developed some impressive self-driving technology over the past six years but has still not turned it into a commercial product. Google bought Nest in 2014, but the company has struggled to expand beyond smart thermostats. Google acquired some robotics startups in 2014, but hasn’t figured out what to do with them and wound up putting one up for sale.
Google’s most promising “moonshot” is its self-driving car project, which is widely regarded as the technology leader. But top engineers on the project have grown impatient with the company’s slow pace in getting to market. A team of Google engineers left Google to found Otto, a self-driving truck company acquired by Uber earlier this year. The leader of Google’s self-driving car project, Chris Urmson, recently quit to create a self-driving car startup of his own.
“I know examples where a random Amazon engineer mentions ‘Hey I read about an idea in a blog post, we should do that,’” Eric Ries says. “The next thing he knows, the engineer is being asked to pitch it to the executive committee. Jeff Bezos decides on the spot.”
At a normal company, when the CEO endorses an idea, it becomes a focus for the whole company, which is a recipe for wasting a lot of resources on ideas that don’t pan out. In contrast, Amazon creates a small team to experiment with the idea and find out if it’s viable. Bezos famously instituted the “two-pizza team” rule, which says that teams should be small enough to be fed with two pizzas.
“They prioritize launching early over everything else,”
Of course, this method isn’t foolproof; Amazon has had plenty of failures, like its disastrous foray into the smartphone market. But by getting a product into the hands of paying customers as quickly as possible and taking their feedback seriously, Amazon avoids wasting years working on products that don’t serve the needs of real customers.
“It doesn't matter what technology” teams use at Amazon, one of the company’s former engineers wrote in 2011. Bezos has explicitly discouraged the kind of standardization you see at companies like Google and Apple, encouraging teams to operate independently using whatever technology makes the most sense.
One way to deal with the conundrum is for big tech companies to acquire startups early in their growth. That allows a startup’s innovations to be combined with the resources of a big company. Uber acquired the self-driving truck startup Otto less than a year after it was founded. GM paid a billion dollars for the self-driving car startup Cruise in March.
www.vox.com
“Watch, iPhone, iPad, Macbook, iMac,” he said. “They really are all computers. Each one is offering customers something unique and each one is made with a simple form that perhaps is eternal. People in the industry may question them — we don’t, for some very simple reasons.”
Seen in that context, making the Macintosh screen—even just on the laptop—touch-centric is a crime against nature, as it violates the functionality intrinsic to the form of a notebook or desktop computer, at least as Apple sees it. Indeed, last week, Schiller was even more emphatic when that subject came up.
“We’re absolutely more sure than ever that we’ve done the right thing.”
The Touch Bar can be an alternative to remembering a keyboard shortcut to open an app, or a much easier way of performing intuitive tasks such as scrolling through photos or fast-forwarding a QuickTime video. It’s at its best when choosing emojis, which does away with the awkward task of pulling up the choices on screen by letting you invoke a chorus line of cartoony icons. If you don’t see the one you like, you call in the next troupe by poking the proper category.
backchannel.com
"If invention is a pebble tossed in the pond, innovation is the rippling effect that pebble causes. Someone has to toss the pebble. That's the inventor. Someone has to recognize the ripple will eventually become a wave” Tom Gratsy, current startup co-founder and former Development Executive at DreamWorks, smartly notes.
www.bitmatica.com
Most experts suspect the condition is the result of the body’s immune system attacking healthy cells, mistakenly triggered by bacteria in the digestive tract. Now, a new study has identified a specific fungus and two bacteria they think play a key role in what leads some people to develop the disease.
“Among hundreds of bacterial and fungal species inhabiting the intestines, it is telling that the three we identified were so highly correlated in Crohn’s patients,”
“Crohn’s disease has other factors that impact it: Number one is genetics and number two is environmental factors, such as what people eat,”
This study is distinct because it compared patients with Crohn’s disease to both healthy strangers and to their own family members who did not have Crohn’s. This is important because family members share genes, household environments and food, and researchers were able to further isolate what distinguishes the microbiomes of those with Crohn’s from those around them.
“For patients, this is a very good start because we now understand more about the disease and how we can interfere with it,”
www.huffingtonpost.com
With 1.3 million citizens, Estonia is one of the smallest countries in Europe, but its ambition is to become one of the largest countries in the world. Not one of the largest geographically or even by number of citizens, however. Largest in e-residents, a category of digital affiliation that it hopes will attract people, especially entrepreneurs.
Today Estonians use their mandatory digital identity to do everything from track their medical care to pay their taxes.
Things that don’t come with e-residency include a passport and citizenship. Nor do e-residents automatically owe taxes to the country, though digital companies that incorporate there and obtain a physical address can benefit from the country’s low tax rate. The chance to run a business out of Estonia has proven popular enough that almost 700 new businesses have been set up by the nearly 1,000 new e-residents, according to statistics from the government.
Estonian officials describe e-residency as an early step toward a mobile future, one in which countries will compete for the best people. And they are not the only ones pursing this idea. Payment company Stripe recently launched a program called Atlas that it hopes will boost the number of companies using its services to accept payments. It helps global Internet businesses incorporate in the state of Delaware, open a bank account, and get tax and legal guidance.
To Tasic, who runs background checks on all his drivers, one of the best things about the e-residency is the fact that the Estonian police investigate every applicant. Since Kumar set up his company, Estonia has begun allowing e-residents to set up their bank accounts online, but there remains a level of security, because to pick up their residency card, applicants must go in person to one of Estonia’s 39 embassies around the world and prove their identity.
As with any digital system, security is a major concern. Estonia, which sits just to the west of Russia and south of the Gulf of Finland, recently announced plans to back up much of its data, including banking credentials, birth records, and critical government information, in the United Kingdom.
www.technologyreview.com
U.S. and German researchers have developed a pain-relieving compound, chemically unrelated to current opioids, that doesn't interfere with breathing—the main cause of prescription painkiller fatalities. The researchers introduced the compound, called PZM21, in a study published on Wednesday in Nature.
The drug's development, funded by the U.S. National Institutes of Health, comes at a time when the number of Americans who die each year because of overdoses (more than 47,000) has exceeded the number killed in car accidents. About 28,000 of those overdoses involved opioids, four times more than occurred in 1999, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. More than half involved prescription drugs.
The new molecule targets the brain-mediated emotional component of pain. This allows it to kill pain just as well as morphine does, without the side effects of respiratory suppression and dopamine-driven addiction in the brain. (Regular painkillers target both the brain-mediated and reflexive response aspects of pain.) The new drug also causes less constipation and doesn't affect spinal cord reflexive responses as traditional narcotics do, according to the study.
www.bloomberg.com
So, the truth: Right now, today, in 2016 is the best time to start up. There has never been a better day in the whole history of the world to invent something. There has never been a better time with more opportunities, more openings, lower barriers, higher benefit/ risk ratios, better returns, greater upside than now. Right now, this minute. This is the moment that folks in the future will look back at and say, “Oh, to have been alive and well back then!”
medium.com
The Canadian-born designer, who now lives and works in Paris, has devoted her life to creating practical, comfortable and beautiful shoes for women. Unlike ordinary footwear, all of Heath’s creations come with interchangeable heels. With the push of a button, customers can switch between high heels (3.5 inches tall) and low heels (1.5 inches tall).
www.huffingtonpost.com
Philips Healthcare announced the global availability of a suite of "clinically-validated" health monitoring devices, including a health watch, connected scale, blood pressure monitor and thermometer. The devices connect to a companion app designed for people who are at-risk of developing chronic conditions with an eye on helping them make healthier decisions.
The richest trove of data comes from a wristworn device that continuously tracks calories burned, activity, sleep rate and heart rate. The company will not market it as an activity tracker. It’s not trying to be the next Apple Watch, the company says, but rather a health device that uses predictive analytics and offers educational support to intervene before wearers make health-damaging lifestyle choices.
mobihealthnews.com
July 19, 2016 — Ten miles south of Tel Aviv, I stand on a catwalk over two concrete reservoirs the size of football fields and watch water pour into them from a massive pipe emerging from the sand. The pipe is so large I could walk through it standing upright, were it not full of Mediterranean seawater pumped from an intake a mile offshore.
“Now, that’s a pump!” Edo Bar-Zeev shouts to me over the din of the motors, grinning with undisguised awe at the scene before us. The reservoirs beneath us contain several feet of sand through which the seawater filters before making its way to a vast metal hangar, where it is transformed into enough drinking water to supply 1.5 million people.
We are standing above the new Sorek desalination plant, the largest reverse-osmosis desal facility in the world, and we are staring at Israel’s salvation. Just a few years ago, in the depths of its worst drought in at least 900 years, Israel was running out of water. Now it has a surplus. That remarkable turnaround was accomplished through national campaigns to conserve and reuse Israel’s meager water resources, but the biggest impact came from a new wave of desalination plants.
www.scientificamerican.com
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