- Voice based user interfaces, (VUIs) are a far more natural way of bridging the gap between human and machine, almost evading the definition of interface at all. Amazon's Echo/Alexa products seem to be the current frontrunner butGoogle is determined to make a stand in the emerging consumer electronics space - they're hiring writers with credits spanning Pixar to The Onion to outfit their digital assistants with more interesting personalities.
- An excellent post on Apple, examining how their approach to design, business strategy and manufacturing processes are interwoven, which creates massive opportunities and advantages. By treating design as a thread throughout the process rather than a stylization towards the end of product development, they can create devices that have a "truth of materials" all the way through, from skin to guts. In an era where less and less of what design firms do is based in the realities of the physical world (designing services, strategies and software has taken over in most cases) the kind of well-honed material/manufacturing understanding that Apple has internally is rare to find exhibited in offerings from other companies. You may not be able to manufacture like Apple - but having design that's rooted in a real understanding of processes and materials is an aspect of their methodology that is both valuable and attainable.
Feeding the Future:
- You know a dramatically less meaty future is becoming a reality when a household name in animal protein like Tyson decides to invest in a company that's pioneering animal free burgers. It's quite possible that the ultra-large meat producers are more tuned into their future existential risks stemming from regulations and so more willing to fund experimental alternatives.
- We think of quality systems when it comes to medical devices or car manufacturing (or more recently, smartphones) but it's a huge concern for food companies that operate at scale as well. One bad PR event stemming from contamination can do irreparable harm to a brand and shave billions off a company's valuation. Fast Company's inside look at Chipotle does a good job of examining the trade-offs and techniques involved in feeding millions safely.
- Samsung's recall troubles have been made worse by their decision to use a glue-bonded battery assembly instead of a replaceable one. This means whole phones have to be returned and much of the internals scrapped due to difficulties extracting the hazardous components in a non-destructive way. Hopefully more manufacturers will be considering components that can be user-serviced or repaired to reduce their own recall risks.
- What happens when you're not exactly sure how to build your product, you don't have domain expertise that allows you to scale rapidly, and you funded your idea on a crowdfunding site? The brilliant engineering/manufacturing minds in China might be able to get it all done and units out the door before you've even said "go" to your vendors.