- The myriad of things that need to be designed for feature films. Considering how much the movies can influence technologists and vice versa, it's fair to say that these designers of fictional worlds can have a notable affect on the real world.
- Design for flexible and continuous development. Hardware is still seen as difficult to iterate on in an ongoing sense, despite advances in rapid prototyping technologies like 3D printing. The product development world is changing, and there is an emergence of designs that leave some doors open for change. Bunnie Huang's open-source laptop Novena has some of these built in allowances for future change, including the "Peek Array," a set of threaded inserts in a grid formation that make it easy to mount and dismount components or devices again and again. There are some downsides to such an approach as well (a lack of optimization in terms of size, greater risk of unpredictable failures, etc.) but we're optimistic about a more open-ended design future that rewards companies who build for future proofing instead of obsolescence.
- A look at how the state of labor relations have changed over the decades in Silicon Valley - and how unionization has largely been avoided in America's hotbed of technological innovation.
- As companies shift from a widget and service model grounded in the physical to a more digitized and distributed model, many workers find themselves struggling with the rapid devaluing of what was a hyper-relevant skillset, bolstered by experience. AT&T is warning their workforce that the operational and product changes they are making are going to cost people their jobs, unless they "retool" themselves. AT&T is willing to pay for some but not all of these costs of new education, and workers are expected to do it on their own time. This seems like a good way to prompt some new skill development for staff, but it might also inspire them to shop those new skills plus deep corporate experience to someone else- like the startups AT&T is trying to stay ahead of, or the more recent tech giants they are trying to beat.
- Giant robots that can deploy composite fibers with great precision and high speeds for the wings of Boeing's 777x.
- Mattel is releasing a 3D printer - a sort of resurrected version of the "Thingmaker" that was sold from the 1960s on. The original Thingmaker could heat up metal molds to set vinyl, creating all sorts of colorful squishy elastomer parts (we can still remember the distinct - and probably unhealthy smell of curing vinyl from the version of the product that was popular in the 1990s). It was a sort of semi-custom toy-making experience, certainly far short of the kind of flexibility 3D printing can offer.
- Some research suggests that location based dating/hook-up apps are increasing the occurrence of sexually transmitted infections and increasing risks to public health. Tinder is now adding in a STD testing finder feature to its app.
More next week.