The Weekly Disrupt #3

Feb 24, 2015

The Weekly Disrupt is a summary of the most important technology stories from the last week. These are stories that hint at fundamental shifts in the way we will live and do business - things to keep on your radar to ensure you capture future growth opportunities.    

Here are 10 stories that have caught our eye this week. A rating of 10 represents a truly disruptive innovation. Let us know what you think in the comment section. 

Medical researchers have developed a low-cost smartphone accessory that performs a 15 minute point-of-care test that can detect HIV and syphilis. The accessory costs $34 to manufacture, much lower than the $18,450 that an equivalent test currently costs. These developments enable dramatically improved diagnosis and treatment of these diseases, and also hint at future devices that can test for a wider range of diseases. 

Disruptive Potential: 10 

Another week another win for the robots over us stupid humans. Using a machine learning technique called convolutional neural networks (CNNs), researchers surpassed human-level performance on a specific image classification dataset. This isn't quite Terminator, but the better we get at image recognition, the closer we get to robots, drones and cars with vision allowing for real-world real-time navigation. 

Disruptive Potential: 10 

Hot on the heels of IBM'Watson Developer Cloud, Microsoft has launched its own ML-as-a-service on its Azure platform. As companies struggle to derive insight from all the data they are collecting, there is a huge market for simple easy to use tools. Microsoft won the enterprise market in the 90s with Windows and Office and is successfully positioning Azure for the future needs of business.    

Disruptive Potential: 9 

As Uber negotiates its way around regulators across the globe, in Spain it has decided the only way to maintain a presence is by offering food deliveries. The service is called UberEats in Barcelona and is similar to UberFresh in Los Angeles. What is interesting about this story is that it shows how easy it will be for Uber to move into the broader delivery market. Once Uber can move a human from A to B, it is a short step to move all goods. Greater numbers of products to move will result in higher utilization for drivers, more cars on the roads for consumers and ultimately cheaper rides. Uber is becoming the software layer for physical logistics.  

Disruptive Potential: 8 

On a conference call last week, JB Straubel, Tesla’s Chief Technology Officer, said that the company is working on consumer batteries to power homes and offices. No specific details at this point, but efficient energy storage is the missing component for a new distributed energy paradigm. A home energy storage solution has the potential to be the hub of the connected home in a similar vein to a Nest.  

Disruptive Potential: 8 

As is tradition in China, red envelopes with cash inside are given as gifts at Chinese New Year. This year, 1.01 billion red envelopes were sent over WeChat, a mobile social messaging application owned by Tencent. WeChat is much more of a social platform; it has moved into personal finance and has a feature where a user can store savings and make digital and physical payments. Expect to see Facebook launch these features on Facebook Messenger very soon. Banks should be very worried.  

Disruptive Potential: 8 

All the discussion over the FAA’s new drone regulations has been around Amazon Prime Air and blocking airborne delivery. It may in fact be the less sexy business of farming that will suffer most. Drones have already been used to identify pests, provide extra light to spur growth, and spray pesticides. By requiring pilots and line-of-light, the FAA is severely limiting the yield enhancing applications of drones. 

Disruptive Potential: 7 

Smart toy company Elemental Path beat its $50,000 Kickstarter target within a day to produce the world's first IBM Watson-powered toy. The robot will be capable of sustaining real conversation with children aged 4-7 and provide detailed feedback to parents on their improvement. Research shows that bthe age of 3, child from a disadvantaged background would have heard cumulatively 30 million fewer words in their home environment than a child from a professional family. Talking toys have a huge opportunity to reduce this inequality.  

Disruptive Potential: 6 

AOptix aims to eliminate potential bottlenecks in backhaul with its Laser Radio Technology (LRT). Originally developed for the US military, AOptix Intellimax claims to deliver up to 2 Gbps over an 8-kilometre single hop. The product combines millimetre wave radio and free-space laser transmission to leverage the benefits, and offset the weaknesses, of both. Wireless options are cheaper and quicker to deploy than fibre and will be essential for meeting the anticipated demands of IoT and small cells. LRT offers a flexible alternative that should cope well with different environmental conditions.  

Disruptive Potential: 5 

The 3D-printed artificial bird, developed by Satyandra Gupta at the University of Maryland and his team, has an actuator in each wing that allows them to be programmed with different positions and velocities. The wing system could replace heavy and noisy propellers on drones making them lighter, quieter and safer for flying in urban environments.  

Disruptive Potential: 5 

The Weekly Disrupt is written by Frost & Sullivan's Connected Industries team. We focus on the impact of technology in industry transformation, helping our clients to navigate through an increasingly complex business environment where every vertical market has its own unique challenges and aspirations.  

To learn more, please contact one of the team: 


Lawrence Lundy


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