In Weekly disruption feed

IBM scores yet another big data source

Last week we wrote about how IBM is engaging a lot of employees in analyzing twitter data. Now IBM has struck a deal with The Weather Company in order to reach yet another big data source. This time Watson, IBM’s AI engine, will be fed 20 terabytes of data from weather stations, radar, satellites and small sensors every day. Given that a lot of the data passing through IBM’s machines come from small, connected devices they will also start an entire Internet of Things business unit. By finding smart ways of analyzing the large amounts of data collected from connected devices all over the world, companies are looking for new ways of increasing sales and cutting costs. A possible usage for IBM’s weather data analysis is a warning system for hailstorms, which would enable car insurers to warn their customers about an approaching storm and urging them to protect their vehicles.

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Virtual reality + UltraHaptics = Minority report?

A startup in England has been able to create technology that allows us to feel holograms. Through an emission of sound waves, sensations are projected through the air and to the user. Mix that with virtual reality or holograms and we are likely to see interaction with devices completely change!

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Cross border payments about to be disrupted!

SWIFT, short for the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, is the almost 40 year old system the world relies on for cross border payments today. Several startups and large players are now at it, trying to disintermediate SWIFT who we can surely say, in its current form, is not fit for this century. Hank Uberoi, a former Goldman Sachs executive is heading Earthport, one of the startups who are after the $21 trillion that circulate each year. It’s a long shot, says Hank, who realizes they have to go after the huge pools of transactions in order to be profitable. Surely, we will see change, the question is how fast and who comes out at the top!?

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Control mechanics with your mind!

We have been writing a bit about digital health and “proactive healthcare” on the feed, but it seems prosthetics and robotics are about to change substantially as well. Researchers at the University of Houston have developed a system that uses a wearable “thinking cap” that monitors brain activity and converts that intention into mechanical motion. Basically, the patient thinks about picking up an object, the BMI recognizes the intention and then tells an attached prosthetic to do so. Complete change for prosthetics, machinery, video gaming, remote surgery etc.!

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Starbucks launches extensive education program

Starbucks just unveiled a massive program set to grant free college education to part- and full-time employees in the US through what they call The College Achievement Plan (CAP) – a $200 milllion initiative that allows employees to earn a degree through online coursework. Starbucks CEO Howard Shultz said in a recent interview that the he doesn’t view the program as an expense but rather an investment. When Starbucks asked its employees for the one benefit they’d like to add, 70% named access to college. Schultz is hoping that the CAP will boost employee engagement scores, solve workplace issues through making Starbucks a more in-demand employer and make customers proud of being at Starbucks.
Considering the size of the investment this could be seen as a bold attempt at facing the challenge of integrating societal sustainability with strategy.

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