In Weekly disruption feed

Triggering technology for internet of things?

The Internet of Things (IoT) is becoming a frequent buzzword – and that’s because experts believe it will impact everyone’s lives, both privately and at work. Everything will be connected (even your couch according Google) and communicate with you and your devices. However one of the biggest hurdles for this new era to really take the next step is a common platform where all these devices/things communicate and interact with one another. Last week Google announced “Brillo”, a version of Android developed for just that purpose. Perhaps even more important is the language, “Weave”, that Google has developed to enable interoperability and communication across brands. The tipping point for IoT just got a lot closer!

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Payments disruption? Maybe with loyalty programs

The two tech giants Google and Apple are going head to head on many fronts with digital payments as one of the latest additions. Google launched their unsuccessful Wallet in 2011 and Apple’s more successful Apple Pay launched last year. Google announced Android Pay last week and Samsung, the biggest producer of Android phones are looking to launch their own solution. Simultaneously a multitude of other players like Square and iZettle are allowing small retailers to accept credit cards with a simple addition to their smart phones. In Africa a large share of banking is made through mPESA, a mobile sms based money transfer and payment solution.

Despite all these ongoing forces analysts don’t expect full on disruption any time soon. Cash and credit cards are still way better as they can be used anywhere and are understood by everyone. However, a new addition to the service that both Apple and Android are planning on bringing to the table is an incorporation of loyalty programs.

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Tailors about to be disrupted

”It’s like Uber but for …” is becoming a tiresome phrase when explaining the idea of a new start-up. On Monday, yet another peer-to-peer platform was released as entrepreneur George Zimmer released a new tailor service called zTailors. The idea is to offer traditional tailoring services like altering suits and shirts but to do it in the homes or offices of the customers. The customers schedule a time for one of the assigned tailors to measure and refit the clothes and then return them a few days later. The tailor industry might not be as big as the taxi or hotel industry but it could still mean a change in the way we think about our closets. If there was a cheap and convenient way of altering clothes we might be more open to call the tailor instead of buying new clothes when the old don’t fit. It could also mean that tailors will have access to a well-known brand and a packaged product, which will possibly lead to more business opportunities and a greater trust for tailors in general.

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Windows as solar panels?

Wouldn’t it be great if all the windows on your office building (at least the ones in the suns direction) were actually electricity generating solar cells? That might be fact in just a few years. Ubiquitous Energy, a spin-off from MIT is developing solar cells using transparent organic materials that absorb IR and UV wavelengths. The big issue now is improving the efficiency, some solutions today are as ineffective as only converting 1% of the energy into electricity. However, Oxford Photovoltaics, spun out of the University of Oxford calculates that if a 35-storey office block in London was clad with their perovskite cells they could generate almost 60% of the building’s energy consumption. Add Tesla’s Powerwall (and/or similar solutions) and things start to get VERY disruptive for traditional utility providers and power grids!

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Uber’s serious about developing autonomous vehicles

It seems like Uber is taking another step towards making their drivers unemployed. They have already released plans on a new 5000 square meter tech center and they are now filling it up with a whole bunch of robotic technology researchers. By offering huge bonuses Uber recently recruited 40 researchers from the Carnegie Mellon University’s Robotics Center.

It will be extremely interesting to see what Ubers future business model will look like if they succeed in developing a functional self-driving car. Will they sell the cars or just start to replace the world’s taxi fleet with it and charge per kilometer just like they do today? As Uber only keeps around 20 percent of their drivers’ revenue there is a huge business case in cutting them out. Is this the incentive that will make Uber win the race towards the autonomous car?

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