Author Archives: Andy Wibbels

About Andy Wibbels

Andy is an award-winning blogger and author of the book Blogwild! A Guide for Small Business Blogging. His work has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Entrepreneur, Wired, Business Week, Forbes, and other national and international media. He was worked at several San Francisco startups including Typepad, Get Satisfaction, SInMobi, Keas, and Mindjet. Currently, Andy is Director of Marketing at Lucidworks.

How Toyota Does R&D

From a thread on Reddit:

“Former Toyota employee here.

“Firstly, they are very conservative in implementing new tech. Their R&D have pretty advance tech, but for production, everything is validated (probably) twice as much compared to other carmakers, thus by the time it’s green lit for mass production, it’s old tech.

“New tech adoption is so slow and difficult, it often frustrate even Toyota employees.

“Another thing about Toyota R&D, they have regional design houses, with the aim to “localized” parts design as much as possible, even the smallest design (engineering) details.

“For example, the inside ribs of a Hilux’s wheels in Brazil is about 5mm thicker than the ones in Thailand, so they can withstand 12G, instead 10G, because they did a survey of Brazil potholes, found out they are 20% bigger compared to a Thailand pothole.

“Vietnam tires have tickers sidewalls, because people on Hanoi like to climb over curbs. South Africa’s absorbers are 2mm thicker, because people less likely to brake when they see a rock. Air intakes for tropical countries are placed 15mm higher, because there have more floods. Tiny changes which are easily managed at parts manufacturing level, but have significant impact in reducing failure rate.

“For comparison, a German 3-series’s Transmission Oil cooler may be good enough for German weather, but they are same size for a UAE 3-series, which will kill the transmission.

“A Golf’s Dual-clutch is nice in Autobahns, it won’t lost long in Indonesia’s stop-go 20km/h traffic jams,

“And that’s why North American Toyota’s a rarely exported, or Euro/Asia model imported, not only because of regulations and tax, but NA’s usage condition is so much different from other countries, the cars wont be as reliable as intended.

“Another thing, not all country has the same situation regarding car service. And Toyota is very knowledgeable about this.

“Missed the Civic Type-R turbo oil change schedule because that single Honda dealer in your island is full? You just slash 2 years out of the turbo’s life..

“But do you know a Toyota Etios in India have water proof Volume knobs, because they did a 6 month in survey 10 different states and concluded most dealers use soap to clean the interior, seriously.

“And don’t let me start on materials, so many version, variation, caveats for standards, sometimes it feels like they are exporting to a different planet.

“So, this is why most Toyota ends up with a 4 AT, 50hp/liter engine, with boring hard plastic interior, numb steering, and goofy tiny wheels with huge wheel arc gaps.

​”And there’s Toyota procurement and manufacturing practice, which I’ll probably write more about later.”

Full thread in context.

Does AI on Mobile Even Matter Yet?

From EuroNews:

From what experts have promised, it seems like the difference of having a smartphone to an ‘artificially intelligent’ phone is like the difference of having a pet to a guide dog. While a pet will obey your commands, a guide dog will not only respond to your orders but lead the way and make decisions to what it believes is best for you. … Like the human brain, AI won’t make overly complex and simultaneous calculations instantly. What it will do, through sparse processing, is recognize images, voices and language and process them like data. … Tech companies have claimed that in-device AI also allows for better security because less data will need to be shared with the cloud-based system and more data will remain on the device.

Artificial Intelligence on your mobile: Does it really deserve the hype?

Machine Learning Systems Replacing Legacy Infrastructure Systems

From EBNOnline:

“In the present scenario, revolutionized applications access multiple servers and databases, creating a flurry of machine-to-machine traffic like never before and altering conventional traffic patterns. Additionally, in an era of digital transformations, with ever changing network usage pattern, ML enables network administrators to deploy intelligent and adaptive network infrastructures. These self-learning networks are able to gather data from various network nodes and generate networking models that are regenerative and self-healing. Consequently, the rate of adoption of networks powered by machine learning is exuberant, as it finds its application throughout all the major industry verticals. Major adopters being manufacturing; banking, financial services and insurance (BFSI); utilities; retail; telecom; and healthcare. These industries are riddled with legacy systems that are being swept across by a new age of digital transformation.”

Machine Learning Apps Replace Enterprise Legacy Systems

Augmented Reality’s Rapidly Expanding into Industrial Applications

From AutomationWorld:

The addition of Model Targets to Vuforia (PTC’s AR platform). Model Targets is a new feature that allows for attaching content to objects that have not been recognizable using existing computer vision technology. Campbell says that, with Model Targets, content can be attached to objects such as automobiles, appliances, industrial equipment and machinery to enable a new class of AR content that can replace traditional user manuals and technical service instructions. Model Targets enable the recognition and tracking of objects based on shape from pre-existing 3D models and does not require an AR marker. Campbell says this high-fidelity object recognition provides more accurate positioning so that “3D content can be aligned with greater precision for use cases where step-by-step instructions and product data are overlaid onto the physical product.”

Vuforia now supports Apple’s ARKit and Google’s ARCore (for bringing AR experiences to mobile iOS and Android mobile devices). According to PTC, Vuforia has powered more than 475 million installs of AR apps from the App Store and Google Play.

The release of the Vuforia Chalk App, which allows people in different locations to share a live view of the same environment and draw simple annotations called Chalk Marks.

Augmented Reality Continues its Advance on Industry

How Apple’s ARKit and “World Tracking” Will Advance Augmented Reality

Mapping the 3d world with the iPhone’s various sensors:

“Tech-wise, Apple is basically using an advanced system of sensors and process to map digital objects into 3D space. It’s more than just a 2D camera overlay, but rather a complex network of new tech that measures everything from room dimensions to lighting effects in order to make a digital object look realistic in physical space. Apple calls this process “world tracking,” and it’s what enables iOS 11-compatible devices to present AR experiences.

Because ARKit allows for a smooth transition from ordinary development, it’s likely that we will see a lot of adaptation before we start to see true innovation and new games. The category to watch thus far appears to be puzzle-based gaming. One of the earliest ARKit games has you guiding a tiny adventurer across various platforms, essentially solving a puzzle along the way.

Games associated with casinos, too, will provide a strong creative foundation. We may think of these as games exclusive to certain environments or even certain countries where real money gaming is legal and prevalent. But it’s a broader category than that. These games have expanded from desktops to laptops and even mobile devices, such that 3D card playing, slots, roulette, etc. are quite popular on phones and tablets. These are games to watch in AR because of their relative design simplicity. 3D, AR representations of these games will feel more real, and simulate the experience of being in a real casino.”

How Apple will build its mobile AR entertainment

Apple CEO Tim Cook: Quality Augmented Reality Impossible with Current Technology

From TweakTown:

Apple is indeed interested in the Augmented Reality (AR) market, but Apple CEO Tim Cook recently delivered a bold affirmation that the technology to spin the illusion of high-end AR just isn’t here yet. Until that technology hurdle is solved, Apple will likely be out of the AR race, and Mr. Cook affirms the company wants to be the best–not the first. “There are rumors about companies working on those – we obviously don’t talk about what we’re working on,” Apple CEO Tim Cook said in a recent interview with the Independent. “But today I can tell you the technology itself doesn’t exist to do that in a quality way. The display technology required, as well as putting enough stuff around your face – there’s huge challenges with that. The field of view, the quality of the display itself, it’s not there yet.” … But Apple isn’t interested with being first, says Mr. Cook–they want to be the best, and deliver a quality experience. “We don’t give a rat’s about being first, we want to be the best, and give people a great experience,” Mr. Cook affirmed. “But now anything you would see on the market any time soon would not be something any of us would be satisfied with. Nor do I think the vast majority of people would be satisfied.”

Apple CEO: quality AR impossible with today’s technology

NBA Launches Augmented Reality Game

Available for free download in the Apple App Store:

“The NBA claims to be the first US sports league to have released an AR game, giving it a reputable first in the space. The title is free on the Apple App Store and requires users to flick shots at the hoop using the phone’s inbuilt accelerometer. They are tasked with scoring as many throws as possible inside a 30 second window. Melissa Rosenthal Brenner, NBA senior vice president, Digital Media, said: ‘We’ve always said that basketball can be played virtually anywhere – and today that takes on an expanded meaning.’ ‘Augmented reality presents a variety of fascinating engagement opportunities, so we hope our fans download the app and try out their skills wherever they might be.'”

NBA strengthens ‘basketball anywhere’ ethos with augmented reality game

Unilever’s Six Buyer Personas for Axe Body Spray

How Unilever targeted their ad campaigns for Axe Body spray:

“Unilever first analyzed the potential Axe user by breaking males down into six profiles:

  1. The Predator — He takes advantage of drunk girls, and lies about his job and where he lives
  2. Natural Talent — Athletic, smart, and confident. He doesn’t need to lie to score
  3. Marriage Material — Humble and respectful, he’s the sort of guy you want to bring home to Mom and Dad
  4. Always the Friend — He always hits that glass ceiling
  5. The Insecure Novice — He has absolutely no clue what he’s doing, and things get awkward fast — the geeks and nerds
  6. The Enthusiastic Novice — He has absolutely no clue what he’s doing, but he’s outgoing and tries valiantly anyway

Then, they determined that The Insecure Novice would be their natural target, since he needs the most help in getting women, and would be easily persuaded into buying a product that could aid the woes of nerdhood.”

How Axe Became The Top-Selling Deodorant By Targeting Nerdy Losers

The End of the On-Demand Dream

Farhad Manjoo writes in the Technology section of The New York Times:

Other than Uber, the hypersuccessful granddaddy of on-demand apps, many of these companies have come under stress. Across a variety of on-demand apps, prices are rising, service is declining, business models are shifting, and, in some cases, companies are closing down. Here is what we are witnessing: the end of the on-demand dream. That dream was about price and convenience.

Like Luxe, many of these companies marketed themselves as clever hacks of the existing order. They weren’t just less headache than old-world services, but because they were using phones to eliminate inefficiencies, they argued that they could be cheaper, too — so cheap that as they grew, they could offer luxury-level service at mass-market prices. That just isn’t happening. Though I still use Luxe frequently, it now often feels like just another luxury for people who have more money than time.

But Uber’s success was in many ways unique. For one thing, it was attacking a vulnerable market. In many cities, the taxi business was a customer-unfriendly protectionist racket that artificially inflated prices and cared little about customer service. The opportunity for Uber to become a regular part of people’s lives was huge. People take cars every day, so hook them once and you have repeat customers. Finally, cars are the second-most-expensive things people buy, and the most frequent thing we do with them is park. That monumental inefficiency left Uber ample room to extract a profit even after undercutting what we now pay for cars.

Full article: The Uber Model, It Turns Out, Doesn’t Translate

Zenefits CEO Resigns, New Focus: Integrity

Part of the problem with the “who’s gonna stop me?” attitude of Startuplandia is when companies try to move into heavily regulated industries. Leaders they can just ignore decades of entrenched bureaucracy and regulation simply because they’ve got a high valuation.

Employee management cloud software company Zenefits (which has raised $500M in 2 years at a $4.5B valuation) hit the fan earlier today when their CEO Parker Conrad resigned over compliance issues:

In an email sent to employees today:

We sell insurance in a highly regulated industry. In order to do that, we must be properly licensed. For us, compliance is like oxygen. Without it, we die. The fact is that many of our internal processes, controls, and actions around compliance have been inadequate, and some decisions have just been plain wrong.

In December, we hired a Big Four auditing firm to conduct an independent third-party review of our licensing procedures that we will turn over to regulators as soon as possible.

Our culture and tone have been inappropriate for a highly regulated company.

Effective immediately, this company’s values are: #1 Operate with integrity. #2 Put the customer first. #3 Make this a great place to work for employees.

They literally have to call out integrity.