ENERGY COMES IN WAVES

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Aquantis is a company that is proving that energy comes in waves. The idea is that just as windmills pull energy out of the wind, turbines immersed in the ocean can pull energy out of the currents. Based on studies, the company claims no dangers to marine life, so the technology is ecologically safe. However, the bigger risk is whether the technology will be cost effective. Executive chairman James Dehlsen anticipates getting (Ellen Huet, “Just Turn It Upside Down” Bloomberg Businessweek. 6/6/12–6/12/16, pp. 24–25):

less than 10 cents a kilowatt-hour in three to five years. (Wind energy hovers from 3 to 8 cents a kilowatt-hour, solar from 4 to 7 cents a kilowatt-hour, and conventional gas from 5 to 8 cents a kilowatt-hour.)” (p. 25)

Alternate forms of energy are always great avenues to pursue. Nevertheless, the ultimate question is will the waves-of-energy avenue be a toll road for which people are willing to pay?


WHEN BUGS ARE REALLY INTO LIGHT

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No one enjoys being dinner for bugs. Worse yet, no one wants to become infected by disease-carrying mosquitoes. Fortunately, light-emitting diode (LED) technology is making some great strides in protecting us from these threats. Lighting Science Group is a Florida company that applies LED technology to better approaches with lighting and our environment. The company’s Web site affirms:

we believe lighting should work with our bodies and the environment, not against them.

Lighting Science Group has some exciting products and approaches in the works. Corinne Iozzio reports that the company’s technical strategy (“Into the Light” Fortune. June 1, 2016, p. 44):

has led to highly tuned LEDs that disinfect water, keep astronauts on alert, and steer infant sea turtles away from highways. The effort is all about finding the perfect light to attract–and distract–insects.

Different insects are attracted to or repelled by different wavelengths of light. Therefore, controlling the wavelength controls the bugs. And the more that the bugs are into the light, the less they will be into you and me. I like that idea!

The research is ongoing and promising. The company has plans to tune LEDs to specific insect species and do field testing to confirm efficacy. As the processes become better defined, anti-bug products will show up on the shelves. That is when we will enjoy doing a better job avoiding contact with the hungry throngs.


NO WORRIES ABOUT SOCIAL MEDIA

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Before there was social media there was social. People were here first and people are social and social can happen anywhere. Media is just the assignment of the platform or the place. That is why we should have no worries about social media.

I do not for a nanosecond condone any of the bad and horrific behaviors that occur on social media. I do not appreciate any of the dysfunctionalism that is so often displayed. However, I recognize that social media just happens to be our latest technology-enabled water cooler or town square. Therefore, we will use it . . . because we are social and social was here first.

Social media is not to be condemned prima facie. As with so many objects in our world, it is not the object itself that is intrinsically good or evil. It is what we choose to do with the object that creates good or evil. I guarantee you that any good or evil we find on social media today was equally present at the water cooler or the town square in the past. We retain the same freedom today to use social media for good or for evil. I trust that we are using it for good and I believe that is the direction in which we must ever push. The good news is that social media is being used in countless ways for good.

Social media is relatively new to human society. But being human is not new. It is who we are. Let’s keep that in proper perspective. Along these lines, I appreciate Gary Vaynerchuk’s (Vaynermedia CEO) perspective:

we get scared of everything that we didn’t grow up with; it’s what human beings do. Every new medium brings along a healthy fear that the newest invention will ruin society. But, the truth is that people will always be looking for new ways to be entertained, consume media, and engage with each other. . . .

There is always going to be something in every generation that is going to ‘bring us down as a society.’ Either you are a pessimist or optimist on this issue. I am an optimist.

Let’s be sure that we are looking beyond the medium to the real message. And because I am an optimist, I will continue to do that.


LIVING UP TO ITS NAME: A THEORY

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Yahoo is assessing bids for its Internet business. Bidders include AT&T, Verizon Communications, private equity firms, and many other suitors. This, after a four-year effort by CEO Marissa Mayer to rejuvenate the company. Writing for The New York Times, Vindu Goel and Michael J. de la Merced summarize the company’s predicament:

The sale of Yahoo’s business would close out a largely unsuccessful four-year effort by Marissa Mayer, the company’s chief executive, to turn around the internet company. Although Yahoo was once the place where many web users began their wanderings, it fell on hard times over the last decade through a series of strategic and managerial missteps. Although Yahoo’s properties still draw more than one billion visitors a month, the company accounts for a tiny slice of the time people spend online.

Many factors contribute to a company’s long-term success or failure. These factors include advertising, marketing, public relations, quality control, leadership, talent management, employee engagement, attrition, cultural trends, customer sentiment, policies, competition, branding, crisis management, fiscal management, execution, and strategy just to name a few. While not in any way claiming to know the simple or complex answer to what has led to Yahoo’s challenging standing today, I do propose a theory based on just one simple reflection: my experience with the brand name.

For me personally, I could never truly get past the name. Yes, I realize that yahoo refers to an exclamation of excitement and fun. I get that. That has its attraction. We all understand the obvious intention in the brand name.

Simultaneously, we have a subtle problem. We know that yahoo means boring, lout, stupid, or crass. If someone calls you a yahoo, the implication is that you are not serious and you don’t know what you are doing. It means you are a barbarian, an oaf, a Neanderthal, a thug, or a clod. Therefore, every time that I was exposed to the name, in the back of my mind I had these negative associations that my brain logic tried to dismiss. I don’t know for sure whether my brain logic won out over my emotions.

Now I am not saying that a name alone is the sole driver of long-term success or failure. I am saying that a name can be a contributor to success or failure. Therefore, in this case, I am proposing that due to Yahoo’s name, many other folks had a similar experience to mine and therefore the name slowly yet relentlessly became a driver of failure.

Yes, I did genuinely try out Yahoo’s email and some of its other online services off and on over the years. My impression continuously was that competitor options and other avenues of service were consistently superior in the quality and reliability delivered. Therefore, I gravitated to them and found a much better customer experience.

I don’t know how accurate my theory is, but I am certainly interested in hearing from others on what they think.


TIME FOR REVERSE GEAR

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When I learned about the first United States death linked to a self-driving car, my very first thought was, “Well, that changes everything!” And it should.

Technologically, self-driving cars are purported to take care of the passengers while the computers run the cars. In theory, this is marvelous. However, when something goes wrong, people can suffer and even die as was the case here. While a passenger in his Tesla Model S, 40-year-old Joshua D. Brown was killed when the car’s cameras did not distinguish the white side of a turning tractor-trailer from the surrounding sunlit sky.

Product development involves a tremendous amount of research, planning, analysis, and unfortunately, trial and error. It is sad that in this case the error was deadly. Because of that, many aspects of the self-driving car model will need to be reassessed.

I am not saying we throw the brakes on it all. I believe our technology must always be free to chart new territory. I am saying what the engineers already know and I’m sure are already doing, and that is that all aspects of how these vehicles recognize objects in their environment must be meticulously reevaluated. Failing to do so will continue to put people at risk.

Self-driving cars navigate within their environment via a constellation of digital cameras, lasers, and radar sensors. They normally do this extremely well. Obviously, in this recent tragic accident when the white side of a trailer “looks like” the sky, they did not perform as well as required. This is where the engineers will be going back to the drawing board on those digital cameras, lasers, and radar sensors.

And this is why I say, “Well, that changes everything!” Because we have this technical knowledge about this product failure, manufacturers cannot push the same products to consumers in quite the same way. Until those algorithms, programs, and hardware are refined sufficiently, consumers will remain at serious risk. This is not good for the consumer and the car companies. Further, it is not ethical.

Well, that changes everything—or it should.