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🛰 IOP Observatory - CES, Vehicle Stacks, Clean Energy Momentum

January 10 · Issue #8 · View online
The VUCA Observatory
Welcome to 2017. I trust you had great holidays. So let’s get right to it, shall we?
In this issue: CES announcements, Clean Energy Momentum, Autonomous Vehicles Stacks

Home, wearables, and Consumer Electronics
The annual showcase of post-christmas season consumer electronics, CES in Las Vegas, happened last week. And with it came a plethora of announcements of connected products. Some contrived, like Mattel’s Voice assistant for kids[1], or Withing’s connected hair brush[2], some hinting at some interesting issues, like Symantec’s “intelligent” home router[3] with Deep Packet Inspection (DPI) that promises to detect and isolate compromised connected products. Voice was undoubtedly the overarching trend. But with that onslaught, it’s good to think about purchasing decisions in the home, as Josh Elman does for Greylock[4]. Oh, and it looks like police served Amazon the first warrant pertaining to Alexa recordings.[5]
Cars and its tangents
Naked Capitalism had a long series about the economics of Uber. The upshot: it doesn’t look good. (It’s a six-part series, make sure to click through.) Tesla started producing battery packs in its Reno facility, dubbed the Gigafactory, which could contribute to quite a cost reduction for Tesla itself and a complete reordering of Electric Vehicle economics.[2] No wonder then that Barclay’s Analysts consider Tesla a potential “Black Swan” for commodities.[3] At a partnerships level, the stacks for Autonomous Vehicles become increasingly messy. While Intel took out a 15% stack in HERE, nVidia, hot again after it became clear that GPUs aren’t just for gamers but really good for running machine learning systems, itself is fielding partnerships with Bosch and HERE to accelerate self-driving cars.[5]
Energy to Power it All
Apart from the dropping battery prices as mentioned above, it’s becoming increasingly clear that renewable energy sources are becoming cost-competitive[1], which leads to a self-reinforcing loop. How hard it is for infrastructure to adapt is observable in the German electricity grid, where negative electricity prices on the spot market are a regular occurence, as was the case on boxing day. [2]
Quest for Context
On the limits of data-driven product design: Datafication and ideological blindness
End note
So much for this week. Hope you have a good start into the new year. And as always, if you have feedback, please let me know at
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