“The Most Comfortable Shoe in the World”

“The Most Comfortable Shoe in the World”

A former pro-athlete from New Zealand teamed up with a friend to develop shoes made of wool. The project was crowdfunded and resulted in a machine-washable, wool sneaker that has been labeled “the most comfortable shoe in the world.”

Product sales have exceeded expectations. They value their customers’ input and continue to improve the design of the shoe.

This post is based on the CNN article, Allbirds Is Shaking Up Footwear With Machine-Washable Wool Shoes, by A. Garcia, January 17, 2018.

Discussion Questions

1) Compared to a lightweight leather sneaker, what are the advantages and disadvantages of the Allbirds sneaker?

Guidance: Link this discussion to Garvin’s dimensions of product quality. Advantages to mention: perceived quality (multiple redesigns), features (breathable, machine-washable, etc.), performance (comfort), conformance (multiple redesigns). Disadvantages: less durability (wool is probably not as durable as leather), unknown consistency due to age of company, unknown serviceability due to novelty of product.

2) What external factors did the developers see as opportunities?

Guidance: Discuss the market factors that made consumers embrace this product. Demographics: young and older people are attracted to the novelty and comfort. Psychographics: environmentally conscious individuals like the sustainability of the product; active individuals Continue reading

Facebook
Twitter
Dr. Alexa to the Rescue?

Dr. Alexa to the Rescue?

Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway, and JPMorgan Chase have vowed to attempt a disruption of health care with an extensive use of technology. According to this New York Times article, their vision is already a reality in China.

Technology companies such as Alibaba and Tencent are developing artificial intelligence (AI)-based diagnostic tools to assist overburdened physicians. Setbacks in telemedicine and online drug sales did not discourage Alibaba from forging ahead with AI software for CT scan interpretation and for diagnosis assistance.

Tencent has been engaged in similar initiatives. Not only has the technology brought more efficiency in large hospitals, but it has also expanded the access to care in small, rural areas.

This post is based on the New York Times article, Amazon Wants to Disrupt Health Care in America. In China, Tech Giants Already Have, by S.-L. Wee and P. Mozur, January 31, 2018.

Discussion Questions

1) What are the advantages and disadvantages of using technology as a diagnostic aid?

Guidance: Advantages: better utilization of health care staff capacity, more accurate diagnoses, increased patient access to healthcare, lower costs, higher consistency of treatments for given condition, more convenience for patients, less wait for appointments and test results, etc. Continue reading

Facebook
Twitter
No Robot Takeover in the Warehouse!

No Robot Takeover in the Warehouse!

Warehouse workers are quite confident that robots will not replace them … at least, not yet.

Part of their jobs involves precision work that robots do not have the dexterity or range of motion to perform. To warehouse workers, the greatest potential for robots is to assist them with physically demanding or unpleasant tasks.

Supervisory work also seems immune to a robot takeover.  Moreover, the high cost of robots rules out their use in small- to medium-volume operations.

At least for now.

This post is based on the NPR article, ‘Don’t Think a Robot Could Do This’: Warehouse workers aren’t worried for their jobs, by A. Selyukh, January 25, 2018.  

Discussion Questions

1) What is the primary reason warehouse workers feel that their jobs are secure? Should they feel that way?

Guidance: Discuss the present vs. future of robots in warehouses. The robots with which workers are familiar are still unable to do many of the picking and packing tasks they perform. Therefore, their jobs appear to be secure for the time being. However, the development of skilled robots, the need for greater efficiency, and the falling costs may threaten many of those jobs in the Continue reading

Facebook
Twitter