No, I did not mistype the short expression for Cosmopolitan magazine.  This is one of the latest robotic gadgets. Read more about it here. 

What intrigues me about this is not just that it is the latest in the stunning set of artificial intelligence gadgets hitting the markets such as the Amazon Echo.  What seems especially interesting about this is it’s about a robot with an attitude … something terribly human.

Take a look at some of its moves.

Perhaps that is a clue to cracking today’s consumer engagement challenges:  Attitude.  Not sure I hear that much as a persona.  Not sure, that even fits today’s preoccupation with the customer journey.  Likeability as a result of attitude.

That is truly something to think about.

Oh, by the way, it appears that there is an open API to write sequences.  And, for those of you who are still thinking all the intelligence has to be in the device, read this:

The robot can employ facial recognition to remember faces and recite names. It also uses sophisticated path planning — aided by its three sensor-imbued toy cubes — to maneuver environments and avoid falling off tables. Most of these computations are not happening on the robot’s internal hardware, which keeps it light and relatively durable. Instead, Cozmo connects to an iOS or Android app, which communicates with Anki’s servers where more of heavier lifting is taken care of.

We at Apogee are experimenting with this to see if we can unlock some of this potential in the otherwise boring day-to-day engagement of customers.  Stay tuned.  It should be fun to watch.


Inflate Gate

Photo: Matt Rourke/Associated Press
Photo: Matt Rourke/Associated Press

It is funny how phrases enter into common use.  I am almost sure you think the title of this blog refers to Tom Brady and the Super Bowl.  Nope.  This blog is about data claims, and in this case, by Facebook.   Here is the article posted in the Wall Street Journal.

We hear data claims all day long: the biggest storm in the last 10 years, tax credits that could avoid taxation for almost 20 years, and the list goes on.  But, these soundbites often hide either the bias of the reporter (who knows the way they say things gets your attention) or the more difficult problem we all have with our preconceived bias on how we interpret it.

For example, when Susan and I considered buying the time-share in Cancun, I asked the question: How often do hurricanes hit here.  The sales representative’s answer was correct: they had not had a hurricane hit Cancun in 37 years.  Susan and I accepted that as confirmation that hurricanes don’t hit Cancun very often.  True enough.  But, another more accurate interpretation would have been that Cancun was due to be hit … which it was … the very next year … with a hurricane named Gilbert.

Go figure.

The reason I suggest reading the Facebook article is that our industry is also in the midst of measurement challenges, especially as we answer senior leadership questions.  Facing the music is tough.  What we call facts and figures may not survive close scrutiny.

Our industry is not scrutinized by the media like our politicians.  I don’t see claims being rated by the number of “Pinocchio” lies.  Noses don’t grow bigger when we do.  In fact, rarely does anyone even seem to care any longer whether they are distorting the truth.  Troubling.

Word of the Day – Proxy

proxyIt’s interesting that the Wall Street Journal indicates the value of the Mexican Peso is a proxy for who will win our presidential election.  I guess we can all see that this certainly is an emotional barometer for the consequences.

That thought made me check on how this word entered our lexicon.  Here are some common uses of the word:

  • An agent or substitute authorized to act for another.
  • The authority to act for another, especially when written.
  • A measurement of one physical quantity that is used as an indicator of the value of another.
  • An interface for a service, especially for one that is remote, resource-intensive, or otherwise difficult to use directly.

What struck me was the combination of the last two.  Measuring something that is an indicator, especially when measuring directly would be expensive and difficult.

As many of you who know me have heard, the common tendency in life among very smart people is to let the perfect become the enemy of the good.  You have heard me blog about this in the past.

It is a natural tendency when you know precisely how to measure something.  But, that misses the bigger question.  Would, perhaps, the proxy make more intuitive sense than the true measurement itself?

In our world at this time, might our precision temperature monitoring make more sense to the average American than trying to explain smart grid data …, which only you can understand?

Proxy … another great word for the day.



The Word for the Day is…


I hope you would agree that we all need to keep learning.  Life gets pretty boring if you are not.  As an engineer, I have always found the arts “refreshing” to my geeky point of view.  There is beauty in literature and music that goes far beyond the first and second laws of thermodynamics … as beautiful as those are to me.

So, when I read the Wall Street Journal today, I noticed a word that seldom gets used, but seems especially appropriate for today … and pretty much every day:  Kerfuffle.

A kerfuffle is some kind of commotion, controversy, or fuss. If you read about a scandal in a newspaper, it could be described as a kerfuffle.

Kerfuffle is a humorous-sounding word for a mostly non-humorous situation: some kind of disturbance, scandal or mess. However, a kerfuffle usually isn’t 100% serious. People talking loudly in public could be making a kerfuffle. If a politician says something embarrassing by accident, it could cause a kerfuffle. Often, people use this word when they think people are making too big a deal of something, as in “What’s the kerfuffle all about?”

Seems like a wonderful word for the day, doesn’t it?


The “Invisible Hand” may now be Visible

invisible handToday’s partisan bickering can often dull critical thinking.  As Americans, we pride ourselves on our freedoms of speech but sometimes permit that freedom to drown out the truly interesting and helpful dialogues we should have.

Our economic system was built on the work of Adam Smith who first coined the phrase and postulated the theory of the invisible hand.  It is useful to start my blog with this review to fully appreciate the stunning revelations in the second link I would suggest you review.  Here is a review of Adam Smith’s theory with some excellent illustrations.  Just watch until they ask you to login to get the main point. Watch the video here.

Historically, measuring these interrelationships has been left to researchers who spent months and even years pouring over and digesting business data.  Almost every one of us who has taken a college course in economics will remember supply and demand curves, and those of us who have made a career in demand response know fully well how important it is to impact the elasticity of the demand curve to control high prices.

So, with all that as background, I found this article to be one of the most stunning illustrations of the Internet of Things along with Big Data made useful.

Read the Wall Street Journals article, “Uber’s Pricing Formula Has Allowed Economists to Map Out a Real Demand Curve.”

I would like you to ponder two key points in this article:  Uber and Demand Curve.

What has fundamentally changed is we now have real-time data for how markets work because of the Uber model.  As some of you know, I have postulated that the future model for EE and DR is the Uberization of our current command and control thinking.

There is a lot to think about here.  And, if you are still struggling, take time to read “Digital Disruption” by James McQuivey … this is really a must read because you are about to either be the manager of this disruption or the victim of it.  Remember the famous warning of former Duke CEO, Jim Rogers: “If you aren’t at the table, you are on the menu!”

Methinks the dinner bell chimes …