The Robots are Here!

Well, it really should come as no surprise that this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) featured a huge range of robots.

Read the MSN article here.

I find most people stuck with just one robot-paradigm: the thought that robots are in human form.  People don’t seem to realize that we are in the midst of a robotic explosion of influence.

Think about autonomous vehicles and how soon we will be contending with this disruption in our business models.  If I were a conventional taxi driver, I would be truly afraid between the combination of Uber and autonomous vehicles.  Tesla may have started the revolution, but now almost all car and truck builders are moving toward this reality.  You may remember this poster available from

I remember when I saw this poster years ago.

IVRs are moving toward true Artificial Intelligence with natural voice menus.  Amazon and Google have accelerated the shift in the home.  The idea that the homeowner now merely needs to express a desire seems to be very near at hand.  And stiff and wooden is moving closer to human-like personality.  Cozmo has truly raised the bar here.  I blogged about this previously.

Are you ready to take advantage of this trend?  It does seem we are now on the cusp of a new range of opportunities and threats.  Let us know if you are because our latest digital engagement platform can power all of these concepts.

Wait for it!

Video provided by Newsy Newslook.

We all know that time and tide wait for no man … at least according to Chaucer.  But, did you know you had to wait another second longer than usual this year for that ball to drop on New Year’s eve?  Many of my friends have told me that this year seemed longer than years in the past … now you can know why:

Click here to view the video.

Now, I have to admire the precision and the number of professionals who care about something like this so deeply.  It is nice to know there are so many high paid scientists out there protecting us from things like this which might, after enough years, prove embarrassing … geeze … you would find yourself showing up a minute early for a meeting if you lived that long.

On a more serious note though, this should remind us all about how our modern world now has levels of precision that were unavailable … frankly inconceivable in prior decades.  Well, if we can celebrate this, why do we so easily ingest comparisons of data today with decades when we did not have precision like this?  We talk about the incidence of hurricanes over larger periods of time than we have had radar and satellite imagery.  We talk about changes in temperature in fractions of a degree when temperatures a hundred years ago were +/- a full degree precision!

And, on a personal note, I recently conducted a range of experiments with the loggers we have been using to measure thermostat performance and, much to my amusement, I discovered that the mass of the logger itself biases the measurements!  Not much mind you, but in comparison to adding one second to the end of a year, a lot!  It doesn’t change anything I have been saying about how important it is to measure temperatures in a home, but it does point out that comparisons of data over time should be treated with caution.

Happy New Year in any event!!

Our Universe is Flat!

Well, just when you thought you had all this figured out, some really smart people prove your paradigms are wrong.

Take a look at this article in the Wall Street Journal and bear with all the math and tech talk.  You will see that the universe is flat.

Now, one could rightly ask “who cares?” or “what difference this makes?” and you would be in good company.

But I ask you, why don’t you care?  When we have the opportunity to learn, challenge our pre-conceived notions, and consider a world bigger than ourselves, perhaps it can make a difference.

Does it matter in what I will do and think about today?  I think so.  Everything you take in matters.  Eat unhealthy food all the time and see the consequences.  Feed your mind stifled old school primitive ideas, and your mind is unable to think through the challenges we now face.

Listen, challenge, dialogue, and seek higher ground.  Notice I did not say common ground … higher ground.

Add what you can, and thank those who do so around you for what they bring to the game.


Who Would Have Thunk?

windmillsIt is fascinating to see how “public” opinion shifts over time.  I remember when college campuses were considered really good cogeneration candidates, especially if they had medical facilities.  It used to be that true economics and operating complexity were the underlying fatal flaws.  Now it appears that greener alternatives are the competitor.

Read the Energy Central article about Duke University here.

Once again, however, a holistic point of view seems missing.  As I have blogged over and over again, there is a huge difference between energy and capacity.  Solar and wind are energy … not capacity.  There are times when you need power that doesn’t coincide with the sun shining and wind blowing.

Then of course, there is a huge difference between the control systems to assure power reliability and power quality on a campus like this.  Cogeneration is synchronized with the grid and does not produce harmonics.  Wind and solar are inverted from DC sources … there are serious problems here with a system at this scale when you try to run it together.

If you want to build a wind farm somewhere in the woods, go ahead.  To me, it is clear that the protesting students are not studying electrical engineering or engineering of any kind.


Someone Moved the Retail Cheese

Watch Amazon Go!

I remember when retired American Airlines executive Jack Jackson would speak at our industry events lamenting how the upstart airlines were changing the rules to flying.  Some in our industry may remember his famous stories of wondering whether those new paradigms really worked.  He told of his trip from Houston to Dallas where he argued with the ticket agent … who did not give him a ticket (only a cash receipt) and it had no seat number or even his name on it!

She asked him if he knew his name and he said yes he did.  Then she told him he could write his name on the slip of paper if he would like to do that.  “But what about my seat number?!”  She calmly replied that he could have any open seat he wanted, and if he really wanted more seat choices, he should arrive earlier next time.

Oh the times they are a changin’.  Well, Amazon has once again moved the retail cheese in the same way.  Only time will tell, but watch this video and decide for yourself: Watch the Amazon Go video here.

I have blogged and spoken about Amazon’s relentless desire to be The Everything Store for all people.  There is a book about that by that title.  It is easy to criticize Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.  It is easy to criticize Tesla and SpaceX founder Elon Musk.  That does not stop them from trying, adjusting, and pushing forward.  You have heard me reference this over and over again in my quotes from the late Steve Jobs about the “crazy ones” yet our industry still thinks in small, incremental steps, afraid to move boldly.

Of course, if Amazon fails at this the crowds of rear view mirror thinkers will cheer.  They simply do not want to turn around and look into the future … If Amazon fails at this, they will have learned something ahead of everyone else and have moved on.

That is what truly makes a difference in a company:  Trying things, testing the waters, going with what works, and moving on from the rest.