How a technology-push process led to the reboot of Google Glass — Elaine Chen

MIT Sloan Senior Lecturer Elaine Chen

MIT Sloan Senior Lecturer Elaine Chen

From Wired

Google Glass exploded into the tech scene in 2012 with the pomp and circumstance of an Apple product unveiling.  It put “wearable technology” into the lexicon of the masses.  Accolades poured in from both the technology world and the fashion world.  Celebrities, politicians, runway models, even Prince Charles wore them in public.  And yet, as of January 2015, Google Glass as we knew it was no more.

There are many great articles that explored what went wrong. I will not repeat the many excellent points made.  Instead, I would like to explore how Google approaches new technology development, and how that approach, together with the initial public relations hype and the lack of a killer app, ultimately led Google Glass down the path of a reboot.

GOOGLE AND THE TECHNOLOGY-PUSH APPROACH

First of all, Google is fundamentally a technology company, run by technocrats. They even make product manager candidates do whiteboard coding during job interviews.  Google does not define and develop products like Proctor and Gamble: through market pull and problem identification.  Instead, Google consistently pursues products as technology pushes.  This approach often results in solutions that are either in search of a problem, or solves a problem in a less-than-effective manner. Think about Google+,Google Wave, Google Health, or other former Google projects which were subsequently shelved.

A technology push process is not necessarily an invalid strategy for Google.  With an R&D spend of $2.18B in Q4 2014 alone, Google can afford to take large-scale risks.  So, they try many things – and some fail.  Project Glass’s first incarnation happened to be one of them.

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Robo-Sabotage is surprisingly common — Matt Beane

MIT Sloan Ph.D. Student Matt Beane

MIT Sloan Ph.D. Student Matt Beane

From MIT Technology Review

As you probably know by now, HitchBot—a device made of pool noodles, rubber gloves, a bucket, and the computer power needed to talk, smile, and tweet—was deliberately decapitated and dismembered this week, only 300 miles into its hitchhiking journey across the United States. HitchBot had successfully made similar journeys across the Netherlands, Germany, and Canada, relying on bemused strangers for transportation. The geek-o-sphere is up in arms, claiming that this violence reveals something special and awful about America, or at least Philadelphia.

I think perhaps there’s something else at work here. Beyond building robots to increase productivity and do dangerous, dehumanizing tasks, we have made the technology into a potent symbol of sweeping change in the labor market, increased inequality, and recently the displacement of workers (see “Who Will Own the Robots?”). If we replace the word “robot” with “machine,” this has happened in cycles extending well back through the Industrial Revolution. Holders of capital invest in machinery to increase production because they get a better return, and then many people, including some journalists, academics, and workers cry foul, pointing to the machinery as destroying jobs. Amidst the uproar, eventually there are a few reports of people angrily breaking the machines.

Two years ago, I did an observational study of semiautonomous mobile delivery robots at three different hospitals. I went in looking for how using the robots changed the way work got done, but I found out that beyond increasing productivity through delivery work, the robots were kept around as a symbol of how progressive the hospitals were, and that when people who’d been doing similar delivery jobs at the hospitals quit, their positions weren’t filled.

Most entry-level workers did not like this one bit. Soon after implementation, managers at all my sites noticed that some of these workers sabotaged the robots. This took more violent forms—kicking them, hitting them with a baseball bat, stabbing their “faces” with pens, shoving, and punching. But much of this sabotage was more passive—hiding the robots in the basement, moving them outside their preplanned routes, obscuring sensors, walking slowly in front of them, and most of all, minimizing usage. Workers and managers attributed these stories to an ongoing, frustrated workplace dialogue about fair work for fair pay.

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Why Apple’s ResearchKit signals a Golden Age for health care — Zen Chu and Maulik Majmudar

MIT Sloan Senior Lecturer Zen Chu

MIT Sloan Senior Lecturer Zen Chu

From Fortune

In a surprise announcement recently, Apple Inc. preceded the debut of its new line of connected watches by unveilingResearchKit, a medical research platform that has demonstrated its powerful potential with the first five applications. The open-source ResearchKit and evolving HealthKit promise new ways for apps and researchers to gather sensor and health data that will enable faster clinical insights at lower cost.

Digital health and mobile health platforms have been emerging for a number of years, primarily in consumer health, but few with clinical rigor or clearance from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. As in other product categories, Apple has used thoughtful design and its market strength to create a powerful new platform that lowers the barriers to creating apps. ResearchKit promises to benefit researchers, physicians and patients across a spectrum of diseases, from rare diseases to widespread chronic diseases that make up the majority of healthcare costs.

Apple’s new platform will amplify a broad set of new opportunities we are calling “Digiceuticals” — where software, sensors and apps are standalone treatments for disease and integrated into comprehensive care plans alongside drugs and medical devices. Leading academic groups have already demonstrated that digital tools can improve the effectiveness of drugs and health behavior change. Health platform investments by Apple AAPL , Google GOOG and Samsung KRX are lowering the barriers for reaching the right patient, time and place with engaging messaging customized for each patient.

Rather than threatening to crush the innovators that have blazed the trail in front of previous Apple releases, ResearchKit and HealthKit promise to amplify the efforts of researchers and startups in digital health. One example is Ginger.io., a pioneering MIT venture enabling large scale clinical trials on smartphones. CEO and founder Anmol Madan is expecting his company to use ResearchKit across many clinical trials. And within the first 24 hours of launching, Stanford University’s cardiovascular research app, which promises to accelerate clinical insights and lower the costs of research, received over 11,000 downloads.

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New models to predict recidivism could provide better way to deter repeat crime — Cynthia Rudin

MIT Sloan Asst. Prof. Cynthia Rudin

MIT Sloan Asst. Prof. Cynthia Rudin

From The Conversation 

In the US, a minority of individuals commit the majority of crimes. In fact, about two-thirds of released prisoners are arrested again within three years of getting out of jail.

This begs the question: is there a way to predict which prisoners are more likely to become repeat offenders?

Recidivism prediction is important because it has significant applications in terms of allocating social services, policy-making, sentencing, probation and bail. From judges to social workers, all parties involved need to be able to work together and understand the risk posed by various individuals. Read More »

How small businesses can fend off hackers — Lou Shipley

MIT Sloan Lecturer Lou Shipley

MIT Sloan Lecturer Lou Shipley

From The Wall Street Journal

If you wanted to hack a business, which one would you pick: A Fortune 500 company with a large digital-security budget and a team dedicated to protecting its cyberassets? Or a small enterprise that doesn’t employ a single IT security specialist? Of course hackers are equal-opportunity criminals, but you get my point.

Security breaches at big companies such as J.P. Morgan, Sony and Home Depotdominate the headlines, but safety measures are crucial for organizations of all shapes and sizes. According to the 2012 Verizon Data Breach Report, 71% of cyberattacks occur at businesses with fewer than 100 employees. The average cost of a data breach for those small businesses is $36,000.

We can no longer assume that hackers are solitary figures sitting in basements fiddling with their laptops. They may be members of organized-crime groups or employed by nation states, and they have resources that can destabilize entire companies and countries. These hackers constantly look for Internet vulnerabilities. They break through firewalls, infect machines, and use phishing schemes to gain access through emails to people’s passwords and Social Security numbers. They can then leverage weaknesses in applications to cause a database to output its contents.

So what can the owner of a small business do to defend himself? Here are some tips.

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