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Transforming value propositions

Airbnb and SolarCity provide incentives for hosts to install solar systems

Airbnb partnered with SolarCity to offer financial incentives for hosts that install a solar system in their properties being rented. Hosts that install a solar energy system from SolarCity will receive a $1,000 cash back from the company. The offer is valid until the end of March next year, after which the incentive will drop to $750 for the rest of 2017. Homeowners with solar panels already installed and want to join Airbnb can also receive a $100 gift card from the company. The decision may appeal to travelers, particularly Millennials, interested in staying at an environment-friendly home. It could also help Airbnb establish itself as an environment-friendly company. The company published a study that says home sharing saves the environment billions of liters of water, tons of waste and large amounts of energy.

Key Takeaway: 

Airbnb and SolarCity have partnered together to offer incentives for hosts to purchase a solar system from SolarCity, which can help to position Airbnb as a sustainable company as well as attract Milennial renters that are interested in environment-friendly homes.

Publication: 
Publication Date: 
October 24, 2016

Intel’s venture capital firm to invest $38 million in startups

Intel Capital is investing $38 million in a dozen startups focused on autonomous machines, data and connectivity, sports and health, and virtual reality. One of the robotics firms, Chronocam, is creating computer vision sensors and systems that are like the biological human eye. Embodied is making socially assistive robots while Perrone Robotics is developing a software platform for autonomous vehicles and robots. Among the four startups focused on data and connectivity, two are China-based: Eazytec which provides IoT technologies for monitoring the water and air in China and Grand Chip Microelectronics which offers connectivity solutions for WLAN, Wi-Fi, cellular and IoT. The two others are Paxata, which is working on a business information platform that turns raw data into meaningful information for enterprise and IT users and StealthMine, which is securing data encryption for enterprise applications. Sports and health firms Cubeworks, Kinduct and L4Connect are developing tiny millimeter-sized wireless sensors, a data and analytics platform, and dashboards respectively. Virtual reality startup Dysonics is working on solutions that will enable people to capture 360-degree sounds for live VR experiences. Lastly, InContext Solutions is helping manufacturers and retailers simulate their products and services in virtual reality.

Key Takeaway: 

Intel Capital, Intel’s venture capital firm, is investing $38 million in 12 startups focused on robotics, IoT connectivity and data analytics, sports, health and wellness, as well as virtual reality, with technologies that are ground-breaking and could be useful for various customer markets such as the enterprise, health and wellness organizations.

Publication: 
Publication Date: 
October 24, 2016

Rise in EV adoption will drive new opportunities for utilities

A new report from Bloomberg New Energy Finance states that the electrification of transportation will present opportunities for utilities faced with stagnant load growth as well as increasing pressure to innovate with new business models that incorporate distributed and clean energy as a resource. It is estimated that electric vehicle adoption will have greater impact on utilities by 2030 as they will make up 3% of global energy demand. However, electric cars are not expected to be competitive to internal combustion engine vehicles until the mid-2020s. Utilities can provide specific rate plans designed for EV charging to cater to this new market, as well as new vehicle leases that take account negotiated electricity rates. They can also participate in the build-out of public and semi-public charging infrastructure. Autonomous cars and car sharing models can speed the integration of electric vehicles as demand response assets. Much opportunity is also in used batteries which is expected to hit the market in large quantities by mid-2020s. They will be used for grid storage, enabling more clean energy to be integrated to the grid, as well as introduce lower peak demand prices for public charging.

Key Takeaway: 

Rise in electric vehicle adoption driven by declining battery prices as well as autonomous and ride sharing models, will present opportunities for utilities to increase their bottomline as loads are expected to grow and enable them to venture into new business models such as new rate plans and vehicle lease structures.

Publication: 
Publication Date: 
October 19, 2016

Nintendo Switch is a mobile and TV console in one

Nintendo is touting a new mobile and TV console hybrid in the new Nintendo Switch, codenamed NX, which will be released in March 2017. The tablet device is powered by an Nvidia Tegra mobile processor and has detachable controls that turns it into a mobile console when locked in at both ends or becomes a joystick for multiple players when taken out. The tablet also has a stand at the back. It can also function as a home console to be played with a television and a separate controller. The company demonstrated in a video how Switch is played with on-the-go and at home, and how multiple Switch devices can connect to each other for multi-player games. Major game developers and publishers have already announced their support for Switch. Games will be sold digitally as well as in memory cards.

Key Takeaway: 

Nintendo Switch is a new mobile console and home gaming device in one; it has a modular, detachable and multi-controller design, which can be played with on-the-go, with friends, and at home.

Publication: 
Publication Date: 
October 20, 2016

Microsoft’s neural network at par with humans in recognizing speech

Microsoft's artificial intelligence program has reached the accuracy level of a professional human transcriber in recognizing speech, achieving the same error rate of 5.9%, an improvement from its record of 6.3% just a month ago. The overall score is a measurement of how the AI and the human transcriptionists did on three indicators - how many times both wrongly substituted sounds, omitted a word, or inserted the wrong word. According to Microsoft's chief speech scientist Xuedong Huang, achieving parity with a human is a historic achievement. The company used 2,000 hours of data to train its neural network. Improved automated speech recognition systems can enhance current speech-to-text services as well as Cortana, adding features that could allow the deaf to understand spoken words.

Key Takeaway: 

Microsoft’s neural network performed as accurately as a professional human transcriptionist at recognizing speech with an error rate of 5.9%; the improvement can introduce better speech-to-text systems and artificial intelligence assistants that can aid the deaf to hear.

Publication: 
Publication Date: 
October 19, 2016

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