Five favorite robots of 2017

We all know that the robots are coming – in fact, they’re here! From self-driving cars to Alexa, they both take our jobs and improve our lives. Right now we’re in the honeymoon phase where the former situation has not upended New York, so I will share my favorite robots for their success in the latter – incremental conveniences to our busy modern lives. I use the term robot loosely to include technologies that reduce labor.

Most stress-relieving robot: Dyson 360 Eye Robot Vacuum

Dyson has far outdone the Roomba with its 360 Eye Robot Vacuum, with its efficient floor coverage and app controlled system. I come home to a spick and span house every day, even when I was dog sitting a cute but sheddy dog. And you get to name it in the app 🙂

Most predicted robot: Amazon drone delivery

In their continue quest to own all things logistics, Amazon has already got the downstream operations nailed with their patented drone friendly shipping labels. While drone delivery may sound over the top, it is undeniably uneconomical and slow to ship to a number of rural parts of the U.S. – so this will be a step towards better connecting all parts of the world to modern convenience.

Most user-centric designed ‘robot’: Google/Levi’s ‘smart’ jean jacket

Google and Levi’s have developed a new commuter jacket that integrates with your phone. While you might initially question the utility of talking to your jacket, if you’ve ever been a Citibike commuter trapped listening to a boring podcast, the swipe functionality on this could be a real boost to your West Side Highway bike path experience. Kudos to Google and Levis for rising above the fray (see what I did there 😉

Most societally enhancing ‘robot’: driver’s ed VR

Imagine if teens could log 50 or 100 hours of challenging driving experiences before ever hitting the road. Aceable’s got our budding teen drivers covered with their VR drivers education platform. I’m not sure if that will help their insurance premiums, but it will definitely help the rest of the drivers on the road!

Cutest robot: TeleRetail driverless delivery

If my driverless delivery vehicles look like the unimposing TeleRetail, then please do send! Only in Switzerland now, and perhaps no match for SUV owning Americans sharing the road, but we can hope.

One Shoe to Rule them All

We’ve all had to face up to the moment when our favorite pair of shoes is no longer wearable and, worse yet, is out of production. What if we had a way to extend shoe life? Well Mime et moi has cracked that nut with their interchangeable heels!

 Options are endless, from funky to functional for the same flexible sole. Options are endless, from funky to functional for the same flexible sole.

This solves sooo many challenges: the day to night, client to off site, and general space constraints of a small urban apartment. Magnifico!

 The German fanbase clearly feels the same way - look how happy this lady is! The German fanbase clearly feels the same way – look how happy this lady is!

The Short and Sweet Summary of “Messy: The Power of Disorder to Transform Our Lives “

Index Card Book Summaries: because most practical books can be summarized on an index card

Tim Harford posed a provocative question as to whether orderliness always benefits us. He unearths the human psychology that causes us to seek order while also showing the pitfalls and missed opportunities from being too orderly and the benefits of strategic mess! While Tim does this in 300 pages, I’m happy to share the 3 bullet summary:

1. Messy processes can bread creative and higher quality solutions

2. Trying to force structure on naturally messy processes can result in negative unintended consequences

3. As people have become very automated in their own social interactions, they should look to self-disrupt to re-engage with one another

Point 1 is an obvious one for artists and the avant garde. But in relation to point 3, if we find ourselves in the well worn grooves of work and personal life patterns, how do we tap into the rest of our brains to enliven and draw on the other ideas and connections we can make? More on that in a minute.

Point 2 is particularly dangerous with the automation of legal decisions. I’ve heard of several friends being mistakenly placed on terrorist watch lists, interrupting medical degrees and personal lives. This isn’t to say that machine learning can’t be leveraged to accelerate pattern recognition, but we just need to be careful about the new robo cops on the block receiving too much autonomy.

Back to unpacking Point 3, the subtle call to self-disrupt.  What this will mean in the macro and micro, personal and professional level is really up to you. The humble high achievers out there might be shivering at this business-bantery term and feel the impulse to artfully side step the charge, lest they become too much of a walking resume. But what this really is about is engaging your full self. It’s about snapping out of “shoulds” and survival mode, and tuning into the bigger you. Like the X-Men Apocalypse entourage, but for good. 

If you’re curious for a longer read, here’s the book link!