Links of the day | 在网上找到

China’s Robot Revolution May Affect the Global Economy – Bloomberg – “By turbocharging supply and depressing demand, automation risks exacerbating China’s reliance on export-driven growth – threatening hopes for a more balanced domestic and global economy” 

Scrapping the combustion engine: the metals critical to success of EVs | Hoffmann Centre for Sustainable Resource Economy – surprised greater consideration article isn’t given to capacitor storage systems and other Li ion alternatives or hydrogen fuel cells

Apple’s first academic machine learning paper won a top AI conference prize — Quartz – interesting, but I don’t think anyone is advancing as quickly as the hype promised

UK Samsung TVs bricked after firmware update (updated) | Engadget   – “Samsung is aware of a small number of TVs in the UK (less than 200) affected by a firmware update to 2017 MU Series TVs on 17th August. Once this issue was identified, the update was switched off and we’re now working with each customer to resolve the issue. Any customers affected are encouraged to get in touch with Samsung directly (1-800 SAMSUNG). We would like to apologize for the inconvenience caused to our customers.”

Technics SL-1200GR turntable is finally here – praise be

Cohn & Wolfe CEO eyes 27.3% growth in China | China Daily – huge ask given: rise in domestic competitors and aggressive international competitors, just 6% growth in GDP compared to 14% in go-go years. FMCG sector numbers that are awful etc

Can too much ‘design thinking’ be a bad thing?

First of all, what’s ‘design thinking’?

It’s a term that has been popularised by IDEO to encapsulate user-centred thinking. Wikipedia does a good explanation of how it differs from the scientific method

Design thinking differs from the “Scientific method”, which begins by stating a hypothesis and then, via a feedback mechanism, continues iteratively to form a model or theory, by including consideration of the emotional content of the situation. While feedback in the scientific method is mostly obtained by collecting observational evidence with respect to observable/measurable facts, design thinking feedback also considers the consumer’s emotional state regarding the problem, as well as their stated and latent needs, in discovering and developing solutions. In scientific methods with a heavy emphasis on math or physics, emotional elements are typically ignored. Design thinking identifies and investigates both known and ambiguous aspects of the current situation in an effort to discover parameters and alternative solution sets which may lead to one or more satisfactory goals. Because design thinking is iterative, intermediate “solutions” are potential starting points of alternative paths, allowing for redefinition of the initial problem, in a process of co-evolution of problem and solution

So design thinking builds on the scientific method to also include human factor consideration (beyond physical ergonomic considerations of industrial designers).

The attraction for businesses is that it allows a wider range of intellectual tools to be thrown at a problem. Business problem solving traditionally has borrowed from the scientific method: data is used to form a hypothesis, which is then tested. The lack of consideration of human factors becomes a problem as an organisation tries to become marketing or customer-orientated.  In digital organisations the iterative nature of design thinking mirrors modern approaches to development on software and digital services. Short bursts of iterative work that are then refined regularly. Digital products and services don’t necessarily need to be built by the organisation; banks don’t need to build their bank statement system, restaurants their digital menus or phone companies their billing design interface.

The blind spot that I see in the process is when we forget that the promises made through a proposition built via design thinking has to be delivered in the real world.

Here’s a case in point.

By the 1970s Japanese quartz watch movements with miniaturised watch batteries  had proved an existential threat to the Swiss watch industry. The Swiss had embraced quartz technology alongside their tradition offerings as far back as 1969. 20 Swiss manufacturers came up with the beta21 movement which they released soon after Seiko’s Auctron. Overall the industry was slow to go into large commercial production of quartz watches.

By Museumsfoto (Deutsches Uhrenmuseum) [CC BY 3.0 de (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/de/deed.en)], via Wikimedia Commons

By 1974, the price of gold shot up fourfold and the dollar dropped by 40%. These two factors hit the premium market hard. From the end of the war until the rise of China, America was the largest single market for luxury goods, though the Japanese gave them a good run for it. Luxury watchmakers were hit by both rising costs and dollar price inflation in their largest market. Low-end and premium brands disappeared left, right and centre.  In 1978, the number of quartz watches manufactured passed that of mechanical watches as part of what the watchmaking industry still calls the ‘quartz crisis’.

IWC ended up being bought by VDO. At the time VDO was an independent German company that specialised in making speedometers and gauges for both cars and the marine sector. It still makes electronics and instrumentation, but is now owned by Continental (of Continental tyres fame). It was the VDO connection which connected IWC with Porsche Design.

Porsche Design had a reputation for making watches that had a focus on user experience. They adopted a focus on minimal design, legibility and innovative materials.  Their first design was a chronograph which had an innovative  first black steel watch, they used PVD (physical vapour deposition) to provide a stronger surface than paint. They made an innovative model with a compass hide underneath its watch, the watch lifted up

The next watch would be a dive watch, it was partly aimed at a German Navy requirement for dive watches that had a sufficiently low magnetic signature that combat divers could safely work with naval mines.  IWC had invested in machines for working with titanium. Dive watches that perform are usually pretty chunky products.

Panerai PAM 347 + Rolex Sea-Dweller Deepsea 116660

These two designs by Panerai and Rolex respectively are good examples of the typical design approach. Enough metal is used to keep the immense pressures under control.

IWC Ocean 2000
IWC Ocean 2000
IWC Ocean 2000

Porsche Design took a radically different approach. They managed to make a smaller device by using the water pressure to improve water resistance. The pressure would squeeze the case tighter and tighter. This made it slimmer and necessitated the design of curves. This also make it exceptionally comfortable to wear.

It was a nightmare to the manufacturing function at IWC. Titanium is exceptionally hard to work; to the point that these watches were sold at or below the cost of sale (manufacturing, marketing, logistics etc). The Porsche design literally had no straight edges on the case making it exceptionally hard to manufacture.

In subsequent models of dive models IWC went back to more muscular hard edged designs that make life easier for the manufacturing line.

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What becomes apparent is that Porsche design was very focused on the end customer experience, but it was at the expense of business considerations. This brings us back quite neatly to design thinking which loses that process function over time.

Apple’s design team not only focus on the product design, but how it can be made. It mean’t thinking laterally about possible process improvement. They went to sweet factories in order to work out how to cast seamless transparent  plastic surfaces. Apple spent large amounts of its cash pile to forward purchase in-demand components and machine tools for factories. Foxconn had thousands of CNC machines working cranking out iPhone cases that would have been unthinkable from other manufacturers.

But most companies aren’t organised like Apple. They have limited resources to implement processes for customers. Conventional business thinking usually tries to reduce costs or outsource as a non-core product.

Links of the day | 在网上找到

DIGITAL IS HAVING A MIDLIFE CRISIS. THE WAY FORWARD IS EXPERIMENTATION. | BBH Labs – nice diagnosis but shouty headline. Ironically the problem is the ad industry dashing headlong into technology and expecting it to work

Why You Might Build Your Start-up in China over Silicon Valley | Hacker Noon – or Silicon Roundabout / Silicon Fen for that matter

Invisible Hand Behind WPP Wednesday: Transparency Takes Toll | Agency News – AdAge – Holding company revenue in North America has been flat to down in recent quarters, running well below increases in U.S. gross domestic product and media spending. It’s a trend that started the third quarter of last year, just after the Association of National Advertisers issued its report from investigations firm K2 on media transparency.”There is at minimum a coincidence between the timing of the release of the K2 report and the sudden deceleration in U.S./North America organic revenue growth for the holding companies, which began in the third quarter of last year,” says Pivotal Research analyst Brian Wieser. “It’s hard to believe that it hasn’t had some impact in terms of clients looking to tighten up contract language. This is reinforced by my conversations with marketers who have only recently learned about how their contracts have allowed for agencies to generate authorized but undisclosed markups. But I also think that a slowdown in spending on media from large marketers is at play, as is zero-based budgeting.”

Hong Kong police launch investigations into suspicious China UnionPay withdrawals amid capital flight concerns – surprised that crypto currency isn’t being used in this more

Ignorance of Pricing is Ruining Ad Agencies | Trinity P3 – it sounds more like ignorance of product marketing

Apple iCloud Keychain easily slurped by cops, ElcomSoft claims • The Register – ElcomSoft’s Phone Breaker 7.0 has gained the ability to access and decrypt iCloud Keychain data, under certain circumstances.

China’s outbound investment to further grow after the party congress, says PwC | South China Morning Post – pure speculation. M&A would need to be balanced against increased resistance from the likes of the EU and ASEAN countries

Hugo: The IT Bot – done by Digitas LBi for HPE

Advertising Philosopher: An Interview with Faris Yakob (Part Three) | Annenberg Innovation Lab – Worth reading on content

Ad Age Wake-Up Call: News about Google, Walmart and WPP | News – AdAge  – WPP cut its full-year revenue forecast, predicting revenue growth between zero and 1% this year. Previously, it had predicted 2% growth. WPP’s share price fell up to 12% after the company released its first-half earnings, and Bloomberg News said it was their biggest drop in 17 years. Agency holding companies have been hurting as some clients trim advertising budgets. UK-based WPP, the biggest agency company by revenue, singled out “pressure on client spending in the second quarter, particularly in the fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) or packaged goods sector.”

London Calling for Brexit Fix | Agency News – AdAge – “Brexit threatens to diminish the U.K.’s international standing, and arguably has done so already,” says WPP CEO Martin Sorrell, who has been an outspoken critic of Brexit. “One of the reasons we have doubled down on investment in western continental Europe is to maintain our influence in critical markets such as Germany, France, Italy and Spain—four of our top 10 markets worldwide—and Brussels, where our international competitors are already seeking to use Brexit against us.”

The Cult of the Costco Surfboard | The New Yorker – paywall

Will Artificial Intelligence Be Illegal in Europe Next Year? | Entrepreneur – data portability and an explanation for automated decision pose interesting challenges

SOS Alerts – Andy Kinsella – Google now competing with the Facebook alerts system

UK Supermarket May Have Accidentally Infected Thousands With Hep E Virus | LADbible – protecting the supermarket like this will damage trust across the food supply chain

DEA: ‘There Is No Silver Bullet’ for Going Dark – Motherboard

Five for Friday | 五日(星期五)

I’ve been a bit quiet on here this week, I was freelancing in Shoreditch, living the Nathan Barley dream with smoked salmon coffee. Here’s the things that made my day this week:

乐播报丨七夕节,乐高积木X搜狗输入法送“独家”惊喜啦! – Nice collab between Sogou and Lego on digital assets including stickers and a keyboard

Naomi Wu shared this cyberpunk themed maker festival video by Tao Bao – the Alibaba-owned mainland China marketplace. I quite like it, it has a 1980s post-Blade Runner vibe to the visuals – but through the lens of Hong Kong comedy director Stephen Chow.

Students Nicci Yin and Nan Hung Tsai  from the ArtCenter College of Design gave this interesting talk on making locative art more social. Like the ARKit stuff, these explorations feel fresh like the computer graphics in the early 1990s and Macromedia (pre-Adobe) Flash. The idea of scanning items with a hand controller into virtual reality and it becoming a virtual social asset is was interesting. There are interesting implications handing off across realities in storytelling.

Great interview with Action Bronson – I let him speak for himself

ARKit reminds me of back in the day with start of Macromedia Flash; developers and artists being creative and playful. Check out this brief animation from a Japanese developer

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Links of the day | 在网上找到

Logic Gates Under (Air) Pressure | Hackaday – I remember seeing fluidic logic on a packaging production line for motor oil back when I was a teenager. By this time the line was reasonably old, micro-processor controls were becoming the norm, and it broke down on a regular basis. The owners knew my Dad which is how I got to see it. They used to pack small volume SKUs for Shell at their own factory; when the oil company pulled the contract their business closed

Apple’s Secure Enclave Processor (SEP) Firmware Decrypted | Hackaday“Imagine the Secure Enclave as a vault. Apple hung a big, dark curtain over it to prevent anyone from even seeing the vault. Now, that curtain has been opened and people can see the vault. The vault, however, is still locked as securely as ever.” However we don’t know who else has got this far already, and we certainly don’t know if other actors have managed to find vulnerabilities in the code.

China Tech Workers Wanted: Women Need Not Apply – WSJ – Parents often tell their daughters they won’t be good at math or physics or coding. And just like in the U.S., some Chinese companies are reluctant to hire or promote women because of concerns about pregnancy and child rearing, employee advocates say. About 20% of engineers in China’s internet and telecommunications industries are women, according to Boss Zhipin, a Beijing-based online recruiting company. And there’s a pay gap as well. Women were paid 30% less than men in China’s internet industry last year, ranking among the most discriminatory lines of work with medicine, media and entertainment, according to Boss Zhipin, which surveyed more than 365,000 pay samples nationwide – (paywall)

Interim Report Q2 2017 (OMX:MAERSKA) – In the last week of the quarter we were hit by a cyber-attack, which mainly impacted Maersk Line, APM Terminals and Damco. Business volumes were negatively affected for a couple of weeks in July and as a consequence, our Q3 results will be impacted. We expect that the cyber-attack will impact results negatively by USD 200-300m.” – shipping titan Maersk talks about how malware has affected its business

The First True Multi-User Holographic Table Has Been Built – ExtremeTech – cool as fuck

Producers, Songwriters on How Pop Songs Got So Slow – Rolling StonePaul Oakenfold et al who tried unsuccessfully to slow acid house down to 98bpm was just 3 decades too early