A small selection across domains
There's so much happening in the space of Virtual Reality (VR), that it's becoming hard to keep track. The ecosystem has progressed sufficiently that content creation is becoming a serious focus. Those with intent and resources are in the race to create engaging quality content. Headsets are now available by the dozens and at a range price points. VR is by no means a mainstream technology yet but it's getting there.
Here's a selection of VR companies and content that have been in the news lately. This selection is of course just the tip of the tip of the iceberg. Some of these are accessible with nothing more than a smartphone, a downloadable app and a cheap VR headset. Often the app itself is free. Often content is also free, which is expected of any new content distribution platform keen on attracting users. Where devices and content are at a premium, they're for the early adopters willing to splurge north of $2000. Thanks to them, innovation continues to happen and technology continuously nudges past its limits.
Small is beautiful
No doubt some of you have bought quadcopters as gifts for your nephews, daughters and grandchildren in the recent holiday season. Last year was really the year of reckoning for these gizmos, graduating from research projects to DIY kits and even commercial offerings that included delivery drones. Owning a drone or a hobby quadcopter is no longer an expensive affair.
Soon enough we saw regulators intervening as they must in the interest of security and aviation safety. It therefore appears that the experimental days of drones are over. The technology is here to stay. Now it is a matter of ironing out differences, issuing licenses and putting together a framework for full scale commercialization. It's not going to happen quickly but it will happen for sure.
Examples, Tools, Practices
This is a continuation of an earlier article where I introduced Product Line Engineering (PLE) as a new engineering discipline. The idea is that it makes more sense to manage a line of products rather than a single one. There are many examples of this already happening in today's world.
General Motors does not develop individual cars. They have about 300 hierarchical subsystems and thousands of variant features. When these are combined in sensible ways, they end up with tens of thousands of product variants. In other words, each car is not built as a separate engineering artifact. Rather, they use common customizable building blocks to define and assemble a car. They do not develop but derive cars from such building blocks.
A better way to make products
The year was 1908 when Henry Ford's Model T was first offered for sale. By the 1920s, Ford had perfected the manufacturing process, producing more than a million cars a year. Parts were interchangeable. The assembly line was streamlined in a way never done before. Workers specialized in tasks assigned to them. Production efficiency was at its historical highest. But there was a problem lurking in the background.
Ford offered only one model. The colour was black. Customers could not have anything else. This was an opportunity for competitors like General Motors to enter the market that had been dominated by Ford. In the late 1920s when Ford realized this, he encountered another problem. The production line was so specialized for Model T that it took six months to just change the line to handle the new Model A. Even so, it took two years for Model A to achieve better production efficiency.
From coffee makers to dishwashers, from budget to luxury items
Reputed website CNET.com has been reviewing home appliances for a while. As I was browsing their website today, I discovered that the earliest review of this nature was posted 49 weeks ago. In total, the website today contains 126 reviews in all on home appliances. But lately, within the last week, there has been about 68 posts. Clearly, there is a lot happening in this space, lots of innovations and lots of new products coming out into the market.