Allen Smith

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Great article. I really like the idea of AM for companies like Nike who mass produce products around the globe. In addition to the supply chain, manufacturing, and design efficiencies made possible with AM, could AM also be used to deliver a more customized experience for customers? It is well documented that Nike works with super-star athletes to create substantial performance enhancing changes to its shoes. These shoes are then custom made for that athlete that gets the direct benefit of perfect size and quality. In the future, Nike can differentiate itself by bringing customization to the masses. Imagine a world where you walk into a Nike store, they measure your feet, and then 3D print your running shoes in the back according to the exact specifications you need. This would be attractive to the average consumer and to the many non-professional sports players across the country who could now get basketball shoes, soccer cleats etc. made exactly to measure.

I also think Nike has to be careful that 3D printed shoes or clothes do not have inferior quality. While AM may dramatically reduce costs for the company and lead to more innovation, if the product is inferior people will eventually notice and it will hurt the brand and its sales.

This is a very insightful article and a very interesting topic for additive manufacturing. As I thought about using AM for military applications I first thought about transportation, maintenance, and the need for an experienced crew to run the machine. However, these three aspects are all strengths of the military. The military can transport, maintain and ship any piece of equipment anywhere in the world better than anyone. I think you point out the real hurdles: 1) strength of the parts and 2) developing a commercial model that has buy-in from defense contractors. Incorporating 3D parts into the original design seems like the right solution. I wonder if you could also use a 3D part as a temporary replacement until cast parts arrive. It might also be the case that 3D printed parts will only be able to replace some cast parts, ultimately limiting its application in the industry. Also, maybe some defense contractors would be willing to come to the site and run the 3D printer on site, in other words, this would be a service the military would directly contract out. I am glad to hear that 3D printing is already being used, the future looks bright for 3D printing in the military!

On November 15, 2018, Allen Smith commented on Machine Learning in the Fragmented Construction Industry :

Great article. I really like the way Skanska is using ML to improve safety. This is the top priority of any job site and an excellent use of the technology. I wonder if it could also be used to optimize the use of building materials: 1) if it could lead to further our testing and understanding of the best construction materials to use in different climates and 2) lead to more efficient use of building materials once they are on the job site. For example, ML could help scientists and construction leaders find the correlation between a building’s useful-life and its underlying design and material. This could lead to buildings better suited for different environments. ML could also be used to warn construction managers of situations that tend to lead to cost over-runs in materials. I agree, there are plenty of future applications for ML in construction!

On November 15, 2018, Allen Smith commented on Twine Health: Pioneering Machine Learning in Chronic Disease Management :

This is fascinating and I hope that the application of machine learning in the health care industry will reduce the cost of health care around the world and lead to better outcomes. It looks like Twine Health is doing exactly this. I think you are right in thinking that Twine should look into partnerships with Fitbit etc. The real opportunity I see there is better patient tracking and preventative care. For example, by collecting this type of data physicians can notify patients when they are not keeping to their exercise or diet regimes. They can also find the correlation between certain life-styles and the benefits they may or may not offer in managing chronic diseases. Consumer data can also be used to benchmark patients so they can be warned of health risks that result from their particular life-style data profile. I think another major issue to consider here is data privacy and who will have access to this very personal data about people’s lives. Will health insurance companies also have access and be able to charge different rates based off your data profile?

Great article. I don’t think Alexa will find success competing with Google and Apple in the car space. Google and Apple have connections to mobile devices that are integral for smart car infotainment systems in ways that I don’t think Amazon should even try to compete with them on. After all, the Amazon phone did not work out well. Amazon should compete in the areas it is already good at, such as offering products and services to people all over the world. Amazon is the king of e-commerce in the US and should use Alexa in a way that facilitates the purchase of goods and services from Amazon. While they are already doing this, open innovation will allow them to expand Alexa’s skills to provide more fluid access to the Amazon ecosystem of services. As more and more people rely on Amazon to purchase everything they need for their home, business etc, Alexa will naturally become more important if it can provide easier access to all those goods and services that you need.

On November 15, 2018, Allen Smith commented on Earth to everyone: we need your help! (Open innovation at NASA) :

Very insightful article. It appears that NASA is having to adjust to a new place in the world. The author clearly states the benefits of the open innovation at NASA. It is allowing NASA to fund ideas that have a higher chance of success. It is allowing solutions to come from the brilliant minds around the country. It is reducing the need for tax-payer dollars in a time when governments are more fiscally constrained. It encourages risk-taking and provides freedom to explore “wild” solutions. All of these are positive develops and they should continue to be supported by NASA through the new open innovation model. However, it appears that the R&D teams and the engineers at NASA might not like this approach as much because it undermines the traditional role of the institution in developing solutions and patents that bring prestige to NASA and its employees. To bridge this divide NASA should focus on building strong partnerships with the companies and institutions it collaborates with. NASA needs to position itself as a governmental body that exists to spur on the development of space exploration regardless of where it comes from. It has to be seen as the entity you want to have on your team if you are serious about the space industry. As the industry becomes driven more by private activities, NASA must embrace its new supporting role so it continues to be viewed as the key player in the industry. Also, if some of these ideas turn into viable companies I can see existing NASA employees being poached to go work at them.