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On November 20, 2016, BenH commented on AdhereTech and the Smart Pill Bottle :

It’s exciting to see care becoming so much more patient-centric, and the engagement of the clinician and caregiver are a key element of adherence that Adheretech seems to be getting right. That said, I was surprised to read that Adheretech has only increased adherence by 20%. By contrast, an early competitor, Vitality Glowcaps, yielded rates of adherence of up to 99% (see source). Granted, Vitality Glowcaps only notifies the patient if the bottle hasn’t been opened, and isn’t able to determine whether the medication has actually been taken. I wonder what more Adheretech can do to incite the patient who remains noncompliant even after receiving a text or an automated phonecall to take their medication. My gut says the gap is in direct follow-up from the patient’s caregiver or physician / nurse. Data is powerful and technology can transform the recovery process, but it’s crucial we don’t lose the human element of healthcare delivery. One other hazard I’ll raise is whether we should be concerned about HIPAA compliance of data collection given all of the data is being transmitted to and stored in the cloud. That aside, I can’t wait to see how the market adopts a cheaper, smaller and easier to mass manufacture Adheretech bottle – perhaps we’ll start to see the technology being used for less expensive, more chronic illness like high cholesterol or hypertension.


On November 19, 2016, BenH commented on Augmedix: Taking a Look at Your Next Visit to the Doctor :

Thanks for the post, Hannah – exciting stuff. Unlike Robbie, I am confident that Glass can reduce time spent by physicians on administrative tasks like documentation and therefore improve patient satisfaction. Of course, this is contingent on the product being glitch-free and as minimally obtrusive in appearance as possible – two primary reasons Glass fell short for consumers, to my understanding. What worries me is documentation quality, privacy of patient information, and interoperability with other health information systems. Not only are the scribes remotely located, there’s a high likelihood that some portion of information gets mistranslated, either because scribes lack sufficient medical knowledge, aren’t perfectly fluent in the language of use, or there’s some technical hitch distorting info transfer. In healthcare, it is of utmost importance that the data captured in the EHR is accurate. Also, giving the scribe access to sensitive patient information sounds like murky territory as far as HIPAA is concerned. A potential solution is incorporating voice recognition in the Glass hardware, but at least from my experience, that is never 100% reliable either. My final concern around interoperability speaks to the ability to automatically sync data captured by Glass with existing data in the hospital’s information systems (e.g. its EHRs, op time / workflow, payments). I imagine there’ll be a need for close collaboration with health IT vendors like Epic or Cerner to ensure successful integration…

On November 19, 2016, BenH commented on Under Armour: Not Just Clothes Anymore :

Off the cuff, my sense is that UnderArmor’s wearable is actually differentiated from its myriad competitors in that it not only tracks data, but provides insights and personalized coaching. Today, many of the substitutes I’m aware of (Fitbit, Nike+, Apple watch) don’t aggregate data across users, nor analyze data and make recommendations. So when I use Nike+, I as the consumer am left with interesting data with limited specific direction on how to alter my behavior to improve my performance. What I do worry about is the ease of use of this technology for the consumer, and the replicability. As you say, the real value-add of this technology comes when large amounts of data are constantly recorded. And what measures are in place to ensure the data being inputted is accurate? And as for competition, is their partnership with IBM Watson (which I will say is very exciting) exclusive? Even if it is, do large players like Nike necessarily need to access a knowledge base like Watson’s to draw key insights for its wearable users when they can already leverage a large existing customer base?

Thanks for the read, John! Great food for thought… pun very much intended.

To build on Colleen’s points, I’m curious to see what this technology does for the dining experience. My sense is Darden’s restaurants fall in the fast casual segment – often a family affair, seated dining that’s both fast and friendly, etc. Do you think table-top kiosks will ultimately improve the dining experience by reducing order errors and freeing up time for waiters to focus on customer service (answering questions, refilling drinks, fulfilling ad hoc requests), or will they have the opposite effect as customers are now more focused on the tablet rather than interaction? Also, to Colleen’s point, I wonder about the learning curve for customers – I imagine for the less technologically literate customer, like Colleen’s grand parents, the staff will have to explain how the tablets work. There’s also a learning curve for waiters as they are now the go-to for tech-related issue resolution. At the end of the day, I think table-top kiosks are a terrific idea if Darden’s goal is to optimize on KPIs like turnover and ticket size, so long as it isn’t at the expense of the customer experience.

On November 19, 2016, BenH commented on Fujifilm: Transformation from a photographic film maker :

Great read, Kei! On the one hand, Fuji’s diversification into cosmetics and medical imaging makes sense, due to the swell in demand for digital solutions. Also, the move plays to their strength in collagen technology, like you say. But on the other hand, I worry about a complete shift away from imaging solutions and photographic film. While not the focus of your post, the resurgence of analog film has been an interesting and unexpected twist in the narrative that Fuji would have been ill-prepared for if it had lost sight of its historic core competency. Fuji does seem to have responded well with their Instax mini… While there are probably many more highly profitable and innovative applications of Fuji’s technology, such as VR, I wonder what the optimal product mix is so Fuji can accommodate the new ways photographic media is consumed today (e.g. social, insta shots, sharing).

While Corticeira Amorim were able to adapt by introducing irrigated cork production, I wonder if there is anything else they could be doing. For example, are they recycling unused cork substrate left over in the manufacturing process? Are there any solutions to shorten the production cycle? Also, as Alex and Artatak allude to above, the impact of climate change on cork production is only compounded by the competitive threat of substitute presentations, like screw caps and plastic closures. Easier to open, superior at preventing oxygen from entering the bottle, zero risk of cork taint. Back in 2010, it was found that up to 10-25% of corks are tainted; see source below. I wonder how Corticeira Amorim has mitigated these threats of quality and competition, let alone the threat of climate change. Thanks for an interesting read, Joana!


What a slippery slope MTN finds itself on! Or not, if snowfall continues to decline… Ethan, loved this post – and not just because MTN operates Australia’s only worthy ski resort. The measures taken to mitigate the effects of climate change are impressive, from consolidation of the industry, to doubling down on its summer offerings. Though I can’t help but feel there’s more they can do. For example, how else can they maximize earnings from their winter offering given demonstrably shorter ski seasons, other than marketing their ‘Epic Pass’? Perhaps recycling water could help stave off some of the exorbitant costs of artificial snow production. Also, how are they planning to account for year to year variability?

On November 7, 2016, BenH commented on What, No More Wine? :

What I find particularly interesting is the sensitivity of premium wine production to the effects of climate change. On the demand side, more than the average farm crop, the slightest variances in sweetness, acidity and mouthfeel of a wine grape dramatically affects the demand for the final product. And with such a pedantic harvest schedule, rising sea levels and the loss of vineyard acreage, the supply of wine grapes is becoming increasingly unreliable. As you point out, one of the biggest requirements of seductive technological solutions like drone surveying is it ensuring it yields actionable results. While winegrowers grow increasingly capable of identifying crop health, I wonder if there are clever ways to identify the root cause of poor crop health. You mentioned drones can geolocate down to the centimeter. Without getting too carried away, I wonder if farmers could remotely assess individual grapes for differences in size or rotundness, and in the back end correlate this data with soil integrity, light quality, or crop location. And while there are tactics to complement technological maintenance, such as canopy management to improve soil-water balance, or night time harvesting to offset rising temperatures, or introducing winter cover crops to reduce soil erosion, are they really enough to offset the impacts of climate change? Or will farmers have to start moving the crops closer to the poles, as others are suggesting?

On November 7, 2016, BenH commented on Sinking the Subway: The MBTA Confronts Climate Change :

Connor, really enjoyed this one! It’s good to see the MBTA taking some initiative in the effort towards green transportation, albeit late. On what more needs to be done, I liked your points on addressing shortfalls in existing architecture, infrastructure and systems. I am a proponent of green public transit! But allow me to play devil’s advocate. Artatak mentions the issue of who pays the bill. To build on this, I am curious about the role of incentives in improving fleet readiness. Why shouldn’t cities be focusing on public transit load factors (percentage of seats filled) instead of investing large sums in green technology and climate change readiness? As of 2012, commuter rail sat at ~35% and buses at just over 10%; see source below. Since filling up these unoccupied seats has essentially zero carbon impact, I wonder if the benefit of increasing load factors on today’s brown buses, on a per passenger basis, is actually higher than running green buses at today’s load factors. Moreover, as car manufacturers are pressured to hit ever higher fuel economy standards, cars may soon become more energy efficient than buses, and before too long perhaps even rail. Why not focus our efforts there, and avoid the huge tax and infrastructure outlay of modernizing the MBTA fleet?


Fascinating read, Eunji! There’s a huge opportunity here to integrate technology with precision farming to continuously monitor and improve crop yield, and as you point out, to turn the mass of surveillance images into decision tools as well as an input into automated production. But there do remain a few open questions, most of which others have alluded to. One, there’s a very real risk of inequity of accessibility. Farmers who have inferior financial wherewithal or technological savviness, for example, may not reap the rewards of this technology, potentially widening the gap in farmer productivity, and burdening government entities to more heavily subsidize the laggards. And to build on Luke’s concern around security, I definitely worry about the susceptibility to data theft and cyber exploitation. Data integrity, and engagement of farmers in data management will have to be something that Planet addresses going forward.

If interested, take a look at a note FBI issued earlier this year to call out the cyber risks of precision farming: