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OM in the News: Products For Our Future

January 13, 2015


Audi's virtual cockpit

Audi’s virtual cockpit

 Fortune’s special feature called “Shape the Future” (Jan. 1, 2015) names 11 products that will have a huge impact on operations management and on our lives. Here are just four of them:

A Liquid Bandage for Every Pocket. For centuries, direct pressure, stitches, and cauterization were the only tools we had to stop significant bleeding. Now the Band-Aid of the future, a plant-based product called Vetigel, appears to imitate the structure of the living tissue on which it’s placed. In other words, it won’t just keep the blood in—it will help heal the wound too, by accelerating the binding of fibrin, a protein that acts like scaffolding during coagulation, with platelets in the blood. (Next year).

The Smart Car Gets Even Smarter. Nvidia engineers are working to give the next generation of automobiles a brain capable of understanding the world around it. “The car is rapidly going to go from the most stupid electronic device a consumer owns to the most powerful supercomputer a consumer will ever own,” says the company. Their laptop-size module will manage highly autonomous driving features, such as traffic-jam assist, up to speeds of 40 mph. (In Audis in 4½ years).

Here’s an elevator pitch. What if we could rethink the way we travel between floors of a building? ThyssenKrupp’s Multi concept is the most radical industry shift since elevators’ debut in 1854. Instead of cables, magnetic levitation technology helps shuttle people from place to place, allowing for multiple carriages in the same shaft and the ability for carriages to move horizontally, not just vertically. No more lobbies with dozens of doorsshorter wait times, and lower energy consumption. (60-story building debuts in 2016).

 Algorithms Buy TV Ads. Television commands $74.5 billion in annual advertising spending, yet the ad-buying in television has largely been unchanged for 7 decades. Now TubeMogul’s programmatic tools automate the buying and selling process, similar to the way algorithms transformed how financial traders buy and sell stocks. Hungry for the highly specific audience information they enjoy on the Internet, ad agencies and brands in particular are eager to make the shift. (2015).

Classroom discussion questions:

1. Why are these developments important to operations management?

2. How can self-driving vehicles be used in industries beyond personal transport?


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