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LMU veterinary students improve their clinical skills using Alexa Technology

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LMU veterinary students improve their clinical skills using Alexa Technology

Veterinary students gathered round the test table with pills in hand, listening intently into a digital apparatus since the Alexa voice introduced as a puppy owner. Throughout their case study to get a 12-week-old pup, pupils could ask the false owner questions to ascertain exactly what it required for good health.

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“Is he becoming food created for dogs?” Asked one aspiring animal physician.

The apparatus responded, dependent on pre-programmed data, “He’s usually so full of exactly what the children give himhe does not eat all his meals.”

The pupils went on to talk about nutrition and the demand for worming together with the digital puppy owner. They’re using technology together with interviewing celebrities who occasionally help them clinic for medical care.

“When you’ve got an actor it is a bit different and it is kind of another stressor,” said next year LMU pupil Charlotte Talbert.
“But when you’ve Alexa, you have to create those alternatives, you get to make those mistakes and capitalize on these next moment.”

The pupils are utilizing Alexa technologies customized by Assistant Professor Jamie Perkins, DVM. She explained she used this tech herself when moving through veterinary college, and she was eager to create it for other pupils to use. Perkins’ demonstration of using Alexa to create clinical skills acquired her first place honors in the 2018 Hyperdrive competition at the DevLearn Seminar in Las Vegas in October. She stated other colleges have been asking about utilizing this technology.

Also Read: 5 Most Wonderful Gadgets and Technologies of this year

Perkins said with the Alexa tool can streamline analyzing, prepare pupils for real-world practice work and possibly save the vet college cash training pupils.

Perkins clarified that Alexa can bridge the gap between classroom instruction and preparation for medical clinic, “it is a procedure where pupils will need to undergo, and they will need to bring all that information they have learned while sitting traditional lectures, all those facts and really apply them into a patient”

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Why fashion should still care about wearables

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In the three months ending 30 June, sales of Michael Kors watches were down, but not smartwatches. Device sales – produced by watchmaker Fossil via licensing arrangement – increased 13 per cent, partially offsetting the category’s overall decline. On an earnings call with analysts, Michael Kors CEO John Idol said smartwatches now represent about 25-30 per cent of its watch business — a figure he could see climbing to 50 per cent.

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Those numbers are surprising in the context of fashion’s waning enthusiasm for the category. When Apple unveiled its first smartwatch in 2015, fashion brands were quick to jump on the wearables bandwagon, releasing a series of lo-fi ‘smart accessories’, including $495 notification bracelets and fitness trackers disguised as jewellery. But underwhelming sales and less than favourable media coverage quickly refocussed the industry’s efforts elsewhere.

Not Fossil. The company invested early and aggressively in the smartwatch category, acquiring Misfit in 2015 and securing partnerships with well-known fashion brands including Michael Kors. That bet is paying off as smartwatch penetration continues to climb. Apple alone sold 8 million smartwatches in the final quarter of 2017, its highest number ever – and more than Rolex, Omega and Swatch combined. Fossil’s own smartwatch sales are up 91 per cent year-over-year, and now represent approximately a quarter of its total watch sales.

Weston Henderek, lead wearable tech analyst at NPD, says Fossil’s success with Michael Kors-branded smartwatches can also be credited to:

  • ‘Hybrid’ watches. Alongside true smartwatches – which have a digital screen and run a high-level operating system that can download apps – these hybrid styles sport traditional watch faces but include some light tech features such as notifications or fitness tracking.
  • Marketing tech-centric watches in the same retail channels as traditional watches. “If you had $200 to spend on a fashion-oriented watch and narrowed it down to two similar choices, would you pick the brand that had some integrated tech capabilities or the brand that didn’t?” he asks. 
  • Training sales reps on the watches’ tech features.

LVMH-owned TAG Heuer has done well with smartwatches in the $1,500+ range, Henderek adds. Perhaps it’s time for fashion to reconsider the category. Clock’s ticking.

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Loomia’s electronic jacket heats up the e-textile market

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In the Wild West of e-textiles, there are few established materials, manufacturers or standards. Creating a product that looks and wears like a jacket with the guts of a keyboard is an uphill battle, especially because of all the testing required.

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As founder and chief innovation officer of New York-based Loomia, Madison Maxey is hoping to change that. Today, the former Parsons student and first fashion-world recipient of the Thiel Fellowship is launching the Loomia H1, a heated wool jacket powered by a two-hour battery and washable by hand.

Her goal isn’t to make a living from $550 outerwear. Instead, she’s building a scalable proof of concept to kick-start the e-textiles market.

At the jacket’s heart is a thin, flexible, wire-free circuit board called the Loomia Electronic Layer (LEL). The LEL works as a plug-and-play component à la Gore-Tex or the YKK zipper, which clothing makers can integrate into their garments instead of having to build and test their own circuit board from scratch.

The LEL is the brains that brings heating, lighting, touch-sensing and data-transmitting capabilities to clothes. With relatively small investment, a brand could use the LEL to create, for example, a vest that alerts factory workers if they are lifting improperly or running pants that light up.

The Loomia H1 is powered by a two-hour battery and washable by hand.

© Marta Molina Gomez

Setting standards

Underlining the industry’s infancy, the word “e-textile” lacks a precise definition. One interpretation of an electronically-integrated textile, says Diana Wyman, technical director of the American Association of Textile Chemists and Colorists, is any fabric or textile product with permanently integrated electrical circuits or parts of electrical circuits.

The big challenge for e-textiles is establishing standards and expectations. Washing, for example, introduces variables like vigour, frequency and water temperature that manufacturers need to account for. Safety is also a concern: consumers expect garments to degrade over time, but it’s different when clothing short-circuits or just stops working.

Maxey, who spent three years and about $750,000 developing the LEL, is an early innovator at the crest of a new wave. By 2028, the market for e-textiles is forecast to generate more than $2 billion in sales annually, according to IDTechEx. (Today, the e-textiles market is valued at about $100 million, but that’s largely from consultancy and research, rather than product revenue.)

“Manufacturers want a fair and technically correct way to show that their products meet expectations,” Wyman says. “Brands and retailers want to compare technologies and provide a safe, reliable product to customers.”

Progress is happening. A European arm of the e-textiles committee of the Association Connecting Electronics Industries recently proposed three standards for introducing e-textiles to sporting equipment, medical products and personal protective items.

Loomia spent three years and $750,000 developing the LEL.

Heating up

Still the question remains: will e-textiles ever go mass? Why would someone want a smart shirt when a smartwatch might serve similar functions?

Customers have shown interest in clothes with heating. Milwaukee Tool has made heated gear for nine years. Ministry of Supply launched its $495 heated Mercury jacket on Kickstarter one year ago, raising $643,000.

Big brands are biting. Ralph Lauren says that a heated jacket made for the 2018 US Winter Olympics team inspired its $1,098 Polo 11 jacket, which is “mostly sold out”. In September 2017, Levi’s tested the wearable waters with Google, creating a $350 denim jacket woven with conductive threads.

Hanging over all this is Apple, which recently filed a number of e-textile patents. Just like it kicked off smartwatches and tablets, the California company might have the weight to nudge the needle.

“They have skills of design, storytelling and product love,” says Stephanie Rodgers, director of product research and development at Apex Mills. “But for an electronics company to take on textile formation is very scary… if the people who don’t know about textiles are the ones reinventing them.”

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There are no digitally native luxury brands. Kering wants to retrofit one

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Key takeaways:

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  • To compete with the new generation of digitally native brands, Kering is making broad investments in proprietary technology, including an in-house e-commerce platform and an AI-powered sales forecasting tool.
  • In stores, the company is using RFID tags to improve inventory allocation and iterating on a proprietary app for sales associates, which has increased average ticket value up to 20 per cent.
  • It is also surveying new retail models, including luxury rental and resale.

Despite the proliferation of digitally native, direct-to-consumer brands — some with valuations north of $1 billion — none has poised any serious competition to luxury fashion.

But Grégory Boutté, Kering’s chief client and digital officer, isn’t waiting around for that to happen. He’s on a campaign to make the company’s existing family of brands, which includes Gucci, Saint Laurent and Bottega Veneta, start behaving like digital natives.

Speaking to a small group of journalists on 6 June in Paris, Boutté outlined an ambitious strategy that would give Kering’s brands the same control over their online presence as they have over their physical stores. This includes powering its monobrand websites (such as alexandermcqueen.com) through a proprietary platform instead of Yoox Net-a-Porter’s, and using artificial intelligence to improve internal productivity and customer experience.

Boutté believes the strategy plays to Kering’s strengths in storytelling and direct sales. “[The digital shift] is a big change for industries that are primarily wholesale. That means incumbents need to build a new muscle of selling directly to their customers,” he said. “The good news is that most of our brands have a big retail business [already], meaning they have their own stores and they know how to sell directly.”

He sees an especially significant opportunity in the APAC region, which is responsible for one-third of the group’s revenue but only 15 per cent of online sales.

Data and AI

In addition to allowing for greater ownership of customer experience, Boutté says that selling via its own websites and virtual concessions (i.e. websites such as Farfetch that, like some department stores, allow brands a degree of control over their retail environment) will both boost margins and expand omnichannel capabilities. For example, the average order value for a BOPUS (buy online, pick up in store) order is more than 1.7 times the average online order — something Kering can’t take advantage of when it doesn’t own the end-to-end shopping journey.

Having ownership of the online retail experience means also having ownership of the data trail customers leave. “We want to make sure we understand all the products you looked at, and you’re interested in,” he says. “That’s very valuable information for us to better know you and offer you personalised communication when you call client service.”

Boutté, who spent time at Ebay and other Silicon Valley companies before joining Kering in 2017, oversees an 80-person “AI factory”, whose data scientists work from the same database on the same platform without sharing data across brands. Although creating an independent e-commerce infrastructure is a massive undertaking, Boutté is confident that the data they collect will lead to a better product, and thus more users and more revenue.

He points to the democratisation of machine learning as a crucial lever. “The computing power, which was reserved in the past to only tech giants like Ebay, Google or Amazon, is now made readily available for companies like us. AI will change the way we do business in every industry.”

Bringing technology in-store

Kering is also looking at ways to bring technology into stores, which are still responsible for 90 per cent of sales. The company has begun integrating AI into sales forecasting, which in pilot tests were 20 per cent more accurate than traditional forecasts. It will roll out the new programme officially beginning with Gucci’s handbag division next month.

The conglomerate is also continuing to develop its proprietary Luce app, created with Apple last year to give sales associates the ability to access real-time stock information, purchase products in other stores, source product recommendations and prepare for customer appointments. Luce is used in Gucci, Saint Laurent, Bottega Venta, Balenciaga, Alexander McQueen and Brioni stores, where it has boosted average ticket value for Luce-assisted transactions by 15 to 20 per cent.

Kering is upping its digital investment in other ways. It has increased the online proportion of its media spend from 20 per cent to 50 per cent. It is also experimenting with RFID tags to improve inventory allocation. Boutté says he would even partner with rival LVMH on a blockchain platform such as Aura — if it was hosted on a decentralised server. The rise of luxury rental and resale is also something he is closely following.

“We see the model clearly just like everybody,” he says. “We see it’s a new behaviour and then we see the market broken in some big markets, especially for millennials and Gen Z. We’re at the stage of, ‘How is that experience compatible with our business and the way we run our business?’ And we haven’t resolved that question yet.”

“We’re not transforming the company because we’re putting posters in the hallway and declaring, ‘We need to be digital friendly.’ We’re doing it because we’re running projects in ways that digital native companies are actually doing.”

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