One of the ways that companies test new product concepts is by building physical prototypes and letting users try them. Seenu Srinivasan, a Stanford Business School professor of marketing and management science, thinks that virtual prototypes created online might make more sense than physical prototypes for some companies. His research indicates that virtual prototypes provide nearly the same results as physical prototypes. He quickly adds that virtual prototypes are often much less expensive to build and test than their physical protocounterparts. "The Web reduces the uncertainty in new product introduction by allowing product testing of more ideas in parallel," says Srinivasan. He worked with a bicycle pump manufacture that compared a new pump design against competitive designs. They found that the virtual prototype worked as well as the physical prototypes when predicting which design would be most successful. However, Srinivasan also says virtual prototypes are not perfect. "It remains to be seen which goods are best suited to virtual visual testing." For more information, go to www.gsb.stanford.edu.
Samsung's Galaxy line of smartphones used to fare quite well in the repairability department, but last year's flagship S5 model took a tumble, scoring a meh-inducing 5/10. Will the newly redesigned S6 lead us back into star-studded territory, or will we sink further into the depths of a repairability black hole?
In 2003, the world contained just over 500 million Internet-connected devices. By 2010, this figure had risen to 12.5 billion connected objects, almost six devices per individual with access to the Internet. Now, as we move into 2015, the number of connected 'things' is expected to reach 25 billion, ultimately edging toward 50 billion by the end of the decade.
NASA engineer Brian Trease studied abroad in Japan as a high school student and used to fold fast-food wrappers into cranes using origami techniques he learned in library books. Inspired by this, he began to imagine that origami could be applied to building spacecraft components, particularly solar panels that could one day send solar power from space to be used on earth.
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