Every day our researchers read through the top innovation headlines and provide their expert opinions on important developments and industry news. Our analysts then evaluate news based on potential importance ranking the developments from Truly Disruptive to Ignore.
On Fridays we highlight our Lux Take on the top news for the week. Check out our thoughts on the latest emerging technology and innovation news for the past week below.
Omada Health launches cardiometabolic clinic, centralizing information for both patients and care teams along the patient journey
Danielle Bradnan, Analyst | @DBradnan
Lux Take: Truly Disruptive
"Omada Health has launched a product that ties patient data from lab results, connected devices, and medical histories into a multifunctional platform that allows physicians to make changes to patient treatment (including medication) via telehealth. Traditional modes of care have two key problems that this digital solution solves: 1) the burden of data management on the patient when engaging with many specialists and 2) in-person appointments for incremental "tweaks" in care, which cost the patient the fee of the doctor visit(s) as well as time off work and transportation costs. Those interested should see this as evidence of a growing tend toward platform-based care over single solutions and plan investment and acquisition strategies accordingly."
In the largest AI acquisition ever, Microsoft buys Nuance for $19.7 billion to make a further push into healthcare
"Nuance has a strong position in the healthcare market, where its speech recognition and natural language processing products are used by 90% of hospitals and 10,000 healthcare organizations. The acquisition will accelerate Microsoft's push into healthcare and provide it with a larger customer base to sell additional Azure products and tools like Microsoft Teams. The move highlights two important trends. First, cloud companies are shifting away from offering horizontal AI products to industry-specific products, which is becoming a necessity in the AI space. Second, tech giants are rapidly advancing their push into healthcare, and companies should expect additional digital health acquisitions in areas like digital pathology in the coming years."
"We weren't trying to greenwash" – the infamous words from another ‘sustainable’ solution gone wrong
Drishti Masand, Research Associate | @DrishtiMasand
Lux Take: Very Important
"Innisfree, a Korean brand owned by Amorepacific, was forced to clarify (badly) that its recent "paper bottle" packaging was actually a paper label innovation, and the reference to a paper bottle was misused. The greater issue this example highlights is that once brands are caught greenwashing, it is extremely difficult for them to recover and regain consumer trust and loyalty. Social media is a powerful tool for quick marketing and directly connecting with consumers, but it has also proven to be a faster mode for consumers to berate brands. Companies need to have their technology and product development teams work closely with marketing teams to accurately represent new innovations and avoid the pitfalls of greenwashing."
LG Energy Solution and SK Innovation reach settlement in battle over trade secret theft
"Following a ruling from the ICT that determined SK Innovation utilized trade secrets belonging to LG Energy Solution, the two companies have announced a settlement, under which SK will pay LG $1.8 billion and royalties. The original ruling would have forced a limited 10-year ban on SK batteries in the U.S., crippling the company's plans for almost 20 GWh of capacity by 2025 in the U.S. and forcing customers Ford and Volkswagen to secure batteries elsewhere. The settlement amount is equivalent to the investment for a 15 GWh battery plant, and paid royalties would push SK's profit margin even slimmer in the U.S. However, BEV adoption is just picking up in the U.S., so SK will benefit from its retained early foothold in the battery market."
Mobileye plans launch of driverless delivery services with Udelv in 2023
Pear Therapeutics CEO claims Novartis trial of schizophrenia therapeutic was flawed; tensions grow between digital therapeutics and pharma
Danielle Bradnan, Analyst | @DBradnan
Lux Take: Very Important
"The CEO of Pear Therapeutics is claiming that trial irregularities are causing misleading results regarding the schizophrenia product rolled out last year. While the results of this study are unlikely to change anything for Pear Therapeutics directly, the claimed lack of rigor in the trial speaks to a continued fracturing of relationships between digital therapeutics and pharmaceutical companies. Partnerships between digital therapeutics and pharmaceutical companies often come with challenges due to misalignment in strategies, and it appears that the Novartis-Pear partnership is suffering the same fate. Those looking to invest in digital therapeutics should be cautious when vetting companies with pharma ties."
BlackRock closes $4.8 billion Global Renewable Power Fund III as it eyes renewable power investments in U.S., Europe, and Asia
Snapchat continues to attract brands with augmented reality luxury goods
"Snapchat continues to attract brands to leverage its AR capability and engage with a Gen-Z user base that is digital savvy and less susceptible to traditional marketing means by luxury brands. Snapchat camera apps allow users to virtually try on various items – in the case of Christian Dior, the partnership focused on sneakers and led to a 3.8× increase in returns on ad spending relative to other online marketing investments. The proven benefit of AR experiences in consumer engagement, especially with groups less interested in traditional approaches, is not hard to attain: Companies already use 3D design and virtual collaboration software in product development; matching 3D digital models with social media network tools is the final step."
Mori raises $16 million Series B for its edible coating technology, bringing its total funding to $28 million
"Drawdown Fund led the round, which comes less than a year after Mori's $12 million Series A in July 2020. The press release did not disclose any major milestone developments, and the reasoning for the funding was much of the same as that for its Series A, i.e., to secure commercial partnerships and scale up manufacturing (now expected for the end of 2021). Given this and the close proximity between the Series A and Series B rounds, Mori likely underestimated the capital requirements to scale its technology. For reference, its direct competitor Apeel Sciences has raised $390 million to date. Edible coatings have proven their merit in the marketplace, but note their capital-intensive nature."
Apple to support its decarbonization efforts by building large-scale storage project in California
"Apple claims to be building one of the largest battery projects in the U.S., a 60 MW/240 MWh facility using around 85 Tesla Li-ion Megapacks installed next to the 280 MW California Flats solar farm in Monterey County, California. In terms of size, the project is behind other California installations, including Vistra's 300 MW/1,200 MWh Moss Landing and LS Power's 250 MW/250 MWh Gateway energy storage projects. Apple holds a power purchase agreement for 130 MW of California Flats' total capacity, which supplies Apple's California facilities with renewable electricity. As global corporations continue to commit to carbon footprint reductions, we will see more renewables-plus-storage projects supporting the decarbonization of their sectors."
Google acquires Dysonics to augment its augmented reality strategy with spatial sound technology
"This acquisition suggests insufficient engineering progress internally at Google and its need to build more complete augmented experience technologies, such as Dysonics' spatial sound technology, to remain competitive. Just as Apple's AirPods rely on inertial measurement unit (IMU) sensors to track motion and to modify stereo sound output given the users' positional input, the future Google Pixel buds and AR products will come with augmented audio. Spatial audio is relatively a low-hanging fruit in AR but with a big impact, as it does not require hardware novelty to fulfill additional senses beyond vision. Outside of AR, increasingly popular wearable IMUs provide tools for personalization and should be considered in product innovations."
Canoo pivots to fleet sales, dropping its subscription plan and partnership with Hyundai
Christopher Robinson, Research Director | @CRobinsonLux
Lux Take: Low Importance
"Electric vehicle manufacturer Canoo announced the surprising change in strategy during an investor conference call. Shortly after announcing the departure of two senior leaders in the organization, the company announced it would no longer pursue selling its platform to incumbent automakers. Additionally, it will drop its subscription plan to focus on fleet sales. Lux previously criticized Canoo's subscription model, but losing Hyundai as a partner is a major blow to their efforts. Working with OEMs has been a crucial lifeline to many startups, such as Rivian, which works closely with Ford. Canoo is now entering a market competing directly with the likes of GM and Ford, and it will struggle to compete on costs with their scale."