Select your language: EN JP

Lux Take on News: Weekly Round-Up July 3, 2020

Lux Research
July 3, 2020

Everyday our analysts comb through major innovation headlines and provide their analysis on industry developments and trends. Our experts evaluate news based on potential importance ranking the developments from Truly Disruptive to Ignore.

Every Friday we highlight our Lux Take on the news for the week. Check out our thoughts on the top emerging technology and innovation news, including our researchers' coverage of technologies and strategies as they relate to the global pandemic for the first week of July below.

Center for Medicaid and Medicare Services proposes making U.S. telehealth expansion rules permanent but will not reimburse providers

Danielle BradnanDanielle Bradnan, Research Associate @DBradnan Ico twitter
Lux Take: Very Important


"There are two potential consequences from the decision not to reimburse: 1) telehealth use by providers will drop precipitously, and 2) costs will be put on the consumer directly, which will either cause current advancements to fizzle or drive the creation of a more price-sensitive market (Walmart has seen some success here in telehealth already). Telehealth has historically faced a Catch-22 where a lack of reimbursement stymies growth, but reimbursement parity with in-person visits undermines the promise of reduced healthcare costs. Companies should proceed with caution by focussing investments on telehealth services that are reimbursible as devices, such as remote monitoring and digital therapeutics, and not services."

BP decides to follow the car; sells petrochemicals business to Ineos for $5 billion

YuanSheng Yu Photo_edited

Yuan-Sheng Yu, Senior Analyst | @808sAndInnovate Ico twitter
Lux Take: Very Important


"Last year, Lux presented three key strategies oil and gas companies can take in the evolving energy landscape – sticking to the barrel, following the car, and electrifying the future. With the divestment of its petrochemicals business, it appears that BP is in the first step of its evolution. While interest in petrochemicals has grown in recent years among oil companies, BP may be looking to follow the second strategy and become a key provider of energy for transportation. In the past two years, BP has made investments in EV charging stations and hubs in China. It also continues with its biofuels activity, first-generation and advanced. We expect more oil and gas companies to commit to one of the three strategies in the coming years."

Google acquires Focals by North smart glasses to fix its hardware development woes

Vladimir Roznyatovskiy, Ph.D., Senior AnalystVladimir Roznyatovskiy, Ph.D., Senior Analyst | @roznyatovskiy Ico twitter
Lux Take: Very Important


""Hardware is hard" is a lesson Google learned with Google Glass and still feels about emerging technologies. Without pouring an enormous amount of capital and working on a wide range of components, including materials (like Facebook and Apple do), the only way to remain in the AR race is through M&A. This is what stands behind acquiring Focal by North, a financially struggling smart glasses developer (allegedly for less than its total raised funding) that has expertise in materials and optics for retinal holographic projections, mediocre software to prove the concept, and laser beam scanning IP coming from Intel. The current monochromic version of Focal is short of SLAM functionality but strengthens Google's push for AR ads market share."

Athletic apparel company Lululemon acquires smart home fitness startup Mirror for $500 million

jerrold wangJerrold Wang, Analyst | @jerroldwang Ico twitter
Lux Take: Very Important

"Mirror's product provides workout video streams and real-time personalized in-workout adjustments based on the consumer's goals, profile, preferences, and heart rate detected from a smartwatch. We see at least three reasons behind this deal. First, real-time consumer engagement and service personalization deliver more value than the incumbent nondigital solutions. Second, home fitness is growing fast due to hygiene concerns about gyms during and after COVID-19. Third, Lululemon can use Mirror to lower consumer acquisition costs because the two companies target similar consumers. Clients interested in smart products serving personal well-being should learn from this acquisition and monitor IoT startups for collaboration and investment."

Major wind turbine OEM orders modular blade joint

Gee, Cecilia

Cecilia Gee, Analyst
Lux Take: Very Important


"Transportation of wind turbine blades from the production facility to the installation site is highly complex due to their size and often uses a mix of ship, truck, and rail. Startups have developed different modular blade designs to enable easier transport, assembly, and repair, but the commercial viability of these solutions has traditionally been low. Lux previously recommended to ignore this class of technology, but the Nabrajoint is a unique design with little competition – this deal could be a monumental marker for modular blade joints if testing proves successful. As blades continue to increase in size, clients should expect the joint to be tested by additional OEMs in 2021."

Lux Research - The Next Energy Transition eBook

Robotics startup Rios exits stealth to take on AI-powered manufacturing tasks

Kern, JoshJosh Kern, Analyst | @josh_kern_ Ico twitter
Lux Take: Very Important


"
The startup announced it had raised $5 million in a funding round led by Valley Capital Partners and Morpheus Ventures. Unlike the plethora of bin-picking robot startups that have emerged over the past couple of years, Rios targets manufacturing and assembly tasks, which are often difficult or impossible to program in a traditional industrial robot arm. In addition to AI algorithms, Rios developed a novel jaw gripper with thousands of internal tactile sensors, which enhances the robot's level of dexterity and precision. Companies with tasks that were previously thought to be too difficult to automate, especially in the lab and in manufacturing of small parts, should explore solutions with Rios' technology."

New study demonstrates far-UVC light's ability to kill 99.9% of coronavirus present in airborne droplets

Danielle BradnanDanielle Bradnan, Research Associate @DBradnan Ico twitter
Lux Take: Very Important


"Once the use of UVC light against COVID-19 was clinically validated, the key challenge of UVC light was that it can harm humans and thus can only be used when people are not present. In contrast, far-UVC light uses wavelengths that can't penetrate human tissue, so the lights can be used when people are present and most likely to transmit the virus via respiration. Those interested should both be looking to adopt this technology for their reopening efforts and be looking for ways to integrate this technology into their product lines. It is anticipated that after COVID-19, there will be increased interest in antimicrobial technology, and products that can clean the air of pathogens will be a safe bet."

KLM's €3.4 billion bailout package comes with the condition that the airline must reduce CO₂ emissions by 50% in 2030

YuanSheng Yu Photo_edited

Yuan-Sheng Yu, Senior Analyst | @808sAndInnovate Ico twitter
Lux Take: Very Important


"In response to the downturn of the aviation sector, the Dutch government will provide KLM with €3.4 billion in financial support under a series of conditions. One is that KLM must make an "active contribution" by cutting CO2 emissions by 50% by 2030, which will likely require an increase in sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) consumption. KLM is no stranger to SAF, signing a 10-year off-take agreement with SkyNRG and inking a supply deal with Neste. However, the timeline is much more aggressive compared to ICAO's 2050 roadmap for 2050. In the coming years, KLM will likely opt for carbon offsets, but if more governments follow the Netherlands, we may witness the catalyst that brings significant volumes of SAF into the aviation fuel mix."

Amazon officially acquires autonomous vehicle company Zoox

Lewie Roberts Lux Research

Lewie Roberts, Senior Research Associate | @roberts_lewie Ico twitter
Lux Take: Average Importance


"
A few weeks ago, there were rumors that Amazon would acquire the autonomous vehicle company Zoox. Now that the speculation is officially confirmed with the recent announcement, it will be interesting to see how Amazon engages with the company. Zoox's focus on developing a novel electric vehicle will require manufacturing resources. If Amazon intends to make use of that idea, it will be especially interesting to see if there is any crossover between Zoox and electric vehicle company Rivian, which Amazon is also heavily invested in. Details are sparse at the moment, but companies should monitor the situation for these kinds of developments, as there may be room for manufacturing partnerships."

Japan launches tender for floating wind farm off the coast of Nagasaki

Seoane da Silva, PatriciaPatricia Seoane da Silva, Research Associate
Lux Take: Average Importance


"The tender will be closed in December this year and aims to install at least 16.8 MW (with a feed-in-tariff capped at around $0.34 per kWh) off the coast of Goto City. This auction is the first in Japan since the introduction of its Renewable Sea Area Utilization Law, which aims to promote offshore wind developments in the country. Japan has long been regarded as a suitable site for floating wind, but – despite early efforts around 2013 – the country lagged behind Europe in terms of recent demonstrators and startup activity. The growing momentum of floating wind and introduction of new policies are set to reanimate activity in Japan, and companies should keep an eye for new projects in the short term."

Uber partners with California city to support on-demand transit integration

Chad Goldberg  Lux ResearchChad Goldberg, Research Associate
Lux Take: Average Importance


"The project represents Uber's first full-service SaaS integration with existing on-demand community microtransit. While we have seen Uber integrate with city transit that enables point-to-point journey planning that incorporates additional modes of transportation, this is the first case of the company integrating and enabling booking of existing public ride-share assets via the Uber app. Though the city transit service pockets the commuter fares, Uber will earn a flat fee of up to $80,000 for managing the platform, which, if scaled to other communities, could have huge implications as an alternate revenue stream for the company. Companies should monitor the project and expect Uber to add more city transit agencies to its customer list."

Lux Research - Newsletter Research

Coca Cola Japan applies antiviral coating to 30,000 vending machines

Tiffany HuaTiffany Hua, Research Associate | @tiff_hua Ico twitter
Lux Take: Average Importance


"Coca Cola Japan's announcement is in-line with the mass-adoption of antiviral coatings on frequently touched surfaces like buttons, door handles, shopping carts, elevators, and handrails as cities and businesses open back up. The company's biannual antiviral coating application on vending machine is an example of how antimicrobial technologies are slowly becoming normalized. In addition to disinfectants and implementing hygienic practices, companies should view antiviral coatings and films as another hygiene option when reintroducing employees and consumers back into shared spaces."

Petronas Corporate Venture Capital to invest in Malaysian drone agtech developer Braintree Technologies

Haslun, JoshJoshua Haslun, Ph.D., Senior Analyst | @JHaslun Ico twitter
Lux Take: Average Importance

"Established in 2019, Petronas CVC's initial fund size is $350 million. Details of the deal, Petronas' first in Malaysia and among few for agriculture, will be forthcoming in July. This isn't the first interaction between the pair. Braintree Technologies was recruited into Petronas' accelerator program last year. It targets plantation optimization (for oil palm), including plant health and count analysis, bagworm mapping, precision terracing, and spraying services. Companies, the investment aligns with national policy aimed at improving Malaysia's agriculture system, but the company's focus on palm discounts an interest in crop diversification. Nonetheless, drones are likely to impact the region's palm production (37% of arable land use)."

Siemens Energy and EnergyNest partnership shows commercialization pathway for thermal energy storage startups

Benjamin Torda

Benjamin Torda, Research Associate
Lux Take: Average Importance

 

"Siemens had already worked with EnergyNest, including on a 1 MWh project started in 2015 to verify the technology at Masdar City, Abu Dhabi. Siemens and EnergyNest recently signed an MoU for long-term development and reportedly aim to develop their first commercial systems within a year. We have previously highlighted that the main growth route for thermal energy storage startups is to become a supplier to larger industrial players. Companies should view this announcement as a clear path to market for startups and a signal that industrial decarbonization efforts are accelerating."

Nuritas launches novel bioactive peptide for anti-aging application

hariniHarini Venkataraman, Ph.D., Analyst
Lux Take: Average Importance


"
The new peptide, "PeptiYouth," is derived from pea protein and has been clinically tested for cellular regeneration effects. Developed using Nuritas' AI platform in combination with peptidomics, this is the company's latest bioactive peptide and follows its rice protein-derived sports nutrition ingredient "PeptAIde," developed in collaboration with BASF. Bioactive ingredients have wide application areas ranging from food to cosmetics; however. uncovering novel ones from naturally occurring sources is often challenging and necessitates an integrated bioinformatics-based approach. Stay tuned for our upcoming webinar, in which we'll discuss how to leverage bioinformatics to drive value for a number of applications across the agrifood sector."

Smart masks may uncover new business opportunities post-COVID, but their value proposition needs to be carefully selected

jerrold wangJerrold Wang, Analyst | @jerroldwang Ico twitter
Lux Take: Average Importance

"Startup Donut Robotics launched a smart mask that fits over a regular mask and works with its phone app for speech-to-text (STT) and text translation. The company claims it can facilitate personal interaction while maintaining social distancing in use cases like retail, hospitals, and offices. We believe the product has limited potential, as it doesn't offer much better performance than the incumbent solution using a common mask and an STT and text translation app. However, making masks smart and connected is an interesting direction to monitor, as it can uncover new opportunities if the masks cater to unmet needs like remote health monitoring via breath gas analysis or digital facial expression via voice-controlled LEDs in the mask."

 

 

FURTHER READING:

- Free Access to our COVID-19 Resources

- Blog: Lux Take on News: Weekly Round-Up June 26, 2020

- Blog: Autonomous Vehicle Deployments Could Accelerate Following the COVID-19 Outbreak

- Executive Summary: Applications and Impacts of Bioinformatics Across the Agrifood and Health Ecosystem (Free Download)

- Press Release: Bioinformatics will Grow Beyond Applications in Healthcare to Create New Opportunities in Agriculture and Food

More Lux News    Schedule Your Demo