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.
Amazon takes page from Walmart's $6 prescription playbook, tapping into uninsured market and undercutting digital pharmacy competition
"Mirroring Walmart's paradigm-shifting generic drug plan from 2006, Amazon is offering generic prescription refills at $6 for a six-month supply for qualifying prescriptions when paid for without an insurance policy. This accomplishes three goals: 1) It attracts consumers who don't have or don't want to use their insurance, ultimately cutting out the payer middle man from the transaction; 2) it wildly undercuts the digital pharmacy landscape pricing – which will likely decimate the competition; and 3) if successful, it will be a clear bellwether of the appeal of consumer-as-payer health products and services. Companies should see this as the beginning of a sea change in consumer healthcare expectations and plan accordingly."
Diagnosing cancers using electronic noses, while getting closer, still faces challenges
"Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania demonstrated using electronic noses to diagnose cancers that are usually difficult to detect. The e-noses leverage gas sensor arrays and AI to analyze the pattern of volatile organic compounds emitted from blood samples. The results are based on recognizing the odor patterns linked to cancers. The work illustrates the potential of using electronic noses as future diagnostic devices. In the meantime, there are two challenges that clients need to be aware of: 1) AI needs extensive training to be able to exclude the influence of age, gender, race, and other individual medical conditions, and 2) sensor technologies will need to show repeatable results so as to meet regulatory requirements."
Fashion gets digital tracker tags to increase transparency and circularity
Drishti Masand, Analyst | @DrishtiMasand
Lux Take: Very Important
"The fashion industry's latest partnership between EON, a product cloud platform, and apparel company Pangaia is significant, as it is the first commercial venture for piloting the digital ID protocol. EON's technology encodes product data like origin and fiber composition, which can be used for traceability across the value chain. The most significant source of hesitance across the industry has been waiting for a commonly agreed-upon protocol for digital trackers across the supply chain to help enable textile recyclers to successfully recycle or upcycle garments. Those interested should monitor these digital tracker technologies for proof of concept or engage by forming a consortium to select and pilot a digital tracking system collectively."
PTT forms joint venture with Foxconn to manufacture electric vehicles
Itamar Medical adds new features to lineup of sleep apnea diagnostic tests
"Itamar is a medical device company that develops WatchPAT, a wearable system that aids in the diagnosis of sleep apnea. The company announced two features that utilize its mHealth app, SleepPath, and WatchPAT ONE-M. SleepPath is a feature that adds self-reported patient data to the user's experience before and after testing, while ONE-M enables physicians to follow up with patients during testing and order more tests as necessary. By adding qualitative data to the sleep report through patient engagement, Itamar can provide a more comprehensive overview of sleep health. Those interested in the sleep health space should take note of this development."
JAC launches two swapping-enabled BEVs in China with a focus on taxis
South Korean city targets carbon zero with VPP platform
"Ulsan, a port city in southern South Korea, in partnership with SK Gas and the Korean Institute of Technology, plans to deploy a data platform for a distributed energy management system (DERMS) enabling a virtual power plant (VPP), among other functions, in a $5.7 million project by 2023. Connecting distributed power plants, the platform will provide real-time operational data matched with predicted energy output requirements based on weather and usage patterns. The project is likely coupled with SK Gas' multibillion-dollar hydrogen infrastructure being deployed in the city. Suppliers can take advantage of carbon-free initiatives like South Korea's and consider diversifying in energy generation and energy management services."
Alibaba invests in a Southeast Asia retailer, fueling e-commerce growth in the geographic market
"An Alibaba-led consortium will invest $400 million to acquire a 5.5% stake in The CrownX, Vietnam's biggest retailer, which was formed via a merger of Vingroup's retail units and Masan Group's food and beverage unit. As part of the deal, the Alibaba-owned e-commerce platform Lazada will help empower The CrownX’s capability to serve online orders. E-commerce in Vietnam and other Southeast Asian countries will see rapid growth due to the countries' e-commerce initiatives and the increasingly fierce competition among leading platforms like Lazada, Shopee, and Amazon. Agrifood and CPG companies should expect the impact of rising e-commerce on the geographic supply chain and quickly adjust distribution channels in the local market."
Google reveals AI-enabled dermatology screening assistant
"The assistant is formatted as a web-based application, which aims to help users find answers about skin conditions and diseases. The tool works by uploading photos onto the platform, which then provides information and suggestions on matching cases. Google previously published a Nature article that demonstrated the AI platform to be as accurate as a dermatologist at detecting 26 different skin conditions. The company currently has an EU CE mark for the tool as a Class 1 medical device, although it is not yet available in the U.S. Clients interested in skin care should take a look at the possible ways pairing or developing these types of at-home screening tools could add value to their own line of products."
Unilever and Pulpex announce commercialization plans to replace laundry detergent packaging
Drishti Masand, Analyst | @DrishtiMasand
Lux Take: Ignore
"Pulpex and Unilever plan to roll out a prototype of their paper bottle for laundry detergent packaging by early 2022, starting in Brazil and expanding to other regions. The companies are likely sourcing the paper material from Brazil, so it would be cheaper and easier to do the pilot test there. This is not the first commercialization plan announced by Pulpex, with no further progress on previous plans. Pulpex is quick to form and announce multiple partnerships with new players and plan pilot rollouts but is still staying vague on its technology and design. Those interested can monitor Pulpex's progress but should anticipate disappointment, as paper bottles have made no real progress in the past decade and are unlikely to in the next few years."