Welcome to the weird, weird week of CES (the good ol’ Consumer Electronics Show). We’re looking forward to seeing some innovations that will impact the tech industry for years — and some of the weird gadgets that we’ll all forget about in a few days. But first:
- Connected clothes are the fashion of the hour
- Alexa is now available in the shower
- Depending on your metric, the economy is sweet or sour
Fun fact: Two of this year’s hottest jobs don’t require a college degree. Bet you can’t guess what they are (find the answer in our story on the economy, below).
Can connected clothes make people more productive workers?
Entrepreneurs seem to think so.
As the Wall Street Journal reports, a number of companies — ranging from specialized startups to massive tech giants — have launched connected clothing options for professionals in the past few years.
Noteworthy examples include:
- Google, which launched a connected clothing company called Project Jacquard in 2017 and has since partnered with retailers like Levi Strauss & Co. to create jackets that can answer phone calls (AKA close enterprise deals while attending a James Dean convention)
- Samsung, which made business suits that can digitally swap business cards (AKA wear their LinkedIn profiles on their sleeves)
- Sensoree, a startup that makes “mood sensing” sweaters that can improve communication at work (AKA tell coworkers when to leave each other the f*ck alone)
- Ministry of Supply, a startup that creates temperature-regulating sweaters that can help employees stay comfortable at the office (AKA avoid leaving passive aggressive notes on the thermostat)
- Ekso Bionics, a bionics startup that creates exoskeleton supersuits that help employees lift more weight (AKA Ironman Lite)
Some employees are skeptical
In some cases, connected clothes have caused more problems than they’ve solved…
- In 2018, Delta Airlines issued its employees new, high-tech uniforms designed to resist wrinkles, water stains, and static. But then 500 Delta employees developed sicknesses. Now, they’ve filed a class action lawsuit against the company that made the clothes.
Connected clothes makers must stitch wisely
Since connected clothes can provide benefits to employers, demand for them seems unlikely to unravel.
But for connected clothes companies to succeed, they’ll need to make sure that they provide real benefits to workers — without giving them gnarly red rashes.
Smart devices are hitting the showers
But the process of smartification didn’t end there. Now, the latest dumb object to get smart is… the humble showerhead.
That’s right, now you can shower with Alexa
The plumbing company Kohler partnered with Amazon to add Alexa to a showerhead.
The smart showerhead, which is called Moxie, allows owners to listen to music, hear the news, or even order a new bottle of conditioner — all while lathering up.
But not everyone’s ready to jump in…
Because the idea of smart showers raises questions about when — and where — we really want and need personal assistants like Alexa.
Some critics argue that the monetization of consumers’ every move may not actually be in their best interest.
As privacy problems persist for Amazon and other manufacturers of smart objects, some consumers may choose not to invite Alexa and her friends into their most private places.
Here’s what The Hustle plans on learning in 2020
“Make Creativity Your Career: Six Exercises to Create a Successful Side Project” — Bobby “Bumble is my side hustle” Durben, Copywriter
“Modern Money Habits: 5 Steps to Build the Life You Want” — Austin “I will NOT spend my entire bonus on Whataburger” Winter, Sales Exec
“Real Productivity: How to Build Habits That Last” — Becca “Goes to the gym once” Sherman, General Manager
Where are we picking up these much-needed skills? On Skillshare, the online learning community that lets you explore your inner creativity.
(But be careful… what you find might surprise you.)
Get 2 free months of Skillshare Premium when you use the link below:
|Stackin’ skills →|
Employment was high last year. So were layoffs. Huh?
At the start of this month, the Wall Street Journal reported that 62k US workers lost their jobs due to bankruptcies in the previous year — the most bankruptcy-related layoffs in a year since 2005.
But on the other hand…
Unemployment ALSO hit a 50-year low in November when the economy added 266k jobs.
So, how can unemployment hit a half-century low while layoffs also hit a decade-plus high?
It’s a tale of 2 economies
This apparent contradiction stems from uneven economic growth. First, economic gains in the economy differed widely by industry:
- Healthcare, hospitality, and professional industries made up the majority of the job gains;
- Mining, retail, and utilities all suffered big losses.
But they also differed widely by geography:
- “Silicon” states like Washington, California, Massachusetts, and Utah all flourished
- But 9 state economies are expected to shrink
So what fields have the brightest future?
If you were downsized last year, you should look to cybersecurity, where there will be an estimated 3.5m job openings by 2021. Other jobs that are in high demand:
- Blockchain developer
- Physical therapist
- Digital/video marketer
- Commercial drone pilot*
- Security, fire, and service technicians*
* No college degree required
Small business of the week: Hydrant is making Pedialyte that actually tastes good
In 2017, John Sherwin saw a gap in the hydration market. On one end was Gatorade, drowning in sugar. On the other end was Pedialyte, a gnarly tasting dehydration solution marketed toward children. Leaning on his biology degree, Sherwin created Hydrant.
He started with an Indiegogo campaign that raised $17.5k. Then he met his cofounder Jai Jung Kim, who pulled the plug on Wharton (yes, that Wharton) and reallocated his tuition money to the startup.
Since then, they’ve completed a seed round with the Philadelphia 76ers Innovation Lab and grown to $3m in annual recurring revenue, working with a food scientist, nutrition and medical advisors, and Oxford researchers.
Their product line has also expanded to Hydrant+ — the same hydration, plus 100mg of caffeine and 200mg of L-theanine.
Now, Hydrant is looking to make its mark in retail, finding shelf space in Whole Foods stores in the Northeast.
- Founders: John Sherwin and Jai Jung Kim
- Employees: 6
- Years in business: 2
- Cost to launch: $67.5k
- Funding methods: Personal savings, friends/family contributions, VC, crowdfunding, loans
- 1st-year revenue: $40k
- Current annual revenue: $3m
😟 Cranky young people have replaced cranky old people. Young people (<35) have generally been more optimistic than old people (>55) since the ’80s. But due to soaring student debt and climbing home prices, young people have been less confident than their elders for months.
🤖 Wall-E’s dystopian dream is coming true. Thanks to Segway, the dystopian transport pods from “Wall-E” are basically real now. Segway has created personal transporter pods, which it calls S-Pods, that shuttle riders around in lounge-style chairs at speeds of 7.5 mph. The strange-looking transporters will make their debut at CES this week.
🛒 Snapchat loves shopping in Ukraine. Snapchat acquired AI Factory, the company responsible for developing Snapchat’s recently released video selfie feature, for a reported $166m. S’Chat pulled a similar move when it acquired the startup Looksery in 2015 for a reported $150m — and both companies have large offices in Ukraine.
🛵 Moped startups are off to the races. The Brooklyn-based moped startup Revel is expanding to the West Coast (Oakland, CA) in the coming weeks. The San Francisco–based moped startup Scoot was acquired by the scooter giant Bird last June.
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