Toilet tech


January 10, 2020

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Don’t get us wrong, flying cars are cool. But life-changing technology doesn’t always fly so high… 

Take indoor plumbing: People once had to go outside to unloose the caboose. Then, someone invented indoor toilets, and voila — everyone started making their deposits in the porcelain bank. Nothing was ever the same. Today:

  • Unsexy tech products make sure your pipes don’t leak
  • Sexy tech products are back and they’re lookin’ sleek
  • Fashion retailers are missing an opportunity in “grandma chic”

In case you were wondering… English inventor Alexander Cumming patented the first flush toilet in 1775. But the design was later improved by a businessman in the 1880s named Thomas Crapper, a man whose entrepreneurial legacy is immortalized, quite literally, in crap.

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One more time for the people in back… a 3rd day of CES highlights

Just when we thought we’d seen everything at CES — other than the countless wireless earbuds — we found more interesting ideas. Here are a couple more things we couldn’t help but notice:

1. Public transportation is about to get optimized

There were plenty of futuristic motorcycles, scooters, and scooter/jet ski hybrids at CES. But a number of companies were also focused on tackling an even bigger beast: public transportation. Some highlights:

  • Uber rolled out a feature that enables riders in Las Vegas (the location of CES) to buy public bus tickets in Uber’s app. The feature also allows users to compare the price and travel time of Uber’s transit options with public transportation options.
  • Delta thinks flying doesn’t have to be a pain in the a*s. The airline showed off its revamped boarding app, robotic exoskeletons designed to load luggage, and “parallel reality” screens that show different information to different customers based on their angle.

2. Your house is smarter than you are (and it’s greener, too)

Sure, smart fuse boxes aren’t as sexy as electric motorcycles. But these under-the-radar smart home features could change lives by making homes more efficient — both financially and environmentally. 

Several companies unveiled new, smart products to manage electricity:

  • Wemo and GE showed off smart plugs that enable homeowners to monitor their electricity usage.   
  • Schneider Electric showed off an upgraded fuse box designed with energy management in mind.
  • Sengled, Ring, LIFX, and Philip Hue all demoed smart light bulbs that save homeowners energy and money.

And a few other companies also unveiled smart products designed to manage water usage:

  • Phyn, Kohler, Moen and Flo Technologies unveiled systems that make it easier to monitor water usage.
  • Hydraloop took it a step further by creating a system to monitor and recycle household water.

3. Consumer sex tech is even hotter than last year

Last year, sex tech was a hot topic at CES after startup Lora DiCarlo won an innovation award but later got banned (check out our interview with the company’s co-founder for the full story). 

This year, CES updated their rules (slightly) — and even more sex-tech products showed up:

  • DiCarlo returned to CES to show off Osé, a “robotic massager for blended orgasms.” 
  • And no fewer than 9 other sex-tech startups — including Satsifyer, OhMiBod, Crave, and Morari — showed off a variety of high-tech, pleasure-centric devices and apps — accompanied by cheeky slogans such as “come as you are.”
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IHOP culinary training image

Who needs culinary school when you have Chipotle and IHOP?

A growing number of successful chefs at high-end restaurants are forgoing fancy foodie degrees from culinary schools… and instead cutting their teeth — and their vegetables — in the kitchens of chain restaurants like IHOP and Applebee’s.

Traditional culinary school just doesn’t cut it anymore…

And, according to a report from The New York Times, attendance at prestigious culinary institutes is declining: 800 aspiring chefs were enrolled at the New England Culinary Institute in 1999; that number had fallen to 300 in 2017.

Meanwhile, a growing number of successful chefs credit their success with experiences at restaurants like Olive Garden, California Pizza Kitchen, Applebee’s, IHOP, and Wendy’s.

So, what led to this shift?

For one thing, there’s the earnings issue: Culinary schools cost money, while chain restaurants provide aspiring chefs with income.

But, beyond that, chain restaurants also offer a number of benefits to early-career chefs:

  • Training is often more formal
  • Operations are often more efficient
  • Schedules are often more predictable
  • Corporate policies discourage abuse and harassment
  • Benefits are usually better

So, if you’re really serious about that Michelin star… ditch that fake French accent and hop on over to IHOP.

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Okay, so we went a liiittle overboard with team lunch yesterday

Look, when you stumble upon an all-you-can-eat seafood buffet in North Austin, there’s only one thing to do: see who can eat the most king crab legs, price be damned. 

Normally, we’d resort to credit card roulette at the end and some unlucky soul would be stuck with one hell of an expense report… but not today. 

And we can thank our Divvy card for that. 

We tossed that little plastic wonder down, and Divvy handled the rest. Our lunch was instantly expensed — no receipt-laden reports or weeks of waiting for payback required. 

Are you drooling yet? You’re in luck. Divvy is totally free, and they’re giving you $100 just to demo their platform today.

With Divvy, it’s done →
grandma image

Big brands are missing out on a golden opportunity… grandma chic

Fashion runways and magazines are dominated by thin, youthful models. But according to analysts, older women are about to dominate actual fashion expenditures. Unaddressed, this shift could cost the industry $14B+.

Face it, girls. She’s older, she has more insurance…

And she has more expendable income. In the UK, women aged 50+ are expected to overtake younger shoppers as fashion’s biggest spenders — by a large margin — within the next 20 years.

In 2018:

  • Women under age 50 spent $23.2B on fashion purchases
  • Women aged 50+ spent $21.7B

By 2040:

  • Women under 50 are projected to spend $28.1B on fashion purchases
  • Women aged 50+ are projected to spend a whopping $38.4B

And you can keep your kaftan 

It’s not just that younger generations have fewer people. People are living longer, taking better care of themselves, have greater incomes… and they want to look fabulous enjoying the rest of their lives, dammit.

But fashion ageism is a multipronged problem. According to a survey by the International Longevity Centre:

  • Older women aren’t interested in fast fashion, which they view as designed for younger women
  • Older women find the brands marketed to them to be frumpy and limited in selection
  • Brands that might appeal to older women often don’t market to them
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Snippets

👳 The fabrication of fake faces is big business. According to a report from The Washington Post, new AI illustration companies are selling “worry-free, diverse models on-demand using AI” to buyers looking for, um, more diverse faces for their websites and advertisements.

🛴 Lime is starting to get squeezed. The ambitious scooter company announced plans to shut down in 12 markets — and lay off about 100 employees. But Lime is hardly alone: Other scooter companies including Bird, Skip, Scoot, and Lyft have also downsized.

🃏 CollegeHumor’s sale is no joke. CollegeHumor, which was funded and owned by a company called IAC, was sold off to CollegeHumor’s own chief creative officer. The sale was spun as “bad news with a twist” — but the deal isn’t a laughing matter for the 100 employees getting laid off in the reshuffle.

💸 The Silicon Prairie got another vote of confidence. J.D. Vance, the guy who wrote “Hillbilly Elegy” and later became a vocal advocate for investment in America’s heartland, launched an Ohio-based VC fund for startups outside of Silicon Valley.

Shower Thoughts
  1. We laugh at dogs getting excited when they hear a bark on TV, but if TV was a nonstop stream of unintelligible noises and then someone suddenly spoke to you in your language, you’d be pretty f*cking startled, too.
  2. “I need to talk to you” is the one sentence that has the power to make you remember every bad thing you’ve ever done in your life.
  3. If you have an organ donor card, you’ll drop loot when you die.
  4. Bees build homes with their mouths and defend with their butts. Spiders build homes with their butts and defend with their mouths.
  5. Somewhere out there, two Tinder bots are trying to get each other’s credit card info.
  6. via Reddit

Bonus Potential-Hot-New-Dietary-Trend Thought: Whales are mammals… so technically, we could milk them and make whale cheese.
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