• Soon you could pay at the store with just your palm…
  • We’ll finally be able to cut the cord on our cable internet company
  • Coming down the home stretch for a COVID-19 vaccine…

Dear Reader,

It’s hard to believe that it has already been six months since most U.S. states and many countries issued lockdowns and stay-at-home orders.

It is even harder to believe that, in some countries, the restrictions are becoming more draconian, rather than lifting them to reflect our dramatically improved ability to treat the small number actually requiring hospitalization due to COVID-19.

The U.K., Australia, and New Zealand are perfect examples of this.

The extraordinary success of Sweden’s approach to managing COVID-19, which becomes more glaringly obvious as each month passes, is unfortunately the exception rather than the rule.

As many countries come out of the back end of the pandemic, it has gotten me thinking a lot about the future of work. What practices that many of us have adopted will survive post-COVID-19?

The difficult part is that there will be no consistent answer to that question.

For Sweden, no major modifications were ever required. The work environment really hasn’t changed much at all. For the U.S., U.K., and many other countries, it will be hard to break the habits that have been so awkwardly enforced in our daily lives.

There is no consistency among corporations either.

Companies like Facebook, Twitter, and Google don’t expect employees to return to work until as late as next summer. Apple, however, has already begun bringing its employees back to its gargantuan, donut-shaped headquarters in Cupertino. And firms like JPMorgan Chase have already ordered sales and trading staff back to the office.

What’s really happening? Why the discrepancies?

For one, a completely software-driven business like Google or Facebook is much more amenable to remote work. It’s not perfect, but the business will still run. That’s not true for companies like Apple and JPMorgan, whose businesses are quite different.

I was studying the results of a recent survey of remote workers, and they are telling.

75% felt a sense of digital overload and fatigue as a result of remote work. Another study found that 40% of U.S. executives report a decrease in productivity caused by remote work.

And a remarkable 85% of chief security officers recognize that they have sacrificed network security as a result of remote work.

While there are technology solutions to address cybersecurity issues, decreased productivity is a different story.

That’s not something corporations, especially public ones, are willing to sacrifice. The same is true for the fatigue that comes from too many video calls, and the extra effort required to function in an organization while never being in the same room with work colleagues.

There is only one way to solve that problem…

I can clearly see that corporations will take different stances on their facilities’ footprints. Reduced office space and shared office space will become the norm. That will primarily be driven by financial incentives to reduce operational costs.

But offices are not going away. Saving money on operations is one thing, but in order to address massive declines in productivity, we’re going to have to get back together in person to have fun and be productive together.

The rest of this year is a wash. It will take several weeks for the dust to settle after the U.S. election, and by that time, even more fatigue will set in.

We’ll slide into the holidays with the sheer exhaustion of 2020. And my prediction for most companies is that they’ll all get back to work early in the new year. We’ll reclaim our lives and our freedoms, which we have fought and worked so hard to enjoy.

Now let’s turn to today’s insights…

Amazon’s latest product release…

Amazon just made what was likely its biggest product announcement of the year.

Days after its big hardware event, which we talked about last week, Amazon revealed its new Amazon One technology.

Amazon One is biometric identification tech. It links a consumer’s palm print to a credit card and mobile phone number, allowing for immediate access to certain places with just a palm scan.

Users sign up at a terminal outside of a participating location by inserting their credit card and having their palm scanned.

Here’s a visual:

Amazon’s Palm Scanner

Source: Amazon

This technology has sweeping implications, starting with Amazon Go stores.

We have talked about Amazon Go stores several times before.

For the sake of newer readers, these are small convenience stores powered entirely by artificial intelligence (AI) and computer vision (CV). There are cameras strategically placed throughout the store that track the activity of each customer.

To enter the store, customers scan barcodes on their smartphones that link them to their Amazon accounts. Then they can take whatever they want off the shelf and simply walk out. Amazon charges the credit card on file for the goods taken and emails a receipt.

Well, Amazon One will make this experience even more convenient. Instead of fumbling with a smartphone app, consumers can simply scan their palms to enter the store.

What’s more, Amazon plans to make this technology available to third parties. It will license Amazon One’s technology to any other enterprise that wants to implement it. That means other retail stores, office buildings, and even stadiums where sporting events and concerts are held could use this tech.

In this way, Amazon is truly becoming a tech company that licenses its technology to other entities. It has never done that before.

And what’s smart here is that Amazon will not require people to have an Amazon account to sign up for Amazon One. Users can sign up at a terminal with just their credit cards.

We can be sure that if Facebook, Google, or Microsoft rolled out this tech, they would require consumers to have an account with them first. Naturally, that would limit adoption among users who don’t want a bunch of accounts or don’t trust the companies involved.

That’s not the case with Amazon. Users can sign up in less than 60 seconds – no account required.

And there are no major privacy concerns here. The tech simply ties a palm print to a credit card and phone number. There’s not much room for abuse there.

So I think Amazon One will catch on in a big way. It’s the perfect offering for a post-pandemic environment, in which contactless transactions are the desired method of payment and verification.

We know Amazon will implement this tech in its Amazon Go stores first. My bet is that we’ll then start to see Amazon One terminals outside Whole Foods stores and, eventually, other retail stores, office buildings, and sporting complexes around the country.

Verizon just became the “cable killer”…

Verizon Wireless just revealed a powerful new 5G home gateway system for fixed broadband internet. This is the product that has the potential to kill cable TV internet services for good.

Verizon’s 5G Home Router

Source: PCMag

The 5G home gateway is a Wi-Fi 6 router that has an Ethernet port and a 5G internet receiver built in. It will allow users to replace the horrible, overpriced internet service offered by their cable TV companies with true 5G wireless broadband.

And how many of us would love to fire our cable company?

There is no service company I hold in less regard than my local cable TV company. I bet that’s the case for many readers around the U.S. as well.

These companies have largely had a monopoly on internet access across the country. And they are notoriously bad for poor customer service and poor internet service. Yet they consistently raise rates for their inferior service.

Now we have a better alternative.

Verizon is rolling out its 5G gateway product in the higher frequencies. It’s a true ultra-wideband service.

Verizon says that customers will get speeds of at least 300 megabits per second (Mbps), and top-end speeds will hit 1 gigabit per second (Gbps).

300 Mbps is on par with the best internet services around the country. Anything above that level is superior to what we typically experience getting broadband internet over a cable TV network today.

And here’s the best part – this is a turnkey system.

Because the gateway is wireless, consumers can set it up themselves. No more waiting for technicians to show up within a four-hour window.

In fact, a smartphone app replaces the technician. The product links to the app, which helps users find the optimal location for the device inside of their home. Just plug it in, follow the instructions, and consumers will have a Wi-Fi network powered by 5G wireless technology in their homes.

To me, this is a brilliant product offering. It’s more convenient and offers better performance than the legacy internet services on the market today. And I’m sure Verizon’s customer service will be far better than most cable TV companies.

Verizon’s 5G gateway is already available in Chicago, Detroit, Indianapolis, Houston, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Sacramento, and St. Paul.

If any readers of The Bleeding Edge in these cities are looking to set up Verizon’s 5G router in their home, I would love to hear about the experience. Please drop me a line right here.

I’d be grateful for any real-world feedback. I’ve been testing Verizon’s 5G wireless network across the country with smartphones, and I’m excited to hear about how well the fixed broadband service is working.

And we can be sure that this product will be available in many more cities as Verizon continues to build out its nationwide 5G network.

What an exciting development! The days of cable internet are numbered…

Moderna’s vaccine is coming down the home stretch…

Last month, we talked about how Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine had demonstrated efficacy in clinical trials for patients under 55 years old. Now, early results are in from those patients who are over 75 years old.

And they are quite encouraging.

To bring new readers up to speed, Moderna is one of the leaders in the race for a COVID-19 vaccine. Its vaccine is already in Phase 3 clinical trials.

What makes Moderna’s vaccine unique is that it uses messenger RNA (mRNA) to produce an immune response. This is a synthetic biology approach, which is on the cutting edge of biotechnology right now.

Moderna actually created the vaccine in just a matter of weeks after genetically sequencing the COVID-19 virus.

The data shows that the vaccine produced antibodies in adults over 75 years old at levels that were similar to those seen in younger patients. And the side effects were typically on par with what’s often experienced after a flu shot.

This is big news.

Obviously, those who are 75 years and older make up the most at-risk part of the population. That’s especially true for seniors with underlying conditions.

The fact that Moderna’s vaccine can produce a strong immune response with safe side effects bodes well for the success of the ongoing Phase 3 clinical trials.

Moderna could wrap Phase 3 by the end of this month. If the results continue to be positive, there’s a good chance the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will issue emergency use authorization (EUA) before the year is out.

That would make Moderna’s mRNA vaccine one of the first available for people at risk due to age and health concerns, medical workers, and anyone whose job requires travel and constant exposure to others.

Of course, the availability of an effective vaccine, even under an EUA, would be a big step toward getting the economy back on track and putting displaced people back to work… and returning to a semblance of normalcy after what’s been an absolutely ridiculous year.


Jeff Brown
Editor, The Bleeding Edge

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