I. Music & Tech
Yamaha – Smart Piano
Last week at IFA 2017 Yamaha unveiled an Alexa compatible smart piano (Clavinova CSP) which uses an iOS device and LEDs above each key to give the user instruction on how to play. The user is able to select tracks and the LED light system will illuminate over the corresponding white and black keys instructing the user to play the appropriate keys. For those that are able to read sheet music the corresponding notes will also display on the connected iOS device. The starting price is $4000, and Yamaha offers a Grand Piano option starting at $60,000. In the coming year Yamaha expects to make the technology available on Android devices. Read more here.
The Future of Listening – Wireless Headphones
It was recently reported that Apple’s wireless earbuds (AirPods) account for 85% of all 2017 wireless headphones sales in the U.S. With products from Bose, Beats, Sony, Samsung, and Apple the total number of units sold this year is at 900K and counting. Driven by the introduction of the AirPods the entire wireless headphone market has seen accelerated sales as well as an increase in average transaction price. As audio consumption continues to evolve in the digital era, so will listening behaviors. For more info check it out here.
Research and Development Trends
Since the recession domestic productivity has been on the decline. One of the factors that weighs in on our assessment of productivity is research and development (R&D). Commonly associated with the bio-tech industry, as of late we have seen a significant shift in the “major players” of R&D spending. Based on recent reports comparing the R&D leaders amongst S&P 500 companies it was revealed that technology companies are now dominating the category. In the lead is Amazon, with $16.1 billion in research spending, followed by Alphabet (Google), Intel, Microsoft, and Apple. While the numbers are impressive and R&D should be positively impacting our productivity numbers, it is possible that an inability to effectively value the digital output of our technology firms is essentially skewing how we define gross domestic product (GDP). By undervaluing, or inaccurately valuing such a significant segment of our workforce spending it could be causing a discrepancy in our true measure of productivity. For more details check it out here.