Wednesday, June 23, 2021
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Scientists invent anti-gravity solar panels to purify water


Water purifiers are today almost a necessity. With pure drinking water still a novelty in many other parts of the world, scientists are always on the lookout for innovative solutions to purify water. From ‘hydro panels’ attempted by an Arizona-based start-up to other researches in different parts of the globe, the attempts to procure pure and safe drinking water is a challenge.

A similar attempt has been initiated by a joint team of researchers from the University of Rochester and the USA Army. The two teams have joined forces to create an anti-gravity solar panel that can absorb and then purify water.

The solar panel is made of an aluminium panel that uses solar energy to accelerate the evaporation of water and then runs a process of purification on it. The aluminium panel too is made using a new device that used laser technology to turn aluminium highly absorptive of solar energy by turning it pitch black. The device used the process of super-wicking to enable the panel to work against gravity and thus hold most of the absorbed water. The solar energy trapped in turn helps to rid the water of any contaminants such as dyes, glycerine, urine, heavy metals, and detergents, thus purifying it.

The solar panel purports to be a simple, inexpensive and durable attempt to resolve the global water crisis.

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Reimagining the workplace after COVID-19 pandemic


A lot has been said about Coronavirus, but what should stay with us is something that author Bert McCoy said, “The Coronavirus is forcing us to work together as human beings.”

Coronavirus changed the way we think, we live, we study, and we work. It has questioned our intelligence, both intellectually and emotionally, and thrown challenges which are unprecedented and complicated.

Corona clearly intensified the speed at which companies were adopting technology for remote working. Technology was a saviour and digitization ensured that work continues seamlessly, productivity is in check and the outcome is not affected.

Businesses survived, some even made big profits by aligning their organisation goals with workforce being safe, connected, productive, and trained. Intel former CEO Bob Swan summed it well, “We are witnessing what will surely be remembered as a historic deployment of remote work and digital access to services across every domain, including medicine, education, government, entertainment and more.”

As humankind is evolving against the virus by inventing and administering vaccination and increasing spends and efforts on medical research, a big challenge is looking at the corporate world, which is already limping back to work.

Let us accept that till the entire workforce is vaccinated, the office experience will remain uncomfortable with protocols like masks, social distancing, and restricted movement.  In addition, many employees who could work from their couch and save time from endless commute, water cooler conversations, and endless meetings, would argue that working from home is a more productive arrangement.

So, will corporates extend work from home for people who can (based on their job roles) and who are willing, or will they look at it as a threat to the hyped ‘corporate culture’? What about mental wellbeing of the employees with such arrangement?

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Some of the HR challenges that we can already foresee are, performance tracking, talent development, reconstructing processes, and aligning leadership to the change. On how companies should set priorities and manage workplaces, Brian Moynihan, CEO of Bank of America said, “The number one thing to focus on is employees and customers. Keep them well, keep them employed and keep them mentally healthy.”

In the coming days, management has a tough task at hand, and that is to revisit the business model and processes to define how each of them can be remodelled to be resilient to such pandemics. At the same time, they need to ensure the employees do not operate in isolation and continue to work collaboratively in a re-defined workplace spanning across real and virtual world, located centrally and remotely.

For example, hybrid way of working can ensure employee safety and productivity. By providing wider reach and flexibility, this has the potential to even improve the gender equality by increasing wider participation from stay-at-home mothers.

Corporate world needs to establish faith in the power of business ingenuity, especially during periods of crisis, look at creating resilient ventures and business continuity plans, and address and restructure real human need to stay well and constantly reinvent.  

We will need to go by what Kevin O’Leary, Entrepreneur and co-star of Shark Tank said, “The key is to keep the DNA of the business intact so that when we come back out of this incredible, unique situation, we have all the building blocks we started with before to spring right back into business.” 

The Future of Luxury Marketing: 6 Trends to Stay Ahead


The word luxury is originated from the old French word luxurie meaning “succession, ebullient growth; surplus, profligacy, and misspending.” Luxury constitutes an important part of human life in society. Since the evolution of humanity, there have been amazing articles and symbols, a thriftless way of living and expanding central power, lavish societies confined to the prime groups.

The objects and symbols popular in these leading groups mark the origin of luxury. Digitalization and online sales are ruling the market these days, which is turning out to be decent growth for the luxury industry.

This has helped the customers to search for endless luxury brands and their alternatives. On the online platform, luxury brands must use some way by which they can gain and boost customer loyalty, apart from giving exciting offers.

Only those leading luxury brands will succeed in the future who will be able to adapt themselves in response to changing concepts of new generation expectations and luxury without diminishing their moral philosophy.

Here in this article, we highlight 6 key luxury trends for your never-ending luxury business:

New Avenues of Relevance

There is no assurance that the well-established luxury brands will remain popular today also. They need to rebuild and upgrade themselves from time to time to meet the taste and expectations of the modern consumer. It does not mean that they cannot get rooted in their past status, but they need to think something out of the box that could offer attract the new generation.

They should not only be flaunting about the brand history, but the storytelling should be about observing customer’s admiration too.

Customers are not only attracted by the product or services provided, but by the entire system that created it- the suppliers luxury brand choose to do business with, the manufacturers, and all those companies supported by that luxury brand and the difference the luxury brand could make to the society.

Driving a Culture of Inclusivity

In the past, we saw few luxury brands launching items that could be accessible to people who might otherwise be excluded. However, most of them were only superficial. But in the future, we can expect luxury brands to invest more sincerely in inclusivity.

Apart from its big glossy promotion, the luxury brands in their business will implant inclusivity fully. In terms of its projects, luxury companies will come under a growing scrutiny. They will become more vocal about their inclusivity efforts, perhaps by hiring chief diversity officers, and casting models from varied backgrounds.

The devil is in the details and the data

Luxury businesses started more sincerely to borrow the customer’s data but hacking and leaking of data raised the question of customers’ privacy. In keeping view of this, two acts, such as California’s Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) and European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), were sanctioned in 2020 to force the luxury business to think deeply and wisely about their privacy when managing their customers’ data.

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This shows that if wealthy customers value their privacy, they also want customized knowledge. Luxury brands will purchase more evident data to offer more personalized commitment. From all digital and physical channels, luxury brands will draw the data associated with all customers beyond their data segregation.

This will help the customers to become more conscious about how their data is being collected and used, demanding more clarity from the brands gathering their information.

Unboxing is the new storefront

To deliver the best quality of experiences to luxury e-commerce, packaging plays a vital role. As the trend of online shopping is growing rapidly, creating a beautiful, catchy packaging that will keep the product safe too without wasting more resources is a new challenge for these luxury brands.

Hence, luxury brands must maintain the right balance between long-lasting goals and sustainable premium packaging materials. We can see how these luxury brands are advertising about their new packaging, which the customers can keep it safe for reusing too.

Collaborations become mainstream

Today, it is common to see luxury brands collaborating with unexpected partners. Collaborations are not a novelty, but still not saturated. Luxury conglomerates have invested heavily in collaborations to increase their customer’s popularity and to expand their business internationally.

With the help of this, luxury brands will use new technologies such as smart objects, sensors, facial recognition for delivering real-time, personalized experiences.

This will attract a greater number of customers, make their brand more popular, save money, and ultimately will create something magical by broadening their skills. In the age of sharing, collaboration is the key to the luxury Industry.

Next generation social media platforms and brand communities

Customers will continue to seek the replacement to popular social media platforms and communities. Perhaps, a few social platforms will continue to remain more popular amongst the younger generation, however by and large the consumer may be open to embracing more ‘close-knit’ and private networks that help peer-to-peer connections and foster meaningful discussions.

For reaching the customers, as a modern-day marketing approach, luxury brands have shifted communication to social media. With the help of the feedback and reviews page present on every website, brands have adjusted to a vocal customer on online platforms that have progressively facilitated for online brand communities.

This helps to engage the audience in interactive settings that help them to review other individual shopping experiences and to make the right choice for them. Hence, brand awareness increases and the brand-customer relationships become stronger.

‘Supermarket On Wheels’- Is It The Future of Supermarkets?


We all know the age-old adage “The Customer is King”. This is taking on renewed significance in the 21st century where product-based marketing is being substituted by an information-led market and consumers are demanding flexible, customized ‘consumer-centric’ service.

The consumers today, are being offered in numerous new ways to bring home the products, ranging from groceries to apparel and other things on their shopping list, rather than waiting in line in a supermarket.

Increasingly, start-ups and even established companies are planning to evolve a fresh alternative to delivering products.

The supermarkets on wheels concept has caught the fancy of most of the retailers across the globe, who are taking the self-driving vehicles around cities in the hope of making a sale.

Since it is a new concept, retailers are currently experimenting in the metropolitan cities but hope to scale it up to suburbs and smaller towns. Their core objective is comfort to the consumer!

Designing supermarkets in a way that is completely autonomous is a new wave which is operated by an artificial intelligence assistant in the form of a hologram. Some of the basic features of such an autonomous driving platform include- gaze tracker for driver distraction alerts, automatic unlocking of the vehicle, gesture recognition for user controls, surround insight to alert the driver to hazards, and natural language understanding for voice control.

The store keeps a record of its own inventory and returns to the warehouse when it requires a restock.

Picking your own products from shops may be difficult for many, but this concept is quite fast and convenient. Unlike a typical online product delivery service, which requires consumers to select their products first, self-driving supermarkets allow them to call the store using its mobile app, which also lets them enter. After getting inside, you can pay for products by scanning them on your phones. The AI assistant can answer consumers’ questions and suggest recipes while collecting and storing data about each user and their shopping habits.

Eventually, if the number of such supermarkets on the wheel increases, then they could form a network that could collect and determine customer data. This would help to determine demand in different locations, and accordingly, store stock can be adjusted. 

As per the reports, the retail industry is on the edge of a big revolution. This is all because of the advanced technology around self-driving cars, the wireless tagging of stock, digital payment, and data analysis.

Delivering perishable a challenge

One of the major challenges of supermarkets on wheels is to deliver perishable items. The perishables constitute about 60% of all groceries sold, less than 5% of them are sold online. This is mainly of customers being vary of allowing someone else to pick their products. As per some surveys, more than 85 percent of women did not prefer to purchase fruits and vegetables online as they thought the delivery was quite expensive. Moreover, they also wanted a look-touch-feel factor before deciding to buy.

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Hence, to solve this problem of people having a physical touch of products before buying, self-driving supermarkets have made their entry. The reports further found that 70% would use such a supermarket more than once a week.

Role of AI in Supermarkets

Artificial Intelligence will play an important role in tomorrow’s Supermarket business.It is the foundation of the future of consumer experience. Brands need to elevate the use of AI to become more efficient and customized. Many facets of the customer experience, such as answering monotonous questions or even checking out products in-store, can be automated with the help of AI.

How it works

Customers will need to download the accompanying app then they can sign in by entering their personal information, including their payment and address details. They can then order from such supermarkets and shop at their own doorstep. The ordering process is similar to the process of booking OLA, whereby customers register their details to use the service.

There will be no human in moving store delivery vehicles. It will be operated by people from different locations via navigation systems and cameras. Once self-driving supermarket reaches to customers destination, they need to open the door via their app and then choose their products.

Sensors are fitted on the shelves that detect when the product has been taken and charge payment and send a receipt to the customer on their app. The door of the vehicle can be closed either manually or by using the app. The touch technology is the same as used in the Amazon Go stores where customers can pull products from shelves and will be charged without getting their package label to be scanned.

The vehicle’s display shelves can be either static or rotating. It also enables retailers to manually communicate with consumers and staff through telemetry and access sales data. Companies running supermarkets using a remotely operated vehicle will require a license to launch on public roads.

The nature of the business being hyper competitive, a lot of new entrants are planning to help shoppers purchase from the safety of their homes. The key to success for companies is to find a firm balance between technology and human interaction so that customers can enjoy more.

The concept of supermarkets on wheels will serve as an emerging future. This is because the above idea is based on two precious factors – time and convenience. It will allow customers to buy products from their own location, thus saving time and travel costs.