Author Archives: Lux Research

The Future Is Meal Kits: Campbell Soup Company Invests in Chef’d

What They Said

Last week, Campbell Soup Company invested $10 million in Chef’d, a U.S.-based meal kit delivery company. This investment came directly from Campbell itself, not its $125 million venture capital arm Acre Venture Partners. This direct investment is part of Chef’d’s Series B round and gets Campbell a seat on the company’s board of directors. The investment will help position Campbell to enter e-commerce.

In its official press release, Campbell President and CEO Denise Morrison said, “E-commerce will transform the food industry in similar ways to how it transformed entertainment and apparel. It is a game changer for consumers, food makers and retailers alike. The movement is irrevocable and irreversible. In the future, shopping for and preparing meals will be flexible, fully automated and anticipatory. Chef’d will help Campbell connect with our consumers where they are today and, more importantly, where they’re headed.”

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Defining the Consumer of the Future: How Innovation Is Reshaping Our Interaction With Food

For centuries, the way in which consumers interacted with food had been dictated by a set of fixed factors. With evolving consumer demand and growing  innovation, however, thousands of tech developers are now trying to help a much more complex consumer choose, buy, and measure the impact of food. Continue reading

Inspecting Production Parts With a Hologram

Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Physical Measurement Techniques IPM in Freiburg, Germany, have demonstrated the use of digital holography to discover defects in objects as small as a few centimeters. Markus Fratz, Alexander Bertz, and Tobias Beckmann used 3D digital holography by deploying a set of short laser flashes and interferometry to identify defects to a precision of a few microns. Continue reading

A Bite-Size Look at Food Waste Solutions

Food waste and loss is an unfortunate reality of the food and agriculture supply chain. Global food waste is at 30%, and as high as 40% in developed countries; but beyond being an altruistic social and environmental concern amidst the growing demand for food, it fails to receive the proper recognition as an economic issue with considerable business profit potential. Continue reading

Living in Glass Houses: The Costs and Future for Tesla’s Solar Roof

In late 2016, Elon Musk announced that Tesla would soon be offering solar roofs for homes, and claimed further that the roofs would be less expensive than non-photovoltaic roofs, even without income from photovoltaic generation. The company has partnered with 3M, which produces a film for the tiles to hide the solar cells when viewing from shallow angles. Recently, the company released its estimates for price, as well as the assumptions it relied on in order to reach those figures. Continue reading

Landscaping Carbon Fiber Recycling

Innovations aimed at reducing carbon fiber cost and improving composite processing efficiency (see the report “Carbon Fiber Composites Market Update” [client registration required]), combined with continued global scale-up (see the report “Carbon Fiber Update 2016 Edition”[client registration required]), are driving increased adoption of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRPs). As higher volumes enter the market, CFRP recycling is increasingly important not only for environmental and economic benefit, but also to avoid upfront landfill costs and to meet stringent automotive regulations in recyclability. In 2016, the global CFRP market was greater than 60,000 MT and is expected to grow to 183,000 MT or $35 billion in 2020. However, only a small amount of scrap produced per year is recycled and more than $400 million of CFRP ended up in landfills in 2015. Continue reading

Doing Well by Doing Good: Finding an Opportunity for Renewable Energy Investment as a Financial Vehicle for Sustained Growth

For a number of reports, Lux has relied on electricity grid mix forecasts and future plug-in adoption models. In this analysis, we further investigate these projections in the context of energy infrastructure capital expenditures and carbon emissions. The implications of how energy infrastructure is invested in over the next two decades are tremendous, ranging from flat capital expenditures with grim environmental consequences, to a growing investment market that achieves climate targets. We’ll investigate the conditions that lead to these divergent energy capital expenditure scenarios to understand the key drivers and implications. Continue reading

Evaluating IP Activity in Sweat Sensing

We’ve expressed in the past that accurate and reliable early-stage disease detection combined with non-invasive sample collection is the holy grail of molecular diagnostics. Previously, we discussed the growing popularity of non-invasive saliva-based diagnostics in the context of this theme (see the insight “Digital IVD sample of the future: Saliva” [client registration required]). While less mature, sweat based tests, too, present a compelling avenue for non-invasive sensing in medical, enterprise, and consumer applications. To gauge the state of innovation in sweat sensing, we surveyed the evolving landscape of sweat sensors patents. In total, we identified 1,009 patents for the search terms “sweat sensor” and “perspiration sensor” published in the past decade. As evident by Figure 1 below, sweat sensing technologies have seen consistent increase in patents applications. 2016 saw most activity, with a total of 194 patent grants and applications.

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Company Profile: Raven Telemetry

Raven Telemetry:  Operational intelligence platform for manufacturing environments

Lux Take: Wait and See

Overview

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
  • Raven’s hardware-enabled software platform is aimed at boosting efficiency in production environments, and it rapidly deploys to capture key data points on the shop floor
  • Software platform uses neural networks and deep learning to detect anomalies in equipment performance, using variables such as RPM, voltage, and other inputs directly from machines and programmable logic controllers (PLCs)
  • The company has built its software platform entirely in-house, without partners; it assembles its own data collection hardware, but this is not a differentiator
  • The product aims to be a lower-cost, more-actionable alternative to expensive solutions from large platform vendors; the company brings strong manufacturing expertise and aims to only collect relevant data points
  • Raven has acquired one key customer and scaled to eight sites, with five planned for H1 2017
  • Raised $1 million in seed funding and launched its product in 2016, and will seek additional funding in 2017
  • Clients are urged to follow Raven closely and evaluate as an investment target; its hardware-light, action-focused platform has proved it can boost key metrics for manufacturing, although the company must expand its sales and channel organization to scale

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Evaluating the Patent Activity in Smart Textiles

To gauge the innovation activity in the smart textile space, Lux surveyed the patent landscape and identified 10,051 patents published since 1997 relevant to smart textiles and fabrics. There has been a consistent uptick in activity, showing a greater interest in smart textiles as other enabling technologies, such as conductive inks, sensors, and power systems, further develop. We have previously looked at the innovation occurring in smart textiles (see the report “Innovation in Smart Textiles Moves from Materials to Analytics” [client registration required]) and printed electronics. To evaluate the patent landscape, we utilized a Lux-developed search tool that uses patent data that has been stored and categorized by Clarivate Analytics. The search terms used were conductive fabric, conductive textile, electronic fabric, electronic textile, smart fabric, and smart textile. There were no specific conductive ink terms used in the search; therefore, companies that innovate primarily in conductive ink were not included in this search. Even without including conductive inks, the amount of patent publications specifically around smart textiles is growing; 2016 saw the most-ever patents granted, with a total of 377. Figure 1 shows the total number of patent publications per year, with the data for 2017 current to May 2.

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