January 23, 2014

As emerging markets like India and Brazil continue to grow, more and more of their citizens will enter the middle class. This relatively untapped consumer group presents plenty of lucrative opportunities for companies across the globe. However, finding the right products to sell to this expanding class is not so simple, even for companies operating in their home countries. For instance, Tata Motors launched its ultra-cheap Nano model as an introductory vehicle for Indian consumers. But with a price tag Continue reading

Continue reading...

December 6, 2013

 

The nation’s first impression of the IBM supercomputer Watson came from the machine’s unprecedented appearance on Jeopardy. Over the course of a week, Watson handily defeated the best champions in the quiz show’s history thanks to its massive memory bank of facts. But it’s not just the supercomputer’s super-sized hard drive that sets it apart from other machines. Watson could compete on Jeopardy autonomously thanks to its ability to answer questions posed in natural language.

It’s this feature Continue reading

Continue reading...

December 3, 2013

Research and development has long been an expensive element of the auto industry. For decades devising even the smallest addition to an engine could cost millions of dollars and take as long as eight months to accomplish. But thanks to advances in technology over the last five years, engineers can now test dozens of designs within a virtual environment. As a result, automakers are at last seeking affordable innovations in fuel efficiency and overall vehicle performance.

For instance, in 2010 Continue reading

Continue reading...

December 1, 2013

Although many people can think of a great business idea, not everybody has the time or money to see their product come into fruition. That is unless they’re lucky enough to have their idea produced by crowd-sourcing manufacturer Quirky. The New York-based company has built a $50 million business by turning user-submitted blueprints into marketable goods.

Each week Quirky receives more than 2,000 invention ideas from its community of approximately 500,000 members. Staffers then select the best ideas of the Continue reading

Continue reading...

November 30, 2013

 

People today are becoming less and less dependent on cash, though you wouldn’t know it from looking at most vending machines. More than 40 percent of American adults said in a recent survey that they could go a week without paying for something in cash. Meanwhile, many of the nation’s vending machines continue to accept only bills and coins. This reluctance to change likely led to the vending industry’s 18.3 percent drop in sales between 2007 and 2011. When Continue reading

Continue reading...

November 19, 2013

 

For many image-conscious consumers, product customization provides a way to stand out from the crowd without searching high and low for something totally unique. At Big Shot Bikes, for instance, customers can choose the color and shape of up to 10 parts of the Colorado company’s fixed gear bikes. Once customers select their preferences, Big Shot assembles the bicycles and ships them to the buyers for under $500. With such a relatively reasonable price tag, the company wants consumers Continue reading

Continue reading...

November 17, 2013

The information that appears on food packaging is under more scrutiny than ever as many people carefully count their calories and regulators research companies’ health claims. However, there’s one line on nearly every item of food that bamboozles both consumers and producers alike: the “sell by” date. Or should we say the “use by” date? Whatever name it goes by on a particular package of food, misunderstanding of its meaning causes Americans to toss out more than 40 percent of Continue reading

Continue reading...

October 26, 2013

Velcro Industries is a company in a peculiar situation. On the one hand, if asked to describe Velcro, nearly everyone in America could provide at least some kind of relevant answer. Perhaps they’d talk about the distinctive ripping sound or be reminded of their favorite pair of tennis shoes as a kid. But the fastener these people would describe isn’t exactly Velcro, at least not in the eyes of the company who uses that name. To Velcro Industries, the word Continue reading

Continue reading...

October 17, 2013

For many of today’s conscientious consumers, it’s not enough for a product to be simply affordable and effective. Environmentally minded diners, for instance, prefer to know as much about the origins of their food as possible. That’s why so many modern restaurants make sure the names of their organic and artisanal suppliers appear as prominently on menus as the dishes. Now the trend is expanding out of the culinary world and into retail as more and more clothing companies use Continue reading

Continue reading...

October 6, 2013

As American manufacturing continues to improve, news reports about industry inevitably focus on the technological advances that drive many modern facilities. But not all of the nation’s factories are teeming with robots and high-powered computer systems. Due to razor thin operating budgets, a number of plants across the country use the same machinery they’ve relied on for decades. For instance, an Alcoa plant in Cleveland still presses aluminum alloys with a 50,000-ton forging machine that arrived on American soil from Continue reading

Continue reading...