Situated amongst robot tutors, Nintendo’s Animal Crossing, and the Full Metal Jacket (an actual coat made of metal, not the Kubrick film), three augmented and virtual reality inventions graced Time Magazine’s 100 Best Inventions of 2020. First, there is the Neo 2 Eye, a VR headset introducing eye-tracking software that opens doors to studying both consumer behaviour. There’s also Virti, an experiential and immersive VR/AR training system, employed in the training of medics and frontline workers during the pandemic. Also in the medical field, there is Augmedics’ xvision, which virtually superimposes x-rays onto patients during surgery. These three inventions demonstrate the potential and applicability of VR/AR in multiple sectors. Though VR/AR technology was already on a roll before 2020, its development has become an increasingly strong and relevant force in the tech sector, as the pandemic necessitated virtual ecosystems. At Altio, we predict mass adoption of VR/AR in various sectors once the technology becomes accessible, affordable, and widely-scalable. In case you aren't familiar with the differences, we have summarised VR and AR in the above graphic so you can decide which to keep an eye on.
The Wall Street Journal reported that 17% of Cadillac dealers chose a buyout rather than investing in electric vehicle (EV) infrastructure. While the transitional investments totalled around $200K, buyouts ranged from $300K to $1M. Cadillac is the face of General Motors’ (GM) recent EV transition, so this announcement makes a statement about the company’s commitment. For the record, this is not GM's first time dabbling in EVs, as the company unveiled the EV1 in the late 1990s. Though the EV1 was discontinued (facing considerable outrage), it was the the first mass-produced EV. When at the crossroads between stagnation or change, players have the chance to sink or swim. In this case, 17% of Cadillac dealers chose to sink. Cadillac is clearly committed to an EV future by encouraging investment in EV infrastructure. As we have discussed before with other established players in the auto industry, like with Ford’s announcement of an electric pickup truck, resistance to the EV tide is futile. Auto manufacturers must adopt and invest in electric technology and infrastructure to stay afloat. However, this requires top to bottom integration and cooperation, meaning dealers must be on board. Cadillac has demonstrated the importance of considering reluctance of auto dealers and the necessity of overcoming this hurdle before rolling out sweeping EV disruptions in the industry.
2020 is the year of workforce engagement and collaboration. The week after Salesforce acquired Slack for $27.7B, Cisco announced a $730M+ acquisition of both Slido, an audience interaction platform, and IMImobile, a cloud communications software. Cisco plans to integrate both platforms into its WebEx video conferencing platform. These acquisitions are strategic. Slido’s competitive edge resides in its sophisticated Q&A capabilities, allowing people to “upvote” posted questions from the audience, thereby reducing noise and needless questions. The integration of IMImobile into Webex will launch a comprehensive Customer Experience as a Service (CXaaS) solution for the company. Such strategic manoeuvres seek to resituate Webex at the forefront of the sector. As an older platform, founded in 1995, Webex is having to play catchup with startups and disruptors in order to stay relevant in the virtual workforce engagement arena. While Webex already has an advantage on the security front as the most secure platform, these acquisitions show that Cisco has no desire to fall behind new kids on the block.
America is getting its first commercial-scale offshore wind energy project in 2023 with the opening of Vineyard Wind, fittingly named after its location off Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts. This announcement coincides with 2020’s consistent rise in wind stocks (represented by FAN). In the last 12 months, FAN significantly outperformed the market, with 53% total return. To put that into comparison, over the same period, the Russell 1000 saw a return of just 20.7%. Investors are jumping on wind energy opportunities, pouring over $25B in just the first half of 2020. Much of this growth springs from declining manufacturing, installation, and maintenance costs, making wind energy increasingly cost-effective. This likely won’t just be a 2020 trend; global wind farm capacity is forecasted to grow eightfold within the decade. Furthermore, investment in the wind industry has potential for significant growth, as countries turn to alternative and renewable energies to meet requirements of the Paris Agreement. Altio thinks that when (not if) the US re-enters the Paris Agreements in 2021, the wind energy projects like that of Vineyard Wind will allow the US to begin a response to requirements and foster a competitive environment to develop new technologies in the renewable energy sector.